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It’s Not Just a Luxury

Last week I had the pleasure of meeting a woman named Helga. She was my masseuse. She was in her 70’s and one of the strongest, healthiest, wisest women I have ever met.

In a matter of an hour, she taught me life philosophies, including not taking things so seriously and taking care of your body as a top priority. She believes women take too much time taking care of others, and not enough time taking care of themselves.  And guilt is over-rated.

Working for many spas in my marketing career, I knew the importance of rejuvenating your body and healing, but I always looked at treatments as a luxury and felt massage2so guilty when I did indulge. Helga reiterated to me the importance of massage and how many cultures require family members to massage themselves daily to ensure their bodies functions optimally.

For the first time, it really resonated with me that massage may not just be a luxury, but a necessity. Massage has been a healing technique since ancient civilizations.

What does massage do for you?

Massage is the manipulation of layers of muscle and connective tissue using various techniques. It enhances muscle function, aids in healing, decreases muscle reflex activity and promotes relaxation and well-being. Specifically it can help:

  • Alleviate low-back pain and improve range of motion.
  • Enhance immunity by activating the body’s natural defense system.
  • Exercise and stretch weak, tight or atrophied muscles.
  • Improve circulation by pumping oxygen and nutrients into tissues and vital organs.
  • Help athletes prepare for or recover from strenuous activity.
  • Increase joint flexibility.
  • Lessen depression and anxiety.
  • Relieve pain and migraines by releasing endorphins – the body’s natural painkiller.
  • Promote tissue regeneration to reduce scar tissue and stretch marks.
  • Assist with shorter, easier labor for expectant mothers.

My advice? Make an appointment for your next massage and consider scheduling them monthly. Dare I say I have appointments for 3 this month?? That’s a first.

Just a reminder…Skin Deep Salon & Spa is one of our discounted favorites. You receive a 10% discount when you show your Heels to Laces VIP discount card.  Another favorite masseuse is Sharon Priore – she works out of the Summit Y: slpriore@yahoo.com.

If you have other recommendations, please share them by adding a comment to this post.

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  • lisa

    Love a good massage.

  • Lisa

    Thanks for the great tips!

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The Power of Your Heart

There are many well-known health benefits associated with regular participation in physical activity including:

healthy-heart

  • Lower risk of heart disease
  • Weight gain prevention
  • Lower risk of type 2 diabetes
  • Lower risk of cancer
  • Reduced level of depression
  • Weight loss
  • Lower risk of high blood pressure
  • Lower risk of stroke

What you might not know is the remarkable capacity of the body to adapt to exercise.  Exercise creates physiological adaptations to the heart, helping it pump blood more efficiently therefore; allowing it to accomplish more, with less exertion. The more you exercise, the more efficient your heart becomes. This is called “adaptation”.

Facts about the heart:

  • At an average resting heart rate of 70 beats per minute, the heart can comfortably (average fitness level and no heart disease) perform at twice its resting value. The average adult can train between 122-181 beats per minute.
  • The amount of blood pumped by the heart can increase as much as 50-60% above resting values to meet the demands of exercise.
  • The average adult pumps about 5 liters of blood per minute. When exercising, the amount of blood your heart pumps can increase to almost eight times its resting value. A sedentary person will give a cardiac output of 20-22 liters per minute while an elite athlete will exhibit an output of 35-40 liters per minute.

Stroke Volume

Increased stroke volume (the amount of blood pumped through the heart) is a training effect of aerobic exercise and allows a fit individual to pump more blood per beat, resulting in a lower heart rate during a workout.

You may have experienced this when starting a training program. In the beginning, you might have been gasping for breath and not able to keep up with the intensity. As your program progresses, your breathing and stroke volume becomes more efficient, allowing you to breathe easier, hence maximize your performance.

This is why less fit individuals may have a harder time making it up a flight of stairs or walking across a parking lot while for a fit person – it’s just a way of life. For inactive people, their lungs and heart cannot handle the oxygen demands required for performing the exercise. They can’t get it to their organs fast enough.

