Sunday, February 28, 2021

Friday, February 26, 2021

Why is Hydration So Important?


My mother is always telling me that I do not drink enough water during the day to keep myself hydrated.  I realize they recommend a person consume 6 to 8 eight ounce glasses of water every day but I don’t do that.  Part of it has to do with not being able to head to the restroom when I want to and second I don’t like the taste of many of the waters I’ve had.  I remember getting a glass of water still fizzing from the tap  and I wouldn’t even try it.

It is important to drink enough water every day because it helps regulate the temperature of your body, helps to lubricate joints, allows your body to fight infections, delivers nutrients to various parts of the body while helping organs function properly.  Furthermore, every cell, every muscle, every organ needs water in order to work properly and it helps remove waste from your body. In addition, if you do not stay hydrated, your sleep quality can go down, along with your cognition, and change your moods.  

In terms we can relate to, a person’s body is made up of about 60 percent water.  If you weigh 155 pounds, your body is made up of 11 gallons of liquid or about 92 pounds of your body weight is made of water.  It has been discovered that being properly hydrated cuts down on incidents of dry mouth, and helps keep lips moisturised.  In addition, it helps keep the amount of blood up because if the volume of your blood goes down, your heart has to work harder to move it around.  In addition blood carries oxygen around so you want to make sure your blood volume is normal so it can carry enough oxygen.

Furthermore, staying hydrated allows your body to cool itself properly.  It also keeps your skin feeling more supple so you look better and helps your kidneys remove waste efficiently otherwise your kidneys could quit working.

Although it is strongly recommended the fluids be straight water, it is fine to drink water flavored with lemons, oranges, cucumbers, or strawberries, or even coffee and tea but none of the liquids should be sweetened with sugar. Sugar sweetened beverages such as soda, fruit juices, energy drinks, and vitamin waters do not help us hydrate properly. 

Yes there is a controversy over drinking fluids with caffeine, research has concluded that people can have some caffeine without a problem.  For some people, caffeine can make them urinate more frequently but it is suggested one consume no more than 400 mg of caffeine per day.

So make sure you drink enough fluids to stay hydrated and in good health.  Be aware you might need to drink extra fluids if it is hot out or you are exercising. Let me know what you think, I’d love to hear.  Have a great day and on Monday, we’ll look at hydration and your face.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Gender Based Exercise Preferences.


In the last column, I looked at the misbelief that men and women need to do different exercises but that doesn't mean there are not gender based exercise preferences.  I know I prefer doing exercises that don't have me pushing myself to total exhaustion and have me going from standing to the floor and back.  I prefer dancing, aerobics with resistance, yoga, and tai chi but I sometimes throw in more intense forms of workouts.

Many gyms have discovered that men and women tend to prefer different workouts.  It has been found that men in general prefer using dumbbells, hand weights, barbells, resistance machines, rowers and stationary bikes, all equipment oriented.  Women on the other hand prefer participating in group exercise sessions such as pilates, yoga, dance, or step all activities which are. choreographed.  Thus exercising is based on social interaction preferences, men tend to work independently while women love being in a community.

It has been noticed that these trends are changing because younger people are veering towards fitness focused exercise in smaller groups so they get both social aspects.  This type of exercise, functional exercising is growing in popularity which decreases the need for age specific groups or gender based machines.  Furthermore, there is also a shift to using body weight in workouts because it cuts down on the number of machines needed and can be used as people age into their 60's and 70's.

In addition to this change, there has been a change in attitude towards exercise in general so people are being the use of weights as good for all rather than male based or high intensity aerobics are not as female oriented as once perceived.  Although these perceptions are changing, there are still gender differences in how various exercises are done.

For instance, both men and women the used of weights as part of a workout is strongly recommended but men are more likely to lift heavier weights as they work out the chest, arms, and shoulders while women prefer to focus on their legs and shoulders.  It's known that men are more comfortable with gaining muscle mass so they "bulk" up while women fear "bulking" up which won't happen due to the minimal amount of testosterone found in the female body.

