What Are The Benefits Of Drinking Water?

Everyone knows that it’s important to stay hydrated, that water is essential for our health – but why? What are the benefits of drinking water?

Did you know that our bodies can supposedly last weeks (around 3 weeks) without food and yet just a few days without water? This is understandable knowing that our bodies are made up of about 60% water and that being dehydrated can begin to affect us both physically and mentally in a short period of time.

Yes, water is essential for our health, it is imperative to so many bodily functions. Drinking enough water, staying hydrated, is the first rule of health and nutrition.

Most of our fluid needs are met through the water and beverages we drink. However, we get some fluids through the foods that we eat as well. Just think about fruits, vegetables, soups etc.

 

Benefits Of Drinking Water

  • Regulates your body temperature

Staying hydrated is crucial to maintaining your body temperature. Your body loses water through sweat during physical activity and in hot environments. Your sweat keeps your body cool, but your body temperature will rise if you don’t replenish the water you lose. That’s because your body loses electrolytes and plasma when it’s dehydrated.

  • Helps create saliva

Water is a main component of saliva. It’s essential for breaking down solid food and keeping your mouth healthy. Your body generally produces enough saliva with regular fluid intake. However, your saliva production may decrease as a result of age or certain medications or therapies.

  • It aids in digestion

Contrary to what some believe, drinking water before, during, and after a meal will help your body break down the food you eat more easily. This will help you digest food more effectively and to get the most out of your meals.

  • Helps excrete waste through perspiration, urination, and defecation

A ai above, sweat regulates body temperature when you’re exercising or in warm temperatures. You need water to replenish the lost fluid from sweat.

You also need enough water in your system to have healthy stool and avoid constipation.

Your kidneys are also important for filtering out waste through urination. Adequate water intake helps your kidneys work more efficiently and helps to prevent kidney stones.

  • Protects your tissues, spinal cord, and joints

Water consumption helps lubricate and cushion your joints, spinal cord, and tissues.

  • Water can help reduce sugar cravings and aid weight maintenance

The brain can’t actually tell the difference between hunger and thirst, so often we can mistake thirst as a ‘sugar craving’. The next time you feel the need for something sweet, try drinking a glass of water first. Staying hydrated may also help with weight maintenance. Having a glass of water before a meal may fill you up more and therefore promote weight loss by eating less at the meal.

  • Significantly affects energy levels and brain functions

Not getting enough water may result in fatigue and confusion as well as anxiety. Research has shown that even mild dehydration, such as the loss of 1–3% of body weight, can impair many aspects of brain function. Fluid loss of 1.4% after exercise impaired both mood and concentration. It also increased the frequency of headaches. Fluid loss of 1.6% was detrimental to working memory and increased feelings of anxiety and fatigue.

  • Helps prevent overall dehydration

Dehydration is the result of your body not having enough water. And because water is imperative to so many bodily functions, dehydration can be very dangerous.
Severe dehydration can result in a number of severe complications, including:

    • swelling in your brain
    • kidney failure
    • seizures
    • death

 

  • It helps maximize physical performance

Drinking plenty of water during physical activity is essential. This is particularly important during intense exercise or high heat. Dehydration can have a noticeable effect if you lose as little as 2% of your

body’s water content. However, it isn’t uncommon for athletes to lose as much as 6–10% of their water weight via sweat.

Athletes may perspire up to 6 to 10 % of body weight during physical activity. Hydration also affects your strength, power, and endurance.

Negative effects of exercise in the heat without enough water can include serious medical conditions, like decreased blood pressure and hyperthermia. Extreme dehydration can cause seizures and even death.

  • It helps fight off illness

Drinking enough water can help prevent certain medical conditions. These include:

    • constipation
    • kidney stones
    • exercise-induced asthma
    • urinary tract infection
    • hypertension

Water also helps you absorb important vitamins, minerals, and nutrients from your food, which will increase your chances of staying healthy.

 

How much water should we drink a day?

People get about 20 % of their daily water intake from food. The rest is dependent on drinking water and water-based beverages.

When your water intake does not equal your output, you can become dehydrated. Did you know that when you’re thirsty you are already mildly dehydrated? Yes, feeling thirsty indicates your body is not receiving adequate hydration.

It’s recommended to have 8 glasses of water a day.

You may need more water if you are:

  • In hot climates
  • More physically active
  • Running a fever
  • Having diarrhea or vomiting

Tips For Always Being Hydrated

  • Keep a glass of water, always, on your desk.
  • Carry a water bottle for easy access when you are out.
  • Freeze some freezer-safe water bottles. Take one with you for ice-cold water all day long (especially in the summer)
  • Choose water instead of sugar-sweetened beverages. This can also help with weight management.
  • Choose water when eating out. Generally, you will save money and reduce calories.
  • Add a wedge of lime or lemon to your water. It tastes good and is great for your health.

