How to Ease Joint Pain

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Underlying Causes

Your joints are the part of the human body where the bones meet and connect. They include the hips, knees, shoulders, and elbows. As we age, it’s fairly common to experience joint pain and discomfort. With that said, there are many reasons why we may experience joint pain and we may run into this issue at any point during our lives.

Joint pain may be caused by a variety of reasons. The most common reason for joint pain is arthritis or inflammation of the joints. Arthritis has many categories and degrees of severity and is typically more common among older adults, although anyone can suffer from it. Arthritis causes pain and stiffness and can worsen as we get older.

There are many other reasons why we may experience joint pain. Overuse of the joints or injuries can cause pain. Additionally, diseases such as lupus, infections, tendonitis, osteoporosis, and cancer can all contribute to pain. Joint pain causes a lot of discomfort and can even get in the way of daily activities for many people. Keep reading to find out ways to ease and prevent joint pain in order to enjoy a better quality of life.

Easing the Pain

There are many ways to help treat, alleviate, and even reduce the likelihood of suffering from joint pain.

  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Exercise frequently and keep your body moving
  • Stretch often, especially before and after a workout in order to improve mobility and reduce the risk of injuries
  • Listen to your body: rest when necessary and don’t overuse your joints
  • Use food as medicine by consuming omega 3 fatty acids, supplements, and anti-inflammatory spices and foods such as turmeric
  • Use massage therapy to improve mobility
  • Hot and cold therapy

When to See a Doctor

If you have a serious condition, you may notice some of the following warning signs

  • Deformed joints
  • Unable to move a joint
  • Sudden swelling and redness
  • Severe pain

If you experience any of these, seek medical help immediately to get the appropriate medication to treat your condition.

Types of Yoga and Their Benefits

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The increased ease of communication has made people’s lives much busier than before, and it’s no surprise that many are seeking out a way to slow down and quiet the mind in the midst of the fast-paced world we live in. Yoga, the practice of incorporating breathing, meditation, and posture techniques, has found its way into the routines of many people looking to find a physical and mental release from the tensions of daily life.

The practice of yoga is an ancient Hindu discipline that has grown in popularity over the last few decades due to its overall wellness benefits. People of all ages and physical conditions can benefit from the discipline because yoga is not an all or nothing approach. In fact, there are dozens of types of yoga that you can practice depending on the type of rigor or benefit you are seeking.

Today we are talking about some of the most popular types of yoga and the body and mind benefits that they bring when practiced regularly.

Hatha: this type of yoga, which focuses on the physical aspect of the practice, is often a good starting point. All types of yoga fall under the “Hatha” category as Hatha yoga is any class that teaches movement and poses. This is an essential part of practicing yoga as it teaches you proper alignment, poses, and breathing techniques for tension release and relaxation.

Vinyasa: This type of yoga is more fast-paced and is typically less structured, meaning it varies depending on the instructor. The goal is to combine movement and breath and to get your heart rate pumping. This form of the practice focuses on sun salutations and places emphasis on the flow between poses.

Ashtanga: Also known as “power” yoga, this style is more physically demanding than other types and is probably not best suited for beginners. This type of yoga takes years of practice to perfect and is considered more rigorous, making the connection between mind and body more focused and stronger.

Yin: If you’re looking to improve flexibility and reap mental health benefits, Yin yoga is one of the best types of yoga to practice. Yin focuses on stretching the muscles and holding poses for a few minutes and is typically slow-paced and very meditative.

Restorative: This style is meant to aid the body in recovering from stress and clear the mind. Like Yin, poses are held for longer periods of time and props are used to help the body through the poses. This style is not meant to be rigorous but rather deeply relaxing.

How to Fight Inflammation in the Body

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What is Inflammation?

Inflammation is a natural process our body goes through, and it’s not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, inflammation is what helps our system through the healing process as it fights against anything that may be harming it including injuries, diseases, and infections.

