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working out We know, we know, it's a headline you never thought you'd read. But it's true. There are a number of workouts that you will see people doing at your gym any given day of the week that are actually ineffective. Unless you have the best form and are using the machines exactly as instructed, then you actually may be doing more harm than good to your body.

The following have recently been named by WebMD as some of the least effective exercises that you can do:

Behind the Head Lat Pull Downs- Unfortunately, only those with very mobile shoulder joints can keep their spine straight enough to get a good workout from the behind the back lat pull down bar. The move done wrong can actually tear the rotator cuff.

Behind the Head Military Press- This exercise done similarly to the behind the head lat pull down, can cause the same problems with the rotator cuff that the aforementioned could cause.

Upright Row- This exercise done by pulling weights or a barbell underneath your chin can compress the nerves in your shoulder, actually impinging the shoulder.

Lying Leg Press (with knees bent too deeply) - This exercise is typically done to work your quadriceps, hamstrings and glutes and is done on a machine where you use your feet to push a weighted plate up and down. Unfortunately if you bend your knees too far, then you can seriously injure your back and/or knees.

Squats on a Smith Machine- While the Smith Machine is generally an effective machine, the bar on the machine doesn't give, which can force the body into risky positions, including placing the feet too far in front of you while doing their squats.

Using Bad Form on Cardio Machines- While using bad form is not good on any machine, using bad form on cardio equipment is a big no-no. Hunching over can throw off your alignment, jarring your spine, shoulders and elbows.

Always Lifting with a Weight Belt- You will see plenty of people around your gym who are constantly wearing a weight belt. Unless you have a back injury, are lifting a lot of weight or if you have some other medical reason, then a weight belt is not necessary. Wearing a weight belt too often can weaken your core muscles, throwing off your entire workout.

Any Exercise Done While Wearing the Wrong Shoes- Wearing the appropriate shoes for working out is as important as using the proper form. Working out in the wrong type of shoes increases the pounding on your joints, and can lead to problems like plantar fasciitis or tendinitis.

While these are only a few exercises that have been deemed ineffective if done the wrong way, there are plenty of other machines and workouts that can harm you if you are doing them wrong.

Be sure to consult with the trainers at your gym before starting any workout and learn the proper way to use the machines that they have on hand.

 

spring sickness Spring is fast approaching and with the changing of the seasons also comes a higher likelihood of falling victim to cold bugs and flu viruses. By following these easy do's and don'ts for avoiding germs you can minimize your chance of getting sick this spring.

Do use hand sanitizer- Carry a pocket-size hand sanitizer with you at all times and use it generously whenever you are in public places. Germs are everywhere and on everything and by using hand sanitizer you are protecting yourself from bringing home these flu viruses.

Do wash your hands frequently- According to MSNBC.com washing your hands is the best way to fight viruses and germs, if you do it properly. It may seem like the simplest thing to do, but be sure that you are washing your hands frequently with warm water and soap, and for at least 15 to 20 seconds. Teachers are now telling students to sing the ABC's or Happy Birthday to themselves while they are washing their hands to be sure you are washing for a full 15 to 20 seconds. Soap the top and bottom of your hands (including under your nails) for as long as it would take you to sing “Happy Birthday” twice. If you can't get to a sink, a gel containing 60 percent or more alcohol will effectively remove germs. In addition to hand washing try using paper towels rather than bathroom and kitchen towels. Another important tip, don't share toothpaste tubes. Most people touch their brush to the opening, passing along germs.

Do sneeze into the crook of your elbow- By sneezing into your elbow, you are avoiding transmitting flu viruses to your hands and will keep you from passing the virus to others. It may seem socially awkward at first, but soon you will see more and more people doing this when they sneeze.

Don't shake hands- To keep from transmitting germs, avoid shaking hands with people when you greet them. Try a head nod, waving or smiling instead to greet someone. If you can't avoid shaking someone's hand, then be sure to use your hand sanitizer following the hand shake.

computer mouseDon't use someone else's phone or computer mouse- Phones and computers harbor some pretty heinous germs for hours. Avoid sharing someone else's phone or computer mouse if at all possible. If you do have to use someone else's phone or computer wipe it down with an alcohol swab prior to using it.

Don't change a diaper without washing your hands immediately afterward- This should be a given at all times and not just during the flu season, but stool harbors gastrointestinal bugs that cause diarrhea, vomiting and upset stomach. It may also contain H1N1, so anyone changing a diaper needs to be sure that they are washing their hands (for 15 to 20 seconds) following the changing.

