How Deep Breathing and Relaxation Techniques Work

After many years working in the health and fitness industry helping people get fit and healthy I discovered that many of my stressed and tired clients couldn’t reach their weight loss goals. Through trial and error and a lot of research I discovered that a body that is stressed is not likely to drop fat due to a protective mechanism. Now this is due to quite complex hormonal reasons beyond the scope of this short article but I did discover that stress release and relaxation techniques help bring those hormonal imbalances back into line and most importantly people are then able to shed body fat.

Deep breathing exercises are very good for accessing the parasympathetic nervous system which is the part of the autonomic nervous system responsible for the relaxation functions of the body like sleep and digestion. The opposite side of the autonomic nervous system is known as the sympathetic nervous system and this is the side responsible for the flight or fight reflex associated with action in the body.

By simply sitting somewhere quiet and practising deep breathing exercises you can promote the function of the parasympathetic side of the autonomic nervous system which will not only help you feel relaxed but will also improve your well being. Two bouts of ten minutes of deep breathing (breathe in through your mouth and out through your nose) will show very good results in less than two weeks.

Visualisation exercises such as guided meditation exercises are very effective in helping heal and recover from stress and also traumatic events. While I’m not going to claim to be a registered psychologist or counsellor I will describe a few of the techniques I have used and that I teach my clients to use.

One technique I’ve used is to picture a very relaxing place or scene, whether it be a beach or a forest or maybe even a memory from childhood. Along with the deep breathing exercises I mentioned earlier this feeling of being placed in this relaxed environment helps facilitate deep relaxation and may even enable you to drift off into a relaxing sleep. Again, only a few weeks of this type of meditation type practice can reap very good rewards. I have seen clients who have lowered their resting heart rate through these techniques whilst I’ve also seen others begin to drop weight again after hitting a roadblock after beginning these techniques.

The two techniques that I’ve discussed are only two of a number of relaxation exercises or disciplines. Others include yoga, guided meditation, qi gong along with many others. I encourage you to try some of the techniques that I’ve outlined in this article or otherwise find a different one that works for you.

With patient application and a little dedication you’ll be able to see positive results in as little time as one month. However, you may be better served turning your new found skills into a life long discipline. I encourage you to enjoy the journey.

Health and Fitness – Exercise Does Not Need to Be Intense For You to Receive Health Benefits

There are a couple of things you should know if you are thinking about an exercise program to help you become physically active on a regular basis. But you must be careful not to overwhelm yourself. Do a simple search for anything related to physical activity online, and you are going to be blasted with information and varied opinions. Much of what you will find will be redundant, or even contradictory. So take everything you read with a grain of salt.

If you wish to enjoy the known benefits of physical activity, which includes better blood sugar control and weight loss, what you are looking for is a healthy level of exercise. There is not one approach to losing weight, there are several. Select an activity you can enjoy, or at least tolerate. Forcing yourself to attend a gym every day could cause mental and physical burnout. It goes without saying this is the last thing you need if you are trying to make exercise a part of your lifestyle.

You don’t need to start pumping iron or begin jogging ten miles. Think about what you enjoy and don’t enjoy doing. Then chose physical activities that appeal to you. The best way to stick to an exercise routine is to find something you enjoy. While you’re not going to particularly fancy all of those minutes you spend exerting effort and sweating, the type of exercise you choose must at least be tolerable. Which is why we would like to remind you exercise does not have to be intense for you to receive its benefits. You could exercise at a moderate intensity and still lose weight at a healthy rate – as long as your eating plan is also under control.

It is up to you to choose the type of exercise you will do. Walking, jogging, body workouts, resistance training, fitness classes – they all have their unique benefits. With that said, they all share the same characteristic, which is they are all a form of physical activity. Doing any of the above is a way to get healthy because any physical activity is better than sitting on your couch for an entire evening.

Moreover, if you are starting from scratch, we recommend walking for several reasons. Firstly, it’s the most useful activity, and you could do it anywhere. Secondly, you don’t need an intermediate level of fitness to start walking. And thirdly, you can challenge yourself appropriately by walking on an incline on a treadmill. It’s not too intense, but it is challenging enough to make sure you get a good workout.

Lastly, whether you are exercising intensely or not, the most important thing is you are exercising regularly to help reduce your blood sugar level and your weight. There is simply no excuse not to be physically active but do not set your standard so high you guarantee failure.