 

While inflammation is a good, natural process, it can also become a chronic issue. Chronic inflammation is a bad type that may affect your body for days, months, and even years. This constant state of alert can have negative consequences over time and damage your tissues and can even cause serious complications that lead to heart disease, cancer, obesity, and other chronic conditions.

Chronic inflammation can be caused by many reasons and can result in a myriad of health-related complications. Stress, lifestyle, diet, pollution, and autoimmune disorders can all be underlying causes of chronic inflammation.

Signs of Inflammation

Short-term signs of inflammation are obvious and may be visible as redness, swelling, and can result in pain. Chronic inflammation, on the other hand, is not always visible. Some signs of chronic inflammation include:

  • Fatigue and insomnia
  • Body pains
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Gastrointestinal issues
  • Infections
  • Weight gain
  • Skin conditions such as eczema and rashes

How to reduce inflammation

The good news is that chronic inflammation can be reversed by making changes to your lifestyle. The following are ways to reduce chronic inflammation:

  1. Eat an anti-inflammatory diet high in antioxidants (more on this later)
  2. Cut out processed and inflammatory-causing foods (more on this later)
  3. Exercise regularly
  4. Keep your mental health in check and practice stress reduction techniques such as yoga and meditation
  5. Quit smoking and avoid alcohol
  6. Regularly get a good night’s sleep

Foods that reduce inflammation

If you are looking to change your diet in order to aid the process of reducing inflammation, consider eating more of the following foods:

  • Fruit and vegetables high in antioxidants
  • Omega-3 rich food such as fatty fish
  • Whole grains
  • Healthy fats such as avocados and olive oil
  • Nuts, seeds, and legumes
  • Tea
  • Spices such as turmeric, cinnamon, ginger, garlic, cayenne pepper, black pepper, and clove

Foods that Cause Inflammation

On the other hand, avoid the following foods which are known to further cause inflammation in the body:

  • Processed carbs
  • Sugars
  • Packaged snack foods and frozen meals
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Sugary beverages
  • Processed meat and red meat
  • Fried foods

The Three Pillars of Exercise (And Their Benefits)

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We all know the importance of exercise as we’ve heard it time and time again. In order to enjoy a healthy lifestyle with minimal health issues, we need to implement regular exercise in our routines. The pros go beyond physical well-being as exercising has also been proven to help keep our mental health in check.

Did you know that physical exercise can be divided into different categories (or pillars)? These include cardio, strength, and flexibility. Ideally, a routine involving all three is the best way to keep your body physically equipt and balanced. Keep reading to find out about each pillar and how you can benefit from them.

Cardio

The first pillar of exercise is cardio. This pillar works your cardiovascular health by raising your heart rate and improving circulation. Additionally, it helps your respiratory system, reduces the risk of heart disease, and can help you lose weight by amping up your metabolism and making you burn calories at a quicker pace. Cardio includes running, swimming, rowing, hiking, and any other form of exercise that increases beats per minute (BPM).

Strength

The second is strength or strength training. This pillar focuses on body composition and strengthening the different muscle groups including the upper body, lower body, and core. It also focuses on bone density. Strength training involves weights, resistance bands, machines, and using your own body weight in order to challenge the muscles and increase their abilities. Strength training can improve your physical appearance by enhancing your muscle tone, may help boost stamina, and may even improve posture and balance.

Flexibility

The third pillar is flexibility. This pillar should not be overlooked as it can help you reach maximum efficiency in the other two. Flexibility involves exercises such as tai chi, pilates, and yoga. These forms of exercise can help your body’s range of motion and in turn help you perform better when running or doing strength exercises. Additionally, it has been shown to have mental benefits, help people recover quickly after an intense session, prevent injuries, improve circulation, and improve posture.

As you can see, each pillar has its benefits. When they are combined in order to maintain variety in your fitness routine, the three pillars can have a number of positive effects on your overall physical and mental health. Don’t forget that in order to lead a healthy lifestyle you need to keep up with a balanced routine. Taking all pillars into consideration will help you succeed in your goals as they all work in relation to one another and help you perform at your best!

