How to Get Rid of Bad Habits

If you smoke, eat too much junk food, or drink alcohol to excess, you likely already know these habits are bad for you. But they’re habits that are tough to kick overnight. It takes time and a lot of effort to quit. But, there’s hope: One of the best ways to leave damaging lifestyle habits behind is physical activity.

So, how to get rid of bad habits?

Well … following a regular workout routine could help you get rid of those bad habits for good. Let’s take a closer look on how this works:

Why it’s Hard to Break a Bad Habit

Smoking, drinking to excess, and overeating are bad habits that don’t develop overnight. They develop over several years. Likewise, it can take years to break them. A lot of research has gone into exactly why it’s so difficult for people to stop doing the things they know are bad for their health.

Not all habits are bad for you, of course. For example, showering and brushing your teeth every day are good for your health. But sometimes a habit, according to researchers, can trigger a reward mechanism in the brain. This, in turn, can lead to routines that are dangerous, such as abusing alcohol, smoking, or using drugs.

The general mechanism that creates both good and bad habits is basically the same, but the ones associated with pleasure are tougher to kick.

One of the reasons why, some researchers believe, is that bad habits that bring you pleasure cause a release of a brain chemical known as dopamine. Smoking and drinking release dopamine — the more you get, the more you want.

It might not even necessarily be the substance itself that you want, but the dopamine. Many people remain addicted to drugs, even when they no longer derive pleasure from the specific drug. Dopamine could be the reason.1

bad habits | Princeton Nutrients

Replacing Bad Habits With Good Ones

There are ways to break unhealthy habits. One of the most effective is by replacing bad ones with good ones. Some people with drug addictions, for example, have found success in running. This, in itself, can be a ritualistic — even compulsive — behavior. An addict may always have the urge to use drugs. But there are ways they can strengthen the healthy habit while suppressing the bad one.

How a Workout Can Help Eliminate Unhealthy Habits

There are a lot of reasons that physical activity can be very effective in helping you kick bad habits once and for all. For example, a vigorous workout can also release the “pleasure chemical” dopamine. Physical activity also stimulates the release of endorphins, chemicals that also make you feel great.2

Moderate physical activity may also help you manage any withdrawal symptoms you might be experiencing if you try to quit a bad habit such as smoking.3 The next time you feel like lighting up, do some pushups, or jog around the block instead. You’ll more than likely find that the exercise — whatever it is — can take your mind off of the craving for a cigarette.

In one study, Canadian researchers conducted a study involving 168 smokers. The purpose was to determine whether running could help them stop smoking. The participants joined a running group for 10 weeks. This program included instruction on proper running technique, as well as tips to quit smoking. It also included training designed to build up the participants’ stamina to the point to where they could finish a 5K run.

Of the 72 who made it through the entire program, 37 had quit smoking for good. Follow-up interviews showed that 91 percent of the people who finished the program had at least reduced their frequency of smoking.4

If overeating is your problem, exercise could help decrease your appetite. It does so, according to research, by suppressing ghrelin, known as the “hunger hormone.”5

As an added benefit, regular exercise may also help you sleep better.6 Many studies show the better the quality of your sleep, the healthier you will be.7

bad habits | Princeton Nutrients

Putting Together a Plan

No matter what your ultimate goal is, whether it’s to stop drinking, stop smoking, or to lose weight, you need an action plan. Set up a starting date, and stick to it. Make sure your goals are realistic. You’re not going to be able to run a marathon the first time. Rather, start slowly with a 10-minute run. Keep going. Eventually, run 30 minutes at a time.

Always talk to your doctor first before starting any sort of exercise regimen. They will likely want to put you through some tests to determine the level of physical activity you can safely handle. You’ll also want to speak with a qualified trainer who will help you follow a safe workout routine. The last thing you want is to suffer an injury that derails your progress.

