Holiday Hacks

For some, credit card debt isn’t the only reminder of December holiday shopping sprees.

The well-publicized data breach at Target has highlighted the dangers of using debit and credit cards even at big-name trusted retailers. Word is that other retailers also may have experienced data breaches in recent months. 

It raises questions about how to know if your information has been compromised and what to do if it has been.

The first step is realizing that something is amiss.

And maybe you think it would be obvious—an empty checking account, for example—that your personal information has been stolen. But sometimes the signs are subtle. Some clues from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC):

·         Withdrawals from your bank account that you don’t remember and can’t explain.

·         Normal bills or other mail stop coming.






  • Debt collectors call about debts that aren’t yours.
  • Unfamiliar accounts or charges on your credit report.
  • The IRS notifies you that more than one tax return was filed in your name, or that you have income from an employer you don’t work for.


Know the immediate steps, including notifying fraud departments of the major credit bureaus and the fraud department of creditors for accounts that have been opened or tampered with, that you need to take if you’ve been victimized.


For all the steps, see


As for the Target breach, the retailer has set up a Web page,|E1|T:Template_Home5|C:, devoted to the problem.


Carefully read the FAQs about potential scams associated with the Target breach and be wary about any calls, e-mails or letters you receive requesting personal data. Scams in which people try to trick you into giving them personal information abound, so you want to take steps to avoid being victimized twice.


Sitting kills

We sit at home in front of the TV and the computer. We sit in our cars to run errands.  We sit at the office for eight or more hours daily.

Then we sleep.

The sedentary lifestyle is a killer.

It’s not just weight gain that’s a concern. Couch potato habits also lead to diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease.

For instance, a recent study outlined in the American Heart Association’s “Rapid Access Journal Report” found that:

  • Men with low levels of physical activity were 52 percent more likely to develop heart failure than those with high physical activity levels, even after adjusting for differences in sedentary time.
  • Outside of work, men who sit five or more hours a day were 34 percent more likely to develop heart failure than men who spent no more than two hours a day sitting, regardless of how much they exercised.
  • Heart failure risk more than doubled in men who sat for at least five hours a day and got little exercise, compared to men who were very physically active and sat for two hours or less a day.

Women don’t fare much better. According to a study about women, “Relationship of Sedentary Behavior and Physical Activity to Incident Cardiovascular Disease: Results from the Women’s Health Initiative.”

Physically inactive women who spent 10 hours or more sitting each day were at 63% greater risk for events related to cardiovascular disease compared with highly active women who spent 5 hours or fewer each day sitting. 

Women who met physical activity guidelines but sat for long periods each day were still at increased cardiovascular disease risk.


A sedentary lifestyle has other effects—sore shoulders, mushy abs, and a foggy brain—that are well illustrated in this infographic,

You don’t need to train for a marathon to improve your fitness and combat the effects of too much sitting. For instance, guidelines for women who want to improve their health require:

Either 2.5 hours moderate-intensity (walking, ballroom dancing and leisurely biking, for example) aerobic physical activity or

1 hour and 15 minutes of vigorous-intensity (jogging, uphill biking, and singles tennis, for example) aerobic physical activity or a combination of the two, along with muscle-strengthening activities two or more days each week.

Every little bit of exercise helps. At work, the American Heart Association suggests trying to:

  • Walk during business calls.
  • Stand while talking on the telephone.
  • Walk down the hall to talk with colleagues instead of calling or e-mailing.
  • Stay at hotels with fitness centers or pool and use the facilities while on business trips.
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Or get off a few floors early and take the stairs the rest of the way.
  • Walk while waiting for the plane at the airport.

Even standing more during your day is beneficial. Learn about the benefits of standing at

For more on ways to improve your health, incorporate bits of activity into your day, see

Fit Cities

The The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) and partnered with Huff/Post50  to look around the United States and pick 10 of the country’s fittest cities.

They (click on the city name for detailed information on each community’s fitness resources) are:

1.       San Jose, Calif.

In conjunction with APTA’s "Fit After 50,” a campaign aimed at helping baby boomers get and stay fit as they age, APTA has outlined what cities can do to increase fitness options for those over the age of 50.

Look around your own city and find free and low-cost options that already are available to you. For example, look for baby boomer exercise meet-ups,  walking and running clubs, exercise trails, community recreation centers, parks, tennis courts, pools, golf courses (see your city’s home page to start looking for options), and bike-sharing programs.



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