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Better Living Health Articles


Train Well, Fuel Well (Part Two)

Posted 1/15/2015 by Kelli Santiago

Ask the Dietitian/Personal Trainer Q: How can I get a good workout without a personal trainer? A:Working with a trainer has its benefits – they’re motivating, resourceful and can help you reach your goals. But working with a trainer can also be expensive and they aren’t necessarily the most important part of a workout. Instead, here are some tips to help you become your own personal trainer- at a fraction of the price. Put Pen to Paper There are three basic (but important) t...

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Three Ways Life Coaching Improves Your Mental Health

Posted 1/9/2015 by UHBlog

If you’re feeling depressed or anxious, don’t suffer in silence. Let your doctor know. Feel stuck in your life, unfulfilled or lacking in direction? You might benefit from a life coach. “Life coaches are trained to help you heighten your self-awareness, validate your strengths, boost your confidence and guide you to visualize a positive future,” says stress reliance specialist and life coach Heidi M. Weiker, MSSA. The service strikes a chord among people who want to de...

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Healthy Sitting at Work

Posted 1/8/2015 by UHBlog

Are you due for a checkup? Make your appointment today. Sitting all day at work doesn’t sound very risky. But unless you are careful, it can unleash an avalanche of aches and pains. “We were not designed to sit,” says physical medicine and rehabilitation expert Vinod Sahgal, MD. “We were designed to stand straight and be mobile.” Some tips from Dr. Sahgal on how to stay healthy and pain-free: Sit Right It’s easy to slump at your desk with your shoulders hunc...

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6 Heart Attack Myths

Posted 1/7/2015 by UHBlog

What’s your risk for heart disease? Ask your doctor. This year more than 920,000 Americans will have a heart attack when plaque collects in the arteries, blocking the flow of blood to the heart. Not all of them will survive. Unfortunately, physicians still encounter many dangerous myths about this common killer. Cardiologist Christine Zirafi, MD sets the record straight on six of the most persistent: Myth #1: People having heart attacks feel sharp chest pain and numbness in the arm. Fa...

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Reduce Stress With Guided Imagery

Posted 1/6/2015 by UHBlog

Learn more about integrative medicine at University Hospitals. Many people pledge to lose weight or get fit when the New Year arrives. But resolving to reduce your physical reaction to stress in 2015 could also yield big health benefits this year and beyond. One powerful tool: guided imagery. “Guided imagery is a form of meditation that uses the senses to induce a state of relaxation, and also promotes healing and decreases pain,” says integrative psychiatrist Francoise Adan, MD, M...

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6 Ways to Snap Out of an Exercise Rut

Posted 1/5/2015 by UHBlog

If persistent aches and pains are interfering with your normal exercise routine, see your doctor. You look for excuses to skip your exercise routine, you’re bored to tears by your workout and you grit your teeth to just get through it. No doubt about it, you’re in an exercise rut. Sports medicine specialist Robert Truax, DO shares six ways to break free, find inspiration and take your fitness to the next level: Get a workout buddy. Two heads are better than one when it come...

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Best Stretches for Skiing

Posted 1/2/2015 by UHBlog

Always get your doctor’s okay before starting a new exercise routine. Time on the slopes can leave you exhilarated – but exhausted, and even prone to injury. The right stretching routine will help keep you limber so you’re less likely to hurt yourself. But don’t worry about making time to stretch before you ski. “There’s no evidence that stretching beforehand reduces injury,” says pediatric sports medicine specialist Amanda Weiss Kelly, MD. “In ge...

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UH Brain Health & Memory Center Seeking People for Alzheimer’s Study

Posted 1/1/2015 by UHBlog

Are you experiencing memory problems? Make an appointment with your doctor today. The Brain Health & Memory Center at University Hospitals Neurological Institute is looking for people to participate in a national study of a promising new treatment for the earliest memory changes that may be associated with Alzheimer’s disease. The Anti-Amyloid Treatment in Asymptomatic Alzheimer’s (A4) study is funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Eli Lilly and will enroll 1,000...

