Remember the last time you had a good laugh? How about that feeling of amusement you get when you anticipate witnessing something
funny? Mirth—otherwise known as merriment and glee—has been the recent subject of research. While still in its infancy, some of the studies’ early results might surprise you.
John Chamness, a licensed massage therapist at NorthShore’s
Integrative Medicine program lists some of the recent findings behind mirth. After watching funny movies, participants experienced the following health benefits:
Are these the effects of the state of mirth, or the laughter that is often a result? Regardless, you don't have to wait for something funny to enjoy a laugh; laughter can be prolonged as a deliberate behavior.
In Laughter Yoga—a social movement that began in India and is catching on here—participants alternate 45 – 60 seconds of deliberate, sustained laughter with deep breathing and brief stretching for a total of 30 minutes. After seven sessions over three weeks,
Laughter Yoga participants had significantly lowered their blood pressure.
During sustained laughter (through Laughter Yoga or not), the diaphragm increases from working an average of 12 times per minute during regular breathing to 300 forceful times per minute. Over 20 minutes of sustained laughter accounts for 6,000 contractions.
That’s quite a workout!
So, what’s the key take away? Be serious in your pursuit of health, but don't always pursue health with seriousness.
What makes you laugh? Have you ever participated in a Laughter Yoga session?
Nearly one in 100 people are affected by epilepsy, and yet there are many common misunderstandings about this condition. Epilepsy by
definition is characterized by recurrent, unprovoked seizures. A single seizure episode does not constitute epilepsy.
In recognition of
Purple Day—a day dedicated to increase awareness about epilepsy—Lawrence Bernstein, MD, Neurologist at NorthShore, identifies some of the common misconceptions about
What other misconceptions do you have about epilepsy? Are there other questions you have about this condition?
The contents of your medicine cabinet—if not used properly—could be potentially dangerous or even deadly. Common
items such as vitamins, antacids and aspirin can all be misused and cause harm. However, the most commonly misused drugs are opiods, prescribed for pain relief; central nervous system depressants used for anxiety or sleep regulation; and stimulants most commonly
prescribed for ADD or ADHD.
The Doreen E. Chapman Center at NorthShore reports that the two groups that are most vulnerable to misuse or abuse these drugs are teenagers and
the elderly. The Center offers the following tips to help avoid misuse:
What items do you have in your medicine cabinet? What do you do to ensure that these items are not being misused or abused?
Who’s to blame for the dramatic increase in childhood obesity these days—it has more than tripled in the past 30
years according to the
Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)? While there may be many factors at fault—more junk food and sugary drink options, increased television and computer time, lack of physical activity (both at school and at home) and larger portion sizes—it
is important to set a good example to help your children maintain a healthy weight.
The effects of childhood obesity have both short and long-term consequences, which is why addressing the issue before it is too late is imperative. Obese youth and teens are more likely to be obese as adults, and are thereby more susceptible to health problems
commonly associated with being overweight (such as: high cholesterol, heart problems, hypertension, etc.)
Goutham Rao, MD, Primary Care Physician at NorthShore offers the following tips for parents to encourage healthy eating, an active lifestyle and a happy child:
What changes have you made to encourage a healthy lifestyle for your children?
Have questions about childhood obesity? Join Dr. Rao for a live medical chat on Tuesday, March 27 at 1:30p.m. He’ll answer your questions about how to institute incremental behavioral changes into your child’s every day routine to help with weight loss. Save
the date and
submit your early questions today.
The vast majority of poison exposures occur in the household. In fact, according to the American Association of
Poison Control Centers, nearly 90 percent of all exposures are home exposures. These typically involve ingestion of household products (cosmetics, cleaning supplies and personal care items), as well as drug interactions, food poisoning, and acute overdoses
of prescription and non-prescription drugs.
