October 31, 2012
By Margie Finkelnburg
The presidential election is just around the corner and you might be surprised to find that heading to the polling...
The presidential election is just around the corner and you might be surprised to find that heading to the polling station can actually boost your health! Voting won’t lower your cholesterol or make that cold go away faster, but it could help you lose a few pounds, lower your blood pressure or even make strides toward kicking depression.
How? Well the link is definitely not direct. But according to a study run by Dr. Lynn Sanders, PhD, at the University of Virginia, people who vote feel like they are helping to make a difference in their lives. And when people feel empowered – like they control their destinies in some way – that can have benefits in other areas. Feelings of empowerment can lead to a more positive outlook, and optimism has been linked to everything from lower rates of coronary artery disease to better cancer recovery rates. A 2010 study published in Circulation, a journal of the American Heart Association, looked at over 90,000 women and found that the more cynical study participants had higher rates of coronary heart disease, and higher cancer rates. Those with a positive outlook fared better.
Regardless of your political beliefs, expressing those beliefs through our system of democratic elections can allow you to affect the outcome of your life and the lives of those you love. Voting is a powerful action, and people who vote should rightfully come away from the experience feeling powerful.
Voting might even make you feel younger. This idea is based on a 2010 Penn State study that found that people who believed that their actions strongly influenced the outcomes in their lives reported feeling younger regardless of their chronological age. Another paper published in Psychological Science, a journal for the Association of Psychological Science, stated that people who feel powerful actually overestimate their height in many cases.
In addition, there have been many studies demonstrating direct links between optimism, feelings of empowerment and improved mental and physical health. It isn’t too far a reach to suggest that voting, an act that allows them to be directly involved in their communities, would give them that feeling that they can make a difference.
Though there is certainly no direct correlation between these studies and voting, why wouldn’t you cast your vote on Election Day if there were even a small chance you might come out of the booth feeling younger, happier and even taller?
Margie oversees Molina Advocates, and Molina Political Action Committee (PAC). Both programs encourage employees to get involved in the legislative and political process. As an election official in her hometown of Alexandria, Virginia, she believes voting is a precious privilege and we should use it whenever given the opportunity.
October 24, 2012
Children / Nutrition
Halloween is best known for costumes, spooky tricks and maybe most of all, candy. Trying to have a nice Halloween without throwing your healthy habits out the window?...
Anticipate and plan accordingly so you can get through this day without too much distress and still have a howling good time.
NOTE: The American Heart Association recommends only 100 calories or 6 ½ teaspoons a day of added sugar for women and 150 calories or 9 ½ teaspoons a day of added sugar for men. Miniature candy sold for Halloween generally contains about 5 grams of added sugar per piece. Check the Nutrition Facts label for other sizes. For your reference, 1 teaspoon of sugar = 4 grams of sugar.
October 01, 2012
Michael M. Siegel, MD
There’s great news for middle-agers coming out of a study recently published in Archives of Internal Medicine – even if you’ve never exercised, beginning even a light...
There’s great news for middle-agers coming out of a study recently published in Archives of Internal Medicine – even if you’ve never exercised, beginning even a light exercise program now can extend the years you may live without the debilitating effects of chronic disease. The study, covered in the New York Times, suggests “Being or becoming fit in middle age…even if you haven’t previously bothered with exercise, appears to reshape the landscape of aging.”
For many, the last 10-20 years of our lives are difficult, as many Americans struggle with heart disease, Alzheimer’s, diabetes or colon or lung cancer. But the study showed that adults who were fitter through middle age and beyond extended the healthy years of their late adulthood, essentially delaying the onset of many of these common ailments.
If you haven’t exercised before, but would like to start, where should you begin? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, older adults should:
- Engage in a variety of activities
- Begin a new activity at a low level of effort, gradually working up to a moderate level
- Aim for 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity weekly
- Incorporate balance training into an exercise routine to help prevent falls
Moderate-intensity activity is safe for most people, but if you have a chronic health condition, such as arthritis or cardiovascular disease, talk to your doctor before beginning an exercise routine to learn about the type and amount of activity that will work for you.
As the study leader Dr. Benjamin Willis points out in the Times article, “You don’t have to become an athlete. Just getting up off the couch is key.”
I'd love to hear from some of our middle aged readers what they do to stay active!