When to Ask About Cancer and Metastatic Bone Disease

Many cancers that start in one place can spread (metastasize) to other areas of the body. When it spreads to the bone, it’s called metastatic bone disease, or MBD. If you have cancer, you don’t need to wait for symptoms to appear to ask your healthcare provider.

Learn more here.

This resource was created with the support of Amgen.

Doing These Breathing Techniques Will Help You Get Killer Abs

Erika​ ​Bloom​,​ pioneer Pilates instructor and a former professional dancer has a trick for strengthening your abdominal muscles, and it doesn’t involve working out. The luxury wellness expert has provided holistic, supportive, body-changing Pilates in many places, and she has a few tricks up her sleeve for getting killer abs. Breathing, and that’s it! We’ve interviewed the master Pilates instructor (who has helped me with my own training), on how performing breathing exercises can help you regain strength in your abdominals. Doing these can help with diastasis recti, pelvic floor dysfunction, and back pain. Keep reading for more with Erika Bloom!
erika bloom breathing techniques
Image: Courtesy of Erika Bloom Pilates

Erika Bloom On Why Breathing Exercises Work To Strengthen The Core

1) Why do breathing techniques work to strengthen the core?

One of the main functions of the deep core muscles is breathing. They work as we inhale and exhale. It is effective and promotes functionality to repattern them to do the action they are structured to achieve. It is important to first strengthen and restore functionality and patterning to the deep core postpartum before adding in any superficial core work.

Postpartum, the muscles of the deep core need reawakened and repatterned. The core muscles also act as muscles of respiration or breathing. Therefore it is most effective to begin to retrain them by performing conscious breathing exercises. The transversus abdominis muscle, or TVA, also wraps around the torso and engages on an exhale to support the organs and stabilize the spine. Just activating these muscles with the breath is truly effective for creating tone, building strength, and repatterning core engagement post-baby. This work can address diastasis recti, pelvic floor dysfunction, and back and pelvis pain.

2) What is the importance of a strong core?

Our store core promotes beautiful posture and healthy movement in the whole body. Additionally, a functional core supports digestion, organ function, energy, and sleep. Restoring the deep core postpartum is also essential to preventing prolapse because of the involvement of the pelvic floor in core engagement.

3) How often do you recommend doing these exercises?

Doing 100 breaths in the morning and 100 at night is effective because it sets up the patterning to breathe well all day and even as you sleep.

Erika Bloom Pilates
Image: Courtesy of Erika Bloom Pilates

Breathing Exercise For Core Strength

1) On an inhale, focus on engaging the diaphragm and releasing the pelvic floor.
2) On an exhale, focus on engaging the pelvic floor and wrapping and tightening the deep transversus abdominis muscle.
erika bloom breathing techniques
Image: Courtesy of Erika Bloom Pilates

The post Doing These Breathing Techniques Will Help You Get Killer Abs appeared first on Sporteluxe.

40-Minute Step HIIT Workout

High-top sneaks and slouchy socks? We’ll go ahead and leave those in the past. But 20 years after taking the group fitness world by storm, the step is still making us sweat.

The year was 1989. Young MC demanded that we all Bust a Move. Thong leotards (worn over shiny spandex shorts) were totally acceptable gym attire. And Reebok launched “Step Reebok,” a lightweight, height-adjustable bench, which literally elevated the world of aerobics. Suddenly, “step-hops” and “straddle-downs” became common lingo in group fitness classes, and colorful, plastic stacks of platforms and risers lined the walls of health clubs everywhere.

Step workouts dominated for a solid decade, with many enthusiasts using a home model in conjunction with a collection of fuzzy VHS tapes. But the fitness world is fickle, and peppy, bubble-gum choreography slowly gave way to grittier, sweatier trends like Spinning, boot camp and cardio kickboxing. And though (most) women retired their scrunchie socks and Reeboks with the straps (with the straps!), gyms that invested some green in those teetering towers of plastic held on to them, hoping the trend would come full circle and become popular again.

And they were right. The step persists, and aside from a few deluxe models that include storage compartments and fancier risers that allow for incline and decline, their basic construction remains the same. The traditional step workout, however, needed an overhaul to be on par with current trends. In that light, we’ve chucked the bubbly hops, high-impact kicks and complex dance combinations of the early ’90s and replaced them with heart-pumping HIIT and intense resistance training moves designed to build real muscle.

Get ready to bring your workout to a whole new level with this spicy high-intensity interval training and full-body strength routine.

If you don’t have a stepper at home, modify by using stairs or a thick hardcover book.

40-Minute Step HIIT Workout

Looking to blast through your cardio and strength training in less than an hour? Our revamped step workout will rev your engine and tax every muscle from the neck down in just 40 minutes.

Warm-Up: 4 minutes

Set the step low, and do one minute of each move below for two rounds.

