The Downside of the Desk Job

Sitting at a desk all day has become the new smoking. Being trapped in a chair, typing madly and staring at a computer all day can lead to body and health problems. But perhaps your job requires just that. How much exercise should you squeeze into your day to undo the damage?

Hunching, neck tension, and eye strain are a few of the downsides of that desk job.

The good news is that by including some daily exercise, and making good ergonomic choices, you can avoid any problems.

Lower Back Strain

The most common desk-job complaint is lower back pain. Slumping or slouching can cause you back to be out of alignment. What to do? Alleviate immediate pain by rocking your pelvis back and forth while sitting on your chair. This will loosen your back muscles. For the long-term, make sure your back reaches the back of your chair. If not, add a cushion. Also, your feet should be resting flat on the floor, so the weight of your legs are supported and not adding strain to your back. If not, add a footstool. Including a few daily ab crunches can strengthen your core, also taking less strain off your back.

Wrist Strain

Whenever you are using a mouse of pounding on a keyboard, your wrist tendons get a workout. The constant repetitive motion can cause tension and fatigue. Poor posture can decrease blood flow, causing tingling and numbness. Quickly relieve tension by doing a prayer stretch, palms together and elbows out, lowering your hands for a good 5-second stretch. The long-term solution is to hold your hands naturally and out horizontally over the keyboard. Also, use a wrist rest and rest them often.

Neck and Shoulder Pain

To release a tight neck, keep your spine straight push your chin forward, and then reverse the movement pulling your head back. Repeat four times. For both your neck and shoulders, tilt your right ear down to toward your shoulder, leaving your left arm down by your side. Repeat on the opposite side. Hold for 60 seconds and repeat up to four times on each side for immediate relief from tightness.

For the long-term, adjust your workstation so that your monitor is directly in front of you, not angled to one side. Use a chair with adjustable arm rests, so that your arms can rest at a 90 degree angle. This takes tension from the shoulders.

Eye Strain

Having a monitor placed incorrectly­–too far away or too near, blinking less often, and starring at one for hours on end can lead to sore dry eyes.

To quickly relieve tension, look away from the screen every 20 or 30 minutes, and hold the gaze for at least 20 seconds. Even better, get up and take a walk away from your desk and give your eyes a chance to focus on other objects.

If you wear glasses, makes sure you have the right prescription glasses for the location of your computer screen.  It is recommended that your computer monitor is 20 to 40 inches away from you. The top of the monitor should be roughly at eye level. You can also place a filter over your monitor to reduce glare.

Add exercise to your day

All that excessive sitting can leave your hips and legs tight and your glutes inactive.

Try taking time for a daily walk or run. Take time to do a few leg stretches before heading out such as leg swings from side to side and forward and back. Do 20 swings each way. Add a squat, and a hold it for up to 60 seconds. These are just a couple of stretches to help you limber up a bit. There are many more you can do if you need to and many resources online where you can find them. Any activity you can add to your day where you are not sitting would be a benefit!

 

 

 

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Top 5 Spices for Your Health

Add more than flavor when you add spices to your life

When it comes to spices, they don’t just make your food tastier. Research shows there is a multitude of benefits to your health. In countries where people consume a lot of different spices, the incidences of diet-related illnesses such as heart disease and cancers are relatively low.

Here are the top spices to include in your spice cabinet:

Turmeric

This spice is a root that is part of the ginger family and most often sold in ground powdered form. The root can be found in many health food stores.

It is orange/yellow in color and often found in curries, and tossed into smoothies.

From aiding wound healing and digestion, relieving colds and respiratory problems, to enhancing immune function, turmeric is a powerhouse spice to have in your cupboard.

Perhaps the most pressing reason for taking turmeric is its’ anti-cancer benefits. Preliminary studies have found that curcumin, the active ingredient, can inhibit tumor cell growth and suppress enzymes that activate carcinogens. It also shows promise in preventing and treating Alzheimer’s disease.

Ginger

Also a root. Can be purchased ground or whole. Ginger can soothe nausea and an upset stomach, aids in digestion, and relieves sore muscles and osteoarthritis pain.  Easily make a ginger tea with hot water added to a cup with a few slices of ginger. Ginger can be used in many sauces and stir-fry cooking, as well as being the essential ingredient in gingerbread and gingersnap cookies, used in its’ powdered form.

Cinnamon

One of the oldest known spices, this rolled brown bark can be purchased whole in sticks, in ground form, or as an oil.

