Dr. Phil Shares: How Often Should I Work Out to Maintain?

How Often Should I Work Out to Maintain My Weight?

You put in the hours, pumping iron, logging miles, sweating buckets, overhauling your diet, and (most important) staying consistent.

And the results speak for themselves — every time you look in the mirror, a leaner, more athletic person stares back at you. You’ve even bought yourself a new wardrobe. So now what?

Some people will keep going, perhaps taking up triathlons, joining a hoops league, or training for the CrossFit Games.

But others will want to take their foot off the gas and appreciate what they’ve accomplished.

The key is not to leave it off for too long — two weeks of inactivity are all it takes to notice significant declines in strength and cardiovascular fitness, according to a study in the Journal of Rehabilitation Medicine.

Indeed, the body is incredibly efficient at adapting to whatever demands (or lack thereof) are placed on it.

So now that you’ve crossed the finish line, how can you keep from backpedaling and losing what you’ve built? Just follow these simple steps.

1. Cut Back Gradually

Smart training plans (like those available on Beachbody On Demand) can allow you to work out 5 or 6 days a week with no ill effects (read: overtraining).

But once you reach your strength and endurance goals, you can reduce your workout frequency without losing your hard-earned gains, according to a study at the University of Alabama.

The researchers found that adults aged 20 to 35 who worked out just one day a week not only saw no loss of muscle but actually continued to gain it (albeit at a greatly reduced rate).

Our recommendation: Start by reducing your workout frequency by a third, then a half, and so on until you find the minimal effective dose that’s right for you.

2. Keep It Intense

Even a single set of a strength-training exercise can produce hypertrophy (i.e., muscle growth), according to a study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.

So if your goal is to hold on to what you have, one or two sets per move per workout should do the trick.

The key is to keep them challenging; you should always feel like you stopped two reps short of failure.

Take a similar approach with cardio: In a study in the journal Physiological Reports, a team of British researchers found that a single, intense, 20-minute interval workout every five days allowed participants to maintain levels of cardiovascular fitness built through much higher frequency training programs.

3. Dial In Your Diet

Here’s the one category where you might have to be more diligent than you were before you reached your goal.

As you cut back on your workouts, you’re going to start burning fewer calories. To avoid the fate of the ex-athlete who balloons 50 pounds when he hangs up his cleats, tighten up your diet as you reduce your training time.

“On the days you don’t work out, cut 300 to 500 calories from your diet,” says Dr. Jade Teta, founder of The Metabolic Effect, a fitness and nutrition coaching service focused on maximizing results with minimal effort. “Ideally, those calories should come from starchy carbs and sources of empty calories [i.e., junk food] rather than from protein or veggies,” says Teta.

4. Stay Flexible

These general guidelines are just that: general guidelines. Though lower frequency, more intense workouts seem to work for most people looking to maintain their fitness gains, there’s no “one-size-fits-all” solution.

“It’s going to be different for everyone,” says Teta.

So be a detective: Monitor your strength, weight, definition, and overall sense of well-being as you tweak your exercise and eating habits, and be ready to adjust everything up or down accordingly.

BY: Andrew Heffernan CSCS, GCFP

Shared by Dr. Phil McAllister @ Forward Health Guelph

Dr. Phil Shares: Should You Get an Extra Hour of Sleep or a Workout?

Should You Get an Extra Hour of Sleep or a Workout?

You’re lying in bed, trying to decide what time to set your alarm for tomorrow. You could get a full seven hours of sleep if you wake up at your normal time, or you could wake up an hour and a half earlier to make that morning spin class. Which should you choose?

This seemingly simple riddle is one we’ve all faced at some point. The decision seems impossible. Sleep is essential for a healthy immune system and injury-prevention, but exercise can contribute to better, sounder sleep.

PRIORITIZE SLEEP

“Sleep and exercise are both incredibly important for your body, but if you have to choose one it has to be sleep,” says Amy Leigh Mercree, a wellness coach. “Adequate amounts of sleep gets your body the time it needs to replenish and refresh your cellular functioning. If you do not get to do that, your health will suffer greatly.”

Most experts agree that when forced to choose, they’d almost always choose sleep. Adults need 7–9 hours of sleep, according to the National Sleep Foundation, for optimal performance, memory retention and good health. But achieving a sound night’s sleep is largely dependent on your commitment to your body’s circadian rhythm, which is when we normally go to bed and wake up. A Northwestern study showed our muscles also follow that circadian cycle, meaning if you’re working out during the time when you’re normally asleep, your muscle repair will be less efficient.

EXERCISE IS IMPORTANT, TOO

But just because sleep is usually the answer doesn’t mean you should discount the need for exercise for your overall health if you’re always crunched for time. “Exercise changes the brain and is critical for brain health. What’s good for your body is good for your brain, too,” said John Assaraf, brain researcher and CEO of NeuroGym. “Through exercise, you are feeding your brain by increasing blood and oxygen flow.”

When you have to choose, remember a short workout is better than no workout at all. If you have only 10 minutes, do a quick workout at home with simple exercises like squats, jumping jacks and planks. There are also lots of apps that can give you a quick workout for a specific time frame using only your bodyweight.