Due to women have less upper body mass naturally which makes doing push-ups or pull-ups much harder.  It is important for women to do more exercises to help build upper body mass but that does not mean becoming bulky, it means building strengths.  On the other hand, men often focus on their upper body because they see more immediate results in that area but they really need to build their back muscles and core  since they don't pay enough attention to their core.  Men should do more Pilates, yoga, or other exercises designed to help increase core strength.  

Although men still prefer solitary activities that build visible muscles while women still tend to participate in group activities focused more on core and back.  As stated earlier, it is important that women spend more time working the upper body while men need to work more on core strengthening but no matter what, it is important to find the workouts that give people the best overall workout for building muscle, strength, and health.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.

Monday, February 22, 2021

Should Men and Women Exercise Differently?

When I was growing up, my mother would tell me that men and women needed to exercise differently because they were different.  Of course, this attitude might be from the fact my mother grew up where men and women didn't even have P.E. together. I know at most gyms and even in the park, I see both sexes doing the same exercises so maybe that isn't true.

According to several sources, many women participate in hard core exercising or as elite athletes. Although, there are both physical and psychological differences between men and women, they can work out using the same exercises but not always exactly the same.

First thing to know is that there are no exercises that are completely off limits to women unless they have conditions that do not allow it, the same could be said of men but it is often how the exercise is done that may be slightly different.  Much of this is determined by the shape and structure of a woman's pelvis or the looseness of your ligaments.

Women sometimes suffer from an overarch in the lower back which means it is tilted too far forward. This can cause pain on the spine when certain exercises are done but if one pays close attention, it is possible to perform the exercise to avoid the problem.  On the other hand, if you are extremely flexible, it means your ligaments are looser but this can lead to our joints being injured more easily. In addition, more women suffer from both conditions than men.

Although men and women are able to do the the same exercises, women will not become as strong or gain speed at the same rate.  Those factors which are found in endurance athletes such as ability of your heart, muscles, and lungs to use oxygen or how long you are able to exercise at the highest rate tend to be higher for men.  In addition, men tend to have larger skeletons and more muscle mass than women even if they are the same time.

Since women's bodies are built to give birth to babies, they tend their upper body muscle mass is about 30 percent less than a man's but that doesn't stop a woman from developing muscles and build endurance.  If a woman wants to build or tone muscles, the best way is to incorporate resistance training such as squats, and deadlifts using 80 to 90 percent of your maximum. 

Technically, muscles in both men and women are the same in both look and functionality. Unfortunately, there is the idea out there that if a women uses the same exercises a man uses to build muscle, they will bulk up just like a man but in reality they won't. Lifting the heavier weights will help build lean muscles while increasing metabolism so you tone up and lose weight.

On the other hand, women and men tend to target different areas when working out because they want different results such as better defined muscles for men and better gluten for women.  Either way, it is important to create a workout that works best for the individual while having specific goals set so you know what you want to work on.  

On Wednesday, I'll be looking at the types of exercises preferred by women and men.  Although exercise in general is not gender specific, preferences are.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.

Friday, February 19, 2021

Exercising Around The World.

 Have you ever wondered which form of exercising is the most popular in various places around the world?  I read someone comment that people in Japan do not exercise because they walk everywhere.  So I wondered about how different countries prefer certain types of exercising.  It turns out that people do exercise but certain countries such as China have one form that is associated with them.  

Tai Chi is associated with China.  Tai Chi was originally developed from martial arts as a much slower, more deliberate form.  Tai Chi is a series of slow movements done with deep breathing and the movements flow from one directly into another without stopping for continuous flow.  Tai Chi is great for stress relief.  It is also low impact and often recommended for people who cannot do any other form of exercise.

On the other hand, citizens of Sweden tend to prefer to exercise outside. In fact, Sweden has set up outdoor gyms around so people can stop and add resistance training to a bike ride, walk, or run.  According to research, about 91% of the population works out regularly.

