How the Computer May Be Damaging Your Eyes

12/20/2011

from the Eye Health Center

Call it the revenge of the electronic screens. Many of us spend hours each day peering at computer screens, televisions, hand-held devices, cell phones, GPS monitors and more. The result: dry eyes, irritation, blurred vision, double vision, headache, and tiredness.

There’s a word for this group of symptoms, or, rather, three words: “computer vision syndrome.” If the proliferation of eye drop products on store shelves is any measure, computer vision syndrome is an increasingly common problem. Here are a few suggestions to help your eyes feel more comfortable:

  • It’s easy to forget about blinking when you’re staring intently at a screen, so blink more often.
  • Women are more likely to have dry eyes than men. You may want to try over-the-counter eye drops known as “artificial tears.” These are available as lubricated, saline, homeopathic and other types. Using a humidifier may also help.
  • Turn down the lights. Reduce the wattage in desk lamps and adjust window blinds to cut down on screen glare.
  • Schedule rest breaks for your eyes during your workday. The American Optometric Association recommends resting your eyes for 15 minutes after working continuously for two hours on an electronic screen. In addition, every 20 minutes, look up from the screen and refocus your eyes on a distant object.
  • Want to try an alternative approach? A study in India tested 291 people who used computers at work and had similar levels of visual strain and discomfort. The researchers, who were from a yoga research foundation, put half of the subjects in a group that practiced an hour of yoga daily, five days a week. The others did their normal recreational activities for the same amount of time. After 60 days, the yoga group had reduced their eye discomfort, while the other group had increased amounts.
  • The easiest suggestion of all? Clean your screen frequently. Dust and smears make words harder to read, causing you more eyestrain.

 For more information on the health topics mentioned in this article visit

the HealthyWomen.org areas below.

 

Dry Eye Syndrome: www.healthywomen.org/condition/dry-eye-syndrome

 

Eye Health Center: www.healthywomen.org/healthcenter/eye-health

 

 

© 2011 HealthyWomen.  All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission from HealthyWomen. 1-877-986-9472 (toll free). On the Web at: www.HealthyWomen.org.

 

 

 

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Stop the Exercise Guilt and Start Moving

11/12/2011

from the Healthy Living area

When you hear advice to exercise for 30 to 45 minutes or more, nearly every day, you may think, “In whose life? Get real.”

Many women feel the same way. We’re too busy and too tired—from job, family, home and other demands—to squeeze exercise into our overcrowded days. Those time blocks seem like impossible hurdles to get over. Even if we try, it’s difficult to stay on track for long.

Now, instead of feeling guilty about what you can’t do, you can start feeling good about what’s possible for you. Research shows that even short bursts of physical activity improve your health, especially if you spend your day sitting. Adding a little activity helps lower your cholesterol, blood pressure and weight, cuts your risk of heart attack and diabetes, and improves how you feel emotionally.

You’ll have more energy to carry packages, garden, climb stairs, keep up with the kids at the amusement park, or dance past midnight. Those activities, in turn, will make you even stronger and healthier.

Women who walk for a total of just one hour a week have half the rate of heart disease as women who don’t walk regularly. And it’s never too late to benefit—in a recent study, people over 65 who were physically active once a week had a 40 percent lower death rate than those who were inactive.

It’s easy to start

To get yourself moving, think small. “Take two-minute walks, whether it’s one or 10 a day,” says Andrea Dunn, Ph.D., director of the Behavioral Science Research Group at the Cooper Institute for Aerobics Research, Denver.

Walk at a moderately vigorous pace, Dunn says, as if you’re trying to get to an appointment on time. Each week, increase how many minutes you walk a bit, or how often.

Gradually work up to three 10-minute brisk walks a day, several times a week. “It doesn’t matter how fast you move up,” says Dunn. In her research, people who succeeded often kept track of their walks on checklists or calendars.

If you have health concerns and are under a health care professional’s care for a medical condition, review your exercise plans with her or him before you start.

Step this way

You’ll gain more benefits from walking by increasing the steps you take at home, at work and for exercise. Middle-aged women who take more steps have less body fat than those taking fewer steps.

Use a pedometer, a step-counting gadget that clips onto your waistband. Record your step count for one week. Then divide by seven to get your daily average.

Increase your daily step count little by little. Sneak extra steps into your everyday life: Walk around the house while talking on a cordless phone, park at the far end of a supermarket lot (be sure it’s well-lighted and secure), pace the sidelines while your child plays sports, or climb the stairs to your office instead of taking the elevator.

