The benefits of regular exercise are unrivaled: Physical activity can help you lose weight and prevent a host of ailments, including heart disease, diabetes, and osteoporosis. Being fit also can help you stay mentally sharp.
While most people know they should exercise, you may not know where to start or how to fit it into a busy schedule. The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and the American Heart Association (AHA) recommend that healthy adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity spread out over five days a week, or 20 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity on each of three days a week.
“This is something we recommend to all Americans,” says Gerald Fletcher, MD, a cardiologist at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Fla., and a spokesman for the AHA.
An ideal fitness routine also includes resistance or weight training to improve muscle strength and endurance. The ACSM and the AHA recommend that most adults engage in resistance training at least twice a week.
Finding Fitness: 10 Ways to Get in Exercise
Sometimes the problem isn’t motivation — it’s simply finding the time. But scheduling exercise isn’t as difficult as you might think. Here are 10 ways to get you moving more often:
Be less efficient. People typically try to think of ways to make daily tasks easier. But if we make them harder, we can get more exercise, says Sabrena Merrill, MS, of Lawrence, Kan., a certified personal trainer, group fitness instructor, and spokeswoman for the American Council on Exercise (ACE). “Bring in the groceries from your car one bag at a time so you have to make several trips,” Merrill says. “Put the laundry away a few items at a time, rather than carrying it up in a basket.”
Shun labor-saving devices. Wash the car by hand rather than taking it to the car wash. “It takes about an hour and a half to do a good job, and in the meantime you’ve gotten great exercise,” Merrill says. Use a push mower rather than a riding mower to groom your lawn.
Going somewhere? Take the long way. Walking up or down a few flights of stairs each day can be good for your heart.
Avoid elevators and escalators whenever possible. If you ride the bus or subway to work, get off a stop before your office and walk the extra distance. When you go to the mall or the grocery store, park furthest from the entrance, not as close to it as you can, and you’ll get a few extra minutes of walking — one of the best exercises there is, Dr. Fletcher says. “Walking is great because anyone can do it and you don’t need any special equipment other than a properly fitting pair of sneakers.”
Be a morning person. Studies show that people who exercise in the morning are more likely to stick with it. As Merrill explains, “Are you going to feel like exercising at the end of a hard day? Probably not. If you do your workout in the morning, you’re not only more likely to do it, but you’ll also set a positive tone for the day.”
Ink the deal. Whether morning, afternoon, or evening, pick the time that is most convenient for you to exercise and write it down in your daily planner. Keep your exercise routine as you would keep any appointment.
Watch your step. Investing in a good pedometer can help you stay motivated. “If you have a pedometer attached to your waist and you can see how many steps you’ve taken, you’ll see it doesn’t take long to walk 5,000 steps and you will be inspired,” Merrill says. And building up to 10,000 steps a day won’t seem like such a daunting a task.
Hire the right help. While weight training is important, if you don’t know what you’re doing, you run the risk of injuring yourself or not being effective, Merrill says. It’s best to get instructions from a personal trainer at the gym. You also can buy a weight-training DVD and follow along in your living room.
Keep records. Grab a diary or logbook, and every day that you exercise, write down what you did and for how long. Your records will make it easy for you to see what you’ve accomplished and make you more accountable. Blank pages? You’d be ashamed.
Phone a friend. Find someone who likes the same activity that you do — walking in the neighborhood, riding bikes, playing tennis — and make a date to do it together.
“Exercising with a friend or in a group can be very motivating,” Fletcher says. “You are likely to walk longer or bike greater distances if you’re talking to a friend along the way. The time will go by faster.” Don’t have a buddy who is available? Grab an MP3 player and listen to your favorite music or an audio book while exercising.
Do what you like. Whatever exercise you choose, be sure it’s one that you enjoy. You’re more likely to stick with it if it’s something you have fun doing rather than something you see as a chore, Fletcher says.
If you can’t fit 30 minutes a day into your schedule, get more exercise simply by being less efficient with your chores and adding a little extra walking distance everywhere you go. However, if you pick an activity you like, finding time for fitness will become effortless and the rewards enormous.
If you are what you eat, it follows that you want to stick to a healthy diet that’s well balanced. “You want to eat a variety of foods,” says Stephen Bickston, MD, AGAF, professor of internal medicine and director of the Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center at Virginia Commonwealth University Health Center in Richmond. “You don’t want to be overly restrictive of any one food group or eat too much of another.”
