Here are some of the surprising things I’ve discovered.
1. Make friends with raw, organic, local honey.
Raw, organic, local honey — honey that has been produced by beehives that are within 25 miles of where you live — works like a homeopathic remedy. As the bees go from plant to plant, they pick up pollen, which shows up in the honey. Last year, right after we moved to Berthoud, I was extremely allergic, and this year I have no allergies at all.
I found a wonderful beekeeper around the corner from us and I’ve been eating one teaspoon of her delicious raw organic honey daily, all year. I did the same thing in Durango, with the same results! But I suffered a lot in Santa Fe because I didn’t know about the importance of honey.
2. Pay attention to your food and climate.
From the time I moved to Santa Fe, I started to get a lump of mucus in my throat that just wouldn’t go away. Over time, it got worse and worse and when we moved to Berthoud, I finally saw a wonderful naturopathic doctor who diagnosed the problem (traditional doctors were no help at all).
“When you moved out of California, you needed to change your diet. You can’t eat the same when you live in a climate that gets cold in the winter. Cold foods in the winter affect the spleen, so now your spleen is not doing its job and this is causing the mucus problem. You can’t eat cold foods until the nights are above 60 degrees Fahrenheit. This means no salads or cold smoothies in winter. All your food needs to be heated.”
I was shocked! No salads! No smoothies! These had been a daily part of my diet for years. But I followed her recommendations and stopped eating all cold foods until summer arrived. And it worked!
3. Hydrate frequently.
The dryness of New Mexico and Colorado, compared to L.A., also exacerbated the problems. The asthma vanished as soon as I started to drink more water and humidified our home.
4. Eat plenty of fermented foods.
As great as my health was for many years, I knew it could be better, but I wasn’t sure what else to do. As far as I knew from my research, I was eating very well. What was missing?
When I discovered that 80% of our immune system is in our gut and that our modern lifestyle often decimates our beneficial gut flora, I added many fermented foods to my diet. In fact, I’ve become proficient at making my own fermented foods — something I’ve come to greatly enjoy.
Even though I’ve stayed away from antibiotics for many years, I learned that there are many other ways our gut flora can become unbalanced. Since adding many fermented foods to my diet, my energy has skyrocketed!
5. Figure out good fats!
As many of you know, for many years we were sold a bill of goods about fats. Now we know that the natural fats are very important for health — and for curbing the appetite. I’ve added many good fats to my diet and I find that they not only enhance my energy, they keep me feeling satisfied much longer.
Whether your eating choice is vegan, vegetarian, Paleo or modified Paleo, following these five choices will enhance your health!
Here are a few tips to help you make every shot count:
Soccer shooting tips:
Observe the goalkeeper’s position. Have they left a gap that you can exploit?
Select the best technique for your shot. A sidefoot shot will have greater accuracy, but an instep (laces) with good follow-through will have greater power.
Put your non-kicking foot alongside the ball.
Keep your head down and your eyes on the ball when striking.
Keep your body over the ball.
Make contact with the middle to top half of the ball.
Maintain your composure.
Tips to improve your chance of scoring:
Shoot wide rather than high. There’s a better chance of getting a deflection that will wrong-foot the goalkeeper.
Shoot low. It’s harder for a keeper to reach shots along the ground because it’s further for them to travel. It’s easy for them to jump up and save, but much harder to crouch down and get it.
Shoot across the keeper. It’s tougher for them to hold these shots, and means they could divert the ball back into the path of another attacker.
Where Are the Most Shots Made?
Ever wondered if there’s actually a “sweet spot” in a soccer goal? A place where you could kick the ball and it would go in almost every time?
Well, there may not be a definitive “sweet spot,” but a recent study did take a look at where scored goals most often went into the net. Here are the results:
Top Left: 8 percent
Top Center: 4 percent
Top Right: 5 percent
Ouch. As you can see, shooting high means you have a pretty low percentage of actually scoring.
Middle Left: 7 percent
Middle Center: 8 percent
Middle Right: 6 percent
While you have a better chance of scoring if you shoot to the middle than up high, the odds still aren’t much in your favor.
Bottom Left: 22 percent
Bottom Center: 21 percent
Bottom Right: 19 percent
Look at these stats: 62 percent of all goals were scored low. This makes sense because it is very difficult for goalkeepers, especially tall ones, to get down to the ground. It’s much easier and more natural for them to jump high.
Also, looking at the statistics, 67 percent of goals were scored in the corners versus 33 percent down the middle. If you combine the two statistics and shoot low into the corner, you should have a much greater success rate in scoring goals.
As with any soccer technique, you need to practice if you want to improve your shooting skills. Fortunately, the techniques used for shooting are similar to those used for passing. So you can build up two vital soccer techniques at the same time.
But most importantly: If you see the goal, shoot!
This one piece of advice is important enough to reiterate: You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take. If you see an opportunity to shoot, take it! The only way these tips can help you is if you implement them, both in practice and in games.
Other bad habits can trigger brain changes, too. Poor diet and lack of exercise can contribute to cardiovascular disease that reduces blood flow to the brain.
So, how can we stay sharp as we age? Here are six ways to help improve brain function:
Exercise your brain. Brain games and certain puzzles and brainteasers help create new associations between different parts of the brain, which keeps it sharp. Other exercises that challenge the brain are things like doing normal activities with your non-dominant hand like brushing your teeth or combing your hair.
Vary activities. Most of us here are already physically active, which is extremely important for brain health, but consider challenging your body – and brain – in a variety of ways from time to time. Mix up exercise routines, do something you haven’t done in a while whether it’s hiking or tossing a ball around. This variety is as healthy for your brain as it is your body.
Eat brain food. We all know that a good, clean diet will improve all areas of our health, but there are many studies and an increasing amount of evidence that certain foods slow mental decline. Topping the list of brain-boosting food is any food high in Omega 3 fatty acids, DHA and EPA, which has been linked to a lower risk of dementia and improved focus and memory. And you were just taking your fish oil to keep your joints from hurting.
Try new things outside of the gym. Take up a language, an instrument, memorize poetry. Asking your brain to do some new tricks keeps it active and able to learn.
Volunteer. Research shows that this can lower your stress levels and increase mental functioning. Volunteering adds to a person’s well-being and overall health. Not only does it feel good, but it promotes brain health by raising self esteem.
Socialize. We are social animals and according to a recent study published in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior, we need a variety of brain stimulation, including social activity, to keep our minds sharp. This is especially true later in life, when aging takes its toll on memory and other complex neurological processes. In the study, older adults who were less socially active than those who were socially active had both cognitive and physical limitations.
When you are managing a challenging schedule (with work, school, other activities), sometimes stress can get the better of you and make it difficult to control your emotions. In general, emotional reactions to any situation have a strong possibility of making things worse. Keeping emotions in check is a trait we consistently find in leaders.
Here are five quick tips to develop better control over your emotions:
1. Learn to respond instead of react
Take a moment to pause and consider what just happened instead of just instantly reacting to new information or a new situation. By taking a few seconds to pause and consider, you can calm yourself briefly and you will be likely to produce a better response.
2. Focus on what you can control
Once you have been presented with a stressful or emotional situation, try to identify what you can and can’t control. If something is done, you can’t change it. You can only determine what to do now.
You can control your response, and to a certain degree, you can likely control what happens next. By focusing on what you can control, you are empowering yourself. By dwelling on things you can’t control, you disempower yourself and make yourself more frustrated and more stressed.
3. Figure out what’s important NOW
When you are presented with a challenging situation in life, it’s important to prioritize what things you have to act on now. If, for example, you arrive at an important meeting, get out of your car, then realize that you just locked your keys in the car, what’s important now? The meeting is important now, not your keys. You can deal with the locked car at any time later in the day.
So many people freak out about little urgent matters and lose sight of what’s really important for them to focus on first. Again, by taking a few moments to pause and consider, you can refocus your mind on what’s most important right now and prioritize your plan of action.
4. Know that you can handle anything
It’s been said that if people made a circle, put their problems in the middle, and had to pick a problem to take back out, most people would pick their own problem to retrieve. Whatever challenges you are facing that may cause stress or negative emotions, you can handle them.
An old man who I saw speak one time suggested that we ask ourselves this question in times of stress:
Am I going to die right now?
If the answer is “no,” then realize that you CAN handle the situation. Sure, some situations are extremely difficult to deal with, but step by step, we can find solutions and move forward.
5. Change the meaning you give to “negative” events.
The more you practice the points above (especially pausing to respond and realizing that you can handle any challenge), the more you will start to view challenging events as more neutral than negative. You’ll even start finding the good in difficult situations in terms of what lessons you can learn, skills you can develop, and new motivation you can gain.This skill of turning negative into positive develops like a muscle and becomes almost instinctive over time. Start by saying “No problem” a whole lot more. Pretty soon, you’ll condition your mind to believe it.
Practice these five steps, and you will find yourself feeling less stress and feeling more in control of your emotions on a day-to-day basis.
Learn to respond instead of react
Focus on what you can control
Figure out what’s important now
Know that you can handle anything
Change the meaning you give to “negative” events
– See more at: http://vectormarketing.com/vector-blog/leadership-lessons-5-tips-to-develop-better-control-over-your-emotions/#sthash.KXOa8idg.dpuf
A lot of people who are yet to visit an orthodontist do not know the numerous benefits that they stand to gain from seeing one. Although the services that are offered by orthodontists are very singular and specialized, the impact that the service will have on the life of the individual is immense. The dental formula is one thing that is more sensitive than people are willing to admit. One’s teeth are the first thing people consciously or subconsciously take note f whenever people have a conversation. This means that it will be very conspicuous if one does not have a good dental formula. Orthodontists are people who ensure that one does not have to experience such uncomfortable situations. Below are some of the other benefits that people stand to enjoy after a visit to the orthodontist.
Easy breathing and swallowing
Whenever one has dental problems, there are various health effects that he or she might face. Some of these problems include breathing problems as well as swallowing problems. To ensure that the risk of people having these problems is reduced significantly, he or she should ensure that he visits an orthodontist. The orthodontist will be in a position to figure out how best to sort out the situation in order to ensure that the individual is able to breathe properly while maintaining a dental structure that is appealing to the eye.
This is when one’s top teeth bite on the inside of his or her lower teeth. When this happens, one is always at risk of biting his or her tongue. This will cause a lot of injury throughout one’s lifetime. The dental structure of the individual will also not be as appealing to the eye as compared to those who do not have such a problem. For this reason, one should ensure that he or she visits an orthodontist to remedy the situation.
This is arguably the most common reason why individuals seek help from an orthodontist. When one does not have a good dental structure, it means that the teeth are not growing the way in which they are expected to grow. This means that one’s facial structure will look a lot different as compared to the structure of other people. When this happens, it means that one needs to see an orthodontist to correct the mistake. The orthodontist will be in a position to analyze the damage and provide a solution which will ensure that one’s face looks the way it was intended to look. This will return normalcy to the individual’s life and it will also boost his or her self esteem.
This is where one’s front teeth bite on the outside of his or her lower teeth. It is a fairly common dental problem which more often than not prevents the individual from being able to close his or her mouth with ease. When one has such a problem, he or she should visit an orthodontist as soon as possible in order to begin treatment.
In conclusion, there are numerous dental problems that one can face. One may not think they are as serious because they do not cause any pain but they are just as serious as a toothache. One’s dental formula has a great impact on the health of the individual. It will also have a great impact on his or her self esteem as well as the general structure of his or her face. For this reason, individuals should make a point of visiting an orthodontist regularly to ensure that all is well.
Written by Dr. Darren Wittenberger, is the best orthodontist for braces Columbia MO has to offer, and owner of his own practice, Advance Orthodontics. Dr. Wittenberger enjoys sharing his expertise to ensure people can maintain the healthiest, straightest teeth possible!
Erectile dysfunction is among the most nightmares among most men. Erectile dysfunction is not a disease; it is a condition that occurs when sufficient blood does not flow into the penis to enable a full erection. This distressing condition can threaten many relationships and lowers a man’s ego when it comes to matters concerning sex. However, it is very much possible to cure erectile dysfunction naturally. The treatment can begin from cutting down on stress, anxiety and anxiety. Also, men need to avoid drinking and smoking since they are also among the leading causes of impotence in most men.
Far from theses causes of impotence, some side effects of some medication could be the cause of impotence among men. Here are some of the drugs that can lead to impotence.
Just as depression causes erectile dysfunction, medications that are prescribed to treat depression also cause depression. This is for the simple reason that they reduce the level of serotonin. Low levels of serotonin reduce men’s libido and men’s ability to achieve and maintain an erection
Blood pressure drugs
The biggest problem with the medication for blood pressure is that lead to erection failure. Beta blockers prescribed to lower blood pressure levels as well as treating rapid heartbeats which are caused by anxiety. These drugs interfere with the part of the nervous system responsible for causing an erection. These drugs reduce the flow of blood to the men’s genitals which is an essential factor to attaining a hard erection and maintaining it. Therefore, men that are on medication for blood pressure should constantly check their libido levels. If there are noticeable changes in sexual desires, they should consult their doctor to consider changing the drugs.
Diuretics are other drugs that are used to treat blood pressure levels. They reduce the amount of fluids in the body to lower the blood pressure. As a result, they may cause reduced blood flow to the penis which is necessary to get an erection.
To reduce the side effects of blood pressure drugs, patients should take them as prescribed by the doctor.
These drugs contain substances that move throughout the body including in the sexual organs. This chemical, therefore, can result in erectile dysfunction. Nevertheless, drugs like Viagra and Cialis may help those who have affected impotence problems. However, most men prefer herbal sex pills or natural methods to Kamagra.
Some everyday drugs.
Some drugs which cause heartburn. For example, Tagamet may also contribute to erectile dysfunction. Others are such as antihistamines for example Benadryl.
Common painkillers like ibuprofen and aspirin may cause ED problems. Most of these painkillers are known as anti-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
The best way to take caution is to consult the doctor if erectile dysfunctions issues are noticed.
Esteemed player Kim Green is set to retire from international netball after seven years of success. The Australian Netball Diamond’s captain and two-time World Championship gold medallist announced her retirement from international netball immediately after Australia’s nail-biting 58-55 triumph over New Zealand in the World Cup netball final.
30-year-old Green has seen great success since making her debut in Christchurch in 2008 against New Zealand. She has played in 74 tests and two World Cup campaigns, with her team triumphant on both occasions.
Named captain and acting captain of the New South Wales Swifts and the Diamonds in 2014, Green is best known for her explosive handling skills on the court. She was the joint winner of the ANZ Championship Most Valuable Player Award in the same year and was named the NSW Swifts’ most valuable player in both 2013 and 2014. Her success has seen her listed among Australia’s top 10 capped players of all time.