BE HONEST WITH YOURSELF

If you find yourself constantly short on time, it might also be good to see where that time is actually going. Try tracking your days meticulously for a week to see where you might be wasting time. Almost everyone is guilty of too much time on social media or watching TV, so see if you could substitute that time for working out. This will help you get a proper night’s sleep and a workout.

by Tessa McLean

Shared by Dr. Phil McAllister @ Forward Health Guelph

Dr. Phil Shares: 3 Common Walking Myths, Busted

3 Common Walking Myths, Busted

When it comes to exercise, walking doesn’t always get the respect it deserves — and it’s time that changed. Before buying into the idea that walking isn’t a worthwhile workout, learn the truth behind these three common walking myths.

There is a great feeling of accomplishment when your fitness tracker buzzes to signal you hit 10,000 steps. But Carol Ewing Garber, PhD, professor of movement sciences at Columbia University, believes it might be an arbitrary target.

Yes, there are studies that show walking 10,000 steps per day is associated with lower blood pressure and improved glucose tolerance but the idea of walking the equivalent of five miles per day could feel overwhelming to new exercisers.

“[Walking 10,000 steps] will result in health benefits,” Garber says. “But it should be noted that … there is benefit even with small amounts of walking and the benefits increase with the more steps you walk each day.”

Garber suggests aiming for 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each week instead of setting a step count goal.

If you want to count steps, consider this: Walking an additional 2,000 steps per day — even if your current step count is minimal — helps lower body mass index and boost insulin sensitivity, according to research published in the journal BMJ.

Leslie Sansone, fitness expert and creator of Walk at Home Workouts is adamant: “Walking works for weight loss!”

A slow stroll around the block isn’t going to move the needle on the scale (although it does burn more calories than binge watching legal dramas). To lose weight with a walking workout, Sansone suggests high-intensity interval training or HIIT.

Picking up the pace — without breaking into a run — at regular intervals during your walk has a major impact on weight loss.

In one small study, researchers at the University of Virginia found that overweight women who logged three 30-minute, high-intensity walks and two moderately-paced walks per week for 12 weeks lost six times more belly fat than women who went for a slow stroll five days per week. A second study found that varying speed burned up to 20 percent more calories than maintaining the same pace.



Incorporating HIIT into your walking workout is simple, according to Sansone. After a 5-minute warmup walk at a slow pace, walk at a brisk pace for 30 seconds and then a regular pace for 4 minutes. Repeat the interval four times. End with a 5-minute cooldown walk.  

“Walkers have so many choices to get fit and stay fit for life,” Sansone says.

Walking can be a “gateway exercise” that helps new exercisers improve their cardiovascular fitness and stamina to transition to running but not all walkers want to run — and that’s OK.

“Walking is a good exercise for everyone,” Garber says.

study published in the journal Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology found rates of hypertension, high cholesterol, heart disease and diabetes were lower for regular walkers than runners.

While a walk around the block is a good start, maximizing the benefits of a walking workout requires logging sufficient time in your sneakers. Garber suggests focusing on distance, duration or calorie expenditure (all viewable on your fitness tracker) noting that it’s the amount of exercise that counts — for both walkers and runners.

“If you start fitness walking today, you will instantly feel better and know you’re doing something good for your body, mind and soul,” Sansone says.

by Jodi Helmer

Shared by Dr. Phil McAllister @ Forward Health Guelph

Dr. Phil Shares: What You Need to Know About Going to a Chiropractor

What You Need to Know About Going to a Chiropractor

The chiropractor. A lot of people swear by chiropractic treatments as the only way they get relief from back pain, neck pain, headaches, and a host of joint problems. Others aren’t so sure about this holistic wellness discipline. Regardless of what camp you’re in, allow us to demystify this type of care for you.

Chiropractors Train as Long as MDs Do

That’s right, a Doctor of Chiropractic (DC) studies for four years of undergraduate and four years of chiropractic school, using similar books that MDs use for study, says Scott Bautch, DC, president of the council on occupational health for the American Chiropractic Association. Chiropractors must also pass a licensure test and take continuing education courses to stay abreast of the latest trends in their field and maintain their credentials.

Chiropractors Can Help with Overall Wellness

People mostly see chiropractors for pain relief, but it’s becoming more popular to see a chiropractor for general wellness. “Chiropractors are increasingly becoming overall wellness advisors — advising patients about their eating , exercise, and sleeping habits,” Bautch says. Since chiropractors focus on the health of the nervous system, particularly the spinal cord, they are treating the entire body. Therefore, they are addressing both acute injuries (such as low back pain), as well as general, chronic issues (such as fatigue).

The First Appointment Will be Really Thorough

Chiropractors use comprehensive intake screenings to learn not just about what ails you, but also to get a complete picture of your overall health (hence the “holistic” descriptor). This will include health history questionnaires as well as functional and neurological assessments to see how your body moves, how well you can balance, etc. The doctor may also take x-rays. Finally, there will be a discussion about cost and course of treatment.

This thorough first appointment was experienced by New York City resident Karl Burns. In a tennis game, Burns swung his racket too forcefully and injured his low back. He was referred to chiropractor Cory Gold, DC. “At first, I thought, ‘I’ve never been injured before, I don’t need a voodoo doctor,’” says Burns. “But Dr. Gold and I immediately gelled. After many tests and questions, he told me, ‘Your treatment plan will be three times a week for a couple weeks, then two times a week for a couple weeks, then once a week — this is not a lifetime injury.’”