Habits for a Healthy Heart

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Heart disease is the leading cause of death in America, and the scariest part is that it’s a silent killer. Many people believe they are not at risk of developing heart disease, but there may be some factors affecting their health that they may not be aware of.

It’s important to visit your doctor regularly and monitor these three things: your blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels. Noting any changes over the years or even short-term physical changes and symptoms is important in order to know when to seek proper medical attention.

In addition to your regular doctor visits, the following are healthy habits to adopt today in order to maintain your heart health:

  1. Exercise: Moving is the number one thing you can do that will benefit your heart. This includes taking regular walks and stretches if you work a sedentary job all day long. Avoid sitting for long periods of time and make sure to develop a physical activity routine as it is vital for your heart health to keep your body moving throughout the day.
  2. Don’t smoke: It is strongly advised to avoid smoking and even secondhand smoke as they are both extremely damaging to your heart and overall health. Exposure to smoke increases the likelihood of developing heart disease.
  3. Dental Hygiene: Gum and heart disease are linked, therefore, experts recommend keeping good dental hygiene in order to avoid the risk of heart disease. Flossing daily is especially important in order to avoid any bacteria from your gums traveling into your bloodstream which will negatively impact your heart health.
  4. Eat Well and Keep Alcohol Under Control: Eating a heart-healthy diet consisting of healthy fats as well as limiting alcohol intake can help you keep a healthy weight and reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure.
  5. Sleep and Control Stress: Getting enough sleep is vital for heart health. Even if you adopt other healthy habits, you are at risk of developing heart disease if you don’t get quality sleep on a regular basis. Additionally, keeping stress at bay by practicing relaxation techniques can help reduce the risk of heart disease, depression, and high blood pressure.

 

Research shows that adopting these healthy habits as part of your lifestyle can greatly reduce your chances of developing heart disease. Avoiding bad habits such as overeating, drinking too much, and not going for routine well checks at the doctor can have long term benefits for both your heart and overall health.

your risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure.

  1. Sleep and Control Stress: Getting enough sleep is vital for heart health. Even if you adopt other healthy habits, you are at risk of developing heart disease if you don’t get quality sleep on a regular basis. Additionally, keeping stress at bay by practicing relaxation techniques can help reduce the risk of heart disease, depression, and high blood pressure.

 

Research shows that adopting these healthy habits as part of your lifestyle can greatly reduce your chances of developing heart disease. Avoiding bad habits such as overeating, drinking too much, and even assuming you’re not at risk of developing heart disease can have long term benefits for both your heart and overall health.

How to Boost Your Metabolism

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Your metabolism is the chemical process in which your body converts the food you consume into energy. This is a vital process for all living beings.

When dieting, many people refer to their “metabolic rate” or the rate at which their body burns calories. This rate may vary from day to day and is also dependent on many factors including:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Size and body composition
  • Hormone levels
  • Activity levels
  • Food and caffeine intake

While some of these factors are non-negotiable, there are a number of changes you can begin to implement immediately in order to increase your metabolic rate. A higher metabolic rate means it’s easier to burn calories and keep your weight under control. Some changes you can begin incorporating into your routine include:

  1. Exercise: This one is a bit of a no-brainer, but exercising will automatically increase the number of calories your burn throughout the week.
  2. Stand: If you work at a desk all day, set reminders to get up and get moving every hour. Long periods of sitting can cause you to gain weight as you will burn less calories.
  3. Calories matter: An excess of calories can cause weight gain, but skipping meals won’t exactly do the opposite as your metabolism will actually slow down. In order to maintain a healthy weight and metabolism it is best to find a sweet spot and consume the number of calories your body burns throughout the day at your resting metabolic rate.
  4. Lift: Lifting weights heavy enough that you feel challenged can help keep your metabolism in check as your body will naturally continue to burn calories long after your gym session is over.
  5. Interval Training: Cardio person? Implementing short bursts of power into your routine can help your metabolism as this will cause your body to work harder to burn energy.
  6. Sleep enough: Getting a good night’s’ sleep is vital to maintaining a healthy metabolism. Sleep regulates the body’s hormones, and a lack of sleep can boost the hunger hormone ghrelin.
  7. Eat Enough Protein: Eating enough protein at every meal can help you stay fuller longer, making you less prone to overeating throughout the day.

