Stress: Dealing With It

Chronic StressStress. It’s everywhere. If you live and work on this planet it’s almost impossible to avoid.

Feeling stressed? Me too!

Today I’m writing about how to get rid of stress and suggest some easy ways to get that burden off your back.

To get us in the mood, let’s start with a short, guided meditation and stretch video to help reduce stress. Try it with me and see for yourself. You can do this at home or at your desk at work. (I use my ear buds at work.)

 

Stress:

Now that you’re a believer, lets have a look at stress and how to get rid of it. (By the way, as you get better at becoming relaxed, you can keep your eyes open while watching the waves on the video.)

Stress has been around since the beginning of time. It started as the fight-or-flight response when early humans confronted a life-threatening situation. In that situation, stress hormones, adrenaline and cortisol, are produced. Your blood vessels constrict, blood pressure goes up, pupils dilate, heart rate quickens, and breathing becomes more rapid. The body is preparing itself to do battle or run. This response is essential in times of acute danger. But problems at work, crying kids, traffic, you name it can trigger the same response.

Given the pressures of daily life, chronic stress itself has become a life-threatening situation. It can cause a host of health problems including headaches, gastrointestinal issues, insomnia, trouble concentrating, anxiety, depression, increased body weight, high blood pressure and heart disease.

We can’t eliminate the stress. But we can relieve the fight-or-flight response that sends our bodies into danger mode. And we can cultivate a relaxation response over time that will reduce our physiological stress reaction.

So what do we do about chronic stress? How do we get rid of it?

How? Relax. That’s what my first yoga teacher used to say when I was all bent up in the pretzel pose with a grimace on my face. And, like that meditation you just did, it actually worked. Once I was able to relax, I was stress-free even in the pretzel pose.

Seriously, daily conscious relaxation exercises can make real difference in the way your body responds to stress. Dr Herbert Benson coined the phrase “relaxation response” in his book by the same name in 1975.

Since then he and others have conducted numerous studies, including a recent one at the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind/Body Medicine, that have detailed the body’s intricate positive response to conscious relaxation exercises. In a nutshell, the relaxation response has the opposite effect of fight-or-flight. It engages the parasympathetic nervous system to counteract the effects of stress. You experience a feeling of deep relaxation and well being. And if you practice relaxation regularly you’ll feel better and help yourself avoid those stress related health issues. That’s how we get rid of chronic stress.

Meditation is just one of an almost infinite number of ways to consciously relax. Virtually anything that takes your attention away from your daily grind and makes you concentrate on just one thing can work. Doing the dishes, aerobic exercise, yoga, stretching, golf, playing a musical instrument, casting a fishing rod, playing with a cat, almost anything can work if you pay attention to only that and clear your mind. I’m partial to exercise because I get the benefits of a workout as well as the relaxation. It’s my mantra. It’s what I do to get rid of chronic stress.

Dr. Benson suggests you practice some form of conscious relaxation for 10 to 20 minutes every day to get rid of chronic stress in the long-term.

But what if you’re pressed for time? (Pressed rhymes with stressed.)

Reduce Chronic Stress with this little exercise.

Sometimes you only need a few seconds and you feel a lot better.

Sit down and close your eyes. (If you’re on the street, duck into a doorway, stand and keep your eyes open and one hand on your purse.)

Let your muscles relax. Concentrate on your breathing.

Breathe in and hold your breath for one second, count one one hundred thousand, and breathe out.

Breathe in again a little deeper and hold for two seconds — one one hundred thousand, two one hundred thousand — breathe out.

Breathe in deeper and hold for three, then four, then five seconds.
When you get to around three seconds of breath holding, your stress level should start to drop and your mind should start to clear itself of thoughts.

After five, you should feel pretty good. This works well for me particularly in moments of acute stress.

That one worked too didn’t it. I hope concentrating on reading this helped you reduce your stress and I hope you’ll make conscious relaxation a part of your life.

It’s a lifestyle change that’s easy to make because it feels so good when you do it.

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Fashion Flash 4th of July Edition

Fashion FlashOur 4th of July edition of Fashion Flash is hosted this week by Marsha from Beauty Info Zone which is one of the best makeup and cosmetic blogs online. With an extensive background as a makeup artist and writer she gives you the best of the best reviews on the latest in makeup and skincare.

