Our Better Health

Diet, Health, Fitness, Lifestyle & Wellness


4 Comments

The Best Health Advice Ever

The Best Health Advice Ever

Keeping your mind and body in tip-top shape is essential for living your best life. It’s difficult to attain success when you’re dragging yourself through the day, feeling stressed out, anxious, and generally unwell. That’s why you need to make yourself a priority. Focusing on your wellness is not selfish, it’s necessary for you to be able to give your best self to others. The Cheat Sheet spoke with six leading health experts about the best health advice they’ve ever received.

1. Let go of unforgiveness

Learn to forgive! At the heart of many chronic diseases is stress. At the heart of much stress is a lack of forgiveness. Not being able to let go of the past produces a lot of stress in our lives. This stress increases the incidence of hypertension, heart disease, cancer, and more.

My advice for men: Don’t be embarrassed to see your doctor if you ever have an episode of erectile dysfunction. After your first episode of ED you have a 25% chance of having a stroke or heart attack in the next five years. See your doctor immediately and start to change your lifestyle with diet change and exercise to reduce your risk.

Dr. Chidi Ngwaba, Director at the European Society of Lifestyle Medicine

 2. Get enough sleep

Medical training can be grueling with some weeks lasting 110+ hours on the job. The lecture I had on sleep hygiene and making sure to set aside time for sleep was the best health advice I’d ever received. All-nighters or just neglecting sleep creates havoc on your health and happiness.

Dr. Jared Heathman, Psychiatrist

3. You are in control of your health

The best health advice I ever received is to recognize that I am the expert in my own health. I will meet many professionals and hear many opinions, but I am the only person who will have to live with the consequences, and I am the one who knows my body and my mind the best. So it is up to me to listen to the input and decide what will serve me best. This has allowed me to live my life with amazing freedom and to let the outside judgments roll off of me as I know that I am doing what is best for me.

Crystal Johnson, MSc, MCP, RSLP, RCC, Registered Clinical Counselor

4. Take preventative health measures

Be able to do 25 push-ups. This doesn’t sound like very profound advice, but it may have changed my life. I tried out for the wrestling team at age 13, never having thought about exercising before. At try-outs, the coach said we should all be able to do at least 25 push-ups (and a certain number of sit-ups). I tried, and found I could do about five! I started working out that day — and have worked out almost every day for the 40 years since. I can do considerably more than 25 push-ups now. I think it’s idiosyncratic that this had such an affect on me, but the clarity, the specificity, and the practicality of it really resonated. It suggests we might all benefit from specific, actionable goals related to our health and fitness.

My advice for men: Think beyond your own skin. As a son, brother, husband, and especially father — what you do about your own health will influence others. The most important reason to protect your own health may be somebody else — like a son or daughter who will emulate you. It has always been ‘guy stuff’ to defend hearth and home. These days, the wolves at the door are diabetes, obesity, and so on. We can best defend against them by walking the walk ourselves — and leading our families toward vitality. So I’m calling on my fellow sons, brothers, and dads to step up accordingly!

Dr. David L. Katz, MPH, FACPM, FACP, Director, Yale University Prevention Research Center, Griffin Hospital

5. Eat real food — and then take a walk

The best health advice I’ve gotten is eat food, but not too much — mostly plants. It comes from author Michael Pollan. I love this advice because it’s so simple and clear, yet so incredibly effective. If this is the only eating advice you follow, your diet will be fantastic!

Second, move. If you have a desk job, get up every hour and move for at least two minutes. While working out is great, our bodies are designed to move throughout the day. Sitting all day, even if you exercise, is bad for your health. Studies show that sedentary behavior can lead to death from cardiovascular issues and cancer and cause chronic conditions like Type 2 diabetes.

Dr. Ellen Albertson, PhD, RDN, CD, Psychologist, Nutritionist, Certified Wellcoach, Founder, SmashYourScale.com    Twitter: @eralbertson

 6. Don’t forget mental health

Stress, anxiety, episodes of sadness, and depression are very common and can have a negative impact on physical health. Healthy eating, sleep, and exercise are all crucial. [Practice] daily mindfulness or meditation — even 5 to 10 minutes a day. End each day recognizing the positive and the things that make you happy. Increase your brain’s receptiveness to positivity. I like using the idea that we go through the day collecting negativity in an imaginary “BAG.” At the end of the day you can empty the BAG and refill it with the letters BAG by answering these three questions: B — What was the Best part of the day and why? A — What did I Accomplish, why was it important to me today? And G — What am I truly Grateful for?

