Energy

6 Ways to Go With the Flow and Stay in the Moment

Photo by Matthew Kane on Unsplash

“Just be unattached as a child at play.” – Gangaji

 

How would it be to let go of all your concerns and fully participate in the moment? More specifically, how would you like to feel the joy of playtime, the rush of doing something wonderfully fun, discovering something new, or pushing yourself to explore unknown territory?

Researchers will tell you – and parents as well – that children instinctively know how to do this. Yet all is not lost if such a natural gift is a distant memory. As adults, while we may have forgotten how, we can rekindle the ability to shake off troubles and concentrate fully on the present moment.

In short, we can relearn how to go with the moment.

Naturally, there are times when such spontaneity is not appropriate, including when the boss is clamoring for a report and you’re nowhere near finished, or you’ve just received bad news that demands immediate action. You should not be unattached at such times.

Still, you can be in the moment, dedicated, zeroed in on what matters, adhering to a constancy of effort and making sure to accommodate deadlines.

But, getting back to having fun, being unattached as a child at play and going with the moment, here are a few suggestions on how to recapture the wonder that children naturally express.

Turn off the self-censor button.

That’s right. Start by telling yourself to stop saying no or chiding yourself that you simply can’t do something, for whatever reason. Chances are, that negative self-talk and self-criticism included the notion that it’s not adult-like or you don’t have time for this or it’s just too silly. Instead, resolve to be open to the experience.

Let go of the past.

Intrusive thoughts and memories of unpleasantness, failure, pain, loss, loneliness and disappointment may rise to the surface. This flood of negativity will deter you from being fully present and enjoying the moment. You must let go of past hurts, including the burden such memories hold over you. This does not mean that you forget the past, for when you experienced things in that moment, it contributed to who you are today. There are also good memories from the past that are worth cherishing. What’s important to remember is that there’s no reason to cling to bad memories, for the past cannot help you rewrite history. Nor can it change the future. What can, however, bring about fundamental change is going with the moment. To get started doing that, you must release the past.

Give yourself permission to feel whatever you feel in the moment.

This might be joy or delight or curiosity. It could entail a bit of trepidation or uncertainty, even a bit of fear. If it’s within the realm of possibility and doesn’t put you at an inordinate amount of risk, let your emotions play out. They may lead you to take action that your previous propensity to self-censor prohibited. Look forward with excitement to what might happen next. After all, who knows what you might learn?

Acknowledge that it’s OK to play.

Remind yourself – by saying out loud, if necessary – that it’s perfectly fine and good for you to have fun, to take a break from chores and responsibilities, to do something just because you enjoy it and want to nurture that part of yourself.

Know when it’s time to stop.

Like a kid playing in the park with friends and the sunset signals time to go home, even if you’re having the time of your life, it’s important to know and abide by limits. There is an appropriate time for play and a time when you must tend to other things. By paying attention to both, the joy you feel in the moment is in no way minimized. Indeed, it’s even more satisfying. You may not remember the hours you toiled on a report, but you do remember how much fun you had working in the garden, celebrating a memorable milestone with a loved one, laughing with your friends, reading your favorite book.

When you’re in the zone, just go with it.

You know the feeling. Being in the zone is energizing, motivating and inspiring. It’s the knowledge and certainty that you can do almost anything. The possibilities that reveal themselves when you go with the moment are unlike anything you could have predetermined or imagined. That’s another benefit to learning how to go with the moment.

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This article was originally published on Psych Central.

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10 Benefits of Tai Chi for Better Overall Health, Well-Being and Living Longer

 

“The reason I exercise is for the quality of life I enjoy.” – Kenneth H. Cooper

 

In the search for effective ways to experience positive outcomes in the all-important life aspects such as overall health, well-being and mortality, one of the sleeper strategies to consider involves adopting an ancient Chinese practice called tai chi. Here are some of the benefits of tai chi documented by research.

Live longer.

Tai Chi is a mind-body practice that originated in China and remains today the most common form of exercise for adults in that country. In addition to the much-researched benefits for reduced mortality from moderate-intensity exercise, such as you get from regular walking and jogging, researchers found the first evidence that tai chi also promotes longevity. The greatest benefit from tai chi was obtained from those who self-reported engaging in the practice 5-6 hours per week.

Improve muscle strength, balance and flexibility.

