Sign up now to receive special offers, discounts and our latest health tips and updates!

It only takes a few seconds, and we’ll never spam or share your email with third parties.

Lotus Notes
The Latest from the Lotus

    5 Ways to Live a Fit Life
    June 10, 2016
    By Roman Mica If living a fit life were easy, everybody would do it. But they don't, because staying fit is hard work and often requires a complete change of lifestyle. That doesn't mean it's impossible, and that certainly doesn't mean that you should not give it your best effort. Why? Because the benefits of living a fit life are endless. It helps you live a longer, happier and more fulfilled life. It helps you get more and better sleep, increase energy levels, and minimize trips to the doctor. But most importantly, it helps provide the sense of well-being that comes from knowing you—and your body—are functioning at 100 percent. So without further ado, here are five secrets for living a fit life: 1. Exercise at Least One Hour Per Day, Every Day Forget what the government says about the need for a moderate half-hour of exercise several times a week. That's simply not enough to get your body into the peak performance zone. In fact it may not even be enough to work off that Whopper you had for lunch. It doesn't matter if you swim, bike, run, walk, lift, do yoga, spin, climb, hike, kayak, ski, jump rope, do jazzercise, mountain climb, mountain bike, paddle, or chop wood, just get your body moving and your heart rate beating at least one hour per day. 2. Do Not Eat Fast Food, Ever Even if you go to the local fast food joint and just order a yogurt, it will probably still have way too much sugar, too many simple carbohydrates and way too many processed calories. Think of it this way: Assume the only thing that doesn't have bad calories or chemicals at McDonalds is water and non-sweetened ice tea. Fast food also happens to be a trigger food. Trigger foods are those really tasty, high calorie foods that trigger your desire for more unhealthy foods. Go to a fast-food joint today and chances are you'll be back before the end of the week. If you want to live a fit life, you'll have to forgo the fast food. 3. Brush Your Teeth After Dinner This may seem like a silly tip, but if you brush your teeth after dinner, chances are good (since you'll have that clean taste in your mouth) that you won't be as tempted to eat a late-night snack. While that late-night snack may be tasty and filling, it also goes right to your hips, stomach, thighs and love handles—or wherever you happen to store excess fat. 4. Set a Measurable and Attainable Goal There are two kinds of goals—those that can be measured and those that cannot. Here's an example of the wrong type of goal: I want to run a half marathon. So do a lot of people, but when and how fast? A better goal would be: I want to run the New York Half Marathon this year in a time under 2 1/2 hours. Now that's a goal that you can work to achieve in a specific amount of time, at a specific place in time. Not only is this measurable, but it can also be attainable. For instance, for some runners a goal might be to win the Boston Marathon. While that's an admirable goal, you have to ask yourself if it is attainable. An unattainable goal, such as winning the Boston Marathon, will only lead to heartbreak and frustration. So unless your name happens to be Paula Radcliffe, perhaps setting a more realistic goal is a better way to lead a fit life. 5. Find Some Fit Friends or Fit Family Members Chances are very real that you'll eat many of the same things, and spend your free time doing the same stuff, as your friends and family. So if you want to live a fit life, find some fit friends to take along on your journey. This is a difficult tip because we certainly don't choose our friends, and we can't choose our family based on their 10K times. But you can join a running group, triathlon club or even a health club that promotes a fit life. Look at it this way—if you plan on exercising at least an hour per day, it really helps to have a friend join you on that run around the neighborhood. Source:
  • Yoga
    11 Unexpected Health-Promoting Benefits of Yoga
    June 10, 2016
    By Wyatt Myers  | Reviewed by Pat F. Bass, III, MD, MPH 1 / 12   Yoga Health Benefits For 5,000 years, hardcore yoga practitioners have been touting yoga's mental and physical powers. Luckily, you don't have to be an expert to reap the benefits — adding just a few poses to your daily routine can help your health in all kinds of unexpected ways. "On a physical level, yoga helps improve flexibility, strength, balance, and endurance," says Linda Schlamadinger McGrath, founder of YogaSource Los Gatos in California. "On an energetic level, yoga teaches you how to cope better with stress by cultivating a sense of ease in both active or passive poses. On a psychological level, yoga helps to cultivate mindfulness by shifting your awareness to the sensations, thoughts, and emotions that accompany a given pose or exercise." Research continues