Wednesday, November 7, 2012

6 Fun Fitness Activities

Exercising and staying fit doesn't have to mean hard work. Simply being active will help you get or stay in good shape. So with that said, here are some enjoyable activities that can help with your fitness goals too.
When you ask many adults when the last time they rode a bike is, they cannot answer. Although bicycling is a favorite pastime, many adults do not take advantage of this great option for exercise. Not only does bike riding exercise the body and build a stronger cardiovascular system, it allows you to get out and enjoy nature, fresh air, and see new sites.
Jogging or Walking
Both jogging and walking are GREAT ways to get fit. Not only do they tone the muscles, relieve stress, create a healthier heart, and improve lung capability, they make you look wonderful, which in turns helps you get excited about doing other exercise for fitness activities.
Swimming is an excellent way to get into and stay in shape. If you do not own a pool, many high schools have aquatic centers, or there is always the YWCA or YMCA, or your local gym. Many offer water aerobic classes that will help you tighten your body, lose weight, and get a good overall workout.
Tennis Anyone?
Tennis is not only a fun sport, but also a great way to exercise. You do not have to be a Venice Williams to play; in fact, you do not even have to be good. Just running after the ball alone will help get you into shape. This is a great way to strengthen your cardiovascular system and lose weight. You can find tennis courts in just about every city and if you would like to play but have no idea how, lessons are reasonable.
Tip: Raquetball is sort of a "one person tennis". If you don't have someone to play tennis with, or you aren't feeling sociable, try raquetball instead.
Dancing is so much fun and whether you enjoy a slow, Ballroom dance or a nightclub packed with people all moving to heart-pumping techno, as long as you are moving, it really does not matter what type of dance or music. The whole idea is to move your body. Dancing has long been recommended as an avenue to fitness.
Tip: Belly Dancing is an excellent workout for your stomach, waist and hips ladies!
If you have a VCR or DVD, rather than just using it for your favorite comedy or action-packed movie, try sticking in some good workout tapes. Even taking 15 minutes every day to work out will get you started. Try that for two weeks and you will be surprised at the results. Once you see that 15 minutes a day makes a difference, you will be encouraged to increase the time spent.
And one of my personal favorites... Yardwork!
Whether you're pulling weeds, planting flowers, mowing the grass or chopping wood: All of these activities can help you get into better shape. Don't cheat yourself though. Using a riding mower to cut the grass won't help you use the muscles or get your blood pumping ;)
So go out and get active, have fun, and work on getting or staying fit too!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Fitness Training Goals

Under the surface, every body is built the same. Each of us has an athlete's body buried down there somewhere -- and we all have the ability to move like athletes. Some of us are just ahead of others in terms of our fitness progress. However, with appropriate nutrition, sleep and exercise, everyone can jump and move just like athletes do. This is how life is meant to be played, and our bodies are built for exactly this kind of movement!
Before you begin a training regimen, it is important to determine your specific training goals. Are you a professional athlete training to increase your level of performance? Are you a general health-and-fitness enthusiast who wants to slim down and feel great? Are you a physical laborer who wants a permanent solution for your back pain so you can start feeling strong and healthy again? Are you seriously overweight, and ready to make and stick to a life-changing commitment?
Only after you have determined your major health and/or fitness concern can you begin working toward that goal. For example, it wouldn't be very productive to train like a bodybuilder and put on a lot of nonfunctional muscle that weighs a ton if you had a goal to compete as a professional boxer. It is essential to identify your primary goal and remain focused on it without getting sidetracked into a training agenda that will only detour your success.
You must be specific when you design your training program, ensuring that it will accomplish the specific things you desire from it. Be clear and precise with your goals. Have a realistic timeframe. How much time are you willing to commit to this exercise program -- per day, per week, per month? What is the best time of day to fit exercise into your busy schedule? Determine a time that will work, and adhere to it -- no excuses. Admit honestly how far you are from achieving this goal, so you can gauge how long it's going to take to get from your starting point to that goal.
The most important thing is to design a program that is specifically tailored to your needs. A general one-size-fits-all plan, or one created for another individual, will not necessarily work for you. Your level and ability are different from others', as are your goals. So don't look to train like anyone else, and don't expect others to train like you.
Once you've identified your goals and designed a program to help you accomplish them, all that's left is to begin!
This article introduces ways to set attainable fitness training goals. It lays out realistic steps for designing a personal program tailored to one's particular goals.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Helping Friends and Family to Understand

