January 20, 2017

How to Turn Off Weight Gain Hormones

Turning on Metabolic Hormones to Fight Fat 

By Dr. Scott Saunders, M.D.

 

The human body secretes thousands of hormones, many of which have multiple functions.  Hormones are signaling molecules found everywhere inside of us.  They affect how the cells and organs function by communicating what is going on in the body. In this article, I’m going to focus on the hormones that affect metabolism, or energy production.  You have surely heard about some of these hormones:

Adrenal hormones

  • how to turn on metabolic hormones to fight fatCortisol
  • Adrenaline
  • DHEA

Pancreatic hormones

  • Insulin
  • Glucagon

Other hormones

  • Thyroid
  • HGH

Adrenal Hormones

Cortisol Hormone

Adrenal hormones come from two little glands situated on top of each kidney, the adrenal glands. Although small, these glands are very important. They give us our sleep-wake cycles, and keep everything in line with the metabolism. They get you started in the morning, and put you down at night. They also have a lot to do with fat storage.

Cortisol is the major metabolic hormone from the adrenal glands. Cortisol affects fat in the following ways:

  • Long-term elevations of cortisol raises insulin and increases fat
  • Rapid, or short spurts of cortisol pair with adrenaline or HGH (Human Growth Hormone) and decreases fat

Stress causes us to make more cortisol. Positive stress can help build muscle and decrease fat by being coupled with HGH (human growth hormone). But negative stress, or long-term stress, coupled with insulin causes a loss of muscle and increase in fat.  If you think about it, the very things people do when they are stressed may worsen their situation.  Cortisol causes us to crave sugar and starch, which increase insulin, causing more fat gain.  So, eating chocolate when stressed is exactly the wrong thing to do – if you don’t want to gain weight.

You can maximize the good effects of cortisol on fat with positive stress through:

  • Exercise
  • Learning
  • Helping others
  • Growing
  • Writing a book
  • Starting a business
  • Raising a family

Whenever we are improving, we are stressed. That’s why life is hard.  However, when we choose our stress, accept it, and love it, we are in positive stress mode. This increases our growth hormones and we actually build our bodies and reduce fat storage.

Negative stress, on the other hand, occurs when we don’t choose. When a choice is forced on us from the outside, we feel loss, depressed, or trapped. This increases the negative effects of cortisol.

Fear and distress are negative stressors that result from:

  • Trauma or injury
  • Car accident
  • Death of a loved-one
  • Divorce
  • Toxins
  • Illness, infections
  • Dead-end job
  • Lack of money

You can make simple lifestyle choices that will reduce stress and lower your cortisol levels. Meditation, prayer, sleep, enjoying a hobby, and maintaining a regular routine all help to manage cortisol and improve the ratios of adrenal hormones.

how interval training turns adrenaline into fat lossAdrenaline Hormone

The hormone that causes your heart to race and your blood pressure to go up when you have a scare is also one that can help you burn fat.

In a dangerous situation, adrenaline mobilizes fat in order to increase the energy supply for the muscles and brain.  You can use this to your advantage to stimulate adrenaline and burn more fat without having to jump out of a perfectly good airplane, ride 3.7 seconds on a bull named Fumanchu, or go spelunking with a torch.  You can do this in the safety of your own home!

Interval training is a good way to release adrenaline. Engage in interval training in a controlled way to gain all the benefits and avoid any negative stress effects.  An interval training routine looks like this: 

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5 Steps to Lower Your Anxiety Now

How to Balance Hormones and Calm the Mind

by Amanda Box, N.D.

You can feel it rising. Like water it begins to pool around your feet. Then it slowly rises up your body until you are fully submerged, unable to breathe, drowning in your own fears.

This is how I describe my experience with anxiety. It is a feeling that I am too familiar with and one that many of you have suffered as well. Many people face regular bouts of anxiety that can profoundly affect their lives. They may be unable to work or have healthy social lives. For others, anxiety may be brought on by high pressure situations such as taking a test.

how I describe my anxietyWhatever the case may be, one thing’s for certain. Anxiety is absolutely paralyzing! It keeps us from experiencing the joys of our life, sets us up to fail and minimizes our greatest potentials.

The good news? You can beat anxiety in 5 steps! You can cut the chains that bind you and set yourself free for a life full of positivity and success!

There can be many underlying factors behind anxiety. Traumatic life events such a death of a loved one or financial problems can trigger anxiety in people who formerly led a happy productive life! This stress induced anxiety can snowball and disrupt the body to the point that hormonal changes and body imbalances begin to occur. Once specific hormones such as cortisol are out of balance, it is much like throwing gasoline on a fire. The frequency and strength of anxiety begins to increase and take over a person’s life.

Many people also struggle with anxiety, but because the symptoms don’t manifest in the more obvious ways such as irrational fears or impending doom, they don’t realize that anxiety is the culprit behind their health problems. When we stuff our feelings and don’t let them out, the built up stress can lead to anxiety which manifests in ways such as:

  • Tachycardia
  • Digestive issues
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Sleep disorders

These symptoms often resolve themselves once the underlying stress and anxiety is properly addressed. Stress itself is the cause of 75-90% of all disease! It is imperative to address and relieve stress in order to live a healthy long life!

The Role of Cortisol with Anxiety

Addressing the root cause and imbalance behind anxiety can calm the mind and body to bring true relief from symptoms. One of the most common body imbalances that occurs with anxiety has to do with cortisol. Cortisol is a hormone released by the adrenal glands in response to fear or stress as part of the fight-or-flight reaction.

Often referred to as our stress hormone, cortisol is responsible for three major functions that keep our body in balance during times of stress:

  • Raising blood sugar
  • Increasing blood pressure
  • Regulating inflammation

Cortisol and anxiety have a cyclical relationship. When you experience anxiety, which is a form of stress, you automatically release cortisol. However, having excess cortisol in the body can cause anxiety and contribute to anxiety attacks! Your cortisol imbalance may have caused your anxiety, but your anxiety may also have caused your cortisol imbalance.

When cortisol levels build up in the blood, your mind and body are profoundly affected. If you struggle with anxiety, I’m sure those symptoms sound very familiar!

  • High levels of cortisol can lead to a nervous stomach, jitters, feelings of panic, and even paranoia.
  • High levels of cortisol also suppress the production of serotonin, which leads to feelings of loss of hope and depression.

Failing to manage stress in your life will lead to increased cortisol production and ultimately cause anxiety.

most common symptoms of high cortisol levelsCortisol is typically released in a regular, timed fashion or rhythm that repeats daily. In a healthy person, cortisol is highest in the morning helping us to wake up and be alert and energetic. It begins to taper off throughout the day and by evening melatonin is released which helps us to sleep.

When anxiety sounds the alarm, our body releases cortisol and becomes ready for action. However, without an actual release of a physical flight or fight action, cortisol builds up in the blood. Over time, chronically high cortisol levels begin to negatively affect our bodies. Some of the most common symptoms of high cortisol levels include:

  • Digestive issues
  • Impaired circulation
  • Disrupted sleep/wake cycles
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Low sex drive
  • Depressed mood

Lowering Your Cortisol Levels Naturally

Bringing your cortisol down to a healthy, balanced level is key in overcoming anxiety.

There are 5 steps to lower your cortisol levels that are both safe and extremely effective. Adding even one of these steps into your daily routine can make a big difference. However, incorporating all 5 of these steps will help you achieve maximum anxiety reducing results

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How to Take Control of Your Anxiety

An Anti-Anxiety Workout

by Rob Fischer

What works as well (or feels better) than medication for calming anxiety, but without the nasty side effects? Before I answer that question, consider some of the causes of anxiety: [1], [2]

  • Feeling out of control
  • Chronic stress with no relief
  • A sense of hopelessness
  • Stress chemicals in the blood
  • A depleted immune system
  • Inactivity
  • Poor self-esteem
  • A sense of foreboding about what might happen
  • Reduced cognitive function

10 ways exercise helps calm anxietyAt some time or another, everyone feels anxious about something. But when anxiety becomes the norm in your life, you may begin to feel like its slave. Anxiety disorders afflict about 40 million adults in the US, making it the number one psychiatric illness.[3] If you find yourself suffering from chronic anxiety, it’s time to take action and do something about it.