A systematic review of older patients with chronic conditions who engaged in regular tai chi exercise found that, in addition participants’ physiological and psychosocial benefits, the practice also appeared to promote better balance control, flexibility, strength, respiratory and cardiovascular function. Researchers noted, however, that it was difficult to state firm conclusions about the reported benefits and called for more well-defined studies to drill down to specific, verifiable results. In other research, a clinical trial of older women with osteoarthritis who completed a 12-week tai chi exercise program found participants experienced improved arthritic symptoms (less pain), balance and physical function. Researchers urged a larger-sample longitudinal study to confirm use of tai chi in arthritis exercise management.

Boost cognitive function.

Although the fact is that cognitive decline is prevalent among older adults (about 40 percent of older adults in America have some form of cognitive impairment, such as dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease), it need not be considered a foregone conclusion. Nor should getting older need be synonymous with cognitive decline. A growing body of evidence points to the benefits to older adults from practice of tai chi in the areas of global cognitive and memory functions, especially verbal working memory. A meta-analysis found agreement with the findings of numerous studies on the benefits to cognitive function from physical exercise, and researchers recommended tai chi as an alternative mind-body exercise to improve older adults’ cognitive functioning.

Improve COPD symptoms.

An Australian study found that a modified tai chi program – Sun-style tai chi — helped boost exercise capacity and improved participant’s chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) symptoms. Researchers noted that tai chi has “highly clinically relevant effects on endurance and peak exercise capacity in people with COPD.”

Get better night-time sleep quality.

A 2016 pilot randomized controlled trial evaluating the benefits of tai chi qigong (TCQ) on night-time sleep quality of older adults with cognitive impairment found better quality of both sleep and life than a control group not participating in tai chi qigong. Since more than 25 percent of older adults with cognitive impairment suffer impaired sleep quality, the search for nonpharmacological approaches to improve the quality of night-time sleep is gaining momentum. Due to their low physical strength and medical condition, however, many older adults with cognitive impairment cannot engage in certain exercises. Thus, developing exercise programs tailored to mental conditions and reduced physical well-being is important. Results from the pilot trial showed tai chi qigong participants benefited from improved sleep qualities in the areas of sleep duration, sleep efficiency, and the mental health component of quality of life. Researchers noted that, as a low-intensity exercise, TCQ is an appropriate intervention to improve night-time sleep quality in older adults with cognitive impairment.

Improve symptoms of fibromyalgia.

In a study comparing the effectiveness of tai chi and aerobic exercise on fibromyalgia symptoms in patients, researchers found that tai chi resulted in similar or greater symptom improvement than aerobic exercise. Longer-duration tai chi provided greater improvements, researchers noted, concluding that the mind-body approach of tai chi may be a viable therapeutic option in the multidisciplinary management of fibromyalgia.

See improvements in cardiovascular fitness.

Millions of Americans exercise to help boost their cardiovascular health. Yet, many who do so do not realize the research-backed evidence that certain types of exercise specifically benefit cardiovascular function. Indeed, zeroing in on what types of exercise benefit the heart in healthy adults is only recently attracting researcher interest. A review of 20 studies of healthy adults comparing tai chi exercise with non-intervention found that tai chi has a significant impact in improving heart efficiency by reducing resting blood pressure, resting heart rate, and enhancing stroke outcome and cardiac output at quiet reading. The review also found significant improvement in respiratory function from tai chi exercise.

Reduce risk of falls.

Among older adults, the risk of falling is an ever-present and major concern. As such, finding therapeutic approaches to help reduce fall risk in this cohort is of major importance. A 2016 review  of 10 randomized controlled trials examining tai chi’s effect on fall reduction found the ancient Chinese exercise demonstrates a significant protective effect on fall prevention risk among older adults. Researchers noted the need for additional trials to determine both optimal duration and frequency of tai chi programs and optimal style of such programs for older adults.

Reduce prenatal anxiety and depression.

A 2013 study of tai chi and yoga treatment for prenatal women with anxiety and depression found that the tai chi group had lower scores in depression and anxiety, as well as lower scores in sleep disturbance at the end of the 12-week, once-per-week sessions.

Obtain moderate benefits for chronic nonspecific neck pain.

Chronic pain sufferers are always on the lookout for effective pain relief that is nonaddictive, effective and safe. A 2016 study found that a 12-week program of tai chi resulted in more than 50 percent pain reduction in 39 percent of patients with chronic nonspecific neck pain, compared with more than 50 percent pain reduction in 46 percent of study participants engaging in conventional neck exercises. Researchers noted that both tai chi and conventional neck exercises are safe and effective. They said further that tai chi may be a suitable alternative to conventional neck exercises.

