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February 2, 2009

Be a good gym neighbor

Posted: 04:58 PM ET

It's hard enough to drag yourself to the gym some days, but there is nothing worse than sharing a workout with someone who has poor gym etiquette. You know who I'm talking about: people who perspire or cough all over the equipment.

people at gym

Others talk on their cell phones or crank up the volume on their MP3 players. What about those gym-goers who hog the treadmill or elliptical machines?

Here are some tips from some exercise pros on how to make your workout a more pleasant experience:

1) No Sweat. If you work up a sweat on the exercise equipment, clean up after yourself. Use a towel or borrow a cleaning solution from the gym facility to wipe down that weight machine or bicycle seat.

2) Turn Down the Volume. Listening to an MP3 player can help pass the time, but turn it down so that you don't bother those around you. Don't even think about chatting on your cell phone. Gyms are loud enough! Leave the phone in your car or a locker when you work out.

3) Cover Up. Save the skimpy outfits for the beach. Even though you might look good, it may not be the best fit for the gym.

Finally, don't forget to wash your gym clothes after every workout. You may think your outfit can make it through another day, but don't put your gym neighbor through the test.

Judy Fortin's Health Minute segment runs daily on HLN from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET weekdays.

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January 26, 2009

Dispelling arthritis myths

Posted: 05:15 PM ET

The aches and pains associated with arthritis don't just affect the elderly. The Arthritis Foundation reports two-thirds of people who have the condition are under the age of 65.

Arthritis Myths

In a little more than 20 years, the foundation predicts, 67 million Americans over the age of 18 will get an arthritis diagnosis.

It may help to understand what's fact and what's fiction when it comes to arthritis.

Here are some tips that may help dispell some myths:

1) Snap, snap. There is no scientific evidence that cracking your knuckles can cause arthritis. The habit and the sound may be annoying, but doctors say it is relatively harmless. Age, heredity, obesity and joint injury are some of the known causes of arthritis.

2) It feels like rain. Many arthritis sufferers swear they can predict the weather when their arthritis flares up. Doctors note while they've heard anecdotal evidence from many patients, there is no scientific proof behind the claims.

3) Take it easy. It is not true that exercise makes arthritis worse. Physical activity actually keeps joints flexible, maintains or improves muscle strength and helps with weight control.

Finally, arthritis isn't just another name for the aches and pains we feel as we grow older. It is a chronic disease that describes more than 100 conditions affecting the joints and other body parts. While there is no cure, doctors can provide medications and treatments that can improve the level of pain.

Judy Fortin's Health Minute segment runs daily on Headline News from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET weekdays.

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January 19, 2009

Are you a grinder?

Posted: 05:16 PM ET

My son used to grind his teeth at night. The sound permeating the bedroom wall was unbearable. I would liken it to a combination of fingernails on a chalkboard and a freight train screeching its brakes on the rails.

teeth Grinding

The condition is fairly common, but it is not normal. It can cause serious, permanent damage to your teeth. The American Dental Association says teeth grinding may be caused by stress and anxiety.

Here are some tips from the Mayo Clinic to help you clamp down on the habit.

1) What's that noise? Your bed partner will probably let you know if you are grinding in your sleep. Other signs and symptoms include: tooth and jaw pain, headaches, sensitive teeth and chewed tissue on the inside of your cheek.

2) Open wide. Teeth grinding often goes unnoticed or is ignored. Regular dental checkups can help diagnose the condition. A dentist will look for unusual wear and tear on your teeth.

3) Night guard. Many dentists recommend custom fit mouth guards that are worn when a patient sleeps. Over-the-counter guards are less expensive, but may not be as effective.

4) Relax! Finding ways to reduce stress in your life may help reduce your risk of becoming a grinder.

Finally, teeth grinding isn't just for adults. Children may develop the problem because their teeth don't fit together comfortably or as a response to pain from teething or an earache. Most kids outgrow the problem, but see a doctor or dentist for a proper diagnosis.

Judy Fortin's Health Minute segment runs daily on Headline News from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET weekdays.

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January 12, 2009

Wanted: bone marrow donors

Posted: 05:19 PM ET

I joined 11 million other Americans recently in signing up to be a bone marrow donor. The National Marrow Donor Program Registry list may be long, but doctors report thousands of patients need a life saving transplant every day and many can't find a match. The greatest need is for minority donors.

swab for bone marrow type

Before you sign up, here are some of the guidelines to becoming a donor:

1) Adults only. Bone marrow donors must be between the ages of 18 and 60.

