How to use Running for Stress Relief this Holiday Season

It’s no secret that the holiday season often brings on a downward spiral of stress and fatigue.  You might notice that you feel exhausted or frazzled as you pass by hundreds of Christmas cards and plastic-wrapped gift sets at the mall, or maybe you find yourself a little more easily angered now that the season of pumpkin spice lattes and beautiful fall colors have passed their prime.  To make matters worse, it’s getting harder and harder to fit in your daily run or workout amidst all the hustle and bustle as the new year approaches.  Regardless of how stress rears its ugly head in your own life, this holiday season is a great time to get back on track with your running program.  It’s not just for weight loss and heart health: running has been shown to be a potent stress-buster and mood-lifter and might be just what you need to keep a level head over the winter and beyond.   Here are a few ways to use running as therapy to decrease stress and keep your mental health in check during the tense holiday season.

Little By Little

You’re probably familiar with “runner’s high”, a term used to describe a euphoric feeling that exercisers often experience during periods of moderate- to high-intensity exercise.  While there are several theories as to which neurotransmitters are actually responsible for creating a “runner’s high”, there’s no question that you’ll feel more powerful, optimistic, and full of energy on the days you choose to go for a run.  Stress can wreak havoc on your energy levels and cognitive function, but research has shown that hitting the pavement for as little as ten minutes can kick stress and moodiness to the curb and boost your energy levels for the rest of the day (Hansen, Stevens, & Coast, 2001).  Even if you think you’d rather stay inside wrapped in a blanket than lace up your sneakers for a quick three-miler, remember how you good always feel once your cool-down starts and it’s time to head home: it’s always worth it.    

Find A Rhythm

Creating a new positive habit or reinforcing an old one can work wonders on your mental health by helping you mark each day as a success.  Making a point of sticking to regularly scheduled runs during your week, even if they’re short, will help you feel a sense of accomplishment as you go to bed each night.  That sense of accomplishment will encourage and motivate you each day and soon you’ll have a healthy habit to keep you on the move and feeling optimistic even through stressful moments this holiday season.  Plus, it’s a few minutes that you can take for yourself, with no phone calls and no emails, during a time usually crammed full of caring for family, friends, and co-workers. Write your scheduled runs in your daybook or calendar so you have a solid reminder to take care of yourself and your needs, and let friends and family know how important it is that you stick to your plan.

Have A Sense Of Purpose

Setting and achieving goals can be therapeutic too.  A good goal doesn’t have to be lofty; its purpose here is to give you a focal point when the season around you seems blurry and unfocused.  Is there an area of town you haven’t explored yet?  Your goal could be to do at least one new running route each week.  Are you skimping out on speed work?  Make a point of scheduling fartlek sessions into your plan.  As you pass these small milestones you’ve made for yourself, your sense of success and accomplishment will soar.    

Sprint To The Finish

If you’re finding it hard to fit your runs into your busy holiday schedule, sprint training might be an option for you.   Adding some high-intensity sprints to your running program allows you to shorten your running time, plus get an added boost in cardiovascular and muscular endurance.  In addition, sprint training has been linked to an increase in memory and cognitive function (Praag, 2008), two qualities that tend to fall by the wayside while juggling the holiday season’s demands.  When you feel pressed for time, try implementing a session of interval, or fartlek, training: periods of light jogging interspersed with short, all-out sprints.  A typical session might consist of two minutes of light jogging with thirty seconds of sprinting and repeating five to ten times.  What used to be a light hour-long run can be easily shortened to 15 or 20 minutes while still keeping your heart and lungs fit and strong and your head clear and focused.  Even adding just one sprint session a week will make you feel like you have more time to accomplish your holiday chores.

