Five yoga strategies to stress less

Stress takes a toll mentally and physically. Yoga's mind-body approach can reduce its impact.<br /><br />To take a peaceful pause, sit comfortably with your eyes closed and focus on your breathing. Establish a count as follows: five-count inhale, seven-count exhale and three-count pause. Take a minimum of 10 breaths in this manner, but ideally, try to build up to four sets of 10 breaths.After dealing with months of stress-inducing election drama, many of us are feeling understandably tense and anxious — myself included. That’s why I’m sharing five of my favorite yoga-based ways to tame tension and regain peace of mind.

Because stress takes its toll both mentally and physically, yoga’s mind-body approach can be very effective at reducing its impact. As a widely recognized stress-relieving practice, yoga has been shown to mitigate the body’s physiological response to stressors. Its primary effectiveness is based on helping practitioners switch from their sympathetic “fight or flight” nervous system to their parasympathetic “rest and restore” nervous system.
The following five strategies offer ways to leverage yoga’s ability to calm the nervous system as well release physical tension and emotional unease. If you’re looking to tame tension and find peace, give them a try.

Practice a peaceful pause.

When you notice yourself reacting to a stressor, like a negative news story or an overly opinionated friend or neighbor, it’s helpful to have a means of regaining your sense of peace and composure. Practicing yoga breathing and mindfulness meditation have both been proven to dramatically reduce mental and physical stress; mindfulness meditation was even recently shown to relieve chronic back pain.

10 Workout Secrets From the Pros

Getting and staying fit can be a challenge. For many of us, it’s hard just to get up off the couch. So what’s the secret of people who have managed to make exercise a way of life?

woman working with trainer

1. Be Consistent

Chase Squires is the first to admit that he’s no fitness expert. But he is a guy who used to weigh 205 pounds, more than was healthy for his 5’4″ frame. “In my vacation pictures in 2002, I looked like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man at the beach,” says the 42-year-old Colorado resident. Squires decided enough was enough, cut out fatty food, and startedwalking on a treadmill. The pounds came off and soon he was runningmarathons — not fast, but in the race. He ran his first 50-mile race in October 2003 and completed his first 100-miler a year later. Since then, he’s completed several 100-mile, 50-mile, and 50k races.

His secret? “I’m not fast, but I’m consistent,” says Squires, who says consistency is his best tip for maintaining a successful fitness regimen.

“It all started with 20 minutes on a treadmill,” he says. “The difference between my success and others who have struggled is that I did it every single day. No exercise program in the world works if you don’t do it consistently.”

2. Follow an Effective Exercise Routine

The American Council on Exercise (ACE) recently surveyed 1,000 ACE-certified personal trainers about the best techniques to get fit. Their top three suggestions:

  • Strength training. Even 20 minutes a day twice a week will help tone the entire body.
  • Interval training. “In its most basic form, interval training might involve walking for two minutes, running for two, and alternating this pattern throughout the duration of a workout,” says Cedric Bryant, PhD, FACSM, chief science officer for ACE. “It is an extremely time-efficient and productive way to exercise.”
  • Increased cardio/aerobic exercise. Bryant suggests accumulating 60 minutes or more a day of low- to moderate-intensity physical activity, such as walking, running, or dancing.

3. Set Realistic Goals

“Don’t strive for perfection or an improbable goal that can’t be met,” says Kara Thompson, spokesperson for the International Health Racquet and Sportsclub Association (IHRSA). “Focus instead on increasing healthy behaviors.”

In other words, don’t worry if you can’t run a 5K just yet. Make it a habit to walk 15 minutes a day, and add time, distance, and intensity from there.

4. Use the Buddy System

Find a friend or relative whom you like and trust who also wants to establish a healthier lifestyle, suggests Thompson. “Encourage one another. Exercise together. Use this as an opportunity to enjoy one another’s company and to strengthen the relationship.”

5. Make Your Plan Fit Your Life

Too busy to get to the gym? Tennis star Martina Navratilova, health and fitness ambassador for the AARP, knows a thing or two about being busy and staying fit.

