Monthly Archives: July 2018

How to Young and Stay Young

Ben Douglas, professor at the University of Mississippi Medical School at Jackson, once said, “You’re as young as you think.”

Apparently, if you think you are young, you will stay young. Thinking young is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

But the problem is: How to think young and stay young.

Aging is gradual, but inevitable. Aging has a direct debilitating effect on your brain. Free radicals can damage your brain over decades of changes: when you reach 65, your brain cells undergo many more mutations than they did in your younger years. These cumulative changes may bring about a neurological disease, such as dementia.

If that is the case, then how do you think young?

Firstly, you need to understand that age does not affect your intelligence. Intelligence is general cognitive power in processing new information and making logical decisions based on the information acquired. If your brain is healthy, it is capable of performing all these cognitive functions, and much more, because the potential of the human brain is never fully harnessed and utilized.

Research studies have demonstrated that your brain has the same amount of cognitive “reserves” even when you reach old age; in other words, your cognitive functions remain almost intact even if there is cumulative damage due to free radicals. However, when the cumulative damage reaches a certain “critical” point, then signs and symptoms of dementia may begin to surface.

The evident moral lesson: Prevent the onset of gradual cumulative damage; don’t wait till you have acquired some form of dementia before you take any positive action. Do something about it NOW!

Simply, thinking young makes you stay young.

Drugs (such as estrogen, testosterone and DHEA hormone replacement therapies) may slow down the mutations of brain cells, thereby keeping your brain healthy.

Brain exercises can promote “synaptic plasticity.” Synapses are unstable entities in your brain, and they can adapt to any change in neurons. Essentially, synaptic plasticity means “use it or lose it.” Inputting more information promotes synaptic plasticity; that is to say, it gives your brain more work to do, such as memorizing and processing information. Brain exercises, like any type of physical exercise, require consistency and regularity in order to be beneficial and effective. To achieve this, it is important to make your brain exercises interesting with variety. Just as cross-training of a variety of muscle groups will lead to overall physical fitness, cross-training of different cognitive functions of the brain will contribute to optimum brain fitness.

To increase cognitive functions of your brain, try learning a new language. Research has shown that bilinguals who regularly use two languages have better protection against the onset of dementia than those who use only one language. The reason is that learning a new language requires symbol decoding, memorizing, and even abstract reasoning – which are all important cognitive functions of a healthy brain.

Aside from learning a new language, taking up a new sport, such as tennis or golf, or playing a new musical instrument also contributes to optimum cognitive functioning, because these activities require concentration, memorization, and coordination of motor skills, which benefit your brain cells.

Other than brain exercises, the first line of defense against the demise of brain cells may include using antioxidants and supplements to combat free radicals, which damage brain cells over time. These antioxidants include beta carotene, carotenoids, vitamins E and C, glutathione, alpha lipoic acid, coenzyme Q10, and pycnogenol.

Fitness and Nutrition Practices

There are many misconceptions about proper care of your fitness and nutrition. Most of which should be taken note of because wrong practices may worsen our health conditions instead of improving it as we intended to do.

Sometimes, people jump from one diet plan to another without knowing the risks. Whenever they hear about the latest fad weight loss diet, they immediately get into it. Though there are many ways to get your desired fitness and nutrition level, there are some common practices which you have to avoid. Here are some of them:

Eating power bars in replace of meals
This is a common mistake that people thought could improve their fitness and nutrition. Yes eating power bars will improve your metabolism but it requires you to eat a full balanced meal for it to work effectively. Power bars generates more energy that’s very handy when exercising or doing a vigorous activity. It is supposed to be consumed as an added regimen to our food and not as a replacement.

Completely avoiding carbohydrates
This is another common misconception in maintaining our fitness and nutrition. It is true that carbohydrates make you fat but only if you have taken more than the recommended daily intake. But generally carbohydrates are helpful in promoting our fitness and nutrition in our body because it is the main source of our energy. Others may replace it with other kinds of food like protein based diets but in the end, they still need to take in carbohydrates to sustain a well balanced fitness and nutrition.

Taking muscle building supplements
For those who want to build up their muscles fast, taking in muscle building supplements is not the best way to promote your fitness and nutrition health. It may be true that these supplements can help build your muscles effectively but one must remember that these are just supplements. It will only work properly if the body has proper nutritional intake. If you want to increase the protein in your body, which is very helpful in enhancing your muscles, then there are many alternatives and more natural ways like eating fish and lean meat.