Trying to explain a chronic illness to friends and family can result in glazed eyes and that familiar distracted look. With acquaintances it is usually best to keep the explanation short and to the point. After all, it doesn't affect you much if they don't understand. When family and friends don't understand what you are living with, their reactions can take a toll on your self-esteem and add more stress to your life.
After 14 years of trying to explain my health problems (polycystic ovarian syndrome and hypothyroidism) to my family and friends, I know that some of them still think I am lazy, a hypochondriac, a drama queen, or simply nuts. I am keenly aware that what I eat, how much sleep I get, whether I exercise, and a myriad of other decisions influence how I will feel today and how my body will function tomorrow. I can't count on having a certain amount of energy or plan how I will feel at any given time in the future. For healthy people who don't need to think about these things it can look like a self-centered obsession.
Loved ones and friends may feel you are lazy when you are suffering from fatigue. They may be angry when your lifestyle changes interfere with their needs. They may feel that you focus too much on your illness. They may want to understand-but they have no frame of reference. To explain snow to a desert dweller is nearly impossible unless you can show them the frost in your freezer.
The following ideas will help you to explain chronic illnesses:
* Understand that these concepts are probably new to this person. Remain calm and avoid acting defensive.
* You may find it helpful to have your family read the "Spoon Theory" at It is an excellent explanation of how an illness limits your resources. Healthy people do not have to make choices about how to spend their energy. They have more freedom to make personal and financial decisions.
* You may need to explain both large and small concepts. Try to keep the explanations simple. Having a chronic illness has likely forced you to learn more about your body than most people understand. Use simple language instead of medical terms. Try to compare symptoms to things everyone is familiar with, for instance, the fatigue that comes with the flu, nausea that comes with motion sickness, etc. Let them know it is OK to ask questions.
* Explain that you don't show your worst symptoms to the world, when they see you it is usually when you are feeling well enough to go out, not when you are feeling lousy and need to stay home. You may not seem to be sick because usually see you when you are feeling well.
* Clarify that your illness takes an emotional and financial toll as well as a physical toll. Explain that it takes time from your schedule to deal with symptoms, medical appointments, lifestyle adjustments, etc. Let them know that support makes it easier to deal with the symptoms, but that there may still be times when you are depressed.
* Let them know that you have good days and bad days. Help them to understand that sometimes planning ahead is difficult.
* Make it clear that your illness does not define you, even when it influences the choices you make.
* If after doing your very best to explain your illness to your friends and family they still aren't supportive, accept that not everyone can understand what you're going through. Be patient.
* Finally, if you can not find the support you need within your circle of friends, join a support group or find other forms of support such as a life coach who specializes in coaching those with chronic illnesses. Social support is important in helping you manage your illness and in maintaining your emotional health.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Listen To Your Body

As a sometime Masters Athlete, I have learned that my body lets me know when its a bit 'down'- a touch of tinea; the tickle of a possible cold sore; the feeling of being 'run down'. These are signs that my immune system is depressed, and that putting in a hard session today will lead to a cold or sore throat tomorrow. The body's talking, and I've learned to listen. If I'm sensible, I'll also try for an early night, eat some good food, and take some extra vitamins- especially C.
As I've learned about health and nutrition, I've not only learned to listen to my body, but I've come more and more to respect traditional remedies and wisdom. Many traditional sayings are proving to have a scientific basis. Take these few examples;
- "Eat up your carrots" -it really DOES help you see in the dark.
- "Fish is brain food" -takes on new credibility as we learn about Essential Fatty Acids.
- "Drink tea with lemon for a cold"- works, although it's probably the bioflavonoids in the tea, not the vitamin C in the lemon!
Not only do many old sayings have validity, but so do many old remedies. Numerous traditional herbs have 'given birth' to modern drugs. To name just a couple...
- Valerian led to Valium
- Willow Bark led to Asprin
In fact, Nuturopath Chris Wainwright tells me that about half of the pharmaceutical drugs around are derived from natural sources. So we invented drugs thousands of years before we invented pharmaceutical companies! Grandma and natives in the Amazon DID have some idea of what they were saying and doing!
As well as a tendency to disregard 'old-fashioned' knowledge, we have an unfortunate tendency to react to symptoms, rather than trying to understand why we are feeling the way we do. Today, happily, modern science is catching up with the fact that we shouldn't always resort to modern science when the body does something different!
Coughing, pain, fever, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, anxiety, fatigue, sneezing and inflammation are standard defences used by the body. We mask them at our peril. Here are a few examples.
- Coughing clears the airways.
- Fever raises the body's temperature to help destroy pathogens.
- Pain is there for good reason. As someone pointed out, "Pain
isn't nature's way of telling us that we have an asprin deficiency"!
While I'm not suggesting that every occurrence of these symptoms should be ignored, and assumed to be no risk to our health, we have a pathetic tendency to rush out for the latest product advertised on TV to cure the symptom. Or to ask the Doctor to prescribe antibiotics!
A new field of study in medical science has developed in recent years. This field, of understanding how the body evolved the way in which it operates, is called Darwinian Medicine.
Having respect for a couple of thousand years of accumulated wisdom, can help us enhance our body's ability to maintain good health.
A greater understanding of why our body is acting the way it is, will help all of us to respond more appropriately to the symptoms our body develops from time to time.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

