Monday, December 16, 2013
Want to live a longer and better life? Increase your happiness! Contrary to old notions that happiness is shallow or naïve, there is a growing body of evidence that happiness is beneficial for morbidity (risk of illness), survival of illness and longevity (Diener & Chan 2011). Diener and Chan’s research review suggests that high subjective well-being may add 4–10 years of life compared with low subjective well-being (and the years will also be more enjoyable than they would have been for less happy people, the authors note!). So how do you become happier? Mary Monroe, a freelance writer in the Los Angeles area, shares some insights from happiness experts. Exercise Helps “Exercise may well be the most effective instant happiness booster of all activities,” says researcher Sonja Lyubomirsky in her book, The How of Happiness: A Scientific Approach to Getting the Life You Want (Penguin 2007). A review of over 50 studies confirmed that there is sufficient evidence to show that even single sessions of activity can improve mood, and people who are more active are more likely to rate themselves and their mental well-being more positively (Fox 1999). Move From Negative to Positive In addition to exercise, you need to take in good experiences to feel happier and more confident. This helps you defeat the brain’s negativity bias, which is like Velcro® for bad experiences but Teflon® for positive ones, notes Rick Hanson, PhD, in his book, Just One Thing: Developing a Buddha Brain One Simple Practice at a Time (New Harbinger 2011). Mental activity, such as meditation, can reshape the brain and help it focus on the positive. Train the Brain to Be Happy You can also “trick” the brain to take in the good or to deeply savor positive experiences, says Hanson. He suggests that by holding positive experiences in awareness for 10, 20 or even 30 seconds, you can train your brain to remember them, helping to offset the natural inclination to forget the positive and remember the negative. Cultivate Happiness What helps someone become happier depends on the person, says researcher Sonja Lyubomirsky. “However, when we research strategies, the two that are often at the top of the list are physical activity and acts of kindness,” she says. “They seem to work better because they’re more tangible.” In fact, doing a kindness produces the single most reliable momentary increase in well-being of any research method tested by Martin Seligman, PhD, widely recognized as the father of positive psychology (Seligman 2011). He recommends doing one wholly unexpected kind thing tomorrow and noticing what happens to your mood. Elaine O’Brien, MAPP, a University of Pennsylvania Positive Psychology Leader and graduate student at Temple University, offers these additional strategies for fostering happiness: Express gratitude. “Gratitude is one of the most powerful interventions for well-being,” she says. “You can do simple things, such as write a letter of thanks to someone important in your life,” notes O’Brien, who is a group fitness instructor and fitness presenter. Or try this exercise from Robert A. Emmons’s book Thanks! How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2007): Bring attention to your breathing and, for five to eight breaths, say, “Thank you,” silently. Focus on your strengths. Identify your strengths and use them in new ways every day. You can take online tests at www.authentichappiness.sas.upenn.edu, in the Values and Action Inventory section, to identify strengths such as wisdom, courage, fairness, leadership, home, humor or spirituality. Create meaning. Talk with friends and family about what makes life meaningful for you. You can create meaning together, as a community, through food drives or charitable projects; and by acknowledging meaningful moments, such as anniversaries, graduations or other accomplishments. References Diener, E., & Chan, M.Y. 2011. Happy people live longer: Subjective well-being contributes to health and longevity. Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being, 3 (1), 1–43. Emmons, R. 2007. Thanks! How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Fox, K.R. 1999. The influence of physical activity on mental well-being. Public Health Nutrition, 2 (3a), 411–18. Hanson, R. 2011. Just One Thing: Developing a Buddha Brain One Simple Practice at a Time. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger. Lyubomirsky, S. 2007. The How of Happiness: A Scientific Approach to Getting the Life You Want. New York: Penguin. Seligman, M.E.P. 2011. Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-being. New York: Free Press.
Tuesday, October 29, 2013
Source: National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases: What Is Back Pain? Fast Facts: An Easy-to-Read Series of Publications for the Public Back pain can range from a dull, constant ache to a sudden, sharp pain that makes it hard to move. It can start quickly if you fall or lift something too heavy, or it can get worse slowly. Who Gets Back Pain? Anyone can have back pain, but some things that increase your risk are: •Getting older. Back pain is more common the older you get. You may first have back pain when you are 30 to 40 years old. •Poor physical fitness. Back pain is more common in people who are not fit. •Being overweight. A diet high in calories and fat can make you gain weight. Too much weight can stress the back and cause pain. •Heredity. Some causes of back pain, such as ankylosing spondylitis, a form of arthritis that affects the spine, can have a genetic component. •Other diseases. Some types of arthritis and cancer can cause back pain. •Your job. If you have to lift, push, or pull while twisting your spine, you may get back pain. If you work at a desk all day and do not sit up straight, you may also get back pain. •Smoking. Your body may not be able to get enough nutrients to the disks in your back if you smoke. Smoker’s cough may also cause back pain. People who smoke are slow to heal, so back pain may last longer.
Wednesday, October 9, 2013
Check out this awesome article about the little things you can do to stay active and acutally add years to your life ! Leisure-Time Physical Activity Adds Years To Your Life by Ryan Halvorson Making News: Exercising is a good idea if you want to live a long life. You know that. But have you wondered just how many years you might gain by heading out for a brisk walk? A team of researchers from the Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the National Cancer Institute may have the answer. Their study, published in PLOS Medicine (2012; 9 (11); e1001335. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001335), quantified how much life adults gain by regularly engaging in certain levels of physical activity. The scientists pulled data from six studies that followed more than 650,000 people, aged 21–90, over an average of 10 years. “Our objective was to determine the years of life gained after age 40 associated with various levels of physical activity, both overall and according to body mass index (BMI) groups, in a large pooled analysis,” the authors explained. Here are some highlights from the study: • Low amounts of activity—such as 75 minutes of walking per week—resulted in a gain of 1.8 years of life, compared with no activity. • At least 150 minutes of physical activity per week yielded 3.4–4.5 extra years of life. • Being active in addition to having a normal weight was associated with an extra life expectancy of 7.2 years. • Being inactive while having a normal weight was associated with 3.1 fewer years of life compared with being active and obese. • An association between physical activity and life expectancy was evident among subjects at all levels of body mass index. “These findings suggest that participation in leisure time physical activity, even below the recommended level, is associated with a reduced risk of mortality compared to participation in no leisure time physical activity,” reported the authors. They added that this information could be used to encourage sedentary individuals to engage in at least minimal amounts of regular activity. Ryan Halvorson IDEA Author/Presenter Ryan Halvorson is the associate editor for IDEA Health & Fitness Association; a Performance Specialist. IDEA Fitness Journal, Volume 10, Number 2 February 2013