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Back to regular posting on Sunday, December 16.

Holiday Spending: How to Tame Your Inner Shopaholic

(U.S. News & World Report) It's December—well, November, too—when we obsess about shopping for gifts. Commercials with spouses buying each other diamonds and luxury cars are on every channel. Friends ask if we've started holiday shopping yet because they finished theirs months ago, and can we believe what they snagged? Sale ads fill mailboxes, online and on the street—but hurry, that deal is only good today. A rushed timeframe and pressure to "buy! buy! buy!" can turn a moderate shopper impulsive. Plus, we're already exhausted in December, thanks to holiday parties, work deadlines, travel, family time, and shorter days. That's bad news for shoppers, who tend to make poorer decisions when tired, [says Ramani Durvasula, a psychologist and addiction expert].
Luckily, even those with a tendency to overdo it can tame their inner shopaholic this season. Consider these tips:
Skip the stores… Make a shopping list for your partner and send him or her to the store in your place. Or, if filling your online shopping cart gets you into trouble, block the sites that burn a hole in your pocket.
Leave the credit card at home. If you think you can handle the store or you can't get out of going, take a debit card that's linked directly to an account—or better yet, take cash…
Unsubscribe from email lists… [I]f the emails stop coming, so will the temptation to indulge.
Shop when you feel your best. We're not great decision makers when we're tired…
Walk away. If you're on the fence about buying an item, Durvasula suggests setting it back on the shelf and walking away to think about it…
Rethink gift-giving. "People often view a gift as something in a box with a bow," Durvasula says, "but I think the most precious gift you've got is your time." Take a friend out to lunch, she suggests. Or invite everyone who gave you gifts to your house for a party.
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The Secret to Gift Giving: It's Not the Thought

(U.S. News & World Report) [I]t's not the thought that counts. says Sherry Athay, gift consultant and author of Present Perfect: Unforgettable Gifts for Every Occasion. "It's the thinking that counts," she says. "We just don't stop to think for a minute." But do so, and you may be surprised at the simple, special delights you can give someone.
According to Athay, a meaningful gift is a particular one; it comes from carefully considering the recipient's distinctive likes and needs as well as your own special skills while conveying the right message. So, for example, Assay bakes chocolate-chip cookies that her publicist adores. Presto! Perfect publicist gift. Everyone has that signature something they can give, she says. (Perhaps that's why we refer to talents as gifts.) Have an eye for photography? Wrap up an artsy photo for your favorite aesthete. Known for your knack with the elderly? Arrange some time to visit a retirement community. Perhaps you simply spend time with someone you love—instead of a gift card to a restaurant, why not take a friend there for dinner?
The most meaningful gifts, Athay says, are those "that can't come from anybody else, that can't be purchased, and that's why the time spent is so precious."
Community: You can even give a gift that helps to save the environment.
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How to Choose a Charity for Holiday Giving

(Danielle Kurtzleben, U.S. News & World Report) 'Tis the season for giving: Soup kitchen volunteers, Toys for Tots, and bell-ringing Santas abound. Goodwill toward humanity is widespread during the holidays, but before emptying their change jars and drawers of used clothing, donors might want to do some cost-benefit analysis. Below, experts explain [some] ways to make holiday donations more cost effective.
1. Donate like an investor:… [D]onating to a charitable organization may best be done like a small stock transaction (albeit without the personal gain aspect): The donor buys into a trusted company hoping for a good return on investment, but the organization does as it chooses with the money.
2. Consider cash instead of used goods (or at least call ahead): Often, money can go farther than donations of goods, particularly when a donor doesn't know exactly what a charity organization needs…
3. Don't purge your pantry:… Food pantries often can buy surplus goods from the food industry for pennies on the dollar, meaning that a $10 donation can buy 20 times that amount of food. In addition, food pantries are often looking for donations that cater to their clients' health needs; high-sodium or high-sugar offerings may not fit that bill…
4. Consider what your skills are worth:… Many organizations require high-cost skills that they may not be able to afford, Miniutti says, like attorneys to look over and negotiate contracts with vendors. Likewise, doctors working pro bono can be very helpful for organizations helping people who cannot afford healthcare.
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How many of your holiday gifts are made in America?

