From unsolicited product announcements to various offers and promotions, we’re all used to receiving a flurry of emails from the stores we frequent. With so many messages, it can feel like a chore to sort through what you might want to keep and what you want to banish to your junk folder. But don’t just skim through every retailer’s emails haphazardly to clear out your inbox. Lowe’s shoppers have recently reported receiving a scam message that appears to come from the company itself, but can be dangerous if you open it. Read on to find out what you should keep an eye out for in your inbox.
Some people have received emails this year promising a $100 Lowe’s gift card.
While Lowe’s does send promotional emails to millions of shoppers, there are certain messages that should raise a red flag. In the first two months of 2022, people have reported receiving emails with the name and logo of the home improvement retail chain, promising a $100 gift card to those who take a survey, Snopes reported on Feb. 9.
The fact-checking website reviewed various emails that followed this formula. According to Snopes, one message’s subject line read “You have been randomly selected!” and another’s said, “Your email has been selected!” Both emails presented a $100 Lowe’s gift card with a “CLICK HERE” link, directing users to take a “short survey” to claim the money.
If you get this type of email, don’t open it.
Unfortunately, Lowe’s isn’t actually handing out $100 gift cards in exchange for a survey. According to Snopes, these are scam emails, and if you click on the link provided in the message, you would be directed to a Russian website. “We saw the same Russian website and mailing address in a similar scam that we covered about UPS,” Snopes said.
The email also includes a mailing address in Medley, Florida, listed at the bottom, but Snopes said that this address appears to have no association with the actual Lowe’s company. “It’s unclear how the address might be related to the email scam,” the site said.
Lowe’s has warned shoppers about ongoing survey scams.
In a notice posted on the company’s official website, Lowe’s warns shoppers to be wary about scammers trying to target them through fake surveys. According to the home improvement retailer, survey scams frequently make the rounds on social media or through websites that are unaffiliated with the company—even though they are often branded to look like Lowe’s.
“Lowe’s invites customers to provide feedback through an online survey at the bottom of Lowe’s receipts. The survey can only be completed online,” the company states on its website, adding that they never offer gift cards for liking or sharing social media posts. Lowe’s also says it will never ask you to email personal information such as passwords, social security numbers, gift card numbers, or credit card numbers.
The retailer says it does not offer free gifts.
It’s not just a gift card you need to be on the lookout for, however. According to Lowe’s, shoppers are also offered other types of free gifts through spam emails, online advertising, or social media postings. “Often the free gifts are offered after completing a survey,” the company warns.
But with this similar type of scam, consumers are then asked to provide their credit card information in order to pay for the shipping costs of their “free item,” so that con artists can obtain access to their finances. “Lowe’s does not solicit consumers to complete online surveys in exchange for free gifts,” the retailer confirms on its website. If you believe you have been a victim of a free gift scam, Lowe’s recommends that you file a report with your local police and with the Internet Crime Complaint Center (ICCC).
In time for Valentine’s Day, a relationship crossword puzzle. Not to worry, your valentine will appreciate you whatever the outcome. If you have no valentine, still not to worry. It’s just a networking error. Hang in there.
While a year’s tuition at Harvard University will set you back nearly $50,000 (and that’s before room, board, and fees tack on another $20K), there’s a much cheaper option that doesn’t involve braving Massachusetts winters, or having to be admitted to the prestigious university at all. All you need is an internet connection to take certain Harvard courses for free in the comfort of your own home, thanks to the university’s fabulous online learning portal.
You have options. There are free courses as well as courses that are free to audit, which means you can take the course for free but there is a cost to upgrade for additional content and/or to receive a verified certificate from HarvardX.
We’ve handpicked a selection of some of the best free Harvard courses currently available, from the study of Shakespeare to a class that will help you better understand urban life. Our varied selection is like a wish list of courses we’re hoping to find the time to take in the near future.
