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What Does Exercise Do For Your Mental Health?

Everyone knows that exercise is good for your physical health. Improving your fitness, benefitting your general health, and keeping your weight in check are all proven pluses to working out. But did you know that exercise can help your mental health too? In fact, exercise can make a huge difference to your mental health is a whole range of different ways — and can particularly help people struggling with anxiety and stress. In this post, we’ll be looking at what exercise can do for your mental health and exploring the many positive benefits that getting active can have. Related: Ten Ways to Stay Active as We Age   1.   Exercise releases “feel-good” chemicals in your body One of the main reasons people cite exercise as being good for your mental health is because it releases “feel-good” chemicals in your body — improving your mood and overall happiness. You’ve probably heard of them: endorphins. It’s not just endorphins that physical activity stimulates the release of either —  serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine are all also released when you do exercise. Each of these brain chemicals (known as neurotransmitters) plays an important part in regulating your mood and boosting your overall wellbeing. As well as helping you to feel happy, energized, and motivated, these neurotransmitters can help to alleviate the feelings and symptoms associated with anxiety and depression.   2.   Exercise promotes mindfulness Exercise can help to promote mindfulness; increasing your ability to be fully present in the moment, rather than zoning out or letting your mind wander. If you’re regularly feeling overwhelmed by everything around you and your own thoughts, then mindfulness can have a positive influence on your mental health. Exercise can help you to achieve this mindfulness. Concentrate on how your body feels and the rhythm of your movements as you exercise — the movement of breath in and out of your body. Think of regular activity as an investment in your mind, body, and soul: by being truly present in the physical sensations in your body, you can achieve a zen-like mindset which will benefit your mental health. By practicing these techniques, you’ll find yourself focusing on the task at hand, rather than getting distracted by worries and negative thoughts. You might not realize it right away, but a repetitive exercise that you can lose yourself in — like swimming or run — will promote feelings of calmness within you.   3.   It relieves the physical symptoms of stress & other issues If you have ever suffered from stress or a similar type of poor mental health, you’ll know that these problems don’t just manifest themselves in how you feel or think; they impact your body and physical fitness too. For example, if you are feeling stressed or anxious, you will find that your muscles are often extremely tight, leaving you feeling tense, achy and painful. These feelings can affect your neck, back, shoulders and give you tension headaches. They may cause stomach problems, [...]

2020-01-08T13:28:46+00:00 By |

Senior Wellness: How Preventive Care and Technology Can Help Keep You Healthy

Age is the primary risk factor for cardiovascular disease, certain types of cancer, and a variety of other illnesses. However, just because you are getting older doesn't mean you can't take steps to stay as healthy as possible. With preventive care, technology, and healthy habits, you can increase longevity, improve immunity, and lower the risks of contracting a number of diseases.   Preventive Care As you age, annual physicals and preventive screenings become more and more important. You need to catch cancer and other diseases early for the best chances of recovery. When it's time to renew your health insurance, compare Original Medicare to Medicare Advantage plans to figure out the best choice for you. The Medicare Open Enrollment period runs from October 15 through December 7 each year. During this time period, you can switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan (and vice versa). You can also change from one Medicare Advantage plan to another, as well as add or switch your Medicare Part D plan (prescription drug coverage). Medicare Advantage plans are legally required to cover everything covered by Original Medicare, plus many offer other benefits such as dental, hearing, and vision care, as well as prescription drug coverage, wellness programs, and gym memberships. Compare the premiums, copayments, coinsurance, and deductibles of various plans, as well as the list of benefits, to determine which plan will meet your needs.   Daily Exercise Exercise is vital for people of all ages since it can benefit your blood pressure, sleep habits, and all other areas of life. One way to track your physical activity level is by using smartphone apps. If you'd like to upgrade your current phone, look for a new phone that has the capacity to run a variety of apps. The Samsung Galaxy S10 is a top choice with its high processing speed, durable Gorilla Glass, and super quick wireless charging capability. If you are more of an Apple fan, then check out the new iPhone 11 Pro Max, which has an amazing triple camera system and fingerprint-resistant glass. In addition to having a great smartphone, you should also look into getting an unlimited data plan so you can use your new phone as much as you’d like. Some of our favorite exercise apps for seniors include: Johnson & Johnson's 7 Minute Workout - This app is great if you are on a time crunch and want to get in a quick but effective Runkeeper - This app tracks your speed, distance, and routes with GPS, whether you are hiking, biking, or training for a marathon. Instant Heart Rate - This app allows you to monitor your heart rate accurately and easily by putting the tip of your finger on the camera lens.   Healthy Eating Exercise isn’t enough to stay healthy. You also need to eat well. According to reports by the World Health Organization (WHO), a majority of the diseases that older people suffer from are the result [...]

