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Wednesday
Apr062016

A Month of Yoga: The Bridge Pose

The Bridge Pose is a powerful tonic for body and mind. It provides an invigorating stretch for the chest, neck and spine. Traditionally, its benefits are said to also include: 

 

  • Calming the mind and alleviating stress and mild depression
  • Stimulating abdominal organs, lungs and thyroid
  • Rejuvenating tired legs
  • Improving digestion
  • Relieving the symptoms of menopause 
  • Reducing anxiety, fatigue, backache, headache and insomnia

 

It is also held to be therapeutic for asthma, high blood pressure, osteoporosis and sinusitis. See how to do the Bridge Pose.

Monday
Apr042016

Are You Eating the Wrong Carbs?

Not all carbohydrates are created equal: some provide healthy nutrients, while others are more likely to simply raise your blood sugar levels. Find out what the healthiest carb choices are to add to your diet.

Looking for healthier, less-refined carb choices? These carbohydrates are minimally processed foods that are digested more slowly than refined carbs, and contain vitamins, minerals, and fiber. They do not typically cause rapid blood sugar spikes and should be the focus of your carbohydrate intake. Common examples include:

1. Whole grains (such as dense whole grain bread, and intact whole grains such as basmati rice, barley and quinoa)

2. Beans

3. Nuts

4.Vegetables and fruits

Add them to your grocery list and shopping cart for a healthier diet!

Friday
Apr012016

Scared of Dying Young?

If a longer life is something you aspire to, four simple habits can make a difference in your longevity. Find out what they are, and make them part of your routine.

If living a long life is important to you, you may want to adopt some of the habits that supercentenarians have in common. Most supercentenarians - people who live to be 110 or older - share four lifestyle characteristics that may help explain their longevity. Throughout their lives, they remain:

  1. Physically active. Even as you get older, daily physical activity should be a priority. Modify your routine to incorporate small steps, such as daily walks, parking in the back of the lot, using the stairs instead of the elevator, or taking up hobbies that involve exercise, such as gardening, playing tennis or hiking.
  2. Positive. Maintaining an optimistic outlook is important to managing stress and preventing related health issues such as heart disease. You can easily train yourself to start looking at the glass as half full. Begin with some simple self-reflection and meditation, and use humor for coping with negative thoughts.
  3. Social. A network of family and close friends is vital to optimum health. You can enjoy the benefits of a well developed social life by spending time with people who make you happy, joining community groups or clubs, volunteering, and participating in support groups.
  4. Spiritual. Regardless of your religious affiliation (if any), feeling a connection with nature, a higher being or purpose cultivates spirituality, and is an important part of graceful aging.
Monday
Mar282016

6 Reasons to Drink More Water 

 

Want to promote healthy skin and proper digestion? Interested in a natural detoxifier? Water is a basic necessity. The body is more than two-thirds water, and keeping it hydrated is vital. Other reasons to have water as a regular part of your day include:
1. Healthy blood and bones. Your blood is over 80 percent water and your bones are over 50 percent water. Proper hydration is required to optimize creation of new blood and bone cells.


2. Toxin elimination. Skip the fancy (and costly) detox plans. Plain water naturally helps remove toxins through the lymphatic system, intestines and kidneys.

3. Lubricated joints. Water helps protect against wear and tear and can even help reduce joint pain.

4. Proper digestion. Water helps prevent constipation by adding bulk to stools and fluid to the colon. 

5. Alertness. Even minor dehydration can lead to headaches, irritability, impaired concentration and fatigue. The human brain is 85 percent water; keeping it hydrated is essential for proper functioning.

6. Healthy skin. Water hydrates from the inside out, helping to maintain elasticity of the skin.

The standard recommendation is to drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses a day. I don't believe there is solid evidence that such a high volume is essential for everyone; however, do drink throughout the day - this is easier if you keep a large glass or glass water bottle handy at all times. I have always recommended drinking high-quality water from a trustworthy source, or, if possible, getting a water-purification system for your home. If you are trying to wean yourself from soda, consider switching it out for sparkling water with a lime as a refreshing, healthful alternative. Learn more about quality drinking water.

 

Friday
Mar252016

Tired of Working Out?

If your physical fitness routine has become redundant, change it up! These seven suggestions can help you get energized and excited to work out – give them a try.

A healthful diet is not the only factor when it comes to achieving a healthy weight - physical activity plays an important role as well. While it may seem challenging to find time to work out, the long- and short-term health benefits make it a necessary aspect of achieving optimum health and a healthy weight. These seven simple tips can help get you moving and your calories burning! 

