We all know about certain benefits of exercising – above all, that it’s good for us. But this isn’t always enough to get us motivated into actually doing it. If you’re looking for a little inspiration to get started then here are 10 reasons why exercise can improve your life.
1) More Energy: Although exercise in itself may be tiring, one of the major benefits of exercising is the fact that it’ll ultimately leave you feeling more energized. Studies have shown that regular exercise helps to reduce fatigue.
2) Increase Your Mood: Every time you exercise your body will release endorphins that help to make you feel good. Exercise really will give you a natural high!
3) Improve Your Health: There are so many health benefits of losing weight that it’s impossible to list them all here! By getting fit you’ll reduce the risk of diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease and much more.
4) Improve Your Appearance: If being overweight or not being toned leaves you feeling unhappy about yourself then losing weight can help you to look and feel better.
5) Play With Your Kids: It takes a lot of energy to keep up with your kids. By losing weight and getting fit, you’ll be able to run around with them without constantly getting out of breath. This can be one of the most rewarding benefits of exercising: it helps you to enjoy life more.
6) Sleep Better: When you exercise more you’ll start to find it easier to get a good night’s rest. This adds to the energy boost that you’ll get from exercise in the long term.
7) Increase Your Strength and Stamina: Do you find it hard to go on long walks, even though you want to? Or maybe even carrying shopping bags up the stairs is a struggle? Exercise more and you’ll eventually be able to handle these activities with ease.
8) Reduce Stress: Exercise can hugely reduce stress levels. If you regularly suffer from stress – or even mental heath issues such as depression and anxiety – regular exercise can help to reduce your symptoms.
9) A Sense Of Achievement: When you start to exercise and see the improvements you’re making week on week, you’ll really get the feeling that you’ve achieved something worthwhile!
10) Keep Your Independence Later In Life: The more you can exercise now, while you’re still able, the more you can reduce the impact of certain health problems later in life. In short, keeping fit and healthy will help you to keep your independence as late into life as possible.
So how much will you need to work out to feel these benefits of exercising? That all depends on your current fitness levels. The good news is that just 30 minutes of exercise a day is enough to improve your health drastically. So what are you waiting for?!
As children return to school this January, it is important that parents of school-aged children look at the quality and fit of their child’s backpack, as heavy, incorrectly fitted and badly packed school backpacks can lead to spinal health problems as your child grows.
Spinal health is crucial at any age and items like heavy backpacks may cause strain and discomfort to the spine. I believe spinal pain can be attributed to a number of factors, and heavy and incorrectly worn bags may also lead to poor posture, slouching and uneven hips.
The relationship between spinal health and carrying a heavy backpack may also depend on additional aspects such as your child’s age and weight.
If you’re worried about your child’s backpack weight, here are a few lifestyle and backpack modification tips:
Check your child’s’ backpack,DOWNLOAD
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What to look for in a backpack:
- Make sure the backpack is the right size for your child, no wider than their chest and below the
hollow of their back
- A molded frame on the back, that when adjusted fits their spine.
- A bag made from a lightweight material like canvas, with two padded straps
- Adjustable waist and sternum straps
- Separate compartments that allow for easy packing and weight distribution
How to carry the backpack in a spine safe way:
- Ensure that the weight of the backpack is no more than 10% of your child’s weight when packed . Only pack essentials to lessen the load, perhaps use school lockers if available.
- Pack the heaviest items closest to the spine and make sure all zippers are done up all the way.
- Secure the sternum and waist straps (they’re there for a reason)
- Always wear both straps. Tell the kids it’s not cool to ‘one-strap it’ anymore.
- Reduce the time spent wearing the backpack to no more than 30 minutes at any one time.
Another tip is to ensure your child is undertaking 60 minutes of moderate physical activity every day, as a part of correct spinal care.
I welcome you to make an appointment before school resumes for more advice and assistance on selecting the right backpack, making sure it is fitted correctly to suit your child’s current level of development.
One of the best ways to prepare your children for a long and healthy life is to get them started early with their own healthy habits. This is best taught by example. When the entire family practices healthy habits, they’re more likely to stick with your children for life. Here are six healthy habits to create for you and your family.
#1 Drink water. Most of us just don’t drink enough water. Sure, we’re hydrated but it’s often with calorie and sugar heavy beverages. Skip the soda, juice and sweetened drinks and stick to water. It may be a tough transition for the entire family. Make the change gradually.
#2 Consume far less during mealtime. We’re a super-sized society. we’re accustomed to eating a lot during mealtime. Work on eating smaller portions during mealtime. Serve more vegetables on the plate and less protein and starchy carbohydrates.
#3 Move your body. Find a way to be active each and every day. Walk or bike to places when you can. Take hikes and family walks together. Play sports or engage in physical activities. The more you’re active as a family and on your own, the more your children will be active too. An active lifestyle is key to a healthy mind and body.
