Healthy Lifestyle May Increase Life Expectancy, Research Suggests

A healthy lifestyle may allow older people to live longer, with women adding three years and men six to their life expectancy, suggests research published in the journal BMJ. In addition, more of those years may be dementia-free. More than 6 million Americans 65 and older have the most common type of dementia, Alzheimer’s, for which there is no cure.

The study found that, at age 65, women with the healthiest lifestyle had an average life expectancy of about 24 years, compared with 21 years for women whose lifestyle was deemed less healthy. Life expectancy for men with the healthiest lifestyle was 23 years, vs. 17 years for men who were less healthy.

The findings came from research that involved 2,449 people who were 65 and older and part of the Chicago Health and Aging Project, which first enrolled participants in 1993.

The current researchers developed a healthy lifestyle scoring system for their participants that encompassed five factors: diet, cognitive activity, physical activity, smoking and alcohol consumption. People were given one point for each area if they met healthy standards, yielding a final summed score of 0 to 5, with higher scores indicating a healthier lifestyle.

As for living with dementia, those with a score of 4 or 5 healthy factors at age 65 lived with Alzheimer’s for a smaller proportion of their remaining years than did those with a score of 0 or 1. For women, the difference for those with a healthier lifestyle was having Alzheimer’s for 11 percent of their final years vs. 19 percent for those with a less healthy lifestyle; for men, it was 6 percent of their remaining time vs. 12 percent.

The researchers concluded that “prolonged life expectancy owing to a healthy lifestyle is not accompanied by an increased number of years living with Alzheimer’s dementia” but rather by “a larger proportion of remaining years lived without Alzheimer’s dementia.”

People who engage in a healthy lifestyle, such as eating a balanced diet, taking regular exercise, and avoiding smoking and excess alcohol consumption, incur many health benefits, including a longer lifespan.

It was not previously known if this benefit was also seen in people living with multiple conditions. Multimorbidity is the presence of two or more long-term conditions, ranging from anxiety and eczema to cancer and schizophrenia. It has become a major worldwide epidemic. People with multiple conditions have poorer health and a higher risk of death compared with others in the population.

Researchers compared the impact of a healthy lifestyle on life expectancy in people with and without multiple conditions. It was the first study to be able to look at the impact of different lifestyle factors.

The key finding is that a healthy lifestyle is equally important for everyone, whether they have multiple conditions or not. Age is a strong risk factor; even so, young and middle-aged adults who live in deprived areas are the most likely to have multiple conditions. Engaging in a healthy lifestyle could be more difficult for people in this group.

The study also found that certain lifestyle factors, such as smoking and physical activity, were more damaging than others. Public health policies and healthcare professionals could therefore focus on these lifestyle habits. This study suggests this approach would have more impact than costly strategies to address multiple risk factors.

By Linda Searing

Source: Healthy lifestyle may increase life expectancy, research suggests – The Washington Post

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More contents:

Water Really Can Provide Some Relief From Anxiety and Help Us See The Glass Half Full

Many Australians can feel overwhelmed at some stage of their life with feelings of tension, nervousness and fear for the worst. A staggering 3.2 million Australians have an anxiety-related condition, with the largest increases over recent years witnessed in those between the ages of 15–24 years.

The growing field of nutritional psychiatry focuses on the effects of foods and drinks on our mental health. Despite water constituting 60–80% of the human body, it is often overlooked as a significant nutrient. A recent tweet by federal health authorities suggesting water could help reduce anxiety was received with some online scepticism.

In fact, the evidence shows water and hydration can play a role in preventing and managing the symptoms of anxiety.

A well-oiled machine

We all enjoy the cooling sensation a cold drink of water provides on a sweltering summer day. Our bodies are masterfully programmed to let us know when it’s time to rehydrate. We may be nourishing our brain too.

Several years ago, a group of researchers undertook a review that focused on the various ways hydration impacts health. The results were promising.

Overall, negative emotions such as anger, hostility, confusion and tension as well as fatigue were found to increase with dehydration. One trial induced mild dehydration and found increased reports of tension or anxiety and fatigue in participants.

Researchers have also found people who usually drink lots of water feel less calm, less content, and more tense when their water intake drops. When researchers increased the participants’ water intake, people in the study felt more happiness, no matter how much water they normally drank.

Another large study found people who drink five cups or more of water per day were at lower risk of depression and anxiety. In comparison, drinking less than two cups per day doubles the risk. This link was less noticeable for anxiety alone (although feelings of depression and anxiety often influence each other).