What is so effective against anxiety? Let me ease you into that answer…

If you’ve ever been plagued with anxiety, depression or chronic stress you know that when your mind and emotions are taxed to the limit, so is your body. Your body begins to show the signs of anxiety in a variety of ways that may include: high blood pressure, high blood sugar, a weakened immune system, sleeplessness, and a host of other physical problems.

So it’s no stretch of logic to recognize that when your body feels better, so does your mind.[4] A key solution to dealing with the physical and emotional symptoms of anxiety is physical activity. Exercise can not only alleviate the symptoms of anxiety, it can literally pull you out of that dark hole and get you moving upward and forward again.

When you have anxiety or depression, exercise often seems like the last thing you want to do. But once you get motivated, exercise can make a big difference.

10 Ways Exercise Helps Calm Anxiety

Here’s what the research is showing: [5], [6], [7]

1. Gain Confidence

Regular aerobic exercise decreases tension, improves mood, helps you sleep better, and feel better about yourself.

2. Release Feel Good Chemicals

Physical exercise stimulates the release of endorphins in the brain that make you feel good, both physically and emotionally.

3. Relieve Pain

Just like you might take an aspirin for a headache, a brisk walk or other simple exercise can provide several hours of relief.

4. Take Your Mind Off Your Worries

Exercise can help the brain cope and feel better with stress.

5. Produce Calming Effect

Aerobic exercise lowers the amount of stress chemicals in your bloodstream that lead to and worsen anxiety.

6. Cope in a Healthy Way

Exercise helps distract you from the dark thoughts that plague your mind and replaces them with positive, productive energy.

7. Shrink Anxiety

Regular physical activity offers both short-term and long-term benefits for reducing anxiety.

8. Maintain Motivation

When you find an activity that you really enjoy, participating in that activity gives you something pleasurable to look forward to.

9. Strengthen the Immune System

Exercise helps build a strong immune system that keeps you healthier both physically and emotionally.

10. Socially Rewarding

Exercise recharges your emotional batteries. If you choose to exercise with others, the social interaction adds to the benefits. If you’d rather exercise solo, you’ll find respite from stress and come back feeling renewed.

What Type of Exercise Do I Need to Ward Off Anxiety?

Exercises to ward off anxiety v2Although all forms of exercise are good for you, aerobic exercise in particular has been found to be most effective in reducing stress and anxiety.[8] Aerobic exercise gets your heart rate elevated higher than normal (but not pounding or racing); and requires you to breathe more deeply. Breathing more deeply supplies you with higher volumes of oxygen that does wonders for your health and mood.

Examples of aerobic exercise include: brisk walking, hiking, bicycling, running/jogging, rowing, swimming, dancing, and sports like basketball, racket ball, and tennis.

Tips for Getting Started

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6 Exercises to Get Your Life Back from MS

Learn the best exercises for MS to boost strength, coordination, and balance

Whether you’ve recently been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS)or have been battling it for some time, exercise may be one of the last things on your mind due to the way MS leaves you feeling. But as is often the case, the thing we shy away from most is often the very thing that will bring us relief.

Regular exercise is one of the keys to a healthy lifestyle and especially if you have multiple sclerosis. Even though MS affects each individual differently, physical activity can significantly improve the quality of life for anyone suffering from MS.

regular exercise kicks depression with MSBut here’s the rub: some of the most common symptoms of MS include:[1]

  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty walking
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Spasticity
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Pain
  • Balance issues

Any one of these symptoms could easily discourage anyone from exercising. Now combine two or more of these symptoms of MS and the thought of engaging in physical activity may feel daunting!

If you are suffering with MS, the choice to exercise is not a matter of just sucking it up and doing it. Instead, by choosing to exercise regularly, you can expect to actually counter many of the symptoms that plague you. And that’s a great reason to get physical!

Look at some of the benefits of regular physical exercise cited by the National Center on Physical Activity and Disability:[2]

  • Improves overall health
  • Enhances cardiovascular fitness
  • Increases range of motion and flexibility
  • Improves balance
  • Manages spasticity
  • Increases energy
  • Decreases muscle atrophy
  • Enables one to better perform the activities of daily living

Without my pointing it out to you, no doubt you see the correlation between this list of exercise benefits and the symptoms of MS.

In addition to the above benefits, recent studies have also shown that exercise is pivotal in preventing cognitive decline in people with MS. Regular exercise also kicks the butt of depression and a foul mood, which so often accompany MS. [3] Physical activity also reduces the risk of complications due to MS and inactivity in general.[4]

exercise increases proteins that protect and repair neuronsAdditionally, two proteins, BDNF and NGF, have been found to protect and repair the neurons in a person with MS. And as you might have guessed, exercise significantly increases the levels of those two proteins in those with MS. [5]

Finally, researchers are suggesting that staying active may even delay the progression of MS.[6]

Ashlea Deahl contracted MS 14 years ago at age 22. Since then she’s been a devotee of regular exercise involving: Yoga, weight training, walking, Crossfit, hiking, stretching and anything else to keep herself active. Her advice to others suffering from MS is two-fold, “Forget about what you can’t do. And whatever you do, keep moving!”

Closer to home, my late mother-in-law, Elsie Kahle, would heartily agree with Ashlea. Mom contracted MS in her late 20s. Into her mid 50s she stayed active by pushing a service cart around a huge office complex every day. The miles she walked pushing that cart, coupled with the great social interaction that the job provided did wonders to keep her ambulatory and in a positive state of mind. (Mom lived to 90!)

Exercise Tips for those with MS

If you have MS and you’re unaccustomed to exercise, then the same rules of thumb apply to you as to anyone else:

  • Consult with your doctor before you begin
  • Start out slowly
  • Include stretching, warmups and cool-downs as part of your exercise regimen
  • Find activities that are readily available and that you can enjoy
  • Purchase comfortable shoes, clothing and other gear to make your experience safe and pleasurable

Here are some additional guidelines if coping with MS:

  • Stay cool – heat often exacerbates MS symptoms and exercise can raise body temperature. Drink plenty of cold liquids, avoid exercising in the heat, and consider water aerobics or swimming to keep cool.[7]
  • Seek guidance from a physical therapist. A physical therapist can evaluate your strengths and weaknesses and help you design an exercise program tailored to you.
  • Don’t overdo it! Forget about that worn-out, misleading phrase, “No pain; no gain.” You don’t have to become a fitness fanatic to enjoy the many benefits of exercise. Your goal should be movement and enjoyment without increased pain or injury.
  • Take frequent breaks. If you tire, take a break and exercise in shorter bursts. Don’t allow yourself to become discouraged. Find what works for you and stay with it.
  • Exercise at least 30 minutes, 3 to 5 times per week. Make exercise a part of your daily and weekly routine. Once it’s ingrained into your schedule, you won’t want to miss it!

6 Exercises to Boost Wellness with Multiple Sclerosis

Exercise physiologists at the National Center on Health, Physical Activity, and disability (NCHPAD) and Active MSers recommend the following types of exercises for those living with MS to improve their MS symptoms.[8], [9] These represent possible options rather than a to-do list! Choose one or two that strike your fancy. Try an activity to see if you like it.

1. Water aerobics (swimming or water walking).

You can add weights, kickboards, and other equipment to achieve the level of cardio workout you desire.

2. Walking.

If you are able to walk, walking is perhaps the easiest, most versatile way to get your exercise. You can walk almost anywhere, anytime. Consider walking or hiking (a more adventurous form of walking) with trekking poles to assist with balance and to add some upper body workout.

3. Stretching, Yoga, or Tai Chi.

These exercises emphasize deep breathing and flexibility. Breathing deeply means more oxygen to the cells for a healthier body. Flexibility translates to greater mobility and fewer and less severe injuries.

4. Strength training.

While weakness is a common symptom of MS, you can counter it by retraining those muscles and halting their decline. There are a myriad of exercises that assist with strength training including: Pilates, Crossfit, free weights, weight machines, resistance training, exercises that rely on your own body weight, etc. Check out these sites for more options on strength training: Everyday Health and Active MSers.