(USA Today) Most holiday shoppers concentrate on finding the perfect gifts for their loved ones. This Christmas, shoppers are being challenged to buy at least one gift that is made in America.
Community: You can help the economic recovery by buying American made products.
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Broccoli and Cheese Soup
Processed cheese melts beautifully, giving this 30-minute broccoli and cheese soup a smooth texture and mild flavor.
Southeast Asian-Inspired Salmon Soup
A touch of chile-garlic sauce and hot sesame oil add heat to this delicately flavored salmon soup without being overpowering.
Andrew Weil, M.D.:
Pasta Puttanesca
Legend has it that this pasta dish was concocted by ladies of the evening after work was done, perhaps because it is both fast and spicy. At any rate, it is a perfect quick meal that has more than its share of flavor. Anchovies are a traditional ingredient and a source of omega-3 fatty acids, so use them if you like their flavor.
Appetite for Health:
Best Skinny Potato Recipes for the Holidays!
Potatoes are a required side dish at any holiday dinner. While many who are calorie-conscious think mashed potatoes aren’t waistline-friendly, you may be mistaken. Potatoes can both be part of a healthy, diet that promotes achieving a healthy weight.
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Calm Your Holiday Nerves

(The Supermarket Guru) We are in the thick of it, the holidays are here, and when you're feeling frazzled and in a hurry, you can’t forget that nature has provided foods that are known to have calming effects. There are also certain combinations of foods that can leave you feeling blissful, as well as satisfied and nourished, even through the hectic holiday season…
Chamomile, a very popular relaxation aid, has been used since ancient times and is known to promote general relaxation and relieve stress…
Omega-3s - try eating foods that are rich in essential omega-3 fatty acids, such as walnuts, salmon, sardines, flax seed, and omega-3 fortified eggs. Omega-3 is essential for optimal brain health. Omega-3s also have an anti-inflammatory effect that may help in pain relief.
Tryptophan:… [T]ryptophan also aids in the production of the neurotransmitter serotonin, which calms and helps regulate feelings.. In addition to turkey, foods that contain notable levels of tryptophan include shrimp, spinach, cottage cheese, chicken, tuna, soybeans, milk, salmon, and eggs. Vegetables like asparagus, broccoli, and cauliflower are great sources as well.
Water is essential for every function in the body, but during busy days it’s one of the easiest things to forget!...
Zinc rich foods such as spinach, lamb, and grass-fed beef can also have calming effects…
If you're feeling especially anxious, try decreasing your caffeine intake, limit coffee and tea drinking to earlier in the day…
The holidays should be fun and enjoyable! Use the above list as a guide to keep you feeling relaxed and calm through the holiday season and as we transition into 2013!
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What kinds of grains are best to eat and why?

(NIH Senior Health, via email) Grains fall into two main categories: whole and refined. Whole grains provide many benefits not found in refined grains, and you should try to include whole grains in your diet every day. Find out about the benefits of eating whole grain foods and see how to tell if a food product contains whole grains.
The information on Eating Well as You Get Older was provided by NIHSeniorHealth and developed by the National Institute on Aging (NIA).
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Drought Starting to Show Up in Food Prices

(Wall Street Journal) The drought last summer in the nation’s breadbasket is starting to reflect in food costs even as falling prices at the pump are pushing down overall inflation.
The producer price index, a measure that tracks how much wholesalers pay for goods, declined 0.8% last month, but the price for food jumped 1.3%, the largest gain since February 2011, a report Thursday from the Labor Department said.
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Overeating now bigger global problem than lack of food

(New Scientist) The largest ever study into the state of the world's health has revealed that, for the first time, the number of years of healthy living lost as a result of people eating too much outweigh the number lost by people eating too little.
The Global Burden of Disease report – a massive research effort involving almost 500 scientists in 50 countries – also concludes that we have finally got a handle on some common infectious diseases, helping to save millions of children from early deaths. But collectively we are spending more of our lives living in poor health and with disability…
For the first time on a global scale, being overweight has become more of a health problem than lack of nutrition.
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Frailty and food

(HHS HealthBeat) A study indicates that people who are frail are five times more likely than those who are not frail to report not having enough to eat.
Researchers used the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, looking at adults, 60 and older.
Ellen Smit, at Oregon State University, led the study.
“We can try and make sure that people who are frail have access to food.”
Half of the participants in the study were either frail or “pre-frail,” meaning they were at risk for decreased physical function.
“We can do something to try and prevent pre-frailty from becoming frail and people who are not frail from being pre-frail, perhaps some kind of an intervention through exercise as well as nutrition.” 
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Can Going Hungry as a Child Slow Down Cognitive Decline in Later Years?