We’re starting our list with Justice, one of the most famous courses taught at Harvard, which includes the oldest continuously operating law school in the United States. This 12-week-long course taught by lauded professor Michael Sandel explores classical and contemporary theories of justice, including discussion of contemporary dilemmas and controversies and present-day applications.
This free online class from Harvard requires a time commitment, but what else are you doing right now? Credit: Harvard University
This class invites you to “embark on a global journey to explore the past, present, and future of world literature.” This 12-week course requires a time commitment of up to seven hours a week. During those hours, you’ll study how great writers refract their world, looking at works from Goethe, Voltaire, and Rushdie, among others.
We developed these belief systems for a reason. Learn why. Credit: Harvard University
This mini-module is a good option for anyone wary of committing to a longer-term learning journey. It’s an introductory-level, one-week-long immersive course that examines “pre-scientific” prediction systems that range from ancient Chinese bone-burning to the Oracle of Delphi to modern astrology and tarot.
This course is described as “not just an elegy for the planet, but a call to action.” Credit: Harvard University
You know about climate change’s impact on the environment, but what about its impact on your health? Created with support from the Harvard Global Health Institute, this seven-week course will explain climate change’s role in nutrition, infectious diseases, and human migration. By studying research methods and recommendations from scientists in the field, you’ll learn what you can do to help the cause.
There are a total of 15 free classes to take on-line. Read about all of them by clicking the link below.
One in five U.S. adults with high blood pressure don’t know they have it, per the CDC. If you haven’t had your numbers checked in at least two years, see a doctor. Anything above 130/80 mmHg is considered high. (Systolic blood pressure is the top number; diastolic, the bottom.)
Having high blood pressure is a serious health risk—it boosts the chances of leading killers such as heart attack and stroke, as well as aneurysms, cognitive decline, and kidney failure. What’s more, high blood pressure was a primary or contributing cause of death for nearly 500,000 people in 2018, per the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Although medication can lower blood pressure, it may cause side effects such as leg cramps, dizziness, and insomnia. The good news is that most people can bring their numbers down naturally, without using drugs. “Lifestyle changes are an important part of prevention and treatment of high blood pressure,” says Brandie D. Williams, M.D., a cardiologist at Texas Health Stephenville and Texas Health Physicians Group.
You’ve quit smoking. You’re paying attention to your weight. Now, try these natural ways to lower your blood pressure—no pills necessary.
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1. Get more exercise.
Regular exercise, even as simple as walking, seems to be just as effective at lowering blood pressure as commonly used BP drugs, according to a 2018 meta-analysis of hundreds of studies. Exercise strengthens the heart, meaning it doesn’t have to work as hard to pump blood. Dr. Williams recommends shooting for 30 minutes of cardio on most days. Over time, you can keep challenging your ticker by increasing speed, upping distance, or adding weights. Losing even a little weight will also help ease hypertension.
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2. Let yourself relax.
Our bodies react to stress by releasing hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. These hormones can raise your heart rate and constrict blood vessels, causing your blood pressure to spike. But breathing exercises and practices like meditation, yoga, and tai chi can help keep stress hormones—and your blood pressure—in check, Dr. Williams says. Start with five minutes of calming breathing or mindfulness in the morning and five minutes at night, then build up from there.
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3. Cut down on salt.
Although not everyone’s blood pressure is particularly salt-sensitive, everyone could benefit from cutting back, says Eva Obarzanek, Ph.D., research nutritionist at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. The American Heart Association recommends aiming for 1,500 mg of sodium in a day, and certainly no more than 2,300 mg (about a teaspoon). Obarzanek suggests treading with caution around packaged and processed foods, including secret salt bombs like bread, pizza, poultry, soup, and sandwiches.
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4. Pick potassium-rich foods.
Getting 2,000 to 4,000 mg of potassium a day can help lower blood pressure, says Linda Van Horn, Ph.D., R.D., a professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. (The nutrient encourages the kidneys to excrete more sodium through urination.) We all know about the potassium in bananas, but foods like potatoes, spinach, and beans actually pack more potassium than the fruit. Tomatoes, avocados, edamame, watermelon, and dried fruits are other great sources.