Healthy Diet: The Building Blocks
The best source of meal planning for most Americans is the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Food Pyramid. The pyramid, updated in 2005, suggests that for a healthy diet each day you should eat:
6 to 8 servings of grains. These include bread, cereal, rice, and pasta, and at least 3 servings should be from whole grains. A serving of bread is one slice while a serving of cereal is 1/2 (cooked) to 1 cup (ready-to-eat). A serving of rice or pasta is 1/2 cup cooked (1 ounce dry). Save fat-laden baked goods such as croissants, muffins, and donuts for an occasional treat.
2 to 4 servings of fruits and 4 to 6 servings of vegetables. Most fruits and vegetables are naturally low in fat, making them a great addition to your healthy diet. Fruits and vegetables also provide the fiber, vitamins, and minerals you need for your body’s systems to function at peak performance. Fruits and vegetables also will add flavor to a healthy diet. It’s best to serve them fresh, steamed, or cut up in salads. Be sure to skip the calorie-laden toppings, butter, and mayonnaise, except on occasion. A serving of raw or cooked vegetables is equal to 1/2 cup (1 cup for leafy greens); a serving of a fruit is 1/2 cup or a fresh fruit the size of a tennis ball.
2 to 3 servings of milk, yogurt, and cheese. Choose dairy products wisely. Go for fat-free or reduced-fat milk or cheeses. Substitute yogurt for sour cream in many recipes and no one will notice the difference. A serving of dairy is equal to 1 cup of milk or yogurt or 1.5 to 2 ounces of cheese.
2 to 3 servings of meat, poultry, fish, dry beans, eggs, and nuts. For a healthy diet, the best ways to prepare beef, pork, veal, lamb, poultry, and fish is to bake or broil them. Look for the words “loin” or “round” in cuts of meats because they’re the leanest. Remove all visible fat or skin before cooking, and season with herbs, spices, and fat-free marinades. A serving of meat, fish, or poultry is 2 to 3 ounces. Some crossover foods such as dried beans, lentils, and peanut butter can provide protein without the animal fat and cholesterol you get from meats. A ¼ cup cooked beans or 1 tablespoon of peanut butter is equal to 1 ounce of lean meat.
Use fats, oils, and sweets sparingly. No diet should totally eliminate any one food group, even fats, oils, and sweets. It’s fine to include them in your diet as long as it’s on occasion and in moderation, Bickston says.
Healthy Diet: Eat Right and the Right Amount
How many calories you need in a day depends on your sex, age, body type, and how active you are. Generally, active children ages 2 to 8 need between 1,400 and 2,000 calories a day. Active teenage girls and women can consume about 2,200 calories a day without gaining weight. Teenage boys and men who are very active should consume about 3,000 calories a day to maintain their weight. If you’re not active, you calorie needs drop by 400 to 600 calories a day.
The best way to know how much to eat is to listen to your body, says Donald Novey, MD, an integrative medicine physician with the Advocate Medical Group in Park Ridge, Ill. “Pull away from the table when you’re comfortable but not yet full. Wait about 20 minutes,” he says. “Usually your body says, ‘That’s good.’ If you’re still hungry after that, you might want to eat a little more.”
Healthy Diet: Exercise Is Part of the Plan
At the bottom of the new USDA food pyramid is a space for exercise. Exercise is an important component of a well-balanced diet and good nutrition. You can reap “fabulous rewards,” says Dr Novey, just by exercising and eating “a healthy diet of foods that nature provides.”
You know being active helps you live longer. If you need more incentive, then look at the recent numbers showing the effect exercise has on your well-being.
Several 30-year studies were completed in 2009 and the numbers are showing how being active and drinking water instead of soda can add to your longevity
That’s how much a moderately fit woman can cut her risk of dying of breast cancer, according to a three-decade study from the University of South Carolina. Women with the highest fitness levels halved their cancer risk. Getting moderately fit can be as simple as completing a daily half-hour walk. Exercising vigorously for the same amount of time will yield even higher fitness.
That’s the amount that men in a 35-year study at Sweden’s Uppsala University cut their risk of dying early if they were very physically active. Three hours of sports or heavy gardening a week was enough to do the trick.
