Why Bone Health Is Important

Bone health is important for people of all ages

You might not think much about your bones unless they are hurting you or you break one, but bone health is something you should keep in mind throughout your life.

If you have poor bone health in your early years, you will be more likely to experience osteoporosis, bone fractures, and disability once you get to your senior years. It is important to understand the risk factors that go into poor bone health, the signs of poor bone health, how to improve your bone health, and when you should see a doctor about bone health.

Factors That Play a Role in Bone Health

There are several factors that can impact your bone health now and in the future. While some of them are unavoidable (such as your sex and your age), others are lifestyle choices that you can improve or change.

Age

Part of the aging process includes losing calcium and bone density. This begins sooner than you might think; during your 30s, you will begin losing density in your bones. While most people in their 30s and 40s are not at risk for bone fragility, by the time you are in your 60s and beyond, the loss in bone density can lead to fractures.

Sex

Women are more prone to weakened bones than men are. This is due to hormones; after menopause, which usually occurs in a woman’s early 50s, bone density decreases more quickly than it did before menopause and also more quickly than it does in men.

Activity Level

People who have a sedentary lifestyle prior to middle age are more likely to have lower bone density (and poorer bone health) than those who have been active.

If you haven’t been active, however, you can turn things around: Exercising regularly improves muscular strength, which, in turn, can increase bone health. There are two types of exercises to focus on for bone health: muscle-strengthening and weight-bearing. These are in addition to the aerobic exercise that is important for cardiovascular health.

Diet

In general, following a healthy diet will help improve your bone health. Again, much of the damage is done prior to middle age, but changes during the later years can still help.

Calcium and vitamin D are two nutrients that are essential to bone density. Magnesium, potassium, and vitamin K are also important.

Signs of Poor Bone Health

While a broken hip or another broken bone is a clear sign that your bone health is not as good as it could be, that is not the only clue that something is amiss. There are other signs of poor bone health that you should be aware of…

  • Weak or brittle fingernails. If your fingernails are in good health, that’s a sign that your bones are also healthy. The opposite can also be true, but remember that your fingernails are exposed to many more elements than your bones are. Things such as washing dishes, using nail polish and nail polish removers, and gardening will impact your nail health without impacting your bone health.
  • Dental issues. If you are experiencing receding gums, bone loss, or loose teeth, that is a good indication that you might also be losing bone density. Again, your personal habits can impact this, but if you are brushing and flossing regularly and still having dental issues, it’s wise to consider your bone health as well.
  • Loss of muscular strength. Muscle strength is linked to bone health. If you are noticing that your grip is not what it once was or you are losing stamina and strength you once had, your bone health might be suffering.

How to Improve Bone Health

No matter how old you are, there are some steps you can take to improve your bone health and reduce your risk of fractures and low bone density both now and in the future. Here are just a few:

  • Exercise regularly. Getting regular exercise strengthens both your muscles and your bones. Aerobic exercise will keep your heart and lungs in good shape, but what you want to focus on are weight-bearing and muscle-strengthening exercises. You can use your own body for resistance and do push-ups, sit-ups, leg lifts, and so on. You can also use the weight machines at the gym. However, you should talk to your doctor before starting any new exercise program.
  • Eat a healthier diet. Be sure that your diet is full of fruits and vegetables (particularly leafy greens such as kale, spinach, cabbage, and broccoli), lean protein sources, healthy fats, dairy products, and whole grains. These foods will help you get the essential nutrients you need for good bone health.
  • Take vitamins and supplements. Talk to your doctor about whether you should be taking a calcium, vitamin D, potassium, or magnesium supplement. If you are not getting these in your diet or if you are deficient, a supplement regimen can help you improve your bones. A great supplement for bone health, which also has many other positive health benefits, is IP6 Energy. Recognized as a potent antioxidant, IP6 acts to neutralize the damaging effects of free radicals on body cells and has been shown to enhance the immune system and support healthy cellular activity.* Additional research indicates IP6 & Inositol may support healthy renal function,* promote heart health,* and help maintain healthy glucose metabolism.* IP6 Energy is a rich source of calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium that supports and maintains strong, healthy bones. Additionally, a supplement that supports joint and muscle health, such as 1TDC™, can help improve mobility and decrease recovery time as you take on a new exercise regimen.
  • Make lifestyle changes. Better overall health will lead to better bone health. If you are smoking, take the steps needed to quit. Moderate your alcohol use, too. Be sure you are getting enough sleep and that you are controlling your stress levels.

