Archive for the ‘Health’ Category

The Secret to Dieting Success? Sleep

March 13, 2018

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Sure, eating less is the main driver of weight loss, but nailing the right amount of shut-eye each night helps too

Spring is fast approaching. For many of you, that means a race is on the horizon, so it’s time to turn up your training, dial in your diet, and rebuild your trail legs. But as you begin this performance-minded overhaul of your waking hours, you should also consider the one-third of your day where you do nothing at all: your sleeping hours.

“I often find myself in this dilemma where I could wake up early and go for a run or I could get an extra 20 to 30 minutes of sleep,” says Chris Winter, a sleep researcher who consults for various professional teams and author of The Sleep Solution. “Most days, I’d probably be better off getting the sleep.”

Roughly 40 percent of us don’t get seven or more hours of sleep. But logging shut-eye is associated with better fitness and athletic performance. Winter, for example, conducted a study that showed professional baseball players who didn’t get enough sleep had shorter careers in the majors. One reason may be that sleep helps you recover from hard training. “The lion’s share of growth hormone secretion happens during deep sleep,” says Winter.

And while eating less is generally agreed to be the main driver of weight loss, fixing your approach to sleep may actually be one of the easiest ways to cut weight. The number of sleep hours you get is a strong predictor of what and how much you eat. People who slept five hours or fewer, for example, consumed nearly 700 daily calories more than people who got a full night’s sleep, according to research. That’s about seven pieces of bread, three PowerBars, or a McDonald’s quarter-pounder with fries that can up and vanish from your daily diet.

“When a body is sleepy, you try to eat to stay awake,” Winter says. Blame biology. When you’re sleep-deprived, the appetite-regulating hormone leptin drops and the hunger hormone ghrelin spikes. You’re most likely to crave calorie-dense, high-carb foods—stuff like tortilla chips and granola bars—over vegetables.

Incremental weight loss and muscle gain is more important now than ever as you start to ramp up your training. According to research, most people end the winter nearly five pounds heavier than they started it. That extra flab doesn’t just affect your health—it can kill performance. Data from marathon runners even shows that higher body-fat percentage is tied to slower finishing times, even when you’re talking only five pounds.

So get some sleep. The simplest way is to make your bedroom feel like a cave.

#1. Darken Your Room

If you can see anything at all in your bedroom at night, it’s too bright. Light is the main disruptor of the sleep process, Winter says. The solution, he says, is to buy blackout curtains for your windows and rid electronics from your bedroom (or, at least, put tape over their lights). If it’s still too bright, use a sleeping mask.

#2. Kill the Noise

If you fall asleep to the din of Netflix, you’re setting yourself up to have your sleep interrupted, and that can blunt recovery-enhancing processes like growth hormone release, Winter says. Set your TV on a sleep timer. If your room is still loud—looking at you, apartment dwellers—invest in earplugs.

#3. Turn Down the Thermostat

“There’s new research that says temperature may be just as important as light in controlling sleep patterns,” Winter says. Cooler is better. Aim for 66 degrees: A study found that people who slept in a 66-degree room not only slept better but also boosted their ability to metabolize fats and sugars.

 

Written by: Michael Easter
https://www.outsideonline.com/2283696/easiest-way-fix-your-diet-sleep

Signs That You’re Exhausted (Not Just Tired)

July 24, 2016

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If you stifle yawns in 2 p.m. meetings and find yourself passed out cold during the previews on movie nights, you probably already know you’re run down. But there’s a big difference between being pooped out and being exhausted — and the signs aren’t as obvious as just feeling tired. It’s important to know the difference, because exhaustion can be downright dangerous.

“Sleep is one of the most under-appreciated facets of health,” says Dr. Wayne Scott Andersen, MD, medical director of Take Shape for Life. “The consequences of sacrificing it can ripple throughout various areas of your life. Exhaustion has been linked to issues with appetite regulation, heart disease, increased inflammation, and a 50 percent increase in your risk of viral infection.” So if you’re tired and you’re experiencing any of the symptoms below, it might mean you’re exhausted — and it’s time to devote some serious time to sleep, ASAP

6 Clues That You’re Totally Exhausted

1. Your Lips Are Dry
If your lips are cracked, your skin is scaly, and you’re suffering from frequent headaches, dehydration may be to blame. Yes, this is a common woe in cold-weather climates. But, if you’re feeling rundown, you should know it goes hand-in-hand with exhaustion. “You feel more fatigued the more dehydrated you are,” says Michael J. Breus, PhD, a board-certified expert in clinical sleep disorders. “If you’re constantly craving something to drink or experience dry skin and lips, you might be dealing with a level of hydration that can lead to exhaustion.”

