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Archive for the ‘Fitness’ Category

Seasonal Allergies

[Written by Peter Nielsen].
Pollen is in the air and many of us are preparing for the onslaught of itchy eyes, sneezing and runny noses that come with seasonal allergies. According to the Center for Disease Control, seasonal allergies, also known as hayfever or allergic rhinitis, was diagnosed in 17.6 million people in the United States last year. Seasonal allergies are a short-term inflammation of the mucous membranes of the nasal passages which is caused by airborne pollens from trees, grasses, flowers, and weeds. Allergy season in the U.S. can start as early as February in southern states and May in the midwest.
As mentioned above, seasonal allergies have a host of debilitating symptoms, and demand attention and care so you can enjoy this beautiful time of year. can be worrying, especially for people who are otherwise healthy and unused to experiencing sudden debilitating symptoms. If left unchecked, seasonal allergies can often turn an otherwise enjoyable time of year for many into misery.There are many ‘standard procedures’ for controlling the symptoms and recently natural remedies have proved themselves invaluable for many people.
• Avoid triggers. When possible, stay inside when pollen counts are at their highest. Pollen count usually is at its highest the morning hours and remains high during the afternoon.Wear wraparound sunglasses to protect your eyes!
• Minimize indoor risks. If possible, keep windows closed during high pollen count periods. If you use an air conditioner, be sure to use a high quality filter. Vacuuming and dusting will help eliminate any pollen that has entered the home, when dusting, use a damp cloth that will capture the pollen.
• Probiotics. In allergies, the immune system may react too strongly to a stimuli — such as pollen. New research has indicated that the presence of beneficial bacteria in the gut with may reduce risks for allergies.
• Nettle is a folk remedy for the sneezing, itching, and swelling associated with allergies. It contains quercetin, which inhibits the release of histamine. One study found that the herb was at least moderately effective in reducing allergy symptoms for more than half of those who took nettle.
• Butterbur. In a study published by the British Medical Journal, a group of Swiss researchers found that just tablet of butterbur — an herbal shrub that grows in wet, marshy ground –taken four times daily is as effective as a popular antihistamine drug to control symptoms of hay fever.
Hayfever sufferers all have individual allergic responses, some people will be able to cope handle their allergies with over-the-counter medication, natural remedies, and limiting their exposure to allergens. Others may need the care of a health care professional. If you do have concerns or your methods of dealing with hayfever is not enough, see your a health care provider for assistance.
May and June are beautiful months. We all deserve to enjoy them.
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The Sunshine Vitamin

[Written by Peter Nielsen].
Vitamin D — the “sunshine vitamin” — has long been valued for its ability to regulate the absorption of calcium and phosphorous, which are vital nutrients for strong bones and teeth. A fat-soluble vitamin, vitamin D is produced in your skin as a response to sunlight. In recent years, ongoing research has discovered vitamin D is important in a number of other health areas:
• It reduces your risk of multiple sclerosis – Journal of the American Medical Association, 2006
• It reduces your chance of developing heart disease – Circulation, 2008
• It helps protect you against the possibility of developing the flu – American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2010
Now new research indicates that vitamin D may be able to add protection against type 2 diabetes and heart disease, two of the most common causes of poor health and death in the United States!
The research, from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis was published March 19 in the journal Cell Reports. The study not only suggests that vitamin D plays an important part in preventing the inflammation that leads to type 2 diabetes and atherosclerosis, it found that the behavior of cells lacking adequate vitamin D may offer new therapeutic targets for patients with those disorders.
Researchers studied mice that were not able to process vitamin D and found that these mice made excessive glucose, became resistant to insulin and accumulated plaque in their blood vessels. Additionally, inadequate vitamin D turned immune cells into transporters of fat, which may offer a better understanding of the link between diabetes and atherosclerosis. The findings also suggested that risks of inflammation and the onset of heart disease and diabetes may be reduced by getting enough vitamin D! So how can you be sure you’re getting your daily dose?
• Sunshine is the most natural way to get vitamin D, this another great reason to add a daily walk to your fitness regimen! It doesn’t take long … just a few minutes! You don’t want your skin to turn pink and begin to burn.
• Eat your fish. Fish, meat, eggs and dairy products are the only foods that contain natural vitamin D. Oily fish is the best source.
• Mushrooms are the only non-animal-source for vitamin D in food, so if you’re veggie or vegan, mushrooms are an important food for you.
Be sure you get enough vitamin D … it’s another step toward a sunny future!
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Stepping Forward

