Friday, May 8, 2009

Tai chi: Improved stress reduction, balance, agility for all

The ancient art of tai chi uses gentle flowing movements to reduce the stress of today's busy lifestyles and improve health. Find out how to get started.

The graceful images of people gliding through dance-like poses as they practice tai chi (TIE-chee) are compelling. Simply watching them is relaxing. Tai chi, in fact, is often described as "meditation in motion" because it promotes serenity through gentle movements — connecting the mind and body.

Originally developed in China as a form of self-defense, tai chi is a graceful form of exercise that has existed for some 2,000 years. Practiced regularly, tai chi can help you reduce stress and enjoy other health benefits.

Understanding tai chi

Tai chi, sometimes called tai chi chuan, is a noncompetitive, self-paced system of gentle physical exercise and stretching. To do tai chi, you perform a series of postures or movements in a slow, graceful manner. Each posture flows into the next without pausing.

Anyone, regardless of age or physical ability, can practice tai chi. It doesn't take physical prowess. Rather, tai chi emphasizes technique over strength.

Tai chi is used to:
- Reduce stress
- Increase flexibility
- Improve muscle strength and definition
- Increase energy, stamina and agility
- Increase feelings of well-being

Tai chi has more than 100 possible movements and positions. You can find several that you like and stick with those, or explore the full range. The intensity of tai chi varies somewhat depending on the form or style practiced. Some forms of tai chi are more fast-paced than others, for instance. However, most forms are gentle and suitable for everyone. And they all include rhythmic patterns of movement that are coordinated with breathing.

Although tai chi is generally safe, consider talking with your doctor before starting a new program. This is particularly important if you have any problems with your joints, spine or heart.

Stress reduction and other benefits of tai chi

Like other practices that bring mind and body together, tai chi can reduce stress. During tai chi, you focus on movement and breathing. This combination creates a state of relaxation and calm. Stress, anxiety and tension should melt away as you focus on the present, and the effects may last well after you stop your tai chi session.

Tai chi may also help your overall health, although it's not a substitute for traditional medical care. Tai chi is generally safe for people of all ages and levels of fitness. Older adults may especially find tai chi appealing because the movements are low impact and put minimal stress on muscles and joints. Tai chi may also be helpful if you have arthritis or are recovering from an injury.

Despite its ancient history, tai chi has been studied scientifically only in recent years. And that research is suggesting that tai chi may offer numerous other benefits beyond stress reduction, including:
- Reducing anxiety and depression
- Improving balance and coordination
- Reducing the number of falls
- Improving sleep quality, such as staying asleep longer at night and feeling more - alert during the day
- Slowing bone loss in women after menopause
- Lowering blood pressure
- Improving cardiovascular fitness
- Relieving chronic pain
- Improving everyday physical functioning

Learning to do tai chi

Wondering how to get started in tai chi? You don't need any special clothing or equipment to do tai chi. To gain full benefits, however, it may be best to seek guidance from a qualified tai chi instructor.

A tai chi instructor can teach you specific positions and how to regulate your breathing. An instructor also can teach you how to practice tai chi safely, especially if you have injuries, chronic conditions, or balance or coordination problems. Although tai chi is slow and gentle, with virtually no negative side effects, injuries are possible if tai chi isn't done properly. It's possible you could strain yourself or overdo it when first learning. Or if you have balance problems, you could fall during tai chi.

You can find tai chi classes in many communities today. Contact your local senior center, YMCA or YWCA, health club, community education center or wellness facility for help finding qualified instructors.

During tai chi classes, the instructor can give you personal guidance and correct any errors in your style before they become habit. Eventually, you may feel confident enough to do tai chi on your own. But if you like the social element, consider sticking with group classes.

Putting tai chi into practice

To reap the greatest stress reduction benefits from tai chi, consider practicing it regularly. Many people find it helpful to practice tai chi in the same place and at the same time every day to develop a routine. But if your schedule is erratic, do tai chi whenever you have a few minutes.

You can even draw on the soothing concepts of tai chi without performing the actual movements if you get stuck in stressful situations — a traffic jam or a work conflict, for instance.

These are some wonderful exrcises, I've tried them myself and I can seriously say that they really work and even when you are so tired and out of balance, it helps you restablish your balance and it makes you feel so much better! Just try:D

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Exercise: 7 benefits of regular physical activity

Need motivation to exercise? Here are seven ways exercise can improve your life — starting today!
Want to feel better, have more energy and perhaps even live longer? Look no further than old-fashioned exercise.