Make your plan fit your life, she advises in an article on the AARP web site. “You don’t need fancy exercise gear and gyms to get fit.”

If you’ve got floor space, try simple floor exercises to target areas such as the hips and buttocks, legs and thighs, and chest and arms (like push-ups, squats, and lunges). Aim for 10-12 repetitions of each exercise, adding more reps and intensity as you build strength.

6. Be Happy

Be sure to pick an activity you actually enjoy doing, suggests Los Angeles celebrity trainer Sebastien Lagree.

 

The 30-Minute Workout Routine
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“If you hate weights, don’t go to the gym. You can lose weight and get in shape with any type of training or activity,” he says.

And choose something that is convenient. Rock climbing may be a great workout, but if you live in a city, it’s not something you’ll be doing every day.

7. Watch the Clock

Your body clock, that is. Try to work out at the time you have the most energy, suggests Jason Theodosakis, MD, exercise physiologist at the University of Arizona College of Medicine. If you’re a morning person, schedule your fitness activities early in the day; if you perk up as the day goes along, plan your activities in the afternoon or evening.

“Working out while you have the most energy will yield the best results,” Theodosakis says.

8. Call In the Pros

Especially if you’re first getting started, Theodosakis suggests having a professional assessment to determine what types of exercise you need most.

“For some people, attention to flexibility or to balance and agility, may be more important than resistance training or aerobics,” he says. “By getting a professional assessment, you can determine your weakest links and focus on them. This will improve your overall fitness balance.”

9. Get Inspired

“Fitness is a state of mind,” says fitness professional and life coach Allan Fine of Calgary, Alberta, Canada. One of Fine’s tricks to get and stay motivated is to read blogs or web sites that show him how others have been successful. “Who inspires you?” he asks.

10. Be Patient

Finally, remember that even if you follow all these tips, there will be ups and downs, setbacks and victories, advises Navratilova. Just be patient, and don’t give up, she says on the AARP web site: “Hang in there, and you’ll see solid results.”

Poor exercise habits increase your risk for spinal injuries

Originally, yoga was created to help bring together the body and mind. Through a series of natural movements and meditation – we develop greater inner strength and flexibility. So why are so many people suffering with yoga-related injuries?

Is there a dark side to all these “power yoga” classes? Ninety-five percent of chronic pain in the body is a result of poor posture and biomechanics. On the next NaturalNews Talk Hour – you’ll discover how to use breathing to align your posture from the inside out; reduce muscle tension; dramatically increase your flexibility and avoid (unwanted) back surgeries!

Let’s take a closer look at the growing trend of yoga injuries. Statistics suggest that as many as 30 to 40 percent of people doing yoga get some type of injury. In fact, according to the Consumer Products Safety Commission, 13,000 people went to the emergency room between 2004 and 2007 reporting yoga injuries. Yoga instructors (and students) must admit – something has to change.

Breathing natural from your core to prevent injuries

Michaelle Edwards, a yoga expert says, “Conscious breathing is a powerful way to connect with our deeper selves, but it is important that we do it in a way that supports our natural breathing process.” She goes on to say that, “in order to breathe naturally you must be able to relax your outer belly muscles and allow them to elongate when you inhale. In order to do this, breathing must begin with the movement of the rib cage and not the belly.”

“Learning to initiate breath from your rib cage can help balance, elongate and tone your body from the inside out. This core breathing can help correct poor posture, jumpstart your metabolism, massage your organs and can even make you a better lover.” Naturally, it almost goes without saying, if you can’t breathe comfortably – while doing any exerciseroutine – your risk for injury goes way up.

Avoid back surgery and save millions of dollars in medical bills

Over the years, millions of people opt for irreversible surgical procedures. Many health experts agree that most of these operations could be avoided with simple changes to lifestyle habits. For example, did you know that many people can eliminate chronic back pain by simply loosening up their calf and hamstring (back of thigh) muscles? Unfortunately, fitness industry professionals are teaching too many painful, ineffective movement patterns to clueless students.

