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6 Creative Ways to Get Fit

Getting fit is a commitment, but sometimes you just don’t have enough time to get to the gym. Fortunately, participating at the gym isn’t the only way to get fit! If you are pressed for time, or bored with your current routine, it’s time to shake it up! Exciting new ways to exercise are all around you. Here are some fun and creative ways to keep you in shape.

Ditch the Elevator

CREATIVE WAYS TO GET FIT

As convenient as the elevator is, taking the stairs is a great way to add exercise to your day. Walking up a flight of stairs burns calories and improves cardiovascular fitness. Stair climbing is considered a vigorous form of exercise because it engages your abs, legs and arms. Effort is required as you are pulling your body against gravity. If you have a staircase at home, make a cardio workout by repeatedly climbing in 10-minute increments. While you are out in public, opt for taking the stairs to sneak in a quick bout of exercise.

Walk the Dog

Every dog should be walked once a day, and you can benefit from this too! Walking with your dog is a great low-intensity cardio exercise that requires no equipment. A daily routine of 30 minutes can decrease your risk for high blood pressure, high blood sugar and eliminate excess fat around your waist. As for your dog, walking is a great way to burn off energy, which maintains good behavior. Creating a habit of walking at the same time each day will quickly become an activity you both will enjoy. As you build your stamina through walking, you can try running with your furry friend!

Play with Your Children

The high energy that children have seems to never cease! There’s no better way to get your heart-pumping than to join them for some fun. A playground is a great place to workout! Pushing your kids on the swing is an awesome arm-strengthening exercise. You can also do a few reps of pull-ups on the monkey bars. If you want to work on your core, hang upside down from the monkey bars, and curl your body up toward your legs.

Don’t have a playground nearby? No worries! Hide-and-seek and hopscotch are fun ways to get fit as well! Along with the opportunity to exercise, playing with your kids will create lasting memories!

Dive In

Maybe you’ve tried swimming before but found doing laps to be too monotonous. Well, don’t give up your time in the pool just yet. There are tons of fun ways to get fit in the water. From water basketball to pool yoga, exercising in the pool can be preferable to land workouts because it’s easier on the joints. So, see what options your local indoor pool offers and dive in when you have a chance.

Try Indoor Bouldering

Bouldering is similar to rock climbing, but it doesn’t require that you climb quite so high. Instead, “boulderers” work their brains and their bodies, as they solve problems to progress along their climbing route. If you’re up for trying something new and challenging, bouldering is a great choice.

Ride a Bike

Ride a Bike

Driving is convenient as it saves time, but there are no health benefits because you are idle. The next time you are on the way out, opt for your bike rather than the car keys (Don’t forget your helmet!). With biking, you will be able to take in scenery while giving your lower body a full workout. Your legs will become stronger, and your body fat levels will go down. Biking also improves your posture and coordination. As you ride your bike the risks of cancer, diabetes and other diseases decrease. As a beginner, start out with short routes, and as your endurance increases go for longer rides. Soon you will be a pro and biking will become your preferred method of transportation!

Getting fit goes beyond the walls of the gym and the latest fitness craze. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need much to lead an active lifestyle. Playing with your children, walking your dog, and biking are all effective methods of exercise that easily blend into your day. Incorporating creative ways to exercise presents an exciting feeling as you challenge yourself to come up with even more clever ways to stay fit. 

Article Written by Paige Johnson

Paige is a fitness nerd and shares her insights on LearnFit.Org

Herbal Remedies for Abdominal Pain

Herbal Remedies for Abdominal Pain

Abdominal pain, bloating gas and heartburn are conditions that affect many of us.  In fact, according to a Merck corporation survey, 7% of us suffer from abdominal pain on a daily basis!  Abdominal pain is caused by many complicated issues that require careful diagnosis and treatment for lasting relief. 

Many of us aren't satisfied with the therapeutic options provided by western medicine.  More and more unwanted side effects are being discovered by patients taking these medications long term.  For example, proton pump inhibitors like Priolsec and Prevacid have been linked to pernicious anemia, kidney disease and kidney failure. 

Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine offer non-pharmaceutical options for people with chronic digestive disorders. At Inner Gate Acupuncture the clinicians take a careful health history, including a detailed description of your symptoms and their progression over time.  They combine this with an analysis of current diet to determine the best herbal remedies and diet changes for specific abdominal complaints.  

