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Category: Forming Positive Habits

The Human Longevity Project – Such Good Information and So Much Beneficial Information!

The Human Longevity Project – Such Good Information and So Much Beneficial Information!

This is not a short video but it has such important information! We hope all of you will take the time out of your busy lives to watch it! We will continue to share this series of videos as it is released. The information shared here is vitally important to understand for positive physical and mental health!

“Exercise” Versus “Lifestyle Activity”: How Active Are You—Really?

“Exercise” Versus “Lifestyle Activity”: How Active Are You—Really?

If you are like most people, working out just for the sake of working out does not really appeal (although there are many dedicated gym buffs who couldn’t live without their daily workouts!). We all know that it’s important to exercise regularly if we want to live a long and healthy life. However, if you find the idea of trotting along on a treadmill for 15 minutes and then spending half an hour of working out on Nautilus machines to be about as exciting as a trip to the dentist, then this article is for you!

Experts recommend that we get at least 150 minutes of exercise each week to stay in shape. But many people find taking this much exercise at once (or in three 50-minute stretches) too daunting. The good news is that a recent study conducted by researchers at Boston University that was published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise found that bouts of exercise lasting less than 10 minutes a couple of times daily, such as the kind you get when cleaning the house, were sufficient to meet your weekly exercise needs.

Over 2,000 participants were included in the study, more than half of whom were overweight. Motion detectors were attached to each of the subjects for eight days, and an average of half the participants met their weekly exercise quota of 150 minutes. The average participant met his or her quota with exercise that lasted less than 10 minutes at a time. The types of exercise ranged from moderate (heavy cleaning, walking briskly and sports such as golf and badminton) to vigorous (running, hiking, shoveling and farm work).

As long as the participants met their 150-minute per week quota, no matter the length of their exercise, they had lower body mass index, smaller waists, lower triglycerides and better cholesterol levels than those who did not meet the quota. Assistant professor at Boston University’s School of Medicine, Nicole Glazer, says “But this study really speaks to the idea that some activity is better than nothing. Parking a little bit farther away, getting off the bus one stop early—all of these little things can add up and are related to a healthier profile.”

For years, researchers have studied the effects of exercise from practicing sports or visiting the gym. However, according to Glazer, “This idea of lifestyle activity is one that is under-measured in research studies.” Activities such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator, using a push mower instead of a riding mower, etc. can add up to a significant amount of energy expenditure. Experts still stress that it’s important to also get in some traditional forms of exercise and not merely replace it with lifestyle activity. Still, any exercise is useful.

“The levels of sedentary behavior in this country are alarming. So the concern that someone’s going to stop exercising and instead just get off the bus a stop earlier, that’s not my concern,” Glazer says. “The real concern is, is this a stepping-stone? Is this the way we can get inactive people to do any sort of activity? People will come up with any excuse to not exercise. I don’t need to worry about my giving them one. They’ll be able to think of something.”

Remember Dr. Oblander’s adage: If you don’t use it, you will lose it! Make sure that you figure out a way to move and remain active…no matter what your age is or your athletic ability!

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Healthy Lifestyle Choices Are a Team Effort for Couples

Healthy Lifestyle Choices Are a Team Effort for Couples

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These days, with divorce statistics skyrocketing, it’s easy to focus on the “for worse” part of the traditional marriage vow. But the simple fact remains that a good marriage—or a healthy long-term relationship of any kind—brings lots of benefits to both partners. So we thought it would be a good idea to remind our readers about the “for better” aspects of marriage—particularly as they related to health and well-being.

As sociologist Linda Waite puts it, “Marriage is sort of like a life preserver or a seat belt. We can put it in exactly the same category as eating a good diet, getting exercise, and not smoking.” Your relationship can provide an opportunity for partnership in more areas than sharing finances and raising children. You and your partner can work together to improve each other’s health and state of well-being. Here are a few tips from health experts to help you do this.

