With every fitness regimen the body is used in different ways. Some workouts require power and strength; others require endurance and resistance; still others require flexibility and mobility. While it’s important to know how muscles function and adapt during exercise, understanding your breathing is another powerful factor that can make or break your workouts. Breath control is an effective tool to help workouts reach their full potential. By utilizing breath properly, you can steadily improve performance in any discipline. Regardless of the fitness type – whether yoga, running, cycling, or lifting weights – proper breathing can help the body adapt to the various challenges that arise when exercising. Just as different muscles are used during different types of training, certain breathing techniques better apply to different workouts. Here are some specific breathing exercises to complement your workout regimen. Yoga Breath awareness lies at the core of any yoga practice. Breathing techniques vary depending on the style of yoga being practiced. They fall into two basic categories: the relaxation breath and the active breath. In general, if a yoga class is gentle or restorative, it is appropriate to employ the relaxation breath. For a more vigorous class (like a vinyasa flow or power yoga), utilize the active breathing technique. In yoga, students are encouraged to breathe in and out through the nostrils. Relaxation Breath This is the breathing technique that is closest to a natural breathing rhythm. When inhaling, imagine the belly filling with breath (hence the term belly breathing). Then when exhaling, allow the exhalation to be long and slow. If the inhalation is a four- or five-count, for example, the exhalation should be a five- or six-count. This breathing technique is best learned while lying down, because the body is able to completely relax when in a supine position. As a result, there are no restrictions or physical tensions to inhibit deep breathing. Once the relaxation breath is mastered lying down, it’s easier to practice it in a seated position. While practicing gentle or restorative yoga, this breathing technique helps maintain focus on relaxation. If you start to hold the breath or feel breathing become labored, return to the relaxation breath and allow the body to adapt accordingly.
This breathing technique involves the deepest abdominal muscle, the transverse abdominus, and the pelvic floor muscles. The transverse abdominus wraps around the torso like a thick seatbelt and engages, along with the pelvic floor muscles, as the major player in a full, active exhalation. There are additional muscles at work, such as the spinal muscles and other abdominal muscles, but the transverse abdominus and pelvic floor muscles are the most important in facilitating an active breath. When inhaling, envision breathing into the lower belly, the ribs, and the chest. During the exhalation, draw up the pelvic floor muscles, engage the transverse abdominus (imagine a thick seatbelt tightening around the torso,) and push the remaining breath out of the body. Since the transverse abdominus and the pelvic floor muscles are key stabilizers for the spine and pelvis, utilizing this breath during a vigorous yoga class helps maintain a stable body when moving through the postures. The active breath assists with the development of a strong core, supports each movement, and keeps the focus on the body during yoga practice.
Running or Cycling
Running and cycling encompass a variety of workouts and intensity levels. Some workouts involve maintaining a steady pace, while others require speed or hill work. We’ve focused on two breathing techniques that apply to a steady-paced training session or to hill or speed training.
The steady counting breath is a technique that facilitates an even-paced breath. When inhaling, breathe in to the count of four (or five, or six) and then exhale for the same length of time. Aim for breaths that come in and out with relative ease. This breathing rhythm supports a steady running or cycling pace that corresponds with strides or cadence. When running, breathe in for two, three, or four paces, and exhale for the same number of paces. The same technique can be employed to maintain an even inhalation and exhalation on the bike. Controlled breathing keeps the heart rate down, which maximizes the ability to run or cycle efficiently. The counting breath helps to maintain a steady pace. By developing breath control in this manner, you can increase the breath count, or adapt it as necessary for each workout.
Counting Breath Variation
Training on the road, a treadmill, or bike inevitably involves hill or speed work. These workouts can throw off pace, test breathing rhythm, and challenge muscles differently than training on flat surfaces. For these workouts, adapt the steady counting breath to focus on a slightly longer exhalation. The breathing count will naturally be shorter than a steady counting breath because of the demands these workouts place on the body. For the counting breath variation, breathe in for a count of one and breathe out forcefully for a count of two. Running or biking places the body in a position that allows an easy inhalation, but takes abdominal strength and breath control to manage exhalations. When this variation of the counting breath is practiced, the abdominal muscles are trained by controlling the exhalation more than the inhalation. When running, for example, inhale for one stride, but focus on a two-stride exhalation. By concentrating on maintaining a breathing rhythm with a more powerful exhalation, which will vary according to the pitch of the hill or the pace of our speed work, we can use the breath as a constant source of energy to propel the body forward and get us up those hills.
