Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Even if you log a full eight hours of shut-eye at night, you might not be getting the deep sleep you require. That's right — just like crunches and sex, when it comes to snagging Z's, quality counts as much as quantity. "Time in bed doesn't necessarily translate into good, restful sleep," says Joseph Ojile, M.D., founder and CEO of the Clayton Sleep Institute in St. Louis.
Think of it this way: Your body refuels with sleep; in order to wake up revved, you need premium octane. Along with making sure you have enough energy to power through the day, getting solid slumber can reduce your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and depression; make you more alert; and help you process information faster. Follow these tips to treat your body to restorative sleep.
Skip the Nightcap
Just because your Uncle Ed always nods off after a few glasses of spiked eggnog doesn't mean that booze is a liquid lullaby. "Alcohol may help you fall asleep faster, but once your body begins to remove it from your system, it acts as a stimulant," says Donna Arand, Ph.D., clinical director of the Sleep Disorders Center at Kettering Medical Center in Kettering, Ohio. "Four or five hours after your last drink, you'll wake up, and it will be hard to fall back to sleep." So instead of reaching for a glass of pinot noir, start a nighttime ritual that actually promotes sleep: Take a warm shower (when you step out, your body begins to cool off, a process it goes through before sleep) or sip a cup of decaf chamomile tea.
Stop relying on late-night infomercials to zonk you out. Get your Z's on with these 15 other tips for a better night's sleep.
If you're one of the 12 million Americans with sleep apnea, you're about 80 percent more likely to feel sluggish during the day, no matter how many hours you sleep, Ojile says. The condition occurs when the soft tissue at the back of your throat blocks your airway during sleep, stopping your breathing and waking you up as many as hundreds of times a night. "Imagine how exhausted you'd feel if someone were constantly poking you awake," Ojile says. "Apnea deprives your brain of oxygen, increases your heart rate, and saps your energy levels."
Two common signs of apnea: loud snoring and, more seriously, waking up to the feeling that you're choking. If you experience either of these symptoms, visit your doctor and start sleeping on your side instead of your back with your head propped up on two or three pillows. "If you rest your upper body at a 30-degree or greater incline, it may make a more direct path for air to move in and out of the lungs," Arand says.
Though it won't cure sleep apnea, using a neti pot (a ceramic vessel used to flush sinuses with a salt/water solution) daily can make breathing easier. Japanese researchers found that people with obstructed nasal passages were twice as likely to experience daytime fatigue as those with clear passageways.
Still can't sleep? Diagnose your problem with the sleep disorder encyclopedia.
Reschedule Your Sweat Sessions
Exercise will help improve the quality of your sleep — if you time it right. Working out late in the day can actually leave you staring at the ceiling in bed, since it can take three to four hours for your body to cool itself afterward. "When your core body temperature is too high and your heart rate is too fast, it can keep you awake," Ojile says. It's better to exercise at least four hours before bedtime. Better yet, hit the gym in the morning or at lunch — you'll feel the energy-boosting effects for hours.
Monday, October 10, 2011
ATTENTION GOLD'S GYM MEMBERS:
By popular demand starting THIS Friday, October 14th, we're going to have our FIRST early morning Zumba class at Gold's Gym from 5:45-6:45am! We'll also schedule regular morning Zumba classes on Tuesdays at the same time. Get ready to Zumba with Elly! Also, ANYBODY's first morning Zumba class in October will be free so come out and get ready to dance!
Wednesday, October 5, 2011
Tuesday, October 4, 2011
Can You Spot the Form Mistake?
I am not the first person to note that dancing is both great fun and great exercise. The combination of movement and music is exhilarating! And you can pick an appropriate intensity for whatever your mood and fitness goal--whether it's a sexy salsa with your significant other, a zingy zumba class at the gym, a dignified waltz with Uncle Freddie, or some serious suicidin' & downrockin' with all your b-boy & b-girl buddies.
(And just how pathetically obvious is it that I know absolutely nothing about urban dance?)
But what if... horror of horrors... you're doing it all wrong? The repercussions could be as minor as an eyeroll from your significant other, up to far more dire scenarios ending in serious injury, insanity, or death.
Sound like fun?
OK, I'm exaggerating, as usual. Dancing is only rarely a fatal activity. But playing on fears of doing something "wrong" is one of the time honored ways of getting people to click on links and read things!
