Research Shows People Feel Guilty Taking “Leisure Time”

September 8th, 2021

Woman holding her head in panicNot sure whether to keep working or take a break and relax? Experts say to clock out. Making leisure time a priority is good for your mental health. For many though, especially people who prize productivity, it is a hard sell, a new study finds.

Experiments on Leisure Time

For the study, researchers did a series of experiments to find out what happens when people go through life viewing productivity as the ultimate goal, and having fun a waste of time.

In one experiment, the investigators asked 199 college students to rate how much they enjoyed several leisure activities and then had them complete assessments that measured their levels of happiness, depression, anxiety, and stress. Students were also asked how much they agreed with five statements such as “time spent on leisure activities is often wasted time.” Those who saw leisure as wasteful were less happy and more depressed, anxious and stressed the researchers found.

In another experiment, 302 volunteers were asked how they celebrated Halloween and how much they enjoyed it. Again, those who saw leisure as a waste of time reported less enjoyment of parties and other holiday activities they viewed as just for fun.  According to the study author, those who participated in fun activities that fulfilled responsibilities (like trick or treating with one’s children) didn’t see a reduction in how much they enjoyed their Halloween. And the negative views of leisure affected enjoyment of anything fun—regardless of the situation or how short the leisure activity was, the findings showed.

In a third study, college students were asked to watch a short, funny cat video in the middle of other parts of an experiment. Even though they were at the lab to do mostly boring survey work, and some had read that leisure could help manage stress and boost energy, some still didn’t enjoy the videos, the researchers said.

The experiments show it’s not easy to change people’s beliefs about the value of leisure, the team noted.

The report was published recently in the “Journal of Experimental Social Psychology.”

It’s Time for Self-Care

Self-care means taking the time to do things that will help you live well and improve both your physical and mental health. When it comes to your mental health, self-care can help you manage your stress, lower your risk of illness and increase your energy. Even small acts of self-care in your daily life can have a big impact.

Here are some tips to help you get started with self-care:

  • Eat healthy, regular meals and stay hydrated: A balanced healthy diet and plenty of water can improve your energy and focus throughout the day.
  • Focus on positivity: Identify and challenge negative thoughts.
  • Get regular exercise: Just 30 minutes of walking every day can help boost your mood and improve your health.
  • Make sleep a priority: Stick to a schedule and make sure you’re getting enough sleep.
  • Practice gratitude: Remind yourself daily of things you are grateful for.
  • Set goals and priorities: Decide what must get done and what can wait. Try to be mindful of what you have accomplished at the end of the day, not what you have been unable to do.
  • Stay connected: Reach out to your friends or family members who can provide emotional support and practical help.
  • Try a relaxing activity: Explore relaxation or wellness programs, which may incorporate meditation, muscle relaxation or breathing exercises. Schedule regular times for these and other healthy activities you enjoy. 

Self-care looks different for everyone and it is important to find what you need and enjoy.

What IAA has to Say

Insurance Administrator of America wants you to take the time for self-care. Self-care is important for everyone’s mental health. IAA encourages everyone to add some leisure time to their life.

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Unexpected Rise in RSV Infections

September 1st, 2021

The letters RSV with a stethascope next to themThis past spring pediatric hospitals in the United States began reporting an unexpected rise in serious infections caused by respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).

RSV Infections in the U.S.

RSV normally emerges in late fall, peaks in the winter, and nearly dissipates by summer. It typically causes cold-like symptoms, but it can trigger serious lung infections in babies.

In June, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warned there was an unusual rise in children sickened with RSV in the Southern U.S. Now, the pattern is showing up in other parts of the United States.

Why is this happening? According to the CDC, in April 2020, RSV activity decreased rapidly, likely due to the adoption of public health measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Compared with previous years, RSV activity remained relatively low from May 2020 to March 2021. However, since late March the CDC has observed an increase.

RSV is the most common cause of bronchiolitis and pneumonia in children under one year of age in the U.S.