Elevated Toe Tap

Elevated Toe Tap

Face the step with your arms at your sides. Bend your left knee and tap the ball of your foot to the edge of the platform. Jump and switch feet so the left foot is on the ground and the ball of your right foot is touching the edge of the platform. Repeat in rapid succession, pumping your arms as you alternately tap the edge of the step with your feet.

Squat Touchdown

Squat Touchdown

Face the step with your feet together. Jump your feet out to shoulder-width and squat down, kicking your hips back and touching your fingertips to the step, chest up. Jump your feet together again and hop in place twice before jumping back out into a squat.

HIIT Circuit: 12-Minute EMOM (every minute on the minute)

Set the step low to medium height and get out your timer. Start the timer, then get in as many reps as you can for the first move in about 50 seconds. Then transition quickly to the next move, which begins at the top of the next minute. Cycle through the sequence of these next four moves a total of three times.

View the 2 images of this gallery on the original article

Burpee Jump-Over

Stand sideways to the step with your feet hip-width apart. Crouch and place your hands on the floor, jumping your feet back into plank. Do a push-up, hop your feet back underneath you and then leap laterally over the step. Land softly on the other side and repeat. Continue, alternating sides.

Knee Drive to Reverse Lunge

Knee Drive to Reverse Lunge

Face the step and place your left foot in the center of the platform. Extend your leg to stand up on top and drive your right knee through to hip height. Step back down with your right foot, then step your left foot back and lunge down until your right thigh is parallel with the floor. Complete all reps on one side, then switch.

View the 2 images of this gallery on the original article

Traveling Push-Up

Start in a push-up position alongside the step with one hand on top of the platform and one hand on the floor. Bend your elbows and lower your chest toward the floor, then extend back to the start and walk your arms and legs laterally, moving up and over the step to the other side. Leave one hand on top and place one hand on the floor and do another push-up. Continue, alternating sides.

Elevated Mountain Climber

Elevated Mountain Climber

Get into plank with your feet on the step and your hands underneath your shoulders, spine and head neutral. Slowly draw one knee into your chest without curling your spine or lifting your hips and pause. Return to the start and continue, alternating legs.

Strength Circuit: 24 Minutes

Adding weight to your resistance moves amps the intensity, and increasing the step height adds an element of instability — both of which demand more of your muscles. For each of these four moves, do 12 reps per side before transitioning to the next exercise. (For the elevated pike push-up, do a total of 12 reps.) Set the step on its highest level for the standing moves, and cycle through the circuit three times, allowing for 60 seconds of rest between moves.

Bulgarian Split Squat With Biceps Curl

Bulgarian Split Squat With Biceps Curl

Hold a set of dumbbells with your palms facing forward, and stand with your back to the step. Extend one leg behind you and place your toes on top, shoulders back, hips square. Bend both knees and lower straight down, simultaneously curling the dumbbells up toward your shoulders. When your front thigh is parallel to the floor, stand back up and uncurl the dumbbells. Do all reps on one side, then switch.

Pistol Squat

Pistol Squat

Stand close to the step with your back to it and lift your right foot off the floor in front of you, core braced. Keep your right leg straight and extended in front of you as you bend your left knee and push your hips back, lowering slowly until your glutes touch lightly down on the step. Then drive through your heel to return to standing. Do all reps on one side, then switch.

Dumbbell Renegade Row

Dumbbell Renegade Row

Set the step low to medium height and place a dumbbell to the side of the step, then get into plank with one hand on the step and the other on the dumbbell handle. Position your feet wider than normal for balance while keeping your head, hips and heels aligned. Brace your core as you row the weight up toward your flank, keeping your hips square. Lower to the start under control. Do all reps on one side, then switch.

Elevated Pike Push-Up

Elevated Pike Push-Up

From an all-fours position on the floor, extend your legs one by one behind you and up onto a high step. Walk your hands back and lift your hips until you are in a pike position with your hips over your shoulders and head. Bend your elbows and slowly lower down until your head touches the floor, then press back up to the start.

8-Step Stress Prevention Plan

Protect your mind and body from wear and tear and reduce your stress with these strategies.

Life can be intense, and the past six or so months have been exceptionally disquieting on many levels. Whether it’s been the pandemic itself or the taxing fallout of illness, quarantine, financial uncertainty or isolation, it’s fair to say that people are hella exhausted. But take heart: You can learn to manage your stress levels with a few practical behavioral shifts and some sagacious coping strategies.

Learn how to manage your stress levels with just a few practical behavioral shifts.

8-Step Stress Prevention Plan

Human beings are innately wired to deal with on-the-spot stress, such as the heart-pounding fight-or-flight instinct you feel when faced with danger. But our biology is not equipped to handle repeated exposure to acute stressors, and recurring surges of hormones such as cortisol, adrenaline and norepinephrine can ultimately corrode and deregulate cell balance. In a domino effect, other systems break down, causing things like weight gain, insomnia, depression, anxiety and fatigue.