One Last Note

It’s important to remember that you’re about to embark on a long journey. You’re going to be tempted to return back to your bad habits. While exercise is great for helping you break those habits, the temptation is going to remain. If you’re trying to lose weight, throw out all the junk foods in your refrigerator and cabinets. If you’re trying to stop drinking, don’t allow any booze in your home. Toss all of your cigarettes. Remove ashtrays or other paraphernalia that have anything to do with smoking.

By taking these steps, and engaging in vigorous physical activity, there’s a great chance you can make those bad habits a thing of the past.

Want more helpful health tips? Keep reading:

7 Natural Remedies For Reducing Muscle Pain

Type-2 Diabetes Prevention: 7 Steps You Can Take to Avoid it

Sources:
1.https://newsinhealth.nih.gov/2012/01/breaking-bad-habits
2.https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-compass-pleasure/201104/exercise-pleasure-and-the-brain
3.http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1360-0443.2006.01739.x/full
4.https://news.ubc.ca/2017/09/12/running-group-helps-half-its-graduates-quit-smoking/
5.http://www.the-aps.org/mm/hp/Audiences/Public-Press/Archive/08/40.html
6.https://sleepfoundation.org/ask-the-expert/how-does-exercise-help-those-chronic-insomnia
7.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4326238/

NEWS: Mindfulness May Change or Improve Your Genes

Mindfulness meditation has been around for centuries. You’ve probably already heard it’s an effective tool for staying calm and relaxed. Now, a recent study shows it could actually have an affect on your genes. It may even help to reverse some of the stress-related damage to your health.

Here’s a look at how this form of meditation might play a bigger role in wellness than first thought:

What is Mindfulness Meditation?

Mindfulness meditation has been around for more than 2,000 years. It’s a way to focus the mind so that you concentrate on the current moment, rather than thinking of the past or the future. Beginners usually practice this type of meditation for about 20 minutes per session. More advanced practitioners may meditate for up to an hour.1 Many people believe mindfulness meditation is great for the soul. Some also believe it can help heal both the body and mind.

Everyone has the quality of mindfulness, but not everyone realizes its value … or that it should be actively cultivated.

Advocates believe practicing mindfulness meditation can lead to a fuller, more enriched life.

How? Because practicing this type of meditation can help you live in the moment. Instead of putting your mind on “auto pilot” and going through the motions day-to-day, you’re appreciating your life as it unfolds… moment to moment.

There are several other types of meditation as well. Here are some of the most popular:

· Spiritual meditation

This is somewhat like prayer, in that you are trying to establish a deeper connection with your God. It’s used not only in Taoism, Hinduism, and other religions of the East, but in the Christian faith as well. Many people use certain essential oils to enhance their experience, such as cedar, frankincense, and myrrh. You can practice spiritual meditation either at home, or at your house of worship.

· Movement meditation

Most people associate movement meditation with yoga. But, you can incorporate it with any form of gentle motion. This includes working in your garden or taking a walk through the woods near your home.2

· Mantra meditation

Have you ever seen someone sitting in the “lotus” (cross-legged) position on a mat repeating a phrase such as “Om”? More than likely, they were practicing mantra meditation. It involves the use of a repetitive word or phrase to help clear the mind. It’s supposed to help you become more in tune with the environment that surrounds you.

· Transcendental meditation

“TM” is the most popular type of meditation worldwide. Over 5 million people practice transcendental meditation.3 It’s good for people who are serious about meditation but are just starting out. Practitioners usually have two 20-minute sessions each day.

Common Reasons People Practice Meditation

There are several reasons people turn to meditation. They may practice it because it helps them manage anxiety or stress. They might meditate to help increase their focus, so they can be more productive in their jobs. Some people use it to help eliminate unhealthy habits, such as overeating or smoking. Still others meditate to get past some sort of difficult life event. People may meditate to gain a better understanding of their purpose in life.

Meditation and the Genes

Researchers analyzed 18 studies that involved nearly 850 participants. They wanted to see what kind of effects different forms of relaxation can have on the body. These included meditation as well as Tai Chi, breathing exercises, yoga and Qi gong. They came to the conclusion that these methods of connecting the mind with the body help to suppress gene expression. They do so in a way that can inhibit certain processes that can be harmful to our health.