But here's what I've managed to scrape up in the way of advice:
1. Don't be a scaredy-cat
The biggest mistake of all is to avoid dancing altogether because you fear you will suck at it.
Dancing is a blast! It's also really beneficial for your health and well-being. I'm too lazy to go over the many health benefits of dancing, but since others have explained why dancing is good for you and even how it will make you smarter, it's safe to just trust me on this.
However, I don't really practice what I preach. I love moving to music, and was an aerobic and step class addict back in the 80's and 90's. And sure, I'll still disco-dance my foolish ass off during summers in Provincetown, where Tea Dance at the Boatslip is a bizarre and uninhibited local institution. The fact that I am not graceful or coordinated doesn't matter--just give me a cocktail and a crowded dance floor full of drag queens, drunk bachelorettes, circuit boys, and various rhythm-challenged old fogeys like myself, and in my own mind: voila, I am invisible!
However, in the last decade or so I seem to have developed a fear of any dance environment where (a) steps must be learned and (b) other people are present. Even a beginner class is intimidating, because a combination of increasing age and self-consciousness render me incapable of memorizing more than two movements in a row.
Isn't that stupid? No one cares how doofy I look if I don't know the steps. So I may try to confront this fear, we'll see. Inspired by bloggers like Sylvia, I'm thinking of trying a Zumba class when we rejoin our gym in San Diego in November. (I'll just have to work really really hard on inventing a magic invisibility cloak in the next few weeks).
2. Don't Use Dancing as An Excuse for Crappy Food Choices.
Yes, dancing counts as exercise! But if you consult this amusing calorie chart that helpfully points out that 1 hour of fast ballroom dancing permits you to eat 1.4 Grande Starbucks Caffe Lattes made with whole milk, half a McDonald's Big Mac With cheese, 4.9 glasses of wine, 1.4 Snickers Bars, or 1.9 cans of Coca-Cola, you might get the wrong idea about proper post-workout nutrition.
3. Perform a "Reality" Check
Dancing is everywhere on TV these days, whether it's the misfit show-tune-belting performers on Glee, the B-list celebs on Dancing With the Stars, or the ever-hopeful contestants on So You Think You Can Dance. However, the carefully calculated media images you're exposed to can sometimes cause confusion!
So warning: please don't be shocked when stage lights, back-up singers and orchestras don't magically appear when you start to bust a few moves down at the local shopping mall. Or try not to be disappointed that you can't emulate Kirstie Alley and magically shed a quick 100 pounds after taking up dancing. You may also be surprised to discover that without a team of coaches and hours and hours a day to practice, you can't quite pull of the acrobatic leaps, spins, flips, and twirls that you see on your screen without causing major bodily injury. And if you do happen to be pretty darn good? Then you may be appalled to discover that absolutely no one is calling you up offering you huge prizes or starring roles in tv programs!
The biggest source of confusion of all? Many people seem to be under the impression that sitting on their asses watching hour after hour of other people dancing on TV constitutes exercise. Sadly, some actual physical activity is required--and pushing the buttons on your remote control to fast forward through commercials doesn't really count.
4. Be Careful If You Want to Go Pro
Well, if movies are any indication, it's scary to be a professional dancer! If you don't go Black-Swan insane, you're at least at risk of being Chorus-Lined into breast implants or will be tragically undone by your demonic Red Shoes.
And there's at least a little actual research to back up the notion that professional dancing comes with certain risks. Not only are there the physical injuries, but ballet dancers are at increased risk of anorexia and have an unusually strong preoccupation with achieving a low body weight.
5. Don't Dance Yourself to Death.
Here's where we get to the fun part about fatalities... ever heard of the Dancing Plague of 1518? Hundreds of folks were seized with the uncontrollable desire to dance and didn't stop for days and days until many died. Oh, and during the depression, at least a couple of contestants perished during grueling dance marathons trying to win cash prizes.
And has the whole take ecstasy and dance until you croak fad ended yet? I'm thinking that trend went out in the 90's, but what do I know, I don't stay up late enough to know whether the young folks are still having raves.
6. Don't Be A Total Showoff!
Beware: combining the exuberance of dancing, a show-offy personality, and a bucket full of alcohol may result in serious injury and public humiliation.