  • Exercise together. When couples meet, chances are each of them has his or her own regular exercise regimen. And chances are they involve different forms of exercise. Just as an example, she may prefer aerobics or running, while he prefers sports like golf and tennis. Well, here is an opportunity to “cross-pollinate” and for couples to try each other’s exercise regimens from time to time. Naturally, working out together also tends to keep both parties exercising regularly, because you’re doing it as a team, not on your own. If it’s looking a little chilly outside, you might be tempted to skip your evening run if it’s just you, but if you know that your partner is counting on going with you, you might just go anyway.
  • Learn from each other’s food preferences. Some studies have shown that in traditional marriages, men tend to eat better after marriage than before. This may be due to the fact that men typically haven’t been taught to cook in the home as young boys in the same way that girls traditionally have (though there are abundant signs that girls and young women now share men’s unfamiliarity with the kitchen). So eating—whether at home or at a restaurant—can become an exercise in learning from your partner’s tastes, and possibly expanding your own. Think you hate broccoli? Well, that was before you tasted your spouse’s recipe for it, right? Eat too many salty or sugary snacks while watching TV? That was before your partner shared their recipe for veggie snacks with the cucumber-coriander dip. As a general tip, health experts say you should look carefully at your partner’s food choices and follow the lead of the person with the healthier diet.
  • Lose weight together. Just as your relationship provides an opportunity to inspire each other when it comes to exercise, it can also be a godsend when one or both of you needs to drop a few pounds. Agree on your mutual weight loss goals, and then go shopping together, and stock your kitchen only with foods that support those goals. Whether you’re trying to cut down on sugar, fat, salt, or other foods that help to keep weight on, working together to stick to a healthier diet can be a lot easier than doing it on your own.
  • Don’t forget the V word. Vacations. Many men—and increasing numbers of women—find themselves in the work rut and fail to find time on the calendar for vacations. Then they wonder why they get sick or find themselves depressed. Planning a vacation together gives both parties the opportunity to figure out just which destinations and activities best suit their preferences and their health goals. Going on these vacations works magic; in one study of 12,000 men, those who took yearly vacations had a significantly lower risk of death than those who did not.
  • Learn things together. Many studies are proving the wisdom of “use it or lose it” with regard to brain health. And one of the proven ways of “using” your brain and thus keeping it free from cognitive degeneration and Alzheimer’s is to keep learning. Again, this is easier as a team than on one’s own. We all know how easy it is to veg out in front of a TV alone, but if you’ve signed up for a language course or have joined the same weekly book club as your partner, you’re more likely to actually keep learning.
  • Go to bed together. No, we don’t necessarily mean “go to bed and have sex” together, although that’s good for your mutual health, too. Instead, studies have shown that couples who have similar sleep schedules are healthier and have fewer incidences of common diseases. Chronic sleep deprivation is becoming a national public health issue, so if you can work out compatible sleep schedules with your partner, chances are it’ll make both of you healthier.
  • Laugh a lot. Let’s face it…how many of us laugh out loud when we’re alone? Do it too much, and people might even begin to think you’re weird. But if you’re like most people, one of the reasons you chose your partner is because he or she makes you laugh. There have been numerous studies that have shown that the more genuine laughs you have per day, the healthier your probably are. So keep amusing each other, and keep laughing at each other’s jokes. It might just provide the mechanism for laughing together for the next fifty or more years, and what’s not to like about that?
How Much Screen Time Should Kids Get?

How Much Screen Time Should Kids Get?

In life, it’s nearly always possible to have too much of a good thing, and moderation is usually the right common-sense prescription (no matter what the advertisers say). Screen time is no exception. But how much is too much? That’s the question many parents are asking…

There’s no doubt that a little bit of time watching TV, working on a computer, playing video games or using a tablet or smartphone can be useful. However, it’s also become increasingly clear that long, uninterrupted periods of screen time can cause real problems. This can be a result of the screen-watching activity itself as well as what’s NOT happening while an individual is focused on the screen. While there’s growing evidence that both adults and children are at risk, the rest of this article will focus on kids and what their parents need to know.

Most young children aren’t very good at moderating their behavior or setting their own limits. This means that it’s ultimately an adult’s responsibility to do it for them until they can exercise their own good judgment. And this is true EVEN THOUGH IT TAKES TIME AND EFFORT FROM THE ADULT AND IS OFTEN INCONVENIENT. As tempting as it may be to use devices with screens as electronic “babysitters” to free up your own time, being a parent or caregiver means keeping the child’s needs in mind, too.

Following is a brief summary of the most-widely circulated guidelines for children’s screen time (entertainment-oriented use of electronics), based on recommendations made by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Under 2 years—No screen time

2–5 years—One hour of preschool TV, but no computer time

5–8 years—One hour

Over 8 years—Two hours

The first couple of years are particularly critical for a child. This is the time when a baby’s brain goes through the most rapid growth and development. Children need to explore and to engage with their broader environment. When these opportunities are limited or “crowded out” in favor of engaging with electronic devices, their cognitive and social development may be altered in negative ways we don’t yet understand. At the same time, researchers have not been able to establish that screen time of any sort (regardless of the media) has any real benefit for very young children. This is why the American Academy of Pediatrics believes that infants younger than two years shouldn’t have any screen time. Media companies and advertisers of infant-oriented products may tell you otherwise, but their interests are probably not the same as yours when it comes to the best interests of your child.

