Awareness is Key to Healthy Posture

Awareness is Key to Healthy Posture
Information Resources

By Evelyn Cunico, MA, MS/LIS
Posted September 01, 2017

What is Posture?

Two types of posture are dynamic posture and static posture.

Dynamic posture is defined as how you position your body while you are moving, such as when you are walking or bending over to pick up something.

Static posture refers to how you hold your body when you are not moving, such as when you are sitting, standing, or sleeping.

Posture involves your musculoskeletal system, which includes your bones, joints, ligaments, tendons, muscles, and nerves that connect the parts of your body.

Why is Posture Important?

Posture is important because scientists are finding that the ways you hold your body while going through your day affect your health over a lifetime.

For example, holding your body and moving in unhealthy ways may lead to back, neck, and shoulder pain. In any three-month period, about one in four adults in the U.S. has at least one day of back pain, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Poor posture can decrease your flexibility, how well your joints move, and your balance. Slumped posture can make it more difficult to digest the food you eat and to breathe comfortably.

Some research suggests a link between posture and mental health, according to NIH researchers. For example, scientists are exploring the connections between posture and how the brain thinks and processes information.

Awareness is Key

When you are learning how to become aware of your posture, it is best to begin with small steps. NIH researchers suggest that you become mindful (that is, aware) of how you hold your body and how you move. The following suggestions are steps in the right direction.

  • When you walk, become aware that lifting your head will improve your posture and may increase your confidence.
  • When you walk or sit, become aware that pulling back your shoulders will help you to feel more comfortable.
  • In everyday situations, become aware that tightening your abdominal muscles will strengthen them and lead to greater flexibility.
  • When sitting in front of a computer, become aware that stretching your muscles gently and taking brief walks around the office will increase your energy and will help to straighten your posture.
  • Become aware of how your weight may affect your posture. Overweight weakens your abdominal muscles, contributing to poor posture and low back pain.

Medical doctors, physical therapists, and other healthcare providers can give you feedback on how you are moving.

Ask your medical doctor about the types of physical activity that may help you to become more aware of your posture, so that you can maintain your health and mobility over your lifetime.

Disclaimer: The information presented in this blog should not replace the medical advice of your doctor. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any disease, illness, or other health condition without first consulting with your medical doctor or other healthcare provider.

Selected Information Resources

American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. OrthoInfo. Warm Up, Cool Down, and Be Flexible.
Summary Note: Discusses flexibility and balance training as part of a fitness program. Describes sample stretching exercises with accompanying images of correct postures.
(Accessed 28 August 2017)

American Chiropractic Association. Tips to Maintain Good Posture.
Summary Note: Directions help you to move toward a healthier body posture. Includes instructions on how to correct your posture when standing, sitting, and lying down.
(Accessed 11 August 2017)

National Institutes of Health. NIH News in Health. August 2017. A monthly newsletter from the National Institutes of Health, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Getting It Straight. Improve Your Posture for Better Health.
Summary Note: Article focuses on news interview clips from NIH physical therapists and researchers. Body awareness and mindfulness (that is, awareness) can help you to learn how to feel what is wrong in your posture, so that you can improve both your physical movement and your emotional state.

National Institutes of Health. NIH News in Health. December 2016. A monthly newsletter from the National Institutes of Health, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Tai Chi and Your Health: A Modern Take on an Ancient Practice.
Summary Note: Discusses the flowing postures and gentle movements of tai chi, also called, moving meditation. Focuses on improving posture, confidence, and mood.
(Accessed 26 August 2017)

Nemours Foundation. KidsHealth. TeensHealth. Backpack Basics.
Summary Note: Discusses health benefits and problems when using backpacks for school books and supplies. Cautions that not using a backpack properly can lead to bad posture.
(Accessed 27 August 2017)

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. Workplace Safety and Health. Easy Ergonomics: A Guide to Selecting Non-Powered Hand Tools.
Summary Note: Booklet offers advice on how to prevent musculoskeletal disorders caused by hand tool use in occupational settings. Suggests work tools that require the least continuous force and can be used without awkward work postures. Includes checklist for hand tool selection.
(Accessed 26 August 2017)

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Healthfinder dot Gov. Prevent Back Pain.
Summary Note: Practical advice on how to strengthen your back muscles. Lists risk factors for back pain. Includes section on how Good Posture Can Help Prevent Back Pain.
(Accessed 26 August 2017)

U.S. Department of Labor. Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Computer Workstations e-Tool. Good Working Positions.
Summary Note: Describes office environment sitting and standing postures that reduce strain on your muscles, tendons, and skeletal system to decrease your risk of developing musculoskeletal disorders. Website tabs link to discussions on positioning of your desk, keyboard, and mouse/pointer, to maintain healthy body postures.
(Accessed 26 August 2017)

 

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Ten Ways to Build Your Social Support Network

Ten Ways to Build Your Social Support Network

Information Resources

By Evelyn Cunico, MA, MS/LIS
Posted August 22, 2017

What is a Social Support Network?

