Happiness Is a Benefit of Aging

Many of us dread getting another year older, but new research says that year by year, we actually become happier and more emotionally stable! Published online in the journal Psychology and Aging, the researchers found that as we grow older, we tend to become more emotionally stable. And that translates into longer, more productive lives that offer more benefits than problems.

The study's author Laura Carstensen was quoted in ScienceDaily as saying, "As people get older, they're more aware of mortality. So when they see or experience moments of wonderful things, that often comes with the realization that life is fragile and will come to an end. But that's a good thing. It's a signal of strong emotional health and balance."

Would you agree? Have you gotten happier and more emotionally stable with each birthday?

Photo courtesy of Patrick Doheny on Flickr.


Marathons: Heart-Healthy or Not?

With conflicting research on the impact of running a marathon on the heart, one recent study claims to set the record straight.

A team of researchers and runners from the Heart and Stroke Foundation used MRI data to see how marathoners' hearts were effected by miles and miles of running. And what did they find? The magnitude of abnormal heart segments was more widespread and significant in a group of less fit runners. During the marathon, these less fit runners had signs that the heart might be at greater risk of damage than that of runners who had better training or at least had better exercise capacity (VO2 max).

The bottom line? Without proper training, running 26.2 miles can damage your heart for a limited amount of time (researchers put recovery at three months). However, if you've gotten the OK from your doctor, train regularly, have been running for years, hydrate well and eat well, you're probably in the clear.


Wal-Mart to Buy and Sell More Local Produce

Wal-Mart recently announced that it will be buying and selling more local produce to help reduce its impact on the environment. While some are skeptical of Wal-Marts intentions, others say that because the chain is so big, it can actually help give small farmers a shot at big business. Wal-Mart is the world’s largest grocer, with one of the biggest food supply chains.

While not always the case, local produce is likely to be fresher and therefore contains fewer preservatives and chemicals than foods shipped from across the country. So one could argue that local food may also be healthier.


Pumpkin Is Delicious and Healthy

Think that pumpkins are just for carving? Heck no! Pumpkin is not only a sign of this Halloween season, but it's also extremely nutritious and healthy! Here are a few facts about this fall fruit:
  • Pumpkins are high in potassium, magnesium, panthothenic acid, beta carotene and other antioxidants with properties that can help improve immune function and reduce the risk for chronic diseases, such as cancer and heart disease.
  • Pumpkins are high in fiber.
  • One cup of fresh pumpkin has just 50 calories, while one cup of canned has 80 calories.
  • Pumpkin seeds contain essential vitamins and minerals, including vitamin E, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc, and are an excellent plant-based source of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Pumpkin seed oil is touted by many for its health properties, as it includes 60 to 90 percent unsaturated fats and is high in linoleic acid.
Read more about why pumpkin is a healthy pick, along with tasty recipes to include this nutritional power house in your diet! What's your favorite way to include pumpkin in your diet?

Photo courtesy of D Sharon Pruitt on Flickr.


More Women Get Massages Than Men

This probably isn't news to most massage therapists out there, but according to recent research, more women than men are receiving massage therapy. In fact, 10 percent of U.S. men used massage in the last year, compared to 18 percent in 2009, according to the 14th annual consumer survey sponsored by the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA).

This trend is paralleled by doctor visits. According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, about 57 percent of men have visited a physician within the past year, compared with 74 percent of women. Researchers suspect that the economic downturn is probably to blame for some of these lower rates.

The moral of this story? When marketing, try to use more images of males to encourage them to come in. And in all marketing, remember to promote the benefits of taking care of yourself with proper health care, massage therapy and relaxation. Especially in times of high stress, massage therapy and proper health care is absolutely necessary--no matter what gender you are!


Is Your Job Making You Fat?

There are many causes for the obesity epidemic, but recent research points to the modern work day as one reason for expanding waistlines. According to a new study published in the early online edition of Preventive Medicine, office-workers have become less active over the last three decades and this decreased activity may partly explain the rise in obesity.

So how do we change this tide? Researchers suggest that to combat the inactivity and rise in obesity it would be best to integrate sport, work and transportation. For example, exercising in smaller bouts throughout the day rather than concentrating the effort into one long workout before or after work. Things like walking at break time and taking the stairs could have great benefits, researchers say.


WellSpring Graduates Featured in the Kansas City Star

A big congrats to WellSpring graduates Tammy Barton and Sheri Woxland who were recently featured in the business section of the Kansas City Star! Barton's and Woxland's growing business, At the Healing Place in Liberty, MO, offers a variety of services, including massage therapy, Reiki, reflexology, astrology, tarot readings and chakra balancing.