In France, people prefer doing something called parkour which is where people use buildings, walls, streets, and parks as part of their workout.  Parkour began as training for the French Special Forces and spread out into the public.  People run up the sides of buildings, over trees, etc.  The French also do a lot of running and riding bikes.

In Brazil, people love to work out in gyms etc but they also enjoy playing soccer, volleyball and polo. In fact, Brazil’s fitness industry is the second largest, just behind the United States in dollars.  On the other hand, people in the United Kingdom prefer adding unique elements to their workouts such as ballet inspired workouts or fight club inspired cardio. 

Australia prefers their F45 workouts that combine movements to imitate real life such as squatting, pulling, lifting, or running. The 45 minute workout combines strength training, cardio, and intervals but many Australians would rather walk to get a good workout.

Another place that prefers outdoor exercising is Cape Town, South Africa where they have classes like beach yoga, boot camps, or hiking and mountain biking.  Then the people in Cologne, Germany enjoy indoor rock climbing as well as climbing walls both indoor and outdoor, and rowing.

This is just a quick look at the different forms of exercising found around the world.  When I visited Croatia a couple years ago, I saw lots of people walking through various parks and along the walkways. I love walking because I can do it anywhere.  Let me know what you think, I’d love to hear.  Have a good day.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Exercise - Overtraining Or Addiction?

Is it possible to exercise too much?  I’ve wondered because I notice certain people at the gym all the time, often spending hours there.  In fact, one can exercise too much and even develop an addiction to it.  Yes, it is possible to have an addiction to exercise.  When a person is addicted to exercising, they will get up at 5 AM to run, even if they are sick, hurting, or sore.  Nothing stops them. 

Over exercising refers to doing more than is recommended to be healthy.  Currently, it is recommended people get either 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous activity each and every week.  It is when people triple or quadruple the amount of time they work out every day, that one might become concerned.

In fact, over exercising can lead to something called “overtraining syndrome” which can lead to your muscles actually breaking down and due to the amount of working out, your body does not have enough down time to repair them.  Consequently, your body will not get stronger and it will end up in a state of chronic stress.  

It appears that a small percentage of athletes have an addiction.  It is calculated that ten percent of high performing athletes and up to ten percent of serious weight lifters are addicted.  Although people only need about 30 minutes of exercise every day to keep them healthy, addicts figure they need more to get more benefits.  Unfortunately, too much exercising can cause injuries, send someone into depression, exhaustion, or  suicide.  In addition, it can cause lasting harm.

When you exercise, your body produces a specific amount of cortisol and making your exercise sessions longer will not change the amount produced.  One way to tell if a person is addicted is if they organize their lives around exercising.  Most people fit in their exercise around their lives.  

One thing about exercise is that a person can observe results easily and allows them to control that aspect of their life.  This is one trait of an addicted person is the control they have over certain elements of their lift.  Often people addicted to exercise love running or weight lifting because it is a solitary pursuit.  One way to decrease the issues of addiction is to expand the variety of exercise done and make sure some of it is socially based such as yoga or group cycling.  

Please understand, someone who exercises regularly is not necessarily addicted to it because they have to have the right personality traits for that to happen. There are signs to look out for to make sure you are not over training.  If you reach a plateau, which usually means you are not giving your body a chance to properly recover.  In addition, it can make you less fit for the same reason.  Furthermore, when you produce too much cortisol in your body, it can lead to too much weight gain.  If you have sore muscles or 4 to 6 days after a workout, become moody, cannot sleep properly, have an ongoing injury, and your heart rate is out of whack, you could be over training and possibly addicted to it. 

So if you read the symptoms and check yes to several, you might want to step back, slow down, and incorporate down time to help you repair the damage done to your body.  Let me know what you think, I’d love to hear.  Have a great day. 

