Pilates: Research Shows How This Low-Impact Workout Can Benefit Your Health

Pilates has seen a jump in popularity recently thanks to a spate of celebrity endorsements, including the Kardashians, model Hailey Bieber and actress Kate Hudson. Even elite athletes such as Cristiano Ronaldo and Andy Murray incorporate some form of pilates into their training to improve performance.

Pilates is said to be good for your balance, posture, strength and flexibility, as well as improving your core strength. And the best part about it is that anyone can do it, not just celebrities and athletes. But does research show that it’s as good for your health as many people claim?

There are two main types of pilates. The simplest is mat pilates – which you only need a yoga mat to do, and can be done both at home or in a class. The other type of pilates (which is becoming increasingly popular) is reformer pilates. This uses a specialised apparatus (called a reformer) – a bed-like frame with a flat platform on it.

The platform moves forward and backwards on wheels within the frame. The platform is attached to one end of the frame by springs and these produce tension. Most reformer pilates involves pushing or pulling the platform, or holding it steady as it’s pulled on by the strings. This movement engages several muscles – particularly the core.

What the evidence says

Pilates is a form of muscle strengthening exercise, which is well-known to be important for maintaining good health. Strength training is important as it helps us prevent the slow muscle deterioration that occurs as we get older. It also increases muscle mass, which can in turn increase metabolism – which is important for maintaining a healthy weight.

There’s some evidence that doing eight weeks of pilates for one hour a day, four times a week can increase metabolism and reduce obesity in obese women. In older adults, a review of research showed pilates training improved balance and helped prevent falls.

Another study even showed that inactive women who began performing only one hour of pilates a week for ten weeks had improved muscle mass, flexibility, balance and core strength. Research also shows that pilates may even be used to treat low back pain and improve balance in adults with multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s’s disease.

The evidence shows us that pilates can certainly lead to several health benefits. While more intense types of strength training – such as weight lifting – are likely to confer even greater benefits, pilates can still be a great way for people to control their weight and build strength. The best part about it is that this workout can be done by almost anyone anywhere, and doesn’t require a lot of equipment or a gym membership.

Reformer v mat pilates

Among people who do pilates, there’s a lot of discussion about which type is superior: mat or reformer pilates.There’s actually little research out there comparing the two types. One study looking at the treatment of low back pain found that both reformer pilates and mat pilates worked equally well to improve back pain in people who did the workout for six weeks.

Both types also equally improved people’s ability to undertake daily activities, such as getting out of bed or doing the dishes. But when participants were followed up four and a half months later, the reformer pilates group continued to experience improvements in their daily life compared to the mat pilates group.

Another study from Brazil also showed both reformer pilates and mat pilates used the same number of muscles and activated them to the same extent – suggesting there’s no difference between the two methods, and that both are equally effective. But this conflicts with the findings of another study, which showed reformer pilates caused people to burn more calories (2.6 calories per minute) than mat Pilates (1.9 calories per minute).

The reason for the slight differences between these two types of pilates comes down to how they’re performed. While mat pilates uses your body weight as resistance during the movements, reformer pilates uses the unstable platform and springs to create resistance. This might create greater resistance and activate more muscles. Though this wasn’t supported by the Brazilian study, they only looked at one movement, so more research is needed.

Although research can’t quite agree on whether mat pilates or reformer pilates is better for you, that doesn’t mean that reformer pilates isn’t still great for your health. For example, one study showed that people who did reformer pilates for nine weeks had improved cholesterol levels and lower insulin resistance, suggesting that it can help maintain weight and lower the risk of certain diseases, such as type 2 diabetes.

As you can see, pilates is becoming popular for good reason as it provides many health benefits. People of all ages and abilities can do it, including pregnant women. How you decide to do it is entirely up to you, but if you have health difficulties or are pregnant, you may want to consult your doctor first.

By:

Source: Pilates: research shows how this low-impact workout can benefit your health

Critics by Eun-Ju Lim and Eun-Jung Hyun

This study investigates whether Pilates and yoga lead people to adopt generally health-promoting lifestyle elements and feel better about their physical and mental fitness. To this end, we designed an 8 week exercise program of Pilates and yoga reviewed by veteran practitioners and conducted an experimental study through which we collected the data from 90 volunteered adult subjects between ages 30 and 49 (mean age = 35.47), equally represented by women and men without previous experience with Pilates or yoga.

