STAYING FIT AND HEALTHY DURING THE HOLIDAYS

With the holidays coming up, the highlight for many people during this season is gathering with family and friends and enjoying favorite holiday treats. Here are some tips that will help you enjoy your holidays to the fullest while not increasing your waistline.

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MAKING AND KEEPING NEW YEARS RESOLUTIONS

Only 8 percent of individuals achieved their resolutions in 2016, according to Statistic Brain. This is likely due to most people having unrealistic expectations about the speed, ease and consequences of the resolutions they make. People attempting self-change rarely succeed the first time; most need five or six attempts, according to a paper published in American Psychologist by Janet Polivy and Peter Herman. The authors suggest false hope syndrome is the cause for failure.

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HEALTHY HOLIDAY OPTIONS

The holidays are a wonderful time to gather with family and friends to celebrate. These celebrations often consist of many delicious treats and hardy meals. You can still maintain a healthy diet with a little thought and planning in advance. Research from a recent Web-based survey found 18 percent of people feel they cannot eat healthily during the holidays because they don’t want to miss out on their favorite foods. You can still eat the foods you enjoy this season, just in moderation.

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neutralize the effect of decreased vision on balance, Ramulu said. One possible explanation is reduced input from the eyes weakens the VOR, which maintains the effectiveness of vestibular balance. Common degenerative pathways or lower physical activity levels might also affect balance and be especially severe among those with visual impairment.


Balance problems coupled with blurred vision can indicate several conditions, such as type 1 or 2 diabetes, stroke, pink eye (conjunctivitis), eye injury, middle ear infection, labyrinthitis (an infection and swelling in the inner ear), acoustic neuroma, retinal detachment, epilepsy or ocular migraine, which can cause temporary blindness in one eye. A balance test is recommended for symptoms of rapid involuntary eye movement, vertigo or dizziness or gait abnormalities.

Balance and equilibrium help us know where we are in the world. They are controlled by signals the eyes, the inner ear and the sensory system send to the brain. The relationship between the inner ear vestibular and visual systems begins at birth; the vestibular system is the only fully functioning system we are born with. This system guides movement, which in turn guides the development of the visual system during our first years. When we are young, movement guides vision, but once we develop the necessary visual skills, vision begins to guide movement.


Two-thirds of the brain’s electrical activity is devoted to vision. Vision is so powerful a sense that it can override information from the other senses. This can be either beneficial or detrimental. Dizziness and disequilibrium are often the result of a vestibule-ocular reflex (VOR) dysfunction (a reflex that coordinates eye and head movement) and an unstable binocular (how well the eyes work together) system, says Dr. Nathan Davis, O.D. A dysfunction in balance is common after an acquired brain injury because of a disruption in the integration of the vestibular and visual systems. This sensory incoherence is like having the sound and the picture on a TV out of sync.


Visually impaired individuals and those with uncorrected refractive error, either near- or far- sightedness, have a significantly greater risk of diminished balance with their eyes closed than those with normal

BALANCE AND VISION ARE CORRELATED

ANGELA S. HOOVER

Angela is a staff writer for Health & Wellness magazine.

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vision, according to research from the University of California-Davis Health System Eye Center published in the journal JAMA Ophthalmology.


“Our research is the first large-scale population study to compare objective measures of physical balance across individuals with normal vision, uncorrected refractive error and the visually impaired and the first to link poor vision with diminished vestibular balance,” said Jeffrey R. Willis, an ophthalmology resident at the Eye Center and lead author of the study.


The take-away is vision may play an important role in calibrating the vestibular system to help optimize physical balance, says Pradeep Ramulu, M.D., Ph.D., with the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.


Willis added, “We know vision and balance are highly integrated in the brain, but we don’t fully understand the relative contributions of the visual, proprioceptive and vestibular systems in maintaining balance and preventing falls, especially among the visually impaired. ” The finding that worse balance was associated with poor vision was surprising, given that eye closure would be expected to