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This article was originally published on Psych Central.

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We All Get Sick Sometimes: How to Keep Going When You Feel Miserable

Photo by Michele Hohner

 

“Life is too short to be miserable.” – Rita Mae Brown

 

While it would be wonderful if you never got sick, that’s not life. In fact, you can count on having some bouts of illness no matter how healthy you currently are or have been. There are countless opportunities to encounter germs, carried by people who are infected – even if they don’t look sick – or clinging to surfaces you touch. Allergies afflict millions every day, while family contact and heredity account for many more instances of sickness and illness. When you do fall ill, it may be of short duration or a long and drawn-out episode. Either way, you might feel miserable. Here’s some advice on how to keep going when that happens, drawn from personal experience and a keen sense of research on what works and what doesn’t.

Keep your perspective.

It might seem like this illness or condition will last forever, yet it’s likely more of a barrier in your thoughts than will pan out. A cold or the flu will run its course over a week or two, unless there are complications. A broken leg will eventually heal, given appropriate medical treatment. A chronic disease or condition can be managed with time and discipline. Doing the best that you can to be good to yourself while what’s bothering you now rages on will help speed recovery. In the meantime, take the long view. Envision yourself getting stronger each day and regaining your health and vitality. By seeing a mental image of a healthier you, you’re priming yourself to get on the road to improvement. Research proves that imagining being able to perform a task, even when physically unable to do so, may benefit recovery. Remember that the next time illness lays you low.

Leave the big decisions for later.

When you’re sick is no time to make major changes in your life. For one thing, you’re not thinking clearly. For another, making an impulse decision now could jeopardize long-term goals, alienate those you care about most or whose friendship or counsel you value highly. When you are anxious, sad, worried or angry about not being able to continue with your schedule, you might make an impromptu choice to quit school, break up with a loved one, close off contact with friends, cope by making rash purchasing decisions. Keep in mind that smart choices are often the ones given appropriate time to consider carefully. Jot down points you find pertinent now, with the aim of revisiting them when you feel better. At present, make healing your highest priority. All other decisions, unless urgent, can wait for later.

Adopt an optimistic outlook.

Have you ever found that thinking in negative terms subsequently affected how you performed when doing the task? That’s called self-fulfilling prophecy by some or engaging in negative self-talk by others. Whatever phrase you ascribe to it, avoid doing it. In fact, researchers have found that imagining a more positive future colors memory of such action when it becomes part of the past. You remember more positive things about the action than negative ones. This can help when you’re stuck in pain at present, nursing an illness and doing the best self-care you can to speed healing. It’s much preferred than wallowing in negativity, which only exacerbates your current misery.

Focus on today.

If you can remember what bothered you so intensely six months ago, it’s likely a distant memory. In similar fashion, what seems so monumental now will likely fade quickly. This includes physical and emotional pain, perhaps caused by chronic illness or the sudden onset of a virus or bacterial infection. Painful emotions, another type of deeply-felt pain, can also be resolved over time with appropriate professional help and the support of loved ones and family members. One technique that may prove helpful is to center your thoughts on today. Just get through the next 24 hours. Things will be better tomorrow. Whether you’re dealing with substance abuse, going through detox, suffering cravings and urges, getting used to pain medication post-surgery, dealing with depression, anxiety, or a broken heart from a recent break-up, tomorrow is another day. In the meantime, you’re healing. That’s what’s most important.

Lighten your load by only doing what’s essential.

Since you’re not physically or emotionally capable of doing everything on your schedule when you’re miserable, the smart move is to remove some items from your to-do list. In fact, ditch nonessential ones completely for now, as they’ll only drain what precious energy you can marshal today. There’ll be time to circle back to them once you’re feeling better. Ask for help tackling tasks and handling responsibilities from loved ones, family members, friends and co-workers. Be sure you reciprocate the favor when they request similar assistance from you. Of the items left that must be attended to, prioritize them and do the best you can with the highest priority one. A single mom who must make dinner for her children will make this a priority, even if that dinner consists of microwaved casseroles or canned soup heated on the stove. Be sure to let the kids know that regular dinners will resume once you feel better – and keep your promise.

When possible, communicate with a friend.

