Health Advice to Carry You to Labor Day
Scare tactics don't seem to be any better at getting people to use sunscreens than photos of cancer-riddled lungs are at prodding smokers to quit. Despite years of public-health campaigns, the most common types of skin cancer (squamous cell and basal cell) have shot up another 16 percent. Scary.
Protect yourself with Dr. Oz's "A, B, C, D" of skin cancer.
Okay, the most common types are the least lethal—you're more likely to die crossing the street. So let's talk vanity, because we assume you care about wrinkles and scars. Blame the sun for the former. And removing these cancers—which you have to do—can leave a doozy of a scar smack in the middle of your face. Or your cleavage, bicep or other favorite spot.
Meanwhile, the reasons for not using sunscreen (sticky, smelly, greasy, chalky) are disappearing. Drugstores are jammed with choices: spray-on or rub-in; fragrance-free or scented; tinted or transparent; oil-free or creamy; sturdy enough for sweaty sports or gentle enough for tiny tots; antiacne or antiaging. The best and safest in our book? Sunscreens with nanoparticulated zinc oxide or titanium dioxide.
So if yours is among the one in five households that doesn't bother with sun protection, no more excuses. And one more thing: Start early. Virgin skin cells that have been under cover all winter burn in a flash on that first weekend in the garden, at the beach or in the hammock.
It's flip-flop season. But if your feet took more of a beating last winter than Goldman Sachs' PR team, it's time for some damage control. Even tough guys are hesitant to get out of hot sneakers if what's inside are calluses, heel cracks and thick, yellow nails. Here's how to like yourself naked from the ankles down.
- Keep Them Dry
Fungi, yeast and bacteria love warm, moist places, so don't give them a chance to snuggle in and corrupt and discolor your nails. Avoid being among the 12 percent of Americans with the nail fungus onychomycosis—even the name is ugly. Quickly get out of sweaty shoes after a walk. And towel dry wet feet—including between toes—with your own towel.
- Cushion Them
Slip on well-padded athletic shoes when you'll be on your 26 foot bones awhile. (Price doesn't always equal quality, but athletic shoes are one of the five things we think you should overpay for to gain quality.) Dead, thick skin, also known as calluses, builds from putting too much pressure on feet often. To prevent the kind of heel pain that has 16 percent of us saying ouch, check for shock absorption in the heels, which bear the brunt of your weight.
- Trim Them
Keep nails short so they won't curve into the skin or allow infection-causing bacteria to gather beneath them. To soften thick toenails before cutting, soak them in warm salt water for five to 10 minutes, then massage in a urea-containing cream like Eucerin or Aqua Care. And use industrial-strength nail cutters, since wimpy ones will split nails.
We're such fans of strength training that we sometimes sound like hucksters on one of those crazy late-night TV infomercials: "You get a sleeker physique. But wait! There's more! You also burn more calories! Get stronger bones! A healthier heart! More flexibility!"
It's all true! But the benefits are so tempting that it's easy to jump in and get hurt. Which is happening: Weight-training injuries are up 50 percent, and the biggest increases are in people over 45.
Yet they're easy to avoid. You're probably not going to drop a 150-pound barbell on your toes—you'd have to pick it up first. You're more likely to push yourself too hard or do too many repetitions or cut corners on form to lift more pounds. Instead of stopping if something ouches, you mutter, "No whining." Or you drag your sore self back to the gym every day, even if your body's yelping.
Don't. For starters, don't do strength training every day. Every other day is plenty. Begin with light weights, and get how-tos on using good form. That's really what those mirrors are for: to check your form. It's the key to avoiding strains. Don't increase weight until you can easily lift the weight you're using 12 times. If a joint or muscle hurts, stop. Take a couple of days off, then try the move again with a lighter weight or fewer reps.
If you're patient at first, the next thing you know, you'll look in the mirror and say, "Wow, perfect form." Oh, you can say, "Wow!" about how you look too.
How do you stay healthy in the summer? Share your tips in the comments area.
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