When to See a Doctor

Talk to your doctor the next time you see him or her for a routine checkup to discuss your bone health. If you are having any signs of poor bone health, make an appointment sooner. You can also ask whether you should have a bone density scan done; most doctors will recommend that a woman has one done at age 65 and that a man has one done at age 70.

Take control of your bone health by learning more about it and taking positive steps toward increasing your bone density. Don’t wait; even if you are in your 20s, making good choices now can help you stay healthy and active well into your 70s and beyond.

Looking for an additional boost to your bone health? IP6 Energy is a natural dietary supplement that contains calcium, magnesium, and other vital nutrients. Add IP6 Energy to your daily regimen and give your bones the support they need!

Get yours today!

 

Fall Workout Ideas

The temperatures are dropping, and for much of the country, we will be waking up to frosty mornings within the next month or two.

When the last days of summer come to an end, it can become more difficult to get in your daily run or walk. It is darker in the morning and in the evening, and when the temperatures get chillier day by day as we head through October and November into December, you might feel less motivated to brave the great outdoors. In some areas, snow and ice will make outdoor workouts treacherous in the fall…

Rather than give up on your exercise regimen until the spring, here are some fall workout ideas for getting in your physical activity during the colder months.

Go Out When It’s Warm

Many people who work traditional daytime hours like to get in their workouts early in the morning or later in the evening. Since these are now the coldest and darkest parts of the day, it makes sense to change your schedule to allow for a midday workout, if possible.

Can you take a walk during your lunch break? Plan ahead by bringing your walking shoes and a towel to freshen up.

Consider Joining a Gym

If you usually exercise outdoors and that’s becoming less appealing as the weather gets colder, think about a short-term gym membership. Many gyms will allow you to join on a month-to-month basis, so you can save money by joining in October and canceling in April or May, depending on when spring arrives in your area.

There are some considerations to keep in mind, however.

  • Ask yourself whether you will be willing to drive to another location to work out. If it isn’t convenient, you might pay for the membership and hardly use it.
  • Make sure they have enough equipment. Gyms tend to get busier during the cold weather months for the same reason you’re considering a membership, so you will want to be sure there are enough treadmills, elliptical machines, and weight machines to go around on busier days.
  • Double-check the cancellation policy and confirm that they will allow you to cancel with no fee (or for a nominal processing fee) after less than one year.

Get Your Groove On in the House

Fall is a great season to spend more time in the house; many of us yearn for the coziness of home when the days are short and chilly.

If you enjoy being home during the cooler months, take advantage of it by turning on some music and dancing around as you do your chores! An hour of moderate dancing can burn off 400 calories, so combine fun movements with the tasks you’re doing anyway and let your housework do double duty.

Learn Something New

Joining some type of exercise class will teach you new moves and will introduce you to new people. When the class ends, some of these people may become fitness-minded friends who could make good jogging partners once spring rolls around.

Look into your nearby recreation center or the YMCA for possibilities. You might enjoy yoga, water aerobics, or spinning. You can also find out whether a local dance school has Zumba or ballroom dancing classes, which are excellent ways to burn calories while having a blast.

Use the Internet for Free Resources

If you’ve ever taken on any home improvement or automotive repair projects, you might know that you can find an instructional video online for pretty much anything you would ever want to do.

Exercise is no exception!

You can go to YouTube and find videos on all sorts of exercise routines, including yoga, kickboxing, walking in place, and much more. Choose one favorite, a few that you like, or mix it up by picking something different every day.

Take Advantage of the Season

While it is chillier out than you might prefer, there are some great activities that can help you stay active during the fall months.

  • If you enjoy watching football, consider going to a game. Walking up and down the bleachers a few times is a workout in itself, not to mention strolling around the perimeter of the field and walking back out to the parking lot to find your car.
  • Or, you can see if there are pick-up soccer or football games that you might be able to join at your local rec center.
  • Fall fairs are another fun activity that will help your steps add up quickly. Meander in and out of the buildings to stay warm in between visiting the outdoor exhibits.
  • Raking leaves burns lots of calories, as does climbing up and down a ladder to clean fallen leaves out of the gutters.