Consuming as little as a ¼ tsp a day has been shown to stabilize blood sugar levels in those with diabetes. Cinnamon is sweet without adding calories, and is often found in gum and candies and used widely in baking. Apparently just smelling the spice improves attention and memory.

Cinnamon is an excellent source of minerals like potassium, calcium, manganese, iron, zinc, and magnesium. It is also known to reduce inflammation.

Saffron

The dried stamens of the Crocus sativus plant, saffron has always been prized for its flavor and its medicinal properties. It contains several chemical compounds that are known to be antioxidant, disease preventing and health promoting. It has been used as an antidepressant since the antioxidants help protect the body from oxidant-induced stress.

Chili Peppers

Chili peppers contain a compound called capsaicin, which has an anti-bacterial, anti-carcinogenic and anti-diabetic properties. What this means is they boost metabolism causing one to burn more calories, and stimulate brain chemicals to make us feel full longer.

They add heat to your dishes and a strong spicy flavor while providing high levels of your daily requirements of vitamins and minerals.

 

 

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Refresh Your Mind and Spirit with a Hobby

Spending your leisure time learning a new skill can be very rewarding.

Living a full, healthy life is not just about eating well and working out. It includes making time for yourself.  No matter how busy or how old you are, you can always make space in your life for something new. From dancing, cooking, playing an instrument, to traveling, reading, and writing, to name a few, there is sure to be an activity that complements your current lifestyle. The benefits are many, from relieving stress and boredom to boosting health and in turn, longevity.

You Choose it

It makes sense to spend your leisure time doing something that compliments your job, or how you otherwise would spend your day. If you are a writer or a graphic artist spending long hours on your computer or laptop, you will want to do something where you are more active, such as hiking, yoga, pottery, or playing an instrument. If your job is a solitary one, perhaps you would want to find something that allows you to be in a more social setting. Keeping active gives the body and soul an energy boost, and can ward off illness. When you feel better, you sleep better.

You Own it

There is so much in life that we have no control over but a hobby can change that. A hobby is something you choose to do. You take control of it, when and how much time you spend on it. Devoting time to your leisure time pursuit helps you learn to manage your time more efficiently. You learn to better structure your time to create that chunk of time that frees you from other demands and obligations.

Pride of Accomplishment

It’s just as much about the journey as the completion of learning any skill or new project. But there’s that unmistakable feeling of personal pride and accomplishment upon completion or the pleasure of learning something new.

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Chakra Meditation for Beginners

Through meditation and awareness, you can bring your physical and mental health to a more harmonious state.

Chakras have been identified and used for centuries in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Ayurveda. A chakra is a center of life energy within our bodies. There are 7 key chakras areas and include 7 colors associated with each.

Chakras are powerful energy centers within our bodies.

Chakras can become blocked and cause an imbalance in your body. When this happens, the other chakras may become over-energized to compensate for any area that has shut down. Clearing the energy flow within each chakra can have a powerful healing effect on any physical malfunction connected to that energy center and your general sense of well-being.

The 7 chakras and colors are as follows:

  1. Root Chakra: Colour – red.  Found at the base of your spine. It governs your connection to the outer world, your foundation and your fundamental needs for food, shelter, clothing, etc. It can be thought of as a tether cord that ties you to the earth.
  2. Sacral Chakra: Colour- orange. Sits just below the navel. It is involved in your creativity, your imagination, impulses, as well as your reproductive organs. Balance is needed here for exploring the world, and coping with changes.
  3. Solar Plexus: Colour- yellow.  Sits just above your navel. This chakra is associated with your digestion and personal inner strength. Balance here is needed to allow you to embrace the things that you experience and understand your place in them.
  4. Heart Chakra: Colour – green. It is the center of compassion, altruism, and love, the center of our emotions. An imbalance here can cause respiratory problems and high blood pressure. When this chakra is in balance, you are able to form emotional connections with others.
  5. Throat Chakra: Colour – blue. Governs communication and self-expression. It’s like a translation center where all that is entering our bodies can be communicated outwardly. A blockage here can lead to isolation and susceptibility to infections.
  6. Third Eye Chakra: Colour – indigo. Sits just above your eyebrows, between your eyes. It represents a more spiritual side of you, your psychic center, as well as and your intuition. It allows you to see how the world around you is interconnected.
  7. Crown Chakra: Colour -purple and white. Sits right at the top of your head. It represents your power connection to the wider world.  It feeds meaning into our lives. When it is in balance, you have a sense of confidence and well-being,

How can you unlock a blocked chakra?

