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3 things for better health - March 12

Need to be motivated to start the week off on a healthy note? Just try one or more of three things to start the week off on the right path.

1. Get a massage. Scientific research bears out the stress relief benefits of massages. A study published in 2010 in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found just one deep-tissue massage had a measurable impact on hormones with negative impacts on the body—arginine vasopressin, or AVP, and cortisol—while boosting immunity. According to a TIME Magazine column on the study, AVP raises blood pressure and constricts blood vessels. Cortisol is released when people are stressed, and in consistent doses can actually alter brain chemistry, "strengthening connections in the parts of the brain that are associated with fear, arousal and emotional regulation at the cost of other parts of the brain associated with learning and memory," the Minnesota Department of Health reported.

2. Normally boiling veggies for dinner? Try sauteing, stir-frying or microwaving instead. WebMD suggests switching it up to get more nutritional value out of the rainbow of healthy sides or mains. In its "Ask Well" column, The New York Times reported most cooking methods are a trade-off—enhancing some nutrients, while degrading others, depending on whether they're fat- or water-soluble. But microwaving comes in as a surprising ally in the pursuit of health. "A March 2007 study looked at the effects of boiling, steaming, microwaving and pressure cooking on the nutrients in broccoli. Steaming and boiling caused a 22 percent to 34 percent loss of vitamin C. Microwaved and pressure-cooked vegetables retained 90 percent of their vitamin C," the column reported.

3. After losing an hour of sleep this weekend, focusing on a bedtime routine for improved slumber might be more important than usual. Although a recent graphic produced by WebMD bills itself as tips for kids' bedtimes, the suggestions really work for everyone. Get to sleep easier by trying one or more of these tricks this week: cut down on caffeine, move more throughout the day, keep screens out of the bedroom, power down one hour before bed, develop a specific bedtime routine and stick to it, and ensure the bedroom is cool, dark and quiet.

For more tips from the weekly Three Things list, check out the Monday Motivator page each week in the Dispatch or e-edition, or go to and go to lifestyle to reach the drop-down menu for health or search using the keyword Monday Motivator or three things.

Questions or tips to share, contact Renee Richardson, managing editor, at or 218-855-5852.