Healthy Byte: Holistic Body Love

ORIGINALLY POSTED HERE

4 Parts Of Your Body You Shouldn’t Forget To Exercise

Your arms, legs and abs get enough love. Don’t neglect these other areas if you want to improve your overall health.

By Nicole Young08/31/2021 05:45am EDT | Updated August 31, 2021

It’s time to reshape the full-body workout.

When we think of these types of routines, we typically think of working the core, glutes and legs, and arms. But if we want to really care for our overall well-being, we need to expand beyond those muscle groups. In fact, there are several areas we often forget to “exercise” when we’re working to improve our health, according to experts.

It’s time to reshape the full-body workout.

When we think of these types of routines, we typically think of working the core, glutes and legs, and arms. But if we want to really care for our overall well-being, we need to expand beyond those muscle groups. In fact, there are several areas we often forget to “exercise” when we’re working to improve our health, according to experts. Here are other parts of our body that need love too:

Your Brain

We tend to think of our minds as separate from the rest of our physical health but they serve a vital function, and the brain benefits from training just as much as anything else.

Brain function is known to decline over time, but there are ways to reduce the risk of this happening, explained Rana Mafee, a neurologist in Westchester, Illinois. Though genetics do play a part in cognitive function, Mafee said it’s “environmental factors such as diet, sleep habits or chronic stress that slowly grind away at your brain, making you less sharp over the years.”

The good news is ― much like the way consistent physical exercise can improve our longevity ― exercising the brain on a regular basis can enhance cognition and have lifelong benefits. The idea is to use exercise to strengthen the longevity of neuroplasticity, which, in short, is the brain’s ability to adapt and master new skills, as well as store memories and information.

“A lack of mental exercise will gradually reduce the efficacy of the brain’s neurotransmitters, making it harder to concentrate, make and keep lasting memories or even perform everyday tasks,” Mafee said.

Adults should focus on keeping their brains active. We can do this in a variety of new ways, from learning a new language to navigating a new city. The key is to challenge our minds. We can also try picking up another hobby, like learning to play the piano or a new sport. Mindfulness meditation has been shown to help with this as well.

“In addition to healing and repairing cognitive decline, regular brain exercise can improve mental sharpness, improve your mood and your overall quality of life,” Mafee said.

Your Lungs

Keeping our lungs in good health should be a priority since they transport oxygen from the air we breathe into the blood, according to Alberto L. Rozo, a pulmonary medicine specialist at Northwell Health in New York City.

Exercise is needed for the lungs to function at peak performance and since “lung function declines gradually every year starting at age 35,” Rozo said, it’s important to incorporate habits that help increase our lung capacity.

This includes daily aerobic workouts and doing breath work like diaphragmatic breathing. Lie down on your back, placing one hand on your stomach over your belly button and one on your chest. Inhale through your nose for two seconds, feeling the air go into your abdomen and your stomach pushing out. Then breathe out for two seconds through pursed lips, allowing your stomach to deflate. Repeat several times.

Your Wrists

“It is important to exercise the muscles that control wrist function in order to optimize strength and joint stability,” said Joseph A Gil, an orthopedic surgeon in Rhode Island.

Paying attention to the wrists is especially important for anyone who does sports or exercises on a regular basis. A dedicated warmup that stretches the wrists and forearms could help prevent overuse or injury by “preparing the muscles and tendons to overcome the cumulative stress” that exercise might put on them, Gil said.

Stretching the forearm muscles with “wrist extension and flexion” is one of Gil’s favored techniques for warming up the wrists before working out.

Do this by lying your forearm flat on a table, allowing your hand and wrist to dangle off the edge. Bend your wrist down slowly, then bring it back up. Repeat several times, then move on to the other side. You can also do this with a small, light weight.

He noted that you might want to consult with a trainer to work on wrist range of motion before weightlifting, which “places high stresses on the tendons and ligaments around the wrist,” or yoga, “which requires extreme wrist position that predispose participants to ligament injuries.”

Your Toes

The five bones located just behind the toes, called the metatarsals, bear a great deal of our body weight and need special attention to remain in proper working order. According to Bruce Pinker, a foot and ankle surgeon in New York, there is somewhat of a “springlike quality to the metatarsal region, which helps to create the arch of the foot.” That flexibility requires maintenance to ward off injury and exhaustion.