(Science Daily) People who sometimes went hungry as children had slower cognitive decline once they were elderly than people who always had enough food to eat, according to a new study…
"These results were unexpected because other studies have shown that people who experience adversity as children are more likely to have problems such as heart disease, mental illness and even lower cognitive functioning than people whose childhoods are free of adversity," said study author Lisa L. Barnes, PhD.
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Vermont healthiest, Mississippi worst, again

(UPI) Vermont, for the sixth consecutive year, ranks as the healthiest U.S. state, while Mississippi and Louisiana tied for last place, a non-profit group said.
The United Health Foundation, established by health insurer UnitedHealth Group, used data
from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Census Bureau and other sources involving 24 measures of health, including tobacco use, alcohol abuse, exercise, immunizations, premature birth rates, cancer and heart disease rates.
Dr. Reed V. Tuckson, medical adviser at the United Health Foundation said as a nation, the United States made extraordinary gains in longevity over the past decades, but as individuals, health is regressing -- Americans are living longer but are sicker.
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Mike Bloomberg: I give life

(New York Post) Mayor Bloomberg [on Tuesday] bragged that the city has beaten life's averages, rolling out new figures showing that a baby born here in 2010 can expect to live 80.9 years - three years longer than when he took office…
The mayor and his aides haven’t been shy about taking credit for the good news, which they said validates their sometimes controversial health policies.
Dr. Tom Farley, the city health commissioner, pointed to declining death rates from heart disease and cancer as primary reasons longevity is increasing.
“The risk factors for those are things we’ve been working on: smoking, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity,” said Farley. “That says that something we’re doing is working.”
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Why Canada ranks second as the happiest country in the world

(Astrid Van Den Broek, Chatelaine) The Centre for the Study of Living Standards (CSLS) recently released a study called Canadians Are Happy and Getting Happier: An Overview of Life Satisfaction in Canada (2003-2011)… This eight-year study came with some great findings about our happiness as Canadians. I chatted with Andrew Sharpe, executive director of the Ottawa-based CSLS on what else these findings show us:
Q: Did you uncover any surprising results from the study?
A: The key findings include the overall high level of life satisfaction in Canada and how high Canada ranked in this indicator — second behind Denmark…
Q: So why are Canadians so happy?
A: We’ve found the four important determinants of happiness are: mental health, physical health, sense of community and stress. Other factors include income (more is better), employment status (the self-employed are more happy, the unemployed less happy), and marital status (in general married are happier than non-marrieds).
Q: Compared to our peers, why is Canada becoming happier?
A: Canada has many positive attributes as a country that contribute to the high level of life satisfaction. These include high incomes, relatively low unemployment, good health and education system, no civil strife, no fiscal crisis, a well developed social safety net, falling absolute poverty, among others.
Community: Whereas our American winner-take-all/you’re-on-your-own society causes a lot of stress and unhappiness. How else can we explain the fact that one in five Americans suffered from a mental illness in 2010?
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Unhealthy Behaviors Could Slow Progress in Reducing Heart Disease, Stroke

(Science Daily) Poor eating and exercise habits could be the game-changer in the fight against heart disease and stroke deaths, according to the American Heart Association's "Heart Disease and Stroke Statistical Update 2013"…
"Americans need to move a lot more, eat healthier and less, and manage risk factors as soon as they develop," said Alan S. Go, M.D., chairman of the report's writing committee and chief of the Cardiovascular and Metabolic Conditions Section of the Kaiser Permanente Northern California Division of Research in Oakland. "If not, we'll quickly lose the momentum we've gained in reducing heart attack and stroke rates and improving survival over the last few decades."
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Cooking Light:
Homemade Food Gifts
Enjoy the warmth and friendliness of your own home while your prepare presents you know will please.
Chicken and Couscous Salad
A great way to use leftover chicken, this 20-minute dinner salad uses quick-to-cook couscous and lots of brightly flavored herbs.
Chili-Rubbed Steaks & Pan Salsa
Any cut of steak will work for this recipe, but we especially like the flavor and texture of rib-eye with these seasonings; look for steak that has been thinly cut. A cold ale, sweet potato fries and vinegary coleslaw can round out the meal.
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All About Olives

