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Top 10 health tips for 2010 Dec. 29, 2009
Provided by: QMI
Written by: MARILYN LINTON, QMI Agency
 
Resolve to make this year your healthiest ever

Asking whether we want to be healthier in the new year is like asking whether the Pope is Catholic.

Past New Year's resolutions have included eating better, losing weight if needed, exercising more, and quitting smoking - all of them worthwhile goals. For 2010, I'd also add the following - 10 health tips for a better you!

1. Wash your hands. Posters this fall taught us how, now we should do it often. Even though H1N1 may be (hopefully) a thing of the past, new strains of viruses are always with us. Handwashing, when done correctly, is the single most effective way to prevent the spread of communicable diseases. Check out the washing tips at www.health.gov.on.ca.

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2. Waist not, want not. Like in real estate, location counts when it comes to body fat. So if you want to set a healthier goal for yourself, throw away the scale and get out your measuring tape. Wrap the tape measure around your waist but don't suck in your gut. You're aiming for a waist size of less than 35 in (88 cm) for women and less than 40 inches (102 cm) for men. Higher numbers indicate a higher risk for heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure.

3. Take vitamin D. At latitudes above 40 degrees north, the skin cannot produce adequate vitamin D, particularly in winter. Lack of this essential vitamin raises the risk of fractures, several cancers, MS, some cardiovascular disease, asthma and autoimmune illnesses. Cancer societies are advocating that we consider taking 1,000 IU a day in supplemental form. For more, go to www.vitamindcouncil.org).

4. Lift some weights. Who doesn't want to have Michelle Obama's arms? Websites offering Obama's arm toning tips have millions of hits. Her secret? Simple dumbbells and typical arm lift exercises - they work for women and men. Age-related muscle loss begins long before you're a senior. Weight-training (not body-building) improves balance and coordination and increases bone density - the latter of which prevents fractures.

5. Say yes to screening. So many Canadians avoid screening tests because they're afraid of what they might reveal. But many illnesses can be treated, even cured, if caught early. Talk to your doctor about these screening tests: The Pap test for cervical cancer, mammography for breast disease, colonoscopy for colon cancer, and PSA tests for the prostate. If you've smoked, ask your doctor about early screening tests for COPD or lung cancer. Check out www.cancer.ca for more.

6. Know your numbers. Type 2 diabetes is a world epidemic, so make sure you are not at risk. Along with knowing the symptoms and your own risk profile, talk to your doctor about whether you need a fasting blood glucose test to determine whether your blood glucose levels are higher than they should be. Check out www.diabetes.ca.

7. Have a heart. Heart disease is still the number one killer. Lower your risk by eating fewer bad fats, exercising more, getting your blood pressure under control, and making sure your doctor checks your cholesterol levels. More at www.heartandstroke.ca.

8. Walk this way. To help with this year's fitness goals, plan now on training for a fall fun run or marathon. Plenty of Canadian charities organize these summer and fall events which include 5 and 10k walks and runs or half or full marathons. Think of them as a fun way to get fit over the next six months or so.

9. Get your shots. Aside from annual flu shots, we tend to forget that there's an adult immunization schedule for when boosters for tetanus, diphtheria, polio and pertussis are needed. Vaccines are also available to some groups at higher risk for hepatitis A and B, shingles, meningitis and pneumococcal disease. Check out www.phac-aspc.gc.ca.

10. Smile. The eyes may be the window to your soul (check out www.cnib.ca for eye care tips) but the mouth may indicate ill health elsewhere in the body - including heart disease and oral cancer. Keep your gums and teeth healthy and don't ignore visiting the dentist. Check out www.cda-adc.ca for oral health for Canadians.

MORE COLUMNS BY MARILYN LINTON, QMI AGENCY

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