The merits of exercise — from preventing chronic health conditions to boosting confidence and self-esteem — are hard to ignore. And the benefits are yours for the taking, regardless of age, sex or physical ability. Need more convincing? Check out seven specific ways exercise can improve your life.
1. Exercise improves your mood.

Need to blow off some steam after a stressful day? A workout at the gym or a brisk 30-minute walk can help you calm down.

Exercise stimulates various brain chemicals, which may leave you feeling happier and more relaxed than you were before you worked out. You'll also look better and feel better when you exercise regularly, which can boost your confidence and improve your self-esteem. Exercise even reduces feelings of depression and anxiety.
2. Exercise combats chronic diseases.

Worried about heart disease? Hoping to prevent osteoporosis? Regular exercise might be the ticket.

Regular exercise can help you prevent — or manage — high blood pressure. Your cholesterol will benefit, too. Regular exercise boosts high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or "good," cholesterol while decreasing low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or "bad," cholesterol. This one-two punch keeps your blood flowing smoothly by lowering the buildup of plaques in your arteries.

And there's more. Regular exercise can help you prevent type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis and certain types of cancer.
3. Exercise helps you manage your weight.

Want to drop those excess pounds? Trade some couch time for walking or other physical activities.

This one's a no-brainer. When you exercise, you burn calories. The more intensely you exercise, the more calories you burn — and the easier it is to keep your weight under control. You don't even need to set aside major chunks of time for working out. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Walk during your lunch break. Do jumping jacks during commercials. Better yet, turn off the TV and take a brisk walk. Dedicated workouts are great, but activity you accumulate throughout the day helps you burn calories, too.
4. Exercise strengthens your heart and lungs.

Winded by grocery shopping or household chores? Don't throw in the towel. Regular exercise can leave you breathing easier.

Exercise delivers oxygen and nutrients to your tissues. In fact, regular exercise helps your entire cardiovascular system — the circulation of blood through your heart and blood vessels — work more efficiently. Big deal? You bet! When your heart and lungs work more efficiently, you'll have more energy to do the things you enjoy.
5. Exercise promotes better sleep.

Struggling to fall asleep? Or stay asleep? It might help to boost your physical activity during the day.

A good night's sleep can improve your concentration, productivity and mood. And, you guessed it, exercise is sometimes the key to better sleep. Regular exercise can help you fall asleep faster and deepen your sleep. The timing is up to you — but if you're having trouble sleeping, you might want to try late afternoon workouts. The natural dip in body temperature five to six hours after you exercise might help you fall asleep.
6. Exercise can put the spark back into your sex life.

Are you too tired to have sex? Or feeling too out of shape to enjoy physical intimacy? Exercise to the rescue.

Regular exercise can leave you feeling energized and looking better, which may have a positive effect on your sex life. But there's more to it than that. Exercise improves your circulation, which can lead to more satisfying sex. And men who exercise regularly are less likely to have problems with erectile dysfunction than are men who don't exercise, especially as they get older.
7. Exercise can be — gasp — fun!

Wondering what to do on a Saturday afternoon? Looking for an activity that suits the entire family? Get physical!

Exercise doesn't have to be drudgery. Take a ballroom dancing class. Check out a local climbing wall or hiking trail. Push your kids on the swings or climb with them on the jungle gym. Plan a neighborhood kickball or touch football game. Find an activity you enjoy, and go for it. If you get bored, try something new. If you're moving, it counts!

Are you convinced? Good. Start reaping the benefits of physical activity today!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Breathing for Relaxation

Beginning students often ask for instructions on the "right" way to breathe. Alas, there's no single answer to that question, since the optimal breathing pattern at any given moment depends on the type of practice. Restorative yoga focuses solely on relaxation, though, and emphasizes breathing that creates calm and serene states of being. When you settle into restorative poses, try the following techniques for cultivating breathing patterns that are hallmarks of relaxation and well-being.

MOVE THE BELLY WITH THE BREATH. When we are at ease, the diaphragm is the primary engine of the breath. As we inhale, this domelike muscle descends toward the abdomen, displacing the abdominal muscles and gently swelling the belly. As we exhale, the diaphragm releases back toward the heart, enabling the belly to release toward the spine.

