One-Pot Pasta Recipe
In just 20 minutes, and with only one pot to clean, you can have a family-dinner-size pasta dish to feed your friends and enough leftovers for a few more meals. The dried pasta is cooked right in the sauce, a time-saving and delicious trick Italian grandmothers use to infuse the pasta with lots of flavor. Choose a favorite rustic pasta shape that cooks in about eight to 12 minutes (shells, penne, fusilli).
Serves 6 to 8
3 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves (or more to taste), chopped
1 small onion, diced
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes or 3 1/2 cups chopped, fresh tomatoes with their juices
1 bunch kale, ribs removed, chopped
2 sprigs fresh basil, chopped, plus a few whole leaves for garnish
1 pound whole grain (brown rice or whole wheat) pasta
About 4 cups water
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Red pepper flakes (optional)
Heat a large, heavy-bottomed pot over high heat. Drizzle in the olive oil. When it’s hot, add the garlic and let it get nice and golden (this color adds lots of flavor); it will only take about 30 seconds. Add the onion and cook until the onion is translucent, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the tomatoes, kale, basil, pasta, salt and 4 cups water. Bring the mixture to a boil while stirring, then reduce the heat to a simmer.
Cook the whole thing for the amount of time suggested on the pasta package, giving it an energetic stir every few minutes. If it starts to look too dry, add a slosh more water (about 1/2 cup at a time). Once the pasta is al-dente, fold in the Parmesan. Taste! Does it need some red pepper flakes? A pinch of salt? Top with the fresh basil, maybe a shower of Parmesan. Enjoy!
Posted on Friday, September 19th 2014
8 Foods that Pack on Muscle
If muscles were made from chips and beer, we’d look huge. But they aren’t, and we don’t—unless you count that sack o’ fat up front and dead center.
If not Doritos and double bock, then what? We decided to delve deep into the human anatomy to find the secret spot on every muscle where the word “ingredients” is stamped. With the help of Jeff Volek, Ph.D., R.D., an exercise and nutrition researcher at the University of Connecticut, and a really big magnifying glass, we found it. Eight foods are on the list: eggs, almonds, olive oil, salmon, steak, yogurt, water, and coffee. Add these ingredients to your stomach and faithfully follow the directions on the package—”Lift heavy weights”—and you can whip up a batch of biceps in no time.
The Perfect Protein
How they build muscle: Not from being hurled by the dozen at your boss’s house. The protein in eggs has the highest biological value—a measure of how well it supports your body’s protein needs—of any food, including our beloved beef. “Calorie for calorie, you need less protein from eggs than you do from other sources to achieve the same muscle-building benefits,” says Volek.
But you have to eat the yolk. In addition to protein, it also contains vitamin B12, which is necessary for fat breakdown and muscle contraction. (And no, eating a few eggs a day won’t increase your risk of heart disease.)
How they keep you healthy: Eggs are vitamins and minerals over easy; they’re packed with riboflavin, folate, vitamins B6, B12, D, and E, and iron, phosphorus, and zinc.
How they build muscle: Crunch for crunch, almonds are one of the best sources of alpha-tocopherol vitamin E—the form that’s best absorbed by your body. That matters to your muscles because “vitamin E is a potent antioxidant that can help prevent free-radical damage after heavy workouts,” says Volek. And the fewer hits taken from free radicals, the faster your muscles will recover from a workout and start growing.
How many almonds should you munch? Two handfuls a day should do it. A Toronto University study found that men can eat this amount daily without gaining any weight.
How they keep you healthy: Almonds double as brain insurance. A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that those men who consumed the most vitamin E—from food sources, not supplements—had a 67 percent lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease than those eating the least vitamin E.
The Growth Regulator
How it builds muscle: It’s swimming with high-quality protein and omega-3 fatty acids. “Omega-3’s can decrease muscle-protein breakdown after your workout, improving recovery,” says Tom Incledon, R.D., a nutritionist with Human Performance Specialists. This is important, because to build muscle you need to store new protein faster than your body breaks down the old stuff.
Order some salmon jerky from www.freshseafood.com. It’ll keep forever in your gym bag and tastes mighty close to cold-smoked cow.
How it keeps you healthy: By reducing your risk of heart disease and diabetes. Researchers at Louisiana State University found that when overweight people added 1.8 grams of DHA—an omega-3 fatty acid in fish oil—to their daily diets, their insulin resistance decreased by 70 percent in 12 weeks.
The Golden Ratio
How it builds muscle: Even with the aura of estrogen surrounding it, “yogurt is an ideal combination of protein and carbohydrates for exercise recovery and muscle growth,” says Doug Kalman, R.D., director of nutrition at Miami Research Associates.
Buy regular—not sugar-free—with fruit buried at the bottom. The extra carbohydrates from the fruit will boost your blood levels of insulin, one of the keys to reducing postexercise protein breakdown.
How it keeps you healthy: Three letters: CLA. “Yogurt is one of the few foods that contain conjugated linoleic acid, a special type of fat shown in some studies to reduce body fat,” says Volek.
How it builds muscle: More than just a piece of charbroiled protein, “beef is also a major source of iron and zinc, two crucial muscle-building nutrients,” says Incledon. Plus, it’s the number-one food source of creatine—your body’s energy supply for pumping iron—2 grams for every 16 ounces.
For maximum muscle with minimum calories, look for “rounds” or “loins”—butcherspeak for meat cuts that are extra-lean. Or check out the new “flat iron” cut. It’s very lean and the second most tender cut of beef overall.
How it keeps you healthy: Beef is a storehouse for selenium. Stanford University researchers found that men with low blood levels of the mineral are as much as five times more likely to develop prostate cancer than those with normal levels.
How it builds muscle: Sure, you could oil up your chest and arms and strike a pose, but it works better if you eat the stuff. “The monounsaturated fat in olive oil appears to act as an anticatabolicnutrient,” says Kalman. In other words, it prevents muscle breakdown by lowering levels of a sinister cellular protein called tumor necrosis factor-a, which is linked with muscle wasting and weakness (kind of like watching The View).
And while all olive oil is high in monos, try to use the extra-virgin variety whenever possible; it has a higher level of free-radical-fighting vitamin E than the less chaste stuff.
How it keeps you healthy: How doesn’t it? Olive oil and monounsaturated fats have been associated with everything from lower rates of heart disease and colon cancer to a reduced risk of diabetes and osteoporosis.
The Muscle Bath
How it builds muscle: Whether it’s in your shins or your shoulders, muscle is approximately 80 percent water. “Even a change of as little as 1 percent in body water can impair exercise performance and adversely affect recovery,” says Volek. For example, a 1997 German study found that protein synthesis occurs at a higher rate in muscle cells that are well hydrated, compared with dehydrated cells. English translation: The more parched you are, the slower your body uses protein to build muscle.