Take for example the old “straighten your knees and trying to bend forward” exercise to help make you more flexible. Well, according to Michaelle Edwards, this movement (plus many others) can potentially lead to more harm than good. There are (3) simple tests to determine whether a movement pattern is healthy or not:

1. It should allow the spine to have its natural curves.

2. It should not restrict the ability to deeply and fully breathe from the rib cage.

3. It should have a real life correlation to functional movement positions.

Your rib cage and oblique muscles are activated through deep breathing, adding length to your neck and waist, and stability to your core. Many yoga poses and exercises are “right-angle” templates that distort spinal curves, over-stretch important stabilizing ligaments, and create repetitive strain injuries. The bottom line – all of this can be avoided by moving properly!

Michaelle Edwards is an author, body-worker and yoga teacher who owns and operates the Kauai Yoga School on Kauai’s north shore. As a posture therapist and innovator, Michaelle has come up with a new way to become naturally aligned, which she calls YogAlign. She uses self-massage, deep core breathing, and core exercises designed to align the spine while stabilizing the joints.

Michaelle began developing her adaptation of yoga in 1992 when she tore her knee ligament practicing vinyasa yoga. As she healed, she began to create new poses that make anatomical sense in real-life body function. MIchaelle has certified hundreds of teachers in YogAlign and has practiced yoga, in some form, for 40 years.

Is there a dark side to all these “power yoga” classes? Ninety-five percent of pain in the body is a result of poor posture. On the next NaturalNews Talk Hour – you’ll discover how to use breathing to align your posture from the inside out; reduce muscle tension; dramatically increase your flexibility plus much more!

5 Factors That Make or Break a Workout

A young woman sits on the ground at a park with bottle of water.

Runners experience many ups and downs as they go through the days and weeks of their training routines. Some days feel great. Other days? Well, not so much. If you ever find yourself scratching your head wondering why your last run felt so horrible, ask yourself these five questions to shed light on the possible reasons:

1. What did you do in your workout yesterday?

Much of what dictates your energy levels during runs is related to where your body is in the recovery process from previous workouts. The first question I ask myself when I’m feeling particularly crummy is, “What did I do yesterday?” An especially long run or taxing speed workout can require at least 24 hours of recovery time. Depending on a runner’s level of fitness, this amount of time can stretch out to 48 hours or even longer. It’s important for runners to keep track of their workouts and to try to keep some space between the longest and hardest ones. When not fully recovered, most runners have difficulty achieving their workout goals.

 

Coach Joe’s Tip: Try to spread long runs and speed workouts across the week, placing two to three days between your hardest speed or “quality” workouts. Completing two intense, quality workouts in a week is a good goal for most runners.

2. What did you eat yesterday?

The energy you put into your body in the form of food also affects your energy level. The food you eat before your workouts gives you energy to fuel them, while what you eat after workouts provides you the tools you need to recover. If runners don’t eat enough carbohydrates the day and morning before workouts, they’ll be low on fuel. Without fuel, there’s no energy. And, if they don’t eat enough protein after their workouts, they’ll hamper the body’s ability to recover properly.

Coach Joe’s Tip: Runners should plan their eating to support their workout needs. Aim to eat complex carbohydrates (including bread, rice and pasta) the night before a long workout. Eat or drink at least 15 grams of protein – about the amount in a container of yogurt – in the first hour after a workout to give your body a better chance to recover.

3. How much did you sleep last night?

Sleep is critical to runners. In fact, much of their post-run recovery occurs while they’re sleeping. When runners start missing sleep, they rob their bodies of this critical recovery time, which leads to a cycle of less and less energy during their runs. Travel can be especially tough for runners since it often requires early wakeup calls, long days and jet lag. All of these challenges can add up to a loss of that critical time for recovery-promoting sleep.

Coach Joe’s Tip: The week leading up to a big race, try to catch a few extra minutes of sleep each night. This extra time adds up to more recovery and, ultimately, feeling better on race day or during a key workout.