Get Some Fresh Air

As the new year approaches, the days get shorter and shorter until it seems like the sun has completely disappeared!  You might find yourself getting a little bummed out from all the darkness, and there’s a reason: no exposure to sunshine means you produce a lot less vitamin D,  a micronutrient that’s been connected to seasonal affective disorder and winter moodiness (Kerr, et al., 2015).  Getting a run in during a sunrise or sunset can boost your vitamin D production and fend off those seasonal mental funks you might find yourself in.  If you’re cooped up in your home or office building all day, getting a blast of fresh air, even if it’s cold, can help you recharge and stay productive through your work day.  If you can fit a run in over your lunch break when the sun is at its highest, you’ll find yourself ready to take on the rest of the day with a whole new outlook.  You might even be able to convince a few co-workers to go for a dash with you for a casual, stress-free social event.

Get A Running Buddy

Ask a friend, family member, or co-worker if they’d like to do a few runs with you.  Our interactions with others during the holiday season tend to be task-oriented and attached to demands or requests.  Getting a running buddy gives you a chance to have some social interaction in a casual, friendly setting while still fitting your run into your day.  Talking together about the things you are looking forward to over the holidays this year can revive your positive mindset, plus the added company gives you some accountability to keep your running habit in high gear when things get stressful.  You might even be able to find a local running club to run with a larger group for the same benefits.

Even though the holidays bring stress and frustration on each year, it’s easy to use your running habit to your advantage as a way to lower your stress levels and elevate your mental health.  Implementing just one of these tips can make drastic changes in your productivity and will add a sense of accomplishment and relief to boost you forward into another successful training season.


References
Hansen, Cheryl J., Larry C. Stevens, and J. Richard Coast. “Exercise Duration and Mood State: How Much Is Enough to Feel Better?” Health Psychology 20.4 (2001): 267-75. Web.
Kerr, David C.r., David T. Zava, Walter T. Piper, Sarina R. Saturn, Balz Frei, and Adrian F. Gombart. “Associations between Vitamin D Levels and Depressive Symptoms in Healthy Young Adult Women.” Psychiatry Research 227.1 (2015): 46-51. Web.

van Praag, H. Neuromol Med (2008) 10: 128. doi:10.1007/s12017-008-8028-z

Lumo Run Success Story: How Lumo Run has helped this user shave 30 seconds off his mile time

Guest post by Lumo Run user Jose S.

I love my new Lumo Run. It is completely unnoticeable attached to the back of my shorts. I wondered about the clip, but I forget it is there – usually until well after the run is over and I’m taking the shorts off. I’ve had zero problems with the app or syncing with my iPhone. The appearance of the app is sharp and easy to navigate. The videos and text on what the data are measuring are clear and easy to understand.

Most important though is the data it provides. I love numbers and collecting data on my runs, so I’ve purchased lots of gadgets searching for that extra bit of data that will help me improve my running. GPS, heart rate monitors, power meters, cadence, etc. With everything else, it was always initially interesting to get the data, but then what do you do with it? How do you use it to get better? This is where the Lumo Run is the best! It coaches you on which measurement needs the most work, and gives you specific drills to improve on that. The drills are short, simple, and the videos in the app make them easy to learn, but the best part is that they actually work! The first measurement it had me work on based upon my own running form was cadence. Using the drills and the voice over coaching I’m definitely getting closer to my goal, sometimes even exceeding it.

Best of all is that it’s not just the measurement that is improving. I really do think my form is improving. It still feels a little uncomfortable to get my cadence up to 180, but as I continue to do so I am seeing various improvements in my running. First off, my pace has increased. On a normal steady-state runs I’ve seen 20-30 second per mile improvement. On speed workouts it has been a little less, but still a definite improvement. In addition, this improvement has come without having to increase my heart rate. Second, I notice that my legs (upper hamstrings) and lower back are no longer sore after my runs. I am guessing that is a result of there being less pounding on the ground as my form improves. Another interesting benefit is that during my runs I seem to notice my fatigue less. I think some of that is psychological as I am not focusing on how I feel at the moment, but rather on getting that fast turnover in my training. I find I really have to concentrate on cadence to increase it, and that takes my mind off of feeling tired. In addition, instead of telling myself to “run faster” which of course you then hear yourself say “I’m going as fast as I can already!” I’m telling myself to speed up my cadence/leg turnover – this seems to be much more easily accepted by my brain at least.