For example, the researchers focused on the effect meditation can have on inflammation. This is an important process that lets us know when we’re sick or we’ve been injured in some way. But inflammation can also hurt us both mentally and physically. They believe meditation can reverse some of this damage because it inhibits the expression of certain genes.

What is Gene Expression?

Gene expression is where DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) gets the information it needs. It then takes this information and makes proteins. It not only controls when a protein is made, but also the amount that is made.

When a gene is turned off, it’s considered dormant. When it is activated, gene expression occurs. The epigenetic process involves mechanisms that basically act as an on/off switch for genes. Some of the most important epigenetic mechanisms are what make us different from other people. For example, epigenetic mechanisms control the color of our skin and hair, and why some of us love okra while others can’t stand it.4

Factors such as lifestyle and environment can have a major effect on whether different genes are expressed. These genes, in turn, can play a large role in determining several important things. These include how long we will live and whether we’ll be at risk of developing certain diseases. Mindfulness-based stress reduction can help reduce stress-related changes. These changes signal genes to produce proteins associated with inflammation.

According to the study, people who practice meditation on a regular basis experience a reverse in some of the effects of stress. This is because of a decrease in activity of genes that are involved in the inflammatory process.5 As a result, they were at a lower risk of illnesses caused by inflammation.

The Takeaway

Research into the physiological effects of meditation is still in its earl stages. This study supports the idea that meditation can be beneficial. They may improve not only your mood, but your health as well.

For more helpful health and wellness news, keep reading:

How To Build A Mason Jar Salad (And What To Put In It!)

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Sources
1.https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2015/07/mindfulness-meditation-empathy-compassion/398867/
2.https://www.gaia.com/article/which-type-meditation-style-best-for-you
3.http://www.latimes.com/news/la-me-maharishi6feb06-story.html
4.https://www.whatisepigenetics.com/what-is-epigenetics/
5.http://journal.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fimmu.2017.00670/full

Why You Should Start Lifting Weights (plus, beginner safety tips)

Strength training doesn’t necessarily mean hitting the weights so hard that you wind up looking like a muscle-bound bodybuilder. Even working light dumbbells can provide major health benefits. Yes, you’ll build up your muscles, but the main purpose of strength training is to help your overall well-being for the long term.

How Important is Strength Training?

Whether you call it resistance training or strength training, it’s one of the best things that you can do for your body. As we get older, we lose bone tissue at a faster rate than we produce it. This is especially the case among people who live a mainly sedentary lifestyle. The loss of bone mass or density not only leads to issues with posture, but also general weakness.

Strength training helps to offset your loss of bone through what is known as “bone remodeling.” It helps develop cells known as osteoblasts, which help rebuild bone. Many people perform aerobic exercises to stay fit. While these are good for your overall health, and can also help stimulate the production of osteoblasts in the lower body, weightlifting is the recommended method to help ensure that the bones throughout the body remain healthy and strong.1

What Does the Research Say?

There is solid scientific evidence that increasing your muscle mass by lifting weights can do much more than improve your physique – this form of exercise can also deliver critically important health benefits. Here are just a few of them:

· Control Insulin – According to a study published in the medical journal Diabetes Care, lifting weights on a regular basis can increase sensitivity to insulin in people who have been diagnosed with pre-diabetes as well as diabetes. It showed that performing a strength training regimen two times a week could help control insulin swings.2

· Inflammation – We need a certain amount of inflammation to warn us that we’ve suffered some sort of injury or are developing an illness, but too much can lead to a lot of different problems, including heart disease. One study showed that regular strength training can help increase the production of cytokines – proteins which can help to quell an overabundance of inflammation.3

