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Topic: Health

"Twenty Minutes of Standing" Workout

For almost a decade, Gretchen Johnson's popular column in The New York Times, PhysEd, has been focused on the science of health and fitness. Her book, "The First 20 Minutes: Surprising Science Reveals How We Can Exercise Better, Train Smarter, Live Longer," a distillation of her work, will certainly surprise those who believe that people need to exercise strenuously to stay healthy. Johnson's research shows that just doing something, even standing for 20 minutes a day, will help you maintain good health and prolong life. For those who question how that can be true and what it means in terms of losing weight, keep reading. Just wish that the PhysEd teachers of the past had read the book!

Pets Keep People Healthier

Pet owners know this...and there is a growing body of  research to back it up. Pets make people happy and keep them healthier. An increasing number of dogs, cats, and other animals are living in hospital settings, nursing homes, schools, and mental institutions. A study in 1980 found that heart attack patients who owned pets lived longer than those who didn't; a later study showed that petting one's own dog could reduce blood pressure. And animals benefit, as well. Shelter dogs who are regularly walked are better behaved and more adoptable.

Take Advantage of Government Benefits

The National Council on Aging and the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging are kicking off a campaign to encourage older people to take advantage of programs for which they are entitled, but were not aware existed. This includes reduced-cost drugs, food stamps, home care aides, transportation programs, help with heating bills, and subsidies that will lower Medicare premiums. A sample of those who have gone to the BenefitsCheckUp website since 2010 shows that more than 70% were eligible for at least one benefit that they were not receiving. 

Mouthful and Mindful

Relishing what you eat...chewing slowly, enjoying the texture of the food, and stopping when you are the message of those who are devotees of "mindfulness" and possibly, the answer to over-eating and obesity. Mindful eating is not a diet, nor is it about giving up something that you really enjoy. As a growing number of doctors, academics, and culinary experts explain, it is about adopting some of the tenets that Buddhist monks and nuns have known for years about staying healthy, relieving stress, and not developing anxiety over eating. Keep reading...

Are You Heart Smart?

There is so much information around about what it takes to keep your heart healthy that it is hard to know what is actually true and what can possibly be dangerous. How do you make decisions about what to eat, how much to exercise, and how to evaluate medical advice? This article is an interview with two cardiology experts who have written a book to help people make smarter choices about their health. There are lots of good questions answered and a quiz to test your knowledge. This article is a "keeper."

Caregiving from Afar

As lifespans lengthen and the number of older adults increases, there are many adult "children" who find themselves providing care for their parents from afar. The National Institute on Aging estimates that about 7 million Americans are long-distance caregivers. Some insist on daily phone calls or video chats to hear or see how their loved one is doing. Oftentimes, they find another relative or a paid caregiver they can trust who is closer and able to help with some tasks. This is an ongoing dilemma that plagues those who want to do their best for their parents while respecting the parents' desire to remain in their homes.

3 Ways to Improve Your Life

These three tips for happiness in 2012 were provided by Dan Bueller, the author of The Blue Zones. Check out his website for some interesting ideas.

  • Volunteer for one new organization this month. Volunteers have lower health care costs and report higher levels of well-being.
  • Make one new happy friend this month. Each new happy friend you add to your network increases your happiness by 15%.
  • Get down to one TV screen in your home. Studies show that the happiest people are only watching about an hour of TV a day.

While you consider these suggestions, click here for the True Happiness Survey. 

Goodbye Prozac, Hello Neighbor

If you want a drug-free way of lifting your depression, research suggests that if you do something nice for someone else, you will feel better about yourself and more positive about what is happening around you. The studies talk about "positive activity interventions" -- things like helping someone with groceries, writing a thank you note, or even counting your blessings -- that can lift your mood.  Positive activity interventions come in a variety of forms, including: being kind to others, expressing gratitude, thinking optimistically, and meditating on the good things in life. I already feel better linking you to this article!

DPT Shots: Not Just for Kids

It seems that doting grandparents and those who are health care providers are being urged to get the T.D.A.P. vaccine, short for tetanus, diptheria and acellular pertussis, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is usually family members that pass these diseases on to very young children (under a year old), particularly pertussis (aka whooping cough) that effects people of any age. The cost of the vaccine is around $35 plus the cost of the injection and the only side effect is a sore arm. 

I'll Take My Apple White

The old adage that an apple a day keeps the doctor away now has even more credibility as the results of a large Dutch study show that participants who ate one medium to large apple or pear a day have a lower risk for experiencing a stroke. This finding runs counter to the belief that the greatest benefit comes from eating fruits and vegetables that have rich colors, inside and out. The study was conducted over 10 years, with more than 20,000 men and women, ages 20-65, who were healthy and had no cardiovascular issues when they began the study. To learn more about this finding, click here.