The rest of our Fashion Flash Team is busy giving you, our lovely readers the most current info on fashion, makeup, beauty, lifestyle and more. Please check us out and have a fabulous 4th!

Menopause, Exercise and Hot Flashes

Menopause pre and post is on the mind of many women. I’d like to share this exercise study that showed that regular exercise did not reduce the intensity or amount of hot flashes in post menopausal women. However, those women that exercised on a regular basis slept better and were less depressed. Guess what? Many of my clients (myself included) who were avid exercisers also said their hot flashes did not diminish. But they experienced less mood swings and had more energy than others who exercised less or not at all.

So keep moving and if you need some help get 25% off all my exercise DVDs. Put in SUMMERFAB at Checkout. Good until 7/30/2017.

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Fashion Flash: Best News For Women 40+

Women Over 40 News

Fashion Flash

Here is the latest issue of our Fashion Flash News For Women 40 plus. Our fab host is Shelia from paintedladies Her Painted Ladies beauty blog empowers readers the latest makeup information and techniques so they can feel and look their very best.

So join us Fashion Flash bloggers and read all about the latest info and deals for make-up, skincare, fitness, fashion and lifestyle trends.

We will help you be and stay Fabulous!

As our health-conscious population lives longer and longer, I think aqua, with it’s ability to surround and support our aging bodies while we keep them operational, is the wave of the future. Get those creaky bodies in the water. Try it, you’ll like it.

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Exercise Outdoors: Cross Training & Hydrate

Exercise Outdoors Exercise outdoors when its hot can be a challenge. Cross training exercises are a good way to mix up your workouts and give yourself time to cool off, drink water and stay hydrated in summer heat.

Although I’m away from home, in the mountains, and not as affected by this huge triple digit heat wave, I did get a wake-up call of my own that I thought would be important to share.  I was shooting an exercise video this week in 90-degree heat. It was hot, but I got on a roll and forgot about the time. Less than an hour in, I started to swoon. Not a good shot on an exercise video. I realized immediately what had happened; I’d gotten so involved, I forgot to drink water between takes. I can say from experience that it creeps up on you. So you need to take steps to keep yourself cool and well-hydrated when you exercise outdoors. Cross-train with strength exercises mixed in with your cardio gives you a lower intensity interval so you can drink water, stay hydrated and cool off.

According to the American College of Sports Medicine losing more than 2 percent of your body weight through dehydration puts your body at risk for heat illness. This is serious business. We’ve all read the stories of team athletes who have actually died.

When you exercise in the heat you can lose up to five cups of water per hour. So it’s important to drink water before, during, and after vigorous exercise. The rule of thumb is to drink 2 cups of water a couple of hours before you start exercising so you are fully hydrated. Remember to bring that water bottle with you and drink a cup of water every 15 minutes or so while you are exercising. Don’t wait till you’re thirsty. If you’re thirsty, you’re already getting dehydrated.

But you’re not done yet. You need to drink another 2 cups over a two-hour period after exercise.

Sounds like a lot of water. It’s not. It’s just making up for the water you lose when you exercise in the heat.

Pouring water over your head during exercise won’t help you rehydrate, but it does make you feel better. A study at Cal State Fullerton with trained athletes showed that athletes exercising in 92-degree heat in a controlled setting felt cooler and that the workout was easier to perform.

But you know what Noel Coward said about “mad dogs and Englishmen.” Give yourself a break. If you can, exercise outdoors when it’s cooler, early mornings or late afternoons when the sun is less direct. Try finding shady areas.

Instead of keeping up your brisk pace for the whole workout, break it up. Go at normal pace for a bit, do a short light interval and then pick up your speed again.

Another idea is when you exercise outdoors do cross training exercises. Add intervals of strength training between shorter bouts of cardio. You’ll get a chance to drink and pour some water over your head too! Stop at a wall, a tree or a fence, and do these five exercises: two for your upper body and three for your lower.

Exercise Outdoors Video

Here is an Exercise Outdoors video with some easy cross training exercises to tone you up, no equipment necessary. 

Exercise Outdoors: Strength Exercises Using Your Own Body Weight

With all these Strength training exercises, remember to exhale on the exertion.