More recently, researchers found water with electrolytes may prevent anxiety more than plain water, but it was noted that the placebo effect may explain this connection as study participants were aware when they were given the electrolyte drink.

The link between dehydration and anxiety is also observed in children, who are a group at risk of dehydration. Dehydration might also affect how well we sleep. Poor sleep can exacerbate feelings of anxiety.

Water on the brain?

Almost every bodily function relies on water. Because 75% of brain tissue is water, dehydration reduces energy production in the brain and can change brain structure, causing the brain to slow down and not function properly.

At the molecular level, if water levels are too low, our brain cells cannot function properly, with the brain showing signs of working harder to complete tasks.

Our cells recognise a state of dehydration as a threat to survival, leading to a state of anxiety. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter (a chemical messenger between brain cells) that stabilises our mood and regulates emotions. During dehydration, we struggle to get the chemicals required to produce serotonin into our brain.

Being just half a litre dehydrated may also increase the stress hormone cortisol, which has been associated with a range of mental disorders, including anxiety.

So, based on what is currently known and emerging evidence, the government health communication provides some good advice. Addressing lifestyle factors including your water intake in the context of your overall diet, physical activity levels, and sleep are important foundations that can support a person’s mental health. And there is evidence to suggest dehydration can affect our mood.

But it’s important to note there are a wide range of factors that affect an individual’s level of anxiety. No single thing is likely to be responsible for completely resolving those feelings. This is particularly true in people experiencing significant anxiety, where simply drinking more water is unlikely to be helpful on its own.

By:

Dr Nikolaj Travica has a Bachelor in Psychology and Psychophysiology and an Honours degree in Science, majoring in Psychology. Nikolaj Completed his PhD at the Centre for Human Psychopharmacology at Swinburne University, which examined the relationship between vitamin C and cognitive function in healthy adults and post-operative patients.

Source: Water really can provide some relief from anxiety and help us see the glass half full

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Critics:

The key to re-balancing a deficit of fluids is to drink eight glasses of fresh water daily. However You have to spread this intake of water throughout the day and not drink it all in one go. Otherwise you don’t give your body a chance to absorb it and the excess will just pass through your body.

Sip your water throughout the day for maximum absorption. When you are aware that dehydration is a factor that contributes to anxiety and nervousness you start to pay much greater attention to how much you are drinking daily. Personally, I have found that not only does regular intake of water ward off any subtle feelings of anxiety, but it is also incredibly useful for building stamina and avoiding fatigue.

Increasing the amount of fresh water you drink to eight glasses a day is a very easy step to incorporate into your daily routine and can have such a huge impact on the speed of your recovery from anxiety. The easiest way to ensure you are getting enough is to make it easy for yourself by having water placed in strategic locations.

That might mean having bottled water in the car , at your desk or any place you spend time Beside the TV or computer) . If you place it in positions that are visible you will be reminded ot drink it. If the water is out of sight it quickly goes out of mind. With all new habits you want to form you have to make it easy for yourself or else you will drop it after a few days. So most of the effort you have to make is just ensuring there is water around you and that the bottles stay full. The drinking part is easy.

More contents:

How to swap meat for nutritious alternatives – and why it’s a good thing to do

The insect brain: we froze ants and beetles to learn how they remember their way home

Hoarding: people with ADHD are more likely to have problems – new research

Transgender youth on puberty blockers and gender-affirming hormones have lower rates of depression and suicidal thoughts, a new study finds

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Hot Tub Health Kick: Why a Long Bath is Almost As Good For You As a Long Run

A soak in a hot tub could be just the thing to relax you after a long day. The warm, bubbly water also eases aches and pains from conditions like arthritis, low back pain, and fibromyalgia.

But hot tubs might not be safe for some people, including pregnant women and those with heart disease. And when they aren’t cleaned well, they pose risks to even healthy people.

Before you buy a hot tub for your backyard or step into those warm waters at the spa or gym, make sure you know a bit about their safety.

Health Benefits

Warm water soothes your body for a few reasons. The heat widens blood vessels, which sends nutrient-rich blood throughout your body. Warm water also brings down swelling and loosens tight muscles. And the water’s buoyancy takes weight off painful joints.

A dip in the hot tub might also help your mental state. Research shows they can promote relaxation and ease stress.

Hot Tub Risks

These warm water whirlpools can pose some risks if you’re not careful.

