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Tips for adding personality to your leased living space

Before starting any design, you need a plan. Here are a few tips to reimagine your rental home.

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Photo courtesy of Sara Ligorria-Tramp for EHD

Even if you don’t own the house you lease, there’s no reason you can’t make it feel like home by taking a creative approach to designing and decorating your space.

More households are renting now than at any point in the last 50 years. That’s why Invitation Homes, a home leasing company in the US, put together a team of design experts to create the “Make It Home” design forecast with lease-friendly, affordable design and decor ideas created with renters in mind.

Before starting any design, you need a plan. Here are a few tips to reimagine your rental home:

Embrace Color and Pattern
Emily Henderson, author of “Styled,” a “New York Times” bestseller, believes color gives a room life, but it doesn’t have to be on the walls. With rugs, textiles and furniture, you can have a lively, fun, lease-friendly room by choosing colors that are on the opposite sides of the color wheel to ensure balance.

Personalize Gallery Walls
The gallery wall is still having a moment, and this decorative element is all about customization. All you need is a little wall space and some creativity to infuse your space with a heavy dose of you. Henderson suggests displaying your favorite photos, prints and unique items like personal mementos to give them the eye-catching showcase they deserve.

Temporary Wall Coverings
A permanent wall texture or design may be a no-no in a rental, but removable wallpaper is a yes-yes and an instant way to add personality to your space. Brittany Hayes, author of the “Addison’s Wonderland” blog, believes that bold and daring geometric patterns are perfect for creating an accent wall. Or simply incorporate your favorite colors to embrace a custom feel while you lease.

Unconventional Storage
Staying organized is key when living a leasing lifestyle. “Live Pretty on a Penny” blog writer Erin Marshall recommends using space-saving and unconventional items that are beautiful and functional to effectively store and organize items. Look for furnishings that are both attractive and practical so you can achieve the look you want with the benefit of added storage. Options like nesting chairs or storage boxes that double as benches can add seating options with a modest footprint.

Live Outdoors
Maximize your living space by creating usable outdoor settings. With the right combination of outdoor seating, pillows, shade and colorful planters, you can turn any patio into an outdoor oasis, said Rhoda Vickers, author of the “Southern Hospitality” blog. Whether you treat the space as a garden retreat or an extension of your entertaining area where guests can spill out during a party, the right decorative elements can allow you to add livable square footage without any construction.

Reimagine Lighting
Set the tone of each room by incorporating LED bulbs to brighten up the space or smart home bulbs that allow you to change the ambience as you wish. Kevin O’Gara, the “Thou Swell” blog writer, approaches design with the idea that every room should have a mix of lighting, including overhead, accent and task lights, so it’s the perfect opportunity to get creative with setting the mood. Take your design beyond basic by installing your own fixtures that enhance the room’s lighting and add a decorative element that complements the overall aesthetic.

Give Space a Dual Purpose
It’s all about maximizing your space when leasing, according to Brittni Mehlhoff, author of the “Paper and Stitch” blog. Make the most of a space that can pull double-duty. For example, in a space such as your guest room, create a bookshelf that doubles as a desk and serves as your home office, as well.

Make it a Smart Home
Smart homes aren’t just for homeowners. Options like thermostats, doorbell cameras, smart locks, light bulbs and smart plugs all can be easily integrated into a rented property, said Meghan Giddens, design expert at Invitation Homes. In fact, nearly everything in your home can be connected to the internet and controlled by your smart device. Just keep any originals stored safely, and when it comes time to move out, swap out your devices.

Light and Bright Paint
Cooler paint tones and white trim can brighten a room and offer a timeless color scheme. Plus, they welcome of-the-moment decor. If your lease allows it, Giddens recommends creating a light and airy ambiance with paint to bring a rental space to life. If you’re unsure about your lease guidelines, talk to your property manager before painting.

Visit InvitationHomes.com for more tips on how to make a rented house a home.

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Cardio-fitness cuts death and disease by nearly 20%

Running, cycling, or swimming – if you regularly exercise, you’re on track for a long and healthy life.