Cara Maksimow, licensed clinical social worker, speaker, and owner of Maximize Wellness Counseling & Coaching LLC

Sheiresa Ngo     October 27, 2016
 


Leave a comment

The Simple Treatment That Beats Antidepressants

Two-thirds of people with major depression were no longer depressed after this treatment.

A brisk walk three times a week can actually beat antidepressant medication in treating major depression, research finds.

The results come from a study on three groups of elderly people with major depressive disorder.

One group were given the exercise, another given antidepressant medication and the third both.

The results showed that all three groups improved the same amount.

Professor James Blumenthal, the study’s first author, said:

“One of the conclusions we can draw from this is that exercise may be just as effective as medication and may be a better alternative for certain patients.”

The results showed that after exercise almost two-thirds of participants were no longer depressed after 16 weeks.

One of the problems with exercise is that it may take a little longer to take effect.

Professor Blumenthal said:

“While we don’t know why exercise confers such a benefit, this study shows that exercise should be considered as a credible form of treatment for these patients.
Almost one-third of depressed patients in general do not respond to medications, and for others, the medications can cause unwanted side effects.
Exercise should be considered a viable option.”

Exercise could be particularly beneficial because people are taking an active role, rather than passively taking a pill, Professor Blumenthal said:

“Simply taking a pill is very passive.
Patients who exercised may have felt a greater sense of mastery over their condition and gained a greater sense of accomplishment.
They felt more self-confident and had better self-esteem because they were able to do it themselves, and attributed their improvement to their ability to exercise.
These findings could change the way some depressed patients are treated, especially those who are not interested in taking anti-depressants.
While these medications have been proven to be effective, many people want to avoid the side effects or are looking for a more ‘natural’ way of feeling better.”

The antidepressant tested in the study was sertraline, which is marketed as Zoloft.

The study was published in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine (Blumenthal et al., 1999).

 source: PsyBlog


2 Comments

Here’s How to Make Yourself Love Exercise

It’s not just you: Many people are turned off by the thought of exercise because they think it has to be intense or time-consuming. But the findings of a new study published in the journal BMC Public Health suggests that people could learn to enjoy being active simply by tweaking those beliefs and expectations.

So says the study’s lead author Michelle Segar, director of the University of Michigan’s Sport, Health, and Activity Research and Policy Center, who’s spent years researching what motivates people to get and stay physically fit. (She’s also author of  No Sweat: How the Simple Science of Motivation Can Bring You a Lifetime of Fitness.) Too often, she says, people begin exercise programs to lose weight, and quit when they don’t shed pounds right away.

In her new study, she and her colleagues asked 40 women about what really makes them feel happy and successful. Then they analyzed how their views about working out either fostered or undermined those feelings. The diverse group of women were all between ages 22 and 49.

All of the women—whether they were regular exercisers or not—turned out to want the same things out of life: to have meaningful connections with others, to feel relaxed and free of pressure during their leisure time and to accomplish the goals they’d set for themselves, whether in their personal lives, their careers or simply their daily to-do lists.

The big difference, the researchers found, was that women who were inactive viewed exercise as counterproductive to those things. In order for exercise to be valid, they thought, it had to be seriously heart-pumping and sweat-inducing—the complete opposite of the “relaxing” feeling they wanted from their free time.

They also felt that following an exercise program took up too much time and put too much pressure on them, and that it was too difficult to commit to a schedule and meet expectations, leaving them feeling like failures.

But women in the study who were regularly active didn’t share these views. For them, exercise went hand-in-hand with their desires for social connectivity, relaxing leisure time and feeling accomplished.

That shift in mindset has to happen for women who aren’t currently active, says Segar. “These women feel alienated by exercise, or feel that they’ve failed when they tried it in the past,” she says. “They have a very narrow definition of what exercise should look like.”

Segar says that definition comes from decades of messaging from fitness companies and older scientific research that suggesting that high-intensity activity is the only way for exercise to be worthwhile. “That’s no longer true,” she says. “The new recommendations for physical activity really open the door for people to pretty much do anything that works for them.”

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services suggests that for “substantial health benefits,” adults should get 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity physical activity, such as brisk walking. It’s true that additional benefits can be gained from more (or more intense) exercise, but Segar says this is a good starting point for many Americans who currently lead sedentary lives.

Instead of thinking about exercise as an alternative to enjoying free time or socializing with friends, she recommends framing it as a way to make those things happen. “Women need to give themselves permission to use physical activity as a way to relax—to get together with friends or loved ones and take a leisurely stroll, simply because being active and outdoors boosts their mood and makes them feel good.”