Staying active during the fall might not be as simple as it is during the spring and summer, but there are ways to keep your heart healthy and your waistline trim. Give some of these fall workout ideas a try; you just might find your new favorite activity to incorporate into your year-round exercise routine!

What Is Myofascial Pain?

“Myofascial pain syndrome is a chronic pain disorder. In this condition, pressure on sensitive points in your muscles (trigger points) causes pain in the muscle and sometimes in seemingly unrelated parts of your body.”[i]

What Is Myofascial Tissue?

Myofascial tissue is thin, fibrous connective tissue that extends throughout your body to provide support and protection to your muscles, bones, and organ systems. Myofascial tissue fibers are made up of collagen and elastin fibers that are suspended in a fluid called ground substance. With a high tensile strength, it provides strong support for the muscles, while at the same time allowing for flexibility. You can think of myofascial tissue as being similar to spandex. It’s pliable and can expand and contract with your body movements. Healthy myofascial tissue is soft and relaxed; however, any injury or inflammation to the tissue can cause it to tighten, resulting in knots, adhesions, and pain in the tissue.

What Are the Causes and Symptoms of Myofascial Pain?

Myofascia weaves its way throughout the body in a pattern that is unique to each individual. Unlike the muscles of the body that have a predictable origin and insertion, the route that myofascia takes is determined by each individual’s physical and emotional stressors from early in life.

Our myofascial pattern is constantly changing. Physical stress in the form of illness, trauma, repetitive motion, surgery, lack of activity, or postural change can all cause constriction of the fascial system. However, emotional stressors such as hormonal changes, anxiety and depression, fatigue, and lack of sleep can also have the same effect on myofascial pain. Over time, this can result in abnormal pressure on the nerves, muscles, bones, or organs.

We are literally being squeezed from the inside, and numerous symptoms begin to emerge. We may experience pain, loss of motion, decreased energy, difficulty concentrating, and inability to relax and sleep in either a single muscle or an entire muscle group. The myofascia becomes very hard and sticky. It doesn’t allow proper distribution of fluid throughout the body.

Instead of being soft and pliable at rest, the soft tissue system begins to carry an abnormal amount of tension all the time. The muscles feel hard and firm, even when we are trying to relax. The body perceives a constant level of stress that it cannot let go.

This results in the following:

Are Fibromyalgia and Myofascial Pain the Same?

Pain and fatigue associated with the musculoskeletal system are among the leading causes of patients visiting their physicians, and nearly one-third of such patients suffer from fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) is a chronic debilitating disorder characterized by widespread pain with tenderness in specific areas, leading to fatigue, headache, and sleep disorder.

Myofascial pain syndrome (MPS) is also a localized musculoskeletal pain-producing condition. Though diagnostic and management criteria differ from FMS, it’s considered by many to be a subtype of FMS. To date, no exact cause has been held responsible for these painful conditions, so treatment of these disorders is always a challenge.

Is There a Cure?

Is there a cure to our daily habits, postures, and activities? I always tell my patients that their recovery has more to do with what happens outside my office than what happens inside it. If you can “undo” what I have “done” faster than I can “undo” your issues, then we are in for a long treatment plan!

Treatment options are vast. My recommendation is always as follows:

  • “If you have a physical problem, then a physical treatment is likely a better option!”
  • “If you have a chemical problem, then a chemical treatment may be a better option.”

As a general rule of thumb, I recommend starting with the least invasive treatment available and escalating the treatment to more invasive treatment methods as the conservative ones become ineffective or fail.

What Are the Differences Between MPS and FMS?

The symptoms associated with MPS and FMS—such as musculoskeletal pain, taut fibers, twitch response, referred pain, fatigue, poor sleep, paresthesia, headache, sensation of swelling, and irritable bowels—are more frequent and generalized with FMS. Conversely, they are typically less frequent and more localized with MPS. The one symptom that does not follow the general rule here is referred pain.

Can They Happen Together?

In my opinion, yes. If you have FMS, you have MPS!

What Are the Treatments for MPS and FMS?

Although there are many theories, no clear causative factors responsible for MPS and FMS have been isolated. Association of prolonged static postures, lack of exercise, high body mass index (BMI), sleep disturbance, and emotional stress have been found. The treatment recommended for these conditions is therefore multimodal in nature and can be categorized as pharmacological and/or non-pharmacological therapies.