You’ll Likely Be a Regular, Initially

In most cases, people see chiropractors for acute injuries (like throwing your back out) or chronic conditions (like headaches), so it may take a few of weeks of multiple visits to stabilize the problem. After a few weeks of multiple treatments per week, treatment tapers gradually to once per week, then once per month for maintenance, until the spine is able to stay in alignment without the chiropractor’s adjustments. The course of treatment and length of time until stabilization vary from person to person.

That said, visits are often quite short — an average of 15 to 20 minutes — of hands-on manipulation. “Chiropractors aren’t trying to fight an internal battle against infection the way medical doctors are,” says Burns. “The treatment consists of much smaller movements and adjustments to your body and alignment of the spine.” Burns points out that he experienced pretty significant pain relief from the get-go. “Every time I walked out of there, I felt amazing,” he says. “The benefits are instant and can be perceived better [than with conventional doctors].”

You Won’t Be a Patient Forever

There’s a general belief that chiropractors want to make you reliant on them, but Bautch and Burns believe otherwise. “There are three phase of care,” Bautch says. “Acute — let’s get you functional; corrective — let’s adjust you so that it doesn’t happen again or as frequently; and then maintenance — maybe down to once a month.” Indeed, this is what Burns experienced — but he also learned the hard way the importance of self-maintenance. “Chiropractors take the approach of ‘let me teach you how to fish,’ not ‘let me just give you the fish,’” says Burns. He, like most patients, was given exercises to compliment and maintain his recovery — and he only ran into trouble again once he stopped doing them. “If I skip my exercises, sure enough, my lower back gets tight,” Burns says.

BY: Amy Roberts

Shared by Dr. Phil McAllister @ Forward Health Guelph

Dr. Phil Shares: Do This Daily For a Healthy Spine

Do This Daily For a Healthy Spine

If you’ve ever hurt your lower back, you know how much it can affect your life. Whether you’re getting up from a chair, carrying groceries or hoisting a barbell overhead, your lower back is involved in nearly every movement.

While lower back injuries should be treated with the help of a doctor or physical therapist, many cases of lower back pain can be avoided with simple exercises that strengthen the core muscles and teach proper movement of the spine. Stuart McGill, PhD, professor emeritus at the University of Waterloo and the world’s premier authority on spinal health, designed exercises to build a healthy spine.

McGill’s research has been pivotal in helping people understand core training for a healthy spine should focus on stability exercises like planks. Movements that bend the spine like crunches and situps, could even contribute to lower back injuries if performed incorrectly or too often. McGill’s “big three” exercises can be combined into a daily routine that requires no equipment and can be done at home or in the gym.

If you’ve been injured and your doctor has cleared you to work out again, or if you’re perfectly healthy and want to give yourself the best chance to keep your spine pain-free, try these three simple exercises to start building a more resilient spine for all of life’s activities.

MCGILL CURLUPS

Back pain can often be traced to two simple culprits:

1. The lower back itself moves too much.
2. The joints around the lower back (e.g., hips and upper back) don’t move enough.

The McGill curlup teaches you to stabilize your lumbar spine (lower back) using your abs, while moving through the thoracic spine (upper back). The act of pushing the lower back into the floor is how you properly “brace” your abs, so remember how that feels because you should be using it for just about every other exercise you do.

The move: Lie on the floor, face up to the ceiling. Bend one knee until your heel is flat to the floor, a few inches away from your butt. Keep the other leg straight and dig the heel of that foot into the floor, pointing your toes to the ceiling. Place your hands under your lower back and actively push your lower back into your hands to engage your abdominal muscles. Bring your chin toward your chest but keep your head on the ground. Continue to push your lower back into the floor to gently lift your shoulders off the ground. Make sure not to curl your chin toward your chest or let your lower back leave the floor. Perform all your reps on one side, then repeat on the other side.

Sets and Reps: 2 sets of 5–10 reps per side, holding each rep for 3–10 seconds (hold each rep longer to make these more challenging)

BIRD DOGS

The McGill curlup teaches you how to brace your abs, now it’s time to put that stability to the test with bird dogs. This teaches you how to move your arms and legs around a solid core position without moving from your lower back.

The move: Start on your hands and knees with your hands directly under your shoulders and knees directly under your hips. Flatten your back by bracing your abs much like you did with the curlup, but instead of pushing your lower back into the floor, tighten your abs as if someone is about to punch you in the stomach. Reach out with your opposite arm and leg until both limbs are parallel to the floor. Be careful not to arch your lower back — imagine keeping your leg long and low. Repeat with the other arm and leg, making sure to brace your abs on every rep.

If you feel like a fish out of water when doing bird dogs because you’re not quite coordinated enough yet, try them with just your legs first. Once you’re able to lift your leg parallel to the floor without arching your lower back, add in your arms, too.

Sets and Reps: 2 sets of 5–10 reps per side, holding each rep for 1–5 seconds (hold each rep longer to make these more challenging)

SHORT SIDE PLANK

Curlups and bird dogs mostly work your ab muscles on the front of your body: the rectus abdominis and transverse abdominis. But we can’t forget the important oblique muscles, your “side abs.” The short side plank builds strength in your obliques to prevent unwanted twisting and side bending of the spine.

