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A-Z Guide to Good Health

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S-Z

S. Skeleton. Getting at least 1,000 milligrams of calcium daily is crucial to preventing osteoporosis, but for young women, exercise is more of a bone builder, according to a new Pennsylvania State University study. "All the milk in the world won't ward off osteoporosis later in life without regular physical activity," says Dr. Root. "Like muscles, your bones need to be stressed so that they build mass and strength.” The best skeleton strengtheners are weightbearing exercises, which include stair climbing, cycling, walking and weight training.

Let tap water run for two minutes to flush out contaminants that may have collected in your pipes.

T. Temperature. A newstudy has shown that whether it's cold or hot outside does affect your temperament. Researchers found that a thermostat set at 72 degrees put participants in the happiest mood, while anything higher or lower made their disposition worse. Remember to turn the temperature down before bed-60 to 65 degrees is ideal for getting a good night's sleep. And when it comes to working out, it's better to exercise in a cool environment. "In lower temps, you won't tire out as easily or became dehydrated before you've gotten your heart rate up," says Zim.

U. Urinary Tract Infection. Next time you feel one coming on, quell the pain temporarily by taking an over-the-counter UTI medicine. "These products keep symptoms at bay and are safe to take for up to three days," explains Lisa Masterson, M.D., an ob/gyn at Cedars-Sinai hospital in Los Angeles. But remember to call your doctor as soon as possible, because only prescription antibiotics can cure the infection. This might seem obvious, but one study found that just 57 percent of women taking the OTC relievers knew that these drugs didn't actually cure the UTI.

V. Visceral Fat. Not all flab is created equal. This type, which accumulates deep inside your abdomen, is more dangerous than fat that lies just under the skin on your hips and thighs. (People who have it tend to be apple-shaped.) "Because visceral fat is next to your internal organs, it increases your susceptibility to a host of health problems, including heart disease and diabetes," explains Dr. Goldberg. "If you have a waist of 35 inches or more, ask your doctor to screen you for other symp toms." The encouraging news: A recent study from Duke University found that women who walked as little as 11 miles a week at a moderate intensity did not increase levels of visceral fat, while those who were sedentary did.

W. Water. More than 90 percent of public water systems in the United States are safe for drinking, but exceptions do crop up. Last year, city officials in Washington, D.C., discovered that lead levels in tap water were higher than normal in more than 4,000 homes, putting children and unborn babies at risk for developmental problems. To make sure yours is safe to drink, check out your county's annual water-quality report at epa.gov/safewater. You can also invest in a filter that attaches to your faucet or comes as a cartridge that fits into a pitcher. These can remove chlorine, arsenic and other impurities, depending on the model you choose.

X. X-Rays. If you’re tempted to get one of those full-body CT scans that use X-ray technology and computer software to catch small, early-stage tumors, seriously reconsider. A new study in the journal Radiology found that one CT scan packs nearly 100 times the radiation in a mammogram and is comparable to the amount some Japanese atomic-bomb survivors were exposed to. Even scarier, getting one scan annually for 30 years increases your lifetime cancer odds. This screening may be worth the risk to diagnose certain diseases, but you should talk to your doctor before having it.

Y. Yo-YoDieting. It may not be a barrier to permanent weight loss after all. A National Institutes of Health panel found no evidence that losing and then gaining back weight affects your metabolism, says John Foreyt, M.D., Ph.D., director of the behavioral medicine re- search center at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, who was a member of the panel. What's more, researchers found that many people don't actually have a set weight from which their bodies refuse to deviate. So don't be discouraged if you've lost and gained-it won't ruin your chances of success the next time around.

Z. Zits. Good news for the almost 33 percent of adult women who are still plagued by pimples: Scientists recently mapped out the genes for the bacteria that cause acne-a move that promises to provide more effective treatments to come. In the meantime, you can fight blemishes by applying a 5 percent benzoyl-peroxide lotion or regularly using a salicylicacid wash. Products containing either of these active ingredients will help dry out the zits and kill the bacteria that cause breakouts in the first place, says Dr. Jakubowicz.

Originally published in Fitness magazine.

 

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