Knowledge is power especially when beginning any new fitness regimen. All the self-evaluation tools you'll need are at your fingertips in Prevention's Ultimate Guide to Women's Health and Wellness by Elizabeth Crow and the Editors of Prevention Health Books for Women. This desk reference stresses the importance of informed consumer choice when selecting health care providers and treatment. The guide is also a thorough compendium of female wellness strategies, profiling the latest developments in Western medicine, alternative and natural healing, and nutrition.

The book begins with a primer on the female body, and the body's specific health needs as it ages. This information, offered in clear, concise terminology, helps women build effective health action plans by providing wellness "checklists" that assess physical and emotional well-being. Each chapter includes at-a-glance health tips and techniques, prevention and treatment advice from certified health practitioners, and positive stories from women who have successfully dealt with personal health challenges. Sections on female reproduction and sexuality, major health threats facing women and a guide to common ailments complete the book and suggest medical treatments, preventative health lifestyle strategies, nutritional counseling and home remedies.

Overall, the book seeks a balance between traditional and alternative health perspectives, but the Western medical delivery system is subtly preferred; for example, the chapter on menopause discusses hormone replacement therapy to the virtual exclusion of alternative solutions. This is, though, a fine resource for women who want an overview of current health delivery options so that they may act, in tandem with their doctor, to take charge of their health. Alison Hood is a freelance writer based in San Rafael, California.

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