Your Resting Heart Rate and Why It’s Important

Your Resting Heart Rate and Why It’s Important

Your resting heart rate is the number of times your heart beats per minute (BPM) while at rest.  

Why is Heart Rate Important?

Considering your heart is the most important muscle in your body, it is important to know that it’s functioning properly. You want your heart to beat in a rhythm; not too fast, not too slow, and not too erratic.  

Typically, an adult’s resting heart rate is between 60-100 beats per minute1. Monitoring your heart rate from time to time is a good idea to know your normal heart rate and to take measures if it becomes abnormal.  

Resting heart rate is an indicator of physical fitness. When you first start a training program, it’s likely that you will want to know your resting heart rate. A lower resting heart rate may indicate a sign of good health and a higher degree of being physically fit.  

Depending on your age, gender, or medications you are taking, your resting heart rate changes. People who are physically fit generally have a lower resting rate than those who do not exercise regularly. Resting heart rate will typically increase as you age and will be much faster in infants. 

The best time to find your resting heart rate is in the morning after a good night’s sleep and before you get out of bed1 

  • The best places to find your pulse are the wrists, inside of your elbow, the side of your neck or the top of your foot. 
  • To get the most accurate reading, put your finger over your pulse and count the number of beats in 60 seconds. 

If your range is outside the typical resting heart rate, consult a doctor. Although there is a wide range of normal, an unusually high or low resting heart rate may indicate an underlying problem.  

How to Improve Heart Rate

Make Time for Regular Exercise

  • Make time for exercising every day, even if it’s just walking. Getting regular exercise stimulates your heart and lowers your heart rate. Aim for aerobic activities like; swimming, cycling, or dancing.

Avoid Sitting for Long Periods of Time

  • Studies have found that sitting too long is just as harmful to your body as smoking2. Take more breaks, get up and walk around, stretch your legs, just move your body. Keep yourself active as much as possible to stimulate your heart. 

Avoid Smoking

  • First of all, we know that smoking is bad and can potentially lead to lung cancer and other diseases, but it also increases the resting heart rate. Quitting can lower your blood pressure and heart rate almost immediately3. 

Reduce Stress

  • This is the one that is sometimes out of our control, but if you have a lot on your mind, such as work, family, money, you’re probably stressed. If you are mindful of the stress in your life it’s a good idea to do things for yourself that reduce stress like; meditation, yoga, exercise, massage, and deep breathing. Find ways to calm yourself down to reduce stress and your heart rate.

Take measures to improve your heart rate by exercising or leading an active healthy lifestyle. Keep your heart happy! 

For more on heart health, listen to our podcast on 5 Simple Ways to Improve Your Heart Health. To access our monthly blog post highlights, subscribe to our newsletter today! 

SOURCES 

1. American Heart Association. Getting Active How do I calculate my heart rate? October 2016 

2. The Active Times. Sitting is the New Smoking – 7 Ways a Sedentary Lifestyle is Killing you The research on the sitting epidemic and the results aren’t good. September 2014  

3. Smokefree.gov Benefits of Quitting The health benefits of quitting smoking can help most of the major parts of your body: from you brain to your DNA 

10 Thanksgiving Ideas to Revive Your Celebrations

10 Thanksgiving Ideas to Revive Your Celebrations

Thanksgiving is an ideal time to reflect on what we are grateful for in our lives. It is also a time to recognize that, for many people, this time of year evokes difficult memories and is a time when being with family is not as joyful as it might be for others.   

Knowing that with every life there is a unique history, we would like to offer 10 ways to observe Thanksgiving that can be enjoyed by anyone.  

Before we dive in, however, we’d like to take a moment to thank you, our gym members, blog readers, and social media followers, for your continued support. We appreciate your trust in our team, your commitment to health and fitness, and the feedback you share to help us give our best! 

Thanksgiving ideas to Revive Your Celebrations

01.

Invite a Friend or Family Member Who Might Be Alone for Thanksgiving

Even if your invitation is declined, everyone likes to feel included. Try broadening your invitation list this year and spread some feelings of warmth and welcome! 

