The importance of stretching by Harvard Health

It’s not enough to build muscle and achieve aerobic fitness. You need to think about flexibility, too. Stretching can help.

You may think of stretching as something performed only by runners or gymnasts. But we all need to stretch in order to protect our mobility and independence. “A lot of people don’t understand that stretching has to happen on a regular basis. It should be daily,” says David Nolan, a physical therapist at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital.

Why stretching is important

Stretching keeps the muscles flexible, strong, and healthy, and we need that flexibility to maintain a range of motion in the joints. Without it, the muscles shorten and become tight. Then, when you call on the muscles for activity, they are weak and unable to extend all the way. That puts you at risk for joint pain, strains, and muscle damage.

For example, sitting in a chair all day results in tight hamstrings in the back of the thigh. That can make it harder to extend your leg or straighten your knee all the way, which inhibits walking. Likewise, when tight muscles are suddenly called on for a strenuous activity that stretches them, such as playing tennis, they may become damaged from suddenly being stretched. Injured muscles may not be strong enough to support the joints, which can lead to joint injury.

Regular stretching keeps muscles long, lean, and flexible, and this means that exertion “won’t put too much force on the muscle itself,” says Nolan. Healthy muscles also help a person with balance problems to avoid falls.

Where to start

With a body full of muscles, the idea of daily stretching may seem overwhelming. But Nolan says you don’t have to stretch every muscle you have. “The areas critical for mobility are in your lower extremities: your calves, your hamstrings, your hip flexors in the pelvis and quadriceps in the front of the thigh.” Stretching your shoulders, neck, and lower back is also

READ MORE HERE:  https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/the-importance-of-stretching

AYURVEDA: A BRIEF INTRODUCTION AND GUIDE by Vasant Lad, BAM&S, MASc

Ayurveda: A Brief Introduction and Guide

Ayurveda is considered by many scholars to be the oldest healing science. In Sanskrit, Ayurveda means “The Science of Life.” Ayurvedic knowledge originated in India more than 5,000 years ago and is often called the “Mother of All Healing.” It stems from the ancient Vedic culture and was taught for many thousands of years in an oral tradition from accomplished masters to their disciples. Some of this knowledge was set to print a few thousand years ago, but much of it is inaccessible. The principles of many of the natural healing systems now familiar in the West have their roots in Ayurveda, including Homeopathy and Polarity Therapy.

The Strategy

Your Constitution and Its Inner Balance

Ayurveda places great emphasis on prevention and encourages the maintenance of health through close attention to balance in one’s life, right thinking, diet, lifestyle and the use of herbs. Knowledge of Ayurveda enables one to understand how to create this balance of body, mind and consciousness according to one’s own individual constitution and how to make lifestyle changes to bring about and maintain this balance.

Just as everyone has a unique fingerprint, each person has a particular pattern of energy—an individual combination of physical, mental and emotional characteristics—which comprises their own constitution. This constitution is determined at conception by a number of factors and remains the same throughout one’s life.

Many factors, both internal and external, act upon us to disturb this balance and are reflected as a change in one’s constitution from the balanced state. Examples of these emotional and physical stresses include one’s emotional state, diet and food choices, seasons and weather, physical trauma, work and family relationships. Once these factors are understood, one can take appropriate actions to nullify or minimize their effects or eliminate the causes of imbalance and re-establish one’s original constitution. Balance is the natural order; imbalance is disorder. Health is order; disease is disorder. Within the body there is a constant interaction between order and disorder. When one understands the nature and structure of disorder, one can re-establish order.

Balancing the Three Principle Energies of the Body

Ayurveda identifies three basic types of energy or functional principles that are present in everyone and everything. Since there are no single words in English that convey these concepts, we use the original Sanskrit words vata, pitta and kapha. These principles can be related to the basic biology of the body.

Energy is required to create movement so that fluids and nutrients get to the cells, enabling the body to function. Energy is also required to metabolize the nutrients in the cells, and is called for to lubricate and maintain the structure of the cell. Vata is the energy of movement; pitta is the energy of digestion or metabolism and kapha, the energy of lubrication and structure. All people have the qualities of vata, pitta and kapha, but one is usually primary, one secondary and the third is usually least prominent. The cause of disease in Ayurveda is viewed as a lack of proper cellular function due to an excess or deficiency of vata, pitta or kapha. Disease can also be caused by the presence of toxins.