Many of your child’s most basic preferences and habits are developing between the ages of 2 and 5. Simply put, the prevailing wisdom is that electronic babysitters offer no substitute for the physical activity and social interaction kids need at this age. In fact, to the extent that they encourage inactive, solitary play, they may actually pose real health risks on several fronts.  For instance, if your child is sedentary, he or she may have an increased risk of obesity, diabetes and heart disease later on, and may be slower to develop physical skills. If he or she doesn’t have regular social interaction with other adults and children, emotional problems and depression may be more likely.

By challenging your young children with a broad range of physical, intellectual and social activities, you offer them a developmental advantage. While media may have a place in the mix, experts agree that it should be a small one. Television specifically geared to preschoolers (think Sesame Street) can help expand your child’s awareness of learning concepts, but it shouldn’t be occupy more than an hour a day.

Between 5 and 8 years old, children can handle a little bit of screen time without it jeopardizing their development. Just be sure to set firm limits and encourage them to spend at least some of their screen time doing things that will enhance learning and hand-eye coordination.

As your children grow older, teaching them to live within certain sensible limits (in this case, by regulating screen time) and explaining why these limits exist can help them begin to look out for their own health and develop their own sense of self-discipline. Life lessons like these have value in and of themselves. So while your kids may not appreciate your efforts to restrict their use of electronic media, there can be very real longer-term benefits for your kids and for your family as a whole. It’s worth the effort!

 

How to Make New Habits “Stick”

How to Make New Habits “Stick”

Forming new habits can be just as difficult as breaking old ones. But when you stop to think about it for a moment, it is clear that all of our habits, both positive and negative, had a beginning—a time BEFORE the behavior became a clear, recognizable pattern. In other words, there was a time when your current habits weren’t yet habits at all!

So how do new habits actually form? And is there a way for us to develop POSITIVE new habits in a focused, deliberate way? We call this “making new habits ‘stick’”.

Like anything we learn, our first attempts at any new skill are usually halting and inconsistent. But slowly it becomes second nature until we can’t remember a time when we found the behavior unusual, uncomfortable or challenging. Once we’ve learned how to do something and turned that something into a recurring pattern of behavior, it’s “like riding a bicycle,” as the saying goes…

New York Times investigative reporter Charles Duhigg became something of an expert on the science of habit formation and change. He read hundreds of studies and interviewed the scientists who conducted them to discover the mechanisms behind habit formation, and wrote a book on the subject, “The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business.”

Duhigg has described a self-reinforcing process he calls the “Habit Loop”. Based on his interpretation of neurological studies, Duhigg believes that every habit has three components: “a cuea trigger for a particular behavior; a routine, which is the behavior itself; and a reward, which is how your brain decides whether to remember a habit for the future.” For example, let’s say you want to stop being admonished by your dentist for not flossing regularly. First you put the dental floss right next to the toothpaste, so you can’t miss it (the cue). Then every time you go to brush your teeth (the routine) you floss because it’s right there in front of you. Finally, when you go to the dentist, he or she praises you for flossing regularly (the reward).

Establishing a new habit takes most people about 30 days, although it can frequently take twice that. You can improve your chances of success if you’re able to do a little advance planning. For instance, imagine you want to develop a habit of going to the gym every day. First, start small. For the first month, plan on going to the gym three days a week for 30 minutes each. Plan your workouts for days and times that are least likely to have things such as work or childcare interfere with your gym schedule. It can also help to enlist a buddy who has similar goals to join you so you can reinforce each other’s commitment. Then figure out a reward to give yourself for each completed workout, such as going out for a drink afterward with your workout buddy or enjoying a little Ben and Jerry’s, guilt-free. You can also give yourself some long-term rewards to envision, such as looking good in a bikini on the Caribbean beach you plan to visit next summer. If you can stick with it regularly for a month, there’s a good chance it will become part of your weekly ritual and you will soon crave your workouts. You can then gradually build up to more days. In three months, you may find that if you have to skip a workout you actually MISS it! Something’s just not right…

Duhigg says “If you can identify the right cue and reward—and if you can create a sense of craving—you can establish almost any habit.”

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