HEALTH

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Put Your Retirement Plan To Work.

Learn about the importance of saving for retirement and enrolling in your employer’s retirement plan.

Instructor: Heidi Brosseau, Financial Advisor with Edward Jones.

Feb. 10 from 6-7 p.m. Contact EJRP: 878-1375.

Dog Communication in the Human World.

Gold Star Dog Training will host a presentation about dog communication, common dog-human misunderstandings, and explore how dogs and humans relate to each other.

Memorial Hall, Essex, 6:30-7:30 p.m. Cost: $0-$15. Contact Deb: deb@goldstardog.com.

Snowshoe at Indian Brook.

Join an approximately 2-mile family snowshoe hike. Eastern Mountain Sports will supply snowshoes to demo or bring your own. Refreshments will be supplied. Pre-registration is required. Each hike is limited to 14 participants. Feb. 15 from 1-2:30 p.m. Cost. $7-$12. Contact Essex Parks and Rec: 878-1342.

Vermont Farm Show.

From barnyard animals to giant tractors, the annual showcase celebrates the state’s agricultural industry. See vtfarmshow.com for details.

Champlain Valley Exposition. Essex Junction, Jan. 29 from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Free. Contact: 426-3579.

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Health benefits of pets

The companionship and love pets provide could be a key benefit in promoting good personal health. According to WebMD, one study found that 48 stockbrokers who adopted a pet experienced lower blood pressure readings in stressful situations than did people who did not own pets. Another study found that individuals suffering from serious diseases, such as cancer or AIDS, are far less likely to experience depression if they have a strong tie to a pet. Plus, pets have proven beneficial to seniors struggling with loneliness.

Any pet can try a person’s patience at times, especially when a kitty has used a sofa as a scratching post or when a pooch needs to be let into the yard at 3 a.m. But for many pet owners, the benefits of having a pet far outweigh the negatives.

 

  • Lower blood pressure: Petting a furry friend can lower blood pressure, as can watching a fish swim around a tank. Those with hypertension may want to purchase or adopt a companion animal to help lower their blood pressure.
  • Reduce stress: Stress is something people face on a daily basis. According to a National Health Interview Survey, 75 percent of the general population experiences at least “some stress” every two weeks, and many times that stress is moderate to severe. Research has indicated that when people spend time with a pet their levels of cortisol, a hormone associated with stress, is lowered while their level of serotonin, a hormone associated with improved mood and well-being, is increased.
  • Lower cholesterol: Lifestyle factors associated with pet-ownership, particularly a focus on increased physical health and activity, can help lower cholesterol levels.
  • Fight depression: Many therapists have prescribed pet therapy as a method to alleviating and recovering from depression. A pet is an unconditional friend and can provide that listening ear a person needs to talk through problems. Also, walking and taking care of a pet devotes attention away from problems and inward thinking.
  • Improve physical activity: Heading to the gym is one way to get a workout, but spending an hour walking the dog or tossing around a ball for a game of chase and fetch is another way to get the heart pumping. Many dog owners benefit from the “forced” exercise that goes with daily walks. Some people choose to exercise with their pets, enjoying the companionship and the physical activity.
  • Reduce stroke incidences: There has been evidence that cat owners are less likely to suffer strokes than people who do not have cats. Researchers are not sure of the connection, but surmise that cats have a more calming nature than other types of pets.
  • Greater opportunities for socialization: Humans are social animals and need to interact with others. Pet owners have a tendency to want to share time and experiences with other pet owners. Pets can provide opportunities for people to get together.
  • ADHD therapy: Children and adults with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder often benefit from working with a pet or having a pet as a family companion. Playing with a pet is a great way to release excess energy and focus on tasks. Also, a pet with his or her unconditional love can help someone with ADHD overcome self-esteem issues. Similar results are possible when pets are used as therapy animals for children with autism and other behavioral disabilities.
  • Reduce propensity for allergies: Children who grow up in homes with cats and dogs are less likely to develop common allergies and even asthma, research suggests. In fact, children who live around two or more dogs or cats before their first birthday are less likely to have allergies of any sort, according to a study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association.
  • Fewer doctor visits: Research presented at the 10th International Conference on Human Animal Interaction found pet owners were the least likely to have to visit the doctor. The survey of more than 11,000 respondents from Australia, China and Germany found that over a five-year period pet owners made 15 to 20 percent fewer annual visits to the doctor than non-pet owners.

Pets

 

 

Study shows anti-smoking campaign successful

Matt Whalen

Matt Whalen

By now, we have all seen them. They are terrifying. They are bad enough to keep you up at night. And bad enough for you to consider begging a person you love to quit smoking. I am talking, of course, about the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s mass media campaign “Tips from Former Smokers”.

According to a study published last month in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, the CDC’s ad campaign “Tips” effectively reduces cigarette use. The Vermont Department of Health began airing these television spots across Vermont in 2013 and is currently running two Tips ads statewide —”Amanda” and “Shawn.”

The CDC launched nationwide in 2012 and the campaign was responsible for an estimated 100,000 smokers quitting permanently. The study also calculated the 2012 campaign contributed to averting about 17,000 premature deaths across the United States.

The Health Department’s comprehensive tobacco cessation outreach, including the Tips broadcast ads, contributed to a greater than 100 percent increase in total number of calls to Vermont’s Quitline in 2013 compared to the 2004-2012 call volume. In 2014, the number of coaching calls completed by Vermont’s low socioeconomic smoking population likewise increased over 100 percent compared to 2013.

Tobacco use remains the single most preventable cause of death in the United States, but about 81,000 Vermonters smoke cigarettes and hundreds of Vermonters die each year from tobacco-related diseases. In 2012, 62 percent of all Vermont smokers, totaling 51,000 people, attempted to quit.

802Quits provides Vermonters with advice, tips, tools, and stories to help them quit smoking. If you have been impacted by “Tips from Former Smokers” the same way I have, go to 802Quits.org for resources and information on the four ways to get help and help others, including the Vermont Quit Partners (a team of people in communities across Vermont devoted to providing support and motivation to help Vermont tobacco users through the quitting process).

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Editor’s Note: Matt Whalen is the Prevention and Wellness Director at Essex CHIPS. He contributed to this report, which was originally provided by the Vermont Department of Health. To learn more about the “Tips” campaign and to watch the television spots, visit cdc.gov/tobacco/campaign/tips, or for more information email Matt at Matt@essexchips.org.