5. Bicycling.

Again, even though balance can be an issue for someone with MS, don’t assume you can’t ride a bike. If a two-wheeler becomes more than you can handle, consider a recumbent three-wheeler. These are a new breed of bikes that are sleek, light-weight and comfortable.

6. Dancing.

Dancing can keep you light on your feet, helping with balance and coordination. Also, dancing with a partner can not only add to your enjoyment, but also provide a measure of physical stability should you need it. You may also want to try a Zoomba or Dancercise class.

Really, the list of exercises that MSers are capable of is endless. If you’re self-conscious about going to a gym or exercising outdoors in public, consider using a DVD or exercise program via TV. Just keep moving!

In 2006, David Lyons was 47 when he was diagnosed with MS. David had been a bodybuilder, the owner of fitness centers, a martial artist and boxer. He writes:

When I decided to get back into the gym after my MS diagnosis it was not an easy task. My balance was off, my coordination was terrible and between the pain, tingling and numbness I wasn’t sure just where to start. But working out with a disease like MS takes you back to square one and you have to adapt to the new symptoms your body has to face each and every day.[10]

David found tremendous help through a fitness trainer with MS training certification. David’s first long-term goal was to participate in a body-building contest at 50!

Now, competing in a body-building competition may be the furthest thing from your mind! (It hasn’t crossed my mind lately!) But consider all the amazing benefits of regular exercise and how it can provide you with a fuller, more enjoyable, healthier life—even if you have MS.

What’s your next step toward initiating a fitness plan in your life? Let us challenge you to take action within a week of reading this article. Follow the guidelines presented here and experience for yourself how you will benefit from a more fit you.

If you like this article, then you’ll love these:

 

Rob_FischerRob Fischer has been writing professionally for over 35 years. His experience includes writing curricula, study guides, articles, blogs, newsletters, manuals, workbooks, training courses, workshops, and books. Rob has written for numerous churches, for Burlington Northern Railroad, Kaiser Aluminum, and Barton Publishing. He has also trained managers in effective business writing. Rob holds two Master’s degrees, both focused heavily on writing. Rob has published eleven books and serves as an editor and ghostwriter for other authors.

 

Sources:
[1] National Multiple Sclerosis Society, “MS Symptoms,” nd, http://www.nationalmssociety.org/Symptoms-Diagnosis/MS-Symptoms.
[2] Active MSers, “Exercising with Multiple Sclerosis,” nd, http://www.activemsers.org/exercisesstretches/tipsexercisingwithms.html.
[3] Active MSers.
[4] Kimberly Holland, “Nine Exercises for Advancing MS,” Healthline, March 20, 2012, http://www.healthline.com/health/multiple-sclerosis/exercises.
[5] Overcoming Multiple Sclerosis, “Exercise,” nd, http://www.overcomingmultiplesclerosis.org/Recovery-Program/Exercise/.
[6] Active MSers.
[7] Kimberly Holland.
[8] Beth W. Orenstein, “10 Best Exercises to Boost Wellness with Multiple Sclerosis,” Everyday Health, 3/5/2015, http://www.everydayhealth.com/pictures/best-exercises-boost-wellness-with-multiple-sclerosis/#01.
[9] Active MSers.
[10] David Lyons, “My MS Fitness Challenge: Working with a Trainer,” Everyday Health, June 10, 2013, http://www.everydayhealth.com/columns/ms-fitness-challenge/ms-fitness-trainer/.

The Incredible Brain – And How to Keep Yours Working

Your Brain Repair Program

by Dr. Scott Saunders

The brain is arguably your most important organ. Primarily because it controls everything else. Compared to all the other tissues of the body, it uses the most energy and circulation by far. What’s more, a hard shell protects the brain, which sits in water for added shock-absorption.

It is important to protect your brain in other ways, as well. The “blood-brain barrier” prevents unwanted material, like viruses and bacteria in the blood, from crossing over into the brain tissue. The brain even requires a very specific protein to transport glucose to itself from the blood. Clearly it is important to protect your brain!

brain repair program However, in spite of all this protection, so many of us have brain dysfunctions, such as:

  • Loss of memory
  • Dementia, like Alzheimer’s disease
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Strokes
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Pain
  • Gradual brain shrinkage

In fact, half of all Americans who reach the age of 85 have Alzheimer’s disease. [1] How can all this happen if the brain is so well-protected?

Even though the array of factors that can cause brain dysfunction is vast, I want to provide you with the most potent brain-protecting information.

The most important issues for the brain are:

  • Nutrition
  • Energy production
  • Free-radicals
  • Toxins
  • Exercise

Nutrition for the Brain

The brain needs a constant supply of oxygen and sugar for energy. In fact, every essential nutrient is used to fuel the brain. Amino acids that come from the protein you eat are the building blocks of your brain’s network. They help make your neurotransmitters.

If your brain is lacking amino acids, then the deficiency reflects in emotional and behavioral dysfunction. Click to Tweet.

If your brain becomes malnourished from low oxygen, lack of nutrients, or toxins, then it atrophies and you lose brainpower. Some of the brain cells may die, but they can also go into an unconscious state, called “senescence.”

The brain functions that are lost first are the non-essential ones, such as memory. The essential functions of muscle control, and sensory input are the last to be affected. Thus, a loss of memory may be an early sign of a lack of energy to the brain. Just as our brain influences our health, so our health influences our brain.

What Causes the Brain to Atrophy

1. Lack of oxygen

  1. Smoking
  2. Lack of exercise
  3. Carbon monoxide poisoning
  4. Vascular disease
  5. Strokes

2. Lack of nutrients

  1. Proteins due to diet or poor digestion
  2. Good fats
  3. B-vitamins (especially folate and B12)
  4. Anti-oxidants
  5. Magnesium, zinc, and trace minerals

3. Toxins

  • Alcohol
  • Aspartame (and other sweeteners)
  • MSG
  • Caffeine
  • Stimulants
  • Sugar
  • Heavy metals:
    – Mercury
    – Lead
    – Arsenic
    – Aluminum
  • Drugs/medications
    – Sleeping pills
    – Allergy medications
    – Cholesterol medication
    – Pain medications
    – Depression medications

 4. Inflammation

The above factors (such as cigarette smoking, medications, obesity, disrupted sleep patterns and poor dietary habits) compromise the integrity of your brain. These irritants stimulate inflammation.

The brain is particularly susceptible to oxidative damage. Energy is generated from food, and regulates growth and change of cells. Too much energy for the brain causes oxidation, damage, or “rust.”

For example, when you have a nice car, you wash and wax it regularly so the paint doesn’t oxidize. Oxidation occurs when energy from the sun and oxygen combine and break down the molecular structure of the paint.

There is no way for the car paint to protect itself. So we keep the car in the garage, put a cover on it, or wax it regularly. The wax absorbs the energy, oxidizes, and comes off – then we replace it. You may not like to wax your car, but it’s better than replacing the paint!

Likewise energy is generated from food, and regulates growth and change of brain cells. Too much energy causes oxidative damage by “oxygen free-radicals.” These are high-energy molecules that damage everything they touch – like the sun. They are especially dangerous to DNA because the damage may cause entire loss of the cell. Losing brain cells is not good for memory! Research has shown that simply eating too many calories can increase the amount of damaging molecules like free radicals that can build up in the brain.[2] When these dangerous little free radical particles become too numerous for the brain to remove, they can lead to problems in cognitive function, death of neurons, premature aging, Alzheimer’s disease, and dementia.

All aging is caused by damage to DNA in different cell types of the body. But the brain is especially sensitive to damage because brain cells don’t divide or regenerate. That decay is evident in brain tissue with selective loss of brain cells in areas associated with mobility, learning and memory. This is why those functions deteriorate most rapidly with aging.

We can prevent the “aging” of the brain the same way we can prevent the “aging” of the paint on our car. We just need to know how to do this so hundreds of thousands of Americans like you aren’t robbed of joy and satisfaction in life each year.

