Health Briefs


August 10, 2009

'Mindful eating' can help keep you slim

A new study explains why yoga helps practitioners stay slim: People who engage in the traditional form of exercise are more in tune with their bodies in general, including at meal times. Mindful eating helps people to stop eating once they are full, even if delicious food remains on their plates. They try not to let tempting advertisements lure them to food; they avoid eating while they are distracted by a TV show or other diversion; and they don't eat to distract themselves from emotions like stress or sadness. Researchers from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and the University of Washington in Seattle created a 28-item questionnaire to assess the degree to which people practiced mindful eating. They passed it around to yoga studios, gyms and weight-loss centers around the Seattle area and got more than 300 people to respond. The researchers found that mindful eaters weighed less, as measured by body mass index. The study appears in the August issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.

- Los Angeles Times

In pain? Cursing might help you feel better

Pain and profanity have always gone together. If you doubt it, just stub a toe. And although most of us try to control our language when we're in pain, a new study would seem to suggest a better course of action: cursing. It really does make you feel better. Dr. Richard Stevens of the School of Psychology at Keele University in England was the lead author of the study, which was published in Wednesday's issue of NeuroReport, a neuroscience research journal. The researchers used 67 Keele students for the study. Each was asked to put his or her hand in 32-degree water for as long as possible. When repeating their favorite profanity - at an even volume and pace - the students were able to keep their hand in the water for an average of 155 seconds, 40 seconds longer than when they did it without swearing. Not only did the pain tolerance of swearing students increase, but so too did their heart rates. Their perceived pain also decreased.

- Chicago Tribune

Depression keeps cardiac patients from exercising

Doctors often advise people with heart disease to exercise. But cardiac patients are known to be at higher risk for depression, and some people with depression can't motivate themselves to get up and move. That Catch-22 may be a major reason why so many cardiac patients do not follow the routine advice to become more physically active after being treated for a heart attack or other cardiac event, according to a study published in the journal General Hospital Psychiatry. Researchers analyzed 11 studies with a total of 20,000 patients. Eight of the studies found that the development of depression after a heart attack was a significant factor for adopting a sedentary lifestyle or poor adherence to an exercise program. One study found that among heart attack survivors who said they had depression or anxiety, 59 percent had a significant decrease in exercise after three months compared with 31 percent of patients who were not depressed. Depression may lead to a decline in activity among people who need it the most because depressed people adopt habits that make it harder to exercise, such as smoking or over-eating. "The sad part about this is that physical activity is not only important for preventing and managing many chronic conditions, it can be very helpful for improving mood and other symptoms of depression," Evette Joy Ludman, of the Group Health Cooperative in Seattle, said of the study.

- Los Angeles Times

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