- EAT SNACKS WITH COMPLEX CARBS AND PROTEIN (i.e., eat foods with less sugar including whole-grain crackers, low-fat cheese, fresh fruit, turkey or chicken sandwich, plain yogurt, can of tuna)
- REDUCE CAFFEINE CONSUMPTION (more than three cups of coffee may affect the quality of sleep)
- EXERCISE REGULARLY (physical activity releases endorphins which enhance your energy level)
- DRINK PLENTY OF WATER (water contains no calories but enhances your energy level by flushing toxins and circulating nutrients within your blood)
- GET ENOUGH SLEEP (get into a sleep pattern of waking up and going to bed at the same time each day)
- ADJUST YOUR ATTITUDE AND BE OPTIMISTIC (don't be a "hater" as this diminishes your energy level)
- ORGANIZE YOUR HOME (clutter tends to increase stress levels)
- EAT ENOUGH FOOD (eating more food may lessen you body's tendency to go into "starvation mode", a state when your metabolic rate decreases, bodyfat storage increases, and muscle tissue is catabolized for energy)
- EAT EVERY TWO TO THREE HOURS (this lessens dramatic fluctuations in your blood sugar levels)
- REDUCE STRESS LEVELS (lessen your anxiety by writing things down in a "To-Do List" and checking things off as you accomplish each task--the sense of accomplishment will make you feel good and energized!)
Here is a list of things you can do today to increase your energy level throughout your day:
Whether due to a vacation, illness, work schedule, injury, etc., you can reverse the effects of detraining when getting back into a fitness routine. Factors such as age, fitness level and exercise experience will affect how readily your body will respond to exercise after a deconditioning period. Nevertheless, no matter what shape you were in prior to a layoff, your body will regain the losses in muscle mass, cardiovascular capacity and flexibility with exercise.
Your body is a miraculous organism which has the capability to adapt to physiological changes that are put on it. This means that if you subject your body to an intense bout of resistance and cardiovascular training, your body will essentially "remember" the effects of this stimulus after a break in training. These effects include the pumping of blood (and oxygen) throughout your body to affect your metabolism during exercise. Training-induced effects include ameliorating your blood pressure, blood cholesterol and blood sugar levels as well as increasing your muscle fiber size and neuromuscular adaptations. All of these favorable physiological effects will dissipate to varying extents as a result of sedentary behavior. The longer the layoff the longer it will take your body to regain the loss in muscle mass and cardiorespiratory capacity. The good news is that your muscles (including your heart) have a "memory" of how it felt as a result of resistance training and cardiovascular exercise. Thus, no matter how long your layoff period, you can certainly regain some, if not all, of your muscle mass and cardiovascular (aerobic) capacity. The more fit you were prior to your layoff, the more gradual the decrement in muscle mass and aerobic capacity.
To lessen the effects of detraining when going on a vacation or when you're more busy at work, try to get in at least some exercise. In other words, it's better to perform some exercise (i.e., workout at least once per week) than to not exercise at all for a period of time. When time is short, increase the intensity of your workouts by performing abbreviated weight training (i.e., 30 minutes) and high-intensity interval training (i.e., 1-minute sprints followed by 1-minute slow jogs for 10 minutes). If you injured one limb, you can still exercise the rest of your body to minimize the detraining effect.
BOTTOM LINE: In most cases, there is no reason to not continue exercising no matter the changes that may occur in your lifestyle or circumstance. The important thing is to continue working out and not stop altogether in order to stem the detraining effect on your body.
Most people know a healthy lifestyle of good nutrition and regular exercise reduces mortality. Now new research supports this finding in the case of running. A recent study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology has found that running for just five to ten minutes may extend your life by three years. The fascinating aspect of this 15-year study was that the speed, distance, frequency, and duration of running was not as important as running itself. In other words, you can reap the benefits of living longer by running slowly for a few minutes at a time. It's important to keep in mind that this research did NOT prove causation that running increases lifespan but rather that there seems to be a correlation between running and living longer. The research had found a 30 percent lower risk of death among runners compared to non-runners. Those who are more avid runners tend to accrue the most benefit of living longer. Obviously, the health benefits from running such as improved heart and lung function help explain why runners tend to live longer than non-runners.
BOTTOM LINE: Running at your own pace for just a few minutes per day may extend your lifespan.
Aside from the obvious medications available today, the best way to control your blood cholesterol levels is to exercise regularly (i.e., 3 to 5 times per week of aerobic exercise, 2 to 3 times per week of anaerobic exercise) and eat healthy foods. Regarding the latter, here are some recommended foods that may help to lower your LDL ("bad") cholesterol level due to their quantity of antioxidants:
Knock knees (genu valgum) is a common condition (especially for women) in which the knees face inward when standing, walking, running, etc. When performing impact exercises like running, having knock knees can predispose you to injuries at the hips, knees, ankles, and/or feet (overpronation). Orthotic inserts for your shoes may be recommended if you have knock knees, particularly if you are a runner. Having knock knees while performing impact exercises (esp. running) will most likely predispose you to joint problems later in life unless you either wear orthotic inserts or avoid the exercise altogether. Non-impact exercises like walking, swimming and biking are safer alternative exercises for those who have knock knees.