02.

Try Something Other Than Turkey

Every Thanksgiving, approximately 46 million turkeys are eaten! Save some turkeys from the dinnerplate and try alternative meat or plant-based choices. 

You can easily make a main course out of fish, chicken, pot roast, and other meats, or take the vegetarian or vegan route and use hearty ingredients like mushrooms, squash, potatoes, cheese, and cauliflower to craft some delicious courses. 

03.

Try Hosting a Friendsgiving

This seems to become more and more of a common practice with every passing year. Friendsgiving is essentially a Thanksgiving dinner that brings together your friends, their friends, and new people who become friends, over good food and great conversation. 

With larger events, try asking your guests to contribute to the table by hosting a potluck-style event. This also encourage a diverse dinner spread because everyone’s cooking styles, food choices, and palates are unique!  

04.

Spontaneous Exercise Challenge

  1. Agree on the selection of a word like “Turkey,” “Cranberries,” “Thanksgiving,” or “Gravy”
  2. Have each person pick a number between 1 and 5 
  3. Have each person pick a basic exercise like push-ups, jumping jacks, or squats 

Any time someone says the word you chose in step 1, everyone in the room has to do their selected number of their selected exercise. The number and exercise will stay the same throughout the evening, and you’ll have fun trying to find your way around these common Thanksgiving words! 

05.

Plan a Pre-Event Gathering to Help Disperse the Workload

Plan a simple Pre-Thanksgiving gathering with your intended guests before your actual holiday feast. If you are able, walking to the store can help you steer clear of holiday traffic and impossible parking situations. Everyone can carry an item and even help you with some early preparations like decorating or cooking before the main event. 

06.

Serve the Less Fortunate

Whether you’re getting together with others or planning to enjoy some time solo, serving others is a great way to participate in the Thanksgiving celebrations. 

All you need to do is a quick internet search to find places in your area where you can volunteer. Don’t stop at serving food, however. If you can, sit and talk with the individuals and families who arrive to be served. Hear their stories, treat them like human beings, make eye contact and remember their faces. These small gestures can make a world of difference. 

07.

Plan Ahead

Even your hosts want to enjoy the gathering of their friends and family. You can help make sure that no one is left in the kitchen while everyone else enjoys the festivities by offering your help at least once or twice. 

If you are the host, try setting the table the night before. Lay out the plates, cups, napkins, and silverware, and any other items that don’t need to be refrigerated. This can help make your event day run more smoothly and with less last-minute scrambling. 

08.

Agree to Leave Debatable Topics at the Door

Some gatherings are particularly difficult because of discussions that become debates and debates that become arguments.  

Agree with your guests, prior to your event, that debatable topics should be set aside for the duration of your gathering. 

09.

Start a New Tradition

There are tons of simple but memorable things you can do to start a new tradition. It can be something like watching a certain movie, playing a game everyone loves, or creating a handmade addition for your cornucopia and adding a new one each year. This one is especially fun for new families or couples who want to commemorate each year of holidays in a special way.  

If you want to go a little further, try signing up for a Post-Thanksgiving Turkey Trot! You can find events in your area, here. 

10.

Get Creative with Your Leftovers

In the United States, Thanksgiving will be celebrated on Thursday, November 28th. Canada celebrates early in comparison, and observed this holiday on Monday, October 14th. In either case, leftovers are a certainty with any feast.  

Whether you’ve frozen your leftovers from the 14th or are expecting more than you can manage tomorrow evening, you can get creative with your leftovers and enjoy them in inventive ways. Check out these turkey ideas to put a fun and flavorful twist on your post-event meals. 

For some delicious salad dressing recipes from our registered dietitian, read her post on Homemade Salad Dressings 101. Or, listen to our podcast to hear about how to navigate the path between Fitness and Food This Holiday Season. To access our monthly blog post highlights, subscribe to our newsletter today! 

Eliminating Violence Against Women

Eliminating Violence Against Women

It Takes All of Us

November 25th is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.  