Your best bet is to prevent stress from happening in the first place, and this checklist from Michael Mantell, Ph.D., behavior science consultant and transformational coach, can set you on the preventative path.

  1. Exercise and be active every day — but don’t overdo it. Too much activity and too little recovery can cause inflammation, which could lead to a host of serious health issues.
  2. Cut back on coffee. Caffeine can amplify anxiety, interrupt sleep and disrupt digestion, none of which are helpful to achieving calm and balance.
  3. Like Michael Pollan says: Eat food (not too much), mostly plants. The phytochemicals found in plants help balance your mood by aiding in the synthesis of neurotransmitters.
  4. Tame your thoughts. Events don’t stress you out; your thoughts about those events stress you out. Use meditation to become accepting of the present and observe your thoughts without judgment.
  5. Really breathe. Deep abdominal breathing connects your body and mind, slows heart rate, relaxes muscles and reduces blood pressure.
  6. Implement stress-free thinking. Catch yourself mulling over your doom and gloom scenarios, then challenge them. Do you have any evidence that these will occur? Then turn your thinking from dread to possibility, because even if the worst does happen, you may not like it but you will be able to bear it.
  7. Practice compassion. Compassionate people recognize that imperfection and suffering are common, shared human conditions. Give yourself grace and stop worrying about that which you cannot control.
  8. Don’t just survive — thrive. Look at every setback as a setup for a stronger comeback. This helps you develop resilience, the psychological mechanism that keeps people going.
Michael Mantell, Ph.D., created the “S.M.I.L.E” Model for Happiness to help people grow happier and healthier through challenging times.

Now S.M.I.L.E.

Now that you’ve pre-emptively quelled your stress, it’s time to nurture happiness with Mantell’s strategy to make you smile.

  • Savor: All of us could stand to slow down a little and proverbially smell the roses. Linger where you are and mindfully focus on the details of whatever you’re doing.
  • Me: Time to yourself allows you to unwind, reboot your brain, improve your focus and promote your relationships. Even the little things you do during the day add up: Close your office door to shut out distractions, wake up a little earlier to work out or leave your phone in the car when with friends.
  • Interact: Personal relationships are integral to human happiness, and spending time with others, expressing kindness and doing good deeds reduces stress and promotes connections. However, not all interactions are positive, so avoid those who weigh you down.
  • Listen: Using your ears can boost your happiness quotient. Listen to the birds chirping or your grandkids playing or the music playing to promote well-being and lift your spirits.
  • Empathize: Putting yourself in someone else’s shoes can actually give you a leg up. Build empathy for others by permitting your own vulnerability and finding commonality with others around you.

Why the FDA Is Warning Pregnant Women Not to Use Over-the-Counter Pain Relievers


By C. Michael White, University of Connecticut

The Food and Drug Administation issued a warning on Oct. 15, 2020 to both health care professionals and women about the use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

This comes after the FDA added its post-marketing surveillance data to the accumulating information appearing in medical journals. Consumers spent US$4.3 billion on more than 760 million bottles of NSAIDs in 2019. This includes those with brand names Motrin, Advil, Aleve, Ecotrin and Bayer Aspirin and generic versions with the names ibuprofen, naproxen and aspirin.

Those numbers are in addition to the millions of prescriptions written for pain medications containing NSAIDs or NSAID/opioid combination products written for each year. All of this makes the warning a significant move, especially considering that pregnant women often experience aches and pains that might be alleviated by these drugs.

I am a pharmacist and cardiovascular pharmacologist specializing in avoiding or reducing drug-induced diseases. A successful pregnancy is vital for a child’s eventual health, so it is important that pregnant women are aware of this newly discovered danger.

What is the issue?

Doctors and pharmacists have known for some time that NSAIDs can decrease kidney function in adults and permanently damage some people’s kidneys. Higher-dose NSAID therapy, longer-term treatment and use in pre-existing kidney dysfunction are especially dangerous to adults. The FDA now believes that this kidney risk extends to the fetus as well if the mother uses NSAIDs.

The fetus is surrounded by a protective amniotic sac filled with fluid. This fluid is made by the mother up to the 20th week, but after that, the fetus’s own kidneys create a majority of the protective fluid. The FDA is aware of dozens of cases where physicians have detected low and possibly dangerous levels of amniotic fluid in mothers who were taking NSAIDs. In many of these cases, when the mother stopped taking the NSAID, the levels of amniotic fluid started going back toward normal but went down again when the NSAID was restarted. In some of those same mothers, low amniotic fluid levels were detected after the use of NSAIDs for only two days. But for other pregnant women, it took several weeks before low amniotic fluid levels were detected.

In five cases, the FDA is aware of newborns who died of kidney failure shortly after birth. While this is a small number of cases overall, the FDA believes there are likely many other cases where NSAID-induced reductions in amniotic fluid levels are not being detected because both patients and physicians are unaware of the risk.

What should pregnant women do?

