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Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Five Accessories Every Runner Should be Using to Help with Recovery

Whether you’re a casual jogger or a competitive runner, you’re probably well acquainted with stiffness and muscle soreness.

Recovery for runners isn’t just about feeling less sore. It’s also important for preventing injuries and improving overall performance.

If you’ve been overtraining -- or just not maximizing your off-days as much as you could -- keep reading. Listed below are five accessories that can help runners (and other athletes) speed up the recovery process.

1. Massage Stick

Whether it’s your quads, calves, hamstrings, or even your feet that could use a little extra attention, a massage stick will help relieve your pain, relax your muscles, and get you ready for your next run.

Massage sticks are light and portable, so they’re ideal for runners who frequently travel (or just don’t have a lot of storage space at home).

With a foam roller, you can roll out large muscle groups easily, but it’s a little harder to focus in on the specific areas that are in need of the most TLC. Massage sticks help you get a more targeted massage, and you have more control over how much pressure you use.

2. Compression Socks

Many athletes, especially runners, swear by compression socks to help reduce swelling, soreness and fatigue after a long workout.

The idea behind compression socks (and all compression clothing) is that they put gentle pressure on the blood vessels, which prevents the blood from pooling in the extremities, particularly the legs and feet, while you are sitting or lying down.

Compression socks are particularly helpful for runners who suffer from plantar fasciitis (inflammation of the connective tissue that runs along the feet). There are even compression socks specifically designed to help treat this condition. You can learn more about them by checking out this list of plantar fasciitis socks.

3. Yoga Strap

Stretching is an essential part of recovery, but many runners tend to neglect it.

A yoga strap makes stretching a little easier, especially for people with tight hamstrings. Wrap the strap around the balls of your feet and think of it as an extension of your arms when doing forward bending stretches.

Straps are another great on-the-go recovery tool. They take up even less space than a massage stick!

4. Epsom Salts

Sometimes, a hot bath is the only thing that will cut it after a long day of training.

To make your bath even more effective for easing sore muscles, add two cups of Epsom salt to the water.

Epsom salt is not actually a salt, but a mineral compound also known as magnesium sulfate. When you soak in a bath with Epsom salts, the minerals are absorbed into the skin to help with aches and inflammation.

There are several different types of Epsom salts that you can use in your bath, including aromatherapy styles that contain essential oils. Try some lavender or peppermint oil for even more relief and relaxation.

5. Topical Pain Relief Products

Runners with sore muscles can also benefit from topic pain relief products. These products come in many forms, including creams, gels, and balms.

Many topical pain relief products contain ingredients known as counterirritants. Popular counterirritants include menthol, methylsalicylate, and camphor. They cause either a burning or cooling sensation that helps to distract you from your pain.

Topical products often contain salicylates as well. Salicylates are found in aspirin and help relieve pain and soreness.

Final Thoughts

Sore muscles and stiffness are part of life for runners. However, these five recovery tools can help your aches and pains and get you back on the road as soon as possible. Give one (or more) of them a try today!

This is a guest blog entry

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Five Easy Ways to Soothe Aching Joints at Home

A recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed that nearly 15 million Americans suffer from severe joint pain (ranking a seven or higher on a scale from one to ten) on a regular basis. If you’re part of this group and find that joint pain is affecting your daily life, keep reading.

Listed below are five tips to help you ease your pain and home and get back to doing the things you enjoy most.

At-Home Treatments

These five at-home treatments will help ease your aches and pains and leave you feeling better than ever.

1. Take a Bath

A warm bath can work wonders for aching joints. You can up the ante even more by adding Epsom salts to the water.

Epsom salt is a chemical compound known as magnesium sulfate. Magnesium sulfate has been proven to help reduce inflammation and muscle spasms while relaxing tense spots in the body.

Add two cups of Epsom salts to your bathwater and soak for at least twenty minutes for relief from pain and stiffness.

To make your bath even more effective, add some essential oils to the water as well. Lavender oil is a great addition when your pain is caused by stress or anxiety, and peppermint oil can help further reduce swelling and inflammation.

2. Try Topical Treatments

There are also many topical creams and gels out there that are helpful for people dealing with joint pain and soreness.

Some of these products are meant for general pain relief, while others are specially formulated to help with conditions like arthritis. For more information on arthritis cream click here.

If you don’t want to go out and buy arthritis cream or a topical pain reliever, you can make your own with products you might have in your own condition.

