Improve your Wellness with Tai Chi

Like yoga, tai chi is a practice that dates back to ancient times. Tai chi originated in China as a martial art, meant for self-defense.

Today, it is an exercise practice that can reduce stress and may even improve your sleep!

The Mayo Clinic experts point out that scientists have only just recently begun to study the effects of tai chi on the body and the mind. However, there is evidence that this practice provides both mental and physical health benefits.

Dr. Paul Lam demonstrates Beginning your journey with Tai Chi

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Cures for the Dreaded Sitting Disease

Are you ready to get off that couch and take a stand? Or a walk? Or a bike ride?

If you have kids, you may want to try USA Today’s Family Fitness Challenge.

Or simply try some of the activities from Detroit Public Television’s Get Up/Get Out website.  With its 101 ideas, your family is sure to find at least a few great ideas! 

You can even create some adventure in your own backyard!

Got teens? Drag their butts off that couch, too, and help protect them from heart disease, diabetes, and other conditions as they age.

The Family Education website has some steps you can take to get your teenager moving.  And the Kids Exercise site, based in the UK, has some suggestions for active teenage party games. (Some kids may look at you like you’re crazy, but hey, it’s worth a try)

And guess what, seniors?  You’re not off the hook!  Older people need to get off the couch, too, to reduce bone loss, ward off age-related conditions, and just have some fun!
After all, physical fitness is one of the keys to a longer, healthier life. 

One way to get away from your television and socialize, as well as stay fit and healthy is to check out your local Senior Center!

In the city where I live and work, the Senior Center offers an indoor walking track, and even a walking club. It has a gymnasium and hosts pickleball, badminton, and table tennis. Seniors can also join fitness and dance classes for a minimal cost.

 If you go to the National Institute on Aging website, you’ll find the Exercise & Physical Activity: Your Everyday Guide from the National Institute on Aging in PDF format.  It’s a great resource for older adults that will help you improve your health and wellness.

Our nation’s sitting epidemic can, and dare I say, must be eradicated!  Let’s go for it!

Beware the Dreaded Sitting Disease!

Okay, fellow Americans, listen up! We. are. in. big. Trouble with a capitol T. 

Dr. Oz says so, and he’s Oprah’s bud, has a television show and a website and take a look at his credentials, will ya? Not to mention, he’s one fine looking man. 

So, what’s the word from Dr. O?  Well, ladies and gentlemen, we are in the throes of a “sitting epidemic.” 
Simply this:  We sit too darn much.  We sit at work.  We sit in the car (well, I guess we don’t have much choice there, do we?) After sitting most of the day at work, we come home and sit in front of the computer screen or the television.

And I’ve also noticed that some of us have an interesting habit of sitting in our garages, watching the world go by.  My neighbors actually have a living room set in their garage! What’s up with that?

Anyhoo, all this sitting is just not good for us. At all.  For one thing, it slows down your metabolism and decreases your circulation, though this article from the Cleveland.com website also points out that more research is needed – let’s hope the researchers are standing up while they delve into this subject!

Other experts have even stronger words about this sitting epidemic, claiming that it’s deadly because it leads to obesity and heart attacks.

If you recognize symptoms of this disease in yourself (like, is there a big dent in your family room couch?) here’s what you can do:

First, push yourself up to a squat position.

Second, keep lifting your butt up from the couch or chair until you’re in a standing position. 

Just  Get Up and Do Something!  Your butt, and the rest of your body, will thank you. 

To quote that disco era Bee Gee’s tune, “Whatcha doin’ on your butt? You should be dancing, yeah!” (Okay, I took some liberties with those lyrics – according to the internet, it’s your back, not your butt. I think butt makes more sense)

BTW, Have you taken a look at John Travolta since he’s quit disco dancing? 

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Zen To Fitness – A Good Read!

I’m always looking for well-written and informative health and wellness blogs, and I found one in Zen to Fitness, written by Chris, a certified Personal Trainer. He is also studying Naturopathic Medicine, which is “based on the belief that the human body has an innate healing ability” according to the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians.

The Zen to Fitness format is clean and crisp, which complements Chris’s “simple no-nonsense guide to staying fit while living life.” Chris isn’t claiming to be a medical expert.  He has created something of value simply by being a student of health and wellness, and by  sharing what he has learned over the years. 

Here are a few of his posts that I like:

If you check out Chris’s archives you’ll find a nice variety of posts that talk about:
–living a happier, healthier life

–tips for better sleep

–exercises

–recipes

–foods that are good for you

–foods that aren’t so good for you,

and many more.  All with simple and straightforward information and advice.

