Take a Deep Breath

DeepBreathJacquie Eubanks RN BSN

Perhaps you have heard the expression, “Breath is life,” or you have practiced mindful yogic breathing or taken a deep breath to calm yourself.  At certain times, we are at least minimally aware of the amazing process we call breathing. Unlike the autonomic nervous system that controls and regulates the body’s internal environment without conscious intervention, breathing is the only function that can be performed consciously as well as unconsciously. By learning to regulate our breath, we can develop a very effective relaxation technique to lower blood pressure, calm the heartbeat, improve digestion and disarm a stressful moment.

Those with breathing difficulties, such as asthma, emphysema or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), that block airflow and make normal breathing a struggle, certainly know the importance of healthy lung function. The respiratory system carries out an exchange of gases, breathing in oxygen and expelling carbon dioxide. It filters, warms and humidifies the air we take in and helps maintain homeostasis, aiding the balance of the body’s internal environment. Healthy people who get winded as they run up the stairs or attempt a short jog on an incline may need to improve their aerobic conditioning as well as their health habits.

When the respiratory system is healthy it diligently works to filter out toxins, allergens and pollution with every breath, an average of 20,000 times each day! There are many reasons to work towards improving lung function and keeping the lungs in top shape. The fact that we can survive for weeks without food, and days without water, but only a few minutes without air is the most important reason of all. Because breathing happens naturally, it may surprise you to learn that over 50% of us breathe inefficiently. As opposed to breathing deeply into the lower lobes of the lungs, where the greatest amount of blood flow occurs, most of us commonly chest breathe, utilizing only the top lobes of the lungs, resulting in less blood oxygenation.

Abdominal or diaphragmatic breathing utilizes the lower lobes, which are many times more effective at providing oxygen to the body, and stimulates the lymphatic system, helping to eliminate toxins and waste. By improving the flow of blood and lymph, diaphragmatic breathing results in a well oxygenated body, helps prevent infection of the lungs and tissues, and stimulates the relaxation response, resulting in less tension and an overall feeling of wellbeing. Fortunately, you can train the body to breathe from the abdomen, as proper breathing technique is beneficial for short and long term emotional and physical health. The more you practice, the more natural it will become.

You can test yourself to see which type of breather you are by placing one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach or abdomen. Take several very slow deep breaths to see which part of the body rises. While there are several techniques for teaching abdominal breathing the simplest way to is to lie down in a comfortable relaxed position with your hands placed as above. Remain relaxed and inhale deeply and consciously through the nose and hold for a maximum count of 7 to bring air down into the lower lungs. If you can feel your diaphragm rise as opposed to your chest, you are doing it correctly. Slowly exhale through the mouth, breathing out as much air as possible. In general, exhalation should take twice as long as the inhalation. Keep in mind that respiration deepens not by inhaling but by expelling as much air as you can. With continued practice, diaphragmatic breathing becomes second nature.

You can support the health of the respiratory system by following these lifestyle tips:

  • Avoid tobacco exposure including second hand smoke.
  • Limit exposure to common allergens, including dust mites, pollen, mold and animal dander.
  • Wash hands frequently, and refrain from touching your face.
  • Follow a regular aerobic exercise routine to increase the capacity of the respiratory system.
  • Stay hydrated, as lungs dilate to make up for water loss, weakening function.
  • Spray your pillow case with essential oils of eucalyptus and peppermint to dilate the blood vessels, allow more oxygen into the lungs and break up congestion.
  • Traditionally used for coughs, colds, bronchitis and flu, oregano oil has antiviral, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Try diffusing oregano essential oil to help clear lungs and bronchial passages.
  • To support methylation processes be sure your multivitamin provides B12, B6 and folic acid.

