Exercise is crucial for people with arthritis

— it increases strength and flexibility, reduces joint pain and helps combat fatigue.

Of course, when stiff and painful joints are already bogging you down, the thought of walking around the block or swimming a few laps might seem overwhelming.

As you consider starting an arthritis exercise program, understand what’s within your limits and what level of exercise is likely to give you results.
Running a marathon or swimming as fast as an Olympic competitor to help reduce the symptoms of your arthritis isn’t necessary.

Even moderate exercise can ease your pain and help you maintain a healthy weight. When arthritis threatens to immobilize you, exercise keeps you moving.

Exercise is vital for improving health and fitness. It strangthens muscles around the joints; helps maintain bone strength; provides more energy and strength for everyday life; makes it easier to sleep; helps control weight and improves well-being and self esteem.

Many think exercise will aggravate joint pain and stiffness, that’s not the case. Lack of exercise actually can make joints even more painful and stiff because keeping the muscles and surrounding tissue strong is crucial to maintaining support for the bones. Not exercising weakens those supporting muscles, creating more stress on joints.

Talk to your doctor about how exercise can fit into the current treatment plan. What types of exercises are best for you depends on the type of arthritis and which joints are involved. Your doctor or a physical therapist can work to find the best exercise plan to give you the most benefit with the least aggravation of your joint pain.
Exercises

Range-of-motion exercises
These exercises relieve stiffness and increase ability to move by rolling joints through their full range of motion. These exercises can be done daily or at least every other day.
Strengthening exercises
These exercises help build strong muscles that help support and protect joints. Weight training is an example of a strengthening exercise that can help maintain current muscle strength or increase it. Do strengthening exercises every other day — but take an extra day off if joints are in pain or if any
swelling occurs.

Aerobic exercise
Aerobic or endurance exercises help with overall fitness. These exercises improve cardiovascular health, help control weight and provide more stamina. Examples of low-impact aerobic exercises that are easier on joints include walking, riding a bike and swimming. Try to work up to 20 to 30 minutes of aerobic exercise three times a week. Split up that time into 10-minute blocks if its easier.

Other activities
Any movement, no matter how small, can help. If a particular workout or activity appeals to you, don’t hesitate to ask your doctor. Your doctor might say to try gentle forms of yoga and tai chi. Tai chi may improve balance and help prevent falls. Be sure to tell the instructor about your condition and avoid positions or movements that can cause pain.

Tips to protect joints
Start slowly to ease joints into exercise if you haven’t been active for a while. Pushing yourself too hard can overwork your muscles which can worsen joint pain.

Consider these tips when getting started:

• Apply heat. Heat can relax joints and muscles and relieve any pain before beginning. Heat treatments — warm towels, hot packs or a shower — should be warm, not painfully hot, and should be applied for about 20 minutes.

• Move gently. Move joints gently at first to warm up. Try beginning with range-of-motion exercises for five to 10 minutes before moving on to strengthening or aerobic exercises.

• Go slowly. Exercise with slow and easy movements. If pain occurs, take a break. Sharp pain and pain stronger normal might indicate a problem. Slow down if inflammation or redness occurs.

• Ice afterward. Apply ice to joints as needed after activity, especially if there’s joint swelling.

• Trust your instincts. Don’t exert more energy than you think your joints can handle. Slowly work your exercise length and intensity up as you progress.

• Don’t overdo it.

In general, if pain lasts longer than two hours after exercising, the exercise was too strenuous. Talk to your doctor about what pain is normal and what pain is a sign of something more serious.

If you have rheumatoid arthritis, ask your doctor if you should exercise during general or local flares. One option is to work through joint flares by doing only range-of-motion exercises, just to keep your body moving.

Exercise for those with arthritis
Check with your doctor about exercise programs in the area for people with arthritis. Hospitals and clinics sometimes offer special programs, as do local health clubs.

The Arthritis Foundation conducts exercise programs for people with arthritis in many parts of the United States. Programs include exercise classes — in water and on land — and walking groups. Contact your local branch for more information.
By Mayo Clinic Staff

10 Yoga Poses For Health Problems

Fix body aches and pains, sugar cravings, hangovers and more by doing these yoga poses

Yoga Cures for Body Woes

 

Here’s what you probably already know about yoga: It can flatten your tummy, tone your arms, and calm your thoughts when your mind is acting like an untamed monkey. But beyond these body-and-mind makeover benefits, few people realize that specific poses may be able to cure all kinds of mental and physical aches and pains, too. To get you started, we spoke with Tara Stiles—star of the Yoga Anywhere DVD series and author of the new book Yoga Cures—to get her 10 best fixes for frustrating everyday problems. And don’t worry: You don’t have to be bubble-gum flexible or as patient as Buddha to reap the rewards. Here, our 10 favorite yoga cures for everything from hangovers and sugar cravings to sleepless nights and shin splints.

 

 

For Long Car Rides

…try a standing side opener

“We’ve all been crammed in the car for too long, and there are some simple poses to help open up your body,” says Stiles. “Standing side opener is great because you’re bringing length back into your side and spine, a reversal of when it gets crunched in the car.”

