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Things To Know About Seasonal Affective Disorder

If you dread the shorter days and longer evenings of winter, you might think you have seasonal affective disorder (or SAD for short), but a new study finds that this condition might not be as common as experts originally thought. We know SAD exists, that it is a fact of life for an estimated 14 million Americans as well as being documented by earlier work according to study lead author David Kerr who is an assistant professor in the School of Psychological Science at Oregon State University, but this latest research suggests that what we think of as the “winter blues” doesn’t impact people nearly as much as experts might have thought.

For the current research, appearing in the Journal of Affective Disorders, Kerr and the team looked at the results from surveys taken by over 500 people in Iowa and over 200 in Oregon. They answered questions about depression over the years and the team tried to see if changes in weather (amount of sunlight) might have on mood.

There was a very small effect that appeared during the winter, but it was more modest than you might expect if SAD was as common as people think. That’s a surprise, with a sample size this large, with such precise measures of weather, the team expected to see a larger effect.

SAD is a type of depression that comes on in the fall, as the days shorten, and lifts in the spring and summer months. Just like depression, not everyone with SAD experiences the same physical, emotional or cognitive symptoms to the same extent as another patient. Anyone can get SAD, but it’s more common for those who live in areas where winter days are extremely short or there are large changes in amounts of daylight in different seasons, women, anyone between the ages of 15 to 55 (risk decreases as you get older) and those who have a close family member (parent or full sibling) diagnosed with seasonal affective disorder.

To tell the difference between SAD and other forms of depression, your doctor will ask about the timing of the symptoms and if they recur at the same of year then get better for at least 2 years in a row. You’ll undergo a physical exam to be sure everything else is okay, and your doctor will ask about symptoms that come with SAD like carb craving, gaining weight and sleeping more than is normal for you.

Continues below…


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Things To Know About Seasonal Affective Disorder Continued…

There are many effective treatments for this mood disorder including cognitive behavioral therapy, exposure to light (using a light box for 30 minutes, usually in the morning) and antidepressants to improve the balance of chemicals in the brain that impact mood. All work well in easing even the toughest symptoms, but only you and your doctor can decide what’s right for you.

Cognitive behavioral therapy stands out as an effective treatment because it’s been shown to keep SAD from coming back the next year. Light therapy also works well for those with SAD, and some patients even report feeling better within a week after starting. If you have felt no improvement by 3-4 weeks, chances are, light therapy isn’t right for you.

Research findings or not, if you, or someone in your life, is coping with seasonal affective disorder, don’t wait – talk with your doctor and find out just what’s happening. It’s the only way to truly feel better.

To your good health,

bngdesigns / Pixabay

9 Steps To A Better Lifestyle

If you’re searching for true happiness, here are some smart steps you can take to help get there. Interesting that the latest research finds that money can buy happiness, if you spend carefully. This is just one of many tips experts we surveyed have given on finding, and prolonging, happiness in your life.

1. Buy your bliss, just not all the mall. Research finds that people who bought intangible things like concert tickets, lessons relating to a hobby or even a dinner out were happier than those who spent money on clothes, TVs or appliances. This is likely because as human beings, we tend to get maximum pleasure from social bonding, and the anticipation of an experience can be as valuable a source of joy as the actual experience. Recalling the event keeps you feeling happy long afterward

Even if the outing didn’t go exactly as planned, the cherished memories effect is still often at work. People tend to remember things as being better than they were according to experts.

So the take home is this, while materialism is fine once in a while, it’s not the answer all the time. You might ease the pain of paying effect, and be happier, by letting more time lapse between paying for something and getting it.

2. Age gracefully as reported happiness dips for women at 40 but comes back strong by 50 according to a study of 500,000 men and women in 72 nations. Incidentally, for men, the low point is about 52. Science can’t explain it, but it may be that at this age a woman puts herself last and might feel that life is going on without her. As the kids leave the nest, the woman has more time to nurture herself.

So schedule a regular “me” day for yourself that doesn’t change for anyone, or anything except an emergency. You can also set priorities and do things that truly bring you pleasure, and drop the things you don’t enjoy.

