Exercise immediately improves your ability to learn.

Fact:

It sounds unbelievable, but it’s true. In a study at the University of Muenster in Germany, participants who ran sprints learned new words 20 percent faster than those who did nothing. Other research has tied physical activity to improve attention and memory as well.

Exercise is the best thing we can do to ready our brain to learn,” says John J. Ratey, M.D., author of Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain. “We know that the cells become more malleable and ready to make connections. And the learner is more focused, calm, and motivated—[she’s] ready to learn.”

Physical activity has one other major perk too: It increases production of the stem cells that develop new brain cells.

Ratey has found that both aerobic activities and strength training have benefits to the brain, but that more complicated forms of exercise—like tennis and soccer—provide the biggest boost. “You’re taxing more parts of the brain in those activities, which helps it grow,” he explains.


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What is Massage?

Massage is one of the oldest healing arts: Chinese records dating back 3,000 years document its use; the ancient Hindus, Persians and Egyptians applied forms of massage for many ailments; and Hippocrates wrote papers recommending the use of rubbing and friction for joint and circulatory problems. Today, the benefits of massage are varied and far-reaching. As an accepted part of many physical rehabilitation programs, massage therapy has also proven beneficial for many chronic conditions, including low back pain, arthritis, bursitis, fatigue, high blood pressure, diabetes, immunity suppression, infertility, smoking cessation, depression, and more. And, as many millions will attest, massage also helps relieve the stress and tension of everyday living that can lead to disease and illness.

So What Is It Exactly?
Massage, bodywork and somatic therapies are defined as the application of various techniques to the muscular structure and soft tissues of the human body. Specifically:

Massage: The application of soft-tissue manipulation techniques to the body, generally intended to reduce stress and fatigue while improving circulation. The many variations of massage account for several different techniques.

Bodywork: Various forms of touch therapies that may use manipulation, movement, and/or repatterning to affect structural changes to the body.

Somatic: Meaning “of the body.” Many times this term is used to denote a body/mind or whole-body approach as distinguished from a physiology-only or environmental perspective.

There are more than 250 variations of massage, bodywork, and somatic therapies and many practitioners utilize multiple techniques. The application of these techniques may include, but is not limited to, stroking, kneading, tapping, compression, vibration, rocking, friction, and pressure to the muscular structure or soft tissues of the human body. This may also include non-forceful passive or active movement and/or application of techniques intended to affect the energetic systems of the body. The use of oils, lotions, and powders may also be included to reduce friction on the skin.


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Healthy Snacking

When it comes to snacks, they are not all are created equal. Snacking can actually be helpful to those of us looking to watch our weight or even to lose weight. First, a big factor to consider when attempting to lose weight is hunger management. Nothing can cause us to grab just any old thing we can get our hands on like an out-of-control appetite. Making an effort to be mindful and to plan your day’s food intake is effective and doesn’t take much time.

Second, it depends greatly on what snack you are choosing as to whether or not it will provide satisfaction and good nutrition, no doubt about that. When you snack is important as well. Most people benefit from either a midmorning snack and/or a midafternoon snack. However, most of us have the habit of snacking at night after dinner, and this is the one time that is truly detrimental to our health. Often, we deprive ourselves all day long and then feel justified in indulging in late-night treats.

Sorry, but ingesting hundreds of calories after eating your main meal for the day is self-sabotaging behavior. The problem is that you are consuming just before you are about to sleep, which lowers your metabolism causing all those unnecessary calories to be stored as fat. That is only going to result in packing on the pounds. Instead, keep your hunger at bay and choose healthy, delicious snacks that you consume earlier in the day while your metabolism is revved. That will help tremendously.

Choose snacks high in protein and fiber. Some especially tasty and satisfying choices, 100 calories or less (which is optimal), would be six-12 raw or roasted almonds or cashews, four-eight walnut halves (divide them up and put the rest away), half a cup of 1 percent cottage cheese, a cup of beef vegetable soup or a small low-fat yogurt. The bottom line is to use your common sense, be smart and think ahead of your hunger and decide to be proactive about the choices you make.

When it comes to health and fitness, unfortunately no one can do it for us. Begin tonight to plan your day’s intake of food and pack some healthy snacks to ward off temptation at work. This is doable and easy, and with just a little effort on your part, you will start to see those unwanted pounds falling away.

Take charge and be proactive and remember that a small treat of your choice is possible a couple of times a week. Even a single piece of dark chocolate every night is OK, but only when the rest of your day has been well-managed. Deprivation will only lead to a binge that will undo all your work.


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From injury prevention to warm up to cool down, massage therapy can benefit every part of an athletes training program.  Properly administered sports massage can improve your overal athletic readiness and treat specific problems that may be holding you back in your training.

Pain Reduction Massage can help reduce the pain from recovering injuries or tight areas of your muscle.  Massage also promotes the proper healing of scar tissue and provides a soothing effect to any injured areas.

Injury Prevention:  During your massage, your muscles will be stretched and your joints will be moved through their proper range of motion.  This acts just like a pre-event warm up.  The massage ensures that your muscles are in a pliable state and that your joints are warmed up and ready to go.  Limber muscles and joints at the start of your event help prevent injury during the physical exertion.

Relaxation and Focus:  A massage can help you “bring it” to your game or athletic event.  A massage decreases stress and increases focus, which can put you in a good phychological state before your event.  The brisk movements incorporated into the massage can also leave you with a feeling of invigoration, which you can carry to the event.

Post-Event Recovery:  If your muscles are sore and tired after a sports event.  massage can help the healing process.  Massage mimics the normal flow of the lymphatic and circulatory system, which drain wastes from the muscle tissue.  Massage can help dissolve waste fluids such as lactic acid and lead to a shorter recovery time.


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The 6 Principles of Pilates

It is important to note that Joseph Pilates did not directly set out the Pilates principles. They are concepts distilled from Joseph Pilates’ work by later instructors. Because of this, there is not always agreement in the Pilates community about the order of the principles, the specific words used for certain concepts, or the number of principles. Nevertheless, you will find some version of the Pilates principles–similar to what I present here–to be part of almost any Pilates training program you pursue.

Joseph Pilates originally called his work “contrology.” He considered this to be a body/mind/spirit approach to movement founded on the integrative effect of principles such as centering, concentration, control, precision, breath, and flow. Whether one is working out on a mat or using Pilates equipment, like the reformer or cadillac, these basic principles infuse each exercise with intention and fullness of expression:

Centering: Physically bringing the focus to the center of the body, the powerhouse area between the lower ribs and pubic bone.

Concentration: If one brings full attention to the exercise and does it with full commitment, maximum value will be obtained from each movement.

Control: Every Pilates exercise is done with complete muscular control. No body part is left to its own devices.

Precision: In Pilates, awareness is sustained throughout each movement. There is an appropriate placement, alignment relative to other body parts, and trajectory for each part of the body.

Breath: Joseph Pilates advocated thinking of the lungs as a bellows — using them strongly to pump the air fully in and out of the body. Most Pilates exercises coordinate with the breath, and using the breath properly is an integral part of Pilates exercise.

Flow: Pilates exercise is done in a flowing manner. Fluidity, grace, and ease are goals applied to all exercises. The Pilates principles may sound a bit abstract, but the integration of these principles accounts for the balance, grace, and ease that one can experience as a result of practicing Pilates.


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