Physical Activity for Women during Pregnancy

Physical activity during pregnancy benefits a woman’s overall health. For example, moderate-intensity physical activity by healthy women during pregnancy maintains or increases cardiorespiratory fitness.

Strong scientific evidence shows that the risks of moderate-intensity activity done by healthy women during pregnancy are very low, and do not increase risk of low birth weight, preterm delivery, or early pregnancy loss. Some evidence suggests that physical activity reduces the risk of pregnancy complications, such as preeclampsia and gestational diabetes, and reduces the length of labor, but this evidence is not conclusive.

During a normal postpartum period, regular physical activity continues to benefit a woman’s overall health. (more…)

7 Ways to Ease Into Yoga

Have you resolved to exercise and get healthier in the new year? Health and medical experts say you might want to try yoga.

In fact, a 2008 Harris poll of a cross section of 5,000 Americans found that 6.1 percent — which would translate to nearly 14 million adults — say their doctor or therapist recommended yoga to them.

Yoga is an ancient healing practice that has become increasingly popular in our modern, stressful world as a powerful way to stretch and strengthen the body, relax and calm the mind, enhance energy and lift the spirit. Doctors often recommend yoga to people over 50 because it can help lower blood pressure, ease pain and improve balance. But people stick with the ancient practice because they find it improves their mood, reduces stress and, simply put, makes them happier.

Unfortunately, many yoga instructors are not trained to adapt the practice to older bodies. And America’s booming interest in yoga has lead to an increase in classes that are called yoga, but are actually “yoga-flavored” exercise classes taught by instructors whose yoga training may be limited to a weekend workshop.

Unless a yoga teacher creates a safe class designed for older adults, this practice meant to heal may cause harm. To safely reap the many benefits of yoga, it’s important to understand these seven essential yoga facts: (more…)

HIV and Exercise

People with HIV can slow down their HIV infections and improve their health by doing four things: eating a healthy diet, managing stress levels effectively, getting sufficient sleep and getting some regular exercise.

A study by the Department of Health and Environmental Control in South Carolina showed that HIV patients who exercised three to four times per week were less likely to develop Aids than those who did no exercise at all. It not only slowed HIV progression, but increased blood counts as well. (more…)

Get moving: Cancer survivors urged to exercise

Cancer survivors, better work up a sweat.

New guidelines are urging survivors to exercise more, even — hard as it may sound — those who haven’t yet finished their treatment.

There’s growing evidence that physical activity improves quality of life and eases some cancer-related fatigue. More, it can help fend off a serious decline in physical function that can last long after therapy is finished.

Consider: In one year, women who needed chemotherapy for their breast cancer can see a swapping of muscle for fat that’s equivalent to 10 years of normal aging, says Dr. Wendy Demark-Wahnefried of the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

In other words, a 45-year-old may find herself with the fatter, weaker body type of a 55-year-old. (more…)

Bad Karma: How Yoga Can Lead to Serious Injury

Bad Karma: How Yoga Can Lead to Serious Injury

Sloppy teaching and overly competitive students are giving yoga lovers serious and scary injuries.

I remember only one pose from my first yoga class seven years ago: a modified seated forward bend known in Sanskrit as Paschimottanasana. I sat on a mat with my legs slightly bent in front of me, my arms wrapped beneath my thighs as my forehead reached toward my toes. It was about an hour into class, and my body felt like a stuck door slowly easing open.

A warm current of something—call it blood, call it chi—coursed from shoulder to shoulder. I felt the muscles unfurling from my spine; then, in the other direction, the vertebrae unsticking from each other—click, click, click. It was a sensation of freedom and release I remember as vividly as the first time my husband touched me. This was how I was supposed to feel.
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