The Power of Touch as Medicine – Mayo Clinic

“Almost everyone has experienced moments in life when grief is so intense that words seem inadequate, or the suffering you witness almost makes you avert your gaze,” says Robert Sheeler, M.D. Medical Editor — Mayo Clinic Health Letter.

“It can be tempting to physically and emotionally withdraw from painful situations, such as when a friend’s partner dies or your relative faces a terminal illness. You want to guard your own emotions, or you fear being perceived as inappropriate or invading another’s personal space.

“While these concerns can be valid, such an approach risks loneliness and isolation for all those involved. Multiple studies have shown that feeling isolated from others has a number of negative health effects, including accelerated aging, depression, cognitive decline and increased risk of heart disease.

“The role of companionship under difficult circumstances need not be as complicated as you might think. In fact, it can be as simple as holding a hand. Connecting through touch or just being present in a quiet, mindful way can bridge the divide between individual — and unique — sorrows and provide immeasurable comfort.

Touch as medicine
“Many health care providers intuitively sense that a compassionate touch or presence can help to alleviate pain and discomfort in their patients. A sympathetic hand on the arm can help a person absorb difficult news, or an encouraging pat on the shoulder may provide motivation toward recovery.

I would like to interrupt Dr. Sheeler’s words to mention that I have written about the benefits of human touch in the form of hugging as well as companionship. Check out my post What is the value of hugging? and 22 Ways dogs make humans better for more details.

Dr. Sheeler continued, “More-formal approaches to incorporating touch into medicine generally fall under the umbrella of complementary therapies that aim to support traditional treatments and improve quality of life. Some touch therapies focus on manipulating soft tissue, others on tuning into your energy. Most help you relax.

“Massage therapy, for example, manipulates your muscles, skin and tendons. Almost everyone feels better after a massage. Studies have shown it can reduce anxiety, pain and fatigue.

“Reiki, on the other hand, is an energy therapy where the practitioner’s hands are placed on or a few inches above the recipient’s body. Different hand positions are held about two to five minutes until the practitioner feels that the flow of energy has slowed or stopped. Recipients sometimes describe a feeling of warmth and relaxation after a session. Reiki has been used to treat stress, pain and nausea from chemotherapy.

“Examples of other touch therapies include reflexology, which focuses on specific parts of the body, deep tissue massage, spinal manipulation and healing (therapeutic) touch.

Getting close
“In an era dominated by virtual communication such as by cellphones, the Internet and wireless technology, it can be even more important to realize the value of being physically close. An arm around the shoulder of a family member or friend in need of comfort can often do more good than an email.

“Humans need to be near each other to be mentally, emotionally and physically healthy. The next time you’re tempted to withdraw, try reaching out instead. Since comfort levels with touch vary, you may need to ask for permission first, but offer and give a hug, link arms, sit close.

“Life is richer when you share the highs and lows together — words aren’t always necessary.

Want more great health information related to this subject? Read more about these types of medical practices and treatments in the Mayo Clinic Book of Alternative Medicine.


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The Lighter Side of Weight Loss (and Living Longer)

Herewith some funnies for the day after Turkey Day.



















As usual, the laugh’s on me.

If these tickled your fancy, search lighter side … in the Search box at the right for the rest of them.



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Happy Thanksgiving!

Being thankful is what today is all about. I think it is important to remember that gratitude is very much a too two way street. When we express it we get as well as give.

Here is what Harvard had to say about gratitude in an early post on Positive Psychology:

“Express gratitude. Gratitude is a thankful appreciation for what you have — from a roof over your head to good health to people who care about you. When you acknowledge the goodness in your life, you begin to recognize that the source of that goodness lies at least partially outside yourself. In this way, gratitude helps you connect to something larger than your individual experience — whether to other people, nature, or a higher power.”

Enjoy your turkey today.




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What is the HYDRA SmartBottle?

Just a couple of weeks ago I wrote about the new Torch 2 cycling helmet that I backed on Indiegogo, the crowdfunding site. As I said at the time, I thought there was some interesting information in the write up whether you were a cyclist or not. Well, now I have a new product that I backed on Indiegogo and it has even broader appeal than the Torch 2.

