Archive for February, 2012

Those who have pets can attest to the many benefits they bring to their lives. Animals are often prone to silly comical behavior that can elicit smiles and laughter from their owners.

If you are not a pet owner and you think of owning a pet as a lot of work you do not need then for the sake of your health you may want to reconsider. Many people believe that having a pet (or pets) to love and care for is beneficial to their health. Now science is beginning to lean in this direction as well.

Is there a relationship between animal companionship and improved health and emotional well-being in human beings? While the jury is still out on how therapeutic it is to share your life and home with a pet more and more people are becoming believers.

In 2008 the National Institutes of Health conducted some research to look closer at the relationship that exists between pets and health. Here we look at some of the surprising benefits that they discovered from their work:

One – Dogs help to prevent obesity:

A study that looked at 2,000 adults found that dog owners who walk their pets on a regular basis get more physical activity than those who do not have dogs and therefore are less likely to become overweight or obese. Those who love their dogs know that they need to be exercised so when the pet gets exercise so does the owner.

A similar study found that walking a dog leads to a greater level of mobility within a home.

Two – Heart attack victims benefit from having pets:

Researchers looked at 420 people who had suffered a heart attack the previous year. Some of the subjects owned dogs while others did not. They found that dog owners were more likely to be doing better and feeler better, regardless of how bad their heart attack was. Non-dog owners were found to be doing worse and some did not survive the year.

Three – Pets help to teach love, understanding and empathy:

It is not just adults who feel that their pets in part contribute to their emotional and psychological well-being. Children can be taught valuable life lessons by having pets in their lives. Animals can help children to develop empathy for others, as well as love. This can also provide a source of comfort when the child is feeling down.

Many children (and adults alike) talk to their pets when they are feeling sad, discouraged or upset.

Four – Pets keep people socially connected to each other:

Walking a dog will not only keep you trimmer but you are likely to come across other people on your walks and strike up conversations. Animals open the door to greater communication which helps to keep their owners more socially connected than those who do not have dogs to walk. This can lead to greater longevity and a lesser degree of physical and mental decline as you age.

None of these benefits have been proven for a certainty but those who own pets do not have to be convinced. Other studies have pointed to the fact that having pets can lower stress, fight depression, reduce health care costs and lower blood pressure.


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This post continues the theme of my last one in discussing how an office job can impact your back and possible injury.

For those who’ve never suffered with a back injury it can be difficult to imagine the major issue it can be for those that suffer with it. It can come and go but when present the impact can be unbearable.  So this post offers some advice in prevention only – once you have a back injury you should seek the advice of a professional immediately.

Ergonomics is a relatively new concept that really began to take shape and become significant once the computer age was upon us. So many of us come into work and spend our days at a desk typing away on a computer. While the work you do may be bringing in a good paycheck and make your boss happy  it may not be so good for your health, and in particular, your back.

The more work you are given and the more hours you spend doing that work the more repetitive actions you put into play. Typing is one of them, as is moving your mouse around for your computer and clicking it, as well as talking on the telephone. There is plenty of mental and psychological stress involved in many office jobs but these repetitive tasks can also lead to physical stress on the body.

Studies have shown that the number of repetitive strain injuries suffered by office workers has increased greatly over the past two decades as result of the technology and equipment used in the workplace. Not only is it used so much but we also rely on it each and every day to do our jobs.

If you are one of the millions of people who finds your way to an office every day then you know all about how workplace technology has changed the way we do our jobs and how it can contribute to stress, strain and injury on the back, shoulders, neck and  fingers, not to mention how it can strain the eyes.

To make your work a little bit easier and to reduce the strain on your body there are some simple things you can do.

Consider the computer monitor for starters. The screen should be placed on the desk directly in front of you, not too far but not too close either. Your eyes need a rest from staring at the screen so make sure you treat them with tender loving care. Give them the relaxation and the break they need by putting the 20/20/20 rule into action – for every 20 minutes of work take a 20 second break from the screen by looking away and focusing on an object that is at least 20 feet away from where you are sitting.

Are you one of those people who wants to talk on the telephone and yet continue to type on your keyboard? You may think that this multitasking is helping you to get your work done faster but cradling the phone between your ear and your shoulder is placing strain on your muscles that you do not need or want!

To prevent feeling pain and tightness later on talk on the phone without typing on the computer. Use your hand in such a way that it will support the telephone receiver when it is against your ear. It is also wise to alternate the sides you use to talk on the phone with frequently. If you cannot break yourself of the cradling habit or if you really want to talk and type at the same time then get a headset or a speaker and save out back and neck!

Just employing these two useful tricks can avoid complications later. Try and see – and remember it takes 30 attempts to break a habit so it may feel awkward at first but eventually will feel natural.


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If you are like many people today then you probably have a job that keeps you sitting in a chair for the better part of the work day.  Some people prefer a sit-down job to a job that keeps them on their feet all day.

