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Not exercising worse for your health than smoking: Study

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Washington DC: We have all heard that exercise helps you live longer. But a new study goes one step further, finding that a sedentary lifestyle is worse for health than smoking, diabetes and heart disease. Researchers and author of the study published in the journal JAMA Network Open called the results as “extremely surprising.”

“Being unfit on a treadmill or in an exercise stress test has a worse prognosis, as far as death, than being hypertensive, being diabetic or being a current smoker,” Wael Jaber, senior author of the study told CNN. “We’ve never seen something as pronounced as this and as objective as this.” Researchers retrospectively studied 122,007 patients who underwent exercise treadmill testing to measure all-cause mortality relating to the benefits of exercise and fitness. Those with the lowest exercise rate accounted for 12% of the participants.

Jaber said the other big revelation from the research is that fitness leads to a longer life, with no limit to the benefit of aerobic exercise. Researchers have always been concerned that “ultra” exercisers might be at a higher risk of death, but the study found that not to be the case.

“There is no level of exercise or fitness that exposes you to risk,” he said. “We can see from the study that the ultra-fit still have lower mortality.”

The benefits of exercise were seen across all ages and in both men and women, “probably a little more pronounced in females,” Jaber said. “Whether you’re in your 40s or your 80s, you will benefit in the same way.” The risks, he said, became more shocking when comparing those who don’t exercise much.

Comparing those with a sedentary lifestyle to the top exercise performers, the risk associated with death is 500% higher and comparing somebody who doesn’t exercise much to somebody who exercises regularly showed a risk 390% higher.

For patients, especially those who live a sedentary lifestyle, Jaber said, “You should demand a prescription from your doctor for exercise.”


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Does weight loss make your bones weak? Here are 6 ways to reduce belly fat and build strong bones

Tips to lose weight and preserve bone health at the same time

New Delhi: Research suggests that rapid weight loss and bone loss can go hand in hand. While shedding those extra kilos has been linked to many health benefits, including improved cardiovascular health, a study from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston found that losing weight can lead to lower bone density in the hip and spine in post-menopausal women, a change that increases the risk of osteoporosis and fractures.

Many studies have shown that being thin – having a body mass index (BMI) less than 18.5 – or weighing less than 127 pounds increases the risk for osteoporosis-related fracture. But being obese can put more pressure on your bones, putting you at risk for an injury and fractures. Maintaining a healthy weight is the key to keeping your bones and overall health in tip-top shape. Making healthier lifestyle choices, such as eating a balanced diet, being physically active, can help you stay fit. Read - Weight Loss: 6 slimming properties of apple cider vinegar, tips to add ACV to your diet to burn belly fat​

Can you lose weight and preserve bone health at the same time?

Yes, fortunately, there are plenty of ways that can help you shed unwanted fat safely and effectively without causing bone loss. The best thing to protect your bone health while you shed those extra pounds is to eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly. Crash diets can have an impact on your bone health – research has shown that overweight dieters who don’t exercise are at greater risk for weaker bones. Crash dieting can also give you more belly fat and less muscle. Follow these simple tips to shed the pounds the healthy way:

  • Eat a balanced diet, with about 1,200 calories daily for women (1,400 for men), while avoiding calorie-restricted meal plans and diets that eliminate whole foods. Read - Vitamin D deficiency: 70% north Indian women at high risk of diabetes, eat these 5 foods to stay fit
  • Try to get 1,000 mg of calcium and 400-800 IU of vitamin D daily if you’re under 50. If you’re over 50, you would require 1,200 mg of calcium and 800-1,000 IU of vitamin D per day.
  • Consume plenty of fresh fruits and dark green leafy vegetables – they are very low in calories but packed with many essential nutrients, including calcium.
  • Include dairy products, lean meats and fish, healthy oils, nuts and seeds in your diet.
  • As diet does not provide enough amounts of vitamin D, you may take fortified foods like orange juice, soy milk and cereals.
  • Include physical activity in your daily routine to help you better manage your weight, as well as keep your bones healthy. The best exercises to prevent or manage osteoporosis are: Weight-bearing and muscle-strengthening exercises, yoga and pilates are good for bone health.

Combining diet along with exercise would be best for losing weight and protecting your bones.

