Peruvian-Style Roasted Chicken

 

Peruvian-Style Roasted Chicken

This wonderfully aromatic chicken dish is short on prep and big on flavor. It’s also a great dish to make ahead the day before and reheat—it’s even tastier when the flavors meld. Service with rice and green salad. Serves 6.

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Method

Preheat oven to 425°F. Oil a large roasting pan and set aside. In a small bowl, combine paprika, cumin, salt, pepper, garlic, vinegar and oil to make a paste. Place onions in a large bowl and toss with 2 tablespoons of the paste. Rub chicken pieces with remaining paste and place in prepared pan, then cover with onions, peppers and lemon. Roast, basting occasionally with pan juices, until chicken is cooked through and vegetables are very tender, about 45 minutes. Remove from oven and let rest 5 minutes before serving.

*Note: If the chicken has been precut into eight pieces, simply cut each breast in half through the rib cage to ensure even cooking. Or, you can ask your butcher to cut a whole chicken into 10 pieces with breasts deboned.

Source: http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/recipes

Ingredients:

1 1/2 tsp expeller-pressed canola oil, plus more for
oiling the pan
1 1/2 TBS sweet paprika
1 TBS ground cumin
1 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 1/2 TBS white wine vinegar
2 large sweet onions, thickly sliced
1 chicken, cut into 10 serving pieces*
2 red or yellow bell peppers, seeded and cut into chunks

Provided by Rebecca McGonigle of the Valley Schools Employee Benefits Trust (VSEBT) in the November 2014 Wellstyles Monthly Newsletter.

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Improved Mental Health Linked to Nature Group Walks

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Walking through nature in a group sounds like a lovely way to spend an afternoon, but can it lower depression? According to a new study from the University of Michigan, the answer is yes, suggesting potential health benefits of national outdoor group walk programs. Although it is well known that outdoor walking groups encourage interaction with nature, social engagement and physical activity, until now, little has been known about how effective they are at promoting mental, emotional and social well-being.

A recent study published in April suggested that walking boosts creative thinking, while another from July suggested brisk walking is  therapeutic for people with Parkinson’s disease. Though the health benefits of going for a good walk are wide ranging, researchers
from this latest study focused on the mental benefits of the activity. Their results are published in the journal Ecopsychology.

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To conduct their study, the team, led by Dr. Sara Warber, associated professor of family medicine, evaluated nearly 2,000 participants
from the Walking for Health Program in the UK, which organizes almost 3,000 weekly walks each year. “We hear people say they feel better
after a walk or going outside, but there haven’t been many studies of this large size to support the conclusion that these behaviors actually improve your mental health and well-being,” says Dr. Warber.

Results from their study show that group nature walks are linked with “significantly” lower depression, less stress and better mental health and well-being, both before and after controlling for covariates.  Additionally, people from the study who had recently encountered
stressful life events—such as a serious illness, death of a loved one, marital separation or unemployment—experienced a mood boost
after outdoor group walks.

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Commenting on their findings, Dr. Warber says, “Walking is an inexpensive, low risk and accessible form of exercise, and it turns out that combined with nature and group settings, it may be a very powerful, under-utilized stress buster. Our findings suggest that something as simple as joining an outdoor walking group may not only improve someone’s daily positive emotions but may also contribute a non-pharmacological approach to serious conditions like depression.”

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The team cites an increase in mental health issues and physical inactivity in the developed world for why they seek to explore new ways
to help improve quality of life and well-being. “The present study identifies the mental and emotional well-being benefits from participation
in group walks in nature and offers useful information about the potential health contribution of national outdoor group walk programs,” the researchers conclude.

Source: WebMD, Inc.

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Provided by Rebecca McGonigle of the Valley Schools Employee Benefits Trust (VSEBT) in the November 2014 Wellstyles Monthly Newsletter.