In Ayurveda, body, mind and consciousness work together in maintaining balance. They are simply viewed as different facets of one’s being. To learn how to balance the body, mind and consciousness requires an understanding of how vata, pitta and kapha work together. According to Ayurvedic philosophy the entire cosmos is an interplay of the energies of the five great elements—Space, Air, Fire, Water and Earth. Vata, pitta and kapha are combinations and permutations of these five elements that manifest as patterns present in all creation. In the physical body, vata is the subtle energy of movement, pitta the energy of digestion and metabolism, and kapha the energy that forms the body’s structure.

Vata is the subtle energy associated with movement — composed of Space and Air. It governs breathing, blinking, muscle and tissue movement, pulsation of the heart, and all movements in the cytoplasm and cell membranes. In balance, vata promotes creativity and flexibility. Out of balance, vata produces fear and anxiety.

Pitta expresses as the body’s metabolic system — made up of Fire and Water. It governs digestion, absorption, assimilation, nutrition, metabolism and body temperature. In balance, pitta promotes understanding and intelligence. Out of balance, pitta arouses anger, hatred and jealousy.

Kapha is the energy that forms the body’s structure — bones, muscles, tendons — and provides the “glue” that holds the cells together, formed from Earth and Water. Kapha supplies the water for all bodily parts and systems. It lubricates joints, moisturizes the skin, and maintains immunity. In balance, kapha is expressed as love, calmness and forgiveness. Out of balance, it leads to attachment, greed and envy.

Life presents us with many challenges and opportunities. Although there is much over which we have little control, we do have the power to decide about some things, such as diet and lifestyle. To maintain balance and health, it is important to pay attention to these decisions. Diet and lifestyle appropriate to one’s individual constitution strengthen the body, mind and consciousness.

Ayurveda as a Complementary System of Healing

The basic difference between Ayurveda and Western allopathic medicine is important to understand. Western allopathic medicine currently tends to focus on symptomatology and disease, and primarily uses drugs and surgery to rid the body of pathogens or diseased tissue. Many lives have been saved by this approach. In fact, surgery is encompassed by Ayurveda. However, drugs, because of their toxicity, often weaken the body. Ayurveda does not focus on disease. Rather, Ayurveda maintains that all life must be supported by energy in balance. When there is minimal stress and the flow of energy within a person is

READ MORE HERE:  https://www.ayurveda.com/resources/articles/ayurveda-a-brief-introduction-and-guide

11 Scientific Benefits of Being Outdoors

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ISTOCK

Being outdoors is fun, but even more importantly, it’s good for the brain, body, and soul. Here are some scientific reasons why you should get up close and personal with Mother Nature.

1. BEING OUTDOORS BOOSTS YOUR ENERGY.

Craving another cup of coffee? Maybe you should skip the caffeine and sit outside instead. One study suggests that spending 20 minutes in the open air gives your brain an energy boost comparable to one cup of joe.

2. IT FEELS EASIER TO EXERCISE OUTDOORS.

Does it seem noticeably easier to exercise outside? This might be thanks to your verdant surroundings. In one small study, researchers had cyclists pedal in front of green, grey, and red video footage. The bikers who exercised in front of the green reported feeling less physical exertion and more positive moods—meaning that grass, trees, and plants might add a psychological energy boost to your workout.

3. THE OUTDOORS IS GOOD FOR YOUR VISION.

Research shows that elementary school students who spend more time outdoors are less likely to develop nearsightedness.

4. NATURAL SUNLIGHT HELPS MITIGATE PAIN.

In one study, surgery patients who were exposed to high-intensity sunlight reported less stress and marginally less pain, and therefore took less pain medication.

5. THE OUTDOORS BOOSTS YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM.

Scientists think that breathing in phytoncides—airborne chemicals produced by plants—increases our levels of white blood cells, helping us fight off infections and diseases.

6. THE OUTDOORS PROVIDES YOU WITH FREE AROMATHERAPY.

According to science, you really should stop and smell the flowers. Research shows that natural scents like roses, freshly cut grass, and pine make you feel calmer and more relaxed.

7. THE OUTDOORS ENHANCES CREATIVITY.

If you’re struggling with writer’s block, you might want to ditch your laptop for the great outdoors. Psychologists found that backpackers scored 50 percent higher on creativity tests after spending a few days in the wild sans electronics.

