Archive for October, 2013


Add swimming to your workout routine

One of the biggest challenges faced by people who exercise often is burn out. Even the most dedicated runner or gym rat will eventually tire of the routine.

Exercising doesn’t have to be mind-numbing and it’s a good idea to throw your body a curve to break the cycle. If you only run on a treadmill or an elliptical, try running outside.

Swimming one or two days a week is a great way to break up the monotony of cardio and weight training. It is one of the few exercises that incorporates both cardio and weight training.

The advantages of swimming

It’s a great all-around workout

Swimming works all of the major muscle groups, arms, legs and core. Water affords 12 times the resistance of air; so while you won’t be packing on muscle, you will be giving your muscles a good workout.

Increased lung capacity

Because you have to hold your breath for periods of time while exercising, swimming more than any other exercise will help you to use oxygen more efficiently.

Low impact

Running can be bad on the ankles and knees, especially if you’re carrying extra weight or have had an injury. Swimming has been used for years as a way to rehabilitate injuries.

Calorie burn

Most people think that because they’re not sweating while they’re swimming, they’re not burning calories. Definitely not true. Swimming is roughly equivalent to the same calorie burn as a brisk walk.

As with any exercise program, consult your physician before beginning.


Natural herbs treat depression, stress

Today’s world is fast-paced and filled with pressure coming from work, family and personal obligations. Small wonder that the pharmaceuticals is a growth industry. However, many people are working with doctors and nurse practitioners with backgrounds in holistic healing. They treat the person as a whole and not just symptoms. They use alternative medicine, in the forms of supplements and herbs rather than prescription medication to treat anxiety, stress and depression naturally.

There are many options available, and although they are natural, these herbal supplements can interact with medication and each other to have adverse effects. Consult a physician before beginning an herbal regimen.

Tulsi, also called Holy Basil, is a sacred herb in Indian culture, which can ease anxiety and mild depression.

Eleuthero is an herb that can help raise your energy level while reducing stress and anxiety. It is also useful for increasing concentration and focus.

Rhodiola Rosea is used in Siberia to help people deal with their harsh life and climate. This herb increases mental sharpness and reduces physical and mental fatigue, and can also help to reduce depression and anxiety.

Lemon Balm is used to make lemon-scented herbal tea. It is especially useful to help alleviate heart fluctuations caused by anxiety.

Milk Thistle can be taken in capsule form or used to make herbal tea. Not only used as a remedy for depression, it can also help cleanse your organs (especially the liver) of toxins, which can definitely help your mood.

St. John’s Wort is widely used for treating mild depression. It enhances the brain’s neurotransmitters and helps with anxiety as well as nerve pain. It has also been used to treat anorexia.

In addition to treating deep depression, Black Cohosh is also used for treating muscle spasms, pain from rheumatism and fibromyalgia. For women, it is also used to treat PMS and post-partum recovery.

Ginseng has long been prescribed in Asian cultures to improve mood, concentration and learning. It has also been shown to inhibit tumor growth in cancer patients, relieve symptoms of diabetes and boost the immune system. Ginseng is available over-the-counter without a prescription in extracts, liquid or pill form.

Ylang-Ylang has a potent flowery scent, and is used to treat depression and anxiety. Add a few drops to body lotion, or just keep a small bottle around to smell throughout the day.

Lavender is a common herb used to enhance mental health and mood. Primarily used in aromatherapy in products like perfumed soaps, shampoos, oils and sachets, it can have benefits in treating headaches and depression.

Rose oil is used to enhance mood and relieve mental fatigue.

Remember, treating depression requires more than taking pills or herbs; you may need to make some general lifestyle changes as well, including exercise, proper rest and nutrition. Consult your physician to ensure that herbs will not interact with medication or each other.


How to keep from getting bored with your workout routine

Everybody who works out has been there at one time or another. After a while, your workout routine gets… well… routine. Monotony can be a killer; and that can lead to a lack of motivation and make you dread going to the gym.

Here are some things you can do to keep you motivated if you feel yourself getting bored.

Listen to music

Blasting tunes is a great way to give yourself some motivation.

Listen to audio books

Concentrating on something else while doing cardio makes the time pass.

Vary your routine

Sometimes just doing things in a different order is enough to break the monotony.

Try a new class

Being a lone wolf is sometimes a drag. Try a pilates, yoga or spin class for a new kind of workout.

Break it up

If you do your weight training 4×12 in the same order, it’s going to get boring eventually. Try circuit training for a new twist.

