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Feeling chilly: How the body weathers winter



Suddenly in February, the day turns sunny. It’s 50 degrees and it feels marvelous. Turn down the heat! Go for a walk!

So why does 50 degrees feel so chilly in October?

Physiologists say the body adjusts to increasing cold over time. In October, our bodies just haven’t adjusted to the temperature drop, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The human body has two main ways to cope with chills when the temperature drops. The first is to constrict blood vessels. This pushes warm blood to the body’s core. That’s when your arms and legs could start to feel colder. The second way is to shiver. That’s when you turn up the heat 10 degrees.

Humans, it turns out, have continuously invented ways to cope with cold by changing their environment — turning up heat sources, staying near those heat sources, and adding layers of clothing.

Interestingly, humans who constantly experience cold temperatures, like native people in the Arctic, just don’t feel as cold as others. Fish industry workers, whose hands are in cold water for hours, have been found to have warmer hands than other people.

The physiological explanation is that blood vessels don’t constrict so much after long-term exposure. So those people really are warmer.
But if you aren’t an Eskimo and you do need thick, fuzzy socks all the time, there could be a medical explanation.

The first medical explanation is probably obvious: Aging makes people colder. Circulation decreases, the blood vessel walls lose elasticity and the fat layer thins. Well, sometimes.

Also the body’s metabolic responses to cold can be slower.

According to the Journals of Gerontology reported in 2011 that older people on average had a body temperature .3 degrees lower than younger people.

All of which leads us to what we already know: We have got to buy that sherpa blanket.

When feeling cold is a symptom
Feeling cold is normal during the winter or as we age, but sometimes it can be a symptom of other problems of even a side effect of medicine.

Medical causes of coldness:
– Hypertension.
– Diabetes.
– Thyroid conditions.
– High cholesterol.

Pharmaceutical causes:
– Beta blockers that decrease heart rate (and circulation to hands and feet).
– Calcium channel blockers, used to treat hypertension.

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3 exercises to improve your balance



Falls are common among older adults and often result in serious injuries. Luckily, taking steps to improve your balance can reduce your risk of falling. Here are three basic exercises to get you started.

1. Stand on one leg
While holding on to a countertop or the back of a stable chair, slowly bend your knee and lift one foot off the ground. Start by trying to maintain the position for 30 seconds or as long as possible. Alternate feet and repeat the movement until you’ve done it three times on each side.

2. Stand on tiptoes

While maintaining your grip on a solid surface, slowly lift your heels off the floor without bending your knees. Briefly hold the position and then slowly lower your heels back down. Start with two series of 10 repetitions and gradually increase the quantity.

3. High knees
Slowly walk in place, lifting your knees to the height of your waist with each step. For extra security, complete this exercise near a table or countertop so you can catch yourself if you lose your balance.

For additional exercises and a more personalized workout plan to help you improve your balance, speak with a kinesiologist or other health-care professional.

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Understanding aphasia



Aphasia is a disorder that affects verbal and written communication skills such as the ability to read, write, speak, listen, and understand speech. This impairment is caused by damage to one or more areas of the brain that control language, usually due to a stroke, brain tumor, dementia, or other neurological disorder. Aphasia can also be triggered by a head injury or infection.

While older adults are more susceptible, aphasia can affect people of all ages. Symptoms depend on the location and severity of the brain damage. Common variations of the disorder include:

  • Global aphasia. This is the most severe type of aphasia, characterized by little or no ability to speak and understand spoken language. A person with global aphasia will also be unable to read and write.
  • Wernicke’s aphasia. Also known as fluent aphasia, this type is characterized by long or disconnected sentences that include incorrect or nonsense words. A person with this form of the disorder will also struggle to comprehend speech.
  • Broca’s aphasia. Also known as non-fluent aphasia, this variation of the disorder is characterized by limited vocabulary, short statements, and laborious speech. However, a person with Broca’s aphasia will often retain the ability to understand spoken language.

Speech-language therapy is often recommended for treating aphasia. Depending on the location and severity of the brain damage, patients may recover some or all of their communication skills over time. For more information about this disorder, visit the National Aphasia Association website at

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Understanding acupressure



Acupressure is a massage therapy technique that involves using the fingers, palms, and elbows to apply pressure to specific areas of the body. With roots in traditional Chinese medicine, this alternative healing practice adheres to the same principles as acupuncture but forgoes the use of needles.

The approach
Acupressure is based on the theory that invisible channels called meridians carry energy throughout the body. It’s believed that applying pressure to specific points along these pathways can promote relaxation, relieve illness, and restore systemic balance.

