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This site is an archive of our Well Written Blog posts until April 2020. For the most up-to-date content visit NWIJournal.com.

The opinions and thoughts expressed here those of the authors and do not necessarily correlate with those of the National Wellness Institute. Read more.

 

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Well Cleaning: Springtime Inspiration

Posted By NWI, Thursday, May 1, 2014
Updated: Wednesday, April 16, 2014

With temperatures rising, days getting longer, and birds chirping, that can only mean one thing: spring is on its way. With spring, comes spring cleaning. Before you whip out the rags, cleaners, and gloves, you may want to consider the safety of your cleaning products. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has conducted an extensive research report that investigates more than 2,000 different cleaning supplies in an effort to inform consumers of the hazards that may be in these commonly used cleaners. The EWG’s mission is to “use the power of information to protect human health and the environment.”

The EWG’s Guide to Healthy Cleaning had a number of key findings:

1. 53% of cleaning products assessed contained ingredients known to harm the lungs; 22% contain chemicals reported to cause asthma.


2. Formaldehyde, a known human carcinogen, is used as a preservative or may be released by other preservatives in a number of cleaning products.

3. The chemical 1,4-dioxane, a suspected human carcinogen, is a
widely-used detergent chemical.


4. Chloroform, a suspected human carcinogen, sometimes escapes in fumes released by products containing chlorine bleach.

5. Quaternary ammonium compounds (“qu
ats”) like benzalkonium chloride, found in antibacterial spray cleaners and fabric softeners, can cause asthma.

6. S
odium borate, also known as borax, and boric acid are added to many products as cleaning agents, enzyme stabilizers, or for other functions. They can disrupt the hormone system.

7. Many leading “green” brands sell superior products, but not all cleaners marketed as environmentally conscious score high. Some “green” brands do not disclose ingredients adequately. For a list of brands see:
http://www.ewg.org/guides/cleaners/content/findings



The EWG also has suggested that consumers avoid the following completely because they are unnecessary or there is not a better alternative:
1.  Air fresheners contain secret fragrance mixtures that can trigger allergies and asthma. 

2. Antibacterial products can spur development of drug-resistant superbugs.

3. Fabric softener and dryer sheet ingredients can cause allergies or asthma and can irritate the lungs. The alternative: Try a little vinegar in the rinse cycle.


4. Caustic drain cleaners and oven cleaners can burn eyes and skin. The alternative: Use a drain snake or plunger in drains. Or, try a do-it-yourself paste of baking soda and water in the oven.

For more information on “well” spring cleaning visit: The Environmental Working Guide Website at: http://www.ewg.org/guides/cleaners/content/findings

Tags:  Chemicals  Cleaning  Intellectual  May 2014  Physical  Social 

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Are you Hangry (Hungry + Angry)?

Posted By NWI, Thursday, May 1, 2014
Updated: Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Research funded by the National Science Foundation and released April 2014 suggests a direct correlation between our blood glucose levels and anger.

Researchers from The Ohio State University followed 107 married couples for 21 days. During that period they measured blood glucose levels and found they could predict how angry the individual would be with their spouse that night. This study points to the idea that hunger can cause anger and aggression.

The scientists measured anger in two unique ways. One: Participants were given a voodoo doll that they were told represented their spouse, along with 51 pins. At the end of each day, for 21 consecutive days, the participants inserted 0 to 51 pins in the doll, depending on how angry they were with their spouse. They did this alone, without their spouses being present, and recorded the number of pins they stuck in the doll. Two: near the end of the experiment, individuals played a “game” with their spouse while each individual was secluded in a private room. Each time an individual won, they could select the volume and length of a loud noise their spouse would have to endure (because they were secluded, they didn’t know that no actual noises were delivered). The individuals whose blood glucose levels were lower, selected to deliver louder and longer noises to their spouses.

What’s the moral of the story and the emotional and social wellness lesson? If you are feeling angry and agitated, you might  ask yourself if you are hungry before getting into an argument or heated discussion.

Bushman, B., DeWall, C.N., Pond, R.S., and Hanus, M.D. (2014). Low glucose relates to greater aggression in married couples. PNAS. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1400619111

Tags:  Emotional  Intellectual  Marriage  May 2014  Occupational  Relationships  Social 

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Ride Your Bike to Work Week!

Posted By NWI, Thursday, May 1, 2014
Updated: Wednesday, April 16, 2014

May 12-16, 2014, is National Ride your Bike to Work week. Riding your bike instead of driving has a number of environmental and personal benefits. It is good for your wallet, and is a great workout. Below is a list of why jumping on the “Ride Your Bike to Work” bandwagon can benefit you!

