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The best exercise is the one you will keep doing

Dear Dr. Roach: I recently read that swimming is considered the “perfect exercise.” Do you agree? — R.C.

Answer: My experience with people who write that one exercise is the best (or the most difficult) is that they often choose the one they like best. For the vast majority, the best exercise for you is the one you will keep doing, since pretty much any exercise is better than none.

Swimming is great exercise: It works many muscle groups and has outstanding cardiovascular effects. It’s easy on the joints, which is a major benefit for some. However, it doesn’t provide as much benefit to your bones as higher-impact exercise. It doesn’t provide the balance benefits of yoga or tai chi. But if you like to swim, then swim!

You can get additional benefit from other exercises, including walking, which may be the easiest exercise for most.

Dear Dr. Roach: I am 60 years old, and for years have had trouble with a Bartholin cyst on one side. It is sore in that gland again, after taking turmeric for two months. It would bother me whenever I took hormone replacement a few years ago. Is it normal to still have trouble at this age? It doesn’t get big anymore, just sore sometimes. — M.L.R.

Answer: The Bartholin glands are small structures located in a woman’s vulva. They secrete fluid that acts as a lubricant during sexual activity. The most common problems with Bartholin glands are cysts and abscesses. If these are symptomatic, they usually are treated with drainage, performed by a woman’s health specialist, usually in the office. Bartholin glands normally get smaller after menopause.

I could not find any reports of, nor any reason why, turmeric might make a Bartholin cyst abscess more likely (turmeric can act as an anti-inflammatory, and appears to have some anti-estrogen activity, so I wouldn’t expect it to cause problems). The one concern I have is that although cancer of the Bartholin gland is very rare (0.001 percent of cancers in women), it can happen. I would suggest that you get an evaluation.

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