Best Exercises for Teens

BEST EXERCISES FOR TEENS

This article is about the teenagers. That period of rapid growth and maturity. Experimentation and lessons learned. It can also be about fitness and wellness, which is right in our wheelhouse. Do you (as a parent, coach or teacher) have a teen who is not really adjusting well to fitness? Maybe he/she is a hardgainer, or the teenager has a very low metabolism. I have a list of very easy (and very good exercises that can help turn the tide in the favor of fitness) exercises that can make a difference in a teen’s life. As always, seek the advice of a physician. This article is not a substitiute for sound medical advice or opinion. Now, the list.

The best exercise routine consists of three basic components: 1) aerobics, 2) strength training and 3) flexibility/ stretching.
Aerobics: aerobic exercises quicken your heart rate and breathing, and are good for your heart.
Some great aerobic exercises are: rowing, basketball, lacrosse, hockey, soccer, swimming, running, dancing, tennis, biking and boxing.

 

Strength training: strengthening your muscles allow you to be able to increase your endurance. Also, muscle burns fat better, so the more muscle you have, the more calories you can burn.
Pull-ups, push-ups, rowing, running, squats, crunches, biking, any type of weight lifting
Flexibility: A flexible person has a lower chance of getting sprains and strained muscles
Dance, ballet, martial arts, yoga, Pilates, gymnastics
How do I know what exercise is best for me?
Pick something that you find interesting – if you hate running, don’t run!!!
Do you like to work out alone? Or with a group of people?
Ask a coach or gym teacher how you can get involved with a certain activity or sport
Talk to a doctor if you are unsure whether a certain exercise plan is right for you
Why is exercise so good for you?
Exercise produces brain chemicals called endorphins that make people feel happy
Exercise helps people sleep better (just don’t work out right before you want to sleep!)

It keeps your body at a healthy, managable weight
Lowers your risk for certain diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure
Keeps your bones strong – so no osteoporosis when you are older!
Helps you lose weight

How much exercise should I be getting?
Experts recommend that teenagers work out for at least one hour every day. The exercise should be “moderate to vigorous”.
Is there such thing as exercising too much?
Yes, and it is called compulsive exercise. Because teenagers’ bodies are still developing, they need enough calories to support that process. Exercising too much burns all the calories necessary to develop and function properly. Too much exercise is also a sign of a possible eating disorder. It is also possible to train too much for a certain sport. High school athletes should not train more than five days a week, and should have two or three months of rest per year. It is not recommended that you exercise with an injury – it will only retard the healing process.

Also, exercise is a great way for teens to discover things about themselves, socialize with others and to be able to see themselves in a different way. In closing, with the obesity epidemic in America today really hitting the teens hard, exercise for teens should be mentioned as a way to help them build for the future. Exercising is free, and should be a basic part of anyone’s life, especially for teens. THE BASICS ALWAYS WIN.

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MENTAL TOUGHNESS

In keeping with The Total Self, this article is a continuation of an earlier article I have written about this topic.I have spoken about mental toughness on oregonsportsnews.com, my own blogs and other social media platforms. I have given speeches about this also. The number one thing I believe that is holding people back in life other than broken focus and a solid plan (plus the willingness to execute) is a lack of mental toughness. It is not necessarily a bad thing that most people are not “hard”. You need people who are a tad softer, normal people in this world. This world would be in bad shape if it were just “Type As” all over the place. But you can learn from the Type A. Learn how to not let things stop you, how not to be a victim, and how not to allow things that have tormented you for years have any more control over you.
Mental Toughness has many definitions and is not limited to athletic performance and pain tolerance. I have known many men and women throughout my life who I would define as “mentally tough”. From an 85 year old gardener to a high school football friend, who it seemed neither ever had a bad day. Much of mental toughness is simply attitude and self-determination. If you do a quick search online on the subject, you will see a variety of mental toughness techniques, articles, stories of remarkable physical performances to brave acts of heroism overcoming insurmountable odds and fear.
On a personal note, mental toughness is a way of life. It is quite simple to me. To not allow any voices, anyone or anything to stand in the way of my goals. To be able to withstand setbacks, controvesy and many other troubles that life throws our way.

For the purposes of this site and its readers, I will also say that through somewhat challenging workouts and introspection and study of this topic, you will cultivate a mentally tough mindset. Again, my philosophy works for ME. As I have often said in my articles, take what’s said and make it work for you. For example minutes of non stop punching in a boxer’s case. In my case, heavy lifting and running for miles will create increased energy levels and an increased pain tolerance through training in the pain zone. You really have to get the body to know what pain is so you can endure it longer. PAIN is not injury, but if you push too hard through pain you will be setting up for injury, so knowing your training limits is necessary as well. Studying mental toughness (or at least how others go over) will shed some light on what you may be lacking. On the days when you feel like crap and you have to WILL yourself to go to work or to hit the gym. THAT too is mental toughness. Persistence and determination are all factors as well. Other terms used to describe mental toughness is inspiration, self-motivation and confidence.

 

There are many examples of those who bring themselves out of horrible childhoods of poverty, neglect, and illness to become heroes, mentors, millionaires, and presidents. That takes mental toughness in MY book.

Mental Toughness! How do you get it? Are you born with it? Can you acquire it? Arguments to this question have occurred long before our modern world came about. I am of the opinion that through tough physical training, proper mindset, and a high level of maturity that mental toughness is born. This toughness is what propels you through the storms of life and all that brings How do you get that?

Take for example, the Tour de France winner, Lance Armstrong. He had endured one of the toughest diseases by beating testicular cancer. After his battle with cancer, he came back mentally tougher and was once considered the greatest cyclist ever. Maybe he had it all along, who knows? Mental toughness is not measurable and is completely internal. But I believe hard work will get you there. When Lance Armstrong was asked by reporters “What are you on?” referring to performance enhancing drugs. Lance stated, “I am on my BIKE – busting my hump (paraphrased)for 6-8 hours a day!!”

So the question is do you get mental toughness by attending special workshops, or by being in the military/police or by playing sports? Is it by going through hard situations in life and learning from them? I would say the answer is a comination of all that. You can definitely become mentally tough by training and overcoming the trials and tribulations life brings, but ultimately it will be by the determination you make to be unstoppable and make the world a product of you.

I have seen a lot of people not win at life due to cracking under pressure. These daily gut checks that tend to make cowards of us all is something to behold. The pressures we all face tend to beat us down, and send us to our breaking points- that will cause us to lose focus and that’s how we fail. Not because of lack of talent, but because of broken focus. The break in focus becomes a turning point in your struggle/campaign.
This is the biggest difference in those who win in life and who do not. Everyone will have their nemesis or weakness. The key is to BECOME someone who rises to the occasion. Someone who will plow right through very arduous situations and come out with their heads held high. To deal with setbacks and not let them affect you.
In closing, I would like to say that Mental Toughness is definitely one of the basics. One of the master keys to winning in life. THE BASICS ALWAYS WIN!!!

Beating Procrastination

Procrastination… killer of dreams. Procrastination… killer of hopes. All by simply doing nothing. Simply by what’s called “active avoidance” (doing something in the place of the thing you set out to do due to fear, etc). Procrastination is a problem in every field, killing productivity, slowing growth in companies, ending some companies. Yes, procrastination is a problem. But how do you solve it? It’s a learned trait, but how to understand and defeat it?
I have compiled a list of 8 ways to beat procrastination. Basic steps- the basics always win. Basic steps that make a big difference. Before we delve into the list of ways to defeat procrastination, we must define it. Procrastination is the practice of putting off urgent tasks in favor of more pleasureable ones, thus effectively not doing the thing you set out to do in the first place.

All in all, procrastination is not laziness. It is a way that seems to be easier for one who is under stress. In the end, procrastination costs. It costs you (depending on the situation) time, it costs you all kinds of things you value and hold dear. In a lot of ways, Procrastination is insidiously easy. It can become a mindset of putting things off. That is the wrong mindset if you consider yourself a man or woman of action. Procastination can strip you of motivation, it can strip you of effectiveness, creativity and even honesty/integrity. It is dangerous to allow procrastination in your life.

Now… here’s the good news. Procrastination can be beat. YES. But what say you.Are you willing to try? This list I compiled will no doubt help you get to where you need to go. Procrastination is a force, but nothing, and I mean NOTHING is as powerful as the force of the human spirit. Here is the list:

 

1. Focus on an area in which you find procrastination most problematic (getting in shape, homework, doing reports for work).
2. Begin small and progress as you experience success. Be patient. Establish your own deadlines. Be realistic in setting a timetable. Hold yourself to the deadlines.
3. Break the project into smaller parts. Chip away at it in small bites. Don’t wait for that “big chunk” of time.
4. Set a definite beginning time. Break the inertia of inactivity. If getting started is especially troublesome for you, set a time for 10 or 15 minutes. Commit yourself to doing something on the project until the timer rings. Then you can decide whether to stop or continue. Chances are you will gain momentum and continue after the timer stops. If not, try another 10 minutes later in the day.
5. Do the most important things first. Avoid the distractions of the trivial and routine tasks when a higher priority job is waiting in the wings. Examining each task in light of your goals will help you set priorities.
6. Reward yourself for completing parts of a major task. It can be anything. Contract with yourself for a big reward for completion of important tasks. A pizza, sleeping extra late on a weekend, or shopping for something may help motivate you to complete the job. Be nice to yourself.
7. Establish a “Commitment to Excellence”. Excellence is a sufficient level of performance for most things in life, and for many tasks (a new hobby, cleaning your room) adequacy is all that is necessary. Give yourself permission to be less than perfect. A good garden may have some weeds. You might double the amount of time spent typing a paper, attempting to get the spelling perfect. Could that extra time be better spent in another activity which will gt you over the hump? Maybe so.
8. Procrastination is a learned habit, and can be defeated with a more constructive habit, giving your greater control over your life. If procrastination has limited your achievements, do something about it now!