to unearth even more health-boosting benefits of various types of yoga — and here are 11 of them. 2 / 12   Emotional Health Boost All exercise has been shown to help people with depression feel better, and yoga is no exception. In fact, a study from Duke University Medical Center suggested that yoga could benefit those living with depression, schizophrenia, other psychiatric conditions, and sleep problems. "Practicing in a group setting, such as a yoga class, stimulates the production of oxytocin, the love and bonding hormone," McGrath says. "Practicing mindfulness through yoga and meditation also results in higher serotonin levels (the happiness hormone), and long-term practitioners have shown more mass in the areas of the brain associated with contentment." 3 / 12   Back Pain Treatment Multiple studies have found yoga to be a more effective treatment for chronic back pain than usual care. In a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, people living with chronic lower back pain reported better back function, though similar levels of pain, after a few months of practicing yoga. In another study of 80 individuals with chronic lower back pain, the group that participated in just one week of yoga showed less disability and greater flexibility than patients who completed other physical exercises. Even if you don't have chronic pain, yoga's stretching exercises can improve your spinal flexibility. 4 / 12   Fertility Aid In recent years, couples have increasingly turned to yoga as a means of decreasing stress and increasing their chances of conceiving a child. And though there are few studies that indicate that yoga benefits include enhancing fertility, it has been shown to reduce stress and could indeed play a role. "Yoga can help with infertility in a variety of ways," says Bethany Grace Shaw, founder and president of YogaFit, Inc. "Yoga allows the mother-to-be to relax, de-stress, and open up energetic channels, thereby improving chances of conception." Yoga may also allow for better blood flow to reproductive organs, improving organ function and improving hormone function. "Finally, by reducing stress, conception becomes easier," Shaw adds. 5 / 12   Hangover Relief After a night of drinking, yoga may be the last thing on your mind, but Shaw says it's exactly what you should do. "Yoga is a great way to detox your entire system," she says. "Yoga also helps with metabolism. The poses 'shoulder stand,' 'plow,' and 'fish' work on the thyroid gland and improve metabolism, thus getting rid of a hangover faster. Reversing blood flow and bringing more blood to the brain creates balance in the body." Another benefit of a higher metabolism? It helps you burn fat, and the increased blood flow from yoga might even help blast cellulite away. 6 / 12   Heart Disease Helper In a study of 19 patients with heart failure, adding eight weeks of yoga to the treatment of nine of the patients increased their capacity for exercise, improved their heart health, and enhanced their overall quality of life. "Yoga plays a huge role in reducing your risk of heart disease," Shaw says. "The cardiovascular benefits of yoga also help reduce arterial plaque." 7 / 12   Asthma Ease In a study of 57 adults with mild to moderate asthma, adding an eight-week yoga session to their conventional care dramatically improved asthma symptoms. "Breathing practice, known as pranayama, is an essential part of yoga, and such exercises have been shown to help ease the symptoms of asthma," McGrath says. 8 / 12   Arthritis Fighter When it comes to the benefits of different types of yoga, a study indicated that iyengar yoga, known for its use of props like belts, blocks, and other positioning aids, might help people with rheumatoid arthritis. This pilot study of eight people with rheumatoid arthritis showed that a six-week yoga program improved pain, pain disability, mental health, depression, vitality, and self-efficacy. Other types of yoga might help arthritis symptoms, too. "Arthritis loves gentle movement and heat, so styles like bikram or gentle yoga can be very beneficial for arthritis," McGrath says. 9 / 12   Insomnia Buster According to a review article that looked at several complementary and alternative medicine strategies for treating insomnia, yoga was one of the most effective approaches for getting a good night's sleep. "When experiencing insomnia, practice relaxing asanas or postures, such as forward fold (uttanasana) or lying on your back with your feet up the wall," says Tamal Dodge, director of the Tamal Yoga School. "This will help with circulation as well as calming your body and, most importantly, your mind." 10 / 12   Multiple Sclerosis Help The loss of muscle function, coordination, and other issues that come with multiple sclerosis can be frustrating, but some research indicates that yoga might help with MS by improving both physical function and mood. A study of people with multiple sclerosis found that six months of weekly yoga classes improved fatigue to the same degree as six months of weekly traditional exercise classes. 