Heart disease

Love to walk!

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“All walking is discovery. On foot we take the time to see things whole.” -Hal Borland

I love to walk, especially in the early mornings on a beautiful day with my dog, Buddy.  Walking is my favorite way to get my daily exercise.  I do not listen to music when I am walking, rather I love to hear the sound of the birds and the rustle of leaves from a gentle breeze.  I talk with my dog.  I talk to God. This is my peaceful, therapeutic time just for me.

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Based on research studies, walking on a regular basis has the following health benefits:
Regular physical activity, such as walking, can also make you feel better, because it:
  • Helps keep your bones, muscles, and joints healthy
  • Reduces anxiety and depression, boosting your mood
  • Helps you handle stress
  • Helps you feel more energetic
  • Helps you sleep better
  • Improves your self-esteem
  • Gives you an opportunity to socialize actively with friends and family.

This is my favorite walking partner, Buddy, as a puppy four years ago:

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Pretty cute, huh?

Unbelievably, this little guy walks me!  During our walks we engage in a variety of walking from stopping for potty moments, leisure walking and definitely brisk walking.  Our usual walking dates are about 45 minutes.

This is Buddy now, still a small guy, but boy can he scoot!Image

Beginning to Walk
If you struggle to exercise each day, why not try walking?  Start slowly if you are not active now. Try to walk 5 minutes a day for the first week. Walk 8 minutes the next week. Stay at 8-minute walks until you feel comfortable. Then increase your walks to 11 minutes. Slowly lengthen each walk by 3 minutes, or walk faster.  I find that if I walk 30-45 minutes daily I feel just fabulous.  Additionally, the stiffness and aching from my arthritis lessens dramatically when I regularly move and walk.
Some other tips for walking include the following:
  • Wear comfortable walking shoes with a lot of support, including proper arch support, a firm heel, and thick, flexible soles that will cushion your feet and absorb shock. If you walk frequently, you may need to buy new shoes often. You may wish to speak with a podiatrist about when you need to purchase new walking shoes.
  • Wear garments that prevent inner-thigh chafing, such as tights or spandex shorts. Also wear clothes that will keep you dry and comfortable. Look for synthetic fabrics that absorb sweat and remove it from your skin.
  • Make walking fun by walking with a friend, family member or pet. Walk in places you enjoy, like a park or shopping mall.  Scenery makes a walk joyous and refreshing.
  • Choose a safe place to walk. Find a partner or group of people to walk with you.
  • Wear a knit cap in winter for extra warmth. To stay cool in summer, wear a baseball cap or visor.
  • Think of your walk in three parts. Warm up by walking slowly for five minutes. Then increase your speed and do a fast walk. Finally, cool down by walking slowly again for five minutes.
  • Do light stretching before and after your walks to warm-up, loosen up and cool-down.
  • Try to walk at least three times per week. Each week, add two or three minutes to your walk. If you walk fewer than three times per week, you may need more time to adjust before you increase the pace or frequency of your walk.
  • Start gradually to avoid stiff or sore muscles and joints. Over several weeks, begin walking faster, going farther, and walking for longer periods of time.
  • Set goals and rewards. Some examples of goals are participating in a fun walk or walking continuously for 30 minutes.
  • Keep track of your progress with a walking journal or log.
Pear-Tree-Street
(Hawthorne tree-lined streets in our neighborhood from yesterday.)
The more you walk, the better you may feel and the more calories you may burn. Experts recommend 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity on most, if not all, days of the week. If you cannot do 30 minutes at a time, try walking for shorter amounts and gradually working up to it.
Always be aware of your surroundings and if you walk at dawn, dusk, or night, wear a reflective vest or brightly colored clothing.
Stretch gently after you warm up your muscles with an easy five-minute walk and again after you cool down. Try doing the following stretches. Do not bounce or hold your breath when you stretch. Perform slow movements and stretch only as far as you feel comfortable.
Some nice stretches I do before and after my walk I have listed for you:
Side Reach
Reach one arm over your head and to the side. Keep your hips steady and your shoulders straight to the side. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat on the other side.
Wall Push
Lean your hands on a wall with your feet about three to four feet away from the wall. Bend one knee and point it toward the wall. Keep your back leg straight, with your foot flat and your toes pointed straight ahead. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat with the other leg.
Knee Pull
Lean your back against a wall. Keep your head, hips, and feet in a straight line. Pull one knee to your chest, hold for 10 seconds, then repeat with the other leg.
Leg Curl
Pull your right foot to your buttocks with your right hand. Stand straight and keep your knee pointing straight to the ground. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat with your left foot and hand.
Hamstring
Sit on a sturdy bench or hard surface so that your left leg is stretched out on the bench with your toes pointing up. Keep your right foot flat on the floor. Straighten your back, and when you feel a stretch in the back of your thigh, hold for 10 seconds and repeat with your right leg. If you do not yet feel a stretch, lean forward from your hips until you feel a stretch.
walking-benefits
The best part of my walk yesterday was loading up my jacket pockets with a few samples from neighborhood trees!  Most of our neighbors have fruit trees in their front yards or overflowing to the walkway paths from their back yards.
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(Mandarin orange tree)
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(Avocado tree)
Wishing you a beautiful week filled with walking!  Enjoy the early spring blossoms!
Wendy

