1. Travel consumers take note: Travelmath, an online trip planner that calculates the driving and flying time between cities, ranked some of the dirtiest places in airports and airplanes.  
    Here is its ranking of six locations:
    • Tray table: 2,155 CFU/sq. in.
    • Drinking fountain buttons: 1,240 CFU/sq. in.
    • Overhead air vent: 285 CFU/sq. in.
    • Lavatory flush button: 265 CFU/sq. in.
    • Seatbelt buckle: 230 CFU/sq. in.
    • Bathroom stall locks: 70 CFU/sq. in.
  2. According to weight loss experts like Pamela Peeke, MD, assistant clinical professor of medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore and author of Fight Fat Over 40, the best way to begin a weight-loss lifestyle is to reduce stress levels. “Stress fat,” as Dr. Peeke calls it, “goes deep in your tummy.”
    Here are 10 lifestyle tips to catalyze weight loss:
    • De-stress and lower cortisol levels (the chief hormone released when stressed). Cortisol stimulates appetite and cravings for comfort food.
    • Get enough sleep. Less than eight hours of sleep a night may contribute to weight gain.
    • Eat breakfast to kick-start your metabolism each morning, keep portion sizes in check for the day and keep hormone levels smooth.
    • Get enough daylight (at least 30 minutes a day).
    • Take a daily walk or make a date with the elliptical trainer for 35 minutes.
    • Reduce stimulants (coffee, tea, soda, coffee, chocolate, nicotine) before bed.
    • Have small plates (mini meals) throughout the day.
    • Eat protein 10 minutes before each meal (e.g., beans, nuts).
    • Lift weights.
    • Laugh, get a massage, create a mindfulness mantra.
  3. Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) found that 12 minutes of daily yoga and meditation for eight weeks markedly increased what is known as telomerase activity—which they demonstrated was counteractive to stress-induced aging. Long-term meditators had better-preserved brains than non-meditators as they aged. Participants who had been meditating for an average of 20 years had more gray matter volume throughout the entire brain.
  4. Nobel Prize winner Elizabeth Blackburn of UCLA, who shared the prize in 2009 with Carol Greider and Jack Szostak for the telomerase research and findings, calls the enzyme released by stress reduction in the mind the “immortality enzyme.”
  5. In addition to the anti-aging benefits of daily yoga and meditation, the research studies also revealed the prevention of the onset of depression. Even one session of relaxation could be enough to enhance the expression of genes involved in energy metabolism and insulin secretion, and reduce the expression of genes linked to the inflammatory response and stress.
  6. A study published in the journal Circulation found that patients with coronary heart disease who practiced Transcendental Meditation (TM) had a reported 48 percent reduction in death, heart attack and stroke compared to patients who did not practice TM. 
  7. A similar study published in the journal Hypertension found TM is the only meditative technique that has been shown to lower blood pressure. 
  8. TM has been shown to improve focus, rest and happiness in schoolchildren; post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in soldiers and other types of victims of trauma; productivity and social behavior in the office; and moral reasoning in prisons.
    RESOURCE: Learn more about how to practice Transcendental Meditation.
    RESOURCE: David Lynch Foundation: Dedicated to healing traumatic stress and raising performance in at-risk populations from inner-city youth and homeless shelters to the military.
  9. Research from Yale University found that mindfulness meditation decreases activity in the default mode network (DMN). The researchers define DMN as a brain network responsible for mind-wandering and self-referential thoughts—what is sometimes referred to as “monkey mind.” When the mind is not focused on anything in particular, the DMN is activated. A wandering mind can be associated with decreased happiness as it is open to more constant worrying, ruminating and the onset of negative thoughts. With mindfulness meditation, even when the mind does start to wander, because of the new connections that form, meditators are better at refocusing their thoughts toward positivity.

    RESOURCE: To learn more about the healing art of meditation and the scientific basis of the Yale research as demonstrated through brain imaging: The Healing Art of Meditation.

    RESOURCE: To learn and train on mindfulness from the Being Well program at Yale University: Thrive With The New Mindfulness Menu of Courses.

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