Speaking to Green on her retirement, the Sydney Herald Times reported that it was not a spontaneous decision. When asked about the timing of the announcement, Green was reported as saying that it was “time to move on”. She went on to acknowledge her success, saying: “I’ve had a fantastic career and I’ve loved every second of it.”
Green added: “To finish the way we did, I knew exactly what I wanted to do and I’m super happy with my decision. I can’t wait to just watch these girls absolutely blossom in the next four years and win another World Cup.”
Green’s international career started when she was just 23 years of age, proving how many opportunities there are for young aspiring athletes. Green herself offers netball coaching in Australia when not on tour, with other opportunities available throughout the rest of the world.
Coaching tips and hints are available for those wishing to train up the next world-class athlete on sites such as http://www.sportplan.net/. A netball drill video is a great resource, covering a variety of techniques from landing practice to passing and returning.
Green has stated that her netball career is far from over and has announced that she will continue to play for the NSW Swifts after a short break, during which she will recuperate from her recent world tour.
Are you suffering from tremendous pain in your tooth? Well, if you think that there is something you can do well for your tooth then, of course, it is a perfect time to get consulting with a doctor. Of course, you need to keep it in mind that when you are about to go through a surgery to get this whole thing fully cleared. What you have to do is simple- consult a doctor and get started away. But, if somehow you feel the presence, of another guide to help you go through the process, you can easily do it with the help of an implant surgical guide. Well, it is not just about a guidance, but this software is initiated in such a way which will help you to get a good ambience out of your surgery. Some of the huge benefits that you can make out of this guidance software are:
Plan your own cases
The software prepares itself in such a way to give you a solution for everything. Indeed, there are many basic functions which you can utilize with this. All you need to do is plan up your own cases such as designing the tooth, filling the tooth gaps or even a preparing for a surgery. This whole thing is actually a book of knowledge for you which will help you to give a perfect solution for everything. All you have to do is acknowledge a little more on the surgery.
Present on iPad or PC
The software is available on any versions which will help you to operate from your iPad as well as your PC. Thus, there is not any more scope of operating it from only your PC as a matter of which you do not have to sit in your home and do it. All you have to do everytime is to get a hold of the correct version of the software according to the configuration of the device you are using. This will automatically help you to continue your designs even if you are too busy with your work at the office hours.
Get Good Reference
The next most thing that you have to accomplish is to have a good reference. You can get a free training every time as well as a proper guidance if you are stuck at somewhere. All that you have to do is call the software operator if you feel that you are getting a help with this.With the pack of a software, you can get another application of the training done in the time and it will help you to get a good help out of this.
Thus, all you have to do is order for this implant surgical guide to get started away and do some graphical representation with your tooth. You can also customize your tooth with the help of 3D representation changing the quality and making it better for usage. So if you think that you are in some urgency, why to wait any longer- order it now! For more information, you can view alamoheights.biz.
Medical assistants are thebackbone of medical firm. They work with doctors’ chambers and associated with other hospitals. After bagging a medical assistant certification, you will be able to check out vital signs, and assist both nurses and doctors. You will also be able to work with patient’s records.
Why inclining more towards medical assistant courses?
After going through the courses from accredited companies, you will receive jobs now. Medical companies are willing to avail help from medical assistants, who have been working in this section for more than a decade now. Therefore, job placement comes as a complete guaranteed service.
What will be the next step followed?
After completion of the medical assistant program, you can easily sit for the CMAA certification or certified medical administrative assistant. For some other placements, you can even sit for CCMA or certified clinical medical assistant certification examination. Loads of options are available here.
What will you learn during online medical training?
Online medical assistant program is currently available with hard copy lesson books or electronic products. Some of the basic courses taught here are introduction note to anatomy, medical terminology, first air procedures and preparing patients for medical examination.
What are the other points to cover?
Apart from the points mentioned above, the training courses cover subjects like minor surgical procedures, medical insurance 101, administering and preparing medications and other front office procedures. Patient therapies and pharmacology forms two of the other important notes to be focused over here now.
Digital technology emergence brought remarkable innovations in medicine sector. Mini C-arm is one of them. C-arm digital technology delivers incredible benefits, which were not possible in 70s and 80s.
Mini C-arm system
C-arm system is based on fluoroscopic imaging. The X-rays causes ionization of atoms as well as modifies the DNA. Ionization in atoms generates movement of the free electrons, which is termed as ‘Current’.
Fluoroscopy is conducted by employing current value 3 to 6 mA with required voltage value of 80 to 125 Vp. X-rays are produced in proportion to the flowing current through X-ray tube but if voltage increases sensitivity too amplifies.
Components of fluoroscope
X-ray generator – It allows voltage and current adjustment to be passed through X-ray tube.
X-ray tube – It is responsible to convert electrical energy to X-ay beam.
Collimator – It uses blades to determine X-ray beam
Patient table & pad – Carbon fiber tables are lightweight and strong. It is designed specifically to supports the patient’s body and reduce the dwindling of X-ray.
Image intensifier – It converts X-rays as well as improves image brightness. Intensifier differs in diameter sizes and is available in accordance to the devices.
What are X-rays?
X-rays are electromagnetic waves that penetrate or get scattered fully/partially, when it strikes a tissue. A complete absorption results in no image. Partial absorption results in image with scattered emission, which can potentially be harmful to theatre staff. For overcoming this problem C-arm device was introduced.
Advantages of mini C-arm
Fluoroscopic imaging system includes conventional C-arm and mini C-arm. Both use X-rays for providing images, but advantages provided by mini C-arm is more in comparison to conventional C-arm.
Mini C-arm is small in size giving better workplace access. It is user-friendly, even surgeons can operate it. Therefore there is no need of a radiographer, which reduces delays, surgery costs, and taxing on radiology department.
A machine with foot pedal reduces screening time and the amount of scattered radiation. This is the main benefit of mini C-arm over Conventional C-arm.
Mini C-arm uses the current pulse fluoroscopy technology and includes small detector area, tight beam collimation, lower laser power, and controlled screening.
Mini C-arm includes improved precision, better maneuverability, and instant printout facility.
The image required is available in less time with few exposures.
Disadvantages of mini C-arm
Due to small view area and low powered X-ray generator, the image quality is not as good as conventional C-arm. Mini C-arm is designed for extremity surgery but conventional C-arm is applied in both extremity and axial surgery.
Application of mini C-arm
This smaller system is handy in clinics for orthopedic, sports medicine and podiatric imaging. Pacific health USA used C Arms is applied in different procedures related to the hand, ankle, and foot surgery. It can identify –
In today’s life is so critical. We have to do a lot of work to make sure our surviving. But sometimes it gives us physical pain and then we feel so boring. But we have a solution here. We know a magical herbal product. This amazing herbal can relief any kind of pain instantly in a minute. It not just a great pain reliever it also can control our blood pressure and make us more energetic and refresh. I know you are really excited to know what this magical herbal product is. We knew this herbal as kratom.
Where it comes from
Kratom plants are originally comes from the Southeast Asian and pacific island countries. Thailand, Malaysia, Myanmar and Indonesia are the most kratom cultivating countries. A few centuries ago people of Southeast Asian countries discovered the amazing herbal tree. They started to cultivate it and marketed it. In 1939 a famous European botanist called Pieter Korthals first write about this herbal in his journal. From then kratom craze is increasing day by day.
Uses and Benefits of kratom
Basically kratom leaf is used to make many kinds of herbal products like kratom tea, kratom pills, kratom powder etc. But the log and roots are also being used in many ways. Kratom leaf contains more than 40 various kinds of alkaloid. The balance of alkaloid makes kratom a very effective pain killer. Kratom leaf also has a great effect on our nervous system. Which can helps us to control our blood pressure, makes us more energetic and helps us to create more concentrate in our work. Kratom also has a little opiod effects. That’s why in some western countries kratom is using as an element to provide therapy to the drug affected people. The scientists are trying to discovering more benefits of kratom products.
There are so many kratom products in all over the world. But we got some amazing and popular kratom products list for you. Kratom tea is the most popular kratom product in worldwide. People also like kratom powder, kratom pills, green vein kratom, white vein kratom, red bali kratom etc. these products are really easy to use and they are very useful to makes our life comfortable and easy.
Where to buy kratom
In the Southeast Asian and European countries there are some kratom products selling store. You can get your favorite kratom products from here. But in this modern era the online marketing is the best way to buy any kind of products. Anybody can buy kratom products from more than hundred of kratom selling sites.
Chronic stress from negative attitudes and feelings of helplessness and hopelessness can upset the body’s hormone balance and deplete the brain chemicals required for feelings of happiness, as well as have a damaging impact on the immune system. New scientific understandings have also identified the process by which chronic stress can actually decrease our lifespan by shortening our telomeres (the “end caps” of our DNA strands, which play a big role in aging).
Poorly managed or repressed anger (hostility) is also related to a slew of health conditions, such as hypertension, cardiovascular disease, digestive disorders, and infection.
The importance of positivity
Scientist Barbara Fredrickson has shown that positive emotions have two important effects: they broaden our perspective of the world (thus inspiring more creativity, wonder, and options), and they build up over time, creating lasting emotional resilience and flourishing.
Dr. Fredrickson has spent years researching and publishing the physical and emotional benefits of positivity, including faster recovery from cardiovascular stress, better sleep, fewer colds, and a greater sense of overall happiness. The good news is not only that positive attitudes—such as playfulness, gratitude, awe, love, interest, serenity, and feeling connected to others—have a direct impact on health and wellbeing, but that we can develop them ourselves with practice.
However, in our wish to defend against threat and loss in life, we tend to prioritize bad over good. While this is a tidy survival mechanism for someone who needs to stay hyper vigilant in a dangerous environment, the truth is that for most of us, this “negativity bias” means that we spend time ruminating over the minor frustrations we experience—bad traffic, a disagreement with a loved one—and ignoring the many chances we have to experience wonder, awe, and gratitude throughout the day.
Fredrickson has calculated that in order to offset the negativity bias and experience a harmonious emotional state, we need to experience three positive emotions for every negative one. This, she claims, can be done intentionally for those of us less “wired” to positivity. These positive emotions literally reverse the physical effects of negativity and build up psychological resources that contribute to a flourishing life.
The attitude of forgiveness—fully accepting that a negative circumstance has occurred and relinquishing negative feelings surrounding the event—can be learned and can lead us to experience better mental, emotional and physical health. The Stanford Forgiveness Project trained 260 adults in forgiveness in a 6-week course.
The practice of forgiveness has also been linked to better immune function and a longer lifespan. Other studies have shown that forgiveness has more than just a metaphorical effect on the heart: it can actually lower our blood pressure and improve cardiovascular health as well.
Acknowledging the good aspects of life and giving thanks have a powerful impact on emotional wellbeing. In a landmark study, people who were asked to count their blessings felt happier, exercised more, had fewer physical complaints, and slept better than those who created lists of hassles.
Brené Brown has found that there is a relationship between joy and gratitude, but with a surprising twist: it’s not joy that makes us grateful, but gratitude that makes us joyful.
Dr. Andrew Weil describes resilience as being like a rubber band—no matter how far a resilient person is stretched or pulled by negative emotions, he or she has the ability to bounce back to his or her original state. Resilient people are able to experience tough emotions like pain, sorrow, frustration, and grief without falling apart—in fact, some people are able to look at challenging times with optimism and hope, knowing that their hardships will lead to personal growth and an expanded outlook on life.
Resilient people do not deny the pain or suffering they are experiencing; rather, they retain a sense of positivity that helps them overcome the negative effects of their situation. Positive emotions have a scientific purpose—to help the body recover from the ill effects of negative emotions. Thus cultivating positivity over time can help us become more resilient in the face of crisis or stress.
Humans experience an array of emotions, anything from happiness, to sadness to extreme joy and depression. Each one of these emotions creates a different feeling within the body. After all, our body releases different chemicals when we experience various things that make us happy and each chemical works to create a different environment within the body. For example if your brain releases serotonin, dopamine or oxytocin, you will feel good and happy. Conversely, if your body releases cortisol while you are stressed, you will have an entirely different feeling associated more with the body kicking into survival mode.
What about when we are thinking negative thoughts all the time? Or how about when we are thinking positive thoughts? What about when we are not emotionally charged to neither positive nor negative? Let’s explore how these affect our body and life.
Positive vs. Negative
Is there duality in our world? Sure, you could say there is to a degree, but mostly we spend a lot of time defining and judging what is to be considered as positive and what we consider to be as negative. The brain is a very powerful tool and as we define what something is or should be, we begin to have that result play out in our world. Have you ever noticed, for example that someone driving can get cut off and lose their lid, get angry and suddenly they are feeling negative, down and in bad mood? Whereas someone else can get cut off while driving and simply apply the brake slightly and move on with their day as if nothing happened. In this case, the same experience yet one sees it as negative while the other doesn’t. So are things innately positive and negative? Or do we define things as positive and negative?
Cut The Perceptions As Much As Possible
After thinking about it for a moment you might realize that there are in fact no positive or negative experiences other than what we define as such. Therefore our very perception of an experience or situation has the ultimate power as to how we will feel when it’s happening and how our bodies will be affected. While we can always work to move beyond our definitions of each experience and move into a state of mind/awareness/consciousness where we simply accept each experience for what it is and use it as a learning grounds for us, we may not be there yet and so it’s important to understand how certain emotions can affect our health.
“If someone wishes for good health, one must first ask oneself if he is ready to do away with the reasons for his illness. Only then is it possible to help him.” ~ Hippocrates
Mind Body Connection
The connection between your mind and body is very powerful and although it cannot be visually seen, the effects your mind can have on your physical body are profound. We can have an overall positive mental attitude and deal directly with our internal challenges and in turn create a healthy lifestyle or we can be in negative, have self destructive thoughts and not deal with our internal issues, possibly even cloak those issues with affirmations and positivity without finding the route and in turn we can create an unhealthy lifestyle. Why is this?
Our emotions and experiences are essentially energy and they can be stored in the cellular memory of our bodies. Have you ever experienced something in your life that left an emotional mark or pain in a certain area of your body? Almost as if you can still feel something that may have happened to you? It is likely because in that area of your body you still hold energy released from that experience that is remaining in that area. I came across an interesting chart that explores some possible areas that various emotions might affect the body.
When you have a pain, tightness or injuries in certain areas, it’s often related to something emotionally you are feeling within yourself. At first glance it may not seem this way because we are usually very out of touch with ourselves and our emotions in this fast paced world, but it’s often the truth. When I’ve had chronic pains in my back, knees, neck or shoulders, it wasn’t exercise, physio or anything in a physical sense that healed it, it was when I dealt with the emotions behind it. I know this because I spent the time and money going to physio and even though I wanted and believed I would get better, something wasn’t being addressed still. The more I addressed the unconscious thought pattern and emotions throughout my body, the more things loosened up and pain went away.
