by Barbara Bartlein
We have all heard the stories; the executive retires in Spring and dies before the first Winter snowfall. While some may conclude that the former exec just couldn’t adjust to retirement, it is more likely that they burned themselves out working. That is, years of shortchanging their own personal well-being finally caught up with them.
It is so easy to get trapped on the treadmill of demanding schedules and too many priorities using caffeinated energy to get things done. It is often self-care that gets put on the shelf first because there just isn’t time to exercise and eat right. Yet, there is increasing research that even small lifestyle changes can be a major factor in a long healthy life.
· Keep a long fuse. Scientists use to believe that “Type A’s,” those people driven by ambition, were most at risk for heart attacks. But recent research demonstrates that it is not striving for goals that have people dropping like flies; it is being hostile, angry and cynical. A hostile disposition is also dangerous once cardiovascular disease sets in. Dr. Murray Mittleman, a cardiovascular epidemiologist at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, interviewed 1623 men and women who had heart attacks. He found that the risk of having an attack was twice as great in those that were angry in the two hours before the incident.
· Lighten up. There is increasing evidence linking depression to heart disease. Johns Hopkins researchers interviewed 1551 people in the early 1980’s who were free of heart disease. They followed up fourteen years later and found that those who reported a history of a major depression were four times as likely to have a heart attack as those not depressed.
· Get off the couch. Not only for weight control, better circulation, reduced risk of diabetes, but exercise actually works as an anti-depressant. In a recent study at Duke University, 60 % of clinically depressed people who took a brisk 30-minute walk at least three times per week were no longer depressed after 16 weeks. Increasingly psychiatrists are finding that exercise can often work as well as anti-depressants for the mildly depressed individual.
· Flatten the middle. It’s been more than 50 years since French scientist Jean Vague noted that people with a lot of upper-body fat (those that look like apples, rather than pears), often developed heart disease, diabetes and other ailments. Since the introduction of CT and MRI scans, Drs. have discovered that a visceral fat, located within the abdomen was strongly linked to these diseases. The good news is that this type of fat also burns off the fastest. This is why even a small reduction in weight can reverse the deadly factors of heart disease.
· Limit bad habits. Heavy drinking, smoking, overeating, and overcaffeinating are major factors in the development of heart disease and other problems. It has been found that both drinking and smoking tend to increase the abdominal fat that puts folks at risk for heart disease. Excessive caffeine increased blood pressure to dangerous levels for people experiencing job stress.
· Fire up your metabolism. New research shows that a healthy metabolic profile counts far more than cardiovascular fitness or weight alone. In a Japanese study, a group of men were put on a low-intensity exercise program for one year. Although they did not lose weight, nor improve their cardiovascular fitness, their metabolic health improved dramatically (measured by how well the body utilizes insulin). States Glenn A. Glaesser of the University of Virginia, “Metabolic fitness is one of the best safeguards against heart disease, stroke and diabetes.”
· Approach sleep like Goldilocks—Just right. In a recent study of 72,000 nurses published in the January Archives of Internal Medicine, researchers found that getting too little sleep—or too much—may raise the risk of developing heart disease. Women who averaged five hours or less of sleep a night were 39% more likely to develop heart disease than those that got eight hours. And nine or more hours of shuteye was associated with a 37% higher risk of heart disease.
Your best investment for the future is in your health today.
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Health Infocenter in Holisticonline.com
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