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Get Moving!

Just move! Even brief episodes of brisk exercise can make you thinner and better able to do the fun things you want to do in life.

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Try 30 minutes of moderate exercise — such as a brisk walk — most days of the week, for better emotional and physical health. New research shows that even brief episodes of vigorous activity can help prevent weight gain and promote better health. The key is to get your heart rate up so that you’re working your lungs, heart and muscles. If today you have only 10 minutes to spare, use that time to go for a brisk walk. If there’s a hill nearby, or even a staircase, try to tackle it! You may even find that you enjoy it so much you’ll find 15 minutes to spare tomorrow.

source: cleveland clinic

 

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Exercise Consistently to help with Insomnia

Regular exercise can help you sleep more soundly, but be patient. Results won’t happen overnight. Stick with it for lasting results.

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If you spend your nights tossing and turning, or you take hours to fall asleep, begin an exercise plan. Regular physical activity is a wonderful prescription for insomnia. However, one sweat session on the treadmill isn’t likely to lead to better zzz’s that night. Researchers have found that, though effective, exercise is a long-term treatment for insomnia. So you’re going to have to keep at it and not get discouraged. Also, “You need to be careful about when you exercise,” says Michelle Drerup, PsyD, sleep psychologist and behavioral sleep medicine specialist at the Cleveland Clinic Sleep Disorders Center. “Remember that exercising too close to bedtime (within three hours) can interfere with sleep. Exercise stimulates your heart, brain and muscles — the opposite of what you want if you’re trying to snooze. It raises your body temperature right before bed, which can be counterproductive as well. But I still promote exercise for people with sleep problems, and here’s why: Contrary to what most people think, exercise can help you sleep longer and more soundly, plus feel more awake during the day. People who are physically fit also have better quality sleep.”

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source: the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Center

 

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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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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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Lower Diabetes Risk by Walking After Meals

Lower your diabetes risk by taking a short walk after meals. Moving, rather than resting, can blunt blood sugar elevations after eating.

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Tempted to retire on the couch or take a quick snooze after eating? Reduce your diabetes risk — and perk up your energy levels — by going for a short walk instead. Researchers have found that a 15-minute walk after every meal will improve blood sugar levels better than a single daily 45-minute walk. Whether you put a leash on the dog, run errands or go for a quick stroll, being active after eating helps prevent post-meal blood sugar spikes. According to researchers, elevated blood sugars after meals are a key risk factor in type 2 diabetes and heart disease. And blood sugar control isn’t the only benefit. Research has shown that walking after eating lowered triglyceride levels as well. Lace up your sneakers before dinner, and then head out for a quick tour of the neighborhood after you’ve eaten.

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Nutritional Bang for your Buck

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Get big nutritional bang for your buck with potatoes, greens and beans. They deliver the most nutrients per penny.

Trying to figure out how to squeeze more nutritious food from your budget? Add potatoes, greens and beans. A cost analysis found that these foods provide the most nutrients per penny and that tubers offer the best nutritional value in the produce aisle. Potatoes are a valuable source of potassium, vitamin C, magnesium and fiber, especially when eaten, after cooling, with the skin. They cost just 11 cents per one-cup serving and are filling to boot. Greens are simply a nutrition powerhouse. Canned or dried beans are an inexpensive and healthful alternative to meat, which is often among the priciest items at the supermarket. “Protein sources like beef, turkey, fish and chicken can be really expensive,” says Amy Jamieson-Petonic, MEd, RD, director of wellness coaching at the Cleveland Clinic, “but if you buy beans and lentils, you’re getting a lot more for your money.” One cup of beans supplies a third of a woman’s daily protein needs.

 
 

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Pink Noise & Sleep…it’s a Good Thing

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Sleep more soundly with pink noise — a low-frequency version of white noise. Playing it while you sleep improves the quality of your zzz’s.

Here’s good news for light sleepers: Adding pink noise to your bedtime routine could help you sleep better. Similar to white noise, the pink variety has a lower frequency and sounds like gentler, more muted static. Researchers found that 75 percent of sleepers reported a more restful sleep when exposed to pink noise while they slept. Brainwave activity showed that stable sleep time of people listening to pink noise increased by 23 percent.

source: The Cleveland Clinic Wellness site

 

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10 Ways to Start Exercise: Part 1 of 2

Walking, strength training, running, swimming, biking, yoga, tai chi — the possibilities for exercise are endless. The good news is that it doesn’t matter which one you choose — it just matters that you do some form of exercise.

“If you have a choice between not moving and moving — move,” says Heather Nettle, MA, coordinator of exercise physiology services for the Cleveland Clinic Sports Health and Orthopaedic Rehabilitation Center. “Ultimately it will help with overall health and well-being.” So go ahead, find an activity you love and get moving with these 10 do’s and don’ts for starting an exercise routine.