Not sure how dry you are? “Weigh yourself before and after each exercise session. Then drink 24 ounces of water for every pound lost,” says Larry Kenney, Ph.D., a physiology researcher at Pennsylvania State University.
How it keeps you healthy: Researchers at Loma Linda University found that men who drank five or more 8-ounce glasses of water a day were 54 percent less likely to suffer a fatal heart attack than those who drank two or fewer.
The Repetition Builder
How it builds muscle: Fueling your workout with caffeine will help you lift longer. A recent study published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise found that men who drank 2 1/2 cups of coffee a few hours before an exercise test were able to sprint 9 percent longer than when they didn’t drink any. (It’s believed the caffeine directly stimulates the muscles.)
And since sprinting and weight lifting are both anaerobic activities—exercises that don’t require oxygen—a jolt of joe should help you pump out more reps. Skip it if you have a history of high blood pressure, though.
How it keeps you healthy: By saving you from Michael J. Fox’s fate. Harvard researchers found that coffee drinkers have a 30 percent lower risk of Parkinson’s disease than nondrinkers.
Posted on Thursday, September 18th 2014
The Ultimate Morning Workout
Warm up with the mobility and dynamic flexibility moves. Then perform the 1-minute drill. Rest 15 to 30 seconds, then do the strength circuit. Rest 1 minute. Repeat the drill and strength circuit sequence three to five times. After the first round, try to work at an effort of 7 or 8 (on a scale of 1 to 10) each time you perform the 1-minute drill.
MOBILITY AND DYNAMIC FLEXIBILITY
Perform the following exercises as fast as possible with good form. Rest 30 seconds between exercises and 1 minute between rounds. Perform 2 rounds.
3-Step Lateral Run and Pause (5 reps)
From a strong tall posture, perform a high knee run sideways taking three total lateral steps, running on the balls of your feet, driving the elbows back and maintaining good upright posture. Do not cross your feet as you run. On the third step pause and maintain balance for at least 1 to 2 seconds before running in the opposite direction. That’s one rep.
Lateral Speed Lunge (8 reps)
From an athletic position, take a lateral step to the right. Quickly and with good squat form, touch your right hand (outside your right leg) to the floor and immediately drive your body up and shuffle one step over to the left touching the floor with your left hand. Your body should be completely extended (tall) when you move from side to side.
Spiderman Climb (10 reps per leg)
Start in the top of the pushup position. Keep your abs braced, pick one foot up off the floor, and slowly bring your knee up outside of your shoulder and touch your foot to the ground. Slowly return your leg to the start position and repeat with the opposite leg.
Perform the following exercises for 15 seconds each.
Start with your feet hip-width apart and hands at your sides. Simultaneously raise your arms above your head and jump so you can spread your feet shoulder-width apart. Then jump again to lower your arms and bring your feet together. Repeat.
Run in place, with knees driving toward your chest.
Starting with feet together, push off with your right foot to hop laterally to the left about 3 feet. Land on your left foot and follow with your right. Hop back, this time pushing off with your left foot. Repeat.
Start in a pushup position. Keeping your head in line with your body, bring your right knee to your chest, then back to starting position. Alternate rapidly with the left leg.
Complete as many repetitions as you can of each exercise in 20 seconds. Rest 20 seconds, then move to the next exercise.
Dip down at the hips and knees, and then explode up.
Pushups with Row
Get into pushup position with your arms straight and your hands resting on light dumbbells. Squeeze your abs and glutes as you perform a pushup. At the top, pull one dumbbell off the floor and toward you until your elbow is above your back. Slowly return the weight to the floor and repeat with the other arm.
From a standing position, take a large step forward with one leg, then immediately lunge backward. Switch legs after 10 seconds.
Stand with your feet slightly more than shoulder-width apart. Raise one foot and extend it behind you, just off the floor. Contract your glutes, brace your abs, and keep your spine naturally arched. Focusing on balance, lower yourself until your torso is parallel to the floor. Initiate the movement by pushing your hips back. Push back up to the starting position. Switch legs after 10 seconds.
Lie on your back with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor. Squeeze your glutes and raise your hips so your lower back is off the floor. Hold for 20 seconds.
Posted on Wednesday, September 17th 2014
How Much Sleep You Really Need
The amount of sleep adults need has once again come under the spotlight, with a recent Wall Street Journal article suggesting seven hours sleep is better than eight hours and the American Academy of Sleep Medicine drawing up guidelines surrounding sleep need.
So, what should the guidelines say? Unfortunately, when it comes to the amount of sleep adults require there is not really a “one size fits all”. Sleep need can vary substantially between individuals.
Sleep is regulated by circadian and homeostatic processes, which interact to determine the timing and duration of sleep. The circadian process represents the change in sleep propensity over 24 hours, or our internal “body clock”. The homeostatic process represents the accumulation of sleep pressure during wakefulness and the dissipation of sleep pressure during sleep.
Both the circadian and homeostatic processes are influenced by internal factors, such as genes, and external factors, such as prior sleep history, exercise and illness. Individual variations in sleep timing and duration can be largely explained by these internal and external factors.
Individual sleep need
Genes are important in determining diurnal preference: whether we are “night owls” who prefer to stay up late at night, or “early birds” who prefer to get up early in the morning. Genes may also contribute to whether we are “short” or “long” sleepers.
But although genes form the foundation for sleep timing and duration, many external factors also affect sleep need.
Perhaps one of the more common causes affecting sleep duration relates to sleep history. Many adults, whether they know it or not, experience sleep restriction, often on a daily or weekly basis. Restricting sleep or going without sleep (pulling an “all-nighter”) increases sleep pressure.
This sleep pressure dissipates within sleep, so higher sleep pressure requires longer sleep duration. As such, following sleep loss, sleep need increases.
Health, exercise, heavy labour, and even mental workload can affect sleep duration. During times of illness, following exercise, or even following periods of mental stress (such as exams), the amount of sleep needed to recover or restore back to normal can increase. Likewise, individuals who suffer from disease or who have poor health may need more sleep than their healthier counterparts.
Sleep need also varies with age, with elderly people generally sleeping less than younger individuals. Age-related changes associated with sleep duration are thought to be due to changes in the interaction between the circadian and homeostatic processes.
The individual variations in sleep need make it difficult to provide a specific recommendation as to how much sleep adults need. However, most sleep researchers generally agree that seven to nine sleep is what the majority of adults require to function at their best.
Why eight hours sleep?
Sleep restricted to seven hours or less results in impairments to reaction time, decision making, concentration, memory and mood, as well increased sleepiness and fatigue and some physiological functions.
On the other hand, eight hours or nine hours sleep has little impact, either negatively or positively, on performance.
Based on these findings, it would seem that for most of the adult population, somewhere between seven and nine hours of sleep is the “right amount”.
This is not to say that more than nine hours sleep is not good. Rather, extending sleep duration may help to “protect” waking function during subsequent periods of sleep loss. While we may not need ten hours sleep all the time, there are some clear benefits from getting more sleep.