While walking is an easy way to squeeze in more movement throughout the day, she also encourages people to get creative. “If you liked biking as a kid, rent a bike and see if it still feels good,” she says. “Play tag with your kids, take a dance class or even just climb the stairs a few extra times while you’re doing chores around the house.”Most importantly, Segar says, people need to know that any physical activity is better than no physical activity. “You don’t have to do 30 minutes at a time, you don’t have to sweat and you don’t have to hate whatever it is you’re doing,” she says. “You just have to choose to move when you see opportunities.”

 

Amanda MacMillan       May 30, 2017
source: TIME Health


Leave a comment

How To Get Happier Now With Almost No Effort

You can lift your spirits without a gym membership, wearing Lycra or even leaving the house.

For sedentary people, getting out of the chair is enough to improve happiness, new research finds.

It turns out that very light activity is surprisingly effective in raising people’s level of well-being.

Mr Gregory Panza, the study’s first author, said:

“…simply going from doing no physical activity to performing some physical activity can improve their subjective well-being.
What is even more promising for the physically inactive person is that they do not need to exercise vigorously to see these improvements.
Instead, our results indicate you will get the best ‘bang for your buck’ with light or moderate intensity physical activity.”

Light physical activity is equivalent to a leisurely walk.

The kind of walk that doesn’t make you sweat, breathe faster or even change your heart rate.

Moderate activity is walking fast enough to nudge up your vital signs for around 15 minutes.

It’s amazing how little
you have to do
to make yourself happier right now.

Vigorous exercise is equivalent to going for a jog.

The study looked at 419 healthy, middle-aged adults.

The biggest gains in happiness were seen among those who were the most sedentary and then did some light or moderate physical activity.

People who sat around a lot had the most to gain.

Mr Panza said:

“The ‘more is better’ mindset may not be true when it comes to physical activity intensity and subjective well-being.
In fact, an ‘anything is better’ attitude may be more appropriate if your goal is a higher level of subjective well-being.”
People doing vigorous activity did not see increases in their happiness.
This is the reverse of a recent study that found vigorous activity can actually decrease mental well-being.
Dr Beth Taylor, a study author, said:
“Recent studies had suggested a slightly unsettling link between vigorous activity and subjective well-being.

We did not find this in the current study, which is reassuring to individuals who enjoy vigorous activity and may be worried about negative effects.”

The study was published in the Journal of Health Psychology (Panza et al., 2017).

source: PsyBlog


2 Comments

Why Trying a Team Sport Will Make You Healthier and Happier

Three women tell us how joining a team keeps them motivated, wards off boredom and even comes with serious health benefits.

Playing sports isn’t a new trend when it comes to fun ways to get fit, but talk to anyone who participates in activities from baseball to water polo and she’ll likely sing its praises. You’re sure to hear about the merits of group activity: the camaraderie, increased motivation to get out there and work out, and the unique way that having people to train with lessens boredom on the field (trail, ice, swimming pool). But what you might not know is that there are plenty of health benefits you’ll reap just from getting your sweat on with your teammates. See how these three women rock their group workouts.

House-League Soccer

Maria Topalovic found her soccer groove at age nine, and she hasn’t stopped playing since. “I always wanted to play because my dad loved soccer,” says the Hamilton-based team-sport aficionado. Although she enjoyed a variety of athletic pursuits while growing up—including dance, figure skating and gymnastics—soccer was the one that stuck. “It was the only sport or activity I never wanted to quit and never wanted to miss.”
Now 32, Maria has been playing with a house-league team, the BilaBallerz, for about a decade. Astonishingly, she’s competed with some of her teammates since childhood, on one team or another. “It’s great to share the passion for soccer with some of the same women each season and to be able to support each other in our own fitness goals.”

Why soccer?

“I love the game! I love the cardio, too—after a game, I’m exhausted. I feel like the past hour and a half has been worth the activity, and I know I’ve had a good workout. I love the challenge of the game because anything can happen: You can meet a more difficult opponent, set up a beautiful pass, get an amazing goal, save tough shots, have the stress and excitement of shoot-outs and, most of all, have fun with a bunch of friends.”

Dragon-Boat Racing

The way Faye Visser saw it, “I could sit at home and feel sorry for myself or I could get out and remember there is life after breast cancer.” It was 2005. Faye had been diagnosed in February, had surgery in March and, by July, she’d joined Women Alike Abreast a River, a New Glasgow, N.S., dragon-boat racing team comprising cancer survivors and women in cancer treatment.