“You won’t retain knowledge very well, as your brain depends on sleep to re-process what you experienced during the day.”

Water affects so many systems within your body that it’s impossible to maintain your energy levels if you’re not drinking sufficient amounts of H20, he explains. “People often forget to hydrate because it just isn’t on their minds. Everyone’s different, but I always tell people you should drink water to the point where your urine is clear,” says Breus.

2. Your Mind Is All Fuzzy
Your brain needs sleep like a car needs gas; neither runs very well on empty. “Among other things, your body uses sleep to stabilize chemical imbalances, to refresh areas of the brain that control mood and behavior, and to process the memories and knowledge that you gathered throughout the day,” says Dr. Andersen.

This is especially important during the 90-minute period known as REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. When it’s disturbed, your mind might be sluggish the next day. “You won’t retain knowledge very well, as your brain depends on sleep to re-process what you experienced during the day,” says Dr. Andersen. Exhaustion can leave you vulnerable to forgetting important things, like a big meeting at work, or feeling especially irritable, says Dr. Andersen.

3. Your Workouts Have Sucked
Not crushing it at the gym like you usually do? Being exhausted causes every aspect of your life to suffer — including exercise, according to Dr. Andersen. “Exercising requires mental focus as well as physical activity,” Andersen says. “If your brain is falling behind because you are not well-rested, your ability to properly challenge your body will be limited — and that’s in addition to the many performance consequences that come with poor sleep.”

Another big sign: You can’t even bring yourself to make it to the gym. “Our bodies are programmed to find the easy way out, which was useful 10,000 years ago when survival was difficult. Today that means one night of lost sleep can lead to weeks of missed workouts and unhealthy meals,” says Dr. Andersen.

4. You’re Super Stressed (and Trying to Ignore It)
It’s no surprise that stress can keep you up at night, but the way you deal with it is what might cause exhaustion-inducing insomnia, according to research in the journal SleepFor the study, researchers asked nearly 2,900 men and women about the stress in their lives, including how long it affected them, how severe it was, and how they handled the pressure. A year later, the researchers found that people who coped with stress by distracting themselves, dwelling on the issues, or trying to completely ignore it had higher instances of chronic insomnia, which they characterized as three sleepless nights a week for a month or more. This can turn into a vicious cycle of stress and exhaustion fueling one other. The researchers suggest using mindfulness techniques to ease stress might be a better way to cope.

5. You’re Eating More Junk Than Usual
Find yourself hitting up the office vending machine on the regular? “The more exhausted you are, the more you crave high-fat, high-carbohydrate foods,” says Breus. Exhaustion often corresponds with high levels of cortisol, the stress hormone. To decrease cortisol, your brain will often seek out a hit of the neurotransmitter serotonin. “[Serotonin] is a calming hormone. An easy way to access it is by ingesting comfort food full of carbs and fat,” says Breus.

Even worse, all that comfort food can just wind up making you more exhausted. “With highly processed, highly glycemic foods like soft drinks, candy bars, or bagels, blood sugar and insulin levels will rise dramatically,” says Dr. Anderson. “The elevated insulin levels actually cause blood sugar to plummet, so your brain triggers [more] cravings for something full of sugar, fat, and calories.” Then, it starts all over again. Instead of reaching for comforting junk, Dr. Andersen recommends fueling your body with healthy low-glycemic foods like fruits and whole grains that can help stabilize your blood sugar and keep your insulin levels from swinging wildly in either direction.

6. You Sleep Poorly Even Once a Week
You probably know that chronic insomnia can trigger exhaustion. But did you know that even a single night of interrupted sleep could screw you up the next day? In a study in the journal Sleep Medicine, 61 study participants slept for eight hours for one night. The next night, their rest was interrupted by four phone calls that instructed them to finish a short computer challenge before they could continue sleeping. Researchers found that after a night of fragmented sleep, people experienced worse moods along with weaker attention spans, suggesting that interrupted sleep might be as detrimental as the exhaustion that comes with full-on sleep restriction.

