In addition to enhancing heart health and helping prevent disease, exercise improves your mental health and cognitive ability. A study published in June in the journal Neurology found that older people who exercise at least once a week are 30% more likely to maintain cognitive function than those who exercise less. Another study, released by the University of Alberta a few weeks ago, found that people with chronic back pain who exercise four days a week have 36% less disability than those who exercise only two or three days a week.
Exercise can help to boost your body image — even if you don’t lose a pound. “When we exercise for weight loss, then we are only happy with our fitness routine when we’ve actually lost weight. Exercising for fun makes us want to do it more — and exercise is great for well-being, stress relief, and overall health,” says Silverman.
Exercise is one of the best ways to reduce stress. “When you exercise, your body releases endorphins, which are hormones that fight stress,” says Frank Lupin, MS, ATC, PES, a certified athletic trainer and a personal trainer for Coordinated Health in Bethlehem, PA. “Exercise helps you get your mind off your problems and clears your head,” adds Thomas Plante, PhD, an associate professor of psychology at Santa Clara University in California.
Savoring the big and little joys in your daily life increases self-esteem and may even protect against negative emotions, creating a buffer against stress. This particular habit includes reminiscing about happy times in your past, enjoying the little details of your daily life, taking time for beautiful moments like enjoying a sunset, and allowing yourself to fully appreciate even the bittersweet moments. You might want to keep a journal of pleasurable memories.
You can’t hold two emotions at the same time, so if you concentrate on happiness, you’ll actually start to experience that moment more which builds a richer, more emotionally rewarding life. If you’re having trouble getting started, look at photos of your loved ones. Studies have shown that act alone calms your body and increases positive brain chemicals. When you notice the difference that brings, you’re more likely to realize what other things promote the same positive feelings.
Massage is a lifelong healing tool, designed to relieve stress, calm the body and improve sleep, blood circulation and overall flexibility. The benefits of incorporating massage into an overall wellness plan go far beyond the luxury of fresh sheets, aromatherapy and gentle music that soothes even the most stressed individuals.
You can get in shape for bathing suit weather and improve your overall health with one simple change. Stand up! In a study of middle-aged adults, people shaved over an inch off their waist just by getting out of their chairs for one minute.
Reducing your waist size leads to all sorts of health benefits including reduced inflammation, lower blood sugar, and fewer fat deposits around your organs. This means you’re less prone to heart disease, diabetes, and muscle aches.
What’s the secret? You only need to stand up for a minute, but you do need to do it frequently. Set a timer on your watch, phone, or computer to remind you every hour to stand up. If you need more motivation, keep this in mind. Studies suggest that people with highly sedentary habits live shorter lives and have a greater risk of heart disease even if they exercise regularly. So you can avoid going to the gym as long as you stand up for your health once an hour every day.
Your feet carry so much each day. It’s time to treat them well! Just like you exercise the rest of your body, you can also exercise your feet. These are so simple, take only minutes, and feel sooooo good. Give them a try.
1) While standing, rock back and forth from your heels to your toes. If you’re at work, try this sitting down.
2) With bare feet, try picking up a marble with your toes.
3) Lay a towel on the floor, then scrunch your toes on the towel and pull it towards you.
4) Roll a tennis ball under each foot to massage your arches.
5) Stand up, take a deep breath, and pull your toes up and stretch them apart from each other. Consciously place each toe firmly on the floor.
“Don’t worry, be happy” may just be the medicine you need to enjoy a long life. Optimism is one of the most important tools to combat stress which is a known risk factor for heart disease and other illnesses.
Anthony Ong of Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., conducted a review of researchers, published in the Current Directions in Psychological Science, suggesting that a positive outlook may be the cure for stress, pain and illness. The study shows people with stronger positive emotions have lower levels of chemicals associated with inflammation related to stress.
How do you develop a positive attitude if you don’t have one already? For starters, be silly, says Loretta Laroche, published motivational speaker who also serves on the faculty of Boston’s Mind-Body Institute. She teaches that laughter is important for reducing stress and maintaining a healthy life. Being silly is one way to learn how to laugh at yourself.
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The body is designed to heal itself! The process of biofeedback is used to help your body remember the balanced and stress-free state. When you’ve learned to feel the healthier patterns of a relaxed state, this process of self-regeneration often happens naturally. The biofeedback process is completely non-invasive and gentle, yet powerful enough to allow relaxation and increased ability for your body to heal.
During a Quantum Biofeedback session, the client wears wrist and ankle bracelets as well as a head harness. The bracelet and harness sensors comfortably read electrical impulses from your body and send information to the computer, which acts as a monitoring device. The biofeedback practitioner teaches the client which specific areas of the body and mind need stress reduction. You’ll discover your individual reactions to stress and learn how to better control your physiological responses.
Relaxation is a learned response. That means you can teach yourself to be better at relaxing. Not sure if you’re stressed or not? Look for common symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, impatience, or an upset stomach.
To decrease your mental stress, schedule time each day to reflect on what’s worrying you and what tools you already have to make things better, then draw up a plan to resolve the problem. Shelley Carson, Ph.D., a psychologist at Harvard, says “Your body’s stress response is closely tied to your mental appraisal of a situation.” Journaling is effective for both big and small issues.
Once you’ve tackled stress, consider starting a regular routine of breathing, meditation, yoga, massage, or biofeedback to stay calm in future stressful situations. “The longer you engage in these activities, the faster your body is able to relax,” says Carson.