A Social Support Network may include your family members, friends, or co-workers who offer you genuine emotional support.

A Social Support Network is different from a support group, which is generally a structured meeting run by a health professional.

Why is a Social Support Network Important?

Scientific studies show that having a strong Social Support Network contributes to mental and physical well-being.

Having strong social support can improve your self-esteem and sense of self-direction. In fact, knowing that you have strong social support can make you more able to cope with problems on your own.

How Do You Start to Build a Social Support Network?

You do not need a large network of friends and family to benefit from social support, according to the American Psychological Association. Your Social Support Network might be a small group of people whom you like and trust.

The goal of your Social Support Network is to reduce your stress level, according to Mayo Clinic staff. So, watch for persons who, in general, are positive, not constantly critical.

Build Your Social Support Network

  • Give Social Support.
    Some studies have shown that to stay healthy in mind and body, it may be more important to give social support to friends and family than to receive it. So, reach out to lend a hand, or to just say, Hello.
  • Make the First Move.
    If you meet someone you think might become a good friend, invite him or her to join you for coffee, or another casual activity.
  • Stay in Touch.
    Answer phone calls and reply to e-mail messages. If someone offers you an invitation and you accept, offer one in return, to let persons know that you care.
  • Pay Attention.
    Be a good listener. Let persons know that you are paying attention, by asking questions or by commenting on what they say.
  • Celebrate Accomplishments.
    When your friends succeed, be happy for them. Celebrate without envy or competition.
  • Show Appreciation.
    Take time to say, Thank You, in person or in a written note. Let friends and family know that you appreciate their thoughtfulness. Be there for them when they need support.
  • Practice Problem-Solving.
    First, try to find ways to solve a problem on your own. Be careful not to overwhelm friends and family.
  • Join a Community Activity or Recreation Center.
    You can make friends while you are exercising in a class or walking on a trail.
  • Volunteer.
    Think of a cause that is important to you and get involved with persons who share similar interests and values.
  • Visit Your Public Library.
    Reference Librarians may help you to find safe local clubs or community groups that meet regularly and match your personal interests.

Research shows that persons who enjoy high levels of social support stay healthier and live longer.

So, do not wait to build your Social Support Network. Begin now.

Disclaimer: The information presented in this blog should not replace the medical advice of your medical doctor. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any disease, illness, or other health condition without first consulting with your medical doctor.

Selected Information Resources

American Psychological Association. APA Help Center. Manage Stress: Strengthen Your Support Network.
Summary Note: Article draws from the APA annual nationwide public survey, called, Stress in America, released in February 2017. Suggests six ways to increase your social support, by both providing and receiving help in our personal interactions.
(Accessed 19 August 2017)

American Psychological Association. Stress in America: Coping with Change. APA Annual Survey: Part 1 and Part 2. Released, 2017.
Summary Note: Survey identifies leading sources of stress among the general public. Part 2 focuses on stress related to Technology and Social Media. Links to topic-specific APA press releases.
(Accessed 21 August 2017)

Cohen, S., Janicki-Deverts, D., Turner, R.B., Doyle, W.J. Does Hugging Provide Stress-Buffering Social Support? A Study of Susceptibility to Upper Respiratory Infection and Illness. Psychological Science. 2015 Feb; 26(2):135-47.
Summary Note: Using a sample of 404 healthy adults, authors examined the roles of perceived social support and received hugs in buggering against interpersonal stress-induced susceptibility to a virus that causes a common cold. Among infacted participants, more-frequent hugs predicted less-severe illness signs. HHS Public Access provides free Full Text article via PubMedCentral.
(Full Text accessed 21 August 2017)

Mayo Clinic. Healthy Lifestyle. Stress Management.
Summary Note: Article discusses benefits of having a network of supportive relationships. Offers practical approaches for building and maintaining your relationships. Includes References.
(Accessed 16 August 2017)

National Institutes of Health. NIH News in Health: A monthly newsletter from the NIH, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. February 2017. Do Social Ties Affect Our Health? Exploring the Biology of Relationships.
Summary Note: Reviews scientific studies showing that people who have larger and more diverse types of social ties tend to have better physical and mental health than people with fewer such relationships. Gives examples of how kindness in social environments, versus hostility in social environments, affects personal health
(Accessed 20 July 2017)

Reblin, M. and Uchino, B. Social and Emotional Support and Its Implication for Health. Current Opinion in Psychiatry. 2008 March; 21(2):201-205.
Summary Note: Summarizes research findings from selected publications focusing on links between social support and physical health. HHS Public Access provides free Full Text article via PubMed Central.
(Full Text accessed 20 August 2017)

 

Reading Literary Fiction Builds Empathy

Reading Literary Fiction Builds Empathy

Information Resources

By Evelyn Cunico, MA, MS/LIS
Posted July 17, 2017

What Is Empathy?