The FDA recommends that health care professionals limit prescribing NSAIDs or recommending over-the-counter NSAIDs to women between 20 to 30 weeks of pregnancy and avoid it altogether after 30 weeks if at all possible. If NSAID treatment is necessary, they should use the lowest effective dose for the shortest duration possible. Health care professionals should consider ultrasound monitoring of amniotic fluid if NSAID treatment extends beyond 48 hours, and discontinue the NSAIDs if the amniotic fluid level is reduced.

The best thing a pregnant woman considering an over the counter NSAID for pain can do is discuss it with her obstetrician first. Her obstetrician may recommend acetaminophen (Tylenol) as a viable alternative. Even then, however, there is some preliminary evidence that use of a higher dose or prolonged therapy with acetaminophen during pregnancy is linked to attention deficit disorder or autism as the child develops.

Pharmacists are a wonderful resource to help patients identify which over-the-counter products contain acetaminophen or NSAIDs. This can sometimes be tricky because, in addition to regular pain relievers, they also exist in some over-the-counter cold and flu products and some sleep aids.

What about non-drug options?

The use of dietary supplements for pain relief could be risky because the FDA does not adequately ensure manufacturing quality and the products could contain heavy metals, bacteria or mold. Dietary supplements are simply not regulated for safety and efficacy in the way that drugs are. In addition, the lack of safety data with dietary supplements does not mean that issues will not occur, just that the risks are unknown.

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Other non-drug therapies for aches and pains include hot packs, stretching exercises, massage therapy, visualization therapy and other techniques. Even if these non-drug techniques do not eliminate the pain, they could reduce the dose of the pain reliever or the length of therapy that is needed. Pregnant women can try some of these options and see what works for them.The Conversation

C. Michael White, Distinguished Professor and Head of the Department of Pharmacy Practice, University of Connecticut

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

‘All You Want Is to Be Believed’: The Impacts of Unconscious Bias in Health Care

In mid-March, Karla Monterroso flew home to Alameda, California, after a hiking trip in Utah’s Zion National Park. Four days later, she began to develop a bad, dry cough. Her lungs felt sticky.

The fevers that persisted for the next nine weeks grew so high — 100.4, 101.2, 101.7, 102.3 — that, on the worst night, she was in the shower on all fours, ice-cold water running down her back, willing her temperature to go down.

“That night I had written down in a journal, letters to everyone I’m close to, the things I wanted them to know in case I died,” she remembered.

Then, in the second month, came a new batch of symptoms: headaches and shooting pains in her legs and abdomen that made her worry she could be at risk for the blood clots and strokes that other COVID-19 patients in their 30s had reported.

Still, she wasn’t sure if she should go to the hospital.

“As women of color, you get questioned a lot about your emotions and the truth of your physical state. You get called an exaggerator a lot throughout the course of your life,” said Monterroso, who is Latina. “So there was this weird, ‘I don’t want to go and use resources for nothing’ feeling.”

It took four friends to convince her she needed to call 911.

But what happened in the emergency room at Alameda Hospital only confirmed her worst fears.

At nearly every turn during her emergency room visit, Monterroso said, providers dismissed her symptoms and concerns. Her low blood pressure? That’s a false reading. Her cycling oxygen levels? The machine’s wrong. The shooting pains in her leg? Probably just a cyst.

“The doctor came in and said, ‘I don’t think that much is happening here. I think we can send you home,'” Monterroso recalled.

Her experiences, she reasons, are part of why people of color are disproportionately affected by the coronavirus. It is not merely because they’re more likely to have front-line jobs that expose them to it and the underlying conditions that make COVID-19 worse.

“That is certainly part of it, but the other part is the lack of value people see in our lives,” Monterroso wrote in a Twitter thread detailing her experience.

I’m writing this because all the coverage of Latinx and Black death as a result of Covid is being covered like it’s JUST the pre-existing conditions of racism that make us susceptible. That is certainly part of it, but the other part is the lack of value people see in our lives.
— Karla Monterroso (@karlitaliliana) May 14, 2020

Research shows how doctors’ unconscious bias affects the care people receive, with Latino and Black patients being less likely to receive pain medications or get referred for advanced care than white patients with the same complaints or symptoms, and more likely to die in childbirth from preventable complications.

In the hospital that day in May, Monterroso was feeling woozy and having trouble communicating, so she had a friend and her friend’s cousin, a cardiac nurse, on the phone to help. They started asking questions: What about Karla’s accelerated heart rate? Her low oxygen levels? Why are her lips blue?

The doctor walked out of the room. He refused to care for Monterroso while her friends were on the phone, she said, and when he came back, the only thing he wanted to talk about was Monterroso’s tone and her friends’ tone.

“The implication was that we were insubordinate,” Monterroso said.

She told the doctor she didn’t want to talk about her tone. She wanted to talk about her health care. She was worried about possible blood clots in her leg and she asked for a CT scan.