The short side plank resembles a traditional side plank but leaves your bottom knee on the floor for added stability. Think of it as a more user-friendly side plank so you can learn how to properly use your obliques to support your spine.

The move: Lay on your side with your bottom elbow and leg on the floor. Bend your knees until your upper and lower leg form a 90-degree angle. Tuck your bottom elbow tight to your side, squeezing your bottom fist. Lift your bottom hip off the ground while leaving your bottom knee and elbow on the floor. Pull your shoulders back and squeeze your glutes to keep a straight line from your head to your knees. Inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth for the duration of the exercise. Repeat on the opposite side.

Sets and Reps: 2 sets of 5–10 seconds per side. Even though 10 seconds may seem quick, exhaling forcefully (like you’re blowing up a balloon) can make even just 10 seconds seem challenging.

by Tony Bonvechio

Shared by Dr. Phil McAllister @ Forward Health Guelph

Dr. Phil Shares:5 Science-Backed Solutions For a Healthy Lifestyle

 

5 Science-Backed Solutions For a Healthy Lifestyle

If you feel overwhelmed trying to build a healthier life for yourself, stop stressing. You can perform the simplest tasks and still create a more active, flourishing life. Plus, executing such small activities can put you on a path toward accomplishing your larger health and fitness goals.

If you struggle with any of these issues, try incorporating these easy actions into your daily life and you should begin noticing encouraging changes:

If you’re ever feeling unproductive, a power nap could help. In a study published by Sleep, researchers found a nap lasting as little as 10 minutes mitigated short-term performance impairment. “What’s surprising is how little sleep is necessary for better focus,” says Martin Rawls-Meehan, CEO of Reverie, an organization that creates sleep systems. Plus, he says a nap can reduce your body’s levels of cortisol — a stress hormone responsible “for a lot of the negative physiological effects.”

If you’re ever lacked the motivation to work out, spend a moment thinking of friends and family. In a study published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers asked 220 sedentary adults to complete one of two self-transcendence tasks: reflect on what matters most to them (such as friends and family) or make repeated positive wishes for both strangers and people they know. A control group reflected on what mattered least to them. Then, everyone viewed health messages encouraging physical activity. Results showed those who thought of others decreased their overall sedentary behavior versus those who did not think of others.

Researchers looked at data from almost 92,000 middle-aged people and found that those with disturbed sleep patterns were more likely to experience depression or bipolar disorder. Worse yet, one of the culprits of bad sleep was something completely within people’s control: scrolling the internet in the middle of the night on their cellphones, according to a study published in The Lancet Psychiatry. To negate the negative effects of disrupted sleep, Rawls-Meehan suggests using an old-fashioned alarm clock and charging your phone overnight in the kitchen — completely out of reach.

Feeling sluggish and bloated? Dr. Brian Levine, the founding partner and practice director of CCRM New York, says to avoid foods like white rice and white sugar that cause inflammation. Although you might crave these foods, swapping them for a healthier alternative just one meal per week can help you begin a healthy diet transformation — you don’t need to make sweeping food changes right away.

For example, instead of chicken and rice, try chicken with cauliflower. You can pulse the vegetable in a food processor until it resembles the consistency of rice, say Jessica Jones, RD, and Wendy Lopez, RD, of Food Heaven Made Easy. Or, swap one cup of white sugar for a half a cup of honey. According to a review published in Pharmacognosy Research, “honey can act as a natural therapeutic agent for various medicinal purposes” such as diabetes and cardiovascular and respiratory diseases.

You don’t need meditation experience to begin a compassionate meditation practice. In fact, all participants in a study published in Frontiers of Human Neuroscience had no background in meditation. But in 20 minutes a day for two months, researchers found people who practiced compassionate meditation increased their social support, felt more purpose in life, decreased illness symptoms and enhanced their life satisfaction. To start such a practice, simply sit with your eyes closed, concentrate on your breathing and think of someone you love. As you get more comfortable, expand your thoughts to more people you know, then on to strangers and on to the world. Although you will still hear bad world news, you should start to achieve a healthier ability to digest negative information.

BY JENNIFER PURDIE JANUARY 5, 2019 NO COMMENTSSHARE IT:

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Dr. Phil Shares: 5 Rules For Better Planks and a Stronger Core

 

5 Rules For Better Planks and a Stronger Core

Planks are one of the hardest exercises to get right. Yet, most of us incorporate planks into our workouts, whether it’s running, lifting or doing bootcamp. What many of us don’t realize is we’re planking all wrong.

“Planking is the gold standard exercise for core strength and stability,” explains Shana Verstegen, fitness director at Supreme Health and Fitness in Wisconsin. Doing them properly has real benefits. “They will make you a better athlete, help prevent/reduce back pain and allow you to move better in life.”

Here, learn how to maximize the perks of this exercise staple.

Most exercises can benefit from a bit of glute engagement, and planks are no exception. “Squeezing your glutes causes a bit of a stretch in your hip flexors, which transfers more of the workload to the abdominal muscles,” explains Greg Pignataro, certified strength and conditioning coach at Grindset Fitness. And your abdominal muscles are what you’re trying to work, right? “Additionally, contracting the glutes will reduce strain on your lumbar spine by preventing your lower back from sagging,” Pignataro adds.

