Harvard Health Blog

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


Strong legs help power summer activities: Hiking, biking, swimming, and more

Legs are the foundation for many enjoyable activities—running, bicycling, swimming, and more. Building strong leg muscles can improve your performance, build endurance, and reduce your risk of injury. These exercises will work all of the major muscle groups in your legs.

Sexually transmitted infections: What parents need to be sure their teens know

It's never easy for parents to talk to their teens about sex, so many are understandably hesitant to do so. But even if teens are not yet sexually active, it's important for them to have accurate information about sexually transmitted infections to keep themselves safe and healthy.

Have you exfoliated lately?

Exfoliation — the process of removing dead cells from the skin's outer layer — can make skin glow, help even out coloring, and offer other benefits, but it can also irritate or inflame. Which products should you choose and how often can you exfoliate?

Wildfires: How to cope when smoke affects air quality and health

Wildfire smoke contributes greatly to poor air quality, and as wildfires become more frequent due to climate change and drier conditions, more of us and more of our communities are at risk for health harms.

PTSD: How is treatment changing?

PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) is a potentially debilitating mental health condition marked by recurrent, frightening episodes during which a person relives a traumatic event. Newly released guidelines can help guide treatment; they recommend which therapies are most effective, and which are not recommended.

Virtual mental health care visits: Making them work for you

Virtual mental health care visits have become more popular in recent years. Here's what to know about finding and scheduling care, tech requirements, and making these visits work well for you.

How healthy is sugar alcohol?

Food products advertised as being lower in sugar or sugar-free contain sugar substitutes. Sugar alcohol is another ingredient used as a sweetener in food products. But is sugar alcohol a better choice nutritionally than other sweeteners or natural sugar?

A bird flu primer: What to know and do

A bird flu strain that began circulating in 2020 continues to evolve globally and locally within the United States. If you're wondering what this means, understanding the basics — what bird flu is, how it spreads, whether foods are safe, and prevention tips — can help.

New urine test may help some men with elevated PSA avoid biopsy

When a PSA test produces an abnormal result, the next step is usually a prostate biopsy, but these have drawbacks. Researchers are exploring strategies to avoid unnecessary biopsies, and a test that screens for prostate cancer in urine samples has shown promising results in testing.

Dupuytren's contracture of the hand

One condition affecting the hands and fingers is Dupuytren's contracture, where one or more fingers become curled, making it difficult to perform everyday activities. Dupuytren's affects one in 20 Americans, so what do people need to know about it?

Why play? Early games build bonds and brain

More than a million nerve connections are made in the brain in the first few years of life. Babies and young children thrive with responsive caregiving, such as engaging a child in playful games that change as they grow.

Moving from couch to 5K

Want to boost your activity level and your motivation? Consider a couch-to-5K program, which provides coaching to encourage walkers to transition to running.

How — and why — to fit more fiber and fermented food into your meals

A healthy diet is key to a healthy gut microbiome, which helps the immune system function well and reduces chronic inflammation among other important tasks. And increasing evidence suggests that fiber and fermented foods can play important roles in gut health.

Tick season is expanding: Protect yourself against Lyme disease

With ticks thriving in a wider geographic range, appearing earlier and sticking around later, it's important to stay vigilant about protecting yourself against ticks that cause Lyme disease and other illnesses. Learn some steps you can take to avoid tick bites.

What? Another medical form to fill out?

It can be frustrating to be asked to fill out medical forms yet again for a health care visit. But even if you have an electronic medical record, a practice might need you to provide or update information, and it's helpful to know what is most important or likely to be requested.

How do trees and green spaces enhance our health?

Trees enhance our lives by releasing oxygen, reducing pollution, and preventing flooding. Beyond all of these benefits, there is growing evidence that just being around trees and green spaces improves mood and overall health.

A muscle-building obsession in boys: What to know and do

Muscle dysmorphia is a preoccupation with a muscular and lean physique that is more pervasive in boys. Learn the signs of body dysmorphia as well as ways to encourage positive body image.

Harvard Health Ad Watch: New drug, old song, clever tagline

A new type of nonhormonal medication to prevent hot flashes and night sweats due to menopause, Veozah, was approved by the FDA in 2023. An ad for the drug has useful information, but some key questions are not answered.

Concussion in children: What to know and do

Concussion is one of the most common injuries to the brain, affecting about two million children and teens every year. Understanding signs, symptoms, questions to ask, and how concussion care has changed in recent years can make a difference in identifying concussion and recovery.

What color is your tongue? What's healthy, what's not?

The tongue's appearance gives doctors an idea about certain aspects of your health, and its color is an important clue. Some changes in the tongue's color or appearance are signs of health issues and should be seen by a doctor.

Your amazing parathyroid glands

Most people have four parathyroid glands, which are tiny in size but very important to the body's function. These glands are involved in regulating calcium, phosphorous, and vitamin D, keeping these nutrients in balance without being noticed by us.

When — and how — should you be screened for colon cancer?

In the US population as a whole, deaths from colon cancer have been declining, but in people under 50 that rate has increased. Most major medical organizations recommend screening beginning at age 45 for people at average risk.

Co-regulation: Helping children and teens navigate big emotions

Co-regulation is a process in which caregivers can help young people learn better ways to regulate their emotions during the inevitable upsets and challenges of life. But before a caregiver can help a child, they need to understand their own emotional skills and limitations. 

Dog bites: How to prevent or treat them

More than 4.5 million dog bites occur in the US each year. Despite what you might expect, most of these are inflicted by a pet dog in a home. Learn more about how you can avoid injury, and what to do if you do get bitten.

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