“Well, you know, the CT scan is radiation right next to your breast tissue. Do you want to get breast cancer?” Monterroso recalled the doctor saying to her. “I only feel comfortable giving you that test if you say that you’re fine getting breast cancer.”

Monterroso thought to herself, “Swallow it up, Karla. You need to be well.” And so she said to the doctor: “I’m fine getting breast cancer.”

He never ordered the test.

Monterroso asked for a different doctor, for a hospital advocate. No and no, she was told. She began to worry about her safety. She wanted to get out of there. Her friends, all calling every medical professional they knew to confirm that this treatment was not right, came to pick her up and drove her to the University of California-San Francisco. The team there gave her an EKG, a chest X-ray and a CT scan.

“One of the nurses came in and she was like, ‘I heard about your ordeal. I just want you to know that I believe you. And we are not going to let you go until we know that you are safe to go,'” Monterroso said. “And I started bawling. Because that’s all you want is to be believed. You spend so much of the process not believing yourself, and then to not be believed when you go in? It’s really hard to be questioned in that way.”

Alameda Health System, which operates Alameda Hospital, declined to comment on the specifics of Monterroso’s case, but said in a statement that it is “deeply committed to equity in access to health care” and “providing culturally-sensitive care for all we serve.” After Monterroso filed a grievance with the hospital, management invited her to come talk to their staff and residents, but she declined.

She believes her experience is an example of why people of color are faring so badly in the pandemic.

“Because when we go and seek care, if we are advocating for ourselves, we can be treated as insubordinate,” she said. “And if we are not advocating for ourselves, we can be treated as invisible.”

Unconscious Bias in Health Care

Experts say this happens routinely, and regardless of a doctor’s intentions or race. Monterroso’s doctor was not white, for example.

Research shows that every doctor, every human being, has biases they’re not aware of, said Dr. René Salazar, assistant dean for diversity at the University of Texas-Austin medical school.

“Do I question a white man in a suit who’s coming in looking like he’s a professional when he asks for pain meds versus a Black man?” Salazar said, noting one of his own possible biases.

Unconscious bias most often surfaces in high-stress environments, like emergency rooms — where doctors are under tremendous pressure and have to make quick, high-stakes decisions. Add in a deadly pandemic, in which the science is changing by the day, and things can spiral.

“There’s just so much uncertainty,” he said. “When there is this uncertainty, there always is a level of opportunity for bias to make its way in and have an impact.”

Salazar used to teach at UCSF, where he helped develop unconscious-bias training for medical and pharmacy students. Although dozens of medical schools are picking up the training, he said, it’s not as commonly performed in hospitals. Even when a negative patient encounter like Monterroso’s is addressed, the intervention is usually weak.

“How do I tell my clinician, ‘Well, the patient thinks you’re racist?'” Salazar said. “It’s a hard conversation: ‘I gotta be careful, I don’t want to say the race word because I’m going to push some buttons here.’ So it just starts to become really complicated.”

A Data-Based Approach

Dr. Ronald Copeland said he remembers doctors also resisting these conversations in the early days of his training. Suggestions for workshops in cultural sensitivity or unconscious bias were met with a backlash.

“It was viewed almost from a punishment standpoint. ‘Doc, your patients of this persuasion don’t like you and you’ve got to do something about it.’ It’s like, ‘You’re a bad doctor, and so your punishment is you have to go get training,” said Copeland, who is chief of equity, inclusion and diversity at the Kaiser Permanente health system. (KHN is an editorially independent program of KFF, which is not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.)

Now, KP’s approach is rooted in data from patient surveys that ask if a person felt respected, if the communication was good and if they were satisfied with the experience.

KP then breaks this data down by demographics, to see if a doctor may get good scores on respect and empathy from white patients, but not Black patients.

“If you see a pattern evolving around a certain group and it’s a persistent pattern, then that tells you there’s something that from a cultural, from an ethnicity, from a gender, something that group has in common, that you’re not addressing,” Copeland said. “Then the real work starts.”

When doctors are presented with the data from their patients and the science on unconscious bias, they’re less likely to resist it or deny it, Copeland said. At his health system, they’ve reframed the goal of training around delivering better quality care and getting better patient outcomes, so doctors want to do it.

“Folks don’t flinch about it,” he said. “They’re eager to learn more about it, particularly about how you mitigate it.”

Still Unwell

It’s been nearly six months since Monterroso first got sick, and she’s still not feeling well.

Her heart rate continues to spike and doctors told her she may need gallbladder surgery to address the gallstones she developed as a result of COVID-related dehydration. She decided recently to leave the Bay Area and move to Los Angeles so she could be closer to her family for the long recovery.

She declined Alameda Hospital’s invitation to speak to their staff about her experience, concluding it wasn’t her responsibility to fix the system. But she wants the broader health care system to take responsibility for the bias perpetuated in hospitals and clinics.