Mix a couple dashes of cayenne pepper with 2-3 teaspoons of olive oil. Use gauze or a cotton ball to apply the paste to the skin around the joints that are experiencing pain. You can apply the paste several times per day. You’ll feel a mild burning sensation at the beginning, but most people get used to it fairly quickly.

3. Move More

It might seem counterproductive at first, but more movement is actually beneficial for people dealing with joint pain and stiffness.

When you remain sedentary, your muscles tense up and weaken. This increases your risk of injury and also causes you to compensate for weak muscles when you do have to move. Compensation leads to imbalances throughout the body that will only result in more pain and tension.

If you’re feeling stiff and sore, try to get up and do some kind of low-impact exercise. Walking, cycling, or yoga are all great options that will help loosen up your muscles and give you the relief you’re looking for.

Incorporate these movements into your schedule regularly, as well, to prevent soreness from occurring in the first place.

4. Eat (or Drink) More Ginger

Ginger is an anti-inflammatory herb that has been found to mimic the effects of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

There are several different ways that you can incorporate ginger into your diet. One of the easiest is to simply add a few slices of fresh ginger to boiled water to make tea.

You can also make a ginger poultice by making a paste of minced fresh ginger and olive oil. Apply the paste to the painful joint, wrapping in place with gauze if necessary. Leave it for 10-15 minutes.

5. Try Aromatherapy

Lavender and peppermint essential oils are some of the most popular pain- and stress-relieving aromatherapy options. However, plenty of others, including marjoram and rosemary oil, have also been found to soothe aching joints.

To experience the benefits, mix a teaspoon of any of these oils with a quarter-cup of almond or coconut oil. Then, simply take a deep inhale whenever you need some relief.

Preventing Joint Pain

All of these tips are great for soothing aching joints. But, it’s also important to take steps to prevent joint pain from occurring in the first place.

Some options for preventing pain and inflammation include:

•    Regular exercise
•    Managing weight to prevent excess pressure on the joints
•    Taking joint-protecting supplements like collagen, Omega-3 fatty acids, and glucosamine
•    Staying hydrated

Final Thoughts

Lifestyle changes like improving your diet and getting enough exercise can help prevent joint pain. When it does occur, though, the tips discussed above can help relieve the pain and allow you to continue living your life. Try them out today!

This is a guest blog entry.

Monday, December 11, 2017

How To Improve Your Chances Of Successfully Recovering From An Addiction

Overcoming an addiction is not an easy process. When you first start down the path toward recovery, it may feel like you aren't making progress as quickly as you would like. Keep in mind that you won't recover overnight. However, as long as you commit to the process, you will eventually beat your addiction. Try using these steps to improve your chances of successfully recovering from an addiction:

1. Participate in regular counseling sessions. People who meet with a counselor or therapist on a regular basis are far more likely to recover than those who try to go it alone. These professionals can help you stay on the right path.

2. Don't expect immediate results. Chances are, you didn't become addicted overnight. You also won't recover overnight. Old patterns of thinking can be extremely hard to break. You may find your thoughts returning to drugs or alcohol again and again. Don't feel discouraged. The longer you stick with it, the less intrusive these thoughts will become until eventually you are free from your addiction.

3. Fill up your free time. As an addict, nothing is worse than having too much free time. If you don't keep yourself busy, you are far more likely to spend time thinking about your addiction. Pick up some new hobbies and do your best to stay occupied.

Consider looking for hobbies that involve other people. Being able to get together with friends who share your interests can be a great way to keep yourself occupied so that you don't return to old, negative patterns.

4. Focus on the present. One of the first things that people learn when they seek treatment for drugs or alcohol is that you have to take the process one day, one hour, or one minute at a time suggest the experts at Sage Recovery Villa. Anytime you are tempted to drink or do drugs, stop yourself. Tell yourself that you can make it one more day without. If necessary, you can even break it down into smaller increments, telling yourself you can make it another hour or another minute without. Typically, cravings pass quickly. By the time you get through the next hour or day, you will most likely be in a much better position to resist.

5. Figure out what to do with all of your time. One of the hardest parts of recovering from addiction is suddenly finding yourself with a ton of free time. If you don't find new activities to fill your time, you will be more likely to relapse. Try to come up with some productive activities that you can do to keep yourself from drifting aimlessly through the day.

6. Tell people about your addiction. One of the worst things that you can do when you are recovering from an addiction is to try to hide it from others. Although you don't have to tell everyone, you should tell a few key people in your life. Find trusted friends or family members that you can confide in. That way, you will have a support system in place that you can count on if you find yourself tempted to relapse.

