Lose weight through good posture: How standing tall can make you slim
How fast can you slim down? Many doctors say you can safely lose a pound or two a week. There is one sure and safe method to look slimmer and feel better immediately, and that's to stand up straight. James Emmett is a chiropractor and owner of the Centrum Chiropractic Clinic in Ottawa. Emmett says people who improve their posture see positive results, not just physically, but also mentally and emotionally. "If we can teach them about body posture, that can have a widespread effect," he says. "Because they're carrying themselves better it takes tension off the whole body and everything starts to flow better." Eventually, most of us will need to work on our posture. "Everybody goes through stresses in their life," Emmett says. "Family, work or just general physical body stresses all have a way of affecting posture."
Do a posture check
When was the last time you evaluated your posture? Emmett recommends the following self-check:
The space should only be about the width of your hand, says Emmett. Anything much bigger and you know there's a problem with overcurvature. Emmett says too much curve in the low back will pull your head forward and round your shoulders. This posture looks unattractive and can lead to a variety of physical strains and pains throughout the body.
Avoid posture pitfalls
We all do things at work, home or even while asleep that can be bad for our posture. Emmett says the following are some of the biggest culprits:
At work: Sitting incorrectly, placing items like the phone and mouse beyond easy reach and straining to read a computer screen. These behaviours lead to hunched shoulders and tense muscles. Also, standing for long hours on a hard floor, as in a factory or on a sales floor, can cause hip and back pain.
At home: Holding the baby on one hip, folding endless loads of laundry, standing at a counter for long periods of time when cooking -- all these bring on muscle tension and can rotate our bodies in awkward positions, putting our posture out of whack. While asleep: Sleeping on your stomach is a no-no, causing neck and low back strain. Similarly, sleeping without proper support for your neck and hips can rotate your pelvis during the night, making it nearly impossible to stand properly once you wake up.
Article Source: http://www.spineguys.com/newsletter/01102008d.asp
Kick the Caffeine Habit
Tossing and turning through another sleepless night? Caffeine could be the culprit. Relying on medications to fall asleep and using caffeine to stay awake during the day can throw off your body's natural rhythm. Find out what your caffeine habit is doing to your body.
On any given night, millions of Americans have trouble sleeping. On any given afternoon, millions of Americans struggle to stay alert. It's no wonder that more than 48 million sleep-aid prescriptions were written in 2006, nor is it any wonder that caffeine has become the second-largest commodity in dollar amounts (behind oil) traded in the world.
The population is increasingly reaching for medications and stimulants to battle its sleep problems, and often simultaneously - pharmaceuticals for the insomnia and caffeine for the daytime fatigue. Unfortunately, neither solution can replace the recuperative and restorative powers of natural sleep. Both can alter nature's elaborate sleep architecture, the quality and the optimum proportion of deep and light sleep, and the amount of REM, or dream sleep.
What Causes Insomnia?
Insomnia is a self-reported condition - a complaint about the inability to fall asleep or stay asleep, or about waking unrefreshed and experiencing excessive daytime fatigue. According to the National Institutes of Health, 30 percent to 40 percent of adults report some symptoms of insomnia within a given year; 10 percent to 15 percent report that it is a chronic condition. In some instances, insomnia is primary, or not directly associated with any other health issue. For others, the insomnia is secondary, a symptom of another health issue or a by-product of another medical condition (or of the medications used to treat that condition).
In most of these cases, the sleep problem can be managed, once the root cause is identified. The same can be said for the 90 or so clearly identified and defined sleep disorders, such as obstructive sleep apnea or restless legs syndrome.
For millions, however, insomnia is "self-inflicted." It is simply the result of poor lifestyle choices - violations of the conditions and practices that promote quality sleep, collectively known as sleep hygiene. Proper sleep hygiene allows the powerful mechanisms that regulate the human sleep-wake cycle to function as designed. Obviously, high noise levels, bright lights and excessive temperatures are conditions that interfere with sleep. Less obvious are the influences diet and exercise exert on sleep patterns. One of particular magnitude is caffeine intake.
The Dangers of Caffeine
In addition to coffee, tea and cola, caffeine can be found in energy drinks, over-the-counter pain medicines and chocolate. In moderation, caffeine can be tolerated and can contribute to a healthy lifestyle. In excess, especially late in the day, it can substantially alter sleep quality by interfering with a key component of sleep: the homeostatic process.