She acknowledges that Alameda Hospital is public, and it doesn’t have the kind of resources that KP and UCSF do. A recent audit warned that the Alameda Health System was on the brink of insolvency. But Monterroso is the CEO of Code2040, a racial equity nonprofit in the tech sector and even for her, she said, it took an army of support for her to be heard.

“Ninety percent of the people that are going to come through that hospital are not going to have what I have to fight that,” she said. “And if I don’t say what’s happening, then people with much less resources are going to come into this experience, and they’re going to die.”

This story is part of a partnership that includes KQED, NPR and KHN.

Kaiser Health News (KHN) is a national health policy news service. It is an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation which is not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

Why Sleeping On This Side Of Your Body Is Better For Your Health

Do you want better sleep and will do anything to get it? Do you have tireless nights where you wake up groggy and unhappy the next morning, and you can’t figure out why in the world you feel this way? There may actually be a better method in the madness, and it’s not as difficult as it sounds. Some researchers have found that going to bed on the left side of your body may help you with key health issues. A lot of the time when you sleep on the left side of your body, the stomach, and gastric juices remain lower than the esophagus, thus reducing heartburn and digestive upsets. We did a little bit of research and looked into the matter. Keep reading for more.

better sleep
Image: Kinga Cichewicz via Unsplash

Why Going To Bed On The Left Side Of Your Body Might Give You Better Sleep

So it turns out that sleeping on the left side of your body actually has more benefits than you can count on one hand! When you look at the composition of our bodies, you’ll notice that our organ composition is actually asymmetrical. The way we process energy and eliminate waste goes through this system. So, if we set up our bodies in a way that we sleep on the left side, we process all of this in a healthier way. Try it out at home! See if sleeping on your left side gives you any sort of improvement on your health. We will say that sleeping on your face does cause wear and tear on your facial structure by constantly applying pressure on your bones, but for that we recommend getting a beauty pillow, like this one from Nurse Jamie.

According to Healthline, there are a number of different ways that sleeping on the side helps your body. For one, it aids digestion. Two, when you sleep on the left side of your body, the stomach, and gastric juices remain lower than the esophagus, thus reducing heartburn and digestive issues. Another great thing that sleeping on the left side can do is boost your brain health. Apparently, you have waste in your brain too! Sleeping on your side may help reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, or other neurological diseases. Finally, sleeping on your side can reduce snoring or sleep apnea.

better sleep
Image: Elizabeth Lies via Unsplash

The Best Way To Get Better Sleep On Your Left Side

To get a good night’s sleep on your side, be sure to find a pillow that sits comfortably on your collarbone and face, so you’re not smushed and uncomfortable. Put that same pillow in between your knees to support your lower back. Hug that pillow like you’re snuggling it, and keep your arms parallel so that your body feels even and well-stacked.

 

The post Why Sleeping On This Side Of Your Body Is Better For Your Health appeared first on Sporteluxe.

Flourless Chocolate Whey Cookies

Try this fresh-from-the-oven indulgence that won’t wreck your waistline.

Flourless Chocolate Whey Cookies Recipe

Ready in: 35 minutes

Makes: 14 servings

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 scoops chocolate whey protein powder
  • 1½ cups cooked chickpeas
  • ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons agave nectar
  • ½ cup natural almond butter
  • 5 pitted dates
  • ¼ cup warm water
  • 1 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons ground flaxseed
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ cup egg whites
  • ⅓ cup unsweetened shredded coconut

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Place a sheet of parchment paper over a baking sheet.
  2. Blend all ingredients, except coconut, in a food processor until smooth. You may need to stop to scrape the sides.
  3. Toast coconut in a small frying pan set over medium-low heat until lightly golden, then add to processor and pulse until combined.
  4. Spoon batter into 14 heaps on baking sheet, spacing evenly.
  5. Bake 24 to 26 minutes, then allow to cool on a wire rack.

Nutrients per serving (1 cookie): Calories: 180, Total Fats: 8 g, Saturated Fat: 2 g, Trans Fat: 0 g, Cholesterol: 22 mg, Sodium: 65 mg, Total Carbohydrates: 22 g, Dietary Fiber: 3 g, Sugars: 14 g, Protein: 8 g, Iron: 2 mg

Take Your Workout To The Next Level

With only a few minutes of preparation, you can improve each workout, lift heavier, train longer and get greater results by using these five warm-up protocols.

When you’re crunched for time, it’s tempting to skip a warm-up and get right to training. But while your brain is ready to go, your body has not yet gotten the memo. A warm-up serves as this wake-up call, getting your blood flowing, increasing range of motion, and preparing your muscle fibers and nervous system to work. But with all the different techniques these days, it’s difficult to know which warm-up goes best with which kind of training and which will do the most good. No worries — we’ve done the matchmaking for you. Use this go-to guide for warming up and get more out of your training while also preventing the risk of injury.

When doing cardio for a warm-up, work at an easy pace for no longer than five minutes.