Begin with self-guided meditation involving all the chakras to bring your entire body into balance.  All that you need is 30 minutes and a quiet place where you can sit undisturbed. You can begin by trying to visualize each chakra center and the colors associated with them. Devote several minutes to each chakra and visualize the energy passing through it.

We can discover so much about ourselves, if we allow ourselves the time and space, to tune in to these important areas of our bodies.

Through meditation, we can find a balance of energy flow of chakras with our bodies.

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Your Mom Was Right: Breakfast is Really Important

How often do you skip breakfast? Life moves so fast nowadays that breakfast can easily fall by the wayside, whether you are an office worker or a junior high school student. Would you rather feel hungry for a while or be late for work/school? Not many people would say breakfast is more important than avoiding trouble with the boss/principal. But it is important nonetheless and you’re actually doing yourself a disservice when you miss it.

Brain Boost

You wake up groggy with sleep and have a coffee, right? Well, yes, you could do that, but the trouble with caffeine is that its boosting affects don’t last. You will get better results from a balanced breakfast. This is especially true if your day involves doing anything creative or requires memory work and solid concentration.

Lower Risk of Weight Gain and Diabetes

There is an obesity and diabetes epic underway in North America. While there are a number of reasons why people over eat and indulge in foods that are bad for them, one of the prime factors is snacking. If you don’t have the time or ability to eat a proper meal, you will turn to something for that energy and it is probably filled with sugar. Doing this on a regular basis leads to weight gain and the possibility of diabetes and other related health issues.

Eating a proper breakfast will provide you with the nutritional balance and energy required to function well until your next meal break. That reduced reliance on snacking can also help you to lose weight.

If you miss that first meal of the day, you are less likely to have the motivation needed for exercise. Putting some fuel in the tank can give you the get up and go required to indulge in some physical activity.

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Can Retirement Result in a Shorter Life?

The American dream can vary from person to person, but generally has a few things in common. Namely, a successful and rewarding career, a loving partner, 2 or 3 children, a house, and a healthy amount of money in the bank for retirement. Ever since the advent of social security, 65 has been seen as the customary year of retirement. In fact, some people were automatically let go upon reaching that age. However, the choice of 65 as a career stopping point happened so many decades ago, the human lifespan has expanded in the interim, thanks to medical science. So is 65 really the year you should retire?

More and more, medical science is emphasizing the importance of staying active. While some people live rich and full lives during their retirement years, a significant number of people do not know what to do with themselves. They disengage from the world and sit in front of the television or computer. Although it is customary for our activity level to decrease in our golden years, it should never go down to almost nothing. For the good of your physical and mental health, you need to be doing things.

No one is saying that retirement is necessarily a death sentence, but seeing how people are living longer, they need to realize that exercise remains important. It helps to keep our systems working the way they should as well as helping to keep weight down. Excess weight can cause any number of health problems, including diabetes and heart disease.

Your brain also needs to be active. Research is starting to show that if the mind remains engaged, performs tasks that require notable brain function, and generally remains engaged in life, individuals are less likely to develop conditions like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Retirement should not equal wrapping yourself up in a cocoon. If anything, this is the time of life when you should be getting out there and doing your thing.

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Feeling Sluggish? Get Back on Track

We all have a typical energy level each day. Some people are energetic in the morning, while others pick up steam as the day goes along. Some other, rather unusual people are at their best in the evening, when most of us are running out of gas.

However, do you find your energy level is lower than it used to be? Are you feeling downright sluggish every day? There are a number of reasons why this might be happening:

Improper sleep

We all need a certain amount of good quality rest every evening. If not, your body is not running at its best, and you will feel sluggish and off. Make whatever changes are necessary so that you get a good night’s sleep.

Bad diet

You have probably heard the saying, “you are what you eat.” There is a lot of truth in that because if you only eat junk food, you will feel lousy. That includes having a low energy level because you are not feeding the furnace properly. Take the time and spend the money necessary to have a proper and well-balanced diet.

Lack of exercise

Some people complain that exercise makes them tired. The truth is that lack of exercise is actually what makes you tired. Your body gets used to that lack of physical activity and it is a hindrance to have the energy to go about your business every day. Make sure you indulge in at least a half hour of physical activity on a daily basis.

Lose some weight

It just makes perfect sense: if you are carrying extra weight around, you are more likely to be tired. Improve your diet, engage in at least half hour of physical activity every day, and lighten the load. This will also be a benefit for your heart and blood pressure.

