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Posts Tagged ‘stress’

How Stress Affects Your Health

April 9, 2015

Have you ever raised a teenager, bought a house, planned a wedding or had a deadline at work that you almost missed? Stress occurs more often than we think and can actually be a positive source of motivation – helping us complete deadlines or push harder across the finish line. Stress may also be brought on by life changes such as moving, financial strain, job satisfaction or loss of a loved one. When stress is prolonged over a period of time, or not managed properly it often becomes chronic, which can impact your overall health. The good news? There are activities that you can do to reduce the impact that stress has in your life.

Here are some effects that stress has on your body:

Unhealthy Food Cravings
Find yourself reaching for that pint of ice cream when you’re stressed? There’s a scientific reason for that! Cortisol, a hormone released by your body when it’s stressed, is linked to cravings for sugar and fat.

Fat Storage
Stress can actually increase the amount of fat that your body stores and enlarges the size of fat cells. This can lead to weight gain and increase your risk for obesity, high blood pressure and high cholesterol – key risk factors for cardiovascular disease [link to health screening for heart disease). Exercise, however, can help combat fat storage, in addition to reducing your overall stress level. So find a regimen that works for you and stick to it.

Heart Problems
If you suffer from chronic stress, it could be affecting your heart health. While an exact link between chronic stress and heart attacks isn’t clear, studies have shown that individuals who suffer from job related stress have a 23% more likely to have a first heart attack vs. people with no job related stress.

Sleep Habits
Stress may occasionally keep you up at night, but if you have long-term stress it can disrupt your sleep pattern and potentially cause a disorder.

Severe Headaches
Stress can cause everything from a minor headache to a migraine. This is due to “fight or flight” chemicals that your body releases, in addition to making your muscles tense up.

Hair Loss
Severe stress can harm your locks. Stress can trigger hair loss from an autoimmune condition known as alopecia areata. If stress is coupled with anxiety, it can contribute to a mental disorder that gives people an urge to pull their own hair out.

Blood Sugar
Stress can raise blood sugar, and if you have type 2 diabetes, you may notice that your blood sugar levels are higher if you are stressed.

Digestion
Stress can cause heartburn, stomach cramps and diarrhea or, if you have these conditions, make them worse.

Raises Blood Pressure
Being in a stressful situation can raise your blood pressure by constricting your blood vessels and speeding up your heart rate. While in most cases this is temporary, it’s unclear if chronic stress can cause long-lasting effects.

Brain Tissue
Research now shows that major stress can actually reduce the amount of brain tissue in areas that regulate emotions and self-control.

Back Pain
Stress causes your muscles to tense as a part of the “fight or flight” response system, which can cause short instances of pain and contribute to ongoing chronic pain.

Stroke
Stress has been linked to an increased risk of stroke (link to carotid artery screening page). Even if you are generally healthy, suffering a stressful event within the past year increases your stroke risk.

Aging
Suffering stress chronically or from a traumatic event shortens telomeres, which are protective camps on the ends of chromosomes in cells, causing your cells to age more quickly.

Asthma
Stress may amplify the immune response to asthma triggers such as pollen, animal dander, or dust.

Seizures
Individuals who are sensitive to stress can experience seizure-like symptoms, including far-off staring and convulsions if they are in high stress situations.

 

Reducing Stress in Your Life

 
While this list of health complications from stress is long, the good news is that healthy habits can make a huge impact in combating them. Following an exercise routine in addition to a nutritionally balanced diet can make all the difference.
 

Don’t Let Stress Impact Your Health

 
If you have experienced one or more effects above, we invite you to take our health risk assessment. Our health risk assessment uses identifiable health information to help you determine your risk factors for chronic illnesses and what preventive health screenings can enable you to learn if you are at risk for vascular disease, peripheral arterial disease, and other chronic illnesses.




Stress and Your Health

April 3, 2015

April is Stress Awareness Month, so we’re taking some time to spread the word about how stress can negatively impact your health. Stress can be highly personal, with one person’s unpleasant experience another’s exhilarating adventure. And a little bit of stress is thought to be good for memory and motivation. However, about 70% of doctor visits and 80% of serious illnesses may be exacerbated or linked to stress. 

LLS_Stress Infographic2




5 Health Benefits of Walking You Probably Didn’t Know

August 23, 2013

If you’re walking, you’re moving – and movement is medicine. We know the health benefits of moving because being physically active can lower risk of a variety of health problems, including obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure and more.

“Walking is the single best exercise we can recommend on a large scale,” said Bob Sallis, MD, physician-spokesperson for Everybody Walk!, a national public health campaign from Kaiser Permanente, in a Grandparents.com article. “Exercise is like a medication we should be prescribing for our patients…and the simplest exercise prescription is walking.”

Did you know there are more surprising health benefits of walking that you might not be aware of? Let’s explore them below:

One 15-minute walk after you eat dinner can lower your blood sugar.
That’s right – just 15 minutes of walking after dinner can lower your blood sugar levels for up to 24 hours. How? Walking burns up the sugar in your blood and strengthens your muscles so blood sugar can be used more efficiently.

For heart health, walking is just as good as running.
Hard to believe? Researchers examined long-term studies of runners and walkers and found that if you cover the same distance, your heart still benefits the same. Walking has the same health benefits for your heart, it just takes a little longer.

Walking is a direct stress and anxiety-reducer.
If you want a reliable way to lower your stress and/or anxiety levels, try walking. Especially among women going through menopause, walking has been seen to aid in stress-relief. Studies have shown that they more you walk, the greater the reduction in stress, anxiety and depression.

More walking means higher quality of life.
A study among men over 55 found that the more steps the men took, the better their physical and mental health. Those who walk have higher quality of life than those who don’t walk.