7. Stick with it. No matter what happens or how tempted you are, stick with your recovery. The more dedicated you are to getting better, the more likely you are to succeed. Don't allow minor setbacks to throw you off the path toward recovery. Instead, stay focused on your goal and you will eventually get there.

This is a guest blog entry.

Thursday, December 07, 2017

3 Common Challenges for People with a Chronic Disease

Managing chronic illness is nothing new for older adults. In fact, AARP reports that over 70% of adults 45+ have at least one chronic condition, and 20% are reported to have three or more. Most commonly older adults suffer from obesity, heart disease, depression, diabetes, cancer, and emphysema, though as you age, rates of conditions like Alzheimer’s and dementia rise as well.

Medication Management
Many chronic conditions are managed in part by a fixed medicine schedule aimed at keeping symptoms at bay and even reversing recent damage. Unfortunately, prescriptions and supplements for a chronic disease can be numerous and complex. Take, for example, a patient with advanced Parkinson’s Disease who also has seizures, arthritis, and dysphagia (difficulty swallowing). They may need to have seizure medicines crushed up and administered with applesauce, Parkinson’s medication applied as a patch to a different part of the body every day, topical arthritis aids applied to their joints, and then additional liquid supplements and over-the-counter medicines thickened and given orally multiple times a day.

The Mayo Clinic reports that upwards of 50% of patients with chronic disease don’t actually take their medicine as prescribed, leading to countless hospitalizations and alarming mortality rates. For a number of reasons including confusion, complicated medicine schedules, cost, health illiteracy, lack of caregiver support, and communication barriers between doctors and patients, it’s no surprise that many suffering from chronic illness are unable to adhere to their prescribed treatment plans.

Experts recommend that patients with chronic conditions use pill organizers to sort and manage daily medicines as well as alerts - be they smartphone apps or alarm clocks. Alerting caregivers when medicine hasn’t been taken has also been shown to increase adherence rates for patients. Continuing a dialogue with medical providers is also key as they can help simplify medicine schedules by altering frequencies or dosages, and provide greater insight into side effects, drug interactions, and more.

Completing Basic Daily Tasks
Whether it’s neuromotor changes like you see with multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s Disease, peripheral neuropathy like is common with diabetes, joint stiffness and pain like with osteoarthritis, or confusion and disorientation like someone suffering from dementia may experience, varying symptoms of chronic disorders can negatively impact a person’s ability to complete daily tasks. Dressing, showering, brushing teeth, eating, toileting, etc. are all key markers of basic functioning, however, they often become more and more difficult as a person’s disease progresses.

Patients and their caregivers can benefit from adaptive equipment and ease-of-use tools which simplify everyday tasks and empower greater independence and self-reliance. The best grabbing aids, for example, will allow a person to reach up to a shelf or down to the floor to pick things up (i.e. keys, jars, etc) without having to bend or stoop over, or awkwardly strain up and possibly lose their balance. Additional tools might include bed rails, shower stools, dressing aids, and mobility aids like walkers, canes, or knee scooters.

Organizing Care Networks
Sometimes a chronic condition will qualify a patient for in-home health care which simply means medical professionals like nurses, physical therapists, home health aides, and speech therapists can come to the home to administer treatment and train caregivers. Unfortunately, the rules for receiving this type of skilled care are strict and not every patient with a chronic condition will qualify. Broadening the care network and finding ways to coordinate friends and family to pitch in becomes of utmost importance.

Some free online tools like CaringBridge.org and LotsaHelpingHands.com help people set up online signups, care calendars, meal trains, and other resources to organize a network of friends and family who can help with caregiving tasks like transportation to appointments, picking up prescriptions, making meals, etc. New hospital and family caregiver laws, like the one that passed in California in 2015, are also requiring hospitals to communicate with family caregivers when their loved one is discharged from the hospital. Hospitals must provide counsel and training about continuing care at home, medication management, and even skilled tasks like dressing wounds and managing incontinence.

This is a guest blog post.

All You Need to Know About the Vampire Facial

Have you ever wanted a rejuvenated look but was too scared to go under the knife and commit fully to the procedure? Well, you might've missed out on a brand new treatment called the Vampire Facial.

Royalty Free Photo
This method is being used by many celebrities throughout the world and it utilizes non surgical techniques, making it a great option for those who are scared of going under the knife. In this article, we’re going to introduce you to what they are exactly and let you judge whether they’re the good choice for you.

What Exactly Is a Vampire Facial?

