Is Back Pain Causing You To Lose Sleep?

Is Back Pain Causing You To Lose SleepDid you know that fully fifteen percent of Americans suffer from chronic pain? If you look at the elderly population in isolation, that number jumps to a staggering 50%, and if you suffer from chronic pain of any sort, you know how miserable it can be.

Unfortunately, the pain itself probably isn’t the only thing you have to contend with, because almost two thirds of chronic pain sufferers also suffer from sleep related problems. This probably comes as no surprise to people who suffer from chronic pain. The simple fact is it can keep you awake at night. It can cause insomnia, and even if you manage to fall asleep, odds are that it won’t be restful. You’ll wake up feeling tired, sore, and groggy, and that fog will stay with you for several waking hours of your day.

The most common form of chronic pain is back pain, but it’s by no means the only one, and that pain can be the gateway that leads to other problems, ranging from simple exhaustion to difficulty concentrating, and worse.

Since the two problems so often occur in tandem, it’s quite likely that by addressing the source of your pain, you’ll also address your problems getting a good night’s sleep. In some cases, however, even after the pain is gone, your sleep problems will persist.

This may be caused by simple, environmental things you can control, like keeping an irregular schedule or drinking caffeinated drinks just before bed time. Those types of issues are easily corrected. Simply set a regular bedtime for yourself, and stop drinking your caffeinated drinks earlier in the day.

In a few cases, however, even after taking these steps, the problem persists. In those cases, you’ll want to see your doctor and have a sleep study performed. You may be suffering from sleep apnea or other sleep-related disorder.

In virtually every case involving sleep disorders coupled with chronic pain, however, your first, best bet is to address the source of the pain, to see if that doesn’t solve your problem. Odds are excellent that it will.

Cardio or Weight Training? How About Both

Cardio or Weight TrainingIt’s a fairly common question – which provides more benefit to me, cardio or weight training? While both are good for different reasons, the simple answer is that both are essential for a well-rounded exercise plan. Let’s take a closer look and see what specific benefits they provide.

Starting with weight training, this is all about building muscle mass. There are two basic options here, free weights (including hand weights) and weight machines. Either will work, and there’s no clear evidence that points to one or the other being superior, although unless you have a gym membership, weight machines are likely to be too expensive for the average person to buy and keep in their home. If you’re doing your weight training at home then, the most cost effective solution is free weights, but ultimately, the choice is up to you.

While weight training is superb at adding muscle mass to your body, bear in mind that if you are suffering from weight problems, adding muscle mass will actually cause you to gain weight in the short run. The reason? Muscle tissue is sixteen times the density of fat. Even if you’re losing fat due to changes in your diet, you’re still almost certain to gain weight initially as you bulk up.

Cardio is especially important for the elderly, but everyone can benefit from a good cardio routine. The best part here is that there’s no special equipment needed. A brisk walk can be a good cardio workout, but if you’re willing to spend some money, a stationary bike or a rowing machine will take your efforts to the next level.

The great benefit to cardio workouts is the fact that they improve your circulation and help your muscles use oxygen more efficiently. For this reason, most people start with cardio workouts, and that’s an excellent place to begin, but ultimately, if you want to optimize your health, you’ll want to do both.

Can A Fitness Tracker Help You Meet Your Health Goals?

Can A Fitness Tracker Help You Meet Your Health GoalsWith the release of the Apple Watch, fitness trackers have become all the rage. There’s just one problem. Studies have shown that more than half of the people who bought them gave up on them in less than six months. They simply stopped using them.

That’s a pity, because used correctly, a fitness tracker can make a huge difference in terms of meeting your health goals. Of course, as with any tool, the trick is to use it correctly and optimally. Here are some ideas for doing just that.

Establish Your Own Goals

Forget about the goals that come preset with the device or app. You’re unique, and your goals should reflect that, so the first step is to figure out what you want to accomplish, and make sure those goals are reflected in your fitness tracker.

Keep It On – Constantly

The fitness tracker only “knows” what you’re doing and how you’re doing in relation to the goals you’ve set if you’re wearing it. If you only wear it on occasion, then it’s fair to say that you wasted your money by making the purchase. It’s got to be “always on,” and you’ve got to make its use a part of your life and lifestyle in order to get the full benefit from it.

