Tag Archives: yoga

Pressed for Time? Don’t Overlook Micro-Workouts

As an old retired guy, I am rarely pressed for time, so I can get in my 10 and 20 mile bike rides over the course of a day without much difficulty. Clearly, that wasn’t the case when I was working.

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If you are still in the working world you know what I mean. Speaking of the working world, don’t forget the dangers of prolonged sitting. Get up from that desk and move around a bit every hour or so.

Regarding exercise needs, according to the 2008 U.S. Dept of Health and Human Services Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans:

Adults 18 to 64 should get:
2.5 hours/wk of moderate intensity exercise.

OR 1.25 hours a week of vigorous aerobic physical activity
OR Some combination of the above – equivalent episodes of at least 10 minutes spread throughout the week.

The 10 minute interval cuts the issue of exercise down to more bite-sized periods. But wait, Rachel Bachman writing in Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal reports that studies since 2008 have documented physical benefits from as little as one minute of intense intermittent exercise, not including a warm-up and cool down. Continue reading

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8 Techniques to Relieve Pain – Harvard

Everyone experiences pain at some time in their life. As Harvard says in this latest HEALTHbeat, “Sometimes pain has a purpose — it can alert us that we’ve sprained an ankle, for example. But for many people, pain can linger for weeks or even months, causing needless suffering and interfering with quality of life.”

As an old retired guy who suffers from arthritis in the hands, I understand how pain can lower the quality of your life and I welcome any advice on relieving it.

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“If your pain has overstayed its welcome, you should know that you have more treatment options today than ever before. Here, we’ve listed eight techniques to control and reduce your pain that don’t require an invasive procedure — or even taking a pill.”

1. Cold and heat. These two tried-and-true methods are still the cornerstone of relieving pain for certain kinds of injuries. If a homemade hot or cold pack doesn’t do the trick, try asking a physical therapist or chiropractor for their versions of these treatments, which can penetrate deeper into the muscle and tissue.

2. Exercise. Physical activity plays a crucial role in interrupting the “vicious cycle” of pain and reduced mobility found in some chronic conditions such as arthritis and fibromyalgia. Try gentle aerobic activities such as walking, swimming, or cycling.

3. Physical therapy and occupational therapy. These two specialties can be among your staunchest allies in the fight against pain. Physical therapists guide you through a series of exercises designed to preserve or improve your strength and mobility. Occupational therapists help you learn to perform a range of daily activities in a way that doesn’t aggravate your pain.

4. Mind-body techniques. These techniques, which include meditation, mindfulness, and breathing exercises (among many others), help you restore a sense of control over your body and turn down the “fight or flight” response, which can worsen chronic muscle tension and pain.

5. Yoga and tai chi. These two exercise practices incorporate breath control, meditation, and gentle movements to stretch and strengthen muscles. Many studies have shown that they can help people manage pain caused by a host of conditions, from headaches to arthritis to lingering injuries.

6. Biofeedback. This technique involves learning relaxation and breathing exercises with the help of a biofeedback machine, which turns data on physiological functions (such as heart rate and blood pressure) into visual cues such as a graph, a blinking light, or even an animation. Watching and modifying the visualizations gives you a degree of control over your body’s response to pain.

7. Music therapy. Studies have shown that music can help relieve pain during and after surgery and childbirth. Classical music has proven to work especially well, but there’s no harm in trying your favorite genre — listening to any kind of music can distract you from pain or discomfort.

8. Therapeutic massage. Not just an indulgence, massage can ease pain by working tension out of muscles and joints, relieving stress and anxiety, and possibly helping to distract you from pain by introducing a “competing” sensation that overrides pain signals.

For more on treating common pain conditions and learning about other mind-body solutions, you can order Pain Relief, a Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School.

Tony

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What is a Yoga Trick for Getting to Sleep Quickly?

Regular readers know that I started doing yoga more than 30 years ago while in my 30’s. I did it religiously for the first couple of years, then slacked off some. But, I never stopped doing yoga. I use yoga techniques when I do stretches on bike riding breaks. The yoga breathing sends oxygen-rich blood to my leg muscles and refreshes them to extend the ride.

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I wrote previously about being in Las Vegas on a trip with my girlfriend and dealing with the huge portions of food being served. Another difficulty of being here is that your mind gets going gambling and then when you finally get to bed, your brain is still in high gear. Continue reading

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10 Tips for Successful Weight Loss – Infographic

I never cease to be amazed at the information contained in these infographics.

This one has some great suggestions which echo what you have read here in a number of posts. Some of these take a little interpretation. Number 8 for example, says to pray the fat away, because people who are closer to God are more likely to be physically active. I buy the physically active part, you can handle the religious part any way you want. Eat less; move more; live longer – I believe that.