Barton is a 2004 graduate from WellSpring's 500-hour program in 2004 and is a part-time instructor. Woxland is a Midwest Institute of Natural Healing graduate, who completed her program at WellSpring. So awesome to see our graduates making such a name for themselves!

Read the full article on their massage therapy business here.


A Not So Biodegradable Happy Meal

We're all familiar with the McDonald's Happy Meal. You get the burger, the small fries, a drink and a toy that's usually highly coveted by kids. And, for a lot of children, a Happy Meal is a regular dinner or lunch. However, just what is in that meal?

The so-called Davies Happy Meal Project took a Happy Meal, left it unrefrigerated and photographed it over the course of six months. The verdict? The food didn't break down or decompose -- at all. A McDonald's spokesperson said that the work was "completely unsubstantiated" and something out of "the realm of urban legends."

What do you think? Click here to read more about the Happy Meal experiment.

Photo courtesy of jasonippolito on Flickr.


Massage Helps Pregnant Women

We've long been teaching massage for pregnancy and childbirth at WellSpring, but it's amazing to see that massage is benefiting much more than future mom's physical state. As reported in Massage Magazine, pregnant women diagnosed with major depression who received massage therapy from their significant others twice a week for 12 weeks had reduced depression at the end of the 12 weeks, along with lower levels of depression and cortisol in the postpartum period.

What are some of the other benefits of prenatal massage?
  • Tranquil relaxation and reduce stress.
  • Relief from muscle cramps, spasms and myofascial pain, especially in the lower back, neck, hips and legs.
  • Increase in blood and lymph circulation, which can reduce swelling.
  • Reduces stress on weight-bearing joints.
  • Improves outcome of labor and eases labor pain.
  • Enhances the pliability of skin and underlying tissues.
  • Provides support for the new mother with physical and emotional strains of mothering.
Interested in learning pregnancy massage techniques? Be sure to sign up for our upcoming Massage for Childbirth class that is open to the public and has no prerequisite to participate!


Dieting? Skip the Diet Soda

If you're trying to lose weight, you probably have swapped your regular soda for diet, right? After all, drinking diet soda seems like an easy way to reduce calories. But, according to research, that diet pop may be tricking your body and actually prompting you to eat more.

There's no for sure relationship between weight gain and diet soda, but the latest research from an article in MSNBC.com is pretty illuminating:

"In fact, two recent studies found that being a diet soda junkie could actually put you at a greater risk of weight gain. Normal weight people who drank 3 servings or more of diet soda a day—at least 21 weekly servings—were at almost double the risk for becoming overweight or obese after seven to eight years compared to people who skipped diet drinks, according to researchers at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. And people who consumed at least one daily serving of diet soda (versus none) were more likely to develop a high waist circumference, a condition linked with diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular disease, according to a study published in the journal Diabetes Care in April 2009."

The message here? Diet soda isn't always a diet friendly choice. When you can, drink water! It's actually been shown to help you lose weight!

Photo courtesy of Yeah Im Kenny on Flickr.


Get Your Zzzs to Lose Weight

We all know how positively a good night's rest can make you feel. After all good sleep can help reduce stress, improve productivity and put that spring in your step. New research in the Annals of Internal Medicine has found that sleep is also a powerful ally in weight-loss.

According to the study, when dieters got a full night's sleep, they lost the same amount of weight as when they slept less. However - and this is a big however - when dieters got adequate sleep, more than half of the weight they lost was fat. When they cut back on their sleep, only one-fourth of their weight loss came from fat.
Dieters who got less sleep also reported to have more hunger.

Biologically, when sleep was restricted, dieters produced higher levels of ghrelin, a hormone that triggers hunger and reduces energy expenditure. Bottom line? Dieting or not, get those Zzzs for optimal health! Click here to read about more the weight-loss and sleep study.

How many hours of sleep do you get a night?

Photo courtesy of Joi on Flickr.


Stress Helps Fuel Cancer Cells

We all know that stress can have negative effects on the body, but just how negative is high stress on those undergoing cancer treatments? According to stress research in the journal Molecular Cancer Research, physical or psychological stress experienced one to two days before a cancer treatment can activate a stress-sensitive protein that can, in turn, sparks a series of events that allow cancer cells to survive treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation.

Researchers recommend that cancer patients avoid and manage stress properly to ensure that their treatments are effective. And how does one reduce stress? There are a many of ways, including massage, yoga, meditation and aromatherapy, among others.

How do you manage stress?

Photo courtesy of Sara. Nel on Flickr.