Accountability Matters

After a while, seeing your relevant numbers on a display screen stops having any real meaning. To keep giving it meaning and relevance, one of the best things you can do is participate in one of the innumerable fitness forums or social media groups that are built around the various fitness apps.

This is actually a much more powerful tool than you might first think, because by regularly reporting your activities and results, you’ll hold yourself more accountable than you otherwise would. Plus, let’s face it, there are going to be days when you’re just not terribly motivated. By chatting with others who are going through the same struggle you are, you can help motivate each other.

The important thing to remember is that a fitness tracker is a tool, not a magic bullet. If you don’t commit to using the tool, you won’t see much in the way of benefit from having it.

3 Easy Tips For Better Bone Health

3 Easy Tips For Better Bone HealthIn a recent study conducted by the National Osteoporosis Foundation, it was projected that half of all Americans over age 50 would have osteoporosis by the year 2020. Osteoporosis is a condition that makes the bones in your body weak and brittle, and as such, more prone to breaking.
There’s good news though. No matter how old you are, there are a few simple things you can do, starting today, to strengthen your bones and improve your overall level of health. Here are three:

1. Get plenty of Vitamin D – Most Americans suffer from a vitamin D deficiency, which hurts your bones because vitamin D is essential for helping your body absorb calcium, which improves bone health. Fortunately, this is a very simple fix for this: go outside! Your body is actually a solar powered vitamin D factory, so the more time you spend in the sun, the more vitamin D your body will naturally produce.

2. Eat Your Greens – Dark leafy greens are loaded with calcium and other vitamins and minerals your body needs in order to stay healthy. If you’re not eating these on a regular basis (especially kale and spinach) you’re hurting your health, so grab a salad and a fork and eat up!

3. Talk a Walk – While an apple a day might help keep the doctor away, a walk every day will help even more. Not only does it improve your overall level of health and increase your muscle mass, studies have shown that moderate exercise, performed regularly, also improves bone health.

As an added bonus, if you walk in the woods, you’ll lower your cortisol levels, which will reduce stress. Recent studies in Japan have shown that as little as fifteen minutes a day spent walking in nature is sufficient to see notable stress-related benefits, making a daily walk through the woods a win, all the way around.

You don’t have to resign yourself to getting osteoporosis as you get older. You can take charge of your health and do something about it, starting today!

Hot Weather Brings Health Concerns

Hot Weather Brings Health ConcernsEverybody loves summertime and the chance to spend those long, summer days outdoors enjoying time with friends and families. Be careful though, because too much time in the sun can lead to heat exhaustion, or in extreme cases, heat stroke. Below, we’ll explain the difference between those two heat-related conditions, and provide you with some simple things you can do to minimize your risk.

Heat Exhaustion vs. Heat Stroke

Your body’s primary method of dealing with heat is to keep cool via the evaporation of sweat. People who live in areas with relatively low humidity have an advantage on this front, because high humidity slows the process. Heat exhaustion is basically your body’s way of telling you that it can’t keep you cool enough. The typical symptoms here are feelings of dizziness, general weakness and/or nausea.

Heat stroke is a more severe form of heat exhaustion, which sees you experiencing all of the symptoms described above, plus seizures or muscle cramps and have an internal body temperature above 104 degrees. Of the two, heat stroke is considerably more dangerous and can cause organ failure and brain damage, so it’s not something to be taken lightly.

How You Can Prevent It

The biggest and most important thing you can do if you’ll be out in the sun for extended periods this summer is to stay properly hydrated! Never go anywhere without a water supply, and top off your cup, jug, or bottle at every opportunity. Not far behind that is to wear sunscreen (at least SPF 15). This, combined with wearing proper clothing will help you minimize your chances of becoming overheated.

It’s also important to regulate your activity on especially hot days. Yes, you might be used to walking three miles a day, but when it’s 110 degrees outside, you may want to consider cutting your walk short. The longer you perform strenuous exercise in the hot sun, the higher your risk.

By all means, enjoy the summer sun, but stay safe out there!