But I am fine with six hours sleep…
The first question you need to ask yourself is, are you really?
You may be one of the lucky few with the “right” genetics. However, it’s more likely that you are simply unaware of how sleep loss is impairing your waking functions.
How we feel does not always reflect how badly we may be functioning, which may result in delusions about how much sleep we really need. Needing an alarm clock to wake up and the desire to sleep-in on weekends/holidays suggests that sleep need is not being met.
Critically though, if you have difficulty sleeping for a continuous eight hours, try not to worry too much, as this may make things worse.
Finding your optimal sleep duration
The amount of sleep need can vary significantly and can depend on multiple different factors, making it difficult to work out optimal sleep need. Below is a guide that might help to determine sleep need.
Keep a diary of your sleep. Include the times you went to bed and woke up, how you slept and how you felt during the daytime
Go to bed when you feel sleepy/tired
If you can, don’t use an alarm clock, rather, let your body naturally wake up
Try to get natural sunlight exposure during the day
Keep to a regular sleep schedule all days of the week.
After a while, you should be able to work out the best timing and duration for your sleep. If you are still unsure or concerned, see your general practitioner. Remember, though — sleep need can change with circumstances, so always listen to your body.
Posted on Wednesday, September 17th 2014
13 Things You Didn’t Know about Watermelon
Perhaps nothing else screams summertime quite as much as a juicy, ripe watermelon. It’s sweet and refreshing and adds a huge burst of colour to just about everything.
But there is so much more to watermelon than meets the eye. Watermelon is simply bursting with numerous health benefits, too.
July is National Watermelon Month and it’s no surprise why. Besides being tasty and super hydrating, watermelon is super healthy. Check out our list of 13 healthy benefits, and interesting facts, you never knew about this summertime treat.
1. Immune support, wound healing, and helps prevent cell damage
Watermelons are surprisingly high in vitamin C. Vitamin C is great at improving your immune system by protecting our cells from reactive oxygen. Reactive oxygen damages our cells and DNA. Vitamin C has long been known to help heal wounds in the body and is essential to making new connective tissue. Enzymes involved in forming collagen, the main compound needed when wounds are healing, simply cannot function without Vitamin C. If you should find you are suffering from slow healing wounds, seriously up your consumption of vitamin C heavy fruit such as watermelon!
2. Watermelon has more lycopene than tomatoes
Just one cup of watermelon has 1.5 times more lycopene than a large fresh tomato. Why should you care? Lycopene is a super antioxidant, which is important for stopping those free radicals that damage your cells, mess with your immune system, and lead to advanced aging. Research shows that lycopene, which is found in most red fruits and veggies, helps fight against several types of cancer. To get the most antioxidants possible, store your watermelon at room temperature.
3. Relieves Sore Muscles
A study conducted in Spain discovered that drinking about 16 ounces of watermelon juice before working out had less muscle soreness, as well as a lower heart rate, within 24 hours. This study was published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry.
This is attributed to a compound in watermelon called citrulline that has been found to improve the functioning of arteries and lower blood pressure overall. In fact, watermelon can relax the blood vessels so much; Texas A&M University says that watermelon is like the Viagra of the fruit world! Unfortunately, most of that citrulline is found in the green rind, not so much in the red flesh.
4. Supports eye health
Watermelon is a fantastic source of beta-carotene, which your body will turn into vitamin A. Vitamin A helps to make the pigments in the retina of your eyes and this helps to protect you against macular degeneration.
When fully ripe, watermelons have an alkaline effect in the body. Eating plenty of alkaline forming fruits and veggies helps to reduce your risk of developing illness and chronic disease.
6. It’s both a fruit and a veggie
Almost unbelievable, but true! Like almost all fruits, watermelon comes from seeds but its roots can be traced to pumpkins, squash, and cucumbers. Talk about an overachiever!
7. It’s absolutely packed with, well, water
Of course! You are really talking about some serious hydration when you start talking watermelon! It’s 91.5 percent water! This is good to know since being dehydrated is really bad for your health. It’s a good thing we eat these when we are under the hot summer sun so we can keep ourselves hydrated.
8. Reduces body fat
We are talking about that wonderful compound citrulline again. It’s been shown in studies to help our body’s stop the accumulation of fat. This amino acid, with a little help from our kidneys, converts into arginine, which blocks the activity of TNAP, which makes our fat cells, accumulate less fat. Kinda complicated, but a beautiful thing all the same.
Watermelons are high in phenolic compounds such as carotenoids, flavonoids, and triterpenoids. Carotenoids are super helpful in reducing inflammation and killing off those nasty free radicals. Tripterpenoid curcurbitacin E is another great compound in watermelons, which is another great anti-inflammatory. Be sure to eat really ripe watermelons as they have much higher levels of these helpful compounds.
10. Diuretic and kidney support
A natural diuretic, watermelon can help increase the flow of urine but doesn’t place a strain on the kidneys the same way caffeine does. Also, watermelons help your liver process ammonia which will help you get rid of excess fluid in the body while making it easy on the kidneys.
11. Nerve and muscle support
Watermelon is a great, all natural electrolyte that helps to regulate the nerves and muscles. Potassium is important in the determination of how much our muscles contract and controls the over stimulation of the nerves in the body. Since watermelon is high in potassium, it’s super good for those nerves and muscles.
12. Supports cardiovascular and bone health
Those high lycopene levels that are in watermelon are important to both our bone health and cardiovascular health. Consuming large amounts of watermelon has been linked to improved cardiovascular function as it improves blood flow due to the relaxation of blood pressure as well as reducing the oxidative stress which is involved in the pathogenesis of osteoporosis. This means you will get stronger bones when you eat foods rich in lycopene, such as watermelons.
13. About those yellow watermelons
If you haven’t seen them, there are watermelons that are not that beautiful pinkish-red red colour. It’s called Yellow Crimson. It has a yellow interior with a sweeter taste that will remind you of honey. Both types of watermelons are green on the outside so unless they are labeled, you can’t tell which one is which! Just remember that no one knows what, if any, nutritional value the yellow kind might have to offer. If you love the yellow kind, mix up a batch of both colours, just to be on the safe side.
Posted on Monday, September 8th 2014
The Only 4 Exercises You Really Need
I do my best to exercise 5 to 6 times a week, but there are days when I simply cannot pull myself out of bed in time to sweat before work, or when I’m travelling and my normal routine is completely thrown off track. Instead of completely scrapping my routine, I’ll try and squeeze in a few bodyweight exercises—namely squats, planks, chair dips and pushups—throughout the day. These four moves give you a full-body toning and strength session in just a few minutes. I find that they also boost my energy and mood on days when I’m feeling tired, stressed or overwhelmed, too.
