Babying your back may delay healing

 You might be considering surgery or other intervention to treat your back pain. But less may actually be more for this common problem, and in many instances the best medicine is good old-fashioned movement and exercise. Back pain is one of the most common medical problems in the United States, according to the National Institutes of Health. It's also a little strange as far as ailments go. When you twist your ankle, you generally have pain that slowly goes away as the injury heals. Not so with back pain. Relief doesn't seem to be linked to healing because the pain is usually unrelated to an injury. In fact, back pain often diminishes over time, even when there is an underlying problem like a herniated disc or arthritis, says Dr. James Rainville, assistant professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation at Harvard Medical School. More »

Is low-fat or full-fat the better choice for dairy products?

 Image: © Lise Gagne/Getty Images In the 1980s, fat came under fire, and low-fat or fat-free products became a dietary staple. But today, nutrition experts largely agree that dietary fat should have a spot at the table. Healthy fats, including those found in olive oil, nuts, seeds, and avocados, can help your body absorb crucial nutrients and contribute to overall health. But does the same advice apply when it comes to dairy products? Is it time to trade in your low-fat and skim milk for whole milk and cheese? "Is whole milk better than low-fat milk? The answer is no," says Dr. Frank Hu, The Fredrick J. Stare Professor of Nutrition and Epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. "The evidence doesn't really support that." More »

Unmasking the causes and treatments of melasma

By October, your summer tan is probably almost gone, but a glance in the mirror may still show some darkened patches on your skin that seem to be sticking around. These brown or grayish-brown blotches, typically on the forehead, chin, cheeks, upper lip, or nose, may signal a condition called melasma. Melasma is sometimes referred to as the mask of pregnancy, because it is sometimes triggered by an increase in hormones in pregnant women. But while the condition may be common among pregnant women, it isn't limited to them. "It's not only associated with pregnancy, but can affect women at all stages of life," says Dr. Shadi Kourosh, director of the Pigmentary Disorder and Multi-Ethnic Skin Clinic at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital. And it may last for many years. "Women who develop melasma in their teens or 20s or 30s may see it stay around for decades," says Dr. Barbara Gilchrest, senior lecturer on dermatology at Harvard Medical School. (Locked) More »

Strengthen your mood with weight training

Resistance training exercises aren’t just good for your body and your cardiovascular system. They might also boost mood, according to a new study. People who participated in resistance training between two or more days a week had fewer symptoms of depression than those who did not. (Locked) More »