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Article posted: 4/1/2013 5:19 AM

Your health: Signs of COPD

Breathing in fresh air can be hampered by lung diseases.

Breathing in fresh air can be hampered by lung diseases.

 
Walking is the best exercise for your feet.

Walking is the best exercise for your feet.

 
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Better breathing

Take a deep breath. Was that difficult? If so, you may want to check out a new public service guide from the Men's Health Network, says The Washington Post.

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"Breathe Easy: Your Lungs and COPD" focuses on chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, the third-leading cause of death in the United States, according to the nonprofit. About 12 million Americans have COPD, which is a treatable disease, and it is estimated that 12 million more have symptoms that are undiagnosed.

Among those symptoms are a persistent cough, difficulty breathing while walking or talking, blue fingernails or lips, and coughing up mucus. The biggest red flag is coughing up blood.

The guide explains that smoking, poor air quality, asthma and childhood lung infections are all risk factors for COPD. There's also information about COPD in women -- who tend to experience more severe symptoms than men -- and advice for talking to your doctor. "Breathe Easy" is free and available for download at menshealthnetwork.org in the library section.

Fit feet

Exercising your feet not only improves overall foot health, but may also reduce your risk for injury, according to Harvard Medical School.

Walking is the best overall foot exercise. Each step puts your foot through its full range of motion, from the time your heel hits the ground until you push off with your toes. Moreover, walking is an excellent form of exercise for your entire body. It improves cardiovascular health and can help your circulation, muscle tone and mood.

In addition to walking, flexibility and resistance exercises can also help keep your feet healthy.

Flexibility exercises:Exercises that improve flexibility help keep your feet limber. Don't worry if your feet have grown stiff with age; studies show that no matter how old you are, you can still improve your flexibility. The easiest way to build flexibility is through gentle daily stretches, focusing on one group of muscles.

Resistance exercises: Resistance exercises are those in which your muscles work against some type of resistance, such as weights or exercise bands. Resistance exercises strengthen muscles, which provide better support and protection for the foot.

Foot flexibility and resistance exercises can be built into your daily routine. You can do some while you sit at your desk or kitchen table; others you have to do standing up. To avoid slips and falls, you may want to be barefoot and have a chair, desk, or wall nearby that you can use for balance.

Don't do foot exercises if they cause you any pain. And if you have arthritis, diabetes, cardiovascular problems or structural foot problems that might affect your ability to exercise, consult a foot-care specialist first.

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