During high-stress times, it's common to heave the upper chest and grip the muscles in the shoulders and throat. When we're at rest, the muscles of the upper chest remain soft and relaxed as we breathe, and the real work occurs in the lower rib cage. To promote this type of breathing pattern, consciously relax the jaw, throat, neck, and shoulders, and envision the breath sweeping into the deepest parts of the lungs as you breathe in and out.

Although some breaths may be deeper or faster than others, when we're relaxed, the alternating rhythm of the inhalations and exhalations feels like a lullaby—smooth, soft, and uninterrupted by jerks and jags. Consciously relaxing into this wavelike, oceanic quality of the breath deepens our sense of peace and ease.

LENGTHEN THE EXHALATIONS. When we feel stressed, our exhalations tend to grow short and choppy. When we're relaxed, though, the exhalations extend so completely that they are often longer than the inhalations. Some teachers even instruct that if we're deeply relaxed, each exhalation will be twice as long as the inhalation. To facilitate this, try gently extending each exhalation by one or two seconds.

In our most relaxed state, the end of each exhalation is punctuated by a short pause. Lingering in this sweet spot can be deeply satisfying and can evoke feelings of profound quiet and stillness.

When we are at ease, the whole body participates in the breathing process. Imagine a sleeping baby: When he breathes in and out, the belly swells and releases, the hips rock to and fro, the shoulders bob, and the spine gently undulates. This offers a mini-massage for the muscles and organs of the whole body, and turns each breath into a soothing melody that further calms and quiets every cell within.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

How do get rid of cellulite?

A type of massage that helps you get rid of cellulite.
Cellulite is a problem that affects women all over the world and it's easy to prevent it. Most factors come from a bad diet, smoking, sedentariness, not getting enough rest and wearing clothes that are too tight.
1.Phisical exercises
In a supine position with your feet supported on the floor and with your knees bent. Lift your body and stay like this as much as you can. It helps you strain and relax your muscles.

Stay in a walking position with one foot forward, stretch your back and bent your knees. Balancing it up and down as much as you can then change the foot.

Lying on one side with your lower leg bent and the upper one stretched,raise and lower slowly the upper leg. Do this exercise with each leg for at least 10 times. Repeat often this exercise.

Use caffeine for your skin. Use coffee grind on a wet skin and bind with a plastic sheet. Remain like this for 30 minutes.

Take magnesium and vitamin E everyday. Take baths with marina salt which makes your tissues stronger.

Use ivy cream against cellulite.

You can have a beautifule skin just by following these tips!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Blood-system stem cells

A research collaboration lead by Harvard Stem Cell Institute researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) has found a subpopulation of hematopoietic stem cells, which generate all blood and immune system cells, that reproduce much more slowly than previously anticipated. Use of these cells may improve the outcome of stem cell transplants – also called bone marrow transplants – for the treatment of leukemia and other marrow-based diseases. The report has been published on line by the journal Nature Biotechnology to coincide with a similar study in the journal Cell.

“Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation saves many lives every day and is the most established therapeutic application of stem cells, but ironically we know very little about the cells that have made this clinical success possible,” says Harvard Medical School assistant professor Hanno Hock, MD, PhD, of HSCI and the MGH Center for Regenerative Medicine, who led the study. “If we can improve our understanding of the biology of these cells, we should be able to offer our patients more therapeutic options.”

It has been believed that the entire population of hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) in the bone marrow reproduce at a rate of about 7 percent per day, with each cell dividing every two weeks. But previous investigations of stem cell proliferation appear to have missed the fact that some cells divide much less frequently. The MGH team developed a mouse model in which HSCs could be induced to express a green fluorescent label for a limited period of time. Tracking how long cells retained the label after its expression was halted would indicate how long a cell remained in a resting phase between cell divisions.

While 80 percent of the labeled HSCs were observed to proliferate at the expected rate, 20 percent of cells reproduced much more slowly, dividing once every 100 days or longer. Another experiment found that a gene believed to keep HSCs in a resting state was not required to maintain the reduced rate of cell division in these slow-cycling HSCs, and a mathematical model of HSC proliferation only matched what was actually seen in the labeled mouse model if it assumed two populations of HSCs with differing rates of cell division.

To test whether the rate of proliferation changed the cells’ ability to repopulate bone marrow, stem cell transplants were conducted using HSCs that had been labeled several months earlier and retained varying levels of the green marker – with higher label intensity signifying the slowly proliferating cells. The best results were achieved with cells maintaining the most label, which would signify the slow-cycling population, while cells in which the label was weakest were least able to repopulate the animals’ marrow.