Standing Push Ups: Stand facing a surface with legs hip width apart and place hands shoulder width apart. Keeping your body straight, lower yourself down to the surface and then push back upright again. Muscles Worked: Chest, Triceps, and Shoulders

Calf Raises: Face surface and hold on for balance. With feet together pointing straight ahead, slowly lift your body up on to your toes, while tightening calf, abs and buttocks muscles. Then slowly lower yourself back down again.
Muscles worked: calves, abs, and buttocks.

Squats: Face surface, legs hip with apart. Hold on for balance. Shift weight back into heels. Keeping back straight, abs pulled in, gently bend at the knees and squat to about a 90-degree angle. Hold for a moment, then, using just your leg muscles, return to an upright position.
Muscles worked: Front of thigh (Quads), Back of thigh, (Hamstrings) Buttocks, Abs

Wall Sit: Stand against surface for back support. Holding on as needed for balance, slide down to a sitting position against wall, knees at about a 90-degree angle. Pull your abs in and hold for 10 to 30 seconds.
Muscles worked: Thighs and Abs

Upper Back Squeeze: Stand with your back to the surface, feet shoulder width apart. Place hands behind you on surface. Straighten your arms behind you and squeeze your shoulder blades together. Hold for 10 to 30 seconds.
Muscles worked: Back, Shoulders, Back of arms (Triceps)

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EASY CARDIO WORKOUT COMBATS DEPRESSION

Easy Cardio WorkoutEasy Cardio Workout Combats Depression. I find myself as you may too, for no apparent reason, feeling a little blue. So I dust off my sneakers and get ready to move because I know cardio exercise improves mood.

Research shows that cardio exercise improves mood because it increases levels of serotonin and endorphins in the brain. These are important neurochemical transmitters, which help to elevate and stabilize your mood.

In fact one of the known causes of depression is a lowered level of serotonin. Aerobic exercise can be as effective as medication for relieving mild to moderate depression in many cases.

Easy Cardio Workout: More Reasons Why Cardio Exercise Improves Mood

There is more to cardio  exercise than serotonin and endorphins. It helps lower adrenaline, a chemical associated with stress to help promote relaxation. And as you become more fit you feel better about how you look and feel. This can give you a positive outlook in general. Try some easy aerobics. You may just cardio dance your troubles away. I make sure I’m exercising aerobically most days of the week, at least for 30-60 minutes. I not only feel my spirits lift while I’m exercising but for many hours afterwards. However if you are just starting to exercise or haven’t been exercising for awhile here is a easy cardio Workout video to help you get going:


Are You Depressed?
The standard symptoms for depression are:

  • Persistent feelings of sadness or “emptiness”
  • Sense of hopelessness, worthlessness, and guilt
  • Inability to enjoy ordinary pleasurable activities, including sex
  • Noticeable change of appetite, possibly accompanied by significant weight loss or weight gain
  • Shifts in sleeping patterns, such as insomnia or sleeping too much
  • Difficulty concentrating, persistent irritability, excessive crying
  • Preoccupation with thoughts of death or suicide
  • Decreased energy, fatigue
  • Persistent aches and pains

Many things can cause depression. They range from some medications to low levels of light during the winter months. Alcohol and a poor diet, as well as inherited predisposition, can lead to the condition as well. Before you decide on asking your doctor for an anti-depressant prescription, adopt the healthy lifestyle habits of a nutritious diet, regular exercise and enough sleep. If things don’t improve, of course, seek medical help.

So try my take on the old Arlen & Koehler song lyric that Judy Garland sang, “forget your troubles, come on get happy” you can exercise your blues away with this easy cardio workout!

For more info on women health and fitness and at home exercise programs for women over 50 visit www.mirabaiholland.com

Also if you need help getting started check out my Health Coaching Service specially designed for women over 50.

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Exercising With Asthma

Asthma is a chronic disease of the airways. Bronchial passages become inflamed and narrowed in response to triggers like cold air, exercise, smoke, pet dander, dust mites and stress. Breathing becomes labored and difficult and in extreme cases, asthma attacks can be fatal. Asthma affects about 25 million people in the US according to the National Institutes of health, and 300 million worldwide.

