By now, many of us, beset by bad weather and declining motivation, are struggling to maintain our New Year’s exercise resolutions. But a timely new study offers encouragement, suggesting that by paying more attention to the experience of exercise itself, even the most reluctant of exercisers might begin to find pleasure in movement.
Scientists, like the rest of us, have long wondered why some people stick with exercise and others do not. The possible explanations involve everything from genetics and personality to practicalities like work schedules and access to showers. But in multiple studies of exercise behavior, one of the most reliable indicators of whether people will continue to exercise is that they find exercise satisfying. They gain enjoyment from being active.
The problem with that finding is that it does not explain what makes exercise satisfying and so is not very helpful on a practical level. Simply advising unenthusiastic exercisers to start enjoying their workouts more seems unlikely to have the desired effect.Read the entire article on The New York Times
I regret that for most of my adult life, I treated sleep as more a luxury than a necessity. There was always something more to do before I crawled under the covers and turned out the light. I realize belatedly that I might have been more productive — and a lot nicer to live with — if I had given sleep its proper due.
By failing to acknowledge chronic sleep deprivation, I dozed during countless cultural events, and on two occasions I fell asleep while driving, barely escaping disaster. I have since reordered my priorities and learned to avoid distractions and activities that can keep me from getting the sleep my body and mind really need.
About 70 million Americans sleep poorly or not nearly long enough to achieve the full physical, emotional and cognitive benefits sleep can bestow. There are myriad reasons, ranging from self-inflicted disruptions to those that are seemingly unavoidable. But there are also potential solutions to most of the factors that can interfere with sleep. For the sake of your health and longevity, I urge you to give them a try.Read the entire article on The New York Times
We’ve heard all the cliches about aging: “You’re as young [or old] as you feel.” “Age is just a number.” “You’re not getting older, you’re getting better.” “Seventy is the new 50.” Well-intentioned, perhaps. Offensive, to some. Patronizing, to be sure. But could they be true?
Maybe science has started to catch up with these tired phrases. Researchers have discovered that many people do feel good about themselves as they get older — and there may be practical advantages to embracing that point of view.
One study, for example, found that as people age, they consistently say they feel younger — much younger — than their actual age. Another study examining the attitudes of the offspring of centenarians concluded that the centenarians’ children — if they, too, were healthy and long-lived — have a strong sense of purpose and meaning to their lives, compared with the general population. Finally, there is evidence that positive attitudes about aging may reduce the risk of dementia, among the most dreaded consequences of aging.Read the entire article on The Boston Globe
I have slogged through a number of difficult situations in recent months, among them the ongoing crises of my elderly parents’ illnesses and the suicide of a friend. I never lost my appetite nor burst into tears, and I didn’t suffer from any of the other typical symptoms of depression. Maybe I was more irritable than usual, a bit more prone to snap. And yes, I buried myself in my work. But I didn’t think I’d tripped down into the rabbit hole of depression.
You would think I would have been more self-aware, both personally and professionally. As a health journalist, I have often used my own stories to write about difficult-to-discuss medical conditions, including learning I had testicular cancer at age 26 and my misdiagnosis with H.I.V./AIDS — back when it was a death sentence. But I had never written about suffering from depression, even though it’s plagued me since I first put pen to paper, at age 11, when I started keeping a diary.
Still, I’m far from alone. At least six million men in the United States suffer from depression, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. The true number is likely to be even higher, said Dr. Matthew Rudorfer, the institute’s associate director for treatment research, since men are less likely than women to report classic symptoms like low mood, sadness or crying, so they often go undiagnosed. Men, he told me, more often demonstrate “externalizing” symptoms like irritability, anger and aggressiveness, substance and alcohol abuse, risk-taking behaviors and “workaholism.”Read the entire article on The New York Times
Age and time have a funny relationship: Sure, they both move in the same direction, but the older we get, the more inverse that relationship can feel. And as work and family commitments take up a drastically outsize portion of that time, it’s the treasured friendships in our life that often fade.
A recent study found that the maximum number of social connections for both men and women occurs around the age of 25. But as young adults settle into careers and prioritize romantic relationships, those social circles rapidly shrink and friendships tend to take a back seat.
The impact of that loss can be both social and physiological, as research shows that bonds of friendship are critical to maintaining both physical and emotional health. Not only do strong social ties boost the immune system and increase longevity, but they also decrease the risk of contracting certain chronic illnesses and increase the ability to deal with chronic pain, according to a 2010 report in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior.Read the entire article on The New York Times
In a particularly low moment a few years back, after arriving friendless and lonely from Britain to live in the United States, I downloaded a “happiness app” onto my phone. It was surprisingly hard to choose one. There were close to a thousand bliss-promising options in the app store — ones that would teach you to meditate or be grateful, or that would send you photomontages of sunsets and puppies or unfeasibly flattering shots of your loved ones (giving you a moment to temporarily ignore your actual, less attractive loved ones.)
