Happy New Year and welcome to this month’s article! And another year begins. To launch the new year, this issue includes some interesting—and hopefully inspiring—reviews of health studies from this past year.
The feature article this month comes from the American Massage Therapy Association’s website and addresses how massage can help improve your mental outlook and boost your energy levels during the winter months.
If you like to use the new year as a time to improve your life, consider focusing on one goal. You stand a better chance of success when you place your attention on one outcome rather than attempting to bring about too much change all at once. It’s also helpful if you can separate your goal into smaller, manageable steps, allowing you to celebrate your wins as you achieve them.
The way you feel can have a big impact on every aspect of your life. Be sure to include your regular massage sessions as a vital part of your health plans.
See you soon at your next appointment!
Massage Therapy Can Help Reduce Winter Blues
One in five Americans are impacted by seasonal change
Massage therapy shown to improve mood and elevate energy levels
People looking to fend off the winter blues may find relief by integrating massage therapy into their health maintenance routine. Shorter days and colder temperatures leave many Americans feeling depressed and lethargic, yet studies show that regular massages improve mood and reset circadian rhythms, leading to better sleep and more energy.
Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, is recognized as a major depressive disorder with seasonal patterns. A less severe form of seasonal mood disorder, known as the winter blues, impacts an even larger portion of the population. Combined, the two disorders affect as many as one in five Americans, and may be aggravated by the change to Daylight Savings Time. Symptoms include reduced energy, difficulty rising in the morning and a tendency to eat more, especially sweets and starches.
“As we approach the colder, darker months, massage therapy may be an effective method of deflecting common seasonal challenges,” said Jeff Smoot, President of the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA). “Massage benefits the way our bodies react to negative influences, whether that’s weather, anxieties or disorders.”
Massage for Anxiety & Depression
A growing body of research is documenting the impact of massage therapy for relief of anxiety and depression for people in a wide range of health situations. For example, in a controlled study composed of HIV-positive adolescents, participants who received massage therapy reported feeling less anxious and less depressed by the end of the 12-week study.
A randomized study found women with stage 1 and 2 breast cancer benefited from regular massage therapy sessions. The immediate massage benefits included reduced anxiety, depressed mood and anger while the long-term impact reduced depression and increased serotonin values. Serotonin, a neurotransmitter with functions in various parts of the body, works to regulate mood, appetite, sleep, memory and learning. Massage therapy was also found to improve sleep, specifically by assisting with circadian rhythms, or the body clock. A study investigating the effects of massage therapy on the adjustment of rest to activity, as well as melatonin secretion rhythms in full-term infants, found massage therapy enhanced coordination of the circadian system.
Let our New Year's resolution be this: we will be there for one another
as fellow members of humanity, in the finest sense of the word.
— Goran Persson
2016 health studies
Exercise could help your brain stay young and lower your chances of cancer. In a study involving about 900 adults, those who did little or no regular physical activity experienced cognitive decline equivalent to 10 more years of aging compared with their more active peers. Early take-up was important: Exercise didn’t appear to help people who were already showing signs of cognitive decline. Another study found that people who do the equivalent of about two and a half hours of walking a week have a lower risk for 13 different forms of cancer. “If people understand that physical activity can influence their risk for cancer,” says lead author Steven Moore, “then that might provide yet one more motivating factor to become active.”
Carbs may not be so bad after all. While it is widely assumed that a high-carb diet leads to weight gain, researchers who looked into the eating habits of more than 23,000 Italians found that those who ate more pasta actually tended to have a lower body mass index. They speculated that pasta eaters were more likely to follow the Mediterranean diet, which is heavy on fruit, vegetables, and other healthy foods. Separate research concluded that carb-rich whole grains like oats and quinoa also have significant health benefits: Adults who ate three or more daily servings had a 20 percent lower risk of dying early. “Multiple individual studies consistently revealed a reduced risk of early death among people who consumed more whole grains,” says senior author Qi Sun.
Cutting calories may improve your entire quality of life, not just your waistline. In a small study, a group of healthy, non-obese adults reduced their daily calorie intake by 12 percent for two years. Not only did they lose an average of 17 pounds, they also enjoyed improved sleep, better moods, and an enhanced sex drive. Once people “get over the hump” and start dropping pounds, says co-author Corby Martin, “their hunger levels subside a bit and they start to feel the benefits of the weight loss.”
Friends and family can be as important to your health as diet and exercise. A University of North Carolina study found that social isolation increases risk of high blood pressure more than diabetes, and that lonely people are 30 percent more likely to suffer a heart attack or stroke than those who are socially active. Friends can “buffer some of the effects of stress, and/or help with coping,” says lead author Kathleen Mullan Harris. Separate research suggested that older people tend to live longer when they count a family member other than their spouse among their closest confidants.
Source: The WEEK 12/30/16
Year's end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on,
with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us.
— Hal Borland
The content of this article is not designed
to replace professional medical advice. If you’re ill, consult a physician.
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