“Our results suggest that we understand a lot less about HSCs than we thought,” Hock says. “If we can find more markers for these slow-cycling cells and identify them in human bone marrow, we may be able to make more of them and find additional clinical applications.” Co-lead authors of the report are Adlen Foudi, PhD, and Konrad Hochedlinger, PhD, of the MGH Center for Regenerative Medicine and Cancer Center. Additional co-authors are Denille Van Buren and Jeffrey Schindler, MGH; Rudolf Jaenisch, MD, Whitehead Institute, and Vincent Carey, PhD, Harvard Medical School.

The study was supported by grants from the Ellison Foundation, the Harvard Stem Cell Institute, the American Society for Hematology, the National Institute of Health, the Kimmel Foundation and the V Foundation.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Make it a better place!

Goodwill Ambassador Mia Farrow

GONAÏVES, Haiti, 22 September 2008 – Looking down from helicopter at the devastation wrought by a month of hurricanes and catastrophic flooding, actress Mia Farrow made an immediate comparison.

“I thought of the tsunami and those terrible images,” said the UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, referring to the Indian Ocean disaster almost four years ago.

Touring the city by truck from the United Nations on-site emergency coordination centre, Ms. Farrow visited shelters housing thousands of people who were still recovering from a 2004 hurricane when last month’s chain of storms and rain again rendered their homes uninhabitable.

Without the basic infrastructure in place to deal with a massive amount of mud and polluted floodwaters, Gonaïves – a city of 350,000 – is literally stuck.

“All over town, it’s like a big ‘SOS’,” said Ms. Farrow. “People around the world responded so generously to the tsunami, and I’m wondering why we haven’t responded as generously to the Haitian disaster, especially with Haiti one hour from our shores [in the United States]. This is happening right in our own backyard.”

A demand for greater urgency

Accompanying Ms. Farrow on her visit was the President of UNICEF Canada, Nigel Fisher. As a UN Assistant Secretary-General and UNICEF Regional Director prior to joining the Canadian national committee, Mr. Fisher has headed up emergency responses in Iraq and Afghanistan, among other places.

“What I see is much less activity here. People with almost nothing are getting very little help,” said Mr. Fisher. “In the whole day in Gonaïves, we didn’t see one pump. We didn’t see any heavy equipment to move the dirt and the mud. So the people are pretty much on their own.”

To date, UNICEF and other humanitarian aid groups have delivered over 1,000 metric tonnes of food and non-food supplies to Gonaïves. UNICEF and its partners are also working to help find secure shelter for families in need. But only a small fraction of the funding requested from a UN flash appeal for Haiti has been pledged.

For Gonaïves, the road to recovery is long, and the end is hardly in sight.

“What we’re seeing is just the tip of the iceberg of decades of chronic decline and increased poverty,” said Mr. Fisher. “The people here are condemned by both internal neglect and international indifference.”

Schools bear the brunt

The task at hand is particularly urgent as the government struggles to meet an already delayed start date for the school year, which is now scheduled to begin on 6 October. With nearly all of the schools in the disaster zones currently being used as shelters, however, that will mean relocating thousands of families and intensively rehabilitating school structures to make them safe and sanitary for students.

Even in the best circumstances, education is one of Haiti’s weakest links. About 67 per cent or school-age children are registered, but far fewer attend. Only 2 per cent finish their secondary education.

Even before the storms, many families were constrained from sending their children to school because of tuition costs and other school fees. Rising food prices, too, have wiped out money put aside for schooling.

Orphans of the storm

At an orphanage in Gonaïves, Ms. Farrow and Mr. Fisher visited 25 children who were safe and clean after the storm, but were cramped into the second story of their school while the first floor remained under several inches of water.

The orphanage director pointed to the children’s latrines, which were accessible only by tramping through deep, putrid mud. “Please help us,” he said.

Meanwhile, one of the youngest children in the facility had a different request.

“One little boy said, ‘Stay with us, I don’t want you to go,’” recalled Ms. Farrow. “He said, ‘I will pray for you.’ And I was thinking, if anyone needed prayers and help now, it’s…these orphans on the second floor.

“Those are the most abandoned of an abandoned population,” she concluded, shaking her head sadly. “And he said he would pray for me.”