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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LOSE WEIGHT NOW!

LOSE WEIGHTDo you want to lose weight?

You might be asking should  I  weigh or not to weigh, that is the question. Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of knowing one’s outrageous weight, or to take arms against a sea of bulges by simply ignoring the scale and trying to eat less and exercise more. For some of us, the scale is a tool. For others, it’s the enemy.

LOSE WEIGHT

So let’s say your plan is to Lose 1lb a Week

Some health and fitness professionals have made a compelling case for ignoring the scale, saying that measuring one’s percentage of body fat is the most accurate way to track one’s fitness level.

It indicates a healthy body composition, regardless of height and weight. I agree that you should know your body fat as a baseline for fitness and fatness.

Here are some body fat guidelines according to the American Council on Exercise:

Body Fat Percentage for Women:

  • Athlete: 14-20 percent
  • Fit: 21-24 percent
  • Average: 25-31 percent
  • Obese: > 32 percent

Body Fat Percentage for Men:

  • Athlete: 6-13 percent
  • Fit: 14-17 percent
  • Average: 18-24 percent
  • Obese: > 25 percent

So why bother weighing yourself at all? When you’re trying to lose weight, it’s important to use any indication you can get that your efforts are paying off. It can take a couple of weeks before you see any difference in body fat. Your weight will change more quickly. Besides, there are relatively inexpensive scales that give you both your actual weight and your percentage of body fat.

My personal prejudice is to weigh yourself at least once or twice a week. I do, and I find that facing my weight on a regular basis helps me stay motivated. Believe me, there have been times when I’ve dreaded getting on that scale. But I do it anyway because no matter what it says, I feel relief. I find it liberating. Why? Because now I know where I am and what I need to do next. It helps me maintain a healthy weight. And I have one of those scales that also measures fitness to fatness, so I am able to keep track of that at the same time. I check my body fat every week or two.

In my practice I have helped hundreds of people lose weight. And many of them initially fight me about getting on the scale; and I understand this because I know that terror. Part of the process of losing weight is to prepare oneself to do it. If you are not psychologically ready to lose, stepping on the scale can be a real turnoff and actually deter you from losing weight. But once you’re ready, facing that number can jump-start your weight-loss program and keep you going.

I give my clients a baseline of their body fat percentage and get them to use the scale. Then we set up a diet and exercise plan. You can lose weight by diet alone. But dieting can reduce muscle mass along with fat. This becomes ever more important as we age. We can lose as much as 6 pounds of muscle tissue per decade as we age. And metabolism can slow down as much as 3 percent per decade. You can see that if left unchecked, you’re on a slow boat to obesity. Adding an exercise program may be all you need to turn this process around. Cardio exercise burns calories, and strength training raises your metabolism and builds lean muscle mass while you are losing. Losing about 1 percent body fat a month and one to two pounds a week is considered safe and realistic. Here’s the winning combination. Reduce calorie intake with diet, do cardio most days to burn calories, and strength train at least a couple of days a week to build muscle mass and increase metabolism.

So, I’ve made my case for using the scale as a tool, and I hope you’ll try it when you are ready. Regardless, to be or not to be at a healthy weight should not be in question.

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Golf Exercises Improve Your Game

Golf Exercises

Golf ExercisesThere are over 20 million golfers in the United States alone. And those who play frequently, including the pros, are often plagued by over-use injuries.

It’s the repetitive motion of the golf swing that’s the culprit. And if your form is less than perfect you can hurt yourself on a single swing.

It uses the same muscles every time: mainly shoulder (rotator cuff) core (side of the waist, abdominals), and arms (elbow, forearm and wrist)

Also, like any other physical activity, it’s good to warm-up your body at least 5-10 minutes before starting to play. A brisk walk, a few arm circles and practice swings with a towel will help to elevate your body temperature, lubricate joints and increase blood flow to your working muscles.

As for the current aches and pains, you probably have to rest those muscles until they heal.

Golf Exercises

The good news is, there are Prehab golf exercises to help you play injury-free in the future and they will also help improve your game.

Here are some essential exercises.

 

 

 

Essential Golf Exercises:

Towel warm-up

Roll up a towel lengthwise and take a few practice swings to warm-up the muscles you’ll use when you add the weight of the club.

Golf ExercisesGolf Exercises: Side Bend
If you have hand weights, great. Otherwise, grab some cans from your pantry.