3. Forget about self-improvement and focus on what’s already incredible about you. This is far more effective in creating joy than trying to do things to “improve” on yourself. Find your own strongest qualities and nurture them. Using your signature strengths at home and at work has shown itself to leave subjects less depressed and happier than those who don’t focus on their own strengths.

4. Make tough things work, in other words, look for the “silver lining” in life’s surprises like a sudden layoff or a health setback. Even a disaster like breast cancer has been shown to bring women some positive things – new life priorities and feelings of self-confidence. It’s often the negative experiences that help us grow/ learn and be happier in the end.

5. Spend 21 minutes a year on your relationship. Researchers at Northwestern University tracked the marital bliss of 120 subject couples. Half did a 7-minute exercise three times a year in which they thought about three specific questions related to their most recent argument. Couples who evaluated their relationship had less stress related to arguments, and far higher levels of happiness and passion than those who didn’t do the exercise.

There’s research that suggests marriage quality declines over time. Being proactive in terms of your relationship is a plus for keeping that relationship strong.

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9 Steps To A Better Lifestyle Continued…

.

There’s research that suggests marriage quality declines over time. Being proactive in terms of your relationship is a plus for keeping that relationship strong.

6. Watch a sad movie. A study from Ohio State University finds that the more sadness you experience during a film or TV program, the greater their feelings of happiness when the program was over. These type of shows put us in a more thoughtful mood, and allow you to focus your attention on your own relationships, and appreciate what you have.

7. Find joy in your commute. Those who walk/bike to the office tend to be happier than those who drive or take a bus/subway according to a 2012 study of 800 subjects conducted in Portland Oregon. Commuting is a great time for introspection and reflection, for enjoying music or a book on tape. Think about what you are grateful for instead of grousing about the slow traffic.

8. Take pleasure in giving. Generosity both far away and closer to home can help you feel happier. Giving to charity brings more happiness than spending on yourself, while doing things for people in your life makes you the happiest.

9. Fake it, until you actually feel it. When you’re sad, the act of smiling can cheer you up, and while the reasons for this have yet to be pinpointed, a study at the University of Kansas finds that grinning slows down your heart rate during stress.

To your good health,

geralt / Pixabay

Cut Off The Effects Of Psychological Stress

If you’re struggling under unrelenting psychological pressure, you have a new reason to try to find healthy ways to manage it. The health of your heart (not to mention your mind and the rest of your body too). While the question of psychological stress causing heart disease is still very much open to debate, everyone agrees that chronic stress is hard on your heart, the rest of your body and your mind.

A recent study out of Michigan Technological University sheds some light on the picture of stress and its effect on the heart. The work found that volunteers who ingested fish oil supplements daily for 8 weeks saw less of a reaction to stress in both their heart rate and sympathetic nervous system reactions than those who took olive oil supplements instead. Long story short, order the fish or think about fish oil supplements if you’re dealing with lots of mental stress. And who isn’t?

When you’re under psychological stress, the body goes through a series of physiological actions that all feed into your nervous and circulatory system. So your heart rate goes up, your blood pressure rises and the sympathetic nervous system, the controller of the “fight or flight” instinct, takes off. The body doesn’t see a difference between real stress (a sketchy character following you), and imagined stress (a presentation at work).

Here’s how stress hurts your heart in the short term:

- Increased heart rate.

- Increased rate of blood flow, upping blood pressure.

- Release of fatty acids into the blood for energy increases.

- Continued release of cortisol which impacts where fat is deposited in the body, mostly in the abdomen.

Study author Jason R. Carter, Ph.D. warns that over time this puts you at risk of high blood pressure, hardened arteries and even a shocking sudden cardiac death. Science doesn’t know for sure how much stress it takes to cause problems for the heart, but it is suspected of playing some role. You may have noticed in your own life that angry personalities, those who don’t handle stress well, appear more susceptible to negative health issues.

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There are so many “scare” stories that it’s sometimes hard to know what to believe. Which is why this is so timely…

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Cut Off The Effects Of Psychological Stress Continued…

Over time, chronic, unending stress can do measurable damage to the heart…

- Higher heart rates over time could push the heart to take on an abnormal heart rhythm.