4. What did you drink yesterday?

Our bodies are like sponges. While I won’t tackle the complex topic of hydration here, the image of a sponge is a good one to keep in mind. When a sponge is dry, it doesn’t work correctly. When runners don’t take in enough fluid on a daily basis, their muscles can’t operate as well. While many people drink only a bare minimum amount of water, runners’ bodies need even more fluid to operate optimally. And, keep in mind that drinking alcohol robs the body of fluid. If you tied one on last night and are feeling hungover, get some extra fluid in your body before you run – or brace for one terrible workout.

Coach Joe’s Tip: This one’s pretty simple: Become a water-drinker. Drink less (or no) alcohol the day before key workouts. And, take it easy on yourself if you’re hungover. Better yet, avoid being hungover to begin with.

5. What’s going on in your life?

Keep in mind that your mental state also plays a role in how you feel when you’re running. If runners are under a great deal of emotional stress, the physical stress of a hard workout is sometimes too much to handle. Emotional stress can also hamper the ability to sleep and recover properly. So, if you’ve gone through a breakup, are having a tough time at work or are just under enormous pressure, you can expect your runs to feel much more difficult.

Coach Joe’s Tip: Go easy on yourself if you have a lot on your mental plate. Realize that while exercise is good for clearing the mind and relaxing you, it can also be another source of stress when you push too hard. Take your workouts a little easier when you’re going through tough times.

So, if you’ve had a bad run or workout, take stock of what’s going on in your world more generally. I bet one of these factors may have something to do with it. Remember: Tomorrow is a new day.

Is Your Medicine Ruining Your Workout?

You probably realize that many things can affect your exercise performance – including your eating and sleeping habits, your training regimen and your state of mind – but the medications you take may not even be on your radar screen.

Sure, you probably recognize that swallowing a sedating antihistamine (like Benadryl) or a benzodiazepine (like Ativan, Valium or Xanax) is likely to make you drowsy and impair your coordination at the gym. But you might overlook the fact that other drugs could also compromise your energy or balance, your hydration status, your concentration or stamina or other fitness-related factors.

“Not everyone will have the same effect with [the same] medications, and a person’s response to a medication can change over time,” notes Dr. Rick Figler, a primary care sports and exercise medicine physician at The Cleveland Clinic Sports Health Center. “If you feel your exercise is being affected by the medications you take, bring that information to your doctor.”

Here’s a look at six types of drugs that can impact your sporting life, with advice on how to handle the situation:

The Medications:

Anticholinergic drugs (to treat bladder-control issues and some gastrointestinal conditions)

Possible Effects: Common side effects include dry mouth and drowsiness, which can be uncomfortable during a workout. Worse, the medication may decrease your ability to sweat, which can lead to dizziness and overheating while you’re exercising, especially in hot weather, says Bob Lobo, director of clinical programs in the department of pharmaceutical services at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville. These effects can impair your coordination and balance, among other abilities.

How to Deal: Your best bet is to exercise before you take the medicine, Lobo says. Keep in mind: The effects often depend on the dosing so talk to your doctor to see if you can get by with a lower dose, Figler suggests. “Sometimes people get used to [the effects] as they adjust to the medication. If you don’t, you might try a different medication in the same class” because it may not have the same side effects for you.

The Medications:

Antihistamines (used to treat allergies, colds and sleep problems)

Possible Effects: It’s widely known that first-generation antihistamines like Benadryl can cause drowsiness and impaired coordination and concentration. But even some of the newer, non-sedating antihistamines such as Zyrtec, Allegra and Claritin can make you feel tired, which can take a toll on your stamina (though to a lesser extent than the first-generation ones). What’s more, antihistamines can affect your body’s “temperature regulation and interfere with sweating and cooling mechanisms so you may overheat, especially when exercising in the summer,” says Dr. John Higgins, a sports cardiologist at the McGovern Medical School at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston.

How to Deal: If possible, exercise before you take an antihistamine to sidestep these effects, suggests Lobo. “If you’re taking an antihistamine for allergic rhinitis, use an intranasal corticosteroid [spray] like Flonase, which doesn’t affect exercise performance at all.” Instead of taking a multi-symptom drug for a cold, it’s better to choose a medication that targets your exact complaint, whether it’s headache (in which case you’d want a pain reliever) or nasal congestion (in which case, a decongestant is the way to go), Figler says. If you’re bothered by dry mouth while you exercise, take frequent sips of water or chew gum while you work out.

