Why Binge-Watching TV Could Lead to Early Death

No More Suspense

The hugely popular habit of binge-watching TV shows is linked to health hazards that may lead to an early death. Endless hours sitting in front of a screen increase your risk for conditions that can be fatal.

The TV Guide

When we were kids, we were told that TV was bad for our eyes. Over the decades, we’ve also learned that childhood exposure to TV violence may lead to becoming an aggressive adult. Today, however, the stakes have been wildly raised. The results of viewing non-interrupted, continuous hours of television can cause conditions that may have dire endings.

A recent study published in the American Heart Association journal Circulation, claims that binge-watching raises the risk of developing a blood clot in the lungs. Pulmonary embolism is a highly dangerous condition closely linked to inactivity. More than 25% of people who suffer from an untreated blood clot in the lungs die.

The Study Guide

A Japanese research team from Osaka University Graduate School of Medicine observed over 86,000 participants. The people were between the ages of 40 and 79. The team studied the participants’ TV viewing habits for over two years, back in the late 1990’s.

The average continuous watching time was two and a half hours per day. Those who watched over five hours a day were twice as likely to die over the following 19 years. For every two hours over that, the watcher raised his risk of the deadly blood clot by 40 percent.

This study raises grave concerns, but in total, there were only 59 deaths reported from the pulmonary embolism. That was out of 86,000 participants. The most frightening fact, however, is that obesity was the number one factor that was linked to the formation of the clots.

A Different Picture

Aside from the news about blood clots, there are other known health risks from spending large amounts of time binge-watching. Your risk of diabetes may increase. One study provided research that watching TV excessively increased individuals’ risk of developing diabetes over three percent. The same study indicated that people move less while watching TV than doing other sedentary things (like working at a desk.)

Sleep loss is another result of addictive TV watching. Without proper rest, we leave ourselves vulnerable to becoming ill. Our immune systems can become compromised. And, snacking and drinking sugary beverages while binge-watching can lead to a growing waistline in no time.

Best Laid Plan

No one is claiming that TV watching is bad for you—in moderation. Excessive amounts of hours in front of the screen are where the problems lie. Start by monitoring and setting a limit the time you, your spouse, and your children spend sitting in front of a screen. A helpful cliché: moderation is key.

Experts claim that even getting up to walk around every half-hour for five minutes can help. Stretching, doing sit-ups or push-ups while viewing can keep you in shape and entertained! Watch your health as you watch your shows and reap the benefits of both. Stay tuned…

For more articles on best health practices for you and your family, see some previews at www.GetThrive.com

Yikes, Tax season can be rough. Here are some tips to make next year easy.

As our parents age, they may find themselves with more than they need, financially, to live out their final years comfortably. As is mostly customary, they will probably want to give some away to you and/or your children. Conversely, if your parents are living on a shoestring budget, there are ways you can help them, and yourself, concurrently.

If your parents (or even you) own a home and are willing it at death, arranging for a living trust is highly recommended. This type of trust is revocable, which means you can change it any time while you are alive. This will protect your assets from going into probate when you die, which may cost your beneficiaries a lot of time, money, and legal loopholes.

Simply giving away your home (as a gift) is a lovely sentiment, but it may reap negative tax consequences. Your parents will have to file a gift-tax form, which won’t cost them, unless the home is worth more than $5.45 million. You won’t have to pay steep taxes on that gift if you live there for at least two years.

If you sell the home right away, however, you’ll have to pay capital gains tax on the property. (Total sale price minus the price your parents paid for the home = capital gains.) When you sell the house after the two-year period, you can exclude up to $250,000 of your capital gains.

For 2016, you may give or receive up to $14,000 in one year without it affecting your taxes. Your parents may give you and your children each up to that amount in gifts or cash. The same applies in reverse if your parents need help and you can contribute. The giver, however, may not write-off that gift as a deduction.

Financial assistance for your children’s education can be offered without tax penalty as well. If you pay for someone’s medical expenses, those costs can also be excluded. Both you and your spouse are allowed to collectively gift up to $28,000 during one fiscal year, just as your parents may collectively gift that to you.

If you provided more than half of your parent’s support during the year, you may be able to file them as a dependent on your tax return. You may be able to deduct the fair value of the space in which they are living (if it’s in your home), utilities, medical expenses as well as prescription costs. These deductions may give you a financial break on your taxes.

Hopefully some of the tips are applicable to your scenario. It’s important that we take care of the ones we love. If we can help ourselves financially during the process, all the better. Here’s to family.

 

 

S-M-A-R-T

Smart – what do we mean when we use this word? Do we even know? In schools, children use it to describe students that get the best grades. The ones who don’t have to try to do well. Because, you know, they’re smart!

Is being smart just luck of the draw? The sum total of fixed limitations determined from birth. Is smart the byproduct of having two parents with PhD’s?