 

 

How To Attain Proper Sitting Posture At a Computer

Most of us spend 8 – 9 hours a day sitting in front of the computer or work, plus a few more hours when we get home. Not only that you feel strains and, sometimes pain in your lower back, shoulders and neck, from sitting long hours, but it can have much more serious consequences over time.

Firstly, let’s see what a bad sitting posture is, and what can we do to improve our posture while sitting – how to attain proper sitting posture at a computer.

Impact Of Poor Sitting Posture

Negative impacts of poor sitting posture at your desk include:poor-sitting-posture

  • Rounded shoulders
  • Potbelly
  • Headaches
  • Muscle fatigue
  • Back, neck, and bodily pains

Overtime these ailments can develop into something much more serious, such as a permanent change in your spinal cord, and increased chances of cardiovascular issues. And plus, sitting for hours slowers your metabolism.

How To Sit Properly

Sitting the right way can help you avoid stress on your muscles and joints that can leave you hurting. Here’s how

  1. Sit with a back straight (no hunching), your shoulders pulled back and buttock touching the endsitting-posture of the seat.
  2. Keep your neck and head in an upright angle with your ears aligned with your shoulders. Tilting the head forward just 15 degrees (so-called “text neck”) doubles the amount of pressure on your neck as the weight of your head doubles.
  3. Avoid leaning on any side. Keep hips even to distribute the weight of the body.
  4. Bend your knees at a 90-degree angle, and keep your knees even with or slightly lower than hips.
  5. Keep both feet flat on the floor, or rest them on a footrest if you can’t reach it.
  6. Don’t sit with your legs crossed, which restricts blood flow.
  7. Avoid sitting for longer than 30 minutes at a time.

Tips To Help Your Posture

  • Support your back

Reduce your risk of back pain by adjusting your chair so your lower back is properly supported.

A correctly adjusted chair will reduce the strain on your back. Get a chair that is easily adjustable so you can change the height, back position and tilt.

  • Adjust your chair

Adjust your chair height so you can use the keyboard with your wrists and forearms straight and level with the floor. This can help prevent repetitive strain injuries.

Your elbows should be by the side of your body so your arm forms an L-shape at the elbow joint.

  • Rest your feet on the floor

Place your feet flat on the floor. If they’re not, get a footrest, which lets you rest your feet at a level that’s comfortable.

Don’t cross your legs.

  • Place your screen at eye level

Your screen should be directly in front of you. A good guide is to place the monitor about an arm’s length away, with the top of the screen roughly at eye level.

To achieve this, you may need a monitor stand. If the screen is too high or too low, you’ll have to bend your neck, which can be uncomfortable.

  • Place the keyboard straight in front of youproper-sitting-posture

Place your keyboard in front of you when typing.

Leave a gap of about 10 -15 cm (4 to 6 inches) at the front of the desk to rest your wrists between bouts of typing.

Keep your arms bent in an L-shape and your elbows by your sides.

  • Take regular breaks

Don’t sit in the same position for too long. Make sure you change your posture as often as is practicable.

Frequent short breaks are better for your back than fewer long ones. It gives the muscles a chance to relax while others take the strain.

Other Postural Tips

  • Incorporate standing periodically into your workflow, such as standing for a few minutes after every 30 minutes of sitting.
  • Move periodically, for example walking or doing simple exercises for a couple of minutes after every 30 minutes.
  • Ensure your room is well lit without causing glare on your screen. Dim lighting fatigues your eyes more quickly.
  • Take eye breaks frequently, by looking at distant objects from time to time.
  • Work on your flexibility and stretch
  • Strengthen your core muscles
  • Improve your sleeping posture or buy a mattress that supports a healthy posture

Writing this article I realised that I’m bending my neck – obviously I have to put monitor on some stand. I’m saying this to show you that we all have to do ‘self check’ from time to time, and make adjucements.

There is no ‘magic pil solution’ for proper sitting posture. You can maintain and/or improve your sitting posture by conscious, everyday efforts, and by that maintain and/or improve the health of your back and neck. I recommend that you practice stretching, preferably every day or at least 2 -3 times a week. If you haven’t read the article on how to ease neck and shoulder pain, you can read it by clicking HERE, and How to improve back flexibility by clicking HERE

Thank you for reading this article. If you have any questions, or want to leave  a comment, you can do that in the comment section below this post.

Take care of yourself.

Healthy Eating Habits For Adults – Recommendations And Tips

Every day we make choices about the food we eat. These choices affect our health and the health of our families and can make a real difference to our ability to remain healthy and active now and in the future.

