The Way this 73-Year-Old Woman Transformed Her Body is Inspirational

(Mayukh Saha) When one door closes, several others open up. Joan MacDonald, a septuagenarian from Ontario knows all about it. She believes that age is no impediment to how you live your life. Just because you are old doesn’t mean that you have to give up on life – or simply waste away during the years left. After her general physician mentioned prescription drugs for her old age, she decided that it was time for her to make big changes. This is when she got into the fitness industry.

The post The Way this 73-Year-Old Woman Transformed Her Body is Inspirational appeared on Stillness in the Storm.

5 Great Benefits Kids Can Get From Yoga

Kermit the Frog has a wonderful song – “It’s Not Easy Being Green.” And kids love this song because they can relate. After all, it’s not easy being a kid today either. More and more is asked of them in school; they are hurried from one activity to the next; homework begins at much earlier grade levels now, and then there are all of the digital distractions that top off fully exhausting days and evenings.

It’s Beginning to Show in the Classroom

Teachers are frustrated because attention spans seem to be so short and because they have to be entertainers if they want to engage learning in their classrooms. Parents worry that their kids won’t pass the standardized state tests that often decide promotion to the next grade. So, they cart their kids to tutoring sessions, among all of the sports practices. Kids just don’t have any non-stimulated time, and that is a huge concern. This is where yoga comes in.

Yoga – the Balance Every Kid Needs

Amidst the flurry of activity, there should be time for all kids to turn off their devices and tune out their activities and school work. There should be time for non-competitive physical activity, for some quiet reflection, and for the opportunity to enhance their ability to focus.

These are the big benefits of yoga and this is what kids can get when they learn and practice it.


  • Become aware of their breathing and the connections between deep breathing and the body’s feel.
    Techniques and games that foster this connection serve to improve focus, reduce stress, and actually cause the release of healthy hormones.


  • Balance: Techniques that focus on balance do far more than just develop control over the physical body. They assist increases in attention in natural ways, rather than through medication, which doctors are so quick to prescribe. As kids focus on a balance pose, they also clear their minds, thinking only of what their bodies are doing.

  • Kids have lots of natural flexibility – something that we adults lose as we grow older.  Doing stretching exercises increases flexibility, a flexibility that forms in muscles and joints and allows them to “yield.” Football players who practice yoga, for example, have far fewer serious injuries because they have developed flexibility. If flexibility exercises can become habitual with kids, they will perform better in any sport.

  • Focus and Awareness: A typical yoga exercise for young children is to have them close their eyes and focus on sitting just as a statue. They must become aware of all parts of their body in order to keep them still and stiff, and focus on keeping them that way. Then, when a short period of time is over, they are told to relax and just start laughing as hard as they can – a great release of energy and stress. They come to understand that they have control of their bodies and of their minds, and with this understanding comes confidence.

  • Relaxation and Meditation: This may be the most important benefit of yoga for young children. The early exercises of tightening and then relaxing muscles, of holding poses and moving from one pose into another, all take the mind away from the “harried” nature of their lives and have a strong calming effect. Meditation on their mats can occur as they sit in a pose or lie flat. In both instances, children can be guided to place their thought on a single thing – maybe a favorite pet or color.

Gradually, additional visualization can be added to meditation. One small private school has an assembly each morning. Children are on mats and perform yoga poses and exercises to music. Then, the “quiet” time begins. As they sit on their mats, softer music is played and they are asked to think of one thing they want to accomplish that day and to see themselves doing it – a small activity that inspires.

Yoga for kids is all about developing habits of body and mind working together to create a more balanced lifestyle and develop great study habits. When these habits are instilled early, they tend to “stick” better.

It’s a Mindset: In Order to Get Fit, You Must THINK of Yourself as Fit

If you know you’re not as physically active as you should be, stop thinking about it and start doing something about it. People who view themselves as lazy compared to others are more likely to die at a younger age, even if their actual activity levels were the same. [1]

That means people who thought they were less active than their peers likely weren’t reaping the full benefits of exercise, all because of their negative attitude.

Lead author Octavia Zahrt, a Stanford PhD student in organizational behavior, says she knows firsthand how negative self-talk and toxic comparisons can make a solid effort seem lazy.