If you object to this line of thinking, you’re not alone. A growing number of people feel the same way. In fact, the scientific community has begun focusing on this very topic in recent years.

In his 2012 book, How Children Succeed, New York Times best-selling author Paul Tough addressed the topic of grit along with perseverance, and character. Just this spring, University of Pennsylvania researcher, Angela Duckworth, released her own book, titled, you guessed it, “Grit.”

The idea behind this thinking suggests that schools have, for many years, only measured one kind of intelligence. And grades are not a reliable measure when judged by themselves. Just think, how many times have you heard examples of successful people (think Albert Einstein or Steve Jobs) who never fit the mold of a “good student?”

Grades measure a student’s ability to memorize, apply learned information, and process certain disciplines within a fairly narrow framework. But there are a host of other skills that cannot be measured through a battery of academic tests.

For instance, take the Honor student who is accepted to Harvard. This student may or may not have had to work hard for the grades on his or her report card. For the sake of this hypothetical, let’s assume school came naturally to them. And when they arrive at Harvard, for the first time, they find things aren’t coming so naturally any longer.

Freshman year, they earn C’s for the first time in their life. And when they get back to their dorm, there are dishes in the sink, laundry to be done, and a host of other new responsibilities.

If this student was never presented with the opportunity to learn from failure, to get up after falling down, to persevere when the odds were stacked against, well, you can see the difficulty.

In the same way students are taught about mathematical concepts, literary devices, and scientific formulas, parents and educators must not overlook the importance of teaching problem solving, responding to failure, and grit – that tough, but imperfect trait that helps one forge ahead and learn not to give up.

In his terrific Op-Ed for the New York Times this week, author David Brooks speaks to the topic of grit and why it matters. He cites Duckworth and the research she’s done on grit.

To be clear, schools are not unnecessary in the educational process. Criticizing their very large bulls-eye can be easy, but misguided. But, an evolution is coming. The quicker schools play their role (and many are in the process of doing so!), the better off students will be.

Suggested Reading:

How Children Succeed – Paul Tough

Grit – Angela Duckworth

How to Raise an Adult – Julie Lythcott-Haims

 

Bad Moms, Average Moms, Best Moms?

In the best of all worlds, mothers should be honored on a daily basis, not just one day a year. And within that honor, should include an understanding of a basic human reality—no one is perfect. With that, lives the contradiction that no mom is perfect, yet each mom is perfect. The mom we get and the moms we become are perfect for our individual lives. How we were raised and how we are raising children, shapes who we are and all that we can become.

In today’s media-driven society, everyone clamors to post their best photo or most impressive description of their mom. One husband may post that he is grateful for his wife who cleans, gourmet-feeds, brand-name dresses, gently disciplines, and mini-van chauffeurs the kids. How wonderful for him and their children. But is mom getting enough rest or any of her other needs met? Hopefully so. And for that family, that may work out wonderfully.

Yet, what about the mom who gets up and has to hop in the shower so she herself can be clean for work? She doesn’t have time to make pancakes, eggs, and bacon for the kids. But she yells to them from the bathroom, as she dries her hair, to grab a banana, a granola bar, and put a frozen waffle in the toaster. She reminds them to be polite to others on the bus and not to talk to strangers. Is she a less superior mom?

There’s a comedy film soon to be released titled, Bad Moms. Whether the movie turns out to be funny is irrelevant right now—the point is that every woman who’s seen the trailer or heard of the title laughs aloud and is intrigued by the concept.

We’re compelled by this notion because being a “bad mom” swirls in our heads daily. It’s either something we identify with, something we experienced, or something we are deathly afraid of becoming. Whichever of these fit our description, we still deserve to be celebrated on Mother’s Day—without judgment.

Moms need to be celebrated for bringing us into the world. By their divine grace and through our own years of experience, we learn tolerance and forgiveness.

Your mom was perfect for you. She may have brilliantly nurtured you or, in other ways, caused emotional damage; either scenario, it has supplied an experience into your life that has helped inform who you have become.

As we age, we realize we must take responsibility for our choices and behavior, just as that is the same information we must impart to our children, regardless of the wonderful things we’ve done for them—or the mistakes we’ve made.

Hope your Mother’s day was perfect for the perfectly imperfect mother you are and for the mother that you have (or had.) All we can do is our best, and that is worth celebrating.

 

 

Dangerous Drowning Discovery

The Scary Truth

When we think of drowning, we often think of being completely submerged by water in either a pool, lake or in the ocean. However, the scary truth is drowning can happen anywhere—even at home.

Drowning Deaths

Did you know that drowning is the leading cause of death in children between the ages of 1 and 4? And most of these cases happen right at home—either in the sink, bathtubs, coolers, and even in buckets used for cleaning.

