5 Bonus Benefits of Exercise

For as long as you can remember, you’ve been hearing about the benefits of exercise: Weight control, chronic disease management, stronger muscles and bones, to name a few. But the list of exercise benefits just keeps getting longer. If you could package it in a pill, you might have a multi-million dollar product!

Maybe these less touted benefits will offer the motivation you need to make exercise a regular part of your daily routine.

1. Improve your immune system. Seem like you catch every bug in the book? Maybe exercise can help. Researchers are finding that as little as 30- to 45-minute brisk walks five times a week can greatly boost your immune system. It does this by increasing the levels of natural killer cells that fight off infections such as colds or the flu.1,2

2. Influence aging. Early research indicates that exercise may partly reverse the aging process caused by stress. How do we know this? Shorter telomeres are a sign of aging, and researchers have found that exercise lengthens them. Telomere is a fancy name for the strands of DNA at the tips of chromosomes.3

3. Enhance your mood. You may already know that exercise can improve self-confidence, distract you from negative thoughts, and help you feel fitter. Increasing body temperature may have a calming effect. Exercise also releases brain chemicals that may relieve tension and ease depression and anxiety. Some studies have even shown that exercise may be as effective as an antidepressant.4,5

4. Boost your brain. Exercise increases growth factors in the brain, which help the brain make new brain cells and new connections between them. This may enhance memory, attention, and concentration, helping with learning.6 Some studies have even begun to show a link between exercise and grades on math and reading tests.7 But the benefits aren’t limited to kids in school. Exercise may also greatly reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, a form of dementia.8

5. Sleep better. Arecent poll conducted by the National Sleep Foundation uncovered some interesting connections to exercise. Those who exercised—no matter what time of day—reported better sleep than those who didn’t, even when they slept the same length of time. Sedentary people were also about twice as likely to be sleepy during the day and were more likely to have sleep apnea, a disorder that interrupts breathing while you’re asleep.9

So how much do you need to reap benefits like these? Experts recommend getting at least two hours and 30 minutes each week of moderately intense aerobic activity or one hour and 15 minutes weekly of vigorous aerobic exercise.10 It’s best to combine this with muscle strengthening two times a week.10 But remember: short stretches of physical activity throughout the day can bring many of the same advantages as a structured gym workout.11

If you’re not sure where to begin, I may be able to help. Before you start a new routine, it’s also best to have a talk with your doc. 


  1. Nieman DC, et al. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2005 Jan;37(1):57–62. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15632669 Accessed March 23, 2013.

  2. Nieman DC, et al. Br J Sports Med. 2011 Sep;45(12):987–992. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21041243 Accessed March 23, 2013.

  3. Puterman E, et al. PLoS ONE. 2010. 5(5): e10837. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0010837. Available at: http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0010837 Accessed March 23, 2013

  4. MayoClinic: “Depression and anxiety: Exercise eases symptoms.” Available at: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/depression-and-exercise/MH00043 Accessed March 23, 2013.

  5. Harvard Health Publications: “Exercise and Depression.” Available at: http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsweek/Exercise-and-Depression-report-excerpt.htm Accessed March 23, 2013.

  6. HealthDay: “Short-Term Exercise Might Boost Young People’s Self-Control.” Available at: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/news/fullstory_134655.html Accessed March 21, 2013.

  7. HealthDay: “When Kids Exercise More, Their Grades Might Rise Too.” Available at: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/news/fullstory_134464.html Accessed March 21, 2013.

  8. Head D, et al. Arch Neurol. 2012;69(5): 636–643. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3583203/. Accessed March 23, 2013.

  9. HealthDay: “Exercise Leads to Better Sleep: Pool.” Available at: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/news/fullstory_134557.html Accessed March 21, 2013.

  10. U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services: “2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans Summary.” Available at: http://health.gov/paguidelines/guidelines/summary.aspx Accessed March 23, 2013.

  11. HealthDay: “Everyday Activities May Have Same Health Benefits as Going to Gym.” Available at: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/news/fullstory_133890.html Accessed March 21, 2013.



Women and Smoking: Bad News, Good News

You’ve come a long way, baby. But really, now, who wants this kind of progress….? Women who smoke are at much greater risk of death from lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) than they were 20 years ago. In fact, deaths from smoking are at an all-time high among women in the U.S. Why? Probably because women have started smoking earlier, are smoking longer, and smoke more each day than women did in the past.1

A large American Cancer Society research study also links smoking to breast cancer. During about a year of follow-up, the rate of new cases of invasive breast cancer was 24 percent higher in smokers than in nonsmokers.2

These are just a couple of new findings. You probably already know that smoking increases the risk for lung and other cancers, as well as the risk for infertility and low birth weight in babies.3

Against this troubling backdrop, however, there is something positive to report. People who quit smoking between ages 25 and 34 can gain back a decade they otherwise would have lost as lifetime smokers. Even quitting later in life can buy back some time.1

There’s other encouraging news: Your chances of a heart attack or stroke go down if you quit. The benefits of being smokefree can add so much life back into your day to day activities.

