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Turning Energy Saver™ Mode On and Off

Our Classic, Elegant and Touch consoles include an environmentally friendly feature called Energy Saver™ mode. When the feature is activated, the console will go to sleep after 15 minutes of inactivity to save power. A small green LED will light on the display alerting you that the machine is in Energy Saver™ mode.

For technical reasons, the Energy Saver mode is set to OFF as a default when the machine leaves the factory. Here’s how to change the Energy Saver setting from OFF to ON.

Treadmill Classic console

  1. Start by plugging in and turning on the treadmill.
  2. Step on the side rails and insert the safety key.
  3. Simultaneously press and hold the INCLINE UP and SPEED DOWN arrow buttons for 3-5 seconds. The console will beep and begin to scroll SELECT ENG MODE. At this point you can release the buttons.
  4. For the Energy Saver mode (ESM), press the INCLINE UP arrow button to take you to ENG3.
  5. Press the ENTER button.
  6. Now press the INCLINE UP button, and the display will change between ON and OFF.
  7. Once it is displaying the desired output, press and hold the STOP button for 3-5 seconds to exit. The console will beep and begin to scroll SELECT ENG MODE. At this point you can release the button.
  8. Finally, press and hold the STOP button again to exit Engineering Mode. The console will beep and return to the main screen. At this point you can release the button.

Treadmill Elegant console

  1. Start by plugging in and turning on the treadmill.
  2. Step on the side rails and insert the safety key.
  3. Simultaneously press and hold the INCLINE UP and SPEED DOWN arrow buttons for 3-5 seconds. The console will beep and enter Engineering Mode. At this point you can release the buttons.
  4. Now press the top left ATM-style button to select Settings.
  5. Once in Settings, press the top right ATM-style button to select Continue.
  6. Using the two middle-left ATM-style buttons select ON or OFF.
  7. Once it is displaying the desired output, press the bottom left ATM-style button to select Finished.
  8. Finally, press the STOP button to return to the main screen.

Treadmill Touch console

  1. Start by plugging in and turning on the treadmill.
  2. Step on the side rails and insert the safety key.
  3. Simultaneously press and hold the INCLINE UP and SPEED DOWN arrow buttons for 3-5 seconds. The console will beep and enter Engineering Mode. At this point you can release the buttons.
  4. Using the touchscreen, press the selection for Settings on the left side of the screen.
  5. Once in Settings, press the word “Energy Saver,” then make your selection for ON or OFF with the buttons that appear in the top right side of the screen.
  6. Once the desired output is selected, press the HOME button on the top-right side of the screen to exit Engineering Mode.

Bike/Elliptical Classic console

  1. Start by plugging in the bike or elliptical.
  2. Simultaneously press and hold the RESISTANCE UP and RESISTANCE DOWN arrow buttons for 3-5 seconds. The console will beep and begin to scroll SELECT ENG MODE. At this point you can release the buttons.
  3. For Energy Saver mode (ESM) press the RESISTANCE UP arrow button to take you to ENG2.
  4. Press the ENTER button.
  5. Now press the RESISTANCE UP button, the display will change between ON and OFF.
  6. Once it is displaying the desired output, press and hold the STOP button for 3-5 seconds to exit. The console will beep and begin to scroll SELECT ENG MODE. At this point you can release the button.
  7. Finally, press and hold the STOP button again to exit Engineering Mode. The console will beep and return to the main screen. At this point you can release the button.

Bike/Elliptical Elegant console

  1. Start by plugging in the bike or elliptical.
  2. Simultaneously press and hold the RESISTANCE UP and RESISTANCE DOWN arrow buttons for 3-5 seconds. The console will beep and enter Engineering Mode. At this point you can release the buttons.
  3. Now press the top left ATM-style button to select Settings
  4. Once in Settings, press the top right ATM-style button to select Continue.
  5. Using the two middle-left ATM-style buttons select ON or OFF.
  6. Once it is displaying the desired output, press the bottom-left ATM-style button to select Finished.
  7. Finally, press the STOP button to return to the main screen.

