Q: My husband smokes and, although he never does it around the kids, the smell lingers in the car and on his clothes. How can I convince him that leftover smoke smell matters? -- Ellen W., Fort Collins, Colo.
A: You're right about what we call third-hand smoke (THS). Firsthand smoke is inhaled into the lungs. Secondhand smoke clouds the air and is inhaled by everyone else. And then, after the smoke clears, there's residue left on clothes, carpets, floors, walls and upholstery. That's THS. It's toxic, and some of the carcinogens it deposits, which can be picked up by others, include hydrogen cyanide, butane, toluene, arsenic, lead, carbon monoxide and polonium 210.
At home and in the car, your kids are especially susceptible to THS toxins if they're crawling over floors, carpets or upholstery.
So, Ellen, the goal is to help your husband quit smoking completely -- for his own sake and for the health of the family. He'll need support (55 percent of people who smoke try to quit each year). The most effective programs offer a combination of a nicotine withdrawal system (the patch, gum, etc.), a workout plan (exercise makes quitting a lot easier), support groups, and friends and family who understand how the quitter's mood shifts might be a little, well, tough to take.
Suggest your husband check out our detailed YOU Can Quit Smoking Plan at www.RealAge.com and tell him to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: Do I really need to do extreme workouts to get in good shape? Those infomercials on TV make it seem that only gut-busting, joint-slamming calisthenics do the job. -- Frank L., East Lansing, Mich.
A: Ever since Jack LaLanne first broadcast his fitness show (while swimming back and forth across San Francisco Bay) and Jane Fonda videos urged us to "feel the burn," fitness crazes have swept across North America.
We, on the other hand, advocate a much easier-to-stick-to approach to physical activity: walking (and if you are ready after a month of daily walking and cardio, moderate weight lifting). Walking can be easygoing or intense and all you need is a good pair of walking shoes.
How does our often-recommended 10,000 steps a day stack up to those extreme workouts in terms of improved health, a longer life and a younger RealAge? We think it comes out light years ahead, and here's why:
The psychological benefits of a daily walking routine: Drop-out rates in intense programs are extremely high, and that builds discouragement. Establishing and sticking to a daily walking routine fuels self-esteem.
The aches-and-pains-conquering benefits: Stretching out your stride, keeping your posture erect (shoulders back and down) and your upper-body motion fluid (let those arms swing!) loosens up stiff joints, muscles and tendons. Those intense workouts can lead to injury, joint and muscle pain.
The muscle-building benefits: Walking builds, tones and shapes muscles in your legs and butt. It also tightens the torso, or core, and strengthens the arms.
The weight-loss benefits: Walking is a longer-duration, lower-intensity exercise that can burn more fat than a short, intense workout.
The cardiovascular benefits: You'll reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke and high blood pressure. And for you folks who already have high blood pressure or heart disease, it's a safe way to improve your cardio system.
The diabetes-fighting benefits: Walking can stabilize blood sugar levels and make you less insulin resistant, without risking a blood sugar plunge that can accompany intense exercise.
And that still leaves the brain-enhancing, head-turning, sexual-health-improving, self-confidence-boosting and money-saving benefits! Walk on!
(Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of "The Dr. Oz Show," and Mike Roizen, M.D. is chief medical officer at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute. Submit your health questions at www.doctoroz.com.)