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Harvard Health Blog

Read the latest posts from experts at Harvard Health Publishing covering a variety of health topics and perspectives on medical news.

Articles

Harvard 6-Week Plan for Healthy Eating goes live! You can participate, too

Published April 27, 2011

Two volunteers are testing the new “Harvard Medical School 6-Week Plan for Healthy Eating.” This plan offers week-by-week steps to help you analyze your diet, establish goals for healthy meals and snacks, and incorporate practical changes to make your healthy diet a reality. Each week builds on what you accomplished in the previous weeks. At the end, you’ll have made important changes that can last a lifetime. Tonya Phillips and Helen Hoart share their experience from Week 1 of the 6-week plan.

Kate Middleton’s pre-royal weight loss: stress, “brideorexia,” or the Dukan Diet?

Published April 27, 2011

One of many hot topics about the upcoming royal wedding of Prince William of Wales and Catherine Middleton is whether Middleton has lost too much weight in preparing for the ceremony. Prevailing theories about Middleton’s presumptive weight loss include stress, “brideorexia,” and a popular French diet. Harvard Health Letter editor Peter Wehrwein discusses all three possibilities.

Stretching exercises

Published April 27, 2011

Because stretching cold muscles can lead to injury, it’s best to stretch after your muscles have been adequately warmed up — either at the end of your workout or after you’ve completed your warm-up. Stretching at the end of your workout can be a good way to cool down. Stretch several times a week for […]

Balance exercises

Published April 27, 2011

Balance plays no role in preventing prostate problems or major diseases. Still, balance is important for health. A good sense of balance can keep you steady on your feet and reduce your risk of falling. This special set of exercises can be done at any time, every day of the week or just a few […]

Exercise and prostate cancer

Published April 27, 2011

Some studies have suggested that more physically active men many have a lower risk of prostate cancer — or prostate cancer progression — than sedentary men. And somewhat paradoxically, exercise can combat the fatigue that strikes some prostate cancer patients during treatment.

Exercise and erectile dysfunction (ED)

Published April 27, 2011

Emerging scientific evidence suggests that engaging in a few hours of exercise a week — including strength training, stretching, and balance exercises — may reduce the risk of erectile dysfunction (ED).

Exercise and chronic prostatitis

Published April 27, 2011

Physical activity could be a valid treatment option for men with chronic prostatitis who have not found relief through medication or other measures.

Exercise and benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH)

Published April 26, 2011

Researchers have found an inverse relationship between physical activity and BPH syptoms: simply put, men who are more physically active are less likely to suffer from symptoms of an enlarged prostate such as frequent urination, urgency, and a weak urinary stream.

Try exercise to ease arthritis pain, stiffness

Published April 22, 2011

If you have arthritis, exercise can help keep your joints mobile and your muscles strong. Swimming and other water-based exercise are especially good because they’re easy on the joints. Harvard Health editor Julie Corliss discusses ways in which exercise can help you cope with—and even improve the symptoms of—arthritis.

Good planning is a recipe for home-cooking success

Published April 20, 2011

It’s so easy to pick up fast food or take out food that no one really needs to cook anymore. That’s great if you’re short on time, but not so great if your goal is healthy eating. The Harvard Medical School 6-Week Plan for Healthy Eating offers tips for planning and preparing healthy food at home.

Belly fat is the shape of cardiovascular risk

Published April 19, 2011

Extra fat that accumulates around the abdomen goes by many names: beer belly, spare tire, love handles, apple shape, middle-age spread, and the more technical “abdominal obesity.” No matter what the name, it is the shape of risk.

How Boston Marathon runners can avoid hitting the wall

Published April 18, 2011

Perhaps up to 40% of runners in tomorrow’s Boston Marathon will end up “hitting the wall,” notes Harvard Health Letter editor Peter Wehrwein. This means that their bodies have run out of the carbohydrates needed to sustain intense physical activities like long-distance running. But one Harvard/MIT student and marathon runner has developed an online tool that allows runners to calculate just how many extra calories they should get from high-carbohydrate food or drink before a marathon to avoid hitting the wall.

Statin use is up, cholesterol levels are down: Are Americans’ hearts benefiting?