The Medications:

Beta blockers (to treat high blood pressure, abnormal heart rhythms, chronic migraines and anxiety)

Possible Effects: These drugs decrease your heart rate, blood pressure and cardiac output, which can make you feel tired, sluggish and short of breath during a workout. As a result, you may not perform at the level you want to – running may take more effort or an aerobics class may feel more rigorous than it used to. “Sometimes it’s a dose effect,” Figler says, “and sometimes it’s a tolerance effect that goes away over time.”

How to Deal: Because of the medication’s effects, you won’t be able to reach your target heart rate while you’re exercising “but this doesn’t mean you aren’t benefitting from exercise!” Higgins says. Instead, rely on the Ratings of Perceived Exertion, or RPE, scale to gauge how hard you feel like you’re working on a scale of 6 (no exertion at all) to 20 (maximal exertion). Remember, too, that beta blockers can make you susceptible to orthostatic hypotension (a drop in blood pressure that occurs when you stand up from a sitting or lying-down position), points out Lara Ellinger-Fetzer, a drug information and medication safety pharmacist at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago. So “move carefully and avoid sudden changes in posture” while you’re exercising or stretching. If you’re taking a beta blocker for high blood pressure or migraines and you can’t tolerate the effects on your workouts, talk to your doctor about whether another type of medication might be an option for you.

The Medications:

Decongestants (to treat colds, sinus pressure and allergies)

Possible Effects: Some decongestants contain stimulants (such as pseudoephedrine) that can make you feel jittery and increase your heart rate and blood pressure. “You may notice a higher heart rate than usual, more like a racing heart,” says Frank Romanelli, a professor of pharmacy at the University of Kentucky in Lexington and a marathon runner.

How to Deal: Your best bet is to take the decongestant after your workout, not before – or to “use a decongestant nasal spray (like Afrin), which won’t affect you systemically,” Romanelli says.

The Medications:

Diuretics (to treat high blood pressure, heart disease and fluid retention)

Possible Effects: Because these drugs flush fluids from the body, they can cause more frequent urination, reduce your blood volume and blood pressure, and decrease blood flow to your muscles. These changes can increase your risk of experiencing dehydration, electrolyte imbalances, fatigue and muscle cramps while exercising – and compromise your balance and coordination, Higgins says. These changes also can ratchet up the risk of experiencing heat illness if you’re exercising in hot weather.

How to Deal: Talk to your doctor about whether you can adjust the timing of your dose to avoid these effects, Romanelli advises. Drink more fluids than usual before, during and after exercise to prevent dehydration, and consider having a diluted sports drink or a small banana to pump up your potassium level, Figler suggests. If symptoms persist, talk to your doctor to see if you can adjust the dosage.

The Medications:

Statins (to treat cholesterol abnormalities)

Possible Effects: Muscle aches and pains are common side effects of these drugs, and these can affect your exercise performance. With statin drugs, some people also experience increased fatigue, reduced VO2 max (a measure of the maximum volume of oxygen you can use during aerobic exercise) and reduced exercise performance, Higgins notes.

How to Deal: Changing from one statin to another may help so talk to your doctor about this, Figler says.

Study shows regular exercise can grow vital regions of your brain

The importance of a nutrient-rich diet in maintaining mental health has been well documented. What may be understated is the value of physical exercise for preserving and even improving brain function. As we age, the brain slowly loses elasticity and as a result memory loss occurs and the risk for dementia increases.

The hippocampus, in particular, plays a vital role in learning and memory. It is this region of the brain that is also very susceptible to atrophy, which can lead to depression and dementia among other health conditions. While exercise improves mental health in general, the prefrontal lobe, which is responsible for personality expression, decision making and moderating social behavior, along with the hippocampus, are most affected by physical activity.