11 / 12   Memory Boost The benefits of yoga may even extend to your brain. "I like to refer to yoga as 'taking out the trash' physically and mentally," Shaw says. "By reducing mental stress and physical tension, we are able to recall easier and have more organized thoughts. Improved cognitive function happens when we are able to clear our minds and refresh. From a place of peace and calm, we are able to use our mental facilities more efficiently." 12 / 12   PTSD Benefit A study published in the Journal of Traumatic Stress found yoga could be a beneficial adjunctive treatment for PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). This pilot study evaluated the effects of 12-session Kripalu-based yoga versus no yoga intervention in 38 women with symptoms of PTSD. The women randomized to the yoga group experienced greater reduction in PTSD symptoms than women in the control group. The results of this study hold promise for people with PTSD who have found little success with traditional psychotherapy. Source:
    Stretching After Exercise: Does it Aid in Recovery?
    June 9, 2016
    by William A. Sands PhD, CSCS Learn about the body's adaptations to different types of post-workout activities. Did you know that serious stretching after a workout is contraindicated for recovery? Instead, avoid serious stretching after training and use a mild exercise to cool down. Recovery Recovery means to return what was lost. In exercise, we think of recovery as more than this. We would like to believe that recovery following exercise does not simply return what was lost, but also enhances our function. This article will use the term “recovery-adaptation” to refer to the idea of enhanced function after exercise. Of course, immediately after exercise you will be tired. The effects of training are delayed for a period of one to several days after your exercise session. The delay of enhanced function has been called the long-term lag of training effect (16). Exercisers and athletes are often counseled to stretch following their workouts to enhance their recovery-adaptation; however, is this a good idea? Historically, it has been thought that stretching should reduce muscle stiffness and delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) (4,5). Exercise folklore on recovery-adaptation often encourages stretching following exercise with little or no justification. Recovery modalities are most frequently associated with enhancing blood and lymph flow in order to nourish muscles and remove waste products. For example, heat, cold, contrast (heat and cold), hydrotherapy, static compression, dynamic compression, vibration, mild exercise, electrical stimulation, and massage are all thought to enhance recovery due to their ability to enhance blood and lymph flow. Exercise folklore on recovery-adaptation often encourages stretching following exercise with little or no justification. Stretching Stretching is “…the application of force to musculotendinous structures in order to achieve a change in their length, usually for the purposes of improving joint range of motion, reducing stiffness or soreness, or preparing for activity,” (1). Pre-exercise stretching appears to have no effect on muscle soreness, tenderness, or loss of force following high-intensity eccentric exercise (7). Research by Cheung, Hume, and Maxwell showed dose-dependent positive effects on DOMS from anti-inflammatory medications, while massage depended on the type of technique used (3). They noted that cryotherapy, stretching, homeopathy, ultrasound, and electrical stimulation demonstrated no positive effect on the relief of muscle soreness (3). Stretching before or after exercise did not improve DOMS according to a study by Wessel and Wan (17). Interestingly, contrary to popular belief, stretching decreases blood flow (12). Blood flow, capillary region oxygenation, and velocity of red blood cells have been shown to decrease during stretching by several investigators (11,13,14). If a goal of recovery-adaptation modalities is to increase blood flow, it would appear that stretching after a workout does not help and may actually discourage blood flow. Although it may sound like heresy, serious stretching after workout is contraindicated for recovery (15). A paradox results when people who want to increase their flexibility are told to do their stretching following their workout when they are warm from the previous exertion. This paradox can be resolved by noting that application of both heat and cold can increase flexibility (2,6). Also, the key factor in developing flexibility is developing a “stretch-tolerance” which refers to one learning how to stretch rather than actually changing tissue structure and function (8,9,10). In short, avoid serious stretching after training and use a mild exercise to cool down. Source:
  • Sports Massage
    Sports Massage for Tight Calf Muscles
    June 8, 2016