- Higher blood pressure over a long period brings a higher risk of heart disease and stroke.

- Higher cholesterol and triglycerides up the potential for your arteries to thicken with plaque, leading to coronary artery disease or even heart attack.

- Deposits of fat in the belly, the so-called “apple” shape, are one of the markers of metabolic syndrome and a risk factor for heart disease.

Carter suggests a daily dose of fish oil for those who are high strung, the so-called Type A personality, might be beneficial. You should discuss this with your own doctor before doing anything, and look for healthy ways to help manage that unending psychological stress. Listen to soothing music. Find humor in daily situations. Watch funny movies. Unload your worries to a loved one, close friend, clergy or even in writing, to keep private. The key is to do something to give your body a respite on some type of regular basis, even if just for a little while.

To your good health,

Lazare / Pixabay

Ease Depression And Anxiety Symptoms With Exercise

If you’re feeling down, or struggling with the jitters, exercising is probably the last thing you’re in the mood for, but it may be the best thing for you according to experts. In fact, it might just make all the difference it the world.

We know that exercise is good for preventing or improving health issues like high blood pressure, diabetes and arthritis. What’s not as well known is what exercise can do for your mental state. Research has shown that the psychological and physical benefits of exercises can help bring down anxiety and improve your mood.

The ties between exercise, anxiety and depression still aren’t fully understood, but we do know that working out can help you burn off tension and feel better. The workout might even keep the anxiety and depression symptoms from coming back. Before you start to be active, talk with your doctor so you know what activities, how much exercise and at what intensity is best for you. Your own doctor knows best about any medications you take, and health conditions you have and can also be an unexpected source of advice for getting started or staying motivated.

When it comes to depression, exercise…

- Releases the feel good chemicals in your brain

- Reduces immune system chemicals that may make depression worse.

- Increase your body temperature, which has a calming effect.

Exercise has many benefits to your mental state too. It can help you…

- Gain confidence by meeting exercise goals, and feel better about how you look in shape leaves you feeling better about how you look.

- Be distracted from worries as exercise takes you out of the cycle of negative thoughts that fuel both depression and anxiety.

- Have positive social interaction during exercise or soothing time alone

- Engage in a healthy, constructive coping strategy for managing anxiety or depression. Other things you might have tried may only have made things worse, exercise is a chance to cope and make things better for yourself too.

Keep in mind that while exercise is a natural way to ease anxiety and depression symptoms, it can’t take the place of medication or other therapy. You’ll want to continue to work on your depression or anxiety root issues with your therapist, and don’t stop or change a dose on any medication, even when you feel better.

Before you decide if exercise is right for you, understand that we’re talking about more than working out at the gym or swimming laps at the pool. There are many other workouts that can be just as effective in lifting mood, easing tension. Anything that gets your heart pumping will do… this includes working in the garden, washing your car, walking around the block, playing basketball with your kids or other everyday activities. Anything that gets you up and off the couch will help.

What’s more, you don’t have to do all your exercise at one time. You can add small amounts of activity all through your day that add up to the benefits of a 30 minutes at once workout. You should try for this at least three, preferably five days a week to get a big improvement in depression symptoms. Activity for as little as 10 to 15 minutes at a time can also make a difference. Generally more vigorous activities (running or cycling) are especially good for mood when you don’t have a lot of time.

Starting, and sticking with, an exercise program can be challenging, so we’ve included some suggestions that might help…

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Ease Depression And Anxiety Symptoms With Exercise Continued…

- Find what you like to do and you’re more likely to stick with it. Gardening after work? A jog before dawn? A bike ride with the kids? Find what activity fits into your life and that you genuinely enjoy. Do that as often as you can.

- Set realistic goals. You don’t have to be athlete fit to be successful, instead think honestly about what you’ll really be able to do. Forget guidelines for the moment and focus on getting more active.

