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Category: Leisure

Health Benefits of Relaxing in Nature

It’s natural human instinct to pine for the outdoors, and it’s due to a primal instinct that is still ingrained in our psyche to yearn for the relief of the open.  But it comes down to more than just instinct, there are physical benefits to leaving the city lights and breathing fresh, clean air.

 

Research is increasingly illuminating the rich and measurable benefits of being in nature.  And the beauty of it is that nature has no set formula: some of us like to fish, hunt, hike, kayak, jog or simply take pictures of the perfect sunset.

 

  • Feel Better Emotionally: We all know how we feel when we do our favorite outdoor activity, exhilarated, calm, relaxed, fortified, and restored.
  • Feel Better Physically: Time spent in nature is associated with a decrease in blood pressure, sympathetic nerve activity, and heart rate.
  • Have a Better Workout:  Several studies have shown that having a “green” workout leaves subjects feeling increased energy, greater revitalization, less depression, and less anger when they exercised outdoors versus exercising indoors.
  • Feel Better Mentally:  Being outdoors replenishes voluntary attention, help those with ADHD, enhances brain connectivity for more efficient focus.

 

All the research also points to the fact that time in nature most powerfully nurtures us when we’re most “at risk” – of disease, depression, or desperation.

 

So whether you take an outdoor vacation, simply take an afternoon trip, or step outside your office for a lunch break in a public park, it’s important to expose yourself to the health benefits of nature on a regular basis.  Health Fitness Revolution recommends being outdoors at least twice a week for an hour to start noticing the benefits long-term.

 

The Health Benefits of Massage

Massages aren’t just relaxing, they are associated with many health benefits when performed by a licensed professional.  There have been many scientific studies that prove, through blood tests, that regular massages reduce inflammation, help with autoimmune conditions,  decrease stress hormones, and boost the immune system.  Here are the Health Benefits of Massage:

 

  • Ease Pain: 80% of Americans will suffer from back pain, and studies show that a massage can greatly reduce back pain, stiffness, and improve range of motion- especially in those with osteoarthritis.
  • Curb Depression and Anxiety: Massages reduce the stress level cortisol, which result in reduced blood pressure and improved mood.  Massages also boost the hormones of dopamine and serotonin, which are involved in depression.
  • Improve Sleep:  Most people have fallen asleep during a massage- and there’s a reason for it!  Massages affect delta waves, which are the waves linked to deep sleep.
  • Boost Immune System: Research has shown that massages lead to increased white blood cell count, which combat disease and boost your immune system.
  • Raise Alertness: In a particular study, those who enjoyed a 15-min massage were more alert and completed math questions faster than a control group that had not had a massage.
  • Beauty Benefits:  Massages lead to increased blood-flow, which plumps skin, promotes healing, and helps the body rid itself of toxins through the lymphatic system.
  • Reduce Headaches:  Many headaches are due to tension, and getting regular massages will loosen neck muscles and stress levels, which can help those who regularly suffer from migraines and headaches.
  • Cancer Treatment Supplement: Because massages are known to relieve pain, anxiety, stress, depression, and nausea, massages can ease those that are going through rigorous treatment of illnesses.

 

Health Fitness Revolution recommends getting 1 to 2 massages a month in order to experience the full range of health benefits.

 

Could how high people live affect their weight?

Could how high people live affect their weight? Do slimmers need to head for the hills? Reuters has reported on a new study that suggests that people who dwell at high altitude are less likely to be obese.

The research found that people who lived at less than 500m above sea level (such as New Yorkers) were much more likely to be obese than people who lived 3,000m or more above sea level (such as people who lived in Denver, Colorado).

Even after taking into account factors that may be associated with life at higher altitudes, such as increased physical activity (possibly due to more climbing) and colder temperatures, there was still a significant link between higher altitudes and obesity rates.

Researchers found that men living at altitudes below 500m were 5.1 times more likely to be obese compared with their counterparts living above 3,000m. Meanwhile, women living at these low levels were 3.9 times more likely to be obese.

