What’s the buzz on health news this week? To help you stay in-the-know, we uncover the latest tips to help you improve your wellbeing, from your physical strength to your mental health. In this issue, discover tricks for taking blood pressure medication, reducing your risk of Alzheimer’s, the benefits of cutting down on phone use, how much time to spend in the sun, and why you should take a cooking class.
Take your blood pressure medication while standing.
Blood pressure is usually measured while you’re sitting, but research from the American Heart Association suggests that also taking it while you’re standing may better predict heart disease. Scientists followed 1,200 subjects with hypertension and found those whose systolic blood pressure (the top number) rose more than 6.5 mmHg when standing were more likely to have a heart disease–related event later than those with lower systolic pressure while standing. The researchers advise asking your doctor to measure both your seated and standing blood pressure and discussing solutions if it rises.
A daily walk may ward off Alzheimer’s.
We’ve long known exercise improves brain health. Now, researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, have figured out how. In a Journal of Neuroscience study published earlier this year, scientists measured the activity of microglia, immune cells that help clear away debris, toxins, and other foreign invaders linked to Alzheimer’s, and found that overly active microglia ramp up inflammation, damage neurons and disrupt brain signaling, particularly in a brain region hit hardest by Alzheimer’s. But exercise — like a daily walk —counteracts that response, protecting against dementia.
Cut your phone time by 45 minutes to improve health.
The average adult spends three hours a day on their smartphone, a factor linked to a host of health issues, from blue moods to weight gain. Now, health news published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applies shows that cutting back just a bit may ease the negative effects. For a week, they had subjects either stop smartphone use, spend 45 fewer minutes on the device each day or use their phone as normal. The result? Those who cut back on phone time by 45 minutes reaped the same benefits as those who gave up their phone: They exercised more, smoked less and were happier.
Vitamin D may help keep migraines at bay.
Recent research in Frontiers in Neurology has uncovered a no-cost way to stop migraines: Enjoy the sun. Scientists found that volunteers with adequate levels of vitamin D — which the body makes when skin is exposed to the sun — experienced fewer migraines than those with low levels of the vitamin. The authors say D dampens the inflammation that can trigger and intensify migraines. To get your daily dose, spend 15 minutes in the sun (you can still wear sunscreen and reap the benefits!) or supplement with 2,000 IU of vitamin D-3 daily.
Improving your cooking skills may boost your mental and physical health.
Being confident in the kitchen is good for your taste buds and your mental health, according to recent news from the journal Frontiers in Nutrition.
In their study, 657 volunteers took a healthy cooking class for seven weeks, and at its conclusion, reported feeling more confident in their cooking skills. Also, the volunteers noted improvements in vitality and mental and physical health — effects that lasted for six months after taking the class.
Although the researchers aren’t clear on what was behind these surprising perks, they suspect that the class socialization along with the ability to confidently cook a healthy meal in 30 minutes — instead of grabbing fast food — were major contributors.
This article originally appeared in our print magazine, First For Women.