Hello, and welcome to this month's article! How are you doing? So many of us are spending our time isolated at home, adjusting to this sudden shift in our lives. This can be an ideal chance to catch your breath, evaluate your current situation, and make plans for your future.
Some will realize that their first priority is to take things easy for awhile and to let their mind and body rest and recuperate. If this is what you need for your health and sanity, don't feel guilty for investing this time in rebuilding your overall health.
This also is an excellent opportunity to put your life priorities into perspective and make plans for this next phase as we discover what our new normal is going to be.
If there's one thing that has become clear to most people over the last couple of months, it's that human connection is not complete without caring, compassionate human touch.
This month's main article is a reminder that we can't really thrive in life without that element of true connection—human touch.
Let's hope that this brief interlude will be the last time our physical connections are put on hold and the days ahead are filled with happy hugs shared with those we love!
Missing Physical Touch
by Stella Montano
COVID 19 has had a huge impact on all of us. I thought about one of the things I have missed the most—human touch. We all need human touch. Whether we like it, love it or dislike it, we all need it.
There is a saying, "A hug a day keeps the doctor away." These days, a hug a day may lead to having to see a doctor. Our skin is our largest organ and is very responsive. Physical contact, be it a warm handshake, a sympathetic hug or even a congratulatory pat on the back, are all ways leading to human touch. I wondered if I was way out of touch with reality so I asked friends, via texts and phone what they thought of not being able to touch or be touched, as in a hug. Everyone agreed that it has been extremely difficult.
Studies show that the older we get, the greater the need for human touch. Regular gentle touch given with warmth and attention can have a huge positive impact on the elderly. Did you know there is actually a National Hugging Day? It started in 1986 and is celebrated on Jan. 21—I believe we were all still unaware that we shouldn't be hugging on Thursday, Jan. 21, 2020. Organizers of this event note that hugging has many benefits, including relieving stress, expressing care and concern for another person and promoting release of the happiness-inducing hormone oxytocin.
For people with dementia, human touch plays an important role in promoting overall well-being. Research shows that just five minutes of hand massage can induce a physical relaxation response and reduce levels of cortisol, a hormone released during times of stress. Massage has also been found to raise levels of serotonin, a neurochemical that promotes feelings of calm and reduces anxiety.
I have held the hand of several people with dementia and gently applied hand lotion and witnessed them relax.
It has not only been difficult keeping our distance from our friends on a social level, but I almost feel a sense of disrespect when I greet or say goodbye without a hug or handshake. Especially my senior friends, which are many. Now we are wearing our masks, which is an even greater reminder that we need to keep our distance.
We all know it is for our safety and the safety of everyone else, but it has not been easy. Remember, we smile with our eyes so beneath the mask, when we smile it reaches the other person. For now, air hugs will have to do.
Taking More Steps Each Day Linked To Lower Blood Pressure, Heart Study Finds
by Chris Melore
With many people stuck at home during the coronavirus quarantine, it can be hard to get in your daily exercise. A new study says, no matter how you do it, getting in your daily steps can keep your heart healthy.
Researchers tracking over 600 smart watch users found that a higher daily step count is linked to a lower average blood pressure. The study is part of the Framingham Heart Study, which has been researching factors of heart disease for more than 70 years.
The participants were asked to wear an Apple Watch and record their blood pressure weekly for several months. It's one of the first studies to use wearable devices available in stores to track fitness outside of a lab.
"Measuring habitual physical activity in community-based settings in this way distinguishes our study from prior studies," the study's lead author Mayank Sardana said in a statement.
Sardana says a person's systolic blood pressure dropped by 0.45 points for every 1,000 steps the smart watch users took each day. Using that math, a person taking 10,000 steps a day lowered their blood pressure by over four points.
Researchers say the average systolic blood pressure of everyone involved in the study was 122, which is just above what health experts consider normal (120 and under). Sardana believes those 10,000 steps could mean the difference between normal and high blood pressure.
"This study solidifies our understanding of the relationship between physical activity and blood pressure and raises the possibility that obesity or body mass index accounts for a lot of that relationship," Sardana explained.
The study adds that nearly half of all adults in the United States have high blood pressure and many don't know it. Researchers say their results should help promote how smart devices can encourage more physical activity.
The study was presented at the American College of Cardiology's Annual Scientific Session Together with World Congress of Cardiology (ACC.20/WCC).
Where we love is home — home where
our feet may leave, but not our hearts.
— Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.
Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood.
Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.
— Marie Curie
The content of this article is not designed to replace professional medical advice. If you’re ill, consult a physician.
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