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Got Pain? When to See the Doctor

Posted 12/31/2014 by UHBlog

If pain persists or worsens, make an appointment with your doctor. No pain, no gain – right? Not exactly. An intense workout can leave you with sore, fatigued muscles. But it’s usually temporary and relieved by rest and ice. “It is very common to experience muscle soreness when you first start a workout program or if you have increased the intensity of your workouts,” says sports medicine specialist James Voos, MD. How can you tell when pain requires a trip to the doct...

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How to Handle Exercise-Induced Asthma

Posted 12/30/2014 by UHBlog

Talk to your doctor about what asthma treatments are best for you. If you cough, wheeze or have shortness of breath and tightness in the chest when you exercise, you may have exercise-induced asthma, a type of asthma that occurs when people exercise. “Symptoms are more likely to occur during exercise that requires rapid breathing, such as running or bicycling,” says pediatric sports medicine specialist Mary Solomon, DO. Exercise-induced asthma happens when the tubes that bring air ...

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Acupuncture for Cold and Flu Season

Posted 12/29/2014 by UHBlog

Learn more about integrative medicine at University Hospitals. You might think of acupuncture for relieving your aching back or chronic headache. But the practice, a form of traditional Chinese medicine that is over 5,000 years old, could also help you avoid colds and flu this winter – or at least send them packing sooner. In this Q&A, licensed acupuncturist Julia Proctor explains how the treatment works against these respiratory illnesses. Q: How does acupuncture work? A: From an E...

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Extreme Loser

Posted 12/29/2014 by UHBlog

A Nutrition, Training and Weight Loss Program Jordan Smith is a certified personal trainer whose specialty is helping people with workouts that promote weight loss. She has worked with Al Hersman and Jenn Ramsey, two of the participants among many on the six teams that make up the “Extreme Loser” challenge. Smith is no stranger to doling out “tough love,” but for those who have watched “The Biggest Loser,” Smith is no Jillian Michaels-style-screamer, either. “I try to support everyone,” she s...

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Chris Ihms Overcoming Adversity to Survive and Thrive

Posted 12/29/2014 by UHBlog

A Life-Changing Wake-Up Call Six years in the U.S. Marine Corps, including a tour of duty in Vietnam, taught Chris Ihms some important life lessons. Among them, persevere, stay fit and work hard. Those lessons, combined with his personal inner grit, have seen Ihms through some of life’s toughest challenges – two heart attacks, a pacemaker, a bout with flu so severe he was hospitalized, and kidney disease. There’s no doubt that Ihms is a survivor. Now 59 and retired from his ...

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Is Weight-Loss Surgery for You?

Posted 12/26/2014 by UHBlog

Don’t wait for your doctor to bring up weight loss. Start the conversation. Have you tried every imaginable diet but are still carrying around too much extra weight? You may be a candidate for weight-loss surgery, or bariatric surgery. Weight-loss surgery encompasses a number of procedures, including gastric bypass, which involves creating a pouch in the stomach to limit the amount of food and drink that can be consumed at one time, and sleeve gastrectomy, in which part of the stomach is...

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Sore Throat – Top Causes and Cures

Posted 12/25/2014 by UHBlog

Think it might be strep? See your pediatrician for an exam and a rapid strep test. It’s the season for snow, Santa – and sore throats. A common reason for doctor visits, particularly in winter, sore throats cause missed school days and a good dose of misery. The most frequent source of sore throats, or pharyngitis, is a viral infection – from the common cold to mononucleosis, says Rainbow pediatrician Erin Frank, MD. Strep throat, which is caused by an infection with a bacter...

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Start Your Journey to Lifelong Health

Posted 12/24/2014 by UHBlog

Are you overdue for a checkup? Make your appointment today. Everyone wants to thrive during their retirement years, but health challenges can get in the way. In this Q&A, Cyndie Bender, Director of Community Hospitals Post-Acute Relations at University Hospitals, explains how the University Hospitals Center for Lifelong Health can help seniors reach their full potential. Q: How can seniors optimize their golden years? A: First and foremost, maintaining a certain level of health is crucial t...