  1. Burn calories. Riding your bike 12 to 14 mph for a half an hour can burn approximately 267 calories for a 135-pound woman. To calculate the number of calories you would burn check out this link: http://www.healthstatus.com/perl/calculator.cgi

  2. Tone your body. Cyclists are able to build killer legs, quads, glutes, and calves by propelling their bike. The upper body gets its workout through handlebar maneuvering, giving your body a balanced tone.

  3. Give yourself a little extra boost. According to the journal Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, bike riding can improve energy levels by 20% and decrease fatigue by 65%. http://www.womenshealthmag.com/fitness/bicycle-fitness?cat=18722&tip=18718

  4. Save your joints! Bicycling has a low-impact on your joints compared to running. For maximum low-impact, make sure your knees are bent just slightly (approximately 25 degrees) on the down pedal stroke.

  5. Protect your heart. Riding your bike three times a week can help to lower your blood pressure and LDLs, the top two risk factors of heart disease.

  6. Increase your brain power. Cycling helps build new brain cells in the hippocampus, the region of the brain responsible for memory, which begins to deteriorate at the age of 30. http://www.bikeradar.com/us/road/gear/article/30-reasons-to-take-up-cycling-23965/

  7. Get a better night’s rest. According to a Stanford University of Medicine Study, sedentary insomnia sufferers were asked to cycle for 20-30 minutes every day. As a result, the time required for insomniacs to fall asleep was reduced by half, and sleep time increased by an hour. http://www.bikeradar.com/us/road/gear/article/30-reasons-to-take-up-cycling-23965/

  8. Cycle away cancer. Exercise of any type has plenty of evidence to ward off cancer, but a number of studies have shown that cycling is specifically good for keeping cells in working order and reducing the risk of breast cancer by nearly half. http://www.bikeradar.com/us/road/gear/article/30-reasons-to-take-up-cycling-23965/

Statistics show that over half of the U.S. population lives within five miles of their workplace, making the ride to work a doable 20-minute ride. With the increasingly beneficial environmental, health, and economic perks to cycling, joining the National Ride Your Bike to Work Week is a wellness positive! 

Tags:  Bike  Environment  Exercise  May 2014  Occupational  Physical 

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Find Peace and Living Well in Your Mind: Mindfulness

Posted By NWI, Thursday, May 1, 2014
Updated: Wednesday, April 16, 2014

OmmmMindfulness:

is a state of active, open attention on the present. When you're mindful, you observe your thoughts and feelings from a distance, without judging them good or bad. Instead of letting your life pass you by, mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening to experience. Mindfulness can bring you benefits emotionally, physically, and socially. — mind·ful·ness noun

Examples of Mindfulness:

The following are mindfulness exercises that are simple and convenient and can help you lead a deeper experience in daily life.

  1. Meditation: Find a quiet place, free yourself of distractions, and quiet your mind. A simple meditation starter technique is to focus on a place you feel is comforting (for instance, the beach). Start by watching the waves come in and out for 30 seconds. Hear the sounds. Smell the smells. Feel the temperature. See the scenery. Block everything else from your mind. Gradually increase your meditation time as you become more skilled at the practice. You can do this meditation with any scene. For instance, if a ballgame is your fancy…hear, smell, feel, see all that is around you and block other thoughts out. 

  2. Deep Breathing: A simple exercise of focusing on the sound and rhythm of your breath can have a calming effect and can help to keep you grounded in the present moment. Feel the air enter your lungs and your lungs expand to hold it. Feel your lungs shrink as you let the air go.

  3. Listen to Music: Listen to virtually any type of calming music and focus on the sound and vibrations of each note to bring the music within you for a “right now” feeling.

  4. Observe Your Thoughts: Busy and stressed minds often find it difficult to focus when they have a rapid stream of thoughts running through their minds. Instead of working against the stream of your thoughts, sit back and “observe” them, rather than becoming involved. This can help you to better process and decrease the stress in your mind.

May is National Mental Health Awareness Month. Keeping a healthy mind not only keeps you mentally healthy, but also makes your physically, emotionally, and socially healthier as well.

For more information visit: http://stress.about.com/od/tensiontamers/a/exercises.htm

Tags:  Emotional  Intellectual  May 2014  Meditation  Mindfulness  Occupational  Physical  Social  Spiritual 

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Wellness in 10: 10 Ways to boost your metabolism

Posted By NWI, Thursday, May 1, 2014
Updated: Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Pump up metabolismMetabolism: This word refers to the range of biochemical interactions that break down the energy (food) we consume. Our metabolism rates depend on the energy we consume and the energy (exercise, biological processes) we exude…and genetics.