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For Your Health: Tips for a frightfully fun, healthy Halloween

The trees are giving up their leaves and plump pumpkins are making an appearance on doorsteps, so Halloween is not far behind. In addition to picking out the perfect costume, take a few moments to ensure that your entire candy crew has a fun and safe evening.

Tips for trick-or-treating

• Make sure the entire family eats a hearty meal before leaving the house. As great as fun size candy bars are, they are not a substitute for a good dinner.
• Pedestrian injuries are the most common injuries to children on Halloween so remember to accompany younger kids, use flashlights, stay in groups, remain on sidewalks and use caution when crossing streets. Reflective tape on costumes and trick-or-treat bags is a clever idea, too.
• Avoid falls by ensuring costumes aren’t too long or dragging and watch out for masks that cover the eyes or are cumbersome. Everyone will be much happier if the costumes fit well and are comfortable.
• Check the weather forecast. Bundle up in layers if it is expected to be cold when you plan to pound the pavement. And don’t forget an umbrella if rain is likely.
• Be sure to pre-test any make-up for possible rashes or irritation before you commit to a particular costume.
• If your older children plan to visit houses with friends, review their route and give them a set time to return home.


• Parents need to set the example – don’t tell your children they can’t eat their candy while you indulge in the treats. Moderation is key for mom and dad, too!
• Sort and examine all candy that is brought home. Throw away spoiled, unwrapped or suspicious items, or candy that can be a choking threat to your younger ghouls and goblins.
• Be sure your children don’t eat all their candy at once – enjoy it in moderation, setting pieces aside for a few days or weeks.
• If you plan to stay at home and dole out the goodies to the neighborhood, consider adding some healthy alternatives. Raisins, pretzels and even stickers or pencils are a fun treat without the sweet!

If you still find yourself with a mountain of milk chocolate after Halloween is said and done, consider the “Switch Witch.” Kids place their extra candy in their treat bags at night before bed with the hope that the Switch Witch will come and replace their candy with a toy. With some mom and dad magic, the candy will disappear! Just don’t be tempted to keep it for yourself. No one needs that much sugar.

Above all, have fun and be safe this Halloween. Focus less on the treats and more on the fun with friends and family. Plan a get together with your friends and do fun activities as a part of the evening. Bobbing for apples, carving pumpkins, sharing a potluck meal or just greeting little ones on the porch as they trick-or-treat is just as sweet as diving into that chocolate bar.

Jeffrey Gaborko, M.D., is the assistant physician in chief for Health Promotion at Kaiser Permanente in the Napa-Solano area, a partner of Solano Coalition for Better Health.

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‘Memes may contribute to obesity in teenagers’


Washington D.C: The meme world seems to be in danger as many countries are now trying to curb the free flow of memes. In September, the European Parliament passed a copyright law that some consider “meme ban.” Similarly, Sweden’s advertising watchdog has termed the famous “distracted boyfriend” meme as sexist. Following the lead, academics have now told British lawmakers that internet memes may be contributing to the obesity crisis in the United Kingdom.

According to a report by CNN, researchers from Loughborough University, in a letter to a British parliamentary committee, claimed that online memes convey harmful health-related messages and take unhealthy eating habits very lightly. “A substantial number of individuals on Twitter share health-related Internet memes, with both positive and negative messages and many even contain inappropriate material,” the letter read.

To prove the point, the researchers also added a meme to the letter. The picture featured an overweight child with a caption, “Free food? Count me in!”

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Cycling, walking in nature may improve mental health


London: People who commute — walking or cycling — through natural environments are more likely to develop better mental health than those who commute less, according to a new study. Natural environments included all public and private outdoor spaces that contain ‘green’ and/or ‘blue’ natural elements such as street trees, forests, city parks and natural parks/reserves and all types of water bodies.

“Mental health and physical inactivity are two of the main public health problems associated with life in urban environments. The urban design could be a powerful tool to confront these challenges and create healthier cities. One way of doing so would be investing in natural commuting routes for cycling and walking,” said Mark Nieuwenhuijsen from the University of Barcelona.

For the study, published in the journal, Environment International, the research team examined nearly 3,600 participants who answered a questionnaire about their commuting habits and their mental health.