Aim for 10,000 steps a day, but work to that goal slowly. It’s equal to about five miles.

Target fat in your middle

How does physical activity, even small amounts, improve your health?

Think of your body as a jelly doughnut. (Okay, for some of us that’s easy to do.) The outer part of your doughnut—uh, body—is made up of fat that lies just under the skin. When you go on a diet and lose weight, you usually lose this type of fat, says Osama Hamdy, M.D., director of the Obesity Clinic at Joslin Diabetes Center, affiliated with Harvard Medical School, Boston.

Hidden deep in the center of your body is a more dangerous type of fat. This internal fat—often shown by a growing waistline—is directly related to high cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes. According to Hamdy, physical activity reduces this belly fat more effectively than dieting does.

“Any moderately intense exercise that a person can do is very important. Do it five minutes a day, or 10 minutes a day,” he says. “If you look at it as a routine of your day, you will find it easier over time.”

A recent study Hamdy co-authored showed that obese adults who lost just 7 percent of their body weight—16 pounds in a 220-pound woman—through moderately intense exercise and diet lowered their heart disease risk. In another study, people at risk for type 2 diabetes reduced their risk 58 percent with brisk walking and a small weight loss.

Make it fun

Some women exercise with friends or in walking clubs. Mall-walking is fine, says Dunn, so long as you’re moving briskly and not just strolling and window-shopping.

If walking doesn’t appeal to you, choose another moderately vigorous activity, such as bike riding, swimming or dancing. Or mix up your exercise choices.

“Do things that are fun for you,” Dunn advises. “Start small, work at your own pace and don’t give up.”

For more information on the health topics mentioned in this article visit the HealthyWomen.org areas below.

Fitness: www.healthywomen.org/condition/fitness

Weight Management: www.healthywomen.org/condition/weight-management

Healthy Living: www.healthywomen.org/ages-and-stages/healthy-living/fitness

Diet and Fitness Health Center: www.healthywomen.org/healthcenter/diet-and-fitness

© 2011 HealthyWomen All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission from HealthyWomen. 1-877-986-9472 (toll-free). On the Web at: www.HealthyWomen.org.


Water Wisdom

08/14/2011

from the Healthy Living area

You’ve heard all the advice: Drink eight glasses of water a day. Stay properly hydrated while exercising. Sports drinks aren’t just for professional athletes.

Yet you’re still unsure whether you’re drinking the right amount for good health.
How much fluid should you really be taking in daily? Do you need to add extra when you’re physically active? And is too much water dangerous?

Everyone’s body needs water. We lose it by sweating, excretion, or simply not taking in enough through foods—like fruits and vegetables—and drinks. Mild dehydration (losing less than two percent of your body weight due to inadequate fluids) can cause health problems, including dizziness and headache.

To keep your body supplied with the fluid it needs, especially when exercising, follow these tips:

  • Get the basics. Most women need eight to nine cups of total fluids a day, including all beverages and the water in foods.
  • Increase according to the weather. High temperatures or humidity outside, heated indoor air and high altitudes all cause you to need more fluids.
  • Add when exercising. Drink one cup of fluids every 15 minutes during physical activity, advises Werner W.K. Hoeger, Ed.D., FACSM, professor of kinesiology and director of the Human Performance Laboratory at Boise State University. He recommends sports drinks over water when exercising because they contain electrolytes—important to provide the minerals necessary for proper cellular metabolism—which is disrupted during physical exertion. Electrolyte replacement also helps maintain proper muscle contraction and cardiac function.
  • Add more for big events. If you’re going to be in a race or charity walk, make sure you drink enough to be well-hydrated the day before, Hoeger adds. Also, drink a glass of fluids an hour before the event.
  • Drinking for two? Pregnant and nursing women need additional fluids. Talk with your health care professional about what’s best for you.
  • Still thirsty? If drinking fluids doesn’t relieve your thirst, you may have a health condition such as diabetes. See your health care professional right away.
  • Too much of a good thing. In very rare cases—chiefly among marathon runners—drinking too much fluid leads to a life-threatening illness, hyponatremia. This occurs when sodium levels in the blood fall too low. It happens chiefly to athletes who have run for more than four hours and gained a lot of weight during the race from drinking.

For more information on the health topics mentioned in this article visit

the HealthyWomen.org areas below.

Fitness: www.healthywomen.org/condition/fitness

Healthy Living: www.healthywomen.org/ages-and-stages/healthy-living/diet-and-nutrition

Diet and FitnessHealthCenter: www.healthywomen.org/healthcenter/diet-and-fitness

© 2011 HealthyWomen. All rights reserved. Reprinted withpermission from HealthyWomen. 1-877-986-9472 (toll free). On the Web at:http://www.HealthyWomen.org.