I’ve only been using it for a month, so to see this much improvement already really has me excited. I hope the gains continue, and maybe even less injury as I continue to work on the other aspects of my form.

5 Really Great Reasons Why Good Posture Is Super Important

This article was originally featured on Huffington Post by Ann Brenoff. Read the original here

So it turns out, your mother was right after all: Good posture really matters ― even in your older years.

Slouching impacts you in ways you wouldn’t have imagined, says Dr. Charles Wang, the COO and co-founder of Lumo Bodytech, a company that has brought tech to the quest for good posture. The Lumo Lift gives you a vibrating reminder when you start to slouch. Kind of like Mom, but in the form of a wearable device.

Wang helped us compile this list of five reasons why good posture matters.

1. Bad posture can adversely impact your sex life.

Research shows that slouching ― the opposite of “power posing,” meaning standing up tall and straight ― results in low energy and low self-esteem. Standing straight up with your shoulders back and neck aligned with the rest of your spine is considered a “power pose” that can boost your energy and confidence levels. By regularly practicing good posture, you’ll feel more confident and energized in and out of the bedroom.

2.  Slouching makes you look older. 

If you’ve spent years sitting at a desk, hunched over a computer, you may be more likely to develop that unnatural hump in your neck or back resulting from “text neck.” For women, the forward slouching motion and rounding of the shoulders can cause breast sagging. To avoid your slouching from developing into skeletal or spinal issues, stay mindful of your posture in any position you’re in, whether you’re seated, standing, or walking, said Wang.

3. Bad posture can damage your back.

Yes, of course you knew that. Did you know that back pain is the second most common reason people visit the doctor every year, and poor posture is directly correlated to the increase in back pain in people who spend a great deal of their time sitting. Lumo Bodytech’s posture database research found that during an average workday, people spend as much as 38 minutes per hour slouching.

4. Poor posture can cause irregular bowel movements.

We kid you not. It’s not just your back that will feel the affects of your slouching ― your intestines will take a hit, too. Having good posture means your stomach and intestines can easily push food through ― but poor posture can cause your gastrointestinal system to lock up or function poorly. Research has also shown that people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome who suffer from bloating and gas can ease their symptoms by standing up straight.

5. Bad posture makes you more selfish.

Research shows that sitting upright helps reduce self-focus, allowing you to tune in more on the needs and emotions of the people around you.

How to fall in love with running

Guest post from Harry Wilson, the author of GoodHealthPlanning

Running is the easiest and cheapest way to get fit fast and it’s unbelievably therapeutic too! But what if running just isn’t your thing? Growing up I was always much happier playing in a field with a ball or on a court with a racket than going on a run. Until I signed up for my first marathon in 2013, and after that I kept on running. It just clicked and now I can’t stop! Here are my tips on how you too can fall in love with running:

  1. Don’t time yourself or worry about pacing. It’s all well and good if you are a professional runner or training for a specific race, but if you’re spending your run thinking about how far you have still to go or how fast (or slow) you’re going, you won’t be able to enjoy it.
  1. Go somewhere new. 18 months ago I moved to South London to an area I barely knew. The way I got to find all the great places around was by running. Just put your trainers on and go and see where you end up. It’s a great way to explore if you’re on holiday or bored of your usual lap of the park.
  1. Music or silence. It’s one or the other for me. Either you want to be romping along to your favourite tunes (I recommend a classic 90’s girl-power playlist), or in silence, taking in what’s around you. A random shuffle of your iPod won’t do it, you’ll get distracted skipping through all those songs that you’ve heard 1000 times already.
  1. Run in the rain. Trust me on this one. When it’s wet and miserable and you’ve had a disastrous day at work the last thing you want to do is go out into the cold. But instead of stuffing your face and wallowing, force yourself to go out, even if just for 20 minutes! Letting go of all your stress and anxiety and getting soaked with rain and sweat is the best therapy. This is tried and tested, believe me.
  1. Run with other people. As with any experience, it’s all the more fun to share it with other people. Local running clubs, meet-ups or friends. Feed off that group energy and just see how much easier it becomes.