#4 Appreciate food for what it is. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying food and consuming treats in moderation. When people have a healthy appreciation for food, they eat healthier. However, when they use food to soothe their emotions or as a reward, it creates a misguided relationship with food. Children will learn to turn to food as a coping mechanism. Parents can help by not using food as a reward or punishment.
#5 Make more food at home. Takeout and pre-packaged foods are sometimes necessary, but they’re usually not healthy. However, when a family makes food at home using fresh produce they’re more likely to eat healthy and to develop a healthy relationship with food. Make cooking a family activity on the weekends when everyone is home together.
#6 Eat less sugar. Sugar is in just about everything we eat. It’s in bread, sauces, it’s sometimes even in lunchmeat. Help your family break the addiction to sugar by choosing low sugar and no sugar options. Cookies and snacks are okay occasionally, but they shouldn’t be an everyday choice.
One of a parent’s most important responsibilities is to be a good role model. As your child grows they’ll learn about healthy habits from you. They watch, they emulate, and they adopt your habits. Creating healthy habits as a family will help your children grow up healthy and strong. They’ll take the habits they learned as children into adulthood.
With all the media messages surrounding our children, it’s amazing that they grow up to be healthy. And children today are exposed to more media messages than ever before. They watch more television, see more music videos and advertisements and they play more video and computer games. It’s tough to develop a positive self-image when you’re constantly looking at perfection. It’s the job of parents to help their children feel good about themselves. Here are a few tips to help you navigate these often difficult waters.
#1 Be a good role model. There’s nothing harder on a child than hearing a parent berate themselves for the way they look. It’s important that parents at least put up a good front and demonstrate a positive self-image. Children learn by example. If you love your body and are content with the way you look, your child will be more likely to follow your example. They know they come from you and if you’re happy with your appearance, then they should be too.
#2 Show them reality. More and more models are standing up and saying, “We’re airbrushed.” They’re providing real life photos and allowing comparison to the magazine photos. This is a great teaching moment. Young children, girls and boys, look up to their role models. Help your children understand that what they see on television isn’t reality. It’s great lighting, professional make-up and clothing, plastic surgery, and little photography tricks called filters and airbrushing or editing.
Boys are just as much at risk as girls. Boys often worship or look up to professional athletes. It’s important to explain to boys that in addition to the magazine photos being emphasized, painted and airbrushed, many athletes take unnatural measures to achieve their physical results. These unnatural measures, like steroids or working out eight hours a day, are not normal or healthy.
#3 Help your child find what’s beautiful about them. We all likely have something we’d like to change. Maybe it’s our nose, our hair or our height. However, we also all have things we like about ourselves. Help your child find what they like about themselves. Maybe they like their eyes, or their smile, or their beautiful red hair. Help them focus on the positive things about themselves and to forget about the rest. No one is perfect and everyone is perfect just as they are.
When children can realize that they’re perfect exactly the way they are, they’ll grow up to be strong and confident adults. They’ll be able to manage the occasional bumps and bruises to their ego because they know that deep down, they’re beautiful.
Spinal Awareness Week 2019: Switch off to ‘reconnect’
The Alliance of UK Chiropractors (AUKC) has launched a campaign encouraging people to spend more time ‘disconnected’ from their tech devices, after seeing a rise in issues such as loneliness, stress, agoraphobia, fatigue, poor posture, aches and pains and even developmental delays in young people.
The AUKC incorporates the United Chiropractic Association (UCA), McTimoney Chiropractic Association (MCA) and the Scottish Chiropractic Association (SCA) and represents hundreds of chiropractors across the UK and internationally.
It says children and young adults especially are suffering a greater feeling of real-world disconnection because they’re spending so much time on their phones, computers, social media and digital games. And it reports that some children as young as five and six are getting repetitive strain injuries from playing games on their parents’ mobile phones for too long.
For Spinal Awareness Week 2019 from 12-18 May, the Alliance is holding a ‘Get Connected While Disconnected’ campaign to drive home the message that people should switch off from tech for periods of time each day, in order to reconnect with the real-world things that are essential for good physical and mental health. It has also launched a poster and video as part of the campaign.
While chiropractors provide treatments or adjustments to musculoskeletal conditions in the nervous system, this brain/body connection is just one of five areas of health they guide patients on. The others are nutrition, movement, attitudes and relationships, and rest. The AUKC says there’s a ‘disconnect’ in these five ‘pillars of health’ and that technology overuse is a major reason.
Jonathan Clarke, executive member of the UCA, said: “It would be fair to say that we are seeing an increase in the effects of modern-day technology, so people are suffering headaches, neck pains, shoulder problems, radiating symptoms, carpal tunnel problems and the like, simply because of the increase in use of computers, mobile phones, PlayStation and Xboxes.
“We are also seeing degenerative conditions in our youngsters that before have only ever really been reserved for the older generation, things like a rounding in the back of the neck. For the first time ever, that’s being seen in teenagers. The human body doesn’t finish fully developing until you’re about 24, with particular reference to the skeleton, and already, we’re demonstrating in current society the degenerative conditions in teenagers before their body has finished fully developing.