Below are effective herbal formulas used for abdominal pain.  Although the names may seem strange they simply reflect the Chinese names for the herbs in the formula.  These are five of the many commonly used formulas of Chinese herbal medicine for abdominal pain. 

Liu jun zi tang:  This formula is warming and aids with distention and pain in the abdomen.
Shu gan wan: This formula is moving and aids with bloating and pain. 
Shen ling bai zhu wan:  When there is heaviness and a sluggish digestion with loose stools this formula is helpful. 
Gui pi wan:  This formula nourishes and helps when patients are fatigued and feel weakness. 
Xiao yao wan: Stress can play a major role in digestion causing abdominal pain. This formula helps when stress is causative. 
Bao he wan:  This simple formula is designed to be taken when over eating leads to stomach pain.  Everyone should have this on hand for after Thanksgiving!

Remember these are medicines and although they are not prescriptions they should only be taken after being prescribed by a Chinese medicine practitioner.  We supply only high quality herbs and have the training to choose the correct formula for you.  

 

Movember

The stated goal of The Movember Foundation is “To change the face of men’s health.” In order to achieve this goal the foundation hosts a variety of events and fundraisers. The most popular and well know event is the movember mustache growing. 
 
During the month of November men are encouraged to manage small fundraising campaigns while growing a mustache throughout the month.  The event has grown greatly since it began in Australia in 1999. 
 
With the addition of high profile athletes and celebrities the event has generated over 175 million dollars worldwide for men's health issues.  Even Snoop Dogg released a limited edition Movember t-shirt and donated 20% of the proceeds to the Movember foundation. 
 
Prostate health and cancer prevention have been a main focus of the Movember Foundation since it began.  Because many aging men face issues regarding prostate health it is important to encourage these men to seek help when they first begin to experience symptoms. These symptoms include burning or painful urination, difficulty starting or stopping urination, frequent urination, blood in the urine, or loss of bladder control.  

Other major issues that the foundation is focused on include mental health, testicular cancer, suicide and major depression.  

If you happen to notice a bit more facial hair around the clinic this November please know that we are trying to change the face of men's health.  
 
CLICK HERE to learn more about Movember

The Movember Foundation

The Metal Element & Autumn

The metal element and Autumn

In autumn many plants die back to the earth sending their energy into their roots.  In traditional Chinese thought, autumn is associated with the metal element, the color white and the lung organ. 

The process of turning inward and returning to our roots is important after the bursting energy of spring and the fiery energy of summer.  Autumn, represented by the metal element, offers us a chance to reflect on the things that are important to us.  Like looking into a mirror, we reflect on what is beneficial and worth our time and what should be disregarded. 

The metal element is involved in discernment and the clear understanding of true value.  For most of recent history humans have used metal coins to represent money.  Looking deeper into the meaning of value we can discern which pursuits bring us happiness and which leave us unfulfilled. 

As our energy shifts away from the outward pursuits of summer it is a time to take stock of what we have accomplished and send our extra energy back to our roots where it can nourish us through the approaching winter.  

What things are most valuable in your life?  How can you shift your priorities to spend more time honoring your deeper values? Answering these questions can help us take advantage of the unique vantage point of autumn and set us up for a rewarding 2017.  


 

Plantar Fasciitis Sucks!

Plantar fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis is a common complaint characterized by pain in the heel and the bottom surface of the foot. 
The pain is typically worse in the morning and after periods of inactivity. 

Risk factors for plantar fasciitis include:

  • Foot Over-Pronation
  • Flat feet 
  • High arches 
  • Obesity
  • Achilles Tendon Tension
  • Poor Footwear

Acupuncture is a successful component of care for plantar fasciitis:

  • Corrects muscle imbalances leading to over-pronation
  • Increases blood flow and improves recovery time
  • Relieves tension in shortened and tight muscles

Inner Gate Acupuncture uses skillful diagnosis and evaluation to improve your recovery:

  • Acupuncture therapy based on thorough examination of the muscles of the foot and calf
  • Complete home care exercises to build strength and relax tissues between treatments
  • Massage, moxibustion and stretching may all be incorporated into your treatment

 

Organic Foods VS. Conventional Foods

organic vs. non organic meats, cheeses, fruits and vegetables

For many years consumers have demanded and paid a premium for organic foods. Many believed that the food was somehow healthier than food produced with fertilizers, pesticides and chemicals.  Others paid for the premium because it meant fewer pesticides and herbicides on their food and in the environment.