Both the hippocampus and the entire medial temporal lobes are larger in physically fit adults. A study published in 2011 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, demonstrated this in a one-year randomized controlled trial which included 120 older adults without dementia. The participants were split into two groups: a control group, where participants did not exercise, and a test group whose members performed aerobic exercise. According to MRIs taken before, during and after the study, the exercise group had an approximate 2 percent increase in hippocampal volume, over the one-year period.

The true significance of these findings however can only be appreciated when you take into account the fact that older adults typically lose 1-2 percent of their hippocampal volume each year. The control group in this study saw a 1.4 percent decline in hippocampal volume — which means that over a single year the two groups saw a whopping 3.4 percent relative difference in hippocampal volume. This data makes it clear that achieving a regular exercise routine is not simply a way to nullify age-related losses in brain function but also an effective approach to improving mental function and avoiding dementia and depression altogether.

Recommendations

There’s more good news. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, there is growing evidence that low-intensity exercise even for relatively short periods of time can reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and other dementias. Walking, cycling, yoga and other exercise that increases your heart rate for just 30 minutes a day can improve oxygen consumption and slow down brain cell loss. The key is to do these activities regularly and combine them with a brain-healthy diet — fatty fish, nuts, eggs, fruits, vegetables, olive oil, avocado, coconut oil — to keep your brain young.

Misleading study claims fast food improves exercise performance

Media reports are claiming that eating fast food could help you recover after a workout and even improve exercise performance, based on a study conducted by the researchers from the University of Montana and published in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism. But what did the study really say?

The research focused on glycogen, the major energy source for your skeletal muscles. Glycogen is a short-term energy supply that allows bursts of physical power; depending on the intensity of exercise, you can deplete a muscle’s glycogen stores within 10 to 30 minutes.

After exercising, it’s important to help the body restore its glycogen stores or the muscles will use less suitable energy sources, causing physiological stress and weakening the immune system. The new study asked if fast food could recharge these glycogen stores.

What did the study find?

The body makes glycogen from carbohydrates, which is why many athletes carb-load both before and after workouts: before to build up glycogen stores, and after to replenish them.

According to the researchers, prior studies have shown that other nutrients are also important for glycogen recovery. In fact, that research has very precisely delineated the ideal nutrient composition, dose and timing of foods for maximal glycogen recovery. Based in part on such research, food companies have designed a number of energy bars, shakes and other “post-workout” supplements.

In the new study, 11 male athletes worked out for 90 minutes, followed by a four-hour recovery period. During recovery, the athletes were randomly assigned to consume either sport supplements (Cliff Shot Bloks, Gatorade and organic peanut butter, plus Cytomax powder and PowerBar products two hours later) or junk food (hot cakes, hash browns and orange juice, plus a hamburger, French fries and Coke two hours later). Both groups were fed foods with the same composition of carbohydrates, fat and protein.

Before and after eating, the athletes underwent blood tests and muscle biopsies to measure glycogen levels. After eating, they also underwent a timed exercise trial. After a week, the groups were switched, and the men performed the same test but with the other group of foods.

The researchers found that regardless of which group of foods was eaten, there was no difference in glycogen recovery, blood sugar, insulin response or post-meal exercise performance.

“These data indicate that short-term food options to initiate glycogen resynthesis can include dietary options not typically marketed as sports nutrition products such as fast-food menu items,” the researchers wrote.

What do the findings mean?

The findings do not mean, as has been widely implied by media reports, that fast food is a good choice for post-exercise recovery. The study authors themselves note that the study was small and was only designed to look at specific short-term impacts. It was not designed to evaluate the long-term impacts of fast food consumption.

It’s also important to recognize how carefully planned the fast food diet in the study was. The participants did not just go to a fast food restaurant and eat whatever they wanted; instead, they were given a meal that contained the same carbohydrate, fat and protein content as the sports supplement diet. In other words, they were given a selection of fast foods designed to promote glycogen recovery.

This might not occur if people picked their own fast foods. As the researchers note in the study, many fast foods are high in nutrients that actively interfere with glycogen recovery.

If anything, the takeaway message from the study is not that fast food is good for you, but that sports supplements are not necessary for recovery after exercise. Notably, the study did not look at glycogen recovery in athletes who ate a healthy diet of real, non-processed foods.