- Stop thinking about exercise as a chore, a “should” in your life because when you don’t think you’re living up to this, you associate exercise with failure. Look at exercise the same way you would medication or a therapy session, a tool to help you get better that you need to make time for if you want things to change.

- Look at what’s stopping you from exercising and you’ll likely come to see an alternative solution, if you look hard enough. If you’re self-conscious about how you look, or your fitness level, exercise at home. If you work better with a partner to motivate you, find someone to work out with. Money tight? Find exercises that don’t cost anything, like walking or gardening.

- Be prepared for setbacks or obstacles, and don’t let them stop you. Yes you might be too busy one day to exercise, but don’t let that derail the whole idea, just try again the next day. Each day is a fresh start.

To your good health,

OpenClips / Pixabay

Saves Lives By Screening For Colorectal Cancer

Although colon cancer is a preventable and even highly curable disease, it remains the second source of cancer deaths in the U.S. according to gastroenterologists Dr. Felice Schnoll-Sussman and Dr. Benjamin Lebwohl. Why? Not nearly enough people are getting screened, and experts want to get the word out that with screening cancer of the colon, a disease often without symptoms, can be detected early and even prevented from developing at all. Amazingly one in every three American is NOT getting screened for colorectal cancers, even though the screening tests are available everywhere.

Colon cancer is defined by your doctor as a malignant tumor that grows from the inside wall of the colon, also known as the large intestine, the long coiled tube that takes water from food after it’s been digested. Rectal cancer is a cancerous tumor that forms in the rectum, which is the medical term used for the last 6 inches of the large intestine where stool is stored before leaving the body. These two cancers share lots of risk factors, symptoms and the type of screening that’s done to detect them. It’s the treatment plans that are typically different. Colorectal cancer is a term that covers both colon and rectal cancers.

Here are five facts to think about before you put off a colorectal cancer screening…

1. Screening for colorectal cancer can save your life, finding a cancer very early on or spotting polyps before they get a chance to be cancer. Screening should start at 50 for both men and women. In years to come there may be a new test to detect colorectal cancer involving a breath sample, a method just presented in the December 2012 British Journal of Surgery.

2. Have screenings when you are feeling well because early colorectal cancers don’t have symptoms and you feel just fine. Screening before symptoms is the key, by the time you’re having symptoms the cancer is no longer in its early, most treatable stages.

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WARNING: The truth about Moles, Warts and Skintags…

There are so many “scare” stories that it’s sometimes hard to know what to believe. Which is why this is so timely…

Announcing the breakthrough solution by Chris Gibson, a respected natural health practitioner, that gets rid of moles, warts and skin tags without any expensive medical procedures or over-the-counter products.

Chris has written several books on alternative health and wellness and appeared on various TV channels like Fox 26 News and CBS.

Find out how you, too, can:

- Have freedom from the pain and irritation of your unsightly moles, warts, or skin tags

- Naturally REMOVE moles, warts, or skin tags at the root without any scarring

- Enjoy having clear skin, free from unsightly and painful moles, warts or skin tags

Click through now to discover safe, painless and effective ways to permanently remove moles, warts or skin tags in three days…
*Disclosure: compensated affiliate*


Saves Lives By Screening For Colorectal Cancer Continued…

3. Know the risks for colorectal cancer and talk with your doctor about getting screened earlier than 50 years if you have reason to do so. Your risk can go up if you have inflammatory bowel disease, a personal history of colon cancer or polyps, a family history of colon cancer or polyps or conditions such as familial adenomatous polyposis or Lynch syndrome that can cause colon cancer.

4. Live healthy – stop smoking, get moving and start eating better (avoid red and processed meats, eat lots of fiber) to bring down your risk of being diagnosed with this type of cancer. Exercise especially is linked with lower rates of colon and breast cancers according to research in the May 2012 Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

5. This type of cancer doesn’t discriminate; one in every 20 is diagnosed with colorectal cancer sometime in their life. This disease affects both men and women equally.

In this year alone, an estimated 102,480 cases of colon cancer, another 40,340 cases of rectal cancer will be diagnosed. You can keep yourself from being one of them by making the call to schedule that screening, and making lifestyle changes that reduce your risk of disease.

