You get regular checkups, eat fruits and veggies, and exercise like an Energizer Bunny. But are you as healthy as you think? Take our quiz to check your health IQ. Then read on for additional wellness tips from Douglas County medical specialists.
1. You should perform your monthly breast self-exam:
(a) Right before your period starts
(b) About a week after your period ends
(c) Whenever you remember
ANSWER: (b) “The best time to do a breast self-exam is about a week after your period ends when your breasts are smoothest and not tender or swollen,” says Damon Trahan, manager of the Sky Ridge Imaging Center at Castle Rock. Performing your self-exam right before your period starts could cause needless worry since perfectly normal lumps may appear during this time of the month.
2. To best protect your skin on a sunny day, you should:
(a) Use SPF-15 sunscreen
(b) Wear a long-sleeved shirt and hat
(c) Sit under some shady trees
ANSWER: (a) “It’s important to apply a sunscreen that provides at least 15 SPF all over your skin,” says Brent Sigler, MD, a dermatologist in Lone Tree and assistant professor of dermatology at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center. “Most lightweight shirts provide only 5 SPF, and sitting under shady trees will give you at most 10 SPF.”
3. To prevent osteoporosis, you should:
ANSWER: (c) Weight-bearing exercises like running, power walking, and hiking will help keep your skeleton strong and ward off osteoporosis. “Maintaining bone strength is a key element in the prevention of osteoporosis,” says Damon Trahan of Sky Ridge Medical Center at Castle Rock. Swimming is a great aerobic activity, but it won’t strengthen your bones. “Gardening can be helpful, however,” says Trahan. Although digging in the dirt isn’t as bone-healthy as jogging and walking, studies have found that women who garden or work in their yards at least once a week show improved bone density readings.
4. When attending a loud concert, you should:
(a) Stay glued to your front-row seat
(b) Take periodic breaks in quiet areas of the arena
(c) Wear earplugs
ANSWER: (c) A front-row seat at a loud concert can increase the risk of premature hearing loss. “Wearing musician’s earplugs will reduce the sound level reaching your ears without affecting the quality of music, which can protect your hearing from permanent damage,” says Linda Baker, Au.D., a board-certified audiologist at Parker Center for Audiology.
5. To avoid harming your eyes, you should:
(a) Sit far away from the TV
(b) Wear sunglasses
(c) Avoid reading in dim light
ANSWER: (b) You should wear sunglasses between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., even on cloudy or winter days. “Long-term exposure to ultraviolet rays can increase the risk of macular degeneration and cataracts as you age,” says Alan Margolis, MD, a board-certified ophthalmologist (eye MD) and director of Margolis Vision in Lone Tree. It’s a myth that sitting too close to the TV or reading in dim light will weaken your vision.
6. Which is a sign that you’re a healthy sleeper?
(a) You fall asleep the second your head hits the pillow
(b) You take 15 to 20 minutes to fall asleep
(c) You toss and turn all night
ANSWER: (b) “Taking 15 to 20 minutes to fall asleep is normal and healthy,” says Dawn Stanley, MD, an internist and sleep medicine specialist in Lone Tree. Falling asleep immediately means that you’re probably not getting enough zzz’s. Tossing and turning throughout the night could be a sign of sleep apnea, a potentially dangerous sleep disorder.
7. To lower your intake of unhealthy fats, you should avoid eating:
(b) Snack foods
ANSWER: (b) “Snack foods like potato chips, pretzels, cookies, and crackers often contain transfats to prolong their shelf life,” says Umberto Orazi, MD, director of The Rock Internal Medicine, a practice in Castle Rock that integrates internal medicine and nutritional counseling. In clinical studies, transfats have been found to both raise LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and lower HDL (“good”) cholesterol, increasing the risk of heart disease.
8. The best source of calcium is:
(c) A supplement
ANSWER: (b) Yogurt actually has more bone-building calcium per serving than milk. A cup of nonfat yogurt has 450 mg. of calcium compared to 350 mg. for a cup of skim milk.
“However, it’s fine to supplement food sources with calcium pills or capsules,” says Dr. Orazi. “That way you’ll be sure to get your daily requirement of calcium.”
9. Which is the healthiest snack?
(a) A medium apple and handful of pretzels
(b) A granola bar
(c) Half a mini bagel with peanut butter
ANSWER: (c) A combination of complex carbohydrates and protein is the best choice to keep you energetic and mentally sharp. The fat in peanut butter will also stave off hunger for several hours. Sodium-rich pretzels could make you feel bloated and may contain transfats. The granola bar isn’t a great choice because it’s probably high in sugar.
10. To burn the most calories at the gym, you should use which of the following machines:
(a) Stationary bike
ANSWER: (c) “The stairclimber burns the most calories because you’re weight-bearing and climbing,” says Marji Marshall, head trainer and general manager at Mountain Fitness Training Center in Centennial. But working out on any exercise machine will KO calories. “Burning calories depends more on how hard you’re working than the machine you’re using,” says Marshall.
11. You should stretch:
(a) Before exercise
(b) After exercise
ANSWER: (b) “Stretching after exercise when your muscles are still warm and have blood flowing will assist in repairing and creating more muscle,” says Marshall. “On the other hand, stretching before exercise when muscles are cold could do more harm than good.”
12. To gain optimum cardiovascular benefits during exercise, you should:
(a) Push your body as hard as possible for as long as possible
(b) Exercise at a moderate intensity
(c) Alternative moderate and high intensity exercise
ANSWER: (c) “You’ll get fitter faster if you switch from moderate to high intensity exercise at regular intervals,” says Marshall. “Interval training challenges your body to go beyond its comfort zone, recover a little, and then push again, which improves lung and heart function.”
13. Which exercise regimens is best?
(a) Cardio workouts every day
(b) Alternating cardio and strength training every other day
(c) One day of yoga, three days of cardio, two days of strength training
ANSWER: (c) The ideal exercise program combines cardio, strength and flexibility training. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends cardio workouts three to five days a week, plus weight and flexibility training two to three days weekly. Not a yoga enthusiast? Pilates or incorporating stretching movements into your exercise cool-down will also build flexibility.
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