Published April 15, 2011

The latest annual snapshot of health in America, a report called Health, United States, 2010 offers hours of browsing and food for thought for anyone interested in health trends. Harvard Health Letter editor Peter Wehrwein connects the dots between use of cholesterol-lowering statins and fewer deaths from heart disease.

Procrastination

Published April 10, 2011

One way I procrastinate is to read articles on procrastination. There is quite a good, short, helpful one in this week’s issue of Nature. The authors, who consult to academics in Adelaide, Australia, point out that motivation rarely leads to action. Paradoxically, action leads to motivation. Their concise article is “Waiting for the motivation fairy.” […]

Two techniques for reducing stress

Published April 9, 2011

Feeling stressed? Call a timeout, counsels “Stress Management,” a new Special Health Report from Harvard Health Publishing. One way to stop stress and worry from taking over your days involves setting aside 15 minutes or so to focus on your problems. When the time is up, try to leave your worries aside and focus on something more productive. Writing down your worries and dropping them in a “worry box” can also help, explains Harvard Health editor Annmarie Dadoly.

Mindfulness meditation improves connections in the brain

Published April 8, 2011

Mindfulness meditation can ease stress. It also seems to do a lot more, like help with physical and psychological problems from high blood pressure and chronic pain to anxiety and binge eating. New research shows that mindfulness meditation changes the way nerves connect.

Another study shows PSA testing doesn’t save lives

Published April 7, 2011

In the longest-running trial to date, Swedish researchers conclude that PSA screening does little to cut a man’s chances of dying of prostate cancer.

PSA blood test for prostate cancer doesn’t save lives

Published April 7, 2011

Men have long been encouraged to have routine tests for prostate-specific antigen as a way to detect prostate cancer early. Although early detection should save lives, it doesn’t seem to work that way for slow-growing prostate cancer. The longest-running trial to date shows that PSA testing doesn’t help men live longer.

Food and migraine: a personal connection

Published April 5, 2011

If you suffer from migraines, does what you eat affect your headaches? It depends on you, and what you eat. There are no magical foods that cause or prevent migraine. Instead, it differs from person to person, says Harvard Health editor Christine Junge, who attended a talk given by Sandra Allonen, a nutritionist at Harvard-affiliated Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, as part of Harvard Medical School’s monthly nutrition seminars.

From the wrist to the heart: new angioplasty method is safe, effective

Published April 5, 2011

Angioplasty is a simple, safe alternative to open heart surgery for restoring blood flow through a narrowed or blocked coronary artery. Results of a large international trial show that a new approach to angioplasty that begins with the radial artery in the arm is as effective and safe as the traditional approach, which begins with the femoral artery in the groin.

Kids and social media: Guidance for parents

Published April 5, 2011

Confused about how to extend analog parenting into the digital world? New guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics offers practical advice to pediatricians (and parents) to help children use social media tools safely and in ways that encourage them grow socially and emotionally. Michael Miller, M.D., editor of the Harvard Mental Health Letter, says the guidelines are “anchored in what we know about child and adolescent development rather than any perceived special influences of the social network.”

What is a PSA test?

Published April 1, 2011

Doctors use this test to screen for prostate cancer, but it does not provide a definitive diagnosis.

FDA panel finds no link between artificial food colorings and hyperactivity in most children

Published April 1, 2011

Artificial food coloring has been blamed for causing hyperactivity in children. For most kids, there is no connection between food coloring and hyperactivity, an FDA panel has concluded. But it also noted that certain children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may be uniquely vulnerable, not just to food colorings, but to any number of food additives. The panel said that food additives themselves are not inherently toxic to the nervous system, but that some children have a unique intolerance to these substances.

Play Ball: Will new rules for bats make baseball safer?

Published March 31, 2011

When a hitter makes solid contact with a baseball, the ball leaves the bat travelling very fast. The type of bat matters — ball speeds are higher with aluminum and newer composite bats than they are with wood bats. Why? Wood bats are solid. When one smacks a ball, the bat stays fairly rigid and the ball flattens out for a millisecond, absorbing some of the energy in the bat-ball collision. Aluminum and composite bats are hollow. When they strike a baseball, the bat gives. That means more of the energy of the bat-ball collision is transferred to the “bounce” of the ball off the bat. Harvard Health Letter editor Peter Wehrwein talks with experts in sports injury, the physics of baseball, and bat testing to explain connections between bat type and injury.

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