We’ve already seen what are the risks of poor nutrition, so let’s talk now about what is healthy to eat and drink, what’s not,  healthy eating habits for adults and some tips for healthy eating.

Consuming Healthy Food and Beverages

Diversified, balanced and healthy diet varies depending on individual characteristics (e.g. age, gender, lifestyle and degree of physical activity) and dietary habits. However, the basic principles of what constitutes a healthy diet remain the same.

Consume more nutrient-rich foods

Nutrients like vitamins, minerals, and dietary fibres are necessary for our health. Here are recommendations of some foods and beverages that are rich in nutrients:

  • fruits and vegetables
  • whole grains, like oatmeal, whole-grain bread, and brown rice
  • seafood, lean meats, poultry, and eggs
  • fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products; or nondairy soy, almond, rice, or other drinks with added vitamin D and calcium
  • beans, peas, unsalted nuts, and seeds

Consume less of these foods and beverages

Some foods and beverages have many calories but few of the essential nutrients your body needs. Added sugars and solid fats pack a lot of calories into food and beverages but provide a limited amount of healthy nutrients. Salt does not contain calories, but it tends to be in high-calorie foods. Adults should aim to limit foods and drinks such as

  • sugar-sweetened drinks and foods
  • foods with solid fats like butter, margarine, lard, and shortening
  • white bread, rice, and pasta that are made from refined grains
  • foods with added salt (sodium)

Easy snack ideas

Instead of sugary, fatty snacks, try:

  • fat-free or low-fat milk or yoghurt
  • fresh or canned fruit, without added sugars
  • sliced vegetables or baby carrots with hummus

Practical Tips For Healthy Eating

The key to a healthy diet is to eat the right amount of calories for how active you are so you balance the energy you consume with the energy you use. If you eat or drink more than your body needs, you’ll put on weight because the energy you do not use is stored as fat. If you eat and drink too little, you’ll lose weight.

You should also eat a wide range of foods to make sure you’re getting a balanced diet and your body is receiving all the nutrients it needs. It’s recommended that men have around 2,500 calories a day (10,500 kilojoules). Women should have around 2,000 calories a day (8,400 kilojoules).

  • Base your meals on higher fibre starchy carbohydrates

Starchy carbohydrates should make up just over a third of the food you eat. They include potatoes, bread, rice, pasta and cereals. Choose higher fibre or whole grain varieties, such as wholewheat pasta, brown rice or potatoes with their skins on. They contain more fibre than white or refined starchy carbohydrates and can help you feel full for longer. Try to include at least 1 starchy food with each main meal. Some people think starchy foods are fattening, but gram for gram the carbohydrate they contain provides fewer than half the calories of fat. Keep an eye on the fats you add when you’re cooking or serving these types of foods because that’s what increases the calorie content – for example, oil on chips, butter on bread and creamy sauces on pasta.

  • Eat lots of fruit and vegetables

It’s recommended that you eat at least 5 portions of a variety of fruit and veg every day. They can be fresh, frozen, canned, dried or juiced. It’s easier than it sounds. Why not chop a banana over your breakfast cereal, or swap your usual mid-morning snack for a piece of fresh fruit? A portion of fresh, canned or frozen fruit and vegetables is 80g. A portion of dried fruit (which should be kept to mealtimes) is 30g. A 150ml glass of fruit juice, vegetable juice or smoothie also counts as 1 portion, but limit the amount you have to no more than 1 glass a day as these drinks are sugary and can damage your teeth.

  • Eat more fish, including a portion of oily fish

Fish is a good source of protein and contains many vitamins and minerals. Aim to eat at least 2 portions of fish a week, including at least 1 portion of oily fish.

Oily fish are high in omega-3 fats, which may help prevent heart disease. Oily fish include: salmon; trout; herring; sardines; pilchards; mackerel.

  • Cut down on saturated fat and sugar

Try to cut down on your saturated fat intake and choose foods that contain unsaturated fats instead, such as vegetable oils and spreads, oily fish and avocados. For a healthier choice, use a small amount of vegetable or olive oil, or reduced-fat spread instead of butter, lard or ghee. When you’re having meat, choose lean cuts and cut off any visible fat. All types of fat are high in energy, so they should only be eaten in small amounts.

Sugar

Regularly consuming foods and drinks high in sugar increases your risk of obesity and tooth decay. Sugary foods and drinks are often high in energy, and if consumed too often can contribute to weight gain. Free sugars are any sugars added to foods or drinks, or found naturally in honey, syrups and unsweetened fruit juices and smoothies. This is the type of sugar you should be cutting down on, rather than the sugar found in fruit and milk.