When you get sick or are feeling a lot of tightness and pain, often times our body is asking us to observe yourself and find peace once again within yourself and your environment. It’s all a learning and growing process we don’t have to judge nor fear.
You Have The Power
Davis Suzuki wrote in ‘The Sacred Balance’, ‘condensed molecules from breath exhaled from verbal expressions of anger, hatred, and jealousy, contain toxins. Accumulated over 1 hr, these toxins are enough to kill 80 guinea pigs!’ Can you now imagine the harm you are doing to your body when you stay within negative emotions or unprocessed emotional experience throughout the body?
Remember, you have all the power in you to get through anything life throws at you. Instead of labeling with perception the concepts of negative and positive as it relates to each experience you have in your life, try to see things from a big picture standpoint. Ask yourself, how can this help me to see or learn something? Can I use this to shift my perception? Clear some emotion within myself? Realize something within another and accept it? Whatever it may be, instead of simply reacting, slow things down and observe. You will find you have the tools to process emotions and illness quickly when you see them for what they are and explore why they came up. If you believe you will get sick all the time, and believe you have pain because it’s all out of your control, you will continue to have it all in an uncontrollable manner until you realize the control you have over much of what we attract within the body.
People who are emotionally healthy are in control of their thoughts, feelings and behaviors. They feel good about themselves and have good relationships. They can keep problems in perspective.
Even people who have good emotional health can sometimes have emotional problems or mental illness. Mental illness often has a physical cause, such as a chemical imbalance in the brain. Stress and problems with family, work or school can sometimes trigger mental illness or make it worse. However, people who are emotionally healthy have learned ways to cope with stress and problems. They know when to seek help from their doctor or a counselor.
What about anger?
People are sometimes not aware of what causes their anger, how much anger they are holding inside or how to express anger appropriately. You may be angry about certain events, your own actions or other people’s actions. Many little things can build up to make you feel that life is unfair.
What can I do to avoid problems?
First, try to be more aware of your emotions and reactions. To help you do a better job of managing your emotional health, learn to identify and address the reasons for sadness, frustration and anger in your life. The box to the right gives some other helpful tips.
How does stress affect my emotions?
Your body responds to stress by making stress hormones. These hormones help your body respond to situations of extreme need, such as when you are in danger. But when your body makes too many of these hormones for a long period of time, the hormones wear down your body — and your emotions. People who are under stress a lot are often emotional, anxious, irritable and even depressed.
If possible, try to change the situation that is causing your stress. Relaxation methods, such as deep breathing and meditation, and exercise are also useful ways to cope with stress.
Can emotional problems be treated?
Yes. Counseling, support groups and medicines can help people who have emotional problems or mental illness. If you have an ongoing emotional problem, talk to your family doctor. He or she can help you find the right type of treatment.
Learn to express your feelings in appropriate ways. It’s important to let people close to you know when something is bothering you. Keeping feelings of sadness or anger inside takes extra energy. It can also cause problems in your relationships and at work or school.
Think before you act. Emotions can be powerful. But before you get carried away by your emotions and say or do something you might regret, give yourself time to think.
Strive for balance in your life. Make time for things you enjoy. Focus on positive things in your life.
Take care of your physical health. Your physical health can affect your emotional health. Take care of your body by exercising regularly, eating healthy meals and getting enough sleep. Don’t abuse drugs or alcohol.
Can you tell the difference between a mental health myth and fact? Learn the truth about the most common mental health myths.
Mental Health Problems Affect Everyone
Myth: Mental health problems don’t affect me.
Fact: Mental health problems are actually very common. In 2011, about:
One in five American adults experienced a mental health issue
One in 10 young people experienced a period of major depression
One in 20 Americans lived with a serious mental illness, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or major depression
Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. It accounts for the loss of more than 38,000 American lives each year, more than double the number of lives lost to homicide. Learn more about mental health problems.
Myth: Children don’t experience mental health problems.
Fact: Even very young children may show early warning signs of mental health concerns. These mental health problems are often clinically diagnosable, and can be a product of the interaction of biological, psychological, and social factors.
Half of all mental health disorders show first signs before a person turns 14 years old, and three quarters of mental health disorders begin before age 24.
Unfortunately, less than 20% of children and adolescents with diagnosable mental health problems receive the treatment they need. Early mental health support can help a child before problems interfere with other developmental needs.
Myth: People with mental health problems are violent and unpredictable.
Fact: The vast majority of people with mental health problems are no more likely to be violent than anyone else. Most people with mental illness are not violent and only 3%-5% of violent acts can be attributed to individuals living with a serious mental illness. In fact, people with severe mental illnesses are over 10 times more likely to be victims of violent crime than the general population. You probably know someone with a mental health problem and don’t even realize it, because many people with mental health problems are highly active and productive members of our communities.
Myth: People with mental health needs, even those who are managing their mental illness, cannot tolerate the stress of holding down a job.
Fact: People with mental health problems are just as productive as other employees. Employers who hire people with mental health problems report good attendance and punctuality as well as motivation, good work, and job tenure on par with or greater than other employees.
When employees with mental health problems receive effective treatment, it can result in:
Lower total medical costs
Decreased disability costs
Myth: Personality weakness or character flaws cause mental health problems. People with mental health problems can snap out of it if they try hard enough.
Fact: Mental health problems have nothing to do with being lazy or weak and many people need help to get better. Many factors contribute to mental health problems, including:
Biological factors, such as genes, physical illness, injury, or brain chemistry
Life experiences, such as trauma or a history of abuse
Family history of mental health problems
People with mental health problems can get better and many recover completely.
Helping Individuals with Mental Health Problems
Myth: There is no hope for people with mental health problems. Once a friend or family member develops mental health problems, he or she will never recover.
Fact: Studies show that people with mental health problems get better and many recover completely. Recovery refers to the process in which people are able to live, work, learn, and participate fully in their communities. There are more treatments, services, and community support systems than ever before, and they work.
Myth: Therapy and self-help are a waste of time. Why bother when you can just take a pill?Fact: Treatment for mental health problems varies depending on the individual and could include medication, therapy, or both. Many individuals work with a support system during the healing and recovery process.
Myth: I can’t do anything for a person with a mental health problem.Fact: Friends and loved ones can make a big difference. Only 38% of adults with diagnosable mental health problems and less than 20% of children and adolescents receive needed treatment. Friends and family can be important influences to help someone get the treatment and services they need by:
Reaching out and letting them know you are available to help
Helping them access mental health services
Learning and sharing the facts about mental health, especially if you hear something that isn’t true
Treating them with respect, just as you would anyone else
Refusing to define them by their diagnosis or using labels such as “crazy”
Myth: Prevention doesn’t work. It is impossible to prevent mental illnesses.
Fact: Prevention of mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders focuses on addressing known risk factors such as exposure to trauma that can affect the chances that children, youth, and young adults will develop mental health problems. Promoting the social-emotional well-being of children and youth leads to:
Would you say that you are a positive person? Do you try to “look on the bright side” of things? Would you say you improve the energy of a room when you walk into it, or are you a real drain? When people ask, “How are you?” do you commonly respond “OK” “fine” or “tired”?Being human means that we will have days where we truly feel tired and are struggling with a problem. However it’s easy to let feelings run away with us, and stay longer than they are welcome.
Stress, worry and feeling “down” are all feelings that when left unresolved can actually harm our health.
So I encourage you today, whenever you feel tired, down, or stressed to stop and ask yourself, “what can I do at this very moment to change the situation?” If you can truly do nothing, than you can at least change how you feel about whatever situation is bringing you down.
Because the truth is, life is hard! There is a lot going on around us that isn’t always ideal. We live in the world WITH people, which means everyone’s personality, energy and moods can affect us, if we let them.
One step to moving towards better emotional health, is to personally take time to talk to yourself and learn to overcome feelings. Work on letting go of what you can not control. Work on telling yourself what is actually good in your life, versus focusing on what is not going your way. It will take daily practice to learn to master your emotions, and not let them master you.
Remember, no ones life is perfect. NO ONE’S. The secret to having a better life though, it to enjoy what you have, where you are at, and to continuously work on being a more positive person for yourself first, and then watch how it helps improve the lives of those around you!
Being positive costs you nothing, but it can change everything.
Let’s get started RIGHT NOW! I want to know what are 3 positive things in your life you are grateful for. Comment below this post to share them! They can be simple positivity pleasures such as, “I love that peanut butter exists in the world” to larger positivity pleasures such as, “I love my husband!”
Here are 3 of mine for today!
1. I love my job and that I get to help people
2. I have wonderful authentic friendships
3. I am grateful for the sunshine!!
Now take a deep breath, let it out and smile. The heart of life is GOOD!
Have a wonderful day and remember that your emotional health is important! Choose to BE POSITIVE!
Adopting the following seven habits and ‘treating’ common psychological injuries when they occur will help protect your mental health and improve your emotional resilience.1. Gain Control after a Failure: Failure distorts our perceptions such that our goals seem more out of reach and our capacities seem less up to the task. Once we feel as though there is little we can do to succeed, we become demoralized and lose our motivation. Adopt the habit of ignoring this misleading ‘gut’ reaction and make a list of the many factors related to your goal that were in your control (e.g., effort, preparation, planning, different approaches you could have taken, and others). Then, consider how you might go about improving each of these factors. Doing so will not only combat defeatist misperceptions, it will drastically improve your chances of future success.
2. Find Meaning in Loss and Trauma: One of the main factors that distinguishes those who thrive emotionally after experiencing loss or trauma from those who do not, is their ability to eventually find meaning in their experiences and to derive purpose from them. Of course, doing so takes time, as does the process of grieving and adapting to new realities. However, adopting the habit of searching for ways to recognize not just what you’ve lost, but what you’ve gained as well, will allow you to develop new appreciations for your life and the people in it, to make important changes, and to find value, meaning, and purpose even if you lacked them before.
3. Disrupt the Urge to Brood and Ruminate: When we brood over distressing events we rarely gain insight into them. Instead, we replay upsetting or angering scenarios in our heads, which only increases our urge to brood and makes us feel worse. Therefore, despite how compelling the urge to brood is, adopt the habit of disrupting the brooding cycle as soon as you catch yourself ruminating about the events in question. The best way to do this is to distract yourself with a task that requires concentration—such as a game of Sudoku, trying to recall the exact order of the stations on your bus/subway line, or watching an absorbing show.
4. Nurture Your Self-Esteem: Our self-esteem fluctuates such that we feel better about ourselves some days than we do others. But many of us become self-critical when we’re feeling bad, essentially kicking our self-esteem when it’s already down. To improve your mental health, adopt the habit of regarding your self-esteem as an ‘emotional immune system’ that needs to be nurtured back to health when it’s ailing. The best way to ‘heal’ damaged self-esteem is to practice self-compassion. When you have self-critical thoughts, consider what you would do if a dear friend had similar feelings. Write out what you would say to them in an email if you wanted to express compassion and support. Then read the email as if they had sent it to you.
5. Revive Your Self-Worth after a Rejection: Rejections are so hurtful we often try to make sense of our emotional pain by finding fault in ourselves. Our reasoning is that if we hurt so much, we must be really weak/pathetic/a loser/unworthy/fragile/unlovable, etc… Rejection hurts as it does not because there’s something wrong with us but because of how our brains are wired. The best way to ease emotional pain and revive your self-worth after a rejection is to adopt the habit of affirming aspects of yourself you value, qualities you possess that you find meaningful (e.g., loyalty, compassion, creativity, or a strong work-ethic). Make a list of such attributes, choose one or two and write a short essay about why the quality is important to you.
6. Combat Loneliness by Identifying Self-Defeating Behaviors: Chronic loneliness is much more common then we realize and it has a devastating impact on our emotional and physical health (read how loneliness can shorten your life-expectancy here). The problem is that once we feel lonely, we often act in ways to minimize the risk of further rejection by unconsciously engaging in self-defeating behaviors and sabotaging opportunities to make new social connections or to deepen existing ones. The best way to combat loneliness is to adopt the habit of identifying and challenging these self-defeating behaviors. Make a list of excuses you’ve used to avoid taking initiative in social situations (e.g., I won’t know anyone at the party so why go? They don’t call me so why should I call them? They’re probably too busy to meet up. I can’t just introduce myself to a stranger at a cocktail party). Now make a list of people whose company you’ve enjoyed in the past (go through your phone book, Facebook friends, and Email contacts) and reach out to one or two of them each day to initiate plans until your social calendar is full. Challenge yourself to avoid using excuses from your list when you feel anxious.
7. Shed Excessive Guilt by Repairing Damaged Relationships: Excessive guilt occurs when our actions or inactions have harmed another person (most often a close friend or relative) who has not forgiven us for our wrongdoing. Such situations usually have more to do with the inadequacies of our apologies than with the inability of the other person to ‘let go’ of their hurt. Indeed, the crucial ingredient an effective apology requires—and the one we most often miss—is empathy. For the other person to truly forgive you, adopt the habit of conveying effective apologies when you’ve done wrong. To do so, make sure the other person feels you totally ‘get’ how they felt as well as how they were impacted by your actions . Once you’ve expressed adequate empathy, the other person is much more likely to feel your apology is sincere and to convey authentic forgiveness. Your guilt will dissolve soon thereafter.
Evidence suggests there are five steps we can all take to improve our mental wellbeing.
If you approach them with an open mind and try them out, you can judge the results yourself.
connect – connect with the people around you: your family, friends, colleagues and neighbours. Spend time developing these relationships.
be active – you don’t have to go to the gym. Take a walk, go cycling or play a game of football. Find the activity that you enjoy and make it a part of your life.
keep learning – learning new skills can give you a sense of achievement and a new confidence. So why not sign up for that cooking course, start learning to play a musical instrument, or figure out how to fix your bike?
give to others – even the smallest act can count, whether it’s a smile, a thank you or a kind word. Larger acts, such as volunteering at your local community centre, can improve your mental wellbeing and help you build new social networks.
be mindful – be more aware of the present moment, including your feelings and thoughts, your body and the world around you. Some people call this awareness “mindfulness”, and it can positively change the way you feel about life and how you approach challenges.
Within the context of one’s family, community and cultural background, social and emotional health is the child’s developing capacity to:
Form secure relationships
Experience and regulate emotions and,
Explore and learn
(Definition from Zero To Three)
Social health reflects a child’s developing ability to form close, secure relationships with other familiar people in their lives such as parents, relatives and other nurturing caregivers. This trusting bond helps children to feel safe in exploring their world. Raver and Zigler (1997) defined the term social competence as a group of behaviors that permits each individual child to develop and engage in positive interactions with other people. The following groups of behavior included are:
responding to and initiating interactions between caregivers, siblings, other adults, and peers
participating in cooperative and social activities
managing behavior and resolving conflict
knowing about self and others
developing a positive self-image and self-worth.