Empathy is a complex term that includes the ability to recognize the emotions of other persons and then to respond emotionally to those persons. Empathy includes sympathy and concern for others.

Why is Empathy Important?

Developing empathy as a behavioral skill is important, because empathic behavior creates positive and helpful ways of thinking and acting. Persons who have developed their empathic skills find practical approaches to promote social acceptance and friendship, which are central to a healthy lifestyle.

Empathy helps people to develop a broader range of action skills, leading them to consider more alternatives in finding solutions for complex problems.

Study of empathy is important because people who are highly empathic are more prosocial, which is associated, for example, in the workplace, with creativity, higher performance, and productivity, according to a Public Library of Science 2013 article by researchers P. Matthias Bal and Martin Veltkamp.

What is Literary Fiction?

Literary Fiction refers to narratives, that is, stories, that focus on in-depth portrayals of characters’ inner feelings and thoughts. In Literary Fiction, the characters teach values about social behavior, such as the importance of understanding other persons’ beliefs.

Literary Fiction is different from Popular Fiction, which portrays unrealistic situations with characters whose actions are predictable. Literary Fiction is also different from Nonfiction, which is literature that is not fictional, such as, scientific literature.

How Does Reading Literary Fiction Build Empathy?

Readers who are emotionally “transported” into the fictional story are imaginatively experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and actions of the fictional characters.

When readers identify with a fictional character in a story, they may develop a feeling of sympathy for the character. While reading, the readers are, in effect, “practicing” being empathic.

As readers take the perspective of a character by experiencing fictional events as though they are events happening to themselves, readers are integrating empathy into their own self-concept.

The readers accumulate their ability to take the perspective of others, and, so, to feel empathy for others in their everyday lives, according to Bal and Veltkamp.

How Can You Select Literary Fiction that Helps to Increase Empathy?

Generally, librarians at the Reader Services Desk of your local public library can help you to select Literary Fiction for both adults and youth.

Many of today’s public libraries also offer reading programs and book discussion groups, which offer in-person gatherings where you can share insights, discuss various opinions, and, in turn, enhance your own empathic listening skills.

Selected Information Resources

Bal, P.M., Veltkamp, M. How Does Fiction Reading Influence Empathy? An Experimental Investigation on the Role of Emotional Transportation. PLoS One. 2013;8(1): e55341. Published online 2013 Jan 30.
Summary Note: Two experiments show that when people read Literary Fiction narratives, and they are emotionally transported into the narrative world, they become more empathic over time, according to a study conducted at Erasmus University, Rotterdam, The Netherlands. Study includes extensive footnotes and references.
(Accessed 07 July 2017. From abstract, link to Free Full Text via PubMed Central or PLoS One, Public Library of Science)

Chiaet, J. Novel Finding: Reading Literary Fiction Improves Empathy. Scientific American. October 04, 2013.
Summary Note: Chiaet discusses the study, titled, Reading Literary Fiction Improves Theory of Mind, published in the journal Science [see Kidd, D.C., Castano, E., in this list of Selected Information Resources]. Chiaet writes that Emanuele Castano, a social psychologist, and David Kidd, a PhD candidate, The New School, New York City, suggest that the types of books that persons read may affect how the readers relate to other persons.
(Accessed 14 July 2017)

Kidd, D.C., Castano, E. Reading Literary Fiction Improves Theory of Mind. Science. 2013 October 18;342(6156):377-80.
Summary Note: Theory of Mind is the human capacity to comprehend that other people hold beliefs and desires that may differ from one’s own. This study provides experimental evidence that reading passages of Literary Fiction, as opposed to Popular Fiction or Nonfiction, enhances the reader’s performance on theory of mind tasks.
(Abstract accessed 14 July 2017)

Mar, R.A., Oatley, K., Djikic, M., Mullin, J. Emotion and Narrative Fiction: Interactive Influences Before, During, and After Reading. Cognition and Emotion. 2011. August;25(5):818-33.
Summary Note: Provides snapshot of what is known about the interaction between emotions of readers and Literary Narrative Fiction, before, during, and after reading.
(Abstract accessed 14 July 2017. Full Text available from Taylor & Francis Online by subscription or purchase)

Sasse, Ben. The Vanishing American Adult: Our Coming-of-Age Crisis and How to Rebuild a Culture of Self-Reliance. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2017. Hardcover book.
Summary Note: Author discusses economic, social, and technological reasons for why adolescence has become what the author calls, “perpetual.” Book outlines five character-building habits to strengthen self-reliance and the desire and ability to help others. As a way to develop awareness of others’ emotions and intentions, Chapter 8, titled, “Build a Bookshelf,” suggests reading American novels that trace personal journeys. Includes Bibliography.