Number 9, however, I fully subscribe to. When I was taking off my 50 pounds in 52 weeks, I absolutely designated Sunday as my cheat day and indulged a bit. It helped to relieve the pressure of my diet and weight loss efforts from the prior six days.

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Tony

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8 Benefits of Yoga – Infographic

I was fortunate enough to get involved with yoga about 30 years ago when I was dating a woman who also taught yoga. I practiced religiously for years after she and I had gone our separate ways. To this day, I am grateful for learning how to still my body and reduce my stress by the simple practice of controlling my breathing. As you can see from the infographic below there are profound benefits to doing yoga. There is also a good section on myth-information about yoga.

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To read further posts on yoga, check out:
Why Should I Do Yoga?
New Study Shows that Yoga and Meditation May Help Train the Brain
Body Strengthening Yoga Poses – Infographic
How can yoga benefit your brain?
Why is Yoga Good for You?
Yoga for Arthritis; Yoga for Seniors

Tony

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4 Stretches to do if you Sit at a Desk – Infographic

Regular readers know that I have written about the dangers of prolonged sitting. Check out:

Sitting Too Much is Killing Us – New York Times
How Sitting Too Long Affects Your Body – Infographic
Sitting is the New Smoking
7 Areas of the Body Affected by Sitting too Long – Infographic
Sitting Is Killing You – Infographic
Exercising More, Sitting Less Reduces Heart Failure Risk in Men
Too Much Sitting can be Hazardous to Your Health and Longevity
The Sitting and Rising Test Gives Clues to How Long You Might Live

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Tony

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How Do I Benefit From Core Exercises? – Harvard

We hear a lot about ‘working the core’ these days. Pilates and yoga are ones that I remember, but how do I benefit from core exercises?

Harvard Medical School offers the following in answer: “Who will notice first? That golf partner who can no longer beat your drives off the tee? The co-worker who wishes that she had as much energy as you at the end of the day? Or will it be the friend who, with more than slight envy, congratulates you on looking so “fit?”

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“The fact is, after beginning a core exercise program, you will notice the difference. You will have greater strength and flexibility for doing everyday tasks. You will have added power for athletic activities. You’ll have less pain and stiffness. And your slimmer waistline and better defined ab muscles will be hard to ignore.

“Core muscles form the central link between your upper and lower body. A strong core underpins almost everything you do. Building up core muscles is key to improving performance in almost any sport by extending your range of motion to lift, bend, turn and reach. It also trims your silhouette and tones your abs and glutes.

Core Exercises is a Special Health Report prepared by Harvard Medical School physicians and Master Trainers. It will show you how you can strengthen your core with workouts that take no more than 20-40 minutes and do not require fancy equipment. They are exercises that will keep you motivated and continue to challenge you as you make progress.

“Six of the workouts consist of 9-10 exercises each that combine classic core moves — planks, squats, and lunges — with exercises that work the full range of core muscles. Each exercise is illustrated and accompanied by tips and techniques, instructions for tempo and movement, and options for making the exercise easier or taking it up a notch.

“The report also gives you four short workouts for busy days or when you need a change. You’ll get tips for exercising safely and effectively. Plus, a handy chart tells you which exercises and stretches are best for your favorite sport.”

Tony

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New Study Shows that Yoga and Meditation May Help Train the Brain

The participants with yoga or meditation experience were twice as likely to complete the brain-computer interface task by the end of 30 trials and learned three times faster than their counterparts for the left-right cursor movement experiments.

Please check out my Page – Important Facts About Your Brain for more on this subject.

Tony

Cooking with Kathy Man

New research by biomedical engineers at the University of Minnesota shows that people who practice yoga and meditation long term can learn to control a computer with their minds faster and better than people with little or no yoga or meditation experience. The research could have major implications for treatments of people who are paralyzed or have neurodegenerative diseases.

The research is published online in TECHNOLOGY, a new scientific journal featuring cutting-edge new technologies in emerging fields of science and engineering.

In the study, researchers involved a total of 36 participants. One group of 12 had at least one year of experience in yoga or meditation at least two times per week for one hour. The second group included 24 healthy participants who had little or no yoga or meditation experience. Both groups were new to systems using the brain to control a computer. Both groups participated in three, two-hour…

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How can yoga benefit your brain?

To summarize all this information, and most importantly, to make you think about the benefits you are already experiencing from yoga, I have summarized some examples. Or, for those who have not yet experienced the benefits of yoga you might consider the realm of possibilities that activate your mind, body, and brain!

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Regular readers know that I feel strongly about the health of the brain. Please check out my Page – Important Facts About Your Brain (and Exercise Benefits).