The HYDRA SmartBottle is way more than just a new water bottle. As they say on their website,  “The once mundane ‘water bottle’ has been transformed to be so much more! When you’re on the go, lugging around all your favorite gear can be restricting. Being light and agile means leaving good stuff behind. But not anymore! Introducing a brand new category – the SmartBottle!”


As you can see from the illustration, the HYDRA doesn’t look like any kind of ordinary drinking bottle.

I could spend a couple of hundred words writing about the HYDRA and letting you create pictures in your mind, but I don’t think I would do it justice. So, I have included the You Tube video from their website and you can see it for yourself.

Check it out. As you will see, any person who enjoys the outdoors will be able to find a use for it. I know I can’t wait to take it with me on bike rides. Okay, I will list a few of its attributes. It lights up, it plays music, it holds water, it lightens your load when  you go out to play.


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Exercise to Burn off Soft Drink Calories

In case you have ever wondered how much exercise it would take to burn off something you were drinking, here is a graphic answer to your question.

Remember the sugar guideline. Every 4 grams of sugar equals one teaspoon.




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Move it AND Lose it – IOM

Eat less; move more; live longer

You have read that phrase here a hundred times if you have read it once. Also, you are familiar with the fact that two thirds of us are overweight and half of them are outright obese. Because of that, the government is creating a National Physical Activity Plan.


In April the Institute of Medicine’s (IOM) two-day workshop on solving the national problem of obesity summarized the state of the science of physical activity in prevention and treatment of obesity and it highlighted strategies to promote physical activities across different segments of the population.

Here are some of the findings:

Keynote speaker James O. Hill Ph.D, Executive Director of and Anschutz Health and Wellness Center at the University of Colorado, said strong evidence indicates that the net impact of adding physical activity to a weight loss program is a total increase in energy expenditure. In other words, most people lose weight. The few who gain weight do so because they increase their energy intake at the same time.

In other words if you eat less and move more and you will lose weight. I add the phrase ‘live longer’ because I would like to get the positive idea of living longer into people’s brains, rather than stopping at the losing weight part. That is the game not the candle.

Hill continued, “There is no magic here,” he said. Even more important than its effects on energy expenditure, in Hill’s opinion, is physical activity’s effect on the regulation of energy balance. He referred to the “amazing science” that has been conducted over the past decade on brain circuitry that regulates food intake and the way physical activity affects that circuitry, with important differences between people who occupy what he called the “regulated zone” versus the “unregulated zone.” People who occupy the regulated zone are physically active, and their bodies match intake and expenditure. People who occupy the unregulated zone, which Hill suspects is the majority of the human population, are physically inactive or not as physically active and their bodies are not doing a good job matching food intake and energy expenditure.

I have covered many of the benefits of exercise here including how the brain benefits from it far beyond the body’s firming muscles and burning fat. I am proud of the information on my Page – Important Facts About Your Brain (and Exercise Benefits). But, this brain circuitry information was news to me. It appears that the vehicle of the body like a car needs to be revved up and blown out on the expressway. You can’t just park it in the garage, or in the case of the body, on the couch, and expect to get peak performance out of it.

Ulf Ekelund, Ph.D, Department of Sports Medicine, Norwegian School of Sport Sciences in Oslo, said that evidence indicates a strong relationship between physical activity and other health outcomes, including all-cause mortality. Increasing physical activity by simply adding 20 minutes of brisk walking a day has shown to reduce risk of mortality by 24 percent in people of normal weight and 16 percent in people who are obese. Ekelund called for a greater focus on promoting physical activity for health rather than for weight.

It was truly gratifying to see professor Ekelund’s words about promoting physical activity for better health not just weight loss.


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How Important is a Good Breakfast?

A recent online study by a Cornell University research team demonstrated how important a good breakfast is to healthy individuals.

“The study showed that the most common breakfast items consumed by slim people were fruits and vegetables (51%), dairy (41%), cold cereal / granola (33%), bread (32%), eggs (31%), hot cereal (29%), coffee (26%). Only 4% of participants indicated that they didn’t eat breakfast.

Slim by Design infographic

“One important take away from this study is that a very high rate of slim people actually eat breakfast instead of skipping, which is consistent with previous research on the importance of breakfast,” explains lead author  Anna-Leena Vuorinen, “But what stands out is that they not only ate breakfast, but that they ate healthful foods like fruits and vegetables. Also, egg consumption was higher than we expected.” If the Food and Brand Lab has a refrain of its own it’s: do what slim people do.”



