Health tips — May 2016

How heart rate variability may be linked to stress and how money can be a motivator to get fit.

DON’T SWEAT IT

Stressing about stress can be as unhealthy as the condition itself, finds a study in Psychosomatic Medicine.

Examining a link between daily stress and heart rate variability (variation in gaps between heartbeats), researchers asked participants to report how many stressful events they experienced daily and rate them from “not at all” to “very” stressful. They also reported negative emotions. Participants who noted events as more stressful or had a greater spike in negative emotions showed lower heart rate variability and “have a greater risk of cardiovascular disease and premature death,” says one researcher.

— Yvette Trancoso

GAIN SOME, LOSE SOME

The fear of losing money is a better motivator to stay fit than a desire to gain it, finds a University of Pennsylvania study.

In the study, 281 participants aimed to complete 7,000 steps per day for 26 weeks. They were broken into four groups: one received no money; the second received money each day the goal was met; the third was entered into a lottery each day, and the fourth was given the total reward but lost a portion for unreached goals. Those in the last group achieved their daily goal 50% more often than those who were only given a reward for reaching goals.

— Agnes Borowik