Cardio

Best Before: Any kind of workout.

Cardiovascular activity is an excellent way to warm up — to raise your internal temperature — because it gets your whole body moving, infusing your muscles with oxygen, blood and nutrients and preparing them to hit the ground running (literally!). Sometimes cardio is sufficient in and of itself as a warm-up if you’re simply doing some easy aerobic work, but if you’re doing heavy lifting or an intense high-intensity interval training session, this technique should be combined with another protocol — such as the ones below — to properly and fully warm up.

What You Should Do: Any activity that gets your body moving and grooving is great — jogging, rowing, biking, stair climbing.

Keep in Mind: It should be done at an easy pace for no longer than about five minutes to simply get you warm, not to make you break a sweat. So even if you love to run, anything beyond 10 minutes of light jogging ventures into full-on workout territory and is no longer considered a warm-up.

Foam Rolling

Best Before: Any workout but particularly heavy strength training.

Improving range of motion (ROM) is something to prioritize when you’re about to pump some iron, and according to research, using a foam roller can help increase ROM without negatively affecting performance. Foam rollers work as a sort of self-massage, helping break up and release the fascia — the connective tissue that surrounds the muscles — which can become tight and inflamed. Rolling improves ROM even before you lift a weight.

What You Should Do: Position yourself on top of the roller, and using your bodyweight, roll along the muscle starting at the origin and moving slowly through its entire length. Pause when you encounter an area that is tight or tender and hold that position for several seconds to help it release. Aim for a minimum of five passes in each direction per muscle before moving on to the next, and do a total of about five minutes. Note of caution: Never foam-roll your lower spine because the area may seize up.

Keep in Mind: There are different “levels” of foam rollers, ranging from moderately soft to rock solid, so if you’re new to the technique, start with the softer ones and move up as you become adept at rolling (and as your body adapts to the hardness). In addition, foam rolling can make you sore, especially if you’re super tight or have a lot of adhesions — areas of tightness in your fascia. So don’t be surprised if that IT band is grumbling the day after you roll the heck out of it.

Dynamic Stretching/Mobility

Best Before: Explosive workouts such as plyometrics or powerlifting and sports.

This technique involves moving a limb actively through its entire range of motion, helping push blood into the muscles while releasing synovial fluid within the joints, lubing them up and getting them ready to work. It also can help you perform better: One study published in the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness found that dynamic stretching as a warm-up helped improve performance in basketball players.

What You Should Do: Actions that focus on multi-directional movement at the joints — leg swings, arm circles, bear hugs — are examples of great dynamic stretches. Begin in a shorter, gentler range of motion and gradually allow your actions to become larger and more dynamic.

Keep in Mind: Spend about five minutes on the large muscles and joints in the body, paying special attention to any that have chronic tightness or those that will be worked extra hard that day.

Do several sets of exercises based on the lift/split you have planned for the day. For example, if your goal is to back-squat 120 pounds, your movement prep could be bodyweight squats.

Movement Prep (aka warm-up sets)

Best Before: Strength training and CrossFit-type WODs.

Movement prep is really a going-through-the-motions sort of gig. You do several sets of the exercises but at a lower intensity. This alerts your central nervous system that heavy work is coming its way and establishes a movement pattern for the forthcoming exercises that your body can remember when the going gets tough. This helps you produce force efficiently and explosively, making movements more effective and workouts more intense. And of course, you reduce the risk of injury.

What You Should Do: Assess the lift you’re focusing on for the day and do some movement prep appropriate to that lift. For example, if your goal is to back-squat 120 pounds, your movement prep could start with bodyweight squats, also known as air squats, for a couple of sets using perfect form; then you could move to squats with an empty Olympic bar for a couple of sets. Next, you’d start building, dropping the rep range down to three to five per set and adding weight in 20 percent increments per set until you reach your target weight.

Keep in Mind: How long the actual prep lasts depends on the lift in question and how strong you are at it. If you’re a veteran, chances are your movement prep will take longer than a novice. Also, know that single-joint isolation movements like a biceps curl requires less prep because they affect fewer muscle groups and joints.

Muscle Activation (aka isometrics)

Best Before: Heavy lifting days.

Isometric contractions — wherein you contract your muscle against an immovable object — done preworkout have actually been shown in some studies to increase power up to 51 percent. This kind of contraction stimulates the central nervous system to recruit more high-threshold motor units (those responsible for innervating the fast-twitch muscle fibers), improving contractile strength and force output, resulting in more powerful lifts.

What You Should Do: Think about the movement you’re about to do, then find a way to simulate it against an immovable object. With a bench press, for example, place your hands in the benching position flat against the wall, then actively try to press the wall away from you, tensing and contracting all the muscles you would be using in an actual bench press. Hold each press for 10 to 15 seconds, then rest 30 seconds. Go for two to three sets, and with each set, make the contraction a little more intense.

Keep in Mind: This technique can easily drain you, so limit the amount of actual work to no more than three minutes.

