A New Year's resolution to take better care of yourself is one you should keep, especially in the era of COVID-19. Wearing a mask, maintaining a safe distance from others and washing your hands frequently are going remain important in 2021. But don't forget to prioritize a healthy lifestyle that improves your overall health and quality of life, and helps prevent cancer, according to experts at the Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey. The institute offers the following tips: Eat a healthy diet and watch your weight. For cancer prevention, the American Institute for Cancer Research and the American Cancer Society recommend maintaining a healthy weight, staying active and eating a healthy diet. That's one rich in whole grains, vegetables, fruit and beans, with a minimum of red and processed meats, fast food and processed foods high in fat, starches or sugars. Avoid sugary drinks. Cutting out alcohol lowers the risk of many cancers, including breast cancer. Exercise regularly. It has many benefits for physical and mental well-being. Current guidelines recommend at least 150 to 300 minutes a week of moderate-intensity, or 75 to 150 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity. Muscle-strengthening activities should also be included. Sitting for a long time watching TV or using the computer is discouraged. Find fun ways to stay active, such as online exercise classes, or walking or jogging in your neighborhood. Quit smoking. Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death. Quitting smoking will lower the risk for many cancers, including those of the lungs, mouth, throat, blood, bladder, esophagus, stomach, pancreas and kidneys. Getting preventive care is an important step to manage your health. This includes cancer screenings, which can detect cancer before it spreads.
Many Americans are working at home or attending school virtually during the COVID-19 pandemic, leading to increased use of home heating and its potential risks, experts say. Heating sources can pose electrical hazards and fire dangers, noted officials of the pediatric trauma injury prevention program at Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn. "With pandemic restrictions in place, there are more people in the home during a time when it would traditionally be empty," officials said in a Vanderbilt news release. "Folks are needing to stay warm. And for some who are not working, they are trying to figure out how to stay warm on less income." That could lead to the use of unsafe heating sources, she cautioned. "During this time, it is so important that people know what heating sources the safest and which ones are to steer clear from to prevent a potentially hazardous situation," officials said. A major threat from heating sources is carbon monoxide, often called the silent killer. In the United States, 170 people a year on average die from carbon monoxide poisoning not associated with vehicles, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Causes include: malfunctioning fuel-burning appliances such as furnaces, ranges, water heaters and room heaters; engine-powered equipment such as portable generators; fireplaces, and charcoal burning in enclosed areas. The hospital's experts offer these tips to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning:
- Install CO alarms near all sleeping areas in your home and test them monthly
- Have gas, oil or coal-burning appliances, chimneys and fireplaces checked by a professional every year
- Never use a kitchen stove or oven to heat your home
- Never use a grill, generator or camping stove inside your home, garage or basement
- Never leave a vehicle running inside a garage, even with the garage door open.
- Keep electric space heaters, humidifiers and vaporizers at least 3 feet from beds, curtains and other flammable items
- Use grounded (three-pronged) cords with all major electrical appliances
- Make sure that electrical cords are properly insulated, and that insulation shows no signs of wear or fraying
- Never run electrical wires under carpeting.
Puffy coats have their place, but it's not inside a car seat. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) offers a variety of tips for keeping your little ones safe and warm while traveling by car. The first is to avoid dressing children in puffy coats or snowsuits before buckling them in, because car seat straps won't tighten enough. That creates a danger that the fluffy padding will flatten in the force of a crash and the youngster will slip from the seat and be thrown from the car. Puffy coats are not safe in a car seat or under a seat belt for someone of any age, the AAP said. "Parents may not recognize the potential danger of buckling up a child who is wearing a puffy coat," said Dr. Sarah Denny, a pediatrician with expertise in injury prevention. "A car seat harness or belt needs to fit snugly enough so that you cannot pinch the straps of the car seat harness. A safer alternative is to drape a blanket or coat over the car straps." The AAP offers additional tips, including staying warmer by storing the carrier portion of an infant seat indoors and packing extra socks, mittens and hats. If your child likes to suck his or her thumb, choose half-gloves with open fingers. Dress your child in thin layers. This would include close-fitting layers, such as a long-sleeved body suit and tights or leggings, a warmer top and pants and, finally, a thin fleece jacket. Long underwear is a safe layering option in very cold weather, the experts said. Infants should wear one more layer than adults, so think about what you have on when you're planning baby's outfit. Use a coat or blanket over car seat straps, but never use a car seat cover or other product that puts a layer under your child's body or between the child's body and the harness straps. Don't use sleeping bag inserts or stroller inserts because they haven't been crash-tested, the AAP warned. Be sure harness straps are tight enough. If you can pinch the straps, the car seat harness needs to be tightened to fit snugly against your child's chest. Also be sure to leave baby's face uncovered to avoid trapped air and re-breathing, the group advised in an AAP news release. Pack a bag with extra blankets, dry clothing, hats, gloves and non-perishable snacks in your car in case of an emergency. Get an early start, they suggested. This can help if the baby is uncooperative about being buckled in and can also give you extra time to get where you're going. "Pediatricians can help answer parents' questions about car seats and how to properly use them," Denny said. "Just as you would use layers of clothes to keep your child warm, you can use layers of prevention to keep your child safe."
The new year is the ideal time to focus on your health and one expert has some tips, especially for men, for doing that. According to health officials, "Men don't always focus on their health and, in fact, men are less likely to see a doctor or utilize health resources, and wait longer than women to seek care. Often, it's a man's spouse or partner who convinces him to see a doctor." As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, "a focus on health is especially important this year," officials said in a Loyola news release. Here are a few tips:
- Boost your physical activity.
- Men should exercise 150 minutes each week.
- Think about what you eat.
- January is a popular month to start a new diet.
- Smoke and drink
- Make unhealthy or risky choices
- Put off regular checkups and medical care
Be kind to your heart and health and turn off the news, doctors say. The COVID-19 pandemic has had a major effect on our lives. Many of us are facing challenges that can be stressful, overwhelming, and cause strong emotions in adults and children. Public health actions, such as social distancing, are necessary to reduce the spread of COVID-19, but they can make us feel isolated and lonely and can increase stress and anxiety. Learning to cope with stress in a healthy way will make you, the people you care about, and those around you become more resilient. Stress can cause the following:
- Feelings of fear, anger, sadness, worry, numbness, or frustration
- Changes in appetite, energy, desires, and interests
- Difficulty concentrating and making decisions
- Difficulty sleeping or nightmares
- Physical reactions, such as headaches, body pains, stomach problems, and skin rashes
- Worsening of chronic health problems
- Worsening of mental health conditions
- Increased use of tobacco, alcohol, and other substances