The team was “like a lifeline for me,” says Faye, whose strength and confidence grew during weekly practices and seasonal competitions. “As a person who was scared of the water, to be paddling a boat with 20 other ladies was quite an accomplishment.”
The team-training approach makes it possible to get through intense workouts you might give up on, says Faye. “Our coach trains us like we would never do ourselves. We are pushed to paddle until it hurts, but we laugh and think, We’re building muscles and having fun at the same time. And when we
come off the water, it’s a great high.”

Why dragon-boat racing?

“Dragon boating is all about exercising both the body and mind. Out on the water, all your worries disappear—[you have to] stay focused on what you’re doing. It empowers us to be the best we can.”

Road Cycling

Jennifer Northrup never pictured herself cycling 100 kilometres in a day. But thanks to her cycling team, the Vancouverite is training to do just that, with a handful of “century rides” planned for this summer. “This year, I’m on a team for the Ride to Conquer Cancer [a two-day 250-kilometre road-cycling challenge] and I plan on doing the Rapha 100 [a 100-kilometre road- cycling event] with the ladies of Tight Bike Cycle Club,” she says.

Never an avid cyclist, Jennifer discovered the sport last year when her fitness club launched a women’s road-cycling team. Road cycling has a steep learning curve, with its specialized gear, road etiquette and safety rules, not to mention the physical challenges, but for Jennifer, being part of a team was key to hurdling the beginner hump. “I was hooked after our first ride,” she says. “There was something about being among this group of women. Some have been riding for years, but most were just as intimidated and new to the sport as I was. The ladies who led the rides were always supportive and encouraging as we learned how to clip into the bike pedals, how to shift gears and the dos and don’ts of sharing the road with cars. I don’t think I would have stayed on a bike if I didn’t have this group expecting me every week.”
For Jennifer, team training and racing go hand in hand. “I don’t think I’ve signed up for one race that didn’t involve a friend or a group I would be participating with. It’s social, fun and a time to connect with others. Team accountability and camaraderie are huge motivating factors for me.”

Why long-distance cycling?

“I love a new challenge and working toward a big ride or event. Having a goal in mind keeps training fun and motivating. I work for the BC Cancer Foundation, so the Ride to Conquer Cancer is near and dear to my heart on both a personal and a professional level.”

Group Benefits

There really is strength in numbers. Here’s why working out with a team is more effective than exercising solo and how to get the benefits (even if you’re not a joiner!).

The Perks

Group-fitness participants exercise more frequently, are more likely to stick with their workout plans and enjoy a greater surge in feel-good endorphins than those who work out by themselves. And that endorphin rush is key: It improves pain tolerance and encourages a sense of social bonding, which boosts your cooperativeness and generosity.

Choosing A Sport

There are two things to keep in mind here: your interests and maximizing convenience. You want a location that’s easy to get to from your home or workplace. Registered classes may have a slight edge in terms of social benefits (you’ll see the same workout buddies each week), but drop-ins are great if you’ve got a hectic schedule or want to sample different workouts until you find the one that best fits you.

An Alternative Approach

If you don’t want to, or can’t, join a team, classes are a great alternative. Pam Cox, manager of health and fitness programs at the University of Calgary’s Active Living facility, says an instructor-led group setting is appropriate for all fitness levels. And even experienced athletes will appreciate the cross training. An avid runner, for example, may be at a loss coordinating a weight-training routine.

MAR 15, 2017     BY: YUKI HAYASHI


Leave a comment

This Type of Exercise May Guard Against Dementia

People who worked out on a bike, a treadmill, or the elliptical showed improvement in their memory and problem solving skills after six months, a new study found.

Working out is good for you in more ways than we can count, but a new study may have uncovered a new perk for people with memory problems.

Researchers from the Wake Forest School of Medicine found that aerobic exercise appears to boost thinking skills and brain volume in adults diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment, a condition that sits in between normal age-related memory decline and more serious dementia. Stretching routines also increased brain volume over a six-month period, but had no noticeable impact on brain function.

The study was presented today at an annual meeting of radiologists in Chicago, and hasn’t yet been peer-reviewed or published.

Researchers used a new MRI technique to measure both volume and shape changes in specific areas of the brain, which are both important indicators for tracking the development of dementia.

At the start of the study, the researchers performed MRI scans on 35 people with mild cognitive impairment, which is a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease. The participants were then divided into two groups and assigned to four weekly sessions of either stretching exercises or aerobic activity—walking on a treadmill, cycling on a stationary bike, or training on an elliptical machine. After six months, the researchers did a second MRI scan and compared the two sets of scans.

aerobic_exercise_at_gym

Both groups showed increases in most gray matter regions of the brain, including the temporal lobe, which supports short-term memory. But those increases were greater in the group that walked, pedaled, or spent time on the elliptical.