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The 7 Surprising Ways Being Kind Makes You Healthier and Happier


Nice to see ALL these benefits that accrue from a single act of kindness. If you would like to read further, I have posted a number of times on the subject: Healthy Snacking as an Act of Kindness

Anatomy of an Act of Kindness

Can You Practice Random Acts of Kindness?

5 Reasons if Pays to be Kind – Infographic


Originally posted on Our Better Health:

By: Diane M.     November 16, 2015      Follow Diane at @DianeMacEachern

Being nice or kind is often touted as a way to do something good for someone else. But in addition to helping others, being kind turns out to be just as good for the person extending the kindness as for the person receiving it, if not more so. Here are 7 surprising ways being kind is so good for you, it makes you healthier!

1) Being kind increases your overall sense of happiness and well-being. Dr. Stephen Post of the Institute for Research on Unlimited Love says being kind generates a side effect he calls “the giver’s glow.” One of the top five factors contributing to lower depression rates is “giving to neighbors and communities,” according to a study conducted in Great Britain, reports the Denver Post. Don’t believe it? Try it yourself. See if you…

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Exercise Whether You Lose Weight or Not – WSJ

As I have written hundreds of times here: eat less; move more; live longer. Notice there is nothing in that statement about losing weight. I know that with almost 70 percent of the population overweight or obese, there is a lot of worry about weight loss. I wish folks would lighten up. No pun intended. If you eat right and exercise, you will be healthy and live longer.




I found a Wall Street Journal article  from early this year on that very subject. Rachel Bachman cited, “A recent study underscores that there are significant health benefits to overweight and obese people being physically active, even if they don’t lose a pound. The study, of 334,000 Europeans over 12 years, recorded twice as many deaths due to a lack of physical activity as due to obesity.”

I have time and again written that the reason most people fail at losing weight and keeping it off is that they have the superficial goal of looking sexy or something like that. If you are healthy you will be sexy whether you appear that way to the object of your affection or not.

She makes another good point with, “Some doctors say the diet industry and popular culture overemphasize weight loss and underemphasize the benefits of exercise for people of any size. Health clubs and fitness studios advertise with images of lean bodies. Many people stop exercising if they’re not losing weight.”

The sooner you can get the superficial appearance thing out of your head the better off you will be.

A good example is Jeanette Patie a certified fitness instructor in Duarte, Calif., speaker and author of “The Fat Chick Works Out!” About 16 years ago, she read a book critical of the diet industry and had an epiphany: “I’m not the only one that fails at this. Almost everyone fails at this.”

“She began seeking out exercise that she enjoyed, and now teaches three or four dance-based exercise classes a week, in addition to walking, biking and doing yoga. She finds that she sleeps better, has more stable moods and gets sick less often.”

There you have it. How many readers can boast sleeping well, stable moods and getting sick less often?

I think it is fascinating that the physical problem of being overweight can best be handled first by making the mental decision to get healthy through good eating and exercise and letting the chips fall where they may.

I wrote Why you should quit trying to lose weight early last year. Check it out. You might find out something worthwhile. One last important point I need to make is that your brain benefits from exercise. Check out my Page – Important facts about your brain – and exercise benefits.




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The Lighter Side of Weight Loss (and Living Longer)

I have added the well-deserved phrase and living longer to the header this week. Please don’t lose sight of the fact that your weight loss efforts should ultimately result in your living longer, not just looking more attractive to the opposite sex.






As always, the laugh’s on me.



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Moderate Coffee Drinking May Cut Premature Death Risk – Harvard

1439910737525I am a coffee drinker in moderation, so I only worry about the effects of caffeine on me. I have heard horror stories of ‘caffeine headaches’ that die hard coffee drinkers get. So I pretty much limit myself to decaf. I was happy to learn the latest from Harvard on coffee drinking.

People who drink about three to five cups of coffee a day may be less likely to die prematurely from some illnesses than those who don’t drink or drink less coffee, according to a new study by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health researchers and colleagues. Drinkers of both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee saw benefits, including a lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease, neurological diseases, type 2 diabetes, and suicide.