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Low-Carb Beats Low-Fat for Weight Loss, Study Says

For people who want to lose weight and boost their heart health, cutting down on carbohydrates may work better than trimming dietary fat, a new study suggests.  In a small clinical trial of obese adults, researchers found that those assigned to follow a low-carbohydrate diet lost more
weight over a year than those who followed a low-fat plan. They also had bigger improvements in their cholesterol and triglyceride levels, the research teams reports.

“On average, they lost 8 pounds more, and lost more body fat mass,” said researcher Dr. Tian Hu, a doctoral fellow at Tulane University School of Public Health in New Orleans. And while some experts have raised concerns that low-carbohydrate diets could be less than heart-healthy, these findings suggest otherwise, said Dr. Lydia Bazzano, who also worked on the study. “Low-carb diets have traditionally been seen as potentially risky,” said Bazzano, a professor of nutrition research at Tulane.

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Yet in this study, people on the low-carb diet saw slightly greater improvements in their levels of “good HDL cholesterol and triglycerides— another type of blood fat. That could have been due to the bigger weight loss, Hu said, or to the greater amounts of “good” unsaturated fat in their diets.  But he also noted that the study ran for just one year, and it’s not clear how people on either diet would fare in the long run.

There are other caveats, too, according to a dietitian who was not involved in the study.  For one, people on the low-carbohydrate diet didn’t stick to it all that well. The regimen called for no more than 40 grams of carbohydrates a day—the equivalent of about two slices of bread. But, by the end of the year, people in the low-carbohydrate group were averaging 127 grams of carbohydrates a day, noted Sonya Angelone, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “I do think that most people eat too many carbohydrates,” she said. So eating fewer
carbohydrates, and choosing high quality ones—fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains—is a sound idea, according to Angelone.

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But one of the concerns with a low-carbohydrate diet, she said, is that people will not get enough fiber.  A high-fiber diet can help ward off heart disease, and studies suggest it can aid weight loss by making people feel more full. So instead of lowering carbohydrates “too much,” Angelone
said, why not replace refined carbs—like white bread and pasta— with fiber-rich foods?

The current study included 148 adults who were obese but free of diabetes and heart problems. About half were randomly assigned to a
low-carbohydrate diet, while the rest were placed on a low-fat plan.  People in both groups had counseling sessions with a dietitian: The low
-fat group was told to get no more than 30% of their daily calories from fat, while the low-carbohydrate group was given a limit of 40 grams
of carbohydrates per day. At the end of one year, the low-fat group averaged nearly 200 grams of carbohydrate daily compared to about 130
for the low-carb group, according to the study.  In the end, 82% of the low-fat group stuck with the diet for a full year.  The same was true for 79% of the low-carbohydrate group.

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By the one-year mark, people in the low carbohydrate group had lost an average of almost 12 pounds. That compared with only four pounds for the low-fat group. According to Hu, the findings do not mean low-carb is the “best” diet for weight loss.  But, he said, “I think this means it’s a good option.” Bazzano acknowledged, though, that many of the study participants didn’t strictly follow their prescribed low-carbohydrate plan. “It was more moderate than that,” she said. And she agreed that being “careful” about the amount and type of carbohydrates you eat is key—as opposed to setting a rigid carbohydrate limit.

Angelone also pointed to another issue with the study: Sedentary study participants were discouraged from taking up exercise, to isolate the effects of the diet changes. But in real life, people would ideally change their diets and exercise. “Muscles use carbohydrates as fuel,” Angelone said. “it can be hard to exercise on a low-carb diet.”  Plus, she added. People on the low-fat diet, who were eating more carbohydrates, might have shed more weight if they’d been exercising.

Everyone agreed that there is no one-size-fits all diet. When it comes to heart health, for example, there is strong evidence that the Mediterranean diet—high in “good” carbohydrates and heart-healthy fats like olive oil—is a smart option.  Ultimately, people need to make
diet changes they can keep up for the long haul—not just until they lose a certain amount of weight.  The pounds will come back if you go back to your old ways, Angelone said.

Source:  WebMD, Inc.

Provided by Rebecca McGonigle of the Valley Schools Employee Benefits Trust (VSEBT) in the October 2014 Wellstyles Monthly Newsletter.

