Is Stretching Necessary?

img_4937

Our bodies are constantly in motion, and in order to age well and stay healthy for as long as possible, we need to treat our bodies with care. Staying active, practicing mental relaxation techniques, and eating a balanced diet all form part of a well rounded and healthy lifestyle.

Did you know that stretching is an essential part of keeping your body healthy and injury free? While many people are aware of the fact that they need to be active, they may look past this simple and quick step. For this reason, many people suffer from chronic pain or injuries that could have been avoided. So, is stretching necessary? Absolutely! Keep reading to find out why and when you should be stretching.

Benefits of Stretching:

  • Increases flexibility
  • Increases range of motion
  • Reduces risk of injury
  • Improves workout performance
  • Improves posture
  • Increases blood flow and energy
  • Calms the mind

When Should You Stretch?

  1. When you wake up: Stretching in the morning can help your body wake up and get ready for the day, as it will improve your blood flow and give you the kickstart you need to get up and moving.
  2. Before a workout: Dynamic stretching before a workout is necessary in order to warm up the muscles and get them ready for your routine. Stretching before a workout is absolutely necessary in order to prevent injuries.
  3. After a workout: Post-workout stretches help to wind down the muscles and release tension from strenuous activity.
  4. If you’ve been sitting too long: If you lead a sedentary lifestyle or work full-time in an office setting, it’s important to take short breaks throughout the day to stand and stretch.
  5. When you’re stressed: Stress can cause your muscles to tense up and your mind to feel uneasy. Taking time for yourself to stretch or find a relaxing exercise such as yoga or tai chi can have huge benefits for both your mental and physical health.
  6. If your muscles are tight: Sometimes your muscles tighten up from daily stress, from overuse, or from strenuous workouts. Nonetheless, using different stretching techniques or even foam rolling can help.
  7. If you’re experiencing muscle pain: Stretching can help heal muscle pain by improving range of motion and can also help reduce the chances of experiencing muscle pain later on.

When you’re recovering from an injury: If you had an injury and you need therapy, they may suggest certain stretches that will help your recovery process. Continuing to do those exercises will help you feel better with time and improve post-injury trauma.

How to Increase Energy Levels Naturally

img_4934

It’s normal from time to time to feel like your energy levels are completely drained. There are multiple reasons that can cause you to feel this, including physical and mental reasons. While a lot of things can play a role on your energy levels, including diet, sleep, stress, diseases, and hormones, there are a few things you can do to help increase your energy naturally.

  1. Regulate your sleep: Having a regular bedtime and waking up at the same time every morning can help regulate your circadian rhythm, hence leaving you feeling rested and energized throughout the day.
  2. Eat a balanced diet: Eating a balanced diet full of fruits, vegetables, grains, and an adequate amount of protein will help give your body the fuel it needs to function properly. Additionally, eating meals regularly without skipping and staying hydrated play a huge role in keeping energy levels steady.
  3. Socialize: People with strong social networks are more likely to grow into old age happier and with more energy. Consider starting a hobby of interest or joining a club that will lead you to make social connections with similar interests to you!
  4. Keep a limit: Limit alcohol, sugar, and smoking as all of these are detrimental to your overall health, causing your energy levels to plummet.
  5. Relax: Having high levels of stress and overloading your mind can lead to both mental and physical fatigue. Taking time throughout the day to decompress and also dedicating time to yourself throughout the week can help keep your mind more relaxed and in turn stabilize your energy levels.
  6. Exercise: Getting up and moving, even if you’re feeling tired, is a proven way to get your energy levels up. Additionally, an active lifestyle can reduce the risk of diseases that can leave you feeling drained and fatigued.

Common Causes of Back Pain

img_4172

Many Americans suffer from ongoing back pain and the unfortunate thing is that they either ignore it or are completely unaware of the cause. While living with back pain can be difficult, many of the root causes can actually be reversed if the correct steps are taken. The important thing is to analyze what type of pain you are feeling and speak to your doctor to see what is causing your pain in order to receive proper treatment. If you’re unsure where to start, the following is a list of common causes for back pain:

