Richard Besser's New Book Tackles Confusing Health Questions

In “Tell Me the Truth, Doctor,” ABC News’ Besser examines diet, exercise and health care.

In “Tell Me the Truth, Doctor,” ABC News’ Besser examines diet, exercise and health care
By SHARE

[See How to Cope With Hypochondria.]

Is 30 minutes of exercise a day necessary to stay healthy? Nope. "That's great if you've got 30 minutes, but that's a lot for everyone to accomplish," Besser says. And research suggests that even 15 minutes of exercise a day is linked with a three-year increase in life expectancy and 14 percent reduction in risk of death, compared with a sedentary lifestyle. Don't be put off by recommendations that tell you to do more; simply doing something is helpful.

Are name-brand drugs better than generic? No. The generic forms could save you thousands of dollars a year, without affecting your health, Besser says. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration requires that generics are chemically identical to and as safe and effective as their name-brand counterparts. You can feel confident you're getting the same quality, while also saving money.

[See Top Recommended Health Products.]

Does counting sheep cure insomnia? No. Research suggests that counting sheep is so repetitive the brain will look for distractions and break the relaxation cycle. A better idea: Banish negative thoughts, and visualize calming scenes. If you wake up with something on your mind, write it down or tell someone what's worrying you. Besser used to wake his wife to tell her what was bothering him, but he's since learned to keep a pad by his bed, so he can jot it down instead.

[See Sleep-Promoting (and Sleep-Stealing) Foods.]