HEALTHY HABITS in your life

1. Never skip your breakfast. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Still, many of us skip it thinking that it will help us shed pounds. When you skip breakfast your blood sugar levels, as well as other nutrient levels drop, depriving you of the required nutrition and energy for the rest of the day. Breakfast eaters have a more positive attitude toward school and work, and they perform better.
2. Bite into something good. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables. Fruits are cool and juicy, so they get you the water you need to stay hydrated and they also provide the vitamins and nutrients that fat-free snack foods don't. They're good and they taste sweet - and some contain antioxidants that help prevent aging. Healthy habits include eating a lot of fruits.
3. Eat regular meals. Skipping meals can lead to out-of-control hunger, often resulting in overeating. When you're very hungry, it's also tempting to forget about good nutrition. Snacking between meals can help curb hunger, but don't eat so much that your snack becomes an entire meal.
4. Quit smoking. Now, studies show that quitting smoking, you can restore your heart function back to that of a non-smoker within a few years. You'll breathe easier, cut down your chances for heart disease, cancer, and more. But you knew that, right? Also, if you're not a smoker, stay away from those who do. Secondhand smoke is a major killer - don't be afraid to tell people gently that you'd prefer it if they didn't smoke around you.
5. Exercise Daily! You don't have to be a professional athlete - just make time for 15-20 minutes of exercise daily. Take a walk, dance crazily to music, go for a jog, play volleyball on the beach, whatever it takes to get your heart pumping for a little while.
6. Get your sleep. Getting at least 8 hours of sleep every night can extend your life. Your body has time to recharge every night so it's fresh and ready to face the onslaught of the next day.
7. Every day, devote a little time for yourserlf. Take some time out of your "busy" schedule. First, eliminate all forms of intrusion. Then close your eyes, breathe deeply and let your thoughts float downstream like a log carried by the river. You can practice meditation or relax in a hot bath with aromatherapy. When a thought comes up, just watch it float away.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Bextra's Safety Questioned

An increasing number of Americans are relieved to learn there are non-drug ways to ease pain now that safety questions have been raised about another well-known and widely used painkiller, Bextra.
Recent meetings of the FDA were preceded by a petition from a leading consumer group, Public Citizen, asking that the drug be taken off the market. Both the FDA and Public Citizen raised concerns about the safety of Bextra, one of the so-called Cox-2 inhibitors. The Cox-2 drugs Vioxx and Bextra were once viewed as “wonder drugs” for arthritis and painful menstrual cycles.
Bextra has moved into the spotlight while the maker of Vioxx is being investigated. Vioxx was one of the nation’s most popular ways to treat pain and arthritis and was taken by an estimated 20 million people before it was withdrawn from the market. That happened after studies linked it to a heightened risk of heart attack and stroke – information that may not have been fully understood when the drugs received FDA approval.
Researchers released information indicating that the chances for heart attack following prolonged use of Vioxx were four times greater than with older over-the-counter pain relievers. It has also been linked to angina and stroke. A University of Pennsylvania study released at a meeting of the American Cardiology Association indicated that those taking Bextra had a 2.19 times greater chance of heart attack, stroke, sudden death and Stevens Johnson Syndrome, a life threatening disorder in which blisters occur on the patient’s body.
The result is many people are now seeking alternative non-drug therapies. They are also investigating legal remedies.
Those seeking non-drug alternatives to relieve chronic pain should discuss their plans with a physician. Known alternative remedies include:
MSM (Methyl Sulfonyl Methane), a compound normally found in foods. It’s used to relieve the pain of osteoarthritis and help strengthen collagen in the joints.
Glucosamine, primarily used to treat osteoarthritis. Research indicates that glucosamine is as effective as low doses of non-steroidal anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen. It appears to relieve pain and improve movement, slow the progression of the disease and protect joints from further damage.
Wobenzym, an enzyme combination and a top-selling supplement in Europe, now available in North America.
Bromelain, an anti-inflammatory and digestive aid used primarily in Japan, Hawaii and Taiwan.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Frozen Shoulder Treatment