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Omega-3s in Diet May Help Ward Off ALS

A diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids may help cut your risk for the fatal neuro-degenerative disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, a new study suggests. These fatty acids—found most commonly in certain fish—are known to help reduce inflammation and oxidative stress on cells. Both of those processes can damage nerve tissue, according to the study authors. Inflammation and oxidative stress have long been linked with ALS, the study authors said, so any nutrient that fights those processes might be helpful.
In the study, “individuals with higher dietary intake of total omega-3 poly-unsaturated fatty acids—an essential type of dietary fat found in vegetable oils and fish—had a reduced risk for ALS,” said lead researcher Kathryn Fitzgerald of the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston. “We also found that higher dietary intake of alphalinolenic acid, a type of fatty acid found in vegetable oils and nuts, is also associated with lower ALS risk,” she said.

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For the study, Fitzgerald’s team looked at the association between ALS and these fatty acids among almost 1,000 ALS patients. They found that those who ate the most foods containing omega-3 fatty acids had the lowest risk of devel-oping ALS. People ranked in the top 20% in terms of their omega-3 fatty acids intake cut their odds of developing ALS by a third, com-pared to those in the bottom 20%, the study found. Fitzgerald cau-tioned, however, that the study was an observational study, where the researchers look at data from published sources and not from their own randomized trial. “So we can’t say there’s a cause-and-effect relationship, only that there’s an association,” she said. And there was another caveat: This study only looked at the risk of developing ALS. Whether high intake could help treat people who already have the disease isn’t known. “Future studies are needed to establish whether increasing omega-3 intake might be helpful for people with ALS,” Fitzgerald said.

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ALS is a relatively rare disease, she noted. “Currently, there are roughly 20,000 to 30,000 Americans who have ALS, and roughly 5,000 patients are diagnosed with ALS each year,” Fitzgerald said.

Dr. Michael Swash is a British neurologist at the Royal London Hospital and the author of an ac-companying journal editorial. He believes that the new study “is important in that it provides the possibility of an environmental factor [diet] in the complex processes triggering the onset of ALS.” Dietary factors could be such a factor, and this research opens the door a little toward addressing that idea, Swash said. “Maybe we are headed toward two forms of therapy—one preventing the disorder, an ideal solution—the other slowing the progression of the disease, also necessary,” he said.

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Source:  WebMD, Inc.

Provided by Rebecca McGonigle of the Valley Schools Employee Benefits Trust (VSEBT) in the October 2014 Wellstyles Monthly Newsletter.

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All Pregnant Women Need Flu Shot: Ob/Gyn Group

All Pregnant Women Need Flu Shot: Ob/Gyn Group

A group representing U.S. obstetricians is calling for all pregnant women to get a flu shot. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), several studies released in recent years have upheld the safety and effectiveness of flu vaccination during pregnancy.

“The flu virus is highly infectious and can be particularly dangerous to pregnant women, as it can cause pneumonia, premature labor, and other complications,” Dr. Laura Riley, chair of the college’s Immunization Expert Work Group, explained. “Vaccination every year, early in the season and regardless of the stage of pregnancy, is the best line of defense,” she advised.

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The best time to get vaccinated is early in the flu season, regardless of the stage of pregnancy, the guidelines state. However, pregnant women can get a flu shot at any time during flu season, which typically lasts from October to May.  All women who are or become pregnant during the flu season should get the inactivated flu vaccine, which is also safe for women who have just given birth and those who are breastfeeding.

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However, pregnant women should not be given the live attenuated version of the flu vaccine (the nasal mist), according to the guidelines. Before the 2009 H1N1 swine flu pandemic, flu vaccination rates for pregnant women were only 15%.  That rose to 50% in the 2009-2010 flu season and has been around that mark every flu season since. However, vaccination rates could and should be even higher, according to the ACOG.

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Flu shots not only protect pregnant women, but their infants as well. Babies can’t be given flu vaccine until they are 6 months old, but receive flu antibodies from their vaccinated mother while in the womb. This provides them with protection until they can be vaccinated directly.