“Even over a short period of time, we saw aerobic exercise lead to a remarkable change in the brain,” said lead investigator Laura D. Baker, PhD, associate professor of gerontology and geriatric medicine at Wake Forest, in a press release.

People in the stretching group had less total brain volume increase, and their brain scans also showed signs of “directional deformation”—shape changes possibly related to volume loss—within the brain’s white matter. The researchers believe these hard-to-detect signs could be early indicators of dementia. “Directional changes in the brain without local volume changes could be a novel biomarker for neurological disease,” co-author Jeongchul Kim, PhD, said in a press release.

In an abstract presented at the conference, the researchers concluded that aerobic exercise “could preserve or possibly even improve brain volumes” in people with early cognitive problems.

What’s more, the researchers also reported that over a six-month period, participants in the aerobic exercise group improved in tests that measure executive function—a set of thinking processes that include working memory, reasoning, and problem solving—while the stretching group showed no change.

That doesn’t mean stretching didn’t help in some way, the authors say, especially when compared to completely sedentary behavior. It does suggest, however, that aerobic activity may be a better bet for overall brain functioning.

Plenty of previous research has tied exercise to better brain outcomes in older adults; a 2014 Canadian study, for example, found that brisk walking (but not resistance training, balance exercises, or muscle toning) was associated with enlargement of the hippocampus. Aerobic exercise may have some competition when it comes to brain health, however. Last month, an Australian study found that women who lifted weights regularly had better cognitive function than those who did regular stretching and calisthenics.

This newest study, although small and preliminary, is in line with previous research suggesting that “any type of exercise can be beneficial,” said Kim—good news for older adults who perhaps can’t get out and walk, ride, or otherwise break a sweat. However, he added, “If possible, aerobic activity may create potential benefits for higher cognitive functioning.”

 

 By Amanda MacMillan      November 30, 2016


Leave a comment

Sitting 8 Hours A Day? An Hour A Day Of Physical Activity Could Offset The Health Risks

Brisk walking or cycling found to eliminate the increased risk of death associated with prolonged sitting

Office workers and others who sit for eight hours a day can avoid the health risks associated with that inactivity by doing an hour of physical activity a day, a new study suggests.

The research team behind the study wanted to know if it was possible for people who sit all day at an office job to compensate for the harmful effects of that lack of activity by getting some exercise. In short, the answer is yes.

Researchers arrived at their findings by analyzing data from 16 studies involving more than a million people. They found that people who were physically active, but sat for eight hours a day, had a much lower risk of death compared to people who weren’t physically active, even if they sat for fewer hours.

cycling
The researchers found that doing at least one hour a day
of moderately intensive physical activity a day
was enough to completely offset the increased risk
of death from sitting for eight hours a day.

“This suggests that physical activity is particularly important, no matter how many hours a day are spent sitting,” the study’s authors said.

The researchers found that doing at least one hour a day of physical activity a day was enough to completely offset the increased risk of death from doing all that sitting.

By physical activity, researchers said walking at 5.6 km/h meets the standard, as would cycling at 16 km/h.

“Our message is a positive one: it is possible to reduce — or even eliminate — these risks if we are active enough, even without having to take up sports or go to the gym,” said lead author Ulf Ekelung, a professor at the Norwegian School of Sports Sciences and the University of Cambridge.

That message was welcome news for Toronto lawyer Kiran Gill, who often bikes to and from work. “I am surprised it only takes one hour to mitigate the effects of eight hours of sitting. I would think that would take a lot more,” she told CBC News.

While an hour a day of physical activity is ideal, researchers said getting less than an hour of daily exercise can still reduce the health risks of sitting for hours.

The key message from the study is that if long periods of sitting each day can’t be avoided, it’s crucial to be physically active.

Heavy TV viewing

Researchers also looked at the health risks of one particular type of sedentary activity — watching a lot of television.

They found that those who sat and watched at least three hours of TV per day had an increased risk of death for all groups, except those who engaged in moderately intensive physical activity for 60 to 75 minutes per day.

But for those watched at least five hours of TV per day, even high levels of physical activity were not enough to eliminate higher mortality risks.

Why does TV watching for hours at a time seem to be more unhealthy than a similar amount of time sitting at a desk?

Researchers suggest that watching a lot of TV may be a marker of a more unhealthy lifestyle in general. They also suggest that because people tend to watch TV in the evenings after dinner, it may affect their metabolism. People also tend to snack while watching TV.

The study was published Wednesday in The Lancet.

With files from the CBC’s Christine Birak and Melanie Glanz
CBC News        Posted: Jul 27, 2016 

source: www.cbc.ca