Check out this video on Exercising With Asthma!

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Osteoporosis: What Does Buying A Purse Have To Do With It?

We all have a lot to lose if we take a serious fall. Assuming we survive, the effects can be life altering. And if you have osteoporosis, what would have been a minor slip and fall for others, could have devastating consequences for you. Here’s a fall prevention video that should be of interest to anyone interested in staying upright.

Osteoporosis Fall Prevention Video

There’s a story that prompted me to post this video and write this article. Here it is.

OsteoporosisI have a friend who had been eyeballing this cute little red purse for a couple of months.  She didn’t need it but she wanted it and sort of became obsessed with it.

She’d visit it online and wave to it in the store. But, there’s no way she was going to buy that purse because wanting it that bad made her feel a little stupid.

Well, the darn thing went on sale the other day at 40-percent off and another 10-percent off with her store card. Now, of course, she had to have that red bag.

Apparently, so did every other woman in the United States. Because, she had it in her online shopping cart and by the time she got her credit card out, it was no longer available. It had been snatched right out of her cart.

She was furious. She felt violated. “How dare they sell MY red purse?”

She called the company.  They apologized and looked for one in their inventory anywhere. They gave her stores and a warehouse to call and reserve it before the last one could be sold. She called around for over an hour and finally got to someone who found one in California and ordered it for her.

As she was patting herself on the back for her investigative skills and persistence my friend had an aha! moment. She had recently been diagnosed with osteoporosis. Her doctor had given her a list of endocrinologists he’d be comfortable recommending but she hadn’t even looked at it, let alone researched it.

“I had been meaning to but I had been putting it off for no good reason. I thought why on earth don’t I apply that same purse passion to taking charge of my own health care?”

She thought about it for a minute and the answer she came up with unnerved her a little. “Health care is not sexy,”  Purses are sexy! Purses are sexier than being healthier and maybe living longer? Eek!

But health is sexy! Quality of life is sexy!

As she started to Google the doctors on the list, she began to sing a parody to that old rock song.
“I’m too sexy for my purse, too sexy for my mouse pad, but not too sexy for my doctor’s office. Maybe a little bit too sexy, but I’m goin’ anyway.”

I think perhaps my friend has touched a nerve in many of us. Would we really rather look good than to feel good?

Sure seems like it. I think it’s that very premise that prompted an ad agency to come up with a TV commercial for a dietary supplement featuring a sexy dancing X-ray skeleton of a baby boomer model that’s protecting her looks by protecting her bones.

It got my attention. If you can’t get them to do it for health, get them to do it for beauty. Twistedly brilliant!

So I guess, if beauty is your motivation, go for it; especially when the health comes with it.
But what do you do if you already have osteoporosis like my friend, or have low bone mass, or you just have the good sense to want to take of your bones?

Osteoporosis And Calcium

I asked Susan Randall, MSN, FNP-BC, Senior Director, Science and Education at the National Osteoporosis Foundation and she said:

Getting enough calcium in our diet is really important. The NOF recommends
an intake of 1,000 miligrams for adult women from age 50 or younger, and age 51 and older — 1,200 milligrams a day for adult women. If a woman isn’t paying enough attention to calcium in her diet she puts herself at risk. But more is not necessarily better when it comes to calcium. Neither women nor men should get more than about 2,000 milligrams a day.

She also said “Weight bearing exercise actually builds bone in youth and will help maintain bone.”

When I asked her about fall prevention she said, “As we get older the type of exercise changes a little bit. We still have to do some impact work but it has to be safe to avoid injury and falls so you want to add balance training, flexibility training, and safe movement to make sure the individual is able to stay active and healthy.”

So what’s the takeaway here? My takeaway is if you like standing on your own two feet, taking care of your bones is about as sexy as it gets.

May is Osteoporosis Prevention Month! It’s Never Too Late To Take Care Of Your Bones!

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Personal Training Abuse

Personal Training AbuseAre you experiencing personal training abuse? A friend was describing her personal training sessions to me and said,“ there’s a fine line between coaching and abuse”.

The whole idea is to find someone who you like, and who likes you to be your teacher and motivator.

Your trainer should teach you to exercise safely and effectively. She/he can motivate you to love exercise by making it fun.