The Total Self: How to Diet

In the spirit of “The Total Self” motif, I present a new view on dieting: How to pick one that will work best for you? We are in an era of unprecedented information about fitness, dieting and everything in between. We are also in the midst of the greatest obesity epidemic across all age groups in America ( by 2020, 76% of ALL Americans will be either obese or overweight). Almost everyday, the average person sees umpteen commercials about fitness (usually about weight loss). These body-image centric commercials sure put a lot of doubt in people’s heads about fitness and what it really means to be healthy. Almost all the emphasis centers around losing enough weight to look like a model. In this article, I will present at least 10 ways to pick the best diet for you… or to create one. Yes, you do not have to follow self-proclaimed fitness gurus, trainers, etc. As always, see a physician before starting any weight-loss regimen. Listen to your body. Now, the list.
1) If it’s not fun, don’t do it. Almost all health/wellness professionals agree that if you are not having fun and seeing results on your fitness regimen, you probably will not stick with it. Simply because some PAID model/athlete is endorsing a product on television (or some other form of media) does not mean that the much-ballyhooed product will even work. Of course, not every diet/weight loss plan is structurlly, scientifically sound (or makes sense). You also have to have a sense of satisfaction as a motivator to do the thing.

2) Evaluate the plan. Does it work? Is it faddish? Do you like what you see in it? Are you able to fit your lifestyle in the workout/diet plan? Conversely, can you fit said workout/diet plan into your lifestyle? Please consider all of these things before trying the “latest and greatest” diet or workout you may hear about, see or read somewhere.

3) Do not rely SOLELY on supplements: Supplements are great, but relying solely on them is not a good idea. As with anything else in life, moderation is key. You can even overdose on water (hyperhydration). Moderation is key. Use your head. LISTEN TO YOUR BODY.
4) Include exercise. Yes, all the carb-counting, label-reading goodness you do will never amount to much without exercise. Be sure it’s something you can handle and make it fun.
5) Eat your favorite meals and snacks (in moderation please). Yes, I said it. SACRILEGE, some will say. All jokes aside, you have to make the diet regimen tenable. This is definitely a way. Just don’t over-indulge in it. This defeats the purpose of dieting in the first place. Splurging on a “guilty pleasure” is just fine. Moderation is key.
6) Make a maintainence plan. Now that you’ve lost the weight, or are about to embark on your life-changing fitness plan… make sure you have a maintainence plan. A maintainence plan is sure to keep the pounds/inches off. Now that you have achieved ‘the look”, a maintainence plan will keep you looking sharp. The hardest part is indeed maintaining the achieved goal.
7) Be a tortoise, not a hare. You must keep a slow, steady pace when losing weight (or sculpting your body). Anything else is unhealthy. Don’t risk your life over a few extra vanity pounds. Don’t fool yourself.
8) Allow snacks between meals. Yes, more about food. Snacking is important. Snacking done healthily will curb cravings, thus keeping you in line with your fitness goals. Snacking done healthily will make the difference in you meeting your fitness goals or not. It also will be better for you health-wise.

9) Include all the food groups. Your body is a temple, the original machine (LaMettrie, 1748), the covering of your vital organs. Treat it right. Eating food from all the food groups is a sure way to ensure your way to the “promised land” of fitness is a sure-footed one. Treat your body right. Eating from all the food groups will help your body function as it should.
10) Leave room for improvement. Every diet has flaws in it. Who says it has to stay that way? Educate yourself, get to know your body. Tweak your diet based on your needs at the particular time. A constant of life is change and growth. So should your fitness journey.

In closing, I trust that these tips will help. These tips are essential to help you get what YOU need, not what the fitness pros want you to have. You have only one life… why not diet, exercise in the best way… YOURS.

15 Ways for Success with Your Fitness Regimen

It’s now June… how many of you have kept with your New Year’s pledge to lose weight, perhaps turn your life around? If you’ve fallen off track, that’s no big deal (over 85% of Americans break their New Year’s pledges in under 45 days). In case any of you all need a refresher, or a plan to get over the hump (or just to stay the course), here is my list of 15 ways to have success with any fitness regimen. This is by no means a comprehensive list… but hopefully it will work for you. Now, the list.
There is no shortcut to ideal health (whatever that is for you), no magic pill that lets you hit your five-a-day target and no single exercise that gives you a shredded physique in minutes. It takes time, hard work and an educated approach to get in shape and stay in shape. Following these tips will make your fitness quest (and life) a whole lot easier.

1. Prepping for Success
The better path to a sound diet is found by using your weekends wisely. Use the extra time you have on your weekends to make large batches of healthy meals that you can portion up to cover at least a couple of midweek lunches and dinners, avoiding the certain death of your fitness goals via fast food.

2. Mix Up Your Exercise

Variety is – cliché alert! – the spice of life, and many sports and activities support each other in ways you won’t realise until you try it. For example, strength training for your legs and core will make you a better runner, while those addicted to dumbbells will find Pilates works muscles they’d never even considered.

3. Calibrate Your Fitness Technology
If you invest in a fitness tracker, don’t just sit back and assume that following the preset targets will lead you to glory. Adjust the steps, active minutes and calorie targets regularly to build on your progress, or make them more realistic if you never get close and have started to ignore them. If you don’t engage with your fitness tech, you’ll quickly discard it.

4. Add In Extra Activity
This one of the oldest tricks in the book: take the stairs not the escalator, or get off the bus a stop early and walk. Any activity is better than none, and will only encourage you to do more. And if you really want to up the ante, try sprinting up the stairs (safely) each time you take them – clinical studies found that short bursts of high-intensity stair-climbing can make a significant difference to your cardiorespiratory fitness.