Resilience: How to Build Your Own Inner Strength

Resilience: How to Build Your Own Inner Strength
Information Resources

By Evelyn Cunico, MA, MS/LIS
Posted June 30, 2017

What is Resilience?

Resilience means being able to adapt to life’s setbacks. Resilience allows you to step back from misfortune, such as an illness, a job loss, or the death of a friend. When you are resilient, your anger, grief, or pain does not go away, but you are able to keep functioning in your everyday life.

You Can Learn How to Build Your Resilience

Research findings show that resilience is most often viewed as a process, rather than a personality trait. Resilience is a learned skill. Therefore, you can build resilience through the process of developing your own mental, physical, and social approaches to daily living. Practicing your own approaches can prepare you for challenges before they occur.

Mental Approaches

  • Count your blessings. Mentally express gratitude for the positive things in your life. Enjoying nutritious food, restful sleep, a safe living environment, and time with friends are a few ways to feel grateful.
  • Show compassion. Say Hello and smile to persons you meet. Open a door for someone who is carrying a heavy package. In a crowded store, excuse yourself if you inattentively bump another shopper.
  • Learn from your mistakes. Think of them as learning opportunities to change your future behavior. Then, when you find yourself in similar circumstances, remind yourself of your past mistake, and practice your changed behavior.
  • Remain optimistic and hopeful about the future. Do not seek perfection, but whenever possible, stay focused on positive emotions.

Physical Approaches

  • Maintain your physical health. Exercise for 30 minutes each day, by walking, or gardening, or taking a yoga class.
  • Make an appointment with your medical doctor for a wellness exam.
  • Take care of yourself. Pay attention to your own needs and feelings. Participate in activities that you enjoy.
  • Get at least seven or eight hours of restful sleep each night. Eat a healthy diet. Practice relaxation techniques, such as prayer or slow breathing.

Social Approaches

  • Stay in regular touch with family and friends. If someone has not contacted you in a while, reach out for a brief talk or get-together.
  • Create a daily sense of purpose. Write a letter or call a community leader about a local event. Volunteer to help a neighbor. Treat yourself to an hour of social relaxation.
  • Seek social support for a challenge you are facing.
  • Build strong positive relationships that you can count on when unexpected frustrations become overwhelming.

Becoming more resilient takes time and practice. Start with small steps. Most important, believe in your ability to build your own inner strength.

For more information, see the Selected Information Resources at the end of this blog post.

Disclaimer: The information presented in this blog should not replace the medical advice of your medical doctor. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any disease, illness, or other health condition without first consulting with your medical doctor.

Selected Information Resources

American Psychological Association. Resilience Guide for Parents and Teachers.
Summary Note: Guide includes tips on how to help children and teens build resilience. Separate sections focus on helping students in preschool, elementary school, middle school, and high school.
(Accessed 22 June 2017)

American Psychological Association. Resilience for Teens: Got Bounce?
Summary Note: For a teen audience. Includes Ten Tips to Build Resilience.
(Accessed 22 June 2017)

American Psychological Association. The Road to Resilience.
Summary Note: Brochure helps adults to find their own road to resilience. Defines resilience, describes strategies, and suggests Ten Ways to Build Resilience. Includes links to Related Reading and Geographic Search to find local psychologists.
(Accessed 22 June 2017)

Chawla, L., Keena, K., Pevec, I., Stanley, E. Health and Place. 2014 July;28:1-13. Green Schoolyards as Havens from Stress and Resources for Resilience in Childhood and Adolescence
Summary Note: Observational and interview study of elementary and high school students in Colorado and Maryland describes how green schoolyards can reduce stress and promote protective factors for resilience.
(Abstract accessed 26 June 2017)

MacLeod, S., Musich, S., Hawkins, K., Alsgaard, K., Wicker, E.R. Geriatric Nursing. 2016 July-August;37(4):266-72. The Impact of Resilience among Older Adults
Summary Note: An overview of the scientific literature on resilience reveals that resilience is most often viewed as a process, rather than a personality trait. Identifies key characteristics of resilience.
(Accessed 28 June 2017. From Abstract, link to Free Full Text via ELSEVIER Open Access)

