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Feel Good: How A Dog Could Save Your Life

Plus: Add weights to lose weight



 

Buddy the Boxer can make for a great companion, but he may also be helping you out in ways you can’t see yet. A study in Sweden found that dog ownership was associated with a significantly lower risk in cardiovascular disease and early death. The benefits were even more pronounced in people who live alone. The reason may have to do with the responsibilities that pet ownership entails, researchers theorized. Dogs force you to go outside on walks, meaning you’re getting off the couch and exercising in a small way. On those walks or trips to the dog park, you meet other dog lovers, which can benefit your social life and maybe make you feel less lonely. Truly man’s best friend.

Eat your veggies

C’mon, America. Only about 9 percent of Americans eat the recommended 2 to 3 cups of vegetables per day. To make matters worse, only about 12 percent eat the needed 2 cups of fruit each day. The study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that this lack of healthy eating cut across gender, race, geography and socio-economic status. A lack of fruit and veggies can lead to increased risks of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, weight gain and a host of other ailments. OK, we’ll stop lecturing now.

Add weights to lose weight

It may seem counterintuitive, but weight training in your golden years may actually help you keep the pounds off. In fact, it may be more effective than a walking program, according to a study in the research publication Obesity. It works like this: We lose muscle mass as we age, meaning more of our bodies are made up of fat. Fat doesn’t burn calories like muscle does, so our metabolism falls, and it becomes harder to lose weight. In general, maintaining muscle mass is important as we age. This isn’t to say walking isn’t a great exercise. Just put some thought into also introducing some weight training.

Drive your car, but park your phone

Distracted driving now is the cause of about 14 percent of car crashes in the United States, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration.

Pilates in your own home

One of the hottest fitness trends right now is staying at home. Let’s rephrase that: exercising from home. More companies are packaging products in a way that allows you to get a good workout from the living room. Take the Pilates Wheel, for example. It’s essentially a rod with two wheels on the end, but it allows you to come pretty close to simulating an actual Pilates class. It comes with an instructional DVD, and the inventors of the device, themselves Pilates professionals, teach classes via Facebook Live. The technology is out there to give you a good home workout. Just make sure you’re not letting your gear gather dust.

Mushrooms keep you young

Penn State researchers found that mushrooms are high in antioxidants associated with anti-aging. The best type of mushroom: the wild porcini.

The squirrels will save us

Stroke researchers have been looking at small woodland creatures for inspiration. As it turns out, the hibernation patterns of squirrels may benefit humans. The question is this: How can their bodies and minds essentially shut down, yet function normally once awake again? The trick is a particular enzyme called ebselen. It can help with hibernation in that it protects their little brains from the lack of oxygen and blood flow. Researchers are still in the early stages of developing this, but a dose of ebselen could possibly put stroke victims into a type of hibernation, protecting the brain from damage and giving doctors more time to stop the blockage of blood to the brain, according to a study in Foundation of American Societies for Experimental Biology.

Read Feel Good Tuesdays and Thursdays online and monthly in the magazine.         

 

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