That’s what you can lose in six months without any exercise simply by cutting back on soda or fruit-drinks. Researchers at John Hopkins University found that cutting out just one single serving make the body more efficient at reducing calories. Your body doesn’t seem to register liquid calories as accurately as those from solid foods, says lead author Benjamin Caballero, MD. Reducing sugary beverages gives you a significant payoff
Everyday Health is donating to the Haiti disaster earthquake relief efforts of the group Doctors Without Borders. A number of other aid organizations are also hard at work in Haiti, and they can use your donations — large or small.
Since the earthquake struck on Jan. 12, many non-profit organizations have been providing search and rescue aid, medical care, shelter, food, and other essential services in Haiti. All need additional funds to continue their work in the coming weeks and months.
Health and Medical Care
Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières)
An international humanitarian organization created by doctors and journalists that provides medical and health services, often in emergency situations.
Direct Relief International
Provides medical care to people harmed by poverty, natural disasters, and civil unrest.
Partners in Health
An organization that provides medical care and advocacy in Haiti and nine other countries.
Emergency Services and Logistical Support
American Red Cross
The U.S. branch of the International Red Cross, which assists people whose lives have been disrupted by natural disasters, humanitarian crises, and health emergencies.
Clinton Bush Haiti Fund
A fundraising group started by Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush at the request of President Barack Obama to support immediate relief efforts such as the provision of food, water, shelter, and medical care, and to work on long-term recovery plans.
The International Rescue Committee
A group of volunteer first responders, humanitarian relief workers, healthcare providers, educators, and other volunteers who provide emergency relief services.
A volunteer group of professional engineers, financial analysts, public health experts, and others who help out in times of humanitarian emergencies.
Assistance for Children and Families
A humanitarian organization that fights poverty by working with poor women to help their families and communities.
Save the Children
Provides prenatal care, immunizations, educational help, and other services to children in need and their families.
An organization founded by the actor Ben Stiller to build schools and provide education programs for the children of Haiti.
The United Nations agency that provides health care, clean water, nutrition, education, and emergency relief services for children and families.
A group founded by musician Wyclef Jean to support health, education, environmental change, and community development in Haiti.
World Food Program
A United Nations agency that provides food assistance in developing nations around the world.
To look and feel your best at every age, it’s important to make smart lifestyle and health choices. Here are six simple things that women can do every day (or with regularity) to ensure good health:
Health Tip #1: Eat a healthy diet. “You want to eat as close to a natural foods diet as you can,” says Donald Novey, MD, an integrative medicine physician with the Advocate Medical Group in Park Ridge, Ill. That means a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables and fewer processed foods. Eat whole grains and high-fiber foods and choose leaner cuts of meat, fish, and poultry. Include low-fat dairy products in your diet as well — depending on your age, you need between 800 and 1,500 milligrams of calcium daily to help avoid osteoporosis, Dr. Novey says. Avoid foods and beverages that are high in calories, sugar, salt, and fat.
Healthy eating will help you maintain a proper weight for your height, which is important because being overweight can lead to a number of illnesses. Looking for a healthy snack? Try some raw vegetables, such as celery, carrots, broccoli, cucumbers, or zucchini with dip made from low-fat yogurt.
If you’re not getting enough vitamins and nutrients in your diet, you might want to take a multivitamin and a calcium supplement to make sure you’re maintaining good health.
Health Tip #2: Exercise. Heart disease is the leading cause of death among women in America, but plenty of exercise can help keep your heart healthy. You want to exercise at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week, if not every day. Aerobic exercises (walking, swimming, jogging, bicycling, dancing) are good for women’s health in general and especially for your heart, says Sabrena Merrill, MS, of Lawrence, Kan., a certified personal trainer and group fitness instructor and a spokeswoman for the American Council on Exercise.
Health Tip #3: Avoid risky habits. Stay away from cigarettes and people who smoke. Don’t use drugs. If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation. Most women’s health studies show that women can safely consume one drink a day. A drink is considered to be about 12 to 14 grams of alcohol, which is equal to 12 ounces of beer (4.5 percent alcohol); 5 ounces of wine (12.9 percent alcohol); or 1.5 ounces of spirits (hard liquor such as gin or whiskey, 80-proof).