8. THE OUTDOORS HELPS WITH SEASONAL AFFECTIVE DISORDER. 

In the winter, shorter days and lower light levels can trigger Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD—a reoccurring condition that’s marked by symptoms of anxiety, exhaustion, and sadness. Doctors say spending time outside can lessen SAD’s severity—even if the weather’s cold or overcast.

9. BEING OUTDOORS GIVES YOU

READ MORE HERE:  https://www.mentalfloss.com/article/70548/11-scientific-benefits-being-outdoors

 

The Benefits Of Cacao Powder is Trending – Here’s Why BY FRANCESCA MENATO

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@WELLNESS_ED

If you’ve got your ear to the ground you will no doubt have been hearing about cacao powder benefits. However, there’s plenty of confusion surrounding raw cacao – what is it? Are the snack bars, protein powders and spreads (read: Pip and Nut) that list cacao also healthy?

They’re all worth-while questions. Especially considering how many food bloggers, nutritionists and PTs sprinkle the brown stuff on their smoothie bowls. And let’s not forget that time Daisy Lowe shared her cacao smoothie, or when 42 Juice whipped up an exclusive sweet cacao ice lolly recipe for you.

But rather than sugarcoat the truth we asked NutriCentre nutritionist, Cassandra Barn to break down this healthy food trend into bite-size chunks.

Read on for why cacao powder benefits aren’t fake news.

First off, what is cacao?

“The botanical name for the cacao tree is theobroma cacao, which roughly translates as ‘food of the gods’,” states Motion Nutrition. In reality it’s the unprocessed chocolate superfood that’s turbocharged with magnesium flavanoids, calcium, iron, zinc, copper, potassium and manganese to name a few. As raw cacao is made by cold-pressing unroasted cocoa beans these nutritional wins aren’t lost during processing.

Four Cacao powder benefits

Magnesium

Raw cacao is one of the best food sources of magnesium – a mineral that many of you lack from your diet. Magnesium is essential for energy production, for a healthy brain and nervous system, for our muscles and for strong bones and teeth. Magnesium may also support a healthy blood pressure.

Iron

Cacao is a source of iron, which builds the blood and helps to transport oxygen around our body, as well as potassium, copper, zinc, manganese and selenium.

Cacao can also be high in flavonoids, which have antioxidant activity. Raw cacao and flavonoid-rich chocolate have been linked with heart health benefits including increasing the good form of cholesterol (HDL) in our blood, lowering blood pressure and even improving vascular function in patients with congestive heart failure. These effects are thought to be primarily due to the antioxidants contained in the cacao.

PEA

In addition, cacao contains a compound called phenylethylamine (PEA for short!). PEA is thought to elevate mood and

READ MORE HERE:  https://www.womenshealthmag.com/uk/food/healthy-eating/a702736/health-benefits-of-raw-cacao-over-chocolate/

Why Go Veg? By Vegetarian Times Editors

Learn the reasons to change over to a vegetarian diet, and start eating less meat today—or none at all!
Why Go Vegetarian

Alexandra Anschiz / Shutterstock

Why are people drawn to vegetarianism? Some just want to live longer, healthier lives. Others have made the switch to preserve Earth’’s natural resources or from a love of animals and an ethical opposition to eating them.

Thanks to an abundance of scientific research that demonstrates the health and environmental benefits of a plant-based diet, even the federal government recommends that we consume most of our calories from grain products, vegetables and fruits.

And no wonder: An estimated 70 percent of all diseases, including one-third of all cancers, are related to diet. A vegetarian diet reduces the risk for chronic degenerative diseases such as obesity, coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and certain types of cancer including colon, breast, prostate, stomach, lung and esophageal cancer.

Why go vegetarian? Chew on these reasons:

You’ll ward off disease.

Vegetarian diets are more healthful than the average American diet, particularly in preventing, treating or reversing heart disease and reducing the risk of cancer. A low-fat vegetarian diet is the single most effective way to stop the progression of coronary artery disease or prevent it entirely. Cardiovascular disease kills 1 million Americans annually and is the leading cause of death in the United States.

But the mortality rate for cardiovascular disease is lower in vegetarians than in nonvegetarians, says Joel Fuhrman, MD, author of Eat to Live: The Revolutionary Formula for Fast and Sustained Weight Loss. A vegetarian diet is inherently healthful because vegetarians consume less animal fat and cholesterol (vegans consume no animal fat or cholesterol) and instead consume more fiber and more antioxidant-rich produce——another great reason to listen to Mom and eat your veggies!

You’ll keep your weight down.

