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Posts from the ‘Exercise’ Category

Water, Your First Step Towards Optimal Health

Proper hydration is imperative for optimal health. Without proper hydration, your body will become dehydrated, which means your body does not have enough water to function at peak capacity. You lose water every day when you breathe, sweat and go to the bathroom. The water content in the foods you eat and the beverages you drink combine to hydrate your body. Drinking 8 cups of water each day is usually sufficient, but more may be needed if you are participating in vigorous activities.

Drinking water keeps your body tissues moist, flushes out harmful toxins and makes nutrients more readily available. It is also involved in getting oxygen to cells throughout the body and regulating temperature. This is why staying hydrated is so vital when playing sports or exercising. Your body’s demand for oxygen increases during physical activity and your internal temperature rises. In fact, even a minimal fluid loss can affect aerobic performance and reduce your level of physical endurance. Inadequate hydration can fatigue your muscles, reduce your coordination, make you dizzy and cause muscle cramps. The goal during exercise is to drink before signs of dehydration occur. Ideally, try to drink 2 cups of water two hours before exercising and continue to drink 1 cup of water every 20 minutes while you’re exercising.

Fatigue is the most common symptom of dehydration. Other common dehydration symptoms include; muscle cramps, fogginess, dizziness, light-headedness, headache, thirst and dry mouth/skin/lips. If you are unsure about whether you are currently drinking enough fluids each day, the color of your urine can be a good guideline. If you’re well-hydrated, it should be light yellow in color. The darker in color it gets, the more dehydrated you may be. Keep in mind, other medical conditions can alter this (such as kidney disease). Another test is to pinch the skin on the outer part of your hand or forearm. If the skin tents, meaning it stays in place and doesn’t quickly bounce back then this is a warning sign that you are dehydrated.

When choosing fluids to help you meet your daily hydration requirements, water is the ideal choice. Water will help keep you properly hydrated without the empty calories found in sports drinks, sodas or juices. However, very vigorous activities can warrant the use of carbohydrates and electrolyte replacements. To keep it interesting and add some zest, use slices of lemon or lime. Herbal teas, such as peppermint, berry or chamomile can “count” towards your daily fluid intake. Sipping water throughout the day is the best strategy. Drinking too quickly will reduce absorbability. As well, drinking water at meals might not be ideal. It can be beneficial for weight loss as it can make you fuller, however, it will also dilute your digestive juices. Drinking in-between meals is a better strategy.

Use strategies to help increase your fluid intake. Carry a stainless steel water bottle with you wherever you go and make sure you finish it by the end of the day. Set reminders on your phone to drink water, or use post-it-note reminders. If you’re feeling groggy during the day, try drinking a glass of water instead of reaching for coffee or tea. Coffee and tea are diuretics, meaning they increase water loss from the body, and can actually be more dehydrating. For every caffeinated cup of tea or coffee, make sure you add an extra cup of water. Try drinking at least 2 cups of water first thing when you wake up.

Cheers to better health!

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Increase Your Core, Decrease Your Pain

Anyone who has ever suffered from back pain will tell you they’ll try ANYTHING to get back to feeling normal again. Drugs, lotions, hanging upside down by their ankles, you name it. For some reason, what many people don’t try is preventative care.

Research has shown  that increasing our core stability (meaning the muscles in our midsection) is one of the greatest tools one can use to both treat and prevent low back pain. I can hear the groaning now, “Exercise?! I don’t like going to the gym. I don’t have any equipment. I don’t have enough time in the day.” What if you didn’t need a gym membership, no equipment was necessary, and you only needed the time it takes to make your morning coffee?

Dr.Stuart McGill, professor of spine biomechanics at Waterloo University has come up with three exercises dubbed the “McGill 3” that are the  key exercises for back pain prevention and treatment. Give them a try. All you have to lose is your pain.

1) CRUNCH
Lie on back with knees bent, feet flat on the floor, hands resting behind head. Suck stomach in and curl body to lift shoulder blades off floor. Maintain abdominal hollow as you lower slowly back down .Keep neck in neutral, elbows back, do not pull on head. If having difficulty maintaining neutral neck position, exercise can be performed with hands on chest. Stop if the exercise causes pain.  Repeat 15 times, 2 sets.

2) SIDE BRIDGE
Lie on one side with knees bent, weight supported by elbow/forearm which rests directly below the shoulder. Knees, hips and shoulders are in line. Raise hip off floor, moving spine from side flexed to neutral alignment. Maintain abdominal hollow. Avoid rotating backwards or forwards. Hold position for 3 relaxed breaths, slowly lower and repeat. Stop the exercise if it causes pain. (Modify with weight supported on bent knees) Repeat 15 times, 2 sets.