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Running, cycling, or swimming – if you regularly exercise, you’re on track for a long and healthy life.

This is according to a study – “Cardiorespiratory fitness is a strong and consistent predictor of morbidity and mortality among adults: an overview of meta-analyses representing over 20.9 million observations from 199 unique cohort studies” – that was published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

The study comprised of 26 systematic reviews with meta-analysis representing more than 20.9 million observations from 199 unique cohort studies. It is the first study to collate all the scientific evidence that looked at the prospective link between cardiorespiratory fitness and health outcomes among adults.

The study found that:

  • for every 1-MET increase in cardiorespiratory fitness – the amount of energy used for quiet sitting – a person can reduce their risk of death by 11-17%, and specifically, their risk of heart disease by 18%.
  • an increased cardio fitness level will reduce your risk of death from any cause by 11-17%.

Senior author Grant Tomkinson said that cardiorespiratory fitness is probably the most important type of fitness for good health. “Cardiorespiratory fitness (or CRF) is your ability to perform physical activity for a long period of time like running, cycling, and swimming. And in this study, we found prolonged cardiorespiratory fitness is strongly and consistently associated with all types of premature death and incident disease – spanning heart failure, depression, diabetes, dementia and even cancer.”

Tomkinson added that the researchers “summarized the evidence linking CRF to numerous health outcomes and found that those with low levels of CRF are far more likely to die early or develop chronic conditions like heart disease later in life.” Specifically, “we found that every 1-MET increase in CRF, which is the amount of energy used when sitting quietly, reduced the risk of early death from any cause and heart failure by 11–17% and 18%, respectively. For most people, a 1-MET increase in CRF can be achieved through a regular aerobic exercise program.”

For Tomkinson, the message is quite simple: if you do a lot of “huff and puff” exercise, then your risk of dying early or developing diseases in the future is reduced. If you avoid exercise your health may suffer.

Chronic health conditions are an ongoing cause of poor health, disability, and premature death. In Australia, an estimated 11.6 million people (47%) have a chronic and debilitating health conditions, which contributes to two thirds of the burden of disease.

“Clearly, cardiorespiratory fitness is as an important factor for good health. If you are already exercising, this is good news; but if you know you need to up your fitness and movement, then this is a timely reminder,” co-author Dr Justin Lang said.

“People can make meaningful improvements through additional moderate physical activity, such as brisk walking, at least 150 minutes a week. And as they improve their fitness, their risk of death and disease will decline. But the onus for improvement should not just sit with the individual, it should also be routinely assessed in clinical and public health practice, so that we can support people to improve their health outcomes,” Lang added.

Through regular assessment, clinicians and exercise professionals could better identify adults at greater risk of early death and initiate exercise programs aimed at increasing CRF through regular physical activity.

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Natural therapy shows promise for dry-eye disease

Castor oil has been proposed as a natural product that could offer a safe, effective and easy-to-use alternative to existing therapies.

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Researchers at the University of Auckland are running a trial of castor oil as a potential safe and natural treatment for dry-eye disease following a successful pilot study.

While exact figures aren’t available for New Zealand, in Australia, it is estimated dry-eye disease affects around 58% of the population aged over 50. Advancing age, menopause, increased screen time, contact lens wear are just some of the risk factors for developing dry eye disease.

Blepharitis is the most common cause of dry-eye disease, accounting for more than 80 percent of cases. It is a chronic condition with no known cure.

“Currently, patients are left grappling with symptoms of dryness, grittiness and, in some cases, watery eyes that feel uncomfortable impacting on their quality of life and work productivity,” says doctoral candidate and lead clinical investigator Catherine Jennings.

Current treatments, such as antibacterials and anti-inflammatories, are generally unsuitable for long-term use, due to significant side-effects and potential for antimicrobial resistance.

“Often patients are left feeling helpless when attempting to manage a chronic condition,” Jennings says.

The current trial is of a product containing cold-pressed castor oil enhanced with mānuka and kanuka oils applied using a rollerball attached to a small glass bottle.

