The Well-Being Journal

Meet MIT Age Lab's Sweetheart, AGNES

Jennifer Rudloff

As we age, the way we experience the world around us changes. Getting out of cars, grocery shopping and all of the big and little things that are a part of every day life can be come more difficult.

Enter AGNES: MIT Age Lab's Age Gain Now Empathy System. AGNES allows us to better undersand how these customers are experiencing life and how we can alter the design of their physical environment, and improve our solutions to better fit their needs.

So how does it work? Watch the video to find out!

Topics: Healthy Living In the News Aging Chronic Disease Joseph Coughlin MIT Age Lab Age Gain Now Empathy System AGNES

Just In: Healthy Behaviors on the Rise

Jennifer Rudloff

This week, the February findings from the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index® were released. They indicate that Americans starting 2012 on the right when it comes to healthy eating and exercise. In fact, since December, the percentage of Americans who reportedly ate the recommended servings of fruits and veggies at least 4 days in the last week (5 servings) increased by 3.3 percentage points. That’s quite an improvement for just a few short months. But healthy behaviors aren’t stopping in the kitchen; they’re also extending to the gym as more Americans are exercising more frequently. These 2 factors together boosted the Healthy Behavior Index score by nearly 3 points since December. Looks like those resolutions are paying off after all.

And yet there’s still more positive news – it seems that we’re starting to reverse or at very least slow the trend when it comes to obesity. In February, the Well-Being Index shows that Obesity dropped to 25.6% -- that’s tied for the lowest monthly level Gallup and Healthways have found since October 2008.

Now that’s the good news. The bad news is that when it comes to healthy behaviors, American’s still have a long way to go! There’s no doubt that most Americans know what it takes to be healthy, and there’s no shortage of resources out there to help. But we often let our desire for immediate gratification get in the way of doing the right thing. Take heart health for example: The American Heart Association has a list of 7 heart healthy behaviors they refer to as “Life’s Simple 7” which include some fairly straight forward behaviors including:

  • don’t smoke
  • maintain a healthy weight
  • engage in regular physical activity
  • eat a healthy diet
  • manage blood pressure
  • take charge of cholesterol
  • keep blood sugar, or glucose, at healthy levels

Seems pretty straight forward, no? Yet a recent study shows that only 1.2% of Americans are following these simple seven. And that’s why heart disease remains America’s number one killer, folks.

So how do we move forward and build momentum behind a healthy behavior movement? The first step towards impacting populations is to recognize where the gaps lie. You know that thing "they" say about know knowledge being power…it's true! As you explore your population and identify gaps, you'll begin to better understand the needs of your people and poise yourself to more effectively support their journey towards better well-being.

If you’re not sure where to start, you’re in luck -- we have the tools to help! For organizations, the Healthways Well-Being Assessment™ makes the process of understanding your population easy! It offers simple, complete, and actionable insights into the social, emotional, and physical health factors that are impacting the well-being of your unique population. It also help brings awareness to each person as they'll each receive a personal well-being report and plan. The plan is reflective of their responses and risks, and provides targeted feedback to help them make progress towards improving their health and well-being.

Topics: Healthy Living In the News Exercise Well-Being Index Simple Seven Healthways Gallup Eating Healthy

Top 5 Tips to Better Eating

Jennifer Rudloff


Though some people gain weight by stuffing themselves too full, most of us gain 10 pounds every 10 years by eating just a little bit too much every day without even thinking about it. Here are easy ways to cut back on calories and eat more mindfully.

  1. Downsize your dinnerware. The size of your plates and glasses can actually cause weight gain. Try using 10” plates and tall narrow glasses to consume significantly less – without even thinking about it.
  2. Soup’s on! Nutritious soups with fiber-rich veggies leave you feeling full and satisfied, and can boost your health and weight-loss efforts too.
  3. Snack on nuts. A handful of nuts give you a dose of vitamins, minerals, and heart-healthy fats. Studies have shown that eating nuts may reduce your risk of heart disease and could even increase your lifespan.
  4. Eat an early, light dinner. By eating a light dinner earlier in the evening, you’ll give your body plenty of time to digest the food before bed. This practice not only promotes better sleep, but can even lower body mass index (BMI). To learn more about a healthy BMI, visit http://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/assessing/.
  5. Slow down and be mindful of your food. Instead of eating on the run or in front of the computer or TV, sit down at a time to enjoy your food. You’ll learn to savor a meal, become aware of what you’re consuming, and as a result, eat less.
Topics: Healthy Living Tips to Cut Calories Weight Loss Blue Zones Project

6 Ways to Make Walking Wonderful

Jennifer Rudloff

Couple Walking hand in handWe know that being sedentary can be a major drag on personal well-being, but the alternative doesn’t have to be signing up for the next iron man triathlon. In fact, before plunking down the dough to sign up for a gym, consider ramping up slowly by doing something that’s simple and that almost anyone can do every day—walking. Often overlooked, walking has one of the lowest barriers to entry, and it’s something that very often can be done socially—with a friend, family member, or co-worker—for even more motivation and support.

Walking should be fun, easy, and good for you, but the same stroll can get a little dull day after day. To make that daily stroll a bit more interesting and enjoyable, we’ve compiled a half dozen ideas to mix things up and enhance the normal walking experience. Hopefully you’ll feel the benefits in both body and mind, and enjoy a creative way to work in a walk each day. Enjoy…

Change your walking terrain. Take a walk on a natural surface of grass, sand, dirt, or gravel. Some research shows that always treading across man-made expanses could increase your risk of joint pain and overuse injuries. Natural surfaces like grass, sand, dirt, or gravel offer a more cushioned walking surface and force you to use your legs and abdominal muscles to stabilize yourself as you mosey along.

Hoof it to a favorite spot. Pick a favorite local spot and pledge to go there on foot in the next week. This could be a coffee shop, store, park, or view—any place where you feel happy and that you can get to on foot in 10 or 15 minutes. If you connect exercise with a local destination that makes you happy, you increase your chances of actually taking the walk—while also benefiting from going somewhere you enjoy!

Aim high while you walk. As you plan today’s walk, incorporate some nearby stairs. Some possibilities: If you live near a school or university, head to the running track, and after walking, climb to the top of the stadium steps. Or if you work in an office building, take a walk at lunch and use the stairs instead of the elevator to return to your office. Adding stairs to your stroll can change up the pace and get your heart pumping, creating an even-better-for-you walk.

Walk tall and pay attention to your posture. Are you slouching? Favoring one leg over another? Leaning forward or back while you walk? Imagine an invisible string is being pulled gently upward from the top of your head with every step you take. Try also to look forward (not down) while you walk, and remember to breathe deeply, opening your chest and shoulders as you do. By walking tall, you’ll help to reverse some of that strain and soreness, and take in more oxygen, to boot.

Make some moves. Incorporate knee lifts and jumping jacks into a walk today. At the start of your walk, set a timer on your phone or watch for five minutes. When it goes off, stop, stand in place, and do a set of three knee lifts. Walk for another five minutes, and then stop and do three jumping jacks. Repeat this cycle as often as you like, until your walk is done. By incorporating some calisthenics into your walk, other parts of your body and different muscle groups will get additional conditioning.

“Read” while you walk. With an audio book or podcast, that is. Thousands of books are available online; most are inexpensive and some are even free. You can also download free podcasts on a wide variety of topics. By listening to an absorbing story or compelling podcast, you’re more likely to focus less on your walking and more on what you hear. This kind of healthy distraction often leads to longer (and more enjoyable) walks.

Reposted from Well-Being Wire by MeYou Health

Topics: Healthy Living Exercise Physical Health walking How To Walk More