We need energy to survive, but energy causes damage! Click to Tweet

The brain’s appetite for energy is great. Thus, we need enough, but not too much energy. How do we walk this fine line?

While there is still a lot to learn about our brain’s metabolism, I have worked out a few ways to help keep your thinking organ in shape, now and as you age.

The Principles of Preventing Cellular Brain Damage

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Neurobics – How to Exercise Your Brain and Improve Your Memory

Keeping Your Mind Fit to Meet any Challenge

by Rob Fischer

Red Skelton once quipped, “As you get older, three things happen. The first is your memory goes, and . . . I can’t remember the other two!”

Have you experienced a senior moment lately? Maybe you couldn’t find the car keys, your purse, or the car? How about names? And while we’re at it, how are you at math in your head—in public? Have you been driving lately and all of a sudden wonder, “Where am I?” Or perhaps you’re looking for just the right word in a conversation . . . but it eludes you . . . until three hours later when you’re standing in the shower! If any of those situations describes you, you’ll definitely want to read on!

neurobics keeping your mind fitTongue-in-cheek, Mark Twain lamented, “Of all the things I’ve lost, I miss my mind the most.” However, we’ve got some great news for you; it doesn’t have to be that way with your mind or your memory!

Research by Lawrence Katz, PhD, professor of neurobiology at Duke University Medical Center, has revealed some exciting strategies for exercising the brain and improving memory. Dr. Katz coined the term neurobics to describe these cerebral calisthenics.[1]

Neurobics are exercises that focus on keeping our brains agile and pliable. Click to Tweet.

The Science behind Neurobics

Like it or not, we humans are basically lazy! Not necessarily in the bad sense of the word. But we tend to make things easy for ourselves. (If you prefer to call it efficient, that’s okay.) We establish hundreds of little daily routines that enable us to complete most tasks without even thinking about them. For instance:

  • When we get up
  • The order and manner in which we groom ourselves
  • What we eat (or don’t eat) for breakfast
  • What we do while eating breakfast
  • What route we drive to work
  • What we listen to in the car
  • Where we park
  • How we get from our car to our office or work station
  • What and where we eat for lunch, etc!

We do all these things mindlessly and in doing so, we’ve established neuropathways in our brains. These become well-worn paths in our brains. And like the creatures of habit that we are, we follow those pathways habitually—almost religiously. If you think I’m exaggerating, check your response and attitude next time one of those routines gets derailed by an unexpected event!

If we’re not careful, these neural pathways easily become ruts! Neurobics describes our willful disruption of those habits and the neural pathways associated with them. We simply choose to do something differently, or in a new way. This is said to release the hormone neurotrophin that opens up new neural pathways, expanding access to information and the way we process it. [2] If done on a regular basis, neurobics will help keep your mind fit to meet any challenge–whether it’s remembering a name, mastering a new computer program, learning to dance or staying creative in your work.

Neurobics is a departure from the popular brain-teasing games and puzzles available. A crossword puzzle or Sudoku can indeed help sharpen the mind, but the scope of their effectiveness is fairly limited to that specific activity. Becoming good at Sudoku, for instance, helps you . . . well, excel at Sudoku and similar tasks that involve numerical relationships.

With neurobics, you’re not relying on a game or puzzle, but integrating change in your everyday routines. In this way, all of life becomes our “neural gym.”[3]

Dr. Katz also emphasizes the power of engaging all five senses to the extent possible when making those changes. We’ve known for many years that the more senses you can involve in an activity, the more learning occurs and the more memorable it will be.

Finally, he encourages us to employ our emotions, which he refers to as our sixth sense. Our emotions offer a powerful signpost, reminding us what occurred when, how and why.

To summarize, neurobics involves these three elements:

  • Break away from a normal routine or habit in everyday life
  • Engage all five senses (sight, smell, sound, touch, taste) to the extent possible
  • Invite your emotions to accompany your new experience[4]

Enemies of the Brain and Memory

Before we give you examples of neurobics, let’s look at some of the enemies of the brain. Think of these in terms of the environment in which you conduct your neurobics. Any one of these issues greatly hinders cognitive ability:

  • Stress – Because improving one’s memory also has a lot to do with increasing one’s focus.
  • Hurry – Hampers memory and learning
  • Some drugs (e.g., memory loss is a side effect of statin drugs) – Kill brains cells
  • Too little sleep – Because the brain needs sleep to consolidate new information
  • Dehydration (not drinking enough water) – “Dry brain” decreases problem solving
  • Lack of physical exercise – Increases the effects of aging on the brain
  • Poor nutrition (eating processed foods and too much sugar) – Nutrient deficiencies can definitely impair your cognitive abilities

For maximum brain health and cognitive skill, minimize or eliminate these enemies or they will continue to work against you and the neurobic exercises will do little to help! For more information on these enemies of the brain and how to beat them, check out our Brain Health Kit.

Putting Neurobics to Work for Your Brain

What I like about neurobics is that it’s very individual. You have your specific neuropathways and I have mine. So the way you and I implement neurobics will be different. But consider the examples below and tweak them to fit your personality and situation or apply these principles to your own neurobic exercise.

A Trip to the Grocery Store

You no doubt have your favorite grocery store, the layout of which you have in your head. As a neurobic exercise what if you were to deliberately combine some or all of the following elements in your next shopping trip?

  • Choose a different grocery store
  • Go shopping at a time that’s unusual for you
  • Either memorize your list, or write it down in a way that’s different than normal
  • If you typically shop counter clockwise through the store, shop clockwise
  • Intentionally browse the store a bit to discover items you never see in your usual store
  • Try new brands that you’re unfamiliar with or haven’t tried in awhile
  • Order something at the deli, meat or fish counter that you don’t normally order
  • Mentally add the cost of each item in your head and see how close you come at the register
  • Make sure you engage all five senses (sight, smell, touch, sound, and taste)
  • As you shop, check your emotional status. What emotions are you experiencing?
  • If you usually ask for plastic, this time have them bag your groceries in paper bags
  • Think up additional changes you might make

Be careful. If you’re on a tight schedule, trying to follow through with the above example may only stress you out! And be aware that even when you knowingly change a pattern, you may feel some frustration. If you do, ask yourself, “Why is this frustrating me?” What can you learn from this situation? That’s why these exercises must be very deliberate with a view to stretching your mind.

Learn How to Dance

The New England Journal of Medicine published a study that concluded the best exercise to improve a person’s cognitive skills – whatever age you might be – is dance.

dance your way to better health“The research, in fact, targeted senior citizens to determine which activity reduces the risk of dementia. As per the results, 76% of those who danced frequently exhibited lesser signs of dementia, compared to those who answered crossword puzzles and read often.[5]

Dancing active regions of the brain that calculates spatial orientation, motor signals and emotional responses to choreography. So, dancing is the best leisure activity for ongoing brain health and maintaining intelligence.

Perhaps you have a secret desire to learn how to dance. But you’ve always said, “I can’t dance!”

  • Denounce that proclamation and begin a search for dance instruction. (By doing this, you’ve already started moving out of your established neural pathways!)
  • Begin attending dance classes and determine to meet new people.
  • In order to meet new people, prepare two or three open-ended questions to engage others in conversation about themselves. (E.g., “What prompted you to start taking dance lessons?”)
  • Make a conscious effort to learn people’s names. Write them down later to help with recall.
  • During the week, practice your dance steps at home and practice the names of those you met.
  • When you arrive at dance lessons next week, greet each person by name and engage them in light conversation.

Perhaps you’re thinking, “That’s way out of my comfort zone!” That’s the point!

Here’s a great brain and memory exercise for you to engage in right now: come up with your own neurobic exercise. Jump out of the ruts of your neural pathways and expand your mind!

The brain loves to be engaged with the novelty of new experiences. Your mind becomes bored with routine. Think through and plan what you’ll do and follow through with it. Take a bold step and get out of your comfort zone, maybe even learn how to dance. Make the lifestyle choice to exercise your brain and improve your memory – the side effects are fun, adventure and excitement!

Keep your brain active!