  1. Poor posture: This is perhaps the most common cause of back issues. Slouching, hunching, sleeping incorrectly, and overall incorrect posture while sitting and standing can all contribute to back pain. Consider correcting your posture by setting reminders or purchasing a posture corrector to see if it helps improve your symptoms.
  2. Form: Some people hit the gym and have no idea that form can make or break them. Doing exercises incorrectly can cause major back issues, so it’s best to learn from a professional or ask for help in order to ensure you won’t cause any long term damage from performing exercises incorrectly.
  3. Nerve Compression: Sometimes a root in the spine is pinched or compressed and sends pain signals to the brain, this can be a direct cause of other disorders such as herniated discs or bone spurs.
  4. Degenerative Disc Disease: More so than a disease, this is the natural process the body undergoes as it ages. Those who are older tend to see a reduction in disc space due to less hydration in the body, which is a common cause of back pain and discomfort.
  5. Accidents: Some back pain can be a direct result of a recent or even old injury, in this case, physical therapy and exercise at home can be a good option to help alleviate pain.

Of course, back pain can come from a number of different factors. As mentioned before, it’s important to find out where your pain stems from in order to find the right treatment option that will work best for your condition. Although some cases may require surgery in order to improve, your path to feeling better may be as simple as therapy, pain medication, and even light exercises like yoga.

How To Transform Your Environment for Better Sleep

img_4168

Good sleep is important. Getting enough rest is not just about sleeping a certain number of hours, but rather getting quality sleep. Sleeping improves cognitive function, keeps your immune system in check, and is linked to overall better health.

While many adults know how many hours of sleep they should be getting, many of them don’t actually get enough. Additionally, many people are not aware of proper sleep hygiene methods that can drastically improve the quality of their sleep. Today we’re talking about the things you can do in order to transform your bedroom and improve the quality of your sleep.

  1. Get organized: Creating a clutter-free space is an essential part of getting good sleep. If your environment is tidy, your mind is more likely to feel peaceful when it’s time to go to bed. Additionally, organizing under your bed can help keep the area well ventilated which is important due to the moisture your body releases throughout the night.
  2. Darkness: Believe it or not, any hint of light can actually confuse your brain and disrupt your sleep. This includes night lights, street lights, and even moonlight. Invest in shades and make sure to turn off all the lights when it’s time to sleep. A helpful tip is to dim your lights about an hour before bed in order to get your body ready to wind down and sleep.
  3. Put away electronics: Continuing off of the previous point, it’s important to reduce or eliminate electronic use immediately before bed. Experts recommend avoiding a TV in your bedroom, sleeping away from electronics, and turning off cellphones and tablets an hour or two before bed. The reason being? The blue light emitted by our electronics disrupts the production of melatonin and thus impact the quality of your sleep.
  4. Cool down: Lower the temperature before bed, this has been proven to help your body prepare for sleep.
  5. Scent: Creating a relaxing atmosphere through aromatherapy can help quiet your mind. Scents such as lavender, vanilla, and jasmine can all help improve the quality of sleep.
  6. Pillows: Make sure you change your pillows every once in a while and that you use a good quality pillow that won’t impact your posture or cause headaches.
  7. Cut out disruptions: Some disruptions may seem little, but they can actually impact the quality of your sleep. If you have a small nightlight, if your dog snores, or if there are any other small interruptions present throughout the night, make sure to find a solution to these things that will let you sleep through the night. In turn, you will feel well rested and better overall.

Swimming Lessons and Physical Health

fdxcSwimming lessons offer a myriad of benefits when it comes to mental and physical health. Whether you’re an adult looking to take on a new hobby or searching for a good after-school activity for your kids, swimming lessons are one to consider. Have you ever wondered how swimming lessons can help you thrive and improve your health? Keep reading to find out!

Full-body workout: One of the top reasons why swimming is great for our health is that it offers a low impact full-body workout. Through regular practice, swimmers are actually able to develop and strengthen pretty much all of their muscles groups.

Anyone can practice: Swimming is versatile meaning there are many levels and styles of practice. This is wonderful due to the fact that anyone from young children to seniors can enjoy the health benefits. In fact, swimming is even safe for women during pregnancy. Although it is encouraged for children to start early, it is never too late to sign up for swimming classes or to pick it up as a hobby!

Improves cardiovascular health: Swimming is a form of cardio, and as mentioned before, it puts very little stress on the body because it is low-impact. With that being said, those who have joint issues or injuries and are looking for ways to keep up with their heart health should look into swimming.

