GIVE ME ONE REASON TO...GIVE: A NEW STUDY SHOWS GIVING MAKES US HAPPIER
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Your mother was right. Again. It pays to be nice (and to wear clean underwear, but that's for another post). As reported by Everyday Health, a new study tracked 50 Swiss citizens who were paid for their time. Half committed to spend the money on others, half on themselves. Then their brains were scanned, including the ventral striatum aka the brain's happy place.  The results were clear: the "brain activity associated with happiness, along with self-reported happiness, increased simply after making a commitment to be generous to others".

(Since the study was out of Switzerland, it might be helpful to let them know that watches, chocolate and money all make excellent gifts -you're welcome.) 

Back in 2016, two earlier studies looked at whether our brains are hardwired to be altruistic (spoiler alert, yes, especially when our ability to empathize is working.)

All of which is to say, it's good for you to be good.

Alaethia Doctor
Yoga is Not a Poser: Studies Back Its Effect on Keeping Depression At Bay
(Photo by Julia Caesar on Unsplash) Multiple studies presented at the 125th Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association this week had good news for yoga devotees.  Whether it was reducing negative thoughts and emotional eating or easing chronic depression, as well as stress and anxiety, people who practiced yoga saw significant benefits. Hot yoga was particularly effective, so either check your local 'hood for Bikram classes or keep it in mind for the next time your subway car is the one with broken A/C.

(Photo by Julia Caesar on Unsplash)

Multiple studies presented at the 125th Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association this week had good news for yoga devotees.  Whether it was reducing negative thoughts and emotional eating or easing chronic depression, as well as stress and anxiety, people who practiced yoga saw significant benefits. Hot yoga was particularly effective, so either check your local 'hood for Bikram classes or keep it in mind for the next time your subway car is the one with broken A/C.

Alaethia Doctor
Watermelon Smiling on the Vine

Today is National Watermelon Day and while that may not roll off the tongue (insert food joke here)...watermelon is the perfect summer snack. It has anywhere from 8 to 25 health benefits. The most surprising? Studies suggest it can acts as a natural viagra. Even its seeds and rind are good for you. So whether (thank you picture above) you want to just grab a watermelon and take a bite, or you're inspired to create a contest-winning watermelon and goat cheese salad, there's a slew of fun and tasty treats for you to enjoy.  Another great idea? Consider making some fun "dippers"  as a ready snack for kids (or the kid at heart). Last but definitely not least, you can always wet your whistle in the form of a boozy watermelon-tinted lemonade. In the immortal words of Dave Matthews:

Well apples are sweet and peaches are good
Rabbits so very very fine
But give me oh give me
Oh how I wish you would
Some of that watermelon smiling on the vine

 

Alaethia Doctor
For Seniors, Staying Active Is A Walk in the (Dog) Park
(Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash) A new study "tracking the well-being of thousands of residents of the English county of Norfolk" highlights just how helpful having a dog can be in encouraging a more active lifestyle, especially for seniors. "We know that physical activity levels decline as we age, but we’re less sure about the most effective things we can do to help people maintain their activity as they get older," said lead author Yu-Tzu Wu from the University of Cambridge. The study found that "On average, people who owned dogs were sedentary for 30 minutes less per day than those who didn't have canine companions." On cold or rainy days, the difference was even starker: "Dog owners were 20 percent more active in bad weather than non-dog owners." As project lead Andy Jones from University of East Anglia's Norwich School of Medicine, concludes: "Being driven by something other than our own needs might be a really potent motivator and we need to find ways of tapping into it when designing exercise interventions in the future.” To read the full article on mother nature network, click here: https://goo.gl/UMygFM 

(Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash)

A new study "tracking the well-being of thousands of residents of the English county of Norfolk" highlights just how helpful having a dog can be in encouraging a more active lifestyle, especially for seniors.

"We know that physical activity levels decline as we age, but we’re less sure about the most effective things we can do to help people maintain their activity as they get older," said lead author Yu-Tzu Wu from the University of Cambridge.

The study found that "On average, people who owned dogs were sedentary for 30 minutes less per day than those who didn't have canine companions." On cold or rainy days, the difference was even starker: "Dog owners were 20 percent more active in bad weather than non-dog owners."

As project lead Andy Jones from University of East Anglia's Norwich School of Medicine, concludes: "Being driven by something other than our own needs might be a really potent motivator and we need to find ways of tapping into it when designing exercise interventions in the future.”