I just bought Chris’s e-book, priced at a reasonable $10.  The book is titled “A Simple Guide to Eating Well.” I’ll review it in a future blog post.

It’s Summer Vacation Time!

Mr. and Mrs. Boomer are leaving town as you read this, going on a long overdue vacation. North Carolina, here we come!

Why Bea loves going on vacation:

  • When she’s out of town, work is just a very, very, dim memory.
  • She gets to eat out every day.
  • Exercise routine? What exercise routine? (Nope, she doesn’t even go to hotel fitness centers)
  • Bills, housecleaning, laundry, ironing Mr. B’s shirts. . . who cares?

She can read trashy magazines, or a good book. She can just relax. She can walk around barefoot. All mind clutter seems to disappear. She can eat an ice cream cone at midnight if she wants to.  She can sit on the porch of that cabin in Cherokee, NC, watching the fireflies and sipping on a Bailey’s on the rocks. 

Now this is living.  It doesn’t take much to please old Bea.

Vacations are good for our health and wellness, in fact, they’re necessary! And we don’t take enough of them, according to CBS News.  Here are some good reasons to take vacations.

If you’re gonna give Bea the line that you don’t have time for a vacation, then try a “stay-cation” with these ideas from Better Homes and Gardens.

But, please just do it!  Find time to relax, refresh your body and mind, and enjoy life.  Hey, in these tough times, vacations or stay-cations are more important than ever!

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Biking Fun = Biking Safely!

Bike diagram with reflectorsImage via Wikipedia

Bea Boomer didn’t get her driver’s license until she was 19 years old, the same year she got her first car (a 1972 Plymouth Barracuda, a very cool ride).

Her main mode of transportation BC (before car) was by foot, or, for longer distances, her 10-speed bicycle. It was a Schwinn, lime green, with skinny tires, and for some weird reason, it was a guy’s bike.  Girls just rode guys’ bikes. Why? I don’t know. 

Anyway, Bea loved that bike and rode it everywhere.

She was dangerous on that thing. It’s really a wonder she survived to ever drive a car, considering all the bike accidents she had.

The worst one was when she was riding along Mack Avenue in Grosse Pointe Woods.

Now, cars drove Mack at speeds of between 35 and 40 mph. The street was divided by a median, with two lanes going north, and two going south. (or was it east and west? Whatever . . . ) People parallel-parked their cars on Mack, so they could shop at the cute little preppie stores that lined the avenue.

So picture this: Bea was riding along the avenue, headed toward 7 mile road, at which time she planned to make a right turn and head on home. (Home was a good 2 miles away from that point). She was cruising along at a good pace when SUDDENLY, out of the blue, a lady who had just parked her car opened her car door and WHAM! Bea ran right into that car door and fell with a crash, right into the middle of the street! (I am not making this up).
Luckily for Bea B., she didn’t get hit by a car driving along Mack. Unluckily for Bea B., she did suffer from some body bruising and a big goose egg on her knee. Not to mention, her 10-speed was toast.
The lady, while freaked out that someone had rode right into her car door, was still sympathetic to Bea’s plight, and most likely offered to drive her home. Bea, in her most dignified manner, declined. (Yea, right. Dignified).
 
Instead, Bea limped her way home, dragging along her now pitiful-looking bicycle. It. was. a. long. walk.
 
Oh, by the way, wearing helmets while riding bikes was not cool in those days – luckily for Bea, she didn’t hit her head. 
Then there was the time she turned a corner on a Detroit street and rode right smack into another bicyclist. (Still, no head trauma).

Finally, there was the time she was riding on Kelly Road, in Detroit,  noticed a cute guy driving by in a car, then looked back just in time to hit the back of a car parked on the street, busting out its taillight.
Right now, Bea is shaking her head in disbelief that she actually survived the seventies.

Here’s some advice she actually could have used back then, from the Bicycle Safe website, pleasantly titled “How not to get hit by cars.” There’s definitely some excellent advice here for serious, and not so serious, bicyclists.  
 
Safe Kids USA provides a bicycling and skating safety fact sheet, and to keep your kids and grandkids safe while riding bikes, you may want to check out this article from the International Bicycle Fund (IBF) website, titled Teach your child well; bicycle safety issues.
IBF also has some other educational materials about bike safety, which can be found here.

Finally, the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute can give you guidelines for buying a helmet, how to fit a helmet, and what to look for in a helmet.

Bea still loves riding her 10-speed. Nowadays, however, she takes bicycle safety a lot more seriously!

