An Apple a Day Keeps the Doctor Away but What About Exercise?

 
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As we age, ideals such as longevity and quality of life become dramatically more important than they were in our younger years. As we look to the next 20, 30, 40 years of our life it’s important to remember that we do have control of HOW we age! The reality is that all of us will get older and the mortality rate is still 100%; however, the way we go about aging is something we can have a positive effect on.

While aging doesn’t appear to be glamorous in any way, I do believe that it does not have to be as dreary and terrible as the media cracks it up to be. However, there are certain physical limitations that we will be faced with including osteoporosis, joint pain, muscle loss, and decreased balance. While some of these physical limitations are unavoidable, by living an active and healthy lifestyle through your entire life, you will be able to fight that process. A study showed that only 11% of adults ages 65-74 met the suggested strength training recommendations and that medical costs of inactive adults 55 and older were substantially higher than adults 55 and older who did maintain an active lifestyle.  By maintaining an active lifestyle preventable diseases such as non-insulin dependent diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, chronic pain, and others will be kept at bay, resulting in lower medical costs and higher quality of life. Now that we see and understand the positive effects of living an active lifestyle, how do we get started?

 
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Find something you enjoy
The best part about learning to live an active life is that you get to explore new ways of moving that you enjoy.  Lifting weights isn’t for everyone, and neither is bike riding or walking. The key is to find one to two things you enjoy doing (for me that’s lifting weights and doing yard work) and doing them consistently. If you have trouble staying consistent then find someone that will help hold you accountable! This could be a person you bike with a couple times a week, or maybe someone in your neighborhood that you take a morning walk with every day; regardless, it is important to have some level of accountability because at the end of the day, sitting on the couch with a snack is so much more tempting than walking outside in the summer heat!
While finding something you enjoy doing is the first and most important step, there is still the possibility that you already do struggle with chronic pain or other physical limitations, so what do you do if you are fearful of a flare up?

 
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Don’t fear pain
Now, there is definitely a line between “good” pain and “bad” pain and I believe it is important to differentiate between the two. There will be some level of discomfort whenever you change your activity level or type of exercise that you are participating in. However, if you experience any level of burning, stabbing, searing, sharp, or lingering pain, you should stop immediately. If you want to learn more about the difference between discomfort and actual pain, click HERE for some good tips and general rules of thumb when exercising.

If you are new to exercising or you are finding that your muscles stay sore for longer, you experience prolonged joint pain, or you just need a little something extra to help with the recovery period post-workout, we would suggest looking into supplementation. While the supplement world can be slightly confusing and overloaded with tons of information, there are a few supplements that can help relieve soreness faster and get you back to feeling normal again. The three that are discussed below are ones that I use in my regular workout regimen and after healing from 3 knee surgeries, I can say work quite effectively.

 

BCAA’s- . These have been found to significantly reduce muscle soreness and accelerate the growth and recovery process. BCAA’s also help prevent muscle breakdown, resulting in faster recovery post-workout. You can find BCAA’s in a powder form which can be easily added to your post-workout drink, or you can find them in tablet/pill form which you can easily take post-workout along with a recovery drink or some good ‘ol H2O.
Glutamine- Vigorous movement/exercise depletes glutamine stores in the body; therefore, supplementing with Glutamine post-workout will decrease soreness as well as decrease recovery time. Glutamine is most commonly found in powder form but can also be found in a pill/tablet at most health foods or sports nutrition stores.
Curcumin- Curcumin is the active ingredient of turmeric and is also found in limited amounts in ginger. It is an anti-inflammatory molecule with anti-cancer properties. Curcimin Pro is a fantastic supplement and one that I use regularly. It has tremendously helped with my joint pain and it reduces soreness after an intense workout. Click the link above to have it shipped straight to your door.

 
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What next?
We encourage you to start small with these three, simple, action items

  1. Do something every day for 30 minutes or more
  2. Be present by completing your activity with moderate to vigorous intensity
  3. Be consistent

You may find that you learn to enjoy a new hobby, perhaps you reap health benefits of the increased activity, or maybe you just feel happier, whatever results you achieve, know that you are doing something now that your future self will thank you for.