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Communicating With Those Who Have Dementia

While there have been many dramatic advances in the world of medicine over the years, one area that is proven persistently difficult to conquer is dementia. While many of the brain’s mysteries have been effectively mapped, there is still much that even finest medical experts don’t know. This is especially unfortunate given not only what dementia does to people, but the fact that it is on the rise worldwide. As a result, there is a very good chance that you know someone who has dementia. That person may even be your spouse or a member of your family.

As dementia can have a drastic effect on the areas of the brain involved in comprehension and communication, interacting with someone who has, say, Alzheimer’s disease, can be a significant challenge. Here are two tips on how to make the process a bit less difficult:

Go easy on yourself

Working with someone who has a form of dementia is a learning process even for professionals who are trained for such a duty. If you are just an average citizen, and are only beginning to learn how things work in this area, you will inevitably make some mistakes. This can be especially troubling if the person you are communicating with is a friend or loved one. Nonetheless, try to go easy on yourself. Even professionals can find this to be quite challenging.

Change your thinking

While it is always worthwhile to learn new tips and even take a course on how to work with people who have dementia, it is important not to expect things to work in a conventional way. For example, it is fruitless to try and make an arrangement with anyone who has dementia. Try instead to be proactive and figure out an alternative that can help to rectify whatever the problem is.

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Is Green Tea Actually Good for You?

If you are looking for healthy foods and practices on the Internet, you can find all kinds of articles recommending all kinds of things. But how much of what you read is actually true?

For example, green tea has been widely celebrated as one of the most healthy drinks around. But does it actually live up to the hype? Thankfully, yes.

Can Green Tea Make You Smarter?

Not in the sense that it will automatically get you into Mensa, but it does contain the amino acid L-theanine, which increases the production of dopamine and alpha waves, both of which are beneficial for brain function. Improved brain function = improved performance. Doing a better job can make you feel smarter…or at least seem that way to those around you.

Green tea also contains caffeine, which can help you to function longer, but it does not contain as much as coffee or tea, so you get the good effects without overdoing it.

Green Tea Contains Antioxidants

Have you heard of antioxidants? These help to prevent the oxidative damage in your body which can lead to cancer. Green tea is an excellent source of antioxidants, but make sure that you do not put milk in your tea because this reduces the effectiveness.

Green Tea Can Kill Bacteria

Here is a green tea power you might not have suspected: germ fighter! Cavities can result from a build-up of bacteria in your mouth; green tea helps you deal with those germs by inhibiting the growth of streptococcus mutans.

Green Tea Can Make You Thinner

No, drinking gallons of green tea will not automatically cause you to shed those extra 20 pounds you put on over the summer. However, it does help to decrease the build-up of abdominal body fat and green tea is not the least bit fattening.

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Five Top Reasons to Use Apple Cider Vinegar Regularly

You’ll find many claims about the many uses and benefits of apple cider vinegar on the internet these days and not many are backed up by science. That doesn’t mean they aren’t true. If you are interested, it is a good candidate for experimentation.

Raw, “unfiltered” apple cider vinegar is the one to use, one that has the “mother” (strands of proteins, enzymes, and friendly bacteria) in it. It is cloudier than regular vinegar.

Here is what you may find it will do:

  1. Help Control Blood Sugar Levels – You don’t have to be a diabetic, to benefit from controlled blood sugar levels. Elevated blood sugars are a major cause of aging and chronic diseases.  Two tablespoons before bedtime can reduce fasting blood sugars by 4%.
  2. Help with Weight Loss  – Apple cider vinegar can help in 2 ways. Having 2 tablespoons of ACV with water before a high-carb meal will cancel out some of the carbs you eat. The acetic acid found in vinegar interferes with the enzymes in your stomach responsible for digesting starch so you can’t absorb the calories from carbs you’ve eaten since fewer calories enter the bloodstream. The acetic acid also suppresses your appetite and makes you feel full longer and eat less throughout the day.
  3. Boost Your Energy – Next time you feel tired, try a tablespoon or 2 of ACV with water for relief. Stress and exercise can cause lactic acid to build up in the body and cause you to feel fatigued. Apple cider vinegar may be just the remedy that you need.
  4. Treat acid reflux and heartburn – Sixty percent of the adult population will experience acid reflux throughout the course of a year year and 20 to 30 per cent have weekly symptoms.  Contributing causes of acid reflux and heartburn are an unbalanced stomach and lack of enzymes and probiotics. Apple cider vinegar will provide these.  Also, the vinegar increases the acidity of the stomach, which allows it to digest the food you’ve eaten and helps propel it into the small intestine.  Because slow digestion can cause acid to back up into the esophagus and create that nasty burning sensation, not to mention the uncomfortable bloating that can follow.  Simply add 1-2 tablespoons of ACV to a cup of water before meals.
  5. Regulate Your body’s PH and detoxify – Even though vinegar is acidic in nature, it has an alkaline effect on your body. Balancing your body’s PH can reduce your risk of chronic illnesses like cancer and dramatically increase your energy.

