How Exercising Benefits Heart Health

path2

When we exercise we typically work to lose body fat and improve muscle composition. The heart, like other muscles, also needs to be exercised in order to stay healthy for as long as possible.

Although most people believe that tough exercise is required in order to maintain a healthy heart, that’s actually not the case. According to research, 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week can improve heart health. This totals to about 30 minutes of brisk walking 5 days a week, or whatever exercise you choose to do.

Different Types of Exercise

Walking is considered a form of aerobic exercise, the best type of exercise to improve heart health. While most people enjoy going for a walk, some people prefer different types of activities. The following are all the different forms of exercise that improve heart health:

  • Aerobic: as mentioned before, this type of exercise is great for improving heart health due to its heart-pumping qualities. Aerobic exercise includes brisk walking, running, swimming, jump rope, cycling, etc. This form of exercise is great for improving circulation and helping reduce the risk of heart diseases such as high blood pressure.
  • Strength Training: Resistance training with weights, bands, and machines can help improve body composition and in turn helping to reduce chances of heart diseases. When combined with aerobic exercise, these two can lead to an overall healthier body and lifestyle.
  • Flexibility: Although exercises such as yoga and mobility stretching don’t directly impact the heart, they lead to better performance for aerobic and strength exercise and are therefore necessary to incorporate into your routine.

Benefits for the Heart

Exercising has a number of benefits for heart health including the following:

  • Lowering Stress
  • Lowering blood pressure
  • Improve heart function
  • Reducing risk of heart disease
  • Reduce LDL (bad cholesterol)

Precautions

Always make sure to warm up before beginning any form of exercise in order to reduce or avoid injury. Additionally, if you feel dizzy, lightheaded, or nauseous, get help as soon as possible.

It’s important to check with your doctor in order to ensure you are okay to exercise. Muscle soreness is also normal and decreases with time as your body adjusts.

Can You Actually Get Sick from Cold Weather?

path5

On Average, adults catch a cold about two times a year in the United States. The winter season tends to bring about a higher number of people who get infected and suffer from the common cold and the flu. This pattern has caused confusion about the role temperature plays when it comes to the body and sickness. Despite its name, the common cold is not actually caused by cooler temperatures.

Why people believe this Myth
For years we’ve been told to that when it’s cold out we need to avoid leaving the house with wet hair and exercising outside. The reality is that none of these things can actually make you catch the common cold. Cold weather related illnesses include frostbite, hypothermia, and asthma complications.

What Actually Happens
Researchers have concluded that cooler weather does not actually give you a cold. Cold weather and dry air do impact the immune system, though, making it weaker and more susceptible to catching a virus. Additionally, the viruses responsible for causing cold and the flu thrive in these conditions.

This, combined with spending an increased amount of time indoors where the air is dry and people may be sick, can lead to higher chances of catching a virus.

Causes and common symptoms of the cold and flu
The cold and the flu come from two different viruses and have slightly different symptoms. Another myth that seems to circulate around during peak cold and flu season seems to turn many people against getting a flu shot. Contrary to popular belief, getting the flu shot does not make you catch the flu.

The common cold comes from Rhinovirus and are commonly spread through human contact and aerosols that are inhaled. Common symptoms include:
Congestion
Runny Nose
Sore Throat
Sneezing and Coughing

The Flu comes from the Influenza Virus and has slightly more severe symptoms including:
Fever and chills
Head and body aches
Muscle pains
Common cold symptoms

Prevention and Home Remedies
The best way to prevent the cold and flu is to wash your hands often, avoid close contact with those who are sick, eat healthy, exercise, and get quality sleep.

Common home remedies for the common cold and the flu include:
Drinking tea often
Consuming warm soup
Implementing more vitamin C into your diet
Clearing congestion with steam

Flu Prevention Tips

img_2126

Flu season is well underway, but that doesn’t mean you have to fall victim to it. Although most people catch the flu or a cold once a year when peak season rolls around, there are those who know how to follow a few simple tips in order to avoid it.

It’s important to care for yourself and your family in order to avoid getting sick, especially young kids. Keep reading to learn what you can do to keep your health in check, help stop germs, and avoid a few trips to the doctor this season!

