Blog Posts by The Editors at Sharecare

  • Why Your Back Is Killing You

    Why Your Back Is Killing You

    Backaches are nearly as common as headaches and cause as many different types of pain. Some are like a stealth bomber: You don't see 'em coming, and then WHAM! You can barely stand up or lie down. Others start with a twinge here or a ping there -- subtle warnings of the dull, throbbing misery that's about to ruin your weekend.

    Whether back pain is a frontal assault or a sneak attack, the fact is you've probably been laying the groundwork for spinal troubles for months, if not years. All kinds of habits -- from how you walk to whether you smoke -- can do in your back, but here are five biggies. Fixing them could save your back . . . and your weekend.

    1. Smoking: Yep, it doesn't ruin just your lungs and your breath. Smoking also nearly triples your chances of back pain, especially if you're a woman. One reason: The carbon monoxide in smoke forces oxygen out of your bloodstream, so muscles, ligaments, and other back supporters become oxygen-deprived. Another: Nicotine
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  • How to Take the Sting out of Bug Season

    How to Take the Sting out of Bug Season

    Along with sun, surf, picnics, and barbecues come summer's least welcome guests -- stinging, biting critters. Bees, wasps, fire ants, mosquitoes, black flies, sand flies, and ticks, just for starters. Some can make you seriously sick. (You've heard of West Nile virus, right? And Lyme disease?) If you're among the people (1 in 150) who are supersensitive to insect stings, your response to the venom in, say, a bee sting can be severe, and even life threatening, Your best defense? Play keep-away with all things that crawl or fly. Here, seven steps to help you avoid being a bug's lunch:

    1. Wear white or light-colored clothing, and avoid small prints.
    2. Don't wear fragrances, so bugs won't mistake you for a flower.
    3. Don't go romping barefoot through grassy areas or in the woods.
    4. Use an insect repellent registered for effectiveness with the Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA has tips and a nifty online quiz to help you choose the right one and use it safely.
    5. Don't
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  • Don't Make These 5 Major Health Mistakes!

    Don't Make These 5 Major Health Mistakes!

    You wouldn't run with scissors or stick your hand into a tankful of hungry piranhas, but these five common mistakes could be just as dangerous to your health. Here's how to fix them fast:

    Mistake 1

    You lose and regain the same (insert number!) pounds again and again. If you've lost 10, 20, or more pounds so often that you're wearing out your fat and skinny wardrobes, you're one of the two in five women who yo-yo diet.

    What you're risking. Chronic problems such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes. Swiss researchers report that when you're overweight, bad metabolic changes happen -- your body has trouble processing blood sugar and controlling blood fats, for example -- that can overpower the health benefits of your thin phases.

    The fix. Practice the fine art of maintaining your weight: Eat well, walk daily, step on the bathroom scale weekly. Modify your "calories in, calories out" balance before you pack on too many pounds.

    Mistake 2

    You

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  • 5 Ways to Boost Your Kid's Learning Power

    5 Ways to Boost Your Kid's Learning Power

    Got a kid who's not quite living up to her learning potential -- say, pulling in Cs when she could easily be a report-card-carrying member of the A team? Threats and bribes might help, but these five strategies are smarter:

    1. Burn and learn. Body work + brain work = better test results. So toss some multiplication practice into your Frisbee-golf game, or quiz her for her geography test while on your bike tour of the neighborhood. Kids' test scores increase as much as 13.5% when they exercise while learning new information, say researchers at the Medical University of South Carolina Children's Hospital.
    2. Tame the tube. The more time kids spend focusing on any kind of video screen, the less they'll be able to focus on a blackboard or book, new data suggests. That's because staring at screens causes a hypersurge of the brain chemical dopamine, which aids learning and concentration. Yes, that sounds like a good thing, but too much screen-induced dopamine can desensitize
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  • America's Top 10 Youngest Cities

    America's Top 10 Youngest Cities

    Can where you live make you younger? You bet! The cities that top RealAge's new Youngest Cities in America list have such healthy lifestyles that if you lived there, your body would think you're months or years (!) younger than your actual age. Did your city make the top 10 list?

    America's top 10 youngest cities are:

    1. Salt Lake City, UT
    2. San Francisco/Oakland/San Jose, CA
    3. Austin, TX
    4. Denver, CO
    5. Boston, MA
    6. Washington, DC/Baltimore, MD
    7. San Diego, CA
    8. Raleigh-Durham/Chapel Hill, NC
    9. Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN
    10. Seattle/Tacoma/Bremerton, WA

    Here's how they did it, and how you can too. Most residents in these metro areas who took the RealAge Test . . .