The standard American diet—high in saturated fats and processed foods and low in plant-based foods and complex carbohydrates——is making us fat and killing us slowly. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and a division of the CDC, the National Center for Health Statistics, 64 percent of adults and 15 percent of children aged 6 to 19 are overweight and are at risk of weight-related ailments including heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

A study conducted from 1986 to 1992 by Dean Ornish, MD, president and director of the Preventive Medicine Research Institute in Sausalito, California, found that overweight people who followed a low-fat, vegetarian diet lost an average of 24 pounds in the first year and kept off that weight 5 years later. They lost the weight without counting calories or carbs and without measuring portions or feeling hungry.

You’ll live longer.

If you switch from the standard American diet to a vegetarian diet, you can add about 13 healthy years to your life, says Michael F. Roizen, MD, author of The RealAge Diet: Make Yourself Younger with What You Eat. “People who consume saturated, four-legged fat have a shorter life span and more disability at the end of their lives. Animal products clog your arteries, zap your energy and slow down your immune system. Meat eaters also experience accelerated cognitive and sexual dysfunction at a younger age.”

Want more proof of longevity?

Residents of Okinawa, Japan, have the longest life expectancy of any Japanese and likely the longest life expectancy of anyone in the world, according to a 30-year study of more than 600 Okinawan centenarians. Their secret: a low-calorie diet of unrefined complex carbohydrates, fiber-rich fruits and vegetables, and soy.

You’ll build strong bones.

When there isn’t enough calcium in the bloodstream, our bodies will leach it from existing bone. The metabolic result is that our skeletons will become porous and lose strength over time. Most health care practitioners recommend that we increase our intake of calcium the way nature intended——through foods. Foods also supply other nutrients such as phosphorus, magnesium and vitamin D that are necessary for the body to absorb and use calcium.

People who are mildly lactose-intolerant can often enjoy small amounts of dairy products such as yogurt, cheese and lactose-free milk. But if you avoid dairy altogether, you can still get a healthful dose of calcium from dry beans, tofu, soymilk and dark green vegetables such as broccoli, kale, collards and turnip greens.

You’ll reduce your risk of food-borne illnesses.

The CDC reports that food-borne illnesses of all kinds account for 76 million illnesses a year, resulting in 325,000 hospitalizations and 5,000 deaths in the United States. According to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), foods rich in protein such as meat, poultry, fish and seafood are frequently involved in food-borne illness outbreaks.

You’ll ease the symptoms of menopause.

Many foods contain nutrients beneficial to perimenopausal and menopausal women. Certain foods are rich in phytoestrogens, the plant-based chemical compounds that mimic the behavior of estrogen. Since phytoestrogens can increase and decrease estrogen and progesterone levels, maintaining a balance of them in your diet helps ensure a more comfortable passage through menopause. Soy is by far the most abundant natural source of phytoestrogens, but these

READ MORE HERE:  https://www.vegetariantimes.com/health-and-nutrition/why-go-veg-learn-about-becoming-a-vegetarian

The Effects of Jogging Every Day By Lisa Maloney

Jogging every day offers numerous health benefits, but be aware of the risk of overtraining.
Credit: Marija Jovovic/E+/GettyImages
Tip

Jogging every day offers a host of potential benefits, including a stronger immune system, better stamina, weight loss, less risk of chronic diseases and a natural mood boost. However, it also poses a couple of potential risks, including the possibility of overtraining.

The Benefits of Jogging Regularly

Health.gov’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that adults should get at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic activity each week. If you go for a half-hour jog every day, that’s enough to meet — and even beat — this requirement.

Tip

The Dietary Guidelines also notes that doubling the amount of cardio exercise to 300 minutes of moderate exertion each week yields even more extensive health benefits.

So, what’s on the menu for “better health through exercise”? The well-researched benefits of jogging and other cardiovascular exercise include:

  • Weight loss
  • Increased stamina
  • A stronger immune system
  • Decreased risk of chronic diseases, including obesity, heart disease, hypertension, type 2 diabetes and some cancers
  • Help managing chronic conditions and improving quality of life
  • An improved cholesterol profile
  • A natural mood boost

Weight Bearing and Impact

Jogging is also a weight-bearing activity that can help you build and maintain strong bones in your lower body, as long as your bones, joints and muscles can handle the repeated impact of each footfall. If you know you have weakened bones or any other condition that might affect your ability to withstand a relatively high-impact exercise, speak to your doctor before jogging every day.