    Sports massage can help relax tight muscles, improve flexibility and the overall condition of a muscle. The following sports massage guide is intended for information purposes only. We recommend seeking professional advice before attempting any self help treatment. IMPORTANT: Before starting any massage treatment the therapist will check for contraindications (if any apply to you, then massage is not allowed). What equipment is required? A lubricant is needed to allow the hands to glide smoothly. Oil is the most commonly used form of lubricant. Do not use too much oil. Enough to allow for smooth, controlled movement is required but too much oil may result in less control over the tissues. A firm, flat surface to lie on in order to apply pressure. The floor, or preferably a massage table is the best surface. A bed is unlikely to provide a firm enough surface to work on. How can sports massage help? The aim of sports massage is to release tension in the muscle and stimulate blood flow and healing. More details on the benefits of sports massage are available. Massage must not be performed during the acute stage of this injury - usually 48 hours after injury. For grade two and three strains, massage may not be suitable for over a week. This is because if there is still bleeding then heat and massage will increase bleeding, causing further damage. Technique 1: Effleurage Aim - light stroking to warm up the area in preparation for deeper techniques. With the hands stroke lightly but firmly upwards from just above the heel to the back of the knee. Always stroke upwards towards the heart as this is the direction of blood flow. The other way can damage veins. Then lightly bring the hands down the outside of the leg keeping them in contact but do not apply pressure. Repeat the whole movement using slow stroking techniques, trying to cover as much of the leg as possible. Repeat this technique for about 5 to 10 minutes, gradually applying deeper pressure on the up strokes Technique 2: Petrissage Aim - kneading movements to manipulate and loosen the muscle fibres more. With the hands apply a firm, kneading technique. Try to pull half the muscle towards you with the fingers of one hand whilst pushing half the muscle away with the thumb of the other hand. Then reverse to manipulate the muscle in the other direction. Work your way up and down the muscle, trying to cover as much of the surface as possible. Apply this technique for around 5 minutes, alternating with light stroking (above) occasionally. Technique 3: Stripping the muscle Aim - to apply sustained pressure to the muscle, ironing out any lumps, bumps and knots. With both thumbs together, apply deep pressure up the middle of the calf muscle aiming to separate the heads (sides) of the big gastrocnemius muscle. This technique should be slow and deliberate to 'feel' the muscle underneath. Repeat this 3 to 5 times in a row, alternating with petrissage for 3 to 5 minutes Another similar technique is applied with a single thumb, which can be reinforced with a couple of fingers from the other hand if more pressure is required. A great deal of pressure can be applied with this technique. Massage should be deep but not so deep that the athlete tightens up with pain. Aim to cover all the muscles in the lower leg, feeling for all the lumps and bumps. Technique 5: Circular frictions With either a single thumb, a reinforced thumb as shown, apply pressure in a circular pattern to any tight spots, lumps or bumps. Apply 10 to 20 circular frictions at a time and alternate with stripping and petrissage techniques. Frictions can be applied to a specific point in the muscle, or applied over a small area of muscle moving gradually. Again, pressure should be firm but not so deep as to cause the muscle to tighten up with pain. Technique 6: Trigger points If the therapist finds any lumps and bumps or particularly sensitive spots then apply deep, sustained pressure to these points using the thumbs. A trigger point is a localised, highly sensitive point in the muscle. Increase the pressure on the trigger point until it ranks 7/10 on the pain scale (10 being painful). Hold this pressure until it eases off to 4/10 on the pain scale (usually about 5 seconds). Without easing off with the pressure, increase again until it reaches 7/10 on the pain scale once more. Hold until it eases, repeat once more. This technique is very hard on the thumbs. It is important to keep the thumb slightly bent (flexed) when applying pressure to avoid damaging the joints. Finishing off The therapist can finish off with more petrissage techniques and then finally effleurage again. The whole process should not last more than half an hour. Massage therapy can be applied every day if it is performed lightly however deeper techniques may require a rest day inbetween to allow tissues to 'recover'. For rehabilitation of muscle strains, sports massage is very important in softening / preventing scar tissue forming at the site of injury and re-aligning the new healing fibres in the direction of the muscle fibres. This will help prevent re-injury. Source:
  • yoga
    Benefits of Yoga: Does Yoga Really Burn Fat?