What’s the hype about coconut oil?

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Recently I have been seeing many articles, comments and posts about the health benefits of using coconut oil, so I decided to do some research.  Not only does coconut oil taste great, but the health benefits are amazing!

Here is what I have discovered:

Benefits of Coconut Oil

Diabetes

Coconut oil is the one fat that diabetics can eat without fear. Not only does coconut oil NOT contribute to diabetes, but it helps regulate blood sugar, thus reducing the effects of the disease. Of special note, according to Charles Mattocks (2011), is that Island people have consumed large amounts of coconut oil for many generations without ever encountering diabetes, but when they abandoned it for other foods and oils, the results were not good.

Weight Loss

The connection between coconut oil and weight loss is very, very interesting. Farmers in America discovered this early last century when they tried to fatten their cattle by feeding them coconut oil. Instead of gaining weight, their cattle lost weight! So again, this is not news. Do a simple Internet search such as “benefits of coconut oil” and you will get plenty of details.

Bone and Dental Health

Coconut oil improves calcium and magnesium absorption in the body, which in turn is greatly beneficial to dental and bone health. The improved calcium absorption created by coconut oil use ceases tooth decay and aids in the development of strong teeth. The combined increased calcium and magnesium absorption are of great benefit to middle-aged men and women who may become afflicted with osteoporosis.  Coconut oil seems to be a fantastic preventative for a healthy diet.

Coconut Oil: A Good Saturated Fat?

This is important!  You may ask, isn’t coconut oil a saturated fat? And aren’t saturated fats harmful? Yes, coconut oil consists of 90% saturated fats. But whether or not saturated fats are harmful depends on who you ask. Among mainstream nutritionists, the idea that saturated fats cause heart disease is an “absolute truth” that is never questioned. Those who question this belief, however, point out that mankind has been consuming mainly saturated fats – in the form of butter, lard, coconut oil, etc – for thousands of years, yet heart disease was rare before the 1920’s. Pay attention here: if anything, the rise of heart disease in recent decades may correspond to the increasing use of polyunsaturated vegetable oils like corn, safflower and canola, as well as margarine.

Conclusion

Coconut oil has done wonders for the way some people feel.  I would point out, however, that if you suffer from diabetes or heart disease, even high blood pressure or high cholesterol, please consult you doctor before you try coconut oil.

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Me?  I normally use olive oil for my cooking, but I am going to mix things up a bit with coconut oil.   I love the flavor of coconut, do you?

I hope this post helped provide you with some valuable information about adding coconut oil to your diet.

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Is Laughter Really the very Best Medicine?

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Physical Health Benefits:

Mental Health Benefits:

  • Adds joy and zest to life
  • Eases anxiety and fear
  • Relieves stress
  • Improves mood
  • Enhances resilience
Social Benefits:

  • Strengthens relationships
  • Attracts others to us
  • Enhances teamwork
  • Helps defuse conflict
  • Promotes group bonding

The Health Benefits of Humor and Laughter

Humor is infectious. The sound of roaring laughter is far more contagious than any cough, sniffle, or sneeze. When laughter is shared, it binds people together and increases happiness and intimacy. Laughter also triggers healthy physical changes in the body. Humor and laughter strengthen your immune system, boost your energy, diminish pain, and protect you from the damaging effects of stress. Best of all, this priceless medicine is fun, free, and easy to use!

Laughter is strong medicine for mind and body

“Your sense of humor is one of the most powerful tools you have to make certain that your daily mood and emotional state support good health.”

~ Paul E. McGhee, Ph.D.

Laughter is a powerful antidote to stress, pain, and conflict. Nothing works faster or more dependably to bring your mind and body back into balance than a good laugh. Humor lightens your burdens, inspires hopes, connects you to others, and keeps you grounded, focused, and alert.

With so much power to heal and renew, the ability to laugh easily and frequently is a tremendous resource for surmounting problems, enhancing your relationships, and supporting both physical and emotional health.