[Written by Peter Nielsen].
Warm weather marks a new season for runners, walkers, joggers and a many other sports enthusiasts … from baseball and tennis players to street hockey and skate boarders. An important part of your athletic regimen is the equipment you use, and a basic, very imporant item is your shoes. Appropriate, well-fitting shoes are not only important for comfort, they offer you great benefits.
• Arch support is important if you are taking part in a regular exercise routine. The American College of Sports Medicine suggests that runners with flat feet ask a specialist for recommendations on running shoes.
• Midsole foot cushioning — cushion of the area between the ball and heel of the foot – can reduce stress placed on the heel, ankles and toes when running. This not only makes running more comfortable, it can help improve body mechanics and reduce or prevent knee, hip and back pain.
• Injury prevention – especially for specific types of injury caused by extensive running — is a vital benefit of proper footwear. Together, midsole cushioning and arch support can help prevent overuse injuries, such as tendonitis, stress fractures and joint pain — and protect against cuts and scrapes to the feet!
The American Council on Exercise has stated that using the right shoe can help you make greater gains in your athletic regimen. There are a lot of shoes out there, the first step in choosing the correct pair for you is understanding your foot type!
• If your shoes are most worn down on the inside, you have a low arch; your footprint shows almost the entire foot, and your feet roll distinctively inward. In this case, wear motion-control running shoes. They should have maximum supportive features as well as substantial cushioning in high strike areas of the heel and forefoot. These shoes are also excellent for the larger-framed runner. However, if the outside of your heel hits the ground first, and rolls inward slightly, consider stability shoes. Stability running shoes give extra support through the midsole and heel to help your feet work better. Select a shoe with a straight shape.
• If your shoes show uniform wear across the forefoot, your feet have a distinct curve along the inside of your foot, and your heel and toes are connected by a band that is slightly less than half the width of your foot, you have a normal arch. With a normal arch, the middle to slightly outward part of the heel strikes the ground first and the foot rolls slightly inward, absorbing shock more effectively. You should use stability running shoes with a semi-curved shape.
• If your shoes show more wear on the outer sides, you have a high arch. Your footprint shows a thin outer band between your heel and toe, the outside of the heel strikes the ground first and does not roll inward, staying on the outside causing the impact to be concentrated on a smaller area of the foot. Look for cushioned shoes with a curved shape to encourage foot movement, these shoes should be more concerned with midsole cushioning that support, and provide extra shock absorption to make up for the lack of pronation that comes with high arches.
Whether you’re just beginning a running program or are an old pro at it, enjoy the beautiful weather and step forward to a healthy, fit lifestyle!
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Garmin’s Vivofit Gets You Moving

If you’re interested in keeping track of your physical fitness, you’ve no doubt heard about wearable activity bands. What started out as simple pedometers to track your steps, have become devices to monitor nearly all aspects of your physical activity, even your sleep patterns.
At Dunham’s Sports you can find a variety of wearable activity bands, including the Vivofit from Garmin.
The Vivofit is perfect for a first-time user. Anthony Hall of Garmin says this band is a great choice for the budget-conscious individual who wants to improve their health.
The Vivofit is worn like a bracelet. It has a screen to show steps taken, goal progress, distance traveled and calories burned. And with the date and time display, the bracelet doubles as a watch.
Not sure where you’d start? The Vivofit sets up goals for you. And every time you reach a goal, the device sets a new one for you. Hall says no other band on the market does that. And if you need a little help getting started, the band alerts you when you’ve been sedentary for too long. After one hour of inactivity, a red bar appears on the display and keeps growing the longer you don’t move. Just take a short walk to reset the timer.
Hall says the Vivofit’s screen is part of what makes it stand out from the other bands on the market. The display makes it easy to see your activity, without having to rely on your smartphone. And when you do want to sync it up, the Bluetooth-capability makes it easy.
“With most competitors you have to sync in order to see your activity,” Hall said. “What’s awesome about the Vivo series is their screen and the ability to track without having to constantly pair with your phone.”
Vivofit has a one-year battery life, which means you won’t have to take the band off to charge it.
The band can be used with the Garmin heart rate monitor. That means that even if your activity doesn’t take you on the move, such as yoga or spinning class, you can still get an accurate measure of how many calories you’ve burned and how much physical activity you’ve gotten.
Looking to engage in some friendly competition? Vivofit has that covered, too. You can go to and join their community for free.
“Our online community is huge,” Hall said. “You can get in competition with others, or you can build your own group of friends/coworkers and have a challenge.”
With the Garmin Vivofit band, you can get more engaged in your physical activity and set some new goals along the way!
-Fitness Fanatic
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Spring Salads