While the researchers can’t pin down the exact cause of this relationship, they speculate that low oxygen levels at high altitude, which increase energy demands and potentially influence foetal and child development, may be responsible. However, it is likely that the connection between altitude and obesity is part of a complex relationship between biology, demographics, environment and lifestyle factors.

Where did the story come from?

How do other countries match up?

If there were a direct link between obesity and altitude it could be assumed that mountainous countries would have low levels of obesity. However, comparing mountainous countries with low-lying ones gives inconclusive answers.

The notoriously flat Netherlands has an obesity rate of 11.8%, according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). This is at the low end of the scale. Meanwhile, neighboring Luxembourg, which is marginally more hilly, but still relatively low, has a much higher obesity rate of 22.1%, according to the OECD.

Mexico City, on the other hand, with an average altitude of more than 2,000 metres, has a ‘massive obesity rate’ with around two-thirds of adults being obese.

This would suggest that the same link between altitude and obesity may not be seen in other countries, and further study outside the US would provide a useful comparison.

The study was carried out by researchers from the University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, and Virginia Commonwealth University and Obetech Obesity Research Center, Richmond, USA. No sources of financial support are reported.

The study was published in thepeer-reviewed medical journal International Journal of Obesity.

What kind of research was this?

The researchers highlight the observed trend that, in the US, obesity seems to be most prevalent in the southeastern states and Midwest, and less so in the ‘mountain west’ states. They say that differences in elevation provide a biologically plausible explanation, with suggested theories including increased metabolic demand and reduced childhood growth in response to altitude.

However, other observational studies of different populations worldwide have given varied results. For example, people in Peru have higher than average rates of obesity-related diseases despite living at a higher altitude.

This cross-sectional studyaimed to look at the geographic distribution of obesity across the US and see how it related to elevation level, temperature and urbanisation, while also adjusting for other behavioural and demographic factors.

Such a study can demonstrate an association between obesity levels and altitude. But it cannot prove that altitude has a direct effect on BMI or say what biological process causes this.

What did the research involve?

This research used 2011 data gathered from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), which is said to be a nationwide telephone health survey representative of the US population.

The collected data included information on diet and physical activity and demographic details (age, sex, race or ethnicity, education and income). Obesity was defined as body mass index (BMI) of 30 kg/m2 or greater – which is an internationally agreed definition.

Elevation above sea level, average annual temperature and urbanisation for participants was based on their county of residence reported in the 2011 survey. They had these data for 3,134 administrative areas (counties) within the US.

The researchers used statistical methods to look at the association between obesity and elevation above sea level, average annual temperature and urbanisation, taking into account the demographic and lifestyle factors data they had.

What were the basic results?

The researchers had full data available for 422,603 US citizens. The researchers found that, compared with the 322,681 people at the lowest level of elevation (less than 500m above sea level) those 236 people at the highest level of elevation (3,000m or more above sea level) were less likely to smoke and were more likely to comply with physical activity and diet recommendations.

After taking into account temperature, urbanisation, demographic factors and lifestyle factors (such as physical activity and diet), men living at less than 500m above sea level had 5.1 times the odds (95% confidence interval [CI] 2.7 to 9.5) of being obese compared with those living at 3,000m. Women had 3.9 times the odds (95% CI 1.6 to 9.3) of being obese. Those living at more than 3,000m had an average BMI 2.4 units lower than those living at less than 500m. They found a tendency for obesity prevalence to decrease with each 200m increase in elevation, although this was not a straight line relationship.

When looking separately at the relationship between obesity and temperature, the researchers found that people tended to have lower BMI at the extremes of temperature (lower annual averages or higher annual averages), while the highest BMIs tended to be observed among those with average annual temperature around 18°C.

When looking separately at the effect of urbanisation they found that the prevalence of obesity tended to decrease with increasing urbanisation.

How did the researchers interpret the results?

The researchers conclude that obesity prevalence in the United States is inversely associated with elevation, after adjusting for urbanisation, temperature, diet, physical activity, smoking and demographic factors. Obesity prevalence is also inversely associated with urbanisation, after adjusting for these other factors – bigger cities have lower average obesity rates.