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5. Adopt the DASH diet.
Alongside the Mediterranean diet, the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet is consistently ranked as one of the absolute healthiest eating plans—and it was developed specifically to lower blood pressure without medication. The diet emphasizes veggies, fruits, whole grains, lean proteins, and low-fat dairy, capping daily sodium intake at 2,300 mg, with an ideal limit at that all-important 1,500 mg. Research shows DASH can reduce BP in just four weeks and even aid weight loss.
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6. Indulge in dark chocolate.
The sweet is rich in flavanols, which relax blood vessels and boost blood flow, and research suggests that regular dark chocolate consumption could lower your blood pressure. Experts haven’t determined an ideal percentage of cocoa, says Vivian Mo, M.D., clinical associate professor of medicine at the University of Southern California, but the higher you go, the more benefits you’ll get. Chocolate can’t be your main strategy for managing blood pressure, Mo says—but when you’re craving a treat, it’s a healthy choice.
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7. Drink wisely.
Too much booze is known to raise blood pressure—but having just a little bit could do the opposite. Light-to-moderate drinking (one drink or fewer per day) is associated with a lower risk for hypertension in women, per a study following nearly 30,000 women. One drink means 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of spirits. “High levels of alcohol are clearly detrimental,” Obarzanek says, “but moderate alcohol is protective of the heart. If you are going to drink, drink moderately.”
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8. Switch to decaf.
A 2016 meta-analysis of 34 studies revealed that the amount of caffeine in one or two cups of coffee raises both systolic and diastolic blood pressure for up to three hours, tightening blood vessels and magnifying the effects of stress. “When you’re under stress, your heart starts pumping a lot more blood, boosting blood pressure,” says James Lane, Ph.D., a Duke University researcher who studies caffeine and cardiovascular health. “And caffeine exaggerates that effect.” Decaf has the same flavor without the side effects.
9. Take up tea.
It turns out that lowering high blood pressure is as easy as one, two, tea. Adults with mildly high blood pressure who sipped three cups of naturally caffeine-free hibiscus tea daily lowered their systolic BP by seven points in six weeks, a 2009 study reported. And a 2014 meta-analysis found that consuming both caffeinated and decaf green tea is associated with significantly lowering BP over time. Tea’s polyphenols and phytochemicals (nutrients found only in fruits and veggies) could be behind its benefits.
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10. Work less.
Putting in more than 40 hours per week at the office raises your risk of hypertension by 17%, according to a study of more than 24,000 California residents. Working overtime takes away time for exercise and healthy cooking, says Haiou Yang, Ph.D., the study’s lead researcher. Not everyone can clock out early, but if you work a 9 to 5, try to log off at a decent hour so you can work out, cook, and relax. (To get in this habit, set an end-of-day reminder on your work computer and peace out as soon as you can.)
11. Sit less, too.
In the age of working from home, it’s easier than ever to accidentally sit at your desk all day. Study after study after study has shown that interrupting prolonged sitting time at work can reduce hypertension, working in tandem with other practices like exercising, eating well, and getting enough sleep. Simply get up for a bit every 20 to 30 minutes, and at least every hour—even non-exercise activities like standing and light walking really can lower BP over time, especially if you start to sit less and less.
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12. Relax with music.
The right tunes (and a few deep breaths) can help bring your blood pressure down, according to research out of Italy. Researchers asked 29 adults who were already taking BP medication to listen to soothing classical, Celtic, or Indian music for 30 minutes daily while breathing slowly. When they followed up with the subjects six months later, their blood pressure had dropped significantly. Louder, faster music probably won’t do the trick, but there’s no harm in blissing out to an ambient track or two.
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13. Try fermented foods.
A 2020 meta-analysis of over 2,000 patients found that eating fermented foods—specifically supplements made from fermented milk—was associated with a moderate reduction in blood pressure in the short term. The culprit could be the bacteria living in these foods, which might produce certain chemicals that lower hypertension when they reach the blood. Other fermented foods, including kimchi, kombucha, and sauerkraut, haven’t been studied in the same way, but they probably can’t hurt.