Seriously. “Dr. Stuart McGill, a professor from the university of Waterloo who has spent 30+ years researching the spine and back pain, touts groundbreaking research about core ‘stiffness,’” Verstegen notes. “Holding planks for 10 seconds at high tension followed by a brief rest period before the next rep creates a much stronger core with fewer injuries.

“Pavel Tsatsouline, most famous for popularizing kettlebell training, agrees. He designed the ‘RKC’ plank around this philosophy of full-body stiffness and also promotes shorter, stronger plank holds.” Try doing a set of 3–10-second holds with maximum contraction for the best core strength gains.

Just as every body is different, every perfect plank setup is different, too. “Due to individual differences in body size and limb length, the ideal position is probably slightly different for every single person,” notes Pignataro. “This is important, because planks should challenge your core musculature, not hurt your elbows or shoulders. Experiment by moving your elbows and feet a few inches inward, outward, backward or forward until you find your sweet spot!”

Some people struggle to feel their abs firing during planks. If that sounds familiar, try this: “Once in plank position, pretend you are looking over a fence by pulling your elbows down so you can get your head and neck to feel taller,” recommends Brian Nguyen, CEO of Elementally Strong. “This will pull your hips and shoulders into alignment and you should feel more where you want it … abs, baby!”

“To make your planks count, every muscle needed to stabilize your spine is firing at a maximal effort,” says Kari Woodall, owner of BLAZE.

Doing so can even even help with your preferred method of exercise. “If I want to crush my deadlifts, I need the requisite core strength to pick up something heavy. If my body doesn’t understand what a maximal contraction feels like, then I am not only limiting how much I can lift, but I’m increasing my risk of injury if I do pick up something heavy,” she explains.

Not feeling the burn? “Squeeze your armpits like you have million-dollar bills tucked underneath each one, and you get to keep the money if no one can rip them away from you,” Woodall adds.

BY JULIA MALACOFF FEBRUARY 4, 2019 4 COMMENTSSHARE IT:

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Prevent and Treat Summer Sports Injuries with These Tips

Summer is the season when many competitive athletes and weekend warriors’ are most physically active. Hospitals get busier as well, seeing an increase in sports-related injuries. Many of these painful problems can be avoided with some basic pre- and post-workout practices that keep athletes ready to play and help them recover after.

“During the summer months we see an influx of patients with injuries associated with increased activity level; too much, too soon, too fast,” says Dr. Phil. “We also see an increase in injuries associated with environmental illnesses like heat illness and dehydration”.

Repetitive Stress Injuries

A traumatic injury occurs at one time, such as when someone sprains an ankle, tears a muscle, injures a knee or breaks a bone. A repetitive-stress injury occurs when an athlete repeats a movement, such as a baseball pitch or a tennis backhand. Over time, a muscle or ligament or tendon begins to wear down.

Athletes should pay attention to nagging soreness in joints and be careful about pain relievers that can hide a serious problem. A visit to a qualified sports medicine physician can help pinpoint an overuse issue that’s causing pain. Treatment often includes adding strength-training exercises that target the specific area. Athletes can then meet with his or her coach and work on improving the throw or swing that’s causing the problem.

The Stretching Myth

Athletes might be surprised to learn that stretching a muscle and holding that stretch before activity not only doesn’t reduce the risk of injury, it actually impairs sports performance and can increase a person’s risk for an injury. Holding a stretch, known as static stretching, desensitizes muscles and decreases vertical leap and power for approximately 15 minutes. It’s OK to do this type of stretching roughly 30 minutes before activity or immediately following, but not right before a jog or volleyball match.  Examples of dynamic stretches are: skipping, jumping jacks, quick lunges, arm circles and light jogging. After every workout, practice, game or match, athletes should static stretch to increase flexibility and improve future performance.

Static stretching is helpful after a workout or game. “Cooling down and stretching after activity shows benefits for injury prevention, particularly after consecutive intense workout days in a row,” says Dr. Phil.

RICE Might not be Nice

For decades, athletes have used ice to immediately treat sprains and other injuries. The most common method of treating sports injuries today is the RICE method (rest, ice, compression, elevation). According to current sport researchers (including Dr. Gabe Mirkin, who coined “RICE” and that treatment in 1978), icing is actually the wrong way to go. Inflammation after an injury is a sign the body is working to heal the problem. When athletes ice an injury, they slow the healing process. The same happens when taking anti-inflammatory medications, such as cortisone shots or ibuprofen.

It’s OK to use ice to manage severe pain, but only for 10 minutes, followed by a 20-minute break, followed by another 10 minutes of ice and so on. Athletes should stop icing after six hours and visit a doctor if the pain persists. If pain lasts for more 48 hours, it might be a sign professional medical attention is needed.

Hydrate Properly

During the summer, people participating in hard physical activity should begin all exercise sessions well hydrated, recommends Dr. Smith. “If a person becomes thirsty during activity, he is at least one liter depleted of fluid and this is means he needs to hydrate.” An athlete should pre-hydrate with 17 to 20 ounces of fluid, two to three hours before exercise, and another 7 to 10 ounces of fluid 20 to 30 minutes before exercise, says Dr. Smith. If the activity last less than 45 minutes, water should be adequate for hydration. If the exercise lasts longer than 45 minutes, athletes should consume some post-exercise carbohydrates, either in a sports drink, energy bar, snack or meal.