Some of the steps you can take to mitigate the impact of jogging include:

  • Wear supportive, well-cushioned footwear.
  • Run on softer surfaces — such as dirt or wood chips — instead of pavement or cement.
  • Warm up and stretch before you jog; then cool down and stretch after, to reduce your risk of injury.

You can also try “water jogging” in the pool, with a flotation belt to keep you above water. This gives you all the cardiovascular benefits of jogging, with none of the impact on your bones and joints.

Read more: The 8 Best Stretches to Do Before Running

A Note for Beginners

If you’re new to exercising, or new to a particular type of exercise, it’s typical at first to develop some soreness — so that is one of the effects you might experience when you first start jogging. The good news is that this type of muscle soreness typically fades within a few days, and as your body adapts to the new exercise the soreness is less likely to come back.

While a little soreness is typical, it doesn’t have to be intense. You can minimize the soreness by taking it relatively easy on your first jogs and gradually

READ MORE HERE:  https://www.livestrong.com/article/531257-the-effects-of-jogging-every-day/

Why You Should Find Time to Be Alone With Yourself By Micaela Marini Higgs

Don’t confuse loneliness with time by yourself.

Credit…Filip Fröhlich

Being lonely hurts — it can even negatively impact your health. But the mere act of being alone with oneself doesn’t have to be bad, and experts say it can even benefit your social relationships, improve your creativity and confidence, and help you regulate your emotions so that you can better deal with adverse situations.

“It’s not that solitude is always good, but it can be good” if you’re open to rejecting the idea — common in the west — that time by yourself is always a negative experience you’re being forced into, according to Thuy-vy Nguyen, an assistant professor in the department of psychology at Durham University, who studies solitude.

“We have some evidence to show that valuing solitude doesn’t really hurt your social life, in fact, it might add to it,” she said, pointing out that because solitude helps us regulate our emotions, it can have a calming effect that prepares us to better engage with others.

Choosing to spend time doing things by yourself can

READ MORE HERE:

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/28/smarter-living/the-benefits-of-being-alone.html

Signs You’re Drinking Too Much Coffee By Jamie Schmid | The Healthy

The side effects of too much caffeine can be subtle. Here’s how your coffee addiction may be hurting your health.

You feel anxious

hands clasped togetherRUSSELL JOHNSON/SHUTTERSTOCK

Ruminating about an upcoming event or deadline can fuel your desire to grab a comforting mug of java. Yet, the National Institute of Mental Health recommends that people who suffer from anxiety avoid caffeine. Why? Too much coffee can actually worsen the effects of anxiety, either by robbing you of proper sleep or triggering your flight or fight response. In a 1990 study published in Psychosomatic Medicine, 25 men were given a moderate dose of caffeine or a placebo before a stressful task. The men, who were all regular coffee drinkers, had higher blood pressure, stress hormones, and about double the reported stress level with the caffeine compared with the placebo.

Your stomach hurts

man clutching stomach lying on couchG-STOCKSTUDIO/SHUTTERSTOCK

You may associate stomach pains with spoiled food or PMS cramps. You should add your morning brew to that list as well. In 2017, European scientists found that certain compounds in coffee stimulate the secretion of stomach acid by your stomach cells. Taking an over-counter medication like Tums can neutralize the acid short-term, but if you suspect coffee is making your stomach hurt, think about changing your coffee consumption habits. These 7 things happen to your body when you drink coffee every day.

Your heart is racing

man with hand on chestIGORSTEVANOVIC/SHUTTERSTOCK

The feeling that your heart is beating too fast can be frightening. It may feel like

READ MORE HERE:

https://www.thehealthy.com/nutrition/drinking-too-much-coffee/

For A Stronger Immunity: Natural Ways To Boost The Immune System By Mila Jones

A healthy immune system reduces your chance of viral infection and flu. With these natural ways to boost the immune system, you can achieve a healthy immune system.

During the Flu or viral season, many of your mates might get sick but some would stand tall even when everyone in their home is sick with the flu. Have you ever wondered, how some people get sick very often and some are more prone to catching cold or viral infection? It’s all about the body’s immune system. The immune system is the first line of defense of our body against an alien microorganism entering the body. Stronger your immune system, lesser would

READ MORE HERE:

https://healthcareinamerica.us/for-a-stronger-immunity-natural-ways-to-boost-the-immune-system-d7aba9ae599b

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