The app I eventually chose messaged me every hour or so with a positive affirmation that I was supposed to repeat to myself over and over. “I am beautiful,” or “I am enough.” The problem was, every time my phone buzzed with an incoming message, I would get a Pavlovian jolt of excitement thinking an actual person was trying to contact me. “I am enough,” I would snarl bitterly upon realizing the truth, unable to shake the feeling that, without friends or community, I really wasn’t.
“Happiness comes from within,” said the inspirational photo-card in my Facebook news feed a few days later, the loopy white meme-font set against a backdrop of a woman contorted into a yoga pose so tortuous it looked as though she might actually be investigating her own innards trying to locate her bliss.Read the entire article on The New York Times
The disintegration of Jake’s life took him by surprise. It happened early in his junior year of high school, while he was taking three Advanced Placement classes, running on his school’s cross-country team and traveling to Model United Nations conferences. It was a lot to handle, but Jake — the likable, hard-working oldest sibling in a suburban North Carolina family — was the kind of teenager who handled things. Though he was not prone to boastfulness, the fact was he had never really failed at anything.
Not coincidentally, failure was one of Jake’s biggest fears. He worried about it privately; maybe he couldn’t keep up with his peers, maybe he wouldn’t succeed in life. The relentless drive to avoid such a fate seemed to come from deep inside him. He considered it a strength.
Jake’s parents knew he could be high-strung; in middle school, they sent him to a therapist when he was too scared to sleep in his own room. But nothing prepared them for the day two years ago when Jake, then 17, seemingly “ran 150 miles per hour into a brick wall,” his mother said. He refused to go to school and curled up in the fetal position on the floor. “I just can’t take it!” he screamed. “You just don’t understand!”Read the entire article on The New York Times
It’s time to roll out your yoga mat and discover the combination of physical and mental exercises that for thousands of years have hooked yoga practitioners around the globe. The beauty of yoga is that you don’t have to be a yogi or yogini to reap the benefits. Whether you are young or old, overweight or fit, yoga has the power to calm the mind and strengthen the body. Don’t be intimidated by yoga terminology, fancy yoga studios and complicated poses. Yoga is for everyone.
Read the entire article on The New York Times
It’s peak “engagement season” — the span of time between Thanksgiving and Valentine’s Day when, according to the website WeddingWire, more than a third of couples pledge to marry.Read the entire article on The New York Times
If you’re like most Americans, you eat more sugar than is good for you. But it’s entirely possible to eat less sugar without sacrificing much — if any — of the pleasures of eating. Surprising as it may sound, many people who have cut back on sugar say they find their new eating habits more pleasurable than their old ones. This guide will walk you through why sugar matters, how you can make smart food choices to reduce sugar consumption, and how you can keep your life sweet, even without so many sweets.
Read the entire article on The New York Times
For years, as standardized tests took on ever greater importance in Massachusetts public schools, recess seemed to pay the price, shrinking or even disappearing in some communities. But now, with an increased focus on kids’ social and emotional development, there is a concerted effort to revive the tradition.
Across the state, a growing number of schools are tapping recess not only to encourage students to be more active but also to teach them a host of skills, such as how to get along with their peers, control their emotions, and take leadership roles.
Many school systems, from Brookline to Medway, are expanding recess or are exploring the idea in response to growing concerns about increased anxiety, stress, and depression among students, while the Legislature is pondering a bill that would require 20-minute recesses at all elementary schools.Read the entire article on The Boston Globe
ne day last summer, around noon, I called Athena, a 13-year-old who lives in Houston, Texas. She answered her phone—she’s had an iPhone since she was 11—sounding as if she’d just woken up. We chatted about her favorite songs and TV shows, and I asked her what she likes to do with her friends. “We go to the mall,” she said. “Do your parents drop you off?,” I asked, recalling my own middle-school days, in the 1980s, when I’d enjoy a few parent-free hours shopping with my friends. “No—I go with my family,” she replied. “We’ll go with my mom and brothers and walk a little behind them. I just have to tell my mom where we’re going. I have to check in every hour or every 30 minutes.”