Health Tip #4: Manage stress. No matter what stage of her life — daughter, mother, grandmother — a woman often wears many hats and deals with a lot of pressure and stress. “Take a few minutes every day just to relax and get your perspective back again,” Novey says. “It doesn’t take long, and mental health is important to your physical well-being.” You also can manage stress with exercise, relaxation techniques, or meditation.
Health Tip #5: Sun safely. Excessive exposure to the sun’s harmful rays can cause skin cancer, which can be deadly. To protect against skin cancer, wear sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15 if you are going to be outdoors for more than a few minutes. Even if you wear sunscreen faithfully, you should check regularly for signs of skin cancer. Warning signs include any changes in the size, shape, color, or feel of birthmarks, moles, or freckles, or new, enlarging, pigmented, or red skin areas. If you spot any changes or you find you have sores that are not healing, consult your doctor.
Health Tip #6: Check for breast cancer. The American Cancer Society no longer recommends monthly breast self-exams for women. However, it still suggests them as “an option” for women, starting in their 20s. You should be on the lookout for any changes in your breasts and report any concerns to your doctor. All women 40 and older should get a yearly mammogram as a mammogram is the most effective way of detecting cancer in its earliest stages, when it is most treatable.
A woman’s health needs change as she ages, but the basics of women’s health remain the same. If you follow these six simple healthy living tips, you will improve your quality of life for years to come.
It’s been proven time and again, on back roads and superhighways: A seat belt can save a life in a car accident. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than 15,000 lives are saved each year in the United States because drivers and their passengers were wearing seat belts when they were in accidents.
Seat Belt Safety: 5-Way Protection
“Seat belts prevent occupants of the vehicle from serious injury in five ways,” says Angela Osterhuber, director of the Pennsylvania Traffic Injury Prevention Project in Media, Pa. A seat belt:
Keeps the occupants of the vehicle inside. “It’s clearly a myth that people are better off being thrown clear from the crash,” Osterhuber says. “People thrown from a vehicle are four times more likely to be killed than those who remain inside.”
Restrains the strongest parts of the body. “Restraints are designed to contact your body at its strongest parts. For an older child and adult, these parts are the hips and shoulders, which is where the seat belt should be strapped,” Osterhuber says.
Spreads out any force from the collision. “Lap-and-shoulder belts spread the force of the crash over a wide area of the body. By putting less stress on any one area, they can help you avoid serious injury,” Osterhuber says. A shoulder strap also helps keep your head and upper body away from the dashboard, steering wheel, and other hard interior parts of the automobile should you stop suddenly or be hit by another vehicle.
Helps the body to slow down. “What is it that causes injury? A quick change in speed,” Osterhuber says. “Seat belts help extend the time it takes for you to slow down in a crash.”
Protects your brain and spinal cord. A seat belt is designed to protect these two critical areas. “Head injuries may be hard to see immediately, but they can be deadly,” Osterhuber says. Likewise, spinal cord injuries can have serious consequences.
Seat Belt Safety: Buckle Up Correctly
Adjusting your seat belt properly is a must: Getting the right fit is as important as wearing it. The strap that goes across your lap should fit snugly over your hips and upper thigh area. “If the belt rides up on the stomach, it could cause serious injuries in a crash,” Osterhuber says.
Shoulder belts should rest securely across your chest and shoulders between your breasts. Don’t ever let the strap fall across your neck or face and never place the strap under your arms or behind your back. “Any one of these positions can cause serious injury,” Osterhuber says.
Seat Belt Safety: Rules for Infants and Children
Children are not small adults — they need specialized protection in a moving vehicle. “Their skeletal structure is different,” Osterhuber says. Age, height, and weight determine the safest way for a child to travel.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, here’s how to select the right option for your child:
Rear-facing child safety seat. Children under age 1 and those who weigh less than 20 pounds should sit in rear-facing, child safety seats approved by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The seats should be placed in the backseat of the car.
Forward-facing child safety seat. Children older than 1 who weigh more than 20 pounds should ride in forward-facing child safety seats. The seat should be placed in the rear of the vehicle until the child reaches the upper weight or height limit of the particular seat. Typically, a child will outgrow a safety seat around age 4 and once she reaches about 40 pounds.
