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.
Meditation on a Full Moon
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.
Beyond Calcium: 5 Proven Supplements for Women over 40
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.
Beginning a workout at any age or skill level
Our bodies crave exercise at all ages, whether that means daily walks, fitness classes or a night of dancing. Although physical fitness may look different at age 65 than it did at 20, being active on a regular basis is still important to maintaining health and well-being.
Exercise helps establish better balance and flexibility and reduces falls. It improves sleep patterns and boosts mood. But it can be difficult to adapt our fitness routines or start new ones as our bodies change with age.
An overview at www.cdc.gov outlines weekly goals for amount and types of exercise for people over 65. Below are five exercises that can be modified for different skill levels and range of motion and can be done almost anywhere, anytime.
If you prefer working out in a gym environment, some health plans, including UnitedHealthcare, offer gym memberships at no additional cost. To learn more, visit UHCMedicarePlans.com.
Talk with your doctor about healthy ways to incorporate fitness into your routine. For individuals recovering from an injury, consider seeking advice from a physical therapist who may identify areas requiring special focus.
Squats: A familiar movement, bending and lifting to pick up a grandchild or a bag of groceries requires training to help avoid back injury. Fine-tune your form by trying this move that can build muscle strength in the glutes, abdomen and leg muscles. Begin by standing in front of a chair. With your weight in your heels and big toes, slightly drive your knees out, squeeze your glutes and lower yourself to the chair. To come up, lean forward slightly and push your knees out again. Repeat. If you’re able, try the move without the chair.
Push-ups: Drop and give us two, or 10 or 12. No matter how many push-ups you can muster, making time for this all-star exercise offers a high return on investment — building strength, balance and stability. For beginners, push-ups can be done against a tall counter, rather than all the way down to the floor. Stand with your palms on a counter and feet flat on the floor. Keeping your elbows tight to your side, lower your upper body slowly until it taps the counter. Hold the position for one second, come up and repeat. As you get stronger, you can progress to lower counters or tables until you’ve made it to the floor.
Single-leg balance drill: Boost your stability and balance by including this exercise into your at-home workout rotation. It can even be done while brushing teeth or washing dishes. Start by removing your shoes so your foot muscles can feel the floor. Stand with your feet flat on the floor, then shift your weight to your left leg and slowly bend your right knee, aiming to get your thigh parallel to the floor. Hold for five to 10 seconds, depending on your strength and stability, then, return that foot to the floor. Repeat this motion 10 times on the same leg, before switching to the opposite side. To increase difficulty, add some weight to one hand and transfer it from hand to hand while balancing. And don’t worry — a little wobble means you’re making those muscles work!
Planks: Side, center, forearm or — you guessed it — all of the above! Planking is a great way to engage your abdominals while strengthening and lengthening spine, back and shoulder muscles. Begin on all fours, with your hands under or slightly behind your shoulders. Extend your legs straight behind you and come up onto your toes. Keep your eyes focused downward, pull your belly button toward your spine and lower your midsection so your body forms a straight line. Beginners can drop their knees to the floor. Engage your core and hold the pose for 10 to 15 seconds. For side planks, start lying on your side, with knees stacked one on top of the other and bent so your heels are behind you. Rise up onto one elbow, stacked under your shoulder, with your palm spread. Squeeze your glutes and lift your hip. Look forward and raise your top hand to the ceiling.
Yoga: If you haven’t already, it’s time to give yoga a go. This holistic practice blending exercise and mindfulness is time-tested, has few age or ability barriers and offers benefits ranging from increasing flexibility to reducing falls. Two good starting positions are downward dog and warrior one. For downward dog, start the same way you start a plank but push your backside to the ceiling rather than toward the floor, so your legs are straight and your torso is straight. Keep your heels down and head relaxed. The more flexible you are, the closer together you can keep your feet. From downward dog, raise one leg and step it forward and place it between your hands. Walk your hands back, lower your back heel and slowly rise up. Bend your front knee and raise your hands above your head. You are now in warrior one.
Plans are insured through UnitedHealthcare Insurance Company or one of its affiliated companies. For Medicare Advantage and Prescription Drug Plans: A Medicare Advantage organization with a Medicare contract and a Medicare-approved Part D sponsor. Enrollment in these plans depends on the plan’s contract renewal with Medicare. This information is not a complete description of benefits. Contact the plan for more information. Limitations, copayments, and restrictions may apply. Benefits, premium and/or copayments/coinsurance may change on January 1 of each year.
Consult your doctor prior to beginning an exercise program or making changes to your lifestyle or health care routine.
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