How to Increase Happiness- Living a Life of Positivity

by Megan Taylor

Personal development legend Jim Rohn stated: “happiness is not something you postpone for the future; it is something you design for the present”. In a world where we are constantly seeking things to make us happier, improve our success, and overall live a better life, how do we “design our own happiness”?

I first wanted to take a moment and explore the benefits of living a happier life. According to CNN, happiness is less about your financial status, and more about the freedom to make choices, building relationships, and overall well being. From my research, I found that things such as stress management, lower rates of depression, and improved physical and mental well-being are experienced with a happier and more positive mindset. However, with so many apps for our phone, programs sent to our email, books to read, and quizzes to take on facebook; it can be difficult to find the right tools to start making positive changes towards a more positive outlook on life.

Here are three, tried and true, actionable items that you can start implementing into your daily life starting now to improve your mindset, enhance your positivity, and increase your happiness.

 
 

1.   Be Mindful-  Psychology Today described mindfulness as: “paying attention to the present moment with intention, while letting go of judgment”. To work towards becoming more mindful, start by sitting in silence and meditating for 5 minutes every morning before you start your day.  Check out this article to start a meditation practice, and I would also encourage you to establish a morning routine. The Miracle Morning is a great resource to help you establish a morning routine which then allows you be more mindful and centered as you go about your day.

 
 

2.   Sleep- A study completed by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine found that “higher sleep regularity was significantly related to higher morning and evening happiness, healthiness and calmness during the week” and that “regular sleep is associated with improved well-being.” The question is, are you sleeping enough and is your quality of sleep adequate? To find the answer to this question, ask yourself: how many hours of sleep do I usually get? Do I hit the “snooze” button multiple times every morning and have to drag myself out of bed? what is my sleep environment like? Are there many bright lights, is the room hot, do I have to use sleep aids? If any of these questions have you considering an overhaul of your night time routine, check our article on how to improve your sleep.

 
 

3.   Smile- Body language has a way of forcing us into a happier and more positive mindset even if deep down we don’t actually feel happy or positive. This idea of “fake it until you make it” is actually right! By smiling at the cashier at Starbucks, standing tall and walking with confidence instead of showing your insecurities, and speaking up when you have something to say even if your voice shakes all triggers the same part of your brain that allows you to feel more confident. If you engage in negative self-talk, our bodies will reflect that; however if we spread ourselves out, our minds react in order to make us feel more powerful. Simple body language such as standing tall, or smiling, can lead to increased assertiveness, confidence, and overall feeling of happiness. Check out our article on body language to start improving yours today.

A positive mindset and a happy life are truly yours for the taking and by setting up habits and using tools such as confident body language, improving your sleep, and being mindful of your daily routine, you are allowing yourself to fully invest and take advantage of all that life has to offer. You are worthy of living a happy life so take some time to invest in yourself and as Jim Rohn so eloquently puts it, “if you don’t like how things are, change it! You’re not a tree.”

Exercise and the Brain


Combat Stress, Depression, and Anxiety through Exercise

We all know that exercise is good for us, but do we really understand the nitty-gritty details of what is happening in our brain when we exercise? Studies show that by engaging in exercise for as little as one hour a day, stress and anxiety levels are reduced and individuals who suffer from depression have found some relief. Recent statistics show that 6.7% of americans are clinically depressed, 18% suffer from anxiety, and 44% report increased stress over the past four years.  In a world where we are constantly and consistently being told to do more, produce faster, and to also be balanced and healthy, no wonder stress, anxiety, and depression rates are at their current heights! The question then is, can exercise really combat these mental health struggles and if so, how?

