Archive for Exercise

Water: How Much Should You Drink?

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Water is essential to good health, yet needs vary by individual.These guidelines can help ensure you drink enough fluids.

How much water should you drink each day? It’s a simple question with no easy answers. Studies have produced varying recommendations over the years, but in truth, your water needs depend on many factors, including your health, how active you are and where you live.

Although no single formula fits everyone, knowing more about your body’s need for fluids will help you estimate how much water to drink each day.

Health benefits of water

Water is your body’s principal chemical component and makes up about 60 percent of your body weight. Every system in your body depends on water. For example, water flushes toxins out of vital organs, carries nutrients to your cells, and provides a moist environment for ear, nose and throat tissues.

Lack of water can lead to dehydration, a condition that occurs when you don’t have enough water in your body to carry out normal functions. Even mild dehydration can drain your energy and make you tired.

How much water do you need?

Every day you lose water through your breath, perspiration, urine and bowel movements. For your body to function properly, you must replenish its water supply by consuming beverages and foods that contain water.

So how much fluid does the average, healthy adult living in a temperate climate need? The Institute of Medicine determined that an adequate intake (AI) for men is roughly about 13 cups (3 liters) of total beverages a day. The AI for women is about 9 cups (2.2 liters) of total beverages a day.

What about the advice to drink 8 glasses a day?

Everyone has heard the advice, “Drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day.” That’s about 1.9 liters, which isn’t that different from the Institute of Medicine recommendations. Although the “8 by 8” rule isn’t supported by hard evidence, it remains popular because it’s easy to remember. Just keep in mind that the rule should be reframed as: “Drink eight 8-ounce glasses of fluid a day,” because all fluids count toward the daily total.

Factors that influence water needs

You may need to modify your total fluid intake depending on how active you are, the climate you live in, your health status, and if you’re pregnant or breast-feeding.

  • Exercise. If you exercise or engage in any activity that makes you sweat, you need to drink extra water to compensate for the fluid loss. An extra 1.5 to 2.5 cups (400 to 600 milliliters) of water should suffice for short bouts of exercise, but intense exercise lasting more than an hour (for example, running a marathon) requires more fluid intake. How much additional fluid you need depends on how much you sweat during exercise, and the duration and type of exercise.
  • Intense exercise. During long bouts of intense exercise, it’s best to use a sports drink that contains sodium, as this will help replace sodium lost in sweat and reduce the chances of developing hyponatremia, which can be life-threatening. Also, continue to replace fluids after you’re finished exercising.
  • Environment. Hot or humid weather can make you sweat and requires additional intake of fluid. Heated indoor air also can cause your skin to lose moisture during wintertime. Further, altitudes greater than 8,200 feet (2,500 meters) may trigger increased urination and more rapid breathing, which use up more of your fluid reserves.
  • Illnesses or health conditions. When you have fever, vomiting or diarrhea, your body loses additional fluids. In these cases, you should drink more water. In some cases, your doctor may recommend oral re-hydration solutions, such as Gatorade, Powerade or CeraLyte. You may also need increased fluid intake if you develop certain conditions, including bladder infections or urinary tract stones. On the other hand, some conditions, such as heart failure and some types of kidney, liver and adrenal diseases, may impair excretion of water and even require that you limit your fluid intake.
  • Pregnancy or breast-feeding. Women who are pregnant or breast-feeding need additional fluids to stay hydrated. Large amounts of fluid are used especially when nursing. The Institute of Medicine recommends that pregnant women drink about 10 cups (2.3 liters) of fluids daily and women who breast-feed consume about 13 cups (3.1 liters ) of fluids a day.

Beyond the tap: Other sources of water

You don’t need to rely only on what you drink to meet your fluid needs. What you eat also provides a significant portion of your fluid needs. On average, food provides about 20 percent of total water intake. For example, many fruits and vegetables, such as watermelon and spinach, are 90 percent or more water by weight.

In addition, beverages such as milk and juice are composed mostly of water. Even beer, wine and caffeinated beverages — such as coffee, tea or soda — can contribute, but these should not be a major portion of your daily total fluid intake. Water is still your best bet because it’s calorie-free, inexpensive and readily available.