Bike/Elliptical Touch console

  1. Start by plugging in the bike or elliptical.
  2. Simultaneously press and hold the RESISTANCE UP and RESISTANCE DOWN arrow buttons for 3-5 seconds. The console will beep and enter Engineering Mode. At this point you can release the buttons.
  3. Using the touchscreen, press the selection for Settings on the left side of the screen.
  4. Once in Settings, press the word “Energy Saver,” then make your selection for ON or OFF with the buttons that appear in the top-right side of the screen.
  5. Once the desired output is selected, press the HOME button in the top-right side of the screen to exit Engineering Mode.

Secrets of centenarians

In the ongoing fight against aging, researchers have focused in on so-called “Blue Zones,” where people live — and live well — deep into their 90s and 100s. These places, scattered from Costa Rica to Japan, have become a sort of Mecca for longevity for researchers who seek desperately to understand the common denominator. This examination has exposed several constants that define life in each of these diverse regions,  whether it be a suburb of Los Angeles populated by Seventh Day Adventists or a rural Greek island, and provides clues as to what helps a person live wellpast the average lifeexpectancy.

What’s most surprising — and encouraging — is the simplicity that characterizes these keys to longevity. The research suggests that by making small changes in your lifestyle and mindset, you could potentially add years to your life.

How They Eat

Although these Blue Zones are found all over the world, with different cultures and diverse diets, there are several key habits that may play a profound role in longevity.

Moderation is one of them. In Okinawa, Japan, which has some of the longest-living women in the world, people recite an old Confucian mantra, “hara hachi bu,” which reminds them to eat only until they are 80 percent full.

These small meals are seen throughout the Blue Zones, with the smallest and last meal of the day taking place sometime in the late afternoon or early evening.

Across the board, Blue Zoners eat a largely vegetarian diet focussed on vegetables and beans. On average, they only eat meat about five times per month and, even then, in small three- to four-ounce servings.

In most cases, the food comes from personal or family gardens and goes straight to the tables.

For everyone but the Seventh Day Adventists, wine is also an important part of the diet. Wine is enjoyed moderately and regularly, around one to two glasses a day, with food and friends.

How They Work

Researchers have found that in Blue Zones, interestingly, exercise seems to take a backseat to everyday activity. People work around their houses, in the gardens or on their trades. In every case, their lifestyle and their environment push them to be active throughout the day. For instance, many people in Blue Zones walk or use their bicycles for transportation.

Author Dan Buettner, who coined the term “Blue Zones” in his book of the same name, discussed meeting one noteworthy man in Sardinia, Italy with NPR. The man, Giovanni Sannai, was 104 years old when Buettner met him and was chopping wood at 9 a.m. Sannai started his day with a glass of wine and spent the rest of his time doing chores around his house.

But Buettner also noticed something fascinating about Sannai’s lifestyle that was a trend throughout the Blue Zones.

How They Live

As Sannai went about his day, people came seeking his advice as a respected member of the community. This strong sense of respect for the elderly, giving them a purpose, was a cornerstone of the Blue Zone lifestyle.

People who live in Blue Zones enjoy frequent, informal visits with their friends and family. Everyone has a place and a purpose in the community, even as they age.  In Okanawa, this way of life is called “ikigai,” or “sense of purpose.” In Costa Rica it’s “plan de vida.” Throughout all Blue Zones, the idea that you are still relevant, useful, even respected as you age, permeate.

Despite an ethic of hard work and an emphasis on purposeful living, all Blue Zone cultures enjoyed a balance of work and relaxation most Americans can only admire from afar. In Ikaria, people take their time, pay little attention to the clock and take naps every afternoon. Although it takes different forms, including naps, prayer and meditation, each Blue Zone society has a sort of institutionalized relaxation that helps them to slow down and refocus.

It is true that genetics play a major role in life expectancy, but that’s not the whole story, as a diverse Blue Zone community of  Seventh Day Adventists in Southern California attests.