There’s nothing lonelier than suffering in misery by yourself. Pain seems magnified, like you can’t escape it. Thoughts of dire consequences and fears about illness progressively getting worse also tend to rush in during times of solitude. If you’re not contagious and feel that the physical presence of a friend, loved one, family member, neighbor or co-worker will be welcome, invite that person for a visit. If an in-home visit isn’t possible, connect via phone call or social media, even email. Exchanging conversation will at least take your mind off your ills for a brief period. Often, this is enough to change the trajectory of your convalescence, going from stalemate to an upward swing.

Be sure to hydrate.

Many medications have an unpleasant side-effect of dehydration. Even if you don’t require prescription medications when you’re feeling miserable, over-the-counter medications can also cause dehydration. Perhaps you’re not taking any medication. Do you still need to rehydrate when you’re feeling miserable? The answer is that you do. By the time you think you’re thirsty, you’re already dehydrated. This is detrimental to every organ in your body, including your brain. When you’re consumed with thoughts about how bad you feel, you’re probably not taking adequate care of yourself, and that includes drinking sufficient fluids. Water is the best choice to hydrate, so aim for 6-8 8-oz. glasses of water daily.

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This article was originally published on Psych Central.

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10 Easy Ways to Increase Your Energy Levels Naturally

To automatically get my posts, sign up for my RSS feed.   

Want to get my free newsletter? Sign up here to receive uplifting messages and daily positive quotes in my Daily Thoughts. You’ll also get the top self-help articles and stories of the week from my blog and more. I also invite you to like me on Facebook, follow me on LinkedIn,  TwitterInstagram, and Google+.

10 Easy Ways to Increase Your Energy Levels Naturally

10 Easy Ways to Increase Your Energy Levels Naturally

Photo by Jared Erondu on Unsplash

 

“You are responsible for the energy that you create for yourself, and you’re responsible for the energy that you bring to others.” – Oprah Winfrey

 

I’m all about doing what I can do in a better way. This includes taking proper care of my health and watching my energy levels throughout the day. There’s no denying that a busy lifestyle contributes to a drain on how much energy you feel you have, yet there are natural ways to boost your energy levels that are easy and relatively quick to do. After doing my research, I’ve discovered that science backs up the merits of the following 10 easy ways to increase your energy levels.

Lower stress.

Stress is a huge culprit when it comes to drained energy. When you’re stressed-out, you’re likely worn out as well. If you suffer from chronic stress, the effect is cumulative and can result in worsening physical and mental conditions over time. Most stress is the result of anxiety, worry about things you have no control over or agonizing over making the wrong decisions, even worry about decisions you know are right. In short, living with non-stop stress will zap your energy like an electronic bug killer. Figure out healthy ways to lower your stress levels and you’ll find that you have more energy daily.

How can you lower your stress? Do whatever relaxes you, whether that’s reading an engrossing novel, going for coffee with a friend, watching a favorite TV show or movie, exercising vigorously, gardening, playing sports, working on a hobby, taking a drive, going out for dinner and so on. It isn’t what you do but how relaxing the activity makes you feel that will lessen the tension and reduce stress.

Eat more nuts and fish.

Studies of women with magnesium deficiency showed that the women felt physically exhausted much of the time. Why? When you have magnesium deficiency, your heart beats faster and requires more oxygen to get things done. Natural sources of magnesium that are low calorie and delicious include almonds, cashews and hazelnuts, as well as fish such as halibut. Recommended daily magnesium allowances are 300 milligrams for women and 350 milligrams for men.

Get out and walk.

Perhaps one of the simplest ways to boost energy levels is to go out for a walk. How can it be that engaging in physical activity such as walking increases your energy? It sounds contradictory, yet the science is sound. A brisk 10-minute walk is enough to elevate energy levels and the effects last up to 2 hours. Do regular daily walks and you’ll have not only increased energy and stamina, your mood will also improve.

Drink lots of water.

Another nasty culprit causing lack of energy is dehydration. Simply put, when you’re dehydrated, your body is starved of life-saving water. You may not realize that you’re thirsty, though, and by the time that you do, you’re likely dehydrated. Sometimes, you think you’re fatigued when the truth is that you’re dehydrated. You also might confuse hunger with thirst, thinking you need to eat something when what you really need is water. There is a simple solution: drink lots of water at regular times throughout the day. Strive for eight 8-ounce glasses of water daily. If you have trouble downing that much plain water, go for fruit-flavored, sugar-free water. In so doing, you’ll be benefiting every organ in your body, including muscles, which are re-energized with water. You’ll also find that you’ve got a little more energy by exercising your water-drinking habit.

