Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Too Many Drinks Per Week May Lower Life Expectancy

A new study published in the Lancet medical journal found five  to six drinks per week was the safe upper limit for alcohol.  Higher consumption was associated with higher risk of aneurysm, stroke, heart failure, and death.

Data from 83 studies following 600,000 drinkers across 19 countries found deaths rose when more than five to six glasses of wine or pints of beer were consumer per week. Findings were significant and showed consuming 10-12 drinks per week may lower life expectancy by six months. Consuming 18-21 drinks per week may lower life expectancy by one to two years. And consuming more than 21 drinks per week may lower life expectancy by four to five years.

There may be a small benefit to drinking. Some studies show moderate amounts of alcohol might decrease inflammation, increase good cholesterol, and lower risk of non-fatal heart attack. There have also been some studies showing moderate consumption of red wine may lower diabetes risk as well.

The benefits of alcohol should be balanced against the higher risks it has, especially when it comes to quantity consumed. Currently the U.S. defines moderate alcohol consumption to be less than 7 drinks per week for women and less than 14 drinks per week for men; over twice as high as the study found to be safe. Researchers from the study encourage countries such as the U.S., Italy, Portugal, and Spain to revise their alcohol limits to better match the results of this study.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Yoga Can Reduce Stress for Kids Too

The American Osteopathic Association along with many other health organizations and professionals encourage yoga as a great way to increase flexibility, balance, muscle strength, circulatory health, athletic performance, and respiration as well as support weight management and stress reduction.

Yoga integrates meditation and breathing techniques which can relax the mind, increase body awareness, relieve chronic stress patterns, and sharpen concentration. Most yoga classes are for adults, however a new study published in the journal Psychology Research and Behavior Management from Tulane University highlights the benefits of yoga for kids.

Researchers focused on third graders at a New Orleans public school who showed symptoms of anxiety at the beginning of the school year. 32 students received counseling and other activities from the school’s social worker while 20 students participated in an 8 week mindfulness yoga class. Sessions included breathing exercises, several traditional yoga poses appropriate for kids, and guided relaxation.

At the end of the study students who participated in the mindfulness yoga classes showed improved emotional and psychosocial quality of life compared to the students who received the standard care from the social worker.

Following the results of the study teachers in the school started using yoga in the classroom throughout each day in class an reported benefits with their students. Researchers state kids even younger than third grade can experience stress and anxiety, especially around test time, and yoga may be therapeutic for kids of all ages.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Dance Your Way to Happiness and Good Health

A new study from Australia’s Queensland University partnered with the Queensland Ballet to provide 10 ballet classes for seniors over three months. At the end of the program participants had better posture, improved flexibility, higher energy, and a greater sense of achievement. Happiness, friendship, and sense of community also increased.

A second study from the University of Illinois at Chicago had older-adult participants attend Latin dance classes twice weekly for four months. Various styles of dance from merengue, bachata, salsa, and cha cha cha were taught and choreography increased as the program progressed. At the end of the study participants were walking faster and showed improved physical fitness which may reduce heart disease risk.

Twice weekly dance classes for five months resulted in improvements in balance, gait, and gognitive performance for participants with traumatic brain injury and stroke in one older study from American Dance Therapy Association.

A literature review of 18 studies found evidence that older adults can significantly improve strength and flexibility, aerobic power, lower body muscle endurance, balance, gait, and agility through dance. Dance might also improve muscle power, bone-mineral content, and reduce falls.

Health benefits of exercise have been well documented, however the new Queensland study highlights how exercise through dance can also improve social connections and happiness in aging populations. Participants reported transformational feelings of happiness and positivity which is especially important since depression is common in adults over 65 years of age.