14. Seek help for snoring.
Loud, incessant snoring is a symptom of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), a disorder that causes brief but dangerous breathing interruptions. Up to half of sleep apnea patients also live with hypertension, possibly due to high levels of aldosterone, a hormone that can boost blood pressure. Fixing sleep apnea could be helpful for improving BP, says Robert Greenfield, M.D., medical director of Non-Invasive Cardiology & Cardiac Rehabilitation at MemorialCare Heart & Vascular Institute.
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15. Focus on protein.
Replacing refined carbohydrates (like white flour and sweets) with foods high in soy or milk protein (like tofu and low-fat dairy) can bring down systolic blood pressure in those with hypertension, findings suggest. “Some patients get inflammation from refined carbohydrates,” says Matthew J. Budoff, M.D., F.A.C.C., professor of medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine and director of cardiac CT at the Division of Cardiology at the Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, “which will increase blood pressure.”
As we age, our health risks increase. After all, none of us is going to live forever. However, we all can improve the odds of a longer, more healthful life simply by avoiding the following deadly health mistakes people tend to make after age 50. One note: Consult your doctor before undertaking some of the practices suggested in this article.
1. Letting social connections dwindle
Loneliness can kill. A 2018 study found that isolation may double a person’s risk of dying of cardiovascular disease.
The National Institute on Aging also notes that social isolation is linked to increased risk of depression, cognitive decline, obesity and a weakened immune system.
Men are at greater risk of suffering from social isolation. A survey found just 48% of retired men living alone were very satisfied with the number of friends they had. By contrast, 71% of retired women living alone were very satisfied with their number of social connections.
So, keep the ties that bind securely fastened as you move through your golden years.
2. Continuing to eat high-sodium foods
In most Western countries, individual blood pressure readings tend to rise with age, but in other nations, this does not happen. Why not?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says residents of the latter group of nations consume diets that are lower in salt.
About 90% of the sodium we consume comes from salt. In addition, 90% of Americans ages 2 and older consume too much sodium.
Reduce your sodium intake, and your blood pressure should fall within a couple of weeks, helping to lower your risk of deadly heart disease and stroke, the CDC says.
3. Putting off colorectal cancer screening
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, a panel of experts in prevention and evidence-based medicine, recommends that all adults 50 to 75 schedule colorectal cancer screening. (For adults who are older than 75, whether to screen is a more individualized decision, as risks and benefits can vary.)
Screening can find precancerous polyps, which are the main source of colorectal cancer. Screening also can find the disease itself in its early stages, when it is most treatable.
4. Skipping a daily aspirin
Not everyone over 50 should take an aspirin every day. But it can make sense for those with certain potentially life-threatening health conditions. According to the Mayo Clinic:
“The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends daily aspirin therapy if you’re age 50 to 59, you’re not at increased bleeding risk, and you have an increased risk of heart attack or stroke of 10 percent or greater over the next 10 years.”
Taking aspirin makes blood platelets less “sticky,” helping to prevent the clots that lead to heart attacks and strokes, explains Harvard Medical School.
The Mayo Clinic says people ages 60 to 69 should talk to their doctor before starting a daily aspirin regimen. It also notes that more study is needed before recommending daily aspirin to people outside these age groups.
5. Avoiding the weight room
As we age, the risk of the bone disease osteoporosis increases. About 10 million people have osteoporosis, and another 44 million have low bone density, which puts them at risk for the disease, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation.
If you have osteoporosis, your bones are weaker and at greater risk of breaking. Some of these breaks — such as a hip fracture — can be life-threatening. Nearly one-quarter of people 50 and older die within a year of fracturing a hip.
Women are especially at risk for osteoporosis. In fact, 1 in 2 women will break a bone due to osteoporosis — which occurs more often in women than a heart attack, stroke and breast cancer combined.