Cut back on sugar.

Besides contributing to a thicker waistline and more pounds on the scale, eating a diet high in sugar will also leave you feeling drained. While sugar initially spikes blood sugar and provides an energy boost, that increased energy is short-lived, quickly followed by a rapid blood sugar drop. You may feel wiped out consequently. If you’re like me, however, adding a natural sweetener to morning lattes and hot tea is an absolute must. I’ve become an aficionado of Stevia, a no-calorie natural sweetener that tastes 30 times sweeter than table sugar. Another natural sweetener I’ve decided to try is coconut sugar, which has 20 calories per teaspoon (the same as table sugar), but it is an excellent alternative to regular sugar for baking.

Meditate.

If you’re a fan of yoga, you might already know that the Savasana pose (also called the corpse pose) is beneficial in reducing fatigue. I was unaware of this, not being very proficient in yoga, yet willing to learn. The Savasana pose is what you do at the end of your yoga session. It looks like taking a quiet nap on the floor while resting on your yoga mat. You are resting, yet fully conscious for the 10-20 minutes you allocate for this restorative energy exercise.

Eat breakfast every day.

Your mother probably told you that breakfast is the day’s most important meal. That advice echoes what nutrition experts have said for years. It’s tempting to skip this vital meal, though, especially when busy schedules mean every minute counts, yet don’t fall for that excuse. It doesn’t have to be a long, sit-down affair for you to gain the benefits of breakfast. Just make sure you eat wisely. Go for breakfasts that help you power up your morning. As Harvard Medical School experts points out, include whole grains, fruit and protein – and eat at home, not from a fast-food eatery.

Add power snacks to provide energy between meals.

It might seem a long way to dinner or your next meal, especially if you’ve been engaged in vigorous physical activity or concentrating on a complex work project. The healthy solution here is to snack on some power foods to give yourself an instant energy lift. Do a combination of fat, protein, a little bit of fat and fiber and you’ll be doing yourself and your energy levels a favor. Try a low-fat, low-salt (or salt-free) cracker with peanut butter or enjoy yogurt with a small handful of nuts.

Try a 1-hour power nap to prevent burnout.

Experimental research conducted by the National Institutes of Health found that participating subjects who took a 60-minute power nap were able to prevent burnout. Like physical effects of stress that cause fatigue, mental performance during repeated cognitive tasks, especially stressful ones, can simulate feelings of fatigue and low energy levels. While not everyone has the luxury of taking a 1-hour nap every day, if you do opt to take time for a snooze, remember that 60 minutes is more beneficial in preventing burnout than a half-hour nap.

Tend to your emotional health.

Depression and anxiety often make you feel exhausted, tired all the time, lacking energy and desire to do much of anything. If you are otherwise healthy, yet you feel constantly fatigued, examine your life for what may be bothering you emotionally. If you’ve experienced depression or anxiety that persists for two weeks or more, consider getting professional help. Psychotherapy can help you overcome these debilitating issues and help regain your normal energy.

 

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This article was originally published on Psych Central.

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10 Health Benefits of Daily Exercise

Photo by Denys Nevozha on Unsplash

Photo by Denys Nevozha on Unsplash

“A bear, however hard he tries, grows tubby without exercise.” – A. A. Milne

 

You don’t need to knock yourself out at the gym each day to reap the many health benefits of daily exercise. With simple planning and a determination to engage in a healthier lifestyle, you can add easy stints of exercise to your schedule without breaking too much of a sweat. Best of all, you may realize some of these 10 health benefits of daily exercise.

Exercise elevates your mood.

When you are physically active, it stimulates brain chemicals that make you feel better and lifts your mood. Some experts say that any intensity exercise, such as a walk or a time on the elliptical, exercise bike or other equipment at a home or outside gym can even be instrumental in preventing future depression. A study in the journal Brain Plasticity reports that even a single episode of physical exercise confers “significant positive effects” on mood, as well as cognitive functions.

Control your weight with exercise.

