- Limit stressful situations. Mental and/or physical stress lowers your resistance to illness.
- Get adequate rest. Proper sleep allows your body to heal and recharge.
- Support your immune system. Eat healthy and drink plenty of pure water.
- Get regular massage. Countless studies show that massage can help you to reduce stress, sleep better, strengthen your immune system and your overall health.
Whether it’s for your favorite Valentine, a friend, family member,
or special loved one, a massage gift certificate is a wonderful way
to let someone know how much you care about them.
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The benefits of massage therapy
A growing body of evidence suggests muscle therapy provides a long and varied list of health benefits. In fact, more people get their muscles kneaded and rubbed for medical purposes than they do for relaxation or pampering, according to a recent survey. You know massage helps reduce stress and tension; here are some more potential benefits, based on research compiled by the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA):
Relieve chronic low-back pain.
Nearly everyone at some point has back pain that interferes with work and daily activities; if it lasts more than three months, it's considered chronic. One study showed people with long-lasting low-back pain who got a one-hour Swedish or structural massage once a week for 10 weeks felt and functioned significantly better and faster than those who received standard medical care; they also used less over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs. Other research found massage helps with osteoarthritis of the knee pain, fibromyalgia and nerve pain, among others.
A review of studies that measured the stress hormone cortisol in people before and immediately after massage found the therapy lowered levels by up to about 50%. Massage also increased serotonin and dopamine, two neurotransmitters that help reduce depression. That may play into why massage has been shown to help people with anxiety disorders, to increase calm before surgery and to decrease stress and depression in cancer patients; in fact, a recent Turkish study found back massages given during chemotherapy significantly reduced anxiety and fatigue.
Reduce blood pressure.
Women with prehypertension (or slightly elevated blood pressure) who received three 10-minute Swedish massages a week for 10 total sessions lowered their pressure more than patients who relaxed in the same environment but with no massage, according to a small study. Other more recent research on 35 older adults showed therapeutic massage also helped reduce blood pressure, as well as improve stability.
Massage may give the immune system a boost by helping to increase activity levels of natural killer T cells, which fight off viruses and tumors. Past, preliminary science suggested full-body massage enhanced immune function of women with breast cancer; a newer but also early study on premature babies came to a similar conclusion: Those who received massage therapy had more active killer immune cells (and gained weight faster), compared with infants in the control group.
Another Reason for RelaxationChronic anxiety has been linked to depression and heart disease; in new, unrelated research, anxiety has been directly related to incidence of stroke.
Investigators tracked a nationally representative group of 6,019 people 25-74 years over a 22-year period. They found that people in the highest third of anxiety symptoms had a 33 percent higher stroke risk than those with the lowest levels.
"Everyone has some anxiety now and then. But when it's elevated and/or chronic, it may have an effect on your vasculature years down the road," said Maya Lambiase, Ph.D., study author and cardiovascular behavioral medicine researcher at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
People with high anxiety levels are more likely to smoke and be physically inactive, possibly explaining part of the anxiety-stroke link. Higher stress hormone levels, heart rate or blood pressure could also be factors, Lambiase said.
The research was published in the American Heart Association journal Stroke.
In the news...
America is falling out of love with diet soda. The sales of low- and zero-calorie soda have fallen 6.8 percent in the past year, compared with a 2.2 percent drop in the sales of regular soda. Experts say consumers are worried about possible health risks from artificial sweeteners. Drink water!
— The Wall Street Journal
Mothers today are less physically active than their 1965 counterparts. On average, today’s moms spend 7 more hours per week sitting down—largely driving, watching television, or using digital technology—than 1965 moms, who spent more time on their feet doing physical housework or child care.
About 440,000 people die as a result of preventable error in U.S. hospitals every year, a new study in theJournal of Patient Safety found. That means one in six deaths can be attributed to mistakes in hospitals, making them the third-leading cause of death.
People are like bicycles. They can keep their
balance only as long as they keep moving.
-- Albert Einstein
The content of this letter is not intended to replace professional medical advice.
If you’re ill, please consult a physician.
© 2014 Massage Marketing. Used with permission; all rights reserved.