She explained:

“I am from Germany, and back there I felt really good about my activity level. I biked to work, and went to the gym maybe once a week.”

Zahrt says that when she moved to California, she was suddenly “surrounded by people who exercise all the time. Compared to them I felt really inactive, and I developed what I know now was a really negative mindset about my physical activity.”

The ‘Side Effects’ of Negative Attitudes

That feeling of inadequacy led Zahrt and her faculty adviser, Alia Crum, PhD, to study the possible effects of such an attitude on long-term health. The duo analyzed data from more than 61,000 adults who were surveyed between 1990 and 2006 followed until 2011.

The participants were asked about their activity levels, and some were given accelerometers to wear so they could track their real-time activity for a week. All of the volunteers were also asked, “Would you say that you are physically more active, less active, or about as active as other persons your age?”

The researchers found that those who believed they were less active than others were 71% more likely to die during the study’s follow-up period. That was the case even after the team adjusted for disability, general health status, and demographics, plus actual activity levels.

Pretty heavy stuff when you think about it – you could be bending and lifting a lot at work, or weeding the garden and mowing the lawn every weekend and still have a startling higher risk of death just because you don’t consider those activities “exercise” and you don’t consider yourself “fit.”

The researchers found that, most of the time, the participants underestimated their activity levels when comparing themselves to others.

Zahrt said:

“It can be easy to compare how much exercise we get with the people around us, as opposed to what’s recommended for everyone. Plus, a lot of people think that exercise has to mean running or going to the gym, and they don’t give themselves credit for all of the other activity they do – cleaning their house, walking to the store, carrying their kids, those sorts of things.”

I hate to credit a saying that’s become so cliché, but in this case, it’s gospel truth: Attitude is everything.

Crum first studied the “placebo effect” of exercise a decade ago. She explained:

“These women were getting lots of exercise, but when we asked them they didn’t have the mindset that their work was good exercise.” [2]

The participants – all hotel attendants – were given a presentation explaining that all the heavy lifting, walking, and physical labor they did at work was good exercise. Then, Crum and her teammates tracked the women for a month.

Crum said:

“The women who started to look at their work as good exercise had improvements in blood pressure and body fat.”

She added:

“What’s surprising to me is how robust the accumulated evidence is on the power of mindset in shaping our health, and yet people are still so shocked when they hear results like this.” [1]

Yes – How You Think Affects Your Health (and much More)

People shouldn’t be shocked because there is a ridiculous amount of scientific evidence that how you think affects your health, for better or for worse. Seriously, let’s look at just a few examples.

In the End…

You have to see yourself as an active person, but be careful; it would be so simple to actually backslide and become less active than you should be. It’s important to recognize the activeness revolving around certain activities, but be sure not to over-estimate the value of those activities and then avoid other exercises because of it.

One more thing – and I’ll be blunt… If your idea of “exercise” is walking to the fridge, or going to the mall once a month, telling yourself you’re plenty active won’t make it so. You deserve to be realistic with yourself.

Crum said:

“This is not an excuse to just stop doing anything but believe you’re doing everything. It’s a reminder that, yes, you should work to get active in your life – but you should also be mindful of those negative thoughts that can creep in and the effects they might have.

Just because you didn’t get to that Spin class or that fancy new fitness class, doesn’t mean you’re not as healthy as those who do.” [1]

Zahrt agreed, adding:

“If we can change our perceptions to view all activity as good activity, we think that could be a first and really important step to improving our health.”

Sources:

[1] Health

[2] NPR

It’s a Mindset: In Order to Get Fit, You Must THINK of Yourself as Fit

If you know you’re not as physically active as you should be, stop thinking about it and start doing something about it. People who view themselves as lazy compared to others are more likely to die at a younger age, even if their actual activity levels were the same. [1]

That means people who thought they were less active than their peers likely weren’t reaping the full benefits of exercise, all because of their negative attitude.

Lead author Octavia Zahrt, a Stanford PhD student in organizational behavior, says she knows firsthand how negative self-talk and toxic comparisons can make a solid effort seem lazy.

She explained:

“I am from Germany, and back there I felt really good about my activity level. I biked to work, and went to the gym maybe once a week.”