When lifting weights, the body needs power, stability, and focus. It is common for people to hold their breath when lifting. Unfortunately, holding the breath reduces potential strength, because the full energy of the core and breath doesn’t underlie each movement. This breathing technique will energize and power the body throughout your repetitions. Power Breath The power breath is a combination of the active breath described above in the yoga section and the counting breath variation, with a focus on exhalation described in the running/cycling section. To practice the power breath, inhale deeply and then pause at the end of the inhalation. During this pause in the breath, mentally prepare to lift the weight, be it dumbbells, kettlebell, barbell, or machine. With a powerful exhalation, engage the transverse abdominus and the pelvic floor muscles at the same time as lifting, pressing, or pulling the weight. By using the power breath – which involves core stability and a focus on long powerful exhalations – it’s possible to maintain a stable torso, which is essential for safe lifting. A stable torso also helps protect the spine and back by utilizing the core muscles to support a strong, balanced body. The power and focus of the exhalation energizes the muscles when lifting.
Employing the relaxation breath between sets allows the muscles to relax and regain energy for the next set of repetitions.
One Last Breath
Regardless of the type of exercise, conscious breathing can give you a greater awareness of your body and its signals. It can help you recognize when you are not working hard enough or overexerting yourself. Whether it’s on the mat, on the trails, or at the gym, being in tune with your breathing for every inhale and exhale can enhance your workout.
Annabel is a writer, yoga and Pilates instructor, health and wellness speaker, playwright, runner and triathlete. She combines her enthusiasm for wellness with her love of words to encourage healthy and whole living.
– See more at: http://yegfitness.ca/breathing-techniques-enhance-workouts/#sthash.BPLh9LSi.dpuf
These are four easy things you can do to make yourself more mentally and physically well:
1) Upgrade Your Diet:
What we put into our bodies is the fuel that we use to run on. Just as there are different octanes of gasoline available at the gas station, you, too, can fuel yourself with higher-octane foods.
Step 1: Cut out fried foods, excessive carbohydrates, sweets and prepackaged foods high in preservatives to improve your energy and health.
Step 2: Eat more fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean meats, which make you look and feel better.
The Result: When you take the time to pick out fruits, veggies and meats and prepare a well-balanced meal, you are investing that time in yourself. The process makes you feel accomplished and the upgrade to your diet will make you feel even better.
Pro Tip: If your schedule does not allow nightly food preparation, consider using a crockpot that can stay on and cook food while you are at work or preparing multiple meals for the coming week during the weekend.
2) Improve Your Fitness:
Exercise improves your physical and mental health. Physical activity can decrease stress, depression, and anxiety symptoms. If aerobic exercise is not part of your daily routine, you are not feeling as good as you have the potential to.
Step 1: The key to exercise is to pace yourself. If you have not been active in some time you should to take small steps and set goals that are realistic. When you ease into fitness it can be both enjoyable and highly motivating to achieve your goals. If you set the bar too high you can injure yourself and become increasingly frustrated by lack of progress. Even 30 minutes of walking can improve your health and decrease the risk of heart attack and stroke. No matter how cold it gets this winter, you can go to your local mall and walk! Start by walking from one end, to the other end, and back. Next time do this twice. You can walk around your block, bike around the neighborhood or join a local YMCA or another gym.
Step Two: Increase the intensity or frequency of your routine.
Pro Tip: If you are have trouble sleeping, burning calories and working out during the day can burn excess energy and lower stress levels, both of which can improve sleep.
3) Maintain Hygiene:
Taking care of yourself physically can make you feel more comfortable and confident, which can improve your mood. Many times when people are depressed they neglect common things such as shaving, getting haircuts or manicures, and bathing can become more infrequent, as can doing laundry.
Step 1: Take an inventory of how well you are caring for yourself right now.
Step 2: Getting a haircut or manicure can help you to feel better because you are investing in yourself. If you put care into how you look, others will take notice, as well. When you take the time to shave, wear clean and ironed clothes, you will feel better.
4) Create Achievable Goals:
Checking things off of a to-do list and achieving personal goals can be very rewarding. Maybe your goal is to get through a long-neglected pile of mail, return a long overdue phone call or to pay the bills on time this month. Each time you complete a challenge you will feel better and more empowered.