And, finally…

  1. Start calling yourself a runner. Being a ‘runner’ isn’t like calling yourself a Doctor, it’s just a mindset. I run an OK 5k, a sloppy 10k, an average half marathon and I barely made it through my first marathon on two legs! I’m no Paula Radcliffe but I call myself a runner because I love to run. Follow these steps and you might too!

 

Lumo Lift Success Story: This Dental Hygienist uses Lumo Lift to prevent back pain

Guest post from Lumo Lift user, Christine B. 

I have been working as a Registered Dental Hygienist for eight years. One of the symptoms known to my profession is back problems. It is difficult to have patients lay in the proper position, which causes me to do a lot of hunching over and leaning. I found myself exploring options to prevent future back problems as I am still fairly young. I came across Lumo lift on one of my professional dental hygiene pages that I belong to and decided to purchase one for myself.

One of the big selling points was the price.  I began to use the lumo lift daily at work and as expected, I was doing a lot of slouching and needed to correct my posture. The gentle buzzing reminder often corrects me. I’ve found that the longer I used it, the more I could anticipate when it would correct me and found I was already correcting myself.

I like that it has different options for me to wear it It came with two different colors to wear outside my shirt so I can have it blend with my scrubs and be discreet if I do choose. I’ve had a lot of coworkers and friends ask me about it and I love to spread the word. Not only to colleagues but also to friends because it seems bad posture is a problem for a lot of people.

I’m now noticing more and more that my back pain has become less and less. I don’t ever leave for work without my lumo lift. I’m also impressed with the many features it includes. The lumo lift doesn’t need to be charged every day and also charges quickly. So there is an option on the super helpful app that lets me know how much battery life is left so that I know when I need to charge.

Overall I think that this was an incredible investment in myself, my career and my health. I find myself feeling better and happier and posture is extremely important in my life. I recommend this product every time someone asks me about it or mentions any type of back pain or posture products. I’m sure this product is very helpful for everyday life and other careers and jobs as well, but for dental professionals it’s pretty much a necessity. Lumo lift has changed my life and I will continue to wear and use it every day.

Is Your Cell Phone Killing Your Back?

This article was originally published on Spineuniverse.com by Joshua M. Ammerman, MD

Millions of people do it throughout the day and are totally unaware that cell phone use can be detrimental to the back. Did you know that cell phone use can double or triple the weight of your head and can strain your neck? If you are reading this article on a cell phone or tablet, you are probably doing it right now:Tilting your head forward and down in order to look at your device.

Cell phones and tablets are changing the way we access information and entertainment. The use of these devices influences our posture and body mechanics in unhealthy ways that contribute to neck, upper back, shoulder, and arm pain. Furthermore, poor posture while sitting, standing, walking, or in a static position can lead to more than upper body pain and stiffness—poor posture affects other parts of the spine, such as the middle and low back.

How much does a human head weigh?
Typically, an adult human head weighs between 10 and 12 pounds. As the head tilts or angles forward, the cervical spine’s (neck) muscles, tendons, and ligaments support the head during movement and when static; such as holding the head in a forward tilted position. Even the neck’s intervertebral discs are involved and help absorb and distribute the forces exerted on the neck.

How much heavier is the human head when tilted forward?
To find out, Kenneth K. Hansraj, MD, Chief of Spine Surgery at New York Spine Surgery and Rehabilitation Medicine, created a computer model of the cervical spine. In an article published in Surgical Technology International, he reported that this model showed that the strain on your neck rises as the forward angle of your head increases.