Do you employ any of these Blue Zone lifestyle habits? Please share your experiences with us in the comments.


Staying healthy on vacation

Vacation can be a welcome break from the routines of everyday life. Unfortunately, it often also means a break from the beneficial routines of diet and exercise that you’ve worked hard to build. The desire to take it easy may make exercise seem unappealing, or it could just be difficult to fit it into your schedule with all of the other things you want to see and do. Similarly, your inclination while vacationing may be to indulge in foods you’d never eat at home.

With all these pressures working against you, how can you maintain a healthy lifestyle and still enjoy your vacation?

Plan Ahead

When it comes to keeping up your fitness routine on vacation, a little planning can go a long way. Will your hotel have a gym or does it offer access to a local health club? A quick search online will also help you find parks with walking or hiking trails so you can still enjoy the scenery while staying on the move.

If you won’t be able to get to a gym and want to work in some strength training, consider bringing lightweight equipment like resistance bands with you. With some creativity, you may also be able to use the hotel furniture for body weight exercises like tricep dips.

Keep It Positive

Your mindset toward exercise will also have a powerful impact on your activity level while on vacation. Try to think of that morning run as a way to kickstart your day and enjoy the area, rather than an interruption to your vacation.

If you find that you just don’t have the motivation for formal exercise while on vacation, it may help you to think in terms of activity rather than exercise. Take a bike tour around the local city or hike through the local parks.

Bringing a pedometer with you will help give you an added sense of accomplishment, while still allowing you to enjoy your time off. Shoot for the 10,000 steps per day recommended by the American Heart Association over the course of your daily activities.

Everything In Moderation

There’s something about eating out at a restaurant that fills us with the impulse to gorge ourselves. Resist that impulse and try to focus on making healthy decisions when it comes to both the size and content of your meal.

It is important, though, that you order healthy foods that are genuinely appetizing and not just out of a sense of duty. This will stop you from feeling as though you’re depriving yourself and being ultimately unhappy with your otherwise healthy decisions.

An unfortunate part of the vacation mindset is the idea that you should celebrate by eating at every opportunity. Eat only when you’re hungry and stop eating when you’re comfortable rather than stuffed to the brim.

Don’t feel like this means that you can’t treat yourself, but keep in mind the need for moderation. Allow yourself one decent treat per day and sample these foods rather than feasting on them.

What tips have helped you stay healthy on vacation? Please share them in the comments.


A crash course on cholesterol

Whether you have a family history of heart disease or are simply looking to take care of yourself for a lifetime, it’s smart to get a handle on your cholesterol status. The American Heart Association recommends regular screening of cholesterol blood levels for all adults over the age of 20, so if you don’t remember your most recent numbers, it’s probably time to give your doctor a call.

Although cholesterol is manufactured by the body and carries a strong hereditary component, the final numbers are also impacted by your choices in diet and lifestyle. If you’re working to get your numbers back into the healthy range, the biggest change comes from a combination of medication and exercise, meaning your home workouts can make a big difference for your heart health.

What do the numbers mean?

The American Heart Association recommends a fasting lipoprotein profile every five years for adults over 20. This quick blood test is going to provide a breakdown of your total cholesterol, HDL Cholesterol, LDL Cholesterol and Triglycerides.

Overall, you’re looking for a total cholesterol level of less than 200. HDL (think “H” for Healthy) is the protective cholesterol. A number over 60 is good and under 40 is bad. LDL cholesterol (think “L” for low) is the bad cholesterol. Higher levels of this cholesterol are associated with higher risk of heart attack and stroke. Ideally you’d like this number to be under 100, though most people are glad to get under 130.

Triglycerides are the third component of your lipoprotein profile. High triglycerides (numbers over 160) are generally impacted by lifestyle factors, such as exercise, smoking, high levels of alcohol consumption and diet. Additionally, numbers over 150 seem to be associated with a greater risk for Metabolic Syndrome, a pre-cursor to diabetes and a risk factor for heart disease. For a more detailed discussion of what your cholesterol profile means, the American Heart Association offers a great resource.