2019-11-07T16:35:53+00:00 By |

Ten Ways to Stay Active as We Age

As you get older, you may find yourself slowing down. But taking the lazy way out and not making the time to move and nourish your body can come with detrimental consequences to your health such as a decrease in your strength, cardio, balance, flexibility, and overall well being. That is why it is important to stay active as you age. But staying active doesn’t have to take the form of laborious workout regimens or pushing your body to the brink. There are several less demanding ways to get active throughout the day that will have your mind and body thanking you later. Here are ten of my favorite ways to stay active as you age: 1.    Get Up If you work a desk job or you spend a lot of time at home, then you may get in the habit of sitting for long periods of time. While a more sedentary lifestyle can be tempting, it is essential to split your time sitting up with microbreaks so you can ease inflammation and rejuvenate your body and mind. So stand up, stretch, walk around the office (or your house), or go outside at least every couple of hours. Even if you only move around for just three minutes every two hours you will feel lasting results. 2.    Do Strength Training We lose as much as three to five percent of our muscle mass each decade after age 30. The takeaway? If you don’t use your muscles, they will degrade. Performing weight-bearing exercises will help maintain and add muscle tone. These activities can include walking, jogging, hiking, and taking the stairs. 3.    Stretch As you get older, you may notice that your body isn’t as flexible as it once was. It is just as important to spend time stretching as it is spending time doing strength training or cardio. Proper stretching will not only make you feel more limber, but it can also reduce injuries and improve balance. 4.    Join a Team If you’ve always been a team player and are motivated by working alongside others to achieve a common goal you should consider joining a team. Basketball, baseball, soccer, tennis, and many other sports are available in recreational activity centers. If you love to play or want to learn then you should consider signing up. Sports take a tremendous amount of cardio, strength, and time. Playing just a couple of times a week will easily help you meet your exercise quota. 5.    Attend a Workout Class There are hundreds of different classes available for people of all ages. You can do anything from dancing to martial arts to spin classes. Fun, interactive classes make exercising much more enjoyable and can take away the pressure of having to form your own exercise regimen. For those with Medicare, there is an option of adding Medicare Supplement Insurance that offers SilverSneakers, a fitness program with access to gyms and other workout classes. 6.    Try Balance Training As you [...]

2019-08-12T17:54:23+00:00 By |

The Top 10 Detox Herbs

How to Find The Best Detox Herbs Today I want to explore ten of the best detox herbs used to cleanse various organs and systems of the body. Most of these herbs have been part of the therapeutic lexicon for hundreds, if not thousands, of years and are known across many cultures and borders to help with various ailments and health conditions. Due to their long history, popularity, and reported effectiveness, some of these herbs are also active ingredients in some of our most effective body cleansing products. 1. Organic Gum Acacia Made from the sap of the acacia tree, this substance has been used for centuries to help relieve symptoms of diarrhea by adding bulk to bowel movements and improving electrolyte absorption. It is also one of several ingredients in Oxy-Powder®. As a hydrocolloid, it is used as an emulsifier to stabilize and facilitate synergy between two ingredients which would not normally mix well together. [1] If you’re looking for a supplement that can help with digestion, check out OXY-POWDER in the AlrightStore. 2. Dandelion For centuries, parts of the entire dandelion plant have been used to help with a wide range of maladies. It promotes bowel regularity and good hydration levels in the body. And, its famous derivative, dandelion tea, has been used to help with joint discomfort. Dandelion root is used in our liver-cleansing product, Livatrex® because it supports bile production, and bile helps transport toxins out of the body. Dandelion is also believed by some to help the body’s immune system. [2] 3. Organic Milk Thistle This herb has been used to help the gallbladder and liver for over 2,000 years. It has been known to help produce bile, which in turn improves digestive function. Milk thistle is an active ingredient in Livatrex, which is our most popular liver and gallbladder cleansing product. [3] 4. Black Walnut Europeans were first introduced to this herb in the 1600’s. Three active agents in black walnut, juglone, tannins, and iodine, make it particularly effective in natural health and wellness practices. Juglone is the black walnut’s natural defense mechanism, which helps fight against harmful organisms like bacteria and fungus. Tannins also help deter harmful organisms. Iodine, an essential mineral to all life forms, helps reduce the lifespan of many harmful organisms. 5. Wormwood The subject of much folklore, wormwood’s potent reputation as a component of absinthe lead to it being banned in the United States for many years. Despite the momentary hiccup, wormwood is back and has been used since Egyptian times to fight harmful organisms such as pinworms and roundworms. It has also historically been used to aid with digestion. 6. Cilantro Cilantro is instrumental in helping the body rid itself of dangerous toxic metals that accumulate in organ tissues. It is also a very popular herb that is talked about on almost every cooking show. Cilantro possesses natural cleansing agents that contain compounds which bind to toxic metals and help pull them out [...]