[Written by Peter Nielsen].
Spring is around the corner and with it comes fresh, local salad greens. Buying local produce offers fresher vegetables, which means a crisper salad with more flavor and nutrition. There’s a wide array of lettuce to add texture, taste, and interest along with increased nutritional value to your salads.
Here are some of the most commonly available varieties of lettuce that will really add a punch to your spring salads!
Arugula comes from the mustard family and has peppery flavor. Young, fresh leaves are lightly pungent and will add spice to your salads. Arugula is low in calories and contains fiber, vitamins A and C, and calcium. It is a good source of vitamin K, which helps blood clot properly.
Baby bok choy has a crunchy, celery-like texture and a refreshing taste. It is an excellent source of vitamins A, C, and K and a good source of B complex vitamins
Dandelion greens add a bitter, tangy taste to salad. One cup has 100% of the daily recommendation of the antioxidant, vitamin A. It is also a good way to get the calcium your bones need.
Endive is another low-calorie, high-fiber green that is rich in potassium. It comes in many varieties from the peppery frisee to the mild escarole. Add some red radiccio to brighten up your salad with some extra color!
Spinach is nutritious and flavorful, alone or mixed with other salad greens. It is rich in antioxidants, is a good source of vitamins A, B2, C and K, and also contains magnesium, manganese, folate, iron, calcium and potassium.
Watercress is also a good source of vitamin A, vitamin C, and calcium. It is an excellent source of the antioxidants beta-carotene and lutein along with glucosinolate, a compound which has been shown to have anti-cancer properties.
Not a big salad-eater? You should be, they’re great for losing or maintaining weight, while offering important nutritional benefits.
Add fiber to your diet which can help lower cholesterol levels and prevent constipation.
Increase blood levels of many powerful antioxidants, including vitamins C and E, folic acid, lycopene, and alpha- and beta-carotene … especially if your salad includes raw vegetables.
Enhance satiety with fewer calories! Studies show that eating a low-calorie first course of 150 calories or less reduces the total number of calories eaten during a meal.
Salads … refreshing, tasty and healthy. What a great way to greet the new season!
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Spring Into a New Walking Routine