Step 1: If you find yourself in a rut, it is important to set goals that you can realistically achieve. Setting a goal to clean out a box in the garage is likely much more realistic than the goal of cleaning the entire garage. Once you accomplish your first goal and cross it off the to-do list, you will feel good.
Step 2: Now you can build on that momentum and take on a larger goal. For example, you can aim to clean out two more boxes. Before you know it you will have accomplished several small goals which add up to cleaning out the entire garage. Once you begin to achieve your goals it will become part of your routine and you will soon find that that the rut you were in is now a thing of the past.
As you improve the fuel you put into your body, your fitness, the way you take care of yourself and start accomplishing your goals you will begin to feel better. Your new behaviors will become a new healthier lifestyle. Activating these four areas of your behavior, and investing the time and energy in yourself, will improve your physical and mental wellness.
Dr. Goldenberg has written numerous articles about mental health and addiction topics. You can follow Dr. Goldenberg at docgoldenberg.com and http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/how-food-affects-your-moods on Twitter:@docgoldenberg.
By Mike Daley
Many office dwellers who work in front of computers for extended periods of time know there are unintended health consequences like increased risk for obesity and cardiovascular disease that come with 40+ hours of sitting each week. However, individuals with computer-oriented jobs often neglect to understand how a constant use of technology can impact eyesight and vision health.
Too much screen time can result in a temporary discomfort known as digital eye strain, which is characterized as the temporary physical eye discomfort felt after two or more hours in front of a screen. Marked by symptoms such as red eye, irritated or dry eyes, blurred vision, eye fatigue, back and neck pain and headaches, digital eye strain isn’t the result of one single issue —several environmental factors can contribute to it, including personal vision health, posture, lighting and personal device use habits.
A new report from The Vision Council finds nearly one-third of adults (30%) spend more than half their waking hours (9+) staring at digital devices and a majority of Americans experience symptoms of digital eye strain as a result.
Faced with hours at the computer, coupled with harsh LED or fluorescent lighting that emit blue light, office environments are increasingly becoming hot spots for digital eye strain. It has been estimated that as many as 70 to 75 percent of computer workers experience eye discomfort from high screen use.
The good news is that our workforce doesn’t have to live with this discomfort and can utilize tools and techniques to protect eyes. Computer eyewear is designed to increase individuals’ field of view, bring mid-distance objects into focus, reduce reflection from indoor and outdoor lighting and absorb blue light.
In addition to computer eyewear, below are some other tips that can help relieve digital eye strain in the office:
- Remember the 20/20/20 rule: every 20 minutes, take a 20-second break from the screen and look at something 20 feet away.
- Build an optimal workspace to mitigate outside stressors like lighting, screen glare and computer set-up.
- Increase the text size on your devices to better define the content on your screen.
Preventative eye care, like an annual comprehensive eye exam, can help preserve vision and identify other health issues early on in disease progression ensuring lifelong vision health. If you have digital eye strain, your eye care provider can discuss eyewear options or lifestyle changes to protect eyes. By taking action, individuals can enhance their vision when using digital devices.
For better or for worse, digital devices have changed the way we receive and process information. It is important that human resources professionals recognize the toll prolonged use of technology has on vision, employee productivity and health and understand solutions are available to address this emerging health issue in the workplace.
by Erin Sparrold | January 20, 2015
Most of us have reduced the value of the food we eat to a simple number: How many calories it has. True, the number of calories is a valuable bit of information about a food, but there’s so much more to it than that. If you’re just talking calories, you’re missing the very important bigger picture.
What’s a Calorie?
A calorie is a unit of measurement that tells us how much energy a gram of protein, carbohydrate, fat, or alcohol gives us. Clinically it’s a useful measurement but over the past few decades, calories have been assigned too much importance. Food is far more dynamic than just the simple energy it gives us.
The Problem With Counting Calories
You may have heard the phrase “Calories in and calories out.” The idea behind it is that if you take in fewer calories than you burn, you’ll lose weight. There are all sorts of apps, graphs, computer programs and food journals out there to track calories. And many people get frustrated when their tracking method shows a calorie deficit and they’re still not getting weight loss results. Plus, they feel deprived and hungry.
The solution is to stop focusing on a calorie range and start focusing on how each meal supports and sustains your health. It can be life changing! It not only will help slim your waistline, but it will improve overall health, vitality and emotional well-being. You’ll lose weight and feel satisfied with plenty of energy and without cravings. It’s empowering!