Increasing one’s metabolism is indirectly linked to weight loss. In fact, individuals do not gain weight because they have a slow metabolism; they gain weight because they consume more food than their bodies need for energy. Basal metabolic rate is the number of calories your body needs to carry out basic bodily functions like breathing, circulation, blinking, etc. If you increase your metabolic rate without increasing your calorie consumption, you can aid the weight loss process. Alternatively, you could also decrease your calorie intake (however, this must be done carefully because the body is smart and will hold onto calories if it believes it is being “starved.”)

According to the book The Mayo Clinic Diet: Eat well, enjoy life, lose weight, it is thought that many people do not actually have higher metabolisms, but are just more naturally active, not through sport, but through naturally fidgety behavior.

Metabolism Wellness in 10

  1. Exercise (at least 30 minutes a day). If your body isn’t ready to burn calories faster, you can help it burn calories by making it move.

  2. Pump some iron. Muscle tissue burns more calories than fat tissue.

  3. Incorporate interval training. Increasing our heart rate, instead of exercising in a slow steady way, makes us take in more oxygen. Increased oxygen in our body can help us to burn calories even after our workout is over.

  4. Incorporate muscle confusion. This is a way to build more muscle tissue. Trying new exercises (not doing the same exercise every day such as running at the same speed on a treadmill) helps to build muscle because exercise variation better impacts different muscle groups and helps us to avoid the plateau effect where muscles no longer grow because they are adequate to handle the daily exercise.

  5. Get fidgety. Sit on an exercise ball at work, walk around when you are on the phone, do projects while watching TV…don’t sit still.

  6. Look for opportunities to move. Park further away, walk to the mailbox, clean the house, plant a garden…there’s a lot of fun activity out there.

  7. Sleep. If you don’t get enough sleep, your metabolism will slow as your body tries to conserve energy.

  8. Eat often. You don’t want your body going into “starvation mode” where it tries to conserve energy. Incorporate small snacks throughout the day.

  9. Eat right. But make sure those snacks are the “right” snacks. Measure the serving size of snacks and consider adding fruits, vegetables, and most importantly, proteins (like nuts) into your snacking routine.

  10. Drink plenty of water. Even mild dehydration can cause your metabolism to slow. You need water to process calories, so drink up!

 

References:

Perry, CG, Heigenhauser, GJ, Bonen, A, Spriet, LL. (2008). High-intensity aerobic interval training increases fat and carbohydrate metabolic capacities in human skeletal muscle. Applied Physiological Nutrition Metabolism. Dec.33(6):1112-23). doi: 10.1139/H08-097

The Mayo Clinic. (2011). The Mayo Clinic diet: Eat well, enjoy life, lose weight. Minnesota, RosettaBooks.

WebMD.com. (2013).
Slideshow: 10 Ways to boost your metabolism. Retrieved April 15, 2014.

Tags:  Diet  Exercise  May 2014  Metabolism  Nutrition  Physical 

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Inspiration: Animals

Posted By NWI, Thursday, May 1, 2014
Updated: Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Feel the loveThis month’s Inspiration is brought to us by Be Kind to Animals Week, May 4 – 10 (first full week in May).  For more information visit: Canadian Federation of Humane Societies, www.cfhs.ca, or American Humane Association www.americanhumane.org/

He who is cruel to animals becomes hard also in his dealings with men. We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals. -Immanuel Kant

If having a soul means being able to feel love and loyalty and gratitude, then animals are better off than a lot of humans. -James Herriot

I like animals because they are not consciously cruel and don't betray each other. -Taylor Caldwell

Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read. -Groucho Marx, The Essential Groucho: Writings For By And About Groucho Marx

Happiness is a warm puppy. -Charles M. Schulz

Dogs never bite me. Just humans. -Marilyn Monroe

Some people talk to animals. Not many listen though. That's the problem. -A.A. MilneWinnie-the-Pooh

Heaven goes by favor. If it went by merit, you would stay out and your dog would go in. -Mark Twain

You can judge a man's true character by the way he treats his fellow animals. -Paul McCartney

Petting, scratching, and cuddling a dog could be as soothing to the mind and heart as deep meditation and almost as good for the soul as prayer. -Dean KoontzFalse Memory

If a dog will not come to you after having looked you in the face, you should go home and examine your conscience. -Woodrow Wilson

Perhaps in the back of our minds we already understand, without all the science I've discussed, that something terribly wrong is happening. Our sustenance now comes from misery. We know that if someone offers to show us a film on how our meat is produced, it will be a horror film. We perhaps know more than we care to admit, keeping it down in the dark places of our memory-- disavowed. When we eat factory-farmed meat we live, literally, on tortured flesh. Increasingly, that tortured flesh is becoming our own. -Jonathan Safran Foer, Eating Animals

Tags:  Animals  Emotional  Inspiration  May 2014  Social  Spiritual 

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