 

stop smoking A large number of people resolve to quit smoking all over the world on a daily basis. We have all heard over and over again how bad smoking is for us and how it contributes to a number of health problems and risks. And while quitting smoking is a great resolution, a new study featured on CNN.com states that quitting smoking can increase your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Despite this new finding, experts caution that the benefits of quitting smoking -- including a lower risk of heart attack and lung cancer -- far outweigh the risk of developing diabetes, which can be treated with diet, exercise, and medication. However, the risk is something to keep in mind as you're trying to quit smoking.

The study states that oftentimes when people quit smoking they have a tendency to gain weight, thereby making them a candidate for acquiring diabetes. The study followed 11,000 individuals without diabetes, where 45 percent of these individuals were smokers. After the nine year study, 1,254 people in the study developed type 2 diabetes. diabetes

To combat this risk doctors suggest paying extra attention to weight control and making other lifestyle changes if you have decided to quit smoking and want to decrease your risk of weight gain and developing type 2 diabetes.

Weight control is key, to counteract the increased risk of diabetes, people who quit smoking are encouraged to implement a series of lifestyle changes in consultation with their physicians.

Dr. Richard D. Hurt, director of the Nicotine Dependence Center at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, recommends that people who quit smoking stick to small portions of low-fat, low-calorie foods. They should also get moving, he adds. "Even just moderate exercise -- like 30 minutes of brisk walking -- reduces the urges to smoke and reduces withdrawal symptoms," he says. "People are able to distract themselves, it makes them feel better, and it uses up some of the calories." Nicotine-replacement products may also be helpful since nicotine is largely responsible for the appetite-suppressing effect of cigarettes. Nicotine patches or gum deliver nicotine much more slowly than a cigarette, however, so to suppress appetite and prevent weight gain they may need to be administered in above-average doses, says Hurt, who was not involved in the new study.

If they are taken for at least three to six months, smoking cessation drugs such as bupropion, an atypical antidepressant sold as Zyban or Wellbutrin may also limit weight gain, Hurt says.

In addition to recommending lifestyle changes, it is suggested that physicians keep an eye on the blood glucose levels of patients who quit smoking, as elevated glucose levels can be a warning sign for type 2 diabetes.

Despite the study's findings, doctors are quick to emphasize that quitting smoking -- or better yet, never starting in the first place -- is far healthier than continuing to smoke, which can cause a host of deadly health problems ranging from heart disease to lung cancer.

“Type 2 diabetes is associated with smoking to begin with; this study found there's a 30 percent increased risk if you're a smoker compared to nonsmokers," he points out. "Stopping smoking increases that risk, but its way offset by the other health gains," explains Dr. Hurt.

 

Young female doctor checking an MR exposure In a report released by the International Union against Cancer (UICC), of the 12 million people who are diagnosed with cancer every year worldwide nearly 40 percent could prevent this life-threatening disease by changing their lifestyles and obtaining vaccines in order to protect themselves against infection.

According to MSNBC.com, cancer is a leading cause of death worldwide and the total number of cases globally is increasing, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). The number of global cancer deaths is projected to rise by 45 percent from 2007 to 2030 from 7.9 million to 11.5 million deaths, driven partly by a growing and aging global population.

"If there was an announcement that somebody had discovered a cure for 40 percent of the world's cancers, there would quite justifiably be huge jubilation," UICC president David Hill told Reuters in a telephone interview. "But the fact is that we now have the knowledge to prevent 40 percent of cancers. The tragedy is we're not using it."

Cervical and liver cancer can both be prevented by obtaining vaccines, since these two cancers are caused by an infection. The UICC said it wanted to focus policymakers' attention on cancer-preventing vaccines — like ones made by GlaxoSmithKline and Merck & Co against the human papillomavirus (HPV) which causes cervical cancer, and others against hepatitis B, which causes liver disease and cancer.

The experts said the risk of developing cancer could potentially be reduced by up to 40 percent if full immunization and prevention measures were deployed and combined with simple lifestyle changes like quitting smoking, eating healthily, limiting alcohol intake and reducing sun exposure.

As found on about.com, here are eight lifestyle changes that could help prevent cancer:

cigarettePreventing Cancer Tip #1- Avoid Smoking and Exposure to Smoke Smoking is responsible for many types of cancer including lung cancer. One of the best ways to prevent cancer is to quit smoking or never even start. Smoking is the most significant cancer risk factor that we can reduce.

Prevent Cancer Tip #2- Practice Sun Safety Skin cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer. In fact over one million Americans are diagnosed with skin cancer each year. However, it's also one of the most preventable types of cancer. Avoid UV ray exposure by wearing sunscreen, avoiding mid-day sun, wearing protective clothing and staying away from tanning beds.

