February 19, 2008 [Volume 2, Issue 6]
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In this issue of To Your Health:
Body By Design
Snooze or Lose: A Good Night's Sleep in 10 Easy Steps
Teaching Kids to Eat Healthy

Body By Design

There are three things that are essential for designing your ideal body: proper diet, resistive training and cardiovascular training. Having knowledge in each of these areas will help when it comes to designing your program.

The saying "You are what you eat" is certainly true if you are not providing your body with the proper nourishment it needs for you to function at your optimal level. We are either putting things into our body that are not good for us or we are depriving our body of the vitamins and minerals it needs to sustain us. In any workout it is important to drink water because it helps to prevent headaches and cramping, as well as to maintain your energy level. When doing resistance training, it is important to ingest protein within 30 to 60 minutes of a workout so the muscle can undergo growth and recovery. Protein should consist of eggs, chicken, fish and lean beef. Good fats such as omega-3s, which can be found in cold-water fish like salmon, and good carbohydrates like those found in fruits and vegetables, are essential in overall function.

Deciding whether to work out with free weights or plate-loaded machines will be determined by what you actually want to accomplish. Each one has its pros and cons. When using free weights, you will be working not only the intended muscle but also the stabilizing muscles. For example, when doing a bench press you are working the chest muscles, but in order to accomplish that movement you will be activating the triceps and rotator cuff muscles which are stabilizing the movement to prevent buckling. Free weights are an excellent way to increase overall function as you increase your strength. Because you are also using the stabilizing muscles, you are not going to be lifting as much weight as you would with the weight machines.

If you are a beginner or have an injury, utilizing exercise bands and balls is a great way to develop function at a low intensity. You can increase the resistance in the bands as you start to improve. If you cannot perform between 10-12 reps with good form, the resistance is too much and should be reduced to a more manageable level.

There are many types of equipment that will give you a great cardio workout – the treadmill, stair climber, elliptical and bicycle. It is recommended that you engage in some form of cardio just about every day. The duration can vary, with a minimum of 30 minutes for each session. It is always prudent to start off slow and increase your intensity as you become more fit. The elliptical is good for anyone who has a knee injury because it provides a low-impact workout. The treadmill, stair climber and bicycle can be used at many different intensity levels. For example, by raising the speed and incline on the treadmill, you increase the intensity of the workout. Increasing the speed with the stair climber and increasing the resistance on the bike and elliptical are great ways to intensify your workout.

Even though you should do cardio every day (even a brisk walk), limit intense cardio training to only 2-3 times per week. When doing high-intensity interval training, spinning or heavy-duty elliptical work, your body can cross the anaerobic threshold and can no longer metabolize blood lactate fast enough. The blood lactate level rises suddenly, resulting in a buildup that is detrimental to muscle tissue, function and recovery. If recovery time is not sufficient, you are overtraining, which is counterproductive.

No matter what your goals are, start off slow. Use resistance bands and stability balls, and then progress to free weights. Then you can utilize the weight machines to define certain areas. Most of all, have fun exercising. Change your routine often – it is good for your body and it also prevents boredom. Even when doing your cardio workouts, change from the bike to the elliptical to the stair climber to the treadmill. Remember, the real secret is to eat less and exercise more.

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Snooze or Lose: A Good Night's Sleep in 10 Easy Steps

For many, a good night's sleep is a luxury that doesn't come often enough. Some sleep problems are a normal part of life, while others can cause debilitating symptoms and make life miserable. While drugs might be the only option for some, there are natural options that can get you back on track to a restful night's sleep without all the side effects drugs can cause.

Many people don't realize what an important part sleep plays in our overall health. A lack of sleep or poor-quality sleep can increase the risk of high blood pressure and heart disease. Studies also have found that the less people sleep, the more likely they are to be overweight, develop diabetes and prefer eating foods high in carbohydrates and calories. Our body also rejuvenates itself during our deep-sleep cycles. Growth hormone helps fuel growth in children and helps build muscle mass and repair cells and tissues in children and adults. We also can fight off various infections when we have a good night's sleep, which helps protect us from getting sick and speeds recovery when we are sick.