Anyone experiencing problems with fluctuating weight, an accumulation of extra pounds, weight loss or difficulty maintaining a healthy weight can benefit from regular daily exercise plus a healthy diet. When you exercise vigorously, you burn even more calories than when you walk around the office. And burning calories can make your desired weight goal easier to attain. It’s also easy to add a little exercise to your day: take the stairs instead of the elevator, go for a walk outside at lunch or on break, park several aisles from the grocery or mall entrance. You get the idea.

Want toned muscles? Regular exercise helps with that goal.

Along with caloric burn and the slimming effect you might be after, daily exercise will greatly help in toning muscles and getting rid of body fat. It needn’t result in a bodybuilder physique – that’s more an outcome of intense, targeted (some call it hard-core) exercise. Get rid of belly flab and loose skin after weight loss, pregnancy, or yo-yo dieting by working on different muscle groups with specific exercises – such as jumping rope for calves, hand weights or dumbbells for upper arms, sit-ups for belly fat and sit-to-stand for your backside. Find something you enjoy doing, work out with a friend, add music to your routine – whatever it takes to motivate daily exercise.

Sleepless nights? Adding daily exercise to your routine can promote restful sleep.

The good kind of tired you feel after a bout of vigorous physical exercise does more for you than what you might expect. You’ll be readier for sleep, have more deep sleep (which helps the body repair itself), and be less likely to wake up during the night when you make it a point to do some form of physical exercise every day. There’s compelling evidence that exercise and a good night’s sleep are linked as essential to overall health.

Exercise helps in preventing health conditions like cardiovascular disease.

There’s no secret to the fact that regular exercise is good for your health. Yet the number of medical and health conditions exercise can help prevent is impressive. One way exercise helps your heart is that it releases high-density lipoproteins (HDL), the good kind of cholesterol, while reducing nasty triglycerides. Not only helpful in preventing cardiovascular disease and maintaining good cardiovascular health, exercise is also proven to be a preventive strategy for stroke, developing type 2 diabetes, several types of cancer (cervical, breast, even skin cancer, when combined with intake of caffeine), depression, arthritis, and the damage resulting from falls.

You’ll get an energy boost.

How can exercise boost energy? Simple. During vigorous exercise, oxygen gets delivered to tissues and organs. This helps the heart to work more efficiently as well as the lungs. A more efficient heart and lungs translates to more energy. So, combat fatigue while you boost your energy with regular, daily exercise.

Put a spark in your sex life with exercise.

This health benefit should perk up your interest in beginning regular exercise – beyond the physical exercise you get during sexual activity, of course. With a continuing exercise routine, such as daily brisk walks, a focused home workout, jogging, playing sports, swimming, skiing and more, you’ll have more energy, be more toned and fit, and see dramatic results in physical appearance. Exercise may help women feel more sexually aroused, and men may experience less problems with erectile dysfunction, contributing to a healthier sex life.

Alleviate stress and help improve memory with regular exercise.

Dealing with a high-pressure job or increased stress at work, school or home? Instead of reaching for a pill or downing a cocktail to cope with stress, go for regular exercise. In addition to being a healthier way to cope with stress, regular exercise has also been shown to improve memory and learning functions, both impaired by chronic stress. Scientists have also discovered that exercise helps in preventing dementia and cognitive impairment in older adults.

Exercise – especially aerobic exercises – helps prevent or delay aging.

Researchers have discovered that relatively short stints of high-intensity aerobic exercise, such as walking or biking, can help stave off the effects of aging. The improvement occurs as the aerobic activity causes cells to build more protein necessary for energy-producing mitochondria and their protein-building ribosomes. Researchers said, “there’s no substitute for these exercise programs when it comes to delaying the aging process.”

Staying active can help reduce chronic pain.

Several studies have examined the beneficial effect that exercise can have on chronic pain. In older adults, especially, scientists have found that physical activity may reduce the risk of developing chronic pain. Other research found that targeting exercises for spine-support and muscle control helps reduce disability and pain caused by lower back pain. Yet another study found that exercise reduces nerve pain by decreasing inflammation, a key contributor to neuropathic pain.

 

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This article was originally published on Psych Central.

Related Posts:

Combat Stress With Mindful Walking

10 Ways Nature Helps Your Well-Being

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To automatically get my posts, sign up for my RSS feed.   

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12 Reasons Why I Love Caffeine

Photo by Tadas Mikuckis

Photo by Tadas Mikuckis

Everyone has their favorites when it comes to certain food, drink and leisure-time pursuits. For some, a day just wouldn’t be right without that first cup of coffee. I can certainly relate. My day doesn’t begin until I have that first sip. It’s fair to say I love caffeine. Here are 12 reasons why.