Sleep homeostasis is the process by which the body establishes a steady state of physiological balance and readiness. From the moment of morning wakefulness, the homeostatic drive for sleep accumulates until it reaches its maximum late in the evening, establishing enough pressure to sustain about eight continuous hours of slumber. Although the exact neurological mechanisms aren't fully understood, sleep most likely involves the nucleoside adenosine. Adenosine binds to receptors in the basal forebrain that control the cells that are essential for wakefulness, and turns them off, triggering sleep. Levels of adenosine rise continuously during the day as cells break down ATP (adenosine triphosphate) to generate energy. While awake and active, the body burns ATP and thus, adenosine levels rise, creating the pressure for sleep. During sleep, there is a marked decrease in cellular activity.
Caffeine molecules are similar in structure to adenosine and bind to the same receptors that signal the pressure for sleep, thus blocking the homeostatic sleep drive. Masking tiredness is a signature feature of caffeine. Caffeine also prevents adenosine from dilating the brain's blood vessels (theoretically, to increase oxygen efficiency during sleep). That's why caffeine is found in many over-the-counter headache pain medications, such as Anacin. If a headache is vascular in nature, caffeine helps relieve the pain by narrowing the blood vessels.
All of this activity caused by the caffeine also triggers the body to release epinephrine (adrenaline), another anti-sleep chemical. Adrenaline, among other things, increases the heart rate and blood pressure, dilates the pupils, increases blood sugar levels, and increases the blood supply to the large muscle groups in the body.
Restrict Your Caffeine Intake
Moderate amounts of caffeine ingested in the morning are sufficiently metabolized by bedtime - they won't have a major impact on sleep. However, caffeine has a half-life of four to seven hours, which means substantial amounts of caffeine consumed later in the day will linger in the body well past the evening. For example, a well-known chain of coffee shops has a large-sized coffee product that contains more than 500 mg of caffeine (roughly five times that of an average cup of drip coffee). If you were to drink that as a "pick-me-up" at 3 p.m. to "get through the day," half of the caffeine could still be in the body at bedtime. In other words, a 10 p.m. bedtime could be challenged by the caffeine equivalent of two full cups of coffee! One might be tired enough to fall asleep, but the caffeine tampers with the quality and depth of the sleep, damaging sleep's valuable restorative powers.
Simply restricting caffeine intake after the noon hour could have dramatic effects on the ability to fall asleep at night and the ensuing quality of one's sleep. It also may negate or reduce the need for sleep aids. Nature wins, and so does the sleeper!
Article Source: http://www.spineguys.com
5 Mistakes New Runners Make - by John Morris
Running seems to be one of the easiest exercises available, yet many are not doing it perfectly. No wonder why many people suffer injuries and other problems. The point here is that running is not simply placing one foot ahead of the other. It is more than meets the eye.
Hence, if you are a new runner, it is imperative that you know the necessary pointers to consider in order to have a good run. To know these things, new runners must learn how to identify mistakes; otherwise, they will never know how to hone their skills.
The problem with most new runners is that they seem to know everything. They never learn the most common mistakes new runners tend to commit. Therefore, history always repeats itself.
It is true that part of the quandaries of learning how to run in the first place is to know the competition itself. Of course, in order to learn the race, one must learn how to avoid the usual mistakes new runners commit.
So to get you started, here are 5 of the most common mistakes new runners make. Knowing these things will enable you to develop your running noticeably.
1. Not being realistic with their goal
Running without a goal is useless endeavour. It is as if you are shooting for the stars without being realistic. Of course, if your goal is too far from being realistic, you will end up just the same. Moreover, most new runners tend to create goals by distance and not by "goal time". In this case, people running by miles will only have a propensity to be frustrated, exhausted, and worn out. That is because they have failed to reach their goals. Keep in mind that running by miles will make new runners see the distance they still have to take before they reach the finish line. This is such a depressing state considering the fact that running by miles makes new runners too ruthless on what their body can do. Hence, it would be better if they will run by goal time, and not by distance. In this way, new runners can realistically foresee an achievable goal.
2. Too fast, too furious?
Running is not all about speed. It is not even your goal. It is more about how you will be able to build fitness. Hence, running too fast will only make you wince with pain and when everything seems to be too painful to bear, you will simply give up and never make it to the finish line. Unless it is a competition, running should never be founded on speed. The idea to enjoy the activity and get the best positive results is to be relaxed with your movement. For new runners, swiftness is the key to an enjoyable running.