For example, medications such as anti-inflammatory drugs, muscle relaxants, and analgesics can be used to ease the severity of the symptoms. Additionally, non-pharmacological methods such as trigger point injections, ultrasound therapy, yoga and exercise, ice and heat, anti-inflammatory creams, and massage therapy are often used. For longer lasting and maximal benefits, the present practice combines both the non-pharmacological approaches with the short-term pharmacological therapies.

What to Expect with an MPS Diagnosis

MPS can be an overwhelming condition to live with as it can affect your quality of life and interfere with physical activities that you previously enjoyed. Recognizing your symptoms early and seeking treatment can help you manage MPS successfully.

Understand that the same treatment may not work for everyone with MPS, so do not become discouraged. Like many conditions, you will experience good days and bad. Make sure you make healthy lifestyle choices and stay compliant with the treatment plan that your physician created for you.

Keep an eye out for future blogs in which we discuss specific treatments and types of providers to seek help for MPS and FMS.

[i] https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/myofascial-pain-syndrome/symptoms-causes/syc-20375444 Mayo Clinic

What Is Joint Lubrication?

When we move our bodies, it is necessary for our joints to be lubricated. This is so the bones don’t scrape against one another, which would cause pain and, in severe cases, disability. The body creates synovial fluid to provide this lubrication. In addition, cartilage helps the bones move smoothly by providing cushioning. As people age, they create less synovial fluid and their cartilage gets worn down, causing arthritis, joint pain, joint swelling, and a reduced range of motion.

How to Improve Joint Lubrication Naturally

There are many ways that you can improve your joint lubrication if you are noticing the symptoms of less synovial fluid or damaged cartilage. Even if you are not noticing any issues, it is important to take steps to avoid having these problems. You can do so by making lifestyle changes, by eating foods that can help joint lubrication, and by taking certain supplements.

Lifestyle Changes That Can Help with Joint Lubrication

One of the most effective ways to avoid issues with your joints is to lose weight if you are overweight and to avoid gaining excess weight if you are currently at a normal weight. The more you weigh, the more pressure is exerted on your ankles, knees, hips, and spine. It is normal for joints to lose some of their lubrication and cushion as you get older, but carrying too much weight can hasten this part of the aging process.

Talk to your doctor about the safest way for you to lose weight. In most cases, you will need to reduce the number of calories you are eating and/or burn off more calories with exercise. Some people might do well on a specific diet. Others might benefit from weight-loss medication or surgery. The right solution for you depends on what you have tried before, how much weight you need to lose, how healthy you are overall, whether you have diabetes or other chronic illnesses, and other factors that your doctor will be able to discuss with you so you can settle on the plan that is right for you.

If you are currently at a healthy weight, take steps to avoid gaining weight. Eat healthy portion sizes of nutrient-dense foods and exercise daily.

Exercising regularly is also an important step in keeping your joints well lubricated. The more you use your joints, the better they will be at keeping up with the demands you place on them—to a point. Overworking the joints can cause damage. Be sure to speak with a physical therapist or sports medicine specialist if you are very athletic or if you are having trouble with creaking, swollen, or painful joints.

What to Eat for Better Joint Lubrication

As already mentioned, keeping your weight at a healthy level is a great way to maintain your joint health. To do this, most people should focus on eating whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, and lean protein sources such as eggs, poultry, fish, and pork. Avoid fatty red meat, sugar, too much salt (which can cause swelling), and too many processed foods.

You will also want to make sure you get enough healthy fats in your diet. Try adding avocado, avocado oil, olive oil, nuts, and fatty fish (such as salmon) to your diet. These fats improve your joint lubrication and will also keep your skin supple and your hair healthy.

Also, drink plenty of water to reduce water retention in your body, as this puts more pressure on your joints. It sounds counterintuitive, but staying well hydrated can help avoid fluid retention and will help flush stored fluids out of your body.

Supplements for Joint Lubrication

Taking certain supplements can also keep your joints moving smoothly. Glucosamine sulfate and chondroitin are supplements that help reduce inflammation and increase lubrication. Their benefits are limited, however.

A supplement containing fatty acids can not only improve joint lubrication but also improve muscle stamina, making it easier for you to remain active. Talk to your doctor about adding 1TDC to your healthy diet. This supplement contains unique fatty acids that can potentially bring about full-body relief.