CO2 Output

When you increase maximum blood flow to pump blood more efficiently it saturates your blood with oxygen and removes CO2 efficiently. Removing CO2 at a higher rate increases your performance and gives you greater aerobic power. As your body becomes more efficient with exercise, it is able to extract oxygen from the blood more quickly.

As much as 88% of your blood flow during exercise is directed to the muscles (active tissues)! The more you exercise, the higher the number of capillaries you build in your muscle fiber, which means more oxygen in your muscles (faster!) and increased fuel storage.

So what does this mean?

As your fitness level improves and your rate of breathing becomes more efficient, you are able to deliver more oxygen throughout your body more quickly. You can accomplish more, with less exertion, at a higher level of performance.

Be good to your heart and it will show you the love in return.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

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Heels to Barbells

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The New Year has begun, and if you are already growing impatient waiting to see results from all that cardio, you may be leaving out an important piece of the puzzle – weight training!  Yes, weights!  And not those pretty, pink hand weights or those fancy machines, real barbells.  More and more women everywhere are seeing and feeling the positive results of weight training, yet many women still worry about bulking up and are afraid to give it a chance

It is a great feeling to be STRONG!  You will be able to lift those boxes all by yourself and not have to wait for some guy to do it.  As a single mom, my boys are getting bigger, but they still rely on me to lift or open anything difficult.  I want them to see how powerful women can be.  There is never a time in life when being weak comes in handy!

Some important facts to keep in mind:

  • You will not bulk up.  Our bodies are not made to get bulky – we do not have the testosterone to look like body builders. When you lift weights that are challenging, you actually create micro-tears in the muscle fibers. (This is the soreness you feel.)  As these tears are repaired by your body, the muscle becomes stronger.  Because muscle tissue is more dense than fat, adding more muscle to your body actually makes you look leaner—not bigger. To truly bulk up, you would have to train with that goal in mind. Bodybuilders spend hours and hours in the gym lifting extremely heavy weights, and eat a very strict diet to promote muscle gain. The average person’s workout and diet—especially a calorie-controlled diet—will not lead to the same effects.
  • Increased metabolism.  Another amazing benefit of weight training is what it does for your metabolism.  It allows you to take advantage of your body’s natural ability to maintain an “after-burn,” known as Excess Post-Oxygen Consumption (EPOC). The after-burn is the extra calories your body burns after you complete a weight lifting workout. Your metabolism will stay elevated for anywhere from 15 minutes to 48 hours, depending on the intensity and duration of your workout.  This means is that your metabolism operates at a faster level even while you’re sitting on the couch after a workout.  It takes extra calories just to keep muscle.
  • Heavy weights are key. Many women rely on lighter weights with higher reps in an attempt to get a more toned body.  However, to get truly toned, you need larger muscles and less fat. One recent study found that lifting 85% of your maximum ability for 8 reps burns about twice as many calories in the two hours post workout as compared with 15 reps at 45% of your maximum ability.  Don’t give up lighter weights entirely, as they do a great job of building endurance, but they do not build tight, dense, strong muscles.
  • Weight loss.  Some women worry that once they begin weight training, their weight will go up or they won’t lose the weight that had hoped.  Try not to focus on the scale and don’t get frustrated before you see results.  At first, your muscles may retain water as they react to the shock of the workouts and the recovery afterward.  But as you continue weight training, you will be building muscle and shedding fat.  This may still not translate to high weight loss, but a pound of muscle is much denser than a pound of fat, so your body may shrink even if your weight doesn’t change significantly.  Keep in mind that muscle is a metabolism booster – the more you have, the more calories and fat you will burn all day long!
  • Getting older.  As we age, maintaining muscle mass becomes more and more important.  Muscle may make the 40 something woman slightly heavier than in her college years, but the improved body composition and faster metabolism is the big payoff.  Many women find they’re able to attain a lower body fat percentage, fit into smaller sizes, and generally feel more vigorous by adding weight training.

The bottom line is weight training can lead to fat loss, stronger leaner muscles, better fitting clothes and a general better feeling of wellness and strength.  What are your waiting for – let’s get lifting!!

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