Health and Fitness – Four Health Boosting Tools To Help You Improve Your Fitness

Want to take your health to the next level? If so, it is a good idea to put a few fitness based tools in place. There are items you can purchase and begin to use that will, without a doubt, help take your fitness and nutrition level up a notch.

While none of these are essential to start seeing results, they are going to help you go that extra mile.

Let’s look at the top health boosting tools to consider…

1. A Fitness Tracker. The first great tool to think about is a fitness tracker. There are many different options available for these, and you simply wear them on your body as you move around throughout the course of the day.

By day’s end, you can see how many steps you have taken, how many calories you have burned, and some even tell you how well you are sleeping.

While all of this should be taken as an estimation only, it still gives you an excellent glimpse into how you are moving and what you need to be doing for maximum body weight control.

2. A Food Scale. Next, also look into purchasing a food scale. It is vital you are weighing and measuring the foods you are eating on a daily basis as this will help you get a firm assessment of precisely how many calories you are consuming.

A food scale will help take the guesswork out of fat loss because when you use one, you will know exactly where you stand regarding your energy intake. Often those who fail to see weight loss progress do so because they are not accurately tracking their food intake.

3. Skin Calipers. The third tool to put into place is a pair of skin calipers. These are ideal for assessing your overall body composition without using bathroom scales. Bathroom scales, while helpful at times, can give you misleading information as it does not take into account lean muscle mass versus fat mass. And, it is critical you know the difference.

Even if you are not trained to use skin calipers, you can still get a pretty good estimation of where you stand by using a set.

4. Walking Shoes. Finally, the last tool is a basic one – walking shoes. The more you walk, the more you lose. Don’t underestimate the benefits of walking throughout the day. It is important you are moving more throughout the course of the day and having a good pair of walking shoes on can go a long way to encourage this.

Do you have these four tools in place in your program? If not, now is the time to get them, so you are maximizing your results.

Strengthen Your Immune System With Echinacea

Now that winter is almost upon us, it’s time to double up on protective care. Here’s a little information on one of my favorite herbs for keeping your immune system strong.

A BIT OF HISTORY

Before the introduction of allopathic antibiotics, the herb Echinacea was what healers used to boost the immune system, without ever producing a single side effect. This is a lot more than we can say for many of the synthetic alternatives that conventional doctors proscribe today. Native Americans used the plant for its powerful medicinal properties that help avert and cure a myriad of problems, followed by the early Americans and then the Europeans, who learned even more about Echinacea’s ability to strengthen the immune system. In bygone days when syphilis, scarlet fever, diphtheria, malaria, and blood poisoning were prevalent, Echinacea was the medicine of choice, as it helped prevent infection while strengthening and arming the body’s army of disease-fighting white blood cells.

THE PLANT

Echinacea is a member of the daisy family and known as “Asteraceae,” or purple coneflower for its brilliant petals that stand out when in bloom. There are two types of Echinacea: E. Angustifolia, which grows best in colder climates and at a high elevation, and E. Purpurea, which can be grown at a lower elevation in milder climes. Both types can be grown from seeds and then kept in partial shade rather than full sunlight. If you grow Echinacea in your outdoor garden, you will marvel at the proliferation of butterflies it attracts!

ECHINACEA’S MANY ATTRIBUTES

Most of the scientific research done on Echinacea has been in Germany where research shows how it helps to stimulate cells that fight infection. Where allopathic vaccinations generally target a specific problem and conventional antibiotics often weaken the body’s natural ability to heal itself, Echinacea strengthens the immune system with no adverse effects. With a strong immune system, the body is better able to fight viruses, bacteria, and abnormal cells on its own. Echinacea does this by activating white blood cells and lymphocytes so that they can do their job of attacking and overcoming invading organisms that cause illness and disease.

A SHORT LIST OF ECHINACEA’S ATTRIBUTES:

Increases the number of immune system cells necessary for health

Works as a mild antibiotic, anti-fungal, and anti-viral

Prevents bacteria from entering healthy cells

Stimulates new tissue growth for wound healing

Helps with skin regeneration

Reduces inflammation in skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema

Reduces inflammation in cases of arthritis

Increases resistance to infections

Helps heal candida, herpes, urinary tract, and other similar infections

Helps reduce inflamed lymph glands

Helps reduce symptoms of sore throat

Helps reduce upper respiratory problems in general

Helpful in averting and shortening the duration of the common cold

In Europe Echinacea is so respected that it is sometimes used as IV supplement for some forms of cancer and is often injected for the treatment of urinary tract infections. In the United States, where pharmaceutical drugs are the mainstream, it takes good personal research to understand the importance and power of Echinacea as an alternative or supplement.