In the 8 week long experiment, we assigned the subjects to three groups, where subjects in the two exercise groups regularly took part in either Pilates or yoga classes, and the control group participated in neither exercise classes. All participants completed two surveys, the Health-Promoting Lifestyle Profile (HPLP II) and the Health Self-Rating Scale (HSRS), before and after their assigned program. In our analysis of pre- and post-treatment differences across the three groups, we ran ANOVA, ANCOVA, and Sheffé test, implemented using SPSS PASW Statistics 18.00.

Our results indicate that Pilates and yoga groups exhibited a higher engagement in health-promoting behaviors than the control group after the program. Subjective health status, measured with HSRS, also improved significantly among Pilates and yoga participants compared to those in the control group after the program. The supplementary analysis finds no significant gender-based difference in these impacts.

Overall, our results confirm that Pilates and yoga help recruit health-promoting behaviors in participants and engender positive beliefs about their subjective health status, thereby setting a positive reinforcement cycle in motion. By providing clear evidence that the promotion of Pilates or yoga can serve as an effective intervention strategy that helps individuals change behaviors adverse to their health, this study offers practical implications for healthcare professionals and public health officials alike.

Among many kinds of physical activity programs, it is noteworthy that Pilates and yoga have gained increasing popularity amongst the general public over the past two decades. Pilates and yoga are particularly appealing due to their direct benefits on physical wellbeing—including weight control and improved posture, flexibility, and cardiovascular function—that come with low risks of sports-related injuries

. According to an annual survey conducted by IDEA(International Dance Exercise Association) Fitness Programs and Equipment Survey in 2007, Pilates ranked sixth on the most frequently offered exercise programs, a vast improvement since 1999 . In the same year, yoga also ranked 13th, although its position has undergone gradual declines from its peak in 2002. In annual Fitness Trends Surveys carried out by a United States (US)-based association of Sports Medicine, Pilates and yoga have been frequently listed as Worldwide Fitness Trends since 2008.

Evidence of the direct health benefits of Pilates and yoga is growing. For example, some studies showed that regular engagement in Pilates is associated with a boost in functional autonomy, balance, flexibility, and muscle strength . Other studies show that regular yoga participation helped individuals alleviate muscle-related pains, especially among adults with sedentary lifestyles or suffering from chronic illnesses

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How To Look After Your Relationship When Experiencing Fertility Issues

Why us? A question familiar to the never-ending plaguing thoughts of those struggling with fertility.

Couples will always face – and defeat – an onslaught of battles together. 

When it comes to trying for a family, these will come with intense strains that can push even the most stable of relationships into choppy waters and uncertainty.

And yes, epic fights that make you want to knock on the wall and apologise to the neighbours. Sorry pals, we’re trying for a baby, it’s all cool.

Infertility is arguably biggest test of all when it comes to relationships.

With lives suddenly going from romantic getaways, thrilling sex and fun nights out together, to ovulation monitoring, bird food dieting, scheduled, clinical intercourse and two week waits, things change forever.

What you thought would be an exciting journey together can quickly become something that threatens to bring toxicity into a safe space, one that always felt equipped to face the world.

Tensions and disappointments can lead to arguments and blame. Microaggressions such as implying that the glass of wine they had last month might be a factor in why this month hasn’t been the month, can seep in.

Neglect of things that used to be fun, exciting and loving can breed resentment and sap joy from life. This is not what you expected on that whirlwind first year together.

You thought that when you decided you want a baby, it would be full of rom-com type adventures and excuse to have sex after sex after sex. What could go wrong? Look, it doesn’t have to be this way.

My husband and I are in the middle of a very difficult attempt to have a child. The months have ticked by; and those months became years. There have been times when the pen could pretty much have been hovering over the divorce papers.

The clashes have been monumental, and the emotions have been raw and heartbreaking. But I have learnt a lot, and there are things I wish we had taken into account.

We naively entered this thinking it could only strengthen our relationship. And it can. But making the baby is only half the work; everything that goes with it demands just as much input.

‘Fertility struggles can have a profound effect on a couple’s relationship, with many couples experiencing anxiety and depression throughout their fertility journey,’ Victoria Jeffries, an accredited psychotherapist who specialises in infertility counselling, tells Metro.co.uk.