And if you love exercise, you can get and stay fit for a lifetime.

Personal Training Certs

Certification by a national certifying organization and experience are also key. Make sure your trainer is certified and has several years of experience. Meet the person, and make sure you click. If you’re not sure, keep looking.

Don’t be shy about asking to see her/his personal training certification. Ask for client references too, (and call them).

Here are some of the top certifying bodies in the USA:

American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM)

National Strength & Conditioning Association (NSCA)

National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM)

American Council on Exercise (ACE)

Aerobics & Fitness Association of America (AFAA)

If you are living in another country check out the top Personal Training certs in your area

and make sure your trainer is certified by one of them.

Finding the right trainer can be a daunting task but when it’s right, its music.

By the way, this training partnership is a two way street. No trainer wants to be treated like a servant or even an employee. Treat your trainer as you’d like to be treated and you may make a lifelong friend,

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Fabulous Forever Health IQ Mirabai Holland

MIRABAI HEALTH-health-issuesReady to test your Fabulous Forever Health IQ?

As we are into a new year, it’s time to remind ourselves to be vigilant about our health and fitness. Test your Fabulous Forever health IQ with this at home quiz. Answers are at the end.

For more info on women health and fitness and at home exercise programs come and visit me at www.mirabaiholland.com

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Fabulous Forever Health  I.Q. Test Yourself Now!

Fabulous Forever Health IQ Self-Quiz
(answers at end)

1. What is the number one killer disease of women?
a. Osteoporosis
b. Breast Cancer
c. Heart Disease
d. Diabetes

2. What does osteopenia mean?
a. Low muscle mass
b. Low bone mass
c. Another word for osteoporosis
d. Strong bones

3. What is the normal % of body fat?
a. 15-20%
b. 22-30%
c. 25-35%
d. 30-35%

4. Which one of the following blood pressure readings is considered a risk factor for heart disease?
a. 110/70
b. 115/80
c. 120/80
d. 140/90

5.What helps to pick up metabolism?
a. Lean muscle mass
b. 1000 calorie a day diet
c. Sleeping 8 hours a night
d. Meditation

6. How much body fat does the average 65 year old woman have?
a. 30%
b. 37%
c. 43%
d. 50%

7. What is sarcopenia?
a. high muscle mass
b. low bone mass
c. high bone mass
d. low muscle mass

8. What is interval training best for:
a. Picking up the metabolic rate
b. Adding variety to your routine
c. Making it easy to get a drink of water
d. Both a & b

9. An optimal program for older people would include activities to improve:
a. strength, flexibility and coordination
b. eyesight
c. digestion
d. jogging

10. What body shape is the one that puts you at less risk for both heart disease and breast cancer?
a. apple
b. pear
c. banana
d. pineapple

11. To be at less risk for heart disease your total cholesterol should be:
a. Above 200
b. Below 200
c. Between 200-220
d. Between 220-225
12. Which is the “good” cholesterol
a. HDL
b. LDL
c. NDL
d. Margarine

13. How much exercise should you do?
a. At least 3-4 times a week, 30 minutes at 60-90% max heart rate.
b. At least twice a week, 60 minutes at 70-90% max heart rate
c. At least once a week, 60 minutes at 80-85% max heart rate
d. At least twice a week, 30 minutes at 70-90% max heart rate

14. What is the equation of finding your target heart rate?
a. 220-age x %
b. 200-age x %
c. 220 x age – %
d. 200 x age – %

15. What does aerobic exercise do?
a. Helps to stimulate metabolism and reduce LDL
b. Helps to develop stronger abdominals and back muscles
c. Helps to build a stronger heart muscle
d. a & c

16. What are the risk factors for heart disease that you can control:
a. Family history, age, menopause
b. Inactivity, excessive alcohol, and high blood pressure
c. Smoking, high cholesterol and triglycerides
d. b & c

17. How often should you weight train?
a. Every day
b. 3 days in a row, 2 days rest
c. 2-3 times a week, alternating days
d. None of the above.

18. How often should you perform a Breast Self-Examination?
a. every other week
b. Once a month (if still menstruating best time a week after the start of your period)
c. Once every week
d. None of the above.