Change the time

If you usually go to the gym after work, try going in the morning. If your schedule allows, try going early in the morning. You’ll see different people and it will fool your body, too.

Get a partner

It doesn’t have to be you against the gym. Having someone to work out with makes it social and makes you accountable to each other, which is also motivating.

Get out of the gym

Walking, running, hiking, riding a bike… all are great ways to get cardio exercise in. If you start to dread going to the gym, make outdoor exercise part of your program.


Cardio doesn’t have to be done on a treadmill, bike or track. Play basketball, soccer, tennis, racquetball, volleyball or ultimate Frisbee.

Hire a trainer

Always a good idea to get an objective opinion. Personal trainers can give you pointers on technique, new exercises and help you avoid the dreaded plateau.


How to alleviate fall allergies

For many, fall is the time that their allergies kick into high gear, with mold, ragweed and dust mites being the most common culprits. Depending upon where you live, you may have a huge reaction to these environmental allergens that make their appearance every autumn, or it may be your favorite time of year.

An allergy is a hypersensitive reaction that to most people is a normally harmless substance. Common allergens can include pollen, animal dander, dust mites, feathers, mites, and a variety of foods. Allergies usually cause respiratory problems, but some people can experience a wide variety of symptoms including headaches, fatigue, fever, diarrhea, stomachache and vomiting.

If you experience fall environmental allergies, you may suffer from a stuffy or runny nose, sneezing, itchy skin or red, watery eyes, all of which can be very uncomfortable.

If you suffer from fall allergies, in addition to allergy shots, taking these steps may help alleviate some of the symptoms.

Drink a lot of water

It can help alleviate symptoms by thinning secretions and easing expectoration.

Cut out cooked fats and oils

They are difficult to digest, which can put a strain on the digestive system. Undigested fats contribute to mucus production.

Take supplements

There are a variety of supplements, vitamins, minerals and herbs that can help alleviate allergy symptoms, including

  • Calcium and magnesium, which help to relax an over-reactive nervous system
  • Methylsulfonylmethane, which is a good source of sulfur, may help reduce the severity of the allergic response
  • Selenium is an antioxidant and works in conjunction with vitamin E
  • Vitamin C, which is usually suggested for colds, has anti-inflammatory properties, making it good for allergy sufferers
  • Nettle can be very helpful for drying out the sinuses
  • Turmeric, an East Indian herb with natural anti-inflammatory properties

Use a humidifier

For optimal results, keep your air between 35% and 50% humidity.

Check your air system

Over the summer, mold and other allergens can get trapped in the vents and air filter. Clean the vents and change the air filter before turning on the furnace.

If your fall allergies are uncontrollable, consult your physician or an allergist.


How exercising affects your sleep

Exercise is the cornerstone to living a healthy lifestyle – no one doubts that. Cardio-pulmonary health is vital to improving other aspects of your life, which makes getting more exercise easier.

If you can imagine your overall health as a circle, it is at the center, and positively affects other aspects of your life. As your overall health improves, other areas seemingly unrelated to exercise seem to improve as well. Sleep is one of those areas.

How exercising helps you sleep better

Among adults in the United States, 35-40% of the population has problems falling asleep or with daytime sleepiness. Exercising regularly has some benefits in other areas of your overall health, making it the cornerstone on which you can build the foundation of your healthy lifestyle.

1. Exercisers report better sleep

Among exercisers, be they light, moderate or vigorous, more than 80% reported getting fairly good or very good sleep. Non-exercisers who reported fair or very good sleep was significantly lower (56%).

2. Exercise may help insomnia

More than two-thirds of people who reported doing vigorous exercise said they rarely or never experience symptoms of insomnia.

3. Days on versus days off

Whether people are light, moderate or vigorous exercisers, a majority reported that they get better sleep on the days they exercised.

4. It eliminates tension

Exercising after work helps to eliminate tension that builds in your body during the day. However, many people who exercise right before going to bed report that they have difficulty sleeping, so there is a balance that must be struck. Many people find that exercising early in the morning is optimal for them.

5. Exercise may help prevent sleep apnea

Sleep apnea occurs when the soft palate impedes the airway, causing people to experience breathing interruptions when they are asleep. The problems associated with sleep apnea are more pronounced in people who are overweight. So the long and short of it is, lose weight and you’ll be less likely to be affected by apnea.

There is a trade-off associated with sleep and exercise: the more you exercise, the better you’ll sleep; the better you rest, the more you’ll feel like exercising.

For more information about the relationship between physical activity and the quality of sleep, check out the results of The National Sleep Foundation 2013 Sleep in America Poll. (link to