Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

How healthy is Santa Claus?

December 13, 2013
Rowan University
Children around the world look to Santa Claus as a model of good behavior. But can this sleigh-riding bearer of goodies also be a model good health habits for adults?

Santa Claus eating cookies with milk.
Credit: Kirill Kedrinski / Fotolia

Children around the world look to Santa Claus as a model of good behavior. But can this sleigh-riding bearer of goodies also be a model good health habits for adults?

"Because Santa is probably more than 550 years old, a lot of people would say that growing older hasn't been a problem for him,'" said Dr. Thomas Cavalieri, dean of the Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine. "But aging successfully means more than adding years to your life. Successful aging means you are adding life to your years."

Cavalieri is a geriatrician and the founder of the medical school's nationally acclaimed New Jersey Institute for Successful Aging. Although he has never personally examined Santa, his expertise allows him to draw the following remarkably specific conclusions about the "jolly old elf" and his naughty and nice health habits:

Naughty: The 1823 poem, A Visit from St. Nicholas, describes Santa as "chubby and plump" and, 190 years later, he still looks like he could lose a few pounds. Skipping some of those sugary snacks that children leave for him would help Santa avoid the weight gain that could lead to conditions like heart disease and diabetes. Statistics show that half of adults older than 65 has diabetes or prediabetes.

Nice, but used to be naughty: Santa used to be seen with the "stump of a pipe…held tight in his teeth" while the smoke "encircled his head like a wreath." Fortunately, he appears to have given up this habit. No matter how old you are, quitting smoking immediately improves your health.

Mostly Nice: While late-night snacks can cause heartburn, the milk Santa drinks is a good source of bone-building vitamin D and calcium. Santa should stick to low- or non-fat milk, and combine it with vitamin fortified foods and weight bearing exercises to keep his bones strong and limit his risk of osteoporosis.

Nice: Despite his size and age, Santa probably sticks to a regular exercise program throughout the year. Otherwise, he wouldn't be able to remain so "lively and quick" while delivering gifts around the world. Carrying a sack full of toys strengthens his muscles, which improves balance and helps prevent falls. Climbing up and down chimneys -- while not recommended -- is likely good cardiovascular exercise, similar to the kind of workout you get with a brisk walk, a bike ride or walking up and down steps.

Probably Nice: Santa is "…making a list and checking it twice." This may be a sign of some age-related difficulties with memory, but making lists is an excellent way to compensate for this sometimes vexing problem. Keeping active -- by making toys with the elves year round -- will help, too. Regular exercise improves heart health and a healthy heart means a healthy brain.

Nice: Santa keeps a herd of reindeer. Though not for everyone, caring for a pet can yield several health benefits. Pet ownership can help lower blood pressure, ease anxiety, reduce social isolation and even boost the immune system. Having a pet can also provide opportunities for exercise.

Nice: Santa and Mrs. Claus have been married for a long time and marriage appears to be strongly related to successful aging. Newly published research shows that married people were more likely than others to survive cancer. Marriage also provides psychological benefits. The social connections that are part of married life go a long way toward helping limit the effects of depression and stress.

"When you add it all together, Santa's health habits definitely put him on a successful aging path that others can follow," Cavalieri said. "He appears to be in pretty good shape and should be able to continue filling Christmas wishes for many years to come."

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Rowan University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Cite This Page:

Rowan University. "How healthy is Santa Claus?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 December 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131213093049.htm>.
Rowan University. (2013, December 13). How healthy is Santa Claus?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131213093049.htm
Rowan University. "How healthy is Santa Claus?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131213093049.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This

More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 30, 2014) Obamacare-related costs were said to be behind the profit plunge at Wellpoint and Humana, but Wellpoint sees the new exchanges boosting its earnings for the full year. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

AFP (July 30, 2014) Pan-African airline ASKY has suspended all flights to and from the capitals of Liberia and Sierra Leone amid the worsening Ebola health crisis, which has so far caused 672 deaths in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Duration: 00:43 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey

At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey

AP (July 30, 2014) At least 20 New Jersey residents have tested positive for chikungunya, a mosquito-borne virus that has spread through the Caribbean. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Xtreme Eating: Your Daily Caloric Intake All On One Plate

Xtreme Eating: Your Daily Caloric Intake All On One Plate

Newsy (July 30, 2014) The Center for Science in the Public Interest released its 2014 list of single meals with whopping calorie counts. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.


Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

    Technology News


      Free Subscriptions

      Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

      Get Social & Mobile

      Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

      Have Feedback?

      Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
      Mobile: iPhone Android Web
      Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
      Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
      Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins