December 2009

January is National Lose Weight Month

It’s no surprise that, with all of the resolutions being made by nearly half the country, January just happens to be Weight Loss Month. Though losing weight can be beneficial in terms of long term health,  longevity, physical fitness and other facets of life, it should be a personal choice made because the person wants to lose weight for him or herself—not because it’s what your mother, your spouse, or society in general expects of you. It’s true that there are many obese people who could benefit from weight loss; it’s equally true that many of them function just fine, and that there are also plenty of healthy, slender people who believe themselves “fat” and plan on dieting to become “model thin.”

January is Cervical Cancer Screening Month

Getting screened for cervical cancer is one of the best investments you can make this new year. In 2009 alone, over 11,000 new cases of cervical cancer were diagnosed, and over 4,000 women died from the disease.

A pap smear is usually enough to keep monitoring the health of your cervix. If you’re already on birth control, you may have to have an annual screening already at the request of your gynecologist. If not, you may be able to get by with one every three years up to age 29, depending on your risk factors and family history. All women who are sexually active should get a pap smear—and if you’re not sexually active by age 21, you should still get one by that time.

How Much Exercise is Enough?

I never make News Years resolutions, but when people do, exercise and diet are usually at the top of the list. The NYT recently had a short article specifying how much exercise is really enough.

Basically, the author researched several different studies and found different recommendations. For a mental health benefit, the absolute minimum of exercise is 20 minutes a week. This could include anything from walking to mild housework such as vacuuming. The problem is that this little amount of exercise would do absolutely nothing for your cardiovascular health. Nada. While it could be a start for those making New Year’s resolutions, it isn’t enough for most health benefits.