Dietary Recommendations

Making a few smart dietary choices can lead to improvements in your cardiovascular health profile. Painless, but informed choices, include choosing Monounsaturated fats, also known as MUFAS, (i.e. olive oil, canola oil, or peanut oil) over Saturated Fats or Trans-fats (think animal fats, including those in dairy, or other vegetable fats that are solid at room temperature). Choosing MUFAs also seems to have a beneficial impact on blood sugar and insulin levels, which makes sense for all of us, whether we’re warding off our 3 p.m. slump or our family history of diabetes.

In addition to choosing our fats wisely, there are many other foods (check out this list from the Mayo Clinic) that can help improve cholesterol numbers, including: oatmeal, fish that are high in omega 3 fatty acids, walnuts and other nuts, and, possibly stanol/sterol fortified foods such as orange juice and cereal. If you want to try to use diet to improve your cholesterol numbers think about making a few smart substitutions by choosing oatmeal over your usual breakfast cereal, enjoying an ounce of nuts as a snack each day, and adding omega three loaded fish into your diet a few times each week.

Get Moving!

In addition to diet and lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking and reducing alcohol consumption, exercise is the biggest controllable factor impacting your cholesterol level. Although it’s important to work with your doctor in managing medication recommendations, adding in regular exercise reduces your overall cholesterol numbers and raises your HDL profile. Using your home fitness equipment regularly for 30 minutes on most days of the week, or completing more intense sessions for shorter periods of time is one thing you can do to bring your numbers into the healthy range (or keep them there). Recent research shows that exercise combined with statin medications lead to the greatest reduction in risk from a cardiovascular event (70 percent compared to 35 percent from medication alone!)


Although starting a medication for your cholesterol can be a little humbling, research and best practice are showing that treatment sooner rather than later is associated with a longer life for patients. If your total cholesterol, LDL and triglycerides are higher than average, especially if lifestyle choices haven’t done the trick for you, your doctor will probably talk to you about medications.

If you’re researching your options, the FDA provides an overview of medications available to treat high cholesterol. Not every medication will work for every person, so make sure to keep the conversation open with your doctor. Also remember that your medication will be even more effective if you’re making heart healthy choices related to diet and exercise.

Weigh In: How important is your heart health in choosing your home workouts and day to day diet?

10 Tips to Stay Motivated with Your Home Workouts

Vision Fitness man running to TF40 treadmill

Working out from the comfort of your own home provides numerous benefits that a gym membership cannot offer. They require less travel and prep time, as well as provide a safe environment and a comfortable atmosphere where you can focus on your workout without worrying about other gym goers. Your home provides instant access to your equipment and yet it can be difficult to maintain our workouts. We’ve all heard the ‘clothes hanger’ comments with respect to that treadmill or elliptical. How can you prevent becoming a victim?

Staying on Track

With New Year’s resolutions becoming a distant memory as the first month of 2013 fades away, I’ve come up with some tips that I hope will help keep you motivated. Whether it’s dusting off the old equipment or you’re looking to purchase new equipment, here are 10 tips to assist you on your quest toward your own personal vision.

1. Make a goal and write it down. There is a strong correlation between writing down one’s goal and actually achieving it.

2. Tell someone your goal. You’ll feel more accountability if you know there are others supporting you or expecting you to follow through with your plans.

3. Schedule your routine. We schedule most everything else in our busy lives. A quick 30-minute workout should be no different and be a planned part of our day.

4. Don’t put it off. If you have time to think about working out now, then just do it. Otherwise, there are a million other things that will get in the way, and before you know it, the day is gone (good advice from an office colleague of mine).

5. Keep your workout routine simple. A 20-minute Sprint 8® workout, plus 10 minutes of strength and five to 10 minutes of stretching. Pretty simple, yet very effective. If you miss a scheduled workout, no sweat, life happens. Rather than doing nothing, though, do what you can. Ten minutes of walking or five minutes of strength is better than nothing and will still move you towards your vision.

