In the News: iPhone Will Soon Block Texts for Drivers, Staying Up Late on Weekends May Be Harmful, Dancing is Good for the Brain

iPhone will soon block texts for drivers. If you are one of so many people who are guilty of checking their texts while driving, this habit may soon become a thing of the past. As part of iOS 11, Apple will release a “Do Not Disturb While Driving” feature. When your car is moving or your phone is plugged in via cable or connected via Bluetooth, text messages and other updates will be blocked and your phone screen will be locked. If someone reaches out to you while you’re on the road, the phone can send an automated message to let them know you’re driving and can’t get back to them at the moment. With so many fatalities taking place due to distracted drivers, this new feature should greatly improve the safety of everyone on the road.  (CNN)

Staying up late on weekends may be harmful. For so many of us, the weekend is the time to catch up on socializing and postpone our usual bedtimes. This tendency to stay up late and wake up later than usual is known as “social jet lag”, and researchers have found that it may negatively impact our health. A new study, conducted by Michael A. Grandner, PH.D., director of the Sleep and Health Research Program at the University of Arizona in Tucson, found that social jet lag was linked to bad mood, fatigue, sleepiness, and overall worsening health. Most alarmingly, researchers found that with each passing hour, there was an 11.1% increased chance of heart disease. Want to improve your sleep routine? Try these five simple steps. (MN)

Dancing is good for the brain. We already know that dancing is a great form of exercise, but it turns out the benefits extend far beyond just the physical. Research has shown that dancing can improve memory in adults ranging from 60-80 years old, provide a mental escape where the brain can power down and relax, improve cognitive flexibility (something that normally declines with age), increase balance and coordination skills, and even promote creativity as well. Want to find out how to dance off the pounds? Watch this video. (CNN)

In the News: Babies Sleep Longer Independently, Treadmill Workouts Not as Effective as Running Outdoors, Pets Boost Health in Six Ways

Babies sleep longer independently. A new study that took 230 first-time mothers’ accounts into consideration, has found that babies sleep better when they’re in their own rooms, and sleep for shorter periods when sharing a room with their parents.  At four months in particular, babies who slept by themselves had around 45 minutes of uninterrupted sleep, and at nine months, they slept 40 minutes more during the night and around 20 minutes more throughout the whole day. By 12 months these differences were less noticeable but when researchers revisited these children at 2 1/2 years of age, they found that the ones who were independently sleeping at nine months were now sleeping 45 minutes more every night. Dealing with a fussy little one at home? Here is the best way to hold a crying baby. (CNN)

Treadmill workouts not as effective as running outside. While using a treadmill offers so much convenience and ease, studies have found that it may not be as effective as running outdoors. French and Italian researchers studied 15 males in their early 20s who did interval training on the treadmill and the track and they found that the track group exerted themselves more and that the treadmill group would have to run 15% harder to match the track runners. Wondering why this is the case? The team suggests that the treadmill belt actually gives users a boost in energy and they don’t have the same assist when running on natural terrain.  Ready to jump back into a workout routine? Give these exercises a try. (MH)

Pets boost health in six ways. It’s no surprise that pets are a great addition to any home, but it turns out there are actually six key reasons why. Studies have shown that pet owners have a lowered risk of allergies (since exposure to animals can build up a tolerance), reduced anxiety and stress, better heart health (thanks to lowered blood pressure and cholesterol levels), stronger relationships and social skills, improved mental health, and even better sleep quality (due to the relaxation, security, and comfort of sharing a bed with your pet). Recently brought home a pet? Here is what you need to know about their food. (MN)

In the News: Chocolate May Benefit the Heart, Five Reasons Your Sunburn is Getting Worse, Thirdhand Smoke Harmful to Health

Chocolate may be good for the heart. Chocolate lovers rejoice! A Danish study has discovered that chocolate consumption may reduce the likelihood of an irregular heartbeat, which can often lead to stroke, heart failure, and other serious conditions. The study, which explored the eating habits and health of 55,502 participants between 50-64 years of age, found that those who ate just one to three one-ounce servings monthly had a 10% lowered risk of an irregular heartbeat. The participants who ate chocolate once a week had a 17% lowered risk and the ones who ate two to six servings weekly had a 20% lowered risk. Before you run out and buy a stack of Hershey bars, remember: dark chocolate with the highest cocoa content is the most beneficial, so look for that component above ingredients like milk and sugar. While these findings are very exciting, it’s important to still practice moderation to avoid weight gain and other issues. Want to try some healthy and guilt-free chocolate recipes? Check these out. (NYT)

Five reasons your sunburn is getting worse. While you may think that applying sunscreen incorrectly is the main source of worsening sunburns, it turns out there are five other reasons to blame. Research has shown that citrus juice can thin your skin (thanks to the acid) and make you more likely to burn, spraying perfume or cologne may cause sun blisters (particularly if they are made with bergamot oil), certain antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, and acne meds can make you more sensitive to the sun as well, not drinking enough water, and taking hot showers can all make your sunburn more intense, painful, and longer lasting. Want to avoid sunburns all summer long? Check out this simple guide to buying sunscreen. (MH)

Thirdhand smoke is also harmful to health. We’ve all heard of secondhand smoke before but did you know that thirdhand smoke exists as well? Known as the smoke that seeps into drapes, carpeting, bedspreads, tiles, and more, thirdhand smoke may be harmful to our health too. In an experiment conducted on mice, researchers found that newborn and adult mice exposed to thirdhand smoke had noticeable changes in blood cell counts tied to their immunity, which leads to allergic reactions and inflammatory conditions. It appears that the young mice were more affected than others, which may be because their immune systems are not fully developed yet. Scientists believe that these results have a human application, which is why it is so important to avoid not just secondhand smoke but thirdhand as well. If you or someone you know is ready to quit smoking, take a look at this fact sheet to learn more. (USA)

In the News: Exercise is the Key to Better Sleep, Seven Summer Injuries to Avoid, Calorie Obsession Goes Back 100 Years

Exercise is the key to better sleep. Recent studies have found that one-third of the U.S. population, (around 108 million people), are battling insomnia. Since it can be tricky determining which medication, diet, or habits are most helpful in curing sleeplessness, it’s comforting to note that exercise may be the solution. Rush University clinical psychologist Kelly Glazer Baron has found that patients with insomnia disorder not only slept better after a workout, but also had more energy in general, and felt less depressed. To get the full effect, you can try doing aerobic exercises for at least 2 1/2 hours a week and add strength training twice a week to target specific muscles. While scientists do acknowledge that exercise may not be exactly as effective as sleeping pills, it is still a much healthier alternative making it worth your while. Want more help? Here are five easy ways to sleep better. (CNN)

Seven summer injuries to avoid. In the summer months, it looks like a few injuries or illnesses are particularly common. When asked which conditions they treat most often, doctors have stated that heat-related illnesses, drowning, burns and cuts, food poisoning, sports injuries, skin irritation, insect bites, and sunburns take the cake. Luckily, by staying hydrated, having proper supervision at the pool and beach, taking precautions when cooking over an open flame, avoiding food that’s been out all day, being careful when playing sports, watching out for weird looking bug bites or hives, and regularly applying sunblock, you can avoid all of these issues and enjoy your summer pain-free. Want to learn more about summer wellness? Check out these debunked myths. (HUFFPO)

Calorie obsession dates back a century. Ever wondered where the whole calorie-counting craze got its roots? Turns out this trend dates back to 1918, the year “Diet and Health With a Key to the Calories” was published by physician Lulu Hunt Peters. While many advertisements in the early 1900s pushed women to take up smoking or wear strange rubber garments in order to lose weight, Peters was ahead of her time in understanding that metabolism and calories play a real role in weight loss. Nowadays however, scientists have come to realize that all calories are not created equal, and that the nutritional content of the food you’re eating (the protein, fiber, and fat), can play a role in fueling your muscles, keeping you full, and encouraging fat burn. Curious about your unique calorie type? Take this quiz. (BI)

What You Need to Know About Heart Failure

Doctor drawing ecg heartbeat chart with marker on whiteboard concept for healthcare and medicine

Some 6.5 million Americans are living with heart failure, and nearly a million new cases are diagnosed each year. Despite its prevalence, heart failure symptoms are largely under-recognized, in part because people don’t understand the condition. Find out more about heart failure, and the warnings signs you should be mindful of here.