1. Join a gym. Make an appointment with a trainer on staff - he or she can help design a plan for your goals, level of fitness, health concerns or time constraints. Then go! (If you think a gym membership is beyond your budget, many health-care plans now offer reimbursements if you visit the gym a certain number of times per month. Contact your provider for more information.)

2. Get prepared. Wear the proper footwear, removable layers or light clothing; start slow and work your way up; and avoid dehydration by drinking more water than you think you need.

3. Try a new workout. The number of fitness classes is practically limitless these days. From indoor cycling to outdoor boot camps, yoga in the park or barre classes that emphasize classic ballet moves, the options abound. An added bonus: new classes can keep your mind and body equally challenged. Consider joining a class, watching videos online or via DVD, or downloading any number of free apps that provide a variety of fitness experiences.

4. Partner up. It's more fun if you don't go it alone when it comes to exercise, and the right partner can keep you inspired. Start by enlisting a friend for a weekly walk, and build from there.

5. Try yoga. It is an effective and enjoyable way to burn calories, increase muscle mass (which in turn burns more calories) and enhance stretching, which is important for keeping joints limber and preventing injury. Classes likely abound in your area, or start with a DVD or online video if a class seems intimidating. 

6. Start dancing! Fast-tempo dancing is not only fun (especially when you get some friends to join you) but can burn 400 to 500 calories per hour.

7. Get practical. If weightlifting or logging miles on a treadmill seem too uninspiring, remember that mowing the lawn, rototilling a garden, building a backyard shed or some other physical, productive task provides a good workout as well.

Wednesday
Mar232016

Nuts for Weight Loss?

Nuts may be high in fat and calories, but it turns out that they have a special property that makes them a good bet even for dieters. Find out what makes them a good choice even when you are watching your weight.

You've heard it dozens of times - nuts are good for you, but don't eat too many because they are full of fat and calories. However, research indicates that the reality is somewhat more complex - and that's good news for nut-lovers who are watching their weight. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition revealed that while a handful (about 22 kernels) of almonds contains 170 calories, only 129 calories are actually absorbed by the body. The rest are passed, because the protein and fat in them are relatively hard to digest. Even better news - after one daily handful of almonds, three percent of the calories you consume for the next 24 hours are rendered indigestible. That means if you eat 2,000 calories in a day, the almonds you ate in the morning will remove about 60 calories from that total. The effect probably applies to other kinds of nuts, although only almonds have been rigorously studied. So enjoy your nuts - their monounsaturated fat content appears to lower cardiovascular risk. And of course, they're delicious!

Wednesday
Mar092016

4 Frozen Foods for a Budget

Being on a budget doesn’t mean you have to eat unhealthy foods. The freezer section is a great place to find whole foods rich in nutrients that won’t break the bank. Grab these four on your next grocery trip!

If you are grocery shopping on a tight budget, spend some extra time in the frozen food section. While fresh foods are generally a better choice, frozen foods can fit the bill when fresh produce is not available or is cost prohibitive. Some healthy, budget friendly options include:

 

  1. Berries: frozen berries such as raspberries, blackberries and blueberries are perfect for adding to smoothies, while offering up antioxidants and fiber.
  2. Edamame: a good source of isoflavones, frozen edamame is often easier to find than fresh.
  3. Seafood: wild Alaskan salmon and black cod are sustainable seafood options that may be more cost-effective frozen than fresh.
  4. Vegetables: look for frozen spinach, kale and other dark, leafy greens that have no added ingredients.

 

When buying frozen, choose organic produce when possible. The price of frozen organic foods is often lower than that of fresh organics. If you cannot buy all organic, follow the "Clean 15" from the Environmental Working Group for a priority list. These are the 15 non-organic product items that contain the least pesticide residues. Also, be sure to read labels - avoid frozen meals (including the ones that are labeled "healthy" or "natural") as they often contain inferior ingredients such as trans-fats and high sodium content.

Monday
Mar072016

The Extended Side Angle Pose

Today, we look at the Extended Side Angle pose – a good way to stretch the legs and knees. Learn how to perform it and try it this week!

Yoga facilitates the joining or uniting of the mind, body and spirit to enrich the quality of life and enhance health. The Extended Side Angle Pose exemplifies this unity, creating a stretch along the entirety the body, from the back heel through the raised arm. The benefits of this pose include:

  •  Strengthening and stretching of the legs, knees and ankles
  •  Stretching of the groin, spine, waist, chest and lungs, and shoulders
  • Stimulating abdominal organs
  • Increasing stamina

You should use caution while performing this pose if you have high (or low) blood pressure or insomnia. Learn more about the Extended Side Angle Pose, including a picture of the proper way to complete the pose.