Reason #1: I enjoy the experience. I wouldn’t say this about drinking V-8 juice, although I do like the flavor of that beverage. When it comes to my café latte, I have to say that it’s an experience that I truly enjoy. Yes, water is hydrating, but it’s boring, right? On the other hand, a well-crafted latte is a pure delight. For me, anyway.

Reason #2: It gets me going. I’m fortunate to have a home espresso machine. That’s enough to get me going first thing in the morning. For the times when I know it’s going to be hours before I can leave the house for any reason (errands, just to get out, whatever), it helps knowing there’s caffeine readily available when the machine heats up. Besides, when I first get up in the morning, my eyes aren’t fully open until I smell the beans being ground, hear the milk being steamed and the espresso flowing into my bowl-sized cup.

Caffeine is a source of instant energy. Some people say they get a hit from drinking coffee, as in brewed coffee. I’m not that type. While I used to drink many cups of coffee when I worked in a corporate office, that was long ago. And the coffee tasted really rank late in the day. It always seemed a waste to brew a fresh pot when no one else was going to drink it. I used to tell myself I needed the energy. My go-to energy source today – and for many years – is a hot latte. No matter what time of the day, it gives me instant energy.

Reason #4: It helps me think clearer. When I feel that instant energy boost, I’m sure I think more clearly. What was foggy becomes less confusing. I don’t tend to bump into the counter on the way to the sink or stumble over the newspaper in the driveway. Thinking things through beyond putting one foot in front of the other is a lot easier after a refreshing and eye-opening latte.

Reason #5: I can see better. I take certain vitamins to help my eyesight, among them lutein and bilberry, but I think one of the best vision boosts – especially early in the morning – is caffeine.

Reason #6: It doesn’t have many calories. I use non-fat (skimmed or skinny) milk, Splenda and just a touch of cocoa or splash of chocolate. Compared to many beverage items available with caffeine, my drink of choice is relatively free of calories. Can’t say that about the Frappuccino’s, which are delicious, but far too calorie-laden.

Reason #7: It’s available anywhere, anytime (almost). If you really want or need caffeine, it’s likely within reach in short order almost any time of the day or night. Granted, Starbucks and other coffee shop chains like Peet’s, Coffee, Bean & Tea Leaf and others do eventually close. But there’s still all-night diners for those who just have to have a cup of joe.

Reason #8: Caffeine speeds up my metabolism (see #2 and #3). A boost of wakefulness and increased energy are the direct result of increased metabolism. Knowing this makes me feel more confident that caffeine is one of the good things I’m doing for my body.

I feel better after drinking it. Call it instant gratification, but there’s something about drinking my café latte that makes me feel better. A lot of this is that I really enjoy lattes, but the rush I get from the caffeine probably has more to do with it.

Reason #10: It’s a social experience. I’ve never been to a coffee shop where there weren’t any customers. Well, maybe one time near closing and we were far from home, needed the jolt from the caffeine to drive another 150 miles. But, generally speaking, all the coffee shops we go to have lots of customers. Nobody seems in a bad mood, just waiting patiently in line for their favorite drink or food item. I enjoy that, especially since I know they’re passionate about their brand. They, like me, wouldn’t be here otherwise.

Reason #11: I can get out of the house/office. After working hard at the computer for most of the day, my favorite afternoon outing is to one of several nearby Starbucks coffee houses for a latte, hot or cold, possibly a pastry or to pick up beans for our home espresso machine. This is not only a reason to get out, it’s also a destination I go to either before, during or after running other necessary errands. Truthfully, I probably motivate myself to do what I need to with the knowledge that I’m going to stop for my coffee sometime during the trip.

Reason #12: My coffee habit has its rewards. As a longtime Starbucks gold member (for life, it seems), I earn free food or drink as a result of my regular patronage. Beyond the stars that translate into freebies, there are other special deals on coffee, mugs, occasional contests (haven’t won anything yet, but there’s still hope), and the knowledge that there’s always going to be a Starbucks somewhere nearby.

A downside to this is the amount of money I spend annually buying my lattes and such at Starbucks. Hey, at least it’s not booze. And it’s so much more socially accepted.

What about you? What are your reasons to love (or not) caffeine? I’d love to hear them below.

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