    June 7, 2016
    Practicing yoga began as a path to inner peace, but its mission morphed: Now American women expect it to also sculpt a sexy physique. Does yoga really burn fat? We found out. By Vicki Glembocki March 9, 2009It was supposed to be the most killer yoga class of my life. That was why I traveled halfway around the planet, to India, to an ashram—an ashram!—on the banks of the Ganges, where cows wander in the road, not far from where the Beatles hung with the Maharishi, with a yoga studio whose enormous windows face the foothills of the Himalayas. But after 90 minutes, I was left thinking one thing: Yoga in India sucks. Yoga was calling to me over the past year—calling to me more than any of the other classes I've been taking forever. Even though I know all that heart-amping spinning is good for me, the experience is misery. But yoga? I am one of the 11.5 million American women who l-o-o-o-ve yoga. I love the cozy vibe of the studio. I love not wearing shoes. I even love being told to "breathe through my eyeballs" and "fluff my armpits." Mostly, though, I love yoga because of how it makes me feel: lighter, taller, more balanced, less homicidal. It pushes me to try insane twisting, bending, balancing moves with my body. Without fail, I leave class thinking, "I'm a freaking rock star," which is the complete opposite of what I think when I leave spinning class or an hour on the elliptical: "I never want to go back." So here I am, in a roomful of ashramites in flowing frocks. I am where yoga started thousands of years ago—sitting on my purple mat, legs crossed, eyes closed—hoping to find the ultimate yoga experience so I can quit the gym for good without sacrificing my fitness. "Stand up," commands a voice from the front of the room. I open my eyes and see a small Indian woman standing on a platform. She's wearing a hot-pink sweat suit. "Reach to the sky," she says. I reach to the sky. "Touch your toes," she says. I touch my toes. "Now," she says, "Do that 21 times." This exercise is not followed by a Downward Dog or a Chair pose or something exotic like a Scorpion headstand. It's followed by lunges, 21 to each side. Then opening and closing the eyes—21 times. Then swiveling to the right...then to the left. Twenty-one times. Sure, my heart rate is up and I'm sweating. But this is not what I envisioned when I planned my yoga pilgrimage to India. I feel like I'm exactly where I don't want to be—in a gym counting the minutes until this torture is over. Had I traveled 7,000 miles for a workout that is inherently no different from a step class? Several clicks on the computer could have saved me the trip. A few years ago, the American Council on Exercise gathered together a bunch of healthy young women who hadn't exercised or done yoga for six months. They were split into two groups: One group did nothing; the other did Hatha yoga (the most common style in the U.S.) for 55 minutes three times a week for eight weeks. Hatha classes are generally mellow: five minutes of relaxation and breathing, 10 minutes of sun salutations, 35 minutes of various yoga postures, and five minutes relaxing on your back in the aptly named corpse pose. The researchers found that although the yoga did boost strength, flexibility, endurance, and balance, it barely raised either the women's maximum heart rate or their VO2 max (that's the amount of oxygen a body converts into energy during each minute of maxed-out exercise—the higher the number, the fitter a person's lungs). In other words, it did squat to boost their cardiovascular fitness. "The yoga wasn't intense enough," says John P. Porcari, the exercise physiologist who led the study at the University of Wisconsin's Human Performance Lab. To improve or maintain heart health, the U.S. Department of Health advises pushing your ticker into its aerobic zone—60 to 85 percent of the maximum heart rate—for a total of 75 minutes every week. You can hit that pace by doing vigorous activities (like running) that get the heart into the high end of that zone for at least 75 minutes, or with enough moderate exercise (like walking) to hit the low end for at least two and a half hours. You don't hit it doing Hatha. A study in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that