Jerry Leikin, MD, a Medical Toxicologist at NorthShore recommends the following steps for helping to reduce your and your family’s risk of poison exposure:
What precautionary methods do you employ at your house to reduce your risk to poisons? Do you frequently make changes to your home environment to safeguard your home?
The field of Medical Genetics has seen tremendous advancements over the years and is greatly impacting the way healthcare
is delivered. Despite this, one of the best “genetic tests” for guiding your personalized care and estimating risk is to know your family medical history.
By analyzing your family history, you can be alerted to an increased health risk whether it’s heart disease, cancer or another condition. If the risk is high enough, changes in medical management or further testing may be indicated to help personalize one’s
Peter Hulick, MD, Medical Geneticist offers his advice on how to track your family history to personalize your healthcare:
Do you have a family history of health conditions? How many generations of health information do you know?
You are getting sleepy, very sleepy. All hypnosis aside, hopefully when your eyelids get heavy, you yawn uncontrollably
and your head begins to nod up and down, you are not behind the wheel of a car.
According to the
National Sleep Foundation’s Sleep in America poll, a surprising 60 percent of Americans have felt sleepy and drowsy when driving. The reasons are many: you’ve had a long day at work, you’re powering through exits on a road trip to make it to your final
destination faster or you’re driving in the evening. No matter what the reason, drowsy driving can be just as dangerous as driving under the influence,and puts both you and others at serious risk.
Neil Freedman, MD, Sleep Medicine specialist at NorthShore, offers his insights on how to stay alert at the wheel and avoid injury:
If you exhibit any of these symptoms while driving or know that you are too tired to drive prior to getting into the car, you should either not get behind the wheel, or pull over to the side of the road or to a rest stop.
Have you ever been too sleepy to be driving? What do you do to stay alert behind the wheel?
Getting in shape and thinking about your daily nutrition is now a little easier. The food pyramid has been replaced by
MyPlate visual, which is based on the most recent revision of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
There are three main focus areas for the new Dietary Guidelines.
Melissa Joy Dobbins, a registered dietitian at NorthShore, provides tips on how to put these strategies into action:
Foods to Increase:
Foods to Reduce:
For more helpful ideas to get your plate in shape, check out the
“Ten Tips” series.
What nutrition tips do you have? How balanced is your plate?
Pregnancy brings about many changes—both for the mother and baby. While most women have normal, healthy pregnancies, everyone is at some risk for problems.
Issues during a pregnancy can range in severity—from poor nutrition, nausea or fatigue to gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, infectious diseases or premature birth. With the proper planning, education and physician involvement, many risks can be greatly reduced
Scott MacGregor, D.O., gives his recommendations about what women can do both before and during their pregnancy to ensure a healthy self and baby:
What are some things you’ve done to prepare for a healthy pregnancy? What have you done during your pregnancy?
Have high-risk pregnancy questions? Join Dr. MacGregor for a live medical chat on Friday, March 16 at 1:30 p.m. He’ll answer your questions about risk factors, treatments and signs of high-risk pregnancy. Save the date and
submit your early questions today.
Cancer is hard on everyone—families, friends and especially on the individual—even if the outcome is successful. As advances in cancer treatments have led to more cancer survivors, the necessity for supporting and nurturing survivors through the end of treatment
and their cancer experience is necessary.
Carol Rosenberg, MD, Director of NorthShore’s Preventive Health Initiatives and Living in the Future (LIFE) Cancer Survivorship Program, provides the following tips to
help cancer survivors and their loved ones navigate the end of their battle with cancer. These help to ensure quality of life and long-term health:
Are you or someone you know a cancer survivor? What changes to your or their lifestyle have been made? What words of wisdom do you have for others?
Additional resources and useful information for survivors are offered on a monthly basis at the MRW Survivorship 101 seminars offered through NorthShore’s
Living in the Future (LIFE) Cancer Survivorship Program. These monthly educational workshops address major topics such as a lifestyle, psychosocial issues, genetics, and insurance and employability.