While it may seem relaxing and restful to be able to sit while you do your work if you remain in the same position for too long a period of time this can lead to stress, strain and injury to your joints, ligaments, muscles and tendons. When you sit for a sustained period of time it can cause additional pressure to be placed upon your lower back and your neck. In fact steady compression upon the spinal discs is a contributing factor to premature degeneration.

If you have a job where you sit down you cannot just rush out and quit your job! You can however take less drastic measures to keep yourself comfortable and as pain and injury free as possible. Read on to find out three ways to protect your back, your neck and all of the bones in your spinal column.

One.  Take breaks more often. Frequent breaks are a must when you sit for many hours at a job. Push back your chair and step away from your desk. Do some stretching exercises, go for a short walk outdoors or in your office building. Take a few minutes to go have a sip of water, to chat with a co-worker or to glance out the window. Not only is this healthy for your back but it is also good for your mental state as well. Now if you’re in a call center then you’re going to have to “negotiate” this with your supervisor but most companies build breaks into schedule.

Two. Pay close attention to your posture. Incorrect posture can lead to excessive strain on your lower back. When you sit in an improper fashion the blood flow to your muscles is reduced which can lead to fatigue setting in very quickly. What you need to do to get posture perfect is to practice what is known as “active sitting.” What this means is that your feet are planted flatly on the floor in front of you.

You also have to make sure that your back is straight in your chair, your shoulders are squared and you chin is parallel with the floor. If you can maintain this posture then it will go a long way in preventing strain on your spine and your sides. It also helps to strengthen the core muscles found in your abdomen. Strong core muscles will contribute tremendously to having good posture, which in turn is good for your skeletal system in general.

Three. Select the right office chair. If you must sit throughout your workday then vary the positions you sit in. This helps to prevent stress and strain from being exerted on your spine. One of the things that can help this a great deal is to invest in the right type of office chair. Look for an office chair that is adjustable for your size and will support your spine regardless of what position you choose to sit in.

You should also select a chair that features a backrest that will give your lower back the support it requires. Chairs with arm rests are also useful. You should look for an office chair that has a front edge that curves in a downward manner. This helps you to maintain the good posture that you need to promote a healthy back.


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There are some good reasons why you should drink coffee (or start to if you are not presently a coffee drinker) but there are also reasons why java has developed a bad reputation. Here we look at why you should go easy on coffee or maybe even not drink it at all.

Caffeine Sensitivity = Jitters:

Some people are sensitive to the effects of caffeine and they respond to it in a negative manner. Consuming caffeine in large doses can lead to anxiety and irritability. The reason for this is because caffeine is very similar in nature to a brain chemical called adenosine, which is thought of as the “slow down” chemical.

Adenosine is instrumental in relaxing the blood vessels and preparing the brain and body for sleep. What happens when an individuals takes in too much caffeine is that the drug binds to adenosine receptors on the nerve cells. This leaves little if any room for this brain chemical to find its way in. As a result of this the activity of the nerve cells is accelerated and the blood vessels constrict. This leads to a feeling of jitters and irritability that some people refer to as a caffeine buzz.

For those who take in high amounts of caffeine on a daily basis they will develop a tolerance to it and the jitters will be less likely.

This also means however that you will constantly be requiring a caffeine fix. Your body will adapt to the constant barrage of caffeine by producing more adenosine receptors which will make you more and more sensitive to the effects of this brain chemical.  As a result of this, if you do not get your daily dose of caffeine you will experience withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms may include bad headaches, which are brought about due to the constricting of blood vessels, and extreme tiredness.

Sleep Issues:

If you suffer from insomnia or sleep does not come easily to you when you go to bed then you may wish to switch from caffeinated coffee to decaf or simply to decrease the amount of caffeinated coffee that you drink throughout the day. You also may wish to choose a cut off time during the day and not drink it any time after that. It generally takes six hours for caffeine to leave your system entirely, although this does tend to vary from one individual to another.

A recent study has yielded the result that caffeine robs you of sleep to a greater extent as you age.

Cholesterol Problems:

If you have high cholesterol levels (the bad kind, LDL) then you need to drink up with caution. Boiled or unfiltered coffee such as Turkish-style coffee contains higher levels of a compound called cafestol which can increase the LDL cholesterol in the blood. Your best bet is to select filtered coffee methods such as making a cup with a drip coffee maker.

Pregnant and Nursing Women- Watch Your Consumption:

Pregnant women can safely drink a moderate amount of coffee pr day but should not drink excessive amounts of caffeine.

Moderate amounts in this case would be equivalent to two cups a day or no more than 200 milligrams. At present it is not clear if caffeine amounts that are higher than that can increase the risk of miscarriage. Nursing mothers can safely drink about the same amount as pregnant women but must be aware that the caffeine that they drink will find its way into their breast milk. Nursing mothers should reduce their intake of coffee if their babies start to show signs of irritability or restlessness.


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