Booster seat. Children age 4 and older who weigh more than 40 pounds should ride in booster seats. A child can safely progress to a seat belt when the belt fits properly across the upper thighs and chest. “This is usually at age 8 or when they are at least 4 feet 9 inches tall,” Osterhuber says.
Seat belt. When children outgrow their booster seats, they can use seat belts, but they still should sit in the back of the vehicle. “Really, all children should be riding in the backseat of the car until they are at least 13 years old,” Osterhuber says.
Seat Belt Safety: A Clear Message
The National Safety Council recently reported a drop in traffic fatalities for 2008, indicating a record low since the 1920s when it began publishing statistical reports. One reason given for the decline is the increased use of seat belts.
Did you know that your body weight is approximately 60 percent water? Your body uses water in all its cells, organs, and tissues to help regulate its temperature and maintain other bodily functions. Because your body loses water through breathing, sweating, and digestion, it’s important to rehydrate by drinking fluids and eating foods that contain water. The amount of water you need depends on a variety of factors, including the climate you live in, how physically active you are, and whether you’re experiencing an illness or have any other health problems.
Water Protects Your Tissues, Spinal Cord, and Joints
Water does more than just quench your thirst and regulate your body’s temperature; it also keeps the tissues in your body moist. You know how it feels when your eyes, nose, or mouth gets dry? Keeping your body hydrated helps it retain optimum levels of moisture in these sensitive areas, as well as in the blood, bones, and the brain. In addition, water helps protect the spinal cord, and it acts as a lubricant and cushion for your joints.
Water Helps Your Body Remove Waste
Adequate water intake enables your body to excrete waste through perspiration, urination, and defecation. The kidneys and liver use it to help flush out waste, as do your intestines. Water can also keep you from getting constipated by softening your stools and helping move the food you’ve eaten through your intestinal tract. However, it should be noted that there is no evidence to prove that increasing your fluid intake will cure constipation.
Water Aids in Digestion
Digestion starts with saliva, the basis of which is water. Digestion relies on enzymes that are found in saliva to help break down food and liquid and to dissolve minerals and other nutrients. Proper digestion makes minerals and nutrients more accessible to the body. Water is also necessary to help you digest soluble fiber. With the help of water, this fiber dissolves easily and benefits your bowel health by making well-formed, soft stools that are easy to pass.
Water Prevents You From Becoming Dehydrated
Your body loses fluids when you engage in vigorous exercise, sweat in high heat, or come down with a fever or contract an illness that causes vomiting or diarrhea. If you’re losing fluids for any of these reasons, it’s important to increase your fluid intake so that you can restore your body’s natural hydration levels. Your doctor may also recommend that you drink more fluids to help treat other health conditions, like bladder infections and urinary tract stones. If you’re pregnant or nursing, you may want to consult with your physician about your fluid intake because your body will be using more fluids than usual, especially if you’re breastfeeding.
How Much Water Do You Need?
There’s no hard and fast rule, and many individuals meet their daily hydration needs by simply drinking water when they’re thirsty, according to a report on nutrient recommendations from the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies. In fact, most people who are in good physical health get enough fluids by drinking water and other beverages when they’re thirsty, and also by drinking a beverage with each of their meals, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. If you’re not sure about your hydration level, look at your urine. If it’s clear, you’re in good shape. If it’s dark, you’re probably dehydrated.
Your dentist says your pearly whites should be inspected twice a year; your colleague in the next cubicle goes three times annually; and your best friend sees the dentist just once a year. So what gives? How often do you really need to get a check up?
Dr. Cliff Swanlund, president-elect of the Alberta Dental Association, says there is no “right” number of dental visits per year. Surprisingly, how often you need to go may have little to do with your teeth, but rather the gum tissue and supporting bone. “For people without decay problems, once a year is fine,” says Swanlund, who has a dental practice in Calgary. “Others who are prone to periodontal problems may require checking or cleaning every three to four months.”
These more frequent cleanings remove built-up plaque, the daily debris that we keep under control with proper brushing. Plaque can encourage the growth of harmful bacteria that cause periodontal or gum disease, an infection of the tissue that holds your teeth in place. With time, teeth may loosen and be in danger of falling out. Smoking, systemic diseases including diabetes, pregnancy, and the use of oral contraceptives can all increase the risk of gum disease. If your gums bleed when you clean your teeth, or are tender, swollen or red, see a dentist immediately.