Emotional development is closely tied to social development. It refers to the expression of a child’s feelings about herself, others, and the situations she will face in the world around her as well as gaining control of her bodily functions, learning to focus, and pay attention in the context of nurturing support by familiar caregivers (Mackrain, Golani & Kairone, 2008). Witherington, Campos, and Hertenstein referred to emotions as “the processes by which an individual attempts to establish, change, or maintain his or her regulation to the environment on matters of significance to the person” (2001, p. 429). Emotional competence has been defined as the ability to effectively regulate emotions to accomplish one’s goals (Campos et al., 1994). Emotions are reactions which are experienced differently by each individual. This is why different people can have different emotions when experiencing the same event. Young children need to develop and safely express a variety of emotional responses so they can learn to adjust to new situations and achieve their desired outcomes. This results in a richer social environment and more satisfying relationships for the child and those around him or her.
Emotional health is defined by the degree to which you feel emotionally secure and relaxed in everyday life. An emotionally healthy person has a relaxed body, an open mind and an open heart.
The more emotional health you have, the more self-esteem you have. This means you do not frequently react with knee jerk responses, anxiety or panic to the events that occur in your life.
Instead, you are usually calm and patient with yourself and others. You are an emotionally safe person to be around because you feel emotionally secure.
Emotionally safe people do not judge or criticize others. This is because they have learned not to judge and criticize themselves.
Emotionally healthy people feel safe and secure with their own emotions and feelings. They feel their feelings and emotions instead of avoiding them or trying to control them.
To be emotionally healthy you must express your emotions in healthy, assertive ways. If you inhibit your emotions and feelings you cannot achieve emotional health. This means an emotionally healthy person is assertive.
Emotional Wellness Definition:
Emotional health is on a continuum and fluctuates moment by moment. Emotional wellness is at the peak of this continuum.
Emotionally wellness is when you has such a high degree of emotional health that you often radiate joy and feel high on life.
Emotional wellness refers to a state where you have so much healthy, flowing vital energy in your body that you have vibrant moments, peak experiences and peak performances.
Emotional wellness is the state you enjoy as you move closer and closer to being self-actualized.
Emotional Intelligence Definition:
Unfortunately, Emotional Intelligence frequently becomes a catch all for many behaviors and feelings that have nothing to do with emotional health and wellness.
For example, a one day Emotional Intelligence seminar offered by a popular teacher says you will “Learn to keep your emotions in check, and help coworkers do the same.”
This definition of Emotional Intelligence is the opposite of authentic emotional health. Emotionally healthy people would never keep their emotions in check or inhibit someone else’s.
Due to the misinformation about Emotional Intelligence online, in seminars and courses be careful. Check out people carefully before studying with them.
Though learning preferences differ from person to person, all human brains function in the same general way. Understanding how your brain absorbs and stores new information can help you optimize your academic performance.
1. Learning builds on prior knowledge
Dr. James D. Watson, one of the four scientists who discovered DNA’s double helix structure, once wrote that the brain is, “the most complex thing we have yet discovered in our universe.” While admittedly complex, its individual parts are fairly simple to understand.
The human brain consists of special cells called neurons, which are composed of several parts, including brain fibers known as dendrites. As you learn, these brain fibers grow. The fibers connect your brain cells to one another at contact points called synapses. The larger your brain fibers grow, and the more brain cells they connect, the more information can be stored in your brain.
2. Practice leads to stronger connections in the brain
When it comes to creating stronger, faster connections in the brain, practicing the skill or information that you wish to fully master is essential. This is because regular practice — whether it involves reading a history textbook, listening to a science podcast or solving a calculus problem — causes your dendrites to grow thicker and to coat themselves with a fatty layer. With enough practice, these thickened brain fibers will eventually form double connections to one another.
3. The type of practice you do directly impacts what you learn
It is important to remember that the brain grows fibers that relate to what you are practicing. This fact is especially important to keep in mind if you are enrolled in courses that require hands-on skills, such as calculus, chemistry, physics and studio art. In such classes, it’s essential to not just listen to and watch how to perform a specific skill, but to also perform that skill yourself. This will help you truly learn it.
4. Your working memory has limits
Working memory is the part of your brain that allows information to be stored and mentally manipulated for short periods of time. This is the type of memory you rely on to do mental math, such as when you’re out to dinner and must calculate a tip, or when you’re trying to memorize the five or six items you need to purchase at the grocery store.
Though the capacity of working memory differs from person to person, scientists believe that its general limit is five to seven items. But don’t let that limit intimidate (or frustrate) you — researchers also believe that memory can be improved by taking proper care of your brain and body. Another way to increase your working memory’s limit is by grouping items together before you try to memorize them.
5. Sleep impacts learning and memory
Most college students experience sleep deprivation at least once in their educational careers. However, a routine lack of sleep can have detrimental impacts on your health. It can also wreak havoc on your ability to learn. Besides making it more difficult to focus, sleep deprivation can drastically diminish your brain’s ability to take in new information.
In particular, scientists have found that it is extremely important to get a full night’s rest within the first 30 hours of learning new knowledge. Try to prioritize your rest (i.e. get seven to nine hours of sleep) each day of the week. This may mean changing your schedule, lifestyle, and habits, but it will provide you with extraordinary health and learning benefits.
No matter what our age, we all want our brains to function their best. However, this is of particular importance as we age. We all know people who are of an advanced age who are as sharp as a tack, and others who are that same age who don’t think clearly or quickly. We wonder what we need to do to end up like the first person.
Recently the Institute of Medicine, which is the health arm of the National Academy of Sciences, released a report that identifies what helps and hurts brain function as we age. The results were published in this month’s AARP bulletin.
Let’s start with the bad news first so as to end on a positive note.
THINGS THAT CAN HARM THE AGING BRAIN
1. Depression: People who suffer from depression have an astounding double the risk for brain dysfunction, including dementia. One possible explanation is that depression causes changes in the brain’s hippocampus.
2. Difficulty Seeing and Hearing: Being able to see and hear well are directly associated with healthy cognitive function, including memory. People who can’t see or hear often avoid social interaction, which is a key factor in brain health. Also, according to a Johns Hopkins study, adults with hearing problems appear to have a greater rate of brain shrinkage as they age.
3. Medications: Antihistimines, sleep aids, and antidepressants have been shown to increase the risk of dementia. So if you are depressed, which is also a risk factor, try to deal with it naturally, such as with adequate sleep, exercise, a healthy diet, and prayer.
4. Stress: Daily stress can cause memory problems, but stress that lasts for months and even years is associated with a faster decline of brain health. Many of us can’t eliminate the stress in our live, such as traffic jams and difficult relationships, but we can deal with stress effectively, in the same ways we deal with depressions: adequate sleep, exercise, healthy diet, and prayer.
5. Air Pollution: Long-term exposure to air pollution is linked with brain shrinkage, brain damage, and impaired brain function, according to one new study.
6. High Blood Pressure and Diabetes: These are also risk factors for heart disease. Doctors have been linking brain health and heart health for years now. Exercising, eating right and maintaining a healthy weight can lower blood pressure and reverse diabetes.
THINGS THAT HELP THE AGING BRAIN
7. Exercise: The best is exercise that causes you to breathe heavily for at least 30 minutes straight….combined with weight lifting. People whose brains benefitted the most from exercise were people over the age of 65.
8. Intellectual Stimulation: When it comes to the brain, “use it or lose it.” Having a natural curiosity and continuing to learn are excellent for brain function. Some of the best ways to help your mind stay fit are learning a new language, reading, and writing.
9. Social Stimulation: Connecting in a positive way with other people has been proven time and again to keep our minds young. Spending time with friends and loved ones, such as at church activities, volunteering, and playing games all help preserve brain function.
10. Healthy Diet: Stay away from processed foods containing hydrogenated oils (trans fats) and sugar. Research shows a link between packaged food and brain shrinkage. On the other hand, scientists have discovered healthy fats are good for the brain. These include fish oils and other Omega-3 fats as well as the fats in nuts, avocado, coconut oil, and olive oil.
11. Good Sleep: This means getting plenty of deep, restful sleep. Some people suffer from sleep apnea, a condition that usually affects people who are overweight. It is a condition whereby the throat closes during sleep and causes the person to stop breathing temporarily and wake up momentarily, then go back to sleep…a cycle that repeats itself all night long. As a result of the constant waking-up, people with sleep apnea never enter into the deep, restorative sleep necessary to repair our brains. People with sleep apnea are at increased risk for memory problems and dementia. If you suspect you might have sleep apnea, see your doctor as there is a non-pharmaceutical treatment called a CPAP that works great.
Research has found that regular brain stimulation and keeping the brain active helps to improve & prolong healthy brain performance.
Brain stimulation creates new neural pathways and connections that can be used as a sort of ‘brain savings account’, allowing you to draw on this account at a later date. Studies show that many people operate at a high level of sharp brain functioning throughout their lives by stimulating and challenging their minds.
The variety, diversity and complexity of stimulation that your brain receives can make a significant difference regarding its health. With Fit Brains, you can have some control over what will stimulate and shape your brain and this is great news!
Enhance your memory
Our memory system directly affects how we live & function in our everyday lives.
In our daily lives we rely heavily on our memory to remember a variety of short and long terms items. Things like being able to recognize people’s faces, remember grocery items, recall meetings notes, and much more, are all direct results of an adequate memory system.
Fit Brains offers games and training programs specifically designed to target and exercise a variety of memory skills. These programs will help you improve & prolong your memory in crucial areas as you age.
Here’s something more specific you can try right away. First notice the baseline state of your mind. How calm or active is it, 0-10, where 0 is totally calm and 10 is totally crazy monkey mind? Then just focus outward, on some outward sensations. I prefer listening to sounds in my environment (not human voices though – that can be distracting). The sound of the fan, the buzzing of the refrigerator, a plane going by. Listen for ever more subtle sounds, as if you are reaching your listening capacity ever outward to the ends of the earth… Do this for about 5-10 minutes or so and then notice again how calm or active your mind is, 0-10 as a comparison.
You can also do this in other sensory modalities. If you have a nice view where you can sit on your porch or something, you can notice visually the trees swaying in the breeze, the clouds in the sky, or even study the contours of your thumbnail, the colors and shapes in a leaf. Try to notice all the specific visual detail with great precision. And again do the before and after test, 0-10 scale, so you can see for yourself whether it does anything for you.
A stroke happens when something changes how blood flows through the brain. Blood brings oxygen and nutrients to brain cells. If blood can’t flow to a part of the brain, cells that do not receive enough oxygen suffer and eventually die. If brain cells are without oxygen for only a short time, they can sometimes get better. But brain cells that have died can’t be brought back to life. So, someone who has had a stroke may have trouble speaking, thinking, or walking.There are two major types of strokes. The most common kind (ischemic) is caused by a blood clot or the narrowing of a blood vessel (an artery) leading to the brain. This keeps blood from flowing into other parts of the brain and keeps needed oxygen and nutrients from reaching brain cells. In the second major kind of stroke (hemorrhagic), a broken blood vessel causes bleeding in the brain. This break in the vessel also stops oxygen and nutrients from reaching brain cells.
A stroke can cause a variety of health problems. Someone who has had a stroke might be paralyzed or have weakness, usually on one side of the body. He or she might have trouble speaking or using words. There could be swallowing or memory problems. Someone who has had a stroke might feel depressed or find it hard to control emotions. There might be pain or numbness.There are many different ways to help people get better after a stroke. Many treatments start in the hospital and continue at home. Drugs and physical therapy can help improve balance, coordination, and some problems such as trouble speaking and using words. Occupational therapy can make it easier to do things like taking a bath or cooking.
A family doctor will provide follow-up care. Some people make a full recovery soon after a stroke. Others take months or even years. But, sometimes the damage is so serious that therapy cannot really help.
In the past several decades, investigators have learned much about what happens in the brain when people have a neurodegenerative disease such as Parkinson’s disease, AD, or other dementias. Their findings also have revealed much about what happens during healthy aging. Researchers are investigating a number of changes related to healthy aging in hopes of learning more about this process so they can fill gaps in our knowledge about the early stages of AD.
As a person gets older, changes occur in all parts of the body, including the brain:
Certain parts of the brain shrink, especially the prefrontal cortex (an area at the front of the frontal lobe) and the hippocampus. Both areas are important to learning, memory, planning, and other complex mental activities.
Changes in neurons and neurotransmitters affect communication between neurons. In certain brain regions, communication between neurons can be reduced because white matter (myelin-covered axons) is degraded or lost.
Changes in the brain’s blood vessels occur. Blood flow can be reduced because arteries narrow and less growth of new capillaries occurs.
In some people, structures called plaques and tangles develop outside of and inside neurons, respectively, although in much smaller amounts than in AD (see “The Hallmarks of AD” for more information on plaques and tangles).
Damage by free radicals increases (free radicals are a kind of molecule that reacts easily with other molecules; see “The Aging Process” for more on these molecules).
Inflammation increases (inflammation is the complex process that occurs when the body responds to an injury, disease, or abnormal situation).
What effects does aging have on mental function in healthy older people? Some people may notice a modest decline in their ability to learn new things and retrieve information, such as remembering names. They may perform worse on complex tasks of attention, learning, and memory than would a younger person. However, if given enough time to perform the task, the scores of healthy people in their 70s and 80s are often similar to those of young adults. In fact, as they age, adults often improve in other cognitive areas, such as vocabulary and other forms of verbal knowledge.
It also appears that additional brain regions can be activated in older adults during cognitive tasks, such as taking a memory test. Researchers do not fully understand why this happens, but one idea is that the brain engages mechanisms to compensate for difficulties that certain regions may be having. For example, the brain may recruit alternate brain networks in order to perform a task. These findings have led many scientists to believe that major declines in mental abilities are not inevitable as people age. Growing evidence of the adaptive (what scientists call “plastic”) capabilities of the older brain provide hope that people may be able to do things to sustain good brain function as they age. A variety of interacting factors, such as lifestyle, overall health, environment, and genetics also may play a role.
Another question that scientists are asking is why some people remain cognitively healthy as they get older while others develop cognitive impairment or dementia. The concept of “cognitive reserve” may provide some insights. Cognitive reserve refers to the brain’s ability to operate effectively even when some function is disrupted. It also refers to the amount of damage that the brain can sustain before changes in cognition are evident. People vary in the cognitive reserve they have, and this variability may be because of differences in genetics, education, occupation, lifestyle, leisure activities, or other life experiences. These factors could provide a certain amount of tolerance and ability to adapt to change and damage that occurs during aging. At some point, depending on a person’s cognitive reserve and unique mix of genetics, environment, and life experiences, the balance may tip in favor of a disease process that will ultimately lead to dementia. For another person, with a different reserve and a different mix of genetics, environment, and life experiences, the balance may result in no apparent decline in cognitive function with age.