As a health and fitness blog, our usual focus is on physical health, giving you the resources to feed your body in healthy ways and engage in heart and brain-healthy work outs. To a lesser but equally important extent, we also break into mental, social, and emotional health. 

Today we touch each of these elements of total wellbeing by talking about what happens when women are exposed to violence. Not only is it a matter of physical safety, but a matter of psychological, emotional, and social welfare.  

Observing this day affords us the opportunity to recognize a problem that affects an alarming number of women worldwide, and to express our solidarity with all victims of violence. 

How Real Is The Issue?

  1. According to a National Crime Victimization Survey, approximately 500 women in the U.S. were raped every day in 2008.1 That’s 182,500 women over the course of the year.

     

  2. In 2016, there were 1,809 women in the U.S. who were murdered in single victim/single offender incidents reported to the FBI and 85% of them were, or had been, romantically linked to their killer.

     

  3. According to a Global report, 51% of all detected trafficking victims are women and 20% are young girls.3

     

  4. Worldwide, around 15 million adolescent girls aged 15 to 19 have experienced forced sex in their lifetime.4 Based on data from 30 countries, only 1% of adolescent girls who have experienced forced sex reached out for professional help.4

     

  5. Child marriage still exists. Approximately 650 million girls and women alive today were married before their 18th birthday.5  

Violence Against Women Affects Everyone

Child peeking from the stairs

Consider that women who experience violence may need medical care and/or mental health services. Now consider that they may have children who witnessed or were affected in other ways by this violence who are now also in need of care to address trauma, behavior issues, and other potential concerns. This builds a harmful cycle of violence and trauma that can continue for generations.  

In addition to perpetuating this cycle, violence against women is significant enough to have an impact on systems like healthcare and social services. 

Looking strictly at the economic side of things, the impact on health and social services amounted to over $8.3 billion as a result of domestic violence in 2003.6 

What are Some Signs Your Situation is Not Normal?

Worried woman

To help focus our discussion, we will narrow our attention down to domestic violence. It is not strictly violence within an intimate relationship but can also refer to violence within families.  

Additionally, because it is not just women who are on the receiving end of domestic violence, we would like to offer information than can benefit everyone by looking into the signs and symptoms of a potentially toxic relationship.

According to PsychCentral, these are some of the potential indicators of psychological abuse within a relationship: 

  1. Gaslighting: False information is presented to you with the intention of making you doubt your own memory, perception, or sanity. 
    • Example: Complete denial from the abuser that previous abusive incidents ever occurred 
  2. Following abusive behaviors with apologies, gifts, and seemingly loving behaviors, only to repeat the abusive behaviors later on. 
  3. Making you believe that everything (even their anger or poor behavior) is your fault 
  4. Constant put-downs and excessive criticism 
  5. Refusing to communicate 
  6. Mean jokes or constantly making fun of you 
  7. Saying “I love you but…”
    • This statement indicates, “I love you now, but if you don’t stop this or that, my love will be taken away.” It is both a criticism and a threat that slowly strips away your self-esteem. 
  8. Saying things like “If you don’t _____, I will_____.” 
  9. Domination and control, especially using money or fear to impose that control 
  10. Withdrawal of affection 
  11. Guilt trips 
  12. Isolating you from friends and family 
  13. Constant calling or texting when you are not with him/her 
  14. Threatening to commit suicide if you leave 

Accessible Resources

If you, or someone you know, needs help, you can browse through resources by state, here. 

The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence offers more diverse resources, including information about the National Domestic Violence Hotline the National Dating Abuse Hotline, the National Sexual Assault Hotline, and the National Suicide Prevention Hotline, to name just a few. 

Other Ways to Help

Man supporting crying woman

Don’t blame the victim, even if they flat out say “It was all my fault.” Remember that signs of abuse often include feelings of guilt or responsibility for the situation. Instead, make sure they know it’s not their fault. 

Be a safe space for them. Leave your judgement at the door and simply listen 

Offer to call a helpline with them. 

Create a safety plan. A safety plan can consist of a meeting place, agreeing on a safe word, a specific number of phone calls to alert you that something is wrong, and more.