If you liked this article, then you’ll love these:

 

Rob_FischerRob Fischer has been writing professionally for over 35 years. His experience includes writing curricula, study guides, articles, blogs, newsletters, manuals, workbooks, training courses, workshops, and books. Rob has written for numerous churches, for Burlington Northern Railroad, Kaiser Aluminum, and Barton Publishing. He has also trained managers in effective business writing. Rob holds two Master’s degrees, both focused heavily on writing. Rob has published eleven books and serves as an editor and ghostwriter for other authors.

 

Sources:
[1] Lisa Armstrong, “Neurobics Tips: How to Exercise Your Brain,” She Knows, October 8, 2013, http://www.sheknows.com/health-and-wellness/articles/1016375/neurobic-tips.
[2] http://www.keepyourbrainalive.com/neurobics.
[3] http://www.keepyourbrainalive.com/.
[4] http://www.keepyourbrainalive.com/.
[5] http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa022252

How Regular Exercise Can Prevent Kidney Disease

Have you ever started vacuuming the carpet only to realize that the vacuum cleaner wasn’t picking up anything? Then you noticed that the motor is laboring more intensely than usual. Chances are the filter was clogged and the bag or reservoir was full.

Your kidneys perform a similar, but infinitely more complex and important job in your body. Each kidney contains about a million filtering components called nephrons. By means of the nephrons, your kidneys filter the waste materials out of your blood eliminating them from the body. Your kidneys help keep the electrolytes stable, and produce important hormones that regulate blood pressure, make red blood cells and keep your bones strong.[1]

regular exercise prevents kidney diseaseSigns and Symptoms of Kidney Disease

Now, imagine what happens if your kidneys are no longer functioning properly. Waste materials continue to circulate in the bloodstream causing other health problems throughout the body. Your electrolytes get off kilter, your blood pressure rises, and your hormones are out of balance. Like that clogged vacuum cleaner, your heart is working harder, but accomplishing less. In short, your body ceases to work properly. This situation describes Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD).[2]

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that 10% of adults in the US may have CKD.[3] Some of the signs and symptoms of CKD include:[4]

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Sleep issues
  • Changes in urine output
  • Decreased mental sharpness
  • Muscle twitches and cramps
  • Hiccups
  • Swelling of feet and ankles
  • Persistent itching
  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • High blood pressure

Clearly, those symptoms represent a lifestyle far removed from good health!

Improve Your Kidneys with Exercise

But here’s the great news! Regular exercise can help prevent CKD and improve CKD if you already have it, even if it has progressed to the point that you’re on dialysis.[5] Logically this makes sense since exercise is the enemy of all the risk factors for CKD. But let’s take a closer look at how regular exercise benefits your kidneys:[6], [7]

  • Lowers blood sugar, retarding or preventing neuropathy and kidney failure
  • Improves blood circulation and gets things moving through your kidneys
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Helps you lose weight if overweight
  • Lowers cholesterol
  • Strengthens the heart and other muscles
  • Assists in sleeping better
  • Provides more energy to perform normal, everyday functions
  • Sharpens your memory
  • Reduces depression and anxiety
  • Improves quality of life

In one way or another, each of those benefits translates to healthier kidneys and a healthier you.

I’m too tired to get up, how can I exercise?

It’s true, CKD does sap you of energy, so how can you muster the vim and vigor needed to exercise? Clearly, CKD impacts your life in many significant ways, and it used to be that patients with CKD were prescribed bedrest.

However, numerous recent studies have demonstrated the powerful impact that regular exercise can have on the kidneys. These human studies have included healthy individuals, those with CKD but are not yet on dialysis, and those who are already on dialysis.[8], [9], [10], [11]

Depending on your current physical condition and the recommendation of your doctor, starting out slowly and building up with aerobic exercise should increase your energy and stamina. Getting started is that catch-22, because you may not feel like you can. For many this may be an issue of mind over matter.

6 Tips for Getting Started on an Exercise Program

Before you begin, talk to your doctor. Your doctor knows your specific situation and can recommend a course of action for implementing an exercise plan that’s right for you. However, below are some general tips for establishing an exercise routine.

1. Choose an aerobic exercise that you can enjoy and participate in regularly.

Aerobic exercises include: walking, biking, running, hiking, cross-country skiing, snow-shoeing, swimming, rowing or using equipment that simulates these activities. For many with CKD, walking can be an ideal aerobic exercise, because it’s low impact, you can do it indoors or outside, participate with others, and go at your own pace.[12]

2. Begin with a goal of 30 minutes, 3 times per week.

Many people think that housework or getting up off the coach to go to the refrigerator constitutes a workout! Not so! An exercise becomes aerobic when your heartrate is elevated over an extended period of time (e.g., 30 minutes). This elevated heartrate and oxygen intake is necessary to achieve the desired benefits.

Also, once or twice a week won’t achieve the results you’re looking for. That’s why experts recommend a minimum of 3 times per week, skipping a day or two between workouts.[13] Once your exercise routine is regular, you will probably look forward to your workouts and have more energy to keep them a regular part of your life. It’s not necessary to limit yourself to 30 minutes and 3 times a week, if you wish to exercise longer and more frequently.

3. Exercise with the right equipment.

Invest in a good pair of walking shoes or other clothing to make your activity enjoyable and safe. Before you go out and purchase an expensive piece of exercise equipment, make sure you’ll actually use it and that it works properly.

4. Perform a warm-up before and a cool-down after you exercise.

Gentle stretching before and after exercising is a vital part of a good exercise routine and can prevent cramps or straining a muscle. Stretch the primary muscles you use during that exercise. Never bounce a stretch or force it to the point of pain.

Here are some suggestions for warm-up:

  1. Arms: Stand as straight as possible and reach both hands as high as you can. Stretch them even higher and wiggle all ten fingers as you continue to reach and stretch. Now bring your left hand over onto your right shoulder and cup your left elbow with your right hand. Apply gentle, even pressure to stretch those muscles. Then repeat the same thing with your other arm. Finally, lift your hands over your head and place them crossed with your palms against your back shoulder blades. In that position, stretch your elbows back.
  2. Calves, hamstrings and back: Stand an arm’s length from a solid wall and lean against the wall with your arms. Continue leaning against the wall and take one stride back with both feet and feel your calf and hamstring muscles stretch. Now, still in this position, slowly go up on your toes with each foot, one at a time and repeat a couple times. Finally, step away from the wall, stand up as straight as you can and slowly run your hands down your legs and touch your toes. Hold that position for several seconds and then slowly stand back up.
  3. Thighs: Stand straight and place your left hand on a countertop or wall to help you balance. Now bend your right leg and bring your right foot up behind you until you can grab that ankle with your right hand. Slowly stretch that leg as far as you can by pulling up. Hold that pose for a few seconds and then repeat with your left leg and hand.

5. Stay hydrated while you exercise.

Exercise often prompts us to take in the water we should be drinking and this too helps our kidneys. However, if you are on dialysis, speak with your doctor and stay within the prescribed limits of fluid intake.[14] Those suffering with CKD need to limit their intake of potassium and phosphorus, so be sure to check labels on bottled water or sports drinks to see whether they’ve added these minerals.

6. Use a smart-phone app or activity tracking device.

Many people find these nifty little devices and applications extremely helpful and motivating.

  • Endomondo is a free phone app that utilizes GPS technology to track your mileage, speed, incline and other interesting data.
  • The Fitbit is a very small electronic device that tracks similar information.
  • There are other products and apps on the market as well that help regulate your exercise and energy.

Just like that clogged vacuum that no longer works properly, we need to clean the filter to get it functioning properly again. That’s what physical exercise does for your kidneys. In fact, physical exercise is beneficial to overall health and wellbeing. If you’re not already in a regular exercise program, what’s holding you back? Don’t put it off any longer! Exercise for good health!

If you liked this article, then you’ll love these:

 

Rob_Fischer

Rob Fischer has been writing professionally for over 35 years. His experience includes writing curricula, study guides, articles, blogs, newsletters, manuals, workbooks, training courses, workshops, and books. Rob has written for numerous churches, for Burlington Northern Railroad, Kaiser Aluminum, and Barton Publishing. He has also trained managers in effective business writing. Rob holds two Master’s degrees, both focused heavily on writing. Rob has published eleven books and serves as an editor and ghostwriter for other authors.