· Fat loss – You may think that aerobic exercise and dieting are the only ways to shed pounds and keep them off, but you might want to think again. Researchers at Penn State conducted a study consisting of three groups of people who were on a diet. One group didn’t perform any exercise, the second only did aerobic exercise, and the third combined aerobics with strength training. At the end of the study, the researchers found that all the participants had lost an average of 21 pounds, but the group that combined aerobics with strength training lost six more pounds of fat than the others. According to the results, the participants who were lifting weight were shedding mainly fat – while the others were losing fat and muscle.4

· Heart healthThe Journal of Applied Physiology published a study showing that resistance training not only increases muscular strength, it also lowers blood pressure when resting. The researchers concluded that strength training could be used as a medical intervention method to reduce blood pressure and lower the risk of heart disease.5

Other Reasons to Consider Strength Training

Strength training is one of the most effective things we can do to help ensure our muscles stay strong and we have the best chance of staying healthy as we get older. These are just a few of the other benefits that have been linked to lifting weights on a regular basis:

· Increasing bone strength – Hip fractures are a serious matter at any age, but they can prove deadly to older people. Additionally, bone loss can lead to not only rounded shoulders but also the possibility of developing a hump. One study found that men who followed a strength training regimen for four months not only increased the density of their hip bones by nearly 4 percent, they also raised their levels of osteocalcin – an indicator of bone growth – by almost 20 percent.6

· Increasing flexibility – You could lose 50 percent or more of your flexibility by the age of 70 – and it’s possible that by the age of 30, most of us become 20 percent less flexible. This can ultimately wreak havoc on your joints. But strength training may help fix this problem. The International Journal of Sports Medicine published a study that showed that a four-month resistance training regimen could increase shoulder and hip flexibility by more than 30 percent. Participants in the study showed an 11 percent flexibility increase during a sit-and-reach exercise – a common test to measure flexibility in the lower back, hips, and hamstrings.7

· Regulating insulin levels from carbohydrates – If you tend to take in a lot of carbohydrates such as rice, white bread, and potatoes, you might not realize that your level of insulin (which helps regulate the amount of sugar in the blood) rises substantially as a result. This can be a major problem, because when your insulin numbers are elevated on a regular basis, your risk of heart disease and diabetes goes up. Researchers studying insulin levels and exercise analyzed two groups of men. One followed only an aerobic exercise program, while the other worked out with weights two times a week in addition to following an aerobic regimen. They found that the insulin levels of men who combined strength training and aerobics were 25 percent lower after eating a carb-rich meal than the men who only did aerobics.8

· Increasing your metabolism – Researchers conducted a study and found that men who followed a strength training regimen for six months saw their resting metabolism rate increase by 7 percent. According to the researchers, strength training tends to have a more pronounced effect on metabolism in men than women.9

lifting weights | Princeton Nutrients

· Benefits for older adults – Researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and Carroll University found “overwhelming” evidence that strength training can benefit older people. It not only increases power, strength, and muscle mass, it also helps make performing daily, routine tasks much easier. In addition, according to the researchers, older adults who lift weights are more likely to participate in other types of spontaneous exercise. They suggest that older people train two days a week, on average.10

Safety Tips for Starting a Strength Training Regimen

If, after learning more about the potential benefits of resistance training, you’re inspired to begin your own strength training program, that’s great. You’ll enjoy the benefits of a slimmer appearance, but more importantly, you’ll enjoy significantly improved health as a result. Keep in mind, though, you shouldn’t immediately head over to your nearest gym and start pumping iron. If you don’t have a careful plan, you could seriously hurt yourself.

The first thing you need to do is talk to your doctor, to make sure this type of regimen will be right for you. If you get the go ahead, your next conversation should be with a trainer at a gymnasium. He or she will help you determine the best way to get started.

Quality not Quantity

At the beginning of your program, focus on technique. It’s understandable if you want to get through the workout as quickly as possible, but if your form isn’t sound, you could be setting yourself up for a major injury. No matter what type of exercises you’re doing to build your muscles, listen closely to your instructor and follow his or her directions to the letter. Start with basic moves, and then expand your horizons.