The whole procedure is rather simple compared to surgery. First, a blood sample is taken and Platelet-Rich Plasma, also known as PRP, will be separated from it. The areas to be treated will be injected with a hyaluronic acid filler that will help sculpt and change the shape of the face.

After that portion of the procedure is finished, the PRP is injected to promote collagen and fatty tissue production while improving blood flow and refreshing the look of your skin.

The effectiveness of the facial is owed solely to the PRP portion of the therapy. PRP is what promotes those rejuvenating effects you will experience after getting this treatment. The plasma helps stimulate collagen located in your face while at the same time encouraging your body to regenerate new skin cells.

What Are the Benefits of the Vampire Facial

One of the major benefits of the vampire facial is the skin rejuvenation and revitalization. After receiving the treatment, you will automatically notice an increase in your skin's tightness and firmness and some areas will look less saggy. Aside from the cosmetic benefits, the vampire facial comes at a far more reasonable price than many other facial treatments. Not to mention that these treatments also use artificial, synthetic materials which may leave you with unwanted consequences.

In regards to safety, the vampire facial has almost no side effects and your body will easily accommodate to the filler material since it came directly from you and your body.

What is the Price of the Treatment?

The whole process, including extraction of PRP and the process of injection that takes place almost immediately after can cost anything from 800 to 1500 dollars, depending on where you choose to take the procedure. Bigger cities like New York or Los Angeles will require you to pay slightly more than you would in some smaller ones. The recovery period is only a couple of hours after the procedure.  During that time, you might experience a reddened face but nothing dramatic.

Many new patients decide to go for this treatment over a surgical procedure because of the low risk and less dramatic results it offers. The recovery time is also considered quite low which will allow you to get back to your usual routine much faster. The procedure itself takes a small amount of time and the pain is almost non-existent. This is probably the best, non-invasive to rejuvenate your face and improve your appearance.

This is a guest blog entry.

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

5 Bath Accessories That Benefit Your Health

A warm bath at the end of a long day can do wonders to help relax tense muscles and bring you peace of mind, but did you know that with the right accessories it can also benefit your health? Don’t miss this essential guide to bath accessories that are good for your body and mind:

Essential Oils
The oils extracted from various plants like lavender, sandalwood, bergamot, peppermint, and rosemary, have been used homeopathically for centuries to aid all types of ailments including headaches, anxiety, and brain fog. A warm bath serves as a great carrier for an essential oil which can benefit your mental clarity and calmness. Add a few drops of your favorite essential oil straight to your bathwater, or if you are taking a shower, add a few drops to a washcloth you leave on the shower floor (the essential oil will aerosolize when hot water runs over it).

Back Scrubber
Straining to scratch and scrub hard to reach parts of your back can seem impossible and cause you to awkwardly twist and contort your body. This might do more harm than good leading to tense and inflamed low back muscles and neck pain. Using a back scrubber solves this issue by giving you an extendable loofah-like scrubby on an ergonomic handle or belt with which to rub and clean your back. Different types of scrubbers for your shower or bath can be found online or in many drugstores and grocery stores.

Dry Brush
Dry brushing prior to your shower or bath can do wonders for your appearance and health. As a type of exfoliator, a dry brush helps to slough off dead skin cells and built-up impurities on the surface of your skin that are clogging up your pores. As well, the long, upward strokes up your legs and arms towards your heart help to stimulate lymphatic drainage, boosting your immunity and encouraging the flow of lymph which helps to pull toxins out of your tissues. Experts recommend dry brushing while standing nude in the shower and then rinsing off before you take a bath to experience the best effects.

Listening to soothing music while you soak in the tub can have more powerful effects on your mental well-being than you may know. Music bears a unique connection to specific parts of the brain linked to emotion and research has shown its ability to play a positive role in your health. Researchers at McGill University, for example, reviewed 400 research papers covering the neurochemistry of listening to music and discovered that it aided mood and stress management and even gave the immune system a boost.

Shower Chair

For older adults especially, easy-to-use equipment that both simplifies the bathing process and helps prevent falls is a must for staying safe and mobile. Shower chairs can provide a much needed non-slip seat on which to sit when legs feel weak or tired, grab bars help to support and stabilize you when standing or sitting in the bathtub, and non-slip tape or textured mats on the floor of the bath or shower can prevent you from slipping when the water is running or soap bubbles build up.