(SouthBeachDiet.com) Olives contain healthy monounsaturated fatty acids, which may help to lower “bad” LDL cholesterol. Because they are high in calories, however, try to limit yourself to 15 small green olives or 8 small black olives per serving.
Olives come in many varieties and they’re cultivated in numerous regions around the world. Their color varies depending on how long they are left on the tree to mature, or ripen, as well as the curing method used. Green olives are picked early in the season, whereas black olives are fully ripe. All olives, no matter the color, contain the same good fats.
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Got Food Allergies? You Can Now Test Your Meal on the Spot Using a Cell Phone

(Science Daily)  Are you allergic to peanuts and worried there might be some in that cookie? Now you can find out using a rather unlikely source: your cell phone.
A team of researchers … has developed a lightweight device called the iTube, which attaches to a common cell phone to detect allergens in food samples. The iTube attachment uses the cell phone's built-in camera, along with an accompanying smart-phone application that runs a test with the same high level of sensitivity a laboratory would.
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Vegetable Compound Could Become Ingredient to Treating Leukemia

(Science Daily) A concentrated form of a compound called sulforaphane found in broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables has been shown to reduce the number of acute lymphoblastic leukemia cells in the lab setting, said researchers…
[Dr. Daniel] Lacorazza said the compound works by entering the cells and reacting with certain proteins. More studies will be needed, but researchers believe this compound could one day be used as a treatment option in combination with current therapies.
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Vitamin D Tied to Breast Cancer Outcome

(MedPage Today) Vitamin D levels may be part of the reason some women saw a benefit from adding a bone drug to standard breast cancer chemotherapy regimens, a researcher said.
Postmenopausal women with sufficient levels of the vitamin were significantly less likely to see their breast cancer recur in their bones when they combined chemotherapy with zoledronic acid (Zometa), according to Robert Coleman, MD…
On the other hand, markers of bone turnover had no impact on the risk, Coleman reported.
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Frog-in-Bucket-of-Milk Folklore Leads to Potential New Antibiotics

(Science Daily) Following up on an ancient Russian way of keeping milk from going sour -- by putting a frog in the bucket of milk -- scientists have identified a wealth of new antibiotic substances in the skin of the Russian Brown frog…
A. T. Lebedev and colleagues explain that amphibians secrete antimicrobial substances called peptides through their skin. These compounds make up the majority of their skin secretions and act as a first line of defense against bacteria and other microorganisms that thrive in the wet places frogs, toads, salamanders and other amphibians live…
"These peptides could be potentially useful for the prevention of both pathogenic and antibiotic resistant bacterial strains while their action may also explain the traditional experience of rural populations," the scientists concluded.
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New tools to help providers protect patient data in mobile devices

(U.S. Department of Health & Human Services) Launched by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) today, a new education initiative and set of online tools provide health care providers and organizations practical tips on ways to protect their patients’ protected health information when using mobile devices such as laptops, tablets, and smartphones.
The initiative is called Mobile Devices: Know the RISKS. Take the STEPS. PROTECT and SECURE Health Information and is available at www.HealthIT.gov/mobiledevices.  It offers educational resources such as videos, easy-to-download fact sheets, and posters to promote best ways to safeguard patient health information.
“The use of mobile health technology holds great promise in improving health and health care, but the loss of health information can have a devastating impact on the trust that patients have in their providers.  It’s important that these tools are used correctly,” said Joy Pritts, HHS’ Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) chief privacy officer.
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More doctors adopting EHRs to improve patient care and safety

(U.S. Department of Health & Human Services) Physician adoption of electronic health record (EHR) and other computerized tools to help improve care, safety and coordination of health care for patients across the county continue to rise, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) reports in a new data brief.
Last week, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) reported that the percentage of doctors adopting electronic health records has increased from 48 percent in 2009 to 72 percent in 2012.  The ONC report shows that since 2009, the percent of physicians with computerized capabilities to e-prescribe has more than doubled, from 33 percent to 73 percent.  Within the past year, more physicians (56 percent) have the computerized capabilities to engage with patients and their families by providing patients with summaries after visits, an increase of 46 percent…
“The increase in the number of physicians that are adopting EHRs and other computerized capabilities to meet meaningful use objectives related to quality, patient safety and efficiency is encouraging,” said Farzad Mostashari, national coordinator. “Patients are the primary beneficiaries as more and more doctors adopt the use of electronic tools like EHRs.”
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Patients’ Health IT Savvy Judged Lacking