Many other fitness experts agree: “I like these moves because they use bodyweight for resistance,” says Alice Burron, 45, a mother of four and a personal trainer in Cheyenne, Wyoming. “That means they’re simple but still challenging, convenient, and inexpensive—and they work.” To sneak in one set of all of these exercises would only take you about 5 minutes. To build muscle and burn calories, try to do three 5-minute mini workouts with these moves in one day. All in all, you’re only working out for 15 minutes.
Personal trainer and co-author of Thin in 10 Weight-Loss Plan Liz Neporent agrees: “When you do these four moves you’re hitting all of your major muscle groups effectively. And they’re efficient because you don’t waste time isolating one muscle group at a time, as some exercises tend to do, and instead work several major muscle groups in tandem. These integrated muscle movements use the body exactly as intended— the way you typically use them in daily activities and when you do sports and fitness activities. This helps you perform better and prevent injuries.”
Want to give it a try? Follow this workout from Burron and Neporent. Start with 1 set of 8 to 15 reps of each move (unless otherwise noted), and gradually build to 2 or 3 sets.
Must-Do Move #1: Chair Dips
Great for toning your triceps and core
Sit on the edge of a sturdy, stable chair with legs together, knees bent and feet flat on floor a few feet in front of chair. Place your hands about six inches apart, and firmly grip the edges of the chair. Slide your butt just off the front of the chair so that your upper body is pointing straight down. Keep your abdominals pulled in and your head centered between your shoulders. Bend your elbows and lower your body in a straight line. When your upper arms are parallel to the floor, push yourself back up, being careful not to lock elbows. Repeat.
Make it easier: Keep feet close to the chair and the dip slow, controlled, and shallow.
Add a challenge: If you’re intermediate, position feet a little farther from chair, and deepen your dip. If you’re advanced, straighten your legs completely, and place heels on floor, or place one or both feet on another chair, bench or exercise ball. Perform deep but controlled dips.
Must-Do Move #2: Push-ups
Great for toning your chest, shoulders, triceps, back, hips, and abs
Start in a basic push-up position with hands directly beneath shoulders and body in a straight line. Bend elbows out to sides and lower body almost to floor (or as far as you can). Keep abs tight and body in a line. Hold for 1 second, then push back up. Repeat.
Make it easier: If you’re a beginner, do push-ups on knees. Keep the movement shallow and controlled. Still too challenging? Start with a push-up on the wall, progressing to the floor as you become stronger.
Add a challenge: If you’re advanced, try lifting one leg off the floor as you do each push-up.
Must-Do Move #3: Squats
Great for toning your glutes, hamstrings and quads
Stand with feet parallel and hip-width apart. Bend your knees and lower your body into a squat position, as if you are sitting back into an imaginary chair, keeping knees behind toes. Stop when your knees are at 90 degrees. Slowly press through your heels and squeeze your glutes as you return to standing.
Make it easier: Don’t bend knees as deeply
Add a challenge: Add weights, do a single-legged squat, or perform squats on an unstable surface, like a balance disc or Bosu ball. To incorporate cardio, do squat jumps.
Must-Do Move #4: Plank
Great for toning your abs, back, chest, forearms and shoulders
To come into plank pose, hold a push-up position, weight on balls of feet and hands, wrists directly below shoulders, arms straight, and body in line from head to heels. Hold for as long as you can, working up to 1 minute. That’s 1 rep. Do 2 or 3 reps.
Make it easier: Instead of being on hands, lower yourself to your forearms.
Add a challenge: Raise 1 leg off the floor and hold for 30 seconds. Switch legs and hold for another 30 seconds to complete 1 rep. To add variety, try side plank: Lie on your right side with your legs straight, and feet stacked, right hand directly under right shoulder. Lift hips off floor and raise left arm to sky, keeping left hand directly over left shoulder. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds. Switch sides and repeat to complete 1 rep.
Posted on Monday, September 8th 2014
The 21 Best Places To Retire
Which is to say that, all things considered, nowhere in the world could you embrace a better overall being-retired experience than in Portugal’s Algarve. This Old World region on the Atlantic Ocean, home to more than 100,000 resident expat retirees, is the best place in the world to retire that nobody’s talking about. Portugal’s southernmost province offers the best of Europe, including medieval towns, fishing villages, open-air markets, and local wine, plus some of Europe’s best sandy beaches.
Thinking more practically, the Algarve also offers great weather. This region of Portugal enjoys one of the most stable climates in the world and 3,300 hours of sunshine per year, meaning more sunny days than almost anywhere else in Europe.
The Algarve receives high marks for safety, as well. Portugal ranks as the 17th safest country in the world. Violent crime is rare, and petty crime is limited to street crime during the busy tourist season.
The infrastructure is good and improving. Portugal and the Algarve have enjoyed important infrastructure investments recently, specifically to do with the country’s highway network and airports, making this a great base for exploring all of Europe and Northern Africa.
Portugal’s health care is international-standard, and medical tourism is a growing industry in the region. Thanks to the country’s strong historic and cultural links with England, English is spoken more widely in the country in general and even more so in the Algarve than you might expect.
The Algarve’s 100 miles of Atlantic coastline is punctuated by jagged rock formations, lagoons, and extensive sandy beaches, many awarded coveted Blue Flags from the European Blue Flag Association. The water off these shores is azure, and the cliff-top vistas are spectacular. In other words, you could fill at least some of your days at the beach, swimming, sunning, and boating. In addition, the region boasts 42 golf courses in less than 100 miles and is generally recognized as a top golfing destination in continental Europe, and the world.
You could describe life here as healthy. The Portuguese are the biggest fish eaters per capita in Europe, and fresh fish of great variety is available in the ever-present daily markets. The abundance of sunshine means an abundance of fresh produce, too.
You could also describe life here as very affordable. The cost of living in Portugal is among the lowest in Western Europe, on average 30% lower than in any other country of the region. A retired couple could live here comfortably but modestly on a budget of as little as $1,500 per month. With a budget of $2,000 per month or more, you could enjoy a fully appointed lifestyle in the heart of Old Europe.
Finally, Portugal’s new Non-Habitual Resident and Golden Visa programs mean it is much easier than it’s ever been to establish full-time residency in this country. These retiree- and investor-residency programs are not as benefit-rich or as affordable as comparable programs in the Americas (in Nicaragua, Ecuador, or Panama, for example), but they are very competitive for Europe.