  1. Get vaccinated: there are multiple flu viruses, but the yearly vaccine protects against the most common types that are spreading around.
  2. Get enough exercise: exercise is proven to boost your immunity system which helps keep you healthy and less likely to get sick.
  3. Eat right: Eating an abundance of food with antioxidants can also help your immune system stay healthy and ward off any viruses and infections.
  4. Hydrate: drinking enough water can help you stay healthy all the time, including during cold and flu season.
  5. Reduce stress: practice stress reduction exercises as stress can weaken your immune system and increases the chances of getting sick.
  6. Practice good hygiene: washing your hands frequently, covering your mouth and nose, and avoiding touching your eyes and face with your hands can all greatly reduce the chances of a virus entering your system.
  7. Clean: make sure to keep your home and work spaces clean and disinfected to ensure you stop the spread of harmful bacteria.
  8. Avoid contact: avoid close contact with people who are sick in order to reduce your risk of catching a virus.
  9. Go home: if you feel like you are getting sick, go home and rest.
  10. Teach your kids: teaching your kids about proper hygiene and how to describe their symptoms can help stop the spreading of germs and viruses.

Many of these tips seem self-explanatory or obvious, but nonetheless, the majority of people forget to follow them. By staying mindful of these tips you can help stop the spreading of germs and avoid flu outbreaks at home, work, and school. And remember, if you do catch a cold or the flu don’t wait to visit your doctor and get treatment as soon as possible.

Immunity-Boosting Foods to Eat This Cold and Flu Season

img_2119

The cold and flu season peak is officially among us, and no one wants to be the next victim. Although we sometimes feel like we’re not going to get sick, there are a number of mistakes that can increase our chances of falling ill.

Some of the most common culprits include not washing our hands, not getting enough sleep, and not keeping our stress under control. Additionally, failing to keep our immune system in check through proper nutrition can also increase the chances of catching a cold or the flu.

Avoid discomfort and a trip to the doctor, stay healthy this cold and flu season by fueling your body with these immunity-boosting foods:

  1. Citrus fruit including oranges, grapefruit, tangerines, clementines, lemon, and lime
  2. Kiwi
  3. Papaya
  4. Blueberries
  5. Apples
  6. Ginger
  7. Turmeric
  8. Garlic
  9. Spinach
  10. Broccoli
  11. Kale
  12. Green Tea and black tea
  13. Sunflower seeds
  14. Nuts
  15. Red bell peppers
  16. Tomatoes
  17. Yogurt
  18. Raw honey
  19. Salmon and tuna
  20. Water

Although food can play a huge role in keeping your immune system healthy and warding off a cold or the flu, there are also a few other things you can do to help. Make sure to:

  • Exercise regularly
  • Get enough sleep
  • Stay hydrated throughout the day
  • Keep stress at bay
  • Reduce alcohol intake
  • Avoid smoking
  • Maintain good hygiene practice
  • Get the flu shot

New Year’s Resolutions to Improve Your Health

img_2113

A new year offers a new beginning and an opportunity to set an intention for the months to come. Many people forget about the goals they set by the end of January, and perhaps this is because they try to achieve unrealistic goals or don’t actually do anything to manifest the change they wanted to implement in their lives for the months to come.

Setting a huge goal is not always the best method as we often overlook the small steps it takes to actually get there. There are a number of small changes we can implement in our daily routines that will lead to a happier and healthier lifestyle in the long run with less stress along the way. The following are some new year’s resolution ideas that you can use as a guide for a happier and healthier 2019:

  1. Form a morning routine to kickstart your day in a healthy way
  2. Make it a habit to stretch, meditate, or read every morning before checking your electronics
  3. Hydrate more often, particularly first thing in the morning
  4. Incorporate more steps into your day, whether that means walking for 30 minutes a day, taking the stairs, or taking short breaks throughout your day
  5. Meal prep once a week or make time to prepare a few homemade meals throughout the week
  6. Clean out your pantry and toss out junk food and unhealthy snacks
  7. Prepare healthy snacks to take with you to work to help curb cravings and give your body nutritious energy
  8. On that note, practice mindful eating by focusing on your food rather than electronics or other distractions during meal times
  9. Try a new workout for a month, whether it’s yoga, running, swimming, and incorporate a buddy to participate with you and hold you accountable
  10. Practice self-care as often as possible by scheduling time to exercise, nap, get a massage, or have an at-home spa day
  11. Volunteer a few hours every month, which has proven mental health benefits
  12. Practice daily gratitude by writing down thoughts in a journal or thinking about what you are grateful for upon waking up and before bed
  13. Make an effort to maintain a healthy relationship with friends and loved ones and see them often
  14. Keep up with your regular doctor’s visits and checkups
  15. Exercise your creative health by practicing an activity you enjoy or trying something new and enjoy the mental benefits it brings
  16. Establish a sleeping schedule, go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day in order to regulate your circadian rhythm
  17. Form a night time routine and practice sleep hygiene, including cutting down on electronic use and stressful or strenuous activities before bed
  18. Turn your bedroom into a relaxing oasis where you can unwind and decompress after a day of work

Little by little, making small changes will form long-term habits with lasting impact. It doesn’t matter whether you’re implementing multiple changes or just one, as long as you are taking a step toward bettering your wellbeing for a happier and healthier you!

How to Stay Healthy and Motivated in the New Year

img_2116

With a new year comes a realm of possibilities for new beginnings. Although many people make new year’s promises and resolutions they can’t keep, there are plenty who look back at the end of the year and realize they have accomplished far more than they planned for.

Setting a goal or intention for the new year doesn’t have to be drastic. In fact, taking small steps or implementing small changes here and there can actually lead to bigger and better overall results. The following are a few tips to stay healthy and motivated in the new year in different areas of life including at home, at work, and at play.

At Home:

  • Set a budget for healthier foods and groceries, include vitamins and supplements
  • Set time aside to keep your home neat and tidy which will help your home feel more comforting and relaxing
  • Set reminders to pay your bills on time rather than relying on memory
  • Try not to miss your doctor appointments and checkups
  • Spend leisure time with your family and involve everyone in activities that can be fun for all
  • Follow a regular sleep schedule for improved quality of life in all aspects

At Work:

  • Make time to prepare home cooked meals and snacks to keep you feeling full and energized throughout the work day
  • Keep an organized written list of tasks in order to improve efficiency and reduce stress
  • Take a 10-15 minute break to go outside and walk, this has both mental and physical benefits
  • Bring water and drink it throughout the day rather than relying only on caffeinated and sugary beverages

At Play:

  • Establish a fitness routine, even if it means going for a short walk once or twice a week, to get your body moving and feelings its best
  • Set time aside to socialize and see your closest friends at least once a week
  • Take care of yourself by doing relaxing activities you truly enjoy
  • Set time aside to rest
  • Exercise your creative health by finding something you enjoy doing either on your own, with friends, or with family

These are only a few tips to stay healthy and motivated in the coming year, and hopefully, they can be a starting point for an overall improved lifestyle. Find what speaks to you and what will help you, and always remember that you can start anywhere! As long as you implement little changes, they will slowly become habits that can improve your health.

How to Beat The Holiday Weight Gain

img_2013

This is the time of the year when holiday parties and family dinners are happening on a weekly basis, and with great company often comes deliciously tempting food. Many people tend to gain a few pounds over the holidays, but the real issue is that most of them can’t shed them afterward.

The holidays are a time to enjoy ourselves, to be grateful, and have fun. Luckily there are ways to do this in moderation so you don’t end up making choices you’ll regret later on (such as overeating)! Keep reading to find out a few ways you can beat the holiday weight gain this year.