1. Do Anything — It’s Better Than Nothing
Experts are quite clear on this point: Get 30 to 60 minutes of exercise three to five days a week for improved energy, as well as to help prevent heart disease, diabetes and certain types of cancer. If you can’t dedicate that amount of time, any exercise, any movement for any amount of time is better than nothing.

2. Keep Track
Tracking your steps with a pedometer is one key to success if you like to walk, says Michael F. Roizen, MD, chief wellness officer at the Cleveland Clinic. Another is recording some basic health information before starting a new routine. “Keeping track of how your body changes inside and out over the weeks and months gives you proof of the healthy changes you’re making,” he says. A few ways to do it:
• Before your first workout, check your blood pressure at your local pharmacy. Then recheck once a month.
• Time yourself at a track or on a treadmill. See how many minutes it takes you to walk or run one mile. Retest yourself after one month of consistent exercise.
• Measure your waist circumference and your weight. Take these measurements once a week.
• Schedule a visit with your physician and request these tests: lipid panel, vitamin D and C-reactive protein. Check these levels again after six months of consistent exercise.

3. Weight-Train
There’s no question: You’ll shed pounds faster if you lift weights. That’s because strength training builds muscle, and the more muscle you have, the faster your metabolism will be. And women, hear this: You will not bulk up! What you’re doing by lifting weights is preventing muscle loss. Strength training also improves overall body composition, giving you more lean muscle tissue in relation to fat, so you look toned and trim. To experience the most benefit, lift more weight than you think you can. Dashing through your repetitions doesn’t take as much effort because it allows your muscles to rely on momentum. Instead, focus on your form by practicing slow and steady movements on both the contraction and the release. This will help you strengthen every muscle fiber.

4. Head for the Hills
Do you follow the same flat path day in and day out when you go for your walk or run? Look for hills along your route that you can slip into your routine. If it’s too much for you to tackle all at once, start by going only halfway up. Walking or running up inclines boosts the intensity of your workout: It burns more calories and helps build muscle strength and cardiovascular endurance. Switching between flat surfaces and hills is a form of interval training, a type of workout that involves short bursts of high-intensity exercise in between moderate activity. This kind of exercise, practiced by elite athletes, can supercharge your workout. It can also help keep boredom at bay. If you have joint problems, go easy on the downhill — slow your pace and shorten your stride.

5. Think Outside the Box
Even if you can’t engage in rigorous, high-intensity sweat sessions, there are plenty of other ways to improve your physical health. According to a review in the American Journal of Health Promotion, mind-body practices like tai chi and qigong may help promote bone health, cardiorespiratory fitness, physical function, balance, quality of life, fall prevention and emotional well-being. Described as “meditation in motion,” tai chi and qigong involve a series of flowing, gentle movements — similar to but much slower than yoga. Interested? Get the Gaiam tai chi for beginners DVD in our clevelandclinicwellness.com wellness store.

Check back in tomorrow for the remaining 5 ways to get started on exercise!

 

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Gentlemen…

protect your prostate by eating olive oil and nuts. Choosing healthy fats over the saturated kind can help you live longer.

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Men, improve your chances of a long and healthy life by choosing olive oil and avocado over butter and mayo. Research shows that men who swapped 10 percent of their daily calories from animal fats with healthy fats like olive oil, seeds, avocados or nuts were 30 percent less likely to die from prostate cancer and 25 percent less likely to die from any other disease compared to those who did not make the switch. Even a single daily tablespoon of oil-based salad dressing, such as balsamic vinaigrette, resulted in a noticeable drop in mortality risk. To protect your health and enjoy delicious flavor, use oil and vinegar instead of cream-based dressings and cook your food with extra virgin olive oil instead of mystery “vegetable” oil.

 
 

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Be Prepped for your Primary Care Doctor

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The average visit with a doctor lasts mere minutes. Bring a list of your top three concerns and questions to make sure they get covered.

On average, visits to a family doctor generally last about 15 minutes. That’s not a lot of time to cover every facet of your health. Going to your appointment as prepared as possible can help both you and your doctor make the most of every minute. Before your visit, make a list of your top concerns. Why are you there? What’s been bothering you? Be prepared to describe your symptoms as accurately as possible: Where does it hurt, when did it start, does it get better or worse with movement, and how bad is the pain? Jotting everything down ahead of time will help you communicate your questions and concerns more accurately. Be prepared with a list of all the medications you’re taking, including supplements. If you see multiple doctors, make sure they all have an updated list. Lastly, write down your top three questions for your doctor, in order of importance. That way you’ll be sure to cover your most pressing concerns.

 
 

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