5. Keep Tabs On Your Visceral Fat

You can be skinny on the outside (at least your arms and legs), but fat on the inside. Visceral fat is the type that builds up around your organs and often results in a pot belly. It’s linked with heart disease, several types of cancer and type 2 diabetes. Check your waist-to-height ratio (WtHR) to see if you’re at risk. Grab a piece of string and use it to measure your height, then halve it. If it doesn’t fit around your waist, get exercising – visceral fat is the first type to go when you start a health regimen.

6. Value Your Rest Days
When you start on a fitness kick, it’s tempting to exercise every day while motivation is high. This is a bad move, and one that may see your motivation flame out within weeks, because you’re always exhausted and won’t see the massive improvements you expect for your efforts. Why? You’re not giving your muscles the time and rest they need to recover and grow.

7. Up The Intensity If You’re Short On Time
Health and wellness experts still promote the 150 minutes of moderate activity a week minimum, but now offer an alternative option of 75 minutes of vigorous activity a week. That’s running or singles tennis, for example, rather than cycling or walking, which count as moderate. You can also mix the two, so 60 minutes of vigorous cardio plus 30 of moderate will do the trick also. Bear in mind the guidelines also demand strength exercises on two or more days a week alongside your aerobic activity.

8. Treat Your Body Right
Nothing derails a health kick as quickly as injury, as many serious injuries will start out as small ones- you may think it’s OK to push through. Scaling back the intensity for a few days is better than having to shut it down for a few months. If you have an urgent desire to hit the gym, target a different part of the body from the one that’s bothering you.

9. The Drive for Five
Eating at least five portions of fruit and veg a day should be at the cornerstone of your healthy diet plan. What’s not wise is getting in a rut and eating the same five every day, because different types of fruit and veg contain different vitamins and minerals. A good way to vary your five-a-day is to eat different colors, as the hue is a decent indication of the nutrients they contain.

10. Don’t Undervalue Your Sleep
There is tendency for people who sleep very little to brag about it, as if it’s an indication of their commitment to life. However, getting the full seven to eight hours is vital to a healthy lifestyle, as it provides the energy for your exercise and even influences dietary choices – a 2016 study found that in the day following a night of limited sleep, people ate an extra 385 calories on average. You don’t snooze, you lose.

11. Increase Your Cadence On Your Runs
If you are consistently picking up injuries when running, one change it’s definitely worth trying is to up your rate of strides per minute (your cadence). If you overstrike, thus taking fewer steps, you put extra pressure on your knee and hip joints. Try and take more steps, which means your feet will land more beneath your body, reducing the impact on your joints.

12. Give It Your All or Turn It Loose
The first time you try an exercise it’s very hard, but at least quite novel. The second time the novelty is gone, and it’s still hard, leading to the temptation to quit. Try it at least once more, as the third time is often the charm – when a sport or workout starts to become as enjoyable as it is tough.

13. Count Reps Backwards
This is a mental trick that might make resistance workouts a little easier. Counting down the reps means by the time it’s really hurting you’re at the 3,2,1 stage, which feels closer to the end than 8,9,10 or whatever target you’re going for. It won’t work for everyone, but it’s worth a try.

14. Make Full Use Of Your Street Furniture
Exercising outdoors is a great way to ensure you get your hit of vitamin D (if it’s sunny) as well as a good workout, and it doesn’t have to be all cardio. As well as the exercise machines that litter many parks, you can nearly always finds a bar or ledge for pull-ups, or a bench or wall to do dips on. Rarer treats can even include chains to use as ersatz TRX ropes.

15. Record Stats and Progress

Nothing builds motivation as efficiently as seeing signs of improvement, so make sure you keep some kind of record of your activity. It can be as simple as noting your record five-rep max or fastest 5K time, using either one of the many excellent fitness apps available or old-fashioned pen and paper.
In closing, these tips and tricks will help in your fitness goals. Knowledge is power. Knowledge is a fundamental building block in fitness and in life. Knowledge (alongside hard work and dedication) is the most essential of the basics. THE BASICS ALWAYS WIN!!

HOW TO GAIN STRENGTH- 5 RULES

HOW TO INCREASE STRENGTH- FIVE RULES

Strength is and always has been a goal for those who are avid fitness people. In today’s era, with the ever-increasing popularity of MMA-style training and CrossFit training, there has been a metamorphosis of the definition of strength. Gone are the days of 5’9″ 320-lb “strongmen” who could outlift you and OUTEAT you. Now it’s all about functionality combined with strength training. It is a huge win for the advocates of this type of training. It’s pretty evident that it works. It’s also a slam-dunk that it’s here to stay. Why not functional training? It is a more modern approach to training and it has the science to back it up.
On the other hand, there are some who will ask, “what about strength?” I am sure there are some of you out there who are looking to increase your strength without using steriods or any other PEDs let alone any sports nutrition products. Here are a few tips on how to increase strength without PEDs or changing your regimen or lifestyle.
When you are strength training, whichever day it is, always remember to take 30-45 seconds of rest between sets. Also in the same vein, slow the speed of the reps down. Let’s say your rep speed is on a 2-3 count. To gain strength, slow that down to about a 4-5 count. I must warn you to start at the weight your are currently using, then build up. No need to hurt yourself.
Another way to increase strength is to use supersets. if you have never heard of a superset, it is as follows: Let’s say you are working chest today. You’re doing cable crossovers at 30 lbs for 3 sets, 15-18 reps. To superset the exercise, you immediately do another exercise with no break… like wide-grip pushups at a similar rep speed and rep count. This way you will work all the muscle fibers and increase strength.