Reducing your intake of fluids
Some believe that reducing the intake of water can make you lose weight faster. This is entirely wrong. To promote fitness and nutrition properly, you must be able to drink at least 8 glasses of water every day. Experts say that even 1 percent of lack of fluids can affect our body negatively. Especially when exercising, it’s best to take in more than the usual 8 glasses to replace fluids you have lost.

Health and Fitness

How often do we rationalize our less than ideal food fancies and excuse ourselves from exercising because we think to ourselves, “Yeah, but I have good genes, so chances are I will live a long time–no matter how I eat and no matter how out of shape I get.”

Your mother lived a long time and/or your father lived a long time and, even if they didn’t, you are certain that, because that your grandmother or aunt was long-lived, you will surely be granted the same good fortune health and fitness tips.

On the flip side of the coin, if there isn’t longevity in your family history, it is just as easy to rationalize poor choices. After all, what’s the point of going through all that trouble and sacrifice of taking care of yourself if your days are numbered anyway? You may as well indulge and enjoy life to its fullest–right now. There may be no tomorrow.

Health benefits of meditation

The state of your health and the length of your life have little to do with “Lady Luck” or how long your mother or father lived. The gerontologists, or old age specialists, tell us that the length of our lives depends on the choices we make every day of our lives–not on our genes. Genetics, with the exception of whether you are male or female and rare inherited conditions, are estimated to influence longevity only 5% to 10% of the time.

Health & Fitness from Rope

I’m a little bubble car, number 38, whizzing round the corner, JUST – IN – TIME – TO – SLAM – ON – THE – BRAKE! Sorry about that, I was just reminiscing about skipping game we used to play as kids. It’s all computer games and joy sticks these days, but just a generation ago, you couldn’t keep the kids indoors if you tried. We were always running around, or running away, burning off the calories in aerobic games and mischief.

Why is it that many men look at rope skipping as effeminate, or a fluffy form of exercise as my father always used to put it? I mean, the great boxers of the world use skipping as part of their rigorous exercise regime, and I don’t think anyone would dare to call them effeminate. I guess the problem is because we don’t see men skipping in public places, only girls, and kids at that.

Well, there are many health benefits to be had from skipping. In fact, rope skipping is a brilliant cardiovascular exercise and that’s according to the U.S. Olympic Committee Sports Medicine Council. You’re probably wondering what can be so great about skipping right? Ok, let’s outline the benefits of this underrated form of exercise.

I’ll start by comparing it with other, more common exercises. Take running or jogging for example. Each foot absorbs up to 5 times the body weight from the force of the impact as the foot hits the ground. Over time, this impact can cause reversible and irreversible damage to the feet, ankles, knees, and hips. We’re kind of used to seeing athletes suffering such injuries. The only difference between them and those of us that jog for fitness, is that their extreme fitness regimes speed up the process due to over exertion.

Now with rope skipping, the shock of hitting the ground is absorbed by both feet. This is much better for the exerciser as it allows the calf muscles to control and absorb the impact, so you can see that it puts much less strain on the bones and muscles that jogging or running.

Aerobic exercise, that it any kind of exercise that increases the need for oxygen, has skipping included among its recommend activities. To get any benefit out of skipping, or any other form or aerobic exercise, it must be performed between 3-5 times a week for about 20 minutes per session. You don’t need to do all twenty minutes at once though, as 4 sets of 5 minutes or whatever you’re comfortable with will suffice. Mind you, you must exert yourself as you need to get that heart racing and show a bit of sweat to show for you efforts.

Additionally, aerobic exercise is great for improving heart and lung health, not to mention shedding a few pounds in the process. I’ve outlined below a well known formula for working out your training range:

220 – (your age) = Max HR (in beats per minute)

Max HR x (.55 to .85) = 55% to 85% of Max HR

For example:

220 – 35 (years old) = 185 (beats per minute)

185 x .55 = 101.75 (beats per minute)

185 x .85 = 157.25 (beats per minute)

Now round off these numbers.

So, 102 to 157 beats per minute is the training range of the 35 year old in this example.