Though acupressure shouldn’t replace proper medical attention, it can be used to complement it. It’s most commonly performed in conjunction with massage therapy, physiotherapy, and orthotherapy.

The benefits
While there’s limited research on the medical benefits of acupressure, patients with various health concerns have reported improvements after having several treatments. Most notably, acupressure can be used to help:

• Relieve stress and tension
• Soothe muscle and joint pain
• Facilitate digestion
• Boost the immune system
• Increase energy levels
• Improve sleep

If you want to try this treatment at home, consider purchasing an acupressure mat. Lined with hundreds of plastic points, these mats can be used to stimulate pressure points on your back. However, a session with a professional therapist will offer far more effective and longer-lasting results.

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Talking to your teen about personal hygiene



As children go through puberty, it’s normal for them to start to smell differently. Though it may involve an uncomfortable conversation, helping your teen establish personal hygiene habits is important for their health and confidence. If you’ve noticed a funky smell coming from their clothes, shoes, or bedroom, here are a few tips to help you broach the subject.

Create a safe space
There’s a time and place to bring up the matter of personal hygiene with your teen. In front of their siblings, for example, isn’t ideal. The key to having a productive discussion is to do your best to make your teen feel at ease.

Rather than having a face-to-face conversation, consider casually mentioning the topic while the two of you are cooking, washing dishes, or sitting alone together in the car. This will help your teen feel less put on the spot and more inclined to open up.

While you should be honest with your child about their body odor, make sure your tone isn’t accusatory or judgmental. Let your teen know these changes are a normal part of growing up, and they can always come to you with questions.

Give them the right tools
Outline the various ways your teen can minimize their body odor such as showering and wearing clean clothes on a daily basis. Rather than nag or plead with them, explain that taking care of their personal hygiene is a responsibility.

Additionally, you and your teen should put together a list of the products they’ll need. This includes antiperspirant, shower gel, mouthwash, shampoo, face cleanser, and shoe deodorizer. Keep in mind that your teen may be reluctant to shop for these products with their parents, so remember to give them some space at the pharmacy.

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How to help your children maintain a healthy weight



Each year in September, National Childhood Obesity Month aims to raise awareness about the problem of childhood obesity in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 14 million American children are obese.

Unfortunately, childhood obesity can lead to heart disease, respiratory issues, joint problems, Type 2 diabetes, and a number of other serious physical and psychological health conditions. While genetics play a role, behavior and lifestyle choices are also determining factors. Here’s how parents can help children manage their weight.

A balanced diet is one of the cornerstones of maintaining a healthy weight, and fostering good cooking and eating habits starts at home. Favor fruits, vegetables, and whole grains as well as lean proteins like fish, poultry, beans, and meat substitutes. It’s also important to limit fast foods and sugary drinks. Instead, offer children homemade meals and plenty of water.

In addition to helping kids regulate their weight, regular physical activity can reduce anxiety and improve self-esteem.

Children between the ages of three and five should spend at least three hours per day engaging in some form of physical activity. Children aged six to 17 should exercise at least 60 minutes per day. Limiting screen time can help young people foster an active lifestyle.

Multiple studies have established a link between poor sleep and a higher risk of obesity. The CDC recommends that children between the ages of six and 12 get nine to 12 hours of sleep per day. For youth aged 13 to 18, the recommendation is eight to 10 hours per day.

If you’re worried about your children’s weight, be sure to consult a health-care professional. By working with a physician, you can help your kids manage their health.

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Minor mishaps get your attention?



What’s been happening to you of late?

If you’ve been having close encounters of the accidental kind, it’s time to give some personal attention to the causes.

While many ordinary people seldom suffer a mishap, others seem to trip over things, cut their fingers, barely miss a pedestrian on the road, or get hit by something falling off a shelf.

According to the Center for Injury Research and Policy, there is no such thing as an accident-prone personality. It can’t be blamed on genetics.

Doctors at the Center, a part of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, say reasons can be found for minor mishaps and near-miss accidents.

When a rash of unfortunate incidents begins, they say, it’s up to the individual to uncover the causes.

They suggest that you note each time you have an accident and see if you can identify a common theme. For instance, maybe you are more likely to trip when you are rushing to get to an appointment. Or perhaps minor mishaps could be more likely to occur on days when you have not had enough sleep. Or you could be more likely to suffer a near-miss when you and your mate are on the outs.

You could find, as one subject did, that some trouble is rooted in your work environment and in circumstances you can control.

As an example of a small job-related injury, one person related the story of how she was cut near her eye. A file folder was stuck in the drawer and struck her when it finally gave in to her pulling.

The cure for this one is obvious: Reorganize file drawers, so they aren’t so crowded.

Wisdom dictates that each near-miss be examined.

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