Conclusion

So would moving to a high altitude really help you lose weight? Potentially, but you’d have to leave Britain. The 3,000m height that researchers looked at is more than twice as high as Ben Nevis, Britain’s tallest mountain.

This was a large study that included a nationally representative sample of US citizens and used reliable geographic data on elevation, temperature and urbanisation. As such it was a strong study and the results can be believed.

The researchers suggest that the observed link between elevation and obesity is unknown but could be due to mechanisms such as the lower oxygen levels at high altitude, which are known to increase metabolic demands and influence hormones involved in metabolism. It could also possibly influence foetal and child growth, which could have a corresponding effect on a child’s future weight. However, the evidence of obesity levels from other mountainous countries suggests it may not be as simple as that. The relationship recorded by this research may be unique to the US.

Despite the reliable measures used in this study it does have limitations. Its cross-sectional design means that it is very difficult to conclude that altitude has a direct effect on BMI. Nor does it allow us to determine what biological process underlies the link.

Although the researchers have found that the relationship was independent of temperature, urbanisation, physical activity, diet and other lifestyle factors, as well as demographic factors (such as education and income), it is possible that the influence of all of these factors has not been completely removed or that not all factors have been considered.

It is likely that the connection between altitude and obesity is part of a complex relationship between biology, demographics, environment, lifestyle and historical factors. Due to the fast-changing demographics of the United States, the ethnic and genetic make-up of a region such as New York State (known for its large immigrant population) may be significantly different to a state such as Colorado.

One final point raised by the researchers is that, if it were proved that environmental factors associated with high altitude were responsible for weight loss then oxygen tanks could be used to replicate these conditions to aid weight loss. However, this does seem rather extreme, as would moving to a higher altitude, such as Colorado.

Despite the media headlines, the study has not examined whether, if you are overweight or obese, moving to a higher altitude country will help you to lose weight. The best advice for those wanting to shed a few pounds remains that you need to combine a healthy, balanced diet with around 150 minutes of exercise each week.

 

Analysis by Bazian. Edited by NHS Choices.

Want Better Health? Try Meditating!

Health Fitness Revolution always emphasizes the importance of living a life that is well balanced- which is a major component of health.  This can sometimes prove to be a challenge in the fast paced, stressful world we live in.  Stress is a known cause of mainly ailments we suffer from such as depression, high blood pressure, digestive issues, and memory problems.

This is precisely why it is so important to take time out everyday for yourself and meditate.  Meditation time can be as simple as laying down with your eyes closed for 10 min and just focusing on breathing and clearing your mind.  It is an important time to slow down, feel your body, and not stress about all the little things you worry about every day.

Here are reasons why Health Fitness Revolution believes you should incorporate meditation into your daily lifestyle routine:

  •  It leads to neuroplasticity: Which is your brain’s ability to change, something very important as you age.
  • It increases gray matter: Which is associated with attention, memory, and decision making.  It also means your brain is aging at a slower pace.
  • It can be better than sleep: A study tested alertness levels of people who had napped, meditated, and watched TV.  Those that had meditated were 10% more responsive and alert than the two other groups.
  • It lowers blood pressure: In a three-month study, 80% of those that meditated everyday saw a reduction in blood pressure

Samir Becic ALS Ice Bucket Challenge!

Health Fitness Revolution founder Samir Becic ALS ice bucket challenge and challenges the Croatian President Ivo Josipović, Bosnia-Herzegovina Chairman of the Presidency Bakir Izetbegović, and Serbian President Tomislav Nikolić in order to spread this noble cause and awareness throughout the Balkan Region where he is from!

The ALS challenge is a very important way to raise money for the charity, and it is a part of a healthy lifestyle we support. Everyone should come together to support this very important event and realize is relation to promoting health across the world.

