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The Importance of Colorectal Cancer Screenings

The Basics

If you are age 50 to 75, get tested regularly for colorectal cancer. A special test (called a screening) can help prevent colorectal cancer or find it early, when it’s easier to treat.

You may need to get tested before age 50 or after age 75 if colorectal cancer runs in your family. Talk with your doctor and ask about your risk for colorectal cancer.

Continue reading “The Importance of Colorectal Cancer Screenings”

The Surprising Benefits of Walking

 

The next time you have a check-up, don’t be surprised if your doctor hands you a prescription to walk. Yes, this simple activity that you’ve been doing since you were about a year old is now being touted as “the closest thing we have to a wonder drug,” in the words of Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Of course, you probably know that any physical activity, including walking, is a boon to your overall health. But walking in particular comes with a host of benefits.

Here’s a list of five that may surprise you.

It counteracts the effects of weight-promoting genes

Harvard researchers looked at 32 obesity-promoting genes in over 12,000 people to determine how much these genes actually contribute to body weight. They then discovered that, among the study participants who walked briskly for about an hour a day, the effects of those genes were cut in half.

It helps tame a sweet tooth

A pair of studies from the University of Exeter found that a 15-minute walk can curb cravings for chocolate and even reduce the amount of chocolate you eat in stressful situations. And the latest research confirms that walking can reduce cravings and intake of a variety of sugary snacks.

It reduces the risk of developing breast cancer. 

Researchers already know that any kind of physical activity blunts the risk of breast cancer. But an American Cancer Society study that zeroed in on walking found that women who walked seven or more hours a week had a 14% lower risk of breast cancer than those who walked three hours or fewer per week. And walking provided this protection even for the women with breast cancer risk factors, such as being overweight or using supplemental hormones.

It eases joint pain

Several studies have found that walking reduces arthritis-related pain, and that walking five to six miles a week can even prevent arthritis from forming in the first place. Walking protects the joints — especially the knees and hips, which are most susceptible to osteoarthritis — by lubricating them and strengthening the muscles that support them.

It boosts immune function. 

Walking can help protect you during cold and flu season. A study of over 1,000 men and women found that those who walked at least 20 minutes a day, at least 5 days a week, had 43% fewer sick days than those who exercised once a week or less. And if they did get sick, it was for a shorter duration, and their symptoms were milder.

Cite: Harvard Medical University News

 

Keep Your Brain Healthy As You Age

What’s the key to keeping your mind sharp and your brain healthy as you grow older? Online puzzles? Nutritional supplements? Mall walking? Pickle-ball tournaments?

The truth is, there’s no single “miracle cure” for memory problems or other brain changes that come with aging. But there is cause for optimism. Science points to a combination of social factors and healthy habits that—taken together—can help you build, preserve, and protect your brain’s function over time.

Continue reading “Keep Your Brain Healthy As You Age”

Wellness Wednesday: Sometimes all You Need to Do is Breathe

 

Breathing exercises offer an extremely simple, effective, and convenient way to relieve stress and reverse your stress response, reducing the negative effects of chronic stress. There are definite benefits of breathing exercises. While simple diaphragmic breathing can provide relaxation and stress relief, there are several different types of breathing exercises to try, each with its own twist. Here are several breathing exercises, some of which are commonly recommended, some of which are unique, and all of which can each offer help in managing stress. This is an easy exercise that only takes a few minutes. Here’s how.

Mindful Diaphragmic Breathing

Get into a comfortable position, close your eyes, and start to notice your breath. Before you begin to alter it, pay attention to the pace and depth. Are you taking deep breaths or shallow ones? Are you breathing quickly or slowly? (Becoming aware of your breathing can help you to become more mindful of your body’s response to stress, and can help you to notice when you need to deliberately relax your breathing.)

Counted Breathing

Counting your breaths can be helpful, both for pacing and as a form of meditation. This technique helps with pacing–it enables you to elongate your breath and stretch out your exhales. There are a few ways to do this.

As you inhale, place your tongue on the roof of your mouth right behind your teeth, then breathe through your nose and slowly count down from five; on the exhale, let the air escape through your mouth and count back up to eight. Then repeat. This helps you to really empty your lungs and relax into each breath.

A variation of this is known as “4-7-8 breathing,” and is recommended by wellness expert Dr. Andrew Weil. With this option, you inhale for a count of four, wait for a count of seven, and exhale for a count of eight. This allows you to pause between breaths and really slow things down.
You may also find your own pace. Experiment with whatever ratio feels comfortable to you, and see if it helps you to feel relaxed. The act of counting as you breathe still helps you to maintain a steady pace and keep your mind on your breath and the present moment, so it is still more effective than simply breathing regularly and unconsciously.

Visualization Breathing: Inflating the Balloon

Get into a comfortable position, close your eyes, and begin breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth. As you inhale, imagine that your abdomen is inflating with air like a balloon. As you exhale, imagine that the air is escaping the balloon slowly. Remember, you do not have to force the air out; it simply escapes on its own, in its own time. You may want to imagine the balloon as your favorite color, or that you are floating higher in the sky with each breath if this is relaxing for you. Regardless, the “inflating balloon” visualization can help you to breathe deeply from your diaphragm rather than engaging in shallow breathing that can come from stress.

Visualization Breathing: Releasing Your Stress

Get into a comfortable position, close your eyes, and start diaphragmic breathing. As you inhale, imagine that all the stress in your body is coming from your extremities and into your chest. Then, as you exhale, imagine that the stress is leaving your body through your breath and dissipating right in front of you. Slowly, deliberately repeat the process. After several breaths, you should feel your stress begin to subside.

Deep, Cleansing Breath

Sometimes all you need to release stress from your shoulders, back, or the rest of your body is a few big, cleansing breaths. Breathe in deeply through your nose, and take in as much air as you comfortably can. Then release it, and really focus on emptying your lungs. (Many people hold air in their lungs after an exhale, so emptying your lungs on a deep exhale can help you to get more fresh oxygen into them.) Repeat this breathing exercise for a few breaths and release the tension in your back, your shoulders, and anywhere else it tends to reside.

Alternate Nostril Breathing

This breathing exercise variation has been practiced for thousands of years as a form of meditative breathing. As you inhale, place your finger over your right nostril and only breathe through your left. On the exhale, switch nostrils and only breathe through your right. You can breathe at whatever pace is comfortable for you, either a 5-8 ratio, a 4-7-8 ratio or whatever pace feels most relaxing for you (see “counted breathing,” above).

 

Cite: VerywellMind.com
 

Meet the Expert Speaker Series on Tuesday Feb 19, 6pm

 

Dr. Brenda Jimenez, Gastroenterologist will be presenting 

Family History and Herediatary Colorectal Cancer at 

On Tuesday February 19 from 6-7pm 

Holy Family Hospital-Haverhill Auditorium 140 Lincoln Avenue Haverhill, MA

To RSVP email: george.nugent@steward.org or call 978-887-0151 ext: 4897

 

 

Energize Your Body and Mind with Good-For-You Carbs

The diet industry has been doing you wrong by being wishy-washy about carbs. Despite what you may have heard, carbohydrates aren’t a no-no.

So, stop feeling guilty for noshing a much-needed macronutrient and focus on smart carb consumption strategies to adequately fuel your beautiful bod and brain.

Continue reading “Energize Your Body and Mind with Good-For-You Carbs”