‘Quite often, the shock of the inability to conceive a child as quickly and easily as expected gradually leads to feelings of guilt and sometimes even shame.

‘In my therapy practice, I have noticed that those struggling to conceive are often left experiencing an identity crisis; if I can’t be a parent, who will I be? Along with concerns for years to come; what does the future hold for me without children?’

It will be tough, and there will be days where you just want to punch your partner in the throat, but your relationship isn’t doomed because you have fertility struggles.

Nothing is. So how can you have a better fighting chance of sticking this out (and in) together, through thick and thin?

Knowing the facts together

It’s no secret that our basic high school sex education class did not prepare us for this.

In fact, it actively sought to prevent a baby: ‘Look at a boy and you will have ten babies and your life will be ruined, heathen.’

So, it’s no wonder the expanse of naivety when it comes to producing children, is wide. Like it or lump it, it goes without saying that women will know more about what is happening in their bodies, and some of what is needed, than their male counterparts.

This is where being on the same page matters. You can’t communicate or make plans if you don’t both know the score. There are many things I have learnt, both mentally and biologically; and the same for my husband.

So, get this out of the way. You will need to learn together, you will need to accept that explaining stuff to one another is not patronising, and you will need to suspend any embarrassment if you don’t know basic things.

If you’re going to be at it for every waking moment during a fertile window, checking discharges and depositing samples, there is no time for embarrassment.

It is absolutely imperative that you start this on equal footing and don’t judge one another for not knowing stuff; for a circle of life species that is, at its bare roots, supposedly designed for procreation, it isn’t half complicated to have a baby.

Researching and learning together is a valuable bonding exercise – and also leaves you prepared for the journey ahead.

Support

Ask anyone who is trying to conceive and they’ll tell you: this is not easy. All of those people who routinely quote stats that moving house is the most stressful thing a couple can go through together have clearly never heard of the two-week wait.

There is so much that goes into this; physically and emotionally. And as a couple, we need to be there for one another.

To that end, Victoria can’t emphasise enough the importance of mutual support as couples ride through what are understandably choppy waters.

‘It is important to remember it is perfectly normal to feel stressed, anxious and drained while going through this journey,’ she says.

‘These are valid feelings and are to be expected; it is an incredibly trying process after all.

‘This is why it is critical that you both show compassion to yourselves and each other, and allow yourself to feel what you feel.’

We all deal with disappointment differently. Understand what helps your partner and tell your partner what helps you.

If you are both coming from different places, but neither of you know what that place is, then you are going to fall out. You will be confused over why your partner is acting the way they are and, until they explain where they are at, it will just leave you bewildered and often angry that they aren’t approaching this like you are.

Scheduling regular times to just sit down and reflect, talk about things and get things off your chest – even if it involves a bicker – helps to break things down. When you ‘get’ someone, you validate their feelings, whether they are positive or negative.

And when someone feels validated, they can trust that they can open up again. With all relationships, this is important for survival. This is even more the case when you are on such an intense and emotion filled journey like this.

Humour

My husband and I laugh a lot; him being funny was the first and main attraction I felt. We have a shared dark humour and I swear, this is why we are still standing.

If you approach this with nothing but severity, it’s going to be a long journey packed with fights and resentment. Making a baby is an absolutely ridiculous and often slapstick (slapdick?) process.

I am not saying that you are going to be making quips when your period comes again, or slapping your thigh with laughter when some dodgy tests come back.

But in among it all, you have to laugh before you cry. You will do both, but the former is so vitally important for couples.

Budget

If you are in a relationship and you claim that you never argue about money, then you are a bare-faced liar.

Cashflow is the Achilles heel of so many couples. We have so much to thank the NHS for and, many tests and treatments, including some rounds of IVF, are covered.

But your outgoings when trying for a baby will increase. Annoyingly, eating healthily and nutritionally is more expensive than chicken nuggets and chips. Supplements are not cheap. You need to take things into account.

Before the money stress gets you, get ahead of the game. Modify the monthly budget together to take everything into account so there are no shocks.

If you are someone who didn’t budget before (aka me), then start now. No-one wants those Omega 3 capsules to drive a wedge between you before you even get to the nitty-gritty.

Prepare

There are so many outcomes and stages and together, you need to be as prepared as you can. 

A positive outlook is so important, but you also have to be realistic about the fact that during this, there will be days when you just want the ground to swallow you up.

