University Addresses Substance Abuse Through Living and Learning Program

The University of Vermont is pioneering a program that integrates residential and curricular elements to address substance abuse, according to NBC News.

The program’s participants are 120 freshmen who live in a substance-free dorm. They receive a Fitbit, gym passes and nutrition coaching. They take a neuroscience course, “Healthy Brains, Healthy Bodies.” The class begins with meditation, and covers research on the benefits of clean living, the article notes.

The program, called Wellness Environment, was founded by Dr. James Hudziak, Chief of Child Psychiatry at the College of Medicine and the University of Vermont Medical Center. The program has four pillars of health: exercise, nutrition, mindfulness and mentorship.

Full story of the living and learning program at drugfree.org

People Tend to Consume More Alcohol on Days They Exercise: Study

People tend to drink more alcohol on days they exercise, suggests a new study. Beer is the most popular post-workout alcoholic beverage, Time reports.

The 150 adults who participated in the study used a smartphone app to record how much they exercised and how much alcohol they drank for 21 days at a time, at three times during one year. The study found both exercise and drinking increased Thursdays through Sundays.

The findings are published in Health Psychology.The researchers took into account the fact that people tend to have more alcohol-related social events on the weekend, and may prefer to drink primarily on the weekends.

Full story of exercise and alcohol consumption at drugfree.org

People Who Enjoy Life Maintain Better Physical Function as They Age

People who enjoy life maintain better physical function in daily activities and keep up faster walking speeds as they age, compared with people who enjoy life less, according to a new study in CMAJ(Canadian Medical Association Journal).

A study of 3199 men and women aged 60 years or over living in England looked at the link between positive well-being and physical well-being, following participants over 8 years. Participants were divided into three age categories: 60-69, 70-79 and 80 years or over. Researchers from University College London (UCL), United Kingdom, assessed participants’ enjoyment of life with a four-point scale, rating the following questions: “I enjoy the things that I do,” “I enjoy being in the company of others,” “On balance, I look back on my life with a sense of happiness” and “I feel full of energy these days.” Researchers used personal interviews to determine whether participants had impairments in daily activities such as getting out of bed, getting dressed, bathing or showering. They gauged walking speed with a gait test.

“The study shows that older people who are happier and enjoy life more show slower declines in physical function as they age,” states Dr. Andrew Steptoe, UCL. “They are less likely to develop impairments in activities of daily living such as dressing or getting in or out of bed, and their walking speed declines at a slower rate than those who enjoy life less.”

Full story of enjoying life when aging at Science Daily

Holiday myths debunked: Weight gain, suicides, traffic deaths

The most persistent holiday health myths are based on kernels of truth. Here are often-repeated adages and why they’re off the mark.

Myth 1: You gain massive weight during holidays.

Between Thanksgiving’s turkey, heaps of holiday cookies and weeks of parties, you’re bound to gain some extra padding over the holidays, right?

People tend to gain weight — about one to two pounds on average, according to several studies. So holiday weight gain may not be as dramatic as it sounds.

Before giving yourself license to eat whatever you want this week, do the math: One or two pounds a year can add up quickly.

And that one to two pounds is likely only if you’re a person with a normal body mass index. If you’re overweight or obese, the weight gained is more likely to increase — up to five pounds.

Children gain about 1.2 pounds during the holiday break, according to a 2010 study published in Clinical Medicine & Research. But they also grew about 0.32 inches, which decreased their body mass index by 0.04%.

Full story about holiday myths at CNN Health

Beedie Savage – President of Quantum Units Education

Surprising causes of winter depression

When the weather turns cold and daylight hours dwindle, it’s easy to blame seasonal affective disorder (SAD) for a blue mood.

But chances are, there’s a whole lot more to your SAD story. Before you flip on a light box, make sure these other seasonal mood-busters aren’t dragging you down.

You’re not moving enough

Cold temps make it all too easy to curl up on the couch and let your gym habit slide, but it’s common knowledge that regular exercise holds the power to lift your spirits.

“Moving around is helpful to everyone’s mood,” says Harvard psychologist Dr. John Sharp, author of “The Emotional Calendar.”

You don’t even have to commit to a full-on routine. In a study published in Perception and Motor Skills, researchers found that even a single exercise session at any intensity can increase positive mood feelings and decrease the negative ones. If you live in a wintery clime, take advantage of the snowshoeing and ice skating to shake up your exercise routine.

Full story of causes for winter depression at CNN Health

Beedie Savage – President of Quantum Units Education