Pinker said that by neglecting regular foot stretching, “you risk the chance of your feet tightening up or contracting, which can lead to pain.” And since many people experience some level of stiffness in their feet when they first wake up, Pinker also feels “it is important to stretch or exercise the tops of the feet upon awakening.”

To do this, take a page out of a dancer’s playbook: Kelby Brown, a dance and fitness coach in New York City, suggested trying point and flex foot progressions to strengthen and create flexibility in your toes and ankles. Start by sitting with your back against a wall and extend your arms at your side, “with the tip of the middle finger lightly pressed into the ground,” he said.

Then, brace your core and tightly hold your legs together. Point your toes from this point and count to four. Then flex your feet and count to four. Do this a few times. While in the stretched position, your feet should “resemble a cashew or banana,” Brown said.

According to Melissa Wood-Tepperberg, a certified yoga and Pilates instructor, you can also multitask and maximize foot flexibility with a standing quad stretch. Though this move is primarily designed to stretch the front of the legs, “you can bring the attention to your foot by using your palm to pull toes in to stretch the top of your foot,” she said.

“Shift all of your weight onto your standing foot and grab the opposite foot with the coinciding hand,” she explained. Holding a table or stable surface can help with your balance. Then, put your palm on your ankle. Flex your foot, then point your toes. After pointing and releasing the toes about 10-20 times, repeat on the other side.

Healthy Byte: Warding Off Dementia with Regular Activity

Originally Posted HERE

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Even if you are at high genetic risk for Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, there are some factors in your control to lower your chances of developing it: Adhering to four simple health measures can reduce your risk for dementia, a new study published in JAMA found.

In the study, researchers evaluated over 1,700 participants, looking at both their genetic predisposition toward Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia and their lifestyles. They gauged their lifestyle based on four factors: smoking status, physical activity, alcohol consumption, and diet.

Using four healthy behaviors to come up with a healthy lifestyle score, researchers evaluated over 1,700 participants with an average age of 64 on their lifestyles and their genetic risk. The lifestyle scores included whether a person smokes, their physical activity, alcohol consumption, and diet.

The healthiest lifestyle group did not smoke, participated in regular physical activity, reported moderate alcohol consumption, and followed a healthy diet.

Researchers classified one example of a “favorable” lifestyle as not smoking, cycling at a moderate pace for two and a half hours a week, eating a balanced diet that includes more than three portions of fruit and of vegetables a day, fish twice a week and little to no processed meats, and drinking no more than one pint of beera day. On the flip side, an unfavorable lifestyle included currently smoking regularly, not exercising regularly, eating a diet that includes less than three servings of fruit and of vegetables a week, two or more servings of processed meats and of red meat a week, and drinking three pints of beer a day.

Researchers tracked the participants for around eight years. Over the course of the study, 0.8 percent of those with a healthy lifestyle developed dementia while 1.2 percent of those living unhealthily did—a pattern that held true even when taking into account those at higher genetic risk for dementia, Elzbieta Kuzma, Ph.D., research fellow in Neuroepidemiology at the College of Medicine and Health at the University of Exeter in the U.K, told Bicycling.

In fact, of those with a high genetic risk, having a healthy lifestyle cut their chances of dementia by 32 percent, compared to those living an unhealthy lifestyle. What’s more, participants with a high genetic risk and an unhealthy lifestyle were nearly three times as likely to develop dementia than those with a low genetic risk and healthy lifestyle, Kuzma said.

Though the study did not specifically look at why a healthy lifestyle can help ward off dementia, Kuzma explained that a healthy lifestyle tends to improve various cardiovascular and cerebrovascular risk factors can also affect brain health, like high blood pressure. Eating a healthy diet high in fruits and veggies and rich in heart-healthy fish has been known to reduce dementia risk, possibly because it helps tamp down inflammation.

Healthy Byte: Nutrition Choices & Alzheimer

Originally Posted HERE

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Max Lugavere was in denial when he saw his mother, Kathy, who was just 56-years-old, slowly slipping away.