  • Eat less salt

Eating too much salt can raise your blood pressure. People with high blood pressure are more likely to develop heart disease or have a stroke. Even if you do not add salt to your food, you may still be eating too much. About three-quarters of the salt you eat is already in the food when you buy it, such as breakfast cereals, soups, breads and sauces.

Eating Habits

To eat healthier food, you may need to change some of your daily habits. You also may need to change some things in your environment.

You don’t need to make huge changes to eat healthier. And you don’t have to change your habits all at the same time. It’s best to set small goals and change your habits a bit at a time. Over time, small changes can make a big difference in your health.

Here are some ways to make healthy changes in your eating habits:

  • Keep more fruits, low-fat dairy products (low-fat milk and low-fat yoghurt), vegetables, and whole-grain foods at home and at work.
  • Try to eat a family meal every day at the kitchen or dining table. This will help you focus on eating healthy meals.
  • Buy a healthy-recipe book, and cook for yourself. Chew gum when you cook so you won’t be tempted to snack on the ingredients.
  • Pack a healthy lunch and snacks for work. This lets you have more control over what you eat.
  • Put your snacks on a plate instead of eating from the package. This helps you control how much you eat.
  • Don’t skip or delay meals, and be sure to schedule your snacks. If you ignore your feelings of hunger, you may end up eating too much or choosing an unhealthy snack.
  • Eat your meals with others when you can. Relax and enjoy your meals, and don’t eat too fast. Try to make healthy eating a pleasure, not a chore.
  • Drink water instead of high-sugar drinks (including high-sugar juice drinks).

I know all of this might sound like ‘too much’ but, as I’ve said already, you don’t have to make all the changes at once. Just be aware of the importance of proper nutrition for your health and be persistent.

And one more thing before I leave you –  if you have some food allergies, underlying health problem(s) or disease(s) you must pay additional care to your nutrition. Besides advice, you got from your physician, it would be smart to consult a nutritionist.

What Are The Health Risks Of Poor Nutrition

We hear it all the time: proper and balanced nutrition is essential for our health. Yet many people don’t take it seriously. So, let’s see what are the health risks of poor nutrition.

Importance Of Good Nutrition

Your food choices each day affect your health – how your body functions, how you feel today, tomorrow, and in the future.

Good nutrition is an important part of leading a healthy lifestyle. Combined with physical activity and taking care of your mental health, your diet can help you to reach and maintain a healthy weight, reduce your risk of chronic diseases (like heart disease and cancer), and promote your overall health.

To put it simply, without the proper nutrition, your body is unable to function at its best.

Good nutrition allows you to fuel your body and nourish it for growth and repair. When you’re eating a balanced range of vitamins and minerals – this is good nutrition. Eating foods from all the food groups is the best way to ensure a balanced, nutritionally rich diet.

These food groups include:

  • Grains
  • Vegetables and legumes
  • Lean meat, seafood, eggs and meat alternatives
  • Dairy products and alternatives
  • Fruit, and
  • Healthy fats.

What Causes Poor Nutrition?

Poor eating habits include under- or over-eating, not having enough of the healthy foods we need each day, or consuming too many types of food and drink, which are low in fibre or high in fat, salt and/or sugar.

These unhealthy eating habits can affect our nutrient intake, including energy, protein, carbohydrates, essential fatty acids, vitamins and minerals as well as fibre and fluid.

Risks And The Harmful Effects of Poor Nutrition

Poor nutrition can impact our daily health and well being and reduce our ability to lead an enjoyable and active life. As well as create long term problems and diseases.

In the short term, poor nutrition can contribute to stress, tiredness and our capacity to work, and over time, it can contribute to the risk of developing some illnesses and other health problems such as:

Overweight and Obesity

Eating a healthy diet, along with getting enough physical activity and sleep, can help children grow up healthy and prevent overweight and obesity. Around 20% of young people aged 2 to 19 years and 40% of adults have obesity, which can put them at risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers.

Heart Disease and Stroke

Two of the leading causes of heart disease and stroke are high blood pressure and high blood cholesterol. Consuming too much sodium can increase blood pressure and the risk for heart disease and stroke. Over 70% of the sodium that people eat comes from packaged, processed, store-bought, and restaurant foods. Eating foods low in saturated fats and high in fibre and increasing access to low-sodium foods, along with regular physical activity, can help prevent high blood cholesterol and high blood pressure.

Type 2 Diabetes

People who are overweight or have obesity are at increased risk of type 2 diabetes compared to those at a normal weight because, over time, their bodies become less able to use the insulin they make.

