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CAT | Mental Health

man-cellphoneThis month we’ve offered up some quick tips for making 2015 a happier and healthier new year—and we hope you take this last one to heart (literally).

Many of us use social media to share our thoughts on countless topics, but sometimes those thoughts can get a little… well, irritable. Curious about whether or not our cyberspace griping says something about our heart health, researchers from the University of Pennsylvania recently analyzed 140 million randomly chosen “tweets” (individual posts on Twitter) to find the answer. What they discovered might just surprise you.

In communities in which where there were a high number of tweets expressing hatred, aggression or fatigue, the research team saw higher rates of heart disease—with use of the word “hate” being the single biggest predictor of poor heart health. But, in those areas in which there were a high number of positive, upbeat tweets, researchers saw lower rates of heart disease.

We know from previous studies that stress, anxiety and other negative emotions can contribute to an increased risk of heart disease, so it comes as no surprise that the same emotions in cyberspace are associated with an unhealthy heart. Our final health tip for the year? Be sure to put a positive spin on those social media posts!

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lady-yoga-poseDoes your 2015 health regimen include taking better care of your heart? According to a new Harvard University study, you may want to consider adding a yoga class or two to your weekly health regimen.

After analyzing the results of nearly 40 different clinical trials, researchers found that practicing yoga proved just as beneficial for heart health as regular aerobic activity (such as brisk walking or running) and believe it may be a viable alternative for older adults or those with health issues that prevent them from participating in more vigorous physical activity.

Among the more than 2,700 study participants, those who included yoga in their weekly health regimen saw noticeable improvements with regard to common cardiac risk factors including blood pressure, cholesterol and heart rate. An average weight loss of just over five pounds was also noted.

Yoga is a centuries-old mind and body practice that involves meditation, controlled breathing and body movement to cultivate self-awareness as well as alleviate stress and improve strength and balance. Previous studies have linked yoga to better flexibility and muscle tone, increased energy, healthy metabolism, and weight loss.

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