Medical Treatments for Poor Joint Lubrication

There are several different medical treatments for poor joint lubrication and inflammation. The goal with these treatments is usually symptom control. A common first treatment is combining non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) with cortisone (steroid) injections. You might need to take the NSAIDS for a long period of time, so the benefits of this treatment would need to be weighed against the risks associated with frequent use (mainly gastrointestinal issues and potential heart issues).

Physical therapy is another common treatment; over time, the physical treatment you have in the office can often be phased into exercises you do at home to maintain better joint lubrication.

Finally, surgery is an option in severe cases. You might have knee-replacement or hip-replacement surgery, depending on which joint is giving you trouble. Your surgeon will talk to you about the risks and benefits of these procedures should it come to that.

Alternative Treatments for Joint Lubrication

Those looking for alternative ways to address joint pain and poor joint lubrication may benefit from treatments such as acupressure or acupuncture.

With acupressure, a professional acupressurist will stimulate various points of the body using firm pressure. Some studies suggest that acupressure can aid in lubricating the joints to improve flexibility and reduce pain.

Acupuncture, on the other hand, involves the insertion of hair-thin needles in specific energy-flowing points. This treatment is believed to stimulate nearby nerves and improve both mobility of the joints and circulation.

It makes sense to start with making lifestyle changes, changing your diet, and adding supplements to your regimen if you are dealing with poor joint lubrication. Talk to your doctor about making the best choices for your continued health.

Improving Flexibility in Your Golden Years

If you are entering or are well into your senior years, you may have noticed that you are not as flexible as you once were. While this is a natural part of the aging process, there are steps you can take to keep your muscles more supple and improve your flexibility and range of motion. Read on to discover why flexibility is important, how it can benefit you, and what tips you can follow to improve flexibility during your golden years.

Why Is Flexibility Important?

Feeling stiff and sore when you get up out of a sitting position might be common, but it’s not normal. Improving your flexibility can help you improve your quality of life in many ways, including:

  • Activities of daily living. Do you ever struggle to wash your hair, put on your socks, make your bed, put away groceries, or perform other activities that need to be done on a regular basis? Some seniors eventually need in-home care or relocation to an assisted living community when the activities of daily living become too cumbersome. But with greater flexibility, this might not be necessary.
  • Pain relief. Sore joints and muscles can become even more uncomfortable if your body is not flexible. Flexibility exercises and supplements can relieve the discomfort and pain that goes along with feeling stiff.
  • Enjoyment of activities. What types of activities did you enjoy when you were younger? If you liked swimming, long walks, gardening, and other hobbies that require physical activity, increasing your flexibility can help you get back to those pastimes.
  • More exercise. You probably already know the many benefits of getting enough exercise, which include better cardiovascular health, less stress, better sleep, more strength, greater energy, and weight maintenance. Increasing your flexibility and range of motion will allow you to be more physically active. It will also allow you to be more energetic for playing with your grandchildren and pets!
  • Injury prevention. Greater flexibility leads to a better sense of balance, which can reduce your chances of falling or otherwise injuring yourself. Falls are a major concern for seniors, and they often lead to broken bones and disability.

How Can I Increase My Flexibility?

Whether you are noticing a decline in your flexibility or you are just hoping to avoid having problems, there are steps you can take to increase your flexibility and reap the benefits.

Stretching and Exercise

One way to increase your flexibility is to stretch. Stretching most days of the week will help you maintain the flexibility you have and can also increase your range of motion, loosen up stiff muscles, and help you gain strength. Don’t just begin stretching without putting some thought and preparation into it, however.

  • First, check with your doctor. This is particularly important if you have had any injuries, major health problems, or surgeries recently or in the past. Your doctor might advise that you work with a physical therapist to start so you target the right muscles and don’t get hurt.
  • Next, only stretch when your muscles are warm. This means that you shouldn’t start stretching after spending a lot of time sitting. Some walking or light cardio exercise will warm up your muscles. Even 5 or 10 minutes is enough to increase the circulation to your muscles and can help you avoid a muscle pull or strain. You can also try stretching after your shower each day; the hot water will loosen up muscles, too.

A yoga or tai chi class can help you learn how to stretch and improve your flexibility at your own pace. You can start at any fitness level, and the instructor will show you how to modify the motions to work for your current level of flexibility.