Beware of Heat Exposure

Many people who get heat prostration don’t realize it and keep playing, eventually ending up in the hospital. On hot days, athletes should check themselves, their partners and teammates for signs of heat stress, such as bright red skin, a lack of sweating and cold, clammy skin. Wear light-colored clothes and hats that wick water away from skin (avoid cotton) and let skin breathe.

Safe Workout and Exercise Tips

Dr. Phil recommends the following tips to build a safe, enjoyable exercise program:

  1. Build Frequency – How often you perform an activity. Start 2-3 times a week and build from there.
  2. Increase Duration – How long you do an activity. Start with 20 minutes and build from there.
  3. Increase Intensity – How difficult your activity is. The recommended rate to increase the intensity of your program is no more than 10% per week.

Shared by Dr. Phil McAllister @ Forward Health

Dr. Phil Shares: Kick Up Your Heels!

Not only can those brand new high-heeled shoes cause pain in your feet, they can cause low back pain as well. In fact, poor footwear can cause difficulties in the feet, knees, hips, low back and all the way up the spine. Generally, the best shoes for your body are relatively flat and provide adequate support.

Try these tips to reduce the pain on those high-heels days.

Shopping for shoes

Shop in the afternoon or evening, as your feet tend to accumulate fluid and swell throughout the day.

Choosing a shoe

  1. Choose a heel height that you can walk in gracefully. The effect of a high heel is easily negated by a clumsy walk.
  2. Try to choose a shoe with a heel height of no more than 2 inches. It’s a good compromise height that will still create the arched posture associated with high heels without sending you tipping out of them.
  3. Avoid buying shoes with a recessed heel, as it is one of the most unstable heel styles.
  4. Avoid shoes with many thin straps; these can dig into your skin causing pain and swelling.
  5. Ensure that the shoes have good support for the arches of your feet.

Give your feet a fighting chance

  1. Place a cushioning pad into the front of the shoe to pad the balls of your feet. This will also help keep your toes from getting wedged into the front of the shoe.
  2. Take a break from your heels now and then. Slip off your shoes discretely and stretch some of the tensed muscles. Wiggle your toes and make circles with your ankles to help increase circulation.
  3. Finally, after a long day or evening on your feet, give them a break. Wear a low, comfortable shoe the next day to rest your muscles. Soak your feet in warm water or give them a nice massage.

Thanks To the OCA for Sharing

Shared by Dr. Phil McAllister @ Forward Health Guelph

10 Steps to Changing Your Life for the Better in 2016

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Happy New Year! This year, what do you say we all skip the New Year’s resolution? About half of North Americans make them, and most start out strong but come February or March, many have already thrown in the towel.

Overall, it’s estimated that 92 percent of Americans fail to achieve the goals they commit to on New Year’s Day.1 And so, I’m proposing this instead: in place of a New Year’s resolution, make a commitment to simply live better this year.

This is an ongoing process, a lifestyle change, not an impulsive resolution that you blurted out at midnight and have all but forgotten by morning. It’s also not something you can achieve overnight. Rather, this is a plan you can live by.

10 Steps to Changing Your Life for the Better in 2016

It’s the start of a new year — what better time to start fresh with some positive changes? The 10 that follow are the crème de la crème of lifestyle tricks you can use to live better and be happier — and isn’t that really what virtually all of us are after?

Below follows a brief introduction to the 10 points I suggest you commit to this year. In the coming months, stay tuned for an updated comprehensive nutrition plan, which is scheduled for release in 2016.

It will include these points in detail along with a plethora of additional recommendations, tips, and strategies to help you live the best life possible.

And, starting next week, look for forthcoming articles in the newsletter, which will cover each of these topics in depth. Are you ready to start fresh in 2016? Then keep on reading.

1. Give Up Soda

Obesity, diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, liver damage, osteoporosis, and acid reflux are just some of the health conditions linked to soda consumption. No wonder nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of Americans say they actively try to avoid soda in their diet.2

If you’re not yet among them, commit to swapping your soda for healthier beverages like water, sparkling water, and, occasionally, tea and/or organic black coffee.

When you consume soda your body increases dopamine production, which stimulates the pleasure centers of your brain — a physically identical response to that of heroin, by the way.

This explains why so many people find it difficult to give up their daily soda “fix.” But, it can be done and you’ll feel better for it.

2. Eat Two Meals a Day, Within an Eight-Hour Window

Your body probably only needs two meals a day, and eating this way allows you to restrict your eating to a window of six to eight consecutive hours each day, while avoiding food for at least three hours before bedtime.

As long as you restrict your eating to a six- to eight-hour window, and avoid eating for at least three hours before bed, you can choose between having breakfast and lunch, or lunch and dinner, but avoid having both breakfast and dinner.

Which two meals you prefer are up to you; let your body, and your lifestyle, be your guide.

This type of intermittent fasting has numerous benefits for your health, including weight loss, disease prevention, resolving insulin resistance, optimizing your mitochondrial function, and preventing cellular damage from occurring.