Another way to increase strength is to go all out. Challenging yourself with max reps at maximum intensity. This is an old-school technique that works. It is also very risky and the chances of injury are much higher than that of the aforementioned routines.
Lastly, use the science available to you. Learn your body. Know and learn what works best for you. Learn your limits. Fitness is not one size fits all. Strength is not one size fits all. Stay learning. Learning is a foundational component of increasing strength or anything else in life. Stay hungry. Never be satisfied with anything, if that’s your goal.

In closing, remember what I have laid out here:
1) Stay hungry
2) Be fearless, always try new things
3) Learn how your body works
4) Keep your goals in front of you.
5) Put the work in.

These five rules, as well as everything else I have given you will GUARANTEE success in your quest to gain strength. Not only will it guarantee success in your fitness goals, this will enhance your life in all other areas. It will make you a better person.

MIND-BODY CONNECTION

We have read stories about people recovering all due to the power of the mind. The mind-body connection is something to behold. The mind-body connection- means that our thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and attitudes can positively or negatively affect our biological functioning. In other words, our minds can affect how healthy our bodies are. The Mind-Body Connection is very real. Do you understand how it affects your health? From everything to “butterflies” in your stomach to the “fight or flight” reflex, the mind-body connection plays an important role in our lives. What we do with our bodies (work, exercise) often impacts our mental state. This is a very interesting relationship between body and mind.
To understand the mind-body connection, we must have the knowledge of what it is, and how it works. Here is some background information:

Awareness of the mind-body connection is by no means new. Until approximately 300 years ago, virtually every system of medicine throughout the world treated the mind and body as a whole. But during the 17th century, the Western world started to see the mind and body as two distinct entities. In this view, the body was kind of like a machine, complete with replaceable, independent parts, with no connection whatsoever to the mind.

This Western viewpoint had definite benefits, acting as the foundation for advances in surgery, trauma care, pharmaceuticals, and other areas of allopathic medicine. However, it also greatly reduced scientific inquiry into humans’ emotional and spiritual life, and downplayed their innate ability to heal.

In the 20th century, this view gradually started to change. Researchers began to study the mind-body connection and scientifically demonstrate complex links between the body and mind. Integrative psychiatrist James Lake, MD, of Stanford University, writes that “extensive research has confirmed the medical and mental benefits of meditation, mindfulness training, yoga, and other mind-body practices”.
Here are a few mind-body therapies that will help you:
1) Support groups
2) Cognitive-behavioral therapy
3) Meditation
4) Prayer
5) Creative arts therapies (art, music, or dance)
6) Yoga
7) Biofeedback
8) Tai chi
9) Qigong
10) Relaxation
11) Hypnosis
12) Guided imagery
What is the mind?
The mind is NOT the brain. Instead, in this definition, the mind consists of mental states such as thoughts, emotions, beliefs, attitudes, and images. The brain is the hardware that allows us to experience these mental states.

Mental states can be fully conscious or unconscious. We can have emotional reactions to situations without being aware of why we are reacting. Every mental state has a physiology associated with it—a positive or negative effect that is felt in the physical body. For example, the mental state of anxiety causes you to produce stress hormones.

Many mind-body therapies focus on becoming more conscious of mental states and using this increased awareness to guide our mental states in a better, less destructive direction.

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In closing, the mind-body connection is pretty strong. Understanding the WHY of how your body works is foundational. A strong foundation is the definition of the basics. Remember, Tthe basics always win.

8 Warning Signs of Depression and 10 Foods to Considered Helpful

 

8 Warning Signs Of Depression Plus 10 Foods Considered Helpful
Infographic © herbs-info.com. Image sources: see foot of page

Clinical depression is a mental health issue that is often disregarded in the medical community (and society in general!) There is a stigma surrounding mental health problems like depression that people don’t seek immediate treatment once they start noticing signs and symptoms in themselves and other people. However, the truth of the matter is that millions of people are affected by depression all over the world.


According to research done by Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) affects roughly 15 million adults in the US, with two out of three people with depression choosing not to seek medical treatment. The WHO estimates that 350 million people all over the world have depression, with 800,000 people dying each year because of suicide. The mental health burden is one every country should be aware of; just because an illness can’t be seen doesn’t mean the person affected isn’t suffering. Depression is just as real as heart disease or cancer. [1][2]

8 Warning Signs Of Depression: [3][4]


#1 – Feeling helpless or hopeless: Depression is often characterized in a pessimistic worldview – that nothing is going right or will ever go right. People who are depressed suffer from an overwhelming feeling (often fear-inducing) of hopelessness despite being in a world full of endless possibilities.

#2 – Losing interest in daily activities: Closely related to the first symptom, losing interest in daily activities is another warning sign of depression. Along with feelings of hopelessness and helpless is a sudden loss of interest in going to school or work – activities a person does on a day to day basis. Depressed individuals often think “Why bother?”

#3 – Changes in appetite: Feelings of depression can lead to appetite changes – your body may feel hungry but you just aren’t in the mood for anything. Not even favorite food items can improve your appetite. This is one of the main problems with depression – the physical effects it has on the body. Along with poor appetite is dramatic weight loss and compromised immune system.