In addition, Live and Invest Overseas’ just-released survey names the following top retirement options, as well:
World’s Cheapest Places To Retire Well
If you’re in the market for a simple but comfortable lifestyle on a modest budget, here’s where you should be focusing your attention, the world’s eight cheapest places to retire well (with, indicated in parentheses, the total monthly budget amount in each case):
Chiang Mai, Thailand ($920)
Cuenca, Ecuador ($1,010)
Dumaguete, Philippines ($910)
George Town, Malaysia ($1,070)
Granada, Nicaragua ($1,040)
Istanbul, Turkey ($1,045)
Nha Trang, Vietnam ($680)
Samana, Dominican Republic ($1,155)
Seven of the 21 countries featured in Live and Invest Overseas’ 2014 Index offer user-friendly choices for establishing full-time residency as a foreign retiree, as follows:
In Latin America, retiree residency programs are typically referred to as pensionadovisas. To qualify, you need to prove a minimum amount of regular monthly income from some defined source. The minimum amount required varies country to country, from a bargain $600 (in Nicaragua) to $2,000 (in Belize) per month. Some countries (including Panama and Colombia, for example) stipulate that the income must be pension income (Social Security qualifies); others (such as Belize and Ecuador) are more flexible. You can qualify for Belize’s version of a pensionado visa program (called the Qualified Retired Persons program) by showing reliable income of at least $2,000 per month from any source.
Common benefits of being a pensionado retiree include exemptions from duty when importing personal belongings, household goods, and, usually, your car into the country with you. In addition, Panama, for example, offers pensionados discounts on almost everything they buy while in the country, from hotel rooms, restaurant meals, and in-country flights to doctor visits, prescription drugs, even closing costs when purchasing real estate.
Of the 21 destinations on Live and Invest Overseas’ 2014 Retire Overseas Index list, the following have “ideal” climates:
Algarve, Portugal (which enjoys one of the most stable
climates in the world)
Cuenca, Ecuador (one of a number of places worldwide
that bills itself as a “land of eternal springtime”)
If you appreciate seasonal variety, consider the following six locations, in each of which you could enjoy spring, yes, but summer, fall, and winter, too:
Buenos Aires, Argentina
La Serena, Chile
If you’re prefer it hot and humid, consider:
George Town, Malaysia
Also tropical but less sultry and therefore, generally speaking, more pleasant are:
Ambergris Caye, Belize
Nha Trang, Vietnam
Panama City Beaches (though not Panama City proper, which is unrelentingly humid all year-round…and which also does not appear on Live and Invest Overseas’ list of top 21 choices)
Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Best Options For English Only
In Belize, the people speak English. All of them.
This is the only country on Live and Invest Overseas’ Retire Overseas Index list where the language question is so cut and dried.
Anywhere in the world you go these days, you’re going to find folks who speak English. It’s the global language. But where among the world’s top retirement havens (aside from Belize) could you live as a retiree and not have to learn a new language?
George Town, Malaysia
Panama City Beaches, Panama
Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Posted on Friday, September 5th 2014
Low-Carb Diets Are Better For Your Health
A low-carbohydrate diet is better for losing weight and may also be better for lowering the risk of heart disease than a low-fat diet, according to a new study.
While low-carb diets have outperformed other diets when it comes to weight loss, some researchers feared they might be worse for heart health because they tend to be high in fat.
The new study shows that with proper nutritional counselling, people can lose more weight and lower their risk factors for heart disease on a low-carbohydrate diet, said the lead author, Dr. Lydia Bazzano of Tulane University in New Orleans.
“This study shows if you are overweight and have cardiovascular disease risk factors and haven’t had success on other diets, certainly a low-carbohydrate diet is worth a try,” said Bazzano.
Carbohydrates are found in food and include sugar, fibre and starches that give the body energy. Some carbs – like those in whole grains and fruits — are healthier than others — like those in white bread and other processed foods.
Bazzano and her colleagues write in Annals of Internal Medicine that low-carb diets have become popular weight loss strategies in recent years. Studies on their effects on cardiovascular risk factors have produced mixed results, however.
For the new study, she and her colleagues recruited 148 obese men and women between the ages of 22 and 75. None of the participants had heart disease or diabetes.
Half were randomly assigned to follow a low-carbohydrate diet for a year, and the other half were assigned to a low-fat diet for a year. They were told to not change their physical activity throughout the trial.
All participants attended regular meetings where they learned about portion control, healthy eating and overall nutrition. They were also offered one meal-replacement bar or shake per day.
The only difference between the groups was the proportions of carbohydrate and fat in their diets.
Those in the low-carbohydrate group were told to eat at no more than 40 grams of digestible carbohydrates per day. (“Digestible carbs” equals total carbs minus total fiber.)
Those in the low-fat group were told not to get more than 30 percent of their daily energy from fat and no more than 55 percent of their daily energy from carbohydrates.
Overall, about four of every five participants were still following the diets 12 months later.
During that time, the researchers found, people on the low-carbohydrate diet lost more weight and more body fat than those on the low-fat diet.
The difference in lost weight between the two groups would represent about eight additional pounds.
Additionally, the researchers saw no increases in total cholesterol or “bad” LDL cholesterol between the two groups. Bazzano said that’s good news since some thought a low-carbohydrate diet would increase cholesterol levels.
Those in the low-carbohydrate group had lower levels of fat circulating in their blood and had lower scores on a measure often used to predict the risk of a heart attack or stroke within the next 10 years.
“I thought that was a very striking finding,” Bazzano said. She added that the score that predicts risk of future heart attacks and strokes was computed after the study was finished and is less reliable than the other risk factors they measured.
Dr. David Jenkins, who wasn’t involved in the study, told Reuters Health, “This doesn’t look to me to say ‘eat all the meats you want to lower your carbohydrates.’ That’s just one way to do it.”
Instead, Jenkins said, people in this study appeared to improve their overall diets. For example, they were eating foods with healthier fats, such as nuts and beans.
He also said they seemed to eat more fiber and cut down on processed foods with more carbohydrates.
“I think it’s another testament to what one can do with a more plant-based diet using the right macro-nutrient profile,” said Jenkins of the Department of Nutritional Sciences at the University of Toronto and the Keenan Research Centre at St. Michael’s Hospital.
Bazzano agreed that the overall diets improved among the participants and they were encouraged to eat healthier forms of protein like chicken, fish, nuts and beans.
She also said her team is not sure why people on the low-carbohydrate diets lost more weight and had lower risk factors for heart disease after one year. It’s not clear, she added, if there would still be a difference after a longer period.
Posted on Tuesday, September 2nd 2014
18 Reasons To Practice Yoga
While pounding on a treadmill, lifting free weights and swimming a few laps are all well and good, yoga exercises the mind and body in a completely unique way. In fact,yoga changes both your body and brain starting the day you begin.
To celebrate its many positives — both big and small — we thought we’d highlight just a few of our favorite reasons to practice yoga:
1. To live in the present. Most of us spend the majority of our time with our phones in our hands, pockets or purses. We rush to and from the office, checking emails and texting as we go. Research shows that we spend almost half of our time thinking about things aside from what we’re actually doing — even though there is happiness to be found when we live in the moment. Yoga offers the opportunity to completely unplug and focus on exactly what’s right in front of you.
2. To sweat. You don’t have to practice Bikram in a 100-degree room to break a sweat. Depending on the type you’re doing, just one hour of yoga can burn nearly 500 calories.