  • Finally, go slowly and be patient. Don’t stretch to the point of pain; just stretch until you feel a light pressure in the muscle. Remember that it will take time for you to see and feel results. Overexerting yourself will lead to more stiffness and soreness, and it might even cause injury, so don’t stretch too much or too far.

Dietary Supplements

There are some vitamins and minerals that you should be sure to have in your diet or take in supplement form for better flexibility. Remember to check with your doctor before adding supplements to your regimen; some might interfere with medications you are taking or health conditions that you have.

Calcium is important because it keeps your bones healthy. Bone health is integral to muscle health, so it makes sense to support your skeletal system! Good sources of calcium include dairy products, sardines, and some leafy greens.

Methylsulfonylmethane, abbreviated as MSM, is a substance derived from naturally occurring sulfur. It helps build connective tissues such as muscles, ligaments, and tendons.

1TDC capsules contain a cellular lubricant that is the next generation of unique fatty acids, which are essential for joint and muscle health. This is a supplement that you can take to potentially improve overall health and flexibility. In addition, a topical cream is available that can bring relief to sore joints and muscles.

Talk to your doctor about ways to improve your flexibility during your senior years. Doing so can improve the quality of your life as you enjoy the hobbies you love and improve your overall physical activity levels.

How to Improve Your Diet: Meal Planning 101

An important part of staying in shape and remaining healthy is your diet. Contrary to popular belief, you cannot overcome the pitfalls of a poor diet by exercising and being physically active. While physical activity is important to good health, sticking to a nutritious diet is just as vital. Eating well gives you the energy you need for work, play, training your dog, and everything else you have to do.

One common obstacle to healthy eating is general busyness. If you get up early in the morning, head off to work, go home and pick up your dog, head off to the field for a couple hours of training and practice, then get back in the door with just enough time to eat something, get some housework done, and relax for an hour before bed, there is little time to cook and prepare nutritious meals. A bit of meal planning in advance, however, can save the day (as well as your health). Read on for part one of our series on how to improve your diet, which focuses on meal planning.

Make a Shopping List

If you are stopping at the grocery store in a hurry or on a whim, it is easy to forget necessary ingredients that you will need for quick, nutrition-filled meals and snacks. When you have some downtime, write down the fruits, vegetables, dairy products, whole grains, and lean sources of protein that should be the mainstay of any good diet. Also, add in things such as butter, olive oil, condiments, and some ideas for healthy treats. Type up the list, save it on your computer, and print out some copies

Next, go through your refrigerator, freezer, and pantry to see what you have that’s on your list and what you need for the upcoming week. Each time you shop, use a copy of this list to keep you on track. This way, instead of buying items that look good to you in the store, you can focus on replenishing the healthy foods that you want to keep around your house.

A few tips for when you are actually in the grocery store:

  • Don’t shop when you are hungry. Stave off hunger pangs with a quick, healthy snack before you go. This will minimize impulse purchases such as the bags of chips and candy bars conveniently located near the cash registers.
  • Stick to the perimeter of the store. Except for condiments, oils, beans, and some whole grain products, most of what you buy for a healthy diet will be located around the edges of the grocery store. Produce, eggs, milk, and meat should make up the majority of what’s in your cart.
  • Choose treats wisely. Yes, you will want to treat yourself occasionally. Think about what types of treats you might enjoy and limit yourself to just a couple. Dark chocolate is good for your heart and can satisfy a craving for sweets. You might also choose to splurge on healthy treats that are normally out of reach, such as exotic fruits or a piece of expensive fish.

Package Up Your Food as Soon as You Get Home

When you walk in the door with your groceries, divide some of the food into single-serving containers for the ultimate in grab-and-go convenience. If you like hard-boiled eggs, go ahead and boil 3-5 days’ worth. If you cut up your berries ahead of time and place them in small containers, you could take one container of berries, a cup of yogurt, and a hard-boiled egg, giving you a nutritious breakfast that you can grab as you sail out the door on a busy morning.

You can also chop up vegetables for a salad that you’ll take with you to work. Sliced bell peppers, carrots, and onions will stay good in the refrigerator for roughly 3-5 days in an airtight container. In the morning, all you’ll need to do is grab a big handful of lettuce, cut some slices from a cucumber, and chop up half of a tomato to add to the bowl for a delicious lunchtime salad. Don’t forget the protein: Add some shredded cheese, diced chicken breast, or carry along a small can of tuna.