Professional Supplement Center carries these and other high quality supplements to support healthy respiratory function:

PureGenomics...PureGenomics™ Multivitamin by Pure Encapsulations®: This once daily formula provides a comprehensive profile of highly bioavailable vitamins, fully chelated minerals and antioxidants. PureGenomics™ is formulated to address the nutrient requirements of common genetic variations in the methylation pathway. Gluten free, Non-GMO formulation.

 

Organic Eucalyptus...Oregano Eucalyptus Essential Oil by Dr. Mercola: This 100% pure aromatic oil is steamed distilled in small batches from fresh eucalyptus leaves and stems. It may be used topically when combined with a carrier oil or may be diffused to help open congested nasal passages and sinuses.

 

Peppermint Oil -...Peppermint Oil Organic by Now Foods: This highly concentrated natural oil is steam distilled from peppermint leaves. It may be mixed with a carrier oil to be used topically, or try diffusing along with rosemary and cinnamon oils to invigorate and revitalize.

 

Oregano OilOregano Oil by Amazing Herbs: Sourced from wildcrafted Turkish Origanum Vulgare, this high quality essential oil is steam distilled. Purity guaranteed.

 

Willow Forest...Willow Forest Ultrasonic Essential Oil Diffuser by Greenair: This color changing ultrasonic ionic diffuser delivers the natural benefits of essential oils in a powerful efficient way. Covers 1000 square feet and runs for up to 6 hours. Automatic shutoff. Colors may be rotated or fixed. Simply add water and 5-10 drops of essential oil, replace the lid and turn on diffuser to mist aroma into your living space.

References:
Breathing: An Introduction. https://www.drweil.com/health-wellness/body-mind-spirit/stress-anxiety/breathing-an-introduction/
Respiratory System: Facts, Function and Diseases. http://www.livescience.com/22616-respiratory-system.html
Learning Deep Breathing. https://psychcentral.com/lib/learning-deep-breathing/
Breathing with Upper Chest: Causes and Effects. http://www.normalbreathing.com/index-chest-breathing.php

 

What Constitutes Physical Fitness?

PhysicalFitnessJacquie Eubanks RN BSN

How many times have you admonished yourself for being “out of shape?” Whether or not we chose to exercise, athletes and exercise enthusiasts alike know that physical activity is crucial for the maintenance of current and long term health. Healthcare professionals, personal trainers, instructors, governmental heath agencies, the media, and others repeatedly emphasize the importance of 30 minutes of daily exercise. The terms exercise and physical activity are often used interchangeably, but there’s a difference between physical activity, exercise, and physical fitness. Physical activity can be defined as any movement that is carried out by the skeletal muscles that requires caloric energy expenditure. In other words, any activity that gets you from here to there, whether walking from the couch to the fridge or taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Exercise is planned, structured and intentional movement with the goal of challenging your competence and improving your level of fitness through sports, dance, running, yoga or any number of physically active pursuits.

One common misconception of fitness is ignoring flexibility and balance skills, both of which are key to overall fitness. We are not truly fit unless we consistently challenge ourselves to gain and maintain flexibility, endurance and strength. A great way to test your strength, flexibility, balance, and coordination is to sit down on the floor and see if you can stand up without using your arms or knees or grabbing onto to someone or something for assistance. If you can’t get up without help, you can build strength and improve coordination by balancing on one foot at a time, or practice lifting an arm or a leg while in a plank position. Just as a runner might train to complete a marathon or a ballet dancer would strive to master the ultimate challenge of thirty-two fouette turns, we can work towards walking a mile without becoming winded, or practice forward bends each day until we can easily touch our toes.

Physical fitness, which begins with regular exercise to improve aerobic fitness, muscular strength and flexibility, is measured by:

Cardiorespiratory fitness: This means that your body can supply the fuel and oxygen you need during continuous physical exertion. Aerobic exercise raises heartbeat, maximizes the amount of oxygen in the blood, and increases blood flow to the muscles, delivering oxygen and nutrients and carrying away carbon dioxide and lactic acid. Over time, regular aerobic exercise increases stamina and reduces fatigue, while improving immune function, managing weight and reducing disease risk. Cardiorespiratory endurance means the body’s energy systems, muscle fibers, and capillaries can sustain long periods of exercise, such as running a marathon, swimming a mile or cycling for 100 miles.