To read the full article on mother nature network, click here: https://goo.gl/UMygFM 

Alaethia Doctor
The Only "Shade" I Want to See Thrown This Summer Comes From A Water Umbrella Thingamabob
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This has been a great, and greatly empowering, week for women. Life is a work in progress and so are we. By we, in this case, I mean women and I definitely include myself. Women who are otherwise smart and strong, but every now and then we slip up -- or into -- what society expects, and that's not healthy or pretty although society says it's both.

Can I hear a Like if you agree? Thanks.

This week featured two really great articles about women, especially women in the summer. The first was a nice profile of Asos on the Huffington Post site. Asos is selling their swimsuits by showing real women with real stretch marks -- or, as the stretch marks were brilliantly renamed by Allison Kimmey on Facebook, "glitter stripes." Then today (okay fine, that's just when I saw it), Healthline had a fabulous piece which, in essence said, if you have a body, then you are already swimsuit-ready. It called on us to #banthebikinibody (I added the hashtag). Bodies come in all shapes and sizes and we all have our own healthy weight and needs. Focus your goals (fitness, health, weight) around what doctors and our own research reveals, not as one more attempt to keep up with the Joneses or the woman next to you in barre class.

The more we accept ourselves, the sexier and happier we will be, whether we happen to be in a bikini, a burkini, or anything in between!

Alaethia Doctor
(Time in) Nature beats Nurture
The results of our first ever survey are in. We asked for your favorite ways to destress, something that has only become more important in light of new findings which also tie stress to added risk of dementia (see goo.gl/LEQjrn ). The winner? Spending time in nature, something that also can work for people at any budget in almost all living situations. Exercise was a close second, while listening to music tied with the catch-all Other where suggestions included talking to a friend, shopping, acupuncture (blushing) or having a glass of wine (see Friday's post: that's good for you too). Dead-last? Getting a massage. Thanks to all for participating and sharing what works for you.

The results of our first ever survey are in. We asked for your favorite ways to destress, something that has only become more important in light of new findings which also tie stress to added risk of dementia (see goo.gl/LEQjrn ). The winner? Spending time in nature, something that also can work for people at any budget in almost all living situations. Exercise was a close second, while listening to music tied with the catch-all Other where suggestions included talking to a friend, shopping, acupuncture (blushing) or having a glass of wine (see Friday's post: that's good for you too). Dead-last? Getting a massage. Thanks to all for participating and sharing what works for you.

Alaethia Doctor
Science Just Made My Weekend

Aka, both glasses are for me, why do you ask? For as long as I can remember, people have talked about how a glass of wine a day can be good for you. Mainly French people, but they are trend setters. Also their accent is tres chic. Now, after studying a lot of drinking and looking at a lot of people, the story gets even better.  Bottom line, after looking at nearly 2 million people (the researchers swear they were sober and it wasn't just five blurry people who looked like...), they had more good news.

Moderate drinkers are:

*44% less likely to die from a sudden cardiovascular-related event than those who don't drink.

*32% less likely to have a heart attack.

*22% less likely to have peripheral artery disease.

*12% less likely to have a stroke.

So raise a glass to science and enjoy. Better yet, raise two. I know I will. You?

Alaethia Doctor
I Like Your Peaches

Some fruits contain a ton of unexpected – and unwanted – sugar.

Here are a few summer fruits that are always a hit, without making your sugar intake take (too great) a hit:

Peaches are great, as is watermelon or melons like cantaloupe.

The lime in your Corona is also fine –lemon and lime typically have under 1.5 grams of sugar per fruit.

Berries are also a satisfying summer treat: raspberries, strawberries, blackberries and cranberries all have less sugar than blueberries and are delicious!

Alaethia Doctor
Calling George Clooney

Here's hoping more Emergency Rooms introduce acupuncture for pain relief. The world's largest randomized controlled trial of the use of acupuncture in emergency departments has found the treatment is a safe and effective alternative to pain-relieving drugs for some patients.

IT WAS ALSO PREFERRED BY PATIENTS POLLED following treatment. There were three groups --and 48 hours post treatment, 82.8 per cent of acupuncture-only patients said they would probably or definitely repeat their treatment, compared with 80.8 per cent in the combined group (acupuncture plus pharmacotherapy), and 78.2 per cent in the pharmacotherapy-only group. https://goo.gl/jPMn3h

Alaethia Doctor