A Look Back at Health, Lifestyle for the Year

25 December, 2017

From VOA Learning English, this is the Health & Lifestyle report.

As 2017 comes to a close, we look back at the Health & Lifestyle stories that were popular with our listeners.

One way we judge the popularity of an article is by how many comments it gets on our website.

Listeners also use the comments section to practice their English writing. This is a great way to use the tool!

To help everyone learn from the comments, we will post the original sentences and then some suggestions on how to improve them.

Here are some of the most-commented on stories from 2017.

How to be happier and more successful

Who doesn't want to be happier and more successful? Self-improvement stories continue to be some of our most popular.

Small Talk May Make Us Happier

Many of you were interested in how small talk can make us happier. Over 70 listeners took the time to write about ways they use small talk in their lives.

One listener, Samo, says making small talk is hard. Samo was thankful to get some tips to make small talk easier.

Samo writes: "Actually, making a small talk is difficult for me, because I don't know what about can I speak. Like participants in Chicago research, small talks make me feel happier than the times I'm silent. The article suggested some good points and topics for start speaking. Thanks."

Revised: To tell you the truth, making small talk is difficult for me because I don't know what to talk about. Like the participants in the Chicago study, I feel happier when I make small talk than when I stay silent. The article make some good points and suggested good topics to start a conversation. Thanks.

On the grammar side of things, please note a very common mistake when using "small talk." We never add an "s" to "talk." It's just small talk.

Spending time chit-chatting with the people in your life may improve your heatlh.
Spending time chit-chatting with the people in your life may improve your heatlh.

Jane from Brazil claims that most Brazilians love "chit-chat," another word for small talk.

Jane writes: "I am brasilian. In Brazil we love chitchat, i agree when you say smal talk make us happy, even with completely stranges. thanks!!!!"

Revised: I am Brazilian. In Brazil we love chitchat! I agree when you say small talk makes us happy, even with complete strangers. Thanks!!

Jane also added many exclamation marks in her comment. Adding exclamation marks is a great way to add excitement and enthusiasm to your writing. But you should know that adding too many makes your message sound much more casual. So, it's great when you're writing to friends. They will love it!!! But don't over-use exclamation points if you are writing to a client or to your boss. They may not love it so much.

After reading the story 5 Habits of Very Successful People, many listeners commented on the suggestions and shared their own habits. Here are two suggestions from the article: Plan your day before you go to sleep and get up early. A listener named Ahmed agrees that these two tips are important.

Ahmed writes: "I love reading as these articles useful to know what others successful people do in their daily One of these things i agree and love is to get up early and plan your day before you sleep it is very important information."

Revised: I love reading articles such as this. The information is very important. It is useful to know what other successful people do in their daily lives. Two things I love to do too are get up early and plan the day before falling sleep.

Sleep not only keeps us healthy, it also keeps us smarter.

Our story Sleep Helps Us Learn explains how sleep affects our brains and our ability to learn. When we sleep, our brains have time to clean themselves. This cleaning process allows new learning to occur.

The article also gives suggestions on how to get a better night's sleep. Many listeners wrote in thanking us for explaining a complicated topic and for giving suggestions.

Biju is a loyal listener and often comments. He included a great grammar trick in the comments section: the parallel structure. His sentence ends with three verbs that are all in the same tense.

(BIJU. P. Y) He writes: "Without proper sleep, no man can rationally remember, think clearly, and act calmly."

These are images of synapses that shrink during sleep. Read the article to find out why that is a good thing. (Photo Credit: Wisconsin Center for Sleep and Consciousness)
These are images of synapses that shrink during sleep. Read the article to find out why that is a good thing. (Photo Credit: Wisconsin Center for Sleep and Consciousness)

As life becomes more stressful, people may appreciate new ways to help them de-stress. Our story One Method for Controlling Emotions, Stress does just that.

Through the findings of two studies, a researcher explains that talking to yourself in the third person about a stressful situation may help you deal with it better.

