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Posts Tagged ‘health’

Outside the Ice Cream Shop

Science says happiness leads to a long life, good health, resilience and good performance. On average, people who consider themselves happy live nine years longer than people who consider themselves unhappy. 
 
Psychologist and Professor Ed Diener from the University of Illinois says there are three vital ingredients to happiness:
 
♦  Family and friends – the wider and deeper, the better.  Friendship has a protective effect on our health. 
♦  Finding meaning –a belief in something bigger, a sense of spirituality or a philosophy of life.
♦  Working toward and making progress on goals we find interesting, and which use our strengths and abilities.
 
Why doesn’t money make us happy? Because we adapt to pleasure. When we’re attracted to things that give us short bursts of pleasure – from a candy bar to a Corvette – the effect quickly wears off.  We adapt less quickly to more meaningful things such as friendship and goals.

(I bet you have 10 unanswered emails from friends and family sitting in your inbox.   Answer one everyday – even “I’m thinking of you!” will suffice – for ten days and see what happens.  Let me know.)
 

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Apples

I’m not a doctor (nor do I play one on TV) but here’s a prescription that might add 14 quality years to your life:

Three to five times per week, take a 20-minute walk to your favorite non-smoking restaurant, order a big glass of red wine and a large garden salad with extra veggies.

How hard is that?!

A recent study of 20,000 people in the UK determined that if you don’t smoke, eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, exercise regularly and drink alcohol in moderation, you’ll gain an additional 14 years of life. The study appears in the Public Library of Science Medicine Journal – a site well worth checking out for other reasons, too.

Kay-Tee Khaw, one of the people who conducted the study at the University of Cambridge said, “We measured normal behaviors that were entirely feasible within people’s normal, everyday lives.” She thinks the findings might help people understand that improving their health doesn’t necessarily require an extreme change in lifestyle.

Tim Armstrong, a physical activity expert at the World Health Organization said, “This research is an important piece of work which emphasizes how modifying just a few risk factors can add years to your life.”

I’ll follow up on these findings in 2077!

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Tree People

I’m now a card-carrying member of the Mason-Dixon Trail system.

The Mason-Dixon trail is 193 miles long and connects the Appalachian Trail to the Brandywine Trail.  It starts at Whiskey Springs, Cumberland County, PA, and follows the west bank of the Susquehanna to Havre de Grace, MD. Across the Susquehanna it continues through Elk Neck State Forest to the Christina River in Delaware, then White Clay Creek in Chester County, PA. It terminates at the Brandywine River in Chadds Ford, PA.

It’s not well-known — I grew up in Chadds Ford and never heard of it until two weeks ago!

For $15 you can become a member, too, and receive a very detailed set of 10 maps with specific instructions by the mile — plus a cool patch for your hat or jacket. Visit www.masondixontrail.org for more details.

The trail seems to follow a lot of back roads but there are sections along old logging roads, through fields and woods, too. I’m looking forward to hiking Map 3: “Wago Junction at the Susquehanna River to Trinity Church Road south of Wrightsville.”  Looks like unparalleled views of the Susquehanna River and the surrounding landscape. 

I’m imagining a foggy morning in June… 

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Nockamixon Cliffs

I’m on a waterfall kick.  Since doing some research on the health benefits of negative ions, and visiting the falls at nearby Ringing Rocks Park last week, I’m off to find more.

This weekend I’m heading to Taughannock Falls State Park in Ulysses, New York.  It boasts a waterfall with a 215 foot drop, slightly higher than Niagara on the American side but with much smaller volume. It’s the highest drop east of the Rockies. The park’s Gorge Trail, open all year, puts you next to the spray of the falls. According to the Park Ranger I spoke with today, the falls are only partially frozen and water’s still coming over the top.

The falls and gorge create a natural amphitheater and the dense spray rising from the bottom of the falls creates a heavy mist — full of negative ions!

Negative ions are air molecules that have lost an electrical charge because they’ve been broken apart by things such as sunlight, moving air or moving water. They’re in abundance in places like waterfalls, the mountains and the beach. When we breath in large quantities of negative ions, it increases the flow of oxygen to the brain and reduces the amount of the mood chemical serotonin in the bloodstream, creating a feeling of mild euphoria.

At the base of Yosemite Falls in California, there are about 100,000 negative ions per cubic centimeter. (A cubic centimeter is the size of a sugar cube.)  In fresh country air, there are about 4,000 and on an L.A. freeway at rush hour, there are 100 negative ions per cubic centimeter.

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