Muscular strength fitness: Muscle strength is the muscle’s capacity to exert force against resistance. To gain muscular strength and build muscle, focus on weight training. Aerobic exercise strengthens the heart muscle as well, helping to pump blood efficiently and slowing resting heartrate.

Muscular endurance fitness: Along with muscle strength, muscular endurance means that a muscle or group of muscles can sustain repeated contractions against resistance for an extended time period, such as when running, swimming or cycling. Separate from cardiovascular endurance, muscular endurance relates to the number of repetitions you can do without having to stop to rest, such as when doing squats, abdominal exercises or weight training.

Flexibility fitness: Commonly overlooked, a regular stretching routine should be incorporated into every fitness plan. Flexibility fitness is the ability to move the joints freely through a range of motions. Flexibility tends to decline with age, often due to a sedentary lifestyle. Regular stretching helps to prevent loss of mobility, makes it easier to perform everyday tasks, and may enhance aerobic training and muscular conditioning, as well as sports performance.

Body composition: Body composition is determined by the percentages of body fat, bone, water and muscle tissue. Lean mass includes the muscles and organs, while fat mass refers to the amount of fat tissue stored in the body. Because muscular tissue takes up less space than fat tissue, it is body composition together with weight that determine leanness.  To change your body composition, you must reduce fat mass and increase lean muscle tissue.

Physical fitness requires cardiorespiratory and muscular endurance and muscular strength, as well as flexibility, balance, agility and coordination. No matter where you are on the fitness spectrum, daily physical activity, along with intentional exercise, assists the improvement of physical fitness. While any physical activity may contribute to overall health, regular exercise is necessary to dramatically improve daily life. Sedentary people who incrementally increase daily activity can begin to enhance health and reduce disease risk. Newly active people should work towards increasing frequency, duration, intensity and variety of activity. Being physically fit puts you in state of wellbeing with lowered risk of disease, gives you the energy to fully participate in sports or other physical activities, and provides a better outlook for a longer, healthier lifespan.

Professional Supplement Center carries these and other high quality supplements to support your fitness goals, muscle mass and endurance:

Muscle Cramp/Tension...Muscle Cramp/Tension Formula by Pure Encapsulations®: This formula provides important electrolytes and soothing botanicals to help relieve occasional nighttime leg muscle cramps, minor muscle cramps associated with athletic activity and overall muscle tension. Gluten and soy free, Non-GMO vegetarian formulation.

 

Klean Endurance ...Klean Endurance by Klean Athlete®: These pure, all-natural D-ribose chewable tablets are clinically proven to help restore and replenish energy, and reduce muscle soreness and fatigue. Gluten, wheat, corn, soy, dairy, and yeast free, vegetarian formulation.

 

CLA 3000 mgCLA 3000 mg by Olympian Labs: Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) helps to maximize fitness efforts, reduce body fat, and increase lean muscle mass, supporting improved body composition.

 

L-CarnitineL-Carnitine by Pure Encapsulations: This formula provides l-carnitine-l-tartrate, a highly stabilized form of amino acid L-carnitine in support of cardiovascular health and exercise recovery. Gluten and soy free, Non-GMO vegetarian formulation.

 

Pure Power Protein...Pure Power Protein Banana by Dr. Mercola®: This exclusive all natural whey protein powder with chia seeds provides probiotics and unique superfoods for the competitive athlete or anyone seeking to optimize nutrient absorption and lean muscle gain. No preservatives, added sugars or artificial sweeteners. Also available in Chocolate, Strawberry and Vanilla flavors.