In addition to mental wellness and relaxation, baths offer myriad health benefits including helping to clear nasal congestion, alleviate muscle aches, cleanse and hydrate skin, and even induce sleep when taken right before bed. It’s important to remember that you want your bath water to stay between lukewarm and very warm; water that is too hot can actually increase your heart rate, make you excessively sweat, and potentially dehydrate you.

This is a guest blog entry.

Monday, December 04, 2017

What Really Happens to Your Body When You Quit Smoking

Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in America, resulting in heart disease, lung cancer, and stroke. Despite the common knowledge that habitual smokers live an average of 12 years less than non-smokers, many people still feel daunted by the thought of quitting even though they’re anxious about the risks.

If you’re looking to kick the habit, don’t expect just to stop overnight. Instead, consult your doctor and ask for a nicotine alternative to help your body adjust. These days, there are numerous options available to former smokers, including gums, patches, and e-cigarettes. Quitting can be hard, even if you are using a vaporizer, so ease the process with a treats e juice.

However you decide to give up smoking, you’re probably wondering what will happen to your body after you quit, so here’s what to expect in those first days and weeks as a non-smoker.

Heightened Senses

As early as two days after your last cigarette, the nerves that control your sense of smell and taste start to heal. As a result, you will notice you have a heightened sense of smell and are able to taste flavors you’ve probably been missing for years.

Withdrawal Symptoms

If you stop feeding your body nicotine altogether, you will start experiencing withdrawal symptoms around three days after you quit, such as headaches, irritability, and cravings. Nicotine withdrawal is far from pleasant, which is why most people struggle to stop smoking. If you decide that going cold turkey isn’t for you, then you may decide to use a nicotine replacement to help your body readjust.

Less Coughing

After your first month as a non-smoker, you will realize you are coughing far less. This is because your lung capacity is improving and the damage caused by inhaling toxins and carcinogens is beginning to heal. You may find it easier to exercise and find you don’t get out of breath so easily.

Increased Body Temperature

Because smoking damages your heart and blood vessels, smokers often feel cold due to poor circulation. In the first few months after quitting, you will notice that your body feels warmer as your blood circulation improves. After your first year as a non-smoker, your risk of developing coronary heart disease has decreased by half, which has dramatic implications for your long-term health.

Lower Health Risks

Although smoking can be incredibly detrimental to your health, many of the risks can be lowered or eliminated by stopping smoking altogether. According to medical professionals, after 15 years of not smoking, your risk of developing heart disease or pancreatic cancer is reduced to the same level as a non-smoker; and after 20 years, your chances of dying from all smoke-related causes drop to the equivalent as someone who has never smoked at all.

So, while stopping smoking can be a momentous challenge, it’s worth knowing that your efforts will have a considerable impact on your health, almost immediately. Although it’s helpful to view the whole picture and see that your goal has an end-result, try to go one step at a time when you first quit. Treat each hour, day, week, and month without cigarettes your own personal victory, and soon it won’t feel like such a struggle.

This is a guest blog entry.

Sunday, December 03, 2017

Underarm and Forearm Crutches as Mobility Aids

Whether you have a chronic disability in your lower extremities or you sustained an injury to your lower-limbs, crutches are your go-to tools to help with your mobility. Research shows that strains and ankle sprains account for a majority (36%) of lower extremity injuries in the United States. Mobility aids are needed to facilitate ambulation while recovering from these type of injuries.

According to the University of California - Disability Statistics Center, 6.1 million people in the United States make use of devices, such as crutches, canes, and walkers to help with their mobility.

Crutches can facilitate your movement and ambulation by letting your upper body carry the weight of your lower limb. Physical movement while recovering from an injury can improve the blood circulation in your injured limb and speed up healing. It also helps in improving lung and kidney functions, thanks to better perfusion, and prevents the loss of calcium from your bones as a result of prolonged immobility.

Crutches can also help you do some tasks on your own. In fact, statistics show that compared to wheelchair users, the chance that a crutch user has in landing a job is more than double. It allows you to navigate to places where wheelchairs cannot.

There are several types of crutches you can choose from depending on your needs but the most commonly used are underarm crutches and forearm crutches.

Underarm crutches
An underarm crutch is also known as an axillary crutch. It is the most common type of crutch and is usually made of wood or aluminum.

Underarm crutches are commonly used in pairs. They can be easily adjusted to suit your height. When in a standing position, the shoulder rest (the topmost part of your crutches) should be placed 1-2 inches below your armpit. You should push yourself upright with your hand holding the handgrip. The handgrip must be at the level of your hips so that your arms are slightly flexed at 30°.