Hidden Hazards

One way to prevent these hidden drowning risks at home is to avoid leaving out potential drowning hazards around the house, or even filling up the bathtub part of the way and then timing how long it takes to drain. This amount of time can serve as a guideline for parents to know how much time to supervise children.

 

 

New Car Seat Saves Lives

Evenflo has created a car seat that alerts the driver when a child is in the vehicle after the ignition is shut off. This invention is meant to save babies from being left in hot cars by accident.

Hard To Believe

It’s tough to imagine, but almost 40 kids per year die in hot cars from being left -half of those cases are because parents forget they’re in there! Many parents forget to take the children to daycare and leave them in the vehicle and go to work.

Worth a Try

This car seat gives a sound signal when the buckle is still latched after the car’s engine is off. The signal is made to sound different than the vehicle’s other warning noises like “a door is open” or “your lights are on.”

Hopefully, this can help remind drivers that their precious bundle is in the car. This is a big reminder, too, that we may be too preoccupied -lowering stress and staying “in the present” is the biggest help.

 

 

Reduce Stress Undercover!

Stress and anxiety are at an all-time high amongst American adults. For many, medical treatment is not a financially feasible option. For others, they seek solace through more “natural” paths of treatment. In addition to other non-medicinal forms of anxiety reduction, some people are actually finding stress relief under the covers…

 

Blankets Aren’t Just for Babies

 

Many parents reap great success from swaddling their newborn infants. Taking a blanket and tightly (not too tightly!) wrapping the baby’s body from chest-to-toe may allow him to sleep better. It is thought that creating pressure and providing that “snug” sensation encourages the natural production of sleep-related chemicals.

 

A similar effect can be generated from using a weighted therapy blanket. Many children on the Autism spectrum benefit from using weighted blankets. Their anxiety levels often decrease; one reason could be from the increased production of oxytocin.

 

Oxytocin is produced and released into our body (brain) when we hug one another. The gentle pressure sensation from a weighted blanket can mimic a hug or a cuddle, helping to reduce blood pressure and stress responses. Consequently, cortisol levels can also decrease, leading to an increase in serotonin production.

 

Can a Weighted Blanket Help Me?

 

Research published in the Journal of Psychiatric Services showed that over 8 million people in the U.S. suffer from some form of intense stress. In the study out of New York University’s Lagone Medical Center, the stress was defined as a mental health issue, aptly named serious psychological distress (SPD). Other findings in the study revealed about 10% of those Americans suffering from SPD could not afford psychiatric medications.

 

Alternate forms of treatment to reduce stress are always being sought. The three main priorities in obtaining a healthier, calmer body and mind are: a nutritional diet, exercise, and proper rest. But what if falling asleep and staying asleep all night are a tremendous challenge?

 

Sleep Tight!

 

Using a weighted blanket at night may promote better overall rest. Some attest that their children fall asleep more quickly and sleep for longer periods with a blanket. (By the way, a weighted blanket should be comfortable and not too restrictive. It should weigh no more than 10% of your body weight.)

You can do an Internet search for a multitude of different weighted blankets on the market for sale. Some are more expensive than others due to the materials they use. Some insurance plans may even cover a portion of the cost if the blanket is being used for medical reasons. A new Kickstart has been raising money for a “Gravity Blanket” and seems to have garnered a large following.

 

Various companies and studies will make claims about the stress-reducing benefits of sleeping with a weighted blanket. A 2014 study in the journal Pediatrics showed that use of a weighted blanket did not necessarily help children on the Autism spectrum sleep longer. However, when the children and the parents were given a choice to sleep with the weighted or regular blanket, they favored the weighted blanket by far.

For other articles that may help you sleep better, check out www.GetThrive.com!

 

Sources:

http://www.mosaicweightedblankets.com/asd-autism-spectrum-disorder/

http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2014/07/09/peds.2013-4285

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/317037.php

http://www.newsweek.com/recession-mental-health-depression-anxiety-585695

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/275795.php?page=2

Neumann, ID. Cell Metabolism. Oxytocin: the neuropeptide of love reveals some of its secrets, 2007.

 

 

 

 

Make Like a Tree and Learn

Thinking Outside the Classroom

It’s a sad fact: Most children don’t spend enough time outside today. Between schools cutting recess and physical education programs to computer and video game dominance to safety issues, there are a number of reasons why our kids don’t go outside as much. But a new program is trying to reunite children with the outdoors with school gardens.

Learning and Growing

Studies show that children who spent more time outside, either by taking walks or by observing their surroundings and environment, not only enhance their creativity but also perform better in school. School gardens have also boosted engagement in children who typically don’t participate in classroom settings.

Going Green

Only approximately 27 percent of schools have a school garden. But they have slowly picked up popularity over the last fifteen years, and many teachers are even adapting their lesson plans to include sessions in the school garden.