Staying safely hydrated

Generally, if you drink enough fluid so that you rarely feel thirsty and your urine is colorless or light yellow — and measures about 6.3 cups (1.5 liters) or more a day if you were to keep track — your fluid intake is probably adequate. If you’re concerned about your fluid intake or have health issues, check with your doctor or a registered dietitian. He or she can help you determine the amount of water that’s right for you.

To ward off dehydration and make sure your body has the fluids it needs, make water your beverage of choice. It’s also a good idea to:

  • Drink a glass of water or other calorie-free or low-calorie beverage with each meal and between each meal
  • Drink water before, during and after exercise

Although uncommon, it is possible to drink too much water. When your kidneys are unable to excrete the excess water, the electrolyte (mineral) content of the blood is diluted, resulting in low sodium levels in the blood, a condition called hyponatremia. Endurance athletes, such as marathon runners who drink large amounts of water, are at higher risk of hyponatremia. In general, though, drinking too much water is rare in healthy adults who eat an average American diet.

Article By: Beauty Wellness News

 

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Massage As Medicine

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For more than a decade, Bill Cook has gotten a weekly massage. He isn’t a professional athlete. He didn’t receive a lifetime gift certificate to a spa.

Nor is the procedure a mere indulgence, he says – it’s medicinal.

In 2002, Cook – a 58-year-old resident of Hudson, Wisconsin, who once worked in marketing – was diagnosed with a rare illness. He had cardiac sarcoidosis, a condition in which clusters of white blood cells coagulate together and react against a foreign substance in the body, scarring the heart in the process. The disease damaged his heart so badly it went into failure. The doctors said there was nothing they could do, and Cook’s name was put on an organ transplant waiting list.

The wait stretched on for more than a decade. “I probably had the heart capacity of an 80-year-old,” recalls Cook, who was given medication and a pacemaker yet still struggled daily with his sickness. “It wasn’t pushing the blood out to my extremities because it was so weak. It got worse and worse, and I started to look for anything I could find to help my circulation.”

Cook’s cardiologist suggested he try massage therapy. Though he was initially skeptical, Cook – whose son is a physician – says his doubts vanished after several appointments.

“It really helped the circulation to my fingers, toes and legs,” he says. “I kept with it because I saw some pretty significant benefits.” Today, Cook credits the massages – along with stress reduction and a healthy diet – with allowing him to stay healthy and physically active until he finally received his new heart in 2013.

Studies suggest Cook’s cardiologist was onto something – massage does indeed enhance blood flow and improve general circulation. And experts agree it yields additional benefits, too, ranging from the mental to the physical.

Once viewed as a luxury, massage is increasingly recognized as an alternative medical treatment. According to a recent consumer survey sponsored by the American Massage Therapy Association, 77 percent of respondents said their primary reason for receiving a massage in the past year was medical or stress-related. Perhaps it’s not surprising, then, that medical centers nationwide now offer massage as a form of patient treatment. The American Hospital Association recently surveyed 1,007 hospitals about their use of complementary and alternative medicine therapies, and more than 80 percent said they offered massage therapy. Upwards of 70 percent said they used massage for pain management and relief.

“The medical community is more accepting of massage therapy than ever before,” says Jerrilyn Cambron, board president of the Massage Therapy Foundation. “Many massage therapists now have active, fruitful relationships with conventional care providers.”

Should you integrate massage therapy into your wellness routine? Consider the practice’s advantages, along with advice on how to make the most out of your appointment:

How Massage Works

There are myriad massage techniques, as well as ways to receive it. Sometimes the massage therapist’s touch will be deep; other times, light. You may keep your clothes on and sit in a chair, or lay unclothed on a table underneath a sheet. The massage could last for a few minutes or an hour. Occasionally it’ll be a full body massage; other times the massage therapist will focus on an isolated muscle group.

However, all massages boil down to the same thing: the therapeutic manipulation of the body’s soft tissues using a series of pressured movements. A massage therapist uses his or her hands, elbows, fingers, knees or forearms to administer touches ranging from light strokes to deep kneading motions. Occasionally, therapists will also use a massage device.

Most people agree massage feels good. But does science support the notion that it’s good for you?