3. For gratitude. Many yogis begin and end their practices by dedicating their time on the mat to someone or something important to them. Can’t we all agree that the world could use a little more gratitude?
4. Because it’s convenient. The $27 billion industry has grown rapidly in recent years — meaning yoga studios are popping up in cities across the country. No matterwhere you live, you’re probably not far from a yoga studio. And even if you live in a super-remote area, you can get your yoga on in the comfort of your living room. All you need is a mat – and even that’s optional.
5. For your brain. Hit the mat to clear your mind. Yoga has been shown to increase brain function right after a practice as short as 20 minutes. It can improve memory and help you maintain focus, too.
6. Two words: yoga pants. Seriously, is there anything more comfortable?
7. For strength’s sake. Holding poses and moving through sun salutations is a fast track to stronger muscles. Yoga has been linked with greater dead-lift strength, for instance. So ditch the weights for a quick yoga session every once in a while.
8. To make new friends. With over 20 million American yogis, you’re bound to buddy up with some mat mates at your local studio.
9. To spend some time solo. Even though you may make friends before and after class, yoga itself is generally an individual practice. Spending time alone allows us a moment to reflect, evaluate and observe. What better place to do it than in Child’s Pose?
10. For your bones. Research shows that yoga can help increase bone density in older adults.
11. Because we all need a little quiet time. Ever get tired of the buzz of treadmills, clank of weights and music blaring from your headphones? Soak up some silence in a traditional yoga class.
12. To stress less. Yoga’s a top-notch stress-buster. Those who practice deep yoga breathing report feeling less stressed. Plus, exercise itself is a known stress-reducer.
13. To spice things up. Want a practice that breaks a sweat and keeps you on your toes? Try Vinyasa. More into the idea of relaxing and stretching? Go for Yin. Love routine? Ashtanga may be your jam. With such a wide variety of yoga styles, there’s something out there for everyone and plenty of opportunities to explore new types.
14. To overcome challenges. The great thing about yoga is that you don’t have to be “good” to start. Each practice is your own, and you’re only competing against yourself to hold poses longer, stretch deeper or increase concentration.
15. It does the heart good. Yoga may help lower cholesterol and blood sugar, in turn lowering risk of heart disease.
16. To gain some flexibility (on and off the mat). Just six weeks of regular yoga practice can significantly increase flexibility, according to research published in the Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies. Plus, for many, yoga increases flexibility in perspective by prompting us to master new poses, breathing styles and meditative thoughts.
17. To smile more. Just 12 weeks of yoga can reduce anxiety levels. The less you stress, the more you smile. Plus, exercise boosts happy chemicals in your brain and improves overall mood. It works so well that some doctors recommend exercise to those who suffer from depression.
18. To rejuvenate. There’s nothing quite like coming out of Savasana. You feel stronger, taller, stretched and relaxed. It’s like hitting the refresh button on both your body and brain. Namaste to that.
Posted on Sunday, August 31st 2014
Brown Rice Bowl With Buttery Shrimp, Tomato and Summer Squash
This rice bowl is perfect for when you’re feeling like something healthy…ish. You can use less butter if you really want, but the recommended two tablespoons combine with the soft cooked tomato to make an almost-sauce that coats the rice perfectly. Also, I used short-grain brown rice, but really you can use any kind of rice you like.
Brown Rice Bowl With Buttery Shrimp, Tomato and Summer Squash
Recipe by Christine Byrne
Serves 2 (but you could easily double this)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
2 small summer squash (or 1 large summer squash), sliced into coins 1/4-inch thick
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
2 medium beefsteak tomatoes, chopped in rough 1/4-inch pieces
1/2 pound raw shrimp, peeled, deveined, tails removed
1 1/2 cups cooked brown rice (freshly cooked or reheated to warm)
parsley, for garnish (if you want)
Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add squash coins and spread them out in a single layer over the bottom of the pan (do the best you can, it’s OK if they’re a little crowded). Season with salt and pepper, and let them cook, without stirring or moving them, until the undersides start to blister and turn golden brown, about 2 minutes. Stir the zucchini and continue to cook to al dente, about 2 minutes.
Add the chopped tomato, stir everything together, and cook over medium heat until the zucchini is soft and the tomato is starting to break down, about 2 minutes more.
When the vegetables are cooked, move them to one side of the skillet, so that half of the skillet is empty. Melt the remaining tablespoon of butter in the empty half of the skillet, then add the shrimp. Season with salt and pepper, and cook until the underside is opaque and slightly golden brown, about 2 minutes. Flip the shrimp, season the other side with salt and pepper, and continue to cook until the shrimp is cooked through, 1-2 minutes more.
When the shrimp are cooked, add the warm, cooked brown rice to the skillet. Stir everything together with a wooden spoon so that the vegetables and shrimp are evenly distributed throughout the rice. The tomatoes will break down even further; this is a good thing and will make your rice taste delicious.
To serve, divide between two bowls. Garnish with parsley, if you want.
Posted on Saturday, August 30th 2014
11 Signs You’re With The Person You Should Marry
Do men have biological clocks? Yes, they do! A man can feel the need to grow up and have a family, especially when he finds a woman who inspires those feelings in him. The problem is, how can you be sure the match is a good one?
You’d think the positive signs in a date would be obvious, but with all the excitement, the most important clues can be overlooked. What makes for a great date may not be all you need for a great relationship. This checklist of positive signs will help you evaluate your date in a realistic manner. If you get a lot of these positives, this date might be a good choice for marriage.
1. He has a sense of humor.
Of all the characteristics that are essential for getting through life successfully, a sense of humor has to be in the top ten. But what kind of a sense of humor? Joking at someone else’s expense or at inappropriate times can be counter-productive. Using jokes to avoid taking responsibility for one’s behavior can prevent you from solving problems. The sense of humor you’re looking for is the generous, positive kind that makes life more fun and the tough times easier. If your date can make your laugh and lift your spirits, that talent may help you through some future difficulties.
2. He cares about what you think.
A date who asks for and listens to your opinions and feelings, and better yet, who remembers what you say and builds on it later, and who responds with empathy, sincerity and caring, is someone you can communicate with and therefore, more likely to be able to form a partnership with you. If you pay attention, you can quickly notice the difference between the appearance of caring and real caring. If your relationship is successful, you’ll have years of talking to each other, so find someone who is interesting to talk to and also interested in talking with you. Your date should be able to carry on an interesting discussion on a variety of topics and at least show interest, even if the topic is not something he or she is familiar with.
3. He has an opinion, too.
A truly good conversationalist not only listens to your words and responds, but also has ideas and opinions. Your date should not hesitate to disagree with you or to bring up new topics.
4. He can work things out with you.
Recent research shows that the single most important quality that determines whether a relationship can succeed is how well the couple solves problems. If you have a disagreement while dating, welcome it as an opportunity to see how well the two of work it out together. If you can discuss your differences without becoming defensive or sarcastic, and you can listen to each other and work together toward a solution, your relationship has an excellent chance.