“While it is currently teenagers aged 15-16 and above that are starting to demonstrate tech-related issues, as tech advances, even younger people will inevitably start to demonstrate these traits.”
But it’s not just physical conditions that are of concern: “Tech is also affecting the emotional side of health,” said Jonathan. “People are finding that being stuck behind screens is leaving them feeling lonelier and less connected to friends and family, simply because they’re not having true 1-2-1 interactions. We think we’re being brought closer together, when in fact we’re being driven further apart by technology in that respect.
“Again, it’s young people in their teenage years and above who can experience this tech loneliness, as there is no need for them to venture out into the world and properly develop interpersonal skills when chatrooms and forums can fulfil this need too easily. This is leading in the extreme to agoraphobia.
“It’s not just us seeing this,” he added. “It’s something that’s being seen across society. We are seeing more and more information about mental health issues in youngsters because of the stress they feel if they’re disconnected even for a short period of time. With the effect that trolls have on people in the digital world, our youngsters today are facing much more emotional stress than in previous generations.
“For example, they can never get away from school bullying. It used to be that the school day ended when we walked through the school gate and we went home to our family. Now, they’ve got people bombarding them with challenges and abuses even when they’re not at school. This is why mental health issues are worse. It’s because people are so connected into these systems and don’t ever get a chance to break away.”
But getting people to switch off is a huge challenge. Researchers found that four out of five students had significant mental and physical distress and extreme isolation when forced to unplug from technology for an entire day (The World Unplugged; Dr Susan Moeller).
And another survey found that 83% of professional workers check their emails after work, while 66% take their technology with them on holiday, and more than half admit sending emails while having a meal with family or friends (Goldsmith, 2016).
Jonathan says it’s about getting the balance right: “We’re not saying ‘go and live in a barn in the middle of a remote island and disconnect from the world!’ But create those times in the day when you do take a break away. Give yourself time offline, don’t walk around with the phone in your hand 24/7. We recognise that technology is a great advancement. But we should be measuring that against our own health needs.
“For good health, we need activity, human contact and positive emotions, fresh food, quality sleep and a healthy nervous system. Often, the exact opposite is happening – inactivity and poor posture, loneliness and anxiety, unhealthy eating, poor sleep and a brain/body disconnect.
“We are hoping that this campaign can be the start of a tipping point in people making better choices. Because health issues don’t happen all of a sudden; they’re built up over time. It’s the little day in, day out repetitions that create the problems. Prevention is better than cure.”
The 5 tips to reconnect
Move: Be as active as you can.
Be social: Have regular catch-ups with family and friends.
Eat well: Prepare your own packed lunches and meals as much as possible, using healthy choices.
Rest: Switch off all tech a good period of time before going to bed.
Take care of the nervous system: Restore the brain/body connection via treatments & adjustments.
Find a qualified, registered AUKC chiropractor in your area: www.united-chiropractic.org ; www.mctimoney-chiropractic.org ; www.sca-chiropractic.org
Children, like adults, need to move their bodies to keep them strong and healthy. When children learn these habits, they’ll likely take them into adulthood with them. However, if children learn to dislike or even hate exercise they’ll also take that attitude with them into adulthood. It’s important to make moving fun and a part of daily life.
Here are a few tips and suggestions to make moving fun and natural.
#1 Focus on fun. Some children are naturally coordinated and will enjoy sports. Other children are not and sports may be a source of embarrassment, struggle and pain. Find activities that your child enjoys that involve moving. Often it’s just a matter of getting them outside. Take your child for daily walks with the dog. Ask your child what sports they enjoy. If they enjoy running, consider signing them up for soccer. If they enjoy individual sports, consider golf or tennis.
#2 Make movement part of their daily life. It helps to make physical exercise a habit. Of course, you don’t have to call it exercise or a child won’t want to do it. Consider, if you live close enough, having your child ride their bike to school. Make it your child’s responsibility to walk the dog every afternoon.
If they’re too young to manage these responsibilities by themselves, then have a parent or older sibling go along with them. When moving is also family bonding or one-on-one time with a parent, children will look forward to the daily event.
#3 Make it a game. Children love to play games. Adults do too when you think about it. Make moving your body a game. The new video games are a good way to add exercise into a week, for example the Wii. However, it’s also important to get outside. Sunshine and fresh air do wonders for a child’s health. Encourage them to climb trees, do cartwheels or play kick the can. It may be a simple game or activity but they’re moving their body and getting exercise.
#4 Take lessons. Children often want to learn new things. That’s part of the joy of being a child. Sign them up for martial arts lessons, dance lessons, swimming lessons or other physical activities they might enjoy. Help them learn about their body and become comfortable with it by exploring new activities.
When children develop a habit of moving their body at a young age, they won’t stop. They’ll grow up physically active and they’ll take those lessons into adulthood with them. As parents, it’s our job to support our children to find activities they enjoy. It’s up to you to be a good role model and to help your child enjoy the many benefits of moving their body.