Try it: Stand with your feet parallel, shoulders aligned with your hips. Inhale and reach your arms out and up. Grab your left wrist with your right hand. Gently pull your left arm up with your right hand. Let your torso naturally arch over to your right side. Stay here for three breaths and then work the other side, too. (Looking for more relief? Try these Tips to Prevent Lower Back Pain if road trips and long days at the office are wrecking your back.)

 

For a Hangover

…try an easy seated twist

“Twists are great for helping toxins move their way out of your body—and out of your life,” says Stiles.

Try it: Start seated (as shown), inhale and lift your left arm straight up. As you exhale, grab your right knee with your left hand. Press your right fingertips into the ground behind your hips. Inhale and sit up tall. Exhale and twist your torso further toward the right. Then switch your legs and repeat on the other side.

For Shin Splints

…try hero pose

This is a very mild, gentle movement that is designed to relieve pressure on the shins, says Stiles. “The even pressure feels great for most runners.”

Try it: Stand on your knees so they are aligned under your hips. Press the tops of your feet down and into the ground. Press your thumbs into your legs, behind your knees, open your calves out to the sides and sit your hips down to the ground (if your butt doesn’t touch the ground, sit on a yoga block or a rolled up yoga mat). Hold for 10 breaths.

 

For Killer Cramps

…try an easy forward bend with rolled up blanket

“This move is great to sooth the mind, the mood, and cramps,” says Stiles. “The gentle pressure from the blanket and your torso is really grounding and comforting, and just plain feels great.”

Try it: Roll up a blanket. Sit down with your legs straight in front of you. Place the blanket on your upper thighs. Gently fold your torso over the blanket. Stay here for 10 long, deep breaths.

For a Sugar Craving

…try a seated meditation with arms in a “V”

“Yoga trains and reprograms the mind so it can come back to a calm and neutral state free of anxieties and cravings,” says Stiles. “This seated meditation with arms up in a V gives your body just enough to do to allow your mind to focus. Spend a few minutes in this position and you’ll be able to conquer your sugar cravings with ease.”

Try it: Starting in a comfortable seated position, raise your arms overhead into in a V shape. Relax your shoulders down your back and reach out through your fingertips. Stay and breathe here for 3 minutes. Finding the ease in staying here for several minutes will clear your mind and release loads of tension from your body.

For When You’re Feeling Sad

…try tree pose

“Regular yoga can help ease and reverse depression, bringing people back to their natural state of happiness and ease,” says Stiles. “Standing poses like tree have a lot to do with that. Finding balance in different ways on our feet translates into our lives. The key is being gentle and consistent.”

Try it: Stand tall with your feet parallel and a few inches apart. Shift your weight into your left leg. Bend your right knee into your chest and hug your shin with your hands. Grab hold of your right ankle with your right hand and press your right foot into your left inner thigh. Either stay here with your hand holding your ankle for balance, or reach your arms straight up. Stay here for five long breaths. Try the same thing on your other side.

For Easing Stress

…try half-pigeon pose

“Our hips store a lot of tension from all sorts of anxieties and stresses,” says Stiles. “The energy has to go somewhere and often it winds up in our hips. Pigeon is a super-calming pose for the mind and will give you a deep tension release in the hips.”

Try it: Start in a cross legged position and then lean into your right hip and reach your left leg long behind you (as shown), keeping your right leg in front of you and bent at the knee. If your hips don’t reach the ground, sit on a pillow or a block. Turn your hips and shoulders so they both face forward. Stay here for 10 long, deep breaths. Switch legs and repeat.

 

For a Cold or Flu

…try alternate nostril breathing

“This technique is known for keeping people from getting colds or the flu, as well as helping them get better faster,” says Stiles. “It’s great for clearing congestion. It also does wonders for cultivating an easy mind, so even when the flu strikes you’ll feel easy and calm while you are recovering.”

Try it: Sit up tall, however you can sit comfortably. Take your right hand and curl down your index and middle finger into your palm. Press your ring finger over your left nostril and inhale for 4 counts. Close off your right nostril with your thumb so both nostrils are closed. Hold all the air in for 4 counts. Release your ring finger and let all the air out your left nostril for 4 counts. Repeat this breathing pattern for 3 to 5 minutes.

For a Blinding Migraine

…try headstand preparation

“Recurring migraines can be so multi-factorial and, of course, everyone is different, but yoga has been known to help,” says Stiles. “A little pressure on the head with a prep of a headstand can bring blood flow to the head… and it just does the trick! Deep breaths of course!”

Try it: Sit on your heels with your shoulders above your hips. Interlace your fingers loosely and place them on the ground. Place the top of your head on the ground so your fingers cradle the back of your head. Stay here for a few breaths to get comfortable in the position. If you are comfortable, tuck your toes and straighten your legs like you would in a down dog. Stay here for 10 breaths.

For a Sleepless Night

…try an easy lying-down twist

“So many people have major problems getting to sleep and staying asleep,” says Stiles. “Yoga has been known to help out, big time. A simple lying down twist helps to release any tension in the spine and mind that can be getting in the way of a good night’s rest. You can even do it when you’re in bed!”