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Is It Heartburn – or a Heart Attack?

Posted 12/23/2014 by UHBlog

If you’re confused or concerned about any persistent symptoms you’re having, always let your doctor know. Is your heartburn simply that or the sign of something much worse? It’s not always easy to tell. Unfortunately, the stakes couldn’t be higher. Forty percent of women and 30 percent of men with coronary artery disease experience this symptom, according to cardiologist Barbara Williams, MD. In general, heartburn typically feels like an ache just under the tip of the ...

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Are You Caring for Your Contact Lenses Correctly?

Posted 12/22/2014 by UHBlog

Are you due for an eye exam? Make an appointment today. Americans rack up nearly a million doctor visits for eye infections every year, and the single biggest risk factor for infection is wearing contact lenses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Contact lenses are normally very safe and effective when used properly, but can cause problems when used, stored, or cleaned improperly. Optometrist Loretta Szczotka-Flynn, OD, PhD, addresses the contact lens practices...

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Your 2015 Resolutions – How to Make Them Stick

Posted 12/19/2014 by UHBlog

Are you overdue for a checkup? Cross that off your to do list today. After the excesses of the holiday season, January is the natural time for fresh starts, whether it’s losing unhealthy pounds or cultivating a regular exercise routine. If you want the best shot at keeping your New Year’s resolutions, registered dietitian Kelli Santiago suggests taking these steps: Set SMART goals. “SMART stands for specific, measureable, achievable, realistic and timely,” Santiago say...

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The Most Wonderful Time of the Year? Not for Everyone

Posted 12/18/2014 by UHBlog

If you experience depression or anxiety, don’t suffer in silence. Let your doctor know. When it comes to the holidays, not everyone is filled with joy and awe. For many seniors, the season is a painful reminder of all they have lost. “The holidays are supposed to be such a happy, joyful time with family and friends,” says senior ER social worker Mary Jo Deely. “But it can be a time of sadness and isolation.” Many seniors have families who have moved away or have ...

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Cold Weather Family Fitness Ideas

Posted 12/17/2014 by UHBlog

Is anyone in your family due for a well visit? The mercury may be dipping, but that doesn’t mean you have to stay cooped up inside. Kids and adults need exercise year-round – 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity a week. One good way to rack up the minutes is to make fitness a family affair. “The majority of people don’t like to exercise alone,” says Darryl Knight, MS, an exercise physiologist and program coordinator of Healthy Kids, Healthy Weight at Unive...

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How to Foster a Healthy Work-Life Balance

Posted 12/16/2014 by UHBlog

Are you having trouble juggling work and home responsibilities? Keep your doctor in the loop. Just a decade or so ago, most people left work at the end of the day and took the evening to relax and recharge for the next day. Not anymore. “Technology is making work-life balance almost impossible,” says stress resilience specialist Heidi M. Weiker, MSSA. “People are typically managing three or four computers and gadgets while also having a live conversation. The average working...

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Caregiving Tips for the Sandwich Generation

Posted 12/15/2014 by UHBlog

If caregiving is stressing you out, talk to your doctor. More than 65.7 million people – the majority of them women – provide care to someone who is ill, disabled or aged in the U.S. But all that caregiving can take a toll, especially when the caregiver is looking after both children and aging parents. “We are worried as much about the caregiver as we are for the people they care for,” says geriatric specialist Taryn Lee, MD. “They often have health issues of the...

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Kid vs. Brussels Sprouts: Who Wins?

Posted 12/12/2014 by UHBlog

Talk to your child’s pediatrician if you’re concerned about issues at mealtime. Trying to get your child to eat unfamiliar foods can be a thankless task. So it’s good to know there’s an evolutionary purpose behind this common source of conflict, says pediatric psychologist Carolyn E. Ievers-Landis, PhD. Called food neophobia, this behavior is shared with other living creatures. “When animals come upon a new food, they generally won’t eat it,” she says....