Here are a few more useful tips on the benefits of rope skipping:
By jumping through a rope at about 130 revolutions per minute is about the equivalent of running at 6 miles per hour or cycling 12 miles per hour. Just 10 minutes of rope skipping is equal to a one-mile run.

How to choose the right skipping rope?

Hold the rope and stand with your feet on the middle of it. If the length of the rope is correct, then the handles should just about reach your armpits. Also, make sure the handles are thick and feel comfortable when you grip them.

When skipping, you should look for a cushioned surface to skip on. A good sized carpet remnant is perfect. Try to avoid hard surfaces like concrete whenever possible, as hard surfaces can increase the impact on joints.

Make sure you have well-cushioned athletic shoes just as you would for walking or running.

As with all new exercise make sure you start slowly and gradually increase session time over the course of a few weeks. It’s important to allow your leg muscles get accustomed to the exercise.

Health and Fitness With Pilates

Gaining health and fitness with Pilates is an attainable goal and an important piece of the health and fitness puzzle. While the process of achieving a fit and healthy body will ask you to work hard and be patient, you should know that it is not as hard as you think. Through careful planning, you can reap the benefits Pilates has to offer.

Once you decide to work towards health and fitness with Pilates, an important thing to recognize is the need to take it slowly. Do not rush into the process of beginning a new health and fitness routine because your body needs time to adjust. Building strength, both mental and physical, takes time. Rushing into a new regime without gathering the proper information might leave you disappointed and confused.

The very first thing to know when beginning a Pilates fitness routine is that there are different types of Pilates. There are mat exercises and those that need Pilates exercise equipment. Among the two, the mat workout is very common to start with because it requires no equipment except a mat or soft surface and it also builds our strength gradually. Mat exercises include the need to lay down on your side, back, and stomach or do kneeling and sitting positions when executing the exercises. The main principle here is the use of your own weight for resistance. The flip side is to add small Pilates equipment such as band, ball, and ring in order to perk up weight resistance and to make the whole routine more challenging.

The Reformer is the most essential of the larger Pilates equipment. There you will perform many of the same exercises as you do on the mat with the enhanced addition of weighted resistance. Since this equipment can be expensive, you can explore the option of private sessions with a certified professional or join a gym that offers reformer classes.

By the time you start with Pilates routines, health and fitness with Pilates is surely something you can master after some time. Just continue with the process because you will reap the benefits of health and fitness with Pilates. Indeed, after all the hard work, you will see and feel good results. So keep on persevering until you reach your goals. Remember: patience and tenacity are the key elements of any new workout routine.

Diet and Workouts

Whether it’s because of hormone changes, heredity, or aging, as the years pass by many women will start to notice an increase in belly fat as they get older – even more so after menopause. Yes, its unfortunate that women tend to experience a larger fat percentage increase than males do.

As you get older your metabolism starts to slow down to a certain degree and one of the signs of this is that the amount of fat in your body gradually increases. After menopause (the time in a woman’s life when she stops having menstrual periods, the average age for the onset of menopause is 51 years), your body fat distribution will tend to shift. You will notice less fatty areas in your legs, arms and hips, and more in your abdomen (belly).

FACT: Body Mass Index is not an accurate measure of body fat percentage or fat distribution in women, particularly after menopause. Some women can actually experience an expanding waistline yet fail to see any weight gain on the scales. What is happening? Although you may not be gaining any extra fat, your actual abdominal fat is increasing as your hip area and limb fat decreases. This is where health problems can start to develop as abdomen fat is particularly unhealthy for both males and females.

1. What is Visceral fat?
Visceral fat is fat that is located inside your peritoneal cavity between internal organs, as opposed to subcutaneous fat which is found beneath the skin and intramuscular fat which is found in skeletal muscle. An excess of visceral fat leads to the “pot belly”, “spare tire”, or “beer belly” effect.

Sometimes heredity may be the cause of your belly fat, yes, you can blame your parents for that waistline! It is possible to lose and keep off that newly formed belly fat, but like everything else in life it does require some work, in this case exercise and diet control.

Some of the risks of Visceral fat (belly fat) in women include:
a) Diabetes
b) Metabolic syndrome
c) Gallbladder problems
d) Some types of cancers including breast cancer and colorectal cancer.
e) And in particular cardiovascular disease including high blood pressure and heart disease.