Infections

Between 2000 and 2014, outbreaks from treated pools and hot tubs were linked to more than 27,000 infections and eight deaths in the United States. When hot tubs aren’t cleaned well, their moist environment is the perfect breeding ground for bacteria.

Pseudomonas, one type of bacteria that thrives in hot tubs, causes infections of the hair follicles and skin. Symptoms include red, itchy bumps on the belly and areas covered by your bathing suit. These bumps can pop up anywhere from a few hours to a few days after you take a dip. The same bacteria cause an infection known as swimmer’s ear.

Other germs that live in hot tubs can also make you sick. Cryptosporidium causes GI infections with diarrhea. Legionella causes a severe type of pneumonia, or lung disease.

Hot Tub Use in Pregnancy

Hot tubs might not be safe for pregnant women because they increase body temperature. Research finds that pregnant women who use a hot tub more than once or for long periods of time are more likely to have babies with neural tube birth defects like spina bifida or anencephaly.

Avoid hot tubs if you can during those 9 months. If you do use a hot tub, turn down the temperature and limit your time in the water to less than 10 minutes.

Heart Risks

Be cautious when using a hot tub if you have heart disease. When you soak in hot water, your body can’t sweat. Your blood vessels instead need to widen to cool you off. This makes your blood pressure drop. In response to falling blood pressure, your heart rate speeds up.

This isn’t a problem for healthy people, but if you have heart disease, it can strain your heart.

Hot Tub Safety Tips

To stay safe, follow these tips:

Ask your doctor. If you’re pregnant or you have a health condition like heart disease, ask your doctor if it’s safe for you to get into a hot tub.

Check the cleanliness. Ask the hotel or gym how often they clean their hot tub, and whether they keep the pH and chlorine concentrations at levels the CDC recommends (a pH of 7.2-7.8, and a free chlorine concentration of at least 3 parts per million). If the water looks murky or slimy, don’t get in.

Avoid crowds. Stay away when a hot tub is full. More people equals more germs. About half of people say they don’t shower before they swim.

Turn down the heat. A temperature of 100 F should be safe for healthy adults. Anything over 104 could be dangerous. Turn it down another couple of degrees if you have a medical condition.

Limit your time. Don’t stay in the hot tub for longer than 10 minutes. If you feel dizzy, overheated, or unwell, get out right away.

Watch where you sit. Don’t sit too close to the heat source. Keep your head, arms, and upper chest out of the water to avoid overheating, especially if you’re pregnant.

Stay hydrated. Drink water while in the hot tub to cool off your body. Avoid alcohol, which can dehydrate you.

Don’t go from hot to cold. Don’t jump straight from the hot tub into the pool to cool off. The cold water could shock your system and spike your blood pressure.

Wash off afterward. Take off your bathing suit and shower with warm water and soap as soon as you finish.

By  Carol DerSarkissian, MD

Source:https://www.webmd.com

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Safety

Sitting in water above normal body temperatures can cause drowsiness which may lead to unconsciousness and subsequently result in drowning. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recommends that water temperatures never exceed 40 degrees Celsius. A temperature of 37 degrees is considered safe for a healthy adult. Soaking in water above 39 degrees Celsius can cause fetal damage during the first three months of pregnancy.

It is also recommended to install residual-current devices for protection against electrocution. The greater danger associated with electrical shock in the water is that the person may be rendered immobile and unable to rescue themselves or to call for help and then drown.

Hot tubs and spas are equipped with drains that can create powerful suction and between 1980 and 1996, the CPSC had reports of more than 700 deaths in spas and hot tubs, about one-third of which were drownings to children under age five. In the same period 18 incidents were reported to the CPSC involving body part entrapment.

To reduce the risk of entrapment, US safety standards require that each spa have two drains for each pump, reducing the amount of suction. From 1999 to 2007 there were 26 reports to the CPSC concerning circulation entrapments hot tubs and spas, including three deaths.

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References

 

Long Working Hours Killing 745,000 People a Year, Study Finds

 

The first global study of its kind showed 745,000 people died in 2016 from stroke and heart disease due to long hours.The report found that people living in South East Asia and the Western Pacific region were the most affected.

The WHO also said the trend may worsen due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The research found that working 55 hours or more a week was associated with a 35% higher risk of stroke and a 17% higher risk of dying from heart disease, compared with a working week of 35 to 40 hours.

The study, conducted with the International Labour Organization (ILO), also showed almost three quarters of those that died as a result of working long hours were middle-aged or older men.

