Kick Off the New Year with Healthy HabitsHealth seems to be at the top of everyone’s mind with the arrival of the new year. Follow these easy head-to-toe tips for a healthier 2015.


Our immune system is our defense against bacterial and viral infections. Medications provide only temporary protection while our immune system is constantly at work protecting us. Bacteria and viruses often become resistant to medication yet our immune system only gets stronger each time we challenge it. Vaccines stimulate our immune system, so we become better able to fight infections. We get the benefit of immunity without the risk of infection

Flu Shots Don’t Give You the Flu

Contrary to what some people think, flu vaccines do not give you the flu. There are two types of flu vaccine available — the flu shot and a nasal spray vaccine. The flu shot is inactivated, meaning it contains the killed virus. The nasal spray is made from a live but weakened flu virus. The weakened virus in the nasal spray is designed to work in the cooler temperatures of the nasal passages, not in the warmer climate of the lungs. There are possible side effects including fever, muscle aches, runny nose, headache and cough, but neither vaccine can give you the flu.

 Kick Off the New Year with Healthy HabitsBreast Health: When in Doubt, Check it Out

Early detection is the best protection against breast cancer. When detected early, patients have a significantly greater chance of survival and successful treatment. It’s extremely important to begin scheduling an annual screening mammogram at the age of 40. The greater danger is late detection, not the cancer itself.

Don’t be SAD

Taking Vitamin D helps you get a good night’s sleep. It also helps to relieve some of the symptoms of winter depression, or Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) which can be brought on by our region’s notorious dreary weather. Taking a daily dose of 2,000 IU of Vitamin D is also beneficial in treating chronic pain for people suffering from certain conditions like fibromyalgia. Taking excessive doses of Vitamin D over long periods of time poses a long-term risk for the kidneys, however, so consult your physician any time you add supplements to your diet.

(Also) Decrease stress with exercise and socialization. Just 30 minutes of exercise five days a week can improve your health and reduce stress levels. In addition to regular exercise, a positive outlook can help you manage personal stress, as does socializing with others. Invite a few friends to go for a walk with you to combat the winter blues and get moving together.

 Kick Off the New Year with Healthy HabitsGet Heart Healthy

To keep your heart healthy, get some exercise every day. It doesn’t have to be especially intense or formal. Even a brisk 15-minute walk each day can make positive changes in how your body handles the fats and sugars you eat. This can be done before or after work by parking your car a little farther from your office or by walking the halls and stairs during a break or lunch time.

Healthy Lifestyle for a Healthy Back

 Kick Off the New Year with Healthy HabitsReduce your risk: Smoking history and obesity are risk factors for chronic back pain. Regular exercise, restful sleep and stress management have been shown to be helpful for minimizing back pain. Also, foods such as whole grains, fish and vegetables have been associated with lowering overall body inflammation which may reduce pain. Introduce frequent activity: Sitting for long periods reduces the nutrient supply to the disc, compromising it. If your profession requires you to sit at a desk for long periods of time, it’s important to get up and move around every 30 to 45 minutes to increase the flow of nutrients within your spine. You might also try a flexible workstation that allows you to stand for at least a portion of the day.

Source:; Dana E. Neuts; December 17, 2012.