3) BIRD DOG
On hands and knees, keep back flat and maintain an abdominal hollow. Slowly extend one leg behind while at the same time reaching opposite arm in front until parallel with floor. Keep trunk stable, avoid twisting. Hold for 3 relaxed breaths, slowly return to start position, repeat. Stop if the exercise causes pain. Repeat 15 times, 2 sets.

Do each of the exercises as prescribed every other day.

For pictures and printable instructions click here: McGill 3

Deep Breathing for Relaxation

Written by: Dr. Christine Davis, Naturopathic Doctor

Deep breathing is a natural tranquilizer for the nervous system. Studies have shown that deep breathing techniques are extremely effective in handling depression, anxiety, stress-related disorders, chronic pain, eating disorders and obesity.

Not sure if you’re deep breathing…

What kind of breather are you?  Try this test: Place one hand on your chest and one hand on you abdomen.  Take a normal breath while looking down. If the hand on your chest rises first, you tend to breathe in your chest. If the hand on your abdomen rises first, you are more of a belly breather. Shallow chest breathing causes a constriction of the chest and lung tissue over time, decreasing oxygen flow and delivery to your tissues.

Benefits of Deep Breathing

Relaxation: Your nervous system is made up of two sub-systems, the sympathetic nervous system and the parasympathetic nervous system. The sympathetic nervous system, which is stimulated in times of stress and anxiety, controls your fight or flight response, including spikes in cortisol and adrenaline. Chronic stress depletes the body of nutrients and destabilizes brain chemistry and hormonal balance. Depression, muscle tension and pain, insulin sensitivity, GI issues, insomnia, and adrenal fatigue among scores of other conditions are all related to an overworked sympathetic nervous system. The parasympathetic nervous system is the relaxation system. By turning on the parasympathetic system, you are turning off the sympathetic system. Deep breathing is the fastest way to trigger your parasympathetic nervous system.

Detoxification: By deep breathing you are expanding and contracting your diaphragm. This action actually massages your internal organs and stimulates your lymphatic system to rid itself of toxins. The consequences of a sluggish lymphatic system and therefore improper detoxification include weight gain, muscle loss, high blood pressure, fatigue, and inflammation.

Facilitates weight loss: Deep breathing delivers many of the benefits of exercise. It improves the efficiency of the cardiovascular and respiratory systems and helps to facilitate weight loss. Interestingly, when you are stressed, your body tends to burn glycogen, not fat, and through triggering the relaxation response, deep breathing encourages your body to burn fat instead. In addition, triggering the relaxation response will result in less stress, depression and anxiety which can trigger emotional eating.

Breathing technique

Find a comfortable place to sit. Sit up straight with your hands resting on your knees and relax your shoulders. There are two important things to remember before you start deep breathing. One is that your breath begins with a full exhalation. You can’t inhale fully until you empty your lungs completely. Secondly, it is important to breathe in through your nose.
A simple count for deep breathing is seven-eleven. On your next exhalation, breathe out slowly through your nose, to a quick count of 11. Tense your abdominal muscles, drawing in your diaphragm to help your lungs deflate. At the bottom of your breath, pause slightly, and then inhale to the count of seven. Expand your belly as you breathe in. Now close your eyes and repeat 5–10 times.

Do it at least twice a day. You cannot do it too frequently. If you feel a little lightheaded when you first breathe this way, do not be concerned; it will pass. Remember to work within your comfort zone. It will take a while for your body to adapt to deep breathing. Start with four breaths and slowly increase over time.

Once you develop this technique by practicing it every day, it will be a very useful tool that you will always have with you. Use it whenever anything upsetting happens – before you react. Use it whenever you are aware of internal tension. Use it to help you fall asleep. This exercise cannot be recommended too highly. Everyone can benefit from it.

Magna Health Centre Now Open!

Written by: Dr. Christine Davis, Naturopathic Doctor

The Magna Health Centre is now open!

The Magna Health Centre is a multi-disciplinary clinic that combines the science of sound medical knowledge with the intuition and innovative thinking that embodies the art of medicine.

Comprised of a team of talented primary care and complementary care health practitioners, the centre strives to provide individualized and optimized care to its patients, by combining advanced diagnostics with revolutionary complementary therapies. Practitioners and patients work collectively to create health care solutions that address the root cause of patients’ concerns. The team at the Magna Health Centre includes medical doctors, a naturopathic doctor, a chiropractor, an acupuncturist and a massage therapist.

For more information visit: www.magnahealth.ca