The findings showed that respondents commuting through natural environments on a daily basis had on average a 2.74 point higher mental health score compared to those who commuted through natural environments less frequently.

This association was even stronger among people who reported active commuting, the team said. From previous experimental studies, we knew that physical activity in natural environments can reduce stress, improve mood and mental restoration when compared to the equivalent activity in urban environments,” said first author Wilma Zijlema from the varsity.

“Although this study is the first of its kind to our knowledge and, therefore, more research will be needed, our data show that commuting through these natural spaces alone may also have a positive effect on mental health.”


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Florida Department of Health Bay County provides safe clean up tips

Florida Department of Health Bay County provides safe clean up tipsCopyright 2018 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Florida Department of Health Bay County provides safe clean up tipsCopyright 2018 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Residents and others working to clean up debris left by Hurricane Michael could be at risk of sustaining injuries, and the Florida Department of Health is urging residents to practice caution when cleaning in and around their homes.

Every person involved in clean up should make sure they have an up to date tetanus vaccination and avoid heat stress when working outside or in non-air-conditioned buildings. There may also be unseen hazards under the water in areas that received storm surge or freshwater flooding. Flood waters can mask debris, downed power lines and other hazards.

The department recommends the following tips to help clean up after Hurricane Michael:

  • Wear rubber boots and waterproof gloves during clean-up of sewage and to avoid injury and contamination.
  • Be careful about mixing household cleaners and disinfectants. Combining certain types of products can produce toxic fumes and result in injury or death.
  • Walls, hard-surfaced floors and many other household surfaces must be cleaned with soap and water and disinfected with a solution of 1 cup of bleach per 5 gallons of water.
  • Remove and discard contaminated household materials that cannot be disinfected such as wall-coverings, cloth and rugs. Wash all linens and clothing in hot water or dry-clean.
  • Drywall and insulation that have been soaked should be removed and discarded so disinfection and drying of the internal wall structure can take place.
  • Items that cannot be washed or dry-cleaned, such as mattresses and upholstered furniture, may possibly be air dried in the sun and sprayed thoroughly with a disinfectant. However, these items may need to be discarded.
  • It can be difficult to throw away items in a home, particularly those with sentimental value. However, keeping certain items soaked by sewage or floodwaters may be unhealthy. In general, materials that cannot be thoroughly cleaned and dried within 24-48 hours should be discarded
  • Fiberboard, fibrous insulation and disposable filters in your heating and air conditioning system should be replaced.
  • Chainsaws should only be operated in safe conditions and by people that are experienced in proper use.


  • If you sustain a wound or deep cut that concerns you as handle debris, seek medical attention. Make sure to ask your doctor if you need a tetanus booster vaccine.
  • Due to possible contamination, do not expose wounds to floodwaters.
  • Proper wound care is essential for all cuts and lacerations regardless of exposure to floodwaters. Clean wounds with soap and disinfected or bottled water.
  • Individuals deployed to work on recovery efforts are encouraged to contact their primary health care provider to make sure they are current on their tetanus vaccine.


Everyone participating in post-storm clean up should practice heat safety. A person can experience sunstroke, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and even heatstroke if exposed to high temperatures for an extended period of time. Warning signs of heat exhaustion include heavy sweating, paleness, muscle cramps, tiredness, weakness, dizziness, headache, nausea or vomiting and fainting.

If heat exhaustion is untreated, it may progress to heat stroke. If symptoms become more severe or last longer than one hour, seek medical attention immediately. If you suspect you may have heat exhaustion, take the following cooling measures:

  • Drink cool, nonalcoholic beverages
  • Rest in an air-conditioned environment
  • Take a cool shower, bath or sponge bath
  • Wear lightweight clothing
  • Prevent sun burn by wearing sunscreen of 30 SPF.

To avoid becoming dehydrated, drink plenty of fluids, especially water, even if you don’t feel thirsty. Persons who have medical conditions such as kidney and heart disease, who require a fluid restricted diet, or who have problems with fluid retention should consult a physician before increasing their consumption of fluids.