For more thought provoking posts, look for topics like our article on Mental Health Stigma or, help calm anxiety and ease stress by reading our 5-Minute Guided Relaxation post. To access our monthly blog post highlights, subscribe to our newsletter today. 

SOURCES

  1. “Violence Against Women Is A U.S. Problem, Too.” Amnesty International USA, 11 June 2011, www.amnestyusa.org/violence-against-women-is-a-u-s-problem-too/. 
  2. “When Men Murder Women: An Analysis of 2016 Homicide Data.” Www.vpc.org, Violence Policy Center, 2018, vpc.org/studies/wmmw2018.pdf. 
  3. “Global Report on Trafficking in Persons 2016.” Unodc.org, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, 2016, www.unodc.org/documents/data-and-analysis/glotip/2016_Global_Report_on_Trafficking_in_Persons.pdf. 
  4. “A Familiar Face: Violence in the Lives of Children and Adolescents.” UNICEF DATA, UNICEF, 17 Jan. 2019, data.unicef.org/resources/a-familiar-face/. 
  5. “Child Marriage: Latest Trends and Future Prospects.” UNICEF DATA, 12 Jan. 2019, https://data.unicef.org/resources/child-marriage-latest-trends-and-future-prospects/ 
  6. “Violence Against Women in the United States: Statistics.” National Organization for Women, 2019, now.org/resource/violence-against-women-in-the-united-states-statistic/#endref14. 

Dry Weather and Eye Health

Dry Weather and Eye Health

There are a lot of reasons for dry eyes at this time of year. Dry outside air, your heater at home or in your car, the dry circulated air in nearly every public building, and windy days kicking irritants into your eyes. Add to that the dry air of airplanes, trains, and other modes of transportation for your holiday travels, and your eyes will be screaming for moisture.  

Our eyes are irreplaceable, so we should care for and protect them as best as we can. The same way you’d use lotion on your skin, conditioner on your hair, and Chapstick on your lips, you should give the same attention to the health of your eyes. 

Here are some ways you can help care for your vision: 

01. Adjust and Limit Screen Use

Have you ever noticed that we tend to blink less when watching T.V, when using a computer, and when using our phones? Blinking helps our eyes distribute their natural moisture. The less we blink, the dryer our eyes will feel.  

The remedy we’ve heard that is our least favorite, is the suggestion to remind yourself to blink more. It feels so unnatural to consciously blink and it’s not likely to be the most effective solution if you can’t remember to do it.  

A more reasonable option would be to instill one or two eye drops into your eyes on television commercial breaks, to wear blue light glasses to filter the emissions from your phone or computer screen, or to place a protective screen on your device that blocks harmful light from getting to your eyes. 

You can also simply take more breaks from screen-time to limit the amount of eye strain and dryness you feel.  

02. If Possible, Limit Antihistamines

While they combat allergy symptoms, they can actually cause additional dryness to your eyes. They work by blocking your body’s response to allergens. Unfortunately, a typical response to allergens is watery eyes, so antihistamines can cause more discomfort if you tend to suffer from eye dryness. 

Other Medications Cause Dry Eyes 

According to an article by WebMD, other medications, that you may not be able to limit, can also cause dry eyes. Some of these include: 

  • Antidepressants 
  • Parkinson’s Medications 
  • Sleeping Pills 
  • Acne Medication 
  • Birth Control Pills and Other Hormones 
  • Blood Pressure Medications 
  • Nasal Decongestants 
  • Common NSAIDs, like Ibuprofen 

03. Do Eye Exercises

How often do we use the full range of motion our eyes are capable of? Probably not as often as we should. You can increase your exposure to bad puns and dad jokes to get some eye rolling in, or you can do some intentional eye exercises.  

Eye exercises can help comfort your eyes when they have been focused on a single object (like a computer) for a long time. Here are just a few simple ones that you can commit to memory for later use: 

Exercise 1: Pick out the farthest object in the room (or out the window) that you can see. Focus on it briefly, then move your eyes to something about half as far away. Focus on that for a few seconds before you shift your focus to something close to you. Do this exercise a few times. 