 

Sources:
[1] National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse, “The Kidneys and How They Work,” May 21, 2014, http://kidney.niddk.nih.gov/kudiseases/pubs/yourkidneys/.
[2] CDC, “Protect Your Kidneys,” nd, http://www.cdc.gov/Features/WorldKidneyDay/.
[3] CDC, “National Chronic Kidney Disease Fact Sheet, 2014,” http://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/pubs/pdf/kidney_factsheet.pdf.
[4] Mayo Clinic, “Chronic Kidney Disease Symptoms,” January 30, 2015, http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/kidney-disease/basics/symptoms/con-20026778.
[5] Medical News Today, “Health of Chronic Kidney Disease Patients Improved by Regular Physical Activity,” October 6, 2011, http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/235597.php.
[6] DaVita, “Exercise for People with Chronic Kidney Disease,” nd, http://www.davita.com/kidney-disease/overview/living-with-ckd/exercise-for-people-with-chronic-kidney-disease/e/4931.
[7] Medical News Today.
[8] Science Daily.
[9] K.L. Johansen, “Exercise and Chronic Kidney Disease: Current Recommendations,” PubMed, 2005, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15974634.
[10] Kirsten L. Johansen, MD, Patricia Painter, PhD, “Exercise in Individuals with CKD,” Medscape, 2012, http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/756303_2.
[11] Nephrology News, “Physical Fitness Level Affects Kidney Function in Type 2 Diabetes Patients,” June 25, 2014, http://www.nephrologynews.com/articles/110295-physical-fitness-level-affects-kidney-function-in-type-2-diabetes-patients.
[12] DaVita, “Walking: An Ideal Exercise for People with Kidney Disease,” nd, http://www.davita.com/kidney-disease/overview/living-with-ckd/walking:-an-ideal-exercise-for-people-with-kidney-disease/e/7573.
[13] DaVita, “Walking: An Ideal Exercise for People with Kidney Disease.”
[14] DaVita, “Walking: An Ideal Exercise for People with Kidney Disease.”

How to Add Essential Oils to Your Workout

When it comes to exercise, there’s a lot more at play than simply lacing up our running shoes and going out for a jog.  There are a number of factors we need to consider to ensure that we actually follow through with our exercise plan and that our experience is positive.

We may not always consciously think about these factors, but often have them pre-built into our routines. Regardless of the particular form of exercise that we choose, we are probably concerned about:

  • how to add essential oils to your workoutDeveloping healthy routines
  • Making our workout as pleasant as possible
  • Improving stamina
  • Staying hydrated
  • Preventing strains and sprains
  • Maintaining energy and endurance
  • Preventing/minimizing muscle fatigue
  • Overcoming post-workout soreness
  • Avoiding risk of injury

What we may not have considered before now is that aromatherapy can help address any and all of the above challenges. Because many oils have antiseptic, anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties they are a great addition to your exercise routine and help you stay in great form. For instance, merely introducing a pleasant-smelling essential oil into your workout routine can evoke a desire to engage in that routine more consistently. Let’s consider some other ways that aromatherapy can complement your of plan and become a part of preventative medicine for any sport enthusiast young or old, blue ribbon winner or beginner.

How does Aromatherapy Play into Fitness?

Aromatherapy, as a complementary alternative medicine, neither takes the place of exercise itself nor serves as a substitute for heeding other important factors associated with exercise like eating right, getting plenty of sleep, and not overdoing it when we exercise. Any one of those factors can significantly impact how we feel during and after a workout. Aromatherapy won’t replace any of these essentials, but it can augment them beautifully.

Consider the following applications:

Peppermint oil

In 2013, a small study was published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. Twelve healthy male students drank one 500 ml bottle of mineral water mixed with 0.05 ml peppermint essential oil for ten days. Various readings were taken before and after the 10-day period.

Researchers found that peppermint oil proved effective on exercise performance, gas analysis, spirometry parameters, blood pressure, and respiratory rate of all twelve students.[1] In other studies, peppermint essential oil used as aromatherapy has been shown to raise the pain threshold, lower perceived physical workload, effort and anxiety.

Eucalyptus, wintergreen and cypress oils

Following a hard workout, mix these essential oils with a neutral carrier oil like coconut or grape seed oil and work the mixture into your sore muscles for relief.[2]

frankincense and ginger essential oils reduce inflammationFrankincense and ginger oils

Together, these two essential oils help reduce inflammation and support joints. Mix with a carrier oil and rub onto sore joints or to knead out the inflammation from a cramp.[3]

Lavender oil

After a hard workout, you want to allow your body the rest and relaxation it needs to recover and replenish itself. Lavender oil applied aromatically, in bathwater, or topically as a lotion can help you achieve the relaxation you need.[4]

Oregano or melaleuca oil

A downside of working out in a public gym is the likelihood of picking up a fungus in the locker room like athlete’s foot. Oregano or melaleuca oil with their powerful antifungal properties can help prevent and remedy such an outbreak.[5]

Eucalyptus oil

In preparation for a workout, mix eucalyptus oil with a carrier oil and apply it to your neck, throat and temples. This will improve circulation and help open up your airways.[6] If you suffer from asthma or allergies, eucalyptus oil can provide relief following a workout as well.

Lemon oil

This essential oil may be the most powerful anti-microbial oil of them all. This oil assists in the breakdown of fat, stimulates lymph drainage, quenches the thirst, and protects the immune system.[7]

How to Add Essential Oils to Your Workout

Typically, essential oils are inhaled, applied topically to the skin, or ingested, although this is not as common in the US and should only be done under the supervision of a professional.

Inhale essential oils using a diffuser, by placing oil directly on a cotton ball or tissue, via steam, or through a mist sprayed into the air.[8]

When applying essential oils topically, most oils must be diluted with a carrier oil or water, usually at a concentration ratio of no more than 3-5%. And for a whole body application (bath or massage), dilute the oil to a 1% solution.[9]

Can you exercise without essential oils? Certainly! But I’ve given you seven good reasons to complement your exercise routine with essential oils. These oils can provide relief from debilitating pain, boost your performance, increase circulation, and can make your workout more pleasurable.

Most of us wouldn’t go out for a run without the proper equipment. Perhaps the essential oils hold a place in the category of “proper equipment!” Why not test them out and see for yourself.

If you liked this article, then you’ll love these:

 

Rob_FischerRob Fischer has been writing professionally for over 35 years. His experience includes writing curricula, study guides, articles, blogs, newsletters, manuals, workbooks, training courses, workshops, and books. Rob has written for numerous churches, for Burlington Northern Railroad, Kaiser Aluminum, and Barton Publishing. He has also trained managers in effective business writing. Rob holds two Master’s degrees, both focused heavily on writing. Rob has published eleven books and serves as an editor and ghostwriter for other authors.

 

Sources:
[1] Abbas Meamarbashi and Ali Rajabi, “The Effects of Peppermint on Exercise Performance,” Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 21 March 2013, http://www.jissn.com/content/10/1/15.
[2] Dr. Axe, “101 Essential Oil Uses and Benefits,” nd, http://draxe.com/essential-oil-uses-benefits/.
[3] Dr. Axe, “Dr. Axe’s Essential Oils Guide,” nd, http://draxe.com/essential-oils-guide/.
[4] Dr. Axe, “Dr. Axe’s Essential Oils Guide.”
[5] Dr. Axe, “Dr. Axe’s Essential Oils Guide.”
[6] WikiHow, “How to Use Aromatherapy During a Workout,” nd, http://www.wikihow.com/Use-Aromatherapy-During-a-Workout.
[7] Dr. Axe, “Top 10 Lemon Essential Oil Uses and Benefits,” nd, http://draxe.com/lemon-essential-oil-uses-benefits/.
[8] University of Minnesota, “How Do I Choose and Use Essential Oils?” nd, http://www.takingcharge.csh.umn.edu/explore-healing-practices/aromatherapy/how-do-i-choose-and-use-essential-oils.
[9] University of Minnesota.

