Friday, October 30, 2020

Carved Turnips, Carved Pumpkins


No Halloween is complete without carving at least one pumpkins.  Even out in the bush of Alaska, stores generally order in a few pumpkins so people can have a traditional halloween.  Some people just carve the pumpkin while others save and dry the seeds with salt  to eat later.

Do you know why we carve pumpkins?  I do and I'm about to share the why with everyone.  The myth associated with carving pumpkins and turnips, comes from an alleged indecent many, many, years ago. 

There was a man by the name of Jack whose nickname was Stingy Jack.  It is said he loved it when he could get anything, especially drinks for free so one day he made a deal with the Devil and managed to win the bet so the Devil had to pay.  Of course the Devil wasn't very happy about it so when Stingy Jack died, he couldn't go to heaven.  Instead, he was condemned to walk the earth at the darkest part of the night with only a lantern carved from a turnip holding a single ember to light his way.  

The Irish began carving vegetables and lighting them to keep Jack away.  They traditionally used turnips because that is what they had but when they emigrated to the United States, they discovered pumpkins were a wonderful vegetable to use.  They were bigger, easier to carve and had space for lights. Even today, many Irish still carve turnips and some of those can be quite scary.

From the museum of Country Life, Mayo Ireland.
The Museum of Country Life in Mayo Ireland has many carved turnips in their exhibits.  Those carved turnips resemble human skulls with their eyes and mouths.  The pumpkins tend to allow for bigger, more expressive faces, or fantasy type scenes but do not resemble a human skull.

This picture is of a turnip found at the Museum of County Life in Mayo so you can see how much closer to something scary the carved turnip is.  If they didn't have a turnip to carve, they might use beets, potatoes, or mangels instead to create the face.  

Should you decide to try something different by carving a turnip, know it is almost done the same way as a pumpkin. 

1.  Find a large turnip for the best results.

2. Slice the bottom off the turnip so it has a flat base to sit upon.

3. Slice the top greens off so the top is bare.

4. Cut a slice off the top to make the lid.

5. Hollow out the turnip with what ever tools you have but a paring knife is best.

6.  Carve out the eyes and mouth.

7. Place a tea light in the center, place the lid on it, and you are done.

The same instructions work for the beets, and mangels but for a potato, you don't need to trim the top off first.

Have a wonderful celebration tomorrow.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Odd Halloween Traditions

For the most part, Halloween in the United States consist of trick or treating, parties, and having a great time but other countries have unique ways of celebrating Halloween.  I thought I'd share a few since they are quite different than what we are used to.  

For instance, in  Germany, people tend to hide all the knives in the house on Halloween because they want the dead who return to be safe.  In northern Spain, they love carving pumpkins, celebrating with costumes and parties but what sets them apart is that they drink a local alcohol out of the pumpkin after they've decided a spell to protect them against evil.  

In Italy where they celebrate their own version of the Day of the Dead, they create these wonderful Fave di Morti which are Fava bean shaped sugar cookies.  This comes from a belief that the dead souls are found in Fava beans so the beans are the link between the living and the dead.  So when you eat a cookie, you are able to talk to the dead.

In another region of Spain, people celebrate with roasted chestnuts, sweet potatoes, and small almond cookies while drinking a traditional sweet wine.  This particular celebration and menu comes from years of people staying up all night on October 31st to celebrate the dead.  On the other hand, they celebrate the day in Barcelona with a ghostly scavenger hunt in the gothic quarter.  For this, people fly in from all over the world, wear costumes, follow maps, drink, all while enjoying the history of the place. 

Then in the Czech Republic, people place chairs around fire places.  They place one chair for each living member of the family and one for each member who has passed. Of course, in France, Halloween is not a traditional celebration but they've embraced it anyway and when they dress up in costumes, they choose to be vampires, ghouls, and other creepy characters.  

Some Asian countries have started celebrating Halloween but not in the normal ways.  In Hong Kong, they use the day to advertise theme parks such as Disneyland and many stores use the holiday to decorate stores and shopping centers to create a spooky ambiance.  On the other hand, one or two places in Japan have recently started hosting a parade and after 23 years it is a huge success.

In Norway, people love visiting places with a history of being haunted such as the Nidaros Cathedral which is said to be haunted by a dead monk or the Akershus Fortress which is said to be protected by a demon bred dog who had been buried alive there.  At another church in the area, people say there is something strange about the church because it causes headlamps to quit working.