To your good health,

geralt / Pixabay

Awareness And Well-Being

Being mindful is thought to benefit your health as well as your physical and emotional well-being… now we have research from the University of Utah to be presented at the American Psychosomatic Society annual meeting that demonstrates mindfulness brings more stable emotions and better control over mood and behavior. Mindful people also appear to have less cognitive and physiological activity going on before they sleep and this may translate into an improved quality of sleep.

What is mindfulness? It’s paying attention in a special way, on purpose and being in the present while offering no judgments. Mindfulness means living in the moment and waking up to experiences all around you. You need to slow down, do one thing at a time and bring your complete awareness to what you’re doing and your inner experience of it. Mindfulness is believed to be a formidable antidote to daily stress that can be damaging to body and mind. It can be used at any time and brings lasting results.

Often people need to be taught how to be mindful, and earlier studies in this area used subjects who’d been trained in meditation or another technique. This latest study was unique in that it looked at naturally occurring mindfulness with a rather ingenious method for gathering the data.

The work included 38 subjects who’d been recruited from the University of Utah’s undergraduate psychology classes as well as the community at large. The subjects were from 20 to 45 years old; two thirds were female, one third male. The day the study started the subjects completed a baseline assessment that included standard questionnaires, a physiological assessment while at rest and cognitive testing before they began two full days of experience sampling.

The subjects wore a cardiac monitor that was able to measure heart function and were also prompted every so often during the test days to rate both their mental functioning and emotional state. At the end of the two-day test period, the participants filled out questionnaires on their ability to regulate their behavior and emotions. They were also asked to rate their level of cognitive and physical arousal before sleep.

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How a tasty little dish eaten late at night actually boosted the most powerful fat loss hormone in our bodies while you sleep…

Click through here now to discover how to burn more fat quicker today…
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Awareness And Well-Being Continued…

The team saw that emotional stability, better control of emotions and behavior and lower pre-sleep activity were all significantly linked to higher mindfulness. Mindfulness may be an important part of self-regulation that is meant to happen all through the day, contributing to better physical and emotional well-being.

The mindfulness research gives experts a better picture of how the state affects stress responses all during the day according to graduate student Holly Rau, who is a part of the research team. Those who reported higher levels of mindfulness also felt they had better control over behavior and emotions during the day. The lower activation at bedtime could certainly have benefits when it comes to falling asleep, the quality of that sleep and efforts to manage stress.

Going forward research will look at the link between all three, mindfulness, physiological markers of stress and quality of sleep to see if there’s an association and learn more about it. In the meantime, you can easily incorporate mindfulness into your own daily life and see if you notice a difference in how you feel. There is certainly no downside to trying this, and there many way to be a wonderful upside.

To your good health,

AlexVan / Pixabay

Stress Management To Prevent Chronic Pain

If you’re dealing with chronic pain, your search for relief probably seems endless, perhaps hopeless. You doctor will tell you that being anxious or stressed can make pain worse, and set in motion a vicious cycle as the pain causes more anxiety and stress. It seems that avoiding the affects of stress might play an important part in managing pain according to work that appears in the journal Brain. This finding is particularly important for those with a smaller than typical hippocampus as these people seem to be more vulnerable to the effects of stress than the rest of us.

The research by Dr. Pierre Rainville, Ph.D. of the Research Centre of the Institut universitaire de gériatrie de Montréal (IUGM) and his team included 16 subjects who had chronic back pain and a control group of 16 healthy participants. The team was looking for relationships between 1) cortisol levels, 2) assessment of clinical pain reported by subjects before their brain scan, 3) hippocampus volumes measured using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and 4) brain activations using functional MRI that followed thermal pain stimulation. The subjects with chronic pain generally had higher cortisol levels than healthy people.

Cortisol is a hormone that’s made by the adrenal glands (sometimes known as the stress hormone) and the study shows that having a small hippocampus volume is linked to higher cortisol levels. This makes you more vulnerable to pain and having that pain become chronic.