#4 – Sleep pattern disturbances: People who are depressed often find themselves with a multitude of thoughts that prevent them from getting a good night’s sleep. They can toss and turn for hours but sleep will evade them.

#5 – Mood swings: Mood swings are a major characteristic of Bipolar disorder – which is characterized by periods of mania (extreme happiness) and depression. Chronic mood swings – from happiness to sadness, and even other emotions like anger can signify depression.


#6 – Lethargy: Lack of sleep and deteriorating physical health all add up to a feelings of lethargy – or very low energy. Being tired can be a sign that someone is going through emotional difficulties.

#7 – Behavioral changes: Acting out or being aggressive can also be a sign of depression. Teenagers and young adults who suffer from depression may act out and be aggressive towards others. People who are often described as “troublesome students” or “black sheep” maybe experiencing emotional or mental health problems.

#8 – Focusing and memory difficulties: You will notice that all the symptoms on this list are related to each other – and that most certainly includes this last item. Poor appetite, sleep disturbances, and low energy can lead to problems with memory and focus – resulting in poor school and work performance (which can be seen by others as “acting out”).

10 Foods For Fighting Depression

These foods have been extensively studied and can be helpful:

#1 – Chocolate: The best way to heal a broken heart is through chocolate! You will often hear girls saying that chocolate is a great way to curb sadness – and there is actually scientific evidence that supports that theory! Two different studies have found that chocolate can significantly improve a person’s mood, as well as alleviating chronic fatigue. [5][6]

#2 – Asparagus: You may find the presence of asparagus on this list to be strange but according to research it works! According to a published study by Singh, et. al. in 2009, asparagus has significant antidepressant activity, able to reduce stress and agitation in the test subjects. [7]

#3 – Green tea: Green tea is a great antioxidant – and a great antidepressant as well. Beyond tea’s relaxing properties, a study has shown that green tea was able to have a positive effect on people suffering from post-stroke depression, linked to green tea’s inherent antioxidant and phytochemical characteristics. The results of another study found that there was an inverse relationship between the prevalence of depression and green tea intake in the selected population. [8][9]

#4 – Avocado: It can be hard to find scientific studies that directly link avocados with a lower risk for depression but its omega-3 content has several. One of the most significant studies found that omega-3 fatty acids were an effective treatment for people suffering from Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) and people with undiagnosed depression (but exhibit the warning signs). [10]

#5 – Oatmeal: Oatmeal has high folate or folic acid content, which has been linked to depression management caused by different factors or co-morbidities. In 2014, a study found that corticosterone treatment caused depression, depression that was significantly relieved by folic acid intake. Similar results were seen in a study in 2013 where folic acid was able to combat depression caused by stress and antioxidant imbalance in the brain. [11][12]

#6 – Strawberries: A study in 2012 found that strawberry intake was linked to a decreased rate of mental health decline with progressing age. The study estimated that strawberries were able to slow “mental aging” by two and a half years, attributed primarily to the high antioxidant content of the fruits. While the study didn’t focus on depression, advanced age and a decline in mental health has been linked to depression – something strawberries can apparently help manage. [13]

#7 – Cashews: Cashews are an excellent source of tryptophan – an amino acid that is synthesized by the body into serotonin, a neurotransmitter whose low levels has been linked to depression. A study actually found that people diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder had low levels of tryptophan. By boosting your tryptophan intake, you can help reduce your risk for depression. [14]

#8 – Walnuts: A Polish study published last year in 2015 listed walnuts as a significant food item that could help in the management of depression. Walnuts, like avocados, are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, and can be included in the diet for risk reduction in terms of depression. [15]

#9 – Oranges: Oranges are one of the highest vitamin-C- containing fruits, known for its immune-boosting capabilities. However, ascorbic acid or vitamin C is able to help with depression as well, seen in a study published in 2015. The study found that treatment with ascorbic acid was able to reduce depressive symptoms caused by high levels of tumor necrosis factor. [16]

#10 – Blueberries: A recent study in 2015 by Tan, et. al. concluded that blueberry extracts were able to have positive effects on neuronal and mental health. The researchers discovered that blueberry extracts improved memory and hippocampal expression; the hippocampus being one of the areas of the brain that control emotions. These results suggest that blueberries can also help with the management of depression, which has been strongly linked to cognitive decline. [17]

References:

[1] Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance. Depression statistics. http://www.dbsalliance.org/site/PageServer?pagename=education_statistics_depression

[2] WHO. Depression Fact Sheet. http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs369/en/

[3] Mayo Clinic. Depression (major depressive disorder). http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/depression/basics/symptoms/con-20032977

[4] National Health Services. Clinical depression – symptoms. http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Depression/Pages/Symptoms.aspx

[5] Sathyapalan, T., et. al. (2010). High cocoa polyphenol rich chocolate may reduce the burden of the symptoms in chronic fatigue syndrome. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21092175

[6] Scholey, A. & Owen, L. (2013). Effects of chocolate on cognitive function and mood: a systematic review. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24117885

[7] Singh, G., et. al. (2009). Antidepressant activity of Asparagus racemosus in rodent models. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18692086

[8] Di Lorenzo, A., et. al. (2016). Antidepressive-like effects and antioxidant activity of green tea and GABA green tea in a mouse model of post-stroke depression. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26626862

