Blog Posts by Focused on Health

  • Stretch Out Your Workout

    by Colleen Martin for MD Anderson Cancer Center

    It's tough enough to find time to exercise, let alone stretch before and after your workout.

    So, if you're pressed for time, stretching might be the first thing you leave out of your workout. But skipping stretching also means you're missing a great opportunity to warm-up your muscles as well as reduce stress, boost energy and improve your circulation.

    Regular stretching done after strength training or playing sports enhances athletic performance, according to the American Institute for Cancer Research. And, stretching has been demonstrated to help maintain the range of motion in joints that we otherwise tend to lose as we get older.

    Corinna Perez, a fitness expert at MD Anderson, suggests stretching before your workout to prepare your body for activity and afterward to cool down.

    "Stretching after activity can be very soothing and relaxing," Perez says. "These are some of my favorites for before and after a

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  • Dance into the Exercise Groove

    by Laura Nathan-Garner for MD Anderson Cancer Center

    In an exercise rut? Here's an idea: try a workout that's so fun you'll forget you're exercising - dance classes.

    Most dance classes don't require fancy footwork. So, you can still improve your strength conditioning, get your heart pumping and trim belly fat that can up your cancer risks - even if you're not super coordinated!

    Best of all, the sheer fun of working out in a group may motivate you to keep exercising, so your body can fight off diseases like cancer.

    So you think you can dance? Amp up your exercise routine (and your heart rate!) with one of these classes.


    1. Zumba

    • What it is: Latin-inspired class where each song repeats the same three or four steps over and over.
    • Tunes you'll hear: Latin music like salsa, cumbia, reggaeton and merengue, as well as world music like Bollywood and samba.
    • Moves you'll use: Marching in place while you sway your hips and arms, stepping
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  • Race Your Way to Fitness

    by Colleen Martin for MD Anderson Cancer Center

    Running isn't just for athletes and the super-fit. These days, a growing number of people who have never worked out are lacing up their sneakers and hitting the ground running.

    Starting a running program can help you shed pounds, reduce stress, strengthen bones and reduce your risk of cancer and other diseases. Training for a race like a 5K (3.1 miles) or half-marathon also is a great way to pack in the 30 minutes of daily exercise your body needs to prevent cancer - and make that daily exercise a habit.

    No matter what your fitness level, get inspired to be healthy by setting goals. Find a local race and ease into a training program.

    This is what Cydni Ellis did last fall. Her fitness level was "novice," but she was determined to run her first half-marathon.

    "Preparing for that first race is hard, and it takes commitment," Ellis says. "But push yourself, and there's no telling how far you'll go."

    Inspired? Ready

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  • Foods to Fuel Your Workout

    by Robin Davidson for MD Anderson Cancer Center

    So you've committed to an exercise program! Good for you!

    But did you know that you can boost your results and energy level with just a few simple changes in your diet?

    Experts recommend fueling up within two to four hours of a workout. And it's the fuels you use that determine how much your body benefits from your workout.

    By eating the right foods before and after you exercise, you'll give yourself the energy your body needs to keep going before, during and after each workout. Even better: choosing these "power" foods can help keep your weight in check to curb your chances of cancer.

    Fuel up, don't fill up

    Squeezing your workout in during the wee hours? Remember, even early bird exercisers need fuel. Keep it simple with a small banana, a slice of whole wheat toast or a small cup of protein-packed Greek yogurt 20 minutes prior to working out.

    Breakfast eaters should choose complex carbohydrates like those

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  • Stretch Toward Better Health

    by Colleen Martin for MD Anderson Cancer Center

    Remember when you could do the splits? Even though you don't have PE class anymore, stretching should still be part
    of your fitness routine.

    Keeping your muscles and joints healthy makes physical activity easier, more enjoyable and prevents injury.

    Stretch to feel good
    The healthy range of motion you develop through stretching also makes physical activity easier and more enjoyable. And, enjoying exercise is a good thing because doing it for about 30 minutes every day helps to reduce your chances of cancer , according to the American Institute for Cancer Research.

    "When done right, stretching helps you feel less sore after an intense workout," says Corinna Perez, a fitness expert at MD Anderson. "It also improves your flexibility, allowing you to exercise for longer, more heart-pounding sessions."