A History of Stress, Anxiety, and Depression
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “antidepressant rates rose by 400 percent between 1988 and 2008” Along with the immense sense of overwhelming emptiness and sadness that comes with being clinically depressed, other symptoms such as: feeling tired, weight related issues such as Type 2 Diabetes, and increased chance of heart disease are also associated with depression, making it a physical as well as a mental issue.

Did you know that anxiety disorders cost the U.S. more than $42 billion a year, almost one-third of the country's $148 billion total mental health bill. With 18% of the U.S. population suffering from anxiety, and another 12% not being properly diagnosed, has anyone asked why anxiety rates continue to soar?

Research completed by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh found that from 1983-2009 stress rates increased 18% for women and 24% for men. Research to support the increase in stress suggested that “economic pressures are greater, and it's harder to turn off information”. With continually increased economic pressure and more information being thrown at us, are stress, anxiety, and depression levels going to continue to rise or can we work to combat them?

Benefits of Exercise for Mental Health
With stress, anxiety, and depression levels rising, it is important to investigate how the brain responds to these stressors and how exercise can help to lower these levels.

  • Hippocampus- center for emotion and memory
    The Hippocampus shrinks as we age, resulting in memory loss, increased risk for Dementia, and more. However, by engaging in physical, aerobic, exercise, it has been proven that within 1-2 years, the size of the Hippocampus can increase, resulting in better and improved memory. As memory improves, anxiety of aging and stress of forgetting details lowers; resulting in higher productivity at work, and lower rates of mental decline as you age.

  • Amygdala- part of the brain associated with emotions
    This tiny part of our brain houses our primitive fight or flight responses. Many of our emotions, reactions, and response are learned habits that we can essentially re-program through, you guessed it, exercise! When faced with stressful situations, our brain will immediately respond with the path of least resistance. If you typically reach for that extra piece of chocolate cake when you have a hard deadline coming up, or you grab a pack of cigarettes when your spouse is on your last nerve, or you bottle up your emotions when you feel angry, all of these negative, self-destructive behaviors can be re-programmed by forcing yourself to go for a run, hit up a kickboxing class, lift weights at the gym, or go for a swim. A release of “happy chemicals” (which I discuss in the point below) essentially shifts you out of the “lizard brain” mentality and into higher levels of thinking.

  • “Happy Chemicals”- Responsible for putting you into a positive state of mind
    Dopamine, Serotonin, Oxytocin, and Endorphins are the quartet that triggers those feeling of happiness, positivity, and motivation. These neurochemicals are released when you do things such as: making new goals (dopamine), focus on the things you do well (serotonin), deepen relationships (oxytocin), and exercising (endorphins). By daily engaging in activities that release these “happy chemicals”, you are able to lower depression, anxiety, and stress levels and find ways to enjoy life.

 

Action Items to Improve Your Daily Life
We’ve seen the severity of rising stress, anxiety, and depression rates and we’ve looked at how those feelings affect our brain and that exercise truly does help reduce stress, anxiety, and depression rates. The question now is, how do I start? Below are three easy ways to get started in under one hour every day:

  1. Take a walk
    Even just walking for 20 minutes in the morning and 20 minutes at night can help you shift out of a negative mindset or anxiety loop and help your brain shift into a better mindset. Change your pace throughout your walk from a stroll to a brisk pace and then back down to a stroll to increase your heart rate.

  2. Hit the weights
    Take 30 minutes to an hour every day and lift heavy weights. By lifting weights you not only increase bone density and decrease the likelihood of osteoporosis as you age, but you also get that awesome endorphin rush! Find a local gym or set up a home gym and get lifting. There are great, easy workout plans online, just be sure to start small and ask questions if you need help.

  3. Stretch
    Whether it is taking a yoga class, following along to a youtube video, or creating your own stretching routine, take 10-20 minutes every day and stretch your body out! By breathing deeply and centering yourself, you have the ability to instantly shift your mindset to a positive place. Youtube has great resources so start there if you aren’t quite sure where to begin

If stress, anxiety, or depression have been ruling your life, take back control by centering your mind, getting your body moving, and recognizing that you have the power to change your life, so start today.