[9] Pham, N., et. al. (2014). Green tea and coffee consumption is inversely associated with depressive symptoms in a Japanese working population. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23453038

[10] Grosso, G., et. al. (2014). Role of omega-3 fatty acids in the treatment of depressive disorders: a comprehensive meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24805797

[11] Rosa, P., et. al. (2014). Folic acid prevents depressive-like behavior induced by chronic corticosterone treatment in mice. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25316305

[12] Budni, J., et. al. (2013). Folic acid prevents depressive-like behavior and hippocampal antioxidant imbalance induced by restraint stress in mice. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23142187

[13] Devore, E., et. al. (2012). Dietary intake of berries and flavonoids in relation to cognitive decline. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3582325/

[14] Ogawa, S., et. al. (2014). Plasma L-tryptophan concentration in major depressive disorder: new data and meta-analysis. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25295433

[15] Muszynska, B., et. al. (2015). Natural products of relevance in the prevention and supportive treatment of depression. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26276913

[16] Moretti, M., et. al. (2015). TNF-α-induced depressive-like phenotype and p38(MAPK) activation are abolished by ascorbic acid treatment. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25836357

[17] Tan, L., et. al. (2014). Cyanidin-3-O-galactoside and blueberry extracts supplementation improves spatial memory and regulates hippocampal ERK expression in senescence-accelerated mice. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24709099

FDA Warns: ‘Don’t Use Spray Sunscreen on Children’

A report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has indicated that global temperatures are continuing to rise and the world will experience a hotter than normal summer this year. [1] This is why it’s important to protect our skin from the harmful sun damage that the sunny months may bring, especially our children’s delicate skin.There are many sunscreens available in the market today in varying forms, such as lotion, gel, powder, and spray. However, Consumer Reports has advised to discontinue the use of spray sunscreens on children due to the risk of inhalation – based on a statement from the FDA that they have not yet evaluated their safety in comparison to other sunscreens. [2]

Sunscreens often contain titanium dioxide or zinc oxide, which are the highly reflective white components of the sunscreen – however these could be inhaled or swallowed by children while they are being sprayed. These chemicals may contain nanoparticles – which several studies have linked to development issues and reproductive problems for females. [3][4][5]


The International Agency for Research on Cancer also classified titanium dioxide as ‘possibly carcinogenic to humans’ which could cause overloading of lung clearance, chronic inflammation, and lung tumors. [6]

Toxic Soup – All Over You

However these are not the only potentially unhealthy components of sunscreens. The “soup” of potentially toxic chemicals found in consumer brand sunscreens has come under harsh criticism from campaigners such as the Environmental Working Group (EWG). Chemicals such as benzophenone, benzophenone-3, avobenzone, oxybenzone, diethanolamine, triethanolamine (DEA, TEA), padimate-o, octyl dimethyl PABA, benzophenone, oxybenzone, homosalate, octyl-methoxycinnamate (octinoxate), salicylates, and parabens are common in sunscreens and many of these are suspected carcinogens or hormone disrupters that can be absorbed by the skin and enter the body. [7]

The FDA is still investigating on the potential risks of spray sunscreens, and until the results are out, Consumer Reports strongly urges parents to discontinue the use of these and try other formulations instead.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) also warned consumers about marketing strategies by these companies that advertise false efficiency about their products. [8] In their 2015 sunscreen guide, 80% of the SPF products that they reviewed did not deliver the superior sun protection that they promised on the packaging. [9] This means that the sunscreen you’re using could actually do more harm to your health instead of protecting it.


While FDA’s investigation on spray sunscreens is still ongoing, experts are recommending consumers to avoid using these as much as possible.

Here are a few tips to help you protect your skin from sunburn, premature aging, and increased risk on skin cancer caused by heavy sun exposure. [10]

1. Stay in the shade. If possible, avoid direct sun exposure from 10 A.M. to 3 P.M., when the sun is at its highest in the sky and the heat is more intense.
2. Cover up. Wear clothes that cover up most of your body such as long shirts, shorts, wide-brimmed hats, pants and parasols to shield your skin from the sun’s UV rays.
3. Use sunglasses to protect your eyes from harmful UV radiation.
4. Pay attention to how your skin feels and looks. If your skin looks red, has blistered, and feels sore, it means you have been exposed to the sun for too long.
5. Check the UV index before going outdoors so you’ll know what proper measures to take to avoid sun overexposure.
6. Natural sunscreen. Here’s our page that links to a simple, more natural sunscreen formula that skips many of the harsh ingredients: http://www.herbs-info.com/blog/how-to-make-amazing-natural-homemade-sunscreen/

References:

[1] Ferris, R. 2016. NOAA climate outlook: Hot summer for most of US
http://www.cnbc.com/2016/05/25/noaa-climate-outlook-hot-summer-for-most-of-us.html

[2] “Don’t use spray sunscreens on children”
http://complete-health-and-happiness.com/fda-says-dont-use-spray-sunscreens-children/

[3] Sun, J. et al. 2013. Effects of Nanotoxicity on Female Reproductivity and Fetal Development in Animal Models
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3676785/

[4] Ovarian dysfunction and gene-expressed characteristics of female mice caused by long-term exposure to titanium dioxide nanoparticles. (Journal of Hazardous Materials, 2012) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23131501