    • Get their ZZZs. Sleeping 6 to 9 hours a night can make your RealAge as much as 3 years younger.
    • Don't light up. Old-before-their-time cities have a high percentage of smokers (not you, right?).
    • Don't sit on it. A daily 30-minute walk can make your RealAge up to
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  • The Only Products You Need for Great Skin

    Dr. Amy's 25 Best Products for Your Face

    Who cares whether it's summer? It's never too late to spring clean your beauty supplies. Toss the crusty mascara, the disintegrating blush, and the gray polish that's so last season. And while you're purging, get rid of the tried-but-not-true skin care products that didn't live up to the hype.

    Take this skin care quiz to learn what your skin needs to stay looking young.

    When you restock, think minimalist. All you really need is a cleanser, a couple of moisturizers -- a daytime one with sunscreen, a super hydrating one for night -- and an exfoliant. Pick one from each of the following categories. All are derm-tested products that get a thumbs-up from RealAge skin expert Amy Wechsler, MD, author of The Mind-Beauty Connection.



    CLEANSERS

    • Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser
    • Purpose Gentle Cleansing Wash
    • Dove Sensitive Skin Foaming Facial Cleanser
    • Aveeno Ultra-Calming Foaming Cleanser

    For acne-prone skin, try one of these:

    • Clinique Acne Solutions
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  • Be a Quitter: Stop Smoking in 31 Days

    Be a Quitter: Stop Smoking in 31 Days

    If you're waiting to wake up one morning, say "I quit," and never light up again, fuggedaboutit. It's extremely rare for someone to stop smoking just like that -- snap! Most successful quitters prep well in advance before stubbing out their last bad butt. How? Here's what they teach at the Cleveland Clinic's famous Quit Smoking Program. Start taking these 10 steps and a month from now you'll be ready to join the ranks of the 46 million American ex-smokers:

    1. Do not quit today. Instead, pick a date that's at least 30 days away, and mark it as "Quit Day" on your calendar. Then, use the next few weeks to prepare to quit. That's how you'll succeed (it takes at least 30 days to train your brain to establish a new habit).
    2. Write it down. On a small card, list three reasons why you want to stop smoking. Money? Kiss-ability? Motives vary, but "living longer" shows up on most lists. Keep the card with you at all times, and take a peek every time you light up.
    3. Take
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  • Top 10 Most Dangerous Condom Mistakes -- Are You Making Them?

    Top 10 Most Dangerous Condom Mistakes -- Are You Making Them?

    It's not enough to just use condoms. You have to use them correctly! But as many as three out of four people don't.

    That's because a lot of us have a love-hate relationship with condoms. The most common complaints? You guessed 'em: They reduce sensation, they're difficult to put on, and, ewww, that smell. But they sure are handy to have around when you're suddenly turned on. And, unquestionably, condoms can go a long way toward preventing both pregnancy and a huge share of the 19 million annual cases of STDs (sexually transmitted diseases), from AIDS to herpes, with a lot of very unpleasant stops in between.

    So please make sure you're not making any of the top 10 most dangerous condom mistakes:

    1. Not checking for visible damage. Nearly 75% of people never bother looking for tears or holes -- even if they used their teeth to open the packet (don't!) or snagged the condom on their jewelry or fingernails, according to a Kinsey Institute report.
    2. Not checking
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  • Are You Sleeping with a Gnasher?

    Tooth Grinding

    Does your partner's teeth grinding and gnashing wake you up at night? Don't just grit yours and wear earplugs. Insist he or she see a dentist. Not putting a stop to the grind now could cost plenty in dental bills later. Your bedmate, like most nighttime jaw clenchers and tooth grinders, is probably unaware of this nocturnal activity and the damage it's doing. And those morning complaints about headaches and jaw pains? Yup, both are common effects of what docs call bruxism.

    Having teeth repaired? Check out these tooth-filling options first.

    Dentists estimate that about 1 in 3 people, including kids, are "bruxers" and about 8% do it in their sleep. Nighttime teeth grinders tend to be daytime nail biters and pen chewers, or people who gnaw on the insides of their cheeks. What's with that?

    Experts say in some people it's all caused by tension or stress, especially in aggressive, competitive types. In others, it may be an unconscious expression of anger, pain, or

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  • 11 Foods for Faster, Easier Weight Loss

    Hold this thought: To lose weight effectively and permanently, you need to eat. And eat smart. Happily, nature designed a lot of delicious edibles to turn up your fat-burning furnace, flatten your belly, and take a big bite out of your appetite. Here are 11 of the get-slim food gems we're talking about.

    Get more health tips from RealAge:

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