Looking more closely at the data, the team saw that those with a smaller hippocampus had higher cortisol levels and stronger reactions to acute pain in a part of the brain involved with anticipatory anxiety that relates to pain. The response of the brain to the pain during the scan reflected, in part, the intensity of the patient’s current pain levels. This supports the idea that those with a smaller hippocampus end up with a stronger response to stress, and this in turn increases their pain and the risk of having that pain become chronic.

The research sheds more light onto the neurobiological mechanisms involved in stress and pain. No matter the reason, pain is often associated with high levels of stress, and there is value to be found in managing stress to help in treatments for those who are dealing with pain that lasts. Add stress management to your medical treatment plan by talking with a counselor, using relaxation techniques or practicing meditation.

Stress management won’t take away the pain, but it will help you get it under your control, help muscles release, while both breathing and heart rate slow down. When you relax, the mind slows and focuses on other things… becoming distracted from pain sensations so that they drop into the background.

Here are some simple stress management techniques to try…

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Fact: Poor Sleep Increases The Risk of Death/ Disease

Ever lain awake at night and counted the hours till dawn? Isn’t frustrating to be in bed and be unable to sleep?

With around 18 million prescriptions written every year for expensive sleeping pills…

…it’s clear that there’s a national epidemic.

So, what do doctors do when they can’t sleep?

Here’s the answer.

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Stress Management To Prevent Chronic Pain Continued…

- Breathe deeply, inhale and hold the breath for a few seconds, and then exhale.
Do this at least three times in a row while you close your eyes and focus only on the sound of your breath.

- Distract yourself by bringing to mind an image that is peaceful and relaxing.
Imagine doing something you enjoy that’s calming, like taking a bath, walking along the beach, resting in a hammock or just relaxing in a peaceful garden… visualize this place as vividly as possible with all sights, sounds, smells you can and take yourself there any time you need to escape.

- Sing or listen to music you find pleasant. Singing helps release tension.

- Walk away as taking a little break from a tense environment can be all you need to ease the tension building in you. Grab a water, or get some fresh air. Count to ten before you go back inside.

If these aren’t enough, you might want to look into more regular stress management techniques like practicing yoga, getting a massage, daily mediation or just schedule some down time for yourself, doing something you enjoy.

To your good health,

iamrubenjr / Pixabay

7 Easy Ways To Boost Your Metabolism

Get this… even the little decisions you make about diet and exercise can make a very large difference in your metabolism. The thing to understand is that your metabolism isn’t fixed at one rate according to exercise physiologist Gary Ditsch, and you can make big changes depending on what you eat and how active you are.

Here are 7 smart ways to get your metabolism moving faster…

1. Weight lifting builds muscle, the more muscle you have the more calories you burn. What you might not realize is that the calorie burn keeps going long after the end of the workout. A research project at Southern Illinois University found that exercisers who did a 15-minute resistance routine burned 100 added calories a day for the next three days.

Why? Experts know that strength training causes micro trauma to the muscles, and your body will work to rebuild the tissue. It does this by burning added protein and carbs. To amp up fat burning, try 1 to 3 sets each of 5 resistance exercises (push-ups or squats) on three days a week.

2. Lift first, do cardio next as this combination will melt more fat. Exercisers who lifted weights for 20 minutes before cycling lost more weight than those who didn’t lift weights or those who waited longer between the periods of lifting and cardio. So go right from the weights to the treadmill, bike or stair climber.

3. Spice things up as this can up your metabolism by from 20% to 25%. The way hot mustard that comes with Asian food appears to boost production of hormones that burn fat according to Lori Shemek who is author of Fire Up Your Fat Burn. One suggestion is to try adding a teaspoon of spices to a typical vinaigrette.

4. Include intervals. Some recent Colorado State University found that cyclists who pedaled at an all out effort using a high resistance for five, 30-second sprints burned 200 calories. Recovering between intervals is also important, the participants in the study recovered with four minutes of slow pedaling with low resistance. Changing the intensity levels forces your muscles to work harder.