2018-06-18T17:57:58+00:00 By |

4 Things Seniors and Caregivers Should Know About Yoga and Meditation

Caregivers and seniors are exposed to so much unique stress in their everyday lives. So, it makes sense that you need similarly unique ways to relieve that tension. Yoga and meditation can be the self-care combo that melts away that stress. Here are some reasons and tips for getting your own practice started.   Yoga Benefits Your Gut as Much as Your Mind  For caregivers and seniors, the primary purpose of meditation and yoga practice is improved mental health. If you get started with yoga, however, you may also be boosting your gut. The flow and work you do through yoga practices can actually encourage healthy processes throughout your digestive system, and that regular movement can help those healthy gut bacteria thrive too. As an added benefit, balancing out your microbiome can also help balance out your mood. So yoga really can be good for your body and brain in many different ways. But if you really want to promote a healthy gut and digestive system, adding fermented foods like yogurt is another way to up the ante. Try a refreshing smoothie that includes yogurt for a pre-yoga workout snack or even a healthy breakfast.   A Home Practice Space Can Enhance Your Habits  Ask any seasoned yogi and they will tell you one of the biggest challenges of practicing is actually stepping onto your mat. It’s important to practice regularly to really get yourself into the habit of using yoga and meditation so you can derive the full benefits. One way to encourage your practice is to dedicate a space in your home. All you need for a relaxing space is an area to stretch out and some basic supplies, like a mat, a block and a full-length mirror. Those items won’t take up too much space, but it’s still a good idea to clear away any clutter.  Consider this the perfect opportunity to remove items that are taking up both emotional and physical space. Give yourself time to decide by transferring anything you don’t need to a storage unit (a 5’x10’ unit rents for only $109 a month at Storage Etc-Los Feliz). Whether it’s temporary or long-term, having that extra space can make a difference for your mental well-being.   Morning Meditations May Provide More Benefits  Setting up a dedicated meditation and yoga space is a wonderful first step to encouraging a regular practice. Finding the time to practice, however, can be a challenge for seniors and busy caregivers. One method for making your meditation habit stick is to practice in the morning. By meditating as soon as you wake up, not only are you getting it out of the way, but you’re also setting the tone and mood for the day. If you tend to have a hard time remembering to wake up and meditate, you can also use a handy meditation app to set reminders. The guided meditation that apps like Headspace and Insight timer provide are helpful for caregivers who [...]