Exercise 2: Use the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes of eye-straining work should be paused for 20 seconds so you can look at something 20 feet away.  

Exercise 3: Without turning your head, use only yours eyes to look to your far left, then look to your far right. Then look all the way up and then all the way down. Repeat this a few times. Follow this with rolling your eyes 3 times to the left then 3 times to right.  

Some free smartphone apps can send you notifications after a certain amount of phone use, or according to a timer if you want to monitor your computer or television time. This will help remind you that it’s time to rest your eyes and do some exercises. Some will even walk you through various eye muscle movements. 

04. Turn Off Your Heater & Bundle Up

Running the heater creates a toasty and comfortable space in these cooler months, but it can wreak havoc on your hair, skin, hydration, and of course your eyes! Save your body and save on your electric bill by bundling up in blankets or warmer clothes instead of running the heater. 

Another option is to run the heater before going to bed to warm up your space, and then turning it off so it doesn’t run all night. 

If it’s just too cold to do without your heater, or perhaps you’re a “fan” of running the fan year-round, consider investing in a humidifier. You can also wear an eye mask to bed to help keep air flow from making direct contact with your eyes and drying them out during the night. 

05. Keep Eye Drops Handy

Artificial tears or lubricating eye drops are a life saver for people with dry eyes. You can choose between the individually packaged vials that are usually preservative-free and disposable, or you can buy small bottles for extended use. There are also gel-like drops that can provide longer-lasting relief, but because they’re thicker, they may blur your vision temporarily. It may be preferable to reserve these for nighttime before you go to sleep.  

Pro Tip: Try refrigerating your eye drops for an extra refreshing burst of relief.  

06. Eat a Balanced Diet

Nutrients in your food can help give your eyes what they need to create tears and keep your eyes feeling fresh.  

Vitamin A, which is known for being good for your eyes, can be found in carrots, eggs, and dairy.  

Vitamin C is great for the blood vessels in your eyes.1 Increase your intake by eating oranges, kale, lemons, and broccoli.2  

Omega-3’s are fatty acids that aid in your visual development and support your retina health. They also combat dry eyes.1 Find Omega-3’s in fish, avocado, flax seeds, chia seeds, walnuts, and soybeans.3 

Vitamin E is an antioxidant that can help protect your eyes by fighting off free radicals. You can find Vitamin E in almonds, sunflower seeds, hazelnuts, and peanuts.1 

07. Avoid Rubbing Your Eyes

It can be tempting to rub your eyes when they feel itchy and dry, but the best thing you can do is to avoid doing exactly that. Try to find relief in some of these other ways and keep hydrated to give your body the moisture it needs from the inside out. 

For information on how to care for your eyes and your sinuses this season, read our article on How to Manage Autumn Allergens at Home. To learn more about the nutrients in your produce and whether freezing them strips their nutritional value, listen to our Podcast on Fruits and Veggies. To access our monthly blog post highlights, subscribe to our newsletter today! 

Sources: 

  1. Silver, Natalie. “7 Best Foods for Healthy Eyes.” Healthline, 9 Feb. 2017, 7 Best Foods for Healthy Eyes. 
  2. Hill, Caroline. “20 Foods That Are High in Vitamin C.” Healthline, 8 June 2018, www.healthline.com/nutrition/vitamin-c-foods#section1. 
  3. Hjalmarsdottir, Freydis. “12 Foods That Are Very High in Omega-3.” Healthline, 30 Sept. 2019, www.healthline.com/nutrition/12-omega-3-rich-foods#1. 

Coping with GERD and Its Symptoms

Coping with GERD and Its Symptoms

Statistics show that “more than 60 million American adults experience heartburn at least once a month, and more than 15 million adults suffer daily from heartburn.”1  

This month is GERD awareness month, and while it isn’t a fancy name for heartburn, heartburn is a major symptom of this disease. We’d like to explain what it is and share some ways to help treat and prevent its symptoms.

What is GERD?