Hatha yoga raised VO2 ­readings only half as high as walking did—meaning you'd have to do a whole lot of hatha in a week's time to meet the aerobic goals. "Yoga can't be all things for all people," Porcari says. Or maybe it's just that Hatha yoga can't. Vinyasa (in Sanskrit, "flow"), the type of yoga I do most often, is more challenging because you move quickly from one pose to the next. I've been in classes where I've had to mop my sweat off the mat. I've held Warrior I (basically a runner's lunge with your arms in the air) and literally felt my heart pounding against the inside of my chest. If that isn't vigorous activity, I don't know what is. And Vinyasa, like Hatha, has another benefit: The chill attitude it encourages—let go of your expectations, forget about your to-do list, stop the fantasy about cursing out the guy who cut you off at that stop sign—is also said to be vital for heart health. Studies by the internal medicine specialist Dean Ornish, M.D., who pioneered the use of yoga in cardiac rehab, found that the relaxation benefits of yoga are just as important for the prevention of heart disease as the fitness benefits of cardio. Typical exercise classes like spinning and step do not include a "lie on your back and relax for five minutes" as part of the exercise. (And not once has my spinning instructor ever massaged my temples. I'm just sayin'.) But if you love yoga and you want a truly serious workout, you need to up the intensity so it's more like Power Yoga, in which you warm up by moving at warp speed through a series of postures and then go on to other complicated poses that you either hold for a long time or do again and again. In another study at the Human Performance Lab, Porcari and his researchers found that 50 minutes of Power Yoga burned 240 calories—about 93 more than Hatha—and catapulted the heart into the coveted aerobic zone. Better yet, a study from Adelphi University in New York found that Power Yoga can burn up to nine calories a minute. Hellooooo. Maybe there's hope that I can ditch my gym membership after all. Now That science has shown that certain styles of yoga—Vinyasa and Power especially—aren't all breath and no brawn, serious trainers (you know, the ones with clipboards in their hands and a string of letters after their names) are starting to recognize that it has serious fitness cred. They no longer consider it just "wimpy stretching." "Yoga is a totally viable form of exercise," says Mike Mejia, C.S.C.S., a Women's Health advisor and personal trainer on Long Island, New York. If this guy, who has been a trainer for 20 years and swears by circuit training (bursts of exercise with little rest in between to raise your heart rate) gives yoga the seal of approval, then I should be golden. Flow yoga, Mejia says, is a lot like circuit training; that's why he regularly incorporates it into the strength routines he prescribes his clients. "But yoga does have one significant shortcoming," Mejia says. "It's not intense enough to raise your metabolic rate" (that is, the number of calories your body burns at rest). And as a girl who wants to lose a few pounds, I could use every single second of the post-workout calorie burn that comes with more hardcore ­aerobic exercise. The good news is, I don't need a ton of it (see "Yoga Fitness in 7 Days," below). Mejia suggests a spin class here, a brisk walk there, some hardcore vacuuming. But for the most part, I can leave that techno music at the gym where it belongs. And I can go to the yoga studio, where I belong. Then when people ask me why I look so good (because, in my fantasy mind, they're going to ask me that all the time), I'll be able to say: "I do yoga." Yoga Fitness in 7 Days Add more oomph to your om-workout Monday 90 minutes Power or Vinyasa yoga. Find a class or DVD you enjoy; we like anything by Shiva Rea. Tuesday 30 minutes circuit strength training using the big muscle groups, alternating between the upper and lower body with squats, pushups, lunges, etc. To yoga it up, throw in some poses like Warrior I or Half Moon. Wednesday 90-minute Power/Vinyasa class Thursday 20 to 30 minutes of cardio Friday 90-minute Power/Vinyasa class Weekend Rest or Hatha yogaSource: