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Health News You Can Use

Take Your Exercise Intensity Down a Notch

You may not have to push yourself as hard as you thought in order to get a good workout in—at least not when it comes to living longer. A five-year study on over 1,500 seniors in Norway took a look at how exercise intensity impacts longevity. Participants were divided into three groups and all of them exercised 30 minutes a day nearly every day. But a second group added two sessions of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) per week, while a third group added two moderate-intensity workout sessions per week. Despite the difference in intensity, death rates remained similar in all the groups. 

This is not to say that HIIT doesn’t have any benefits; this kind of exercise does impact mental and physical health in other ways. But when it comes to longevity, gentle exercise is key.  

Harder Workout Intensity May Not Increase Your Longevity,” Harvard Health Publishing,, Jan. 2021. 

One Thing Many COVID-19 Patients Have in Common

A hospital in Spain with 216 COVID-19 patients found that 80 percent of them had low vitamin D levels. Another study of nearly 500 people showed that a person who was vitamin D deficient was more likely to test positive for COVID-19 than someone who wasn’t. Lacking this important nutrient also seemed to make the illness more severe.  

Vitamin D plays an important role in the immune system by lowering inflammation levels in the body and protecting against infection. Because of this vitamin’s beneficial impact on the body, the co-author of the study at the hospital in Spain suggested that vitamin D should be used to treat COVID-19 patients. But why not ensure that your vitamin D levels are high enough to help prevent illness in the first place? 

Study: Vitamin D Deficiency Found in Over 80% of COVID-19 Patients,” The Atlanta Journal-Constitution,, Oct 28, 2020. 

What Really Matters for a Healthy Brain

With the increase in dementia and Alzheimer’s, everyone is concerned about keeping their brains sharp. But the solution may not be supplements, Sudoku, or learning a new skill. 

Turns out, habits for a healthy heart also maintain brain health. Unobstructed blood flow and clean arteries are important for preventing heart attacks, but they also ensure that blood reaches the brain without hindrance. Strokes, caused by obstructions of blood flow to the brain, have been shown to double the chance of developing dementia. Dr. Vladimir Hachinski, a Canadian neurologist and global expert in brain health, points out that many people, due to poor lifestyle choices, experience silent “mini strokes” that impact cognitive health. 

So what heart-healthy, brain-healthy habits can help prevent “mini strokes” and resulting cognitive decline? The answer is any lifestyle steps that will help lower blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol levels, such as exercise, sufficient sleep, a healthy diet, good social connections, and abstinence from cigarettes and alcohol. Begin while you’re young to keep your mind sharp for many years to come! 

Keeping Your Brain Sharp Isn’t About Working More Puzzles,” American Heart Association News,, Jan. 21, 2021. 

The One Little Act That Improves Mental Health

It sounds like a Pollyanna approach to life. But science backs it: Smiling is good for mental health—whether you feel like it or not. 

The simple act of allowing your cheek muscles to lift your mouth into a curve releases neurotransmitters—the same brain chemicals that antidepressants raise. These neurotransmitters help lower stress and relax the physiological functions of your body while making your immune system more effective. 

So when you feel down or stressed, lift those cheeks into a smile for your health’s sake! 

How Smiling Has an Impact on Your Mental Health,” Thrive Global,, Feb. 7, 2020. 

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