Mental Health America – Dedicated to Mental Wellness

I grew up with a parent who suffered from depression and other mental health issues. He drank to ease his pain.  I became a person who often questioned her own mental wellness. In my darkest moments, I thought of myself as “just like him” ~ without the alcoholism.

My deepest wish throughout my life has been to achieve peace of mind. Today, for the most part, I feel thankful for my life, happy, and more serene than I ever thought I could be.

It took me a long time to realize that I didn’t have to be like my dad. I could simply choose another path. Instead of concentrating on negative mind clutter, I chose to focus on the good.

A simple choice, but not always an easy one, since it meant changing a lifelong habit.

The Mental Health America (MHA) website can help me stay on this path to mental wellness and peace of mind.
This non-profit organization has been around since 1909, and its goal is to help all of us to become “mentally healthy.” It dedicates itself to this goal by:

  • Providing information: Factsheets about mental health/mental illness topics such as anxiety disorders (this includes a section for military troops and their families), children’s mental health topics, depression, eating disorders, and more.
  • Providing help: Factsheets about treatment options, including the national suicide prevention lifeline,  local support groups, inpatient treatment, insurance questions, and more.
  • Taking action: Mental Health America has an “Advocacy Network” that works toward changing the laws to protect America’s mental health.

Mental Health America also works toward raising public awareness of mental health issues, as described here

Live Your Life Well is a special wellness program sponsored by Mental Health America, which provides us with the 10 tools we need to live our life well in this stress-filled, fast-paced world of ours.  Some of these may sound simple, but they are based on scientific research.  They’ve been proven to make a difference in our mental health.

Do you know a military family?  MHA provides resources to help them cope with war-related mental health issues.

So if you simply want to learn about mental health issues, find help/treatment for yourself or a loved one, or take action to advocate for our national mental health, take a look at MHA and it vision.

One nice feature about the MHA website: you can increase the font size of the webpage content.  Very cool if your eyes are aging!

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Don’t Let Stress Mess With You!

We all know that stress can’t be avoided. If we’re alive and kicking, we’ve got stressors, and nowadays there’s plenty of them to be found. The question is, how to we keep stress from making us sick, physically and mentally?

First, of course, it’s important to recognize the symptoms of stress, so we can deal with it before it takes control of our lives. When I’m stressed, for example, I often get an upset stomach, neck pain, and tend to overreact to minor irritations.

Many of us cope with stress by reacting in negative ways:

  • Overeating,
  • Excessive drinking,
  • Compulsive shopping,
  • And getting angry at your loved ones, just to name a few.

It seems that we do these things without giving them much thought. We’re simply looking for short-term stress relief, not realizing these actions can be as harmful to us as the stress itself. 

It is possible to cope with stress in positive ways, if we can learn to change our habits.  By doing so, we can not only relieve and learn to manage day-to-day stress, and can also improve our health and wellness at the same time. 

Over the years, I’ve realized that regular exercise is a great way to deal with day-to-day stress. This is an option that is highly recommended by experts.   The Mayo Clinic, for example, in its article Exercise: Rev up your routine to reduce stress, talks about:

  • How exercise reduces stress
  • Simple tips on starting an exercise program, and
  • How to stay motivated

And the American Council on Exercise (ACE) website, an excellent fitness resource that’s been around for 25 years, also emphasizes the importance of exercise in fighting stress.

Exercise is just one way to manage stress. Leo Babauta, of the Zen Habits blog, provides some tips in his post 10 Simple Ways to Live a Less Stressful Life.

Leo’s number one tip, and my favorite, is: One thing at a time. He’s simply pointing out the need to focus and rid yourself of mind clutter (particularly effective at work when it seems like a hundred things are going on at once). Another good tip is to “do something calming.” 

By the way, focusing on your breathing, as simple as that may sound, can be very calming.  John Travis, M.D., M.P.H., wrote about the importance of breathing in his Breathe for Life article at the Healthy.Net website

Help Guide, a non-profit health and wellness resource, provides some great strategies for reducing, preventing, and coping with stress.

The site also lists related articles and links for managing stress. Help Guide is definitely a wonderful resource for learning how to mess with stress before it messes with you!

Finally, in her usual humorous way, Crabby McSlacker of Cranky Fitness made some great points about simply learning how to meditate in order to make relaxation a part of your daily life.  Check out her Relaxation: Will Someone Please Put A Gun to My Head? post.

To find out how stress affects us, body and mind, check out If you’re breathing, you’ve got stress.

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