Cook Ahead of Time

If you enjoy cooking, try to find time during the week to make a batch of several different types of food. For example, you could grill up several meals’ worth of chicken breast and store the cooked meat in the fridge or freezer. Mix it into salads or use a variety of homemade or store-bought sauces to liven it up for dinner.

You can also cook ground beef ahead of time and portion it out into meal-sized servings. On busy evenings, boil up some whole-grain noodles, add a jar of low-salt organic tomato sauce, and make a quick pasta for an easy and nutritious meal.

Being busy doesn’t mean that you need to hit the drive-through or vending machine at work for your meals. Do what you can to plan ahead and prepare your food during less-busy times so you will still have healthy foods to eat when you are short on time. Switching to a healthier diet will give you more energy, and it might even save you money if you’ve been relying on takeout too frequently. Improve your diet with meal planning and reap the benefits!

The Mind-Body Connection: Healthy Mind, Healthy Body

You’ve surely heard of the mind-body connection. The way we think, believe, feel, and behave can actually affect our physical health. The mind-body connection helps to explain how the placebo effect works and why laughter truly is the best medicine: It can ward off depression, boost the immune system, and make it more likely that people with serious illnesses will survive. If you are on a quest to achieve better physical health, it’s important that you also achieve better mental health. Read on to find out some ways you can take advantage of practices that can help you have both a healthy body and a healthy mind.

Yoga

Yoga is an Eastern practice that gained popularity in the United States during the 1970s. While it started off as a “fringe” activity for those who were considered “hippies,” it’s now quite mainstream. You’ll find yoga classes available online and at your local YMCA, as well as in yoga studios. Some doctors and counselors will recommend yoga as a complementary treatment for physical aches and pains, as well as anxiety and depression.

So, what can yoga do for your physical body? It can help you achieve better flexibility, which leads to less inflammation in your muscles and joints. Yoga can also burn calories, resulting in weight loss, and some forms of it can even boost your cardiovascular health. Practicing yoga can also help you sleep, which has many health benefits.

How can you integrate yoga into your daily routine? It can be as simple as learning a few of the positions and adding them to the end of your regular workout. If you currently belong to a gym, find out if they have yoga classes and, if so, sign up to take one or two per week. Over time, you’ll be able to spend a few minutes per day stretching and practicing; it might even become the most relaxing part of your day!

Meditation

Meditation is another time-honored practice related to the mind-body connection that can lead to not only better mental clarity and emotional control but also improved physical health. Meditation practices vary; one common way to meditate is to sit in a quiet room while concentrating on one sound, word, or phrase. When errant thoughts float into your mind, notice them and gently bring your attention back to your chosen focus. Over time, those who meditate will be able to bring about the relaxation response, which includes slowed breathing and a slower heart rate, even in the midst of stress.

Meditation has several physical health benefits:

  • It can lower your blood pressure by relaxing the blood vessels.
  • The practice can also enhance the immune system, which makes it less likely that you will get sick.
  • It can improve irritable bowel syndrome and premenstrual syndrome for those who experience these conditions.
  • Meditation can also help you get high-quality sleep.

It is simple to add meditation to your daily routine. You can start by simply taking two or three minutes at a time to focus on your breathing. Let random thoughts pass through your mind without you dwelling on them or judging them, advises Gaiam. As you continue practicing, you’ll be able to train your mind to continue the practice for longer periods of time. You can also use guided imagery audio files or scripts to help you along.

Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy, as the name implies, is the therapeutic use of scents, often in the form of diffused essential oils. You might already know that peppermint can make you feel more alert while lavender can help you relax, but did you know that aromatherapy can also improve your physical health?

  • If you want to increase your circulation and improve your energy so you can boost your physical performance, consider diffusing cinnamon, clove, rosemary, jasmine, or sage oil.
  • If you have skin conditions such as eczema or psoriasis or if you have a wound on your skin that needs to heal, using calendula, everlasting, or rosehip in your diffuser will help.
  • Peppermint, sandalwood, and eucalyptus oil can relieve headaches; you can mix a couple drops of the oil with almond, coconut, or sesame oil and massage your temples and forehead with it, too.
  • To boost your immune system, frankincense, lemon, oregano, and peppermint oils are useful.