Scientists are increasingly interested in the influence of all these factors on brain health, and studies are revealing some clues about actions people can take that may help preserve healthy brain aging. Fortunately, these actions also benefit a person’s overall health. They include:
Controlling risk factors for chronic disease, such as heart disease and diabetes (for example, keeping blood cholesterol and blood pressure at healthy levels and maintaining a healthy weight)
Enjoying regular exercise and physical activity
Eating a healthy diet that includes plenty of vegetables and fruits
Engaging in intellectually stimulating activities and maintaining close social ties with family, friends, and commun
Humans are the only species known to have consciousness, awareness that we have brains and bodies capable of adaptability, that we can affect the course our lives take, that we can make choices along the way that vastly affect the quality of our lives-biologically, intellectually, environmentally, and spiritually. As humans, we have the ability to mold our very beings to become what or who we wish to become. While some of us may, indeed, have genetic and biological imperatives that may require medication or training to overcome, or at least to modulate, the vast majority of us do, in fact, hold our emotional destiny in our hands.
All that being said, until the last decade, scientists believed that the human brain and its connections were formed during gestation and infancy and remained pretty much unchanged through childhood. They believed that humans had a given number of neurons in a specific brain structure, and while the number might vary among people, once you were done with childhood development, you were set in this mold. Your connections were already made, and the learning and growing period of your brain was over. In the last decade, however, researchers have found significant evidence that this is not so, and that something called neuroplasticity continues throughout our lives.
What Is Neuroplasticity?
In neuroscience, “plastic” means that a material has the ability to change, to be molded into different shapes. Thus, neuroplasticity is your brain’s ability to alter its physical structure, to repair damaged regions, to grow new neurons and get rid of old ones, to rezone regions that performed one task and have them assume a new task, and to change the circuitry that weaves neurons into the networks that allow us to remember, feel, suffer, think, imagine, and dream.
Thanks to neuroplasticity, scientists now believe that most of us have the capability to:
Reactivate long-dormant circuitry. The expression “it’s like riding a bike” is very true when it comes to your brain. Often, you never completely forget a skill once learned, though you might need a short period of practice to kick your neurons back into gear.
Create new circuitry. For instance, the neurons in your nose responsible for smell are made new and replaced every few weeks, and new neurons are made in other parts of your brain as well. Also, whenever you learn something new, your brain can strengthen existing neuronal connections and create new synapses that allow you to maximize new skills.
Rewire circuitry. Parts of your brain that were used for one purpose can be retasked to other uses. This is often the case with stroke victims who relearn to use a limb or to speak after some neurons are destroyed.
Quiet aberrant circuits and connections (such as those contributing to depression, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), phobias, and so on). Some parts of your brain (your prefrontal cortex, for example) can exert control over others (the amygdala, for example) and change how much they affect your mood, decision-making, and thought processes.
Please note that the techniques we are discussing do not apply to those who are dealing with brain chemistry imbalances that require medication (such as schizophrenia, bipolar disease, obsessive-compulsive disorder, ADHD, clinical depression, and so on). No one should ever feel responsible for their chemical imbalances, or stop taking prescribed medication in hopes that they have the ability to alter their chemistry through thought control. What we are saying is that-for most people-situational fluctuations in mood or behavior can be improved by consciously using your mind to tamp down negative neuronal pathways and to bolster positive neuronal pathways. In those cases, how your brain does this, and when, and why are all things that are entirely up to you. The way that you view the world around you, and the associations that you make, are entirely within your ability to shape and control. Those with healthy, balanced brains can affect change in the way their brains think and react, which, over time, can make them-and their brains-happier.
How Neuroplasticity Can Help You Be Happier
You can use your mind to foster neuroplasticity in the following ways:
You can change the way your think or react to certain situations. The actions you take can literally expand or contract different regions of the brain, firing up circuits or tamping them down. For example, if you worry excessively, you are activating certain types of pathways due to habit. You can learn, however, to retrain your brain to quiet these pathways and strengthen others, so it doesn’t automatically go down the “worry” highway.
You can choose activities that alter the structure of your brain. The more you ask your brain to do, the more space it sets up to handle the new tasks, often by shrinking or repurposing space that houses your ability to perform rarely used tasks. For example, if you typically go into a melancholy funk when you face problems, your brain will continue that habit. If, however, you instruct your brain to come up with creative solutions to your problems, you can shut down the melancholy pathways by making them less used and smaller, and instead open up and increase use of the creativity workshop in your brain.
You can use imagination to trick your brain. New brain-scanning technology has shown that conscious perception activates the same brain areas as imagination. In effect, you can neutralize the long-term effects of painful memories by rewriting (or more correctly, rewiring) the past that lives within your brain.
You can use visualization as a way to train your brain to get happy. It works because your brain usually cannot reliably distinguish between recorded experience and internal fantasy. If you program your mind with images of you being happy and spend time visualizing the desired images long enough and hard enough, your brain will think those images really happened and will associate happiness with them.
Come On, Think Happy
In other words, whatever you ask your brain to do (employing intention, focus, practice, and reinforcement), it will strive to do. It is a tool you can use in whatever way you see fit. Again, presuming you aren’t dealing with any psychobiological illnesses that require medication, the more often you ask your brain to think happy thoughts, the more your brain responds by forging new or beefing up existing neuronal circuitry to light up your happy board, and by weakening the neuronal connections that drain your happy thoughts.
You can use your clever, industrious mind to train your brain to bury the unproductive, depressing thoughts and habits that drag you (and your brain) down and to shine light on, nourish, and reinforce the productive, cheerful thoughts and activities that recharge your happiness batteries. By using your thoughts and choosing certain activities, you can lay the groundwork for brain restructuring that will make you happier. It’s not a simple undertaking, and it will require focus, intention, dedication, accountability, action, and persistence, but you can reshape your brain-and its taskmaster mind-to experience and create greater happiness.
The good news is that plastic is fantastic when it comes to neuroscience. Plus, everything you do to foster happiness reinforces positive changes in your brain, and the more you continue pursuing happiness with vigor, the more you, and your brain get into a happy groove.
Where to Begin?
As to what you can specifically do to train your brain to get happy, well, we wrote an entire book on the matter, which means we can’t possibly summarize everything in one column, but we’ll be offering concrete suggestions in future columns. In the meantime, things you can do to mold your brain for greater happiness include:
Meditation. It helps you monitor and direct thoughts, tamp down stress, increase empathy, and more fully experience pleasant emotions. The Buddhist practice of mindfulness meditation, in particular, has proven very effective in improving brain function.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). It involves using your mind to distract your thoughts, neutralize negative thoughts, stop thoughts, reframe events, concentrate on positive thoughts, and use positive affirmations, as well as other techniques.
Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT). It marries the practice of mindfulness meditation with cognitive psychology in a way that is distinct from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. CBT is about examining your thoughts so you can re-evaluate and redirect thoughts, as appropriate. MBCT employs the tenets of mindfulness meditation (sans any religious aspect) as a way to stay open to the present moment without relying on habitual ways of thinking, feeling, or responding.
Visualization. It helps your brain anticipate happiness and neutralize painful memories. Both will reduce stress-related brain chemicals and increase nourishing brain chemicals.
Relaxation. It quiets an overactive brain, which affords your mind an opportunity to renew, refresh, and re-imagine desired outcomes.
Nurturance. How well you eat and how much you sleep will positively affect your brain’s ability to function. A healthy brain is always a happier brain.
Recreation. Factoring play into your life gives your brain opportunities to produce serotonin and dopamine, neurotransmitters that bathe your brain in happiness.
Stimulation. Choosing and participating activities that make you feel good reinforces the types of neuronal pathways that will lead to greater happiness.
Thanks to medical advances, more of us will live to be 100 and beyond, but our peak brain performance comes, at best, at about half that age. These startling statistics beg the question: Are we destined to lose our ability to think for ourselves with years left to live? Five facts below should motivate you to adopt healthy brain habits to make your brain smarter—longer.
1. ELEVATE BRAIN HEALTH FITNESS WITH AGE
Conventional wisdom holds that intelligence is innate and that cognitive function undergoes unavoidable declines beginning in the mid-forties. New scientific evidence reveals that aging does not have to bring on deteriorating ability to think for yourself, and in fact, that you can get smarter with age. The key: You must remain mentally, physically and socially engaged. The majority of healthy individuals manifest potential for maintaining intellect, capacity for new learning, and consistency in decision-making throughout adulthood. Age alone does not have to hinder and impair your cognitive abilities needed to support independent living. If you are cognitively healthy, the worst decision you can make is to relegate your thinking to someone else. Once you disengage from complex thinking challenges, your underutilized mind declines.
2. ENGAGE YOUR BRAIN SMARTLY
Staying mentally active is one of the most protective factors against age-related cognitive decline. Recent research shows that cognitive abilities can be improved, strengthened, and rebuilt by adopting and maintaining challenging mental habits.
Boost your brain performance by:
Synthesizing big ideas from information no matter the source—lectures, readings, emails, conversations, movies, etc.
Absorbing new information needed to update and make financial decisions
Reasoning through different choices based on incoming data and individual beliefs
Consciously blocking out extraneous information to focus on the task at hand
Engaging in novel and challenging mental tasks at every stage of life
Approaching ambiguous situations with openness to changing ideas or directions
Being an agent of change, not a criticizer
3. SELECT YOUR MENTAL ACTIVITIES STRATEGICALLY
Research reveals that all mental activities are not equally beneficial for brain health. Games such as crosswords, number puzzles, or online brain training programs may make you better at those specific games, but will not likely improve your higher-order thinking skills. These activities keep the mind busy; however they may not be aid us in achieving the gains we are seeking. To be beneficial for brain health, mental tasks should improve the cognitive skills needed to support independent life purposes such as decision-making, problem-solving, planning, and higher order reasoning.
4. CHANGE YOUR MIND ABOUT MEMORY
How much and how fast we can remember factoids decreases with age. But, memory is not the definition of smart. Don’t stress too much about small memory glitches experienced from time to time unless these memory problems are impacting your daily life success. Instead, think of the hundreds of things your brain recalled for you each day. The most robust form of memory is one that knits to-be-remembered ideas together into generalized meanings by utilizing rich life experience and accumulated knowledge. Compensate for information needed to-be-remembered by recording it on a smartphone, computer or putting pen to paper.
5. COMMIT TO HEALTHY HABITS
In addition to staying mentally engaged and socially involved, add other healthy lifestyle habits to enrich your brain’s health fitness.
Make time for physically fitness: regular aerobic exercises (three times a week for 50 minutes) will improve memory function.
Watch what you eat: what is good for the heart is good for the brain. Eating primarily vegetables, fruit, nuts, fish, legumes, olive oil with decreased intake of red meat, dairy products and sweets reduces cardiovascular disease which is a major factor that contributes to cognitive loss.
Get a good night’s rest: Our brain needs approximately 8 hours to rest and consolidate learning of new information.
Your brain is your greatest asset and natural resource. Whether you are in your 20s, 40s or 80s, you cannot ignore your brain’s health another month, another day. You are the driver of your brain’s health. Will you steer your brain to advance it forward with cognitive growth or let it slip backwards into cognitive loss? The evidence is clear. Mind your brain and take immediate action to better your brain health fitness. Without brain health, we do not have health.
Here we will look at how to grow healthy brains vital for a smart and happy kid.
Follow these Four Golden Rules.
BALANCED BLOOD SUGAR
Why is balance so important?
Sugar is your brain’s super fuel. But you have to make sure your child is getting the RIGHT TYPES and RIGHT AMOUNT at the RIGHT TIME.
Too much ‘fast’ sugar means a blood sugar high and hyperactivity. The excess sugar in the blood gets dumped into storage as abdominal fat. Eating little and often helps keep your child’s energy and concentration even.
Too much sugar and your child may be hyperactive and find it hard to concentrate.
Too little and they may feel tired, irritable and find it hard to concentrate.
How to balance blood sugar?
Go for foods with slow releasing sugars
Whole wheat pasta
Vegetables (Excluding potatoes and parsnips)
Eat 3 meals and 2 snacks a day
This will help to maintain your blood sugar levels, and prevent highs and lows.
Combine protein with carbohydrate
Protein slows down the absorption of sugars found in carbohydrates.
Cereal with seeds/yoghurt/milk
Fruit with yoghurt/seeds
Toast with egg
Toast with fish e.g. mackerel
ENSURE ESSENTIAL FATS
Why is a fat head a smart head?
60% of a dried brain weight is fat, it is no wonder deficiencies in specific kinds of fats can have huge repercussions on intelligence and behaviour.
If your child is having 3 portions of oily fish and a daily portion of seeds they should be getting a good level to help their brains develop and boost IQ.
How do I give my child all the essential fats they need?
Eat plenty of seeds and nuts
You can grind and sprinkle them on cereal, soups and salads.
Source of essential fats:
Omega 3 rich eggs
Eat cold-water carnivorous fish 2 or 3 times a week
This includes sardines, mackerel, herring, kipper or wild/organic salmon.
Choose fish oil and starflower or evening primrose oil to supplement fats
Avoid deep fried, browned and processed foods
VITAMINS AND MINERALS
Why does your child need vitamins and minerals?Vitamins and minerals are the intelligent nutrients that keep the brain in tune. They are key to building and rebuilding the brain. They mainly come from fruit, vegetables and wholefoods and can be supplemented for optimum brain performance. Studies giving children supplements show improved IQ.
How do I ensure that my child is having enough?
Make sure that they eat at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day
Choose wholefoods, not refined foods
Give them a chewable multi-vitamin and mineral supplements. Click here to find out why.
AVOID ANTI-NUTRIENTS & ELIMINATE FOOD ALLERGENS
Which foods rob your child’s brain of nutrients?
Anti-nutrients are substances that knock out essential brain-friendly nutrients. Some children develop an allergy or intolerance against particular foods.
How do I avoid anti-nutrients?
Avoid or minimise:
Refined sugar: These are essentially carbohydrates robbed of essential nutrients.
Damaged fats: These come from fried foods and hydrogenated fats.
Chemical food additives: Especially colourings.
Food intolerances can be detected by a pin prick blood test (see www.yorktest.com) or speak to your GP.
Alternatively you could try eliminating a food group you think your child is allergic to, and re assessing they’re mood and behaviour weekly. Click here to understand more about food allergies.
If you’re looking for a way to strengthen muscles while getting in a great cardio workout, you may want to buy a membership to your local pool. Swimming is an effective and natural form of cardio exercise that helps you build and tone muscles simply by working out in an aquatic environment. The water provides the resistance you need to strengthen your muscles for a sleek, lean look.