There is a multitude of other uses, and here are a few of them to try:

All-purpose Cleaner: Mix 1 cup water, ½ cup apple cider vinegar, 1 tablespoon dish soap, and a few drops of tea tree oil.

Skin-Toner: 1 part apple cider vinegar to 2 parts water, and applied with a cotton pad.

Fruit Fly Trap: Apple cider in a cup with a few drops of dish soap.

Salad Dressing: Mix together 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar, 1/2 cup avocado oil or olive oil, 3-4 garlic cloves, very finely chopped, Salt and pepper to taste.

Meat Marinade: Combine with garlic, soy sauce, and onion.

Homemade Weed Killer: Spray undiluted onto unwanted weeds.

Dandruff Control: Rub directly onto scalp and rinse after 20 minutes.

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Do You Have a Drinking Problem?

Do you enjoy a drink or two after work? Do you look forward to the weekend because it means you can get rip roaring drunk? There has been much debate over the years about what constitutes too much alcohol. Is it the quantity you drink? The frequency you drink? Both?

There is no clear answer to those questions, but here are some signs that it might be time for you to cut back on your consumption:

Drinking to Relax

There’s nothing wrong with taking an occasional nip to calm down. However, if you are at a point where alcohol is the only thing that will provide you with a sense of relaxation, then it’s time to re-examine your lifestyle.

Hiding Your Drinking

Have you been criticized to the point where you feel it necessary to hide your drinking? This almost certainly means that people believe you are overdoing it and, chances are, you probably do need to cut back.

Blacking Out

It is not unusual for someone to become sleepy and hit the sack after drinking, but if you just plain black out, and then can’t remember what happened, this is a bad sign.

Experiencing Withdrawal

Does your body and/or mind experience issues when you are not drinking? This is an indication that your body has developed an actual need for the alcohol because it is so used to it being in your system. If you find yourself trying to cut back, but are unable, that is also problematic.

Relationship Problems

Has your drinking compromised the quality of the relationships you enjoy with friends, loved ones, and work colleagues?

Increased Intake

Do you find that you can drink increasingly more than you used to? That is also a sign that your body is growing too accustomed to the intoxication.

If you are displaying any of these signs, it is time for you to talk to a professional about how you can overcome this habit.

 

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How Many Drinks are Safe in a Day?

If you want to start a healthy argument, get a bunch of people in a room and ask them how many drinks are safe to have in a day. Some will argue that they enjoy two or three and are doing fine, one will argue that a drink a day is good for your health, while another will say that even one is too many.

A lot of people love their alcohol. Some use it to get through the day, some use it to celebrate, some use it to cut the chill of a cold night, and some use it for all of the above. You would be hard pressed to find medical sources stating that healthy people should never drink at all. However, how much should you have in a day?

I was Googling this subject and came up with so many different answers, my head was spinning. Depending on your gender and what country you live in, you will get a different response. For example, in the United States, the Department of Agriculture and Department of Health & Human Services says women should have no more than one drink per day. Meanwhile, across the pond in France, the French Ministry of Health and Sports says that ladies there can enjoy three. Is the alcohol different in France? Not that I know of, so why the disparity?

I could site more statistics, but there are so many variables. A person’s size can determine how much alcohol they can drink, while certain health issues can preclude a person from consuming any alcohol. If your doctor tells you to stay away from the bottle, then you absolutely should. Does alcohol make you do things or act in a way that you regret later on? Then moderation is definitely the ticket…or abstinence, if that doesn’t work.

As for the rest of us, personal judgment comes into effect. I’m skeptical of the claims that a glass of wine a day is good for you, but, by the same token, I can’t honestly say if it’s bad for you either. Everyone’s body and tolerance levels are different, so you have to chart your own course. If you think you have a drinking problem, talk to a therapist for an objective opinion. In the meantime, I will continue to use the old adage, “Everything in Moderation” as my guide.

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