Sit Up Straight!
A new study from San Francisco State University and Kaohsiung Medical University in Taiwan finds that having good posture can improve your mood. One hundred participants, mostly female, were separated into two groups that performed two movements: either walking with a slouched posture or skipping, which requires participants to look upward. Participants with the slouched walk reported a significant decrease in their energy levels and feelings of sadness and loneliness. Those who skipped felt more energetic, happier, and more positive. The authors acknowledge their theory has limitations and plan to do more studies, but they do note that more people today stay hunched over desks and computers and the of prescriptions doctors write for depression medications has increased.
Why You Can’t Recall a Good Joke
New research has shown that being in a good mood impairs you ability to store information that you want to retrieve later. Participants had their mood assessed and were showed a video of either a stand-up comedy routine or explaining how to install a floor. After watching the videos, their moods were assessed again and they were given a memory test in which they listened to several numbers through headphones and had to recall the last six in order. People who watched the comedy routine did a lot worse on the test even though they were in a better mood. While being in a good mood appears to lower memory storage, Elizabeth Martin, the doctoral student on the project said "Being in a good mood has been shown to increase creative problem-solving skills and other aspects of thinking."
Don’t Worry, Be Happy
Watching funny videos, telling jokes or engaging in upbeat conversation at work is not necessarily wasting time, say researchers at the U of W Ontario who undertook a study to show the relationship between creative thinking and mood. Researchers manipulated participants’ moods through videos or music and then had them try to learn to recognize a pattern. Results indicate that happy people were better at learning a rule to classify the patterns than sad or neutral volunteers. "If you have a project where you want to think innovatively, or you have a problem to carefully consider, being in a positive mood can help you to do that," says researcher Ruby Nadler who adds that apparent time-wasting at work may actually be good news for employers. Hamster on a Piano, anyone?
Little Miss Sunshine
According to a study conducted in 2009 by the US Environmental Protection Agency, the typical American spends 90 percent of their time indoors. However, the editors of the Harvard Health Letter stress that there are at least 5 health benefits from spending more time outside. First, vitamin D levels are increased as the skin is exposed to sunshine, reducing risk of some chronic diseases such as cancer and osteoporosis. Second, being outside is an invitation to be more active, especially for children. Third, research indicates that sunlight tends to elevate the mood. Fourth, time in nature appears to improve concentration particularly in those with ADHD. And last, natural light may help the body heal faster and experience less pain and stress.
The symptoms of fibromyalgia (FM), a painful disease that affects more than 11 million Americans, are greatly improved by yoga, shows a study published in the Nov. issue of PAIN. Because FM affects more women than men, researchers chose to include only women who were separated into two groups. One group completed a Yoga of Awareness program, which combines yoga-based techniques with group discussions and, for this study, was tailored to focus on fatigue, pain, sleep disturbance and emotional distress. The other group received standard care. After completion of the yoga program, both groups were assessed for symptoms of FM. The women who completed the yoga program showed significant improvement in standardized measures of FM symptoms including pain, fatigue and mood.
Tech and Health
Apple's recent patent shows a heart rate monitor embedded into an iPhone. The heart sensor-like technology will be able to seamlessly identify the user by his/her heart beat and even able to detect their mood. You probably know by now that everyone has different fingerprints. But did you know that each individual also has a unique heartbeat? Apple taps into this biometric technology so that the iPhone can simply authenticate the user as you as you pick up the phone, rather than requiring passwords or complicated face or fingerprint scans. By monitoring your heartbeats, the device will also be able to tell how you're feeling, what you've been eating and if you've just come back from a jog.