“We do not yet have a complete understanding of what happens physiologically during massage or why it works,” Cambron says. But a recent study published in the journal Science Translational Medicine suggests massage reduces the body’s production of cytokines – proteins that contribute to inflammation. Massage therapy was also shown to stimulate mitochondria, the energy-producing units in cells that aid in cell function and repair.

Plus, massage is thought to reduce cortisol levels and regulate the body’s sympathetic nervous system – both of which go haywire when you’re stressed, says Lisa Corbin, an associate professor at University of Colorado School of Medicine’s Division of General Internal Medicine.

Who Does It Help?

A 2011 study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine reports that massage therapy is a beneficial treatment for chronic back pain. Sure enough, Becky Phelan, a licensed massage therapist who lives in Taunton, Massachusetts, says most patients visit her for “some vague, chronic pain in the neck, shoulders and lower back.” The soreness is typically caused by various lifestyle factors – desk posture at work, sleeping positions and seemingly minor things, such as wearing heels or carrying a heavy pocketbook or wallet.

But many people are seeking relief from a more serious condition, says Winona Bontrager, a licensed massage therapist who runs the Lancaster School of Massage in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Some have cancer; studies have shown massage helps lessen these patients’ pain and fatigue while elevating mood. Many of Bontrager’a clients struggle with anxiety and depression, which researchers have noted can be reduced through massage therapy. And she also sees clients with disorders and diseases as diverse as fibromyalgia, temporomandibular joint and muscle disorders (commonly called “TMJ”) and irritable bowel syndrome. They, too, find relief through massage.

Additional research indicates massage therapy helps individuals with migraines, insomnia or other tension-related issues. It also benefits post-operative patients; massage shows potential to help with wound healing by increasing blood flow.

Corbin says anyone can get a massage, regardless of age or physical health. Those with chronic medical conditions, however, need to avoid the corner spa and seek out someone who specializes in medical massage. They’ll also need to give the massage therapist a health history so he or she can adapt techniques and touch to their needs.

Finding a Massage Therapist

Cook has seen the same massage therapist for years. “Find somebody who has really good experience – they’re certified, they’re licensed, they’ve been in the business a long time and they get referrals,” he says. “Like anything else, there’s good massage therapists, and there’s bad ones.”

Most states have different regulations for massage therapists, which sometimes makes it tricky to decipher their credentials. Some offer licenses, while others require registration or a certification. Bontranger recommends prospective clients visit the American Massage Therapy Association’s website, where they can search for a qualified massage therapist based on training, expertise and location.

And Corbin suggests patients with cancer or other serious illnesses seek out a licensed massage therapist who focuses on medical massage and works in a hospital setting.

What Type of Massage Should I Request?

Thanks to the dizzying array of options offered at spas, many people go into their first appointments confused about which type of massage to get, Corbin says. “People are always asking, ‘Should I get a deep tissue massage? Should I get a Swedish? I think the important thing – especially when you’re talking about medical massage, or massage for health benefits – is to go to a massage therapist who can adjust the technique based on what you need.”

Bottom line? Don’t stress about whether you’re getting a Swedish or a shiatsu massage. Instead, focus on finding a good provider. He or she will be able to combine different types of pressure, ranging from light to hard, and focus on your problem areas.

Article By: Kirstin Fawcett – US News

High Intensity Burst Exercise is the Better Alternative to Cardio

may be the worst thing you can do if you are trying to lose fat, according to recent studies. In fact, if you want to gain weight, you should get on the or go out for a nice slow jog.

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Several new studies show that long and boring cardio workouts actually sabotage your body’s natural ability to burn ugly belly fat. Crazy right? Think about it…if you’re fed up and tired of not getting the results you want from your current workout, then keep reading. This cutting-edge research is going to change your life!

For years we have been led to believe that to lose fat you need to do cardio. The more the better, in fact. We have all seen that chart on our favorite cardio machine that reads: Fat Burning Zone. This is old science, taken out of context. What it should really say is this: By doing this you are teaching your body to store fat.

When you spend 30, 40 or even 60 minutes pounding away on a treadmill, you send your body a powerful signal to start storing fat instead of burning it.

This is because when you do cardio, your body reacts to the stress by suppressing a very important hormone that is produced by the thyroid to burn fat. When this hormone, called T3, is suppressed, your body starts gaining and storing fat immediately.