It was 2009 that he first noticed she was moving slower, becoming stiff and would lose her thought in the middle of a conversation.

“She was the kind of person anybody would describe as a sharp-witted, high performer,” Max tells PEOPLE in this week’s issue, “and it suddenly seemed like she had the brain of an 80-year-old.”

He and two younger brothers brushed it off because “she was so young” and didn’t think anything could be seriously wrong until they took a family trip to Miami.

“She couldn’t tell us what year it was, and she started to cry. It was like a record screeching to a halt, and I knew something was seriously wrong,” says Max, now 37, who immediately became her biggest advocate and went to dozens of doctors appointments with her.

Kathy was given the news in 2011 that they had dreaded from the beginning: she was diagnosed with the rare Lewy Body Dementia.

“I was watching the person who I loved more than anything in the world start to decline,” says Max, a Los Angeles-based science and health journalist. “I just became insanely motivated­ — just fixated on trying to figure out why.”

After her death in December 2018, his “entire world turned upside down,” but he continued to try to understand why and how why Kathy got dementia so young.

Max Lugavere with his mother Kathy | Courtesy Max Lugavere

Max Lugavere with his mother Kathy | Courtesy Max Lugavere

Discovering that Alzheimer’s, the most common form of dementia, often begins decades before the first symptoms show, he learned there are ways to help prevent it from ever happening.

“We can eat in a way that supplies our brain with the raw materials it requires to create healthy new brain cells, which we now know the adult brain can do up until death,” says Max, who published in March 2018 his bestselling book Genius Foods (written with Paul Grewal, M.D.). “I discovered that diet is incredibly important and so is your lifestyle.”

Foods, such as omega-3 fatty acids, protein and dark leafy greens are crucial and others agree with his findings.

“He is intelligently helping us understand that there are things you can do with diet and lifestyle that slow cognitive decline,” says Dr. Ellen Vora, a holistic psychiatrist. “These diet changes certainly help with dementia, but they’re also going to help with many other things like heart disease, cancer prevention and mental health.”

He’s since launched a podcast called The Genius Life and is working on a second book with the same title coming out in 2020.

“Losing my mom was the biggest tragedy of my life,” says Lugavere, “but I’ve been compelled since day one to turn it into something that makes it a little less painful. I want to help as many people as I possibly can.”

Healthy Byte: The Power of Positivity

This Little Shift in Thinking Could Change the Way You Perceive the World

Positive thinking really is powerful.(Photo: Stocksy/Eduard Bonnin)

The more I learn about the brain, the more fascinated I am by it. Things I used to think were just a mystery (like what makes us happy and what makes us sad) I’m now learning are totally controllable.

So, I was really excited to talk to one of the leading neuroscience psychologists in the field today: Rick Hanson, PhD, has written multiple best-selling books about how to actually hardwire our brains to stay positive in both thought and feeling.

In our conversation, I kept asking him questions related to my own experiences with emotional intelligence, positive thought, and the power we have to shift ourselves out of negative emotions and thought patterns. Everything Rick shared with me confirmed my own experience and what I’ve learned from other experts.

What I especially loved learning from Rick was how important it is to slow down and consciously enjoy the good times, because it actually helps reinforce the hardwiring of our brains. He explained that one of the easiest shifts to make is to acknowledge all the things that go right in our day versus only acknowledging what goes wrong.

This may seem obvious, but think about it: How often do you get 50 positive emails during your workday confirming you are doing your job right, and yet the one email you get that is negative, or exposes a mistake you made, is the only one you remember?

Rick’s favorite phrase to explain the importance of acknowledging the positive aspects of our days is, “Neurons that fire together wire together.”

Essentially, he explains that when we think positive thoughts (i.e. “Wow, my hair looks great today”), we are using neurons that create positive pathways in our brain — and these pathways are being kept open and ready to be used. The reverse is also true: If we are constantly stuck in negative thought loops, those are the neuron pathways that are open and being used.

So before you write off the power of positive thinking, remember that it costs zero money and next to no time to add a few more positive acknowledgments in your day. Science says that the effect will last longer than the thought.

Originally Posted HERE

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