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YOUR overall wellness depends on keeping your entire body in peak condition. In the October issue of Fitness magazine, specialists offer a head-to-toe health guide for looking and feeling your best.

Last week, The Post gave you the Healthy Heart Diet. Here are tips to keep five other body parts in tip-top shape.

BRAIN

The brain is about 75 percent water and is the first organ affected by dehydration.

Stay-healthy strategies: Feed your head. "The brain runs on glucose, which your body produces when it breaks down carbohydrates," says Althea Zanecosky, a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association.

Aim for at least 100 grams of carbs daily from fruits, vegetable, whole grains, nuts and low-fat dairy products, and eat fish two or three times a week, Zanecosky says.

Fish consumption has been linked to a lower risk of depression and less frequent migraine headaches. For optimum benefits, choose oily, cold-water varieties like salmon, tuna and sardines.

Work out: Research suggests that cardio exercise boosts cognitive functions by improving blood flow to the brain.

EYES

Cataracts are the most common age-related cause of blindness.

Stay-healthy strategies: Eat brightly colored fruits and vegetables like corn, oranges and mangoes. They contain Lutein and Zeaxanthin, two powerful antioxidants scientists have found may fend off vision-damaging diseases like cataracts and macular degeneration.

Protect against injuries: When cleaning house, work in a well-ventilated area (open a window) and be careful to point spray nozzles away from you.

WRISTS/HANDS

The number of Americans with carpal tunnel syndrome today is three times what experts estimated 10 years ago.

Stay-healthy strategies: Incorrect positioning of the wrists while doing computer work is a primary cause of CTS, a painful condition caused by compression of a key wrist nerve, says Dr. Benjamin M. Sucher, director of the Center for Carpal Tunnel Studies.

Use your mouse correctly, making sure it's close to and at the same level as your keyboard, and keep your wrists flat.

Stretch: Recent studies found that yoga can help relieve the pain of CTS and arthritis of the hands. Extend your wrists and fingers backward, palms up and fingers reaching toward the floor. Hold for three to five seconds, then release.

BACK

Although back pain is sometimes due to disease or injury, bad habits are also a culprit.

Stay-healthy strategies: Workouts that emphasize flexibility, including yoga, tai chi and Pilates, can help ward off future back injuries. Also, make sure you lift heavy objects correctly: Squat, keep your back straight, and hold the load close to your body. Let your legs, not your back, do the lifting.

Buy a new mattress: A worn-out one can cause your body to form a C, an unnatural curve that shifts the spine out of alignment, wrenching muscles. Replace your mattress at least once every seven years, and buy a firm one.

FEET

Most foot problems result from wearing too-small shoes or high heels.

Stay-healthy strategies: You should have one inch of space beyond your longest toe. Stretchy materials such as soft leather, suede and satin allow the greatest range of movement, says podiatrist Helena Reid, a spokeswoman for the American Podiatry Medical Association.

Use orthotic inserts: Cushiony insoles (available at drugstores) support the arch, provide extra padding for the ball of the foot, cradle the heel and prevent the foot from slipping forward.

Reprinted with permission of the publisher, Gruner + Jahr USA, from the October 2004 issue of Fitness magazine. "Your Head-to-Toe Health Guide" by Jan Sheehan. Copyright © 2004 by Gruner + Jahr Publishing

Copyright 2004 NYP Holdings, Inc. All rights reserved.

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