In Nepal, they have Gai Jatra which is also known as the festival of cows in addition to a festival of the dead.  People place head dresses and other decorations on the cows and the cows then lead a parade filled with people who have lost a loved one during the previous year.  It is believe that cows help those who passed on get to heaven. 

On the other hand, in Haiti they paint their faces to resemble skulls to mimic the dead and people take spiced alcohol to relatives buried in cemeteries.  Finally, in Cambodia they have a festival to remember the dead involving water buffalo races and ending with the monks chanting all night to signal the opening of the gates of hell.

I don't celebrate like most people. I have candy for those children who come by but I usually remember those who passed and pray for their souls.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  

Monday, October 26, 2020

Celebrating Halloween In The Pandemic

Schools, communities, and people are trying to figure out how to allow children to experience a traditional  halloween during these trying times. My local school usually has a carnival with lots of candy, games, and other things but we can't have one because the school is limiting the number of people in the building.  In a flash of inspiration, the student council suggested a Halloween parade through town.   

So on Saturday, October 31st at 5:00 PM, a bunch of decorated pick-up trucks, cars, four wheelers, and bicycles will take off and weave through town giving candy to kids on the side.  Of course, town is small so this is something that can be easily done but there are things that can be done to allow children to enjoy the day.

I've seen people on line working on creating candy dispersal systems so they can pass out candy to anyone who stops by while managing to maintain social distancing because door to door trick or treating is being discouraged.  It is hard to maintain social distancing when everyone is out and it is also hard to coordinate masks with costumes.  Fortunately, there are still ways to create a halloween experience.

First of all, one can go all out on creating the perfect yard for the holiday. String lights all over the yard, construct headless scarecrows and headless people to spread out across the yard. Then carve a bunch of pumpkins, place electric candles in them and scatter around the yard.  Invest in a fog machines to make it seem more eerie. Check your local stores for cobwebs, spiders, skeletons, and other traditional Halloween creatures to spread on trees, crawling out of bushes, or coming down from the roof.  Create an atmosphere and experience for everyone.

If you still want to give out candy, it is recommended you put candy in small, snack sized baggies and leave them on a table on the driveway so you can monitor the treats from your porch.  It allows you to quickly refill the bowl while maintaining proper social distancing.  Unfortunately, this does not work if you live in an apartment so leave the pre-bagged treats in an open box outside. 

Other possibilities are hanging the treats on a fence, bush, or tree so children can "Pick" their candy as they pass buy.  For those who do not feel comfortable allowing their children to go out trick or treating, hide bags of candy around the apartment or house so they can search for it, much like one does at Easter.  Speaking of Easter, take some of those plastic eggs you fill with candy, paint them with halloween themes, and fill with candy to place around the yard or house.  If you put a glow stick inside the egg with the candy, the whole egg takes on an eerie glow and is visible to children.

Do to the recommended social distancing, it is hard to have a traditional halloween costume contest but don't worry, it is still possible to have one using something like zoom, google meet, or something similar by creating a virtual contest.  If that doesn't appeal to you or you don't have the technical skills or band width, it is still possible to have a contest but turn it into a costume parade.  Just have everyone wearing a proper cloth face mask rather than the costume mask so the child does not experience problems breathing, and make sure children are at least six feet apart.  

If you have the space, think about a halloween scavenger hunt.  Give children a list of things to find and let them search for them.  This can be done by families in their year if the parents make sure everything is available.  

As I said, I'll be helping out with the school parade and will share candy with others during the parade.  At home, I'll lock my apartment door and ignore anyone who comes through.  Please practice wearing a mask and social distancing and stay well.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.

Friday, October 23, 2020

Why Use A Facial Cleansing Brush?

Someone close to me gave this small, round, soft bristled brush to use when I cleanse my face.  I'd never seen it before but I tried it and I love using it.  They are so soft, it feels like you are treating yourself to something special.  

Facial cleansing brushes do more than one thing in that they exfoliate, polish, while improving your skin.  I've been using one regularly and it has helped keep my maskne down so my skin stays clear. 

There are so many reasons one should make them a part of your regular routine.  First, a good cleansing brush will help clean the dirt and oil out of your skin better than your hands or a washcloth because the bristles reach down into your skin a bit further, loosening the debris.  A facial brush helps remove more dirt and oil so your skin is cleaner.

Normally, your skin renews itself about every 28 days but when using a cleansing brush it speeds up the cycle.  In addition, it helps tighten facial skin so pores shrink and become less visible to the naked eye.  The brush also stimulates the skin's surface to that it becomes smoother and more radiant.  Furthermore, the brush causes the skin to detox by stimulating the body's ability to transport cellular waste to the blood to be eliminated.