Mayo Clinic. Tests and Procedures. Resilience Training. Resilience: Build Skills to Endure Hardship.
Summary Note: Defines resilience. Offers tips to help build resilience skills. Includes cartoon video [4:23] titled, A Very Happy Brain, narrated by Amit Sood, MD, MSc, Professor of Medicine, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, Rochester, MN. Take-away message is that the pursuit of gratitude and compassion will make you happier than the pursuit of happiness.
(Accessed 27 June 2017)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Men’s Health and Women’s Health – Six Healthy Lifestyle Habits

Men’s Health and Women’s Health – Six Healthy Lifestyle Habits

Information Resources

By Evelyn Cunico, MA, MSLIS
Posted March 30, 2016

How can you enjoy a long and healthy life with your children, your spouse, your extended family, your friends, and yourself? First, be aware of health risk factors. Then, choose healthy lifestyle habits.

Risk Factors

Among both men and women in the United States, the two leading causes of death are heart disease and cancer, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) data for the year 2013.

Among women, the third leading cause of death is chronic respiratory disease. Among men, the third leading cause of death is accidents (unintentional injuries).

Examples of risk factors for heart disease, cancer, chronic respiratory disease, and accidents, include too much alcohol use, inadequate physical activity, smoking, obesity, and hypertension.

To some extent, you have control over risk factors by choosing healthy lifestyle habits.

Healthy Lifestyle Habits

Eat a Healthy Diet. Heart disease, certain cancers, stroke, diabetes, and artery damage can be linked to the food you eat. A healthy diet includes whole fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and lean sources of protein, such as fish, chicken, or small portions of lean beef. Dairy includes cheese, yogurt, or milk. Limit foods high in saturated fat and sodium. ChooseMyPlate, which is the U.S. Department of Agriculture consumer resource based on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, offers suggestions on how to build a healthy eating style.

Limit the Amount of Alcohol You Drink. If you choose to drink alcohol, do so only in moderation. For men, that means no more than two drinks a day for men age 65 and younger, and one drink a day for men older than age 65. For women, moderation means no more than one drink a day. One drink is equal to one 12-ounce can of beer, or a four-ounce glass of wine, or one ounce of liquor. The risk of various types of cancer, including liver cancer, throat cancer, and breast cancer, appears to increase with the amount of alcohol you drink and the length of time you have been drinking regularly.

Exercise Daily. Include physical activity in your daily routine. Exercise can help you to control your weight and lower your risk of heart disease and stroke. “Get Moving” is a good slogan to remind your spouse, your children, and yourself that exercise also can help prevent high blood pressure, diabetes, osteoporosis, and depression. Try to exercise for 30 minutes a day, but remember any amount of exercise is better than none. Choose activities you enjoy, from brisk walking, to dancing, to sports.

Maintain a Healthy Weight. Carrying too much weight increases your risk for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, certain cancers, gallbladder disease, and arthritis in the weight-bearing joints, such as the spine, hips, and knees, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians. You can help to maintain a healthy weight by being aware of your daily habits, such as taking the stairs, instead of the elevator, or walking, instead of using transportation.

Do Not Smoke. If you smoke or use other tobacco products, talk with your doctor to help you quit. It is also important to avoid exposure to secondhand smoke. Smoking is a serious risk factor for chronic lower respiratory diseases, emphysema, mouth and throat cancer, and heart disease. In the United States, smoking causes more than 480,000 deaths annually (including deaths from secondhand smoke), according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Smoking is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States.

Manage Stress. If you are constantly under high stress, your immune system may suffer. When high stress is continued over long periods of time, it can lead to depression. A serious risk factor, particularly among men, is suicide. If you have signs and symptoms of depression, such as feelings of sadness or unhappiness and loss of interest in everyday activities, talk with your doctor. Medical experts at the Mayo Clinic caution that a common cause of death among men is motor vehicle accidents. To stay safe on the road, follow the speed limit, do not drive under the influence of alcohol or other substances, and do not drive while sleepy.

Eating a healthy diet, limiting alcohol, exercising daily, maintaining a healthy weight, quitting smoking, and managing stress are six lifestyle habits that you can start practicing today. Make a decision to choose a healthy lifestyle. Act now.

Disclaimer: The information presented in this blog should not replace the medical advice of your doctor. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any disease, illness, or other health condition without first consulting with your medical doctor or other healthcare provider.