“The previous pilot study, conducted by our research team, was unique in its use of castor oil in such an application on the eyelids, with the product not known to be used anywhere else in the world for treating blepharitis,” says Jennings.

Castor oil comes from a flowering tropical or subtropical shrub from the species Riccinus communis. It has been used therapeutically for millenia, including more recently in eye cosmetics and eye makeup removers.

In the pilot study, 26 patients with blepharitis were treated with cold-pressed castor oil over four weeks. They had measurable improvements in symptoms, such as reduced redness of the lid margin, decreased thickening of the eyelid, and a decline in bacterial profusion, as well as reduced eyelash crusting.

Building on the success of the pilot study, the research team is now engaged in the more extensive double-blinded, randomised and placebo-controlled study. They are aiming to recruit 92 participants and generate robust scientific evidence for clinicians.

The ultimate goal is to sustainably improve quality of life for this large group of patients using a natural, safe and effective product, principal investigator Professor Jennifer Craig says.

“Castor oil has been proposed as a natural product that could offer a safe, effective and easy-to-use alternative to existing therapies,” Craig says.

“My hope is this study will produce evidence-based guidance for clinicians with regard to offering castor oil as a possible management option for patients suffering from blepharitis, so they continue to enjoy a great quality of life, read the books they love, be productive in their work environment and enjoy other visual hobbies.”

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For epilepsy, yoga may be good for your mind

People who did yoga were more than four times as likely to have more than a 50% reduction in their seizure frequency after six months than the people who did sham yoga.

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For people with epilepsy, doing yoga may help reduce feelings of stigma about the disease along with reducing seizure frequency and anxiety, according to new research published in the November 8, 2023, online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

“People with epilepsy often face stigma that can cause them to feel different than others due to their own health condition and that can have a significant impact on their quality of life,” said study author Manjari Tripathi, MD, DM, of All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi. “This stigma can affect a person’s life in many ways including treatment, emergency department visits and poor mental health. Our study showed that doing yoga can alleviate the burden of epilepsy and improve the overall quality of life by reducing this perceived stigma.” 

For the study, researchers looked at people with epilepsy with an average age of 30 in India.

Researchers measured stigma based on participants’ answers to questions such as: “Do you feel other people discriminate against you?” “Do you feel you cannot contribute anything in society?” and “Do you feel different from other people?”

Researchers then identified 160 people who met the criteria for experiencing stigma. Participants had an average of one seizure per week and on average took at least two anti-seizure medications.

Researchers then randomly assigned participants to receive yoga therapy or sham yoga therapy. Yoga therapy included exercises in loosening muscles, breathing, meditation and positive affirmations. Sham yoga consisted of exercises that mimic the same yoga exercises, but participants were not given instructions on two key components of yoga believed to induce a relaxation response: slow and synchronized breathing, and attention to the body movements and sensations during practice.

Each group received seven supervised group sessions of 45 to 60 minutes over three months. Participants were also asked to practice sessions at home at least five times a week for 30 minutes. They tracked seizures and yoga sessions in a journal. After the three months of therapy, participants were followed for another three months.

Researchers found when compared to people who did sham yoga, people who did yoga were more likely to reduce their perceived stigma of the disease. People who did yoga had an average score of seven at the start of the study and an average score of four at the end of the study, while people who did sham yoga had an increase from an average score of six at the start of the study to an average score of seven at the end.

Researchers also found that people who did yoga were more than four times as likely to have more than a 50% reduction in their seizure frequency after six months than the people who did sham yoga.

In addition, people who did yoga were more than seven times more likely to no longer have seizures than those who did sham yoga.

There was also a significant decrease in anxiety symptoms for people who did yoga versus people who did not. They saw improvements in quality of life measures and mindfulness.

“These study findings elevate the need to consider alternative therapies and activities for people with epilepsy facing stigma,” said Tripathi. “Yoga may not only help reduce stigma, but also improve quality of life and mindfulness. Plus, yoga can be easily prerecorded and shared with patients online using minimal resources and costs.”

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