Cancer

An unhealthy diet can increase the risk of some cancers. Overweight and obesity are associated with at least 13 types of cancer, including endometrial (uterine) cancer, breast cancer in postmenopausal women, and colorectal cancer. These cancers make up 40% of all cancers diagnosed.

Deficits in Brain Function

The brain develops most quickly in the first 1,000 days of life, from the start of pregnancy to the child’s second birthday. Having low levels of iron during pregnancy and early childhood is associated with mental and behavioural delays in children. Ensuring that iodine levels are high enough during pregnancy also helps a growing baby have the best brain development possible.

Steps to Good Nutrition

  • have a good variety of healthy foods from the five food groups each day.
  • aim for two serves of fruit and five serves of vegetables each day
  • only occasionally eat sugary, fatty or salty food, and then only in small amounts
  • drink fresh, clean water instead of sugary drinks
  • switch over to healthy recipes that look and taste good
  • plan your meals ahead and shop for healthy ingredients
  • enjoy cooking and eating healthy food with family or friends and without distractions such as the television.good-nutrition

Individual Adjucements

Your nutritional requirements are unique to your body — especially if you have food sensitivities or intolerance to consider.

Many health conditions are caused and/or affected by food and nutrition. Some are directly caused by food, such as “food poisoning” or bacterial infections from contaminated food. Some people can have severe allergies to foods like peanuts, shellfish, or wheat (celiac disease). Gastrointestinal ailments—such as irritable bowel syndrome, ulcerative colitis, and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)—are also directly affected by the consumption of food.

For other diseases and conditions, the type or quantity of food can influence the progress of the disease. Diabetes mellitus, for example, which results in the inability of the body to regulate blood sugar, is drastically affected by the types and quantities of food eaten. Carbohydrate intake has to be carefully monitored if you suffer from diabetes, or blood sugar can rise to dangerous levels. Other conditions affected by food and nutrition include:

  • hypertension: Salt intake affects blood pressure.
  • heart disease/high cholesterol: Fatty foods and partial hydrogenated oils can create plaque in arteries.
  • osteoporosis: Low calcium, low vitamin D and excess fat can result in fragile bones.
  • certain cancers: A poor diet and obesity are associated with increased risk of breast, colon, endometrial, esophageal, and kidney cancers.

Your food choices and nutritional status can influence your overall health over the entire course of your life. So, If you have some food allergies, underlying health problems or disease(s) you must pay additional care to your nutrition. Besides advices, you got from your physician, it would be smart to consult a nutritionist. That’s my advice to you.

Take care of yourself and your families!

Easy Exercises To Improve a Posture

So many of us spend eight hours (or more) a day in a seated position at a desk or using technology. Some standing habits lead to poor posture as well. This is the reason why many people experience many of the negative effects of poor posture, even in the early stages of their lives.

Over time bad posture affects your health. Good news is that conscious efforts and exercises can help you regain good posture. Here are easy exercises to improve a posture that will help your body assume proper alignment. But first, let’s discuss some of the ways you can differentiate good posture vs bad posture.

 

posture

Good Posture vs. Bad Posture

A good posture is simply balanced and upright. Anything aside from this is bad and will ultimately affect your health in the long run.

    • Standing Position

When standing, a good posture will have the head in line with the shoulders. On the other hand, having your head held forward of the shoulders or being tilted to one side is bad posture. A good posture will have the chin tucked in without poking or jutting forward. The shoulders are relaxed and the bottom tucked in. Hunch shoulders, sticking out bottoms, are characteristic of bad postures in the standing position. The individual has to be able to stand with their feet slightly apart and in line with the shoulders. Total body weight also has to be equally divided because a failure, in this case, will cause the spine to tilt or curve sideways.

    • Sitting Position

To maintain a good sitting posture, you have to sit with the chin tucked in, the shoulders relaxed and back straight. The hips, knees, and ankles are also to be at right angles with the thighs in level with the knees. You don’t want to poke the chin forward or sit with hunch shoulders.

However, maintaining a good posture is not limited to sitting and standing alone. It extends further into the way you walk, the way you lie down, etc. In all of these, it is important that you understand how necessary it is to keep the spine straight and in line.

