Tag Archives: sleep better

11 Exercise Benefits You Don’t See

exerciseWhat’s the most common reason why people exercise? To lose weight. Yet, physical activity provides so many more benefits. Do you want to feel better? Need more energy? Want to live longer? Then get out there and get moving!

Here are 11 important benefits to exercising that you don’t see:

Improved mood
If you’re in a bad mood or have had a stressful day, you can blow off some steam by going for a brisk 30-minute walk or working out at the gym. Exercise stimulates brain chemicals that make you feel happier and more relaxed. You may also feel better about yourself because you fit a workout into your day.

Energy boost
When you’re tired, the last thing you want to do is move. Yet, when you use energy to exercise, it gives you an energy boost. By exercising more regularly, you may also be able to eliminate fatigue and find that you have a lot more pep.

More confidence
Working out can make you look better on the outside. It can also make you feel better on the inside. Exercising can make you feel more empowered and boost your self-esteem. You feel ready to conquer anything.

Sleep better
We need our beauty rest so that our bodies can recover, repair damage, renew energy and clear the mind. Exercise is an all-natural sleep aid. People who exercise regularly have less insomnia and a higher quality of sleep.

Reduce stress
Exercise calms your body and your brain. After you work out, the levels of stress hormones – such as adrenaline and cortisol – drop. Especially after aerobic exercise, stress and anxiety melt away. You may also be able to cope more easily with stress when you feel confident about yourself.

Pump up your heart
If high blood pressure and heart disease run in your family, exercise can help you strengthen your heart. Being active boosts HDL or “good cholesterol” and lowers unhealthy triglycerides. Physical activity keeps your blood flowing and decreases the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Combat disease
In addition to giving you a healthy heart, regular physical activity can help you prevent or manage a wide range of health problems. Do you have a family history of certain types of diseases? Get moving and reduce your risk of stroke, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes depression, certain types of cancer, arthritis and falls.

Relieve arthritis pain
Regular exercise can help ease your pain if you have arthritis. It can make your daily activities easier. Consider non-impact exercises like swimming. These types of exercises can be easier on your joints.

Strengthen bones
It’s important to keep our bones and muscles strong as we get older. Weight-bearing exercise, such as weight-lifting, walking, tennis and dancing, can help you strengthen and build bones. It can also help ward off osteoporosis and improve balance and coordination.

Look younger
People who work out often look younger than their friends. Now research has found that exercisers are truly younger on a cellular level than their peers. Exercise more and feel free to lie about your age!

Live longer
In addition to looking younger, regular exercise can add years to your life. You don’t have to be a hard-core fitness buff. Just get up and get moving. Even a little exercise can help you live longer than not exercising at all.

The bottom line: exercise is a great way to feel better, gain confidence, combat disease and improve chronic health conditions. Aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day. So get moving!

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12 Unexpected Benefits of Exercise

jogger-657075-mI know I should be exercising. I know it’s important to good health. I know it will help me find better life balance. Yet, I manage to make excuses and find reasons why I can’t fit a workout into my daily routine.

So, if you’re like me and need more motivation to just get moving, here are 12 unexpected benefits and rewards of exercise:

Reverse the effects of stress
You probably already know that physical activity is a stress buster. What you may not realize is that you are actually reducing stress levels. That’s because when you workout you reduce the levels of stress hormones – adrenaline and cortisol – in your body. You can calm your body and your mind to help you get in the right mindset to identify and tackle what’s causing your stress.

Release happy chemicals
Working out can help boost your mood. Exercise releases endorphins that help create feelings of happiness and euphoria. Studies show that exercise can even alleviate the symptoms of someone who is clinically depressed. In some cases, working out may be as effective as antidepressant pills.

Build self-esteem and confidence
Physical fitness can boost your self-esteem and improve your self-image. It’s not about age, weight or size – exercise can help elevate your perception of your attractiveness and self worth. You can also feel a sense of accomplishment when you finish a challenging workout or reach a difficult goal.

Alleviate anxiety
You might be surprised to learn that jogging can be more relaxing than a warm bubble bath. Getting on the track or treadmill for some aerobic exercise can help reduce sensitivity and anxiety.

Live longer
Research shows that regular exercise can add years to your life. Working out and being active can lower your risk of early death by 30%. We’re not talking extreme – just a little exercise can help you live a longer, healthier life.

Sleep better
Regular exercise may help you enjoy a good night’s sleep. Try walking, running, biking or strength training during the mid morning or early afternoon to promote better sleep. Avoid evening workouts because they may interfere with sleep patterns.

Boost your brain power
Exercise can make you smarter. A study has shown that mental agility improves when testing is conducted on a treadmill. When you’re physically active, more blood flows through all parts of your body, including your brain. Cardiovascular exercise can create new brain cells and improve overall brain performance.

Get more done
Sitting on the couch or at your desk and feeling uninspired? Research shows that taking the time to exercise on a regular basis can increase productivity and leave you feeling more energized. Getting in a workout during the workday seems to benefit your health, mood, efficiency and even relationships.

Strengthen your bones
Your bones and muscles get stronger with physical activity. Weight bearing exercises, such as walking, dancing, tennis and running, can help lower your risk of osteoarthritis, help you maintain balance, and improve coordination.