It may help with injuries: Swimming is a great way for those with injuries to bounce back and recover. Swimming is sometimes used as a form of therapy, and those who have permanent issues such as joint issues can enjoy the benefits of being involved in physical activity without further injuring themselves.

It’s great for safety: Not only is swimming an excellent skill to have at all ages, but it also allows the ability to practice a sport that is less likely to cause injuries overall. Due to water buoyancy, our weight is reduced when we are swimming. Therefore, we are less likely to experience stress or injuries due to its low-impact nature.

It’s great for mental health: Swimming is a great physical exercise, but the benefits go well beyond that. One study found that swimmers perform great on aptitude tests and they also tend to be more coordinated. Children who practice swimming are more likely to be more advanced in areas such as reading, writing, and comprehension when compared to those who don’t swim. Swimming also boosts energy levels, helps with insomnia and aids in stress management due to the fact that it is a cardiovascular activity which releases endorphins. It is also considered a fun activity that keeps your mind active, happy and healthy!

Overall, swimming offers a great way to engage and tone the muscles and also keep your mind at its optimum. It doesn’t matter if you’ve never practiced it before, picking up swimming is something which can be done at any stage in life no matter your fitness level. So what are you waiting for? Whether you are looking to practice indoors or outdoors, with a team or solo, you can start enjoying the benefits of swimming today!

Three Types of Meditations

types-of-morning-meditations_path_webDid you know a little meditation keeps the doctor away?

About 80% of doctor visits are due to stress-related problems. But only a few doctors talk to their patients about stress reduction. Yoga and meditation have surfaced to fame—having at least one out of 10 Americans practice it. Many would suggest practicing meditation in the morning because it prepares the body for the future challenges throughout the day.

Three types of morning meditations

Mindful meditation:

This is focused on living in the present. In mindful meditation, you focus your mind on the experience you have at that moment of meditation (flow of your breath, emotions, and thoughts). It’s a practice where you release all your negative energy before the day.

Qi Gong:

This meditation comes from a traditional Chinese medicine where they combine meditation with physical movements and breathing exercises. It is translated as, “life’s energy” where the earth’s energy is circulating your body. It is used to promote health, spirituality and the practice of martial arts. This type of meditation is used to restore and maintain the balance between your physical and mental being.

Transcendental meditation:

This is a type of mantra meditation. It’s a simple technique where you silently repeat a personal word or phrase to yourself. This may lead your mind into a state of peace without needed effort or concentration. And it gets all the affirmation needed at the beginning of your day.

So if you’re feeling too stressed to go to work, or just had a bad day–try one of these practices and see which one fits you.

Chronic Kidney Disease: The Silent Killer

kidney

Kidneys are vital organs.

Our kidneys help control our blood pressure, keep our bones healthy, produce hormones, and remove waste and extra fluid (which becomes our urine.) And although we can live with one functioning kidney, the loss of both kidneys leads to a rapid accumulation of waste and death within a few days time. A serious disease that can lead to this point is called Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD.) CKD affects 1 in 10 people worldwide and is incurable, causing patients to need lifelong care.

Who’s Prone to CKD?

2/3 of cases are due to diabetes and high blood pressure so if you suffer from any of the two, it’s important to get tested right away because high-risk groups include those with diabetes, hypertension as well as those who have a family history of kidney failure. Moreover, African Americans, Hispanics, Pacific Islanders, American Indians, and seniors are also groups that are at high risk for kidney failure.

Prevention
  • Get tested–two tests can detect CKD: blood pressure, urine albumin and serum creatinine
  • Exercise regularly
  • Maintain a healthy diet that is low in sodium (salt) and sugar
  • Limit alcohol intake
  • Engage in healthy sleep habits (going to sleep at the same time and getting at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep every day)
Treatment
  • Medicine to lower blood pressure, control blood sugar and lower cholesterol
  • If kidneys fail, a dialysis or a kidney transplant is needed

Tomorrow, on March 8 through the global awareness campaign World Kidney Day, hundreds of places across the globe will offer public screenings and create awareness of this deathly disease as well as provide preventable measures. Keep your family safe and informed by participating in local events and staying up to date with everyone’s health.

 

Nutrition for Breakfast

nutritious-breakfast

A great day starts with breakfast.