Signs and Symptoms

RSV enters the body through the eyes, nose or mouth. It spreads easily through the air on infected respiratory droplets.  A person can become infected if someone with RSV coughs or sneezes near them. The virus also passes to others through direct contact.

Signs and symptoms of RSV most commonly appear about four to six days after exposure to the virus.  In infants, signs of a severe infection include:

  • Cough
  • Irritability
  • Poor feeding
  • Short, shallow and rapid breathing
  • Struggling to breathe—chest muscles and skin pulled inward with each breath
  • Unusual tiredness

Recovery typically takes one to two weeks.

What IAA has to Say

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Don’t Blame Slowing Metabolism on Midlife Weight Gain

August 25th, 2021

Apple sitting next to small weightsForget everything you know about your metabolism. According to a new study, your metabolism is actually its highest when you’re a year old. This completely changes what we know about energy expenditure over a person’s lifespan.

New Findings on Metabolism

Your metabolism gradually declines through your childhood and teen years, until it reaches a consistent level that people maintain throughout adulthood until they reach senior status, researchers report.

For this study, an international team of scientists analyzed the average calories burned by about 6,600 people as they went about their daily lives in 29 countries around the world. The people varied in age from eight days to 95 years.

Most metabolism studies measure how much energy the body uses to perform basic vital functions like breathing, digesting food or pumping blood, but that only accounts for about 50 percent to 70 percent of the calories humans burn daily, the researchers said. These previous studies don’t account for the added energy humans burn simply by being larger as adults than they are as kids.

To account for this, the researchers relied on the “doubly labeled water” method for tracking energy expenditure. People drink water in which the hydrogen and oxygen atoms in the water molecules have been replaced with naturally occurring “heavy” forms. Urine tests then show how quickly they are flushed out, providing an accurate estimate of daily energy expenditure in normal daily life.

Pooling metabolic data from multiple labs into a single database gave researchers a chance to take a broader look at how people burn calories as they age.

It turns out newborns come into the world with a metabolism similar to that of an adult. Soon after birth, metabolism starts to rage as babies begin to grow, tripling their birth weight by age one. After the initial surge of infancy, your metabolism slows by about three percent each year until you reach your 20s, where it levels off into a new normal that will be maintained throughout adulthood.

Even though teenage growth spurts occur, the researchers didn’t see any increase in the daily calorie needs of adolescents after they took body size into account.

Then at the age of 60, your metabolism starts to decline as your organs and cells become less and less active. The slowdown is gradual, only about 0.7 percent a year, but it adds up.

The report was published in the August 13 issue of the journal “Science.”

With this information, future studies should take into account the different rates at which children’s bodies’ burn through food and medicines. This is important in terms of pediatric guidelines and diet recommendations and drug treatments in children and adolescents, because their metabolic setting is so different.

Metabolism and Weight Loss

Metabolism is the process by which your body converts what you eat and drink into energy. Even when your body is at rest, you are still using energy for basic functions such as breathing, circulating blood and repairing cells.

Trying to boost your metabolism probably won’t help you lose weight; focus on reducing calories and increasing activity:

  • Choose fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats instead of processed foods
  • Exercise to help burn calories and build and maintain muscle mass
  • Limit added sugars and saturated and trans fats
  • Reduce portion sizes

To lose weight, you need to burn more calories than you take in.

What IAA has to Say

Insurance Administrator of America wants to keep you up-to-date on the world of health. Stay tuned to this blog to learn more. Remember, with IAA one call does it all.

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New Technique Could Help Smokers Cut Back

August 18th, 2021

CigarettesA technique called noninvasive brain stimulation (NIBS) may help smokers cut back, a new research review suggests.

NIBS and Smokers

Nicotine can trigger changes in the brain that make it hard to quit, so researchers have been looking for ways to use NIBS to counter abnormal brain activity caused by nicotine addiction.

In this review, researchers analyzed 12 trials of different NIBS methods on a combined total of 710 people addicted to nicotine.