  • At 15 degrees of forward tilt may equate to a head weighing 27 pounds.
  • At 30 degrees forward, the strain on the neck equals a 40 pound head.
  • The greater the angle, the greater the strain: 45 degrees forward equals 49 pounds of strain, and 60 degrees forward equals 60 pounds.

Now consider the fact that the average person is holding his or her head forward to look at a phone or read a tablet for 2 to 4 hours a day, according to Dr. Hansraj. Teenagers spend even more time each day looking down at their devices, he added. As you tilt your head, you also move your shoulders forward into a rounded position, which is another aspect of poor posture. All this excess strain creates extra wear and tear on the structures of the neck, upper spine and back, and contributes to/can lead to spinal degeneration that may require surgery.

Postural awareness a positive first step
Making good posture a habit can help prevent neck or back pain from developing, along with related posture and biomechanical problems. Good posture means that your head is upright, your ears are in line with your shoulders, and your shoulder blades are down and retracted.

“In proper alignment, spinal stress is diminished. It is the most efficient position for the spine,” Dr. Hanraj said. Good posture is not only good for the health of your spine; it is good for your over-all health and mood as well as, Dr. Hansraj noted. Other researchers have found that standing straight elevates testosterone and serotonin levels and decreases cortisol levels, hormones that affect your mood, he reported.

However, modern life still requires you to check your phone or use your tablet many times a day. How do you do that and safeguard your neck?

  • First, don’t use your cell phone or your tablet for extended computer work, according to Stanford University’s Environmental Health and Safety Department.
  • Use your desktop or laptop computer for extended work and make sure these devices are arranged ergonomically.
  • When you use a cell phone, instead of bending your head to look down at it, raise your phone.
  • When you are reading the screen, bring the phone up level or just a little below your face.

 

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Lumo Lift is a small lightweight wearable that tracks and coaches you on your posture, as well as tracks daily activity, such as steps taken, distance traveled and calories burned. Compatible with iOS/iPhone, Windows desktop and select Android devices. Free shipping, 30-day money back guarantee and 1 year limited warranty.

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The Fundamental Importance of Good Posture

Guest post by Dr. Tim Errington, Chiropractor, Author, Speaker. He currently practices at Total Health Chiropractic, Singapore.

When most of us consider health and the things that keep us healthy, few will put posture anywhere near the top of the list. It remains probably the most underrated and underreported cause of failing health. This is indeed unfortunate because if you think about it, you have never seen anyone with poor posture radiating health and vitality. The harsh reality is there for anyone to see – lose your posture and you lose your health. All those years of our parents telling us to sit up straight and not slouch, was indeed very, very good advice.

5 Tips For a More Productive Day

Summer has officially come to an end, and for many of us that means changes to our daily routines. The beginning of Autumn means back to school, shorter days and chilly temperatures. Even if you’re not setting an earlier alarm to get the kids up and ready for school, seasonal changes can take a toll on energy and productivity.

To avoid seasonal slumps, check out our top tips for having your best mornings and most productive days. 

Stand Up Straight to Look and Feel Great

In case you haven’t noticed, we take good posture pretty seriously here at Lumo Bodytech. We often get asked why we care about posture so much – are we just a company full of ex-ballerinas and people who got aggressively nagged by their grandmothers to stand up straight? Although the answer to that question is no, we think that those nagging grandmothers are on to something! A growing body of research indicates that there are countless reasons to care about your posture.

How to Counteract the Negative Effects of Sitting

Prolonged sitting can have a dramatic impact on your health. Lack of movement has been linked to chronic disease such as cancer, diabetes, weight gain and more. It’s no wonder that sitting has been dubbed the new smoking!  As more people find themselves working behind a computer, it’s not uncommon for most of us to sit between 12 -15 hours per day (including hours spent in the car and time hanging out on the couch after work). Factor in 8 hours of sleep (if you’re lucky), and you’re looking at a measly 1-4 hours of movement per day. If that doesn’t scream health crisis, I don’t know what does.

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