(MedPage Today) As hospitals and physicians move to wider use of electronic health records (EHRs), patients need to become more engaged and be made aware that their records are accessible, health technology experts said.
And as providers work on the next stage of becoming "meaningful users" of EHRs, they must remember that higher patient engagement is related to higher quality, better outcomes, and lower costs, several speakers said at a press conference … sponsored by the Bipartisan Policy Center.
They agreed that there is work to be done to educate patients on how they can use electronic tools to access their health records, and what rights they have to that data. For example, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) allows patients access to their health records, but that information is not widely known or used.
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Health Cost Bite To Family Budgets Sinks Deeper

(Kaiser Health News) Medical costs aren’t just breaking government budgets. The price of commercial health insurance has risen five times faster than family incomes since 2003 even as the financial security it offers has shrunk, says a new Commonwealth Fund report that underscores how medicine is consuming bigger and bigger parts of the private economy…
The average total cost of family health insurance — employer and employees’ shares — hit $15,022 last year, up 62 percent since 2003, while the median family income rose only 11 percent during the same period, the report said. If that trend continues, premiums for family coverage will come close to $25,000 by 2020.
And because employers are passing a bigger share of costs to workers, the overall premium increase doesn’t reflect the full growth of the consumer burden. The average employee paid $3,962 in premiums for a family plan in 2011 — up 74 percent from 2003. Deductibles more than doubled in the same period, meaning out-of-pocket costs soared, too
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$1.5 billion in insurer rebates, cost cuts

(UPI) A Commonwealth Fund report said healthcare reform requires health insurers to spend at least 80 percent of premium dollars on healthcare or quality improvement activities or pay a rebate to their customers.
A Commonwealth Fund report said healthcare reform requires health insurers to spend at least 80 percent of premium dollars on healthcare or quality improvement activities or pay a rebate to their customers…
Michael McCue of Virginia Commonwealth University and Mark Hall of Wake Forest University found 39 states dropped administrative costs in the individual market, 37 states saw medical loss ratios improve and 34 states saw reductions in operating profits.
However, the report also found in small- and large-group markets, medical loss ratios were largely unchanged, and while spending on administrative costs dropped or profits increased.
Community: Yes, but this requirement of the ACA is setting up a cost-plus situation, where insurers have no incentive to negotiate reduced health care provider costs, because the more they pay out, the more they can earn. I thought we learned through military contracting that cost-plus is not a good thing.
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How Much Does an MRI Cost -- $295 or $3,000? Both?

(MedPage Today) The Clear Health Costs blog recently published a two-part piece on the variable costs of MRI tests.
Excerpt of part 1:    
Different facilities (hospital, radiology center, doctor’s office) charge vastly different prices for MRIs. For example, the cash price of a lumbar spine MRI at a hospital in California can reach more than $3,000, while the cash price of the same test at an independent radiology facility can be as low as $400. (For our sampling of cash or self-pay prices of lumbar spine MRIs in the San Francisco area, go here.  For our sampling of cash or self-pay prices in the New York area, go here. Using our search tool for Medicare prices, you can see that several providers will undercut the government price, which is interesting.)
There are also private radiology facilities that offer exceptionally low costs, such as $295 at RPN of California, a low-cost MRI services network with headquarters in Ontario, Calif.
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12 days of trauma can break the bank

(UPI) A U.S. trauma expert tallied up the cost of some holiday injuries and said 12 days of trauma can break the bank financially, physically and emotionally.
Dr. Thomas Esposito, chief of the Division of Trauma, Surgical Critical Care and Burns at Loyola University Medical Center near Chicago, said Americans are reporting they plan to spend an average of $854 this year on holiday gifts, but that is pennies compared to the cost of an unplanned trip to the emergency department.
"The cost to an individual and their family is heartbreaking but the cost to public health is bank-breaking," Esposito said in a statement.
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To stay fit during holidays bend, don't break routine: experts