2) Do your homework. You must be willing to donate to any patient in need. Go to marrow.org to get more information on the actual medical procedures involved and donor sign up materials. There are no costs involved in donating.

3) Are you healthy? Donors are asked to complete an extensive health questionnaire. Certain conditions would prevent you from joining including: HIV, hepatitis, diabetes requiring insulin or diabetes related health issues and significant obesity.

4) Simple swab. Give either a swab of cheek cells or a blood sample so your tissue type can be tested.

There is no way to predict whether you will be identified as a match for someone needing a transplant. You have the right to change your mind at any time.

Judy Fortin's Health Minute segment runs daily on Headline News from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET weekdays.

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January 6, 2009

Winterize your skin

Posted: 08:50 AM ET

Winter is barely underway and already the dry heat in my house is sucking the life out of my skin.  It seems to happen every year at this time.  As the temperature drops outside and humidity levels fall inside, our skin can become dry, cracked and irritated.

winterize

As the temperature drops outside and humidity levels fall inside, our skin can become dry and irritated.

Dermatologist Rutledge Forney of Atlanta, Georgia, has some tips for winterizing your skin.

1)  Short shower.  Your skin can be stripped of moisture during long, hot baths. Limit the number of showers or baths to one a day and only use soap on body parts that make an odor.

2) Lather up. Apply a moisturizer after toweling off. Look for lotions or other products with Petrolatum, an ingredient that seals in moisture and protects the skin from the environment.

3) Replenish humidity.. Use a humidifier in your bedroom while you sleep. The added moisture to the air will help relieve dry skin, chapped lips and sore throats that may be aggravated by winter heat.

4) SPF 15. Sunscreen isn't just for the beach. Sunlight during the winter can cause skin damage if you don't lather up. Choose a moisturizer with added SPF of at least 15.

Finally, don't forget to protect your hands and lips during the winter months. Wear gloves while outside and coat your lips with a slick lip balm to protect them from exposure to cold weather.

Judy Fortin's Health Minute segment runs daily on Headline News from 10am to 6pm ET weekdays.

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December 30, 2008

Recharged resolutions

Posted: 08:00 AM ET

Are you one of those people who makes a New Year's resolution, but can't seem to stick with it? Maybe you're taking the wrong approach.

Clinical psychologist Mark Crawford of Atlanta, Georgia, has some tips that might keep you from falling off the wagon.

judy.fortin

1) Be specific. State a specific goal. For example: If you want to lose weight, start with 10 pounds at a time.

2) Get real. Be sure to set a realistic goal. Very few people will be able to lose 50 pounds or more in a year.

3) Step by step. Come up with a plan for achieving your goal. For instance, if you're going to start an exercise program, decide how many times a week you'll work out.

4) The clock is ticking. Set a realistic time frame. It might be hard to stick with a resolution for an entire year, so why not start with two weeks and see how you're doing?

Crawford says if you stay on track for four to six weeks you have a pretty good chance of sticking with your goal and succeeding.

Judy Fortin's Health Minute segment runs daily on Headline News from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET weekdays.

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December 23, 2008

Protecting your peepers

Posted: 08:00 AM ET

Slipping on a pair of safety glasses may be the last thing on your mind if you're working around the kitchen or in the yard, but the American Academy of Ophthalmology says that's just what you should do to protect your eyes.

The group estimates that nearly half of all eye injuries occur at home and more than three-quarters of the people surveyed were not wearing protective googles. Many of the accidents happen in the kitchen while people are cooking or cleaning. A large percentage of injuries also occur while people are doing yard work and home repair projects.

judy.fortin

Here's how to protect yourself:

1) Chemical caution. Common household products such as dishwasher power, laundry detergent, bleach and cleaners can be caustic. Read the labels before using. Wear protective googles to guard against splashing. Wash your hands well after handling products.

2) Watch out – it's hot. Food cooked in hot grease or oil can splatter into the eye causing serious injury. Be careful when using hot curling irons or hair straighteners around your face.

3) The great outdoors. Protect your eyes while mowing the lawn, edging or clipping hedges and bushes. Watch out when securing loads with bungee cords. Take precautions when using hand or power tools.

Finally, if an eye injury occurs seek medical help immediately. Even if an injury appears to minor, delaying medical attention could result in permanent vision loss or blindness.

Judy Fortin's Health Minute segment runs daily on Headline News from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET weekdays.

