Be Aware Of Your Breathing To Improve Health

Be Aware Of Your Breathing To Improve HealthBreathing is one of those things that we take for granted. It’s just not something we think about. After all, you’ve been breathing for literally your entire life – by now, it’s something you’ve probably mastered, right?

Maybe not.

Mindful breathing has been used for centuries to improve both mood and health. Breathe one way, it can help you relax. Change your breathing, and you can give yourself a burst of energy. If you’re intrigued by the possibility, here’s what you need to know to get started:

If you want to relax, the key is controlled, deep breathing. It’s simple. Just follow these steps:
Exhale, emptying your lungs completely
Pause, then inhale very slowly, through your nose, counting to five slowly. When you do this, you’ll want to engage your abs on the inhale.
Hold your breath for 3-5 seconds, then slowly exhale (again, through your nose), completely emptying your lungs again.
Pause and repeat.
Do this for five to ten minutes, and you’ll find yourself in a much calmer and more relaxed state.

If your goal is to increase energy, all you have to do is place your finger over your left nostril, and breathe only through your right. Just normal breaths for three to five minutes. It sounds like a strange trick, and you might be skeptical, but it actually works!

In addition to being able to relax you or give you energy, simply by changing how you breathe, proper breathing before and during exercise can help you feel less tired immediately after, and make it less likely that you’ll suffer from sore muscles. Deep, mindful breathing before and during are critical to getting the most of your workout.

It can be hard to do, especially if you’re engaging in a fairly strenuous exercise like jogging. Many people new to jogging or running have the problem of gulping down air in quick, ragged breaths. If you watch experienced runners though, you’ll see that they are much more Zen-like, drawing deep, slow breaths that follow the rhythm of their stride. That’s what you want to work toward!

Walk Your Dog To Better Health

walk_your_dog_to_better_healthAn apple a day might help keep the doctor away, but do you know what will do even more good? Taking the time to walk your dog, daily. While it’s certainly good for your dog, it can do a lot of good for you too, especially if you’re older, or if you have a desk job that doesn’t require you to get up and move on a regular basis. In fact, research indicates that you’ll not only lose weight, but you’ll also be less likely to need to visit your family doctor if you work in a short 15-20 minute walk with man’s best friend, every single day.

In addition to the physical benefits, there’s a lot to be said for the strengthening of the emotional bond between you and your dog. Again, research shows that spending just a few minutes petting, talking to, or spending quality time with your pet can lower your blood pressure, which is reason enough to consider adding it to your routine. Then, of course, there’s the other social connections it opens up. If you’re out walking your dog, you’re almost certain to be stopped at least once by a passerby, another dog walker, or admiring children who just can’t seem to resist the urge to come up and introduce themselves, all of which tends to put both you and your dog into a better, happier frame of mind.

No matter how you slice it, taking time to walk your dog every day is good for you. It will help your waistline, your overall mental and physical health, and it will give you both something to look forward to every day, and add a bit of structure into the framework of the day. All of those are good things, especially if you’re recently retired and suddenly find yourself with more free time than you know what to do with. If you’re not already doing this as part of your daily routine, make plans to, starting today!

The Right Pillow May Help Ease Your Pain

the_right_pillow_may_help_ease_your_painThere are a lot of things that can cause neck pain that are beyond our ability to control. Thankfully, there are a number of things we can control, and the easiest among them is how we sleep, including what kind of pillow we use when we sleep. Here are some simple things you can do, both in terms of your sleep position and the pillow you use, to make your neck feel a whole lot better.

Your Sleep Position

The biggest thing you can do to alleviate that pain in your neck is that if you sleep on your stomach, stop. Sleeping on your side or your back is much better for your neck, simply because it allows you to rest in a much more natural position, without placing undue stress on the muscles of your neck while you’re sleeping.

Mostly, this comes down to habit. People tend to sleep on their stomachs because it’s what they’ve always done. Fortunately, that’s a fairly easy habit to change, and if you’re currently suffering from chronic neck pain, it’s one you want to start changing immediately.

Your Pillow

One of the best things you can do is invest in a good memory foam pillow, which will conform to the shape of your head and neck, giving you proper support. If that’s a little pricey for you, then consider a good feather pillow. These also conform easily to your head and neck, but remember that they’ll wear out and lose their “fluff” over time, so every two years, you’ll want to replace yours.

Another quick and easy fix you can do, if you don’t want to get rid of your favorite pillow, is to make your own neck support. You can do this by simply tucking a neck roll into the pillow (this is ideal for back sleepers). And of course, if you’re sitting up, riding in a car, on a train, or in an airplane, get a horseshoe shaped neck support pillow so you’re not causing damage while relaxing in those situations.

How Long Will My Muscles Hurt After A Workout?

how_long_will_my_muscles_hurt_after_a_workoutYou’ve undoubtedly heard the term “feel the burn” as it applies to exercise. That burn, uncomfortable as it can be, is actually good for you. It’s the burn and recovery period after that helps you build strength and greater health, not the workout itself. In other words, if you worked out all the time, with little to no rest and recovery in between, you’d actually develop your muscles more slowly than you would if you give yourself the proper amount of recovery time.

The question then, is how much is enough time to recuperate? The answer depends on the kind of exercise you do, but in general, you want to work out until the pain in your muscles is almost, if not entirely gone, before starting again.

If you are a runner, and you run until your muscles ache, then you’ll want to give yourself a full day, which is generally how long it will take for the pain to begin to subside. Of course, there’s some variability here, depending on where you ran – grass is different from concrete, which is different from gravel or sand, and these will impact both your soreness and your recovery time to a degree.

If you’re a weight trainer, your typical recovery time will be about 48 hours between intensive workouts. Again though, there’s some variability here, depending on the muscle groups you’re focused on. Even so, 48 hours is a good rule of thumb to stick with.

The other big factor here is your age. While the specific exercises matter, your age has a lot to do with how long everything will hurt, and how long it will take for your body to recover from the exercise you’re giving it. Here, a good rule of thumb is that every five years you are past 30, add 10% to your recovery time.