Ward off illness
Many health experts feel that one of the most important habits you can adopt for good health is regular physical activity. Exercise may help prevent a variety of ailments from heart disease and diabetes to breast cancer and the common cold. A 30 to 45 minute walk every day can boost your immune system and help you lower your risk of chronic disease.

Be more creative
Vigorous exercise that gets the heart pumping can help boost creativity for up to two hours after you’ve finished. Physical activity can free your mind from your worries and help you let the creative juices flow. If you’re blocked at work, take a walk outside, get some fresh air and let your mind wander. You can free up your mind and refresh your brain.

Keep Alzheimer’s at bay
In addition to improving brain power and learning, exercise may also help ward off Alzheimer’s disease. Working out can boost brain chemicals that support and prevent the degeneration of the hippocampus, an important part of the brain for memory and learning. A daily walk or jog can help lower the risk of Alzheimer’s or even slow its affects once it’s begun.

Working out can have positive benefits beyond the gym. You can improve your mood, boost your self confidence, get more creative and increase your life span. Those are all good reasons to step away from the computer and get moving!

12 health benefits of listening to music

Listen to music improve health life balanceIt’s official – I have turned into my parents. I recently yelled at my kids to turn the music down because it was making my head hurt.

After the horror of realizing I am getting old, I started thinking about the possible benefits of music. I like listening to music while I’m driving, cleaning house and doing dishes. I just can’t handle it loud anymore.

Listening to music is one of the few activities that uses your whole brain. It can put you in a good mood and lift your spirits. You may have very specific memories associated with certain songs. When you’re watching a movie, the soundtrack can make you feel like you’re right in the middle of the action.

You may be surprised to learn that there are many health benefits to enjoying music. Here are 12 ways music can help you live a healthier, more balanced life:

Lower your blood pressure
Listening to relaxing music may help people with high blood pressure lower it and keep it that way. To experience results, research recipients played relaxing music every morning and every evening.

Reduce pain
Music has been found to help with pain management for both chronic pain and post-operative pain. Music therapy is being used in hospitals to reduce the need for medication during childbirth, to complement anesthesia in surgery and for lessening pain after surgery.

Improve your workout
Listening to music during exercise can give you a better workout. It may help you increase your endurance, distract you from feeling discomfort and elevate your mood while you workout.

Boost immunity
Stress can cause your body to produce the stress-related hormone cortisol and decrease your immune response. Music, on the other hand, can create positive emotions that cause you to secrete immune-boosting hormones. Listening to music or singing can actually boost your immunity and reduce the factors that can make you more prone to getting sick.

Relieve chronic headaches
If you experience chronic headaches or migraines, music may help you reduce the frequency, severity and length of your headaches.

Enhance your IQ
Research has shown that listening to music can actually help you learn more effectively, in essence making you smarter and enhancing your overall level of intelligence.

Step up your coordination
Music may have the power to improve your coordination. It can reduce muscle tension and improve your body movement. Music may even help improve recovery after a stroke or provide relief from other movement disorders.

Improve your focus
Believe it or not, music may help you concentrate better and improve your focus. I guess I shouldn’t tell my kids to turn off the radio while they are doing their homework.

Strengthen your heart
Music is good for your heart health. It seems that upbeat, happy music can improve the flow of blood through blood vessels. It can also help you relax, which is always good for your heart.

Boost your memory
For people suffering from memory loss, listening to music may help these patients remember things associated with their past. We process music in an area of our brain that is located next to memory. That’s why a song or certain tune can trigger intense memories of an event that may have happened decades ago.

Lower your stress level
We’ve already touched on the fact that music helps relieve anxiety. Your favorite music can be soothing and helping you relax. Music is good for the mind, body and soul.

Sleep better
Mom singing you a lullaby can actually help you sleep. Music can even help people with chronic insomnia get a better night’s sleep. If you experience chronic pain or have recently had surgery, music can promote sedation for a more deep and restful sleep.

Is there a type of music that’s best for receiving all of these healthy benefits? It really depends on the person and the situation. You may want fast-tempo, upbeat music for exercising, and then slower-paced music to de-stress and relax. Playing old favorites can boost your mood, while playing new songs may stimulate your brain.

Music tastes are unique to each of us. Go with your instincts and listen to what makes you happy. What types of music make you feel good?

7 foods that can help you sleep

Almonds help you sleepDo you have trouble falling asleep? I have a hard time shutting off my brain and drifting off at night. Knowing that I may have difficulties going to sleep, I stay up later than I should. Or, maybe you can’t stay asleep. My husband often wakes up early in the morning and then can’t fall back to sleep.

There are so many health benefits to getting a good night’s sleep. In fact, we wrote a blog about the many reasons why you should get more sleep.

You may also need to take a closer look at what you eat before you go to bed. Your choice of a late night snack can make the difference between lying awake at night or getting a deep, healthy sleep.

Here are 7 foods that are recommended to help you get a better night’s sleep:

Almonds
Almonds contain magnesium that relaxes your muscles. They supply protein which can help maintain a steady blood sugar level while you’re sleeping. Almonds also promote sleep by switching you from your more alert adrenaline cycle to a sleep and digest cycle.