[Written by Peter Nielsen].
Walking has increased in popularity as a method of exercise and transportation over the past few years. Statistics show that if you’re going somewhere within a mile of your home, chances are that you’ll walk … especially if you have either sidewalks or paved roads. Unfortunately, we’re still not walking – or taking part in other physical activities – enough. Walking is the most popular aerobic activity with approximately 6 in 10 adults reporting that they walked for at least 10 minutes in the previous week. That’s something, but ten minutes is definitely not enough. It’s spring, what a beautiful time of the year to begin a new walking routine!
Scientists at the University of Pittsburgh found that overweight people who walked briskly for 30 to 60 minutes a day lost weight even if they didn’t change any other lifestyle habits and researchers at the University of Colorado found that regular walking helped to prevent peripheral artery disease. Plus you get all the benefits of consistent aerobic exercise … and walking is one of the easiest forms of exercise. All you need is a good pair of shoes and the will to do it.
Where to start? A walking program is like any other activity, you need a plan to succeed. At the beginning you want to decide a basic goals for your walks and the methods you use to attain those goals. Then you can get to work!
Start slow. Walk for 10 minutes, and walk back every day for a week. If you’re comfortable after a week add five minutes to your walk. Continue adding 5 minutes to each walk until you reach your goal.
Hold your head up and eyes forward with your shoulders should be down and relaxed. Move forward with a natural stride.
Drink plenty of water before, during, and after walking. Start with a slow, warm -up pace, pause and do a few warm up / flexibilty stretches. Walk for the desired length of time or distance and end the walk with the slower cool down. After your walk, do some stretches.
Your walking pace should be fast enough that it’s hard to sing, yet slow enough that it’s to talk.
Make daily walking a habit. Walk fast enough to reach your target heart rate, but not so much that you are gasping and unable to breathe. Motivate yourself by keeping a journal.
According to the American Heart Association, walking for at least 30 minutes a day:
Reduces your risk of coronary heart disease.
Improves your blood pressure and blood sugar levels.
Improves your blood lipid profile.
Helps maintain your body weight and lower the risk of obesity.
Enhances your mental well being.
Reduces the risk of developing osteoporosis.
Reduces the risk of developing breast and colon cancer.
Reduces the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Walking … it’s easy and so good for you!
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[Written by Peter Nielsen].
The American Psychological Association recently published their Stress in America™ survey. This annual survey was conducted from August 4th to the 29th of 2014 and included 3,068 adults ages 18 and older. It found that 75 percent of Americans experienced at least one symptom of stress in the past month. Twenty-five percent of those surveyed said stress has a’ very strong’ or ‘strong’ impact on their physical or mental health. That is a stunning number!
Causes of stress include finances, work, family concerns and health issues. Whatever the concern, studies have shown that stress can negatively affect your health! It is common for stress to lead to sleep deprivation, headaches, anxiety and depression, and the long-term effects of stress can go much further than that.
Heart health. In 2013, the Oxford Journal published an analyses of 7268 men and women from the British Whitehall II study that included 18 years of follow-up. The study found that participants who reported that stress has affected their health ‘a’ lot or ‘extremely’ had a 2.12 times higher risk of coronary incidents, including death, when compared with those who reported no effect of stress on their health. Other studies, from different respected organizations, have come to the same conclusion.
Diabetes. According to the American Diabetes Association, stress may alter blood glucose levels and increase risks for diabetes in two ways.
Stress effects people’s activities, including alcohol consumption, exercise levels and dietary planning.
Stress hormones may directly alter blood glucose levels.
Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s disease affects 1 in 20 people aged 65 and over, a number that increases to approximately half of people aged 85 and older! The University of California – Irvine has devoted much research to investigating the effect of stress on Alzheimer’s disease. They found that patients with Alzheimer’s disease have elevated levels of cortisol in their blood streams … cortisol levels are increased by stress. Additionally, a study has also shown that people with stressful lives are around 2-3 times more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease than others.
Decreasing the stress in our lives and managing our reaction to stressful situations is vita. Reducing stress is difficult, we are busy, worried about day-to-day problems with work, our families and our communities, but there are some steps you can take to significantly reduce the physical and emotional effect it has on your life.
Ask yourself what you can do about the sources of your stress. You can’t control everything, but you can control how you respond.
Learn and use relaxation techniques. Try breathing exercises, prayer and/or meditation.
Exercise regularly. You’ll feel better and be more prepared to handle problems.
Eat healthy. Focus on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein. Avoid sugar or junk foods.
Teach yourself to say no when confronted with a stress-inducing situation.
Take the time for personal interests.
Get enough rest and sleep. Your body needs time to recover from stressful events.
Spend time with people you love.
If stress is making life difficult, and you need help, talk with a counselor or take a stress management class.
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Calorie Needs

[Written by Peter Nielsen].
Understanding your personal caloric needs and the effect of physical activity on those needs is important, it can also be unnecessarily confusing. Basically, the number of calories you need to eat each day is derived from many factors including your age, weight, height, gender, lifestyle, and overall health and fitness. It is common sense that a physically active 6 feet tall, 20 year-old man or woman needs more calories than a less active, 5-foot, 75 year-old man or woman … but how does a person find out how many calories they need based on their lifestyle and metabolism? It’s really not that hard.
You’ve probably heard of BMR or basal metabolic rate. Your basal metabolic rate is the minimum number of calories you would need to perform all bodily functions while sleeping for an entire day. Those functions include keeping the heart beating, respiration, digestion, creation of new blood cells, temperature maintenance and metabolic processes. It does not include physical activities, still these basic functions can require as much as 70 percent of the total calories burned in a single day for some individuals. The first step for any individual who has a fitness goal to lose, maintain or gain weight is to determine the total number of calories that their body uses for basic functioning – their BMR- and daily activities per day.
A common method for measuring daily calorie usage is the Harris-Benedict equation. It estimates your basal metabolic rate, which is then multiplied by your level of activity. The result is your recommended daily calorie intake.
The method is simple. First calculate your basal metabolism rate using the formula below
• For adult women: 655 + ( 4.35 x weight in pounds ) + ( 4.7 x height in inches ) – ( 4.7 x age in years ) = BMR
• For adult men: 66 + ( 6.23 x weight in pounds ) + ( 12.7 x height in inches ) – ( 6.8 x age in year ) =BMR
As an example, if you are a 25 year-old adult woman who weighs 130 pounds, is 5’4″ tall, and your fitness regimen includes moderate exercise three to five days per week, the steps to calcluate your BMR and calorie requirement calculations would be:
First, use your weight, height and age to find the basal metabolic rate.
655 + (4.35 x 130) + (4.7 x 64) – (6.8 x 25)
or 655 + 565.6 +300.8150 =1371.4
Then calculate your estimated daily caloric requirements by multiplying the basal metabolic rate (in this example, 1,371.4) by the appropriate physical activity item in the list below.
• Sedentary lifestyle: little or no physical activity – BMR x 1.2
• Slightly active lifestyle: light exercise between once and three times per week – BMR x 1.375
• Moderately active lifestyle: moderate exercise three to five days per week – BMR x 1.55
• Active lifestyle: intense exercise six to seven times per week – BMR x 1.725
• Very active lifestyle: heavy/intense exercise twice a day – BMR x 1.9
Using this method, a 25 year-old adult woman who weighs 130 pounds and is 5’4″ tall who maintains a moderate exercise regimen three to five days per week has an estimated basic calorie requirements of 1646.1 x 1.55 or 2,126 calories per day.
Unfortunately, the Harris Benedict equation does not take body mass or density into consideration, so remember, muscle burns more energy than fat, so you may need to tweak your intake needs.
This is a great tool to help you design your fitness and nutrition needs throughout our adult life!
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Nutrition, Exercise and Depression