Another advantage to using a cleansing brush is that it preps your skin so it absorbs moisturizer and serums better making your skin healthier.  Unfortunately, these brushes have gotten a bad reputation and consequently several myths have developed.  Some people believe that facial brushes irritate the skin causing it to break out.  One thing to remember is that a person needs to remove makeup  before using a cleansing brush because the brush cannot remove makeup completely.  

The belief that a cleansing brush can cause people to breakout is because some people go through a period of adjustment where they do break out but that does pass.  It is important to use enough water and cleanser on the brush to cut down on the amount of irritation that might occur.  I use lots of water and foaming cleanser and have never experienced any breakouts other than from wearing a mask so much.  Some think a facial brush is not good for acne but in reality it can help keep the extra sebum which increases acne breakouts.

Other people believe they cannot use a brush due to having sensitive skin but one doesn't have to use a brush every day.  It can be used one or twice a week and used with a cleanser the person has been using since the skin is used to it already.  People also believe a facial brush can spread bacteria around which it can if one does not clean the brush after every use.  It should also be soaked in alcohol but not rinsed  once a week to kill any bacteria growing on the brush. Finally air dry the brush.

It is thought that cleansing brushes can bet quite expensive but you can find some that are reasonably priced.  My first one ran $8.00 on sale from Wal-Mart but my current one I think ran about $10.00 from Amazon.  Facial brushes also come in a variety of types from thick brushes, to fine, to ones made of silicon.  I use one with lots of soft bristles that feels like it's caressing my face.

Finally, be careful when choosing a cleanser to use with the brush.  One should select a gentle cleanser in gel, cream, or foaming for best results.  If a person uses a cleanser meant for exfoliation, it could cause damage.  Personally, I adore my brush and will continue to use it till it dies.  I'm glad I made it a part of my routing. I feel that my skin is so much better since I started using it.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.  

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Why Is Enough Sleep Important?


Unfortunately, most of us do not get enough sleep.  There is always one more thing to do in the evening, or we're trying to fit in exercise, or wanting to stop by the store for groceries.  Even now, with the coronavirus, people aren't always getting enough sleep and it is important to have a certain amount of sleep every night.

There is this attitude that most people don't need a full eight to nine hours of sleep each night but can get by with between four and six hours per night.  That isn't quite true and we can have serious issues when we cut our sleep short.

When you don't get enough sleep at night, your body becomes less apt at fighting off illness because our immune system is compromised.  There appears to be a inverse relationship between lack of sleep and your immune system.  It is quite possible you'll lose additional sleep when you are sick if our body is sleep deprived.

Furthermore, research indicates that if you get less than 5 hours and more than 9 hours of sleep each night, it can impair your heart health.  You increase your chances of having a stroke or developing heart disease when you don't get enough sleep.  In addition, not getting enough sleep is associated with increased rates of certain types of cancer such as breast, colorectal, and prostate cancer.  It also increases your chances of high blood pressure.

There is also a problem with the functionality of your brain when you don't get enough sleep at night.  The lack of sleep can make you feel extremely foggy and interfere with your ability to think.  When you do not get enough sleep, your problem solving abilities decreased in addition to your memory being effected, and it interferes with your decision making and reasoning.  It also causes your reaction time to slow, and interferes with alertness thus tripling your chances of being involved in an accident.  There is research that a lack of sleep also interferes with your ability to learn.

Other studies indicate that people who sleep less than five hours per night are more likely to undergo weight gain and could eventually become obese. In addition, people increase their chances of ending up with diabetes as adults.   It also makes you moody and can make your temper ignite quicker.  Furthermore, a significant lack of sleep can lead to an increased chance of depression or interfering with your balance so you might fall more.

In addition, it can effect your skin by increasing the number of fine lines, wrinkles, uneven skin color, and it could sag.  Finally, it can make you tired during the day so you are constantly dragging. So keep all these things in mind when you want to short yourself with sleep.  It is thought that most people need between 7 and 8 hours of sleep to be happy and healthy.  On Friday, I'll be discussing ways to help you sleep at night so you get enough sleep. Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great night.

Monday, October 19, 2020

They Found The Booze In The Walls!

Yesterday morning,  I came across an article about a couple living in upper New York state  made an interesting discovery in their house.  When they bought it, a neighbor shared the rumor that the house belonged to a bootlegger but it was just a rumor until.......