Tony

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Body Strengthening Yoga Poses – Infographic

Wandering through Pinterest, I ran across another super infographic that I wanted to share with you. Yoga is not a new subject to the blog. I wrote Why Should I Do Yoga? some years ago. One of the best reasons that yoga works for me, a bicycle rider, is that yoga is weight-bearing exercise and while bike riding is superb cardio exercise, it is not weight bearing so does not protect against osteoarthritis.

You can enlarge this by clicking on it

You can enlarge this by clicking on it

To read further on yoga check out: Are There Health Risks to Hot Yoga?

Yoga for Arthritis; Yoga for Seniors
Are There Immediate Benefits to doing Yoga?

Why is Yoga Good for You?

Tony

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For the love of Yogify

Using Yogify has significantly improved my yoga capabilities for a fraction of the price of a studio membership – and because it’s on my iPhone, I can practice my f l o w, wherever I go (cringe, but it had to be done). I’m pretty certain that once I’ve finished Level 1, I’ll buy Level 2. It doesn’t really matter if you complete all of the levels, because you can go over and re-do classes that focus on a specific area or that become your favourites!

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Are There Health Risks in Hot Yoga?

I got into yoga some years ago when I dated a woman who taught it. We went out for about two years and did yoga at least once a day. After we split up I still did yoga daily for several years.This was all before the current yoga craze. My experience of yoga was totally positive. I achieved excellent physical balance and learned through breath control to deal with stress. I can’t give you a good reason for stopping outside of mental and physical inertia.

I did not do hot yoga, nor even hear of it in that time. If you aren’t aware of it, hot yoga is done in a temperature of 105  Fahrenheit with humidity around 40 percent.

Those are hot conditions to do anything.

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Consumer Reports recently reported on woman who complained that it left her light-headed, fatigued and weak. “I was completely exhausted, just depleted,” Julianne Pepe said of her reactions after practicing hot yoga.

These sound suspiciously like the symptoms of heat exhaustion or heat stoke.

As a cyclist in all four seasons, I am very aware of these symptoms. Please check out my page – What to Do About Extreme Heat for more on the dangers of extreme heat.

I haven’t heard a lot of reports like this from folks doing hot yoga. I know there are good aspects of the heat, too. Studio owner, Rich Pike, told Consumer Reports, “Heat allows you to bend safely and be more flexible. What the sweating does is it eliminates toxins through your sweat.”

It is true that sweating releases toxins from the body. But, keep in mind sweat contains other chemicals including salt and potassium which are vital electrolytes. Doing an extended hot yoga session and getting dehydrated can be dangerous to your health.

As in all situations, you need to listen to what your body is telling you. If you are benefitting from the practice, you won’t be getting mixed signals like confusion, light-headedness, etc.

Tony

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Four Ways Exercise Helps With Arthritis – Harvard

I have suffered from arthritis in my hands for over 20 years and gone through a number of methods of dealing with the pain. I wrote about all of them earlier this week.. You can read How do I get relief from arthritis in my hands for the details.

So, I naturally was excited to see that the Harvard HEALTHbeat had just published a piece on exercise helping arthritis. First of all because arthritis pain can be brutal and secondly because eat less; move more; live longer is the mantra of this blog.

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“Even the healthiest people can find it hard to stick with an exercise regimen — and if you suffer from the joint pain of arthritis, moving your body may be the last thing you want to think about. But regular exercise not only helps maintain joint function, but also relieves stiffness and reduces pain and fatigue.

If you have arthritis, you want to be sure your exercise routine has these goals in mind:

1. A better range of motion (improved joint mobility and flexibility). To increase your range of motion, move a joint as far as it can go and then try to push a little farther. These exercises can be done any time, even when your joints are painful or swollen, as long as you do them gently. Continue reading

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What About When You Can’t Exercise?

I had periodontal surgery yesterday. The procedure took just short of an hour and I left the office with stitches inside my mouth and packing over them. I also exited with a full page print out of “Post Operative Care Following Periodontal Surgery.” The operation was over, but the experience will extend for at least a week. The number two instruction on the sheet read, “Avoid strenuous activity, including aerobic exercise for the first few days…”

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I know that a lot of people don’t exercise on a daily or even a weekly basis, but exercise in the form of riding my bicycle is a part of my daily life. I am sitting here, granted I am low on energy, but I just looked out my window and watched my fellow cyclists riding on the bike path below. I could feel a void in my day.

When I saw the restriction on aerobic activity, I thought it would be a good day to catch up on my yoga, but that seems to qualify as strenuous activity, so that is out, too.

While bike riding is aerobic exercise, that is not the reason I ride every day. I look forward to my daily rides because they are fun. I love to ride. There is a sensuous thrill to the wind blowing over my face and the sensation of rolling across the pavement driven by the strength of my legs. I have included the picture of Albert Einstein riding his bike because it is one of my favorite posters. It hangs in my living room and demonstrates exactly how I feel when I ride my bike.

