Invigorating Stretches to get you through your Midday Slump

By Lindsay Nova

Who doesn’t feel tired after lunch at work? Brain fog and lethargy in the afternoon are common problems many people face in the workplace or even at home. While an afternoon cup of coffee may pick you right up, there are natural alternatives that can be just as invigorating- and they don’t have any side effects! Next time you feel sluggish midday, try stretching your body instead and notice how it makes you feel. Here are some you can try today:

Open Your Heart

Stand up where ever you are with your feet in a parallel position. Place your hands on your hips and draw your elbows closer toward one another. Begin to lean back and lift your gaze upward, expanding your chest. Breathe deeply here as you extend the spine and open the chest. This stretch in the front of the neck stimulates your thyroid gland, which through the secretion of hormones, can help regulate our energy levels.

Ragdoll Forward Fold

Learn to let go of stress in this stretch. With your feet in parallel, fold forward at the hips. Bend your knees as much as you want to. Grab opposite elbows and let your head hang heavy toward the floor. Release any tension. This is also good for stimulating your thyroid to regulate your adrenals during those afternoon slumps, because it stretches the neck in the opposite direction of the first stretch.

Side Stretch

Re-invigorate your body by stretching your lungs- literally. Stand tall on both feet. Reach your arms up to the sky. Clasp your right hand over the left wrist. Pull your left arm over to the right side and feel the stretch in the left side of your body. Think of creating more space between your hips and your rib cage. Breathe deeply into your lungs, filling your body and muscles with fresh stimulating oxygen. Change your grip to stretch to the other side.

High Lunge

If you have been sitting all day, chances are your hip flexors are feeling tight. Start with your right foot forward, knee bent, and step your left foot as far back as you can, keeping the heel lifted. Hips are completely square and the front knee is bent right over the ankle so the leg is at a 90 degree angle. Reach your arms up to the sky to stretch your chest and arms, too. Make sure you do both sides!

Hamstrings + Shoulders

Step your feet wide with your toes pointed forward. Interlace your hands behind your hips, or grab a strap if your shoulders are tight. Fold forward and reach your arms overhead, keeping your hands together with the head pointed downward. Feel the stretch in the back of your legs and shoulders.
Next time you feel fatigued in the afternoon, get up and move around! Use your own body to create the energy you need to stay productive and alert throughout your day.

20 Ways to Stay Fit and Healthy This Thanksgiving

This article was published on The Greatist. You can view the original here.

Here’s some serious food for thought: People probably consume 3,000 to 5,000 calories around the Thanksgiving table. Yikes. While eating often takes center stage during the holidays, that doesn’t we have to give up on good health. Check out these tips for a fit and healthy holiday, without sacrificing any flavor or fun.

Fitness

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade doesn’t air all day. Skip crowding around the TV and try to fit in some fitness in (the more the merrier!).

1. Get outside.

Up early? Go for a walk or run to enjoy some pre-festivities alone time, or grab your favorite second cousin to catch up. For something a bit more competitive, round up a group of family or friends and hit the backyard or local park for some flag football.

2. Do it fast.

Don’t have an hour to hit the gym? Don’t worry. Try an at-home circuit workout or Tabata training.  All take 20 minutes (or less!) to get in a good workout.

3. Split up the chores.

Everyday activities (like tidying up the family room) can burn more calories than you’d think. So offer to do the dishes or swiffer the floor—not only does it lend a hand, it gets you moving too!

4. Bust a move.

Nothing says family bonding more than a dance party. Gather a group, turn up the tunes, and get the blood flowing. It may help you digest all that stuffing too.

5. Find a turkey trot.

If up for the challenge, run a race Thanksgiving morning! Find a Turkey trot in your town (they range from a totally doable one-mile to 10K), sign up, and add crossing the finish line to your holiday to-do list.

Health

Before heading to the kitchen, keep these healthy tips in mind to enjoy the festive food without going overboard.

6. Eat in the a.m.

Skipping breakfast in order to “save your appetite” for dinner probably isn’t the best idea. Not breaking the fast ‘til the afternoon may lead to binging later on (read: four servings of mashed potatoes).

7. Hydrate.

Make sure to drink water throughout the day to stay hydrated. Not drinking enough H2O could spark hunger pangs, which may actually be thirst.

8. Go easy on the apps.

Cheese and crackers can happen any day of the year. Save your appetite (and calorie consumption!) for dinnertime.

9. Use a smaller plate.

Stick all those Thanksgiving sides on a smaller plate. Research showsit’ll help you eat 22 percent fewer calories, while a bigger plate of food may be licked clean, even if we’re not hungry.

10. Dim the lights.

Studies suggest that eating in softer light may lead to consuming less food. So create a nice intimate ambiance that everyone will love.

11. Chew slowly.

How quickly we eat really does matter, research shows. In one study, fast eaters consumed around three ounces of food per minute, while slowpokes only ate about two ounces. Chewing slowly could mean less calories consumed, so take a chill pill when digging into the dinner plate.

12. Beware of dangerfoods.

Be careful with foods that aren’t as healthy as they seem. (Green bean casserole, anyone?) Gratins, mashed potatoes, and cranberry sauce may hide some sneaky ingredients high in fat and sugar.