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7 Easy Ways To Boost Your Metabolism Continued…

5. Drink water, as it will keep your metabolism running when you’re just hanging around. According to a University of Utah study, participants who drank 8 to 12 glasses of water a day burned more calories at rest than those who drank only four glasses. You can also peel citrus fruits and freeze them, using them in place of ice cubes.

6. Snack after your exercise. Those who drank a 250 calorie shake with 24 grams of protein and 36 grams of carbs after a strength training workout lost about 4 pounds more fat, created one and a half pounds more lean muscle in 6 months than those who didn’t consume the shake after workouts. If you don’t care for a shake, try a banana with peanut butter. The key is to snack within 30 minutes after exercise.

7. Do a down dog as Yoga gets your metabolism going. In one bit of research, subjects who om’d their way through a 50 minute session saw a drop in levels of stress hormone cortisol, known to inhibit fat burning. You might consider starting with a 10-minute session and work up to something longer.

Experts know that metabolism involves a complicated network of hormones and enzymes that not only change food into fuel, but also impact how efficiently your body burns that fuel. It has a whole lot to do with how quickly we gain, and lose, weight. And not everyone burns them at the same rate. Metabolism is influenced by age, (slows about 5% a decade after your 40s), if you are male or female (men burn more calories at rest than women) and portion of lean body mass (the more muscle you have, the higher your metabolism), though it seems heredity also plays a part.

To your good health,

PublicDomainPictures / Pixabay

Improves Your Learning Speed By Remembering Error

Truly fascinating findings on how we learn. Researchers from Johns Hopkins Medicine believe they’ve uncovered why we learn an identical task at a faster speed on subsequent attempts – our memories of mistakes are the key to learning faster. Imagine you’re doing something like opening a door; your brain will make comparisons of how the door moved to how it expected the door to move. The details are then absorbed in such a way that you can open the door more efficiently the next time.

The name for the small differences between what we expect out of an action and the reality of the action is “prediction errors”. Here’s how it works. Based on your experience and response patterns, your brain is able to make a prediction about what will happen given a particular stimulus or situation. When the signal you get is different from what you expect, a prediction error results. This is then used to teach the brain to respond better.

To understand more about learning and prediction errors a researchers team, led by David Herzfeld a graduate student in professor of biomedical engineering Reza Shadmehr’s, lab, came up with an ingenious experiment that involved a joystick and a pair of dots on a screen. Participants were told to guide a blue dot (the joystick, unseen by the subjects) to a red dot (target) on the screen with the joystick. As the volunteers moved the blue dot, it could be programmed to move off kilter from where it had been aimed. This caused an error. Participants had to make adjustments to compensate.

It took a few attempts before they could smoothly control the blue dot and guide it to the target, red dot. Here’s the interesting finding – the team saw that the subjects responded more quickly to small errors that pushed them consistently in one direction rather than larger errors that were not as consistent. They learned to give the frequent errors more weight in learning, discounting the flukes.

Turns out, ven the errors that come from a completely different task can provide an opportunity for the brain to refine learning.

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Fact: Poor Sleep Increases The Risk of Death/ Disease

Ever lain awake at night and counted the hours till dawn? Isn’t frustrating to be in bed and be unable to sleep?

With around 18 million prescriptions written every year for expensive sleeping pills…

…it’s clear that there’s a national epidemic.

So, what do doctors do when they can’t sleep?

Here’s the answer.

Click through today to discover the 7 mistakes that are killing your sleep, and how overcome them…
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Improves Your Learning Speed By Remembering Error Continued…

When we learn a new motor skill, there seems to be two processes going on at the same time. One is the learning of the commands and the other is critiquing the learning experience. Think of the way a coach acts, and you have the idea. Learning a similar task goes faster because the “coach” knows what mistakes are truly worthy of attention. These findings are a big step in understanding how motor skills may be learned.

Think about this… a tennis player often finds that he/she is much better in the second five minutes of play than the first. Why? It may not be a result of muscle warming up, but rather a chance for the brain to re-experience mistakes. This has become a big [part of how science understands reward learning, and how the experience of discrepancy between the expected and the actual can make the brain better at predicting going forward.