2019-03-26T19:25:27+00:00 By |

How Yoga Can Help an Empath

I am an empath. Sometimes I wish I weren’t, but most of the time it is one of my greatest gifts.   Empathy is, “the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.” – Unlike its sister term “sympathy”, feeling sorrow for another, empathy means to experience the feelings of another, from the inside. As you can imagine, going inside the experience of another being is often very unpleasant. When the object of your empathy is experiencing sorrow, you experience sorrow. When she is elated, you are elated. The teachings and techniques of yoga are meant to bring us closer to perfect union with the omnipresent consciousness that underlies all things. In a way, this is perfect empathy. The difference between yoga and empathy is that the former seeks to unite with the pure divine consciousness that all things are made from, bliss, while the latter seeks to unite with the experience of the person, place, or thing in question. But, empathy is a tool for the yogi and one that is naturally cultivated through the practice of meditation. Toward the end of my teacher Swami Kriyananda’s life, many noted the heightened sensitivity he showed toward the suffering of others. Mostly, he choked on tears of joy, but suffering too made itself known in his face. The great yoga master Paramhansa Yogananda once exclaimed, “Can you not feel its pain?!” when a disciple was carelessly moving a potted tree as he prepared to plant it in the Lake Shrine gardens. As we meditate, we experience increasingly subtle energies in our body. It should be no surprise that the result is often a heightened sensitivity to the world around us when we step off the yoga mat. In my new job at March of Dimes, I’m listening to stories of tragedy and loss a lot. Stories of injustice and the extreme suffering of losing a baby or mother. If you are black or brown in the United States, you are at high risk of experiencing complications in pregnancy and childbirth for a myriad of reasons, all of them avoidable and rooted in inequity. The stories break the heart of an empath. So, how does an empath cope? How do we develop these keen sensitivities in meditation and still move in the world with joy? Here is what works for me: Lean into the pain. For Siddhartha, the young Buddha, the pain of seeing aging, disease, and death propelled him on his spiritual search. Do not shy away from the pain you experience if you are an empath. Lean into it and you will find, after the waves of suffering subside, that it awakens your latent desire for truth. Release self-righteousness. The great trap in suffering is to give into the idea that you are right and someone else is wrong. That feeds separation consciousness, which leads only toward more suffering. Dr. Peter described it best in a talk last summer when he explained that [...]

2019-03-13T17:32:05+00:00 By |

13 Incredible Benefits of Yoga

Yoga is a practice that can transform your life, from the inside out. Yoga isn’t only a physical workout; it is a holistic practice that strengthens the body, mind, and spirit. If you are considering implementing yoga into your workout routine, these incredible benefits just may convince you to immediately head over to the studio for your first class.   1. Decreases Stress and Anxiety: Stress and anxiety relief is one of the top reasons people keep coming back to their yoga mat. Studies have shown that yoga can help in the decrease of cortisol, which is one of the main stress hormones. If you find that your life is putting an abundance of stress on your mind and body, or causing higher levels of anxiety than you can cope with, yoga may help you work through those feelings.   2. Increases Flexibility: Can’t touch your toes? Yoga can help. As you consistently dedicate yourself to a yoga routine, you will start to notice the changes in your body, and see yourself (literally) reach for new limits.   3. Strengthens and Tones the Body: People may associate yoga with stretching more than strengthening, but the practice requires a lot of body weight muscle work and balancing, which over time tones and builds your muscles.   4. Boosts Metabolism: Yoga has been found to help people improve their metabolism, which, with a dedicated practice, over time can help you lose weight.   5. Improves Posture: Say goodbye to slouchy shoulders. Yoga brings awareness to your body, helping you to keep your shoulders back and head up high.   6. Reduces Pain in the Neck and Back: If chronic pain in your neck or back is affecting your day to day life, yoga can help you stretch and strengthen your way to feeling better and mitigating the pain.   7. Decreases Headache Frequency: People who suffer from routine headaches have found that a consistent yoga practice can help lessen the frequency of headaches.   8. Encourages Better Sleep Quality: Yoga has been frequently studied as a tool for people suffering from sleep issues, including insomnia. If you find yourself unable to turn off your brain when your head hits the pillow, yoga may be the sleep aid you’ve been looking for.   9. Promotes Blood Circulation: Yoga helps to get your heart pumping, and as a result improves your circulation. Twisting poses also help to release oxygenated blood back into your system, and inversions encourage blood flow to your brain.   10. Improves Lung Capacity: Yoga without focused breathing isn’t yoga at all. The focus on breath, or pranayama, in a yoga class (in conjunction with the physical activity) can help to expand the capacity of your lungs.   11. Boosts Memory Function: Yoga can help you keep your brain functioning in top shape. Researchers found that regular yoga practice can improve memory performance.   12. Makes You Happier: A consistent yoga practice leads to an increase in serotonin, which is often referred to as the “happy hormone.” A [...]