Source: http://www.healthfinder.gov

Provided by Rebecca McGonigle of the Valley Schools Employee Benefits Trust (VSEBT) in the September 2014 Wellstyles Monthly Newsletter.

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Diet Changes Can Alter Gut Bacteria, Study Says

Diet Changes Can Alter Gut Bacteria, Study Says

Dietary changes can dramatically alter the balance of bacteria in the gut on a daily basis, according to a new study. These fluctuations could lead to monitoring systems that might help detect and ease flare-ups for people with certain chronic illnesses, such as inflammatory bowel disease (ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease), the researchers said.

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Trillions of bacteria live in the digestive tract, but their effect on human health isn’t well understood, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) scientists noted. To better understand the role of bacteria in the body, the research team monitored changes in the bacteria of two people over the course of one year. Stool samples were collected daily to monitor the amount and types of bacteria present. The participants also used an iPhone app that tracked lifestyle factors—such as diet, sleep, mood and exercise—that could have an impact on their gut bacteria.

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Both people experienced an event during the study period that had a significant impact on their gut microbiome, or the number and types of bacteria in their digestive tract. One developed diarrhea while on a two-week trip to a developing nation. This person had significant changes in the balance of gut bacteria. After returning home to the U.S., however, the gut bacteria returned to normal, according to the study. Meanwhile, the other participant developed food poisoning from salmonella. As a result, gut salmonella jumped from 10% to nearly 30%. Moreover, populations of helpful bacteria nearly disappeared. After the person recovered from food poisoning, the beneficial bacteria rebounded

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to about 40% of the total microbiome. But the researchers pointed out that most of the strains were different from those originally present.
“On any given day, the amount of one species could change manifold, but after a year, that species would still be at the same median level. To a large extent, the main factor we found that explained a lot of that variance was the diet,” study senior author Eric Alm, an associate professor of biological and environmental engineering, said. Looking ahead, the researchers said they plan to explore why gut bacteria tend to return to their normal levels after fluctuating widely.

Source: WebMD, Inc.

Provided by Rebecca McGonigle of the Valley Schools Employee Benefits Trust (VSEBT) in the September 2014 Wellstyles Monthly Newsletter.

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Running Just 5-10 Minutes A Day Could Increase Life Expectancy

 Running Just 5-10 Minutes A Day Could Increase Life Expectancy

The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommend adults engage in high-intensity exercise, such as running, for a minimum of 75 minutes a week. But a new study from Iowa State University suggests that running at a slow speed for just 5-10 minutes a day can significantly reduce mortality risk, and running for any longer may actually do more harm than good. The research team, led by Duck-Chul “D.C.” Lee, an assistant professor of kinesiology at Iowa State, recently published their findings.

For their study, Lee and colleagues assessed the data of 55,137 adults between the ages of 18 and 100 years, who were followed-up for an average of 15 years.

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Participants’ physical activity habits were disclosed through a medical history questionnaire. The team also analyzed the causes of any deaths that occurred during the follow-up, before looking at the amount of exercise each individual participated in every week.

During the follow-up period, 3,413 participants died from all-causes, while 1,217 died from cardiovascular causes. Of these, 24% participated in running on a weekly basis. The team found that participants who engaged in running each week were 30% less likely to die from all-causes and 45% less likely to die from cardiovascular causes, compared with those who did not participate in running. Overall, runners were likely to live 3 years longer than non-runners. But most interestingly, the researchers found that these reduced mortality risks were the same among participants who ran less than an hour a week and those who ran more than 3 hours a week. Even those who ran 5-10 minutes a day at a slow speed showed significantly reduced all-cause and cardi-ovascular mortality risk, com-pared with non-runners, according to the team.