Friday, February 12, 2021

Dry Shampoos and Conditioners

 The other day, I came across a reference to dry conditioners.  I'm well acquainted with dry shampoos because I occasionally used them as a teenager.  As a matter of fact, we'd use talc as a dry shampoo if we got desperate but up until I read that article, I didn't know they had dry conditioners. 

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Flexibility As You Age.


I am one of those people who couldn't touch their toes, even as a teenager and I still have problems with it.  In fact, I took ballet but couldn't even manage a half way decent turn out. I decided I need to do something about it because most people loose some flexibility as they get older.

It is a fact that people lose flexibility as they age which can lead to a decrease in mobility.  Part of it is that we lose water from our intervertebral discs and in our connective tissues.  We also experience increased stiffness in our joints, and a decrease in the elasticity in muscles and tendons.  

Unfortunately, as people begin to lose flexibility, they often cut back on doing certain things which can in turn decrease their flexibility.  It's the old "use it or lose it" in that if we don't work on keeping our muscles and bodies stretched, we'll experience decreased flexibility. 

One way to slow down the lose of flexibility is to stay active.  otherwise, we might experience a slower walking speed, shorter walking steps, possible back pain, and the increased possibility of falling. It has been found that step length is extremely important.  The bigger the distance between your legs, the better your balance which decreases the possibility of falling.

There are things people can do to maintain a certain amount of flexibility.  Although it is recommended that people in their 20's and 30's begin regular dynamic and static stretching routines to preserve flexibility, one can begin doing both types of stretching at any age.  If you start stretching routines after being off for a while, go slowly, take your time, and most of all, listen to your body.  

One should warm up for five to ten minutes before beginning to stretch.  When stretching, make sure all movements are slow and gentle rather than bouncing or forcing a stretch.  It is ok to have legs and arms straight but do not lock your joints or there could be some damage.  Breath slowly and naturally through all the movements.  Try to stretch for 10 to 15 minutes at least three times a week. You need the time in-between to give your body a chance to recover. 

So by improving flexibility, it improves a person's ability to perform physical activities every day while decreasing the possibility of injury,  helps increase balance and decreases chronic pain.  Flexibility also improves your workouts, helps your posture, and makes people look younger. 

Remember, it doesn't take much to improve your flexibility.  Rather than sitting down all the time, get up and move around, exercise, dance, garden, and don't let the television or your cell phones, or digital devices take over your life.  Take yoga, pilates, and stretch, stretch, stretch.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.

Monday, February 8, 2021

Exercising The Brain.

It seems to me that so many articles discuss exercising in terms of the body.  They say why you should exercise the body, gives lots of benefits but seldom do you see anything on exercising the brain. Even many of the public service announcements focus on the body but not on the brain.

Fortunately, when you exercise your body, you are providing benefits to the brain in the form of cognitive fitness.  Cognitive fitness refers to the brain's alertness or a better ability to reason, learn, plan, remember, and adapt.  It's been shown that physical exercise can help brain health even if a person has Alzheimer's or Dementia.  Furthermore, regular exercise can help stave off Alzheimers and Dementia.

Physical exercise can improve blood flow to the brain giving it more oxygen, reduce inflammation, and lowers levels of stress hormones while causing the release of hormones designed to help brain cells grow. In addition, exercising can cause the thickness of the cerebral cortex to increase which improves your white matter, helps connect the areas of grey matter better, and helps the brain create new connections.  

It is also recommended one exercise the brain itself by participating in mentally stimulating activities to build cognitive reserves, and help improve your brain before any symptoms of degradation occur.  It is suggested that people need to participate in intellectual stimulation by learning a new skill or language, take classes to learn things you've always wanted to study, build new habits so the brain creates more neural pathways. This way if some of the pathways die, your brain still has enough for you to function well.  

In addition, researchers have found that it helps if people do activities that cause them to retain and retrieve information such as when doing crossword puzzles, riddles, math, ballroom dancing, or learn accounting.  What ever you choose it cannot be too easy, it has to cause you to stop and think.  For instance, if you always do easy crossword puzzles, you will find the activity is not as stimulating as if you try the harder ones.