6. Place your equipment in a room/place that you enjoy being in. What motivates you? A picturesque view out the window while on the treadmill? Upbeat music in a well-lit room with a TV? Placement of equipment often gets overlooked when it comes to what motivates a person.

7. Recognize how good you feel after you’ve worked out. Most of us know that feeling when it hits. Be conscious of that feeling and try to continually remind yourself of it.

8. Create an affirmation board. You are putting positive energy out in the universe and asking the universe for what you want. You are, as a result, changing your own attitude and your own approach to getting the things you want.

9. Have a workout partner. Whether it’s a friend or family member, having a partner may be what you need to keep you on track and hold you accountable for showing up for workouts.

10. Take some before and after pictures over a three-month span. Especially if the scale doesn’t seem to budge, or you feel like you’re not making progress, comparing the photos may just be the proof you need to see that you’ve experienced some results.

7 Tips for running and biking in winter weather

When it’s cold out, running and biking are less pleasant and more dangerous. One solution is to get your cardio on stationary machines all winter long. Another is to quit cardio altogether until the weather warms up. But nothing beats the burn of some good, old-fashioned roadwork. Here are seven tips to help you get on the road even when the weather outside is frightful.

1. Do Some Research

Check the weather report online the night before you exercise, and an hour or so before you go out, so you can dress appropriately for what’s outside. Most smart phones come with a weather app that gives updated weather conditions for your area. If you don’t have an app phone, is an easy-to-remember Internet resource with the same information.  It’s also a good idea to research routes and tracks, so you can work the safest one possible given the conditions.

2. Dress in Layers

You’ll feel colder at the beginning of your run than in the middle or at the end. Wear multiple layers so you can adjust your insulation over the course of your session. Gloves and a hat are absolute musts when cycling in the cold, and a good idea for runners. For your lowest layer, use fibers that wick moisture away from your skin, such as Coolmax or Drymax. Compression garments make good under layers, but not all are made of breathable fabrics, so are less suitable for cold-weather exercise.

3. Run Laps

Hypothermia is a real risk when exercising in the cold, especially after you sweat and take off those first few layers. If you’re doing an “out-and-back” route, you risk getting chilled a long way from the warmth of your home. Running a shorter track multiple times brings you back to “base camp” more often.

4. See to Traction

Whether it’s rain, snow, or ice, traction becomes a problem in winter months. If you’re cycling, swap your street slicks for traction tires. If running, wear shoes with excellent traction, or consider shoe traction devices, which are essentially snow chains for your feet. Choose routes with fewer hills on snowy or icy days. Be especially cautious of black ice, which can be practically invisible and just as slick as any other nasty patch of road.

5. Emphasize Visibility

You won’t be the only person on the road with traction problems. Cars will similarly need extra time to stop or turn, meaning you need to let them know you’re there earlier than during the summer months. Wear brighter colors, and consider a headlamp and reflector vest even during daylight hours. Choose routes with a sidewalk or bike lane, rather than just a shoulder.

6. Eat First

Your body stays warm by burning calories, meaning extra calories are important in avoiding hypothermia. A light, calorie-dense, snack just before going out can make the whole experience more pleasant and in some cases safer. A banana, energy bar or cup of soup are all great options.

7. Keep Going

Perhaps the most important tip for outdoor cardio in wintertime is to keep doing it. When things get cold and drizzly, it’s easy to give in to temptation and stay inside with the TV instead. Ignore that temptation and get out there. Having a workout buddy, or committing to your workout on social media, can help you find motivation when the winter cold tries to suck it away.

Readers, do you have any success stories or tales of terror from getting out in the winter wet? Tell us about them in the comments. 


Active in the snow: Cross country skiing

When snow covers the ground, your activity level could decrease dramatically, and understandably so. Not only can it be difficult just to move in all that snow and slush, but it can be equally hard to find the motivation to do so. The problem is further complicated if you suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). It’s important, then, to find some winter activity that can keep you active, in shape and possibly even give you reason to be excited about all that snow.