(Reuters) Sticking to a fitness routine is not always easy, but holiday feasting, drinking and family can make it even harder.
‘Tis the season, experts say, to bend your fitness routine so it does not break.
"Consider the holidays a time to maintain fitness, not a time to set new goals or be ambitious," said fitness expert Shirley Archer, author of "Fitness 9 to 5" and "Weight Training for Dummies."…
"Research tells us that you can get an effective strength training routine in as little as 15 minutes," she said. "This is not ideal to build strength over time, but is sufficient to keep what you have during the holidays." A bare-bones cardio workout can be accomplished by fitting short, 10-minute bouts of activity into your holiday plans.
Danielle Hopkins, group fitness manager and instructor at an Equinox fitness center in New York City, tells her concerned clients to try to sweat at least 20 minutes a day.
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10 gym-free ways to exercise and get fit over the holidays

(James Fell , Chatelaine) You can get my tips to keeping food and alcohol intake down over the holidays here, and below are my gym-free ways to get in extra activity over the break:
1. Just take a walk
Walking is the number one form of exercise on the planet. More people use it for fitness than anything else and it imparts excellent health benefits…
2. Do the stairs
Whether at home or work, take a break from the panic of getting ready for the holidays and do a few flights of stairs — or ditch the elevator all together and strictly use them for a few weeks…
3. TV time just became yoga time
4. Go tobogganing
5. Do a short video
It may seem like you don’t have 30-45 minutes to do one of your workout videos, but what about three to five minutes?...
6. Dance like no one’s watching…even if they are
If you’re busy and feeling overwhelmed, cranking up your favourite song and shaking your booty is a good way to move and recharge your brain…
7. Stop sitting down
Whatever the activity, if its wrapping presents, writing Christmas cards or something else, if you can do it standing, then do it. The less time spent sitting, the better.
8. Park further away
9. Move some snow around
10. Clean the house
The important thing to remember is that these fitness sessions don’t need to be long or intense, but merely frequent. Consider printing list article off and sticking it to the fridge as a constant reminder to get just a little activity here and there, because it adds up faster than you think.
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Five benefits of exercise that don't include weight loss

(Natasha Turner, N.D., Chatelaine) While your motives for hitting the gym may be to lose weight, its benefits don’t always have to do with fitting into smaller pants. In fact, you may be surprised to find out that exercise can affect everything from appetite to inflammation and beyond. Here are five reasons why you don’t want to skip your workout.
1. Reduced breast cancer risk
According to researchers, post-menopausal women who engage in moderate to vigorous exercise have a reduced risk of breast cancer…
2. You’ll have less motivation to munch
While you may think that a good workout boosts your appetite, it’s often the opposite…
3. Look younger and live longer
While a healthy body-fat perspective and waist-to-hip ratio is essential for a long and healthy life, recent research shows that physical fitness may trump these factors…
4. More sweat equals better brainpower
[A] review from the Netherlands found that aerobic exercise (between 2-7 days a week) can also help boost cognitive processing speed, motor function and visual and auditory attention in older adults…
5. Exercise can combat the consequences of a desk job 
Researchers recently determined that increased sitting time is associated with higher inflammatory markers and a lower metabolism..
Bottom line: Plan to hit the gym and get in a 30-minute strength circuit two to three times a week and one to two interval cardio sessions for optimal health (whether indoors or outside). Add in one yoga class or DVD and you have yourself a well-rounded fitness regimen. You can also find beginner workouts for men and women here.
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Exercise can lower risk of cancer, even without losing weight

(KSDK) Frustrated when you don't see results on the scale after weeks of walking or lifting weights? Don't let it throw you off your exercise schedule. Study after study shows you're fighting cancer even if you don't see a big drop in pounds.
"Even with stable weight, the increase in exercise will improve glucose metabolism, insulin levels will be lower and in fact cancer risk is lower," said Dr. [Graham] Colditz.
How much lower? How about a 25 percent decrease in colon cancer and 20 to 25 percent for breast cancer. There are also clear links between physical activity and reduced risk of endometrial, lung, and prostate cancer.
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More Fitness Tips

