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5 simple ways to jump-start fitness goals

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Fitness is central to your well-being and ability to enjoy life to the fullest, however it’s easy to get stuck in a rut. How do you find new interest and motivation so you’re ready to maximize the warm weather months?

Dan Gaz, physical activity and assessment program manager at the Mayo Clinic Healthy Living Program, says there are many things people can do to get a jump-start on their health and wellness.

“Fitness doesn’t have to be complicated or boring,” says Gaz. “There are many creative ways to implement fitness activities into your life that are both fun and invigorating.”

Gaz suggests five simple ways to get a jump-start on summer fitness and energize your workout routine:

Try something new

Gaz says getting outside your comfort zone can be beneficial to your health. “Trying something new helps keep your fitness plan fresh. Plan a visit to the local farmers market to pick up produce. Sign up for a 5k run, or look at your local community education or rec center class catalog and sign up for activities. The social dynamics of these types of events benefit mental as well as physical health.”

Get outside

“Getting outdoors is rejuvenating,” Gaz says. “Taking a walk in nature is a nice change of pace that is good for the body and mind.” You can go for a walk, run or take a stroll around a local park. “Just being outdoors shakes things up and you may find higher levels of energy as you breathe in the fresh air. Plus, getting a daily dose of vitamin D from the sun does the body good.”

Bring friends

“It’s no secret when you work out with other people they tend to hold you accountable, but there’s also more benefit than just that,” says Gaz. “When you take an exercise class, join a running club or biking group, you may end up pushing yourself harder. The people next to you become your exercise advocates and suddenly, you’ll have the desire to keep up and do more. This can accelerate reaching your fitness goals.”

Rethink commuting

“Anything you can do to break up the monotony of sitting is a good thing.” Try being creative in commuting and how you travel throughout the day. “If possible, walk or bike to work or the grocery store. You can also take the bus, get off a couple blocks early and walk the rest of the way. A little planning ahead of time can help you accomplish multiple things at once: You’re getting exercise, completing an errand and reducing your carbon footprint.”

Be purposeful

“You may only have a few minutes a day to dedicate to exercise, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make a big impact,” says Gaz. “Being purposeful with your choices is important. For example, use intervals in your workout routine to maximize outcomes. If you enjoy walking, do a brisk 30 or 60 seconds, then walk slower for the same period of time before pushing yourself again. This type of interval training is simple, yet highly effective. It works similarly for other activities like swimming, biking and running.”

To find more tips about improving your health with creative approaches to exercise or to set up a visit with a wellness expert, visit healthyliving.mayoclinic.org.

Health & Fitness

Meditation on a Full Moon

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Every month, the striking impression of a moon in its illuminated fullness has held a profound space in marking the passage of time as well as in matters of spiritual and religious importance. Many Eastern religions follow ceremonies to coincide with the moon’s phases. The spiritual development of the Buddha, for example, is believed to track with full moon days.  From the fullness of the tides to the deeply held religious beliefs across cultures, the full moon continues to inspire as a time to reflect and receive clarity on internal conditions.

Located among all the exciting happenings in Central, and facing the stunning Victoria Harbour, the Spa at Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong offers an authentic and relaxing Full Moon Meditation experience. A natural sanctuary of peace, guests can feel an extra release of tension when entering its soothing environs on full moon days.

Director of Spa Shoshana Weinberg has crafted a unique full moon ritual ideal for newcomers or seasoned practitioners. Weinberg leads the full moon meditations, channeling a universal energy that is both soothing and powerfully healing. The meditation is broken in two parts: one is a guided deep meditation, or savasana, while the other is a seated meditation in silence. Using aromatherapy oils, authentic Tibetan singing bowls, crystals and organic copal, a sacred resin from Mexico, guests can get in touch with a higher sense of focus and consciousness.

Weinberg says, “We call our authentic self to join in ceremony with others in our community to illuminate the deep meanings and messages that life has to offer. The Full Moon Meditation is a safe place to find a quiet moment to discover the silent world that lives in all of us.”

Guests wishing to extend the sense of community are invited to linger over a delicious spread from Executive Chef Andrea Accordi. Chef Accordi tailors dishes to the theme of the full moon and the rhythms of the seasons sourcing the highest quality ingredients from the most trusted, sustainably suppliers.

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Health & Fitness

Don’t have time to walk and meditate? Try them together

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The mental and physical merits of walking are well established, from helping ward off depression to preventing heart disease. Meditation, likewise, can help reduce anxiety symptoms and improve sleep quality. Have you considered combining these seemingly very different activities?

Walking meditation, which doesn’t take much of an investment in time or money, can be a good way to reap multiple benefits.