Although many people enjoy downhill skiing and snowboarding during the winter months, these are rarely a substitute for your normal workout since they do not provide the level of exertion or type of exercise you would usually get from your routine. Cross-country skiing, on the other hand, provides a safe, accessible and effective workout in the snow.

The Basics

What is now the sport of cross-country, or Nordic, skiing originated as a mode of transportation over snowy landscapes. It can be done in a wide variety of locations. This means that you don’t necessarily have to travel long distances just to ski, as is often the case with downhill skiing. In fact, many state parks are open during the winter for cross-country skiing.

Cross-country skiing uses a complex and challenging motion to propel you forward that involves a number of major muscle groups. One of the most noticeable features of cross-country skis is that the skier’s heels are not fixed to the ski. This allows the motion of skiing to very closely resemble walking and involves your calves in the movement.

Two ski poles are also used, for both balance and forward momentum. This upper-body involvement means that cross-country skiing also works your arms, shoulders and back.

A new variation of cross-country skiing has emerged, called skate skiing, with the creation of lighter, stronger materials that allows the skier to travel much faster. As opposed to the traditional forward-and-back motion, skate skiing uses an outwards kick similar to skating. The pole plants are also larger and faster to help you cover more ground with each repetition.




An Effective Winter Workout

As mentioned, both variations of cross-country skiing engage multiple large muscle groups, not just those of the legs. Because the back and shoulders are also involved, cross-country skiing is an effective way to improve strength while increasing cardiovascular fitness.

Cross-country skiing is also easy on your joints since the movement requires little-to-no impact, reducing the risk of injury.

And, let’s be honest, it’s also a very pleasant way to enjoy the great outdoors on a sunny winter’s day and see the sights with friends — all while getting a good workout in.

Both traditional and skate skiing can be a great way for runners to get outside and stay in racing shape during the winter, but skate skiing offers an added challenge. As is true of most challenging activities, though, the risk of injury is increased because of the increased speed at which you would be moving and the complexity of the movement.

For beginners, start out with traditional cross-country skiing until you become comfortable with the pole plants and basic foot motions. If you feel like you need to increase the difficulty of your workout at that point, then consider switching to skate skiing.

Potential Injuries

Even low-impact sports like cross-country skiing can come with some risk of injury and you should always use caution when starting a new sport. Cross-country skiing requires a large range of motion and considerable strength in your quadriceps and calves to keep you moving forward.

It’s recommended that you follow a basic strength training routine for at least a month before hitting the trail to make sure that your legs are up to the challenge. This can consist of just a few body weight exercises and is simply intended to acclimate your legs so that you can maintain proper form to prevent injury and soreness from skiing.

Have you been able to stay active despite the snow with cross-country skiing? Please share your experience with us in the comments.


Setting Up Your Home Gym

In today’s fast-paced life, incorporating enough cardiovascular, strength and flexibility exercise to keep you fit and healthy can be a challenge. Creating a workout plan and a home workout area is an economical and convenient way to achieve your desired results. Before you start setting up a home gym, establish a budget and a workout plan. The great news is you don’t need a lot of money, or even space to set up your own personal gym at home.

Begin with the workout

Consider your own exercise inclinations. If you love the quiet serenity of yoga, then make that the focus of your workout space. If cycling is more your style, add a stationary bike. Like to walk or run? Invest in a good quality treadmill from a knowledgeable sales professional who knows not only fitness but also the level of equipment that is right for you. You do not need a full gym to make exercise a habit. In fact, many strength and cardiovascular exercises can be done with limited space on a tight budget using quality bands, dumbbells and medicine balls.

If a complete home gym is what you desire, choose your equipment carefully. Look closely at features, design and safety, and always consult a reputable fitness professional so you don’t buy unnecessary equipment. Do your research, but remember you will be using this equipment for years to come, so the pieces you choose should be easy to use and operate smoothly.  Always keep in mind that when buying fitness equipment, spending a bit more for quality is important. If you don’t like the way it feels, or you’re not comfortable you won’t use it.