Just a bit of background before completing the until.....  Bootlegging referred to illegal alcohol either produced or imported and sold once it was outlawed across the country.  The prohibition ran from 1920 to 1933 in New York state.

Back to modern times.  The couple decided to renovate the house to bring it up to modern times.  In the process, they discovered bottles hidden in the walls and floor.  The bottles were wrapped in hay and placed in so many different places out of sight of anyone.  If the bootlegger had been caught, he would have paid with jail time.  This house is in northern New York, near the Canadian border.  It was not unusual for people to smuggle liquor into the United States to sell for a neat profit. 

They have found over 40 bottles of bootleg in the house so far.  The bottles have a black label indicating the liquor is high quality and the name - "Old Smugglers" Gaelic Whiskey with a date of 1923.  Old Smugglers Gaelic Whiskey was a real brand dating back to at least 1835 in Scotland so it's a Scottish Whiskey.  It has probably been shipped to the United States since late in the 1800's.  

The first bottles were found in the mud room.  They found several bundles wrapped in brown paper, tied with string, and each bundle contained six bottles.  Once they found the first set of bundles, they continued looking and found more.  Not all the bottles survived the time intact.  The bottles stored upside down so the cork stayed damp, still contained liquor but the ones that sat upright lost their liquid.  It is speculated the ones with the cork that stayed damp, didn't disintegrate allowing the alcohol to evaporate out.

So far, they've resisted trying the product but they hope to  at some point.  They also hope to create a glass window to allow visitors a chance to see the bundles in their original position and shape but in the mean time, they are working to find more about the history of the house.  At one point, someone said the bootlegger who owned the house died in mysterious circumstances so the owners want to know more.

This is not the first time that people have found bootleg alcohol in a house being remodeled.  Another time happened back in 2015 when a couple in Michigan decided to update and renovate their house originally built in 1890. The house was originally built as a boarding house for loggers to live in. These bottles were found in the foundation of the house.  The bottles, wrapped in newspaper dating back to 1921 and stashed down in the foundation.  It is thought the person responsible for leaving the booze, left it for the homeowners to enjoy. 

These bottles differed from the others in that they were marked "medicinal" which was the only allowed type of alcohol consumed during the prohibition.  Since there is a demand for older bottles of alcohol because people have the mistaken idea that liquor will continue aging if left in a bottle when it only ages as long as it is in the barrel. This couple was approached by appraisers who told them the bottles were worth at least $700 but they've decided to keep it to enjoy.  

Although most people don't find anything like this, it does happen.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.

Friday, October 16, 2020

Unusual Ways To Do Yoga.

The other night, I watched a rerun of NCIS and two of the characters were discussion "Goat Yoga".  I honestly thought that must be a joke because I'm not sure how it would work but it turns out, it is a real thing.  Goat Yoga is quite similar to regular  yoga except it includes the use of live goats.  

In general, the goats are wondering around while you do yoga and they join in when they feel like it.  They might jump on the back of someone doing a plank, or snuggling up during a Downward Facing Dog, or breath in your ear as you relax at the end.  It is said the goats help people relax.

Then there is Doga which is yoga done with a dog.  The idea is that the person who comes to yoga class with their pet.  The class begins with both the dog and the person laying on the floor and progresses from there. It is said that this yoga encourages relaxation and stress relief in both the dogs and their humans.  It is also said the dogs finish the class feeling important and extremely happy.

We mustn't forget horse yoga. Yes horse yoga where the connection between humans and horses gets stronger.  The idea is the person performs yoga moves on top of the horse or next to it while focusing on breathing.  This type of yoga focuses on balance, flexibility, and core stability as the rider expands their connection with the horse.  In the meantime, animal yoga has expanded to include cats.

There is something called Tantrum yoga which really doesn't sound like any yoga I've tried but I'm told it is actually more of fusion, rather than a standard yoga.  Apparently people get to scream, stomp their feet, yell, thump their chest, and finally laughing.  In other words, adults are allowed to throw tantrums to work out stress and frustration.  It is said to be quite therapeutic.

If you prefer, there is Aerial yoga in which people carry out yoga movements while in a silky sling shaped hammock set three to four feet above the ground.  A person uses the hammock by maneuvering the material to help hold them in various positions.  The material helps the person take each move a bit deeper and helps improve core muscles.  According to some research, regular usage of this type of yoga can help the person loose weight, a decrease of body fat, and a decrease in the waist measurement.