  1. Have a plan, and write it down. Jotting down specific (and attainable) fitness and eating goals and keeping them somewhere visible can help you keep them in mind before parties and dinners.
  2. Eat Mindfully. Serving up your food on a smaller plate can trick your brain into thinking you’re eating more versus having a larger plate with empty space, try out this trick next time you go to a buffet style dinner.
  3. Wait it out. Many of us are tempted to go for seconds when we see an abundance of food readily available, but waiting a few minutes and asking yourself whether you’re actually hungry before grabbing more foods can help you think twice and avoid consuming unnecessary calories.
  4. Limit your alcohol intake. It’s easy to get carried away this time of the year, but limiting the number of drinks you consume and drinking water in between will really help you cut down on liquid calories. Additionally, it will help to avoid overeating if you tend to get hungry after a few rounds of drinks.
  5. Be picky. Whenever faced with a selection of desserts, that is. Rather than feeling like you have to try everything, pick and choose which desserts you really want to try and stop once you feel full.
  6. Stay active. Many people slip up and then forget about their goals, but true discipline comes with continuing your routine even after a slip-up. Try to involve the family in physical activities that you can all enjoy together as part of your holiday traditions rather than only doing sedentary activities like watching movies.
  7. Weigh yourself. Weighing yourself a few times a week, or even daily, can help you stay mindful throughout the day and may help you make better eating choices.
  8. Keep self-care in mind. Avoiding stress and getting enough sleep is extremely important when watching your weight. Not taking care of your mental and physical health can lead to cravings and making poor food and drink choices that are more readily available during this time of the year. Thankfully, this can easily be avoided by staying mindful and adopting healthy habits.

There are a number of ways to avoid gaining weight over the holidays, the key is finding what works best for you. And keep in mind that it’s okay to enjoy yourself, and one or two slip-ups are nothing to beat yourself up over. Continue to keep up with your goals and you’ll be proud by the time the new year rolls around!

Helpful Ways to Fight Holiday Stress

img_2010

The Holidays are a cheerful time of the year to spend with family, friends, and loved ones. Unfortunately, though, this can also become a time of high stress. Whether it is overspending, overeating, overworking, or taking in more family members than the number of beds in your home, some people perceive the holidays as a happy yet stressful time of the year.

In order to enjoy the holidays and time with loved ones to their greatest potential, it’s important to put your keep your mental health in check. This will ensure that you avoid getting sick, fatigued, and most of all that you have a good time!

The following are a few ways to help fight holiday stress:

  1. Exercise: it may sound counterproductive, but putting your body under physical stress can actually help you cope with mental stress. Whether it’s dancing, running, walking, or yoga, physical activity releases endorphins that will help improve your mental state.
  2. Be Mindful: tuning in with your thoughts and your emotions through meditation and breathing exercises can help you cope with stress by releasing tension and lowering blood pressure, so try to stay in the present rather than worrying or stressing over things beyond your control.
  3. Eat Right: making poor food and drink choices around this time of the year can have negative impacts on your mood and lead to unwanted weight gain. Try to avoid processed food, sugary drinks, and caffeine. Opt for mood-boosting foods instead such as fresh fruit and vegetable juices and homemade meals whenever possible.
  4. Relax: even a few minutes of decompressing is better than nothing. Light a holiday candle, take a warm bath or shower, and practice muscle tension-reducing activities such as stretching, foam rolling, or using a lacrosse ball against the wall to relieve knots around different areas of your body.
  5. Laugh: being around funny friends, family, co-workers, or watching a funny show can help you stay positive by reducing anxiety and tension.
  6. Socialize: studies show those who have strong ties to a close group of friends are generally happier individuals, so maintain good relationships and enjoy the mental benefits that come with good friends.
  7. Cuddle: kissing and cuddling with your significant other or your pet has been proven to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression. With the weather cooling down around the holidays, it’s the perfect time to get together and snuggle up!
  8. Avoid Procrastination: avoid leaving tasks for last minute. Planning and budgeting for holiday parties, dinners, and gift shopping ahead of time will save you hassle, stress, and frustration later on.
  9. Practice Positive Thinking: setting daily goals and repeating affirmations to yourself can all make a huge impact on your perspective and your relationships with yourself and others. Make it a habit to practice positive thinking, even in negative situations, in order to help yourself deal with stress in a healthier way.
  10. Be Grateful: be grateful for the good things in your life, although the holiday season can be a high-stress time of the year there are still plenty of reasons for you to give thanks.

Whether you only choose to apply one of the tips above or a combination of a few, implementing these coping mechanisms will help you fight stress this holiday season and beyond and in keeping your mental wellbeing in check.

What is The Flexitarian Diet?

pathmed6

In today’s world there are so many diets and eating restrictions that it’s hard to come by which one may be the right fit for you. Many diets claim to be cure-all wonders that will be suitable for everyone, but the reality is that every person has individual and unique needs in order to achieve optimum health.

