Reducing Stress During Anxious Times


There’s a reason that stress has been commonly referred to as the “silent killer” within the medical community. Study after study has shown that stress takes an enormous toll on the human body, increasing the risk of serious conditions including depression, chronic headaches, heart disease, insomnia, diabetes, fertility problems and high blood pressure just to name a few.

A vast majority of Americans experience stress levels high enough to affect their physical health on a daily basis. Given the dramatic challenges facing our world right now, it’s safe to say that our stress levels aren’t likely to decrease on their own any time soon. April has been designated National Stress Awareness Month, and we can probably all agree that it couldn’t come at a better time. In the spirit of the season, we’d like to offer a few stress-reduction techniques anyone can incorporate into their daily routine.

Red Light Therapy

Red light therapy has been shown to enhance mood, combat depression and even counter certain types of inflammation. The way it works, essentially, is that an LED panel emits light from the red and infrared parts of the spectrum, which are the wavelengths thought by scientists to be the most healing. Unlike ultraviolet rays that emit from the sun, the light emitted in Red Light Therapy is perfectly safe and will not cause skin damage. Red Light Therapy is not a new discovery by any means, but it has grown in popularity over the years and is now widely available through many doctor’s offices, specialty salons and even some dental offices.

Mindfulness

Mindfulness is a wide-ranging term that essentially means training yourself to maintain a constant, moment-to-moment awareness of your own thoughts, actions and surrounding environment. Common mindfulness techniques include meditation, breathing exercises and yoga. The “raisin exercise” exemplifies the mindfulness technique by breaking down the simple act of eating a raisin into a five minute exercise that emphasizes the importance of each sensory step along the way, from holding to smelling to tasting. Similarly, a body scan can be used to help focus awareness on every element of the body, slowing down the mind and reducing tension and stress.

Isometric Exercise

We all know that exercise is beneficial for your physical health, but did you know it can also have positive effects on your mental health? Not only can physical activity serve as a distraction from your daily stressors, it also causes your body to release endorphins which in turn create a sense of overall well-being. Even short, 5-minute exercises that require little to no equipment can be beneficial to your mental health. Isometrics, for example, offer a quick and convenient way to get a quick mood-boost in any time, any place.

Isometric exercise can be as simple as holding a calf lift, or pressing your palms together for a few seconds to engage your muscles, but if you’re looking for a little more guidance and direction, a device like the Activ5 might be for you. The Activ5 works in tandem with a free training app to coach users through short, isometric exercises that can be done virtually anywhere, so it can be a great for individuals who struggle to find the time in the day to exercise.

Relieving stress can have a lasting impact on your overall well-being. It can boost your mood, increase productivity, improve sleep and much more. We owe it to ourselves and each other to find ways to prolong our mental and physical health, in any way we can.

Top 10 Reasons You Need Strength Training


 

75% of US adults don’t achieve the American Heart Association and Centers for Disease Control minimum recommendation of 2-3 days of strength training per week. Here are 10 reasons you should engage in strength training every week.

Increases Lean Muscle Mass

There are two types of resistance-based strength training: Isometric Resistance (contracting muscles against non-moving object, such as planking  on floor) and Isotonic (contracting muscles through range of motion, such as bench press with weights). Both increase lean muscle mass, making you stronger and more toned.

Burn More Calories

More calories are used to make and maintain muscle than fat. Building muscle can boost your metabolism by as much as 15%.

Increases Resting Metabolic Rate

Muscle tissue is the most metabolically active tissue in your body, and the breakdown of old protein and synthesis of new protein in your muscles accounts for roughly 1/5 of your resting metabolic rate, according to Len Kravitz, Ph.D. for the University of New Mexico.

Protects Bones

Whether you are a man or a woman, you begin to lose ~1% of your bone density every year. “One of the best ways to stop, prevent, and even reverse bone and muscle loss is to add strength training to your workouts,” advises Troy Tuttle, MS, an exercise physiologist at the University of Texas Medical School in Houston.

Prevents Injuries

An often overlooked effect of strength training is its benefits for injury prevention. Resistance training helps strengthen muscle and tendons while increasing the flexibility of the ligaments, decreasing the risk of one becoming strained or torn.

Develops Better Body Mechanics

Strength training aids in balance, coordination and posture. If you have poor flexibility and balance, strength training can reduce your risk of falling by as much as 40%, a crucial benefit, especially as you get older.

Boost Energy and Feel Happy

Strength training will elevate your level of endorphins (natural opiates produced by the brain), which will make you feel great. This is why people who strength train often refer to getting an “endorphin rush.”

Maintains Long Term Weight Loss

A recent study revealed that women who followed a weight-training routine 3 times a week increased the amount of calories burned in normal daily activity (in addition to those burned during exercise), helping them to maintain their current weight.

Fight Disease

Not only does strength training help you get toned, as you get in shape you also see improvements in your resting metabolic rate, glucose metabolism, blood pressure, insulin resistance and gastrointestinal transit time. Resistance training can improve stamina, and even help to prevent cancer, diabetes and heart disease.

Sleep Better & Be Smarter!

Clinical studies have linked strength training to improved sleep, reduced depression and even better cognitive abilities.

Sources:

http://www.livestrong.com/article/258368-how-to-raise-your-thermogenic-basal-metabolic-rate/

http://www.everydayhealth.com/fitness/add-strength-training-to-your-workout.aspx

http://athleticlab.com/strength-training-to-prevent-injury-by-morgan-pillsbury/

http://stretchcoach.com/articles/strength-training/

Top 10 Isometric Exercise Benefits


Top 10 Isometric Exercise Benefits

Isometric exercises are proven to help build muscle, strength, balance and range of motion. Other isometric exercise benefits include stress reduction, improved mental health, assistance with yoga exercises and injury avoidance. Here are some of the specific isometric exercise benefits.

Lowers Blood Pressure

•             Isometrics have been proven to reduce systolic blood pressure better than aerobic and resistance training in some studies. – Mayo Clinic

Aids in Weight Loss

•             Isometric exercise benefits include reducing both body fat and weight. In a test group, some subjects lost as much as 22 pounds over a 4-week period. – Journal of Applied Research

Saves You Time

•             Using isometric exercise for 6 minutes would be the equivalent muscle work of 30 to 35 minutes on a commercial weight lifting equipment. – Journal of Applied Research

Reduce Overall Pain

•             Older adults experience significant reduction in pain subsequent to several different intensities and durations of isometric contractions. – Official Journal of the American College of Sports Medicine

Reduce Back Pain

•             Isometrics reduces pain and increases vitality among women with low back pain, with effects lasting at least 9 months. –  Journal of Physical Activity and Health

Improve Range of Motion

•             Regular isometric exercises have been shown to significantly improve range of motion. – Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research

Quit Bad Habits (Smoking)

•             Brief isometric exercise provides immediate relief in the desire to smoke. –Human Psychopharmacology Journal

Get Stronger and Bigger Muscles

•             Isometric exercise is associated with an increase in muscle bulk, upper and lower body strength, increase in bone density, and a decrease in bone fractures. – The Journal of Clinical Hypertension

 Benefits Over Aerobic Exercise

•             Stretching and aerobic exercising alone have proven to be a less effective form of training than isometric strength training. -Journal American Medical Association (JAMA)

Improve Stamina

•             Isometric strength training can have beneficial effects on performance during endurance events. -European Journal of Applied Physiology

Understanding the Correlation of Exercise and Stress Relief


Understanding the Correlation of Exercise and Stress Relief

Today’s world can certainly be stressful at times. Perhaps the morning news is enough to cause you stress, or perhaps your finances or career. Regardless of the reasons, stress is something we could all do without. In addition to making our day more difficult, it can also cause health problems.

Thankfully, there are simple exercise and stress relief activities that anyone can do in their spare time or in addition to a regular workout. In fact, nearly any physical exercise can be sufficient for stress reduction because exercise causes our body to release endorphins, which help to elevate mood and subsequently relieve stress.

Exercise and Stress Relief Examples

To help relieve stress, you can practice some or all of the following exercises daily. You don’t need to engage in a long, arduous workout; even a short, brisk walk can be effective, depending on the level of stress you are feeling. To see what might work best for your schedule and situation, consider these options.

Aerobics

Aerobic exercises such as walking or jogging help to release endorphins and improve blood flow and circulation. Aerobics also elevate your heart rate and should result in a noticeable reduction of stress. Consult your physician if you have any heart conditions.

Strength Training

These types of exercises make a great addition to aerobic exercise. They improve your overall strength and increasing the strength of your joints, leading to less risk of injury during aerobics. Try curling light weights to start.

Isometric exercises are also an ideal way to get sufficient exercise while also maintaining your strength. Examples of isometric exercises include planks, wall sits, and leg lifts, which are designed to improve and maintain muscle and strength without actually stretching the muscle as with other types of exercises. Isometric exercises require little to no equipment and can be done almost anywhere at any time. There is a high correlation between isometric exercise and stress relief. 

Stretching and Yoga

Stretching helps to elevate blood flow and also stimulates receptors in the nervous system to reduce the amount of hormones that cause stress. Yoga is an excellent form of exercise and relaxation that not only reduces stress, but also improves muscle flexibility and mental well-being. Consult a yoga instructor for the best exercises to start with.

Remember, if you haven’t exercised in a while, start off slowly by working out in small increments until your body adjusts to being more physical on a regular basis. Shortly afterward, you will be able to increase the amount of time you work out and maybe expand your routine to include more exercises. Overall, you will hopefully experience the benefit of reduced stress and improved well-being.

 

Simple Isometric Exercises