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Tag Archives: Cleveland Clinic

Make a Mess!

Go ahead and make a mess! The cluttered desk might just help you find a solution to a difficult problem at work.

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If you’ve been stymied by a challenge at work, don’t waste another minute straightening up your desk or office space. Having a disorganized work area actually inspires the kind of creative thinking that stimulates new and interesting ideas that lead to problem solving. The disorder seems to help you break free of “inside the box” thinking. When given a choice, people with messy offices are also more likely to prefer a new product instead of an established one. Tidy surroundings, on the other hand, seem to encourage people to do exactly what’s expected of them. So if “clear the clutter” is on your to-do list, focus on all the other things you really must do during this busy time of year. The mess on your desk can wait.

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Drink Coffee Black

Drink your coffee black. Sweeteners and nondairy whiteners can lead to inflammation and heart disease.

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If you drink more than a cup of coffee a day — and don’t like it black — you may be adding far too much extra sugar and fat to your diet. Flavored syrups, nondairy creamers, half-and-half and sugar take away the health benefits of coffee and tack on a serious number of empty calories that could be padding your waistline and inflaming your arteries. Even low-fat nondairy creamers are made mostly from corn syrup and trans fat, which, says Cleveland Clinic physician Roxanne B. Sukol, MD, MS, causes heart disease and strokes. For your health, Dr. Sukol recommends drinking your coffee black, or with unsweetened milk alternatives, such as almond or oat milk.

 
 

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Perk Up Energy, Reduce Stress and Alleviate Pain

Here’s how to perk up your energy, reduce stress and alleviate pain: Focus on taking deep, slow breaths.

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Paying attention to your breath — how fast, how deep — can help boost your energy, calm you down, lower your stress, and even help you feel less pain. Often called “belly breathing,” yoga’s three-part breath is one of the easiest ways to reap several different health benefits. This exercise will be most effective if you are lying on your back, either on the floor or on your bed.

Place your hands on your lower abdomen. Relax and take a couple of breaths. Just observe what happens in your body while breathing as you normally do. Now, think of taking a deep breath and expanding the area beneath your hands; it should feel as though you’re inflating a balloon deep in your belly. On the exhale, think of bringing your navel back toward your spine to empty your lungs. Feel your hands rise and fall as you inhale and exhale. Next, place one of your hands on your chest while keeping the other on your belly. Take another deep inhale and let some of that expansion reach your chest. You should feel both hands move — one on your belly, one on your chest. Exhale from your chest first, and then your belly. Repeat a couple of times and observe what happens with the movement of your body. Lastly, move the hand on your chest up above your heart. Inhale once again, this time expanding into the belly, the chest and then the upper chest. You should notice your breathing has slowed considerably, and you might even feel a bit light-headed. On the final exhale, empty your breath from the upper chest first, proceeding all the way down to your lower abdomen.

Because we don’t get air into the deepest part of our lungs, we have to breathe faster and more frequently in order to get enough. This shallow, fast breathing activates your fight-or-flight nervous system response, which can make you feel more anxious and stressed. Consciously slowing and deepening the breath turns off that stress response and leaves your mind and body feeling refreshed, calm and focused. — From Judi Bar, yoga program manager at the Cleveland Clinic, and Sally Sherwin, certified yoga instructor.

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Proper form for Squats…

Hate squats? You may not realize it, but you probably do them as part of your daily activities. So it’s smart to know proper form.

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Many people avoid doing squats because they believe they’re going to hurt their knees. However, any time you pick something up from the floor (assuming you’re lifting safely from your legs and not your back), you engage in a squat. Knowing how to do the move properly will ensure that you don’t injure yourself. Besides, says Melissa Hendricks, MEd, manager of the Cleveland Clinic Fitness Centers, contrary to popular belief, adding squats to your exercise routine will actually strengthen, not weaken, your knees. “Squats target the muscles in the front and back of your legs, along with your gluteals and core. The stronger these muscles are, the more stable your knees will be. In fact, stronger muscles above and below your knees serve as shock absorbers for your knees. The fact that most people do not do squats correctly is what can lead to injury,” she says. Here, Hendricks offers a primer on how to perform squats properly.
• First, try not to bend forward at your waist; this is quite common and is usually a sign of a weak core. Bending forward while you’re squatting puts a lot of pressure on your lower back, and it also drives a lot of the strain straight into your knees. To prevent this from happening, keep your back as straight as possible. Try finding a spot on the wall to focus your gaze on throughout the exercise. You may also want to limit how low you squat until you gain more strength in your core and perfect your form.
• Next, make sure you’re not shifting your weight forward into your toes and lifting your heels off the ground. Not only does this put a lot of pressure on the knee joints, it also takes away a lot of the effectiveness of the exercise, since you aren’t using the strong gluteus (butt) muscles to lift you from the squat. When going down into the squat, make sure you can always see your toes. If your knees travel past your toes, then shift your weight back into your glutes more. Try putting a chair or bench behind you, and then aiming for the bench.
• If you are just learning how to squat or have very little lower-body strength, you may also want to consider placing a stability ball behind you, against a wall, and allowing the ball to guide you up and down. This will help you to feel more secure in the exercise, and it will train your muscles for when you’re ready to do your squats without the ball.

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Not Seeing Results? Your Dumbells may be too Light

Not seeing the results you want at the gym? Look to the number on your dumbbells. Research shows most of us choose weights that are too light.