When using underarm crutches, you should never let your underarms support your weight by resting them on the shoulder rest. Doing so might compress the blood vessels and nerves in your armpits.

Crutch paralysis is a condition caused by chronic compression of the radial nerve located in your armpit as a result of improper use of crutches. To prevent this from happening, you should ensure that the distance between your shoulder rest and your armpit is maintained at 1-2 inches. The shoulder rest must also have adequate cushioning and padding. People with crutch paralysis have a good chance to recover after physical therapy and axillary crutch discontinuation.

Forearm crutches
A forearm crutch is also known as an elbow crutch or a Lofstrand crutch. It is used to maintain balance and stability. It is generally lightweight and made of aluminum material. The defining feature of a forearm crutch is its adjustable arm cuff, where you should insert your arm before gripping the handgrip, that adds additional support to the user.

Forearm crutches are popular in Europe. In the United States, however, forearm crutches are generally used by people with chronic ailments or disabilities. There is quite a number of options on the list of the top forearm crutches on the market you could choose from, each having features to suit your needs.

When using forearm crutches, your elbow should be flexed at 15-30° to maximize your upper body strength and allow you to bear more weight. When standing upright, the rubber tip of your crutch must be positioned 6 inches in front and 2-4 inches outside of your foot. The arm cuffs should be snug, comfortable, and should secure your forearm 1-1.5 inches below your elbow.

In forearm crutch users, the pressure and weight of your lower limb are being carried by your ulna (one of the two bones in your forearm). To prevent secondary ailments attributed to long-term use of forearm crutches such as pain and injuries, make sure that you are using an arm cuff that is properly sized for your forearm.

Home Safety Tips for Crutch Users
Balance and mobility problems following an injury are the reasons why people are using crutches for support. For these reasons, home safety is important to prevent them from sustaining injuries secondary to slips and falls.
  • Keep your everyday items within reach
  • Remove clutter, clean up food spills, and roll up trailing electrical cords
  • Remove slipping hazards from your bathroom by installing grab bars, handheld showers, and non-slip bath mats
  •  Keep your house well-lit
  • Create a clear pathway by rearranging your pieces of furniture
Crutches are great aids for mobility that let you maneuver on your own. You can ask your healthcare provider for assistance and demonstration on the proper use of this equipment to prevent you from developing another complication.

This is a guest blog entry.

Positive Health Benefits of Recreational Gambling

One of the main reasons that gambling is popular is because it can be plenty of fun. Although addictive gambling is a serious public health concern, there is some evidence that recreational gambling in moderation could have some positive health benefits.

Gambling takes many forms, from a friendly wager with friends and family, to lottery scratch off tickets, to slot machines, and neighborhood poker. Each state and country has different laws about gambling that you should be familiar with. For anyone staying in Canada, here is some information about the legality of casino gaming in Canada - online-casinos-canada.ca/legal.

As per this article on NBCNews.com, a study carried out at Yale based on telephone interviews indicates that recreational gamblers aged 65 and older report better health that their non-gambling peers. Click this link to read the full study: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18072825. It was also found that older gamblers report less alcoholism and depression than younger gamblers. However, the same study found that problem/pathological gambling was uniformly associated with poorer health measures among both younger and older adults.

Some gambling activities provide ample opportunities to socialize, get together with friends, and make new friends, provided that you opt for the right games. Poker seems to be the best choice in this regard as there’s plenty of socializing that happens at the Texas Hold‘em tables. There has been some research to show that nursing home residents engaged in simulated gambling activities showed higher happiness levels compared to their baseline levels. Mental health benefits of gambling can sometimes be attributed to socialization but also to the use of problem-solving skills, concentration, and memory. Many will be surprised to know that scientists use a measure known as the Iowa Gambling Task (see Wikipedia.org entry) to evaluate frontal lobe brain functioning based on how respondents use good and bad decks of cards on a computer simulated gambling game.

The key to avoiding a gambling problem is to do so in moderation. That means setting a pre-specified budget of money that you can afford to lose in the worst case scenario and to not try to then gamble more to earn any losses back. Gamblers also need to keep base rates in mind: in the end, the house will always come out on top. Remembering this can also help avoid spending too much money when it comes to gambling. Lastly, if you have an addictive and/or impulsive personality or any type of cognitive impairment (e.g., attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, dementia, traumatic brain injury), gambling would be something to best avoid. Addictive gambling can result in depression, alcoholism, bankruptcy, marital discord, and even self-harm so it is best to keep gambling a recreational activity that is done in moderation. 

This is a guest blog entry.