Good Fats vs. Bad Fats

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All fats are not created equal. Unfortunately, there is an abundance of false information out there that may lead people to misunderstand about whether fat is good or bad, and how much you should really be eating. Today we’re breaking down all different types of fat, how good each one is really, where to find them, and how often you should be eating them. Curious to find out more? Keep on reading!

The Good

“Good” fats are the type of fats that are recommended as part of a healthy and balanced diet. With that said, you should still take into consideration that fat is more calorie-dense than carbohydrates and protein. Fat contains about 9 calories per gram while carbohydrates and protein contain 4, thus making it easier to unintentionally over consume fat.

Monounsaturated Fats and Polyunsaturated fats are generally considered “good” fats due to their heart health benefits. Monounsaturated fats are known to help decrease the chances of cardiovascular disease. Monounsaturated fats are found in different foods and oils. Polyunsaturated fats, or essential fats, are necessary due to the fact that our body does not produce them but needs them. They are known to help lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels. These are typically found in plants and oils.

Sources of Monounsaturated Fats:

  • Avocado
  • Nuts
  • Vegetable Oil
  • Nut butter

Sources of Polyunsaturated Fats:

  • Fatty Fish
  • Seeds
  • Walnuts
  • Vegetable Oils
  • Tofu and Soybeans
  • Soft Margarine

The Bad

Where there is good, there is usually bad as well! With that said, there are certain types of fat that should be avoided and only consumed rarely. Among these type of fats are saturated fat and trans fat. These type of fats are more damaging to your health than beneficial, and should not be consumed regularly as they can increase blood cholesterol and increase the risk of heart disease. While saturated fat is not as damaging to our health when compared to trans fat, it should still be consumed sparingly.

Sources of Saturated Fat:

  • Fatty red meat
  • Dark poultry
  • Coconut oil and cocoa butter
  • Full fat dairy
  • Eggs

Sources of Trans Fat:

  • Fried foods
  • Baked goods such as cookies and cakes
  • Processed snack foods
  • Vegetable Shortening

Overall, fats are definitely an essential part of a healthy diet. It’s important to know which type of fat is good for your health though in order to enjoy its benefits. Additionally, keeping the amount of fat you consume at moderate levels should also help keep unwanted weight off.

Are You Sleep Deprived?

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Humans thrive on food, water, and sleep. Believe it or not, sleep is the most important factor when it comes to reaching optimum health. Sleep is vital because without it, our body functions begin to fail and this leads to a number of problems that affect both our physical and mental health.

On average, adults should be sleeping anywhere between 7 to 9 hours. Experts recommend establishing a sleep schedule and sticking to it in order to get the most out of these reparative hours. When we lose sleep, whether it’s due to insomnia, a demanding job, or other obligations, the hours begin to accumulate and affect our health. The following are commons symptoms of sleep deprivation:

  • Sleepiness
  • Hunger and cravings
  • Mood swings, becoming overly emotional, and irritability
  • Tired, dull looking skin
  • Trouble focusing, making decisions, or thinking clearly
  • Loss of memory
  • Weight gain
  • Clumsiness
  • Lowered immune system response, getting sick often
  • In extreme cases: paranoia and hallucinations

A lack of sleep can have negative consequences. People who do not sleep enough often suffer from issues relating to their immune system, mental health, respiratory diseases, cardiovascular disease, weight gain, and hormone production.