3. Get Eight Hours of Sleep Each Night

I used to think I was immune to needing adequate sleep. I would routinely get less than six hours a night and thought I could function this way. But, I’ve since realized that most adults really need about eight hours of sleep every night.

What makes sleep deprivation so detrimental is that it doesn’t just impact one aspect of your health; it impacts many.

Sleep deprivation has the same effect on your immune system as physical stress or illness,3 which may help explain why lack of sleep is tied to an increased risk of numerous chronic diseases.

Sleeping less than six hours per night more than triples your risk of high blood pressure, and women who get less than four hours of shut-eye per night double their chances of dying from heart disease.4

Sleep is also intricately tied to important hormone levels, including melatonin, production of which is disturbed by lack of sleep.

This is extremely problematic, as melatonin inhibits the proliferation of a wide range of cancer cell types, as well as triggers cancer cell apoptosis (self-destruction). Lack of sleep also decreases levels of your fat-regulating hormone leptin, while increasing the hunger hormone ghrelin.

The resulting increase in hunger and appetite can easily lead to overeating and weight gain. Not to mention, poor or insufficient sleep is actually the strongest predictor for pain in adults over 50.5

Small adjustments to your daily routine and sleeping area can go a long way to ensure uninterrupted, restful sleep and, thereby, better health.

If you’re not sure how much sleep you’re getting, a fitness tracker can be beneficial for helping you keep track of the actual time you’re asleep (as opposed to the time spent in bed).

If you need more sleep, I suggest you read through my full set of 33 healthy sleep guidelines for details on proper sleep hygiene

4. Eat More Healthy Fats and Fiber

Public health guidelines condemn healthy fats from foods like butter and full-fat dairy, and recommend whole grains and cereals — the opposite of what most people need to stay healthy.

The latest science suggests healthy fats (saturated and unsaturated fats from whole food, animal, and plant sources) should comprise anywhere from 50 to 85 percent of your overall energy intake. Healthy fat sources include coconut and coconut oil, avocados, butter, nuts, and animal fats.

That’s right; butter need not be shunned and, in fact, is a beneficial source of healthy saturated fats, especially when it’s raw, organic, and grass-fed. In addition to eating more healthy fats, most Americans need to eat more fiber. A high-fiber diet can help reduce your risk of premature death from any cause, likely because it helps to reduce your risk of some of the most common chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.

When it comes to boosting your fiber intake, be sure to focus on eating more vegetables, nuts and seeds (not grains). Organic whole husk psyllium is a great fiber source, as are sunflower sprouts and fermented vegetables, the latter of which are essentially fiber preloaded with beneficial bacteria. Flax, hemp, and chia seeds are also excellent fiber sources.

5. Eat Fermented Vegetables

Fermented foods are potent chelators (detoxifiers) and contain much higher levels of beneficial bacteria than probiotic supplements, making them ideal for optimizing your gut flora.

In addition to helping break down and eliminate heavy metals and other toxins from your body, beneficial gut bacteria perform a number of surprising functions, including helping with mineral absorption and producing nutrients such as B vitamins and vitamin K2. They may also play a role in:

  • Preventing obesity and diabetes, and regulating dietary fat absorption
  • Lowering your risk for cancer
  • Improving your mood and mental health
  • Preventing acne

In the US, imbalances in gut flora are widespread due to diets high in sugar and processed foods as well as exposure to antibiotics, both in medicine and via CAFO (concentrated animal feeding operation) meats in your diet.

The solution is simple — in addition to cutting back on sugar and antibiotics, consuming fermented foods will give your gut health a complete overhaul, helping to clear out pathogenic varieties and promoting the spread of healing, nourishing microorganisms instead.

Just one-quarter to one-half cup of fermented vegetables, eaten with one to three meals per day, can have a dramatically beneficial impact on your health. You can even start a new tradition by getting together with friends and family to make big batches of fermented vegetables together.

6. Sit Less and Walk More, Work on Your Flexibility

On average, a U.S. adult spends nine to 10 hours each day sitting,6 which is so much inactivity that even a 30- or 60-minute workout can’t counteract its effects.7

While it might seem natural to sit this long since you’ve probably grown used to it (physically and mentally), it’s actually quite contrary to nature. Studies looking at life in agriculture environments show that people in agrarian villages sit for about three hours a day.

Your body is made to move around and be active the majority of the day, and significant negative changes occur when you spend the majority of the day sedentary instead.

Setting a goal of taking 7,000 to 10,000 steps a day (which is just over three to five miles, or 6 to 9 kilometers) can go a long way toward getting more movement and less sitting into your life. This should be over and above any exercise regimen you may have.

In addition, stand up at work if you can, rather than sitting at your desk. Meanwhile, make it a point to gain flexibility, which will help keep you functional well into old age. Pilates, yoga, and whole body vibration training are options to help increase your flexibility.

7. Have Your Vitamin D Level Tested

It’s incredibly easy to boost your vitamin D levels, so there’s no reason to put your health at risk from low status. Yet, researchers such as Dr. Michael Holick estimate that 50 percent of the general population is at risk of vitamin D deficiency and insufficiency. If you’re among them, your risk of multiple sclerosis, diabetes, and other chronic disorders may be significantly increased.