This research on learning has been published in in the journal Science Express and may result in improved movement rehab strategies for those who have had a stroke or are suffering from another neuromotor condition. The next step is to examine which region of the brain is responsible for the coaching role in assigning different weights to different types of error.

To your good health,

stevepb / Pixabay

Top 10 Health Not Totally True

Seems like just about every day the headlines are full of some new health news… Let’s set the record straight on ten of the commonly repeated myths we’ve been hearing out there… and the facts you need to know.

1. You must drink 8 glasses of water a day. Research finds that those who drink a glass of water when they feel thirsty get enough liquid to stay healthy and keep hydrated. Foods that have lots of water… soup, fruit and veggies, as well as drinks like juice, coffee and tea are all ways to keep your body hydrated. The only time you should up your water intake is if your urine is a dark, yellow, you’re very active (or live) in a hot climate or if you don’t pass urine regularly.

2. Eggs are bad for your heart. Don’t despair egg lovers, eating an egg (or two) a day won’t raise the risk of heart disease in someone who is healthy. Sure the yolks are natural sources of cholesterol, but the amount isn’t as bad for you as the mix of fats from all the other foods you’re eating. Plus, eggs have lots of natural nutrients, including omega-3, that have been shown to be beneficial.

3. Antiperspirant cause breast cancer. There are some experts who believe that the chemicals in deodorants and antiperspirants can be absorbed into the skin of your underarm, and then end up in breast tissue and increase the chances of tumors in this area. Yet the National Cancer Institute says there is absolutely no evidence connecting these products with breast cancer.

4. Being chilled gives you a cold. Despite what you may have been told, spending too much time in the cold air does not make you more likely to get sick. In fact, you’re more apt to get sick when spending time indoors, where germs are released into the air from coughs and sneezed and have nowhere to go. In research on men who spent time out in the cold, they actually had an increase in virus fighting action in their immune systems. So go out, enjoy the fresh, icy air without the worry that you’ll catch a cold.

5. You need to take a daily multivitamin. Researchers do not all agree that multivitamins can make up for the nutrients you aren’t getting from what you eat. If you’ve been told to take a vitamin by your healthcare professional, then do so. If you’re pregnant you need folic acid daily. Of course the best way to get nutrients is from the foods (fruits, veggies, whole grains, nuts, healthy oils) that you eat on a regular basis, not a pill.

Continues below…


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Overweight? Shocking Proof that it may not be your fault

99% of the “professional” weight loss techniques are wrong – ending up with you actually putting on weight rather than losing it.

Find out why counting calories is bad for you and can sabotage your dieting efforts.

Click through now to discover how to drop 9lbs every 11 days…

*Disclosure: compensated affiliate*


Top 10 Health Not Totally True Continued…

6. Eat breakfast to lose weight. Sure eating breakfast is important, and it does help some people with weight because it holds off hunger, and may keep you from picking on snacks later in the day. But even if you hate eating breakfast, you can slim down according to a Cornell University study. Non-breakfast eaters were found to take in about 400 fewer calories each day. So for some people, not eating that first meal of the day works just fine.

7. Green mucus means infection. Unfortunately, the leavings on a tissue do not take the place of lab tests, and do not indicate infection by color. Research has found that green or yellow mucus is slightly more common in some infections, but this is no sure sign that you have something or need treatment with antibiotics.

8. Sugar makes kids hyper. Though we know that sugar isn’t good for a child, research finds that it doesn’t cause them to act out, or harm their work at school or keep them focusing. Parents believe (expect) there’s a link, and see what they expect.

9. A toilet seat can make you sick. Despite what you’ve been told, toilet seats are pretty clean, it’s the doors and handles and floors of the rest room that are home to some pretty nasty microbes. Cover your hand with a paper towel before you touch handles or doors, and be sure to wash your hands or use hand sanitizer every time.

10. Cracking joints causes arthritis. Even though the sound might make you cringe, there’s no harm. The cracking comes from a gas bubble that forms between the bones and pops. Studies have found it doesn’t play any part in arthritis. If you do feel pain when you do it, stop and see your doctor.

To your good health,