On the other hand, if you are adventuresome with a partner who is willing to try something, why not look at Acroyoga which combines, yoga, acrobatics, with healing practices.  It's been around since 2003 and uses two to three people.  The person who is on the bottom and does the lifting is referred to as the base while the second person is referred to the flyer because they are being lifted and the third person is the spotter providing the safety element.  There are two types of practice in Acroyoga.  The first is called the lunar practice in which the flyer is passive and lets the base stretch them and move them around.  The other is the solar practice where both the base and the flyer are active.

Then there are a bunch of others that are based more on the addition or subtraction of some things.  For instance there is Broga Yoga in which male buddies or "bros" participate in yoga.  It was designed as a way to get more males involved in yoga and it focuses on strength training and cardiovascular exercise.  For drinkers, they can enjoy beer yoga which takes place at breweries or bars.  It is set up so the yoga is done first, ending with a beer at the end for relaxation.  In some places such as Germany where it is quite popular, some poses do involve bottle of beer.

If you are a fairly new parent, you might want to take advantage of a baby and parent yoga where the parent helps the baby work through certain poses while performing their own.  Some parents have reported their children sleep better after a session.  For mothers, it helps them get over having given birth, strengthens and stretches muscles they need worked, and helps mother and child bond.  

For those who prefer nudity, there is nude yoga.  It is said people become more aware of their bodies and movements.  There is also hoop yoga, yoga raves, and as many other variations as the mind can come up with.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Why Choose Yoga For Your Exercise Program.

I try to incorporate Yoga a couple times a week, especially on days that I don't want to do anything too energetic.  I started doing yoga when a friend suggested I take it up because it had helped her tremendously so I found a couple DVD's to use at home.  Although at first glance, it doesn't look like it will do much but it's been found that yoga burns calories, tone muscles, and combines strengthening with stretching.

Yoga is not just yoga, instead there are many types which is why you need to check out a variety of ones to see which one works for you.  The most well known ones begin with Hatha yoga which is the one people picture in their minds when they hear the word yoga. Haha yoga pairs a series of movements with breathing while Vinyasa uses a series of move that flows from one into the next.  Then there is Power which combines moves into a fast, high intensity practice designed to build muscle and Bikram is made up of a series of 26 challenging poses done in a hot room.  Finally is the Iyengar yoga that relies on blocks, straps, and chairs to help the body move into proper alignment.  Some of these are slow and easy gentle while others are more demanding.

Yoga general works most parts of your body.  There are poses which work almost every core muscle in the body. Yoga is designed to help people build arm strength using only the weight of their bodies.  In addition, most poses work  leg muscles including the quadriceps, hips, and thighs.  Certain moves such as the warriors poses, squats, and ridges which help shape the rear and other moves stretch the back muscles. 

So what are the advantages of using yoga for one's overall health.  Yoga can help improve flexibility because many poses stretch muscles while increasing the range of motion.  Yoga by itself is not considered aerobic exercise unless you are doing one of the faster ones such as power yoga.  Since some poses such as Downward Facing Dog require you to hold up your body weight using arms and legs, it improves the strength of both because it builds muscle.  Finally, it allows people to participate in a safe low impact workout.

Yoga is considered good exercise for people who have diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol but it is recommended one add in some aerobic exercise for its benefits.  It is also suggested one check with the doctor before beginning yoga to determine if some moves are better to do than others for any conditions they have.  Although yoga is not necessarily high impact, it does help people relieve stress while being in the moment.  

I told you my friend used yoga for her back, I started yoga to help keep my balance so I wouldn't loose it as I age.  It has been shown that yoga can help improve both physical and emotional balance and one study showed that if teenagers practice five minutes of yoga a day, they can cut down on the probability of twisting an ankle by 77%. There are three areas that yoga focuses on to help with balance. The first is alignment because the body has to be in line especially in line with gravity to be able to balance.  Second, it uses strength to get into and hold the body alignment while making some adjustments as necessary.  Finally, yoga requires our attention to keep the body aligned so we can continue balancing.

Iyenger and Hatha yogas provide the best moves to improve balance because the moves are slower and allow people time to think about the move.  As mentioned earlier, yoga is for all ages and even if you are older, it is possible to start practicing yoga since there are versions that can be done while sitting in a chair.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.

Monday, October 12, 2020

Why Incorporate Resistance Bands?


A good workout program is designed to work all parts of the body in a variety of ways so you don't do the same thing every day.  It should include cardio, functional moves, and resistance at a minimum.  Resistance training is also known as

Resistance training is defined as any exercise designed to improve muscle fitness by exercising muscles or groups of muscles through the use of an external form of resistance.

