The Power of Nature


What if there was a natural, drug-free way to control anxiety, lift your mood, decrease stress, and reduce your blood pressure.  Even better, what if that remedy didn’t cost a thing.  Would you do it?

I think most people would, if they knew what it was.  A tip: it’s not surfing social media, and it’s not on the news.  It can’t be found in any television program, or by eating a particular kind of food.  It’s even easier than that.  All you have to do is spend time in nature.

Studies from Japan and from Stanford University show that taking a walk through a forest or park decreases worry, anxiety and depression, while lowering heart rate and decreasing blood pressure, compared with the same length of walk through an urban neighbourhood.

If you’re feeling tired and burned out by life, relief is just a step away.  Take a walk in your local park.  Drive to a conservation area and go for a hike, either alone, or with friends. You’ll find you’re not only more relaxed, but can also think more clearly because a brain that’s “chilled out”, rather than burned out, just works better.

Excerpt:  “Nature lulls us with soft fascination, helping to rest our top-down, direct-attention faculties” — or the parts of our brain that are involved in effortful thinking, which are constantly triggered by the stimuli of urban environments. “With that restoration,” Williams writes, “we become more relaxed and can perform thinking tasks better.”

We Were Born To Run

Marathon, black silhouettes of runners on the sunset

Humans were born to run. This is the conclusion of researchers at the University of Utah who argue that our ability to run was what initially distinguished us from apes. We may not be the fastest mammal on the planet, but we are exceptional endurance runners – a skill we used to outrun and exhaust our prey.

This could be why running is so good for our health. A new study has found that people who run tend to live an extra three years longer than non-runners, even if they only run sporadically, are over-weight, or if they also smoke and drink.

In more concrete terms, for each hour you run, you add an extra seven hours to your life.  No other form of exercise provides the same bang for your buck.

Excerpt:  “Why running should be so uniquely potent against early mortality remains uncertain, Dr. Lee says. But it is likely, he says, that it combats many of the common risk factors for early death, including high blood pressure and extra body fat, especially around the middle.

It also raises aerobic fitness, he says, and high aerobic fitness is one of the best-known indicators of an individual’s long-term health”.

Avoid These Drugs


How often do you use cold medications when you are sick? How long have you been taking your tri-cyclic anti-depressant? Your answer could be used to determine your likelihood of developing dementia when you’re older.

A new report in JAMA (The Journal of the American Medical Association) has shown a strong link between the use of anti-cholinergic drugs, such as Benadryl, Advil, and Paxil, and an increased risk for dementia.

Short term use of these anti-cholinergic drugs may not cause any problems, but their effects appear to be cumulative. The longer these drugs are taken, the greater the chance of developing dementia and other cognitive problems as you age. This is problematic for those people who have been taking anti-cholinergic drugs for years. People on anti-depressants, anti-anxiety drugs, Parkinson’s medications, and drugs for an over-active bladder may have felt they had little choice in the matter, but now that concerns are rising, it might be a good time to research other options.

The reason that anti-cholinergic drugs may be harmful to your brain is because they work by blocking acetylcholine. That’s the chemical that transmits electrical impulses through your brain and other nerves, allowing you to learn and remember. The longer acetylcholine is blocked, the more the brain appears to shrink.

If you have been taking anti-cholinergic drugs, now may be a good time to try to wean yourself off of them, particularly if you already have a family history of dementia. Below is a link containing a list of common anti-cholinergic drugs.

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Where Can I Find A List of Anticholinergic Drugs?

How To Treat an Injury


Chinese medicine theory has long disagreed with the notion of icing injuries.

According to Chinese medicine, pain is thought to be caused by “blood stagnation” which blocks the flow of qi. The best way to stop pain and improve healing is to get qi moving. This can be achieved by stimulating blood circulation through the injured area with gentle movement, and by keeping it warm. Cold compresses only make blood circulation more sluggish, which will worsen pain in the long run.

Science now appears to have caught up with Chinese medicine. A study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research notes: “topical cooling (icing) seems not to improve but, rather, delay recovery from eccentric exercise-induced muscle damage”.

If you want to use ice to stop swelling of an injury, it is best alternated with soaking in warm water. The ice reduces swelling, while the warm water stimulates blood circulation, drawing stagnant blood out of the area and replacing it with fresh blood flow so it can heal.

Find Contentment in a River – The Wisdom of Moderation


You can often find in rivers what you cannot find in oceans“. ~ Indian proverb.

Going beyond is as bad as falling short“. ~ Confucius

Never go to excess, but let moderation be your guide.” ~ Cicero

Throughout the ages, philosophers and sages have advised against the extreme in any physical endeavor. Whether by eating too much, sleeping too much, or working too much, we can quickly turn something that’s meant to be beneficial into something harmful.

How about exercising too much? In recent years, marathon races have become fashionable as a way to prove your physical fitness while also strengthening your soul. In one afternoon, you can push your physical limits while simultaneously donating to your favourite charity. Amateur athletes love them, and every major city around the world now hosts at least one race each year.

But are they really good for your health?

“There does seem to be a point of diminishing returns with exercise. The health benefits seem to drop among people who run more than twenty miles a week, more than six days a week, or faster than eight miles an hour.” – from the journal “Medicine & Science”

In the case of triathlons, marathons and even quadruple marathons, the wear and tear on joints and the increased pressure on your heart can erase many of the benefits that come from more moderate levels of exercise. According to a study published in the British medical journal “Heart”, years of excessive exercise can cause thickening of heart tissue, potentially leading to scarring, irregular heart beat, or even sudden death”.

So, if you like to run, more power to you! But you might want to keep the distance to only a few miles per day, and take your time. You’ll still be getting all the health benefits, yet avoid all the damage to your heart and joints.

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