In a study of more than 100 people, those with low vitamin D levels were more likely to have type 2 diabetes, pre-diabetes, or metabolic syndrome, regardless of their weight.8

Dementia is also directly linked to vitamin D. Seniors who have low vitamin D levels may double their risk of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease.9 As noted by the authors, “This adds to the ongoing debate about the role of vitamin D in nonskeletal conditions.” Incidence of several types of cancer could also be slashed in half if more people increased their vitamin D levels.

One of Dr. Holick’s studies showed that healthy volunteers taking 2,000 IUs of vitamin D per day for a few months upregulated 291 different genes that control up to 80 different metabolic processes.

This included improving DNA repair to having effect on autoxidation (oxidation that occurs in the presence of oxygen and /or UV radiation, which has implications for aging and cancer, for example), boosting your immune system, and many other biological processes.

If you don’t know what your vitamin D level is, get tested. The vitamin D test you’re looking for is called 25(OH)D or 25-hydroxyvitamin D. This is the officially recognized marker of overall D status and is most strongly associated with overall health.

The other vitamin D test available, called 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D (1,25[OH]D), is not very useful for determining vitamin D sufficiency. While sunlight is the ideal way to optimize your vitamin D, winter and working indoors prevent more than 90 percent of those reading this article from achieving ideal levels.

A high-quality tanning bed is your next best option, but if your circumstances don’t allow you to access the sun or a high-quality tanning bed, then you really only have one option if you want to raise your vitamin D, and that is to take a vitamin D3 supplement.

Regular testing is crucial in this case to keep your level within the optimal range. If you live in the U.S., January and February are ideal months to find out if you’re vitamin D levels are low.

vitamin d levels
Sources

8. Eat Nutrient-Dense Protein (Quality not Quantity)

Protein is essential for your health as it’s a structural component of enzymes, cellular receptors, signaling molecules, and a main building block for your muscles and bones. But, eating excessive amounts of protein could actually be worse than eating too many carbs. Excessive protein can stimulate two biochemical pathways that accelerate aging and cancer growth.

For optimal health, I believe most adults need about 1 gram of protein per kilogram of lean body mass (not total body weight), or 0.5 gram of protein per pound of lean body mass. In this formula, you must first determine your lean body mass. To do that, subtract your percent body fat from 100. For example, if you have 30 percent body fat, then you have 70 percent lean body mass.

Then multiply that percentage (in this case 0.7) by your current weight to get your lean body mass in pounds or kilos. As an example, if you weigh 170 pounds; 0.7 multiplied by 170 equals 119 pounds of lean body mass. Using the “0.5 gram of protein” rule, you would need just under 60 grams of protein per day. Substantial amounts of protein can be found in meat, fish, eggs, dairy products, legumes, and nuts.

The quality of the meat you eat is just as important as the quantity. As a general rule, the only meat I recommend eating is pastured, grass-fed, and grass-finished, ideally organically raised meats (and of course, the same goes for dairy and eggs). Wild-caught Alaskan salmon and sardines are also excellent protein sources.

You can also get plenty of protein from plant foods. Consider hemp seeds (hemp hearts), chia seeds, spirulina, sprouts, and bee pollen, for instance.

9. Meditate for 5 to 10 Minutes a Day

Stress-related problems, including back pain, insomnia, acid reflux, and exacerbations to irritable bowel syndrome may account for up to 70 percent of the average US physician’s caseload.10 Such health-care expenditures are the third highest in the US, after only heart disease and cancer. New research suggests, however, that such costs could be cut drastically simply by becoming more relaxed.11

Both meditation and mindfulness are excellent for stress relief and relaxation, as are prayer, keeping a gratitude journal, and the Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT).   One simple way to incorporate such relaxation techniques into your life is to meditate first thing in the morning, even before you get out of bed, to take advantage of your mind being in a quiet zone.

10. Help Others and Be Active in Your Community

Volunteering is a simple way to help others, but it’s also a powerful way to help yourself. Beyond the good feelings you’ll get from donating your time, and the potential to develop new, meaningful relationships with people in your community, volunteering has a significant impact on your physical health, including a boost to your heart health.

In one study, people who volunteered for at least 200 hours a year were 40 percent less likely to develop high blood pressure than those who did not.12 People who volunteer for altruistic reasons, i.e. to help others rather than themselves, may even live longer than those who volunteer for more self-centered reasons.13

The benefits of being active in your community are particularly pronounced among older adults, a population that tends to slow down once retirement hits. There’s a definite social aspect, as if you’re socially isolated you may experience poorer health and a shorter lifespan.

Volunteering also gives you a sense of purpose and can even lead to a so-called “helper’s high,” which may occur because doing good releases feel-good hormones like oxytocin in your body while lowering levels of stress hormones like cortisol.

Giving back is about so much more than even that, though, as it will help you to connect with your community and contribute your time and/or talents to promoting the greater good.

Remember, most New Year’s resolutions do fail for one reason or another. So this year, try making a simple commitment to live healthier from here on out. Start slow and small as little changes can make a huge overall difference in your health. And, when you commit to a lifestyle, it’s no longer about meeting a particular goal, like losing 10 pounds. It’s about living a little bit differently, a little bit better, so that ultimately you’re happier and healthier for it.

By Dr. Mercola @  http://www.mercola.com

Shared by Dr. Phil McAllister @ Forward Health