Or, maybe instead of dealing with interrupted sleep, you just go to bed way later than you should. “Bedtime procrastination” is the latest buzzy term in sleep medicine. In a study in Frontiers in Medicine, researchers discovered that on nights when the 177 participants reported procrastinating their zzz’s, they slept less and with worse quality. Plus, they experienced more intense fatigue the next day. “Set your bedtime and stick to it, counting back seven hours from when you need to wake up to determine the ideal start to your sleep latency period, or falling asleep time,” advises Dr. Andersen. “Decrease stimulation 30 minutes before you plan to sleep by shutting off cellphones, televisions, and other devices.”

Ready to make a change? Check out this guide for a better night’s rest.

Updated January 2016  on 1/15/2016
http://dailyburn.com/life/lifestyle/exhausted-signs-tips/

 

Is Anger Ruining Your Health?

February 21, 2016

Constantly losing your cool can hurt more than your relationships.
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People who are habitually angry also report feeling sick more often.

Sometimes anger can be good for you, if it’s addressed quickly and expressed in a healthy way. In fact, anger may help some people think more rationally. However, unhealthy episodes of anger — when you hold it in for long periods of time, turn it inward, or explode in rage — can wreak havoc on your body. If you’re prone to losing your temper, here are seven important reasons to stay calm.

1. An angry outburst puts your heart at great risk. Most physically damaging is anger’s effect on your cardiac health. “In the two hours after an angry outburst, the chance of having a heart attack doubles,” says Chris Aiken, MD, an instructor in clinical psychiatry at the Wake Forest University School of Medicine and director of the Mood Treatment Center in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

“Repressed anger — where you express it indirectly or go to great lengths to control it, is associated with heart disease,” says Dr. Aiken. In fact, one study found that people with anger proneness as a personality trait were at twice the risk of coronary disease than their less angry peers.

To protect your ticker, identify and address your feelings before you lose control. “Constructive anger — the kind where you speak up directly to the person you are angry with and deal with the frustration in a problem-solving manner — is not associated with heart disease,” and is actually a very normal, healthy emotion, says Aiken.

2. Anger ups your stroke risk. If you’re prone to lashing out, beware. One study found there was a three times higher risk of having a stroke from a blood clot to the brain or bleeding within the brain during the two hours after an angry outburst. For people with an aneurysm in one of the brain’s arteries, there was a six times higher risk of rupturing this aneurysm following an angry outburst.

Some good news: You can learn to control those angry explosions. “To move into positive coping, you need to first identify what your triggers, and then figure out how to change your response,” says Mary Fristad, PhD, a professor of psychiatry and psychology at the Ohio State University. Instead of losing your temper, “Do some deep breathing. Use assertive communication skills. You might even need to change your environment by getting up and walking away,” says Dr. Fristad.

3. It weakens your immune system. If you’re mad all the time, you just might find yourself feeling sick more often. In one study, Harvard University scientists found that in healthy people, simply recalling an angry experience from their past caused a six-hour dip in levels of the antibody immunoglobulin A, the cells’ first line of defense against infection.

If you’re someone who’s habitually angry, protect your immune system by turning to a few effective coping strategies. “Assertive communication, effective problem solving, using humor, or restructuring your thoughts to get away from that black-and-white, all-or-nothing thinking — those are all good ways to cope,” says Fristad. “But you’ve got to start by calming down.”

4. Anger problems can make your anxiety worse. If you’re a worrier, it’s important to note that anxiety and anger can go hand-in-hand. In a 2012 study published in the journal Cognitive Behavior Therapy, researchers found that anger can exacerbate symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), a condition characterized by an excessive and uncontrollable worry that interferes with a person’s daily life. Not only were higher levels of anger found in people with GAD, but hostility — along with internalized, unexpressed anger in particular — contributed greatly to the severity of GAD symptoms.

5. Anger is also linked to depression. Numerous studies have linked depression with aggression and angry outbursts, especially in men. “In depression, passive anger — where you ruminate about it but never take action — is common,” says Aiken. His No. 1 piece of advice for someone struggling with depression mixed with anger is to get busy and stop thinking so much.

“Any activity which fully absorbs you is a good cure for anger, such as golf, needlepoint, biking,” he says. “These tend to fill our minds completely and pull our focus toward the present moment, and there’s just no room left for anger to stir when you’ve got that going.”

