Feeling frazzled? Exercise may help you manage stress.
- increase endorphins. Exercise helps stimulate endorphins, which make you feel good. You don't have to work out hard to get this "high." A walk or short game of tennis will do the trick.
- helps clear the mind. After concentrating on body movements during exercise, your worries and tensions subside.
- boost mood. Exercise on a regular basis boosts self-confidence and stimulates self-efficacy.
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How to get started on a stress-busting fitness routine
- First, talk to your doctor. If you have a heart condition or other chronic illness, consult a physician before beginning a workout program.
- Build fitness level slowly. Start slowly and build momentum. Don't expect to run a marathon right away. Walk before you jog or run.
- Do exercises you enjoy. All forms of physical activity are healthy. Stick to the ones that you really like and will continue.
- Schedule a time for activity into your day. Try to set aside a time of day most conducive to exercise and make it part of your routine.
How to stay motivated
- Set goals. Start your exercise program with moderate and realistic goals in mind. If your goal is to reduce stress and sleep better, focus on getting just enough activity that will help you achieve that. If you want more stamina and muscle tone, focus your workout on those things. As you achieve modest goals set new ones.
- Exercise with a friend. Having an exercise partner can help you stay motivated because you have another person depending on you to show up.
How to stick with stick with it
- Vary your routine. If you like to run, vary your workouts with different types of exercise including yoga and pilates or swimming. It prevents boredom and allows you to work different muscle groups for a more balanced body.
From the Research Desk...
Cognitive decline linked to chronic inflammation
Southampton, United Kingdom - Could inflammation throughout the body contribute to forgetfulness, mental confusion and other symptoms of brain decline? A study published recently in the journal Neurology suggests that this might be the case.
Led by Dr. Clive Holmes of the University of Southampton, United Kingdom, researchers studied 300 patients who already had symptoms of brain decline. The patients were tested over a period of six months for brain function, and blood samples were taken to test for indications of widespread inflammation. After six months, 110 of the patients who had acute or chronic inflammation showed a decline in brain function twice as fast as those without such inflammation.
"More research needs to be done" to understand the role of inflammation and brain function, said Dr. Holmes. In a statement from the American Academy of Neurology, he added that reducing levels of inflammation "could be beneficial" for people suffering from brain decline. Previous studies have shown a link between widespread inflammation and reduced brain function. Some research has suggested that increased inflammation can raise the risk of developing brain problems.
By the year 2015, 75% of Americans will be overweight or obese
Baltimore, Maryland - Think we are getting fatter?
According to a 2008 Centers of Disease Control and Prevention report, 74% of Americans have a weight problem with 34% merely overweight, 34% obese, and nearly 6% extremely obese.
Back in 1960, those numbers were 31% merely overweight, 13% obese and 1% extremely obese. If we continue gaining weight at our current pace, researchers estimate that by the year 2015, 34% will still be overweight but an additional 41% of Americans will have reached obesity.
A research team at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore examined 20 studies published in journals and published surveys of weight and behavior. Overweight is defined by the Body Mass Index, a standard medical definition. People with a BMI of 25 or above are considered overweight, while 30 or above are considered obese and at a serious risk of high blood pressure, osteoarthritis, type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke, gallbladder disease, sleep apnea and respiratory problems, and some cancers -- especially endometrial, breast and colon. Not only is excess weight a severe health hazard, in 2008, people classified as obese incurred $1,429 more in medical costs, on average, than people of normal weight.
"Obesity is a public health crisis. If we continue to become obese and overweight at our current pace, by 2015, 75% of adults and nearly 24% of U.S. children and adolescents will be overweight or obese," states Dr. Youfa Wang, the study's lead researcher. "Obesity is likely to continue to increase, and if nothing is done, it will soon become the leading preventable cause of death in the United States."
Since we have little control over our genetics or metabolism, here are 5 important lifestyle changes that can help many of us lose weight:
- eat a healthy diet that is low in calories, fat and sugars with more fruits, vegetables and moderate portions
- drink more water
- support breastfeeding
- increase your physical activity with less time in front of the TV
- balance the number of calories consumed with the number of calories burned
The encouraging news is that even modest weight loss (as little as 5 to 15% of total body weight in an overweight or obese person) reduces the risk factors for many weight-related conditions.