Your Fitness Plan for Great Skin

 

I know what some of you are thinking…”What, now you’re telling me that exercise will give me great looking and feeling skin? Sounds like another cheap ploy to get me to exercise!”

But I assure you; exercise can benefit your skin in ways that you may never have thought possible. In fact, regular exercise can:[1]

exercise benefits for skinHow Exercise Works for Your Skin

When we exercise, we set our bodies in motion, providing resistance training to our muscles, which helps strengthen them. We breathe more deeply, bringing in more oxygen. Our heart rate rises—which is a good thing—because it’s now pumping oxygenated blood throughout our body. Even the tiny capillaries near our skin begin to open up.[2]

This increased blood-flow replenish the nutrients in our skin, helps regulate our hormones, prevents free-radical damage, and promotes the production of collagen—a protein that serves as the building blocks of our skin. Collagen reduces wrinkles, reverses aging of skin, tightens skin, plump up skin and improves its elasticity.[3]

As we continue to exercise, the pores in our skin begin to open up and sweat flushes them of cellular detritus and grime. This action coupled with the continued increase in blood-flow helps detox the skin, removing harmful chemicals and waste.[4][5] Blackheads and acne disappear.

Working up a good sweat is the equivalent of getting a mini-facial. Click to Tweet.

Our regular exercise routine signals our body to burn fat. As the fat (cellulite) disappears, our skin conforms to the attractive contours of our muscles instead of the shapeless cottage-cheese-like fat deposits.[6]

While we exercise, harmful stress chemicals like cortisol diminish. These stress chemicals exacerbate skin problems like psoriasis and acne, so relief from these not only reduces stress, but also promotes the health of our skin.[7], [8]

In short, a regular regimen of exercise helps us look and feel better inside and out! This will give your skin a glow you can’t get any other way.

And of course, eating right plays a huge role into our overall health and wellbeing, as well developing a subtle, glowing skin.

Healthy Skin Promoting Exercises

In order to improve the health of our skin through exercise, we’re basically after three things:

  • Increased blood-flow and oxygenation
  • Increased lean muscle mass
  • Working to a sweat

Those three things will help us achieve all the benefits we’re seeking for our skin through exercise. Everybody is different, so you may benefit from the guidance of a personal trainer to address your specific goals. But in general, most trainers will recommend a combination of aerobic and resistance training to achieve these ends and make it much easer to get that healthy skin glow.

Exercising to Eliminate Cellulite

good sweat is like a facialMen and women typically accumulate fat differently. Men usually collect fat in their gut and women on their thighs and buttocks. Unfortunately, those specific fat-collection areas are also the last ones willing to relinquish the fat. The key is strength-training coupled with consistency, perseverance, and the all-important healthy diet![9]

Celebrity trainer Valerie Waters recommends the following three exercises to women for removing cellulite from the buttocks and thighs: single-leg hip raise, reverse lunge, and step-up. With exercise, cellulite can become notably better within weeks, but may take up to a year to disappear.[10]

To get rid of the belly fat will also take some concentrated effort over time. The big belly didn’t form overnight, so neither should we expect it to disappear overnight.

Also, as with any fat-loss solution, unless we change our eating habits that got us in this shape, we hinder the effects of exercise to do its work. Eat fewer calories (especially carbs) and enjoy only organic whole foods.[11]

Having said that, aerobic exercise combined with bicycles, crunches, and planks can help shed that belly fat and help you achieve a slimmer, trimmer abdomen.[12]

Exercising to Improve Skin Health and Youthfulness

Both aerobic exercise and strength-training exercises that elevate your heart rate, increase blood-flow and bring on a sweat perform the needed functions to give you healthy, glowing skin, slow down the aging process, reduce wrinkles, and eliminate blemishes.[13] 

Fitness experts recommend at least 30 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise, 5 days per week.[14] Aerobic exercises include activities like: running, jogging, brisk walking, swimming laps, bicycling, rowing, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing.

Strength training or resistance training involves any exercise that demands greater than normal output from your muscles. Because the body contains a variety of muscle groups, you’ll want to choose exercises that address those muscle groups that you wish to focus on.

Caring for Your Skin During and After Exercise

While exercise offers so many benefits for great skin health, take the following precautions in order to preserve and protect your skin:[15]

  • Try to avoid exercising outside in the heat of the day. If that’s unavoidable, protect your skin with appropriate clothing and sunscreen.
  • Stay hydrated throughout and following your workout. Water is essential to healthy skin.
  • After working up a sweat, be sure to shower soon after to wash off the dirt and toxins that have surfaced on your skin. Otherwise, they may find their way back into your skin.
  • If you live in a dry climate, or are prone to dry skin, you may want to use a skin moisturizer following your shower.

The benefits of exercise for your skin continue for hours after you stop moving as your glowing skin remains. Plus, the relaxed feeling you get makes you look less stressed with less facial tension and fewer frown lines.

Exercise is the natural form of Botox! Click to Tweet.

5 Tips for Success

Finally, here are 5 tried and true tips that will help you succeed in your exercise program:

  • Choose an exercise or activity that you enjoy.
  • Purchase proper clothing and equipment to protect your skin and keep you comfortable.
  • Engage an exercise partner to help keep you accountable and consistent.
  • Combine your exercise plan with a healthy eating plan; otherwise you’ll undermine all your hard work!
  • Track your progress. There are all kinds of smart phone apps and gadgets to help you do this electronically.

That glowing complexion you sport after a workout is indicative of health and beauty.  Now, let’s go change into our workout clothes and get out there for healthy skin, body and mind!

If you liked this article, then you’ll love these:

 

Rob_FischerRob Fischer has been writing professionally for over 35 years. His experience includes writing curricula, study guides, articles, blogs, newsletters, manuals, workbooks, training courses, workshops, and books. Rob has written for numerous churches, for Burlington Northern Railroad, Kaiser Aluminum, and Barton Publishing. He has also trained managers in effective business writing. Rob holds two Master’s degrees, both focused heavily on writing. Rob has published eleven books and serves as an editor and ghostwriter for other authors.

 

Sources:
[1] Nicole Blades, “The Beauty Benefits of Exercise,” Everyday Health, January 10, 2014, http://www.everydayhealth.com/news/the-beauty-benefits-of-exercise/.
[2] Peloton Cycling, “5 Ways Exercise Benefits Your Skin & Hair,” nd, http://www.pelotoncycling.ca/blog/5-ways-exercise-benefits-your-skin-and-hair.html.
[3] Cosmetic Medicine, MD, “Collagen Supplements—Do They Really Work? What Does?” September, 2012, http://cosmedmd.blogspot.com/2012/09/collagen-supplements-do-they-really-work.html.
[4] Peter Jaret, “Exercise for Healthy Skin,” WebMD, April 15, 2011, http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/acne/features/exercise.
[5] Peloton Cycling.
[6] Selene Yeager, “6 Moves that Target Stubborn Cellulite,” Prevention, November 2011, http://www.prevention.com/fitness/strength-training/6-moves-target-cellulite.
[7] Peter Jaret.
[8] Nicole Blades.
[9] Adam Campbell, “Your Cellulite Solution,” Prevention, November 2011, http://www.prevention.com/fitness/strength-training/leg-exercises-and-butt-exercises-how-lose-cellulite-and-fat.
[10] Adam Campbell.
[11] Fred Cicetti, “What Exercises Can Get Rid of Belly Fat?” Live Science, November 2, 2012, http://www.livescience.com/36717-belly-fat-exercise-abdominal-aerobic.html.
[12] Leslie Truex, “How to Get Rid of a Beer Gut with Home Exercises,” LiveStrong, January 28, 2015, http://www.livestrong.com/article/507035-how-to-get-rid-of-a-beer-gut-with-home-exercises/.
[13] Catherine Guthrie, “8 Ways Exercise Makes You Gorgeous,” Experience Life, April 2010, https://experiencelife.com/article/8-ways-exercise-makes-you-gorgeous/.
[14] Leslie Truex.
[15] Peter Jaret.