Nutrient Density vs. Calories
Here’s How It Works: Calories only measure the amount of energy a food gives you. But our bodies require so much more than just energy for health and vitality. We need a vast array of both macronutrients (proteins, carbohydrates and fats) as well as micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, plant pigments, essential fatty acids and antioxidants). Our bodies are programmed to seek out these nutrients to grow, repair, protect and support many functions. When we eat food low in nutrient density, our bodies aren’t satisfied, and they us signals to continue to seek out food and nutrients. If you consume a diet low in nutrient density, your hunger pangs may not completely stop, and you could overeat. So the goal is to have a diet that meets energy requirements as well as nutrient needs.
What Are Nutrient Dense Foods?
Nutrient dense foods are naturally rich sources of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, plant pigments, polyphenols, fiber, essential fatty acids and essential amino acids. Fortified processed foods don’t count! Instead, nutrient dense superstars include a variety of fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, organic grass-fed meats and wild caught fish. Variety is very important to getting a full balanced spectrum of nutrients.
How to Go Nutrient-Dense
The next time you’re evaluating your food, don’t ask yourself, “How many calories are in this?” Ask yourself a much more important and empowering question: “How is this going to nourish and benefit my body?”
– See more at: http://www.fitnessrepublic.com/nutrition/healthy_eating/forget-counting-calories-focus-on-nutrient-density.html#sthash.0I0e8RIg.dpuf
Healthy Eating Without Breaking The Bank
By Alexa Angelo, Bachelor of Science Dietetics
Feeding your family healthy, nutritious meals while staying on a budget can seem overwhelming. Most people even dread going to the grocery store. Sticking to a few simple tips can help make grocery shopping more enjoyable and cost effective.
Money Saving Tips
Successful grocery shopping starts at home. Before heading to the store, take an inventory of the foods you already have so that you are not buying multiples of anything. Create a menu for the week based on the foods in your inventory. Make a shopping list and stick to it! Grocery stores strategically place ‘companion’ items throughout the store to encourage impulse buying. For example, stay away from the caramel dip placed next to apples. Only stray from your list if it is a healthy item. Shop alone! Friends and children can add food to your cart that is unhealthy and out of the budget. You can spend 10- 40% more when shopping with a friend or family member.
When arriving at the store, start around the perimeters. This is where the whole foods are placed. Start with the fruits and vegetables and work your way around, eventually making your way to the dairy section. Try to stay away from the middle sections of the store. This area is primarily loaded with processed foods. Also, don’t sample products if you are not going to purchase them. This not only adds to that day’s calorie count, but could entice you to purchase something you don’t need.
If venturing to the middle of the store for the healthier items such as canned tuna and vegetables, be aware of the strategically placed items. For example, grocers place appetizing, unhealthy options such as high sugar breakfast cereals at eye level in order to grab children’s attention. Usually the healthier options are at the very top or bottom. Remember, food companies pay for the shelf space at eye level so your kids will bug you to buy the yummy-looking cereals.
Aisle by Aisle
1. Produce. Spend the most time in the produce section, which is usually the largest section in the store. Choose all colors of the rainbow in your assortment and don’t be afraid to try new fruits and vegetables every now and then. Also, don’t forget to do your research and buy what produce is in season. This is when the produce is the most fresh and inexpensive. For a great resource, go to http://healthymeals.nal.usda.gov/features-month/whats-season
2. Dairy. Dairy is a great source of calcium and vitamin D which helps build strong, healthy bones. There is a large assortment of dairy in the form of yogurt, milk, and cheeses (low fat and high fat options) which can help you meet your daily calcium consumption.
3. Breads, cereals, and pastas. These items should be chosen in the least processed form. Whole grains are the best option because they are the least processed. Whole grains also contain fiber which aids in the movement of waste through our digestive system. Whole oats, 100% whole wheat pasta and 100% whole wheat bread are the best options. Choose cereals with at least 4 grams of fiber and the least amount of added sugars possible.
4. Frozen foods. Frozen fruits and vegetables are a great and convenient way to keep up on produce when it is not in season. If budget is a concern, frozen fruits and vegetables are just as nutritious as fresh fruits and vegetables and very budget friendly. Frozen fruits are perfect for smoothies and frozen veggies add bulk to soups and other easy dinners.