How Swimming Strengthens Muscles
Walking, jogging and running are all great forms of cardio exercise, but none can automatically provide the resistance you need to form strong muscles like swimming can. This is simply because water is much more dense than air. Your entire body has to work against the water, providing an instant workout. Your arms, back and leg muscles are likely to get the best strength training, depending on which stroke you are practicing consistently, but your entire body will benefit from a regular swim workout. Swimming has the added benefit of protecting your joints from jarring contact with the ground experienced in other forms of exercise.
Swimming for strength training requires a dedicated routine. Visit the pool three to five times a week. For overall strength training, practice a variety of strokes. The freestyle, or front crawl, works your biceps and triceps as you pull and push the water, and your quadriceps and calf muscles will strengthen with the flutter kick. To work your hamstrings, turn over on your back and practice the flutter kick while doing the backstroke. The breaststroke will strengthen your arm muscles, deltoids and pectorals in your upper body, and the accompanying frog kick works gluteals and leg muscles. To include your torso and hips more significantly in your swim, try the all-encompassing butterfly stroke, which will strengthen muscles throughout your body.
Limitations of Swimming
Swimming provides an overall strength-training regimen with the accompanying benefits of cardio, but it does have some limitations. It does not fulfill the full range of motions of a regular strength-training routine. Although you will grow stronger through a regular swim routine, to complete your training you may want to hit the gym for some weightlifting and other strength-training exercises.
Strength Training as Supplement
Swimming is a great cardiovascular workout that tones your muscles, but nothing can replace the challenge of a focused strength-training routine. If you want to build muscles to become a faster and stronger swimmer, focus your weight routine around the muscles you use for your particular stroke. Try weight training three times a week. Resting in between sessions allows your muscle fibers to recover and rebuild.
Weak shoulders are a surefire way to get injured quickly. Your shoulder is the most mobile joint in your whole body, but in order to be so mobile the joint cavity it sits in is very shallow, putting it at a high risk of injury. The key to strengthening your weak shoulder is to perform stabilization exercises in your routine. Add 10 minutes of shoulder stability work at the end of each upper body session.
Items you will need
Step 1Set the pulley on a cable station to head-height and attach a rope handle to it. Hold the rope at arms length and take a step back so there’s tension on the cable. Pull the handle toward your head by squeezing your shoulder blades together and flexing your elbows. Bring it as close to your face as you can then finish the move by rotating your shoulders to bring your hands in-line with your ears and return slowly to the start position. Face pulls are the most underrated exercise ever, claims corrective exercise specialist Mike Robertson. They hit your lower and mid trapezius muscles which are responsible for shoulder stability.
Step 2Lie on your right side holding a dumbbell in your left hand with your elbow bent to 90 degrees. Place your elbow on your hip and lift the dumbbell up by turning your shoulder out. Perform all your reps on one side then switch to the other. Dumbbell external rotations increase shoulder stability by fixing any imbalances. Many people suffer from internal rotation of the shoulder joint, caused by sitting at a computer all day so external rotations help to restore muscular balance.
Step 3Grab a light resistance band and hold it out in front with your arms straight, ready to perform band pull aparts. Bring the band to your chest by pulling your arms apart without bending them. Squeeze your shoulder blades hard, pause for a second with the band lightly touching your chest then return to the start. Pull aparts strengthen your upper back and shoulders and reverse internal rotation of the joint. David Allen, collegiate strength coach and owner of NBS Fitness advises switching your hand position and performing pull aparts in an upright position, bent over and overhead to hit the muscles from all angles.
Keep the weight fairly light on all exercises and focus on maintaining perfect technique. Using too much weight can lead to poor form which will only exacerbate your weakness.
From pickup games in a driveway or backyard, through recreational leagues and all the way up to highly competitive leagues at the college and professional levels, millions of Americans play sports every year. Each athlete has his own reasons for playing a sport, be it the competition, socializing with other people or the glory he finds on the playing field. Another factor that drives many athletes is the effects on their health from playing sports. Depending on the sport and the athlete, there are both positive and negative effects on your health.
Mental and Emotional Benefits
Playing sports affects your mental and emotional health due to the physiological effects that exercise has on the body. Jasper Smits, director of the Anxiety Research and Treatment Program at Southern Methodist University, and Michael Otto, psychology professor at Boston University, analyzed the results of dozens of studies involving exercise and mental health, and concluded that exercise can help reduce depression and anxiety, and can be especially beneficial to people who lack access to traditional treatments, such as drugs or counseling. Smits and Otto recommend not only focusing on the long-term gains provided by physical activity, but also the immediate, short-term gains. According to Smits, “After just 25 minutes, your mood improves, you are less stressed, you have more energy — and you’ll be motivated to exercise again tomorrow. A bad mood is no longer a barrier to exercise; it is the very reason to exercise.”
The physical benefits of playing sports are numerous. Exercise in general controls weight by burning calories, improves the functioning of the cardiovascular system, placing a lower strain on the heart, and increases an athlete’s energy level while improving the quality of sleep. It also provides longer-term benefits, such as the reduced risk of diseases like cardiovascular disease and diabetes, reduces the level of body fat, improves the cholesterol makeup of the athlete’s bloodstream and makes the bones and muscles stronger. The athlete also develops the physical skills needed to compete in a given sport, such as hitting a baseball or kicking a soccer ball.
Despite all the benefits that can be gained, there are some drawbacks to playing sports. The competitive nature that drives most athletes, especially elite athletes, often leaves them prone to injury through overuse or overtraining, or by ignoring injury to play through the pain in order to help their team. Coaches can facilitate this behavior by ignoring the issue or by pushing an athlete to continue even when she is hurt. This attitude can be even more dangerous in a collision sport such as football or ice hockey, where concussions are a regular occurrence. An athlete who sustains a concussion — which is the brain being bounced off the sharp ridges of the skull — must fully recover from the concussion before practicing or playing again, or he puts himself at risk of sustaining an even worse concussion. Repeated head trauma causes chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative brain disorder that can cause memory loss, confusion, poor judgment, aggression, depression and dementia. Boxers, football players and hockey players often suffer from the effects of CTE years after they retire.
Benefits of Team Sports
While athletes who play individual sports receive many of the same physical and mental benefits that athletes in team sports receive, there are additional benefits to participating in team sports. It provides you with a way to meet new people and expand your social network. Team sports provide you with a sense of camaraderie with your teammates, as you work together to achieve victory. Playing a team sport can be especially beneficial for children. It can help teach them to set aside their personal desires in order to help the team. They can also learn that hard work and perseverance can help them achieve their goals and dreams — a valuable lesson that they can carry throughout life.
If you are physically active, you have a lower risk of developing certain types of cancer, heart disease and type 2 diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Consistent weight-bearing exercise also strengthens your muscles and bones, helping to protect you from injuries. Adults should perform a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise every week along with at least two full-body strengthening workouts to maintain their weight. To lose weight, aim for 250 to 300 minutes each week.
Design For Optimal Health
To achieve two full-body workouts a week, split up your strength training sessions to target your upper or lower body. For instance, work your upper body on Mondays and Thursdays and your lower body on Tuesdays and Fridays. Do not work the same muscle groups two days in a row. Complete two or three sets of eight to 12 repetitions of each exercise during the workouts.
Before beginning your strength-training workouts, perform cardio exercise to warm up your muscles. Divide the minimum of 150 minutes of aerobic exercise between your four workout days by performing 40 minutes three days a week and 30 minutes one day.
Focusing the Cardio
Use cardio machines at your fitness facility to achieve at least the minimum recommended amount of aerobic exercise. Choose from walking, jogging or running on a treadmill, cycling on a stationary bicycle or using a stair climber or elliptical machine. Begin with a slow, steady pace, then work up to a comfortable aerobic workout that is challenging but not exhausting. Perform the “talk test” while exercising — talking to other gym-goers without gasping for air — to make sure you are working at a safe level. If you cannot carry on a conversation comfortably, lower the intensity and speed of the machine.
Working Your Upper Body
Use free weights or upper-body strength training machines — or a combination of the two — to target your shoulders, arms, chest, back and abdomen. Use dumbbells to perform biceps curls and military presses to target your arms and shoulders. Lie on a flat weight bench and perform bench presses with a barbell to work your chest. Strengthen your central back with reverse flies with two dumbbells. Work your abdomen with the bicycle move or Plank position.
If your fitness facility offers strength training machines for your upper body, you may find these machines to be helpful — especially if you are a beginner. Biceps curls, triceps extensions, chest presses, back rows and crunches all are possible on the appropriate strength-training machine. Ask a gym employee to instruct you on the proper use of this equipment to avoid injury.
Working Out The Lower Half
Work your thighs, glutes and hips with lunges and squats. Execute these exercises with dumbbells or a barbell or use your body weight as resistance. Calf raises on the edge of an aerobic step work your lower legs. Seated or standing calf-raise machines effectively mimic the traditional calf raise and provide an alternative. You also can work your thighs and hamstrings with a leg extension and leg curl machine, if available.
That’s what my mom would say when I complained about being fat as a kid. She wasn’t completely wrong. If I wanted to lose weight, riding my bike more wouldn’t hurt. But I took her words as gospel, and for decades I equated exercise with weight loss, fooling myself into believing that I could eat like a pig as long as I was active. (Example: I used to make Doritos-and-ketchup sandwiches on white bread as an after-school snack. Don’t you dare mock me! They are fantastic.)
I did as mom said and rode my bike around our suburban neighborhood. I ran track and played on multiple sports teams in high school. In college I walked 20-30 minutes to class every day, played pickup games, and ruled intramural sports. After graduation I regularly hit the gym five times a week. Yet despite all that effort, I still looked like a Nutrisystem “before” photo.
Finally, in my 30s, I tried P90X, a high-intensity workout program that comes with a recommended diet. Following its guidelines, I shrunk my meal portions, stopped eating packaged and processed foods, and cut out alcohol. And I lost 35 pounds.
Sure, the workouts helped, but intense exercise was nothing new to me. It was the diet that finally knocked off the weight.
My point is that we all receive bad fitness advice, often from well-meaning people: parents, coaches, friends, bros at the gym getting so ripped, bro. If you’re like me, some of that bad advice sticks. But it shouldn’t. Here are five pieces of lousy, outdated fitness advice to ignore.
1. If You Want to Lose Weight, You Have to Exercise
Not true. This is what people who sell exercise equipment and workout programs want you to think. If you really want to shed pounds, you must get your diet in check. Exercise is good—the benefits are many—but losing weight is about putting fewer calories in your Chalupa-hole.
For those who prefer hard science: When researchers from Hunter College recently studied the Hadza hunter/gatherer tribe in Tanzania, and compared its lifestyle to the typical Western lifestyle, they found no difference in energy expenditures between the two. So whether you hunt birds and pick berries all day, or sit in an office cubicle, your body burns about the same amount of calories. In other words, obesity is not caused by inactivity. It’s a calories-in problem.
THE TRUTH: If you want to lose weight, eating healthier foods and ingesting fewer calories is key. To give yourself an edge, find a weight-loss buddy. According to a study published in the journal Obesity, people who attempt to slim down together can significantly influence each other’s results. This helps explain why husbands and wives who attend programs such as WeightWatchers together regularly have success.
2. No Pain, No Gain
“Come on! Three more! You can do it! Push!” We’ve all heard these “words of encouragement” in the weight room. My high school football buddies used to shout them as I struggled to eek out one last bench press during team training sessions. As a bonding experience, and a willpower test, these workouts had value. But they set a terrible precedent. I equated pain with gain and discounted any workout that didn’t leave my body in agony.
“No pain, no gain is a bad strategy for lifelong exercise,” says Dr. Michael Otto, author of Exercise for Mood and Anxiety: Proven Strategies for Overcoming Depression and Enhancing Well-Being. If you’re not an elite athlete and you’re exercising for the health benefits, including better heart health, improved mood, weight regulation, increased energy, or getting more sleep, there is no need for pain. You can attain all of these benefits with minimal discomfort. Plus, a painful workout is one you are less likely to repeat.
THE TRUTH: Moderate exercise for 40 minutes, four to five times a week, is all you need to glean the health benefits of exercise, Otto says. Walking, jogging, dancing, swimming, volleyball, touch football, and shooting baskets all count as “moderate exercise.” Even some common chores meet the requirements. For a list of moderate exercises and the length of time they should be done, copy and paste this URL into your browser (after you finish this article, of course): http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/public/heart/obesity/lose_wt/phy_act.htm.
3. You Can Build Long, Lean Muscles
About five years ago, I bought myself a set of adjustable dumbbells. I kept the weight low and went high-rep. Why? Because I didn’t want big, bulky arms. What I wanted were—and I’d heard this phrase for years—long, lean muscles.
Well, I was an idiot.
Shane Doll, a personal trainer in Charleston, S.C., says he laughs when companies advertise the ability to sell someone the means to long, lean muscles.
“There has always been a misconception that weightlifting and resistance training will make you big and bulky,” Doll says. “What nobody thinks about is that, from a pure anatomical standpoint, the idea of making your muscles longer is impossible. The joint distance never changes. The physiology behind that is pretty simple yet they think, ‘Pilates or this machine will make my muscles long and sleek.’”
If the marketing was true, people who did Pilates would look like Plastic Man.
THE TRUTH: Whether it’s Pilates or pushups, the adaptation of the muscle tissue does not change. Muscle bulk only happens with intense workouts coupled with protein and/or other supplements.
To get the lean, toned look of a swimmer (in the absence of swimming, of course), Doll recommends using a variety of resistance exercises, completed in fast-paced circuits that use burst training principals, which are short bursts of high-intensity effort. Reps should be in the 8-20 range, or work in sets of 30 seconds on, 30 seconds off. By varying the number of repetitions, rest periods, exercises, and other variables in your workout, you’ll continue to develop or maintain a lean physique without reaching a plateau.
4. You Gotta Carbo-Load, Bro!
No, you probably don’t.
When I was doing P90X, on the nights before the very challenging plyometric workout, I would gorge on pasta because that’s what I thought you were supposed to do before an intense workout. Once again, I was wrong.
“Unless you’re going to physically exert yourself for more than 90 minutes the next day, you really don’t need to think about carbo-loading,” says Nancy Clark, RD, author of Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook.
THE TRUTH: To prepare for a big event, the best strategy is to continue eating your normal, healthy sports diet (a plate filled with two-thirds grain, starches, veggies, and fruits, and one-third protein) while cutting back on training, Clark says. “By taking a rest day, your muscles have the time they need to store those carbs that you eat instead of burning them off in yet another workout.”