6. Hostility can hurt your lungs. Not a smoker? You still could be hurting your lungs if you’re a perpetually angry, hostile person. A group of Harvard University scientists studied 670 men over eight years using a hostility scale scoring method to measure anger levels and assessed any changes in the men’s lung function. The men with the highest hostility ratings had significantly worse lung capacity, which increased their risk of respiratory problems. The researchers theorized that an uptick in stress hormones, which are associated with feelings of anger, creates inflammation in the airways.

7. Anger can shorten your life. Is it really true that happy people live longer? “Stress is very tightly linked to general health. If you’re stressed and angry, you’ll shorten your lifespan,” says Fristad. A University of Michigan study done over a 17-year period found that couples who hold in their anger have a shorter life span than those who readily say when they’re mad.

If you’re not someone who’s comfortable showing negative emotions, then work with a therapist or practice on your own to be more expressive. “Learning to express anger in an appropriate way is actually a healthy use of anger,” says Fristad. “If someone infringes on your rights, you need to tell them. Directly tell people what you’re mad about, and what you need,” she says.

Article sourced here: http://www.everydayhealth.com/news/ways-anger-ruining-your-health/

11 Health Hazards of Sitting too Long

May 19, 2015

sittingpain-front-leadWe live in a time where sitting takes up the majority of our day, but could sitting too long be slowly crippling our bodies?

Even with a daily exercise regimen, researchers are now saying that sitting for a major part of the day may be deadly in the long run, and are even making comparisons like, “sitting is the new smoking.” Check out this peer-reviewed article for more information on sedentary living and our health.

ORGAN DAMAGE, ILLNESS AND DISEASE
HEART DISEASE

Did you know that people with sitting jobs have twice the rate of cardiovascular disease than people with standing jobs? When we sit, our muscles burn less fat, and our blood flows much slower than it should – this encourages the build-up and clogging of fatty acids in the heart. In fact, after just 2 hours of sitting, your HDL (“good”) cholesterol drops 20%!

DIABETES

When we sit for too long, our blood sugar levels rise, because of enzyme changes that occur in our muscles. In fact, spending too much time sitting has been linked to a two-fold increase in the risk of developing diabetes. Scary, right? If you work a desk job, or sit down for long periods, make sure you get up every 30 minutes and walk around, do a few pushups or even a few squats!

PREMATURE DEATH

Sitting too long linked to an early death? It seems so, according to a study in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine, which found that sitting for long periods of time increases the odds of dying young. Even individuals who exercised regularly risked shortening their lifespan if a majority of their day was spent sedentary. Sitting for more than 6-8 hours a day is not good, so make sure you keep active!

COLON CANCER

People who spend a majority of their day sitting have an increased risk colon cancer, as well as breast and endometrial cancer. The main link between these cancers and sitting for long periods is the increased insulin levels that encourage tumour cell growth. Moving around every now and then helps lower insulin, and getting up after a meal instead of sitting helps lower blood sugar. Go for a walk in nature after dinner and watch your health improve!

OVER-PRODUCTIVE PANCREAS

As we have seen, sitting too long results in higher insulin production – and what organ produces insulin? The pancreas of course! Insulin helps carry glucose to cells for energy, but cells in a chronically in-active body don’t respond as readily to this insulin release. The result? More insulin production and a higher risk of developing diabetes and other diseases. One study found that with just 1 day of prolonged sitting, the insulin response was drastically reduced.

OBESITY

You burn 30% more calories when you’re standing, than when you’re sitting, no surprise, but when you’re sitting, the circulation of a fat-absorbing enzyme called lipase also shuts down, contributing to a larger waistline. Researchers at Tel Aviv University even found that sitting on your bottom for too long will make preadipocyte cells (cells that turn into fat calls) literally transform into fat cells faster!

SPINAL ISSUES
STRAINED NECK AND SHOULDERS

Muscle strain and tension is a major cause of neck pain. This is often a result of muscle overuse from sitting at a desk or computer for too long. When you’re sitting, you’re often slouching too (especially if working on a computer at a desk) – this “crane neck” posture strains the cervical vertebrae and can lead to permanent imbalances. Slouching also overextends shoulder and back muscles, which results in chronic poor posture and “rolling in” of the shoulders.