2019-01-02T16:34:40+00:00 By |

Twist Your Way to Spinal Health with Marichi’s Pose

One of the most significant and long-lasting benefits of regularly practicing yoga is that it can help maintain the health of the spine. Twisting poses in particular help to improve the mobility of the spine by encouraging flexibility and strength. Even if you don’t have a dedicated yoga practice, working twisting yoga postures into your stretching routine can help you preserve the health of your spine so that it is functioning at its full potential. Marichi’s Pose, or Marichyasana, is a twisting posture that is fairly gentle, but impactful enough to both stretch and strengthen the spine, while also providing benefits to the entire body. It is accessible for people of all flexibility levels, and easily modifiable.  Performing Marichi’s Pose  Start in a seated position, with your legs extended out in front of you. Relax your shoulders. Extend through your spine and lift through your ribcage so that your torso is upright. Bend your right leg and bring your knee into your chest, with your foot flat on the ground and your heel as close to your right glute as possible. Maintain length through your left leg with your toes flexed up, and rotate it slightly inward.    Place your right hand behind your right glute, with the palm fully on the floor for support. Extend through your spine, and on an exhale, begin to twist your torso over to the right. As you twist your torso, extend your left arm up, and then bend at the elbow and place it on the outside edge of the right knee. The left hand should be pointing up, with the fingers fully extended. If you are unable to reach your bent elbow to the outside of the opposite knee, you can simply grab hold of the knee with your hand.    Ensure that your weight is placed evenly on the outside and inside edges of the right foot, and that your knee remains upright, rather than tilting in or out. Your weight should also be evenly distributed between your two sitting bones. Avoid making your hips unleveled by shifting more weight onto one side. Keep your torso upright, and avoid leaning forwards or backwards.    As you remain in this posture, on your inhales, extend through your spine. On your exhales, continue to twist your torso to the right, but do so slowly and gently. Your inhales and exhales should be deep and long. Hold the pose for about 30 seconds to a minute, and then slowly release by bringing your left hand to the ground and extending your right leg out in front of you. Repeat on the opposite side.    Benefits of Marichi’s Pose  The twist performed in Marichi’s Pose provides a wealth of benefits to the body, including the following:  Massages the abdominal organs, including the kidneys and liver.  Improves digestion.   Releases tension and mild pain in the back and hips.  Stretches the shoulders and upper back.   Both strengthens and stretches the spine, helping to increase flexibility.   Opens [...]

2018-12-26T16:25:02+00:00 By |

The Calming Effects of Restorative Yoga

Taking the time to slow down, focus inwards, and give your body and mind the attention it needs is necessary in a world where we are constantly on the go. Stress and tension have become the norm, rather than an occasional affliction, and many of us aren’t doing enough to combat it. Thankfully, restorative yoga allows you to do just that. Yoga that is more movement-centered tends to be more popular in amongst modern day yogis in the West, but restorative yoga touches on techniques that allow you to fully relax—something many of us neglect to do on a regular basis.   Restorative yoga generally includes a majority of seated and reclined postures. It heavily incorporates yoga props, such as blankets, blocks, bolsters, and straps, to make poses accessible and comfortable. The classes are slow paced, generally focusing on just a few postures and holding them for an extended amount of time without force or strain, and very focused on breathing, or pranayama. The combination of slow, gentle stretching and intentional breathing allows for a rejuvenating and healing experience that we so desperately need in this fast-paced world.   Benefits of Restorative Yoga  Increases Flexibility: Holding yoga postures for an extended period of time allows you to increase your flexibility, so long as you stay dedicated to a consistent practice. The poses in a restorative yoga class rely on props and gravity to reach the pose, rather than overstretching and potentially causing strain, so you’ll be safely increasing your flexibility. Balances the Nervous System: Restorative yoga helps to stimulate your parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for feeling calmer and more relaxed. The gentle postures and deep breathing help your heart rate and breathing rate slow down, as well as lower your blood pressure, helping you to reach a healthier and more blissful state. We are often over-stimulating the sympathetic nervous system, which leads to an excess in release of cortisol (also known as the stress hormone), so restorative yoga can help to balance out those two sides, leaving you healthier and happier. Releases Stress and Tension: Restorative yoga not only calms the mind, but also lets you focus on where you are holding physical tension in your body. By doing a practice that brings a high level of awareness to the physical state of your body, you’ll be able to focus in on different areas and see where you need to relax and let go. Encourages Deep Relaxation: A restorative yoga class allows you to reach a level of relaxation that you may not be able to attain when taking a class that is more physically demanding. The gentle pace and focus on breathing will encourage you to truly let go and relax. Increases Mindfulness: Mindfulness has become a hot topic in recent times, but regular restorative yoga practitioners have been aware of it for quite some time. The practice allows you to bring awareness to your body and mind, and encourages you to fully focus [...]

2018-12-21T13:52:19+00:00 By |