Those mall trips are infrequent—about once a month. More often, Athena and her friends spend time together on their phones, unchaperoned. Unlike the teens of my generation, who might have spent an evening tying up the family landline with gossip, they talk on Snapchat, the smartphone app that allows users to send pictures and videos that quickly disappear. They make sure to keep up their Snapstreaks, which show how many days in a row they have Snapchatted with each other. Sometimes they save screenshots of particularly ridiculous pictures of friends. “It’s good blackmail,” Athena said. (Because she’s a minor, I’m not using her real name.) She told me she’d spent most of the summer hanging out alone in her room with her phone. That’s just the way her generation is, she said. “We didn’t have a choice to know any life without iPads or iPhones. I think we like our phones more than we like actual people.”
Read the entire article on The Atlantic Magazine
When the sum total of human knowledge rests an arm’s length away in each person’s pocket, why do we have to remember anything anymore?Read the entire article on The New York Times
The most common source of stress among American adults?
It’s not money or work, but concern about the nation’s future.
About 63 percent of adults surveyed said the future of country was a source of stress, a slightly greater share than the 62 percent who said money caused them stress and the 61 percent who said it was work that caused them the most anxiety, a report from the American Psychological Association found.Read the entire article on The Boston Globe
When people get up and move, even a little, they tend to be happier than when they are still, according to an interesting new study that used cellphone data to track activities and moods. In general, the researchers found, people who move are more content than people who sit.
There already is considerable evidence that physical activity is linked to psychological health. Epidemiological studies have found, for example, that people who exercise or otherwise are active typically are less prone to depression and anxiety than sedentary people.
But many of these studies focused only on negative moods. They often also relied on people recalling how they had felt and how much they had moved or sat in the previous week or month, with little objective data to support these recollections.Read the entire article on The New York Times
Six years ago, at age 49, Julie Gregory paid an online service to sequence her genes, hoping to turn up clues about her poor circulation, blood-sugar swings and general ill health. Instead she learned she had a time bomb hidden in her DNA: two copies of a gene variant, ApoE4, that is strongly linked to Alzheimer’s. Most Americans with this genotype go on to develop late-onset dementia.
“Alzheimer’s was the furthest thing from my mind,” Ms. Gregory told me. “I never thought I was at risk. When I saw my results, I was terrified.”
When Ms. Gregory consulted with a neurologist about how to delay the onset of illness, he had four words for her: “Good luck with that.” After all, no drug had proven effective in reversing Alzheimer’s disease. And preventive measures like diet and exercise, the neurologist told her, would do no good.Read the entire article on The New York Times
Exercise can protect you from disease, slim your waistline and extend your lifespan. But doing it regularly is easier said than done. Work, stress, relationships and a lack of time can all stand in the way, which is why the vast majority of Americans don’t exercise nearly enough. But the right plan and knowledge about how to structure an exercise routine can help you make it a regular part of your life. Here are ways that you can start a fitness routine – and stick to it – so you can reap the vast benefits of exercise.
Read the entire article on The New York Times
It’s hard to put a start date on America’s War on Clutter, but you could trace it to 1978, when the first Container Store opened in a 1,600-square-foot space in Dallas, or to 1985, when a few professional organizers from California saw gold in people’s junk and started a trade association that today counts about 3,400 members.
But despite an industry that’s grown so massive it’s become its own form of clutter — with books, and experts, and storage containers, and apps, and YouTube videos — we’ve made so little progress that even the professional organizers aren’t pretending the problem has been solved — or even that it’s solvable.
In Melrose, Kathy Vines, of Clever Girl Organizing, calls decluttering a “journey.” “There isn’t an end game,” she said.Read the entire article on The Boston Globe
The National Cancer Institute tries to be helpful: “At some point during chemotherapy, you may feel: Anxious; Depressed; Afraid; Angry; Frustrated; Helpless; Lonely. It is normal to have a wide range of feelings while going through chemotherapy. After all, living with cancer and getting treatment can be stressful.”
These words made me want to yell. Do they not understand? It is not remotely normal to see only bleakness, to be continuously angst-ridden, and to lack the spirit even to say good night to my precious daughters.
“Many people find that light exercise, such as walking, riding a bike and doing yoga, helps them feel better.” This advice enraged me: The very idea of exercise was laughable. Each night I would resolve to walk round the block tomorrow. But in the morning I would lie unable to rise, unable to sleep, taunted by piles of unread, unreadable books by my bed. 2.30 p.m. 5 p.m. A shuffle downstairs for a bowl of cereal, the act of eating an unexpected respite, then back to bed. My wife was unwavering in the face of such misery: You will feel better, it will all be OK. I knew she believed this, but I did not.Read the entire article on The Boston Globe
In America, guns are a fact of life — and too often a cause of death. In all, 38,658 people died from gunshots in 2016. Some were murdered; others took their own lives. Some were killed by accident.
But none of them had to die.Read the entire article on The Boston Globe