Selected Information Resources

American Academy of Family Physicians. FamilyDoctor dot Org. What You Can Do to Maintain Your Health.
Summary Note: Discuses healthy lifestyle choices, with focus on preventative care.
(Accessed 28 March 2016)

Mayo Clinic Staff. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. Healthy Lifestyle. Fitness. Exercise: Seven Benefits of Regular Physical Activity
Summary Note: Discusses mental, physical, and social benefits of exercise.
(Accessed 02 March 2016)

Mayo Clinic Staff. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. Healthy Lifestyle. Men’s Health: Prevent the Top Threats
Summary Note: Discusses the top health threats for men. Encourages following medical doctor recommendations and following through with health screenings.
(Accessed 02 March 2016)

Mayo Clinic Staff. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. Healthy Lifestyle. Women’s Health: Prevent the Top Threats
Summary Note: Discusses the top health threats for women. Encourages following medical doctor recommendations and following through with health screenings.
(Accessed 02 March 2016)

National Institutes of Health. U.S. National Library of Medicine. MedlinePlus. Men’s Health
Summary Note: Extensive information on health conditions that are unique to men. Includes sections on Prevention and Risk Factors. Treatments and Therapies, Health Check Tools, Statistics and Research, and Patient Handouts.
(Accessed 28 March 2016)

National Institutes of Health. U.S. National Library of Medicine. MedlinePlus. Women’s Health
Summary Note: Extensive information on health conditions that are unique to women. Resources also address health issues that affect both men and women, but that affect women differently. Includes Frequently Asked Questions at Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Wisewoman resource link. Also includes sections on Diagnosis and Tests, Prevention and Risk Factors, Health Check Tools, Statistics and Research, and Patient Handouts.
(Accessed 02 March 2016)

Nemours Foundation. Teens Health. Food and Fitness.
Summary Note: Categories, such as, Total Well-Being, Healthy Weight, Nutrition Basics, Exercise, and Sports expand to respective subcategories.
(Accessed 28 March 2016)

U.S. Department of Agriculture. Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion. ChooseMyPlate
Summary Note: Describes how to build a healthy eating style. Left navigation bar includes links to information about Fruits, Grains, Protein Foods, Dairy, and Food Oils.
(Accessed 29 March 2016)

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. FastStats – Leading Causes of Death
Summary Note: Number of deaths in the U.S. for the ten leading causes of death. Data are for the year 2013.
(Accessed 28 March 2016)

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. FastStats – Mens Health
Summary Note: Statistics on men’s health, such as, alcohol use, physical activity, smoking, obesity, hypertension, health insurance, and leading causes of death.
(Accessed 28 March 2016)

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. FastStats – Women’s Health
Summary Note: Statistics on women’s health, such as, alcohol use, physical activity, smoking obesity, hypertension, health insurance, and leading causes of death.
(Accessed 28 March 2016)

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Men’s Health Topics – A to Z
Summary Note: The CDC A to Z Index is a navigational and informational tool that makes the CDC dot Gov website easy to use. The topic index includes both plain language and scientific terms to meet the needs of consumers and health professionals.
(Accessed 02 March 2016)

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Tobacco Related Mortality
Summary Note: Includes Overview and statistics on Annual Cigarette Smoking-Related Mortality in the United States for specific diseases.
(Accessed 29 March 2016)

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Office on Women’s Health. Women’s Health dot Gov. Women’s Health Topics – A to Z
Summary Note: As with the Men’s Health Topics – A to Z Index, the information source for the Women’s Health Topics – A to Z Index is the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
(Accessed 02 March 2016)

 

Complementary and Integrative Medicine

Complementary and Integrative Medicine

Information Resources

By Evelyn Cunico, MA, MSLIS
Health Science Writing | Clinical Medical Searching
Posted February 28, 2016

What is Complementary and Integrative Medicine?

The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), which is the Federal Government’s lead agency for scientific research on complementary and integrative health approaches, defines complementary and integrative medicine.

NCCIH generally uses the term, complementary, for practices and products that are not mainstream. NCCIH uses the term, integrative, when complementary practices and products are incorporated into mainstream healthcare. For example, an integrative approach might be incorporating meditation into mainstream treatment for relief of symptoms in cancer patients.

What Complementary and Integrative Approaches Do Americans Use?

The National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) is an annual survey in which tens of thousands of Americans answer questions about their health. Every five years, this survey includes a special section on complementary health approaches. The most recent data on complementary approaches were collected in 2012.

More than 30 percent of American adults and about 12 percent of children use healthcare approaches outside of mainstream medicine, according to key findings from NHIS 2012.