“Bioactive compounds in coffee reduce insulin resistance and systematic inflammation,” said first author Ming Ding, a doctoral student in the Department of Nutrition. “That could explain some of our findings. However, more studies are needed to investigate the biological mechanisms producing these effects.”

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Winter Skincare Tips

Since we are already in mid-November, I thought this little reminder about skincare would prove useful. I know that I always have to remember sunblock when I go out on the bike in the cold.




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Cold Weather Cycling Tips


I am reblogging this from 2011 as I have updated it and it has a lot of useful info for folks who are into outdoor activities.


Originally posted on One Regular Guy Writing about Food, Exercise and Living Longer:

Regular readers know that I ride year ’round here in Chicago. Through November, we barely cracked 40 degrees F which didn’t call for much extra prep beyond gloves and ear covering. Come December, however, with the advent of the 30s a whole new dimension of cycling wear opens up. Whether you ride a bike or not, I think you will find some useful info here.

From the Toronto Star Thursday’s Wall Street Journal had a cleverly written item on Your Outdoor Sports Survival Guide, by Jason Gay. He aptly describes “the maniacal joy of Survival Season,” and observes  “Nobody looks suave playing sports in the freezing cold. If you are doing it correctly, you look a little unhinged and suspicious. Are you going to play golf…or rob the Bank of Alaska?”

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What Are Some Good Luck Foods for Friday the 13th?


I wrote this post for Friday the 13th a couple of years ago, but it applies still.

PERSONAL NOTE: It is exactly 27 years ago today that I cleaned out my desk at Reuters and quit after working there for 20 years. I won’t go into the whys, they are no longer relevant. However, I have not looked back and ever regretted it. I wrote freelance for a while, then taught journalism at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and finally migrated over to the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur foundation where I wrote a newsletter in the Investment Department for five years and then was promoted to Bond Manager where I managed $900 million for the next five years. I retired from there in October of 2000.

I have been writing this blog since March of 2010.


Originally posted on One Regular Guy Writing about Food, Exercise and Living Longer:

Feeling blue on Friday the 13th? Perhaps you are triscadecaphobic, which is to say, fearful of Friday the 13th.

The publication Environmental Nutrition offers the following 5 foods that are super nutritious and might bring you good luck at least in terms of your general health.

Amazing avocados, is their first offering. “Ounce for ounce, they contain more blood-pressure lowering potassium than bananas. Avocados are rich in good-for-you monounsaturated fats, and cholesterole-lowering beta-sitosterol and cancer-protective glutathione, along with Vitamin E, folate, vitamin B6 and fiber.”

Brain-boosting blueberries come in second. “These little blue marvels are the antioxidant leaders, plump and nearly 4 grams of fiber per cup and a good dose of vitamin C. They also have cancer-protective ellagic acid, and may boost your brain health and vision.”

Anti-cancer Brazil nuts come in third. “This hearty tree nut is a ‘trigger food’ that may cause cancer cells to self-destruct…

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9 Ways You Can Improve Your Mental Health Today


Simple stuff here. You can make your life better today if you start integrating some of these into your daily doings.

I have written about positive psychology a number of times here:

Harvard on How to Harness Positive Psychology for you

Practice Positive Psychology to Improve Your Health

How You Can Benefit From a Positive View of Life WSJ



Originally posted on Our Better Health:

Sure, diet and exercise help. But so does opening up to a friend.

Oct 27, 2015     Patricia Harteneck, Ph.D., MBA

Mental health is much more than a diagnosis. It’s your overall psychological well-being—the way you feel about yourself and others as well as your ability to manage your feelings and deal with everyday difficulties. And while taking care of your mental health can mean seeking professional support and treatment, it also means taking steps to improve your emotional health on your own. Making these changes will pay off in all aspects of your life. It can boost your mood, build resilience, and add to your overall enjoyment of life:

Tell yourself something positive.

Research shows that how you think about yourself can have a powerful effect on how you feel. When we perceive our self and our life negatively, we can end up viewing experiences in a way…

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Listening to Music can Help and Hinder Learning – Infographic

When I was younger I always had music playing no matter what I was doing. Now that I am an old man, I still love music, but I don’t play it when I am writing blog posts or doing things that require concentration.

It’s nice to know that it lowers blood pressure and reduces stress.

How about you?



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