Exercises To Improve Posture

1. Wall Angel

The wall angel exercise is exceptionally good at strengthening the back and improving body posture. Here’s how to do it:

  • Stand with your back against the wall
  • The wrists and elbows, head and shoulders, the back, rear, and heels should all touch the wall
  • Raise your hands slowly till they are over your head
  • Lower your hands till they are even with your shoulders
  • Repeat five to ten times

2. The Corner Stretch

This exercise helps to improve chest flexibilitythe-corner-stretch

  • Place your forearms and palms on either side of the wall at approximately shoulder level.
  • Inhale.
  • Exhale, and pulling your lower abdominal muscles into your spine, lean toward the wall. You only need to go to the point where it feels challenging but causes no pain or discomfort. It’s more important to move your whole body as a unit, and not bend anywhere along the chain.
  • Hold the position for between 5-30 seconds, then come back to start.
  • Repeat 5 to 10 times

3. The Doorway Stretch

  • Stand in an open doorway. Raise each arm up to the side, bent at 90-degree angles with palms forward. Rest your palms on the door frame.
  • Slowly step forward with one foot. Feel the stretch in your shoulders and chest. Stand upright and don’t lean forward.
  • Hold for 30 seconds. Step back and relax
  • Repeat 3 times

4. Chest Opener

This exercise allows you to open and stretch your chest. This is especially useful if you spend most of your day sitting, which tends to make your chest move inward. Strengthening your chest also helps you stand up straighter.

  • Stand with your feet about hip-width apart
  • Bring your arms behind you and interlace your fingers with your palms pressing together. Grasp a towel if your hands don’t reach each other.
  • Keep your head, neck, and spine in one line as you gaze straight ahead.
  • Inhale as you lift your chest toward the ceiling and lift your hands up.
  • Breathe deeply as you hold this pose for 5 breaths.
  • Release and relax for a few breaths.
  • Repeat at least 10 times.

5. High Plank

The high plank pose helps to relieve pain and stiffness throughout your body while strengthening your shoulders, glutes, and hamstrings. It also helps you develop balance and strength in your core and back, both important for good posture.

  • Come onto all fours and straighten your legs, lift your heels, and raise your hips.the-high-plank
  • Straighten your back and engage your abdominal, arm, and leg muscles.
  • Lengthen the back of your neck, soften your throat, and look down at the floor.
  • Make sure to keep your chest open and your shoulders back.
  • Hold this position for up to 1 minute at a time.

6. Side Plank

You can use a side plank to maintain the neutral alignment of your spine and legs. This energizing pose works the muscles in your sides and glutes. Strengthening and aligning these muscles helps to support your back and improve posture.

  • From a high plank position, bring your left hand slightly into the centre.
  • Shift your weight onto your left hand, stack your ankles, and lift your hips.
  • Place your right hand on your hip or extend it up toward the ceiling.
  • You can drop your left knee down to the floor for extra support.
  • Engage your abdominals, side body, and glutes as you maintain this pose.
  • Align your body in a straight line from the crown of your head to your heels.
  • Look straight ahead of you or up toward your hand.
  • Hold this pose for up to 30 seconds.
  • Repeat on the opposite side.

7. Forward Hold

This standing stretch releases tension in your spine, hamstrings, and glutes. It also stretches your hips and legs. While doing this stretch, you should feel the entire backside of your body opening up and lengthening.

  • Stand with your big toes touching and your heels slightly apart.
  • Bring your hands to your hips and fold forward at your hips.
  • Release your hands toward the floor or place them on a block. Don’t worry if your hands don’t touch the ground — just go as far as you can.
  • Bend your knees slightly, soften your hips joints, and allow your spine to lengthen.
  • Tuck your chin into your chest and allow your head to fall heavily to the floor.
  • Remain in this pose for up to 1 minute.

 

 

 

Deep Breathing Exercises To Reduce Stress

Dealing with severe stress is very hard on so many levels. One thing you can do to help yourself to calm down and regain control in those situations, is taking a few moments for yourself. Focus on breathing! It’s so important. I can’t stress it enough.

In this article you’ll find out what ‘stress’ really is, what is happening to us in the situations of high stress, or even severe ones, why is focusing on breathing techniques so important and what deep breathing exercises can reduce stress

What Is Stress

Stress is the body’s reaction to any change that requires an adjustment or response. The body reacts to these changes with physical, mental, and emotional responses. Stress is a normal part of life. You can experience stress from your environment, your body, and your thoughts. Even positive life changes such as a promotion, marriage, a mortgage, or the birth of a child produce stress.

Stress can be positive, keeping us alert, motivated, and ready to avoid danger. Stress becomes negative when a person faces continuous challenges without relief or relaxation between stressors. As a result, the person becomes overworked, and stress-related tension builds. The body’s autonomic nervous system has a built-in stress response that causes physiological changes to allow the body to combat stressful situations. This stress response, also known as the “fight or flight response”, is activated in case of an emergency. However, this response can become chronically activated during prolonged periods of stress. Prolonged activation of the stress response causes wear and tear on the body – both physical and emotional.