[5] Silica and titanium dioxide nanoparticles cause pregnancy complications in mice. (Nature Nanotechnology, 2011) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21460826

[6] Kuempel, E., Ruder, A. Titanium Dioxide (IARC Monograph) https://monographs.iarc.fr/ENG/Publications/techrep42/TR42-4.pdf

[7] Healthy Holistic Living – Home Made Sunscreen Formula http://www.healthy-holistic-living.com/homemade-sunscreen.html

[7] Sifferlin, A. 2015. 80% of Sunscreens Don’t Really Work or Have ‘Worrisome’ Ingredients http://time.com/3883293/sunscreen-spf/

[8] 10th Annual EWG Sunscreen Guide https://www.ewg.org/sunscreen/10th-annual/

[9] TIPS: Sunscreen Should Be Your Last Resort https://www.ewg.org/sunscreen/

Why Lifting Matters

When it comes to fitness in America today, there is a unspoken predisposed allegiance to cardio and functional training. While there’s nothing wrong with that, but resistance training has value. Maybe you’re convinced you shouldn’t lift weights because you prefer not looking like The Hulk. Maybe you figure you just wouldn’t like it, since you’re not one of those CrossFit types.

Though I don’t want to be confrontational about it… you’re wrong. Strength training not only builds muscle but can prevent disease, relieves stress and will definitely help you lose weight.

Here are 13 great reasons to include a little work with the weights into your fitness repertoire.

1. You’ll live longer.
While most forms of regular exercise can add years to your life, strength training in particular has big benefits. As we get older, the more muscle mass we have, the less likely we are to die prematurely, according to 2014 research from UCLA. “In other words, the greater your muscle mass, the lower your risk of death,” study co-author Arun Karlamangla, M.D., said in a statement. “Thus, rather than worrying about weight or body mass index, we should be trying to maximize and maintain muscle mass.” And what better way to maximize those muscles than by pumping iron?
2. For better sleep.
Regular exercisers — especially those who truly push themselves — report the best sleep, and weightlifting is no exception. In a small 2012 study in older men, researchers found that resistance training reduced the number of times the study participants woke up during the night, as compared to a control group who performed no exercise.

3. Your progress is so noticeable.
There’s nothing that feels quite as rewarding as setting a goal and crushing it. If you’re new to strength work, you’ll find that a weight you once thought was impossible to lift starts to feel easy sooner than you might imagine. Add to that, you’ll feel like a conqueror.

4. To protect your bones.
Weight-bearing exercise and particularly strength training is thought to increase bone density, reducing the risk of fractures and breaks among older adults.

5. To boost your balance.
Of course, one major cause of bone breaks as we age is falling. Some of weightlifting’s benefit in protecting against osteoporosis may be improved strength and balance, resulting in fewer falls. Indeed, research suggests that various resistance routines can reduce an older person’s rate of falling by around 30 percent.

6. It can make you happier.
Like many forms of physical activity, a little lifting can work wonders for your mental health. Strength training has been linked to reduced anxiety and depression symptoms as well as improved self-esteem, and it may even give your brainpower a boost.

7. To look better in your clothes.
Now, we don’t suggest you lift weights (or do any exercise, for that matter) solely for appearance — there are just so many other benefits! — but when it comes to slimming down, endless hours on the elliptical may not be getting you any closer to the results you desperately seek. In fact, building muscle may help you lose fat more effectively than simply doing cardio. “If you’re looking to lose fat, go with strength training,” trainer Nick Tumminello, author of Strength Training for Fat Loss told Business Insider. “Watch your diet to reveal your shape, and strength train to improve that shape.”
8. To burn more calories.
Simply having more muscle on your frame helps your body burn up extra calories — even when you’re sitting completely still.

9. You can do it in under 30 minutes.
Adding strength work to your regular exercise routine doesn’t have to eat up the tiny bit of free time you had left in the day. In fact, lifting is one area where more is not always better — around 30 to 60 minutes a week, total, is plenty, according to Runner’s Times.

10. And you don’t even have to go to the gym.
We’re using the term “lifting weights,” but the world of strength and resistance training includes a whole host of options outside of what you’d find at the gym. You can “lift weights” with cans and jars you find in your kitchen. You can “lift weights” using only your body. You can buy a pair of five-pound dumbbells and lift along with a DVD in the comfort of your own living room, where the only person checking you out in the mirror is you. In fact, if you’re new to strength training, many moves are safer if performed with just your bodyweight until you can get the hang of perfect form. Plus, many of those machines at the gym aren’t adjustable enough for the wide range of bodies that use them.

11. To run faster (really!)
Or swim longer or bike harder or get better at just about any other athletic endeavor you fancy. Why? Because you’ll be cultivating stronger, more powerful muscles to then put to good use. Also, strength training can help prevent injuries in other athletic pursuits, by helping correct muscle imbalances that in turn throw your form — even just while sitting or standing — out of whack.

12. Aids in heart health.
Despite the name, cardio isn’t the only form of exercise with cardiovascular benefits. A resistance training routine has been shown to lower blood pressure, in some cases as effectively as taking medication. The American Heart Association recommends adults aim for at least two strength training sessions a week.

13. Because then you can wear shirts like this

You can’t ban these guns - Men's Muscle T-Shirt

In closing, this is not a end-all, be-all list. This is another list, a tool to help you meet and exceed your fitness goals.