Recognizing the signs and symptoms of lack of sleep is the first step to taking better care of yourself and getting the proper amount of rest your body needs in order to function properly. While there are a number of reasons why someone may be sleep deprived, there are multiple ways to tackle the issue in order to find a solution that works for your individual needs. The following are some options to try that may help:

  • Practicing good sleep hygiene by forming a routine and sticking to it
  • Try relaxation techniques to reduce tension
  • Limit stimulating activities (i.e. electronics use) prior to bedtime
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Medication, whether prescribed or over the counter

Sleep deprivation should be taken seriously. Not only does it affect your physical and mental well being, but it can also have negative consequences on others. Too many accidents caused by drowsiness occur every year, and these incidents can happen to anyone. If you feel you are sleep deprived, make sure to take the steps necessary in order to improve your sleep health. The good news is that the signs and symptoms of sleep deprivation are reversible and you will feel much better when your body is rested and repaired!

What is Low Impact Exercise?

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Did you know that different types of exercises may have more or less impact on your bones and joints? For people with joints conditions or injuries, certain types of exercises may be more difficult or even impossible to do. For this reason, experts recommend trying out low impact exercise in order to stay active and avoid increased pain or risking more injuries.

Low impact exercise is any form of physical exercise that puts a minimal amount of stress on the joints including the hips, knees, and ankles. This type of physical activity ensures that you get the exercise you need in order to stay healthy while reducing the risk of worsening any conditions.

While many believe that low impact exercise is a light form of activity that doesn’t yield major results, this is actually not true. Many forms on low-impact exercises can still help people get in shape or maintain their fitness level by raising their heart rate. In other words, low-impact is a healthy and effective part of an exercise routine for anyone trying to stay fit or lose weight whether you suffer from joint pain or even if you’re athletic.

The following are some forms of low-impact exercise:

  • Swimming
  • Yoga
  • Pilates
  • Walking
  • Cycling
  • Elliptical
  • Rowing
  • Kayaking
  • Stairmaster
  • Water Aerobics
  • Tai Chi
  • Rollerblading

Who should consider doing low-impact exercises:

  • Beginners
  • Women who are pregnant
  • The elderly
  • Those suffering from obesity
  • Those with injuries
  • People who suffer from bone or joint pain and issues

Keep in my mind that low impact exercises still contribute to a healthy routine that will help maintain or lose weight, increase cardiovascular health, and help you work on both strength and endurance. If you do not suffer from any joint or bone injuries, don’t be afraid to cross-train between high impact and low impact exercises. Just be sure to work harder during low-impact activity in order to reach your desired heart rate for effective results.

Benefits of Stretching

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Stretching is an important part of physical and mental health that is often overlooked. Whether you are an athlete, a newfound fitness enthusiast, or someone who doesn’t exercise at all, stretching is an activity that should be incorporated into your daily routine for better overall health. The best part is it doesn’t have to be time-consuming activity in order to work. Keep reading to find out the many benefits you can enjoy when you begin to stretch regularly!

  1. Increased performance: This is particularly important for those who already exercise because stretching can greatly reduce the chances of injury and improve overall performance by warming up the muscles, cooling them down, and aiding with recovery between workouts.
  2. Improved mobility: Even if you don’t exercise, stretching can help keep your muscles loose and pain-free as you age.
  3. Stress relief: Stretching can benefit mental and physical health by relieving tension, which often has a mental and physical connection. Exercises like yoga or simple stretch sessions at home which incorporate breathing techniques are proven to help ease symptoms of anxiety and depression.
  4. Better posture: Stretching can help your body by providing a better balance between the muscles. Again, by reducing tense and stiff areas, you are more likely to have better alignment and less discomfort.
  5. Increased blood flow: Stretching improves circulation and also helps to break down lactic acid that forms in the muscles after a training session. Stretching helps oxygen to flow back into the muscle to help break down the lactic acid, the process not only speeds up recovery but also helps reduce tension.
  6. Prevent pain: Stretching, as mentioned, helps reduce tension and stress. This results in less back pain, tension headaches, and other pain associated with tightness of the muscles.

Stretching comes in many forms including yoga, dynamic stretching (best done before exercise), static stretching (best done following exercise), foam rolling, and more. Stretching has a number of physical and mental benefits for anyone. So what are you waiting for? All it takes is 5 to 10 minutes per day to start enjoying the benefits and lead a happier, healthier lifestyle.