Because aromatherapy really has no side effects, as long as you don’t have any severe respiratory conditions or allergies to the individual oils, it’s fine to experiment and see what works for you. For example, if you don’t like the smell of peppermint, it’s natural that using it might give you more, rather than less, of a headache. And if lavender makes you sneeze, you won’t feel very relaxed while smelling it.

One caveat is that you should not use undiluted essential oils on your skin, and many oils should not be taken internally. Using a diffuser or mixing with a carrier oil (or other liquids) and using for cleaning purposes are the safest ways to use essential oils for aromatherapy.

Using natural, alternative ways of boosting both your mental and physical health can help you feel better and can improve your athletic performance no matter what your sport of choice. Therein lies the importance of the mind-body connection.

How Dog Trainers Can Stay Strong and Healthy

How Can a Dog Trainer Stay in Shape?

  • Eat a healthy diet.
  • Get enough sleep.
  • Incorporate cardio activity into your day.
  • Stretch your muscles.
  • Take supplements.

If you are training your dog (or clients’ dogs) to perform in agility, flyball, or other sports, you know the importance of keeping your canine athlete in top condition. Handlers are no slouches themselves though, so it’s equally important for you to keep yourself in peak physical shape. During training and competitions, you need to be able to keep up with your dogs. Read on to find out how you can stay in the best shape possible to improve your sporting dog’s chances of success.

Eat a Healthy Diet

You’re undoubtedly feeding your sporting dog the best food you can, but are you doing the same for yourself? When you’re running all week long from work to home to training to competitions, it can be easy to neglect your diet. The problem with this is that, by relying on high-carb, high-salt, or high-sugar foods, you’re not helping your body achieve its best possible shape.

Before a competition, go ahead and eat carbs, but don’t make refined carbohydrates a mainstay of your diet. Instead, try to eat foods that are as close to their natural state as possible. This means eating fresh fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, and dairy products. Consider talking to a nutritionist about the healthiest diet for your specific circumstances.

Get Enough Sleep

You might not realize that the amount of sleep you get directly affects your overall physical and mental health. You have undoubtedly had the experience of feeling groggy and fatigued after an evening during which you didn’t get enough sleep. Sleep is when your body repairs itself from the little traumas of the day, so when you don’t get enough of it, you will often notice muscle soreness, a lack of coordination, and other maladies that can affect your performance. A lack of sleep can even lead to or worsen depression or anxiety.

So, what is enough sleep? Most adults need between seven and eight hours of shut-eye each night. If you’re not getting that, then make the effort to improve your sleep hygiene and get to bed earlier. Some tips include limiting your afternoon caffeine consumption, keeping televisions and smartphones out of the bedroom, and making sure that your sleeping area is cool enough.

Keep Your Heart Pumping

Of course, you’re getting a lot of exercise while training and on competition days, but it’s important to make sure you’re moving your body every day for at least 30 minutes. If you have a week or two off, you’ll notice it when it’s time to get back on track, so add some aerobic activity to your daily regimen.

How can you get it when you’re not training? A simple walk or jog is enough to keep you in shape during breaks. You might also try swimming, dance classes, or even yard work on the weekends. Pulling weeds and pushing the lawn mower will give your heart a workout, and it will keep your neighbors happier, too. And, of course, simply playing with your dog, going on hikes, or playing an intense game of Frisbee on the beach will keep both of your hearts healthy.

Stretch Your Muscles

Stretching is important for athletes, and you’re no exception. You need to keep your joints, tendons, and ligaments flexible. You wouldn’t neglect to condition your dog in this way, so be sure to take care of yourself by incorporating stretching into your workouts.

You could take up yoga as a great way to stretch and relax. Another option is to choose some stretches that are particularly effective for agility handlers and work them into your daily routine. You’ll want to stretch after your muscles are already warm, so do them after your warm-up or even after your cardio workout.

Take Appropriate Supplements

Supplements that boost your flexibility and your immune system can help you stay in great shape and ward off illnesses that could cause you and your dog to miss training and competitions. Elite Science, for example, offers products specifically designed to help with joints, muscles, immune system health, and more.

If you’re serious about training your dog and competing in various dog sports, you know that you need to stay in good shape. By following these suggestions, you’ll have a lower risk of injury as you train. You’ll also be more likely to be around for a good, long time for your dog and the rest of your family. Talk to your doctor about ways that you can stay in good shape, and do some additional research into products and activities that can benefit your overall health and wellness.