Several techniques showed promising results, but high frequency repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation, or rTMS, of a brain area involved in memory and decision making was associated with the greatest reduction in number of cigarettes smoked per day.

The trial dropout rates among participants undergoing any of the NIBS methods were not significantly different from control groups. That suggests those treatments are well-tolerated, the researchers said.

Nicotine affects the release of neurotransmitters in the brain, increasing brain activity and the release of dopamine. Higher levels of dopamine provide feelings of pleasure for smokers, the authors of the review said.

Long term nicotine exposure causes the brain to produce more receptors to handle the increased brain activity. When a smoker tries to quit and nicotine levels fall, a decrease in activity in the brain’s reward system causes withdrawal symptoms that make it hard to cut back or quit smoking. 

NIBS may boost dopamine release and counterbalance the brain’s reward system, helping smokers deal with cravings and withdrawal symptoms.

The findings were published in the journal “Addiction.”

Your Body and Smoking

Within minutes of smoking your last cigarette your body begins to recover:

  1. 20 minutes after quitting: Your heart rate and blood pressure drop.
  2. A few days after quitting: The carbon monoxide level in your blood drops to normal.
  3. Two weeks to three months after quitting: Your circulation improves and your lung function increases.
  4. One to 12 months after quitting: Coughing and shortness of breath decreases. Tiny hair-like structures that move mucus out of the lungs start to regain normal function, increasing their ability to handle mucus, clean the lungs and reduce the risk of infection.
  5. Five to 10 years after quitting: Your risk of cancers of the throat, mouth and voice box is cut in half. Your stroke risk decreases.
  6. 10 years after quitting: Your risk of lung cancer is about half that of a person who is still smoking. Your risk of cancer of the bladder, esophagus and kidney decreases.
  7. 15 years after quitting: Your risk of coronary heart disease is close to that of a non-smoker.

Some other added benefits; food begins to taste better and your sense of smell returns to normal.

What IAA has to Say

Insurance Administrator of America wants you to make healthy lifestyle choices. Even small changes can lead to big improvements! Remember, with IAA one call does it all.

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New Studies Show Donor Hearts From Drug Abusers are Still Viable

August 11th, 2021

Heart wearing stethascopeTwo new studies show that hearts from donors who abused drugs can be safely donated.

Opioid Crisis and Heart Donations

In the past two decades, the opioid crisis has taken the lives of thousands of Americans-often young, otherwise healthy people.  One result is that a rising percentage of potential donor organs come from people who abused drugs.

For a long time, the question was whether those organs were more likely to fail in the long run.

Research in recent years has been offering reassurance on these issues and experts say the two new studies provide even more reassurance.

New Studies

In one study, researchers looked at long-term survival among U.S. heart transplant patients who’d received an organ from a donor who died of a drug overdose or who had a history of using illegal drugs.

They found no evidence of a poor outlook: roughly 60 percent of transplant recipients were still alive 10 years later, whether the donor had been a drug user or not.

The findings published July 28 in the AHA journal “Circulation: Heart Failure,” are based on nearly 24,000 U.S. adults who had a heart transplant between 2007 and 2017.

Using information from hospital urine tests taken before donors died, the researchers identified illicit drugs the donors used—such as opioids, cocaine, methamphetamine, and alcohol.

Overall, around 90 percent of transplant recipients were alive one year later, regardless of whether the donor had used any drugs. Five year and 10 year survival rates were also similar regardless of the donor’s drug history.

The second study published July 28 in the “Journal of the American Heart Association,” found that the survival rates among heart transplant recipients have been rising in the past 15 years.  On average, Americans who received donor hearts between 2013 and 2017 were 21 percent less likely to die within a year, compared to their counterparts a decade earlier.

Survival rates after heart transplantation vary based on a number of factors. Survival rates continue to improve despite an increase in older and higher risk heart transplant recipients. 

What IAA has to Say

Insurance Administrator of America thinks that it is always important to have the latest health information in your back pocket! Remember, with IAA one call does it all.

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