One popular diet that has been named a lot in the health industry is the Flexitarian Diet. The term was created by Registered Dietitian and Nutritionist Dawn Jackson Blatner in her book The Flexitarian Diet and it’s focus is on including more plant based foods and proteins into our food choices rather than placing restrictions. More so than a diet, becoming a Flexitarian is part of an overall healthier lifestyle.

The basic principles of the Flexitarian Diet are as follows:

  • Including more fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and legumes into our diet
  • Including more plant-based proteins
  • Incorporate animal-derived foods occasionally
  • Focus on whole, natural form of foods
  • Cut or limit processed and refined foods and sugars

As you can see there is room for flexibility in the diet, hence the “flex” in Flexitarian. The diet has different “levels” where animal derived foods are incorporated in different amounts. For example, beginners eat 6-8 meatless meals out of 21 total meals a week. Advanced should eat around 9-14 meatless meals while experts eat 15 or more meatless meals per week.

As mentioned before, the idea is to eat meatless meals that still offer an adequate amount of protein and an abundance of nutrients from plant-derived food sources rather than processed foods. Doing so will ensure Flexitarians enjoy a healthy lifestyle free of nutrient deficiencies and enjoy the benefits the diet has to offer.

The following are some of the benefits of the Flexitarian Diet:

  • Reduced risk of heart disease due to an increased consumption of fiber and healthy fats
  • May experience weight loss due to eating low calorie and nutrient-dense plant based foods rather than high calorie processed foods
  • Eating a predominantly plant based diet may help reduce the risk of diabetes
  • Increasing consumption of antioxidants and nutrients can help prevent some forms of cancer
  • A predominantly plant based diet can help reduce your carbon footprint and decrease greenhouse gas emissions
  • Helps save money by reducing expenses from animal proteins

Overall, the Flexitarian diet is a fairly easy to follow way of eating and lifestyle. Some people may not want to cut their consumption of animal proteins while others may have suffered nutrient deficiencies from doing so, and the Flexitarian diet offers a way of balancing out your diet in order to reap the greatest amount of benefits from the food we consume. Overall, it’s emphasis on eating more whole, plant based foods and animal-derived foods on occasion can have long-term benefits for our health.

Dynamic Stretching vs. Static Stretching

pathmed3

As young kids we were taught to always stretch at the beginning of P.E. class in order to prepare our bodies for the physical activities that were to come next. Although the idea of stretching was not wrong in principle, the type of stretching we were taught was. That’s because there are different forms of stretching, dynamic and static, and proper times to do them in order to increase physical performance.

Dynamic Stretching

Dynamic stretching is a term used to refer to stretching done with movements. In other words, it is an active warm-up. Experts recommended beginning all workout sessions and physical activity with dynamic stretching whether you’re running, swimming, lifting weights, competitions, or playing a sport.

The purpose of dynamic stretching is to get the body prepared for physical activity by boosting circulation, activating the central nervous system, and warming up the muscles using light motions. This form of stretching not only increases power and range of motion but has also been proven to boost athletic performance while reducing the risk of injuries.

Static Stretching

On the other hand, static stretching is essentially the opposite of dynamic stretching as it requires us to stretch and hold a muscle in place for about 15-30 seconds. So while dynamic stretching emphasizes movement, static stretching does not. Ideally, static stretching is best done after a workout as it helps to wind the body down, relaxes the muscles when they are warm, and improves flexibility.

While static stretching should be done following a workout rather then prior to it, it is still an important part of fitness that should not be overlooked. Static stretching, like dynamic stretching, also helps range of motion and in keeping your body and joints healthy. Some experts recommend incorporating this form of stretching multiple times a week and even as a separate workout, such as yoga, due to its mental and physical benefits.

Bottom Line

Dynamic stretching and static stretching are two different forms of activity that have immediate and long term benefits on the muscles and physical performance. Dynamic stretching helps to warm up the muscles using light motions, and in turn, increases athletic performance. Static stretching is a way to relax the muscles and the body following a workout. While dynamic stretching should be done before a workout and static after a workout, they both help keep your muscles and body healthy and injury free. Incorporating both forms of stretching into your routines is highly recommended by experts and beneficial in the long-run whether you are a professional athlete or a beginner in the fitness world.