I just finished a wonderful new novel, "The Stockholm Octavo" by Karen Engelmann. I admit I read it because Karen is a high school friend of mine, ( you all know her work -when we were in high school she painted the drummer I now use for my logo) but I really did enjoy the book immensely. The setting is Stockholm in the 1790's and the Octavo is a form of fortune-telling done with cards. The seeker draws 8 cards that symbolize people in his life. His job is to find and use these people to further the vision that is foretold. Historical figures share the stage with fictional ones creating an intriquing tale that is filled with mystery, fashion, murder, art and love. All and all an intelligent witty read, perfect for our long winter nights.
If Thanksgiving week for you means watching football then this article I read today about exercise and the "love hormone," oxytocin should be of interest. A study published in 2010 about soccer players found that during a shot out when a player scored and expressed joy and enthusiam the subsequent players were more likely to score as well. Since it is impractical to draw blood from players in the middle of a game to test their oxytocin levels scientists have studied exercising voles. They found after exercise the voles had more oxytocin in their blood and were more likely to mate than the non exercising voles. What's all this got to do with football. Well if you watch you know the celebrating the players do after a good play. The theory is that the grandstanding triggers oxytocin in all the players on that team and that in turn can make them play better. Even the fans can have oxytocin rushes when their team does well. So may your team win!
Gina Koata wrote an interesting article a few days ago in the NY Times about how much exercise American adults actually do. The sad fact is that even though we know we shold be active, most of us aren't. Some researchers are now using psychology and studying how people feel while exercising. One study on exercise found that the perception of a workout changed if there was a 5 minute cool down at the end - the participants enjoyed it more and reported they would be more likely to do it again. The advice I've heard so often is being proven true, do something you like and you're much more likely to stick with it or as Nike once said, just do it!
Gretchen Reynolds in the New York Times sites 3 studies that attempt to measure just how much activity is needed to increase longevity. The bottom line is that moderate exercise, like brisk walking, for 65 minutes per day is best for life expectancy. Do not dispare, though, because even low exertion exercise like washing dishes will increase life by about 2 years. Just think what vacuuming can do. Makes me want to clean house.
This article talks about how laughter seems to help with the release of endorphines and because of that it can help pain relief. It also reminds me of the saying "misery loves company" not because laughter is miserable, but because they found that when people laughed in a group they got more pain tolerance than when they laughed alone. We are social beings. Maybe that's why I can weight lift for 60 minutes in a class, but can't lift for 5 minutes on my own!
I have a lot of patients who have had cortisone shots or are considering getting one for joint pain. I read this article a while ago, but it is still pertinent. Phys Ed: Do Cortisone Shots Actually Make Things Worse? By GRETCHEN REYNOLDS. This article sites a study in the British medical journal, The Lancet, that tried to figure out the answer. The bias of my training is to be somewhat skeptical of cortisone shots, but on the other hand I have had some patients report great results. Please follow the links to get the full rundown, but the short answer is that cortisone shots can help in the short term, but not the long term. In some cases they can make the situation much worse. This will now be something I will give all patients who are considering getting cortisone.
I'm always suggesting to my patients that exercise and activity is necessary for better overall health and well being. Little did I know that some new studies are showing that just standing instead of sitting is beneficial. Gretchen Reynolds in a NY Times article sites a study showing that even just breaking up long time sitting with a few minutes of light walking or exercise can lower glucose and insulin levels. Another study shows that standing uses more caleries than sitting. She also notes that a study from Australia correlates television watching to decreased life expectancy!. She incorporates this into her work schedule, by setting an alarm and getting up every 20 minutes for 2 minutes. So once again I say just move, even a little, and good things can happen.