Zahrt says that when she moved to California, she was suddenly “surrounded by people who exercise all the time. Compared to them I felt really inactive, and I developed what I know now was a really negative mindset about my physical activity.”

The ‘Side Effects’ of Negative Attitudes

That feeling of inadequacy led Zahrt and her faculty adviser, Alia Crum, PhD, to study the possible effects of such an attitude on long-term health. The duo analyzed data from more than 61,000 adults who were surveyed between 1990 and 2006 followed until 2011.

The participants were asked about their activity levels, and some were given accelerometers to wear so they could track their real-time activity for a week. All of the volunteers were also asked, “Would you say that you are physically more active, less active, or about as active as other persons your age?”

The researchers found that those who believed they were less active than others were 71% more likely to die during the study’s follow-up period. That was the case even after the team adjusted for disability, general health status, and demographics, plus actual activity levels.

Pretty heavy stuff when you think about it – you could be bending and lifting a lot at work, or weeding the garden and mowing the lawn every weekend and still have a startling higher risk of death just because you don’t consider those activities “exercise” and you don’t consider yourself “fit.”

The researchers found that, most of the time, the participants underestimated their activity levels when comparing themselves to others.

Zahrt said:

“It can be easy to compare how much exercise we get with the people around us, as opposed to what’s recommended for everyone. Plus, a lot of people think that exercise has to mean running or going to the gym, and they don’t give themselves credit for all of the other activity they do – cleaning their house, walking to the store, carrying their kids, those sorts of things.”

I hate to credit a saying that’s become so cliché, but in this case, it’s gospel truth: Attitude is everything.

Crum first studied the “placebo effect” of exercise a decade ago. She explained:

“These women were getting lots of exercise, but when we asked them they didn’t have the mindset that their work was good exercise.” [2]

The participants – all hotel attendants – were given a presentation explaining that all the heavy lifting, walking, and physical labor they did at work was good exercise. Then, Crum and her teammates tracked the women for a month.

Crum said:

“The women who started to look at their work as good exercise had improvements in blood pressure and body fat.”

She added:

“What’s surprising to me is how robust the accumulated evidence is on the power of mindset in shaping our health, and yet people are still so shocked when they hear results like this.” [1]

Yes – How You Think Affects Your Health (and much More)

People shouldn’t be shocked because there is a ridiculous amount of scientific evidence that how you think affects your health, for better or for worse. Seriously, let’s look at just a few examples.

In the End…

You have to see yourself as an active person, but be careful; it would be so simple to actually backslide and become less active than you should be. It’s important to recognize the activeness revolving around certain activities, but be sure not to over-estimate the value of those activities and then avoid other exercises because of it.

One more thing – and I’ll be blunt… If your idea of “exercise” is walking to the fridge, or going to the mall once a month, telling yourself you’re plenty active won’t make it so. You deserve to be realistic with yourself.

Crum said:

“This is not an excuse to just stop doing anything but believe you’re doing everything. It’s a reminder that, yes, you should work to get active in your life – but you should also be mindful of those negative thoughts that can creep in and the effects they might have.

Just because you didn’t get to that Spin class or that fancy new fitness class, doesn’t mean you’re not as healthy as those who do.” [1]

Zahrt agreed, adding:

“If we can change our perceptions to view all activity as good activity, we think that could be a first and really important step to improving our health.”

Sources:

[1] Health

[2] NPR

Giving Up on Losing Weight? Here’s How to Stick with It

If you’ve never tried to lose weight, let me fill you in on something: It can be hard if you don’t know what to do. What’s more, though it can be frustrating only losing a few pounds at a time, that’s the healthiest way to do it. But it doesn’t have to be as hard as it you think. I’m here to help you NOT give up on your weight loss goals.

In the United States, 1 in every 3 people are obese, compared to 1 in 5 just 2 decades ago. But unlike in years past, Americans are now less likely to try to lose the extra weight. People surveyed between 2009 and 2014 were 17% less likely overall to say they’d tried to lose weight in the previous year compared to those surveyed between 1988 and 1994. [1]

It’s a problem when the simply ‘overweight’ have given up on weight-loss the most, putting them at risk of becoming obese.