5. He accepts who you are.
A popular book asserts that “Men Are From Mars, And Women Are From Venus,” but I think it’s more that we’re all from different planets. You and your date are unique, special and individual and need to be able to understand each other and accept that you’ll perceive things very differently. Even when you and your date see things differently, you should be able to agree to disagree. Remember, the security and comfort in your relationship will come from where you and your partner are similar, and the excitement and growth in the relationship are generated from your differences. Different interests, opinions, attitudes and ideas will keep things fresh and alive between you. If your date does not become defensive or threatened by your differences, you can be interesting to each other for a long time.
6. He is open.
The whole point of dating, as we said before, is to get to know each other. While you both may want to take a little time before disclosing too much, your date should be comfortable talking about him or herself, and it should not be like pulling teeth to find out what you need to know.
7. He has a life with a job, friends, family relationships and interests.
A date who has a full, interesting life you would want to be a part of is more likely to be a healthy, balanced person. While it’s important to have some relaxation time and time to meditate or think, a life that includes a good career, hobbies or sports, community service and friends and/or family is reassurance that your date is motivated, focused and able to relate.
8. He seeks out knowledge.
Your date doesn’t need to be a member of Mensa or a mathematical genius, but look for enough intelligence that you can respect and admire each other. There are several kinds of intelligence, from school learning to independent education by reading, working, traveling and life experiences. An airhead who looks good and may be fun to play with will not keep you interested for long. A date who is not interested in learning and growing intellectually may not be able to keep up over the long haul.
9. His modesty, humility and ego are balanced.
As you learn about this new person you’re dating, observe his or her character and personality for signs of a balanced sense of self. If your date can keep success and failure in perspective, admit personal shortcomings, and rise above disappointments and losses, he or she does have a balanced personality and the kind of resilience that can travel through life’s highs and lows and keep it all in perspective.
10. He is emotionally mature.
While it’s fun and charming to be able to be childlike when in a playful mood, it’s essential to be an adult whenever necessary. A date who is responsible, self-regulating, emotionally responsive, motivated, and in control of his or her impulses is capable of being a supportive, fully participating partner — no matter what joys and sorrows, successes and failures you may face in the course of a lifetime.
11. He has a healthy history of relationships.
Of course, if both of you are dating again, your relationship history will probably not be perfect. What counts is whether your date has learned from the problems, confronted his or her own weaknesses and shortcomings and grown as a result of the setbacks. If your date is willing to talk openly about his or her past relationships and can explain what went wrong and how he or she is learning to correct the problems, the difficulties in past relationships can be an asset rather than a liability. If your date expresses a willingness to seek counseling in the event that problems should occur, score that in his or her favor.
Remember, a smart date will be watching for the same characteristics in you. To do well in a relationship, learn to be the partner you would like to be.
Posted on Wednesday, August 27th 2014
5 Reasons You STILL Have Acne
Here’s what may be causing those breakouts, and what late bloomers can do to (finally) move past them.
You’re One of the Unlucky 50 Percent
What’s happening: Half of all women will suffer from acne at some point in their post-teen years, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. Acne is most often triggered by hormonal fluctuations during puberty (as you remember) as well as during pregnancy, perimenopause, menopause and even when you change birth control methods.
What it looks like: Cyst-looking bumps that hurt like the dickens and last forever. While younger acne takes over the T-zone, adult pimples usually appear on the chin and neck and along the jawline, says Jennifer Chwalek, MD, a dermatologist who practices with Union Square Laser Dermatology in New York. They’ll be at their worst just before you get your period.
What to try: As a quick fix, your dermatologist may inject the site with inflammation-calming cortisone. To prevent these types of breakouts in the future, she may talk to you about spironolactone, an oral medication that blocks the androgen hormones often responsible for adult acne.
You’re Searching for the Elixir of Youth
What’s happening: There are countless products to prevent and treat the signs of aging, but sampling several of them at once may inadvertently lead to pimples. In addition, many antiaging products have heavy-duty moisturizers to help with age-related dryness, and those can clog pores if you have acne-prone skin, Chwalek says.
What it looks like: You’re not just spotty but also uncharacteristically shiny.
What to try: If you have acne-prone skin, look for products that are “oil-free” or “non-comedogenic” and try one at a time, says Chwalek. She also recommends keeping an eye out for these ingredients, which are more likely to aggravate acne: lanolin, squalene, alcohols (isopropyl myristate), oils (mineral oil, coconut butter, oil) and sodium lauryl sulfate.
You Don’t Have Adult Acne. (You Have This.)
What’s happening: The good news: You don’t have acne! The bad news: You may have perioral dermatitis, a skin condition that’s common among middle-age women and is often mistaken for acne, says Chwalek. Experts don’t really know what causes it, she adds, but it’s a variant of rosacea and has been linked to the prolonged use of topical steroid creams and inhaled prescription steroid sprays, overuse of some heavy face creams, skin irritants and (weirdly) fluorinated toothpaste.
What it looks like: A red, bumpy rash around the mouth and lower face. It can also be scaly or irritated-looking.
What to try: Dermatologists usually treat this condition with a course of antibiotics or anti-inflammatories, says Chwalek.
You’re Overwhelmed by Adult Responsibilities
What’s happening: Stress and exhaustion cause your cortisol levels to spike, and this can result in an increase in testosterone as well as pimply skin, says Chwalek, who is also a clinical instructor of dermatology at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York. She adds that the edible “stress relievers” you’re getting from the vending machine (i.e., cans of soda, bags of M&Ms) aren’t helping, as foods like these, with a high glycemic index, can aggravate acne.
What it looks like: These are usually the same pimples you remember from your youth: red, white and annoying all over (they often appear in clusters).
What to try: Topical ointments with benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid, the gold standards for treating teen acne, can be too harsh for adult skin. They often cause dryness, which can be a problem for women who are dealing with an age-related lack of moisture. Look for acne products with a lower concentration of pimple-busting active ingredients. (And try to get to bed earlier.)
You Recently Renovated Your Powder Room
What’s happening: You finally have your own private sink and vanity…which means you’re paying more attention to your skin than ever before. Chwalek says that adult patients tend to spend more time in front of the magnifying mirror and are more likely to deal with breakouts by picking obsessively or slathering on multiple treatments.
What it looks like: Inflamed, red, scabby, positively volcanic. And because cell turnover slows with age, Chwalek says that picked pimples will take even longer to heal and are more likely to leave scars in woman of a certain age.
What to try: Those who can’t keep their hands from their face might want to read this cautionary tale.
Posted on Tuesday, August 26th 2014
7 Facts About Your Eyes
1. The eye works like a camera. Light enters the eye through a clear outer dome known as the cornea. The iris, the coloured portion that surrounds the pupil, expands and contracts to let light in. Just behind the pupil is the lens, which focuses light rays on the retina. Like film inside a camera, the retina captures images, sending them via the optic nerve to the brain.