The European Commission, the executive body of the European Union has performed a major review analyzing differences in organic vs. non organic meats, cheeses, fruits and vegetables.

The commission found that organic meats and cheeses had 50% higher omega-3 fatty acid content that conventional meats and cheeses!

Omega-3 fatty acids are associated with a decreased risk of heart disease and inflammation in the body.  These oils are found in predominance in cold water fish like anchovies and sardines. The health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids are firmly established.

Although there is no direct research on it yet, it stands to reason that a diet with organic meats and cheeses vs. conventional meats and cheeses would be healthier based solely on the omega-3 content of the foods. 

A review of fruits and vegetables found that organic fruits and vegetables had higher levels of antioxidants than their conventionally produced counterparts. Antioxidants are molecules which inhibit damaging free radicals in our bodies. Also noted was less pesticide residue on the organic produce.

 

Caramel Color

4-methylimidazole (carmel coloring) is a carcinogen

It turns out that that sugar may not be the only dangerous substance in sodas.

The golden-brown color of many soft drinks is made from a chemical called 4-methylimidazole, or 4-MeI. On U.S. product labels it appears simply as “caramel coloring.”

According to the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer and the state of California 4-methylimidazole is a carcinogen.

Currently in the state of California manufacturers have to to insure that consumers are not exposed to more than 29 micrograms of 4-methylimidazole per day.  Foods exceeding that limit have to carry a warning label that reads: “WARNING: This product contains a chemical known to the state of California to cause cancer.”

Consumer reports is now testing products, “We are concerned about both the levels of 4-MeI we found in many of the soft drinks tested and the variations observed among brands, especially given the widespread consumption of these types of beverages,” said Dr. Urvashi Rangan, a Consumer Reports toxicologist.

“There is no reason why consumers need to be exposed to this avoidable and unnecessary risk that can stem from coloring food and beverages brown.”

The Food and Drug Administration does not set federal limits on 4-MeI in food, and the data gathered by Consumer Reports show that in some cases consumers outside California may be drinking a slightly different product. For example,  a Pepsi One purchased by the Consumer Reports group in New York contains four times as much 4-MeI as the same product bought at the same time in California.

Consumers interested in more information on 4-Mel click here for the the FDA’s FAQ page.

Ear Acupuncture and Weight Loss

A Koren study published in the journal Acupuncture in Medicine shows that ear acupuncture can help people lose weight. 

EAR ACUPUNCTURE AND WEIGHT LOSS

In the study, researchers compared the efficacy of different acupuncture treatments in helping obese patients lose weight.  The researchers compared the standard Korean five point treatment with a single acupuncture point.  A control group was given a “sham” treatment.

The study followed 91 obese people – 16 men and 75 women – all of the participants had a body mass index equal to or greater than 23. None of the participants had received any other weight control treatments in the last 6 months.

The participants were randomly divided into three groups, one group to receive the five point acupuncture treatment, another the one point acupuncture treatment and the third group, the control “sham” treatment.

Method of Study:

The first group had imbedded needles positioned at the ear acupuncture sites; Shen-men, stomach, spleen, hunger, and endocrine. The needles were left for one week.

The following week, new needles would be inserted into the same acupuncture points on the other ear, with the process being repeated over the course of the 8 week trial.

The second group of participants followed the same treatment process but only had one needle inserted at the hunger point.

The sham group believed they were receiving the five point treatment.  The needles were inserted and then were removed immediately after insertion.  Tape was placed over the ear.

All three groups were put onto a restricted diet and asked to not increase their exercise or activity levels.

Before after and during the trial BMIs, waist circumference, body fat mass, percentage body fat and blood pressure were measured.

Results:

For the participants that completed the trial the results were significant.  The BMI of the five point treatment group showed a 6.1% reduction, the one point group a 5.7% reduction while the sham group showed no reduction at all.

The research suggests that ear acupuncture protocols for weight loss may provide a great benefit to patients seeking to lose abdominal fat.

Manage Seasonal Allergies with Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine


In light of the complications and unknown risks associated with pharmaceutical medication, illuminated in the above article, it is fortunate that acupuncture and Chinese medicine offer options for natural relief from allergies.  