How fast you can walk is a good indicator of how long you’ll live.
If you can walk at a moderate pace as you age, studies show you may live longer than those who can’t. One Australia study found that among a group of men over age 70, those who passed away were primarily slow walkers, averaging just 1.8 miles per hour. Among those who could walk 3 miles per hour, none died.

The bottom line is this: walking is good for your health. If you’re walking you’re staying active, and that’s one of the best forms of medicine for your body. Movement is medicine, after all.

What’s your go-to form of exercise? If you like walking, what do you do to keep it enjoyable? Share with us in the comments below, or tweet it to @Life_Line with the hashtag #MovementIsMedicine.




Do You Make These Weekend Health Mistakes?

July 30, 2013

Ah, the weekend: two days filled with far more enjoyable activities than the workweek. While most of us look forward to the weekend when we can relax, take some time for ourselves, and get more sleep, we may not be using it in the smartest, healthiest way.

Having a healthy lifestyle means turning changes into habits, and that means continuing them on the weekends. If you’re making these weekend health mistakes, you could be doing your body and mind more harm than good.


Sleeping In Too Late

It’s good to catch up on some much-needed sleep if you didn’t get enough during the week, but make sure you don’t sway too far from your typical sleep schedule. Sleeping in late on the weekends can make it harder to fall asleep come Sunday night. It can also be harder to wake up early on Monday morning. Try to stick to a regular sleep schedule as much as possible.


Overeating

It’s not uncommon for weekends to be filled with eating out, having family get-togethers, and treating yourself to some of your favorite foods. This is completely fine – in moderation. Avoid overeating on the weekends when you know it will be easier to indulge. Maintain moderate portion sizes and don’t make excuses.


Running Errands and Doing Chores

Having a long list of to-do’s on the weekend won’t leave you feeling rested and charged for the next workweek. Instead, it’ll leave you feeling drained and stressed. Split up your errands and chores throughout the week so you can free up some of your weekend. That way your days off can be spent doing more enjoyable, relaxing activities that can help you feel refreshed.


Stressing Out on Sunday

Are you guilty of feeling anxiety or dread on Sunday evenings when you realize another long workweek is almost here? Many of us are. Having the “Sunday Blues” can make it especially difficult to fully enjoy your weekend – after all, Sunday is half of it. Instead of sitting around dreading the end of the weekend, stay active and surround yourself with family and friends to distract from these anxiety-inducing thoughts.

Your health is made up of physical, mental and emotional aspects. You can’t live a healthy lifestyle if the activities you do on the weekend diminish any of these areas. Make sure you’re not committing the above mistakes so you can have the best health possible all week long.


Get Involved on LifeLongHealth.com

Those of us at Life Line Screening are talking latest health news, nutrition, staying active, and more on LifeLongHealth.com. Want to get involved in a discussion? Here’s what’s trending right now.




6 Ways Stress is Breaking Your Heart

July 7, 2013

You’ve heard of the term heartbreak, right? Whether you’ve ever experienced it or not, we know that heartbreak can lead to increased stress levels. We also know, however, that the reverse is true – rising levels of stress can gradually damage your heart.

When you’re feeling overly stressed, you may notice you have anxiety, restlessness, irritability, depression, headaches, muscle tension, fatigue, sleep problems, and many more symptoms. These are all common effects of stress on the physical, mental and emotional body. And even though you may not notice it as you’re experiencing these symptoms, your heart may be taking most of the burden.

The following are six ways that stress can gradually “break” your heart:

1. Inflammation

Studies have shown that high levels of stress lower your body’s ability to regulate inflammation. Higher inflammation levels promote the development of health conditions like cardiovascular disease because your body’s defense system is weakened. In a sense, stress causes your immune system to dwindle and your body to become more susceptible to health problems.

2. Laziness

Rather than turning to exercise to reduce stress, many people are so mentally and emotionally drained that they’re more likely to sprawl out on the couch than start up the treadmill. Stress is often accompanied by a reduction in physical activity, which is a dangerous choice for your heart. To keep your heart strong, you need to maintain some level of physical activity every day.

3. Poor Diet

When you’re feeling stressed, suddenly that giant fudge brownie sounds even better than it did before, right? Stress may lead to more cravings of high calorie, salty, sweet or high-fat foods. After all, good-tasting foods are bound to ease the stress for a little while, right? While that may seem to be the case, a poor diet can hurt your heart – especially if unhealthy diet changes turn into habit.

4. Blood Pressure Spikes

When you’re stressed out, your body releases a surge of stress hormones. These hormones have been seen to temporarily raise blood pressure, causing your heart to beat faster and narrow your blood vessels. Plus, other activities linked to stress, like unhealthy eating and lack of exercise, can contribute to raising blood pressure levels.

5. Alcohol Consumption

The effects of a glass or two of alcohol can be relaxing, so it’s easy to turn to drinking when you’re stressed to the max. Too much alcohol, however, can raise your triglyceride levels in the blood and lead to high blood pressure, heart failure, increased calorie intake and obesity – all enemies of heart health.

6. Sleep Deprivation

Lack of quality sleep often goes hand-in-hand with stress. However, not getting good shut-eye can hurt your heart. Studies have shown that people who are unable to complete normal sleep cycles are at an increased risk for high blood pressure and heart disease.

Stress can have a direct impact on your heart health. While the feeling of stress may not be the same as heartbreak, the symptoms are similar and they can hurt your heart over time. Don’t let stress break your heart. Relax and take proactive steps to keep your heart strong.

Find ways to de-stress, and see how preventive health screenings from Life Line Screening can provide you with the peace of mind you deserve.




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