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December 15, 2008

Exotic pets and young kids do not mix

Posted: 04:46 PM ET

For the past couple of months, my 11-year-old son has been begging me to buy him a gecko. After reading about the recent health warnings from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Pediatrics, I'm glad I've resisted his pleas.

Experts from both organizations are warning parents that some exotic pets such as lizards, snakes and turtles can carry dangerous germs. Some of the pets may transmit illnesses such as salmonella and E coli. Young children under the age of 5 are especially vulnerable because their immune systems aren't fully developed.

judy.fortin

The CDC has some tips for protecting young kids:

1) Watch 'em like a hawk. Always supervise young children when they're interacting with any animal. Those under the age of 5 are especially at risk for injury.

2) No kissing allowed. Children should not be allowed to kiss animals or put their hands or other objects in their mouth after handling animals.

3) Soap up. Children should wash their hands thoroughly with soap and water after touching an animal. Parents should supervise handwashing for kids under 5.

4) Ask a doctor. Parents should check with a pediatrician or veterinarian about how to select a pet and how to avoid animal-transmitted diseases.

Finally, make sure any current family pets are healthy and appropriately vaccinated.

Judy Fortin's Health Minute segment runs daily on Headline News from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET weekdays.

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December 8, 2008

Green toys may be safer for kids and environment

Posted: 05:17 PM ET

I'm sure I'm not the only parent who was frightened by last year's massive toy recall. The warnings came just in time for the busy holiday shopping season. This year, many moms and dads have told me they are taking extra precautions. They're doing their homework and searching for products that are safe for their children and the environment.

Pediatrician Alan Greene, author of "Raising Baby Green, The Earth-Friendly Guide to Pregnancy, Childbirth and Baby Care" has some tips for selecting the right toys.

judy.fortin

1) Good old wood. Choose toys made from natural, solid wood. Look for products that are unfinished or those that have a non-toxic finish. Avoid items made of pressed wood or particle board. The glue that holds them together might be made from toxic substances. Toys stamped as FSC-certified are made from sustainable materials and are safe for children.

2) A plethora of plastic. Be wary of some toys made of plastic. Doctors are concerned about products that contain phthalates, a toxic chemical, that makes plastic soft and pliable. There's also a lot of controversy lately surrounding bisphenol-A or BPA, a hardening agent used in some plastic products. PVC is another plastic that causes concern. Look for toys that contain recycling symbols and the numbers: 1, 2, 4, or 5. The numbers signify the chemicals are not present.

3) Soft and squishy. When selecting stuffed animals or cloth covered toys search for organic fiber fabrics such as cotton, hemp or wool. The fibers are grown without the use of chemical fertilizers or pesticides which could be bad for a baby if they chew on it.

4) Will you take a $1? Be careful about buying used toys at garage sales. Older toys may contain high levels of lead paint. Some toys may have been recalled because of safety regulations. Check with the Consumer Product Safety Commission for the most recent list.  Other toys might be broken or falling apart and may pose a choking hazard to young children.

Judy Fortin's Health Minute segment runs daily on Headline News from 10am to 6pm ET weekdays.

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December 1, 2008

Holiday eating stressful for those with disorders

Posted: 04:30 PM ET

The holidays can be a stressful time for anyone, but for the millions of Americans with eating disorders they can be especially difficult.

Well-meaning relatives may tip the balance with comments on eating habits or weight loss and weight gain.

The National Eating Disorders Association has some ideas to help people navigate the holiday season.

judy.fortin

1) Get ready. Discuss your holiday concerns with a therapist, doctor, nutritionist or support group. They can help you prepare for possible family interactions.

2) Don't overbook. Avoid over scheduling and over stressing yourself. Leave time for relaxation and the important things in life.

3) Three square meals. Eat regularly and in some kind of pattern. Don't skip meals in preparation for a big party or event.

4) Reality check. Consider asking a loved one to prepare a plate of food for you at family gatherings or give you a reality check on the portion you've gathered for yourself.

Finally, be flexible and take a holiday from the self criticism, rigidity and perfectionism that may be a part of your life.

Judy Fortin's Health Minute segment runs daily on Headline News from 10am to 6pm ET weekdays.

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About this blog

Clark Howard helps you become a wise consumer. We know you're busy, and that's why Clark's tips are quick and effective. He'll arm you with the information you need to make smart choices. During these tough economic times, Clark wants to help you save more, spend less and avoid getting ripped off!