Creating a workout space

Once you know how you will be exercising, it’s time to create the perfect area in your home where you will be working out. If you don’t like being in your basement, then don’t create your workout space there. Living rooms can often serve double-duty, especially if you like exercise TV or DVD’s. By adding a few storage places like cabinets or shelves, you can conceal your equipment when not in use. Just remember to leave plenty of space for the movement required by these programs. You can also incorporate cardio equipment that folds or has transport wheels for easy transportation and storage. Some examples of this include the Vision Fitness XF40, a folding elliptical, or the TF20, a folding treadmill.

That said the final consideration for your home gym is spacing. Take accurate measurements, including ceiling height, and leave plenty of room for stretching and functional movement. Create sample layouts ahead of time using graph paper so you won’t have to rearrange the space looking for the perfect fit. Incorporate the measurements of equipment you hope to include, or existing furniture in the room. Keep in mind that space saving equipment doesn’t necessarily mean compromising on quality. The S7100 Suspension Elliptical™ Trainer is a great example of high quality cardio equipment with a small footprint. Resist the urge to crowd the space. Some of the most effective workouts come from simplicity.

Remember, you can’t beat the convenience, cleanliness, or affordability of working out at home. Begin with a budget and an exercise plan, and the home workout of your dreams is within your reach. Do not delay; make this the winter you commit to get fit in the privacy and comfort of your own home.

Random acts of kindness are good for your health

The dreary days of winter can start to affect not only how you feel, but how you treat those around you. Extend the spirit of the holiday season into the New Year by being generous, thankful and kind to others. Everyone knows it “feels good” to do good, but did you also know that doing so is actually beneficial for both your physical and mental health?

We’ve seen a boost in random acts of kindness as people around the globe have recently been inspired by the New York City police officer who bought a pair of boots and warm socks for a shivering homeless man. When the cop’s good deed was caught on camera and went viral on the Internet, it inspired good deeds among others.

Aviator Amelia Earhart explained the phenomenon: “A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees.” Doing good often gets paid forward and thus many can benefit from a single act.

In his book Meaning & Medicine (Bantam Books, 1991), Dr. Larry Dossey tells us, “Altruism behaves like a miracle drug … It has beneficial effects on the person doing the helping…; it benefits the person to whom the help is directed; and it can stimulate healthy responses in persons at a distance who may view it only obliquely.”

Scientific studies demonstrate the positive effects of kindness on health, including an increase in energy and longevity, stress and pain reduction, a healthier cardiovascular system, plus inner peace and overall happiness. So in other words, when you do something kind for someone, you and everyone around you reap the rewards. Here are some ways we benefit:

Get “High” From Helping

Researcher Stephen Post of Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine says helping a neighbor, volunteering, or donating goods and services results in a “helper’s high” that can lower stress and help you live a longer, healthier life. My mother used to volunteer at a thrift shop and she got such joy by rescuing perfectly fine coats that were headed for the garbage and leaving them on the steps of a nearby church that had a soup kitchen. Her real “high” however came from tucking a pair of warm mittens or a scarf into the pockets of someone in need as a little extra treat.

Giving Feels Better than Taking

Researcher Elizabeth Dunn at the University of British Columbia found that those who spend money on others reported much greater happiness than those who spend it on themselves. Who doesn’t love finding just the right present for someone special in their lives knowing what joy it will bring them?

Do Your Heart Good

David R. Hamilton, Ph.D., a chemist who left a career developing cardiac and cancer drugs to do research on the health benefits of kindness and happiness, says that performing a kind act releases oxytocin — the same brain chemical that surges when you snuggle your baby. Oxytocin is known as a “cardio-protective” hormone because it protects the heart by temporarily lowering blood pressure. So, he says, “Kindness is literally good for your heart.” I love the idea of paying the toll for the person behind you or picking up the tab for a nearby diner … how surprised will they be!?