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If your workout feels too easy, or you’re not seeing the results you were hoping for, you may be selecting weights that are too light for you. Research in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research showed that, during resistance training, many women chose weights that were too light to see any real muscle improvements. “While performing any exercise is better then doing none, you want to make sure you are continually challenging your body. Doing the same exercise at the same weight for more than two weeks most likely means you are no longer seeing any continued benefits, because your body has adapted,” explains Melissa Hendricks, M.Ed, manager of the Cleveland Clinic Fitness Centers. To select the proper weight for you, choose one that you can lift at least eight times, but no more than 15, before exhausting your muscles completely. The last few repetitions should be difficult, but you should still be able to maintain proper form.

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Get Your Beauty Rest…

Sleep your way to younger skin. Research shows a lack of quality sleep may increase the signs of aging.

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No wonder it’s called beauty rest. The quality of your sleep can affect how quickly your skin ages. Researchers have found that women who sleep poorly show accelerated signs of premature aging, such as fine lines, age spots and reduced elasticity, compared to good sleepers. They also found that the skin of those with poor sleep habits doesn’t recover as well from environmental stresses, such as sunburns and moisture loss. That’s because skimping on shut-eye can weaken the skin’s ability to repair itself at night.

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Work or Play?

Give yourself permission to play. Research shows we have less regret when we put aside work to enjoy ourselves.

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Struggling over whether you should work this weekend or go to a baseball game with your family or friends? New research shows that the guilt we experience when we leave our work behind to have fun passes as quickly as it appears. However, regrets over missed opportunities to enjoy ourselves never fade. In fact, they increase over time. According to researchers, giving in to temptation all the time can be harmful, but you will be happier in the long run if you look at the big picture when choosing between work and play. The key, they say, is to think about what you will regret in the future. Give yourself permission to take time off and to enjoy well-earned vacations with your family and loved ones.

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Posted by on September 19, 2013 in Cleveland Clinic Wellness Tips

 

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Strengthen all of you Leg Muscles for Pain-Free Knees

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Work on strengthening all of your leg muscles — hamstrings to hips — for pain-free knees. This will prevent uneven strain on the joints.

Feeling weak in the knees? Well, it could be from falling in love, but it can also stem from out-of-whack muscles. Here are some tips for pain-free knees from yoga therapist Judi Bar, the yoga program manager at the Cleveland Clinic, and Sally Sherwin, a registered yoga teacher:
• Always keep the knees soft; avoid locking or hyperextending them.
• Keep your toes and feet pointed forward when sitting, standing and walking, with your knees hip-distance apart.
• Avoid sitting on your heels, especially with the feet turned out. This puts a lot of pressure on the knee joints and overstretches kneecap tendons.
• Before you exercise, warm up your leg and foot muscles as well as your hip and ankle joints. This will protect the knees and help prevent injuries. While standing, make gentle, circular motions with the hips to help warm and lubricate the hips, knees, and ankles. To tone your feet, try standing on tiptoe while you hold the back of a chair, if needed, for balance.
• Yoga can keep your knees strong and sturdy by helping to build and maintain proper alignment, strength and flexibility. Work on building strength and flexibility in your quads, hamstrings, abductors and adductors, because evenly balanced leg muscles keep the knees aligned. Chair pose is a great leg strengthener. Here’s how to do it: Stand tall with hips, knees and ankles in alignment. Knees should be hip-width apart with feet pointing forward. Gently bend the knees while leaning forward from the hips with a straight back (pretend you’re about to sit down in a chair). Once your back is at a 45-degree angle, hold the posture, keeping your knees hip-width apart (don’t let them roll in or out). Keep breathing gently and evenly. For a cardio benefit, raise your arms out straight at the same angle as your back. Try to build up to a longer hold.

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Posted by on September 10, 2013 in Cleveland Clinic Wellness Tips

 

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Tone-Up Your Triceps

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Looking for a workout move to tone up your triceps? Transform your arms with the one-arm kickback.

Biceps aren’t the only muscles we need to focus on when it comes to building strong arms. To tighten loose underarms, do the tricep-toning kickback. Here’s how: Hold a hand weight in your right hand. Lean over slightly and put your left foot forward. Place your left forearm on your left leg, or on a sturdy chair or table if you need additional support. Keeping a straight line from the top of your head to your tailbone, turn your right palm upward and push your entire arm back so that your right elbow points toward the ceiling. With your elbow in this upward position, kick the weight back and twist your palm toward the ceiling. Breathe normally. Maintain the up position and don’t drop the elbow. Try to do 50 repetitions on each side.

Excerpted from YOU: The Owner’s Manual, Updated and Expanded Edition: An Insider’s Guide to the Body That Will Make You Healthier and Younger by Michael F. Roizen and Dr. Mehmet C. Oz.

 

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Lower Blood Pressure & LDL Cholesterol with Almonds

Looking for a snack to help lower your blood pressure and LDL cholesterol? Eat a handful of almonds every day for heart-health benefits.

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For a crunchy and heart-healthy snack, eat almonds. They’re an excellent source of monounsaturated fats, the same type of nutritious fat found in olive oil. Adding nuts to your diet can help lower your LDL cholesterol and risk of heart disease. Almonds are high in magnesium, with 25 percent of the daily recommended intake in a quarter-cup serving. Magnesium helps your veins and arteries open up and relax, which improves blood flow and lowers your blood pressure. Another great way to add almonds to your diet is Dr. Roxanne Sukol’s protein-rich almond smoothie, made with almond butter, chia seeds and a banana.

 
 

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