This is one reason why high school, college, and NFL teams have easy practices the day before a game. Besides letting aches and pains heal, athletes’ bodies are able to store carbs for energy.
5. The Best Time to Work Out is Morning/Night
I have friends who swear that working out in the morning is better because it boosts your metabolism all day, increases your energy, and gives you a natural high that carries into the afternoon. I have friends who say that night is the best time to work out because you can burn off all of the calories you consumed that day, plus you’re so tired at the end that it’s easier to fall asleep.
When it comes to fat loss, there’s not much of a benefit either way, Doll says. And while minor details like when you work out, what time you take your whey protein, etc. are great for Internet debate, they ultimately don’t make a big enough difference to matter. What happens over a 24-hour period is what truly matters.
“I’ve seen too many of the ‘rules’ be broken, and people still see great results. Hard work, adequate rest/recovery, and consistency with clean nutrition are 95 percent of the equation for most,” Doll says. “Elite athletes and bodybuilders can make an argument that the last five percent is pretty important, but this is far from something the average Joe or Jane should concern themselves with. The big picture gets lost in the details.”
THE TRUTH: The best time to work out is whenever you most feel like exercising and/or can fit it into your schedule, Dr. Otto says. “There is some research suggesting that the time of day you work out may give you better performance should you also compete at that time, but these effects are subtle.”
If you want to get a little more specific, follow these simple guidelines from Doll, who has been a trainer for 20 years:
1. Avoid high-intensity training (burst training, interval training) later in the evening, as it produces chemicals in the brain that can make it difficult to fall asleep and can disrupt natural circadian rhythms.
2. The best time for weight training is when your maximum effort can be exerted.
3. Avoid exercising shortly after eating a meal. If you train in the morning, eat a small amount of whey protein or a piece of fruit as a pre-workout snack. Digestion should be kept to a minimum.
The Bottom Line
If you’ve been eating and working out based on advice you received so long ago you can’t remember where it came from, question it. When it comes to working out, conventional wisdom changes as quickly as the science, which is still discovering how the human body works.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that all adults get at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise five days a week. Going to the gym every day is one way to accomplish this goal. Regular exercise carries many physical and mental health benefits. Do not begin any new exercise program without talking to your doctor first, especially if you have any health conditions or have been sedentary to this point.
Going to the gym every day will help you control your weight. Expending 500 calories per day, or 3,500 calories per week, will help you to lose 1 lb. per week. If you are overweight or obese, losing even a moderate amount of weight, such as 10 percent of your body weight, may reduce your risk of developing serious conditions. Making changes to your diet may help you to lose even more weight. A reasonable goal is to lose up to 2 lbs. per week if you are overweight.
Exercising daily strengthens your heart and allows it to pump more efficiently with less strain. Exercise also lowers your blood pressure, which measures the force on your artery walls each time your heart beats. It may lower your cholesterol and triglyceride levels, allowing blood to flow more smoothly through your arteries. Going to the gym for 30 minutes a day five days per week may lower your risk of developing heart disease or having a stroke, says the CDC, and going for a longer period often can lower your risk even more.
Other Health Benefits
Regular exercise may lower your risk of developing diabetes, metabolic syndrome and some types of cancer, such as colon cancer and breast cancer. Combining aerobic exercise with strength training at the gym helps your muscles, ligaments, joints and tendons remain in good shape, which will make you stronger and more flexible. This is particularly important as you age or face problems such as arthritis. You may lower your risk of falling or fracturing your hip, which may negatively impact your life, especially in your older years.
Mental Health Benefits
Going to the gym every day puts you in contact with people on a regular basis and will enhance your social life as well as the way that you feel about yourself. You may sleep better if you exercise each day; and more sleep means more energy and a more even mood.
All types of sports can benefit a child by building self-confidence and promoting mental and physical well-being. Team sports, in particular, provide a child with additional social benefits. Whether a child is the star of the team or the second string, the team aspect teaches skills a child can use in athletics and in everyday life.
Team sports promote a team attitude. Coaches often say, “There’s no ‘I’ in team,” which means one person doesn’t win or lose the game. Children work cooperatively to achieve a common goal. Having a team attitude teaches a child that while he can’t always control the outcome of a game, he can always try his best and suppor his teammates. He should always display good sportsmanship because a bad attitude reflects negatively on the whole team.
In an individual sport, skipping practice only hurts the individual athlete. In a team sport, what one member does affects the whole team. As part of a team, a child learns responsibility by going to practice when she doesn’t feel like it. Participating in any sport also encourages good time management skills. A child must organize her time to allow for homework, chores and sports practice. Time management is especially important because when a child is late or unprepared for a game or meet, she’s not just letting herself down, she’s letting down the whole team.
Playing on a team can teach two types of problem-solving skills: strategizing to beat the opponent and solving conflicts among teammates. A strategic child might work with his team to create plays to counteract the opponent’s defense, or the child might discuss making player substitutions to match the strengths of opposing teams. An effective problem solver learns to compromise when disagreements with teammates arise. He learns to communicate with children from a variety of backgrounds, including kids who are loud and bossy or shy and submissive.
Sometimes in team sports, waiting is the name of the game, and waiting teaches patience. On a softball team, a child waits for her turn at bat. On the swim team, a swimmer waits for her teammate to touch the wall so she can dive in and swim her leg of the race. Practice drills promote patience as the child waits in a line for her turn on the playing field. Children also practice patience when helping teammates to learn a new play or master a new skill.
Sports, whether team-based or individual, are a great activity for children that provide a variety of benefits other than physical activity. Participation in sports can help build self-esteem and confidence, can motivate children to excel academically and can help build social skills. Participation also can teach children the benefits of goal-setting and practice.
Physical activity is the most obvious benefit of sports participation. Children often spend too much time watching television or playing video games. But sports practices and games provide an opportunity for exercise that can help keep kids in shape and healthy.
Sports participation can help children develop social skills that will benefit them throughout their entire lives. They learn to interact not only with other children their age, but also with older individuals in their coaches and sports officials. Kids learn leadership skills, team-building skills and communication skills that will help them in school, their future career and personal relationships.
Participation in sports can have a huge positive impact on a child's self-esteem and confidence. Children who participate in sports get praise and encouragement from coaches and parents, which helps to build self-confidence. They also learn to trust in their own abilities and push themselves. Constructive criticism is also a major part of sports participation, and young athletes learn to accept such criticism and use it to their benefit. The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry suggests that parents be actively involved to ensure that children get the most out of sports participation.
It is no surprise that children who participate in athletics excel in academics as well. They can apply the same principles of dedication and hard work learned through sports participation to their studies. According to an article published on the website America, playing on a high school sports team increases a young woman's chances of graduating from college by 41 percent.
Sports participation promotes health and wellness not only through childhood but throughout a child lifetime.Sports such as swimming and golf are especially beneficial because the child can continue to play as an adult, benefiting from the physical activity. Children who participate in sports might also be more aware of healthy food choices. Although sports participation is an excellent avenue to promote health and wellness, parents and coaches must encourage healthy living and be positive role models as well.
People who regularly exercise have a reduced risk of cardiovascular problems such as heart disease and stroke compared to unfit people, according to the CDC. As little as 2.5 hours of moderate physical activity regularly every week confers this advantage, but people who do more exercise can reduce the risk even more. Moderate activity, according to Harvard School of Public Health, is activity that makes you sweat but allows you to talk at the same time. A physically fit and active person also tends to have lower blood pressure and lower cholesterol levels than a sedentary person.
People who are physically fit tend to suffer less from metabolic issues like Type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome, notes the CDC. If a person has metabolic syndrome, she has some or all of these problems; high blood sugar, high blood pressure, high triglycerides, excess belly fat and low high-density lipoprotein (“good” cholesterol). The more exercise a person does regularly, the less chance she has of developing these health problems. (Here and elsewhere, these are general results; it’s still possible to develop these problems even if you exercise regularly, which is why regular medical checkups are important.)
The Harvard School of Public Health says that fit people potentially have a lower risk of developing certain cancers. These include colon cancer in both men and women and breast cancer in women, and research indicates that endometrial cancer in women and lung cancer in both sexes may possibly also be positively influenced by staying fit.
Osteoporosis is a condition where bones become more fragile and fractures are more likely. This is associated with aging, but the Harvard School of Public Health says that staying fit helps lower the risk of this happening. Examples of useful activities include brisk walks, dancing and weight training. These are weight-bearing exercises that force the muscle to pull on the bone, thereby influencing the bones to become stronger to handle the stress. Keeping bones strong also helps reduce the risk of fractures.
Keeping physically fit does not just influence the physical body. The Harvard School of Public Health says regular exercise boosts mood and can potentially help reduce depression. People who are fit may also have less trouble sleeping, and if you stay fit as you age, you can also potentially help prevent a decline in cognitive abilities.
The CDC says that keeping fit is one of the most important things you can do to increase your longevity. People who are active for about 7 hours a week, the CDC says, have about 40 percent less chance of dying early than those who are more sedentary. In addition, fit older people are generally less likely to suffer falls or have issues affecting everyday movement and activities than those who are less fit.
There’s no doubt that playing sports can potentially benefit your health. Some of the benefits are more obvious, but you may be surprised to find out that you can benefit not just physically, but emotionally as well. Before starting any new sport or exercise regimen, though, consult your doctor to make sure it’s safe for you.
Most sports involve a certain level of physical activity; some more, some less, but all typically get your heart pumping faster at least part of the time. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends all adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each week, or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity each week, to help stave off chronic diseases such as diabetes, arthritis and heart disease. Of course, it’s still important to check with your doctor before embarking on any new sport.
The most obvious benefit to playing sports is the benefit to your physical body, but sports can help your mind stay healthier too. In fact, researchers at the University of Edinburgh found that older people who participate in sports and exercise had significantly less brain shrinkage overall — a sign of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease — than those who didn’t do as much exercise.
Most sports involve working cohesively in a team environment. Even sports with individual scores, such as swimming, have a team-building component, such as when that swim team goes to a swim meet in another city. With that team component can come more cooperation skills, more focus and more commitment, reminds the Yale Medical Group. All of that can lead to healthier relationships with other people and a healthier outlook on life.
Success in Life
Numerous studies have shown that participating in sports also correlates to more success in school and work. A report from the Centre for Economic Policy Research, as reported in the Wall Street Journal, found that people who participated in sports earned higher pay. Students who participate in sports also tend to have higher grade point averages, better attendance and a higher likelihood of going to college, suggests Dr. David Geier, a sports injury physician based in South Carolina. More success in these areas can lead to a number of better outcomes, including better access to health care and more resources to deal with health-related issues when they arise.
The Report from the United Nations Inter-Agency Task Force on Sport for Development and Peace states that young people can benefit from physical activity as it contributes to developing healthy bones, efficient heart and lung function as well as improved motor skills and cognitive function. Physical activity can help to prevent hip fractures among women and reduce the effects of osteoporosis. Remaining physically active can enhance functional capacity among older people, and can help to maintain quality of life and independence.
Physical activity and psychosocial health
The WHO has estimated that “one in four patients visiting a health service has at least one mental, neurological or behavioural disorder, but most of these disorders are neither diagnosed nor treated”. A number of studies have shown that exercise may play a therapeutic role in addressing a number of psychological disorders. Studies also show that exercise has a positive influence on depression. Physical self-worth and physical self-perception, including body image, has been linked to improved self-esteem. The evidence relating to health benefits of physical activity predominantly focuses on intra-personal factors such as physiological, cognitive and affective benefits, however, that does not exclude the social and inter-personal benefits of sport and physical activity which can also produce positive health effects in individuals and communities.
Sport and Physical Activity as part of a Healthy Lifestyle
A number of factors influence the way in which sport and physical activity impacts on health in different populations. Sport and physical activity in itself may not directly lead to benefits but, in combination with other factors, can promote healthy lifestyles. There is evidence to suggest that changes in the environment can have a significant impact on opportunities for participation and in addition, the conditions under which the activity is taking place can heavily impact on health outcomes. Elements that may be determinants on health include nutrition, intensity and type of physical activity, appropriate footwear and clothing, climate, injury, stress levels and sleep patterns.
Sport and physical activity can make a substantial contribution to the well-being of people in developing countries. Exercise, physical activity and sport have long been used in the treatment and rehabilitation of communicable and non-communicable diseases. Physical activity for individuals is a strong means for the prevention of diseases and for nations is a cost-effective method to improve public health across populations.
Feeling tired? Combat sluggishness with these simple remedies
Struggling to get out of bed in the morning? It may be a cause you’ve never suspected that’s easily remedied.
1. You’re under-stressed
We all know stress can lead to fatigue, but research shows being too laid-back can also make you tired. In short bursts, stress not only stimulates you, it helps boost your immune system. Try an activity that takes you out of your comfort zone.
2. You’re buzzed
Researchers in Sweden found using a mobile phone an hour before bed may interfere with sleep patterns and lead to less time in the deeper sleep stages. “Keep electronic gadgets out of the bedroom,” says Associate Professor Delwyn Bartlett, from the Woolcock Institute’s Sleep and Circadian Group.
3. You’re dehydrated
Dehydration reduces your blood volume, making your heart work harder so you feel tired. Dr Simon Floreani, Chiropractors Association of Australia president, says you should drink 30 millilitres of water a day for every kilo you weigh.
4. You’re out of balance
“When your body is out of balance it puts stress on isolated areas,” says Allan Mourad, director of The Wellness Club.
“This places pressure on organs such as liver and kidneys, which can be draining.”
So make sure your lifestyle is healthy.
5. Your liver is lacklustre
Scientist and naturopath Annalies Corse says an under-functioning liver could be responsible for unexplained exhaustion.
“The liver is the main detoxifying organ in our body. If it’s overwhelmed or working incorrectly, your body will feel sluggish, achy and lethargic.”
Good liver foods include artichokes, beetroot, broccoli, garlic and onion.
6. You lack vitamin C
“Vitamin C is critical when you are fatigued as a result of prolonged stress, illness or surgery,” Corse says.
“Adrenal glands generally support us in times of stress, but they need vitamin C to keep fatigue at bay.”
The recommended daily intake for adults is 45 milligrams (up to 60 milligrams when pregnant and 85 milligrams while breastfeeding). Good sources include apples, broccoli, berries, asparagus, cabbage, cauliflower, ortified foods, dark leafy greens and tomatoes. For example, eat one banana (10.3 milligrams), one apple (12 milligrams) and one tomato (25 milligrams) a day.
7. You need magnesium
“Low magnesium levels are one of the most overlooked nutrient deficiencies and often result in symptoms similar to chronic fatigue syndrome,” Corse says.
“Magnesium becomes depleted by excess alcohol and the oral contraceptive pill.”
