The Best Apps for Managing Stress

Stress isn’t always a bad thing. In the short-term, low level stress can help us focus and improve our performance. It can give us the boost we need to finish a big project or make an important decision. However, I think we can all agree when we say that an overabundance of stress is the absolute worst.

First, a quick primer on stress: Stress is a normal psychological and physical reaction to the demands of life.  When your brain perceives a threat (anything from a fast approaching deadline to a fast-approaching wild animal), it signals your body to release a burst of hormones that increase your heart rate and raise your blood pressure. This “fight-or-flight” response fuels you to deal with the stressful situation at hand. Once the threat (or stress-inducing trigger) is gone, your body is meant to return to a normal, relaxed state. However, given the nonstop complications of modern life,  many of us rarely return to that relaxed state, merely hopping from one stressor to another.

It’s easy to get stressed out from day-to-day demands. Luckily, there are healthy ways to manage your stress.

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Working Outside: Making it Work for You

An oldie but a goodie: this post was originally published on 11/19/15.

Feeling a little down sitting at your desk? Or is the stress of the day making you irritable and overwhelmed? The remedy may be closer than you think – a short stint outside could be just what the doctor ordered!

In 2005, Richard Louv coined the phrase “nature deficit disorder” to describe the feelings of anxiety and depression that many people feel when they spend too little time outside. There’s a reason we all fondly remember recess from our childhood – taking a brief break from the hard chairs and florescent lights of our offices and classrooms can make a huge difference in our health and mood. This beneficial time outside is something adult Americans are largely missing. Read on to discover the health benefits of taking your work outside, as well as some tips on how to make working outside possible and productive.

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The College of Medicine Health Sciences Campus has plenty of greenspace to take advantage of!

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5 Reasons to Eat Seasonally

An oldie but a goodie: this post was originally published on March 24th, 2016. 

As you walk through the produce aisles of your favorite grocery store, you may notice different fruits and vegetables on display sporting messages like “At Seasons Peak!” or “Now In Season!” throughout the year. If you’ve never thought about grabbing those veggies while they’re hot, maybe you should! As National Nutrition Month slowly comes to a close, take a moment to introduce yourself to the concept of Seasonal Eating, and the benefits of adopting this nutritious habit.

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The Health Benefits of Owning Pets

Today is possibly the best holiday of the whole entire year – National Puppy Day! The Health Sciences Library is full of animal lovers – collectively the library staff owns more than 20 animals! If you are obsessed with love animals like I do, you already know that spending time with furry friends can improve your mood and make you feel cozy inside. However, did you know that there are actually a myriad of health benefits to owning a pet? And for those of you who aren’t pet owners – many of these benefits also take effect if you just spend quality time with an animal, so you can still reap the benefits through playing with another person’s animal for a bit!

Increased physical activity

It’s no secret that owning a pet increases your likelihood to engage in physical activity – after all, most animals need to be walked and/or played with multiple times a day. This increase in physical activity is very healthy, and can even help you lose excess weight.  A study conducted by the National Institutes of Health of more than 2,000 adults found that dog owners responsible for walking their pups are less likely to be obese than dog owners who pass the duty off to someone else or those who don’t own dogs at all.

Spending time with animals can help you get moving more often.

Improved heart health

Spending time with an animal on a regular basis can also improve your heart health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have both conducted heart-related studies on people who have pets. The findings show that pet owners exhibit decreased blood pressure, cholesterol and triglyceride levels – all of which can ultimately minimize their risk for having a heart attack. For those who have already experienced a heart attack, research also indicates that heart attack patients who owned pets lived longer than those who didn’t.

Improved mood

Not only do pets offer unconditional love, but they may also give their owners a sense of purpose, which can be crucial for those feeling down in the dumps. Pets also combat feelings of loneliness by providing companionship, which can boost your overall mood and even bring you feelings of joy and happiness.

In an ongoing study, a University of Missouri-Columbia researchers have found that interacting and petting animals creates a hormonal response in humans that can help fight depression. Rebecca Johnson, one of the researchers on the team, discusses the findings: “our preliminary results indicate that levels of serotonin, a hormone in humans that helps fight depression, rise dramatically after interaction with live animals, specifically dogs.” The research also suggests that interacting with animals can increase the levels of prolactin and oxytocin in a person’s system, helping regulate their mood.

Your pet’s love can help improve your mood.

Improved immunity

Johnson also says that interacting with animals can give you more than a short-term mood boost, it may also have longer-term human health benefits. “Oxytocin has some powerful effects for us in the body’s ability to be in a state of readiness to heal, and also to grow new cells, so it predisposes us to an environment in our own bodies where we can be healthier.”

As you can see, interacting with animals is a fun and enjoyable way to take care of both your mental and physical health. Why don’t you celebrate National Puppy Day with on of the dogs (or cats) in your life?

Resources

https://www.cdc.gov/healthypets/health-benefits/index.html

https://consensus.nih.gov/1987/1987healthbenefitspetsta003html.htm

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6563527

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1422527/

http://www.animalplanet.com/pets/benefits-of-pets/

http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/the-health-benefits-and-risks-of-pet-ownership

http://www.news-medical.net/news/2004/05/14/1552.aspx

 

Daily Activity Tips for a Healthy Ticker

We’ve been reminding you all month long that February is American Heart Month. Today we’re reminding you that lack of physical activity is one of the main risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Luckily in Florida we have beautiful weather (especially in February) so we can continue to be active all year long – no excuses! But if getting out there to exercise for the recommended 30 minutes a day seems impossible, fear not. Did you know you can get the same heart benefits from breaking up that 30 minutes into short bursts of activity you can fit in throughout the day? Come on, we all have time for 5 or 10 minutes here and there. Here’s how to get it done.

strong heart

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Tech Talk Thursday: Apps for Heart Month

Tech Talk bannerFebruary is American Heart Month! If you’re an athlete, you’re probably pretty familiar with the importance of knowing your heart rate before, during, and after you exercise. But did you know that your heart rate can tell you if you have a developing health issue? So knowing how to accurately check our heart rate is something we should all be able to do. Luckily, there are several cool smartphone apps that help you do just that.

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Fight the Flu this Holiday Season…and Win!

The holidays are almost here, and there is nothing worse than being home for the holidays battling the flu. Even though only about 5-20% of people in the U.S. get the flu each year, the virus can be dangerous for elderly people, newborns, or individuals with chronic illness. Luckily for all of us, there are some things we can do keep from catching the virus. Read on to find out how to protect yourself this winter.

sick-dog

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