Climbing Stairs Improves Health
“Taking the stairs regularly is a simple and practical means to improving health,” reports the British medical journal The Lancet. Researchers asked 69 sedentary employees to use only the stairs at their place of work instead of the elevators. After 12 weeks, the workers’ aerobic capacity had increased by 8.6 per cent, which gave them “a 15% reduction in all-cause mortality risk.” The workers also saw significant improvement in their “blood pressure, cholesterol, weight, fat mass, and waist circumference.”
Risks of Programming Early Childbirth
In the United States, more and more infants are delivered early—by induced labor or by Cesarean section—out of convenience. However, the “last weeks of pregnancy are more important than once thought,” says The Wall Street Journal. A study of some 15,000 newborns showed that for every week a baby remained in the womb between the 32nd and 39th weeks, there was a 23 percent drop in seizures, jaundice, respiratory distress, and brain hemorrhages.
Infants born at 32 to 36 weeks had increased risk of mild behavioral and cognitive problems. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists thus recommends that babies not be delivered “before 39 weeks unless there is a medical reason to do so,” says the Journal.
Exercise reduces sick days, according to a study by the Finnish Fitness Association. To keep their staff on the job, many employers in Finland are acting on this knowledge. “One-half of working Finns are employed by businesses with employee fitness programs,” reports Finnfacts, a publication of the Confederation of Finnish Industry and Employers. “Businesses are running quit-smoking and weight-loss courses and various types of fitness groups.” Finnish businesses invest more than $67,000,000 annually in such programs, knowing that reduced absenteeism will pay them back severalfold.
Take Care of Your Back!
“Bad posture, being overweight, and not getting sufficient physical exercise slowly cause our spine to deteriorate,” says the Spanish newspaper El País Semanal. An estimated 80 per cent of the population in developed countries have back problems at some time in their life. The Spanish Kovacs Clinic, which specializes in spinal problems, recommends that we learn to adjust our posture in order to prevent and alleviate back pain.
Some simple recommendations are: Sleep on your side with the spine straight. When seated, support your back against the back of the chair. At a computer, keep your shoulders in their natural position. If you have to bend down, bend your knees rather than your back. And if you have to stand still for a long time, put your weight on one leg while resting your other foot on a stool or step
LOVE IS GOOD MEDICINE
Literacy and Health
A higher level of literacy may contribute to a longer life expectancy, according to statistics cited by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization). “People who have learned to read and write,” notes the magazine UNESCO Sources, “are more attentive to hygiene and health care; they tend to be less fatalistic and, in the event of illness, more likely to turn to a doctor.” Literacy, though, is only one of the factors that affect life expectancy. “Access to medical treatment, the family’s financial circumstances and the social environment” also play crucial roles
In addition to helping you to lose weight and relieve stress, walking helps reduce “blood pressure and your risk of suffering a heart attack,” says The Globe and Mail, of Toronto. Staying healthy requires a time commitment. How much? “According to Canada’s Physical Activity Guide to Healthy Active Living, if you’re walking at a moderate pace, you need to work toward logging a total of 60 minutes a day—in periods of at least 10 minutes each.”
Brisk walking or biking for 30 to 60 minutes a day or jogging for 20 to 30 minutes daily may also keep you healthy. The Globe recommends wearing lightweight footwear that breathes and that has flexible soles, good arch supports, cushioned insoles, and comfortable toe room.
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