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Lee says, “Running is good for your health, but more may not be better. You don’t have to think it’s a big challenge. We found that even 10 minutes per day is good enough. You don’t need to do a lot to get the benefits from running.” Lee notes that it may actually be better to run for only 5-10 minutes a day, as running for long periods could cause more harm than good. It could cause bone and joint damage, for example, and even heart attacks. “With too much of vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise, there might be a side effect,” says Lee. “Is there any limit that we shouldn’t go over? It is possible that people who do too much might be harming their health.” But he notes that further studies looking at the side effects of high-intensity exercise need to be conducted before any firm conclusions can be made.

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For now, the researchers say their find-ings emphasize the significant health benefits that can be gained from just running a few minutes each day. “This study may motivate healthy but sedentary individuals to begin and continue running for substantial and attainable mortality benefits,” they conclude. Christopher Allen, senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation in the UK, says that many people do not manage to achieve the current recommendations for weekly physical activity, but he notes that this study shows how small amounts of exercise can go a long way. “What this study proves is that when it comes to keeping physically active, every step counts towards helping you main-tain a healthier heart,” he says. “Breaking your exercise down into 10-minute chunks can make this goal much more achievable and can help prolong your life by reducing your risk of dying from cardiovascular disease.”

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Source: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com

Provided by Rebecca McGonigle of the Valley Schools Employee Benefits Trust (VSEBT) in the August 2014 Wellstyles Monthly Newsletter.

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Stressed By Work-Life Balance? Just Exercise

 Stressed By Work-Life Balance? Just Exercise

Feeling conflicted by the push-pull of work and family life? New research suggests that regular exercise can help balance out those feelings. Researchers examined the responses of 476 working adults who were surveyed about their exercise behavior and their confidence in handling work-family conflicts. Those who exercised regularly seemed to experience an increased feeling of competence that carried over into work and home roles, the study authors said.

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“If, for example, you go for a two-mile jog or walk 10 flights of steps at work and feel good about yourself for doing that, it will translate and carry over into other areas of life,” said study author Russell Clayton, an assistant professor of management at Saint Leo University in Florida. “We found that [participants] who exercised felt good about themselves, that they felt that they could accomplish tough tasks, and that carried over into work and family life,” Clayton added.

Volumes of research have shown that exercise lowers mental and physical stress levels, but few studies have focused on whether this stress reduction helps empower individuals to better manage their work-life balance. Clayton said the study originated as a “pet project” after he realized his own adherence to exercise gave him perspective on integrating work and life. Also involved in the study were researchers from Saint Louis University, University of Houston-Victoria and Illinois State University.

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Clayton acknowledged that the research method the study authors used—having respondents answer questions and then tallying the answers through a mathematical technique—did not offer hard numbers for the results. Just over half (55%) of the study participants were women. In addition, the study noted, participants worked an average of 40 hours weekly and their average age was 41. About 29% had at least one child under age 18 living at home. While the study found a link between physical activity and reports of greater empowerment at home and at work, it did not prove a cause-and-effect relationship. “But the associations between exercise and work-life balance are there, and they’re very strong,” Clayton said.

For those who don’t exercise regularly, the idea of adding that regimen to a busy schedule to improve stress levels may seem counterintuitive, Clayton noted. But he advocates the idea of “stolen moments” for exercise that add up, such as climbing the stairs for five minutes or doing jumping jacks in 30-second spurts. “We hope our research can be a grain of sand in the beach of evidence we have to push corporations…to encourage employees to exercise,” he added.

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Dr. Natalie Digate Muth, spokesperson for the American Council on Exercise, said the study extends the evidence that physical activity offers benefits beyond the obvious. “People should think of it as a kind of investment. If you put some time into physical activity,” said Muth, “you may be active for 30 minutes a day, but the productivity and mental focus you’re going to get out of it is going to far exceed what you put into it, from a work and family perspective.”

Source: WebMD, Inc.

Provided by Rebecca McGonigle from the June 2014 Wellstyles Monthly Newsletter from Valley Schools Employee Benefits Trust (VSEBT)

Walking Boosts Creative Thinking

 Walking Boosts Creative Thinking

New research shows that walking boosts creative thinking. In a series of experiments, researchers from Stanford University in California compared levels of creativity in people while they walked with while they sat and found creative output went up by an average of 60% while walking. Many people claim that they come up with their best ideas while walking. Steve Jobs, late co-founder of Apple, used to hold meetings while walking, and Mark Zuckerburg, co-founder of Facebook, has also been doing the same.