  • Dress for the heat. Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing. Light colors will reflect away some of the sun’s energy. It is also a good idea to wear a hat or to use an umbrella.
  • Drink water. Carry water or juice with you and drink continuously even if you do not feel thirsty. Avoid alcohol and caffeine, which dehydrate the body.
  • Slow down and avoid strenuous activity. If you must do strenuous activity, do it during the coolest part of the day – morning hours between 4 and 7 a.m.
  • Stay indoors when possible. If air conditioning is not available, stay on the lowest floor out of the sunshine or find a local cooling center.
  • Be a good neighbor. Check in on elderly residents in your neighborhood and those who do not have air conditioning.
  • Don’t forget your pets. Make sure they have access to water, ventilation and shade.

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Health authorities give tips for fighting flu

With influenza season creeping around the corner, Williamson County and Cities Health District is encouraging the public to keep themselves healthy during flu season. Officials say that the flu can be a serious health concern for older people, young children, pregnant women and people with ongoing illnesses like diabetes, or kidney, heart or lung disease.

While most healthy people recover from the flu, it can be passed to others with weakened or underdeveloped immune systems. Every year, influenza sickens hundreds of thousands of people, sending them to the hospital. A record number of U.S. patients died from flu last season, with 80,000 deaths recorded in 2017-18 according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

In April, Rice University bioengineer and genetics expert Michael Deem and graduate student Melia Bonomo analyzed this year’s flu vaccine and predicted it will be 19 percent effective against H3N2 influenza. Flu vaccines the past two years had about 20 percent efficacy versus H3N2, the type of flu that sickened most people those years. 

Efficacy describes how well a vaccine protects the overall population. 

A 20 percent efficacy means that among those who’ve been vaccinated, 20 percent fewer will get the flu compared to those who are unvaccinated. Flu vaccine efficacy is about 60 percent in the best years and can be as low as 10 percent in bad years.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still recommends getting vaccinated because all flu vaccines can prevent some infections, reduce the severity of illness and save the lives of children, the elderly and those with chronic health problems. For example, the CDC estimates that vaccination in 2016-17 — when efficacy was around 20 percent — prevented 5.3 million infections and 85,000 flu-related hospitalizations.

Deem and Bonomo’s peer-reviewed prediction of 19 percent efficacy for this year’s vaccine is based on a fast, inexpensive test that compares the genetic code of the vaccine with the codes of recently circulating strains of flu that have been uploaded to global flu databases. Deem invented the method more than 10 years ago, and it is now recognized as as a fast, inexpensive way of gauging the effectiveness of proposed flu vaccines.

In 2010, Deem and former student Jiankui He showed that careful analysis of the genetic code of newly emergent flu strains could be used to predict the emergence of newly dominant strains that would eventually sicken millions. Using historical sequence data, they showed they could correctly predict the emergence of dominant strains of H3N2 that were not covered by vaccines in 2002, 2003 and 2009.

Even though handwashing and avoiding sick people are good habits, it is not enough to prevent the flu. Flu germs spread through the air when people with flu cough, sneeze, or talk. You can make others sick a day before you start to feel sick, and up to a week after you become sick.

It’s not possible to predict what this flu season will be like — the best protection for yourself and those around you is to get a flu shot. Now is the best time to get the shot for protection throughout the entire flu season, which usually peaks in January and can last until May.  “Getting the flu vaccine reduces the probability and severity of infection and the probability of transmitting the virus to others,” says Dr. Lori Palazzo, Medical Director and Health Authority for the Williamson County and Cities Health District.

Free flu shots are available for uninsured Williamson County residents six months of age or older and all TVFC-eligible, CHIP Medicaid recipients (please bring shot records). No one will be denied services if they are unable to pay. Appointments are needed, please visit your public health department website at  or call 512-248-3252.

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10 everyday habits that are bad for your health

10 everyday habits that are bad for your health

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Cairns pharmacist shares life’s journey and health tips in book

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Hiring a health plan consultant? Follow these tips to select a consultant and make the most out of the investment

This post is sponsored by GuideWell Connect.

Health plan consultants can provide significant help to payers in a variety of situations, including launching a new product, entering a new market, refining sales and marketing plans, updating standard operating procedures or optimizing go-to-market channels.[1] But to make sure you’re getting actionable strategic counsel, it’s important to know what to look for in a consultant and how to get the most out of the relationship.