Fresh mint leaves
Cup of coffee

GERD, or Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, is a digestive disorder that causes the contents of your stomach to move back into your esophagus.1

If you are familiar with acid reflux, another way to understand GERD is that it is a more severe and recurring form of acid reflux.  

The most common symptom of GERD is heartburn. With acid reflux, the heartburn may be brought on by certain foods or beverages. With GERD, the triggers are similar, but you may experience heartburn 2 or more times a week!2  

Some GERD triggers include: 

  • Chocolate 
  • Peppermint
  • Fried or fatty foods (this includes cheese and avocado) 
  • Coffee 
  • Alcoholic beverages 
  • Citrus fruits and juices 
  • Tomato products 
  • Peppers 

According to the Mayo clinic, additional symptoms, aside from heartburn, include “regurgitation of food or sour liquid [vomiting], difficulty swallowing, coughing, wheezing, and chest pain — especially while lying down at night.”2 

Grapefruit
Red peppers

Who Can Get It?

Anyone can develop GERD or experience varying degrees of its symptoms. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases explains that you are more likely to experience GERD if: 

  • You are overweight, obese, or pregnant: This is because the extra pressure on your abdomen can cause the muscle that separates your esophagus from your stomach to relax or weaken. 
  • You take certain medications like: 
    • Asthma medication 
    • Calcium channel blockers 
    • Antihistamines 
    • Painkillers 
    • Sedatives 
    • Antidepressants 
  • You are a smoker, or you are exposed to secondhand smoke

Natural Remedies

Glass of Water with spoon of baking soda
Girl blowing bubble gum balloon

The Fisher-Titus Healthy Living Team, of the Fisher-Titus Medical Center, composed this list of 7 natural home remedies for GERD. You can view the full details about each remedy on their website here 

  1. Baking Soda: 1 tsp with 8 ounces of water to neutralize stomach acid 
  2. Chewing Gum: Chew sugar-free gum 30 minutes after eating 
  3. Don’t Lie Down After Eating: Eat 3-4 hours before you lie down 
  4. Eat Low or No-Acid Fruits: Fully ripened Bananas, Apples, Honeydew, Cantaloupe, and Watermelon 
  5. Ginger Tea: Consume before meals to prevent symptoms 
  6. Mustard: 1 tablespoon of mustard to ease symptoms 
  7. Chamomile Tea: 1 cup 30 minutes to 1 hour before bedtime 
Assortment of Low Acid Fruits
Cup of Chamomile Tea

Lifestyle Changes Can Help 

In addition to avoiding certain foods and beverages, lifestyle changes can help you mitigate the symptoms and avoid flareups.  

The Mayo Clinic suggests that affected individuals try: 

  • Losing excess weight 
  • Eating smaller meals 
  • Raising the head of the bed 
  • Avoiding tobacco 
  • Not wearing tight fitting clothes around the abdomen 

 Is There a Treatment for GERD? 

Many doctors will prescribe nutrition and lifestyle changes to treat GERD and that’s oftentimes enough for milder cases. Over-the-counter antacids are also commonly recommended.  

For more severe cases, doctors may go a step further and recommend prescription medications to help manage symptoms, order an endoscopy to look for irritation or inflammation in the esophageal tissue, or they may order an upper gastrointestinal x-ray to rule out other potential conditions.1  

If you have any concerns about your gastroesophageal health, talk to your doctor to get personalized information and the most accurate course of action for your unique situation.  

For our registered dietitian’s insights on spicy foods and what they do to your insides, check out her answer to this reader’s question on Hot Peppers! Or, take a look at her answer to this question on Inflammatory Foods and their effects on your GI tract. To access our monthly blog post highlights, subscribe to our newsletter today! 

Sources:

  1. “GERD: Symptoms, Causes, Treatments, Remedies for Relief.” Edited by Minesh Khatri MD, WebMD, 2019, www.webmd.com/heartburn-gerd/guide/reflux-disease-gerd-1#1.

     

  2. Kashyap, Purna. “Acid Reflux and GERD: The Same Thing?” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 31 July 2019, www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heartburn/expert-answers/heartburn-gerd/faq-20057894. 

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