Natural Products, defined as dietary supplements other than vitamins and minerals, were the most popular complementary health approach in the survey. Almost 18 percent of American adults and almost five percent of American children had used a dietary supplement other than vitamins and minerals in the past year.

Safety Information

Researchers at the NCCIH caution that natural does not necessarily mean safe. For example, dietary supplements are not regulated in the same way that prescription drugs are regulated. Dietary supplements do not require review or approval by the Food and Drug Administration before they are placed on the market.

To minimize the health risks of a non-mainstream treatment, consider these tips:

Start talking with your health care providers about complementary health approaches

If you are considering a complementary health approach, find out what the research says.

Be aware of things to know when selecting a complementary health practitioner .

Test Your Understanding

The NCCIH has produced interactive videos that you can follow at your own pace, to test your understanding of health related matters.

One video is called, Understanding Drug-Supplement Interactions.

Another video is called, Understanding Health News.

Be an Informed Consumer

Decisions about your health care are important, including decisions about whether to use complementary health products and practices. NCCIH has developed a series of Factsheets called, Be an Informed Consumer to help you get started.

Disclaimer: The information presented in this blog should not replace the medical advice of your doctor. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any disease, illness, or other health condition without first consulting with your medical doctor or other healthcare provider.

Selected Information Resources

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. National Institutes of Health. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Are You Considering a Complementary Health Approach ?
Summary Note: Fact Sheet to assist you in making your decisions about complementary health products and practices.
(Accessed 15 February 2016)

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. National Institutes of Health. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Be an Informed Consumer .
Summary Note: Includes sections on Issues to Consider, Consumer Tips, Safety Information, Choosing a Practitioner, About Dietary and Herbal Supplements, and Understanding Health News.
(Accessed 22 February 2016)

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. National Institutes of Health. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Children and Complementary Health Approaches.
Summary Note: Discusses what you should do if you are considering a complementary approach for your child. Lists ten most common complementary health approaches among children.
(Accessed 25 February 2016)

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. National Institutes of Health. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Complementary, Alternative, or Integrative Health: What’s In a Name?
Summary Note: Defines Alternative, Complementary, and Integrative. Lists ten most common complementary health approaches among adults.
(Accessed 24 February 2016)

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. National Institutes of Health. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Five Tips: What Consumers Need to Know About Dietary Supplements.
Summary Note: Five basic things to know when considering dietary supplements.
(Accessed 25 February 2016)

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. National Institutes of Health. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Four Tips: Start Talking With Your Health Care Providers About Complementary Health Approaches
Summary Note: Four tips to help you and your healthcare providers to start talking.
(Accessed 24 February 2016)

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. National Institutes of Health. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health . Health.
Summary Note: Research-based information on Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) treatments. All Health Topics from A to Z.
(Accessed 23 February 2016)

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. National Institutes of Health. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Herbs at a Glance .
Summary Note: Series of brief fact sheets that provides basic information about specific herbs or botanicals, including common names, what the science says, and resources for more information.
(Accessed 23 February 2016)

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. National Institutes of Health. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Paying for Complementary Health Approaches.
Summary Note: Includes information on Spending, Paying, and Questions You May Want to Ask Your Insurance Provider.
(Accessed 25 February 2016)

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. National Institutes of Health. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Six Things to Know When Selecting a Complementary Health Practitioner
Summary Note: Six tips to help you to be as careful and thorough in your search for a complementary health practitioner as you are when looking for mainstream care.
(Accessed 24 February 2016)

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. National Institutes of Health. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Terms Related to Complementary and Integrative Health
Summary Note: Brief descriptive introductions to common complementary and integrative health terms.
(Accessed 24 February 2016)

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. National Institutes of Health. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Understanding Drug-Supplement Interactions. Test Your Knowledge.
Summary Note: Interactive 13-screen video on understanding drug-supplement interactions presents True or False statements and offers clickable Tell Me! Examples.
(Accessed 25 February 2016)

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. National Institutes of Health. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Understanding Health News. Complementary Health Approaches in the News.
Summary Note: Interactive 12-screen video presents short news stories, then asks you, What Facts Are Missing? Includes Answers.
(Accessed 24 February 2016)

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. National Institutes of Health. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Use of Complementary Health Approaches in the U.S.
Summary Note: Key findings from the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) 2012
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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. National Institutes of Health. U.S. National Library of Medicine. MedlinePlus. Complementary and Integrative Medicine.
Summary Note: MedlinePlus Home Page for Complementary and Integrative Medicine Health Topics
(Accessed 23 February 2016)

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. National Institutes of Health. U.S. National Library of Medicine. MedlinePlus Herbs and Supplements
Summary Note: A to Z list of dietary supplements and herbal remedies. Effectiveness, usual dosage, and drug interactions.
(Accessed 23 February 2016)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Health Benefits of “Green Spaces” for Kids

Health Benefits of “Green Spaces” for Kids

Information Resources

By Evelyn Cunico, MA, MSLIS
Posted July 09, 2015

Observational studies conducted by educational and scientific organizations have provided evidence that children who play in outdoor “green spaces,” such as school playgrounds with trees and other vegetation, neighborhood parks, and home backyards with grass, experience physical and psychological health benefits.

A recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) highlights cognitive health, with evidence that exposure to green spaces within and around schools may enhance the brain development of children.

Definitions

Cognitive abilities are defined as working memory and attentiveness. Working memory is defined as the ability to sort and retain short-term information, which is essential for learning skills, such as math and reading. “Greenness” is defined as any space with vegetation.

Cognitive Development

A study titled, “Green Spaces and Cognitive Development in Primary School Children,” published in the June 30, 2015 issue of PNAS , reports a link between exposure to green space at school and development of cognitive abilities.

Led by Payam Dadvand and other researchers at the Centre for Research in Environmental Epidemiology (CREAL) in Barcelona, Spain, the study assessed the association between exposures to green space, captured using satellite data, and measures of cognitive development in nearly 2,600 schoolchildren.

Children were in the second to fourth grades, aged seven through ten years, from 36 primary schools, between January 2012 and March 2013.

Cognitive development was assessed using four repeated (every three months) computerized cognitive tests for each outcome of 12-month developmental change of working memory, superior working memory, and inattentiveness, according to the study abstract.

Researchers found that students with more exposure to green space experienced a five percent increase in working memory, a six percent increase in superior working memory, and a one percent reduction in inattentiveness, regardless of ethnicity, maternal education, and parental employment, according to a CREAL news report.

Still, proving a direct connection between green spaces and brain development is difficult. For example, researchers reported that school children with the highest improvement in cognitive skills had the lease exposure to traffic-related pollution (elemental carbon), which, itself, has been negatively linked to cognitive development.

Earlier Study

The Dadvand study cites an earlier article, titled, “At Home with Nature: Effects of “Greenness” on Children’s Cognitive Functioning,” by Nancy M. Wells, published in November 2000 in the journal Environment and Behavior.

The study that is described by Wells observed children who were living in a poor urban home environment and who then moved to an improved home environment with more greenness. Results indicated that children whose homes improved the most in terms of greenness following relocation tended to have the highest levels of cognitive functioning following the move, according to the Wells abstract.

Public Policy Action

Although it is not clear how connections between green spaces and cognitive abilities occur, evidence is increasing that contact with nature plays a central role in brain development, as well as in physical and psychological health.

In terms of public policy, encouraging our public officials to add trees and other vegetation to neighborhoods and school yards may be one solution to the challenge of how to improve the health of our children.

Disclaimer: The information presented in this blog should not replace the medical advice of your doctor. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any disease, illness, or other health condition without first consulting with your medical doctor or other healthcare provider.

Information Resources

Centre for Research in Environmental Epidemiology (CREAL). “Green Spaces Influence the Cognitive Growth in Children,” CREAL News.
(Accessed 05 July 2015)

Dadvand, P., Nieuwenhuijsen, M.J., Esnaola, M., Forns, J., Basagana, X., Alvarez-Pedrerol, M., Rivas, I., Lopez-Vicente, M., De Castro Pascual, M., Su, J., Jerrett, M., Querol, X., and Sunyer, J. “Green Spaces and Cognitive Development in Primary Schoolchildren.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS). 2015 June 30; vol.112(no.26):7937-42.
(PNAS abstract accessed 02 July 2015)

Dadvand, P., et al. [as above]
(PubMed abstract accessed 02 July 2015)

Feda, D.M., Seelbinder, A., Baek, S., Raja, S., Yin, L., and Roemmich, J.N. “Neighborhood Parks and Reduction in Stress among Adolescents: Results from Buffalo, New York.” Indoor and Built Environment: SAGE Journals. Published online before print May 20, 2014.
(Abstract accessed 19 June 2015)

Kuo, Frances E., and Faber-Taylor, Andrea. “A Potential Natural Treatment for Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder: Evidence from a National Study.” American Public Health Association. American Journal of Public Health. 2004 September 94(9):1580-1586. [Authors with University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign]
(Full Text accessed 19 June 2015)

Wells, Nancy M. “At Home with Nature: Effects of “Greenness” on Children’s Cognitive Functioning.” Environment and Behavior . 2000 November; 32(6):775-795.
(Abstract accessed 03 July 2015)