Senior researcher Dr. Jian Zhang, an associate professor of epidemiology at Georgia Southern University, says:

“This is not good. We are missing the opportunity to stop overweight from becoming obesity.” [1]

Mixed Messages

It’s hard to adhere to a healthy eating pattern when you’re not sure what that even means. Dr. Mitchell Roslin, chief of obesity surgery for Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, says:

“First they were told don’t eat fat, and now we are telling patients to reduce simple carbohydrates. While I believe that reducing carbohydrates is key, what the public hears is, ‘I might as well eat what I like because all this advice has not worked.’” [1]

It wasn’t long ago that fat was considered a harbinger of stroke and heart disease, and weight gain. People turned to low-fat and fat-free food, believing them to be the healthy alternatives. In reality, these products are loaded with added sugar to improve flavor, which leads to an increase in those health conditions, as well as diabetes and obesity.

The other sad reality is that people are so used to hearing about the obesity epidemic in America, many have come to believe that obesity is the “new normal” and something they must simply accept.

Read: 4 Mantras for Lasting Weight Loss

Overweight is the New Norm

The researchers behind a study published last year point to a 2010 study in the journal Obesity which detailed “a generational shift in social norms related to body weight.” According to that body of research, between 1998 and 2004, both men and women became less likely to classify themselves as overweight, even when their body mass index (BMI) proved otherwise. [2]

Then there’s the very real frustration of having lost weight only to regain it. It’s easy to feel like a failure when you’ve watched the pounds you’ve shed start to creep back onto your frame. The authors of the new report wrote:

“The longer adults live with obesity, the less they may be willing to attempt weight loss, in particular if they had attempted weight loss multiple times without success.” [2]

According to a 2011 study in the New England Journal of Medicine, after dieting, the body undergoes a series of changes designed to make sure that all the lost weight is gained back.

Thanks for that slap in the face, nature.

6 Simple Tips to Just ‘Stick with It’

If you want to lose weight and keep it off, you need a plan. And no matter how often the food and ‘nutrition’ industry shifts, stick to that plan and see if it works. As many people can tell you, simply deciding to “diet” and getting rid of unhealthy food in your home may not be enough to sustain you for the duration of your weight-loss.

Here are a few tips to help you on your journey.

1. Set Reasonable Goals

If you want to lose, say, 100 pounds, then you need to start small. There’s no way you can really lose 100 pounds quickly, so you need to set smaller goals that help you get to your ultimate one.

June Kloubec, Ph.D., a professor in the department of nutrition and exercise science at Bastyr University, explains:

“Most experts agree that losing more than 2 pounds per week is difficult to sustain and an unhealthy way to manage weight loss.” [3]

Read: Eating These 3 ‘Fatty’ Foods Can Make You Thinner

Instead, try setting a goal of losing just 5 pounds. You could pick a date to achieve that goal by – but I would simply aim to lose 1-2 lbs per week. If you don’t lose that for 2 weeks straight, re-evaluate your lifestyle and think about cutting something else from your normal diet.

The absolutely best thing you can do for yourself, at least for a few weeks or months, is to vehemently track your calorie intake. No one wants to do it, but it may be the key to your weight loss goals.

2. Reward Yourself

When you reach a new goal, don’t just pat yourself on the back, celebrate! Try including a reward for each 5 pounds lost, for example, so that you have further motivation. I would recommend that you stay at that goal for at least 2 weeks, though, before rewarding yourself.

3. Make Yourself Accountable

There’s a reason people have weight loss blogs. It’s easier to stick to something when there are other people holding you accountable. If you mess up and “fall off the wagon,” confess it to someone. Consider some safe-but-annoying repercussions, too, like completing a household chore you’ve been avoiding. Maybe wash the dishes by hand, even if you have a dishwasher. [4]

4. Invest in Your Health

Got an extra $150 burning a hole in your wallet? Maybe you don’t. Maybe you’d only spend that money on something you’re really serious about, because that kind of cold cash doesn’t come around often. If it does, consider joining a gym or athletic club. If you’re not wild about the idea of working out in front of other people, buy a piece of exercise equipment.

One important note here is that you don’t need cardio to lose weight – you simply need to burn more calories than your taking in. So, if you hate cardio, just focus on diet.