There will be setbacks and you need to discuss how you will approach them if they come.

This is when you can identify what is going to hit one another the hardest and how you can then support each other.

If you feel your other half in this journey does not have your back in these moments, this is when things can get seriously sour.

Self-care and rewards

It’s going to challenge your mental health more than you think it will. So, things need to be broken up so your whole life as a couple isn’t just conceive, conceive, conceive.

Ensure you take time to just be together, even if nights out, special meals or weekends away are scheduled far in advance.

Make sure you still invest in your hobbies, together and apart. You still need to have conversations that don’t involve the words ‘ovulating’ and ‘well it says on Mumsnet…’.

Don’t beat yourselves or each other up if there is a day or two when you slip from the fertility diet and have a takeaway or a beer.

Count some blessings, but in a certain way. I hate nothing more than someone telling me ‘well at least you have each other’ or ‘it could be worse’, so any blessings are between yourselves, and not with the idea that you should want or deserve a baby less because you have nice things in life.

Nevertheless, it’s still important to enjoy what you have.

Reward yourselves and each other as you go. Acknowledge how hard this is and how many life changes you have adopted. This is hard work, so make sure you tell each other how proud you are.

Romantic gestures, little gifts or cards and most importantly, hugs and ‘I love you’s are imperative tools to keep you going.

Take a break

Have sex that is not just conceiving sex. When that window isn’t open, it doesn’t mean your legs can’t be. It’s amazing how many couples forget that sex has other upsides.

‘Trying for a baby’ sex is vastly different to ‘let’s have sex’ sex. You need to keep the spark alive and enjoy each other sometimes without the pressures that come with having those all important ovulation sessions.

And take a break from it all now and again. It’s exhausting, individually and as a couple. There is no shame in taking a month off and just recuperating and existing, remembering what a human life is outside of this. Taking a break is not failure, it’s a positive move to reflect and get ready to go again. It’s the most important holiday that you will ever have as a couple.

Everyone needs time off from work sometimes. This is work. Take that month’s leave and take it together. Like you wouldn’t check your emails, don’t check your ovulation strips or obsess over your discharge. One month won’t change anything.

Most importantly, even if you have to write it down, remember that the whole reason you want a baby together is that you love each other, and you want to expand your family to share that powerful feeling with someone you will both love unconditionally, together.

If you are torn apart, the whole motive for what has divided you is lost. It’s the easiest thing to forget but the most important thing to remember – as clinical, bizarre and tense as this fertility mission can be, it is first and foremost a process of deep love.

By:

Source: How to look after your relationship when experiencing fertility issues | Metro News

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How Stress Hits Women’s Brains Harder and Why Men Don’t Always Get It

If you’ve been stressed out and ignoring it—isn’t everyone stressed right now?— it could be time to do something about it. That’s because even though you may be basically healthy, tension is doing its stealthy damage. The latest evidence? Researchers have linked high levels of the stress hormone cortisol to brain shrinkage and impaired memory in healthy middle-aged adults. And get this: The effect was more pronounced in women than in men.

This research underscores an important point. Though stress affects your whole body, ground zero is your brain. It’s not just the effects of cortisol—it’s that teeth-grinders like traffic jams, personal snubs, and financial worries are perceived and interpreted by your gray matter. Fortunately, research focused on the brain is pointing to new, more effective ways to reduce your tension.

But first, let’s drill down and see how and why your brain’s natural reactions make you more vulnerable to the zings and arrows of tension.

How Stress Affects Your Brain

Aspects of the brain’s design that served us well thousands of years ago now make us susceptible to negative emotions and mental fatigue, both of which ratchet up our stress, says Amit Sood, M.D., professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic and founder of the Mayo Clinic Resilience Program. Although our brains have evolved over time, “the speed of life today is the main stressor—it’s much faster than our brain’s ability to adapt,” he says.

And that means we often end up with too little time and too few resources to address what life throws at us each day, which adds to a diminishing sense of control over our lives. Perceived lack of control has been shown to be a huge source of stress.

In his book Mindfulness Redesigned for the Twenty-First Century, Dr. Sood describes a number of traps that frequently ensnare our brains. Three of the most challenging:

Focus Problems

When giant predators roamed Earth, a scanning, outward-
directed focus served us well—but today that focus is directed inward. Now, 80 percent of the time, our minds are wandering, stuck in an unfocused state even if we’re not aware of it.