Try it: Lie down on your back and hug your right knee into your chest. Twist your right leg over toward your left side. Relax your arms out to the sides. Stay here for 10 deep breaths and repeat on the other side.

By Jenna Bergen Southerland

The Amazing Benefits of Himalayan Pink Salt

Pink-Salt

Have you heard about the amazing Himalayan crystal salt that comes directly from the Himalayan Mountains? It is packed with some pretty amazing benefits and is an amazing new staple to add to your pantry. It is an absolutely wonderful alternative to table salt, and soon I’ll explain why.

The History

First of all, what makes Himalayan crystal salt so amazing? About 200 million years ago, there were crystallized sea salt beds that were covered with lava. Being kept in this untouched, pristine environment that has been surrounded with snow and ice for so many years means that the salt has been protected from modern day pollution. Many people believe that this pink salt from the Himalayas is the purest salt that can be found on the planet.

Minerals & Energy

Himalayan Salt contains the same 84 trace minerals and elements that are found in the human body, that alone is quite impressive! A few of these minerals include: sodium chloride, sulphate, calcium, potassium and magnesium. When using this salt, you are actually getting less sodium intake per serving than regular table salt because it is less refined and the pieces are larger. Therefore Himalayan salt has less sodium per serving because the crystals or flakes take up less room than the highly processed table salt variety. Another cool thing about this salt is that because of its cellular structure it stores vibrational energy. The minerals in this salt exist in colloidal form, which means that they are small enough for our cells to easily absorb.

What Exactly Are The Benefits?

Some of the benefits that you can expect by consuming this salt in place of regular table salt include:

  • Aiding in vascular health
  • Supporting healthy lungs and respiratory function
  • Promoting a stable pH balance within the cells
  • Reducing the signs of aging
  • Promoting healthy sleep patterns
  • Increasing libido
  • Prevents muscle cramps
  • Increases hydration
  • Strengthen bones
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Improves circulation
  • Detoxifying the body of heavy metals

Comparing Himalayan Salt To Other Salts

Sea Salt

While still a better choice than table salt, sea salt is becoming increasingly over processed and let’s face it, our oceans are becoming more and more polluted each year, just think about the massive oils spills that have occurred. Because of the pristine conditions that the pink salt is kept in, it is said to be the purest salt available today.

Table Salt

Regular, commercial table salt is completely stripped of the majority of its minerals with the exception of sodium and chloride. It is then bleached, cleaned with chemicals and then heated at extremely high temperatures. The iodine that is added to table salt is almost always synthetic which is difficult for our bodies to properly take in. It is treated with anti-caking agents, which prevents the salt from dissolving in water and in the salt container. These agents then prevent the salt from absorbing in our own bodies, which leads to a build up and deposit within the organs. This can cause severe health problems. Studies have shown that for each gram of table salt that is consumed that the body cannot process, your body will use 20 TIMES the amount of cellular water to neutralize the amount of sodium chloride that is present in this chemically treated salt.

This is large in part of how salt has gotten such a bad name. It is not necessarily salt that is unhealthy for us, it is refined table salt that is inferior for our health. Aside from that, many of us are consuming way too much processed food. These foods contain astronomical amounts of salt, and it isn’t the good kind. It’s not about limiting our amount of salt; it’s about consuming more natural, homemade whole foods. This way we can add salt while cooking or sprinkle some on our meals without having to worry about high blood pressure and so on.

You should be able to find this amazing Himalayan Crystal Salt at your local health food store, or easily online!

February 19, 2014 by 

Don’t Blame Being Overweight on Your Age

If you’ve been blaming your belly fat on the fact that you’re growing older, now’s the time to stop believing that weight gain is an inevitable part of aging! Yes, as we get older our hormone balance shifts in ways that encourage weight gain. For example, testosterone and DHEA levels decline in men, and women’s insulin-regulating hormones become less effective. These changes can decrease muscle mass and energy while increasing belly fat and insulin resistance. But there’s no reason we can’t stay healthy and keep our hormones balanced as we age. Ongoing research suggests that age-related muscle decline is largely under our control. The more we eat clean, live clean, and work out, the better our hormone balance will be, and the healthier our metabolisms will remain.

I can’t tell you how many people just let exercise slide as they get older; then they turn around and blame their lagging metabolism on their hormones. I’ll be honest — I don’t like to exercise. But the reality is, we have to do it. Your body needs exercise the way it needs oxygen and water. It’s crucial to maintain muscle mass as you age: A pound of muscle burns three times more calories than a pound of fat does, and muscles scoop up blood sugar and enhance your body’s insulin sensitivity.

As for optimizing your hormone balance, the best way to do it is naturally. Nature has provided us with the cure for a lagging metabolism — we just neglect it! We have amazing whole foods that not only help us balance our hormones but also fight cancer, diabetes, stroke, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s. So what do we do? We spray them with pesticides and other chemicals, turning our natural medicine into poison. We have to reclaim these whole foods and fight back against the many ways our hormones are under assault every day. Don’t wait until you’re blowing out 50 or 60 candles on your birthday cake — fight for that healthier lifestyle now!