Adults need 320 to 420 milligrams of magnesium a day. Try six Brazil nuts (107 milligrams), 100 grams tuna (64 milligrams), a cup plain yoghurt (42 milligrams), half a cup broccoli (16 milligrams), one corn cob (31 milligrams) and a cup of green beans (99 milligrams).
8. Your alarm clock is wrong
“Having the same waking time each day is more important than the time you go to bed, as it communicates the end of your sleep cycle to your brain and body,” Professor Bartlett says.
This is why sleeping in for more than an hour on the weekend can make you feel jetlagged. The perfect waking time? According to research, 7.22am is ideal.
9. Your thyroid is underactive
Your thyroid sets your metabolic rate (the rate at which you burn food). If you are tired, sensitive to cold, forgetful and have gained weight, ask your doctor for a thyroid test.
10. You’re exercising too much
Personal trainer Pete Tansley says: “Exercise releases serotonin and adenosine, which help regulate sleep rhythms.”
Too little exercise and you miss out on these. But too much, particularly at night, can lead to higher stress levels.
“Exercise elevates the stress hormone cortisol, leaving you tired,” Tansley says.
“Steer clear of alcohol after exercise and have a routine to set your body up for sleep.”
Energy isn’t just about gettng enough sleep or eating the right food. Energy is affected by the amount you exert yourself during the day, and the way in which you exert yourself. Here are Damien Kelly’s workout tips for boosting energy.
1. Straight leg swings
Stand tall and lift your right foot off the ground. Keeping your torso upright, start to swing your right leg from the hip, like a pendulum. Start with small swings and build up until your foot reaches hip height. Perform 20 reps at this height and then decrease the range over the next few reps until your leg stops. Repeat on your left leg.
Sets and reps: 3 sets of 20 full-swing reps each leg
2. Scoop push-ups
Assume a push-up position on your toes or knees or with your hands on a ledge. Bend your knees and squat your buttocks back towards your heels. Then scoop your chest down to a point just off the ground between your hands. Continue scooping your chest forward so that your pelvis draws down and then start to arc up into a hyper-extended cobra. Once you’ve reached your range of motion, raise your pelvis back to the start.
Sets and reps: 2 to 3 sets of 8 to 12 reps
3. Side bridge twists
Lie on your side, leaning on your elbow, forearm pointing forward. Brace your core, front and sides. Raise your body off the ground so you form a straight line, from shoulders to feet. Reach your top arm up, then sweep it under your torso, reaching as far back as possible. Keep your hips high and body straight. Your top shoulder and upper torso will twist. Untwist and take your arm back to the start.
Sets and reps: 2 to 3 sets of 8 to 12 reps each side
4. Slow burpess
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Squat down, keeping your feet flat on the ground, and place your hands flat on the ground about 30cm in front of your feet. Step one foot back and then the other and assume a push-up position on your toes. Hold for a second, before stepping your legs back in and standing up.
Sets and reps: 2 to 3 sets of 10 reps
5. Sit to stands
Stand with your back to a knee-high bench with no back. Keeping your vision on the horizon, squat down and lightly sit on the bench. Then lean back and lightly touch your back to the bench. Flex through your abs to come back up. Once seated upright again, push through your legs to stand up.
Are you getting your make up wrong? Here are the top six make up sins for you to avoid.
Put down your lip liner and step away from the mirror. That overdrawn mouth – along with war-paint blush and spidery lashes – has made the most-unwanted list.
“It’s that whole 80s contouring thing,” make-up artist Jenna Anton says. “People suck in their cheeks, make that fish face, and then put blush under their cheekbones. That’s the wrong place. Blush should be on the apples of the cheeks.” Beyond the placement faux pas, there are also colour blunders. “Blush should barely be seen,” make-up artist Jay Jay Rauwenhoff says. “It should be rosy or peachy on the face, not fuchsia circles.” Chronic blush abusers should stick to easily blended cream formulas.
The wrong base shade
It isn’t easy being green, but it’s even worse being burnt sienna when you’re really Celtic ivory. “Wrong foundation colour is probably the biggest mistake women make,” Conlon says. “Test the colour on the jawbone before going outside with a mirror to see how it looks in natural light.”
Bronze face, pale body
Make-up artist Dick Page calls it the “floating head”. To remedy the situation, “Dab cream bronzer along the collarbones, on the sides of the neck, and a bit on the boobs,” Page says.
Obvious lip liner
Lip liner is meant to be functional, not decorative. If your lipstick slips, feathers or bleeds, you need lip liner, “but use a pencil that matches your natural lip colour,” Burford says.
“It doesn’t matter what the look is on the catwalk, clumpy lashes are never in,” make-up artist Yolanda Lukowski says. To apply mascara, “wedge the brush right near the roots of the lashes and wiggle it back and forth before pulling outwards. Use a mascara comb right after application to remove any clumps.”
Foundation, especially powder, can become heavy, throwing every crease and wrinkle into relief. “You look younger with less coverage, so wear as sheer a foundation as you can,” Lukowski says.
A new US study has shown that decision making is compromised by a lack of sleep.
A new US study shows lack of sleep can be dangerous for those whose jobs require fast decisions – not to mention anyone who may be affected by those decisions.
The study looked at 49 US military cadets and how sleep deprivation affected their ability to react quickly. The cadets performed a set of tasks twice – once when they were well-rested, and then again when they were sleep-deprived.
Their accuracy on the tests declined by 2.4 per cent when sleep-deprived and improved by 4.3 per cent when they were well rested.
The findings are of particular concern among firefighters, police officers, soldiers and others who work in a sleep-deprived state, researchers at the University of Texas say.
Vice can be nice! Sarah Marinos explains why greed, lust and the rest aren’t all bad.
Since Pope Gregory created his deadliest sins short list in AD590, lust, sloth, gluttony, anger, envy, greed and pride have received bad press – unfairly, according to Dr Simon Laham, a research fellow in psychological sciences at the University of Melbourne and author of The Joy Of Sin (Constable). “For a long time we’ve been told these things are uniformly bad and if we commit these sins we’re going straight to hell,” he says. “But they are more complex than we think – and they can be good for us.”
If you are lustful, you are probably good at details and problem solving. Lust improves our focus and attention and so helps us break down a problem and work through it logically. Laham says research has also shown we are more helpful when we are lustful. When men and women in a laboratory were asked to volunteer or to help a stranger, those lulled into a lustful state were more giving. “We increase our attractiveness to potential mates by appearing agreeable and generous,” Laham says. “So when we’re aroused we play up these qualities.”
Research shows people who are dieting are worse at problem solving. “This may be because dieters are preoccupied with food-related thoughts,” Laham says. “Or it may be simply that glucose replenishes our resources so we function better.”
People who don’t eat well are less generous. “Bring people into a laboratory, give some a piece of cake and leave the rest hungry and then ask them to donate to charity. The people who’ve eaten donate more,” Laham says. Rewards like food and money are processed by similar parts of the brain. If you’re hungry you not only crave food, you’ll hold onto your money.”
Who says money can’t buy happiness? “Money can make you happier if you spend it on experiences rather than possessions,” Laham says. “Experiences are often social and social relationships are important for happiness. Experiences also age well. You are left with the memory and can reinterpret that through rose-coloured glasses.”
Research by psychologist Kathleen Vohs found even thinking about money can also help us resist pain. Vohs asked people to count stacks of banknotes or to count banknote-shaped pieces of paper. After this their hands were plunged into a bucket of hot water. “The people who counted real banknotes felt less pain,” Laham says. “So it may be that thinking about money gives us a sense of being invulnerable.”
Sleep is perhaps the ultimate slothful state. “But sleep improves our memory and ability to recall information,”
Laham says. “Experiences during the day are consolidated and formed into a network in our minds and this facilitates memory and insight.”
California State University researchers also found the slower our lifestyle, the more helpful we are. Why? Laham says “psychological overload” makes us blinkered. “We put on blinkers to remove distractions and to cope,” he says. “When we slow down we notice more and look beyond ourselves.”
“Most people think comparing ourselves with someone better off makes us feel bad, but it can boost mood, self-image and performance,” Laham says. “One study in Canada asked fledgling schoolteachers to compare themselves to an experienced, award-winning teacher. They read a newspaper article about this woman – a target of envy. The young teachers were then asked about themselves and were more likely to see themselves as intelligent and talented – like the teacher they’d just read about.”
Envy can also make us feel success is attainable. “A high performer can teach us how something is done and may change our expectations of what can be achieved,” Laham says.
“Encourage people to feel proud of themselves by telling them that they’ve done well at a task and then give them another task to do, and the proud persist longer at that task,” Laham says. “Pride induces a sense of control and the more you feel in control of what is happening, the more you are likely to act and persist in that situation because you feel more effective.” And, contrary to what you might believe, proud people are liked.
“If you’ve worked hard and put in effort and feel proud, people like that. It’s authentic pride,” he says. “But if your pride is based on arrogance – it’s narcissistic – that gives pride a bad name.”
Research from the Bar-Ilan University in Israel gave people a series of puzzles and told them the puzzles could be solved once a single rule had been worked out. In fact, the puzzles were unsolvable, but researchers wanted to study the reactions of the group. Some became dejected – and gave up. Others became angry. When the same people were given a second task, the angry people persisted and were more likely to solve the problem than the dejected group. “Anger can motivate, increase perseverance and help us face obstacles,” Laham says. “Angry people may also be regarded as more competent. Outward expressions of anger such as a serious facial expression can signal toughness and dominance. So you may be more likely to succeed with people because your expressions suggest you’re tough-minded.”
Getting a good night’s sleep may curb those cravings.
Researchers at Stanford University in the US have found healthy sleep patterns help balance the hormones responsible for food cravings and overeating.
Ghrelin is the hormone that stimulates hunger and is created when we fast for several hours. Leptin is the hormone produced when we eat, and it creates feelings of satiety that shut down our hunger centre, thereby forcing ghrelin levels to drop.
Studies have found that people who get five hours’ or less sleep a night have higher ghrelin and lower leptin levels than those who get eight hours’ sleep a night. People who were sleep deprived had greater cravings for carbohydrate-rich junk foods. Lack of sleep also led to leptin resistance, which results in the body being unable to burn fat effectively, leading to weight gain.
Melatonin (the sleep hormone) has been shown to help restore leptin sensitivity. When you are sleep deprived you don’t secrete enough melatonin.
We speak to four women who have bravely battled the disease.
At first glance, these women don’t appear to have much in common. They have vastly different lives, ages, backgrounds and interests. Yet they share an important experience: they’ve all had breast cancer. All are members of the National Breast Cancer Foundation’s Speakers’ Bureau, and give speeches around the country to raise awareness and funds for research. Here they share their personal stories.
Elissa Mcleod, 25, Vic (pictured above)
“I was only 21 when I was diagnosed.”
“When I was 19, I noticed a lump in my breast. I had it checked by a doctor but he thought it was just hard fibrous tissue, which is common in young women. But at 21, I was away with the Victorian netball team, staying in a room full of girls with clothes everywhere, and one of my teammates said: ‘Gross, there’s blood in your bra.’ (It was on the floor).”
“Later in the day, I took off the bra I was wearing and noticed there was blood in it too. When I found out I was in the very early stages of breast cancer, the world stopped for about four seconds. My oncologist recommended a mastectomy and reconstruction, but there was an option of a lumpectomy and radiotherapy.”
“To me it wasn’t a choice: life is so much more precious than a breast. But I remember having to tell friends and my boyfriend at the time that I had to have a mastectomy and it was so hard to say. I felt embarrassed, and I didn’t want people to think of me differently or to think I wasn’t attractive anymore. I have no family history of breast cancer; I’m a fit and active girl. It was just a freak occurrence.”
Amanda Maltabarrow, 50, NSW
“Breast cancer made me a better person.”
“Because my mum had breast cancer, I was having mammograms every year. But I never thought it would happen to me. I was fit and healthy, with three wonderful daughters. When I was diagnosed at 44 and the doctor asked what I wanted to do, I ran outside. I was afraid to tell my mother because I knew she’d blame herself. After a lumpectomy and another operation to take more of my breast, I had a mastectomy.”
“I was able to have a hormone treatment instead of chemotherapy and I had my ovaries removed too. Here I am seven years later, feeling fabulous. Breast cancer has turned my life around and made me a much better person. I have reassessed everything, I have the best life and I don’t sweat the small stuff. I haven’t had a breast reconstruction and I don’t even bother wearing prostheses. “I have a wonderful husband. When I had the mastectomy, the nurse took the bandages off and it was all concave. That’s when reality hit. But George said: ‘Don’t worry darling, the sexiest thing about you has always been what’s between your ears’.”
Monica Morse, 68, NSW
“When cancer came back a second time I was really scared.”
“I was diagnosed in 1993. I had a partial mastectomy, lumpectomy, radiotherapy and chemotherapy. Two years later, it came back in my spine. I was really brave with the first one. I thought, ‘Yes, I’ve beaten it.’ But when I saw the scan of my neck, I was scared. I’m a country girl, so I had to go to Sydney for treatment. It’s quite stressful being away from family. Country people are better off in some ways because they have a local community’s support, but it’s hard for them to go away for treatment.”
“Often they can’t afford a hotel, so some people stay with friends and family, or in caravan parks. Having the cancer come back really made me unsettled and uncertain. The statistics say if you get a secondary that comes back, it’s not a good prognosis, so that made me very unsettled. If you get a toe ache you think it’s gone to your toes. But about six or seven years later, a nurse said to me: ‘Come on, you are cured’.”
Kim Ung, 31, Vic
“Having a baby after cancer was a miracle.”
“I was 27 and just back from my honeymoon when I found a lump in my breast. My doctor sent me for a mammogram, but it didn’t pick up anything so she sent me for an ultrasound and then a biopsy. I wasn’t worried, I had no family history and I thought breast cancer happened to older people. It was a slow-growing tumour, but my oncologist recommended aggressive treatment. After my lumpectomy and removal of my lymph nodes, I had to wait to find out if it had spread through my body.”
“Deciding to have chemotherapy was a hard choice because it can affect fertility. I didn’t freeze my eggs because of the extra stress, so we prepared ourselves that we weren’t going to have children. After my treatment, I went to Cambodia with an aid agency to work with children in an orphanage, which was really rewarding. While we were there, my husband and I decided to try for a baby anyway. A month later I was pregnant. I’m loving motherhood. Every time I look at Lillian, who is six months old, I think she’s a miracle.”
Five ways to reduce your risk of breast cancer
Maintain a healthy body weight. Excess fat harbours extra oestrogen, which raises the risk of breast cancer.
Cut down on alcohol. Women should limit themselves to no more than one standard drink a day.
Get active. Aim to do 30 to 60 minutes of exercise a day.
Check your breasts regularly, and see your doctor if you notice changes.
From the age of 50, go for a mammogram every two years.