[Written by Peter Nielsen].
Nearly fifteen million adults in the U.S. suffer from depression, and the number is increasing every year and the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry estimates that one in 20 children and adolescents are depressed! Sadly, more than 80% of the people who show symptoms of clinical depression receive no treatment.
Recently, the links between nutrition, exercise and depression have become more understood and accepted; both can play key roles in helping to prevent the onset and severity of depression. One of the most comprehensive studies that link diet, inflammation and depression was published in Brain, Behavior and Immunity. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, women who consume a high amount of foods that trigger inflammation –sugar, refined grains, red meat, and soft drinks — have up to a 41% greater risk of being diagnosed with depression than people who eat a less inflammatory diet.
While a diet that specifically addresses the issue of depression hasn’t been developed yet, we do know that including certain healthy foods in your daily dietary regimen will help protect against depression. Here are a few of them:
• Antioxidants. Beta-carotene and vitamins C and E combat the effects of free radicals and reduce the damage they cause. Studies have shown that the brain is especially vulnerable to free radical damage. You can get your beta-carotene from apricots, broccoli, cantaloupe, carrots, collards, pumpkin, spinach and sweet potatoes; your vitamin C from blueberries, broccoli, grapefruit, kiwi, oranges, peppers, strawberries, and tomato and your vitamin E from nuts and seeds, vegetable oils, wheat germ.
• Healthy Carbohydrates. Carbohydrate craving may be related to decreased levels of the mood-elevating serotonin, so be smart about your carb intake! Drop the sugars and go for whole grains and with plenty of fruits, vegetables, and legumes for your healthy carbs and fiber.
• Protein. Protein-rich foods, such as fish, beans, turkey, and chicken, are rich in an amino acid called tyrosine which may help boost levels of the brain chemicals dopamine and norepinephrine. This boost helps you feel alert and makes it easier to concentrate.
• Folate and Vitamin B12. A Spanish study found that rates of depression increased in men and women as folate intake lessened, particularly if they were smokers! Legumes, nuts, and dark green vegetables are excellent sources of folate.
• Vitamin D. Research has found a higher risk of depression for people with vitamin D deficiency. A study from the University of Toronto found that people who suffer from depression – especially seasonal affective disorder – improve as their levels of vitamin D increased over the course of a year. Supplement your sunlight-derived vitamin D with fatty fish.
Different studies have also mentioned selenium and omega-3 fatty acids as important dietary additions to prevent depression, but more research is needed!
Research has shown that exercise is also an effective treatment for mild to moderate depression. Exercise prompts the body to release endorphins, chemicals that interact with the receptors in your brain that reduce your perception of pain and trigger a positive feeling.
Additionally, regular exercise has been proven to:
• Reduce anxiety
• Lessen stress
• Boost self-esteem
• Improve sleep
It’s an important equation to remember … a healthy diet and fitness regimen equals a longer, happier life!
Please, see your health professional if symptoms of depression persist.
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