INFLEXIBLE SPINE

When we are actively engaged in any form of activity, soft discs between the vertebrae expand and contract like shock absorbers, helping supply the disks of nutrients, fresh blood, and oxygen. When we are sitting for long periods of the day, the disks are out of balance, and also starved of these crucial nutrients. Collagen also hardens around tendons and ligaments that help support the spine, resulting in a stiff back with little flexibility. My tip? Do some yoga and slowly work your way into backbends – one of the most fool-proof ways to heal the spine.

DISK DAMAGE

As stated above, moving very little deprives our disks of crucial nutrients, blood and oxygen. Not only that, but individuals who sit for long periods are more at risk for herniated lumbar disks. When you’re sitting, your spine is under a lot of pressure, and the weight isn’t evenly distributed. As Kelly McGonial, Ph.D., explains, “when you sit, you distort the natural curve of the spine, which means your back muscles have to do something to hold your back in shape because you’re no longer using the natural curves of the spine to lift yourself up against gravity.”

BRAIN PERFORMANCE
REDUCED MENTAL CLARITY and BRAIN FOG

When sedentary for long periods of time, everything slows down, even our brain function! This is no surprise, given the fact that when we move, fresh blood and oxygen are pumped to our brain at a faster rate, helping improve the release of productivity- and mood-enhancing chemicals.

MUSCLE DEGENERATION
WEAK ABS

When we stand straight and walk around, our abdominal muscles help keep us upright. But when we are sitting, our posture is often situated in such a way that our stomachs bulge and our ab muscles are loose. Always engage your core when sitting, especially if you work a desk job. Tuck in your lower abdominal muscles so that you can feel tightness and “engaging” in your abs.

TIGHT HIPS

Excessive sitting can actually shorten (and tighten) your hip flexors, which isn’t good news for those of us trying to improve our flexibility. People who sit for long periods of the day rarely extend their hip flexors, limiting their range of motion and stride length. How do you prevent your muscles from shortening? Deep squats, lunges, standing hip extensions and prone hip extensions are a good place to start.

LIMP LEGS

When you’re sitting, your legs are doing nothing – and they get used to it too. Weak, limp legs can result in a host of biomechanical issues in the body like reduced stability, poor balance and increased risk of injury. Weak legs also increase your risk for having a higher rate of bone fracture – the stronger your legs, the more muscle there is protecting and supporting the bone.

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Article sourced from  http://livelovefruit.com/11-health-dangers-of-sitting-too-long/#4JSQuy6QAi0YZwkT.99

Just Do It …

March 22, 2015

It has been described as arguably the best tagline of the 20th century. It is certainly one of the most recognised.

But, Nike’s fitspo “Just do it” line has its dark roots on death row.

It was inspired by the last words of a convicted killer before his execution.

In a new interview, Dan Wieden, the advertising executive behind the famous campaign, opened up about its origins.

It was 1988 and Wieden was struggling to come up with a line that could capture the sportswear company’s spirit across different TV commercials the ad agency had created for them.

“I was recalling a man in Portland,” Wieden told Dezeen magazine.

Utah killer Gary Gilmore was sentenced to death in 1977 for robbing and murdering two men.

“They asked him if he had any final thoughts and he said: ‘Let’s do it’,” Wieden recalled.

“And for some reason I went: ‘Now damn. How do you do that? How do you ask for an ultimate challenge that you are probably going to lose, but you call it in?’ So I thought, well, I didn’t like ‘Let’s do it’ so I just changed it to ‘Just do it’.”

At first Nike’s founders hated the idea.

“[Co-founder] Phil Knight said, ‘We don’t need that shit’,” Wieden said. “I said ‘Just trust me on this one.’ So they trusted me and it went big pretty quickly.”

The ‘Just do it’ line made its debut that same year in an ad featuring 80-year-old runner Walt Stack.

“I run 17 miles every morning,” Stack says in the ad. “People ask me how I keep my teeth from chattering in the winter-time.

just do it“I leave them in my locker,” he smiles as the screen fades to black and the slogan “Just do it” appears with the trademark swoosh.

The slogan and the swoosh resonated with all audiences and helped Nike overtake their rival Reebok to dominate the sneaker market.

It is “arguably the best tagline of the 20th century,” says Campaign magazine, noting it “cut across age and class barriers, linked Nike with success – and made consumers believe they could be successful too, just by wearing its products”.