That’s all fine and well, you might say, but quitting is easier said than done. Of course, that’s true. But you’ve got more help at your disposal than ever before. Aside from counseling, quit-smoking support groups, and smokefree smartphone apps, you can also take advantage of quit-smoking products we carry in our store. Let me know if want to discuss our available products.

If you’ve tried to quit more than once, you might want to try a prescription medication such as varenicline (Chantix) and the antidepressant bupropion (Zyban). Some people also combine one of these medications with a nicotine patch such as Nicoderm.5 I can walk you through options like these. Or, if your doctor has written a prescription, I can answer any questions you may have.

Here are some other tips that may make it easier for you to quit smoking:

  • Get rid of all tobacco products and ashtrays ahead of time.

  • Ask others not to smoke around you or to leave evidence of cigarettes where you can see them. Also tell them not to buy you smokes after you quit, even if you ask them to.

  • Change your routines for a while so you’re less likely to trigger the desire to smoke.

  • Find relaxation techniques that work well for you. But minimize drinking alcohol. It may actually derail your efforts.6

  • When you feel an urge coming on, find a way to distract yourself—make a phone call, go for a walk, or come talk to me. I’ll cheer you on! 3


  1. HealthDay: “Women’s Smoking Deaths at All-Time High in U.S.” Available at: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/news/fullstory_133362.html Accessed March 20, 2013.

  2. American Cancer Society: “Study Links Smoking to Breast Cancer Risk.” Available at: http://www.cancer.org/cancer/news/news/study-links-smoking-to-breast-cancer-risk Accessed March 20, 2013.

  3. CDC: “Commit to Quit Smoking in 2013.” Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/Features/smokingcessation/ Accessed March 20, 2013.

  4. Reuters: “Quitting smoking helps hearts, even with weight gain.” Available at: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/news/fullstory_134864.html Accessed March 20, 2013.

  5. HealthDay: “Drug May Help Women Who Quit Smoking Avoid Weight Gain.” Available at: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/news/fullstory_132595.html Accessed March 20, 2013.

  6. HealthDay: “Drinking Can Derail Women’s Efforts to Quit Smoking.” Available at: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/news/fullstory_134073.html Accessed March 20, 2013.

Article from Health Mart Wellness Column  

Vaccines for Adults: Do you have all of your vaccines?

Quick—do you know if you’re up to date on your vaccines? Or, do you think of vaccines as just kids’ stuff? Apparently lots of folks do, given that way too few adults receive the recommended vaccines. That puts them—and those who come into contact with them—at greater risk for vaccine-preventable diseases.1 

 Consider this: 

* In 2012, there were 42,000 cases of whooping cough (pertussis)—the highest number in a single year since 1955. Nearly a quarter of these cases were in adults. Most of the babies who died from the disease, in fact, picked it up from an adult in the home.1 

* In 2011, most of the 4,000 people who died from pneumococcal pneumonia were older than 50. The highest rate of death was in those older than 65, yet only two-thirds of this age group receive the vaccine.  

* Only about one-third of U.S. adults at high risk for hepatitis B have received the vaccine. Fewer still have received a vaccine for hepatitis A.   

 If you’re someone who’s afraid of vaccines, you need to know this: You can’t get a disease from the vaccine. They won’t cause you harm. Instead, the more people who receive vaccinations, the fewer germs are around you. Vaccines virtually wiped smallpox and polio off the face of the map.1  

 How does this all work? Vaccines ally with your body’s natural defenses to safely develop immunity. But first a reminder about immunity: When germs invade your body, they attack and multiply, causing an infection. Your immune system works bravely to fight it off. This leaves your body with a supply of cells that now recognize this invader, providing immunity.2 

 Vaccines imitate, but don’t cause, an infection. They help the body learn how to respond if a real infection attacks your body. As your body builds immunity, however, it is normal to have mild symptoms such as fever.2 

 So which vaccines do adults need? Recommendations vary depending upon your age, overall health, and medical history. It’s really important to stay up to date with vaccines if you have special health conditions such as diabetes or cardiovascular, liver, or renal disease. That’s because some vaccine-preventable diseases may put you at increased risk for serious complications. 

 Your doctor may also need to make adaptations with vaccines if you are pregnant or have a medical condition. For example, in certain cases, you may need to avoid the nasal live attenuated influenza vaccine and use an injectable form instead.4,5

 Remember: all adults—no matter how healthy you are—should have a seasonal influenza vaccine every year.3 You can with your doctor about your schedule for these vaccines:

* Tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis (Td/Tdap)

* Varicella (chickenpox)

* Human papillomavirus (HPV)

* Zoster (shingles)

* Measles, mumps, rubella (MMR)

* Pneumococcal

* Meningococcal

* Hepatitis A 

* Hepatitis B3

 Be healthy and stay well!  