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How to Get Off the Couch in 2015

Posted 12/11/2014 by UHBlog

Always get your doctor’s approval before starting a new exercise program. Thousands of people pledge to get fit every year, but many of them drop out of their programs before they’ve made any progress. But your chances of finding an exercise regimen that sticks are best if you take the time to establish a plan of action, says sports medicine specialist Robert Truax, DO. Here are the steps that lead to fitness success: Step 1: Set goals What do you want to get out of your fitness pro...

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Encourage Your Employees to Get Annual Exams

Posted 12/10/2014 by UHBlog

Are you due for an annual checkup? Schedule your appointment today. If you want to ensure a healthy and productive workforce, promoting the annual physical exam could be a good strategy. Yearly checkups are the time to screen for common medical problems, address new health concerns and offer the latest advice for living a healthy life. “In general, physical exams follow recommendations from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force,” says internal medicine specialist Alan Wiggers, ...

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Which Diet Is Best for Weight Loss?

Posted 12/9/2014 by UHBlog

Ask your doctor how losing weight can benefit your health. One day, calories are the enemy. The next day, it’s carbs. No wonder people are confused about the best way to shed unhealthy extra pounds. Internal medicine specialist Crystal Lantz-DeGeorge, MD , offers insight into what really works. Q: Are some diets better than others in helping people lose weight? A: There are two ways to lose weight – to restrict calories or to restrict carbohydrates. All diets are a variation on eith...

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Superfood of the Month: Collard Greens

Posted 12/8/2014 by UHBlog

Do you have a question about how to improve your diet? Talk to your doctor. With the summer’s harvest long gone and temperatures frequently dipping below freezing, family cooks turn to the dark, leafy greens of winter, particularly collards. “This is their peak season,” says registered dietitian Janice Friswold. “After the first frost, their flavor intensifies.” And collard greens don’t just taste good – they also pack a nutritional punch. They contain ...

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Don’t Give Up Gluten Before You Read This

Posted 12/5/2014 by UHBlog

Ask your doctor if you’re a candidate for celiac disease testing. Gluten-free labels have popped up all over the supermarket, on everything from biscuits to beer. It must be good, right? Before you jump on the anti-gluten bandwagon, however, it’s important to know if it’s really necessary for your health. Gluten is the substance in grains, particularly wheat, that gives dough its elastic texture. It’s a mixture of two proteins that can cause illness in people with celiac...

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Great Winter Workouts

Posted 12/4/2014 by UHBlog

Let your doctor know if you’re started a new exercise routine. If you want to get more bang for your fitness buck, consider exercising outside this winter. Cold-weather exercise may burn more calories than a workout at the gym, and there’s evidence that exercising in nature is more restorative than indoor workouts. To take advantage of the great outdoors this season: Get your doctor’s OK. You may be advised to avoid cold-weather workouts if you have diabetes, heart, vasc...

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Sitting Is the New Smoking

Posted 12/3/2014 by UHBlog

Discuss how you can become more active at your next doctor’s visit. Are you sitting down? You might want to consider taking a quick walk, doing your silly dance, or just standing up and stretching. Sitting for hours on end has been associated with heart disease, diabetes, cancer, obesity and many other unwanted conditions and illnesses, says Roy Buchinsky, MD, Director of Wellness for University Hospitals. And public health experts consider it as bad for your health as smoking cigarettes...

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Advice from Doctor Mom: The ABC's for infant safe sleep

Posted 12/3/2014 by UHBlog

Erin Frank, MD, Pediatric Hospitalist at UH Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital and mom to a vibrant two year old girl. Expectant parents spend months decorating and outfitting the perfect nursery for their new bundle of joy, while friends and family shower the newborn with handmade blankets and nursery accessories. Who can forget the excitement welcoming a new baby into the special space you worked so hard to prepare? Unfortunately the beautiful and cozy nursery essentials can be dan...

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Myths and Facts About Stretching

Posted 12/2/2014 by UHBlog

Tell your doctor if you have persistent pain during or after stretching. When it comes to fitness, aerobic conditioning and strength training get most of the attention. Many athletes are halfhearted about stretching. “It gets a bad rap,” says pediatric sports medicine specialist Mary Solomon, DO. “Stretching is less engaging and entertaining.” No wonder myths about this fitness fundamental abound. Dr. Solomon helps put to rest some of the most persistent ones: Myth: You...

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QUIZ: Test Your Knowledge of IBS

Posted 12/1/2014 by UHBlog

Talk to your doctor about any unusual GI symptoms you’re having. More than 20 percent of Americans suffers from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), which can cause significant discomfort and distress. Test your knowledge of this common complaint with the following quiz, prepared with the help of gastroenterologist Michael Koehler, MD. 1.) IBS is caused by: A. Hormonal fluctuations B. A poor diet C. An imbalance of gut bacteria D. No one really knows. Answer: D. The cause of IBS is unknown...

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Should You Go to Urgent Care – or the ER?

Posted 11/28/2014 by UHBlog

For nonurgent health matters, it’s best to schedule an appointment with your doctor. When someone in the family gets hurt, you want medical attention. But unless it’s a life-threatening emergency, an urgent care center – not the ER – may be the best place to seek care. These walk-in centers, which are usually open seven days a week, have many of the same services the hospital provides, including X-ray and other imaging techniques, lab testing, procedure rooms for lacera...

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What Helps Women Recover From Addictions

Posted 11/27/2014 by UHBlog

If you think you might have an addiction problem, don’t keep your doctor in the dark. Both men and women can develop dependence on a drug, tobacco or alcohol. But it can be easier for women to become addicted – and harder for them to kick the habit. “Compared to men, it takes women less time and less substance use to develop a substance-use disorder and health problems related to substance use,” says addiction psychiatrist Kathleen Svala, MD. “Women often have ma...

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Train Well, Fuel Well (Part one)

Posted 11/26/2014 by Kelli Santiago

Ask the Dietitian/Personal Trainer Q: Is it true you can eat whatever you want after a workout, like sweets and carbs, because during this time your body burns it and it won't be stored as fat? A: It's true you do burn calories at an accelerated rate after a workout (which is why many people use this time to pig out). But how many more calories you burn and for how long afterwards depends on what exercise you do. You'll burn more calories during cardio exercise than strength training, but you'l...

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Get a Handle on Holiday Stress

Posted 11/26/2014 by UHBlog

Is stress impacting your day-to-day life? Let your doctor know. It may be the season for joy and wonder. But with the demands of gift buying, food preparation and decorating for the holidays, it’s also the time for unrelenting stress. “Our memories of holidays as children clash with modern expectations: spending a lot of money, being all things to all people and completing lots of projects,” says stress-resilience specialist Heidi M. Weiker, MSSA. It’s no wonder that the...

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Beware of Button Batteries

Posted 11/25/2014 by UHBlog

Talk to your pediatrician about common safety hazards. As you’re making your holiday shopping list, here’s an important factor to consider: whether the gifts rely on small “button” batteries, which are found in many toys and remote controlled devices. Of particular concern are 20-millimeter lithium cell batteries that, if ingested, can lodge in a child’s throat, burn the walls of the esophagus and trachea, paralyze vocal chords and even perforate the aorta. Childre...

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Advice from Doctor Mom: Understanding new birth control recommendations for teens

Posted 11/24/2014 by UHBlog

Sara Lee, MD, Adolescent Medicine Specialist at UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital, and mom to a school age daughter. You may have read in the news recently about pediatricians, teens and LARC. Long-acting reversible contraception, or LARC, includes intrauterine devices (IUDs) like Mirena, Skyla, ParaGard and the hormonal implant known as Nexplanon or Implanon. In October, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommended these birth control methods be made available to teena...

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