GOOD HEALTH

One of the most effective ways to boost a woman's self-esteem may be as simple as a daily walk or rigorous game of tennis, according to a recent survey commissioned by the Coors Company. The survey shows that active women have a more positive self-perception than those who do not participate in any sports or exercise. Other findings:- A majority of women believe that physical activity improves "health" (88 percent), "sense of well being" (80 percent), "self-esteem" (70 percent) and "social life" (52 percent).

- "Health maintenance" is believed to be the most important benefit of regular participation in sports and fitness activities. This was followed distantly by weight management and stress reduction.

- Seventy percent of those women polled consider themselves active in sports and fitness. However, only 21 percent say they are "very active." These women participate in sports on average three days a week. Some 44 percent enjoy participating in team sports.

- "Time" and "busy life" were the top two reasons active women gave when asked what's keeping them from participating even more in sports and physical activity.

HUMBLE HAMBURGER IS POPULAR

Despite the increase of ethnic and upscale foods, the hamburger is more popular than ever with American restaurant patrons, according to research released by the National Restaurant Council.

Industrywide, hamburgers were consumed on almost one out of every five eater occasions in 1995, easily making hamburgers American's number one choice when eating out. That translates into more than 5 billion hamburgers and cheeseburgers sold in commercial food-service establishments, up nearly 3 percent over the prior year.

Part of the reason for its success, however, could be that it translates well to all kinds of cuisine - from the 99-cent drive-through burger to the $28 chopped filet to the "chill grill burger with jalapeno cheddar buns, chipotle mayonnaise and grilled vegetables prickly pear" to the "beef sirloin and kidney burger with grain-mustard butter and steamed asparagus."

According the the survey, Hawaii has the nation's highest per-capita spending on fast-food burgers, followed by Tennessee, Kentucky, North Carolina and Virginia. Massachusetts has the fewest fast-food hamburger restaurants per capita.

SAFE FOR LIFE

Having a low crime rate is the most important factor in choosing a retirement destination, according to a new survey of subscribers to Where to Retire magazine.

According the the survey, the top 10 factors in choosing a retirement destination are:

1. Low crime rate. 2. Good hospitals nearby. 3. Mild climate. 4. Low cost of living. 5. Low overall tax rate. 6. Low housing cost. 7. Friendly, like-minded neighbors. 8. Major city nearby. 9. No state income tax. 10. Good recreational facilities.

MOVING IN, MOVING OUT

People aren't just going to Nevada to get rich quick - they're staying. According to Allied Van Lines' 29th annual Magnet States report, more Americans bet on Nevada as a great place to live in 1996, making it the No. 1 destination for relocating Americans. Georgia, site of the summer Olympics, was a close second.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, North Dakota can claim the dubious honor of being the No. 1 outbound state in the country, relieving New York (which has led the list for the past two years) of the honor.

In the study, 16 states were classified as magnet states (having at least 55 percent of relocations moving into the state); 13 states were considered outbound states, with the majority of moves going out. The rest (including Utah) were about even.

CLEAR VISION

According to a survey released by Pearle Vision, 64 percent of Americans who wear classes clean their eyewear every single day, but many may be doing more harm than good by using improper cleaning techniques.

Common tactics such as breathing vapor on the lens or using a shirt sleeve can scratch the lenses by grinding in dirt.

According the the eyewear company, you should use water or lens cleaning fluid to rinse lenses before wiping them. A lens cleaning cloth is the preferred material for wiping them, but anything clean and cotton will work well. Tissues made from wood derivative could scratch the lenses.

Don't forget to clean your frames, too. The acidity of your skin can wear down the frame material. Use soap and water to clean frames and nose pads every other week. If you have dirt on your lens that's not easily removed, use a mild dish soap and water or dry denatured alcohol. (Rubbing alcohol and many window glass cleaners contain chemicals that can destroy lens coatings or frame finishes.)

LET'S HEAR IT FOR SNAIL MAIL

In an age of rising use of fax machines and e-mail, business executives clearly believe that mail is a vital part of the business communications mix. According to a poll by the Wirthlin Group, three-fourths of business executives read mail as soon as it is received; 65 percent feel strongly that letters are important when conducting official business; and 69 percent consider mail an excellent means of assuring confidentiality.

Another survey shows that about 55 percent of all mail goes from businesses to households; 35 percent goes business to business; 6 percent goes household to business; and 4 percent goes household to household.

AUTO INJURY FRAUD

In a recently released study, the Insurance Research Council looked at the extent of fraud in the auto injury compensation system. The IRC reviewed 15,000 injury claim files, focusing primarily on nine states (Arizona, California, Connecticut, Illinois, Michigan, Missouri, New York, South Carolina and Texas). IRC reviewed information from 28 companies, representing 68 percent of the private passenger auto insurance market in those states, according to the Crossroads newsletter published by the Auto Accident Compensation Project at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

For the purpose of the report, fraud was defined as "an attempt to obtain compensation for an alleged injury that is either nonexistent or unrelated to the accident."

Findings included the following:

- About 36 percent of all bodily injury liability claims appear to involve fraud.

- Fraud appears less frequently in no-fault personal injury protection claims.

- Of claims with the appearance of fraud, the vast majority involve the exaggeration of injuries, medical treatment, wage loss or some other element of the claim as a result of a real accident. Very few claims appear to involve a fake or staged accident.

- Excessive injury payments as a result of fraud are estimated to be between 17 and 20 percent of total paid losses, or $5.2 to $6.3 billion additional for all injury claims in 1995.

- The appearance of fraud is more prevalent in major cities than in other types of communities.

COOKING UP A STORM

Friday may be America's favorite night to eat out, but during the rest of the week, there's no place like home. A recent survey on cooking habits conducted by Whirlpool Corporation reveals that nearly 50 percent of those surveyed cook dinner at home five or more nights a week. And women aren't the only ones doing the cooking - more than 38 percent of the male participants spend five or more nights in the kitchen.

On the other side, 8.2 percent of those surveyed confessed to never cooking.

On those nights when they can't muster up the energy to cook, 54 percent head out to their favorite restaurant; while 37 percent bring home takeout. The rest make do with leftovers.

But just because they are spending a lot of time in the kitchen, things aren't always easy. When asked about the hardest part of preparing dinner, nearly 42 percent cited time as their biggest nemesis, including rounding up the family for dinner, getting the meal on the table and working around everyone's schedules.

Other dilemmas encountered included cleaning up, finding the motivation to cook, cooking while watching the kids and getting the kids to eat.

BASKETBALL FEVER

The NBA playoffs are in full swing, but the pros aren't the only ones enjoying the game. A recent survey by the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association found that some 47 million Americans play basketball, far more than any other team sport and more than almost any other sport, fitness or outdoor activity. (Only bowling, with 53.1 million participants, and freshwater fishing, with 48.7 million, enjoy greater popularity.)

The survey also found that the number of women playing basketball is increasing. For females, volleyball is still No. 1, but the number playing basketball has grown 47 percent since 1987.

The number of young children - ages 6 to 11 - has also increased by 35 percent since 1987, to a total of 10 million young basketball players.

DEPENDABILITY

Did you know there's a common link between refrigerators, cars and deodorants? These were they products topped the list when respondents were asked to name products whose reliability is very important in their lives. In the survey, conducted by Kia Motors America, some 95 percent listed refrigerators; followed by 91 percent naming cars; and 82 percent putting deodorant on the list.