(My husband, Lee and I being flash-blinded by our friends camera phone during dinner last evening.)

Laughter is good for your health

  • Laughter relaxes the whole body. A good, hearty laugh relieves physical tension and stress, leaving your muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes after.
  • Laughter boosts the immune system. Laughter decreases stress hormones and increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, thus improving your resistance to disease.
  • Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. Endorphins promote an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain.
  • Laughter protects the heart. Laughter improves the function of blood vessels and increases blood flow, which can help protect you against a heart attack and other cardiovascular problems.

(This is my husband and I holding our eyes open as wide and long as we possibly can after being flash-blinded by a camera phone!)

Laughter and humor help you stay emotionally healthy

Laughter makes you feel good. And the good feeling that you get when you laugh remains with you even after the laughter subsides. Humor helps you keep a positive, optimistic outlook through difficult situations, disappointments, and loss.

More than just a respite from sadness and pain, laughter gives you the courage and strength to find new sources of meaning and hope. Even in the most difficult of times, a laugh–or even simply a smile–can go a long way toward making you feel better. And laughter really is contagious—just hearing laughter primes your brain and readies you to smile and join in the fun.

The link between laughter and mental health

The link between laughter and mental health

  • Laughter dissolves distressing emotions. You can’t feel anxious, angry, or sad when you’re laughing.
  • Laughter helps you relax and recharge. It reduces stress and increases energy, enabling you to stay focused and accomplish more.
  • Humor shifts perspective, allowing you to see situations in a more realistic, less threatening light. A humorous perspective creates psychological distance, which can help you avoid feeling overwhelmed.

(Our dear friends, Julie & Chris, dinner last evening.)

Bringing more humor and laughter into your life

Therapeutic Benefits of PetsWant to bring the fun? Get a pet…

Most of us have experienced the joy of playing with a furry friend, and pets are a rewarding way to bring more laughter and joy into your life. But did you know that having a pet is also good for your mental and physical health? Studies show that pets can protect you depression, stress, and even heart disease.

Laughter is your birthright, a natural part of life that is innate and inborn. Infants begin smiling during the first weeks of life and laugh out loud within months of being born. Even if you did not grow up in a household where laughter was a common sound, you can learn to laugh at any stage of life.

Begin by setting aside special times to seek out humor and laughter, as you might with working out, and build from there. Eventually, you’ll want to incorporate humor and laughter into the fabric of your life, finding it naturally in everything you do.

Here are some ways to start:

  • Smile. Smiling is the beginning of laughter. Like laughter, it’s contagious. Pioneers in “laugh therapy,” find it’s possible to laugh without even experiencing a funny event. The same holds for smiling. When you look at someone or see something even mildly pleasing, practice smiling.
  • Count your blessings. Literally make a list. The simple act of considering the good things in your life will distance you from negative thoughts that are a barrier to humor and laughter. When you’re in a state of sadness, you have further to travel to get to humor and laughter.
  • When you hear laughter, move toward it. Sometimes humor and laughter are private, a shared joke among a small group, but usually not. More often, people are very happy to share something funny because it gives them an opportunity to laugh again and feed off the humor you find in it. When you hear laughter, seek it out and ask, “What’s funny?”
  • Spend time with fun, playful people. These are people who laugh easily–both at themselves and at life’s absurdities–and who routinely find the humor in everyday events. Their playful point of view and laughter are contagious.
  • Bring humor into conversations. Ask people, “What’s the funniest thing that happened to you today? This week? In your life?”

Using humor and play to overcome challenges and enhance your life

The ability to laugh, play, and have fun with others not only makes life more enjoyable but also helps you solve problems, connect with others, and be more creative. People who incorporate humor and play into their daily lives find that it renews them and all of their relationships.

Life brings challenges that can either get the best of you or become playthings for your imagination. When you “become the problem” and take yourself too seriously, it can be hard to think outside the box and find new solutions. But when you play with the problem, you can often transform it into an opportunity for creative learning.

Playing with problems seems to come naturally to children. When they are confused or afraid, they make their problems into a game, giving them a sense of control and an opportunity to experiment with new solutions. Interacting with others in playful ways helps you retain this creative ability.

As laughter, humor, and play become an integrated part of your life, your creativity will flourish and new discoveries for playing with friends, coworkers, acquaintances, and loved ones will occur to you daily. Humor takes you to a higher place where you can view the world from a more relaxed, positive, creative, joyful, and balanced perspective.

Wishing you laughter throughout your week and may laughter be part of your choice to Keep Choosing Consistency,

Wendy

Reference

Laughter is the Best Medicine.  Retrieved  from http://www.helpguide.org/life/humor_laughter_health.htm