The exercises help build strength, power, and endurance.  This can be done by using cans of foot, bottles of water, resistance bands, dumbbells, bricks, your body weight or anything that causes the muscles to contract.  

Resistance bands come in a few different styles such as the flat band also known as exercise bands or strength bands.  They come in different lengths and different lengths because the thicker the width of the band, the more resistance it provides and come in six different resistances ranging from 1 with the least resistance to 6 with the most and are based on color.  The order from least to greatest is yellow, green,  red, blue, purple, black, silver and possibly gold. Since the bands are made of rubber, they can be looped around other things such as gym equipment or by itself.  The bands can also be shortened as a way to provide more resistance.

There are actually four types of resistance bands people have a choice of.  The first is the most familiar one that is just a strip of rubber with a certain width and length.  The second type has two handles with a long cylinder tube in between. The thickness of the cylinder tube determines its amount of resistance.  The third type is a braided tube which has four tubes braided together, which helps it last longer, especially when used outside.  Like the second one, it comes in different resistance levels.  The last type is the looped band one can easily loop around angles, legs, or use it folded in half.

Another great thing about resistance bands, is that they can be used to target various parts of the body.  For instance, bands can help build strength when being used in upper or lower body training.  They can also help increase flexibility and joint mobility while aiding in rehabilitation.  Furthermore, if you wrap one end around a weight while holding the other end down, it creates additional resistance and makes exercising more challenging. 

There are some great advantages to incorporating resistance bands into a workout routine.  First off, resistance bands act differently than weights because the bands provide constant tension causing your muscles to work harder to build strength.  In the process of setting the amount of resistance, you are building focus because if it the exercise is too hard, you can ease up on the tension a bit and if it is too easy, you can increase the tension by adjusting your hand holds.  Resistance bands also help improve a person's stability and core muscles at the same time so there is less chance of falling as you age.

They are light weight and take little space to store.  They also help with joints and use the more natural moves associated with functional training.  In addition, they allow people to combine moves into one so different muscles are worked at the same time, making a workout more efficient.  Resistance bands also allow the user to control the angle so you don't hurt yourself and their use encourages better workout form because one can't skip through the last few reps. 

If you travel a lot, resistance bands easily fold up and can be slipped into a pocket in your backpack so you can exercise on your trip because they have the reputation as a portable gym.  However, they do not replace the use of regular weights but are a good complement to their use.  

It is strongly recommended that beginners use resistance bands no more than two or three times a week with a full 48 hours between to give the muscles a chance to recover.  As a person becomes stronger, it is possible to increase the number of days using resistance bands per week.  I try to use them two to three days a week alternating with weights but I'm not always successful.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.

Friday, October 9, 2020

How To Make Your Exercise Routine More Fun!

I realize it is hard to think about exercise as being fun for most people but there are ways to make it less of a chore and more enjoyable.  It takes some creativity and a willingness to do things a bit differently. I also want to make it clear that not everyone should do every exercise but they can make life more interesting if you can do it.

In addition, most of these can be done inside or via social distancing which is needed in these times of the coronavirus. 

1.  Handstands are recommended because work all the muscles from the core to the muscles such as the rotator cuffs that stabilize our bodies.  Doing handstands also helps develop the upper body because  that is the part of the body that helps you balance on our hands.  

2. Push-ups are another great exercise for developing the upper body by working .  In addition, push-ups can strengthen the lower back and work core muscles. Furthermore, push-ups can be done everywhere without any equipment.  It is recommended that a person vary the type of push-up done.

3. Rings are a great way to help build strength and build lean muscles by hanging.  Sometimes the closes rings are over at the playground where you could go and use them early in the morning before the young ones arrive.  Furthermore, using rings can help build upper arms, a bigger chest and wider shoulders in males.  If you haven't done rings since you were ten, you might want to start by just hanging from the rings and working your way into doing pull-ups.  If you want to do anything more exotic, check out videos for instructions on doing push-ups with long rings, etc.

4. Jumping rope can help burn calories while improving coordination, and improves heart health.  It also helps build muscle strength and can be done indoors with just a length of rope.  In addition, it can help you have a great workout in a short period of time.

5. Get together with a friend in a park or a back yard and play with  a ball or a frisbee.  Throw the ball or frisbee back and forth, or kick the ball back and forth just like you did when you were kids.  If you want to recreate your childhood, you could even play tag or just chase your friend around.  If you don't have a friend, take the kids out to chase or run with each other.  If all fails, take your dog out for a run with you or borrow a friends dog if you don't have one of your own.