The best way to keep your joints healthy is to BE ACTIVE. A sedentary lifestyle of sitting most of the day is not good for your joints, especially your knees. Moving your body regularly ensures adequate synovial fluid circulation within your joints to keep them healthy and to prevent stiffness. Losing bodyweight is particularly recommended to lessen knee pain due to cartilage breakdown. Every pound you lose removes four pounds of pressure from knees. Daily stretching is strongly recommended to lessen joint stiffness and pain. Just be sure to warm up your muscles prior to stretching to loosen up the tendons and ligaments surrounding your joints. Low-impact cardio exercises (e.g., walking, biking, swimming, etc.) are recommended to protect your joints from cartilage damage. Weight lifting is also encouraged to strengthen your muscles surrounding your joints and to lessen the risk of arthritis. Be sure to move your joints in a FULL RANGE OF MOTION when exercising to lessen stiffness. Also, perform core-strengthening exercises that work your abdominals, lower back, gluteals, and hamstrings to maintain a strong foundation for your joints. Eat fish (e.g., salmon, mackerel, etc.) to lessen joint inflammation as well as plenty of dairy products containing calcium and vitamin D to maintain strong bones. Maintain good posture to protect your joints by performing exercises such as fast walking and swimming regularly.
A recent study has found a correlation with watching a lot of television and decreased life expectancy. This means that there seems to be a connection between excessive TV viewing (i.e., more than three hours daily) and shortened longevity. But this does not mean that watching a lot of TV causes decreased life expectancy. The study just determined that there is a correlation and that's all. Nevertheless, it is eye-opening to think that watching a lot of TV may shorten your existence on earth. The risk of heart disease, cancer, and premature death increased with excessive TV viewing. Of note, those that watch a lot of TV tend to eat less healthy foods (i.e., sugary, processed foods). Of course, if you watch a lot of TV you're not very active--certainly puts you at increased risk of heart disease and cancer.
BOTTOM LINE: Watch less than two hours of TV daily and get out there and exercise to live a longer life.
The importance of having good posture cannot be overstated as the many aches and pains felt by your body may be associated with having faulty or bad posture. Having good posture will lessen your risk of incurring back pain while serving to maintain a strong and healthy back.
What exactly is meant by having good posture? Good posture occurs when your musculoskeletal system is in alignment to guard against injury and deformity over time as a result of needless muscular strain. Your muscles work more efficiently when your body is in a state of balance and equilibrium whether in a standing, lying, squatting, bending, or sitting position. Good posture can be assumed when drawing your chin back, relaxing your shoulders, stretching your chest forward, tucking your navel toward your spine, sitting with your knees lower than your hips, and having both feet planted firmly on the floor. Good posture means standing or sitting "tall', shoulders pulled back (chest pushed out) with your stomach pulled in. Assuming good posture does require isometric contraction of your stomach and lumbar muscles but the result will be good spinal alignment, reducing upper and lower back pain caused by slouching and hunching. Having good core strength in your abdominal, lumbar, hamstring, and gluteal muscles will certainly help in maintaing good posture. (See elsewhere in this blog for information regarding core exercises.)
BOTTOM LINE: Strengthening your core muscles as well as stretching tight chest and shoulder muscles will be helpful in maintaining good posture. And don't forget there's a bonus to having good posture: you will look much more attractive!
The ill effects of sitting for long periods of time on your body can largely be attributed to one thing: reduced blood circulation. When you sit behind your desk at your job for eight or more hours daily each week your blood circulation significantly slows to a point where your blood becomes more viscous. The increased viscosity reduces fresh blood to your muscles and organs. This causes a lack of fresh oxygen and nutrients to flow throughout your body. Your metabolism becomes sluggish as a result and organ function slows. In addition, neck strain from craning your neck forward while typing may cause an imbalanced cervical vertebrae. Sitting for long periods of time may cause uneven compression of your thoracic and lumbar vertebrae which in turn may damage your intervertebral discs. The result: unbearable back pain. Stiffness and tightness in your hips also tends to occur from spending too much time in a sitting posture.
Sedentary behavior may cause multiple organ damage, promotes increased abdominal fat deposition and bodyweight, and lessens flexibility. The insidious part about this is that the effects occur slowly without us knowing the extent of the damage that's occurring until it's too late. Heart disease may occur from sluggish blood flow and the buildup of fatty acid deposits which may clog the heart. Symptoms of this scenario include elevated blood pressure and cholesterol. Type-2 diabetes may occur from your body's inability to produce enough insulin from your pancreas to metabolize a buildup of glucose in your blood caused by lack of exercise. Symptoms from high blood sugar may include increased hunger, thirst, urination, fatigue, dizziness, and weight loss. Excess insulin within your blood may promote carcinogenic cellular growth, increasing your risk of colon, breast and/or endometrial cancer. Lack of exercise and poor posture causes anterior and posterior muscles to become weak and tight, respectively (i.e., abdominal muscles are weakened and back muscles become tight which causes more slumping in your chair). Chronic slumping will cause hyperlordosis or swayback. Hip flexor muscles become tight due to chronic flexion which causes shortening of these muscles, limiting hip extension. Swollen ankles and blood clots may occur from sluggish blood circulation as a result of sitting too much. Your bones, which are composed of living tissue, become less dense and weak as a result of a lack of weight-bearing activities. Weakened and soft bones increases your risk of osteoporosis.
So what can you do to counteract the adverse health effects of sedentary behavior? It's obvious. You need to get up and move around more often. Here are some suggestions to get you started in the right direction:
BOTTOM LINE: You've got to move your body more often in order to prevent sluggish blood circulation, lessen abdominal fat deposition and increased bodyweight, and feel more energized. Some form of resistance training with weights is recommended in order to maintain muscle mass to prevent increased bodyweight from fat. Lifting weights will prevent the risk of frailty and therefore allow you to live an independent life as you get older. Resistance training also helps to maintain your strength and lessens the risk of osteoporosis. By moving, you'll lessen your risk of incurring the life-style related diseases that plague industrialized societies (e.g.., heart disease, diabetes, cancer, etc.).