Every week, we’re bringing you a roundup of the latest health and wellness news to hit the wire. This week, we look at the “Monday Reset” method for sticking to resolutions longer, the research-backed benefits of spending time in a sauna, and a significant drop in cancer deaths.
Already faltering in your resolutions? Try this.
If you’re already failing at those lofty New Year’s goals, it might make more sense to tackle more doable weekly goals each Monday.
The nonprofit Monday Campaigns’ public health initiative capitalizes on the day of the week when people are most likely to begin new diets and exercise routines, a day when health-related Google searches are at their peak.
The program provides weekly reminders to reinforce habits and actions that can prevent chronic health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and obesity.
These reminders can be to practice deep breathing for five to eight minutes to combat stress, recipes for Meatless Mondays, a 2,000-calorie Monday eating goal or encouragement to run a “Monday Mile.”
These resets can be particularly helpful in getting the 80 percent of people who have failed at their New Year’s resolutions in the first month find motivation, said Ron Hernandez, managing director of The Monday Campaigns.
“If you fall off the wagon, it gives you 52 opportunities to get back on track or refresh your goals,” Hernandez told Healthline.
Here’s what new research tells us about the benefits of saunas
You know that sitting in a sauna is relaxing, but did you know that it also has real cardiovascular benefits?
A new study from the University of Finland in Time shows that regularly sitting in a dry sauna (as many people regularly do in Finland) had a positive impact on blood pressure, heart rate and vascular health.
The research team’s earlier work on saunas showed associations between lower rates of hypertension, cardiac death and dementia among those who used saunas weekly. The new study, published in the Journal of Human Hypertension and the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, monitored 102 people immediately before and after a 30-minute sauna session to see what might be driving these health-related improvements.
What they found was that time in a hot dry sauna reduced participants’ systolic and diastolic blood pressure. While the systolic pressure drop was only temporary, the diastolic pressure remained lower 30 minutes after people came out of saunas.
The sauna sessions also benefited people’s vascular compliance, or the measure by which blood vessels are able to expand and contract with changing pressure.
Heart rates gradually increased during sauna bathing, as well, to an average of 120 beats per minute, which is similar to a moderate-intensity workout. Of course, this doesn’t mean that sitting in a sauna is a substitute for that run. Your muscles aren’t getting the same benefit, said study author Dr. Jari Laukkanen, a cardiologist and professor of medicine at the University of Finland.
But sauna sitting is certainly a heart-healthy way to relax, and more sessions appear to increase the beneficial effects. Laukkanen’s earlier research showed the most benefit was among those sauna bathing four to seven times a week.
What’s behind the big drop in cancer deaths
The cancer death rate in the United States fell 2.2 percent between 2016 and 2017, the largest single-year decline reported, the American Cancer Society said this week. Since its peak in 1991, the rate has dropped 29 percent, which translates to 2.9 million fewer cancer deaths.
The sharp decline in mortality was attributed to reduced smoking rates, as well as advances in treatment for lung cancer and melanoma. Still, experts say, the rate of decline has slowed for colorectal and breast cancers and halted entirely for prostate cancer, which could be explained in part by rising obesity rates.
Indeed, as more Americans gain, the rate of obesity-related cancers—such as those of the liver, kidneys, pancreas and uterus—are rising, along with rates of breast cancer in postmenopausal women and colon and rectal cancers in adults younger than 55.
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