Decaf Tea
Chamomile tea is great for relaxation and helping you sleep. The herb alleviates anxiety and promotes relaxation. Green tea, as long as it’s the decaffeinated variety, contains theanine which helps promote sleep. So, have a relaxing cup of tea a few hours before bed.

Cherries
Cherries, and in particular tart cherries, naturally boost the body’s supply of melatonin. This chemical controls the body’s internal clock to regulate your sleep. You can eat fresh cherries when they are in season, sip cherry juice or snack on dried or frozen cherries.

Oatmeal
Oatmeal is a complex carbohydrate that triggers a rise in blood sugar. This rise triggers insulin production and releases sleep inducing chemicals in your brain. Oats also contain minerals, vitamin B6 and melatonin, which help prevent stress and promote sleep.

Bananas
Bananas are a great source of magnesium and potassium – both of which help you relax your muscles. They also contain tryptophan which converts to serotonin and melatonin to help calm the brain.

Dairy
Yogurt, milk and cheese also contain tryptophan. In addition, the calcium in dairy products can help relieve stress and and allow you to stop worrying as you try to fall asleep. So, a glass of milk before bed may actually help you sleep. Cottage cheese contains digesting proteins which may also keep your digestive system relaxed all night long.

Toast
You can have a piece of toast to go with your dairy snack. Toast is warm, comforting and filling. It also can help you sleep because it triggers insulin production, which in turn releases tryptophan and serotonin. And, we know both of these chemicals promote relaxation and help alleviate anxiety.

Here are few things to keep in mind as you have a late night snack:

• Eat your snack at least an hour before bedtime

• Avoid large meals late in the day which may stir up your digestive system. You may also want to avoid spicy foods that can give you heartburn or indigestion when you lie down to sleep.

• Cut out fluids a couple hours before bed – you will be less likely to need a trip to the bathroom in the middle of the night.

• Beware of caffeine. You may want to cut out all caffeine four to six hours before bedtime.

• Skip the nightcap – alcohol can interfere with your sleep. Having a drink before bed may help you fall asleep, but it may make you restless during the night.

If you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, you may want to try snacking on the foods above before bed. You can also check out the blog 11 tips to getting a good night’s sleep. Do you have your own tricks to help you sleep?

Is laughter the best medicine?

boy laughingKids laugh hundreds of times a day. As adults, we can go all day without laughing or sharing a laugh with someone. Why is that? For one thing, we may feel like we have to take life more seriously. In addition, we have more stress and anxiety. It’s harder to see the humor in things.

Laughter may actually be good for us. It may have physical and mental health benefits. While there may not be definitive research on the healing powers of laughter, it certainly won’t hurt you any!

What happens when you laugh?
When we laugh, we stretch the muscles throughout our face and bodies. I have laughed so hard that my stomach muscles will be sore later. It addition, your pulse goes up as well as your blood pressure, and you breathe faster which sends more oxygen to your tissues. The results of laughing are very similar to exercise. Laughter may even burn calories. What could be better than that?

How does laughing effect your health?
Finding humor in life may raise the level of infection-fighting antibodies in the blood. It may also boost the levels of immune cells. So, laughing may help strengthen your immune system.

Laughter may help lower blood sugar levels – helping reduce the risk of diabetes.

Laughing can help you relax, give you a general sense of well-being and help you sleep better. It may also help those with chronic pain relax and achieve more pain free sleep.

You may have a more open mind when you have a good sense of humor. Laughing may help you improve your creativity and problem-solving skills.

Could laughter be the best medicine?
Scientist are not completely convinced that laughter really has major effects on our minds and bodies. For one thing, it’s really hard to conduct a controlled experiment on laughter. For instance, if research subjects reported that they were in less pain when they were laughing, is it the act of laughing or the distraction in general that brings about the pain relief? So, it becomes hard to measure the true benefits of laughter.

Yet, even if it’s not the laughing that makes you feel better, isn’t it still beneficial to laugh? Laughing means you have a good sense of humor and that means you typically take things less seriously and may better manage stress. You most likely have a positive attitude if you can see the humor in situations. You may have supportive friends and family who help give you reasons to laugh. And as we’ve discussed in previous blogs, reducing stress, having a positive outlook and having good relationships are all vital to good health.

5 ways to increase your laugh-ability:
Want to ramp up your ability to laugh and have more fun? Here are some activities to help you get in more laughs.

Spend time with happy people – If you hang out with fun and playful people, you are bound to have some laughs.

Laugh at your own expense – Share your embarrassing moments with your friends and family. Real life can be the best comedy.

Search out humorous entertainment – Go see funny movies. Read humorous books or watch comedies on TV.

Play games – Playing board games or charades with friends and family will most likely involve friendly bickering, good natured name-calling and quite a few laughs.

Hang out with kids – Spending time with kids brings out the kid in all of us. And, kids can say the darnedest things. They bring spontaneity and humor without even trying.

So, take time to laugh today. You’ll feel better, you may be healthier, and you just might brighten someone else’s day!