At Inner Gate Acupuncture we use acupuncture and Chinese medicine to improve immune function and reduce the inflammatory responses associated with allergies.  

Acupuncture works by treating and strengthening the lung organ system. When the lung is strong the immune system's hypersensitivity is quieted. Acupuncture also works by controls inflammation and reduces the aggravation of the mucus membranes.  


Acupuncture can treat:

  • Runny nose

  • Itchy eyes

  • Sneezing

  • Asthma

  • Difficulty breathing

  • Nausea/ vomiting

  • Fatigue

  • Difficulty sleeping

Acupuncture and Chinese medicine offer a natural and side-effect free way to control, prevent and eliminate allergies.  When employed by our skilled acupuncturists these modalities eliminate the need for over the counter medications and strengthen the entire body, fostering a powerful and effective immune system.  

Anticholinergic Drugs like Benadryl may be Linked to an Increased Risk of Dementia

What is the Problem?

There is growing evidence that anticholinergic medications may be linked to the development of dementia.  In the Journal of American Medical Association a recent study was published that examined possible links between these medications and dementia.  

anticholinergic medications and dementia

Antihistamines, tricyclic antidepressants and bladder control medications are the main classes of anticholinergic medications.  The recent study, which took place at the University of Washington, examined over the counter and prescription medications.  

What are Anticholinergic Medications?

Anticholinergic medications block the function of acetylcholine in the body.  Acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter.  It functions to transmit messages throughout the nervous system.  In the body, it communicates with muscles and stimulates contractions.  In the brain, acetylcholine is associating with learning and memory.  

There is a natural decrease in the production of acetylcholine associated with aging.  Adding medications that also limit acetylcholine can have a strong negative impact on brain function and memory.  In fact, the main side effects associated with these medications include short term memory loss, difficulty with concentration and drowsiness.  

What was the Study's Conclusion?

The study which examined 3434 people over the course of 10 years concluded that there was a definite link between long term anticholinergic medication use and the development of dementia.   Taking an anticholinergic for the equivalent of three years or more was associated with a 54% higher dementia risk than taking the same dose for three months or less.

What can you do?

Geriatrician Malaz Boustani of the Indiana University School of Medicine developed the anticholinergic cognitive burden scale, which compares anticholinergic drugs according to the intensity of their effects on the mind. Click here for a link to the scale.  It is best to avoid drugs with a higher score.  

Also consider using natural therapies as a way to avoid use of these drugs.  Chinese medicine and acupuncture can be used as a drug free option for many of the conditions associated with anticholinergic medications.  

Mindfulness Therapy as Effective as Medications for Depression

In a recent study, researchers hypothesized that cognitive mindfulness training and practice would be better than antidepressant medications for people suffering from recurrent depression.

Mindfulness based cognitive therapy (MBCT)

Mindfulness based cognitive therapy (MBCT) was developed from basic mindfulness techniques.  Mindfulness techniques are designed to help people stay focused on the present moment and not dwell in the past or the future.  These skills were combined with traditional cognitive behavior therapy to form MBCT. 

The standard treatment for depression involves long term antidepressant medications.  These can be given for courses of treatment lasting years.  Many people are looking for alternatives to these medications or want to find ways to experience life without them.  Furthermore, many of these antidepressant medications have side effects that people would prefer to avoid.

The study used 424 participants.  The participants either did the MBCT or used the standard antidepressant medications.  The participants that did the MBCT had 8 group sessions of 2 hours, home practice and options for 4 follow ups over the course of the year.  The antidepressant group took appropriate medications.  The researchers then looked at outcomes based on how the participants felt after one year.  

The researchers did not find what they expected.  Rather than being better than the medications, MBCT turned out to be just the same as the medications but had far fewer side effects.  The relapse rate for the 2 groups was 47% for the MBCT and 44% for the antidepressant medications.  These are not statistically different.  The researchers also found that the MBCT could be done effectively in the group treatment setting saving heavily on the cost of the therapy.  

It is possible that with continued therapy and a strong home practices the benefits of MBCT could far outweigh the benefits of antidepressant medications.  However, in the mean time, it is good to know that there are effective drug-free therapies available for people suffering from recurrent depression.  

 

Time For Nettles!