Timing of dentist visits can also be driven by your benefits package, if you have one. “There are people I want to see every six months, but their coverage is every nine months so they ask to stretch the check-ups out a bit,” says Swanlund. “But it isn’t wise to let insurance dictate treatment.”
With growing evidence linking oral health with general health, only you and your dentist can determine how many visits are best. As a general rule, go a minimum of once per year, but more frequently if you have specific problems. However, if you feel you are going too often, get a second opinion. Swanlund’s best tip for reducing trips to the dental chair? Keep on flossing.
Start with the bristles. The designs—flat, rippled, dome-shaped, and more—come down to personal choice. But most dental professionals recommend soft brushes, which work best for removing plaque and debris, and are less harsh on your teeth and gums.
There are also alternatives for brush heads (e.g. rectangular or tapered) and handles (e.g. different grips and flexible necks). Again, it’s a matter of preference. Go with any brush that feels comfortable and whose head is small enough to reach all areas of your mouth, right to the back teeth. “If the head is too big, it’s hard to manipulate,” says Euan Swan, manager of dental programs for the Canadian Dental Association.
For people with orthodontic appliances and other dental work, specialty tools can clean hard-to-reach places and get under bridgework, augmenting regular brushing. (Talk to your dentist or dental hygienist.) Other brushes can wrap around braces, but what’s most important is cleaning thoroughly and getting between the braces and the gum line, says Dr. Bob Cram, an orthodontist in Red Deer, Alta., and president of the Canadian Association of Orthodontists.
“Don’t get hung up on the design—just get in there and scrub,” says Cram.
Should you power up? Power brushes can make for a less labour-intensive and more consistent brushing motion, and allow for oscillation and rotation that you simply can’t perform with your own hand, notes Dr. Maryam Adibfar, a Toronto dentist. These brushes can also be ideal for people who, due to a disability or limited manual dexterity, have trouble handling a manual brush.
Do power brushes work better than manual brushes? Adibfar swears by them, but to use an analogy, consider a poor golfer who buys a fancy driver. Chances are, the ball still ends up in the woods. Whatever the features—power or manual, bristle or handle design, timers or sensors—what matters most is technique. Spend two to three minutes at it, use a gentle, circular motion, and clean every surface of every tooth.
“If you take the time and brush properly,” says Swan, “any brush will get the job done.”
The mind-body connection is so powerful that our faces convey our thoughts, even when we try to mask them. Knowing that, researchers have trained doctors, spies and CEOs to read “micro expressions,” the fleeting emotions we broadcast.
Can we influence wellness by thinking about the mind-body connection in the opposite way?
Research has repeatedly shown that body movements and facial expressions can change how we interpret the world around us. In one 2003 study, scientists at Ohio State University and the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid told participants they were there to test headphones in order to trick them into nodding or shaking their heads while they listened to an editorial. Participants who were asked to shake their heads in disapproval were less convinced by poor arguments, while the participants who were asked to nod to signal approval were more convinced by the strong ones.
Richard Petty, a co-author of that study, advises people to nod as they rehearse positivity and shake their heads if negativity creeps in. “Some people think positive thoughts, but they don’t have confidence in them,” he says. “Sit up straight, nod your head and you can almost feel it. It’s like, ‘This is right.’”
Recently, scientists have begun to study how whole-body movements can transform mood. In a 2010 study led by researchers at Columbia and Harvard universities, 42 participants were asked to hold either expansive poses associated with power or constricted poses associated with powerlessness.
(One power pose involved standing and leaning forward against a desk with hands shoulder-width apart and palms down; one powerless pose involved standing with feet crossed and arms in a self-hug.)
After just two minutes in those stances, there were psychological changes: the power posers felt more powerful and took more risks in a gambling game. But there were also physical changes: the subjects who adopted powerless poses had higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol and lower levels of testosterone.
If standing tall and smiling big alter confidence and happiness, then why not use them to boost your confidence? Harvard Business School researcher Amy Cuddy, a co-author of the 2010 study, points out that power poses get results all over the animal kingdom. For humans, she recommends standing straight with feet apart and your hands on your hips, Wonder Woman-style, or leaning back in a chair with legs straight and your arms behind your head. Whatever the pose, take up some space and convey a sense of well-being.