5. Make it Sustainable

Don’t make the mistake that I did. About a decade ago, in an attempt to lose weight, I ate mostly salad for lunch every day at work, with things like apples and bananas for snacks. There wasn’t any protein in those salads, either. I didn’t lose any weight, but I was starving and miserable.

The tricky thing about losing weight is that is usually means you need to eat less…but if adopt a diet that is simply unsustainable, you’ll binge and ultimately end up kicking yourself while your down.

Pick something that works for you. There are so many different diets, and 99% of them can work as long as your body is burning more calories than it is taking in. The Mediterranean diet, the Ketogenic diet, the Paleo diet, and many more are tried and true ways to lose weight – if the diet works for you.

Read: Eat More Protein to Lose Weight and Prevent Diabetes

6. When You Mess up, get up, Dust Yourself off, and Keep Going

Accidents happen. Office birthday cakes happen. You get the idea – temptation is everywhere so you might as well accept that you’re going to “mess up” sometimes. It’s OK. In fact, you shouldn’t really deny yourself your favorite foods. It’s more important that you eat them in moderation, and infrequently.

When you do mess up, though, remember that it doesn’t cancel out the great progress you’ve already made. Even if it’s Day 2 and the only victory you have under your belt so far is that you ate more green beans than meat at dinner last night.

Sources:

[1] HealthDay

[2] Los Angeles Times

[3] Self

[4] Everyday Health

Can You Be Fat but Fit? Not Likely, Study Says

People who are overweight or obese are a bit misinformed if they believe that just because they don’t have any immediate health problems, it means that they can be “fat but fit.” Furthermore, they actually set themselves up for health problems by believing that they have the same disease risk as healthy-weight people, a study by scientists at the University of Birmingham in the U.K. suggests. [1]

Researchers examined the health records of about 3.5 million people in the U.K. from 1995 to 2015 who didn’t have heart disease at the start of the study, and then grouped them according to body mass index (BMI) and whether they had diabetes, high blood pressure, or abnormal blood fat levels.

Source: Drexel Medicine

Those who had a high BMI but no other health problems were categorized as “metabolically healthy obese,” yet they were found to have a 50% increased risk of heart disease, a 7% higher risk of stroke or heart attack, and an 11% greater risk of developing poor circulation to the limbs.

Rishi Caleyachetty, Ph.D., co-author of the study and an epidemiologist at the university, said:

“This is the largest prospective study of the association between metabolically health [sic] obesity and cardiovascular disease events.” [2]

“The priority of health professionals should be to promote and facilitate weight loss among obese persons, regardless of the presence or absence of metabolic abnormalities. At the population level, so-called metabolically healthy obesity is not a harmless condition, and perhaps it is better not to use this term to describe an obese person, regardless of how many metabolic complications they have.” [3]

The study contradicts past research, which has indicated that metabolically healthy obese people don’t have the complications normally associated with obesity, including high blood pressure, diabetes, or poor blood sugar control. [3]

Read: The Average American Woman Now Weighs as Much as 1960s Man

A study by Erasmus University Medical Centre in Rotterdam published earlier this year seemed to indicate that obesity doesn’t necessarily equal poor health, and that exercise reduces the risk of heart attack or stroke, regardless of BMI. [3]

However, that same study found that if people had a combination of obesity and inactivity, they were a third more likely to have a heart attack or stroke.

Now, in light of the latest study’s findings, researchers are calling for the term “metabolically healthy obesity” to be changed. [3]

Right now in America, more than one-third of adults are obese, according to the CDC. Not a single state in the union has an obesity rate of less than 20%. [2]

Source: Population Reference Bureau

Apart from future health problems, overweight people statistically earn less in their careers than normal-weight people, and women are the most affected.

Sources:

[1] Men’s Fitness

[2] New York Post

[3] Express

Drexel Medicine

Population Reference Bureau

Want to Naturally Crave Healthy Foods? Try This

You know you don’t have the healthiest diet. Most of your meals come from a box or a can. Vegetables are the exception, not the rule. You’re frustrated and you know you need to eat more healthily, but you need someone or something to light a fire under your sedentary behind. According to new research, you might be more inclined to improve your diet if you get moving, first.

muscle confusion

Molly Bray, study co-author and chair of the department of nutritional sciences at the University of Texas at Austin, said:

“It’s hard to start a diet. Most people feel deprived from the get-go. Instead of taking something away, you can add physical activity to your life, and the consequent changes may be significant changes in the way you eat.”