Studies have found that this state makes us less happy, and the unhappier we are, the more our attention wanders and our thoughts pile up. It’s like having a huge set of open files on your computer, Dr. Sood says, only they’re in your brain, distracting you and demanding attention. Our tech dependence, a source of constant distraction, adds to our inability to focus.

Fear

Our survival depends on the ability of the brain (mostly the amygdala) to detect physical and emotional threats. Moments or events that elicit fear raise our heart rate, which the brain stores as information that might protect us from future danger. This so-called negativity bias makes us prone to paying more attention to bad news than to good. We readily remember bad things that happen to us because our brains also release hormones that strengthen those specific memories, and this further embeds them in our minds. The result? More stress.

Fatigue

While a number of body organs (e.g., the heart and the kidneys) can keep going like the Energizer bunny, the brain is not one of them. After working hard, it needs rest. The more boring and intense an activity is, the faster your brain will grow tired—and that can happen in as little as four minutes or as much as an hour or two.

You can tell when your brain is fatigued (it has to signal this indirectly, since it has no pain receptors) because your eyes feel tired and stuff happens—you start making errors, become inefficient, lose your willpower, or see a dip in your mood. Brain fatigue leads to stress, and stress leads to fatigue, in a continuous closed loop.

Why Stress Hits Women Harder Than Men

Stress almost seems to have it out for women. In an annual survey by the American Psychological Association, women have repeatedly reported higher levels of tension than men and sometimes even more stress-related physical and emotional symptoms, including headache, upset stomach, fatigue, irritability, and sadness.

What’s more, midlife women have been found to experience more stressful events than both men and women of any other age, reports an ongoing study by the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Institute on Aging. Stress overload may even lead to chronic disease: Long-term pressures at home and work plus stress from traumatic events almost doubles the risk of type 2 diabetes in older women, according to a recent study at the University of California, San Francisco. Women are also more prone to stress-induced mental health problems such as depression and anxiety disorders.

Here’s the why of it: A triple whammy makes women uniquely vulnerable to strain and pressure, says Dr. Sood. First, women’s brains make them more sensitive than men to stressors and a perceived lack of control. The limbic areas of women’s brains, which help control emotions and memories, are highly active, making them remember hurts and slights more readily. Stewing over these and having difficulty letting them go strengthens the brain circuits of those negative emotions—another example of the negativity bias at work—which also increases women’s stress.

In addition, the multiple demands of parenting and being in charge of the well-being of the household mean that women’s focus tends to be more diffuse. And an unfocused brain, as noted earlier, is another source of stress. A mom’s protective radar is always up for her kids too, which makes her sense a threat more quickly, and she’s more likely than her husband to get stuck and dwell on it, says Dr. Sood.

What Men Don’t Always Get

The differences in how men and women experience tension don’t play out in isolation, of course. They affect how husbands and wives, friends, and work colleagues experience and interpret the world—and yes, often the result is conflict. If you’re a woman, think of a time you had an upsetting disagreement with your boss.

When you vented to your husband about it—how your boss looked at you, what she said, how you responded, how you felt, what she said next—maybe you saw his eyes glaze over, and maybe he said, “It’s over now; why don’t you just let it go and talk to her tomorrow?” Which made you feel hurt, angry, and dismissed—and depending on which feeling was uppermost, you either escalated the conversation into an argument or retreated to mull it over.

New studies are looking at how the genders process stress in the moment and coming up with reasons for the disconnect. Recently, using fMRI to measure brain activity, researchers at the Yale University School of Medicine found that while imagining a personalized, highly stressful event, the action- and planning-oriented parts of men’s brains were actively engaged, while women’s brains were busy visualizing and also cognitively and emotionally processing the experience.

In the second part of the study, when men and women were experiencing intense anxiety, brain regions that were active in women were inactive in men. This suggests that women tend to get caught up in processing their stress, turning it over and over in their minds and reimagining it, says Rajita Sinha, Ph.D., director of the Yale Interdisciplinary Stress Center.

“Women cope by talking about being anxious and describing their emotions and stressors,” she says. This could put them at risk for ruminating about the issues. Men seem not to access that cognitive-processing part of their brains and “are more likely to quickly think about doing something, taking an action, as opposed to expressing their distress verbally. It’s just the difference in the way we’re wired.”