How Stress Affects Health

The human body is designed to experience stress and react to it. Stress that continues without relief can lead to a condition called distress – a negative stress reaction. Distress can disturb the body’s internal balance or equilibrium, leading to physical symptoms such as headaches, an upset stomach, elevated blood pressure, chest pain, sexual dysfunctions and problems sleeping.

Emotional problems can also result from distress. These problems include depression, panic attacks, or other forms of anxiety and worry.

Stress also becomes harmful when people engage in the compulsive use of substances or behaviours to try to relieve their stress. These substances or behaviours include food, alcohol, drugs, gambling, sex, shopping, and the Internet. Rather than relieving the stress and returning the body to a relaxed state, these substances and compulsive behaviours tend to keep the body in a stressed state and cause more problems.

Two Types Of Breathing Patterns

Most people aren’t really conscious of the way they’re breathing, but generally, there are two types of breathing patterns:

  • Diaphragmatic (abdominal) breathing
  • Thoracic (chest) breathing

When people are anxious they tend to take rapid, shallow breaths that come directly from the chest. This type of breathing is called thoracic or chest breathing. When you’re feeling anxious, you may not even be aware you’re breathing this way.

Chest breathing causes an upset in the oxygen and carbon dioxide levels in the body resulting in increased heart rate, dizziness, muscle tension, and other physical sensations. Your blood is not being properly oxygenated and this may signal a stress response that contributes to anxiety and panic attacks.

During abdominal or diaphragmatic breathing, you take even, deep breaths.

This is the way newborn babies naturally breathe. You’re also probably using this pattern of breathing when you’re in a relaxed stage of sleep.

The easiest way to determine your breathing pattern is to put one hand on your upper abdomen near the waist and the other in the middle of your chest. As you breathe, notice which hand raises the most.

If you’re breathing properly, your abdomen should expand and contract with each breath (and the hand on it should raise the most). It’s especially important to be aware of these differences during stressful and anxious times when you’re more likely to breathe from your chest.abdominal-breathing-exercise

Deep Breathing Exercises

1. Abdominal (diaphragmatic) Breathing

  • Inhale slowly and deeply through your nose for 4 seconds. Keep your shoulders relaxed. Your abdomen should expand, and your chest should rise very little.
  • Hold your breath for 7 seconds
  • Exhale slowly through your mouth for 8 seconds. As you blow air out, purse your lips slightly, but keep your jaw relaxed. You may hear a soft “whooshing” sound as you exhale.
  • Repeat this breathing exercise. Do it for several minutes until you start to feel better.

You can perform this exercise as often as needed. It can be done standing up, sitting down, or lying down. Put one hand on your upper abdomen near the waist and the other in the middle of your chest, focus and count 4-7-8. Remember it well.

2. Nasal breathing

  • Place your left hand on your left knee.
  • Lift your right hand up toward your nose.
  • Exhale completely and then use your right thumb to close your right nostril.
  • Inhale through your left nostril and then close the left nostril with your fingers.
  • Open the right nostril and exhale through this side.
  • Inhale through the right nostril and then close this nostril.
  • Open the left nostril and exhale through the left side.
  • This is one cycle.
  • Continue for up to 5 minutes.
  • Always complete the practice by finishing with exhale on the left side.

3. “Squared” breathing

If possible, it is usually a good idea to sit in a chair with your back supported and both of your feet on the floor. Really feel the support of the chair and floor under you. Alternatively, you can sit in a seated meditation position or even lie down.

  • Begin by slowly exhaling all of your air out.
  • Then, gently inhale through your nose to a slow count of 4.
  • Hold at the top of the breath for a count of 4.
  • Then gently exhale through your mouth for a count of 4.
  • At the bottom of the breath, pause and hold for the count of 4.

Benefits Of Deep Breathing Exercises

  1. Lower stress and improve cardiovascular function – in situations of severe stress, these exercises (especially the first one – abdominal breathing – 4/7/8) cause your nervous system to switch from a “fight or flight” to a more relaxed state.
  2. Lower heart rate
  3. Normalize your breathing bringing more oxygen to your brain and every part of your body
  4. Calm you down helping you think more clearly

 

5 Tibetan Rites Exercises – Sequence Of Exercises Beneficial For Your Health

You have probably already heard of 5 Tibetan Rites exercises. It’s a sequence of exercises reported to be more than 2,500 years old, and is said to be a form of Tibetan yoga. I’m not going to talk about yoga in this article, I’ll be focusing on exercises. Personally I really love, love, love this sequence of exercises.

I’ll introduce them to you and explain exactly how they should be performed, how many of each exercise to do. I’ll also talk about the benefits of performing this sequence of exercises every day.