Getting enough calcium and vitamin D is key to preventing osteoporosis. Also, weight-bearing exercise is an overlooked way to strengthen bones.
Using free weights, resistance bands or even your own body weight to exercise not only will strengthen muscles, but also can help you maintain bone density as you age.
6. Drinking too little water
Everyone knows hydration is important — but is it really a matter of life and death? Yes. And children and older adults are most at risk for the most devastating consequences of dehydration.
The Mayo Clinic notes that older adults carry a lower volume of water in their bodies. In addition, they are more likely to take medications that boost the risk of dehydration. Finally, their sense of thirst is less acute, making it easy for them to forget the need to drink.
Severe dehydration can lead to:
Urinary and kidney problems
Hypovolemic shock (low blood volume shock)
How much fluid do you need each day? It varies. However, as a general rule, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine give the following suggestions:
15.5 cups (3.7 liters) of fluids for men
11.5 cups (2.7 liters) of fluids a day for women
Note that about of 20% of daily fluid intake typically comes from food.
The risk of dehydration increases significantly as you age, so get in the hydration habit now.
7. Not quitting smoking
Kicking the nicotine habit pays dividends at any age. Even if you are north of 50, you can still improve your health — and possibly save your life — by quitting now.
In fact, the improvements can be lightning fast. According to the American Cancer Society:
Your heart rate and blood pressure drop 20 minutes after quitting.
The carbon monoxide level in your blood drops to normal 12 hours after quitting.
Circulation improves and your lung function increases two weeks to three months after quitting.
More improvements pile up over the next nine months. The upshot is that by one year after quitting, your excess risk of coronary heart disease is half that of a current smoker. Heart attack risk also drops dramatically.
It can happen to anyone: the blues, seasonal affective disorder, post-holiday depression. After blasting ahead at full-speed, now you’re experiencing more of a crawl-like motion that’s beginning to get you down.
The post-holiday blues can be real with the emotional let-down that can happen after the festivities end.
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The end of the holiday season and the long, dreary days of winter can be challenging for a lot of people—even those who don’t have clinical seasonal affective disorder (SAD) or depression.
“Somebody who’s just experiencing sort of like seasonal blues might have some good days and some bad days [similar to] somebody with depression,” says Elise Hall, MSW, LICSW, a clinical social worker and therapist in North Attleboro, Massachusetts. “Even though there might be bright moments throughout their day, [they’re] feeling pretty bad consistently.”
We’ve come up with some simple strategies to cope with those feelings during the cold (or not so cold) winter months by getting active, discovering passion projects and embracing the season.
Try a workout
Whether at home or at the gym, exercise is a commonly recognized and effective mood enhancer, explains Hall. “Exercise just really releases natural chemicals in the brain that have an antidepressant quality to them.” Try a new class, or get outside for a run or walk if the weather allows.
Keep your resolutions realistic
Most people know what it feels like to choose lofty goals, only to come crashing back to earth when those things don’t happen. Keep focused on what you can attain, says Taz Bhatia, MD, an integrative health expert and author of Super Woman RX. “Unrealistic New Year’s resolutions can make someone feel like a failure, but small, definable goals can work to your advantage. It gives us something to focus on post parties, and it’s a great way to jump into the new year.” (Here are the top health mistakes people make in January.)
Go on a vacation
Get away from the stress of the short days and plan a trip—it’s good to have something to look forward to. “Vacations can also improve our mental health by reducing depression and anxiety,” according to the American Psychological Association. “Vacations can improve mood and reduce stress by removing people from the activities and environments that they associate with stress and anxiety.” Here’s why taking a shorter vacation is good for you.
Keep yourself busy with friends and fun
Another thing to look forward to? Time with friends, or self-care. “I think creating joy in the weeks that follow the holidays is key,” says Dr. Taz. “Book another dinner with friends, a massage, or start your self-care. Staying around positive people makes a difference as well.” Plan virtual Zoom dance parties. Or order the same food subscription box as your friend and cook the same meal together, virtually.