Most of us know that helping others has its rewards, but now scientists have been able to measure the cellular effect of altruism, and results confirm that contributing to others may do more for your health than simply satisfying your own needs. The study appeared in PNAS (2013; 110 , 13684–89).
The percentage of women aged 50 and over who are satisfied with their bodies is quite low, accord- ing to research from the Journal of Women & Aging (2013; 25 , 287–304).
The report was based on information from 1,789 women, who reported body-size satisfaction on a figure-rating scale. Only 12.2% of respondents were satisfied with their bodies.
“Satisfied women had a lower body mass index and reported fewer eating disorder symptoms, dieting behaviors, and weight and appearance dis- satisfaction,” the authors reported.
What makes us weaken with age? The prime culprit is sarcopenia—age-related loss of muscle mass, strength, power and function (Sayer et al. 2013; Morley 2012). Morley (2012) says 5%–13% of 60- to 70-year-olds and 11%–50% of people in their 80s have sarcopenia, which means “poverty of flesh.”
While many continue to hope for a “magic pill” to prolong youth and sustain health indefinitely, encouraging research demonstrates the power of a back- to-basics, integrative approach—a plant-based diet, exercise, stress management and social support.
The heart is an incredible organ, not only delivering a constant, reliable stream of life-giving oxygen and nutrients, but also responding instantly to challenges like stress, cardiovascular workouts and high-intensity bursts of energy.
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.
Have you ever thought about adding meditation to your wellness practice? The new year is the perfect time to start! People are meditating to promote over- all wellness and also to cope with anxiety, pain, depression, stress, insomnia and physical or emotional symptoms associated with chronic illnesses such as heart disease, cancer and HIV/AIDS (NCCAM 2010).
Shirley Archer, JD, MA, IDEA’s mind- body-spirit spokesperson and an award- winning author, shares some insights on this popular mind-body practice.
Changes in the Brain
When I was growing up, I was proud of my body. No one had shorter shorts than I had. I didn’t think twice about how my clothes fit or what I was eating. After I started college, I grew a few sizes pretty quickly and began thinking about my body image. I heard a few comments here and there about my body, and my clothes no longer fit. I knew I needed to change.