In addition to getting a flu shot, you may want to exercise or meditate consistently to help protect yourself against winter colds and flus. New research shows that simple preventive measures like engaging in daily physical activity or mindfulness meditation may be almost as effective as a flu vaccine for lowering the odds of succumbing to an acute respiratory infection.
In the past decade, researchers have been using modern technology to study how meditation affects the structure of the brain. They have found that between controls and meditators, there are differences in both gray matter (tissue containing neuronal cell bodies) and white matter (the connective tissue between regions of the brain).
What helps someone become happier depends on the person, says researcher Sonja Lyubomirsky. “However, when we research strategies, the two that are often at the top of the list are physical activity and acts of kindness,” she says. “They seem to work better because they’re more tangible.”
The October issue asked readers for examples of how they are integrating mindfulness practices into classes [Mind-Body-Spirit News]. I work at a university and run a variety of programs in fitness and wellness. One series we are doing this semester is a “Reflective Hike to Yoga” series.
The rates of overweight and obesity among kids continue to climb. Food choices and inactivity are considered major culprits. Are electronic devices also to blame?
Scientists from the School of Public Health at the University of Alberta have linked use of electronic devices, poor sleep patterns and obesity among Canadian 5th graders. The researchers surveyed sleep habits, food intake, physical activity levels, height and weight measurements, and nighttime use of electronic devices among 3,398 children.
Fitness pros may want to remind clients that getting a good night’s sleep can be as important for health as good exercise and nutrition habits. New research shows that loss of less than half a night’s sleep can impair memory and alter the normal behavior of brain cells.
Qigong, a mind-body exercise from traditional Chinese medicine, can help people with chronic fatigue and chronic fatigue syndrome to have more energy and to improve mental functioning, suggests a study published in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine (2012; 44 , 160–70; doi: 10.1007/s12160-012-9381-6). In addition, with qigong practice came an associated increase in telomerase activity, which may shed light on the mechanism underlying the benefits of this type of exercise. Increased telomerase activity has been linked to a reduction in inflammation.
Your mom or grandma likely taught you their tried-and-true methods for stopping a cold in its tracks—or at least for making you feel better. Was it homemade chicken soup? Perhaps it was tea with lemon, honey and even a shot of something a bit more, er, medicinal? Have you ever tried slurping a bowl of steaming Vietnamese pho or adding hot chiles to a dish to help “sweat” out the stuff that ails you?