3. No coaches please!
Are you too arrogant to seek for coaching? Most new runners are! Just because running is such a natural state of activity that is innate with humans, new runners will tend to avoid further coaching. New runners believe it is within their capacity and skill to run.
In essence, the ability to have a good run will always depend on the way people employ their selves throughout the time. It is one of the greatest problems new runners commit. They believe that anybody can start running just because it is innate within them. What they do not know is that people cannot instantly adapt to the demands of running. They cannot simply modify their way of thinking as well as their body when they have decided to start running.
For instance, if you have always lived a sedentary life, starting to run without proper coaching will only bring more harm than good. Your body is not yet on its proper condition and it does not merely involves a few stretching exercises. A good program with a good coach will be necessary to get you started on the right track.
4. It probably just hurts!
Most new runners fail to see the reality of possible muscle pains within the first two minutes of running. They thought that at any point in time, they can start running and everything will go on smoothly. Of course, almost 60% of new runners had complained about leg pains and fatigue. This is because their bodies had not been properly conditioned for such activities. It is imperative that they get on the right track first before they even decide to start running.
5. Pressures! Pressures!
New runners are always pressured to keep everything perfect all of a sudden. When they do this, they tend to put a strain on their ability to run correctly. Keep in mind that pressures can put a strain on your muscles, thereby, creating stiffening sensations on the area. This will only contribute to possible leg pains. Therefore, it is best to defy their compulsion to get it perfectly on an instant.
New runners should try to remember that running, as much as it seems to be a natural thing for humans, is not a skill they are born with. It takes time and effort to get everything perfectly well.
If you are just starting to run, better take it slow! Now that you know the common mistakes new runners commit, it is imperative that you keep away from doing these things. Learn to run by heart. You will enjoy it more.
Breastfeeding helps babies handle stress in a better manner
New research suggests that breastfeeding helps babies handle stress in a better manner. The study published online by the Archives of Disease in Childhood; found that children who are weaned naturally were less affected by anxiety, as they grew older than children who were given the bottle or formula milk.
The study of nearly 9,000 British children was conducted with the help of data from the 1970 British Cohort Study. Information regarding breastfeeding was obtained at birth, when the child was five years old and at the age of 10. The data, which included the baby's birth weight and whether they were breastfed, was obtained from midwives, health visitors, parents, and teachers.
When the children were aged 10, teachers were asked to rate whether they were anxious. Parents were also asked about any family problems like divorce and separation. It was found that kids coming from broken families were anxious, but those who were breastfed coped better with this anxiety. The study said that breastfed children were twice as anxious about parental divorce, but children fed on bottle were nine times more anxious than breastfed children.
"The analysis found parental divorce and separation were associated with a greater anxiety among children who were not breast fed than among breast fed children," said lead researcher Dr Scott Montgomery, of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm. The researchers said that their study did not try to say that breastfeeding reduced anxiety, rather the study pointed out that breastfeeding helps children respond in a better way.
"Breast-feeding is associated with resilience against the psychosocial stress linked with parental divorce or separation. This could be because breast feeding is a marker of exposures related to maternal characteristics and parent-child interaction," Dr Montgomery said. "The benefits of breast feeding are well recognized and this study indicates it may be associated with lower levels of anxiety among children who have had the potentially stressful experience of parental divorce."
8 Ways you can eat to fight fatigue - By Dr. Joey Shulman
Tired of being tired? Healthy foods can help. Here's how you can fight fatigue through good nutrition. Instead of succumbing to a daily 3 p.m. slump, there are certain foods that can help you fight fatigue and keep your energy levels consistently high throughout the day. To feel an extra pep in your step...read on!
Avoid the white. Foods such as white bread, white pasta, white potatoes and rice are rated high on the glycemic index. When these types of food are eaten in abundance and often, they tend to elicit a state of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). Symptoms of hypoglycemia include fatigue, moodiness and mental fogginess. Selecting lower glycemic index grains such as whole grains that have not been refined (e.g. kamut, spelt or 100 per cent whole wheat), sweet potatoes and brown rice will help to keep your energy up and weight down. As a general rule, check the nutrition facts label -- a good bread will contain 2 to 3 grams of fibre per slice.
Drink green. Not only is green tea loaded with antioxidants and a terrific addition to any weight-loss program, it also contains natural caffeine that mimics the same feelings you get from coffee. Looking to quit or decrease your morning java? Turn to some delicious green tea to avoid coffee withdrawals and keep energy up.