    Other great stretching benefits include improved posture, decreased muscle tension and healthier

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  • Age-Proof Your Health

    by Adelina Espat for MD Anderson Cancer Center

    Life changes with every decade - from starting a career and family in your 20s and 30s to work-life balance, and saving for retirement in your 40s, 50s and 60s. And, as life changes so does your body.

    To the FinishTo the FinishJust as you set personal and work-related milestones, you also should set health goals for every stage of life. And, we've created a plan to help guide you along the way.

    "Practicing these healthy behaviors is important for all women, regardless of age," says Therese Bevers, M.D., medical director of MD Anderson's Cancer Prevention Center. "So take note of all of these tips - even the ones directed toward women older or younger than you."

    Your 20s
    Avoid exposure to HPV. The human papilloma virus, or HPV, is most common among young women in their late teens and early 20s. High-risk strains of HPV are present in more than 99% of cervical cancer cases.

    Your best bet to reduce the risk of HPV infection is to:

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  • Nutritional Supplements: Health or Hype?

    By Carlandrea Clark for MD Anderson Cancer Center

    Aisles in grocery stores and pharmacies are stacked with vitamins, minerals, herbs or other plants that you take in pill,pillspills capsule, tablet or liquid form. And, many of us buy these supplements and take them regularly, hoping to lower our chances of getting cancer and other diseases.

    But do supplements really work wonders? Should you take them to help prevent cancer?

    Our experts say beware.

    "Don't be fooled by the label on the bottle," says Sally Scroggs, health education manager at MD Anderson's Cancer Prevention Center. "Researchers are still unsure about whether or not supplements actually prevent cancer."

    Some studies have suggested that supplements may actually increase cancer risk by tilting the balance of nutrients in the body.

    Results from the Women's Health Study and The Physicians' Health Study II found that vitamins E and C do not prevent cancer. The Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial

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  • A Healthy Plan for Dining Out

    By Mary Jane Schier for MD Anderson Cancer Center

    About 130 million Americans will eat out on any given day this year. While dining out shouldn't mean "pigging out," picking aEating VeggiesEating Veggies salad over cheese fries can sometimes be difficult.

    The American Cancer Society says that making good dietary choices is one of the most important things you can do to reduce your risks for cancer. But nutritional experts say many of us don't make good dining choices aimed at preventing cancer and other costly, life-shortening diseases.

    Low-Cost Food Can Create High-Cost Problems

    Even people who prepare healthy food at home often seem bashful - or bewildered - about ordering low-fat meals in a restaurant or the drive-through.

    With more restaurants and fast-food chains offering super-sized meals, many people are overeating. This is especially true of foods high in fat, sugar and salt. These habits can prove more expensive in the long run because they can actually cause costly health problems,

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  • Your 7-Day Exercise Plan: Day 2 -- Circuit Training

    We know: Staying fit requires a little creativity sometimes.You've got to mix things up to keep things interesting and work out different parts of your body.

    To spice things up, we rolled out day 1 of our 7-day exercise plan earlier this week. Today, we introduce day 2 of your 7-day exercise plan: circuit training.

    Here's what you'll need to get started: Equipment needed: mat, jump rope (optional)

    If you can't complete all the suggested reps in this program, start by doing less and gradually increase to the recommended number. If you are just starting an exercise program, you may consider adding activity on two to four days of the week, and gradually increase to the recommended seven days a week. Doing some exercise is better than doing none.

    Take a 1 - 2 minute break after each set.

    Step 1: Warm-up
    5 - 10 minutes

    Jog, march in place or jump rope.

    Step 2: Push-ups
    1 set of 15

    Depending on your level of fitness, do regular floor push-ups, wall push-ups

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  • Green Your Grocery List

    by Laura Nathan-Garner for MD Anderson Cancer Center

    For most people, grocery shopping is a pain. It can be expensive and time-consuming - especially when you're trying to minimize your carbon "food" print.

    But it doesn't have to be. Use this cheat sheet to green your grocery list, save money, and stock up on vitamins and nutrients that may prevent cancer.

    1. Plan meals for the week. Each year, more than 25% of food in the United States goes to waste, along with the freshwater and fossil fuels involved in its production and shipping. Usually, this wasted food winds up in landfills, where it generates methane and carbon dioxide.

    Go green by planning your meals for the week. Focusing your grocery list on ingredients you really need will prevent repeat trips to the store, keep you from wasting produce and allow you to pick recipes that share ingredients. Plus, you'll be less likely to eat out and more likely to eat nutritious foods that help cut your cancer risk.

    To really

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