It’s 3 a.m. and you’re running a high fever. Everything hurts and your doctor’s office is closed. We’ve all been there – wondering whether to go to the emergency room … or wait?

When you know it’s not a matter of life or death, an urgent care center or retail health clinic may be your best option. These facilities are often open after hours, seven days a week. Plus, they cost less and have shorter wait times than emergency rooms. Be proactive; find your closest in-network urgent care center or retail clinic before you get sick or hurt. The more you’re prepared, the faster you can get help when you need it!

How does smoking hurt thee? Let me count the ways! As a major risk factor for many serious health problems, smoking is especially bad for your heart. When combined with other risk factors, such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure and being overweight
or obese, smoking raises your risk for heart disease, the leading cause of death in the United States.

If you want to live a heart-healthy lifestyle, don’t smoke. If you need help quitting, talk
to your doctor about resources, strategies and nicotine replacement therapy. Within a
few weeks to a few months of kicking the habit, you’ll already have lowered your risk
for heart disease.

Every November through December, you’re surrounded by food – lots of it. At the same time, the holidays can be very stressful if you’re hosting loved ones or missing them.
Food plus stress is often a recipe for disaster, but there are steps you can take to beat holiday excess:

  • Fill up on healthy snacks, like fruits, veggies and nuts, before meals.
  • Bring your own low-calorie dish to potlucks.
  • Watch your portion size, especially at buffets. It’s okay to enjoy some of your favorites in moderation.
  • Skip sugary drinks, fatty sauces and salty processed foods.
  • Make fresh fruit your dessert.

Also, plan at least two-and-a-half hours of physical activity a week. You can sneak workouts between parties or bring others along for a walk or dancing.

Ready to take the plunge into parenthood? You can start by preparing your body for baby.

First, talk to your doctor and share any health conditions, lifestyle behaviors (such as smoking or alcohol use), and medication or vaccination history that might get in the way
of either getting pregnant or having a healthy pregnancy. To help prevent birth defects of the spine and brain, women should ask about taking 400 micrograms of folic acid every day for a month before trying to get pregnant. Also, getting pregnant at a healthy weight lowers a woman’s risk for developing gestational diabetes and other pregnancy-related problems. A little planning can make a big difference for your baby’s future.

Sometimes, taking risks in life is smart – but not when it comes to your health. Besides skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common cancer affecting women in the United States. It can also be very treatable when caught early. In fact, because of higher rates of screening, more people survive breast cancer today than ever before.

Screenings can check for disease – often before someone even has symptoms. A mammogram, or X-ray picture of the breast, is still the best way to find breast cancer early, when it’s easier to treat. If you are age 40 or older (or think you are at high risk for breast cancer), ask your doctor when and how you should get tested. Some major risk factors include age, hormone replacement therapy use, carrying the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes, family history and being overweight – especially after menopause. Don’t wait; a mammogram is an important weapon in your battle against breast cancer.

You get your calories or energy from what you eat and drink. To maintain a healthy weight, you have to balance your daily calories with how you use them. If you need to lose some pounds, the best approach is a combination of healthy diet and physical activity. And studies show the only way to keep that weight off is to be active on a regular basis.

Different types of activities use up different amounts of energy. How much you weigh and how much muscle you have also makes a difference in how many calories you burn. To see which activities help you get rid of the most calories, go to

Body mass index or BMI is an estimate of body fat based on your weight and height.
A BMI range of 18.5 to 24.9 for adults is considered normal. People who are overweight (BMI of 25 to 29.9) have too much body weight for their height. People who are obese (BMI of 30 or above) almost always have a large amount of body fat for their height.
The higher the BMI, the greater your risk for heart disease, high blood pressure,
Type 2 diabetes, breathing problems and some cancers.

Although BMI can be used as a health measure for most men and women, it does have limits. It may overestimate body fat in athletes and others who have a lot of muscle. It may also underestimate body fat in older people and others who have lost muscle. To find out your BMI and see how you compare to your peers, go to

Buying healthy food doesn’t have to hurt your wallet. You can make smart choices for
less by:

  • Going with beans instead of meat: Replace meat with canned or dried beans, which are much cheaper. Many recipes made with meat, such as chili, soups and salads, are delicious with beans.
  • Trying canned or frozen fruits and veggies: Compare the price and the serving size of fresh, canned and frozen forms of the same fruits or veggies. Canned and frozen items may be less costly than fresh ones. For canned items, choose fruit
    that’s packed in 100% fruit juice and veggies with “low sodium” or “no salt added”
    on the label.
  • Buying store brands: When possible, skip the fancy labels. You’ll get the same or similar product for less money. If your grocery store has a membership card for discounts, sign up.
  • Planning for leftovers: Prepare and freeze veggie soups, stews or other dishes in advance. Add leftover veggies to casseroles or blend them to make soups. This saves time and money.

Sticking to your list: Think ahead, make a grocery list and stick to it! Plus, don’t shop when you’re hungry and more likely to choose less healthy options.

Don’t lose sight of your eyes. Along with your annual checkup, be sure to get a professional eye exam every year. Your eyes also need daily protection, just like
your skin. Wear sunglasses to shield them from the sun’s dangerous ultraviolet rays.
And rest your eyes throughout the day. If you spend a lot of time looking at a computer,
you sometimes forget to blink and your eyes get tired. So try to take frequent breaks
from the screen.

You can also help your eyes stay healthy with the right lifestyle choices:

  • Eat lots of fruits and veggies, which are rich in vitamins and minerals, and
    fish like salmon that are high in omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. This lowers your risk for getting diabetes or other conditions that can lead to vision loss.
  • Avoid eye injuries by using protective goggles or other gear when playing
    sports or working around chemicals and dust.

Quit smoking. Research has linked smoking to a higher risk of eye disease
and cataracts.

In the past 30 years, the rate of childhood obesity has increased. Now, about 17% of American children ages 2 to 19 – or one in six kids – are obese.

Because children are heavier today, they are getting health problems that used to be found only in adults. Research suggests that obese children are at risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and other health issues. Once rare in children, Type 2 diabetes now accounts for a high percentage of all new diabetes cases in kids. Plus, obese children are more likely to become obese adults.

The best way to help your kids avoid obesity or lose weight is to be a good role model. If they see you and other family members eating well and moving more, they may just follow your example. To help your child(ren) get and stay healthy:

  • Limit how much time they spend in front of a TV or other screen to less
    than two hours a day.
  • Plan an hour of physical activity into your child’s day. You can break it up
    into smaller amounts of time that add up to 60 minutes.
  • Shop, cook and plan for healthy meals. Buy healthy foods, like fruits, vegetables and whole grain bread. Replace sugary drinks with water or
    low-fat milk.
  • Start with a healthy breakfast every day. Instead of sugary cereals or pastry, serve whole grain cereal with low-fat milk, oatmeal or whole grain toast with a piece of fruit.

Accepting your children at any weight will help them feel better about themselves. With your support and encouragement, you can help them learn healthy habits that will last
a lifetime.