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Monday
August 26th, 2019
Healthy Lifestyles

bellyfatThe way to a person’s heart may be through his or her stomach in more ways than one. Doctors have tied heart health to the abdomen, and having extra pounds around one’s middle can be detrimental to cardiovascular well-being.

Excess visceral fat in the belly, something doctors refer to as “central adiposity,” may have potentially dangerous consequences. While the link between belly fat and heart health has long been associated with men, women may be even more vulnerable to the adverse health effects of belly fat. A study published in March 2018 in the Journal of the American Heart Association examined 500,000 people between the ages of 40 and 69. Participants had their body measurements taken, and then were kept track of for heart attack occurrence over the next seven years. During that period, the women who carried more weight around their middles (measured by waist circumference, waist-to-hip ratio or waist-to-height ratio) had a 10 to 20 percent greater risk of heart attack than women who were just heavier over all.

Belly fat is particularly dangerous because it doesn’t just include the insulating, or subcutaneous, fat under the skin. It is largely visceral fat that also surrounds the organs in the abdomen. Harvard Medical School reports that visceral fat is metabolically active and has been strongly linked to a host of serious diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and dementia. Visceral fat is like an endocrine organ that secretes hormones and a host of other chemicals linked to diseases that can affect adults. One substance is called retinol-binding protein 4 (RBP4), which has been tied to an increased risk of coronary heart disease. In 2015, a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that normal-weight people with excessive belly fat had a higher risk of dying of heart disease or any other cause compared with people without central obesity.

The online health and wellness resource Medical News Today says doctors determine belly fat to be a problem when a woman’s waist measures 35 inches or more and a man’s 40 inches or more. MRIs also can be used as a fat analyzer and will be judged on a scale of 1 to 59. A measurement of 13 and under is desireable. 

The Mayo Clinic advises that poor diet and fitness habits can contribute to belly fat. As people age, they may have to make more drastic changes to their diets and exercise regimens to counteract changes in their metabolisms. Eliminating sugary beverages, watching portion sizes, counting calories, doing moderate aerobic activity daily, and choosing healthier foods can help tame visceral fat. Also, doctors may recommend those who are stressed to try stress-busting techniques, as stress also may be tied to excessive belly fat.

Belly fat should not be overlooked, as its presence can greatly increase a person’s risk for various diseases. 

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stressStress is an issue that knows no geographical boundaries. The Regus Group reports that stress levels in the workplace are rising, with six in 10 workers in major global economies experiencing increased workplace stress. Workers forced to take on too much work or those tasked with performing jobs beyond their abilities might not be able to do much to quell those demands. However, they can employ various strategies to manage their stress.

  • • Embrace planning. A 2011 survey from psychologist Robert Epstein asked more than 3,000 participants in 30 countries which stress management technique was most effective at helping them overcome their stress. Epstein discovered that participants felt planning was the most effective way to manage their stress. Planning is essentially a proactive approach to managing stress and fighting it before it even starts. Smartphone apps make it easier than ever to schedule your time. Utilizing such apps or opting for the more traditional route by using a day planner can be a highly effective way to manage stress.
  • • Practice cognitive reframing. Cognitive reframing is another effective stress-management technique that involves changing the way you look at something so your experience of it changes. Psychologists note that cognitive reframing is effective because the body’s stress response is triggered by perceived stress and not actual events. So by reframing the way you perceive a potentially stressful event, you can change your body’s response to it. This technique is most effective when people are mindful of their thoughts, particularly those that might be negative or stress-inducing. 
  • • Take breaks. A heavy workload may compel people to sit down at their desk and keep working until quitting time. However, that approach takes both a physical and emotional toll. Sitting for long periods of time without getting up not only increases a person’s risk for various diseases, but it also can contribute to something known as decision fatigue. Decision fatigue occurs when someone must make frequent decisions throughout the day. Without a break, such persons’ abilities to reason becomes compromised, and they may end up making poor decisions or feeling less confident in their decisions, which may increase their stress levels. Frequent breaks, even if they’re just brief walks to get a glass of water, can help avoid both the physical and emotional effects of stress.

Stress affects people across the globe. Learning to manage it can make people happier in both their personal and professional lives. 

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appetiteHunger can be a formidable foe, especially for people attempting to lose weight. When hunger strikes, various appetite-control strategies can help people avoid overeating or eating during those times when boredom is more to blame than an empty belly.

  • • Eat slowly. When a person eats, a series of signals are sent to the brain from digestive hormones secreted by the gastrointestinal tract. These signals produce a feeling of pleasure and satiety in the brain, but it can take awhile for the brain to receive them. By chewing slowly, people can give the signals more time to reach their brains, potentially preventing them from overeating.
  • • Choose the right snacks. The right snacks can make it easier to eat more slowly. Instead of reaching for potato chips or pretzels, both of which can be eaten quickly and picked up by the handful, choose snacks that are both healthy and require a little work. Carrots dipped in hummus or baked tortilla chips with low-fat salsa or bean dip are low-calorie snacks that also require some work between bites. The time it takes to dip between bites affords more time for the digestive tract to release signals to the brain that you’re full.
  • • Reach for fiber first. Another way to conquer hunger without overeating is to reach for fiber before eating other parts of your meal. Vegetables are rich in fiber, but since veggies are often served as side dishes, many people tend to eat them only after they’ve eaten their main courses. That can contribute to overeating. Fiber fills you up, so by eating the high-fiber portions of your meal first, you’re less likely to overeat before your brain receives the signals that your stomach is full. Consider eating vegetables as an appetizer or, if the entire meal is served at once, clear your plate of vegetables before diving into the main course or other side dishes.
  • • Drink water. Perhaps the best, and least expensive, way to control appetite and ensure you don’t overeat is to drink more water. A 2010 study funded by the Institute for Public Health and Water Research that included 48 adults between the ages of 55 and 75 found that people who drank two eight-ounce glasses of water right before a meal consumed 75 to 90 fewer calories during the ensuing meal than study participants who did not consume water prior to their meals. Over the course of 12 weeks, participants who drank water before meals three times per day lost roughly five pounds more than those who did not increase their water intake. 

Controlling appetite does not have to be a complex undertaking. In fact, some of the simplest strategies can be highly effective.

 

 

 

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