For the study, Bray and her colleagues recruited more than 2,500 college students who said they didn’t eat healthily and exercised for less than 30 minutes a week. The researchers put the students on a 15-week aerobic exercise plan involving guided cardio lasting 30-60 minutes, 3 times a week. Each participant was asked to fill out a diet questionnaire at the beginning and end of the study. They were also instructed not to alter their eating habits.

Study: Here’s How Much to Exercise to Undo the Damage from Sitting All Day

However, many of the students did change their diet. About 2,000 of the recruits stuck with the exercise plan, and they turned out to be more likely to start eating healthier without being instructed to, the researchers found. Many of the exercisers started adding more healthy foods to their diet, including fruit, vegetables, lean meats, fish, and nuts.

Moreover, their diets started to include fewer fried foods, soda, and junk food. The more a student exercised, and the more vigorously they did so, the more their diet tended to improve, the study showed.

The longer an individual worked out, the less likely they were to consume fried foods, snack foods, and red meat. What’s more, high-intensity exercise was associated with an increase in preference for healthy foods. According to Bray, this means that “compliance with the exercise program was associated with a move toward eating healthier overall.”

Exercise Changes the Brain

The study didn’t tease out the reasons why exercise leads to healthier eating patterns. That is something researchers will investigate in future studies. But Bray said the reasons are both psychological and biological.

“There’s a lot of research that positive results fuel adherence and persistence and other changes physiologically. Some people may be saying, ‘Wow, look, my shorts feel looser. I’m going to work on my eating behavior.’”

Read: Every Minute of Intense Exercise Reduces Obesity Risk by up to 5%

It’s such a simple mental trick, but it makes a lot of sense. When you see yourself making progress in one area of your life (physical activity), the last thing you want to do is tank your progress by neglecting another area of your life (diet). Yet, Bray said there is more to it than that.

“I really do think exercise is altering neural processing in your brain. The stimulation of your brain that occurs with high-intensity exercise is what changes a lot of things about your body.”

Previous studies show a relationship between the intensity of exercise and the amount of appetite-regulating hormones in the body. Additionally, researchers have shown that moderate exercise can change dopamine levels in the brain in such a way that a person craves fewer fatty foods. [2]

However, Bray cautioned that eating more healthily isn’t likely to convince you to start exercising, as she doesn’t believe that food choices alter the brain the same way that exercise may. Plus, most people have an easier time of starting an exercise routine than they do starting a restrictive diet. [1]

Read: Study Proves that Exercise Can Conquer Supposed “Fat Genes”

“Add something to your life – what a good health message. This is a gift you’re giving yourself, and other really significant health changes can occur along the way.”

Bray said:

“Many people in the study didn’t know they had this active, healthy person inside them. Some of them thought their size was inevitable. For many of these young people, they are choosing what to eat and when to exercise for the first time in their lives.”

The study is published in the International Journal of Obesity.

Sources:

[1] Time

[2] Futurity

Avoid Depression in Old Age by Being Fit in Middle Age

Being physically fit in middle age may prevent 2 things: developing depression as a senior, and dying from heart disease if you do happen to become depressed.

Researchers looked at 18,000 Medicare individuals and found that those who were the most fit were 16% less likely to develop depression. The fittest were also 56% less likely to die from heart disease if they developed depression, and 61% less likely to die from heart disease if they remained depression-free.

Dr. Benjamin Willis, an epidemiologist at the Cooper Institute in Dallas, said:

“There is a well-known connection between depression and cardiovascular disease.”

The link between depression and heart disease is more of a circle than a straight line. People who have depression are more likely to have heart disease, and people who have heart disease are more likely to develop depression.

For the study, Willis and his colleagues collected data on 17,989 healthy men and women with an average age of 50 who visited a clinic for a preventative medical exam when they were middle-aged. Researchers collected the data from 1971 through 2009. The participants were all eligible for Medicare from 1999 to 2010.

Using treadmill exercise tests, depression from Medicare claim files, and data on heart disease deaths from the U.S. National Death Index records, the team estimated the participants’ fitness levels.