Samir has donated to the cause in addition to the doing the challenge, to donate to ALS, please visit http://www.alsa.org/donate/

 

Top 10 Places With Longest Living Population

The place you live greatly influences how long you will live. Diet, health initiatives, and environmental quality all influence life expectancy. HFR has compiled a list of the top 10 places with the longest living population:

Okinawa, Japan 

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Japanese citizens are more likely to reach the age of 100 than anywhere else on earth, and Okinawa is one of the healthiest parts of Japan. People are more than twice as likely to reach an average age of 90 as Americans. Why? Their diet certainly helps. Dr. Craig Wilcox said “the Okinawans have a low risk of arteriosclerosis and stomach cancer, a very low risk of hormone-dependent cancers, such as breast and prostate cancer. They eat three servings of fish a week, on average … plenty of whole grains, vegetables and soy products too, more tofu and more konbu seaweed than anyone else in the world, as well as squid and octopus, which are rich in taurine – that could lower cholesterol and blood pressure.”

Sardinia, Italy 

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Off the coast of Italy lies Sardinia, a large island with a rich tradition of healthy, active lifestyle. Sardinians benefit from a healthy diet, plenty of exercise, and a strong sense of community. That is why Sardinia is home to more male centenarians than anywhere else on earth.

Danderyd, Sweden 

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Sweden is behind only Japan and Switzerland in terms of life expectancy, and Danderyd, just north of Stockholm, is the municipality with the highest life expectancy in Sweden. Excellent medical care and a healthy diet explain long life in Sweden.

Ikaria, Greece

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Inhabitants of this Mediterranean island, named after Icarus, live up to 8 years longer than Americans. They hail from a land with a healthy diet, fresh air, and friendly, sociable people. They also have a much lower incidence of cancer and no reported cases of dementia. Cardiologist Christina Chrysohoou found that the Icarian diet “featured a lot of beans and not much meat or refined sugar. The locals also feast on locally grown and wild greens, some of which contain 10 times more antioxidants than are found in red wine, as well as potatoes and goat’s milk.”

Loma Linda, California

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Members of this adventist community live an average of ten years longer than the average US citizen. Their faith instructs them to treat their bodies as temples: little or no meat or fish, no smoking or alcohol, plenty of exercise and a sense of purpose. They follow a biblical diet, which tends to be as organic and minimally processed as possible. A testament to their dedication to healthy diet can be seen at the Loma Linda Market near Loma Linda University, which has bin after bin of beans and grains; there’s no meat section. There is a McDonald’s in a shopping center, but it moved in only after a fight; the arches are demure, and a countertop poster advertises veggie burgers.

Nicoya, Costa Rica

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This Caribbean island village is a place where the stress levels are low and the diet is mostly pants based. “Nicoyans specifically have water that percolates through the limestone and it’s very high in calcium and magnesium quite literally, it might be a little bit in their water they tend to have fewer fatal broken hips — their bones tend to be stronger.”

Hunza Valley, Pakistan 

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HFR profiled why the residents of this Northern Pakistani village live long lives than the rest of the world. We found that physical activity, low-calorie diet, and lots of apricot juice.

Switerzland 

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A high GDP has translated into an almost 82 year life expectancy in Switzerland. A great health care system, fresh air, and an active lifestyle has benefitted them greatly. Not to mention, according to the Huffington Post, Switzerland is home to one of the world’s most thriving economies and also one of the happiest populations on the globe.

Iceland 

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Both a nordic and an island nation, Iceland has one of the highest life expectancies in the world. High life expectancy can be attributed to a healthy diet with lots of seafood, water therapy, gender equality, and exercise.

 Singapore

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This small nation has some of the best health care in the world and its citizens are happy to use it. All Singaporeans are required to invest in a medical program called Medisave. The city also invests in a lot of public health programs. According to CNN, Singapore’s more successful health campaigns have included rental bicycle, trans fat-free and anti-smoking programs. There’s also an entire government agency, the Health Promotion Board, dedicated to promoting healthy diets, exercise, health education and regular screenings. 

You can also read HFR’s list of Top 10 Healthiest Countries in the World list and Top 10 Healthiest Cities in the World list.