Breakfast kick-starts your metabolism, helps you burn calories throughout the day, and gives you the energy needed to start your day. A healthy breakfast can be something as simple as a slice of whole-wheat toast with almond butter and a glass of 2% milk. Don’t use time as an excuse to skip out on the most important meal of the day, but instead make time for your first meal of the day, every single day.

Fruits & Vegetables

Starting your day with half a grapefruit or a green smoothie helps with weight loss (if that’s something you’re interested in), provides tons of vitamins and antioxidants, and hydrates your body after a good night’s rest. Some of the most popular fruits include bananas, berries, oranges, and apples while popular vegetables for breakfast are avocados, kale, and spinach.

The great thing about fruits and vegetables is that they can easily be added to the breakfast you eat already!

Here are some popular recipes:
  • Avocado Toast with an Egg on Top
    • What’s not to love about the healthy fat and fiber avocado provides? And with a delicious sunny-side egg to top it all off!
  • Veggie Omelet
    • Spinach, mushroom, peppers, onions, tomatoes, the options are endless!
  • Greek Yogurt
    • Give your Plain Greek Nonfat Yogurt a bit of sweetness with honey
    • Add strawberries, granola, almonds, go nuts!
  • Veggie Fruit Smoothie
    • Spinach, kale, carrots with a blend of apples, blueberries, and grapes will pretty much give you your entire intake of produce for the day.

Celebrate National Nutrition Month by eating nutritious meals every day, starting with a hearty, nutritious breakfast!

Sleeping with Technology is Unhealthy

sleeping-techWhere’s your phone?

Chances are you are using your phone to read this right now or it’s within close proximity to you. With so much information and all the convenience technology provides us, it can seem strange to think of technology as anything but positive. However, too much exposure to technology screens can actually have an adverse health impact on us, particularly if it’s close to bedtime.

The biggest takeaway of using technology before you go to bed is the negative sleeping habits that come out of it. Our phones keep us awake, which in turn creates a whole lot of health problems for us. In fact, lack of sleep increases the risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes, and car accidents.

Our phones keep us awake for many reasons, here’s a condensed list:
Interruptions

Late-night texts, emails, calls, and calendar reminders wake us up and keep us from precious sleep time.

Brain Stays Alert

After spending an entire day surrounded by technology, your mind needs time to unwind. Surfing the web, answering emails and posting pictures right before bed keeps your brain engaged and tricks your brain into needing to stay awake.

Bright Light

The blue light emitted from screens restraints the production of melatonin–the hormone that controls your sleep/wake cycle, making it harder for you to fall and stay asleep.

Sleep is important. We all know the feeling when we do not get enough sleep, and yet we continue to place sleep behind the notifications.

Here are some tips to combat sleep deprivation:
  1. Have a sleep schedule. Regulate your body’s clock by going to sleep and waking up at the same time every day.
  2. Avoid electronics before bed. Take an hour before bed to unwind with a light activity such as a taking a bubble bath or reading a book.
  3. Exercise. Exercising regularly helps promote a more restful sleep.

Sit Less, Move More

575950417797148-isl7eystsxsffgixfviu_height640Sitting for long periods of time can kill you. Unfortunately for many, this also includes people who exercise regularly.

According to health experts, there is a direct relationship between time spent sitting and risk of early mortality of any cause. In other words, as your total sitting time increases so does your risk of an early death. Sitting for long hours weakens muscles, creates poor circulation, limits the fresh blood and oxygen going to the brain, and overall increases the risk of developing heart disease.

With many sedentary jobs requiring computer time, phone time, and other activities that glue us to our desks, it’s no surprise that many of us spend almost nine hours a day sitting.

So, what can be done to lessen our risk of early mortality?

 

  • Invest in a standing desk or a specialized treadmill-ready vertical desk.
  • Invest in a wearable device, set a timer on your phone, or install an app that alerts you every 30 minutes to walk around the office for a few minutes.
  • Stand up when talking on the phone and whenever possible, walk around the office
  • Have standing or walking meetings
  • Walk across the hall to talk to a co-worker instead of sending an email or talking on the phone
  • Organize the layout of your office space in such a way that you have to stand up to reach for often used files, the telephone, or your printer, rather than having everything within easy reach.

Our bodies are designed to move and one hour of exercise is not enough. Making small changes here and there can very well be the difference our health needs.