Stand feet shoulder width apart, knees slightly bent, arms at your sides. Without bending forward or back, bend directly to one side, while sliding the weight in your opposite hand up the side of your body to your armpit. Do the same on the other side. 8-12 reps on each side, alternating side to side. Areas Worked: Side of the Waist

Golf Exercises: Core Strength & Stretch

Golf Exercise

Start on your hands and knees in a tabletop position.

Gently stretch your right arm out in front of you till it’s level with your torso. At the same time raise your left leg and straighten it behind you. Hold for 10-20 counts and slowly return to starting position. Switch sides and repeat. Areas Worked: Abdominals, shoulder, hip and back of leg


Golf Exercises: Oblique Twist

Golf Exercises

Lie down, knees bent, feet hip width apart. Place your hands behind your head.

Lift and turn your torso to point your right elbow towards your left knee (keep your elbow back in line with your shoulder) and return to start. Do 8 reps. Switch sides and repeat. Areas Worked: Abdominals, particularly the side abs.

Golf ExercisesGolf Exercises: Rotator Cuff

Holding cans or hand weights bend arms at the elbows to 90 degrees in front of you. Keep your elbows bent and bring your arms out to your sides.

Repeat 8-12 reps.

Areas Worked: Shoulders

 

Golf Exercises: Wrist Curls
Golf ExercisesHold hand weights at your sides, elbows at 90-degree angles, palms down. Keep arms stationary, and using only your wrists, slowly curl the weights towards you until your knuckles are facing the ceiling. Repeat 8-15 reps

Flip weights palms up. Do 8-15 reps in this position.

Areas Worked: Forearms and wrists.

Golf ExercisesGolf Exercises: Diamond Stretch

Raise arms over-head, linking hands together. Slightly bend elbows and gently move them back.

Hold for 10-20 counts.

Areas worked: Shoulders, chest and upper back.

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Got an Issue? I’ve got an Exercise For That! by Mirabai Holland ©2013

I’ve gotten a cluster of emails lately asking about these three issues. So I thought I’d share the questions and the answers.

Q: I’ve recently hurt my right shoulder. My doctor said it was a rotator cuff injury. I went through physical therapy but my shoulder still hurts sometimes. My doctor wants me to do some post-rehab exercise to continue to rebuild the muscles. What exercises can I do at home? And are there any exercises I should avoid?

A: Rotator cuff injuries can take a long time to heal.  While your shoulder still hurts don’t do any movements higher than shoulder level. Check with your doctor first. But  here’s a classic exercise to help strengthen that area. Its called external rotation.

Get a resistance band and sit in a chair with arms. Tie one end of the band to the left arm of the chair.  Sit up straight feet shoulder width apart. Hold your right arm in front of you, bent at 90 a degree angle, palm up. Grab the band in about the middle. Keep your elbow close to your side but not touching. Pull the band laterally away from your body while exhaling. Hold for 5 seconds and gently release. Start with 1or 2 and build up to 6-8 repetitions over a couple of weeks.

If you don’t have a resistance band, use a towel or scarf.

Q:I’ve never had a great sense of balance and it seems to be getting worse as I get older. What exercises can I do to improve my balance.

A:Loss of balance is quite common as we age.

Stand with your heels touching, feet turned out. Slowly pick up one leg and place the sole of your foot against your opposite calf or knee. Holding on to a wall, slowly bring your other arm out and over your head. When you feel ready, let go and bring the other arm up. Hold for about 10 seconds (or as long as you can).

When it gets too easy, try doing it with your eyes closed.

Q: I wake up in the middle of the night and I have trouble getting back to sleep. I worry about everything, my finances, my kids careers, my golf game. I’ve tried the usual get back to sleep stuff and its not working. I don’t want to take drugs. Any ideas?

Stress kills. And it’s also one of the main contributors to aging. We’re getting old fast enough. Don’t accelerate the process.

Here’s an ancient exercise that can help you get back to sleep and slow down your aging clock at the same time.

Close your eyes, and focus on your breath. Watch the ebb and flow of your own breathing pattern. As thoughts come in, let them come in but don’t hold on to them, let them flow out. Continue to focus on your breathing, in and out.

As you become more relaxed, you will be able to take slower and deeper breaths. This will allow you to clear your mind of thoughts. You won’t even notice when you fall asleep.

Send your Ask Mirabai questions to: askmirabai@movingfree.com

 

 

 

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