Of the slogan that is still popular 30 years later, the magazine said: “Like all great taglines, it was both simple and memorable. It also suggested something more than its literal meaning, allowing people to interpret it as they wished and, in doing so, establish a personal connection with the brand.”

Article published first March 19, 2015 here: http://www.theage.com.au/lifestyle/diet-and-fitness/nikes-just-do-it-slogan-inspired-by-death-row-prisoners-last-words-20150318-1m2oys.html

Healthy Inspirations Recipe of the Week – Roasted Tomatoes with Porterhouse Steak

March 5, 2015

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Harvard Scientists Studied the Brains of Pot Smokers … the Results Don’t Look Good

January 18, 2015

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The news: Every day, the push toward national legalization of marijuana seems more and more inevitable. As more and more politicians and noted individuals come out in favor of legalizing or at least decriminalizing different amounts of pot, the mainstream acceptance of the recreational use of the drug seems like a bygone conclusion. But before we can talk about legalization, have we fully understood the health effects of marijuana?

According to a new study published in the Journal of Neuroscience, researchers from Harvard and Northwestern studied the brains of 18- to 25-year-olds, half of whom smoked pot recreationally and half of whom didn’t. What they found was rather shocking: Even those who only smoked few times a week had significant brain abnormalities in the areas that control emotion and motivation. “There is this general perspective out there that using marijuana recreationally is not a problem — that it is a safe drug,” said Anne Blood, a co-author of the study. “We are seeing that this is not the case.” The science: Similar studies have found a correlation between heavy pot use and brain abnormalities, but this is the first study that has found the same link with recreational users. The 20 people in the “marijuana group” of the study smoked four times a week on average; seven only smoked once a week. Those in the control group did not smoke at all. “We looked specifically at people who have no adverse impacts from marijuana — no problems with work, school, the law, relationships, no addiction issues,” said Hans Breiter, another co-author of the study. Using three different neuroimaging techniques, researchers then looked at the nucleus accumbens and the amygdala of the participants. These areas are responsible for gauging the benefit or loss of doing certain things, and providing feelings of reward for pleasurable activities such as food, sex and social interactions. “This is a part of the brain that you absolutely never ever want to touch,” said Breiter. “I don’t want to say that these are magical parts of the brain — they are all important. But these are fundamental in terms of what people find pleasurable in the world and assessing that against the bad things.” Shockingly, every single person in the marijuana group, including those who only smoked once a week, had noticeable abnormalities, with the nucleus accumbens and the amygdala showing changes in density, volume and shape. Those who smoked more had more significant variations. What will happen next? The study’s co-authors admit that their sample size was small. Their plan now is to conduct a bigger study that not only looks at the brain abnormalities, but also relates them to functional outcomes. That would be a major and important step in this science because, as of now, the research indicates that marijuana use may cause alterations to the brain, but it’s unclear what that might actually mean for users and their brains. But for now, they are standing behind their findings. “People think a little marijuana shouldn’t cause a problem if someone is doing OK with work or school,” said Breiter. “Our data directly says this is not so.”

This article was sourced from: http://mic.com/articles/87743/harvard-scientists-studied-the-brains-of-pot-smokers-and-the-results-don-t-look-good Written by Eileen Shim

Eileen is a writer living in New York. She studied comparative literature and international studies at Yale University, and enjoys writing about the intersection of culture and politics.

Over 50’s Fitness & Health by Glen Barnett – No Sweat in the Brain Gym

September 21, 2014

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Research sourced from the American Academy of Neurology suggests that during later years, people who read books, played games, participated in computer activities and even did craft activities had a 30-50% decrease in their risk of developing memory loss compared to those who did not do those activities.
Here are some ideas for your own Brain Gym.
Explore new horizons, whether that be new environments, new books, new languages, new social groups or even new hobbies.  Get excited about the possibilities of increasing your wisdom and becoming a know all!

Learn a new physical skill.  Staying active will keep your heart pumping and let that oxygen rich blood surge around your body and fill your brain with much needed H20. Try a dance class, aerobics classes, Tai Chi, body boarding, trampolining or even juggling.

Practice doing two or three tasks at once.  (This one is probably a new concept for the men reading this article as women apparently do this their entire lives.)  Multi-tasking is like mental juggling and keeps those neurons firing.  If you’re having trouble with this one be warned you will be looking for trouble if you ask a woman to explain it to you.