Read: People Who Think Positively About Aging Less Likely to Have Alzheimer’s

The Medicare claim files did not disclose the severity of depressed participants’ symptoms, which was a limitation of the study.

Willis said of the findings:

“It is never too late to get off the couch.”

He recommended exercises such as cycling, walking, jogging, and swimming.

“Always consider your own health status and check with your physician before embarking on a new physical fitness program.”

About 16 million people in the United States, and 350 million people around the world have depression. The risk of depression increases as people age. [2]

Lead study author Dr. Madhukar Trivedi, director of the center for depression research and clinical care at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, said:

“Depression doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Especially for people who are older, depression has a complicated relationship with other major medical diseases.”

Previous studies have established that exercise can improve depression and lower heart disease risk, and scientists believe that being physically fit may lower depression- and heart disease-causing inflammation, but more research is needed to understand the mechanism.

Source: Government of Western Australia

Read: 4 Ways Exercise Treats Depression Naturally

In some of Trivedi’s earlier research, he was able to show that exercise can be just as effective as antidepressants and psychotherapy at treating depression. He hopes that the latest findings will change the way doctors approach treating depression.

Trivedi said:

“I want primary care physicians to prescribe not only antidepressants but also prescribe a dose of exercise for the treatment of depression.”

The study is published in JAMA Psychiatry.

Sources:

[1] HealthDay

[2] Time

Government of Western Australia

High Vitamin D Levels is Connected with Better Physical Fitness, Study Suggests

In a study exploring the link between vitamin D and levels of physical fitness, researchers discovered that people who had a higher capacity for exercise also had higher levels of the nutrient in their blood. This suggests that having an ample amount of vitamin D in your diet can help boost your exercise stamina.

For the study, researchers looked at survey responses from nearly 2,000 adults ages 20-64, both men and women. All of them suffered from a range of different health issues including diabetes and high blood pressure. Regardless of these factors, those who performed the best physically also had higher levels of vitamin D, across the board.

Dr. Amr Marawan, lead study author and an assistant professor of internal medicine at Virginia Commonwealth University, said:

“The relationship between higher vitamin D levels and better exercise capacity holds in men and women, across the young and middle-age groups, across ethnicities, regardless of body mass index or smoking status, and whether or not participants have hypertension or diabetes.”

Read: Having High Levels of Vitamin D may Prevent Stroke

However, the researchers warn that consuming too much vitamin D can have negative ramifications for your health. But it’s quite difficult to overdo it with vitamin D, as it would require taking in approximately 60,000 international units (IU) of vitamin D daily to induce toxicity, while normal supplements usually provide 1,000-5,000 IUs.

Going overboard on the vitamin can also lead to hypercalcemia – abnormally high levels of calcium in the blood. The condition can lead to cardiovascular problems or softened tissue as well as nausea, vomiting, and weakness.

Marawan said:

“It is not the case that the more vitamin D the better. Toxicity is caused by megadoses of supplements rather than diet or sun exposure, so caution is needed when taking tablets.”

But aside from potentially overdoing it, it’s important to maintain a healthy level of the vitamin. Also, it is best to get your vitamin D from diet and sunshine, rather than from supplements.

Of course, vitamin D deficiency comes with its own problems. Research suggests that women who don’t get enough vitamin D during pregnancy are more likely to have a child with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). A lack of the vitamin during pregnancy can also affect an unborn child’s future social development and social skills. For pregnant women, taking vitamin D supplements is usually recommended and believed to prevent these problems.

Read: Study Says 13% of U.S. Deaths Could be Prevented by Upping Vitamin D Levels

The study also found that people with higher vitamin D levels also tended to have better cardiorespiratory fitness. [2]

Cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) is a measure of a person’s aerobic fitness level. In the study, the higher a participant’s vitamin D level was, the greater their cardiorespiratory fitness was, the researchers found.

However, the study only found an association rather than a cause-and-effect relationship between vitamin D and cardiorespiratory fitness.

Marawan said:

“We don’t know if higher vitamin D levels improved CRF or [if] CRF improved vitamin D levels.”

The study is published in the European Journal of Preventative Cardiology.

Sources:

[1] Consumer Affairs

[2] Live Science