It’s the season to reap the health benefits of giving and receiving
When athletes like LeBron James, J.J. Watts and Serena Williams open their hearts and wallets, many people benefit, including the superstars. As LeBron told kids at a new public school he launched in his hometown of Akron, Ohio: “This is my way of saying ‘thank you’ to you guys, because I know exactly what you guys are going through. This is my gift to you.” Clearly it’s a gift to the kids, and it gives a lot to LeBron, too.
That’s because giving and receiving change your mindset and your body, improving your health and happiness.
Receiving a gift offers benefits both physical and emotional. Supportive ties help people recover from cardiac problems, fuel hope and ease distress.
As for giving — well, the rewards are real. The Cleveland Clinic says they include lower blood pressure, increased self-esteem, less depression, greater happiness and a longer life! One University of California, Berkeley, study found that when folks 55+ volunteered for two or more organizations, they were 44 percent less likely to die over a five-year period than those who didn’t volunteer — and it wasn’t because they were healthier to begin with! If that’s not incentive enough, according to the UC’s Greater Good Science Center, acting generously activates the same reward pathway as sex and food!
So, volunteer to serve a holiday meal to those in need, give time and or money to charities you believe in, and make a pledge to do more for others (and for yourself) in the New Year. Cheers!
Re-evaluate your drinking habits
Hallmark Christmas movies are full of sentimentality that appeals to some family members, but not everyone. So how do you persuade your spouse to sit through the made-for-TV film “A Royal Christmas”? The solution posed by one Texas woman: The Hallmark Christmas Movie Drinking Game. The rules are simple. You take a drink when you hear a reference to a dead relative, if a main character’s name is related to Christmas (Nick, Holly, etc.), or mistletoe appears on the screen, etc. You get the drift.
Clearly, ’tis the season for excessive drinking. Americans double their intake from Thanksgiving to New Year’s, and that’s a major health hazard, upping the risk for breast and other cancers and liver damage.
The facts: Evidence that moderate alcohol consumption is heart-healthy isn’t rock solid, and hardly anyone knows what “moderate” means. Think your 6-ounce glass of whisky is one drink? Think again; it counts as four!
Plus, what may be harmless for you can change as your health changes and you age. Taking a beta blocker or nitrates for high blood pressure or an alpha blocker for enlarged prostate? Mixing it with alcohol can cause perilously low blood pressure. If you’re over 65, you don’t metabolize alcohol as efficiently as before. Your blood alcohol level increases more dramatically, making you vulnerable to falls.
The smart moves: If you don’t give up alcohol, make wine spritzers; drink a glass of water between servings of alcohol; only drink with food; set a limit of two drinks on any day; and establish alcohol-free days.
Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into “The Dr. Oz Show” or visit www.sharecare.com.