If you've read my other frozen shoulder articles or visited my frozen shoulder website (details below) then you now know a great deal about frozen shoulder and about the options for frozen shoulder treatment.
I'm sure that the knowledge you've gained is already helping you to cope with your frozen shoulder symptoms and I truly hope that you've found a doctor or therapist who has helped you find some pain relief.
But what if you haven't - or if you've gained only partial relief from your frozen shoulder treatment? What follows are my top tips for surviving with your shoulder symptoms until nature works her magic. Remember - stay positive - you will get through this and you will soon return to full normal function without pain or discomfort.
First tip for frozen shoulder treatment: Keep your shoulder warm!
I know that it almost sounds too obvious but it works! Use warm or hot compresses (or buy a heating pad) and use it over your shoulder four or five times a day for fifteen minutes at a time. It also works well applied in your armpit - the warmth travels up into the shoulder.
Many of my frozen shoulder patients have also found great relief - particularly at night - by using a heated pad or thermal blanket. There are a variety of moderately sophisticated products available, and a range of other inexpensive options, some of which you simply heat in the microwave before use. You can find details of these products on the website links below.
Second tip for frozen shoulder treatment: Sleep with an extra pillow!
No - not a pillow for your head, but a pillow under your shoulder on the affected side. Loss of sleep at night makes it much harder to cope with shoulder pain during the day and if you roll onto the painful shoulder when asleep you will wake up in pain. Sleep on your back with the extra pillow under your sore shoulder.
Frozen shoulder treatment tip number three: Massage helps your shoulder pain!
The pain of frozen shoulder comes from the joint but the surrounding muscles can become very tired and tense. Massage can produce good short-term relief of pain. A family member, a friend or professional masseur could help with this. As with heated pads, there are a number of self massaging devices available and you can find more details on my website by following the links below.
Fourth tip for frozen shoulder treatment: Try dietary supplements!
Natural products like glucosamine or fish oils have been shown to ease joint pains and stiffness. Some herbal remedies have pain-relieving properties. This does not work for everyone but might be worth a try for your frozen shoulder pain.
I've had particular success recently with products based on honeybee venom. The use of honeybee venom is based on the long-known fact that bee keepers (who often get stung) very rarely develop arthritis or problems with their joints and muscles.
Now - the braver amongst you (not including me I hasten to add) might volunteer for traditional "bee sting therapy" where you are subjected to repeated stings from a succession of bees held in tweezers!
Most of us would feel more comfortable simply applying the bee sting venom in the form of a balm to be rubbed into the painful or stiff area. In truth, I was a bit sceptical about all of this at first, but a large number of my patients have had great benefit from its use and I recommend you give it a try if you are interested. It's certainly a very natural way to obtain pain relief.
Fifth tip for frozen shoulder treatment: Buy or borrow a TENS machine!
TENS - or trans cutaneous electrical nerve stimulation is a good and safe way to induce pain relief and some muscle relaxation. It works by stimulating the skin nerves and thus encourages the brain to pay less attention to the incoming pain signals from the joint. It doesn't seem to work for everyone but may be well worth a try.
Frozen shoulder treatment tip number six: Strap or support the arm from time to time!
If your shoulder is in the frozen stage then support from a simple strap can be of great value. Be careful of strapping too much in the other phases of the condition. You may simply encourage the shoulder to stay stiff for longer. As before, the website links below give details of strapping and support products.
Final tip for frozen shoulder treatment: Consider short term medication to improve sleep
People are naturally concerned about becoming dependent on sleeping medication - justifiably so. But for short term use there is no risk of dependency or addiction. Consider asking your doctor for a sedative medication if your frozen shoulder is stopping you from sleeping.