Weekly health watch with items on staying active and healthy in the winter, statistics on deaths and injuries involving teen drivers, new research on lumbar disc disease and more.
Short days and cold weather can make it hard to maintain summer activity levels, but staying active during winter months can leave you with a sunnier disposition.
Exercise can make you feel better by releasing chemicals that make you feel good, reducing chemicals that can worsen depression and increasing your body temperature, which may have calming effects, according to the Mayo Clinic. It can also help you cope with any negative feelings in a positive way.
By maintaining your physical activity level throughout the year, you'll have an easier time staying fit and avoiding the blues that can accompany the shorter days. Here are some tips to keep you active:
* Get some warm active clothes. It's easy to get discouraged if you always feel cold when you go outside, but if you find the right attire, the cold's bite will be less severe. It may seem like common sense, but it's easy to forget some of these key items: warm gloves, warm boots or outdoor shoes that offer active comfort and good traction, warm socks and a neck-warmer or scarf.
* Find new and interesting outdoor activities. If you live in an area with snow, pursue a snow activity you haven't tried in the past. Snowshoeing is a fun and inexpensive way to get out and enjoy winter and people of all ages and fitness levels can do it. Otherwise, you can't go wrong with alpine or Nordic skiing, or even good old-fashion ice skating. If you live in a warmer climate, the cooler months can be a great time for hiking while enjoying milder temperatures.
* Look for deals on gym memberships. If you're still looking to avoid the cold at all costs, try finding a deal on a membership that will waive your joiner's fee or offer a special for new members. If a gym membership is more than you need or too expensive, look around to see if other public facilities in your area, such as schools, malls or sports arenas, host low-cost running or walking sessions.
New Research: High cholesterol, blood pressure treatment
Two out of three U.S. adults with high cholesterol and half of U.S. adults with high blood pressure are not being treated effectively, according to the latest Vital Signs report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. People who lack health insurance have the lowest rates of control.
Did You Know?
Although heart disease awareness is on the rise, one-third of women still underestimate their own risk for heart disease. Only 16 percent recognize heart disease as the greatest health problem facing women.
-- National Institutes of Health
Although pregnant women should avoid rawfish and fish with high methyl mercury levels, such as swordfish, shark and king mackerel, they can still enjoy shellfish like shrimp, tuna and salmon. Consume no more than 6 ounces of white tuna a week.
Number to Know
6: The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends waiting to introduce solid foods to infants until they are 4 to 6 months old.
Children’s Health: Teen drivers’ call-to-action
A report released from The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and State Farm Insurance Companies shows the impact of teen driver crashes extends far beyond teen drivers' families and friends. In 2008, 681,000 people were involved in crashes where a teen driver was behind the wheel. More than 40,000 were injured, and nearly 30 percent of those who died in these crashes were notin cars driven by teens.
"When most people think about those affected by teen driver crashes, they think of the teens behind the wheel. We must also consider the significant impact of these crashes on … occupants of other vehicles, pedestrians, cyclists and other road-users," says Dr. Dennis Durbin, co-author of the report. "Reducing speeding and alcohol use, increasing seat belt use, and eliminating distractions for teen drivers are the four calls-to-actions we see in this report that would have great impact on reducing injuries and fatalities for all road users.
"More than half of teens who were fatally injured in crashes were speeding, 40 percent had a positive blood alcohol level, more than half were not wearing seat belts and 16 percent of teen drivers involved in fatal crashes were reported to have been distracted while driving.”
Senior Health: Disc disease may be genetic
Symptomatic lumbar discdisease, a condition caused by degeneration or herniation of the discs of the lower spine, may be inherited, according to a new study published in the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery.
“Although excess risk in the immediate family might indicate evidence of a genetic contribution, it could also simply indicate shared environment risks or household exposure that may be contributing to the disease,” noted study author Dr. Alpesh A. Patel, assistant professor of orthopaedic surgery at the University of Utah School of Medicine. “Conversely, excess risks in second- and third-degree relatives strongly support a genetic contribution to disease, given the measurable genetic sharing in these more distant relatives and the relative absence of shared household risks.”
GateHouse News Service