STUDIES

The University of Maryland Medical Center confirms that many laboratory studies show that Echinacea contains active substances that enhance the immune system. Because of this, the plant has received positive feedback in a more conservative setting for relieving pain, reducing inflammation, and helping to boost anti-oxidant and hormonal strength.

In terms of the common cold, 14 clinical trials throughout the United States show that the use of Echinacea reduces the odds of developing a cold by 58% and reduces the duration of a cold by 1 to 4 days.

USING ECHINACEA

I have used Echinacea throughout the years whenever I feel a cold coming on. As soon as the first symptom rears its head, I put about 30 drops in a glass of room temperature water and drink this twice a day to keep my system strong. It is best to use Echinacea on a short-term basis, as this way you get the most from its power. I use it until my symptoms go away, or as a preventative, for two to three weeks with a break of a few weeks.

You can find Echinacea in many forms: as a tincture (alcohol or glycerine based), liquid extract, tea, capsule, as well as in creams and gels for topical use. Make sure you follow directions in terms of dosage. Then combine your Echinacea protocol with accompanying doses of Body Activation fitness, and you’ll be thriving all year long!

WORDS TO THE WISE

Echinacea is not a substitute for critical medical cases. Make sure you consult your healthcare provider before embarking on a protocol. Though there is no known toxicity, it is advised not to use the herb in cases of progressive systemic and autoimmune diseases such as TB, lupus, and connective tissue disorders.

For more information on health and fitness:

http://www.bodyactivation.net

Is Your Work Environment Making You Fat?

So you diligently work on your health and fitness, exercise regularly, stick to your diet plan and try get the right amount of rest to maintain a balanced, healthy lifestyle, and drop some excess weight in the process.

And then along comes… another study.

Scientists have found yet another way we get fat and overweight – as if there weren’t enough already. It seems that if we are exposed to environmental light for long enough (the kind we get in the modern offices, work spaces and homes) it can trigger our bodies into becoming less efficient at burning energy, with the inevitable result of storing more fat.

The study, reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA (or PNAS) states that “Increased light exposure has been associated with obesity in both humans and mice”. It suggests this happens because our circadian rhythm (the natural rhythm in our body that controls physical, mental and behavioural changes over a 24-hour period, regulated mainly by light or darkness) is disrupted, which results in our bodies not expending as much energy as they would normally do, which promotes weight gain.

They specifically highlight the correlation between this study and weight gain: “Disruption of circadian rhythmicity is associated with obesity and related disorders, including type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease”

It’s all about Mice and Men

The study explains that this behaviour was noticed when mice were exposed to artificial light for a set number of hours over a 5 week period. The results clearly showed that the mice were exposed to the light the longest had a ‘significantly higher fat composition’ even though the diet was the same for mice that were exposed to this type of light for a reduced time.

It seems the problem with being exposed to environmental light for prolonged periods is that our body’s natural rhythm gets confused. This ‘confusion’ leads to weight gain as a direct result of our bodies starting to use less energy, rather than other factors such as an increase in our appetite, or feeling we need to moderate physical activity.

To get a bit more technical, this decrease in energy burn by our body was thought to be down to the light adversely affecting the activity levels of brown adipose tissue (BAT) – a tissue in the body which plays an important role in converting energy from food into heat. So basically the more light we are exposed to, the less efficient this tissue worked, resulting in our bodies converting less energy. And we all know what the body does with unconverted energy from food – it conveniently stores it for later… mainly around the belly. As fat.

So what does this mean for us in real terms? Well, if nothing else, it’s a good stimulus to get us off our butts for a start, and get out more into the natural light and into nature. At the very least this will get us physically moving. How much exactly this exposure to artificial light adds to your waistline is difficult to say, but one things for certain – sitting around any environment with artificial lighting for long periods of time can’t be healthy for anyone’s body, anyone’s mind, or anyone’s soul.