 

Classic Protein -...Classic Protein Chocolate by Sunwarrior: This raw, plant-based, whole grain brown rice protein formula is designed for fitness and health enthusiasts in support of lean muscle mass, reduced fat, and increased athletic performance. Hypoallergenic, soy and dairy free, Non-GMO vegan formulation. Also available in Natural and Vanilla flavors.

References:
7 Common Exercise Errors. https://medlineplus.gov/news/fullstory_165393.html
What is the Difference Between Physical Fitness, Exercise, and Physical Activity? http://articles.extension.org/pages/24799/what-is-the-difference-between-physical-fitness-exercise-and-physical-activity
What aerobic exercise does for your health. http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/aerobic-exercise/art-20045541?pg=2
What is Muscular Endurance? https://www.verywell.com/what-is-muscular-endurance-3120360
The importance and purpose of flexibility. http://www.humankinetics.com/excerpts/excerpts/the-importance-and-purpose-of-flexibility

 

Featured Brand – All Terrain

AllTerrainSusan Brown Health and Wellness EditorProfessional Supplement Center now carries All Terrain, a line of safe and effective products designed for people and families who live an active, healthy, outdoorsy lifestyle. Whether trekking in the backcountry or spending time in the backyard, All Terrain’s sunscreens, insect repellents and itch relief solutions provide outdoor enthusiasts with environmentally friendly, natural-based options for protection from the elements. Manufactured in Sunapee, New Hampshire, All Terrain’s cruelty-free, high performance products have won numerous awards for safety and efficacy, and are laboratory or field tested to meet high performance standards. Concerned by childhood obesity and shrinking daily recess time, All Terrain actively supports local and national organizations that encourage outdoor activities in support of improving children’s health.

To see more products from All Terrain, please visit professionalsupplmentcenter.com

TerraSport Sunscreen...TerraSport™ Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30: Formulated for active lifestyles, this non-greasy, extremely effective broad-spectrum UVA/UVB sunscreen naturally protects with chemical-free ingredients. Top rated by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), this no-slip, dry-grip lotion is water and sweat resistant, won’t sting eyes and is oxybenzone and paraben free. Suitable for adults and children 6 months and older. TerraSport™ Sunscreen Spray and SPF 45 also available.

Ditch The Itch SprayDitch The Itch Spray™: This convenient, easy to use, fast acting natural skin protectant spray helps to relieve minor skin irritations and itching due to rashes, eczema, insect bites, and poison ivy, oak and sumac. Non-irritating, hypoallergenic, paraben-free formulation. Ditch The Itch Cream™ also available.

KidSport Broad...KidSport™ Broad Spectrum Lotion SPF 45: This broad-spectrum chemical-free sunscreen is water resistant for 80 minutes. Non-nano zinc oxide and titanium dioxide protect against UVA and UVB rays in a non-whitening, non-stinging, oxybenzone and paraben free formula. Ideal for children with sensitive skin. KidSport™ Broad Spectrum Spray and SPF 30 Lotion also available.

Herbal Armor Insect...Herbal Armor™ Insect Repellent Continuous Spray: This DEET-free, extremely effective, non-irritating insect repellent is formulated oils of citronella, cedar, spearmint, lemongrass and other botanical oils. Easily sprays at any angle for full body coverage to help to repel biting insects and ticks. Sweat and water resistant, non-damaging to clothing or equipment. Children’s formula also available.

AquaSport Broad...AquaSport™ Broad Spectrum Lotion SPF 30: This non-greasy, no-slip, dry-grip broad-spectrum lotion offers safe, highly effective sun protection for athletes, active people and kids. Non-whitening, water and sweat resistant, fragrance-free, 80-minute formulation. Suitable for adults and children over 6 months of age.

Pet Itch SprayItch Spray for Pets: This paraben-free, fast acting spray naturally protects and helps relieve pets’ minor skin irritations and itching. Ingredients include colloidal oatmeal, shea butter, aloe vera and eucalyptus, tea tree and neem oils.