2. Everyone will experience some level of vision loss. Presbyopia, or reading vision loss, occurs in one’s 40s or 50s, says Dr. Jeffrey J. Machat, MD, a Toronto-based ophthalmologist. If close-up objects begin to appear blurry and you have to hold them farther away to focus, consult a specialist about reading glasses.
3. Looking at a screen for extended periods doesn’t damage your eyes. You’re more likely to experience dry eyes if you spend a lot of time on your computer, but this is a matter of fatigue, not permanent damage, says Dr. Machat. “You’re not blinking as often, so your eyes get more tired more quickly and things get blurry.”
4. The average person blinks 10,800 times per day.
5. Red-eye in photos is caused by the flash illuminating the blood vessels of your retina.
6. Every 12 minutes, a Canadian begins to experience vision loss.
7. Eyesight dos and don’ts:
Do: Wear sunglasses year-round. Exposure to ultraviolet rays can lead to cataracts (a progressive condition that results in hazy, discoloured vision) and age-related macular degeneration, a disease which leads to a breakdown of tissue in the centre of the retina. Look for glasses that offer 100-percent UVA and UVB protection, and opt for polarized lenses to reduce glare from snow and water.
Don’t: Use anti-redness drops. The more often you use them, the less effective they become, due to a process called rebound vasodilation. Stick with artificial tears instead of medicated drops.
Posted on Saturday, August 23rd 2014
Running Just 5 Minutes A Day Could Add Years To Your Life
If you don’t think you have time to go for a run, think again.
Running just five minutes a day could add years to your life and provide the same health benefits as running much more, according to a recent study in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. Even if you aren’t a fan of running, that’s not a lot to ask.
Almost everyone has five minutes to spare. This finding suggests that it takes longer to put on workout clothes and shoes and to clean up and change again afterward than it does to do something that could make you significantly healthier.
“Since time is one of the strongest barriers to participate in physical activity, the study may motivate more people to start running and continue to run as an attainable health goal,” said DC Lee, lead author of the study and an assistant professor in the Iowa State University Kinesiology Department, in the news release.
Researchers followed a group of 55,137 adults for 15 years. Their ages ranged from 18 to 100, with an average age of 44. During that time period, 3,413 people died, 1,217 for reasons related to cardiovascular issues.
Runners were 30% less likely to die than non-runners, even if they didn’t run a lot, and 45% less likely to die from heart disease or stroke.
And while the study was not designed to determine whether running was the root cause of those outcomes, any running at all was associated with an extra three years of life expectancy.
About a quarter of the total group identified as “runners,” though that group was then subdivided into groups who ran anywhere from more than 20 miles a week and more than 25 minutes a day to those who ran fewer than six miles a week and only five to 10 minutes a day.
The really crazy part is that the running-related health benefits for all those groups were similar, even after controlling for other exercise habits, age, sex, weight, smoking, drinking, and family history of heart disease. Running a lot more wasn’t necessarily better than running just a little, at least not in terms of risk of cardiovascular problems.
So is there something particularly special about running that makes it stand out more than other exercise?
Not really, according to Timothy Church, a professor at the Pennington Institute and co-author of the study. It’s more about intense exercise, he told The New York Times.
Running is an easy way to get intense exercise, even if you aren’t a particularly fast runner. It takes a lot more out of you than things that qualify as moderate exercise, like walking.
“Running just happens to be the most convenient way for most people to exercise intensely,” Church told The Times.
But if you really hate the idea of running, even if you know you don’t have to do much of it, he suggests picking something else that qualifies as vigorous activity and doing that at least five minutes a day — jumping rope or intense biking, for example.
The benefits are remarkable.
Posted on Thursday, August 21st 2014
7 Steps to find True Happiness
You receive a promotion and are extremely proud. As the day goes by, you share your great news with your loved ones and find yourself feeling increasingly happy. Fast forward a week later, and although you are still feeling proud, the happiness you initially felt is dwindling, and your success has become just another check on your list. You are not sure why, but know this is a cycle you find yourself in often — a cycle where your happiness seems to be temporary and your success is short lived.
This form of happiness is not true happiness, which is why it did not last. True happiness exists within and does not waver regardless of the circumstances you find yourself in. It does not come from a promotion or a vacation, it comes from moving forward as life does. Everyone is born with happiness, but as you experience life, it becomes tainted by situations or people. Getting to a point where you are again tapping into your true happiness can be very challenging, particularly for people who are sensitive, intuitive, or empathic, but here you will find seven steps to help make the process easier for yourself.
Step 1: Let the past go
Holding on to the past keeps you in place of unforgivingness, resentment, pain, longing, and regret as opposed to the opposite. It also keeps you stuck, which often creates an unfulfilling present. Start forgiving today and unravel all those years of pain. Let go of resentment and forgive those who have hurt you or who you have hurt, overcome mistakes made, and forget regrets. Allow yourself to move forward and let go at the end of each day.
Step 2: Accept yourself and others
Comparing yourself to others will keep you in a place of not being good enough or them not being good enough; either way coming to a point of “not enough.” If there is a feeling or thought of not enough, no matter what you or others accomplish and receive in life, it will not be enough. Accepting that everyone is unique and has their own life to live will make it easier to accept them and yourself.
Step 3: Connect to your source
Connecting to your source means connecting to who you are, what your beliefs are, and what spirituality means to you. It means having a clear understanding of these and matching your actions as you give yourself permission to live as who you are.
Step 4: Trust in yourself
Trusting in yourself means trusting your inner truth, even when it does not match that of others, and living and speaking it. It means being confident with choices and decisions you make and trusting the path you are on. It means trusting that you want the best for yourself and will not allow anyone or anything to hurt you. This also helps you see the best in everything and everyone, making you feel safe.
Step 5: Take responsibility
Taking responsibility is more challenging than it sounds, but understanding that everything happens for a reason and that you do have choice when something does not play out the way you thought it would will help with the process. You have a choice on how you are going to let it affect your life. Even if life brings you what you did not have in mind, embrace it. Take responsibility of yourself and choose to see the blessing in everything.
Step 6: Adapt an attitude of gratitude
Your attitude paves the way of your path, and any sort of negativity will create an ungrateful experience. Adapting an attitude of gratitude and appreciating everything, specially the small stuff, will make life more enjoyable for you. It will also help you become more optimistic and positive. Practice waking up and being grateful for simply being alive that day and see the ripple effect it creates.
Step 7: Create change
Instead of waiting for something to happen, go out and make things happen. Listen to yourself and make changes wherever you feel compelled. If you want to improve the relationship between you and your mother, then go and create the change you want to take place in your life. If you are wanting more of an emotional connection, lead the way and set the tone. Create change where you want it, and happiness will naturally seep out of you with each step you take in the direction of your goal.
Posted on Tuesday, August 19th 2014