13. Watch out for liquid calories.

Unfortunately, calories from alcohol can sneak up on us during the holidays. Go easy on the booze and stick to healthier cocktails like a vodka soda or Bloody Mary to avoid excess sugar.

14. Skip the seconds.

Wait 20 minutes (the amount of time it probably takes to feel full) before filling up the dinner plate again. Unless you’re really hungry, save some food for leftovers—the best part about Thanksgiving, right?

15. Don’t deny dessert.

The holidays shouldn’t be about restricting certain foods—just try to enjoy them in moderation! Stick to one slice of pie (or try one of these healthy dessert recipes) instead of going cold turkey at the dessert table.

Happiness

An overdose of family and food can be stressful. Here are some ways to feel rested, calm, and in control.

16. Inhale, exhale.

17. Write it down.

If choosing to count calories over the holidays, track your food in a journal so you know how much you’re consuming. (Wait, I did have a hearty breakfast!) This will keep you in control of what and how much you’re actually eating.

18. Meditate.

Whether enduring too much family time or unable to resist eating a whole pumpkin pie (we get it), meditation can help lower stress levels. All you need is a few minutes and a quiet corner. (Need some guidance? Check out this video on how to meditate while your mind is racing.)

19. Get enough sleep.

Make sure to get seven to nine hours of sleep the night before Thanksgiving. Not getting enough sleep could amp up appetite levels the following day. (Can’t sleep? Try these tips to catch some ZZZ’s.)

20. Give yourself some wiggle-room.

At the end of the day, Thanksgiving should be enjoyed with loved ones. Don’t stress about enjoying some good food with even better company!

Originally published November 2012. Updated November 2015.

Lumo Run Guest Post: Getting il-LUMO-nated! Part 1

Guest post from Lumo Run user, Susan Oyler. You can read the original post on her blog ESSENTIAL OYL.

Last month, I was awarded a Lumo.Run smart running sensor as a runner-up prize from the #ThisIsMyCoach contest.  Upon delivery, I quickly tore into the box and started getting acquainted with my new gadget.  You clip this powerful little device on the back of your shorts and it analyzes your run form based on several metrics:
•    Cadence (how frequently your foot contacts the ground, per minute)
•    Bounce (also known as vertical oscillation, is the up and down movement that your body experiences while you run)
•    Braking (the change in forward speed experienced by your body during a step)
•    Drop (the side to side motion of the pelvis)
•    Rotation (the twisting motion of the pelvis)

As an engineer, I believe the more gadgets, the better!  I LOVE data and digging into numbers.  Also, as an engineer, I know that no patterns can be established from a single data point.  In order to properly identify patterns in my run form, I decided to put in a month of running with my sensor and reviewing the data.  As a busy mom who frequently forgets things, I LOVE that this device is waterproof and will survive the wash cycle (I’ve been guilty of leaving it clipped on the back of my shorts)!

After my first run with the sensor, I was REALLY nervous to look at the analysis.  I was worried it was going to tell me I was a MESS!  I was happy to see that my form reflects my running background.  For the five different criteria, my numbers were pretty much at, or near, the threshold values.  Phew!

It was really interesting looking at the data from this past month.  Especially comparing my slow, easy runs to my fast, interval runs.  The two run types produced different areas for improvement.  For my slower runs, my cadence was a bit below the lower threshold of 180 spm.   For my faster runs, my bounce moderately exceeded the threshold value of 3.30 inches.  The criteria that was frequently exceeded for both the slow and fast runs was braking (threshold value of 1.31 ft/s).

With solid data collected and trends established, I have now identified the areas that need improvement.  That’s the other great thing about the Lumo.Run sensor.  It does more than just provide you analysis.  It provides you exercises and drills to work on to improve your specific issues with your run form.  And now that I’ve completed my last race for the season, I have more time to work on improving swim/bike/run efficiency and strength.

 Over the next month or two, I am going to focus on the drills and exercises recommended by the app and follow up with a second post to detail my progress to improve my run form.

 

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.

 

Ready To Lift?

Start your positive habit change today with Lumo Lift

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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All-New Lumo Lift App Available Now

You asked, we listened! Today we are excited to announce major updates to the Lumo Lift app, including a fresh new design, simpler settings for alignment and more. The new Lumo Lift app is available now on Google Play and the Apple App Store, so update now and be on your way to better posture.

Questions Every Runner Should Ask: A Q&A with Dr. Rebecca Shultz

Image source: Lifehacker

Running isn’t always as simple as lacing up your shoes and hitting the road. Whether you’re training for your first 5K or your tenth marathon, chances are that you will face some challenge during your running career, such as an injury or a setback in your performance. At this point, it’s critical to ask questions and find the resources that will steer you in the right direction.

Every Bride’s Guide to Perfect Posture

Like many brides, wedding planning started long before you got engaged. You’ve thought about your dress, the venue, the colors, who will be in your bridal party and everything in between. But what about your posture? Posture is easy to neglect and forget about, but in reality it’s one of the most important aspects of your wedding day. Standing up straight with your shoulders back will not only make you look thinner in your dress, it will also help keep you feeling confident and in control – things every bride strives for on what is often a chaotic and emotional day. So take the time to invest in yourself and commit to beautiful posture starting today.

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