That might explain why women tend to provide emotional support to someone who is stressed, whereas men might offer advice or something tangible like money or physical help. Ironically, what both genders want is emotional support when they’re tense, says Jennifer Priem, Ph.D., associate professor of communication at Wake Forest University. So men and women who are stressed out prefer to get support from women.

Bridging the Gender Stress Gap

Priem has found that problems arise between couples when each person has a different perception of what’s stressful. The result: When people are really tense, their partners aren’t necessarily motivated to offer support if they think, If I were in this situation, I wouldn’t consider it that big a deal. So how do you get the response you want when you need it?

Ask your partner to just listen

“That’s number one—listening to and validating the other person’s feelings,” says Sinha. “So even just saying ‘You’re really frustrated by this’ in a nonjudgmental way is validating and will ease someone’s anxiety.”

Explain that you feel defensive when he dismisses your experience

“When a partner downplays the significance of something, the person who’s stressed may hold on to it more or feel they have to convince the other person it’s true and that they have a right to feel that way,” says Priem. “You might say, ‘I’m really upset right now, and I feel frustrated when it seems you’re making light of my feelings. It would make me feel better if you’d be more responsive to the fact that I’m upset, even if you don’t understand it.’”

Treat yourself with compassion

“Women tend to be more self-critical about not being able to control their emotions,” says Sinha. So they may see a partner’s comment as judgmental even when he didn’t mean it that way. If that’s the case, forgive yourself and let it go—and hug it out, which can reduce tension and boost positive feelings.

Learning to negotiate conflicts is a big step in easing pressures. Also important: figuring out strategies to deal with the distractions, fears, and fatigue your brain naturally accumulates (see below for four smart ones). These can help you take stress in stride, with a terrific payoff: better health and greater happiness, plus a more resilient brain.

How to Control Stress and Calm Your Brain

To keep stress in check, you should of course be eating healthfully, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep to improve your mood, emotions, and cognition. But those are just the basics—and they’re not always easy to accomplish, especially when life is throwing lots of tension your way. Dr. Sood has advice that can up your stress-reducing game, based on the successful resilience program he runs at the Mayo Clinic. Here, four of his brain-focused, research-based strategies that work in just minutes a day.

Give your brain some RUM

That stands for Rest, Uplifting emotions, and Motivation. You need all three to help energize your brain and head off fatigue. So when you’re engaged in a task, take three to five minutes every couple of hours (or sooner, if you start getting fidgety) and pause for RUM.

How-to: Get up from your computer, or stop what you’re doing, and look at photos of your kids or of your favorite vacation spot, read inspiring quotes, text or call a friend, or watch a happy short video. Choose an activity that makes you feel good and is motivating.

Begin a morning gratitude practice

Take control of your brain before it gets hijacked by the day’s concerns and greet the morning in a happier, more connected frame of mind. (Check out these simple ways to practice gratitude.)

How-to: When you first wake up, before you get out of bed, spend a few minutes thinking of some people who care about you and silently send them your gratitude. Another reason it’s a good idea: A recent study found that anticipating a stressful day when you first wake up affects your working memory later that day—even if nothing stressful actually happens. (Working memory is what helps you learn things and retain them even when you’re distracted.)

Be mindfully present

Meditation is a great stress reliever, but not everyone can sit still, looking inward, for 20-plus minutes. Good news for the fidgety: Research has shown that focusing your attention outward engages the same brain network, so you can get similar stress-easing benefits by consciously giving the world your attention.

How-to: Challenge yourself to be curious and notice details—the color of the barista’s eyes at the coffee shop, the pattern of your boss’s necktie, which flowers are blooming in your neighborhood. Curiosity feeds the brain’s reward network, which makes you feel good; it also augments memory and learning.

Focus on kindness

Even the nicest among us are quick to judge others, especially if they’re different from us (thank the amygdala, a region of the brain that interprets difference as a threat).

How-to: To calm the amygdala, focus on two things when you’re feeling judgy about someone: that every person is special, and that everyone has struggles. Start a practice of sending silent good wishes to people you pass on the street or in the halls at work. The benefits for you: Your oxy­tocin, the hormone of connectedness, rises; your heart rate slows; and you feel more benevolent. All of which makes you healthier and happier.

