To sweat or not to sweat? You’re better off with the first option, which, of course, comes naturally. Here are 10 benefits of sweating.
— Sweat is a built-in cooling system. The skin is covered with millions of sweat glands that cool like air-conditioning ducts.
—Humans typically produce from a half-quart to a full-quart of sweat per hour depending on gender.
—Sweat’s main job is to cool down the body. However, stress, anxiety and excitement can also cause sweating. Foods and beverages that increase anxiety, such as coffee and tea, can ramp it up too.
— Sweat is mostly water, a little salt and trace amounts of other mostly dietary substances including potassium, chloride, calcium, magnesium, copper, zinc and iron.
— The human body has two types of sweat glands. One is near the skin surface and has cooling properties. They produce a watery substance and are present in skin tissue from head to toe and concentrated on the brow, hands and feet. The other type of sweat gland is in human hair follicles. This produces a thicker substance that includes fatty acids and protein byproducts. When broken down by bacteria, this kind of sweat emits nitrogen and carbon compounds as well as ammonia. Unpleasant odor and staining might result.
— Men typically sweat more and easier than women while exercising. Women carry less water and sweat less to prevent dehydration. It’s an evolutionary trait.
— As skin changes during the aging process, sweat glands produce less sweat. This increases the risk of heat stroke. So remember to drink lots of water when exercising.
— Sweat glands produce a natural skin barrier that emits a natural antibiotic, which fights germs and infections, and help prevent bacteria from reaching the kidneys.
— Sweating is a mood changer. A good workout is great way to lift your spirits. That’s because the more you sweat the higher your feel-good hormones rise. Those hormones are known as endorphins.
— Sweating cuts accumulation of salt and calcium in the kidneys and urine. It also stimulates thirst. This washing out of the system has multiple benefits, which includes reducing the formation of kidney stones.
So do yourself a favor and sweat for at least 30 minutes a day. Simply move your body until you drench yourself, and be sure to have fun in the process.
Regular exercise is not only a young person’s game. Studies show that as your age, getting a regular workout affects the brain in such a way that strengthens cognitive abilities.
How long do you exercise daily? Do you wear a tracking device that records the number of steps you take each day? If not, then consider buying one. Fitbits and other brands are now available where ever sporting goods are sold. An investment of $100 to $150 for an easy-to-use tracker worn on your wrist is well worth the time and expense. You establish a goal — say, 10,000 steps (or about 5 miles) — and get going. By the end of the day, your tracker tells you where you stand. But, remember, check with your doctor or health-care provider first to determine your daily goal.
Exercise is one of the most important things you can do to keep your body — and especially your brain — in good working order. New studies show that people 65 and older who stay active, don’t smoke and eat healthy have less trouble remembering things. And the more intense your daily exercise, the more your brain works as it should. Again, be sure to check with your health-care provider to determine your maximum limit.
“Physical activity is an attractive option to reduce the burden of cognitive impairment in public health because it is low cost and doesn’t interfere with medications,” said Clinton B. Wright, MD, MS, of the University of Miami in Miami, Fla., and member of the American Academy of Neurology. “Our results suggest that moderate to intense exercise may help older people delay aging of the brain, but more research from randomized clinical trials comparing exercise programs to more sedentary activity is needed to confirm these results.”
Exercise in older people is associated with a slower rate of decline in thinking skills that occurs with aging. People who reported light to no exercise experienced a decline equal to 10 more years of aging as compared to people who reported moderate to intense exercise, according to Dr. Wright’s population-based observational study.
It’s always the “bug season” down at the gym, so beware!
There’s a cliché out there about staying out of hospitals because germs gather there. It’s misleading, of course, because hospitals typically take extra care to clean everything thoroughly. But it’s also true. Most hospital executives steer clear of questions about staph infections, for instance.
Same goes for gymnasiums. There was an interesting item in Parade magazine recently by Leslie Goldman tagged “Gym Germs” that should be noted by everyone who enjoys a good workout in public facilities.
“Muscles aren’t the only things you can get at the gym,” the writer notes. “The close quarters, plus the prevalence of sweat, leaves you vulnerable to germs and infections. In fact, a University of California, Irvine, study found that staphylococcus bacteria easily survives on gym equipment and locker room benches even after being sanitized.”
These bacteria are commonly found on human skin, and can cause problems when they enter the bloodstream through cuts and blisters especially in the nose area.
Also prevalent on gym equipment including free weights and machines are traces of rhinovirus, which is responsible for common colds. This germ typically enters the body through the eyes, nose and mouth. So practice swabbing down all gym equipment with a disinfectant before and after use. Hand sanitizer is OK if used abundantly.
And the showers area is another place to visit with care. Foot fungus and plantar warts just thrive in warm, moist environments. So don’t forget to wear your flip-flops. Gym bags and towels are also havens for nasty germs. So bring some clean plastic bags for used towels and an anti-germ spray for your backpack. Mold spores multiply rapidly, so don’t delay doing your cleaning once you get back home.
Being blessed has everything to do with being happy. Christians and Jews especially understand this, as well as members of most other major faiths and persuasions. But happiness often requires an attitude-adjustment technique.
- Sleep in a comfortable bed. A saggy mattress will not do.
- No matter what, make it a point to wake up each morning thankful you’re still alive. You have lots of good things to do for others as well as yourself.
- Your home, apartment, room or wherever you live is your castle. Keep it clean. There is no room in a happy life for confusion.
- Surround yourself in light. Flip on the switch, open the curtains, lift the shades, step outside. Light is energy. Darkness is depressing.
- Keep a fresh coat of paint on your walls, and decorate them with beautiful art. And make sure each piece means something positive to you.
- Same goes for music.
- De-clutter your house and your mind will follow. But remember, one room at a time.
- Count your blessings. Your life is full of them. It’s all a matter of attitude.
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.