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Tag: Heart

Evidence links dog ownership to better heart health

Saumya Joseph, writing for Reuters »

Researchers examined more than 1,700 adults in the Czech Republic and found that dog owners tended to be younger, female and more likely to smoke than people with different pets or with no companion animals. Yet the dog owners were also more active, had better levels of blood fat and blood sugar, and were less likely to be obese, giving them an overall better cardiovascular health profile than the rest.

“If you’re thinking about getting a pet, getting a dog will likely help you with your cardiovascular health goals. This should be a point that will help you make that decision,” said coauthor Dr. Jose Medina-Inojosa of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.

Dog owners are known to engage in more physical activity and are more likely to have regular exercise habits than those without dogs, the study authors note in Mayo Clinic Proceedings: Innovations, Quality and Outcomes. These benefits were recognized in a 2013 statement from the American Heart Association (AHA) that linked owning a pet, especially a dog, with lower risk of heart disease.

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The best thing you can do for your health is to sleep well

Getting a consistent seven- to nine-hours of sleep each night is the single most effective thing each of us can do for our health and wellbeing.

Matthew Walker, writing for The Guardian:

Related is the association between plentiful slumber and athletic performance. Sleep is perhaps the greatest legal performance-enhancing “drug” that few people are taking advantage of. Obtain less than eight hours of sleep a night, and especially less than six hours a night, and the following happens: time to physical exhaustion drops by 10 to 30%, as does aerobic output; limb extension force and vertical jump height are reduced; peak and sustained muscle strength decrease. Add to this the cardiac, metabolic and respiratory effects: higher rates of lactic acid buildup and reductions in blood oxygen saturation with converse increases in carbon dioxide, due in part to a reduction in the amount of air that the lungs can expire in a sleep-deficient state. And then there is injury risk. Relative to sleeping nine hours a night, sleeping five to six hours a night will increase your chances of injury across a season by more than 200%.

Routinely sleeping less than six hours a night also compromises your immune system, significantly increasing your risk of cancer. So much so, that recently the World Health Organization classified any form of night-time shiftwork as a probable carcinogen.

Inadequate sleep – even moderate reductions of two to three hours for just one week – disrupts blood sugar levels so profoundly that you would be classified as pre-diabetic. Short sleeping increases the likelihood of your coronary arteries becoming blocked and brittle, setting you on a path towards cardiovascular disease, stroke and congestive heart failure.

All it takes is one hour of lost sleep, as demonstrated by a global experiment performed on 1.6 billion people across more than 60 countries twice a year, otherwise known as daylight saving times. In the spring, when we lose one hour of sleep, there is a 24% increase in heart attacks the following day. In the autumn, we gain an hour of sleep opportunity, and there is a 21% reduction in heart attacks.

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