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Now, a study by Dr. Marily Oppezzo and Daniel Schwartz, a professor at Stanford Graduate School of Education, may explain why. They found that the act of walking itself does the trick—it does not matter whether the walk is indoors or outdoors, it has the same effect in boosting creative inspiration. In one experiment, they found that compared with sitting down, walking indoors on a treadmill facing a blank wall or walking outdoors in the fresh air produced twice as many creative responses.

Dr. Oppezzo says she thought “walking outside would blow everything out of the water, but walking on a treadmill in a small, boring room still had strong results, which surprised me.” She says theirs appears to be the first study to look specifically at the effect of non-aerobic walking on simultaneously generating new ideas, and compare it with sitting. The effect of walking appears to persist for a little while; even if people sat down shortly after a walk, their creative juices continued to flow, the researchers found.

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To carry out their four experiments, Dr. Oppezzo and Prof. Schwartz recruited 176 college students and other adults, and had them complete tasks that researchers normally use to measure creative thinking. They placed the participants in various conditions, comparing non-aerobic walking to sitting, indoors and out-doors. When outdoors, for instance, the walkers would walk, and the sitters were pushed in wheelchairs around a pre-determined path on the Stanford campus. The reason for pushing sitters around in wheel-chairs in the out-door parts of experiments was to give them the same visual movement as walking. The participants also underwent different combinations of walking and sitting. For example, there might be two consecutive walking sessions, or two consecutive seated sessions, or a walking session followed by a seated one. The sessions lasted from 5 to 16 minutes, depending on the tasks the participants were asked to complete.

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In three of the experiments, the participants undertook tests of their divergent thinking creativity. Diver-gent thinking is where you generate ideas by thinking of lots of possible solutions. For these tests, the participants were asked to think of as many uses as they could for a given object. They were given three objects at a time, and each time, they had 4 minutes to think of as many uses of the three objects as they could. The responses were marked according to novelty (nobody else in the group had thought of it) and appropriateness (for example, it would be unrealistic to suggest a tire could be used as a ring on a finger). In these three experiments, the vast majority of the participants scored higher on divergent thinking creativity while walking than while sitting. In one particular experiment carried out indoors, participants walking on a treadmill scored an average of 60% higher on divergent thinking creativity than when they were sitting.

There was also a fourth experiment that tested a more complex type of creativity. The tester gives the participants prompts to which they have to respond with complex analogies. The more the analogy captures the deep structure of the prompt, the more it scored on high quality. For instance, in response to the prompt “a robbed safe,” a response like “empty wallet” would not score as high on quality as “a soldier suffering from PTSD,” which captures the sense of loss, dysfunction and violation. This experiment found that walking outside resulted in 100% of participants generating at least one high-quality complex analogy, compared with only 50% when sitting indoors.

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The study also showed that not all thinking is the same. Divergent, brainstorm thinking is different to convergent thinking that requires single, correct answers. Productive creativity involves a series of steps, from generating ideas to execution, and not all using the same type of thinking process.

To test the effect of walking versus sitting on convergent thinking, the researchers gave the participants word-association exercises. For each exercise, the participants looked at three words, then had to say the word that linked all three. For in-stance, the correct response to “Swiss, cake and cottage” would be “cheese.”

The results showed that when performing this test, walking produced slightly worse scores than sitting. Dr. Oppezzo says the study shows walking appears to benefit the creative steps that involve divergent thinking. Convergent thinking, on the other hand, does not appear to benefit.

Prof. Schwartz says more work is now needed to find the underlying causes, but their findings provide a “very robust paradigm that will allow people to begin manipulations, so they can track down how the body is influencing the mind.” One of the key questions to investigate will be to determine if it is just walking, or any form of mild physical activity, that has this effect on creativity.