Protein it up. Eating the right amount of protein helps to balance blood sugar, which in turn avoids energy fluctuations. Optimal sources of protein are those that are lower in saturated fat, such as low-fat dairy products (yogurt, cottage cheese, low-fat cheese), chicken, fish, turkey, soy and egg whites. On average, men need approximately 5 to 7 ounces of protein per meal while women need approximately 4 to 6 ounces of protein per meal. For an approximate measurement technique, the palm of your hand (without fingers or thumb) is equivalent to 3 ounces of protein.
Water yourself down. You're not tired...you're thirsty! Many symptoms that occur in the body, such as fatigue, are an indication of dehydration, not illness. In order to fight fatigue, make sure you are hydrating yourself daily with 6 to 8 glasses of fresh, clean water, herbal tea or watered down 100 per cent fruit juice.
Think crayons. When selecting your foods, try to make your plate look as colourful as a pack of Crayola markers. Nature is very wise and has made our healthiest food -- loaded with nutrients and vitamins -- bright and beautiful. Tomatoes, blueberries, raspberries, broccoli, sweet potatoes, carrots, oranges and spinach are just a few of the nutritional superstars that will leave you feeling full of life.
Choose iron-rich foods. We need iron to produce hemoglobin, the main component of red blood cells. Hemoglobin acts by transporting oxygen to cells in your body, where it is used to produce energy. If your iron stores are low (called iron-deficiency anemia), your red blood cells can't supply as much oxygen to the cells, resulting in poor energy. There are two sources of iron in food:
" Heme: The most absorbable form of iron. Found in red meat, organ meats and eggs.
" Non-heme: A less absorbable form of iron. Found in iron-enriched cereal, dark green leafy vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds and some dried fruit. To increase the absorption of non-heme iron, eat with vitamin C-rich foods; add strawberries to cereal or have it with an orange.
In addition to "what" you eat, the "how" you eat is also important to keeping your energy up. For starters, try to avoid overeating yourself into a food coma. Instead, make your meals last a minimum of 20 minutes. It takes this long for your stomach receptors to register a "full" signal to your brain. By taking your time while you are eating meals, you will eat until you are sufficiently satiated -- not stuffed!
Try to make lunch a larger meal than dinner. Avoid eating large carbohydrate-dense meals such as toast or a plate of pasta right before bed. Eat dinner earlier and have a mix of veggies and a protein such as chicken or fish with some healthy fats such as olive oil or crushed walnuts.
In a nutshell, food and water intake is intimately related to energy levels. By following the simple "what" and "how" tips outlined above, you will quickly find that extra energy surge you were looking for throughout your day!
Extreme celebrity workouts can damage you
Exercise and diet regimes favoured by the famous from Madonna to Elle MacPherson can do more harm than good
Thanks to several high-profile extreme exercisers, we have recently been provided with plenty of proof that Olympian-style workout regimes, far from being beneficial, can actually take their toll on health and appearance. Madonna’s arms, all sinew and veins, and Elle Macpherson’s saggy knees are both side effects of excessive exercising. Then we had the French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, collapsing while out jogging. Many blamed the rigorous exercise schedule and severe diet that his wife, Carla Bruni, has encouraged him to follow. With the help of Bruni’s personal trainer, Speedy Sarko, 54, has dropped two trouser sizes in the process, but he has also dropped to the floor.
For some extremists, working out just to keep the flab at bay is no longer enough, and a growing number of people are adopting the "more is better" celebrity approach. Many workouts rival those of elite athletes in terms of frequency, intensity and duration, following the theory that greater effort equals a better return in terms of anti-ageing, disease-fighting and fat-minimising benefits. But do daily three-hour workouts really help to hold back the years? Experts warn they won’t, and claim that extreme exercise can put your health at risk.
"Some celebrities are taking their workouts to dangerous levels," says Dan Corbett, a personal trainer at Gymbox. "They work out to the point at which their body-fat levels become so low, there are signs of muscle wastage and fatigue." Dr Jason Gill, of the British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences, says that unless you are a professional athlete, you should expend a maximum of 3,000 calories a week through exercise — that’s the workout equivalent of walking, running or cycling three to five miles a day. Beyond that, he says, there are no proven benefits to health. "At best, you might reach a plateau in your fitness level if you overdo things," he says. "If you do too much exercise and decrease your calorie intake, the consequences can be more dire."