How to Stay Healthy When Studying Online

11/22/2010
It’s a route that many students are taking nowadays because it allows them the freedom to do many things simultaneously while providing them with a great deal of flexibility too. Online education is in high demand because you can earn while you learn, you don’t have to spend as much as you do on traditional degrees, and you can stay at home and avoid the significant changes that college entails. However, when you study online, it’s best to take a proactive approach to prevent health problems, both minor and major.
·        You’re at risk for illness when you don’t get enough exercise and stay all day at home; so no matter how much work you have, no matter that you’ve always been a couch potato who has never exercised, it’s time to start right now. When you work out for at least half an hour a day, you prevent all kinds of diseases and keep illness at bay. A short, brisk walk is enough to rejuvenate you and boost your energy.
·        You could be stressed out if you have too many things on your plate – studying, working and having to balance social and familial obligations could become too much to handle and you start falling sick or feeling down more often. Regular exercise and taking time out to enjoy yourself once in a way helps reduce the burden you carry and lightens and raises your spirits.
·        One of the downsides to online education is that it isolates you and removes you from the social aspect of education. You don’t get to interact with teachers and classmates, and this makes concentration and studying a little more challenging. Some students thrive and flourish in this kind of environment; others however, start to pine for some form of human contact and this affects their mental and physical health. The solution to this problem is to seek out other learners close to where you live and form study groups whenever time permits; if this is not possible, try and form virtual groups and use video and voice chat to enhance your learning.
·        When you spend most of your time at home or in front of the computer, you tend to eat whatever is available and easily ready in a short time. Junk food forms a major part of your diet, and before you know it, your health suffers and your weight balloons up. So make a conscious effort to eat healthy – salads and juices if you don’t have time to cook, and sandwiches made with whole-wheat bread and filled with nutritious food instead of fatty meats for your meals will do your mental and physical health a world of good.
The best way to look after your health when you study online is to be proactive and take charge of it right from the word go – it’s easy to prevent obesity and illness rather than fight them after they’ve taken root.
 
 
By-line:

This guest post is contributed by Carrie Oakley, who writes on the topic of online college . Carrie welcomes your comments at her email id: carrie.oakley1983(AT)gmail(DOT)com.


Quick 3 Minute Overview on Blood Pressure

05/14/2010

This is a video I filmed discussing high blood pressure, what your blood pressure numbers mean and things you can do to control your blood pressure. Why not take 3 minutes to learn the blood pressure basics…


Workplace Weight Loss

04/12/2010

Office work has always been considered sedentary and therefore causes workers to put on the pounds.  What if you were able to lose weight at those “desk jobs?”

 Dr. James A. Levine and his colleagues at the Mayo Clinic performed a small study with 18 Minneapolis office workers. The result was a total of 156 pounds lost in 6 months! Dr. Levine’s approach focused on “non-exercise activity thermogenesis” or NEAT. This is the natural burning of energy that occurs with everyday movements like standing, moving, bending, turning, etc.  According to Levine, minor lifestyle changes can boost your daily NEAT by 20%.

 In the study, typical desks were exchanged for a desk attached to a treadmill and walking tracks were installed around the perimeter of the office space so meetings can be held while walking.  This activity is not considered exercise, but falls into the NEAT category due to the slower pace and amount of energy use. Other changes in the office included mobile headsets for phones, space for games like the Wii and nutritional counseling was provided.

The average weight loss was 9 pounds each with 90% of the weight lost being fat loss. The employee’s triglyceride levels also decreased by 37%.  Of the employees who wanted to lose weight, the average weight loss was 15.5 pounds.

In addition to the positive health effects for the individual employees, the company also benefitted.  Workplace productivity actually increased and after 3 months corporate revenue had increased by 10%.

The study was very small and is awaiting publication.  What it proves, though, is all extra activity counts! You do not need to go to a gym for hours to burn calories.  An extra 100-150 calories per hour can be burned by incorporating physical activity into your work routine. 

So, talk to your bosses, managers, and business owners about incorporating some of these small changes at your workplace.  Both you and your employer will benefit!

 If you are looking for more tips about Heart Healthy Lifestyles visit our website www.heart-strong.com and check out our books “Take Charge: A Woman’s Guide to a Healthier Heart” and “Take Charge: A Man’s Roadmap to a Healthy Heart”