It might also be tempting to ditch your new workout routine if you feel sore, or if you don’t see results after a few weeks. Just remember that the more you stick to a regular routine of lifting weights, the more coordinated and stable you’ll feel. Eventually, you’ll get more and more comfortable as your routine begins to feel more natural.

Take it Easy!

Remember to take a few days off, and not to try to hit the weights like a maniac every day. That might work if you’re trying to make it in the NFL, but that’s about it. If you don’t give yourself a break every once in awhile, you won’t be giving your body time to make the changes it needs for you to enjoy the benefits to not only your health, but also your appearance.

And finally, don’t think you can keep piling on the junk food just because you’re embarking on a strength training regimen. You might be making great progress in the gym, but that won’t mean anything if you’re not eating healthy. Make sure you get enough protein in your diet to support your increased muscles, but don’t forget to include carbs for energy as well as healthy fats. A good training regimen is nothing if you don’t support it with a sensible nutrition plan.

For more health news you can use, keep reading:

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Sources:
1.http://time.com/4803697/bodybuilding-strength-training/?cid=2017012&XID=time-health-hub
2.http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/21/8/1353
3.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2933442/
4.http://www.foxnews.com/health/2013/12/02/what-best-for-weight-loss-cardio-or-strength-training.html
5.https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/de44/40ee59d7777afa4b682e865183e1069a8945.pdf
6.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8335581
7.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11842358

8.https://academic.oup.com/biomedgerontology/article/61/5/480/630015/Effects-of-Aerobic-and-Resistive-Exercise-Training
9.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15107011
10.https://www.researchgate.net/publication/8598201_Effects_of_Resistance_Training_on_Older_Adults

Dog Owners Are Healthier! (6 reasons why)

So you’re one of the millions of dog owners in the world? Congratulations! You already know how much fun you have with your four-legged friend, but you might not be aware of the health benefits you’re enjoying. Sure, it’s great when he sees you at the end of your workday, with his tail wagging and his bark that tells you how happy he is that you’re back home. But there’s a growing body of scientific research that indicates your beloved pet could actually be making you healthier. The research into this area is relatively new, but the early indications show that being a pet owner can help you in many different ways. These are just a few:

Continue reading “Dog Owners Are Healthier! (6 reasons why)”

Feeling Weak in the Knees? (do these simple leg exercises to improve leg strength!)

Trouble walking up stairs… stumbling on uneven ground… creaky knees and ankles – there are lots of simple activities that can let you know your legs aren’t the best they can be. While you can try to ignore the signs, you don’t want to risk a trip or fall that could have been avoided. So if you’ve come to the decision to get in the gym and work on your leg muscles, well, congratulations!

Continue reading “Feeling Weak in the Knees? (do these simple leg exercises to improve leg strength!)”

How to Master the Perfect Pushup (5 simple tips)

A perfect pushup can take your chest workout to the next level, and it can also help strengthen your shoulders, arms, hips and legs. In fact, in just a few minutes a day, you can gain major overall body benefits from this old school move.

But what’s the best way to do a push-up? Do you try for diamonds, wide position, or even push-up handles?

Continue reading “How to Master the Perfect Pushup (5 simple tips)”

7 Natural Remedies For Reducing Muscle Pain

Muscle pain can be difficult to tolerate. During the day, it is common to feel pain in the soft tissues of your muscles. Many people experience lower back pain, shoulder aches, and pains in other areas that are overused in the workplace. However, at night the pain often worsens, leaving millions of people just like you asking, “How can I stop these muscle aches and pains?”

Here are seven natural remedies for alleviating muscle pain, all backed by science:

Continue reading “7 Natural Remedies For Reducing Muscle Pain”

New Study Shows Eating Less Can Improve Your Mood

Today I’m going to touch on a subject that nearly everyone is interested in: Eating Less and Losing weight.

Now, I’m sure you’re familiar with many of the health benefits you can gain by dropping a few pounds.

Continue reading “New Study Shows Eating Less Can Improve Your Mood”