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The Doctor Is In: Dr. Travis Stork’s Tips to Stay Flu-Free

Written on January 25, 2013 at 9:00 am , by

Fear not the neti pot–really! (Photo courtesy Arm & Hammer)

Maybe you got the flu shot, maybe you forgot–oops! Regardless some simple things like getting enough sleep and following a healthy diet can go a long way in keeping you in top shape this winter. To help keep your sick days from racking up, we chatted with Dr. Travis Stork of The Doctors as he teams up with Arm & Hammer Simply Saline for their latest campaign on natural, drug-free ways to stay healthy this season.

Whether you got the flu shot or not, what are some things we all should be doing to keep the flu away?

The winter months are really the time to practice those healthy habits we talk about all the time. If you’re not getting enough sleep, not eating well and not hydrating, the chances of you battling a cold or the flu is higher than if you are doing these things. Since nutrition is an important part of staying healthy, eat plenty of fruits and vegetables to make sure your body is getting the vitamins and nutrients it needs to function at its best. Supplements have never really been shown to have the same benefits as whole foods, so eat up!

I am also a fan of nasal irrigation to hydrate nasal passages and alleviate congestion that tends to occur in the winter. I’ve partnered with Arm & Hammer Simply Saline because they make nasal sprays that are easy to use and can be taken anywhere I go, especially airplanes where germs love to linger! We want our nasal membranes moist, as opposed to dry and friable, because hydrated membranes act as an extra protective barrier when a virus tries to invade our nasal passages. Viruses can also enter through our eyes and mouth, so be sure to wash your hands frequently and avoid touching these vulnerable areas. Read more

Brooke Burke-Charvet’s Flu-Fighting Tips and Recovering from Thyroid Cancer Surgery

Written on January 24, 2013 at 10:35 am , by

Brooke Burke-Charvet surprises a an LA resident with a hand delivered Kleenex brand Care Pack during what is considered the worst cold and flu season in recent years. (Photo courtesy Michael Simon)

Feeling a little stuffy lately? You’re not alone. Cold and flu season is hitting hard this year. “I have a household full of sick children!” past cover girl Brooke Burke-Charvet told us today, as we chatted with her about her partnership with Kleenex’s Softness Worth Sharing initiative. As part of the campaign, she surprised one very lucky guy with a care package full of hand sanitizer, a blanket, Kleenex tissues and lip balm to wish them a speedy recovery (select cities can nominate someone they know at the Kleenex Facebook page to receive a similar care package). We chatted with the Dancing with the Stars host chatted on how she stays healthy in a house full of sniffles and coughing, plus how she’s doing post thyroid surgery.

What made you want to get involved with this Kleenex campaign?

As a mom, I have Kleenex tissues all over the place. Those little packs are in my car, the kids’ backpacks, everywhere. It’s really important to use great products when you’re feeling under the weather. As for this initiative, I love the sentiment of it. It’s just so thoughtful and sweet, and would really make anyone feel better faster.

How are you protecting yourself and your family this cold and flu season?

Lots of hand washing and sanitizing, that’s really my biggest thing. I make sure the kids are drinking lots of fluids and sneezing into their arms instead of on someone else. It’s tough because colds are everywhere in school, so washing their hands is really crucial. Read more

3 Ways to Avoid Holiday Heartburn

Written on December 19, 2012 at 2:40 pm , by

Turkey and white wine are two of your more heartburn-friendly options for your holiday dinner. (Photo courtesy Blaine Moats)

Looking forward to indulging in some red wine, a few pigs in a blanket and your family’s famous Christmas morning spicy shrimp grits? Not if you are one of the fifty million Americans who suffer from heartburn, says Dr. Su Sachar, a gastroenterologist based in LA. These are just a few of the things that can trigger holiday heartburn, among others like chocolate (the horror!), alcohol, garlic and peppermint. So how exactly is one supposed to make it through the buffet without breathing fire into 2013? Try Dr. Sachar’s tips below:

  • Know the triggers: Aside from foods that are tomato-based, fried, spicy, fatty and citrusy, stress can also be a trigger as it often makes someone turn to fatty foods or toss back a few glasses of wine to chill out. But the most surprising trigger is exercise. “Certain exercises put pressure on the abdomen and push the stomach into the esophagus, contributing to heartburn symptoms,” Dr. Sachar says. “For example, cyclists tend to get heartburn from hunching over handlebars. But that doesn’t mean you have to skip the gym! Exercising is good for stress levels and avoiding weight gain, both of which contribute to heartburn. Just go easy on the abs and try yoga or low impact cardio if you feel a flare up coming on.”
  • Navigate the dinner table: “Stay away from the fried and cheesy appetizers and focus on protein,” Dr. Sachar says.  “Chicken skewers and salads without raw onions or tomatoes are safe bets. Skip buttery mashed potatoes in favor of baked potatoes or sweet potatoes and light turkey meat over fatty beef or lamb.” As for dessert, Sachar says angel food cake, sugar and oatmeal cookies and apple pie will hit the spot without feeling the burn later. When it comes to wine, opt for white.
  • Be proactive: If you suffer from heartburn symptoms two or more days a week, consider Prilosec OTC. One pill each morning can treat frequent heartburn for up to 24 hours, so you can enjoy your holiday feast.

More from FITNESS: A Heartburn-Proof Recipe from Top Chef Spike Mendelsohn


The Heart Rates Heard Around the World

Written on November 29, 2012 at 2:17 pm , by

Take your resting heart rate first thing in the morning to see if you’re fit as a fiddle. (Photo courtesy of Jeff Harris)

All it takes is a looming deadline or spat with your roommate to get your heart pumping, but when it comes to the beat, which places have a higher heart rate? Azumio, mobile health app developer of programs like Cardio Buddy, Fitness Buddy and Sleep Time pulled some data from their heart monitor app Instant Heart Rate across 159 countries, 6 million data points and 500,000 users. Take a look below to see which countries and states are really the most frazzled, plus some other interesting findings:

  • Too much on our plate? According to Azmuio’s data, the average global heart rate for women is 79.83 beats per minute (bpm). For men, it’s 74.02 bpm.
  • When it comes to countries, India had the highest average heart rate at 80.5 bpm with the U.K. clocking in as the lowest at 71.9 bpm. The U.S. has an average heart rate of 77.3 bpm.
  • The U.S. cities with the highest heart rate are Dallas (81.4 bpm), Atlanta (81.2 bpm), Houston (80.8 bpm) and Los Angeles (80.5 bpm).

But don’t be fooled–stress isn’t the only factor that can spike your heart rate. Factors like smoking, caffeine and some health issues like thyroid disease all play a part. Find your resting heart rate by using your index and middle finger to find your pulse on your inner wrist. Count the beats for 10 seconds and multiply that number by six. If you’re between 60 to 80 bpm, that’s considered normal.

More from FITNESS Magazine: How Healthy Are You? 10 Easy Self-Checks


Doc Shopping? Some Things to Consider First

Written on November 7, 2012 at 3:00 pm , by

Americans surveyed said selecting a physician ranks second only to selecting a spouse. (Photo courtesy iStockPhoto)

As the start of cold and flu season swings into gear, you may find yourself heading to the doctor a little more than usual in the coming months. And while things like insurance coverage is important, a recent study of more than 7,700 Americans conducted by www.healthgrades.com, a site dedicated to helping consumers find medical professionals in their area, found that the average adult spends more time researching cars and refrigerators than their healthcare providers. In addition, over 50 percent of those asked said they felt that they had made the wrong choice in the past when selecting a doctor or hospital. Whoa! Archelle Georgiou, MD and former medical officer at United Health chatted with us about why this survey is so shocking and what you can do to make the right choice for your upcoming doctor visits.

What was the most shocking about this survey?

Aside from the fact that people spend more time researching appliances and their cell phone plans than the hospitals they are going to receive care at, it was surprising how many people looked at convenience first. Obviously insurance and payment for an appointment is an important piece, but convenience in terms of location does not equal quality. In the study, consumers said a hospital’s location is just as important as its mortality rate, 83 percent said it was important and 87 percent said it was very important! Read more

The States That Sleep the Most, Plus Other Sleep Stats to Know

Written on October 26, 2012 at 2:08 pm , by

Sweet dreams! (Photo courtesy Ned Frisk/Jupiter Images)

You already know that lack of sleep could lead to weight gain, but did you know that Maine, Montana and Idaho are the sleepiest states? They each clocked in at the average person getting over 6.6 hours of sleep a night, according to the study Gender Differences in a Naturalistic Observational Study of Sleep and BMI by BodyMedia, Inc. presented at the Obesity Society annual meeting this past September. States that got less than 6.3 hours of sleep included Maryland and New York. Some other interesting findings:

  • Overall, people with higher BMIs had less sleep, but the increase in weight and sleep is more closely related in women than men. We know, life is not fair.
  • The days people sleep the most are Saturday and Sunday. The days people sleep the least are Wednesday and Thursday, as they are most likely caught up in the mid-week work shuffle.
  • Younger users got more sleep than older users.
  • The recommended amount of sleep for adults is 7 to 8 hours, yet the average amount of sleep per night never enters that range, it’s always below. Case in point: We’re not getting enough sleep!

To help you start snoozing faster, check out the FITNESS Get-to-Sleep Guide. From foods to help you sleep to pre-sleep workouts and how technology messes up your sleep patterns, you can rest easy tonight knowing that more Zzzs are in your future!

More from FITNESS: Find Out What Your BMI Is

How Nia Vardalos Keeps It Healthy On-the-Go

Written on September 11, 2012 at 10:35 am , by

Nia's weight loss journey all started with a walk around the block. (Photo courtesy of Life...supplemented)

When My Big Fat Greek Wedding star Nia Vardalos decided to shed 40 pounds back in 2009, she did it for her health, not to squeeze into a smaller dress size. “I never felt well, I was constantly getting dizzy and because I already had thyroid disease I had a serious blood sugar issue. My choices were to lose weight or go on medication,” she told us when chatting earlier this week about her partnership the new health app from Life…supplemented called WannaBeWell app. Read on to see what simple steps led to Vardalos’ transformation and the tricks she uses everyday to maintain her weight and health.

Losing weight can be a daunting task. How did you get started?

After that visit with my doctor, I knew medication wasn’t an option for me. I’m not a pop a pill person, but I really wanted to find a way to start feeling better. So I started simple, just by walking. After that I cut out food high in starches and sugar and went from there. It was a slow process, but once I started it I looked better, felt better and even slept better!

What made you want to get involved with the WannaBeWell app?

For me it was a natural fit. I started taking supplements when I first started to lose weight, and I’ve kept up with it. My family makes fun of me because I take so many! So to have something to remind you when to take what, it’s really a no brainer for me.

What kind of supplements do you take?

First, every woman is different and we don’t all need the same things. So you should talk to your doctor before starting any type of supplement plan. I take fish oil, biotin and vitamins E, C and D (since I’m a writer and holed up in the dark all day!). If you don’t have time to get to a doctor but want to take something, start with a multivitamin and then discuss a plan at your next office visit. Read more

#140Wednesdays: What Motivates You to Sweat?

Written on July 25, 2012 at 4:16 pm , by

Start sweating–you owe it to yourself. (Photo courtesy Cheyenne Ellis)

Written by Lisa Turner, editorial intern

Let’s be honest –working out can be a challenge.

Sometimes, we have to remind ourselves why we love to sweat, and we’re all motivated by different things. For some, it’s that feeling you get when you’ve put in hard work or when you notice you’re getting stronger. For others, it might be the desire to get Brooke Burke-style abs or more energy during the day.

According a recent poll conducted by Eventbrite, 30 percent of women that participate in endurance events are motivated by weight loss. Even more (34 percent) do it for charity. But we’re not all saints! A quarter of women believe that training for a marathon would make them better in bed, and 40 percent believe they’d be more attractive. As for mental benefits, over half of respondents think that running is more effective than therapy.

We posed the question to our Twitter followers to see what brings them to the gym or the track, day in day out. What motivates you?

@LinzFredetPtrsn: Setting a good example for my kids and having the energy to keep up with them!

@jellingson: Honoring my mom’s love to run!

@kerigans: Health!

@aliciabordonaro: It’s that feeling you get after a workout…a huge sense of #accomplishment and #satisfaction.

@Trishquit: To be healthy and keep my blood pressure in check!

#140Wednesdays: Would You Take a Pill to Lose Weight?

Written on July 18, 2012 at 6:00 pm , by

Move your butt for 30 minutes 5 days a week. A prescription to live by!

Written by Lisa Turner, editorial intern

With a seal of approval from the FDA yesterday, brand new diet drug Qsymia promises to help people shed unwanted pounds. Right now, it’s only approved for people who are not only overweight, but struggle with an accompanying condition such as high cholesterol or high blood pressure. Taking a pill sounds like an easy solution, but here at FITNESS, we believe in a prescription of exercise and healthy eating habits. We wanted to know if our Twitter followers felt the same way, so we asked them: Would you take a pill to make weight loss easier?

@KateSchlag: Research proves it–there’s no quick fix for weight loss. Not even in a pill.

@redcurlgurl: No. I like to lose weight the old fashioned way with diet and exercise. I want to earn those “You look great!” compliments.

@Trhi10: We need more whole foods and less pills; it’s another Band-aid.

@xtinamcknight: They also approve of highly processed death trap food like McDonald’s. So thanks, but no thanks.

Now tell us: What do you think about the FDA approving Qsymia?

Play It Forward with Playtex and The Women’s Sports Foundation

Written on June 8, 2012 at 4:08 pm , by

Workout buddies since kindergarten. (Photo courtesy Laura Doss)

Workout buddies since kindergarten. (Photo courtesy Laura Doss)

It’s always been important to get girls involved in sports (thanks, Title IX!) but according to The Women’s Sports Foundation it’s more important now than ever: If a girl doesn’t participate in sports by the time she is 10 years old, there is only a 25 percent chance that she’ll be involved in some sort of physical activity by the time she is 25. In this previous study the foundation also found that girls who do play sports are more likely to go further in their careers, schooling and pursue non-traditional jobs like science, law and medicine. By staying active during adolescence and young adulthood they are 20 percent less likely to develop breast cancer later in life.

That’s why Playtex Sport has donated $150,000 to The Women’s Sport Foundation to further their work in getting girls involved in physical activity and sports. And you can help too! By visiting the Playtex Sport Facebook page you can pledge your support of the mission with one click, while also getting tips to improve your own workouts, coupons to Playtex tampons and motivational wisdom from athletes like Jessica Mendoza, softball player and two-time Olympic medalist, Leslie Osborne, World Cup soccer medalist and more. So start clicking! And then take your little sister/cousin/niece outside and get them running around!