"People who work out in the early morning tend to stay more consistent because there are less obstacles at 6:00 a.m. than there are at 6:00 p.m.," says Chris Freytag, a national fitness expert and American Council on Exercise board member. All well and good, but if actually waking up that early -- and then sticking to routine for good -- is still an obstacle for you, follow these simple tips, and you'll be up and running (or lifting, or swimming, or you get the point) on a regular basis in no time. Be Specific When You Schedule… Get Up And Go With H2O… Upgrade Your Alarm… Make It Fast… Do What You Love
(The Advertiser News South) Studies have found that advantages to exercising with a group often make it more effective than working out alone. As outlined by the American College of Sports Medicine, benefits of group fitness include a social environment, safe and productive design, consistent schedule, accountability for participation and beginner-friendly experience. All of these factors contribute to increased regimen adherence and retention, according to the Medical Fitness Association.
Community: Group exercise also meets another human need—that of socialization.
(Gina Spadafori, Sacramento Bee) If you're thinking of getting a dog, think seriously about which breed you want and whether you can provide an active dog with the exercise he needs. If you can't honestly say that your dog will get 30 minutes of heart-thumping aerobic exercise at least three to four days a week – daily is better – then you really ought to reconsider getting an active large breed… Most small breeds are easy in the exercise department…, not because they don't need a lot of it, but because it's not as difficult to exercise a small dog with short legs. A Yorkie, pug or corgi can get good exercise in a small yard or on a brisk walk.
(Bluefield Daily Telegraph) What might be called "fitness porn" is to blame for some of Americans' antipathy towards fitness. Dr. S. Robert Licther, a professor and researcher at George Mason University, conducts studies on the societal effects of the entertainment and news media and he said that many publications, including fitness magazines, focus on body appearance and looking good, instead of urging people to stay active because of good health.
Community: “Good health” is too general for me. I concentrate on how exercise makes me feel, during and after. I just feel better, mentally and physically, when I do it. It’s not a high for me, just a sense of well being and of being more in control.
(WebMD Health News) "We conclude that nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAIDs) consumption by athletes is not harmless and should be discouraged," writes Kim van Wijck, MD… She found ibuprofen aggravated exercise-induced injury in the small intestine in healthy, trained men who were used to endurance workouts. "We used only two oral doses of ibuprofen, in the evening and in the morning before the exercise, and did see small intestinal cellular damage," she says.
(Science Daily) Scientists at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute have isolated a previously unknown protein in muscles that spurs their growth and increased power following resistance exercise. They suggest that artificially raising the protein's levels might someday help prevent muscle loss caused by cancer, prolonged inactivity in hospital patients, and aging.
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Six healthy reasons to eat more pomegranate
Add this super superfood to a festive holiday salad. Get our recipe.
Seared Scallops with Warm Tuscan Beans
Pair this one-dish seared scallops meal with a side of garlic bread. It's perfect for sopping up every last drop of the delicious sauce.
Chicken a la King
There's no need to feel guilty over this classic creamy combination of chicken, peppers and mushrooms. Our version uses low-fat milk and flour for thickening to make it plenty rich without all the saturated fat. Serve over whole-wheat egg noodles.
White Bean and Escarole Soup with Shaved Parmesan
This soup freezes beautifully if you want to make it ahead (but don't add the cheese until just before you're ready to serve). Use a sharp knife to cut the escarole into 1" wide ribbons.
Washington Post:
More healthful holiday sweets
Cut the solid fats and added sugars and still have a tasty dessert? Oh, it really is the season of miracles!
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Battling Brittle Bones With … Broccoli and Spinach?

(Science Daily) A new study from engineering researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute shows, for the first time, how the little-understood protein osteocalcin plays a significant role in the strength of our bones…
Now that osteocalcin is known to participate in bone fracture, new strategies for strengthening the bond between osteocalin and osteopontin can be investigated, [Deepak] Vashishth said. Augmenting the body's natural supply of osteocalcin, for example, could be one possible strategy for treating osteoporosis and other conditions leading to increased fracture risk, he said. Osteocalin must be in its carboxylated form to get absorbed into bone, and the protein is carboxylated by vitamin K. Vashishth said future studies could investigate the relation between vitamin K intake, osteocalcin, and bone strength.
"Currently, all of the advice for treating osteoporosis is related to calcium. We believe there's more to the story than just calcium, and the results of this new study raise an important question about vitamin K. Leafy green vegetables are the best source of vitamin K -- wouldn't it be great if eating spinach and broccoli was not only healthy, but also good for your bones? We plan to investigate this link in future," Vashisth said.
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