Now why would our bodies go and do something annoying like that? It’s because the body needs fat to function, and its automatic response to stress is fat storage for survival.

According to a study in the European Journal of Applied Physiology: People who performed intense cardio suffered from decreased T3 hormone production.

But that’s not all…

Doing the same intensity , or cardio, will make your body more efficient at burning calories at that pace. Your body adapts and becomes smarter in how it uses its fuel. If your goal is to burn fat, you definitely don’t want your body to become more efficient. Less efficient equals more fuel used/calories burned.

Doing cardio also puts massive amounts of stress on your body.

— It puts continuous jolting stress on your joints
— It causes scarring of the heart tissue which can lead to a heart attack
— It causes your body to release high levels of . High levels of have been linked to heart disease, cancer and visceral belly fat. (That is the really bad, organ-choking kind of fat)

One study even suggests that if you jump out of bed every morning at the same time to go for a run, your body knows what to expect and begins to stress out, releasing cortisol and hanging onto fat, before you even start your run. Super rude!

If that weren’t enough…cardio increases your appetite.
This is a physical as well as an emotional response. Your body craves it, and you believe you earned it…which isn’t true. In fact, most folks end up eating an average of 100 calories more than they just burned off.

Perhaps worst of all, after 20 to 30 minutes, most classic, steady-state cardiovascular exercise begins to chew up your precious, calorie-burning muscle.

Shocking to realize that something you believed was the ultimate weight-loss tool ends up being the ultimate weight-gain tool, because the moment you chew up that muscle, you are in a metabolic free fall. Muscle is active tissue that burns 6 calories/per lb per day. Fat, on the other hand, burns only 2 calories/per lb per day.

equals a slowed and fat storing. After the age of 20, the average person loses one-half to seven-tenths of a pound of muscle a year anyway. That’s 5 to 7 pounds a decade.

The news is even worse for women. As we approach menopause, the rate at which we lose muscle doubles, which is why so many women begin to gain weight right around that time of life.

Just in case you need one more reason to stop doing cardio, consider this:

A recent study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that cardio causes immense oxidative damage and a flood of to the body.

Free radicals are molecules that cause rapid aging in your body. During your “healthy” cardio routine your body is filled with free radicals which cause damage to your organs, damage your skin and not only make you look older but actually do make you get older faster!

So if you’re interested in losing weight you you should cut back on classic cardiovascular exercise. Throw out your treadmill, or better yet, give it to someone you don’t like since cardio just doesn’t work if your goal is long-term weight loss.

Now you need to know what you should be doing……Don’t jog…. sprint! Train with weights. Do intervals, or better yet, high intensity interval !

If you want to lose fat you need to increase your metabolism by lifting weights and signal your body to burn fat with short high intensity bursts or .

Not only will you save your joints, protect your heart, look younger and feel better, you will do it in half the time!!

Article By: Dana Fullington, a certified personal trainer, nutrition and coach. She offers personal training and small group training through Small Group Fit Club. Contact her at personaltrainerdenver-dana.com.

Stretching for Back Pain Relief

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Almost everyone can benefit from stretching the softtissues – the muscles, ligaments and tendons – in the back, legs, buttock, and around the spine. 

The spinal column and its contiguous muscles, ligaments, and tendons are all designed to move, and limitations in this motion can make back pain worse.

Patients with ongoing back pain may find it takes weeks or months of stretching and other back exercises to mobilize the spine and soft tissues, but will find that meaningful and sustained relief of back pain will usually follow the increase in motion.

General Tips for Stretching to Relieve Back Pain

Keep the following in mind when starting a stretching routine as part of a program of back exercises:

  • Wear comfortable clothes that won’t bind
  • Stretching should be pain free; do not force the body into difficult positions
  • Move into the stretch slowly and avoid bouncing, which may actually tear muscles
  • Stretch on a clean, flat surface that is large enough to move freely
  • Hold stretches long enough (20-30 seconds) to allow muscles or joints to become loose
  • Repeat the stretch, generally 5-10 times

If one already has low back pain or neck pain, it is best to check with a physician or physical therapist to discuss whether the following neck, shoulder, and lower back pain exercises should be done.

Article By: Spine Health