Finding the right fit: Selecting a health plan consultant

Payers evaluating consulting firms should look at firms’ recent work, expertise in market, how they measure results and overall client-vendor rapport.[2] According to Charlie Kirksey, GuideWell Connect Health Care Consulting Practice lead, “consultants should first and foremost be experienced practitioners that have a proven track record delivering actionable recommendations in situations similar to the issue a health plan leader may be facing.”

A consultant’s engagement with a payer should be designed to achieve a specific goal. To deliver results, consultants should have experience successfully doing the type of work being discussed, rather than just consulting on it. Kirksey, who leads the GuideWell Connect health plan consulting practice, underscored the importance of consultants being able to blend strategic recommendations with implementable action plans to ensure work transcends theory and actually delivers tangible results.

Red flags to avoid when hiring a health plan consultant

There are several common red flags to watch for when choosing a consultant, particularly firms that use a cookie-cutter approach and don’t invest time in a true partnership with payers.[3] The guidance provided by a consultant should not be an industry-agnostic, best-practices solution; it should be a customized approach grounded in extensive expertise.

Before the engagement kicks off, the consultant must collaborate with the health plan to develop a strong understanding of the plan’s business needs.[4] The solution must address where the payer currently is in the market, and the two parties should work together on clear and definable objectives. “The real value in a consulting engagement is being able to bring in an objective third party that can tailor an action plan to a payer’s specific situation,” Kirksey said. “The end product should result in a measureable impact and transition from the plan’s current situation to an improved state.”

Another common red flag is when consulting firms bring out experienced professionals during the sales process but don’t involve those same employees in the engagement.[5] Payers should determine who will actually be working with them[2] and ensure they will have ongoing access to experienced subject matter experts and not just junior associates assigned to the project.

Maximizing ROI on a consulting engagement

Once a consultant is chosen, payers can take several steps to get the most out of an engagement. Embracing transparency is key. The payer must trust the consultant, because holding back information can jeopardize the outcome. The consultant will need access to the right people, processes and technology to fully assess any issues and identify other factors that may be contributing to a problem. Health plans should also be open to making changes and potentially broadening the scope of the engagement to get to the root cause of a problem.

Payers will see greater benefits from working with a consultant on an ongoing basis, tweaking and refining any changes to ensure the best long-term results. For example, engaging a consultant prior to open enrollment allows them to become familiar with the plans’ goals and marketing, which in turn helps maximize ROI from newly acquired or retained members.

An ongoing relationship can also help health plans stay ahead of regulatory changes, market trends and consumer behaviors. This awareness is increasingly important as tech-savvy consumers switch and choose insurers based on their digital experience.[6] Health plans with the best customer experience enjoy higher member loyalty, as well as member willingness to pay higher prices.[7]

Consultants can help payers attract and retain more members, enhance operating plans, launch new products and make sure they are up-to-date with industry trends and consumer preferences. Selecting the right consulting firm and leveraging a proven approach to maximizing the engagement can ensure health plans translate partnerships with a consultant into better financial results for the plan and better health outcomes for members. 

GuideWell Connect is a leader in integrated consumer engagement solutions that help health plans acquire, engage and retain members. GWC provides technology-enabled services across the member lifecycle to advance health plans’ financial performance and drive better health outcomes for members. Learn more at


[1] Bryant, Meg. When is it time to bring in a consultant? Healthcare Dive. August 8, 2016. Retrieved October 1, 2018 from
[2] Keckley, Paul and Karp, Marina. 10 Steps to Hiring the Right Health Care Consultant. HHN. June 15, 2016. Retrieved October 1, 2018 from
[3] Krotz, Lois. Consulting Potholes: Watch Out for These 5 Things. KLAS. November 7, 2016. Retrieved October 1, 2018 from
[4] Krotz, Lois. Top 5 Attributes of Effective Advisory Firms. KLAS. October 31, 2016. Retrieved October 1, 2018 from
[5] Keckley, Paul. The Role of Management Consultants in Health Care: How to Buy Wisely. HHN. November 2015. Retrieved October 1, 2018 from
[6] Trzcinski, Arielle. Health Insurers Must Improve Member Experience Now or Be Replaced. Forrester. August 21, 2018. Retrieved October 1, 2018 from
[7] McCarthy, Kate. The US Health Insurance Customer Experience Index, 2017. Forrester. October 4, 2017. Retrieved October 1, 2018 from


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