What is heart failure?

Heart failure is a serious, chronic condition in which the heart muscle is weakened and cannot pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs for blood and oxygen. Heart failure does not mean that your heart has stopped or is about to stop working. It means that your heart is not able to pump blood the way it should. Heart failure is sometimes described as having a weak heart.

Heart failure is also associated with a lower five-year survival rate following hospital discharge than some cancers (e.g., breast cancer in women and bowel cancer in men). Read more  »

In the News: Expert Reveals How to Slash Calories, Fitness Trackers May Not Be Accurate, Company Pays Employees to Adopt Cats

Expert reveals how to slash calories. Nutritionist Kristin Kirkpatrick has come up with seven ways to cut calories effectively. She recommends cutting out sugars and creamers from your daily coffee, not getting carried away with healthy fats, de-graining your favorite grain dishes, cooking more as opposed to eating takeout, choosing a healthy breakfast instead of pastries and cereal, give up alcohol for six weeks, and swap starchy sides for greens. Want to know your calorie type? Take this quiz to find out. (TODAY)

Fitness trackers may not be accurate. Fitness trackers of all kinds have become extremely popular in recent years, allowing users to track calories, fat burn, steps taken, and more. While many people assume this data is 100% accurate, as it turns out the measurements are often slightly off. Cardiologist Euan Ashley, an associate professor of medicine at the Stanford University Medical Center set out to analyze this data and determine how trustworthy it really is. Tracking heart rate and calories burned, they found that the former was very accurate, and only off by around 5% if at all. When measuring the calorie burn however, they found that the trackers were off 20-93% of the time. These findings go to show that you should reference your calorie burn numbers but avoid using them to determine how much you eat. (NPR)

Company pays employees to adopt cats. Ferray, an IT firm in Tokyo, is encouraging employees to bring their own cats to the office and also offering an incentive to those who rescue one. The head of Ferray, Hidenobu Fukuda has promised to give 5,000 yen (around $45) a month to employees who rescue a cat. Since 2000, Fukuda has been allowing employees to bring their cats in, with nine cats currently hanging out in the office on a regular basis. As cute as this story is, it turns out that there is a practical reason for this policy as well. The hope is that a cat-friendly workplace will help lower stress, improve mood, lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and fight loneliness. (HUFFPO)

In the News: Alec Baldwin Talks Lyme Disease Diagnosis, Fruit Juice Not Recommended for Kids Under One, Certain Factors Make You Eat More When Full

Alec Baldwin opens up about having Lyme disease. In a recent interview, Alec Baldwin has revealed his Lyme disease diagnosis and subsequent struggles. After being bitten 17 years ago, he started having flu-like symptoms that left him bed-ridden during the summer months. Caused by deer ticks and often unidentifiable, many people don’t even realize that there is anything wrong until they notice red rashes appearing after the fact. After enduring this disease for many years, Baldwin and his wife Hilaria make it a priority to always check their children for bites when they spend time outdoors. To learn more about Lyme disease in time for summer, check out this fact sheet. (USA TODAY)

Fruit juice not recommended for kids under one. According to new guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics, children should not drink fruit juice before they are at least 12 months old. In the past, they advised parents to hold off on giving juice to children until they were six months old, but with growing concern about obesity and dental problems, they have strengthened their recommendations. While some juices may have vitamins that are beneficial, the rest are full of empty calories and sugars. If you are looking to cut back on sugar once and for all, give Dr. Oz’s 14-day plan a try. (CNN)

Certain factors may make you eat more even when full. Ever wondered why one minute you’re fine and the next minute you’re starving? As it turns out, there a few key factors that can fool you into believing you’re hungry. The main culprits are cooking shows, orange-and-red colored foods, food packages left on the kitchen counter, seeing other people eat around you, or being served a meal on a large plate. To take control of your hunger and avoid being reeled in by these tricky things, it’s important to eat healthy fats that will keep you satisfied for longer. Check out these delicious recipes to turn off the hunger switch and avoid mindless snacking. (PEOPLE)