1. HealthDay: “Too Few Adults Get Recommended Vaccines: CDC.” Available at: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/news/fullstory_133532.html Accessed March 18, 2013. 

2. CDC: “How Vaccines Prevent Diseases.” Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/parents/vaccine-decision/prevent-diseases.html Accessed March 18, 2013.

3. CDC: “Immunization Schedules.” Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/schedules/easy-to-read/adult.html Accessed March 18, 2013.

4. CDC: “Adults with Special Health Conditions.” Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/adults/rec-vac/health-conditions.html Accessed March 18, 2013.

5. Immunization Action Coalition: “Screening Checklist for Contraindications to Vaccines for Adults.” Available at:  http://www.immunize.org/catg.d/p4065.pdf Accessed March 18, 2013.

Credit: Health Mart Wellness Column  

Helping Your Kids Form Healthy Eating Habits

Every day you see another headline about the obesity epidemic in kids. One of the latest studies shows that obese children face not only long-term risks, but also more immediate ones. They’re more likely to have problems such as asthma, learning disabilities, and attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (AD/HD).1
                Yet kids (and adults) are surrounded—on television, on billboards, and online —by messages beckoning them to eat sugary, high-fat, often empty-calorie foods. It can feel like an uphill battle to get kids to make healthier choices—especially as they’re heading back to school, and out of earshot. Sure, you aren’t going to win all the battles. But you can have a huge impact. Here are a few important reminders:
                1. Control the flow. What are you bringing into the house (and what kinds of habits are you modeling)? Remember, you have some control over this until your kid is old enough to shop solo. For now, you have veto power. If you keep the junk out, it can’t go in.2
                2.Look at labels. Of course, stocking up on healthy foods means you also need to check labels.2 You might be surprised at what you find. That tub of nonfat flavored yogurt you think is so healthy might be chockfull of sugar—containing even more than the kids’ cereal you long ago shunned.
                3. Go for staying power. Go for whole-grain breads, tortillas, pretzels, or cereals. Mix almond butter and celery, apples, or bananas. Try something new once in a while to broaden your kid’s tastes. Maybe roasted soy nuts will be a hit. Or, sweet red peppers dipped in hummus. You’ll never know unless you give it a try.2
                4. Make it easy. Keep a bowl of fruit on the counter or string cheese or bags of low-sugar, whole-grain cereal within reach. Just don’t make eating too easy. In other words, restrict it to the kitchen or dining area. That can go a long way toward limiting mindless snacking in front of the TV or computer screen.2
                5. Watch the sugar. Oh, yes, I know. That’s a tough one. Maybe even your sweet tooth gets its way more often than not. But sugar may do more than add extra pounds or cause tooth decay. New evidence links large amounts of sugar—separate from other factors—to the diabetes epidemic.3
                If you do nothing else, nix the sweetened drinks. That includes sodas as well as fruit, energy, and sports drinks. Children who drink them not only consume more calories. They are also more likely to eat unhealthy foods.4 Keep milk and water on hand, instead of fruit juice and sweetened drinks or flavored milk or drinkable yogurt.3
                Along with these five healthy habits, don’t forget an insurance policy for your kids: vitamins. When you come into the store, I can advise you about this.
The credit for this article is to be given to the September Issue of the Healthmart Wellness Column.


Taking care of your diabetes and the conditions that come with it can help you lower your chances of heart and blood vessel disease.

Even if you have heart disease or have already had a heart attack or a stroke, every step you take to keep your ABCs (A1C, blood pressure, and cholesterol) in your target range will help lower your risk of future heart disease or a stroke.

A is for A1C. Your A1C check, which also may be reported as estimated average glucose (eAG) tells you your average blood glucose for the past 2 to 3 months.

B is for blood pressure. High blood pressure makes your heart work harder than it should.

C is for cholesterol. Your cholesterol numbers tell you about the amount of fat in your blood. Some kinds, like HDL cholesterol, help protect your heart. Others, like LDL cholesterol, can clog your arteries. High triglycerides raise your risk for a heart attack or a stroke.

Credit for this information is to be given to American Diabetes Association



A Bulldog Tradition: Hodgson’s Pharmacy

Hodgson’s Pharmacy, located in historic five points in Athens, GA, blends the atmosphere of an old time pharmacy with outstanding customer service and the best in pharmacy care. Hodgson’s Pharmacy has been serving Athens since 1956. We are located less than a mile from the campus of the University of Georgia.  Our well-trained and knowledgable pharmacists are always avaliable to consult patients on over the counter medications, as well as answer any questions about prescriptions. We offer delivery of prescription medications to your home to make your experience as convenient as possible. We also serve ice cream daily for just $1 a scoop, which is a popular item for all ages. Come experience an Athens tradition here at Hodgson’s Pharmacy!