Reduce women’s heart disease by staying active just 2-3 times per week

We all know that being active can help increase our heart health and overall health, but how much is enough? It seems that simply staying active 2-3 times a week can help middle-aged women reduce their risk of stroke, heart disease, and even blood clots when compared to inactive women.

As we age, we tend to become more sedentary, which can lead to decreasing bone density and muscle mass. This is especially true in women who have a greater risk of osteoporosis and decreased muscle strength. But the simple act of just staying active 2-3 times a week can negate some of these adverse outcomes.

The study

The research which was published in the journal Circulation – an American Heart Association publication – looked at 1.1 million women in the United Kingdom. These women had no history of heart disease or cancer with an average age of 56 years old. During the study the women reported their activity levels at the beginning of the study and then three years later. The researchers then on average followed up with the participants 9 years later and looked at their hospital admissions and death records to compare the responses.

What they found was that the women who perform “strenuous” activity (enough to increase heart rate and induce sweating) such as cycling, hiking, and gardening at least 2-3 times a week had a 20 percent reduction in stroke, heart disease, and blood clots compared to the women who didn’t. What was surprising was that there were no increased benefits from a higher activity level.

Health benefits of staying active

As we age, there are numerous health benefits that come with staying active. For instance, weekly strength training can help burn calories and can therefore be helpful in controlling your weight. It can also build muscle, improve your strength, improve your quality of life, etc. It can even help fight osteoporosis.

By performing 2-3 full-body strength training workouts a week, women (and men) can help improve their bone density (any of these exercises. This is because weight-bearing exercise likes strength training, hiking, dancing, and jogging all cause our bones to reinforce themselves – improving our bone density! [As with any exercise program, consult your doctor before beginning.]

Wrap-up

As we age, it is important for all of us to stay active. Even as little as 2 or 3 activity sessions a week are enough to witness remarkable results. When it comes to helping women improve their heart health, Dr. Miranda Armstrong, lead author of the study, said,“Inactive middle-aged women should try to do some activity regularly. However, to prevent heart disease, stroke and blood clots, our results suggest that women don’t need to do very frequent activity as this seems to provide little additional benefit above that from moderately frequent activity.” The main point: start getting active to improve your health – a little goes a long way!

Why is exercise equipment suddenly killing people and beating up Harry Reid?

It seems as though exercise equipment has suddenly become very dangerous — deadly, even — as evidenced by two high-profile equipment “accidents” in recent months.

Just days ago, reports that tech CEO Dave Goldberg of SurveyMonkey had died suddenly in Mexico shocked millions of people, especially those in the IT industry.

As reported by The Associated Press, initially the cause of Goldberg’s death was a mystery, but eventually Mexican authorities revealed that he had apparently died from a blow to the back of his head that he sustained while working out on a treadmill.

The AP noted:

The official said he left his room at about 4 p.m. to exercise, and family members went to look for him after he didn’t return. He was found at about 6:30 p.m. in one of the resort’s gymnasiums lying by a treadmill in a pool of blood, with a blow to the lower back of his head. He apparently had slipped on the treadmill and hit the machine, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the person was not authorized to speak to the press

Dearth of information leads to much speculation

Goldberg was vacationing at the resort with his wife, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, and their two children.

The New York Times further reported that Goldberg, 47, was vacationing with family and friends at a private beach-front villa near the Four Seasons Resort in Punta Mita, an area of large development featuring two hotels and several private residences close to Puerto Villarta, in the country’s southwest.

The Times further reported that John O’Sullivan, head of the Four Seasons Punta Mita, said no incident had occurred in any of the areas of the resort managed by the company.

The initial shock of Goldberg’s death, along with an initial dearth of information, led many to speculate that perhaps there might have been foul play or some other explanation other than he simply fell off exercise equipment that he normally uses.