6.  Throw on some music and dance, dance, dance.  Dancing can burn up the calories while giving you a chance to have fun.  It is easy to put together a list of favorites in a playlist on  Spotify or your digital device so it plays about 20 to 30 minutes.  Invite your kids or friends to join you once a week for a dance party.  

7.  Walking is so good.  It is not hard to just get out and walk, walk, walk.  One can walk around the block, around the park, over to the mall, around the mall, down the beach, up the mountain, by the lake, by the canal, or just out. Its best to aim for at least 20 minutes with a friend, by yourself or with a dog. 

I love to walk and I tried jump rope but the one I bought was actually meant for a kid and not for an adult so it was a bit short and uncomfortable.  I do push-ups sometimes but I'm still working on keeping my body straight.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Exercise Balls - What Are They Good For?

If you take exercise classes at various gyms, you might have come across one that uses exercise balls.  Exercise balls are large balls you can sit on or in my case slide off onto the ground and originally comes from Italy.  The exercise ball was created in 1963 by Aquilino Cosani who manufactured plastics but he name it the "Prezzi" ball.  Physical Therapists discovered the ball and soon integrated it into their routines to help people recover.  

American physiotherapists were so impressed with it that they brought it over to the United States in the 1980 and renamed it the Swiss ball.  Soon it was used in exercise routines and at home.  I know people who use an exercise ball instead of a chair when they sit at a desk.  

The exercise or stability ball is excellent for improving core stability by working three sets of muscles.  The first set of muscles are the deep abdominal muscles also known as the Transverse abdomens.  The second set are the back muscles that help support the spine also known as the Tultifidus and the final set is the lower back muscles that help the lower spine and pelvic region known as the Quadratus Lumborum.

These three sets of muscles are deep in the body and often harder to work than many other sets of muscles.  Exercise balls are quite good for working these muscles because your body uses all three sets when balancing on the ball. These are the same muscles used to protect your spine while strengthening your core muscles which help you with lifting, bending, throwing, reaching, and running.  

In addition, stability balls can be used to increase flexibility by warming up and stretching muscles which can decrease the possibility of injury while keeping joints and muscles in good shape.  These balls can also expand the range of motion while doing crunches, and sit-ups.  For me, exercise balls made it easier for me to perform sit-ups because my lower back didn't hurt. 

Exercise balls help people practice "Active Sitting". Most of us sit in chairs comfortably which can decrease our flexibility and core stability but if you sit on an exercise ball, your internal core muscles are engaged, forcing your body to improve it's core stability.  It can also improve your posture, and helps improve the muscles of your lower back and pelvic region.  

There are  five reasons one should include a stability ball as part of the workout routine. 

1.  When an exercise ball is incorporated in a work out, it can improve the results of exercises that rely on body weight such as planks, push-ups, or sit-ups.

2.  Stability balls can increase core stability especially if you use the ball instead of a bench for exercise.  The ball can make exercises such as rows, dumbbells presses or bicep curls more challenging and more rewarding.

3. If you incorporate exercise balls into your cardio workout as part of planks, or wood chops, it can increase the rate of burn during the session.

4. When athletes use exercise balls during their workouts, they can increase body awareness as it moves through space, balance, coordination, and posture which means increased fitness and better sports performance.

5.  When using an exercise ball during resistance training, it can increase the amount of resistance making the workout more effective.

The great thing about exercise balls is that they can be deflated and put away when not in use if you don't have enough room or use it instead of a chair at your desk so you can integrate a bit of exercise during your day.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.

Monday, October 5, 2020

Weight Lifting Can Help You Lose Weight.

If you've noticed, weight bearing exercises are considered a great part of a good overall healthy routine.  Many people associate lifting weights in the gym with weight bearing exercises but that is not always correct.  The term weight bearing actually covers a variety of exercises but for today's column, I'm addressing the use of dumbbells because they are used by so many people from grandmothers to weight lifters.

Unfortunately, the use of weights brings with it some misconceptions like lifting weights adds bulk, or doing cardiovascular exercise burns fat, or only men lift weights, or only women do cardio.  The idea that using weights will cause women to bulk up is not true and adding weights to workouts improves the body's ability to lose weight.

Weight lifting can refer to several different types of exercise but this article is focusing on on using weights during an exercise session such as incorporating dumbbells during an aerobic routine.  It is incorporating strength training to improve the overall session.  

Research indicates that people who incorporate weights into their workout routine increase lose of body mass and fat mass while improving lean mass.  Furthermore, it helps people keep the weight off once they reach their ideal weight because the use of weights help improve Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR). The RMR is when your body continues to burn calories when you are reading a book or watching television.  

