Body & Fitness

Health research and how it could benefit your wellbeing

I spend lots of time reading about studies into all sorts of fascinating factors that affect our health. While many of the outcomes aren't conclusive, with researchers admitting there often needs to be further investigation, it's interesting to find out if they really can make any difference to our health and wellbeing. Here are a few that seem to work!

Is housework bad for your heart?Household chores may be bad for your heart. In fact, it’s not the actual housework that may cause heart problems, according to a study from the University of Pittsburgh – it’s the effect it has on your stress levels.

Scientists tracked the blood pressure of men and women with full-time jobs and found those who had the added responsibility of doing chores at home were at the greatest risk of high blood pressure. They didn’t even have to do the housework for their blood pressure to go up – they only had to think about it.

The tasks with the strongest link to high blood pressure were cleaning, cooking and grocery shopping. While other research suggests vigorous housework can be good for your heart because it gets you moving, scientists found the benefits may be diminished by getting stressed about doing the chores.

Does laughter increase IVF success?Women who have a good giggle straight after going through fertility treatment may have a better chance of getting pregnant.

A study carried out by Professor Shevach Friedler, an Israeli fertility expert (who also happens to be a trained mime artist), followed the progress of more than 200 women who had IVF treatment. Half of them were subject to a 15 minute session of “medical clowning” straight after having embryos implanted and of those, 36% became pregnant. Among those who didn’t get to enjoy a good laugh, the pregnancy success rate was only 20%.

Professor Friedler says he believes that laughing relaxes women who could be on edge because of the stressful nature of the treatment, and being relaxed increases the chances of the embryos successfully implanting.

Can an electronic implant trick you into feeling full?Scientists have come up with a new option for treating obesity – an electronic implant that tricks people into feeling full so they won’t eat any more.

The device works by detecting when food reaches the stomach then sending electrical signals to the brain to say the stomach is fuller than it actually is.

Based on technology used in pacemakers, the Abiliti system effectively speeds up normal messages from the stomach to the brain.

A trial carried out in Germany found that patients using the device reduced their food intake by 45% at each meal. The device is intended for morbidly obese people and it can be switched off or removed once they reach a healthy weight.

Does watching TV increase your risk of heart disease?Spending more than two hours a day watching TV or playing computer games may damage your heart.Researchers at the University College of London examined the association between screen time and heart attacks and found a 48% increased risk of heart problems in people who spent more than two hours a day in front of a TV.

That figure soared to 125% in people who watched more than four hours a day.

The researchers say factors like exercise and smoking didn’t seem to make a difference to the increased risk. It’s thought the effect that sitting for long periods has on cholesterol and inflammation in the body.

Does getting up from your desk improve your heart health?Scientists at the University of Queensland have discovered that people who hardly get up from their seats at work have a greater chance of having a heart attack.

on the other hand, those who take frequent short breaks away from their desk are less likely to be overweight and have high blood pressure, which can be risk factors for heart disease.

Researchers studied nearly 5000 people and found that those who got to their feet for short periods of time, which added up to more than two hours a day, had smaller waists and lower blood pressure.

Can a vitamin pill ease PoS?A natural supplement may make PoS less painful for women who suffer from it. Trials carried out in a Brazil have found that pills containing a mix of vitamin E and polyunsaturated fatty acids cut monthly symptoms such as bloating, tiredness and aches and pains by up to two-thirds.

Unlike some drugs prescribed for PoS, the pills had minimal side effects, say the researchers at the Federal University of Pernambuco.

They believe the pills make the body less sensitive to prolactin, a hormone blamed for breast tenderness and fluid retention. However, it’s not likely they can make a difference to mood swings.

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