By: Jenny Cook

Source: How Stress Hits Women’s Brains Harder—and Why Men Don’t Always Get It

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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.

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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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Apple Pay Fees Vex Credit-Card Issuers

Banks are nudging Visa to change the way it processes some Apple Pay transactions, according to people familiar with the matter.

According to people familiar with the matter, banks are pressing Visa to change the way some Apple Pay transactions are processed. Some banks are pushing back, weakening the card network Visa Inc.

To change the way some Apple Pay transactions are processed, according to some. This change will reduce the fees that banks pay to Apple.

According to people familiar with the matter and a document seen by Businesshala, Visa plans to implement the change next year. Apple executives have told Visa officials they oppose the change, the people said. The two companies are in discussion and it is possible that the planned change will not start.

Currently, banks pay the fee to Apple when their cardholders use Apple Pay. Under the new process planned, the fee will not apply to automatic recurring payments such as gym memberships and streaming services.

The dispute reflects a long-running tension between the tech and finance giants. Companies like Apple and Amazon.com Inc.

Consumer payments have been expanding over the years. Banks often bargain with them for fear of being left behind. But deals don’t always work out: Alphabet Inc. NS

For example, Google is dropping plans to introduce bank accounts to users. Apple said in a statement that “our banking partners are an important part of the growth of Apple Pay.”

The company said, “Our bank partners continue to see the benefits of providing Apple Pay and invest in new ways to implement and promote Apple Pay for our customers for secure and private in-store and online purchases. “

Major networks including Visa and MasterCard Inc.

There are effective gateways between banks and Apple Pay, as they help to load banks’ cards into mobile wallets. The change will apply to Visa-branded cards, though other networks may follow suit.

Mobile wallets are smartphone apps on which people can load their debit or credit-card credentials and use their phones instead of tangible cards to make payments. The transaction fee is charged to the buyer’s card.

When Apple introduced Apple Pay in 2014, the iPhone had already discontinued the music player, camera, and GPS system. Banks and card networks are worried it will displace card payments as well.

Banks agreed to pay 0.15% to Apple for every purchase made by their credit cardholders. (They pay a separate fee on debit-card transactions.) Those charges account for most of the revenue Apple makes from its digital wallet, according to people familiar with the matter.

The terms had the potential to be uniquely attractive to Apple. Banks do not charge Google for its Wallet.

Visa and MasterCard also agreed to make an unusual concession to Apple: Apple will be able to choose which issuers it will allow on Apple Pay and which issuers will accept cards, according to people familiar with the matter. Visa and MasterCard generally require that all entities that accept their credit cards must accept them. Apple agreed not to develop the card network to compete against Visa and MasterCard, the people said.

But since then, customers have been slower to adopt Apple Pay than bank and card network executives expected. And some bank executives were outraged when Apple launched its own credit card with Goldman Sachs Group in 2019 Inc.,

People familiar with the matter said, because it made Apple a direct competitor.

Apple said in a statement that it “works closely with approximately 9,000 banking partners to offer Apple Pay to customers in approximately 60 countries and territories.”

Visa has shared its planned technological change with at least a few banks in recent months. A document reviewed by the Journal explains the new process that doesn’t mention fees, but details a change to so-called tokens issued by Visa for mobile-wallet payments.

When consumers load their credit cards on Apple Pay, Visa issues a special token that replaces the card number. This allows the card to work on Apple Pay and also helps protect the card in a potential data breach, among other benefits.

Visa is planning to start using a separate token on recurring automatic payments. This effectively means that after making the first payment on the subscription, Apple will not receive a fee on the following transactions.

According to people familiar with the matter, some of the larger banks first tried to lower their Apple Pay fees around 2017, but were not successful.

By: AnnaMaria Andriotis

AnnaMaria Andriotis reports on credit cards for The Wall Street Journal. She covers Visa, Mastercard, American Express and Discover as well as the big banks’ credit-card divisions. She also writes about consumer credit broadly, with a focus on issues that have a big impact on U.S. borrowers. She has been a reporter with The Wall Street Journal since 2014 and got her start at Dow Jones more than 10 years ago. You can email AnnaMaria at annamaria.andriotis@wsj.com and follow her on Twitter @AAndriotis.

Source: Businesshala News Exclusive | Apple Pay Fees Vex Credit-Card Issuers

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