Dr. Oppezzo says in the mean-time, “This study is another justification for integrating bouts of physical activity into the day, whether it’s recess at school or turning a meeting at work into a walking one. We’d be healthier, and maybe more innovative for it.”

Source: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com

From Rebecca McGonigle from the June 2014 Wellstyles Newsletter published by Valley Schools Employee Benefits Trust (VSEBT).

 

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A Little Weight Loss May Ease Sleep Apnea

 A Little Weight Loss May Ease Sleep Apnea 

A small amount of weight loss might help combat sleep apnea, a new study suggests. Finnish researchers said losing as little as 5% of body weight seems to lead to significant improvement in the condition — in which breathing pauses frequently while people are asleep, resulting in disrupted sleep and daytime fatigue. “Being overweight is considered the most important risk factor for obstructive sleep apnea,” said lead researcher Dr. Henri Tuomilehto, an adjunct professor at the University of Eastern Finland’s Oivauni Sleep Clinic, in Kuopio.

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Being moderately overweight increases the risk for obstructive sleep apnea by 10 times, Tuomilehto said. “It has been estimated that around 70% of all patients with obstructive sleep apnea are obese,” he said. “We believe it represents the first-line treatment in the early phases of the disease and has a good chance of curing the disease or at least preventing the progression,” Tuomilehto said.

For the study, his team randomly assigned 57 moderately obese people with mild sleep apnea to a yearlong supervised program of diet and exercise designed to get them to lose weight. Others in the study were given general information on diet and exercise. During four years of follow-up, those who lost at least 5% of their body weight (an average of 11 pounds) saw dramatic improvement in their sleep apnea, the researchers found. Those who maintained their weight loss saw an 80% reduction in progression of their condition, compared to those who didn’t lose weight.

Tuomilehto said many people who suffer from the condition don’t know they have it. “Obstructive sleep apnea is a highly prevalent disease and untreated it is a major burden for our health care systems,” he said. “Unfortunately, 80% to 90% of those with obstructive sleep apnea are undiagnosed and do not know or even suspect that they have it. If daytime performance and vitality is not what you would expect, do not blame your age first,” he said. “Suspect some-thing else, such as obstructive sleep apnea, until proven otherwise.”

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Dr. Harly Greenberg, head of sleep medicine at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New Hyde Park, NY, said obesity is linked to sleep apnea because fatty tissue accumulates around the neck and narrows the airway, making it more susceptible to obstruction during sleep. The consequences of the condition include increased risk for high blood pressure, hardening of the arteries, heart attack and stroke, Greenberg said. In ad-dition, sleep apnea may contribute to the development of type 2 diabetes.

Weight loss alone won’t be enough to help everyone with the condition, Greenberg said. “While a weight-loss program is appropriate for overweight sleep apnea patients, it should not be relied upon as the sole therapy for those with moderate to severe sleep apnea who are at risk for cardio-vascular consequences and for patients with any severity of sleep apnea who suffer from daytime sleepiness that adversely affects daytime function,” he said. “Those patients should be treated with therapeutic interventions such as continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) or oral appliances that can produce more immediate improvement in symptoms and relief of daytime sleepiness while waiting for weight loss to occur,” he said.

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Another expert welcomed the new study findings. “It is always wonderful when the take-home message is that so much of our health is under our control,” said Dr. Lisa Liberatore, an otolaryngologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. “Our approach to treating obstructive sleep apnea is always to address any weight is-sues. We have many examples of when patients lose weight their snoring and apnea reduces significantly,” Liberatore said. “A proactive approach is even better. Telling and showing patients how weight gain—even modest amounts—can and will lead to sleep apnea is a powerful message.”

Although the study showed a connection between weight loss and improved sleep apnea symptoms, it did not prove a cause-and-effect link.

Source: http://www.healthfinder.gov

 

From Rebecca McGonigle from the May 2014 Wellstyles Newsletter published by Valley Schools Employee Benefits Trust (VSEBT).

 

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