It is also important to get enough sleep every night because it gives the brain a chance to solidify memories.  When a person does not get enough sleep, their hippocampus shrinks which can lead to some very unhealthy decisions such as eating junk food, or skip exercising.  In addition, when deprived of sleep, a person tends to have higher stress levels.  

Another suggestion, is for people to maintain an active social life because remaining both socially and intellectually active helps bolster the function of your brain. Furthermore, communicating with others helps your brain interpret both visual and verbal clues and keeps one from feeling isolated and face possible depression. 

So as you see, it is important to exercise, sleep, and participate in intellectual stimulation as you age so your brain remains in as good health as your body.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.

Friday, February 5, 2021

Why Exfoliate Your Face.

Most of us don't think much about exfoliating our faces. It's more like looking at finding the perfect facial scrubs but it's the same thing. When I was a teenager, I bought a facial scrub that had ground up walnut shells but I quit using it when I scrapped skin off my face. Exfoliation is defined as removing dead cells by either using chemical or mechanical methods. 

Mechanical uses physical things like ground up walnut shells, sand, sugar, or other material while chemical is something like the sour milk used historically.  It is usually a liquid or a paste.

Your body automatically sheds skin cells approximately every 30 days but skin cells don't always fall off and when this happens your skin acquires dry flakey patches or end up with clogged pores.  

Exfoliation, when done properly and regularly, is good for your skin. It can leave your skin look brighter, and help your skin absorb skin products. In addition, exfoliation can help eliminate clogged pores which means fewer breakouts. Furthermore, if exfoliation is done over a long period of time, your collegian production increases so your skin increases its elasticity, reduces fine lines, and decreases sagging.

When looking at a mechanical exfoliation, it could be a cleaning scrub, a small brush, sponge, glove, or a loofa. You can buy a nice cleaning scrub or make your own. I've used a nice foaming cleanser with a mild abrasive that did a nice job of cleaning my skin. Unfortunately, if the mechanical scrub is used incorrectly, it can irritate your skin or cause trans epidermal water loss.

As far as chemical exfoliation, it might be something like Alpha hydroxy acids (AHA) such as glycolic acid from sugar cane, lactic acid from milk. AHA's are good for removing fine lines, help with age spots, and uneven skin tones. Another possibility is Beta hydroxy acids (BHA) which is oil soluble and goes deep into your skin to treat acne and can also be used to treat sun damage.

There is also the popular retinoids or retinal. These keep your skin safe from free radicals while promoting collagen production.

It is recommended that if you have dry skin, you should avoid mechanical exfoliation because it could cause micro tears. It is better to use AHA's such as glycolic acids because it helps remove dead cells and encourages healthy skin turnover. If your skin is normal, any method of exfoliation works well. On the other hand, if you have oily skin, it is better to use a mechanical exfoliation such as brushes. If you have sensitive skin, try to use gentle chemical exfoliation but if you have a combination skin, one needs to use both mechanical and chemical exfoliation. It is strongly recommended you use mechanical one time and chemical another time but never on the same day or at the same time.

When you buy a scrub, make sure it's designed for your face and not your body because those made for the body are often harsher and can rip up the delicate face skin. Since there are a lot of choices, it is recommended that you use only one problem at a time otherwise, your skin might react. If your skin changes, be willing to change product to meet the new needs of your skin. Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear. Have a great day.

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

History of Fashion Shows

Many of us are fascinated when we get to see clips for the current fashion shows from New York, Milan, or London.  We smile or groan at each entry thinking either “I’d wear that” or “Which alien was that designed for?” 

Early on, many designers hired people to wear their designs out while walking, at racetracks, or other social events so they’d be photographed and commented on in the local publications.  It is said that the modern fashion show began during the 1850’s when fashion designer Charles Worth used live models instead of mannequins to show off his latest creations. This offered patrons a chance to sit comfortably while looking at current fashions rather than walking from mannequin to mannequin.