Certainly, experts are becoming more aware of the dangers linked to overstrenuous workouts. Sarkozy’s collapse was reportedly due to "a cardiac incident", and he is not alone. In June, a study in the American Journal of Cardiology suggested that too much vigorous exercise can increase the risk of heart problems. Dr Anthony Aizer, a cardiologist at New York University, analysed the workout habits of almost 17,000 seemingly healthy men. He found that those who exercised hard enough to break into a significant sweat five to seven days a week increased the odds of atrial fibrillation, a heart rhythm disorder, by 20% compared with those who did no vigorous exercise. Runners, especially those aged 50 and under, are most at risk of the problem, which can lead to fainting, heart attacks and even strokes.
The potential problems don’t end there. Kirsten Lord, of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, says that increasing high-impact activities too quickly can leave people prone to overuse injuries such as shin splints. "Other problems, such as plantar fasciitis [a pain in the arch of the foot] and stress fractures to the feet, are also common," she says. "Over a number of years, your knees can also take a hammering, causing arthritis, particularly if your technique is not good." Excessive pounding against hard gym surfaces can also destroy tiny blood vessels in the feet, raising the risk of anaemia.
Gill agrees. Women who reduce their body fat too drastically often suffer from poor circulation and develop lanugo, a fine layer of hair, as the body tries to keep warm. They are also at risk of exercise amenorrhoea, when periods are disrupted, a warning sign that oestrogen levels have plummeted. "This can temporarily affect fertility," says Gill, "and, since oestrogen is vital for bones, a woman may start losing bone mass, putting her at risk of osteoporosis."
Increasing your exercise programme in the hope that it will keep you looking younger can also backfire. "A woman’s skin becomes thinner and less elastic with age as collagen and oestrogen levels drop," says Phil Learney, a trainer at the Third Space. "Reduce body fat too much and the ‘clingfilm’ effect is even more apparent. Dehydration from intense activity can also have a rapid ageing effect on the skin." No one particular exercise is to blame, so this can happen to any part of the body — hence Madonna’s arms and Elle’s knees.
Dr Peter Rowan, a consultant psychiatrist for Cygnet Health Care, who specialises in eating and exercise disorders, says the emotional effects of extreme exercise can be as devastating as the physical. "It can be mentally draining and soul-destroying to put yourself through a workout programme that is too demanding. Once you begin to devote your life to improving your appearance and health in that way, it is a slippery slope to becoming obsessed."
So is it time to take your foot off the pedal at the gym? Corbett says celebrities have contributed to confusion about what exercise we need. An hour’s workout a day is enough for most people, and that should constitute as wide a variety of activities as possible. Crucially, not all exercise needs to be high impact; try low intensity, such as t’ai chi and yoga, so you get a mix of aerobic and resistance exercise to maximise fat loss and muscle strength. "Rest between tough workouts to allow your muscles time to recover," Corbett says, "and don’t run away with the idea that you need to be doing triathlons or four hours of yoga a day to stay in shape. A moderate amount of medium-intensity work is fine."
HOW MUCH IS ENOUGH?
1 The bare minimum The UK government recommendations suggest 30 minutes of moderate activity (including strenuous housework or gardening) at least five days a week (or 150 minutes a week) to stay healthy. However, this won’t help you lose weight or get noticeably fitter. "You need to do 60 to 90 minutes a day of these activities to start losing weight," says Dr Emma Ross, an exercise scientist at the University of Brighton.
2 Walk this way Taking 10,000 steps a day will benefit your health, but you need to tot up at least 16,000 steps a day of walking, including faster bursts, to lose weight.
3 Up the ante Follow targets set by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), which are widely accepted by experts, by exercising three to five times a week for 20-60 minutes at 55%-80% of your body’s maximum capacity, calculated according to your heart rate. "This should be mostly aerobic activity, with a few strength and resistance sessions," Ross says.
4 Short on time? The ACSM says 30 minutes of higher-intensity exercise (that’s 80% of your maximum aerobic capacity, at a level where you puff and sweat) is as good as an hour at a less taxing workload of 60%.
BURN THE FAT
While it is a misconception that it’s better to work out at a low intensity if you want to lose weight, according to Dr Emma Ross there is nothing wrong with exercising in the "fat-burning zone" setting on gym equipment, which is usually 50%-60% of maximum effort. "Settings on exercise equipment are never going to be accurate for everybody, as we each have our own metabolic rate and maximal heart rate," she says. "My advice is to work out five days a week doing high-intensity activity [eight out of 10 on an effort scale] and some lower intensity work, such as that on a fat-burning setting [six out of 10 in effort].