Often, the deaths occurred much later in life, sometimes decades later, than the long hours were worked.Five weeks ago, a post on LinkedIn from 45-year-old Jonathan Frostick gained widespread publicity as he described how he’d had a wake-up call over long working hours.

The regulatory program manager working for HSBC had just sat down on a Sunday afternoon to prepare for the working week ahead when he felt a tightness in his chest, a throbbing in his throat, jawline and arm, and difficulty breathing.

“I got to the bedroom so I could lie down, and got the attention of my wife who phoned 999,” he said.While recovering from his heart-attack, Mr Frostick decided to restructure his approach to work. “I’m not spending all day on Zoom anymore,” he said.

His post struck a chord with hundreds of readers, who shared their experiences of overwork and the impact on their health.Mr Frostick doesn’t blame his employer for the long hours he was putting in, but one respondent said: “Companies continue to push people to their limits without concern for your personal well-being.”

HSBC said everyone at the bank wished Mr Frostick a full and speedy recovery.”We also recognise the importance of personal health and wellbeing and a good work-life balance. Over the last year we have redoubled our efforts on health and wellbeing.

“The response to this topic shows how much this is on people’s minds and we are encouraging everyone to make their health and wellbeing a top priority.”

line

While the WHO study did not cover the period of the pandemic, WHO officials said the recent jump in remote working and the economic slowdown may have increased the risks associated with long working hours.

“We have some evidence that shows that when countries go into national lockdown, the number of hours worked increase by about 10%,” WHO technical officer Frank Pega said.

The report said working long hours was estimated to be responsible for about a third of all work-related disease, making it the largest occupational disease burden.

The researchers said that there were two ways longer working hours led to poor health outcomes: firstly through direct physiological responses to stress, and secondly because longer hours meant workers were more likely to adopt health-harming behaviours such as tobacco and alcohol use, less sleep and exercise, and an unhealthy diet.

Andrew Falls, 32, a service engineer based in Leeds, says the long hours at his previous employer took a toll on his mental and physical health.”Fifty to 55 hour weeks were the norm. I was also away from home for weeks on end.”

“Stress, depression, anxiety, it was a cauldron of bad feedback loops,” he says. “I was in a constant state of being run down.”After five years he left the job to retrain as a software engineer. The number of people working long hours was increasing before the pandemic struck, according to the WHO, and was around 9% of the total global population.

In the UK, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) found that people working from home during the pandemic were putting in an average of six hours of unpaid overtime a week. People who did not work from home put in an average of 3.6 hours a week overtime, the ONS said.

The WHO suggests that employers should now take this into account when assessing the occupational health risks of their workers. Capping hours would be beneficial for employers as that had been shown to increase productivity, Mr Pega said. “It’s really a smart choice to not increase long working hours in an economic crisis.”

Source: Long working hours killing 745,000 people a year, study finds – BBC News

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References

“Spain introduces new working hours law requiring employees to clock in and out”. Idealista. Retrieved 30 April 2020.

5 Key Variables That Will Impact Our Return To “Normal”

An illustration of a needle and rode - The road back to normalcy

As vaccines roll out around the world, the question on everybody’s mind, is what does the journey back to “normal” look like? A new normal won’t return at the flip of a switch. We need to understand what’s happening, and we need trusted data to do that. So what should we be tracking? What metrics do we need to make effective, data-driven decisions? And, how do we know if we’re on the path to normalcy?

We recently spoke with Dr. Sam Scarpino, complex systems scientist, and assistant professor at the Network Science Institute at Northeastern University. With his help, we’ve identified five key variables that can help us measure our progress to a state resembling normalcy. In other words, when data will tell us when and how we can return to a simpler—if not quite normal—life.

1. Vaccine effectiveness

The first variable is, of course, the vaccines themselves. In our conversation, Scarpino shared two important variables regarding vaccine rollout:

  1. Transmission: The amount that vaccines reduce transmission
  2. Deployment: How quickly we can roll out vaccines across the country and internationally

Public and private healthcare organizations will need to track these data at a granular level.

Scarpino also emphasized the need for passive, always-on surveillance for COVID-19 and for genomic variants, like the B.1.1.7 variant in the United Kingdom. “Without these surveillance systems, we’re going to be continually caught off-guard by this disease and the “new normal” will feel a lot less normal,” said Scarpino.