Other designers heard about this new method of showing off designs and adopted it too. From Paris, the idea spread to London and New York by the beginning of the 20th century because they saw it as a great marketing tool. These “fashion parades” were often small and private and sponsored by the designer. These parades prohibited photography as a way of protecting their designs from being stolen and copied.  Even many of the early Americandepartment stores, held shows to show what 

In fact, by 1918 since so many buyers were flocking to Europe to purchase outfits, many of the couture houses set standard dates to present shows twice a year so buyers could plan ahead. Over the next forty years, fashion houses opened up the fashion parade to more and more people so by the end  of World War II, they were using the shows as a way of publicising their name and designs. Some well known designers such as Lucille and Poiret turned their shows into social events.  

During World War II, American fashion designers came to the forefront because of Nazi control of Europe but  it was in the post World War II era that many designers became household names such as Christian Dior who created the tight bodice with wide flowy skirts dubbed the “New Look”.  Others such as Coco Chanel used the post war years to really establish their design houses. 

Most of these fashion shows lasted about an hour. People were crammed into a salon where they sat around the runway to check the seasonal offerings.  Photographers mingled with the crowd while soft music played in the background. 

As the years passed, the flavor of these shows changed.  In the 1960’s the stoney faced look gave way to models who were encouraged to show their personalities.  In the 1980’s and 90’s the avant garde shows began with the theatrical presentation filled with lights, muscis, and sound effects.  More of what we are familiar with when we catch a news clip highlighting  the latest fashion show.

In addition, certain designers took things a step further and presented shows in wind tunnels, sold out stadiums, airport terminals, supermarkets, chess sets and so much more, taking it to a more adventurous level. Let me know what you think, I’d love to hear.

Monday, February 1, 2021

Why Is February So Short?

We have an interesting calendar in that most months are either 30 or 31 days except for the month of February.  It usually has 28 days but every four years they throw in an extra day to keep the calendar correct. One myth says that Augustus Caesar stole a couple of days from February so the month of August (named after him) would have 31 days but that isn't true.

The reason February is such a short month can be traced all the way back to Roman times.  The original calendar had only 10 months so 6 months consisted of 30 days and 4 months of 31 days equalling a year of 304 days.  One reason the calendar had only 10 months was because the Romans were an agricultural people who used the calendar to keep track of planting and harvesting. It started with Martius or March and ended with December. 

Unfortunately, the Romans didn't like even numbers so the Roman King, Numa Pompilius, readjusted those six month so they had 29 days but he wanted it to match the 355 day lunar calendar.   Those days between 304 and 355 were just considered winter and weren't counted.  The time period had no special significance, nothing. They were virtually ignored.  King Numa could not redo the calendar so the months only had an odd number of days so he added a couple of months - January and February at the end of the current months. He decreed February should be 28 days long and designated it as the month to carry out ceremonies honoring the dead.

His subjects objected to having a month with an even number of days so he added an extra day. It just didn't add up with the actual year, so the months would get off so planting was off.  King Numa tried to make adjustments but it seemed no matter what, King Numa could not get the number of days to match the lunar calendar so he fiddled with it including adding an additional month,  Mercedonius, every other year but it still didn't fix things. The priests were the ones who decided when it would happen which confused people even more. This continued until Julius Caesar's time when he decided to do something about it because the first month of the calendar kept changing.

Julius Caesar moved January back to being the first month of the year. He also decided that it was ok having months with an even number of days . He readjusted the months to have 30 days but he left February with only 28 days but he added an extra day every four years.  In addition, when he finished making adjustments to the calendar, it had 365 days, 10 more than the lunar calendar.  

King Numa lived in the 8th century BC and Julius Caesar redid the calendar around 46 BC.  It is said that when Julius Caesar redid the calendar, it had 445 days for the first year only to straighten it out and align it with the sun.  So that is why February is so short.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear. Have a great day.