Prevent Cancer Tip #3- Eat Fruits and Veggies A diet rich in fruits and veggies greatly reduced your risk of developing cancer and many other conditions. Green, orange, and yellow fruits and veggies are best at preventing cancer. Dark fruits like blueberries as well as cruciferous veggies likes broccoli also have anti-cancer properties.

Prevent Cancer Tip #4- Limit Red Meat and Animal Fat A diet high in animal fat increases the risk for several types of cancer including colon cancer. A diet high in fat is also a major cause of obesity which is also a risk factor for many types of cancer.

Prevent Cancer Tip #5- Limit Alcohol Intake Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol regularly increases the risk factor for many types of cancer. Men who drink merely 2 alcoholic drinks per day and women who have 1 per day significantly increase their risk factors.

Prevent Cancer Tip #6- Exercise The American Cancer Society recommends exercising 30 minutes, at least 5 days a week for cancer prevention. By doing this you can reduce your risk for many types of cancer.

Prevent Cancer Tip #7- Practice Safe Sex Unsafe sex can result in the infection of the human papillomairus (HPV), a known cause for cervical cancer a risk factor for many other types of cancer. HIV/AIDS is also associated with some types of cancer.

Prevent Cancer Tip #8- Get Screened Regularly Cancer screening tests can be useful not only in detecting cancer, but also helping prevent it. Screening tests like the colonoscopy and Pap smear can detect abnormal cellular changes before they turn cancerous. Other cancer screening tests are available and may be useful for early detection, but not necessarily cancer prevention. Prostate cancer screening through digital rectal exams and PSA tests can help detect prostate cancer early. Mammograms and other imaging tools are also recommended to detect breast cancer in women. However, these tests need to be done regularly.

 

warming cup of soup With winter comes the onset of cold and flu season in addition to other events that can wreak havoc on our immune system. In order to boost our immune systems, we need to make some minor adjustments in our diet and lifestyle to help curb the impact the season has on our body. Try these small adjustments to keep yourself healthy this winter.

Adjustment 1: Get your Essential Fatty Acids

Because essential fatty acids are the key to building super hormones, make sure that you get enough of these fatty acids from nuts, seeds, fish, cold pressed oils and supplements.

According to MSNBC.com fatty fish including salmon, mackerel, herring and other fatty fish contain omega-3 fatty acids, which increase activity of phagocytes — cells that fight flu by eating up bacteria — according to a study by Britain's Institute of Human Nutrition and School of Medicine. They also contain selenium, which helps white blood cells produce cytokines, proteins that help clear viruses. Other research shows that omega-3s increase airflow and protect lungs from colds and respiratory infections. In fact, says Somer, DHA and EPA (the two main forms of omega-3s) benefit the immune system at the most basic level, enabling cell membranes to efficiently absorb nutrients and remove toxins.

proteinAdjustment 2: Eat Enough Protein

Protein is important for your optimal health no matter what season it is. Nutritionists also suggest .75 to 1.25 grams of protein per pound of your body weight depending upon your physical activity. But, because our body can only absorb 30 to 35 grams per meal, we need to spread our protein intake throughout the day. Be sure to eat some sort of protein in every meal and in every snack. Getting some of that protein through soy-based products is also recommended by many nutritionists.

Adjustment 3: Choose low GI carbohydrates

GI or glycemic index, is the measure of how fast blood sugar rises after eating. One good example is that white sugar has a glycemic index of 100, where peanuts have a glycemic index of 15. That means that peanuts raise the blood sugar levels at 15% of the rate of white sugar. Fast rising blood sugar means the pancreas produces and sometimes overproduces insulin. These spikes in insulin can weaken the immune system and interferes with the production of super hormones. By choosing low GI carbohydrates, combined with eating the appropriate levels of protein you can better control your insulin.

Adjustment 4: Nutritional supplements are not an option

Instead of boosting their immune system by eating the right foods, exercising and avoiding stress, too many people turn to herbal remedies to prevent colds and the flu. However, these people believe that using herbal remedies, like Echinacea, will stimulate their immune system and often utilize these remedies rather than eating the right foods. Echinacea can and will stimulate the immune system, but if you aren't feeding the immune system with the proper vitamins and nutrients, the effectiveness of the herbal remedy will not be as long-lasting as you expect.

Overall, the best way to adjust your immune system this winter is to avoid too much supplementation, get enough protein and essential fatty acids, and avoid those sugary carbohydrates to make your way through these next couple months illness-free.