Walking meditation isn’t a stroll in the park or an hour in the lotus position, rather something in between. The goal is to be self-focused and mindful of your body in motion. To get started, consider these steps from UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center:

* Find a place that’s relatively free of distractions and where other people won’t make you self-conscious. Your path — whether it’s a hiking trail or a little-used hallway — doesn’t have to be long; the whole point is to go nowhere, slowly — and safely.

* Relax your hands and arms, stand up straight and take a few deep breaths. Take 10 to 15 small, deliberate steps, counting them in your head. Be mindful of the way your feet feel as they rise and land on the ground, weight shifting from heel to toes.

* If your mind wanders, try to push out extraneous thoughts and focus on your breathing or the sights and sounds of your surroundings.

* Pause for a breath, turn around and start again.

Why meditate in the first place? Meditation may help cancer patients by relieving their stress and fatigue. It may reduce blood pressure and alleviate some symptoms of menopause and IBS. There is also evidence that it improves the quality of life for female patients struggling with fibromyalgia by helping them deal with depression and conflict, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Meditation can be good for people of all ages. A Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease study found that meditation may help slow the cognitive decline that leads to Alzheimer’s and dementia. When college students added meditation to walking, they had lower levels of anxiety than when they merely walked for exercise, according to a study in the American Journal of Health Promotion.

As you take a moment to slow down and practice walking meditation, keep in mind that the results can also be slow. Studies have shown benefits after as little as 10 minutes per session, but most were based on practicing four to six days per week for several weeks.

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Health & Fitness

Beyond Calcium: 5 Proven Supplements for Women over 40

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Aging is one of life’s inevitabilities. We don’t have a choice in the matter; it happens to everyone. But how we age is a choice people make every day. While it’s true that there is no fountain of youth, the choices we make in diet, exercise, and lifestyle can and do affect the quality of our health and ultimately, the quality of our lives.

Women over a certain age know they should be eating right, exercising, getting enough sleep, and doing all they can to reduce stress. Calcium and vitamin D supplements? Those are a given. But there are a whole host of other supplements women should think about taking after age 40.

Here are five supplements that can enhance and improve women’s health at age 40 and beyond.

* Optimized Resveratrol: Resveratrol is a plant compound that is associated with slowing down aspects of the aging process. You’ve heard about it in red wine, but to get the full benefits of the compound, you’d have to drink a lot of wine. Enter the Optimized Resveratrol supplement from Life Extension®, which also contains quercetin, fisetin, and a grape and wild blueberry fruit blend. This nutrient combination promotes youthful gene expression, similar to calorie-restricted diets, helps with healthy insulin sensitivity and mitochondrial function, and provides powerful antioxidant benefits. Other side benefits include greater endurance while exercising and enhanced mental sharpness and vision.

* Menopause 731: This new supplement by Life Extension, fresh off four clinical trials, is made from a Siberian rhubarb root and has been shown to provide significant relief for 11 menopausal discomforts, including hot flashes, depression, night sweats, mood swings, sleep disturbances, and vaginal dryness. This unique extract selectively activates ER-β, a specific estrogen receptor, which is why scientists believe it provides such comprehensive relief. Menopause 731 is designed for perimenopausal and postmenopausal women who are experiencing discomfort and who want relief, but do not want to take hormones. It’s the first plant supplement proven to help with the many menopausal discomforts that can plague women throughout the rest of their lives.

* Curcumin: Found in turmeric root, a culinary spice, curcumin gives curry its unique flavor and yellow color. A member of the ginger family, turmeric’s Ayurvedic medicinal use dates back over 6,000 years in the Middle and Far East. It is a powerful inhibitor of inflammatory factors and a strong antioxidant that supports heart, brain, joint, immune, and digestive health. Most of us don’t eat much turmeric, however, so supplementation is a great way to experience curcumin’s numerous health benefits.

* Pomegranate: The pomegranate tree is native throughout the Mediterranean, Asia, Africa, and Europe and has been cultivated since ancient times. Pomegranates are a powerful antioxidant and support whole body health, including breast, heart, kidney, and liver health. It also helps promote already-healthy blood pressure by regulating LDL oxidation. Until now, the vast majority of research has focused on extracts from the fruit juice alone. But scientists have recently identified the synergistic action of compounds specific to other parts of the pomegranate — notably its seeds and flowers.

* Milk Thistle: Used medicinally for more than 2,000 years, milk thistle is a plant native to the Mediterranean region and is related to sunflowers and daisies. It powerfully supports liver health and the body’s detoxification pathways. Milk thistle also fights free radical damage.

For more information about these supplements, including new Menopause 731, visit lifeextension.com/meno731.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

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