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Corrie Pikul (131 posts)
There's nothing wrong with that, but for variety's sake, you might want to try tuning in to a different kind of audio during your next workout--like your breathing, and the sound of your feet hitting the ground, and the swish of your arms. Sakyong Mipham, the Tibetan lama and leader of the Shambhala Buddhism community, is (naturally) a strong advocate of this kind of in-the-moment workout. The Sakyong (his title means "the king" in Tibetan) may spend a fair amount of time on a prayer mat, but he's also an athlete who has completed nine and a half marathons, and his recently-published book, Running With the Mind of Meditation, serves as a guide for integrating elements of meditation into the physical act of running.
Basically, the Sakyong advocates tuning into how the run makes us feel (even if the answer is, "pretty crappy"), and claims this will help strengthen powers of concentration, bring clarity and calm to our day, and might even bring us a little closer to enlightenment. Considering the Sakyong's fitness level and appearance (he's nearing 50, but looks much younger, as you can see in the photo to the left), he's definitely on to something, whether it be running, meditation, or doing both at once.
We figured that it might be kind of tricky to skim the Sakyong's book while pounding the pavement, so we asked him to create a mini-meditation that you can listen to on your computer while stretching, on your iPhone while you're on the road. As the Sakyong says, "Let's go for a meditative run."
Meditate while you work out
More mini meditations you can incorporate into your day
The rest of us will be delighted to hear about a new long-term study showing that berries don't only play a role in the creation of happy memories, but they can also help us hold on to them. Research published in the journal Annals of Neurology explains that women who ate strawberries and blueberries more frequently over a period of time showed slower decline in memory and attention as they got older than those who at them less often. This welcome research suggests that the tasty fruits may play a role in keeping aging brains healthy.
Based on this study, the sooner you start eating berries, the better it will be for your brain. Fortunately, this year's early spring means that strawberries already growing in the South. Pop them plain, or try one of these berry-centric recipes:
Start your day with a Blueberry Brain Boost Smoothie
Make Arugula with Berries and Feta for lunch
Mix Balsamic Strawberries into a dinner salad, or serve on top of chicken
Surprise someone with a dessert of Chocolate-Covered Strawberries
More ways to keep your brain young
These nuggets are from a compelling series of infographics from the makers of a food-tracking iPhone app called The Eatery (see them all here, and learn more about the app at www.massivehealth.com). There are lots of interesting facts about what, when, where and how we eat, compiled using crowd-sourced data that included 7.68 million food ratings by Eatery users from over 50 countries, but what we found most interesting had to do with perception. Not only do we think we eat better than others think we do, but we tend to have some interesting ideas about good and bad foods: half of the Eatery users considered coffee to be "unhealthy" (they must not have had a chance to read the latest pro-joe research) and 1 in 5 think diet soda is "healthy" (it has fewer calories that regular soda, but since when is artificial sweetener "healthy"?!).
Pelvic floor training, or doing regular exercises designed to strengthen the pelvic muscles, can be effective in curing urinary incontinence--and has far less side effects than the other popular treatment of estrogen therapy, concludes a new report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Best of all, you don't need a gym membership or a set of weights to do these exercises, although you might benefit from a session with a women's health physical therapist who can help you develop a regimen. With approximately a quarter of young women and up to 57 percent of middle-aged and postmenopausal women having these kinds of problems, it's never too early add pelvic workouts into your fitness routine. To start, make sure you're practicing Kegels correctly, and then challenge yourself with these more advanced pelvic clocks.
Physical therapy for your lady parts
The two exercises every woman should be doing
We've been hearing for years that negative emotional states, like depression, anger, anxiety, and hostility, can have negative health effects, but less was known about positive moods--until now. The researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health recently decided to take a glass-half-full view of the connection between moods and health, and they've concluded that positive psychological well-being appears to reduce the risk of heart attacks, strokes and other cardiovascular events. After reviewing more than 200 studies published in two scientific databases, the authors found the most optimistic individuals had an approximately 50 percent reduced risk of experiencing heart problems. The researchers stressed that it's not enough to be merely not-depressed or on an even keel; it's important to actually make yourself feel good.
Did you wake up on the meh side of the bed this Wednesday? Fortunately, we have just the thing to boost your mood and help your heart.
For many of us, Tax Day (tomorrow, April 17) is like this big, stressful stain on a month otherwise colored cherry-blossom pink and arbor green. The anxiety starts in January with that first W2 form in the mail. But tax-related stress can induce more than just snapping at the dog and tearing apart the house for any leftover chocolate Easter eggs. Here are two more reasons to squeeze in some restorative yoga, a brisk walk or some other proven stress-reducer tomorrow:
5 ways to cope with money stress
Simple ways to calm down
The Huffington Post's Healthy Living section has an eye-opening slideshow about foods that contain more sugar than a Twinkie. The one that really threw us for a fruit-loop wasn't kids' cereal but yogurt, that calcium-rich, go-to treat for for nutritionists, athletes and the nutrition-obsessed everywhere. HuffPo reports that an 8-ounce container of vanilla yogurt can have around 31 grams of sugar, while a 6-ounce container of the fruit-flavored kind can have around 32 grams. That's almost almost double the amount in a spongey, "cream"-filled snack cake!
But before you toss that tub, check the nutritional info, as sugar and portion sizes vary widely. For example, we found that that amount of sugar in Stonyfield Farms yogurt seems to increase in inverse proportion to the fat content: for French vanilla flavor, the non-fat had 17 grams, low-fat had 21 grams, and whole milk had 22 grams--more than a Twinkie, but less than the unspecified brands of yogurts HuffPo was referring to. Their slideshow did include this great piece of advice: When in doubt, or if nutrition info isn't readily available, go for Greek yogurt, which naturally has less sugar because of the straining process used to give it that thick, rich consistency. (Check out the slideshow to find out what other foods are more sugary than Twinkies--and let us know if any of these surprised you).
But it's really not a good year for allergy sufferers who happen to live in Knoxville, Tennessee—recently ranked as the most challenging place to live with hay fever by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA). These rankings of the 100 largest US metro areas are based on pollen scores, number of allergy meds used per patient, and number of allergy specialists per patient. You can see the full list, and find out where your city ranked, by checking out the AAFA's web site. You may also want to head over to Weather.com, which has some interesting explanations of how cities broke into the top ten--for example, Louisville, Kentucky (#3 on the list) is plagued by poor air quality, and air pollution tends to exacerbate allergy symptoms.
Are you already sick of sneezing (and the season has just begun!)? Maybe you're taking your antihistamines at the wrong time, or maybe you just need a little more practice with the neti pot. Read more about these and other doctor-recommended allergy busters: 6 Reasons You're Still Suffering from Allergies
You wouldn't be able to pick Naomi Kutin out of a line-up at the yogurt place at the mall. Sure, she's trim, with strong little legs...but you'd still never suspect that this wide-eyed 10-year-old is a weight-lifting champion who just broke the women's world record for squatting (that's women's record, not girls). Naomi, who's been training for years, recently lifted 215 pounds (over double her weight of 93!)--watch the NBC sports video to see how the pint-sized powerhouse was able to do this. On her Facebook page, Naomi says she's now focused on a bench press and deadlift contest the end of April. We hope it's only a matter of time before she starts training to lift cars off of trapped elderly people in order to hurl them at villains.
Dr. Oz explains why you should give strength training a chance
5 muscle-toning exercises you can do anywhere
3 myths about strength training