What Do They Consist Of

Obviously, as their name says, they consist of five exercises. Each exercise is to be performed 21 times. You should start with 3 reps (of each exercise) every day, in the first week (you’ll need like 20 minutes for this set at start, but day by day you’ll do it in 10 min.). Every week add 1 rep to each exercise, till you get to 21 reps of each exercise.

This is a perfect set of exercises especially for those wanting to become, and be, flexible, mobile (benefits will be described below) without heavy workout, and not oriented towards looking like fitness god/goddess, but simply to take care of their physical and mental health. Hey, Tibetan monks have been practising them for thousands of years, and with healthy nutrition and spirituality lived healthy and actively till very old age.

Benefits of These Exercises

Information about the benefits of this practice is based on the reports of practitioners, the opinions of medical professionals and yoga instructors. They include: increased energy; increased flexibility, strength and coordination; better circulation; improved immunity; solid sleep; stress reduction; helping with arthritis and sciatica; eliminating lower back problems; improving endurance and physical strength

I would especially like to point out that they have a very positive effect on concentration, reduction of everyday stress, and an enhanced sense of calm.

How To Perform These Exercise

As said above, one sequence consists of 5 exercises. First week: 3 reps each. Adding slowly one more rep for each exercise every week till 21 reps. When you’ll reach that point simply repeat it each day, sustaining that level. Now let’s describe each exercise:

  • First exercise (rite): “spinning”
    • Stand up straight with your arms outstretched, horizontal with your shoulders. Face your palms down.
    • Spin clockwise with your head lightly bent ahead and your eyes looking to the ground.
    • Make 3 spins (for starts, as described above – one more each week till 21 reps)

When you have completed spins, stand straight with your feet shoulder-width apart, put your hands on your hips until all the dizziness is gone.

  • Second exercise (rite): “The J” – this exercise strengthens core muscles and improves/maintains spine elasticity.
    • Lie flat on your back. Place your hands flat down alongside of the hips, palms on the floor.
    • With the inhalation raise your head and your legs, keeping your knees straight. Pressing your palms to the ground will help you perform this exercise. At this point your body makes letter J. Hold this position for a couple of seconds.
    • While exhaling slowly lower your head and legs to the starting position.

Take a few seconds of rest. Allow your muscles and your whole body to relax. Then repeat. (3 reps first week, increasing number of reps per 1 a week till 21)

  • Third rite: “Arching”
    • Kneel on your knees and feet shoulder-width apart, with your palms flat against the side of legs. Bend your head towards your chest. Inhale while pressing your chin to your chest and crunching your abdomen
    • Slowly drop your head back while opening your chest and exhaling. Bend your elbows, keeping palms on the backside of your thighs
    • And again: – inhale: head to the chest, crunching your abdomen; – exhale: head back, chest opened. Repeat, ( same as previous exercises)
  • Fourth exercise (rite): “Tabletop”
    • Sit on the floor with your legs straight. Place your palms on the floor, besides your hips, fingertips toward your feet
    • Inhaling raise your hips, bend your knees so that the legs from the knees down are practically straight up and down. Let your head to gently fall backwards. Now your body, from your shoulders to your knees is horizontal.
    • Exhaling return to the starting position (bring back your hips to your hands and your head to the chest). Note: your hands and your heels do not change place. Repeat
  • Fifth exercise (rite): “The Two Dogs” – a combination of so-called ‘upward-facing dog’ and ‘downward-facing dog’
    • Kneel on your knees and your feet shoulder-width apart. Lean forward, place your hands on the floor. Your hands should be aligned with your shoulders and your knees directly below your hips.
    • Inhale while arching your spine, keeping the tops of your legs on the ground. Drop your head back (;upward-facing dog)
    • Exhale while lifting your hips, moving your body into an upside-down “V” shape. Move your chin toward your chest and straighten your back into Downward-Facing Dog.
    • Repeat

A Word Of Warning – Who Shouldn’t Do These Exercises

Performing these exercises is not suggested for pregnant women. If you’ve been practising this sequence of exercises before pregnancy, and you want to continue – please consult with your doctor. Especially first exercise (spinning) will increase nausea and dizziness. And the other exercises as well are not compatible with pregnancy, so it’s advises not to perform them during pregnancy.

In cases of illnesses, post-operation recovery, spine injuries, low immunity, chronic diseases … do not perform these exercises without consult with your doctor if and when it is safe to begin.

Include This Sequence Of Exercises in Your Everyday Life

Performing these exercises regularly will help you improve your physical and mental health. They are beneficial in so many ways, as discussed above.

Take care of yourself. I hope you’ve found this article interesting, informative, and useful. If you have any questions, please leave them in comments and I’ll be more than happy to answer.

Thanks for reading this article.