Some listeners wrote that they tried it and it worked. Some shared that they didn't think it would work for them. Some listeners simply said they are thankful for the English lessons we provide.

Bun Dorn writes: "I am great thanks with providing good lesson for learning English."

Revised: I am very thankful for the good English lesson you provide.


Food is always a popular topic on the Health & Lifestyle report. We often report on the ways food affects our bodies and minds.

In the past couple of years, coconut has become very popular in the States. Our story Is Coconut Good for You? asks if the health benefits are worth the calories.

Nina writes: "First of all thank you so much for your lessons. They are all very interesting and help me to improve my English. I like coconut, but I didn't know that coconut oil is good for the health. Very interesting report."

You're welcome, Nina. And your English is excellent! By the way, an easier way to say "good for the health" is just "healthy."

We would like to thank all the listeners who shared recipes in the comments section. They gave different ways to use coconut, coconut milk and coconut water.

The health benefits of olive oil are well studied. One of our most popular health stories, Olive Oil May Protect the Brain, explores how this popular oil protects the brain.


Some of our other most popular stories report on the importance of exercise.

The story Walking: The Wonder Drug explores the findings of a study about the benefits of walking. A wonder drug is a very effective cure or treatment. Thomas Friedman is the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the U.S. He calls walking "the closest thing we have to a wonder drug."

The American Heart Association explains the findings of the study on its website. Walking quickly, or briskly, can lower your risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes.

Walking is an exercise that lets you talk with friends! These women chat as they walk down a tree-lined lane in Islamabad, Pakistan, 2017. (REUTERS/Caren Firouz)
Walking is an exercise that lets you talk with friends! These women chat as they walk down a tree-lined lane in Islamabad, Pakistan, 2017. (REUTERS/Caren Firouz)

More than 50 listeners shared their love of walking. Many added very descriptive comments about their favorite places to walk, or how much they walk every day.

Andrew writes: "This is so true. I've tried many different sports, but still walking in the mountains or in a forest is one of the most enjoyable for me. Walking and enjoying nature brings me peace of mind. Sometimes simple things are the best."

Amit Gadhvi writes: "I walk everyday for 45 minutes. It helps to improve mood and keep the body fit."

Revised: I walk every day for 45 minutes. It helps to improve mood and keep the body fit.

We should note that many native speakers also confuse "everyday" - one word - and "every day" - two words. When it is one word, "everyday" is an adjective that means ordinary, such as "everyday clothes" or "everyday people." When it is two words, "every day" means "each day."

One listener uses "every day" perfectly. He responds to a point mentioned in the story. The study recommends walking at least 30 minutes a day. But we don't need to do it all at once to get the health benefits.

Thuy writes: "I usually walk 1 hour every day. But I don't walk at once, I split that into 3-4 times. I feel heathier and happier when I took a walk."

Revised: I usually walk one hour every day. But I don't walk all at once. I split that into three to four times. I feel healthier and happier when I take a walk.

And that is the last Health & Lifestyle report for 2017!

As we enter 2018, let us know what topics are important to you. Would you like to learn about sports and exercise trends? Would you like more stories about food? Are you curious about career advice or stories about parenting?

Let us know ... in the Comments Section!

I'm Anna Matteo. I hope you had a great 2017!

Health & Lifestyle reporter Anna Matteo put this round-up together. Kelly Jean Kelly edited the story.


Words in This Story

client n. a person who engages the professional advice or services of another

tip n. a piece of advice or expert or authoritative information : a piece of useful information

stressful adj. making you feel worried or anxious

appreciate v. to be grateful for (something)

excellent adj. very good of its kind

brisk adj. done with quickness and energy : briskly adv.

trend n. a general direction of change : a way of behaving, proceeding, etc., that is developing and becoming more common

curious adj. having a desire to learn or know more about something or someone

round up n. a statement of the most important information