19. When should you start getting annual mammograms?
a. After age 40
b. After age 45
c. After age 50
d. After age 55

20. What are the best types of exercise if you have had breast cancer?
a. Light strengthening and stretching exercises.
b. Walking and swimming.
c. High intensity strength training
d. a & b

21. 54 million Americans at risk for Osteoporosis; what % are women?
a. 60%
b. 70%
c. 80%
d. 90%

22. By the time women are 70 they can lose up to
a.15% bone mass
b. 20% bone mass
c. 30 % bone mass
d. 45% bone mass

23. As a woman goes through menopause what is the main factor that causes bone loss?
a. loss of estrogen
b. fatigue
c. hot flashes
d. light headed

24.What are the 3 areas at most risk for osteoporotic fracture?
a. Spine, neck, foot
b. Hip, shoulder, foot
c. Spine, hip, wrist
d. None of the above.

25. What type of exercise is not particularly effective for loading your bones
a. Weight training
b. Walking
c. Swimming
d. Jogging
ANSWERS: 1. c, 2. b, 3. b, 4. d, 5. a, 6. c, 7. d, 8. d, 9. a, 10. a,11. b, 12. a, 13. a, 14. a, 15. d, 16. d, 17. c, 18. b, 19. a, 20. d, 21. c, 22. c, 23. a, 24. c, 25. c

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Heart Health News

Heart Health NewsHeart Health News: Eat Berries, Drink and Be Fit! It just may help to save your  heart and the one that you love!

Since heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women and men in the U.S., I thought I’d focus on prevention. After all, if you prevent heart disease, you’re very unlikely to die from it.

Heart Health News Research

A Harvard study says women who eat three or more servings of strawberries or blueberries a week can lower their risk of heart attack by 32 percent. The study also said grapes, eggplant and blackberries may work too. It’s those flavonoids again. The antioxidants you find in red wine, dark chocolate, green tea, apple skin, etc. Rule of thumb: The darker the color, the more flavonoid content. They slow down your aging clock and prevent disease by keeping free radicals from damaging cells in your body.

Free radicals are incomplete molecules looking for an electron so they can complete and stabilize themselves. Sounds like something you’d hear in therapy. They steal an electron from a neighboring molecule, turning it into a free radical and setting off a chain reaction. They contribute to the aging process and a wide range of diseases.

We form them naturally when we breathe and metabolize. Free radicals don’t wreak havoc with your body until you have too many of them. They can be formed by oxidative stress, like intense exercise, smoking and exposure to environmental toxins.

Enter the flavonoids. They give the free radicals one of their electrons and stop them in their tracks. They help prevent heart disease by stopping LDLs (bad cholesterol) from breaking down and forming plaque in your arteries.

Nowadays, you can get berries year round, and they are a perfect low-calorie food, alone, in yogurt, or sprinkled on your cereal. So let’s have a few servings of berries, some eggplant, and maybe a square of dark chocolate for dessert. Not such a major lifestyle change.

Heart Health News: Since we are talking about prevention, how about stress?

A series of studies by Columbia University Medical Center says whether or not we perceive ourselves as stressed can be a measure of whether or not we’ll have a heart attack in the future. So from now on, I’m not going to perceive myself as stressed. Yeah. Good luck with that.

Seriously: My clients who exercise regularly, particularly aerobic exercise, tend to think of themselves as being more relaxed. And they are more relaxed. Aerobic exercise releases endorphins, the body’s natural tranquilizer, and they know they’re getting the heart benefits of all that cardio. To get the maximum benefit from cardio exercise, most people should build up to 45 or more minutes at 60 to 80 percent of your max heart rate. If you’re just starting out, you can ease in with a few minutes a day at a comfortable pace and add more as it gets too easy. But here’s the rub: Aerobic exercise, because it requires so much oxygen, is an oxidative stressor. It produces free radicals.

People who exercise once in a while or really hard only on the weekend are more at risk for producing harmful levels of free radicals. But studies have found that people who exercise regularly tend to adapt and produce enzymes that create antioxidants minimizing free radicals’ negative effect.

So here’s the formula: Eat berries, dark chocolate and get regular cardio so you don’t perceive yourself as stressed. It’s an eclectic concoction, but I think it’s tastier than one of those midnight vegetable smoothies. Don’t you?

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