The idea is to decrease the amount of fat your body has while increasing the muscle so your body burns more calories and you look slimmer.  It is known that muscles burns calories faster than fat which is one reason why you want to increase the amount of muscle on your body.  So by incorporating weights into your exercise routine, you build muscle, increase your metabolism, and loose weight.

The nice thing is that you do not have to join a gym and spend hours lifting weights.  The best way to use weights is to use them in every way your body moves by squatting, lunging, twisting, pushing, pulling, and bending.   This means combining dumbbells with certain movements to get maximum benefits.  

Although cardio has a reputation for burning calories, weights is what takes it up a level.  It is recommended by both the American College of Sports Medicine and The American Heart Association, for people to do eight to ten strength exercises with eight to 12 repetitions each about two times a week if you are under 65 and increasing repetitions to between 10 and 15 for each exercise for two to three times per week if you are over 65.  Furthermore, one should never do strength exercises two days in a row because the body needs the down time to rebuild muscle.

There is one other point concerning the use of weights during a workout.  As people workout, their muscles become used to the weight used and it is important to change things up.  If one wants to increase strength, one needs to increase the amount of weight used but if the end goal is to increase endurance, one needs to do more repetitions for each exercise.  

When doing the workout, work the larger group of muscles first before doing smaller groups for best results. Remember to switch up weights and aerobics, combine them sometimes, but work on keeping your muscles in good shape. Since I do not have a gym anywhere near me and I have to rely on the use of DVD's during bad weather, I make sure I have some that combine weights with workout routines for maximum benefit. Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.

Saturday, October 3, 2020

Friday, October 2, 2020

Why Jog?


Some of the DVD's I use ask the person to walk or jog.   The jogging isn't very far, just back and forth but  it does get your heart up.  In a sense, jogging is half way between a walk and a run, sort of a nice medium. By definition, you have to be running at a pace that is under six miles per hour and provides a moderate aerobic workout.

Jogging shares many of the same benefits as both walking and running.  Jogging improves your cardio respiration while improving your overall mood.  Walking is the preferred exercise but at some point many people reach a plateau in regard to their heart beat so jogging is recommended as a way to move past the plateau.  

By switching to jogging from walking, one is able to increase the intensity of the workout slowly while reducing the possibility of injury that might bench someone for a while.  In addition, jogging can help weight drop off more quickly just like a runner.  Furthermore, jogging can strengthen a person's immune system so they are less likely to get sick.  Exercise can also help diseases such as diabetes or  heart disease.  

It has also been found that jogging just like running and walking is a good way of helping to negate the effects of stress.  This is especially important during these times.  In addition, jogging helps people manage the systems of depression because exercise helps reduce cortisol levels in the body.  When cortisol levels are higher, people can experience more depression and as stated jogging helps that. Furthermore, jogging can help us age better because it keeps our spines more flexible by keeping the size of disks stable and keeping them flexible so you move better.  

Another area that jogging can help a person is in regard to their brain.  Jogging helps the connectivity of the brain among the areas helping with the working memory, ability to multitask, pay attention, make decisions, and process visual and other sensory data.  In other words, jogging can help make you smarter.  

Furthermore, jogging can help people sleep longer at night  and more soundly.  It only takes about 30 minutes of jogging per week over a three week period for a person to sleep better at night and are more alert during the day.  Jogging also helps you live a longer life by cutting your chances of experiencing a heart attack or stroke. Specifically, jogging can increase the HDL cholesterol which removes the bad cholesterol from your blood. When there is excess LDL or bad cholesterol in your blood stream, that is what gets deposited and can lead to heart issues. Since jogging is a weight bearing exercise, it builds bone density and helps a person lower their risk of osteoporosis.  It also helps develop muscles so they are more toned. 

If you take up jogging, it is strongly recommended that you check with your doctor first to make sure it is safe for you.  One should spend some time warming up and stretching before jogging to prevent injury.  A good way to warm up is to walk for about 30 minutes beginning with a slow walk and increasing your pace until you are jogging. 

At first, one should jog for short intervals and as the person gets in better shape, one can jog for longer periods of time until one can jog for say 30 minutes to an hour solidly.  The best place to jog is on flat grassy areas but just make sure not to jog on an extremely hard surface or on sand.  In addition, make sure you wear good shoes.  Bring a bottle of water to stay hydrated and be sure to wear sunscreen to protect your skin.  The best time to run is in the morning or evening when it is not too warm.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.