Keep your memories alive.  Write your life story.  Open those memory pathways and draw those memories to the forefront of your mind.  Enjoy and relish your past.  Your family will love to read your history and maybe surprised and unaware of just what you got up to.

Sharpen your pencil as you sharpen your mind by regularly doing puzzle’s like Jumbled Words.  These are often regularly seen in magazines and newspapers.  The harder the puzzle the stronger your brain becomes when you solve it or try to solve it.

Switch hands. Make friends with your less dominant hand by doing simple tasks using it.  This will stimulate neural pathways with tasks that may be second nature with your dominant hand but a whole new ball game to your less dominant hand. Try brushing your teeth, switching your knife and fork or even writing.

Laugh. Laughing stimulates five different parts of your brain, so laugh often to help keep your brain from aging. Laughter Yoga workshops and classes are a great fun social way to get this integration happening.

So if you’ve been reading this article and already forgotten what it’s about then you might need to oxygenate your brain with some exercise and start creating your own Brain Gym today!  Call Glen at Coffs Coast Health Club on 66586222 if you need a hand.

Spring Clean Your Life

September 14, 2014

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Spring is here, and I enjoy using this time of year to prepare for the renewal this season provides.

One of the things you can do right now for yourself is prepare for the upcoming opportunities of the new season. Spring often inspires us to increase our fitness levels, participate in more activities outdoors and embrace a healthier way of eating — more greens perhaps as local food becomes increasingly available. Use this time to prepare yourself for those opportunities by getting organized.

Clutter, which has likely been accumulating all winter long, keeps us from moving forward, it blocks energy, it stops our creativity and it weighs us down. The more we have in your home, car, office, hand bag, computer hard drive, the more energy we need to attend to those things. Organizing, decluttering and preparing will put you in a physical, emotional and spiritual space that supports you in the new changes you have the opportunity to make this spring.

Here are a few steps to follow if you want to change you physical and spiritual landscape and prepare for spring:

1. Eliminate and purge.

You can apply this principle to all of your living spaces, or you can choose to apply it one room at a time. Evaluate what you have and what you need, keeping in mind the 80/20 principle that suggests we use about 20% of what we have and essentially do not really need the other 80%. Decide what you longer need or what no longer brings you pleasure, and donate it.

2. Make function easier.

Once you’ve gone through the elimination process, create a system to keep things neat and organized. Pick the system that you’re most likely to stay with and is most effective for your situation. Here are a few options to consider: baskets, file folders, storage containers, or dividers. When organizing your things, keep the items you use most often easiest to access. For example, organize and sort your clothing by season — take out your spring and summer clothes and find a storage solution for your winter clothes. Sort items by their function and keep like things together. For example, create “stations” in your home. In my very small kitchen I have a smoothie station where I keep my Vitamix and several Mason jars containing the ingredients I use daily to nourish my body.

3. Create a donation bag.

Keep a bag or box to which you can add items you longer want. Instead of allowing drawers and closets to fill up throughout the year with things you don’t need or want, create a place in your home where you can collect these items and then donate them in the spring as part of your regular spring cleaning. Check online for nonprofit organizations that will pick up your donated items, including small appliances, from your home for free.

4. Eliminate clutter hot spots.

Flat surfaces, drawers, the back seat of your car and sometimes handbags can become repositories for all sorts of unwanted or unused items. Mail and paperwork are classic examples of the clutter that can accumulate easily when left unattended. Devise a system that works for you in addressing your mail and paperwork as it’s generated. Take a few minutes each week to place important documents in these files and recycle any unneeded paper, or, when possible, go digital, and file your documents electronically. By implementing a system for use and function after you’ve purged, you’ll likely feel much lighter, energized, renewed and inspired after your hard work, providing you with the motivation and energy to continue moving forward with your goals and embracing the newness of spring.

5. Upgrade your home’s energy.

Rearrange your furniture. Get a new houseplant. Play upbeat music. Open your window, even just for a few moments. Diffuse tangerine and peppermint essential oils. Invite new energy and life into your home to become a happier and healthier human being this spring.

By using early spring to organize your living and work spaces, you can position yourself to achieve the health, wellness and personal goals you’ve been working toward!

This article was sourced from: http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-12988/5-strategies-to-spring-clean-your-entire-life.html