5. Canned and dried foods. Keeping a variety of canned vegetables such as beans make great additions to soups and side dishes. Choose no salt added variations of vegetables and canned fruit packed in natural juices with no sugar added. Also, have a variety of olive and canola oils as well as different vinegars for a well stocked pantry.
A division of Mirabile M.D. Beauty, Health & Wellness, Medi-Weightloss of Overland Park is owned by on-site physician, James Mirabile, M.D. Our medical team works closely with patients to help them lose weight and keep it off. Our program uses real foods purchased in the grocery store, not pre-packaged or powdered meals. The combination of our exclusively formulated Signature Supplements, vitamin and mineral based injections and FDA approved appetite suppressants (if prescribed) work together to enhance your metabolism, manage appetite and keep you feeling great during your weight loss process. Since opening the Overland Park Medi-Weightloss in 2010, our patients have collectively lost 30,000 pounds! Dr. Mirabile’s Medi-Weightloss team consists of a Physician Assistant, Nurse Practitioner, Registered Dietitians and Nutritionists. Your nutrition and exercise plan will be developed based on your individual needs including your lifestyle and medical history.
Bachelor of Science Dietetics
Alexa graduated from Miami University of Ohio with a Bachelor’s Degree in Dietetics. She recently moved to Kansas City from her hometown of Youngstown, Ohio. Alexa is passionate about nutrition and taught community nutrition workshops throughout her undergraduate career.
If you live in the Northern Hemisphere, the time change in the fall can throw off your healthy schedule, leaving you tired and blue. Barbecues and fresh fruit snacks turn into pasta and potato meals. After-dinner walks or runs are replaced with time on the couch as darkness sets in. For many, late fall means driving to work in the dark and coming home to the same. It’s no wonder you feel out of sorts at the changing of the seasons.
Perhaps the best way to stave off the blues is to schedule time with friends and family. Keeping in close physical contact with the people you love during these darker and colder seasons will help you stay warm inside.
Friendship needs frequent expression to remain alive.
“We are all human, with frailties, foibles, and insecurities. We each need to be appreciated for the uniqueness that makes us individual, and we need to be told that we are appreciated.
Maintaining friendships requires effort and persistent expression, both in word and deed. Tell your friends often how much you appreciate them. Remember occasions that are important to them. Congratulate them upon their achievement(s) and let them know you are there for them whenever they need you.”
Integrative medicine is the practice of medicine that focuses on the whole person and makes use of all appropriate therapeutic approaches, healthcare professionals, and disciplines to achieve optimal health and healing.
It combines state-of-the-art, conventional medical treatments with other therapies that are carefully selected and shown to be effective and safe. The goal is to unite the best that conventional medicine has to offer with other healing systems and therapies derived from cultures and ideas both old and new.
Integrative medicine is based upon a model of health and wellness, as opposed to a model of disease. Whenever possible, integrative medicine favors the use of low-tech, low-cost interventions.
The integrative medicine model recognizes the critical role the practitioner-patient relationship plays in a patient’s overall healthcare experience, and it seeks to care for the whole person by taking into account the many interrelated physical and nonphysical factors that affect health, wellness, and disease, including the psychosocial and spiritual dimensions of people’s lives.
Many people mistakenly use the term integrative medicine interchangeably with the termscomplementary medicine and alternative medicine, also known collectively as complementary and alternative medicine, or CAM. While integrative medicine is not synonymous with CAM, CAM therapies do make up an important part of the integrative medicine model.
Because, by its very nature, the components of integrative medicine cannot exist in isolation, CAM practitioners should be willing and able to incorporate the care they provide into the best practices of conventional medicine.
For example, CAM therapies such as acupuncture, yoga, meditation, and guided imagery are increasingly integrated into today’s conventional treatment of heart disease, cancer, and other serious illnesses—and scientific evidence supports this approach to health and healing.
Coordinating all of the care given to a patient is a cornerstone of the integrative medicine approach. Your primary care physician will work in tandem with your integrative health coach.
Are the detours of life getting in the way of you achieving your health goals?
“It’s not that some people have willpower and some don’t. It’s that some people are ready to change and others are not.” James Gordon, MD
It is no secret that whole foods are the key to good health. Many people have turned to their own yards to grow the fruits and vegetables required for good nutrition. Not only are you able to see the fruits of your labor grow and flourish, but gardening can also burn up to 400 calories an hour! Get growing.