Doing something kind doesn’t have to be big or expensive. I leave my copies of Woman’s Day and People magazines in my doctor’s office when I’m there because their selection is so poor. I feel good when I see someone pick one up because I know it will make the waiting time go much faster for them. Now I know that my act of kindness is actually helping me, too.

Remember, kindness is contagious. What kindness are you doing this season and how will it make you feel?  Tell us about it.


Home remedies for the common cold: Do they work?

With more than one billion cases in the U.S each year, it’s obvious why they call it the common cold. Sadly, with that kind of prevalence, it’s extremely likely that you or your children will have to deal with the coughing, congestion and aches that come along with the cold. With so many people suffering from this minor virus, it’s also to be expected that many remedies would appear. Some of these treatments have existed for generations, others are based on new theories. But do these remedies really work?


This herb, a relative of the daisy that is native to midwestern North America, has been a stable of traditional and folk medicine for years and is one of the most popular cold remedies. Proponents of echinacea claim that it may both prevent the cold and shorten the duration of cold symptoms.

Studies, however, are mixed. An analysis of all available quality research was conducted by the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, but found no conclusive evidence for either side of the debate over whether echinacea is effective or not. According to the researchers, this inconclusiveness could be caused by the huge variety of formulas used in echinacea supplements. These preparations may contain different parts of the plant or even different species of echinacea or any mixture thereof, making it difficult to judge the effectiveness of the plant itself.

In light of this uncertainty, Mayo Clinic advises that if you have an otherwise healthy immune system and are not taking any prescription medications, echinacea is unlikely to have serious side effects.

In other words, feel free to try it. It can’t hurt, and it may indeed help.

Chicken Soup

Once again, it seems like generations of mothers and grandmothers were on to something when they pushed chicken soup for the cold.

A team of researchers at the University of Nebraska Medical Center found that the ingredients in the classic chicken soup recipe has anti-inflammatory properties that can help to reduce symptoms of the cold. The soup may also increase mucus movement, flushing the virus out of your system more quickly.

In addition to this activity, the vitamins and minerals contained in the soup may have an immune-boosting effect. Of course, there is also the possibility of a psychosomatic calm induced by the steam and the positive emotional effects of a warm bowl of soup being served to you by your mother.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is a star player in countless over-the-counter cold treatments and is usually included in massive mega-doses in these products, well over the Federal Drug Administration’s recommend amounts of 60 mg.

Like many alternative treatments, vitamin supplementation has had mixed results in the research. The Mayo Clinic reports that, for the average person, vitamin C won’t be of any real benefit in preventing the cold, but for people who are at a constant risk of exposure to the virus it could be useful. Specifically, the Mayo Clinic lists school-aged children among those who could benefit from vitamin C supplements.

It is also possible that taking vitamin C before the cold actually begins could shorten the duration of the illness. This is hard to prove, however, since the virus reacts differently in everyone depending on many individual factors.

In light of the inconclusive findings, the Mayo Clinic classifies vitamin C as something that “probably doesn’t hurt” as a potential treatment for the cold.


Zinc has had a tumultuous history as a possible cold treatment, surrounded by flawed studies and controversial results. Most of the high quality studies on zinc have produced negative results but even the few that showed potential required that zinc be taken in a small window, within 24 hours, before the onset of cold symptoms.

Unlike vitamin C, which may be worth a try, the risks of zinc supplementation outweigh the benefits. Not only can zinc leave you with a bad taste in your mouth and nausea, but even the standard dosage found in over-the-counter nasal sprays can cause a long-lasting or permanent loss of smell. For this reason, the FDA warns against the use of zinc-based nasal sprays.

Warnings and Considerations

It’s true that some of the traditional cold remedies have shown promise in trials, you should always consult a doctor before beginning any self-treatment. Rest and plenty of water are still some of the best ways to care for a cold.

Have you experienced the benefits of any home remedies for the cold? Please share your experience in the comments.