Kopiva.JPG

Right now young shoots of stinging neetle plants are popping up all over Oregon. They can sting you so be careful handling these pokey plants.  The leaves and stems, which have small spines on them will cause mild skin irritation and itching when they touch the skin.  However, it is well worth the effort to harvest these delectable plants.  

The stinging neetle is rich in vitamins and minerals.  It also contains active compounds that reduce inflammatory cytokines in our bodies.  It is used in the treatment of arthritis, allergies and other inflammatory diseases.  

Due to their high mineral content stinging neeltes promote hair and finger nail health. Nettles are often found in shampoos and other care products.  They are also often used in formulas to nourish the blood and improve circulation.   

Stinging neetles are easy to harvest.  Check local regulations regarding harvesting plants. Be sure to bring gloves, a good bag and cutting shears!

Once the plants are collected they can be cooked into foods, made into alcohol tinctures or boiled into tea.  Once thoroughly cooked the stinging fibers of the neetle become neutralized.  

Images From Wikipedia

Stinging Nettle Recipes

  Image Credit:   Kopiva.JPG

Image Credit: Kopiva.JPG

Chickpea & Nettle Soup

This is a hearty and satisfying soup.  It is filling and warming, richly peppered with warm aromatic spices.  This soup is a lovely addition to a cool spring evening.  

Ingredients:
Two large sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
A baking potato, peeled and diced
Two white onions, peeled and sliced
Garlic to your liking
Spices such as cumin, cinnamon, coriander, cloves, or star anise
Lots of fresh nettle tops
A can of chickpeas
Vegetable stock, six cups

Making soup isn't particularly difficult. Experiment with these ingredients and have fun making this soup.  

Lightly fry the spices in the oil until they become aromatic. Don't overheat them, this will change their flavor.  Remove the spices and add the onion and fry in the oil until soft. Then throw in the potatoes.  Cook for a just a couple minutes before covering with stock. Heat to a simmer until the potatoes are cooked then blend the soup.

Wash the nettles removing any thick stems and any dirt. Wear gloves for this part of the process. Cook them in rapidly boiling salt water then drain them in a colander. Chop up the nettles and add them to the soup.  Pour in the can of drained chickpeas. Heat throughly and serve. 

Nettle Aloo

In Indian cuisine potato and spinach is a mainstay.  It is know as aloo saag, literally "potato and spinach". This recipe simply replaces the spinach with stinging nettles giving the dish a fresh and delicious flavor.  

Ingredients:
One large white onion, finely chopped
Three cloves of garlic, finely chopped
One teaspoon of mustard seeds
Two teaspoons black onion seeds
Two teaspoons fenugreek seeds
Salt and pepper
2-3 potatoes, depending on size, peeled and diced into 1 inch cubes
Nettles, lots.

Blanch the nettles in boiling water then drain in a colander. Finely chop them and set them to one side.

Boil the potatoes in salted water for about 10 minutes. Stop before they are fully cooked.

Fry the spices in oil, lower the heat then add the onion and cook until soft. Add in the garlic and then the potatoes. Cook until the potatoes are soft throughout then add the chopped nettles. Cook the greens down with a little water if necessary, season and serve with rice or another curry.

Thanks to Alex Rushmer for these lovely recipes!

Happy New Year

year of the sheep

Thursday the 19th of February marks the beginning of the year of the sheep in Chinese cosmology.  The Chinese zodiac is a cycle of 12 animal signs.  Every year is thought to take on some of the qualities of the animal that dominate that year. The Chinese character for sheep encompasses both the sheep and the goat, this year is often referred to as the year of the goat as well.  

The sheep is thought to be the most yin of all the zodiac signs.  Yin correlate to the more feminine, passive, introspective sides of our natures.  Yang is the more active and masculine side of us.  The yin nature of the sheep provides us the opportunity to be more introspective.  

If you have ever wanted to explore making art or design a more regular part of you life this next year is a great time to do so.  Supposedly the sheep is a great artist, good with color and composition.   

Sheep tend to avoid conflict and remove themselves from uncomfortable situations.  Hopefully the sheep nature will move us out of many of the conflicts which have lingered in our lives and our world over the past decade.  Take advantage of the sheep nature by resolving the old conflicts in your own live that have endured for too long.  

Sheep are wanderers.  They travel leisurely over the meadows and valleys in search of fresh grass and lovely views.  Take time over the next year to plan trips that will bring you peace and provide you with great vistas.