Penelope Trunk, an entrepreneur and “geek feminist” openly wrote in her blog that she believes Goldberg killed himself:

First of all, let me say that I feel really bad for everyone who is losing Dave Goldberg in their life. …

I don’t have any evidence that it was a suicide. All I have is someone notable died and no one is saying how. And however Sheryl’s husband died is news, since she has been news for three years telling women their husband is instrumental into the process of Leaning In.

But really, I just want to know how Dave died. Because I think he killed himself. And if he did, this might tells us a lot about what happens when both people in marriage Lean In.

What happened to Harry Reid?

Lean In is a book co-written by Sandberg and Nell Scovell, a TV and magazine writer, about how women should be given more corporate leadership roles.

Breitbart News reported that an anonymous source told Forbes online that more information about Goldberg’s death would be made available soon.

His story seems to dovetail into a similar episode involving U.S. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada.

According to reports, Reid says he was severely injured on New Year’s Day when elastic bands he was using to exercise with broke, striking him in his right eye. But his story changed several times, as compiled by The Daily Sheeple, leading many to speculate that Reid actually got beat up, perhaps by his alcoholic brother, Larry.

Whatever the case, Reid has since decided that it is time to retire from the Senate — after losing his majority leader status last November, after 30 years in that office, after being involved in a federal invasion of the Bundy ranch, and after suffering a beating from “exercise equipment.”

Most US physicians aren’t educated on the health benefits of exercise – learn how exercise improves your well-being!

While we all know that exercise and a healthy diet are the two most important factors to fend off most diseases, premature aging and cognitive decline, most American physicians apparently lack the knowledge to advise their patients on these basics.

A new study (1) conducted at Oregon State University (OSU) found that more than half of physicians in the U.S. didn’t receive any training on how to incorporate exercise in their treatments.

“There are immense medical benefits to exercise; it can help as much as medicine to address some health concerns,” Brad Cardinal, an OSU professor of sports science, said in the study’s press release.(2) “Because exercise has medicinal as well as other benefits, I was surprised that medical schools didn’t spend more time on it.”

The study
Cardinal and his team reviewed the curriculum of 118 medical schools to see whether they incorporate any type of physical activity education in their training program.

They found that the majority of all medical training institutions don’t offer any type of physical training, and if they do, the courses are often not mandatory. To put it in numbers: 51% of the reviewed schools didn’t offer exercise-related classes; 21% had only one class; and out of the schools that offered physical training, only 18% made these classes mandatory.

Many patients see their physician as the go-to person for counsel and support about their health, but according to this study over half of our physicians received no or very little education in the area of physical activity.

Over the years, our medical system has focused and relied too much on treating symptoms with pharmaceuticals while neglecting simple natural remedies like exercise and healthy, whole foods, which tackle the actual cause of the problem.

“Physicians play a significant and influential role in encouraging and assisting patients who need or are trying to get more exercise, but past research has shown that many physicians lack the education, skills or confidence to educate and counsel patients about their physical activity,” Cardinal said.

“Understanding why and how to exercise, and knowing how to help people who are struggling to make it a habit, is really important,” he added.(2)

With initiatives like “Exercise is Medicine” from the American College of Sports Medicine and “Healthy People 2020” from the U.S. government, we are definitely heading into the right direction to educate physicians about the importance of prescribing exercise rather than medicines. But it is up to the physicians to take the responsibility to seek out more education if needed.

How exercise improves our well-being
Staying active throughout your life is one of the best ways to control weight and improve overall well-being and longevity. Together with nutrition, regular exercise will keep your cells, bones and muscles in perfect condition. It can reduce the risk of heart diseases,(3)osteoporosis(4) and several types of cancer.(5) Combined with vitamin D, it has shown great results in reducing abdominal fat and reversing insulin-resistance in type 2 diabetics.(6)

And not only will the body benefit; several studies have found that regular exercise improves our mood, makes us happy and helps ease symptoms of depression as well.(7)

Even the slightest form of activity can have a major effect on health and happiness. Not everybody loves going to the gym or has it in them to train for a triathlon, but that’s absolutely fine. If you are not the biggest sportsman or -woman out there, mild exercises, like walking, cycling, yoga, dancing, swimming or jogging, will do the trick, as long as you do them on a regular basis.