2. Vaccine distribution

Next, we have to consider the huge task of distributing and administering the vaccines. This of course brings production and logistical challenges from mass shipping of perishable products, to scaling delivery to patients within myriad healthcare systems. And most critical of all, prioritizing what groups should be vaccinated first, and managing follow-up to ensure second doses are administered on schedule.

“At this stage, the biggest obstacle is delivery of the vaccines,” shared Scarpino. “Given the lack of a uniform national plan, states and localities are creating their own distribution and vaccination plans. Every state has a different approach, with varying levels of success. As a result, we’re already seeing dreadfully slow uptake. What this means is that we need more federal support for community health organizations administering the vaccine and public health agencies monitoring and coordinating our responses.”

There are also concerns around equal access to vaccinations.

Communities of color and Native American populations have experienced an increased burden of COVID-19, as a direct result of generations of systemic racism that have impacted health and access to healthcare. As a country, and internationally, we need to engage with individuals in these communities to ensure they have a voice and vote in how vaccines are prioritized.”

3. Vaccine acceptance and uptake

The third key variable is vaccine acceptance and uptake, which is difficult to predict. Vaccine acceptance is about building trust within local communities, especially where vaccine hesitancy is the norm. Uptake, on the other hand, is about vaccinations itself. Is it fast, easy, and accessible? The story of COVID-19 is fundamentally a local story, so what we really need are data insights at the postal code level.

“The first step is a critical and realistic assessment of our failures and successes, which requires data,” shared Scarpino. “If we don’t have detailed enough data around uptake, we can’t see which communities are close to herd-immunity and which are further away. We’ll be in the dark trying to respond to COVID-19 flare-ups.”

4. Testing speed and availability

It’s going to take time to roll out the vaccine. But with focus shifting to the vaccine itself, we can’t forget the importance of testing. We need to address questions like:

  • How available is on-demand testing?
  • What are the barriers that prevent people from being tested?
  • How long do the results take? Hours or days?

With this data, communities can identify hot spots and businesses gain insights they need to reopen, getting us one step closer to normalcy.

Scarpino emphasized that “high-rates of testing, paired with isolation, quarantine, and contact tracing can control COVID-19 even without a vaccine,” based on models and data from countries like Vietnam and Australia. “With the proper non-pharmaceutical interventions, we could potentially reach normalcy in months instead of years,” shared Scarpino.

5. Contact tracing

Finally, even with testing, vaccines, and wide scale public health measures, nothing beats good old fashioned contact tracing.

“Contact tracing—and its vital partner, case investigation to determine the source of infections—remains our best tool for fighting this disease,” shared Scarpino.

Closely monitoring where, when, and by whom one was exposed will help people understand if they are at risk, and take the right precautions, especially if they are asymptomatic. Contact tracing is foundational to the path to normalcy, by making sure that exposed individuals are aware, they can take actions to limit further transmission.

“We’ve seen myriad countries, like Japan, Thailand, Vietnam, Mongolia, China, South Korea, Taiwan, New Zealand, Australia, to name only a few, control this disease with testing, tracing, and isolation,” said Scarpino.

The vaccine also requires multiple doses, so Scarpino noted that “we need effective, and accurate systems, for monitoring uptake and ensuring individuals receive all the necessary rounds of inoculation. If our contact tracing systems aren’t working, we can’t control the disease and we can’t ensure individuals are being vaccinated properly.”

Getting back to “normal” takes all of us

Over the next few months, these factors will drive how quickly or how well things will return to normal for citizens, communities, and the economy.

“What we’ve seen over the past year is that society’s deepest challenges—from racism and its lasting effects, to chronically underfunding public health, or access to affordable healthcare and housing—largely dictated the course of this pandemic,” shared Scarpino.

“We can build a brighter, safer, and more productive future. One that will help us return to normal faster and prevent this from happening again. But it’s going to take all of us, working together and it has to start now.”

For more information, check out the Tableau COVID-19 Data Hub, where you can explore dashboards, find actionable insights, and visualize your own analyses.

From connection through collaboration, Tableau is the most powerful, secure, and flexible end-to-end analytics platform for your data. Elevate people with the power of data. Designed for the individual, but scaled for the enterprise, Tableau is the only business intelligence platform that turns your data into insights that drive action

Source: 5 Key Variables That Will Impact Our Return To “Normal”

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References

Nigerian Filmmaker, Teniola Olatoni Premieres “The New Normal” to Rave Reviews, AP, November 18, 2020

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