Harvard Health Blog

Join the discussion with experts from Harvard Health Publications and others like you on a variety of health topics, medical news and views.

Racket sports serve up health benefits

Matthew Solan
Matthew Solan, Executive Editor, Harvard Men's Health Watch

Racket sports like tennis are beneficial to health, in part because of the types of movement required, and also because of the social component of playing with others. One of the fastest-growing racket sports particularly among older adults is “pickleball,” which blends tennis, table tennis, and the backyard childhood game of Wiffle ball.

Exercise versus caffeine: Which is your best ally to fight fatigue?

Monique Tello, MD, MPH
Monique Tello, MD, MPH, Contributing Editor

When you need a boost, it’s tempting to reach for a cup of coffee or a soda, but studies show that even a short burst of physical activity will also provide a dose of energy, plus all the other benefits of exercise.

Could artificial sweeteners be bad for your brain?

Robert H. Shmerling, MD
Robert H. Shmerling, MD, Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publications

While diet soda and other types of artificially sweetened drinks may not have calories, research is suggesting that those who drink them regularly may be at higher risk for stroke or dementia.

Room sharing with your baby may help prevent SIDS—but it means everyone gets less sleep

Claire McCarthy, MD
Claire McCarthy, MD, Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publications

Having a baby sleep in the same room as its parents can help with feeding and safety, but will probably result in less sleep for everyone. Parents have to decide when it makes sense to move a baby to its own room.

Bad viruses travel fast: Measles vaccine important for travelers

John Ross, MD, FIDSA
John Ross, MD, FIDSA, Contributing Editor

Because measles is so highly contagious, and because there is a significant delay before symptoms manifest, a person can carry the virus and infect others without knowing it, and many adults may not have received an effective dose of the vaccine. Many outbreaks of measles could probably be prevented if more travelers received MMR vaccine prior to foreign travel.

Safe injection sites and reducing the stigma of addiction

Scott Weiner, MD
Scott Weiner, MD, Contributor

The scope of the opioid crisis in the US has led some individuals and communities to revise their view of addiction and substance use disorders. One idea being considered is creating supervised injection facilities that would provide a safe environment and make treatment resources available to those who want them.

4 science-backed ways toward better learning (Hint: drop the highlighter)

David R. Topor, PhD, MS-HPEd

It’s challenging to remember information when reading or studying, but there are techniques that can be applied to help you retain what you read more effectively. Research shows that common practices, like studying the same topic for a long time and the use of highlighters can get in the way of retaining information.

Eat only every other day and lose weight?

Monique Tello, MD, MPH
Monique Tello, MD, MPH, Contributing Editor

Following an alternate-day fasting diet seems like it might be a good way to lose weight, but it’s difficult to stick to such an eating pattern because the cravings on fasting days can be uncomfortable, and research found that higher LDL cholesterol is a concern.

Premenstrual dysphoria disorder: It’s biology, not a behavior choice

Andrea Chisholm, MD
Andrea Chisholm, MD, Contributor

Women who experience severe mood changes in the weeks leading to their menstrual periods may have premenstrual dysphoria disorder. Because this condition is not yet well understood, getting a correct diagnosis can be challenging.

Safe summer grilling tips

Robert H. Shmerling, MD
Robert H. Shmerling, MD, Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publications

Grilling meat creates potentially harmful chemicals; make outdoor grilling both more enjoyable and safer by following these tips for preparation and cooking of food.