2. Can certain foods help you to lose belly fat?
Unfortunately no, there are no magic foods that will cause you to lose fat from your abdomen. However if you practice eating the right amount of calories for weight loss (calculator showing calories burned for various activities) you will eventually lose weight from all areas of your body including that problem belly area. Discipline yourself to eat a healthy diet, mix in some regular exercise or workouts and you’ll find yourself burning even more calories and toning your muscles at the same time.

Before beginning the exercises to lose belly fat you should properly measure your stomach or waist.

The proper way to do this is – place a tape measure around your midsection at your navel level, don’t hold your tummy in, and don’t pull on the tape measure so tightly that it presses your skin in.
Properly targeted tummy exercises will most certainly help you to firm your abdominal muscles and flatten your belly. The key is to develop a routine of moderately intense exercise daily in order to lose weight and tone your muscles. As you progress with your exercise routine you will notice one of the first beneficial signs is that your belly fat will begin to shrink, often before you see fat loss in other body areas. As always you should speak with your doctor before starting any exercise programs.

3. Workouts – Lets start those Belly fat exercises.
FACT: Contrary to popular belief sit-ups are NOT the best way to firm up your tummy region. You should target your deeper and lower abdominal muscles.

Workouts for lower abdominal muscles:
Performing exercises known as pelvic lifts and pelvic tilts. Pelvic tilts are also great exercises for the lower back, abdominals, sacroiliac joint and adjacent structures.

Pelvic tilt exercise:
To perform pelvic tilts you should lay on your back on the floor with your knees bent upwards. While flattening your back against the floor tighten your abdominal muscles and bend your pelvis up a little. Hold this position for 8 – 10 seconds. Repeat at least 5 times and try to work up to 10 to 20 repetitions.

To perform pelvic lifts lay on your back on the floor with your knees bent toward your chest region, your arms should be relaxed by your sides. Tense or tighten your lower abdomen and slowly lift your bum up off the floor until you are aiming your knees toward the roof. Hold for 8 – 10 seconds and repeat at least five times. As you progress you should try to work up to 10 to 20 repetitions of this exercise.

Your deeper abdominal muscles can be toned by:
Pelvic lifts, also great for losing buttock fat and for bad or sore backs. Begin by getting down on all fours and allowing your tummy to hang down as you take in a deep breath. Then exhale, at the end of your exhalation, pull your belly button inward and upward toward your spine until you feel a slight tightening around your waist area.

Breathing normally hold this position for the count of ten without altering your back position. Then allow your belly to relax again for the count of ten, without moving your back. Repeat this exercise 10 – 12 times. As you become more proficient at this routine you can even perform it in the upright position where ever you are, waiting for a bus or in a check out line etc.

Health Benefits of Meditation

Meditation is usually recognized as a largely spiritual practice, particularly in Eastern philosophies and religions. In the past few decades, as Western culture has been exposed more and more to meditation through the martial arts and some popular Eastern philosophies, it has also been found to have many health benefits. Westerners are also discovering that meditation is not as mysterious or difficult to do as many of us may have thought. And given the long list of benefits that a little meditation can produce, it may be worth it for you to look in to this ancient practice.

Some health benefits of meditation may include:

  • Lowering oxygen consumption.
  • Decreasing respiratory rate.
  • Increasing blood flow and slowing the heart rate.
  • Increasing exercise tolerance in heart patients.
  • Leads to a deeper level of relaxation.
  • Good for people with high blood pressure because it helps bring the B.P. down.
  • Reducing anxiety attacks by lowering the levels of blood lactate.
  • Decreasing muscle tension ( and any pain due to tension) and headaches.
  • Building self-confidence.
  • Helping in chronic diseases like allergies , arthritis, etc.
  • Reducing pre- menstrual Syndrome.
  • Enhancing the immune system.

How to Meditate:

You don’t have to sit in some pretzel like position in a secluded monastary to do good meditation. Meditation involves sitting in a relaxed position and clearing your mind. You can do this on the floor or on a bench, or in a chair. Just don’t use a chair that is too comfortable or you may fall asleep. You may focus on a repetitive sound, or by counting your own breaths, or by concentrating on nothing at all. It’s necessary to have 5-20 distraction-free minutes to spend. It is helpful to have silence and privacy.

If you haven’t tried meditation before you might find it useful. Give it a try and see what you think. Or, in the case of meditation, it’s actually what you don’t think that counts.