It’s not just that I can’t exercise today. I can’t enjoy the fun of riding today … and maybe tomorrow, too.

Besides writing this post, I have some housekeeping projects I can tackle and there is always an errand I can run not to mention several books I have been meaning to dive in to over the past month. If I walk at a reasonable pace on the errands, I can enjoy that without breaking the stricture on aerobic exercise. Indeed, I consider walking to be the ugly stepsister of the exercise world, so all is not lost. You can read my post on Why you should walk more.

The old ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder’ adage pops into mind. I will certainly fully enjoy the feeling of mounting my bike and taking off over the smooth pavement when I am free to ride again, possibly as soon as tomorrow.

Until then I will make do with the possibility of a walk later and other projects.

Count your blessings. Eat less; move more.

Tony

Post Post Script: After a light breakfast with my girlfriend, I walked the dog and wrote this post. Then I lay down and slept for two hours. I think the Post Operative Case sheet could have said, “Try and do aerobics or something strenuous …” because there is no way I had the energy for either.

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What is the Most Balanced Exercise Program?

The more I read and write about exercise, the more the element of balance becomes important. Exercise if crucial to our well being, but it is easy to overdo it, or use bad technique and set ourselves back with an injury. Heaven knows I have had biking injuries galore.  So what is the most balanced exercise program, let me count the options.

Among the possibilities, are walking, running, weight lifting, bicycling, yoga, tennis, kick-boxing to name a few.

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WebMD says that walking, weight lifting and yoga constitute the most balanced plan because there are “three different types of exercise: aerobic/cardio (walking), strength training (weight lifting), and flexibility training (yoga).

“All three are important. Aerobic or “cardio” (walking, jogging, cycling, swimming, tennis, basketball) boosts the strength of your heart and lungs; strength or “resistance” training (weight lifting, resistance band exercises, etc.) help to keep your muscles and bones strong, and help with balance and coordination; and flexibility exercises (yoga, stretching, tai chi) can improve your range of motion and reduce your risk for injury.”

You can take the WebMD test on Fitness Do’s and Dont’s at the link.

I really like their breakdown because I consider walking to be the Cinderella sister of exercises. Everyone does it to some extent, but very few people appreciate the benefits.

Here are some of my posts on walking.

Benefits of Walking and Cycling

Walking, not Sudoku for Seniors

National Walking Day – American Heart Association

Mall-Walking

Tony

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Filed under aerobics, aging, Exercise, stretching, tai chi, target zone, walking, warming up, Weight, weight-bearing exercise, weight-training, yoga

What Are Some Techniques for Dealing with Holiday Stress – Harvard

Tis the season to be jolly here the first week in December. But, for many folks, the year end holiday season is a time of much stress. I have posted repeatedly about the damage stress wreaks on our systems when left unchecked. You can check the stress and relaxation tags at the right for further facts. logo-HHP_masthead

So, isn’t it timely that the smart people at Harvard have released some of what they call mini relaxation techniques. In their words, “Mini-relaxations are stress busters you can reach for any time. These techniques can ease your fear at the dentist’s office, thwart stress before an important meeting, calm you when stuck in traffic, or help you keep your cool when faced with people or situations that irritate you. Whether you have one minute or three, these exercises work.”

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They give three examples:

When you’ve got one minute
Place your hand just beneath your navel so you can feel the gentle rise and fall of your belly as you breathe. Breathe in. Pause for a count of three. Breathe out. Pause for a count of three. Continue to breathe deeply for one minute, pausing for a count of three after each inhalation and exhalation.

Or alternatively, while sitting comfortably, take a few slow deep breaths and quietly repeat to yourself “I am” as you breathe in and “at peace” as you breathe out. Repeat slowly two or three times. Then feel your entire body relax into the support of your chair.

When you’ve got two minutes
Count down slowly from 10 to 0. With each number, take one complete breath, inhaling and exhaling. For example, breathe in deeply, saying “10” to yourself. Breathe out slowly. On your next breath, say “nine”, and so on. If you feel lightheaded, count down more slowly to space your breaths further apart. When you reach zero, you should feel more relaxed. If not, go through the exercise again.

When you’ve got three minutes
While sitting, take a break from whatever you’re doing and check your body for tension. Relax your facial muscles and allow your jaw to open slightly. Let your shoulders drop. Let your arms fall to your sides. Allow your hands to loosen so there are spaces between your fingers. Uncross your legs or ankles. Feel your thighs sink into your chair, letting your legs fall comfortably apart. Feel your shins and calves become heavier and your feet grow roots into the floor. Now breathe in slowly and breathe out slowly.
For more relaxation techniques and other methods for handling stress Check out Harvard HealthBeat

Tony

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