10 Tips for Better Sleep

While we may not be able to control or eliminate the things in life that keep us up nights, we can learn to create an environment and adopt certain habits that allow us to enjoy a restful night's sleep. According to the Mayo Clinic and the National Institutes of Health, adopting the following practices can help restore your quantity and quality of sleep.

1.Go to bed and wake up at about the same time every day. Sticking to a schedule – even on weekends – helps to reinforce your body's sleep/wake cycle and helps you fall asleep faster.
2.Don't eat large amounts of food or drink large quantities of liquids before bedtime. Experts recommend eating a light dinner about two hours before you go to sleep.
3.Avoid nicotine, caffeine and alcohol in the evening. Each of these stimulants can keep you awake.
4.Exercise regularly.
5.Make your bedroom a dark, quiet and comfortable place. You need to create a space that is ideal for sleeping.
6.Sleep primarily at night. Don't nap any later than 3 p.m., or avoid napping altogether.
7.Choose a comfortable mattress and pillow. Make sure you have a bed that is comfortable and meets your needs and preferences.
8.Start a relaxing bedtime routine. Start a habit of doing the same thing at the same time each night to tell your body it's time to wind down.
9.Go to bed when you're tired and turn out the lights. It is normal for it to take 10-20 minutes to fall asleep. If you don't fall asleep during that time, get up and do something else. Go back to bed when you're actually tired.
10.Use sleeping pills only as a last resort. You should check with your doctor before taking any sleep medications as they might interfere with other medications you already take or with an existing medical condition.

The first step in restoring a good night's sleep is to recognize whether you are just dealing with life's stresses or truly have a sleep disorder. Ask your doctor about identifying and appropriately treating the cause of a sleep disturbance so you can get back on track and enjoy a restful night's sleep.

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Teaching Kids to Eat Healthy

Temptation appears around every corner. The kitchen is full of sweet and salty snacks and the television is constantly transmitting messages about the biggest burger, the gooiest desserts or the largest cup of soda that can be purchased for under a buck. Kids and adults are faced with tough decisions every day about what to eat, when to eat it and how big of a portion to take. As parents, it's our job to make sure our kids are winning the battle of the bulge and growing into adults who make smart, healthy choices.

Families that have successfully tamed the calorie and junk food beast have several things in common. First, the kids realized there was a problem with their weight and took the initiative to do something about it, independent of their parents. It's a delicate line for parents, since you don't want to pressure your kids to lose weight, as that can sometimes cause them to stress and worry about their weight and overeat even more.

Kids who successfully kept off the pounds also drew tremendous support from their parents and siblings, especially when the family adopted all aspects of the struggling child's new healthy lifestyle. Parents can help set the tone for success by having healthy, low-calorie foods in the house, exercising with their kids and helping to control portion size.

It's also important for families to develop a health regimen that works for them and is conducive to their lifestyle. For some, this might involve nutritional counseling, joining a sports team, or counting calories and measuring food portions. Staying connected with others fighting the same battle also is a great form of moral support and encouragement. It's also important to give kids time to lose the weight and remind them that success is not just measured on the scale and that gradual weight loss is one of the keys to long-term success in weight management.

So stay positive and get in the trenches to fight the battle with your kids. Begin a family legacy of healthy eating habits and regular exercise that can be passed down from generation to generation.

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The information provided is for general interest only and should not be misconstrued as a diagnosis, prognosis or treatment recommendation. This information does not in any way constitute the practice of chiropractic, acupuncture, massage therapy, medicine, or any other health care profession. Readers are directed to consult their health care provider regarding their specific health situation. MPA Media is not liable for any action taken by a reader based upon this information.