Beating Multiple Chemical Sensitivities with Fitness

We all experience the noxious effects of chemicals in our environment, to some extent or another. We are regularly exposed to about 75,000 new chemicals that have been created in the last 50 years. And less than 10 percent of those have been tested for their toxicity.[1]

You might occasionally react to some toxic substance that you’ve been exposed to. Or, you may suffer chronically from multiple chemical sensitivities (MCS) from being bombarded with chemicals. Symptoms of MCS or reactions to exposure of a toxic substance may include:[2]

MCS reactions

how exercise helps multiple chemical sensitivityHow Exercise Helps

We may experience a reaction to the chemicals around us, or we may not. But we all carry a chemical load due to our exposure to heavy metals, pesticides, volatile organic compounds, and other chemicals that permeate our environment.[3] We absorb these substances through our food, water, breathing, and skin.

Regular exercise – especially aerobic — helps relieve MCS symptoms and prevent future occurrences. Below are just a few of the ways that physical activity helps to cleanse, bring balance and relieve stress. Exercise:

1. Detoxes the body.

Exercise induces sweating which helps remove toxic substances from the body.[4]

Many industrial toxins and pesticides leave the body only through the sweat glands. Click to Tweet.

As we exercise our body heats up, mobilizing the chemicals held in our fat. These toxins are then released and excreted through the pores.[5]

2. Oxygenates the blood.

Our respiratory system and every metabolic function in our bodies require oxygen. Exercise increases oxygen take-up.

Lack of exercise can result in oxygen-depleted blood, which is typical of patients with cancer and other chronic illnesses. Click to Tweet.

Many toxic waste materials in the body can only be neutralized through oxidation, which requires adequate oxygen in the blood.[6]

3. Removes waste through the lymphatic system.

The lymphatic system bathes the cells and carries away the “garbage.” There is no pump in the body to flush the lymphatic system.[7] Instead this requires movement and breathing deeply from the diaphragm for this to occur.[8] Exercise accomplishes this masterfully.

4. Relieves stress.

Many of the symptoms of stress mirror those of MCS and stress exacerbates the effects of MCS.[9] When under stress, our bodies secrete stress chemicals like cortisol and adrenalin. Unless we eliminate these stress chemicals, they cause serious problems in our bodies. Physical exercise is one of the best ways to get rid of these toxic stress chemicals.

5. Speeds up the metabolism.

As the metabolism speeds up, toxins are expelled from the body more rapidly and efficiently. Also, exercise moves food through the digestive tract more quickly, thus eliminating problems like constipation and other intestinal issues, which hinder the lymphatic system’s ability to function properly.[10]

Physical exercise offers so many healthful benefits! In addition to the above, it improves the body’s energy production, releases feel-good endorphins, lowers blood sugar and blood pressure, lowers LDL cholesterol, while boosting HDLs, and supports the immune system. Just rattling off all these benefits makes me want to go out and exercise, so I think I will!

Tips for Exercising with MCS

Here are 9 tips for exercising with a view to relieving, minimizing and preventing MCS:

1. Choose an aerobic exercise you enjoy.

There are so many to choose from including: walking briskly, running, jogging, hiking, cross-country skiing, snow-shoeing, bicycling, Jazzercise or some other aerobic dance, rowing, swimming, etc.

2. Exercise outside in a non-toxic setting.

Even if your home has filters, a non-toxic park or other outdoor setting is probably freer from toxins. Exercising outdoors seems to speed the recovery of many MCS patients.[11] Avoid exercising near traffic or in a heavy industrial area. Watch air quality reports and avoid exercising outdoors when the air quality is particularly poor.

3. Stay hydrated.

Drink plenty of filtered water from a BPA-free water bottle. Hydration is an important part of the cycle for metabolic processes and sweating.

4. Exercise in clothes and equipment free of offending chemicals.

Also, wash your clothes with a non-toxic laundry soap.

5. Eat organic foods.

Organic foods should contain fewer harmful toxins like pesticides and fertilizers. They also tend to be richer in nutrients and minerals to power you through your exercise routines.

6. Practice proper breathing.

Many people are unaccustomed to breathing deeply from their diaphragm. Exercising can help with this skill. Consciously develop a deep, breathing rhythm as you engage in your physical activity.[12]

7. Exercise to a sweat and shower right after.

Sweating helps detox the body, but it’s important to shower afterward to remove the toxins from your skin. Otherwise they may be reabsorbed. Also, shower rather than bathe in order to fully wash contaminants off your body.[13]

8. Replenish your electrolytes.

In addition to expelling toxins, sweating also expends important minerals like magnesium, sodium and potassium. Replenish these with fruit or make your own electrolyte drink.

how to use a sauna9. Follow up your exercise in the sauna.

An infrared sauna is best and supplements exercise with additional ability to extract toxins from the body through the pores.[14]

Drink 12 oz. of water and then enter the sauna immediately after completing your exercise. Begin with about 10-15 minutes. If you experience any discomfort or dizziness, leave promptly. If you do fine for 2 weeks at 15 minutes, increase to 20 minutes if you wish. If you have no ill effects at all in the sauna, you can gradually increase to a maximum of 45 minutes (increasing the time by not more than 5 minutes each week). Put a small towel on the bench where you sit so your sweat does not contaminate the sauna. Try to sauna once per day at least 5 to 6 days per week. Upon leaving the sauna, drink another 12 oz. of water to avoid a headache. Then, shower after the sauna. Beware of public saunas that may be cleaned with toxic chemicals.

Regular aerobic exercise is one of the key factors for recovery, minimizing and preventing MCS and maintaining overall health. Exercise provides a combination of heat and sweating, oxygen, increasing metabolic rate and reduced gut transit time to encourage detox and heal from MCS. Find an exercise you enjoy and begin this week to enjoy its many benefits!

If you liked this article, then you’ll love these:

 

Rob_FischerRob Fischer has been writing professionally for over 35 years. His experience includes writing curricula, study guides, articles, blogs, newsletters, manuals, workbooks, training courses, workshops, and books. Rob has written for numerous churches, for Burlington Northern Railroad, Kaiser Aluminum, and Barton Publishing. He has also trained managers in effective business writing. Rob holds two Master’s degrees, both focused heavily on writing. Rob has published eleven books and serves as an editor and ghostwriter for other authors.

 

Sources:
[1] Dr. Myhill, MD, “Detoxing – Far Infrared Sauna (FIRS),” 7 August, 2014, http://www.drmyhill.co.uk/wiki/Detoxing_-_Far_Infrared_Sauna_(FIRS).
[2] WebMD, “Multiple Chemical Sensitivity,” July 5, 2013, http://www.webmd.com/allergies/multiple-chemical-sensitivity.
[3] Dr. Myhill, MD, “Chemical Poisoning and Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS) – How to Reduce the Body Load,” October 4, 2012, http://www.drmyhill.co.uk/wiki/Chemical_Poisoning_and_Multiple_Chemical_Sensitivity_(MCS)_-_how_to_reduce_the_body_load#Exercise.
[4] CureZone, “Multiple Chemical Sensitivity – MCS – Prevention & Curing Protocol,” nd, http://www.curezone.com/dis/1.asp?C0=83.
[5] Dr. Myhill, MD, “Detoxing – Far Infrared Sauna (FIRS).”
[6] Nancy Hearn, “Oxygenate Your Body – Hot to Restore Oxygen Balance and Help Prevent Disease,” Natural News, April 16, 2011, http://www.naturalnews.com/032096_oxygenation_body.html.
[7] Nancy Hearn.
[8] Marcelle Pick, OB/GYN NP, “The Lymph System and Your Health,” Women to Women, 2014, https://www.womentowomen.com/detoxification/the-lymph-system-and-your-health-2/.
[9] CureZone.
[10] Marcelle Pick, OB/GYN NP.
[11] Dr. Grace Ziem, “Dr. Grace Ziem’s Environmental Control Plan for Chemically Sensitive Patients,” 2000, http://www.mcsrr.org/resources/articles/S3.html#exercise.
[12] Nancy Hearn.
[13] Dr. Grace Ziem.
[14] Dr. Myhill, MD, “Detoxing – Far Infrared Sauna (FIRS).”

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