Not Skipping a Beat

In December 2019, Amy Grant accompanied her husband, country music star Vince Gill, to a follow-up appointment with his cardiologist, Dr. John Bright Cage. Because Gill’s father had passed away from a heart attack at age 65, both Gill and Grant wanted to make sure that Gill’s heart was in good shape, as he was approaching 63.

After Cage told Gill that his test results were good, he turned to Grant and said, “Hey, we should check you out,” Grant recalled.

At the time, she and Gill were in the midst of a 12-show residency in Nashville, and though beforehand, she had been having heart palpitations and told her husband a couple of times that she couldn’t catch her breath, she wasn’t concerned enough to get it checked.

In January, Cage ordered a coronary CT scan, which checks for plaque in the arteries. Then he got a gut feeling to do a coronary CT angiogram (CTA), which would also show the structure of her heart.

Grant was lucky he did. While the test showed her arteries were fine, it revealed she had Partial Anomalous Pulmonary Venous Return (PAPVR), a rare heart defect that’s present from birth.

Grant needed open-heart surgery, and in preparation, she had other tests such as an echocardiogram and a cardiac MRI. “The right side of my heart was enlarged,” she said, which was causing the irregular heartbeats. She also had a hole in her heart that needed to be repaired.

Initially, Grant was shocked. “It took a while for it to sink in. I just thought it was such a miracle that they found this,” Grant said, adding that she was scared, but hopeful.

Living in the moment

Grant’s condition wasn’t dire. Her doctor said that, while she didn’t need to rush right into the hospital, he wanted her to get the surgery before she turned 60 on November 25. At the time, Grant had an extensive tour scheduled, which would run from February through May, with her first real break in mid-June. She felt in good health and her doctor gave her the go-ahead for the tour.

Then COVID-19 hit. Grant’s tour was cancelled. So were all elective surgeries, including hers.

While Grant waited for surgery, she focused on the present and spent time with Gill and one of their daughters, who was home from college for quarantine. “I just tried to be in the moment that I was in,” she said. “I was so grateful for that time here — it was super quiet. It was just so beautiful . . . I’ve never felt so grounded in the reality of my own life.”

When elective surgeries began again, Grant’s was scheduled for June 3. She never lost her positive attitude.

“I did the best I could to keep my head in a good place … I never had the conversation with anybody about ‘what if,'” Grant said. “The things that I was kind of scared of, those moments came and went.”

She described the day of her surgery like this: “I have ridden bikes in west Texas, and if you’re biking into the wind, it’s like you’re going up a 45-degree grade. But if the wind is at your back, you’re hardly even peddling, and you’re going 20 miles an hour,” Grant explained. “From the moment I walked into that hospital, I felt like I had a west Texas wind at my back.”

Cage said that in Grant’s surgery, “They switched the plumbing, and they closed the hole.” He explained that with her pulmonary vein, “They moved the vessel that was going to the right side back to the left side, and they put a patch over the hole [in her heart] to close it. Her pulmonary pressures immediately got better.”

During the three-hour surgery, Grant was on a heart/lung machine. Afterwards, she remained on a ventilator for only three hours (the typical time is six hours).

In addition to her surgery being successful, Cage says Grant beat all records by leaving the hospital after only three days. “We’ve never had someone go home that soon,” he said. The usual hospital stay is between five and seven days.

Today, Grant is fully recovered and she’ll see her cardiologist for an annual checkup. “I’ve got a couple other things that are misshapen in there — my unique wiring. My aortic arch is backwards, so my blood flows the opposite direction through my body, and I’ve got a bulge on my aorta — not an aneurysm, a bulge. So they’ll just check it,” Grant said.

Because Grant was healthy going into the surgery, she was able to quickly return to her active lifestyle. She loves to cook, especially using veggies from the farmers market. “I’m just back to my old tricks,” Grant said, adding that her husband, Gill, who always called her the Energizer Bunny, now says she has even more energy.

Grant’s experience has inspired her friends to make cardiologist appointments. She believes that all women need to be good caregivers — especially of themselves.

“I think women, most of us, seem like we’re hardwired to care for everybody else. In many communities, you see women struggling with all kinds of things [so] they say, ‘I cannot take time for myself because the wheels are going to fall off.’ But the fact is, if you’re not there, the wheels are really going to fall off.

In a million years, I wouldn’t have taken myself to the doctor. I just showed up with somebody else, and I’m so glad I did,” Grant said.

“Life is precious. Do what you can to take care of yourself.”

On October 23, Amy Grant’s album “Tennessee Christmas” will be reissued and will include two songs that were previously Target exclusives. On October 30, to celebrate the 35th anniversary of Grant’s Grammy-winning album “Unguarded,” a limited edition, double disk set will be available through all music streaming services.

Resources

Warning Signs of a Heart Attack

Heart Disease Facts

What is Cardiovascular Disease?