Buying a new tube of toothpaste can be a daunting task. With so many different formulas on the market, you may often find yourself standing in the drugstore trying to decide between an enticing vanilla-latte-flavoured variety and a tube with super-duper whitening power. What to choose? According to Dr. Euan Swan, spokesperson for the Canadian Dental Association (CDA), you don’t have to worry too much-most toothpaste formulas on the drugstore shelf will help protect your pearly whites.
“If you choose a product that you like the taste of so much that it encourages you to brush,” Swan says, “then it might be fair to say that any number of products in the marketplace will do the job for you.” After all, good oral hygiene goes far beyond the kind of toothpaste you select-proper diet, frequent brushing and flossing, and regular trips to the dentist all play an important role in maintaining your thousand-watt smile. However, we all need to decide on toothpaste at some point. Here’s some information on common label language to help you spend less time in the oral-care aisle and more time brushing.
All toothpastes fight cavities because they help to remove plaque when used correctly, says Dr. Hardy Limeback, head of Preventive Dentistry at the University of Toronto. But one thing to consider is that many toothpastes on the market today contain fluoride, which has been proven to protect tooth enamel from decay.
“Most people, if not all, can benefit from using a fluoridated toothpaste,” says Swan. The use of fluoride in oral hygiene is endorsed by over 90 national health organizations, including the CDA and Health Canada. Swan recommends that, at bare minimum, adults should look for toothpaste that contains this ingredient.
And when it comes to your kids, fluoride is important too-just make sure to keep an eye on things. As excessive swallowing of toothpaste by young children may result in dental fluorosis, a health condition caused by an overdose of fluoride, children under six years of age should be supervised during brushing and only use a small amount (e.g., a pea-size portion) of toothpaste. Children under three years of age should have their teeth brushed by an adult using only a smear of toothpaste. Talk to your dentist if you have any concerns about your kids’ toothpaste.
Toothpastes that claim to whiten your teeth will help combat staining, but they won’t give you the same results as dental-office treatments or at-home whitening kits, both of which contain peroxide. “The whitening that a toothpaste does is principally cleaning the surface of the tooth to remove stains and to make the tooth whiter,” says Swan. Though some whitening toothpastes do contain a very low level of peroxide, most use an abrasive agent to shine up your pearly whites. If you feel you need help in removing surface discolouration on your teeth, you may want to consider a whitening toothpaste, but keep in mind that this product isn’t for everyone. “People with irritable bowel syndrome should stay away from abrasives,” says Limeback.
These toothpastes contain a common antibacterial agent called triclosan, and claim to protect gums from bacterial infections like gingivitis. If you have a history of gingivitis, it may be a good choice for you, says Swan, and according to the CDA, triclosan is a useful ingredient in oral hygiene. However, keep in mind that its efficacy is still questioned by some experts. Consult your dentist on whether a toothpaste containing triclosan is right for you.
Toothpastes claiming to be all-natural can be found in most health food stores as well as mainstream drugstores. These formulations are often fluoride-free and use ingredients such as myrrh, peppermint oil and aloe to clean teeth and freshen the mouth. Though natural pastes can be pricier than the big-name brands, they may be a good choice for younger brushers or people with chemical sensitivities. “Natural toothpastes can be effective and can be safe to swallow,” says Limeback.
Toothpaste for Sensitive Teeth
If your mouth aches at the mere thought of an ice cream cone, you might want to consider using toothpaste for sensitive teeth. Many major brands make at least one sensitive-teeth formula, and according to Swan, most of them work in much the same way. “With sensitive teeth,” he says, “the gums have receded slightly, exposing the root. There is no enamel on the root so it can be stimulated by sweets or temperature changes, and that can affect the nerve inside the tooth. Toothpastes for sensitive teeth have the ability to block that stimulus from going through the root surface.”
The Canadian Dental Association’s Seal of Recognition
The CDA Seal of Recognition program is voluntary and not all toothpaste manufacturers go through the process of obtaining one. To get CDA approval for a particular formula, a manufacturer will submit data that proves that the toothpaste will perform as expected. “Looking for the seal is helpful to consumers, as it provides them with an increased level of confidence in their product selection,” says Swan. But remember that as the program is not mandatory for all manufacturers and the CDA does not perform its own product testing, toothpastes that do not bear the seal may perform just as well as those that do.