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A Flexible Lifestyle: The Power of Stretching

Ever since I was 8 years old, I understood the importance of stretching. As a dancer, athlete and performer, I can say without a doubt that stretching plays one of the biggest roles in my success. In ballet class, we’d spend the entire time active stretching at the barre. We would stretch before and after every class. After so many years, I became hard-wired to “active/dynamic stretch” to prep for dancing, then stretch after dancing to recover and get rid of toxins and lactic acid build up. It was ingrained and automatic, and one of the best healthy habits that I’ve held onto.

Stretching is not just sitting in a position and holding it there until you want to cry. It starts with observing what’s tight or achy, then researching various ways to lengthen and stretch the muscles in different ways. Lastly, and most importantly, there’s breathing.

BREATHE AS YOU STRETCH

Learning how to breathe before, during and coming out of a stretch is what people neglect the most. Use your breath to increase the intensity of your stretches. Move into your stretch on an exhale. Every time you inhale, hold the stretch. On each exhale, try to go further into the stretch, without forcing or tightening your muscles. Basically, sometimes there’s a point in a stretch where your body reflexes out of it, focus on breathing out and through that to retrain your muscles to tolerate more flexibility. The appropriate time to be in a stretch is actually two minutes!  

THE BENEFITS OF STRETCHING

Being limber helps your body have more range of motion so that you can assume new and different positions without the risk of tearing or straining something. My boyfriend is a professional skateboarder and has no prior knowledge of stretching and how it can help prevent injuries. So I’ve taught him to loosen areas where he’s been really tight — and he had no idea! It was really cool to coach him through loosening his hips and to see how much it has helped him.


READ MORE > 8 MUST-DO STRETCHES TO PREVENT AND RECOVER FROM WORKOUT INJURIES


As a professional dancer, we don’t have guided warmups before auditions, rehearsals or even live performances. Our bodies have to be 100% ready when we step on stage. There’s a lot of prep before a performance so we can do our ultimate best each time without getting injured.

HOW I STRETCH

I love coming home after a long eight-hour rehearsal and stretch out the day. I’ll just plop down on the floor with a foam roller and some lacrosse balls and close my eyes. I’m not that talented at meditating, so I use stretching to help me calm my mind. I’ll find my breath and wring out any residual stress. It’s like a mental cleanse before hopping into bed then starting a new day.


READ MORE > 5-POSE YOGA FIX FOR DESK DWELLERS


Stretching isn’t just for those who are really active. It helps everyone. Even on a 9–5 workday when you don’t leave your desk once and you’re too tired to go to the gym, you go home and stretch! Stretch while reading or while watching TV. After sitting in that chair all day your back needs to be lengthened, your shoulders and chest opened from hunching over, your hips loosened and wrists unlocked. You will feel like a new human, trust me.


Shop Dani Vitale’s favorite Under Armour gear.


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Lifestyle Diseases Can Kill 25% Of Indians Before 70 – Study

Lifestyle Diseases Can Kill 25% Of Indians Before 70!

Hello All!!!!

Isn’t it commonplace in your daily conversations with people to discover that most of them or their relatives suffer from diabetes, heart issues or even cancer? Isn’t this eventually on the rise?

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Well, to confirm this casual observation there exists a study! Various global and domestic organizations have estimated that one out of 4 every Indians is at the risk of losing his life due to non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer before turning 70. Lifestyle diseases are on an all time high in India.

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The findings say that each year around 5.8 million Indians lose their lives because of heart and lung diseases, stroke, diabetes and cancer. In simple words, 1 in 4 Indians are at the risk of dying because of a non-communicable disease before they turn 70.

Experts are of the opinion that the government has to build awareness programmes immediately for NCDs (non-communicable disease) just like how it is for HIV and tuberculosis.

There has been a significant rise in NCDs over the past decade and this is chiefly due to the drastic changes in lifestyle patterns. The government has so far been focusing on HIV and tropical diseases. But now there is an upsurge in NCDs and there is a need to create awareness right from community level to across the Nation. This is a must as awareness is a very low with regard to NCDs.

Organisations such as World Health Organisation and other agencies of the UN have planned certain strategies to tackle the increase in burden due to change in lifestyle and eating habits.

WHO, Lifestyle Diseases Can Kill 25% Of Indians Before 70

The government has already said that it is ready to roll out a programme for prevention and promotion in 6 districts in order to spread awareness about the diseases.

The director of general health services has said that they have selected 6 districts and around 200 doctors will be posted in every district. The doctors are currently getting training in the same regard and the programme will be launched by the month end.

According to the 2014 non-communicable disease country profile released by WHO, diseases like cancer, cardiovascular diseases and chronic respiratory problems are the major global killers. NCDs account for 38 million deaths each year with a mammoth 28 million in low and middle income nations like India. WHO estimates that non-communicable diseases account for around 60% of the total deaths reported in a year in India.

The major NCDs prevalent in India are:

  • Heart and vascular diseases
  • Common cancers
  • Chronic lung disease
  • Diabetes
  • Mental illness

The key reasons for the increase in these diseases is an unhealthy diet, lack of physical activity, use of tobacco and alcohol along with psycho-social stress.

Action needs to be taken and people must start realizing that these diseases can be prevented by making changes in an individual’s lifestyle.

Hope this post on how Lifestyle Diseases Can Kill 25% Of Indians Before 70 has been an eye opener!

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Secrets to a Heart-Healthy Lifestyle

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, but there are many things you can do on a daily basis to help reduce your chances of falling victim to the condition — and it’s never too late to start.

Here are few steps you can take now to keep your heart healthy and strong:  

BE ACTIVE

“Physical activity boosts your overall cardiovascular health by helping to improve and maintain your cholesterol levels, blood pressure, blood sugar and a healthy BMI,” says Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum, the national spokesperson for the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women campaign. “Any type of activity that makes you move your body and burn calories is beneficial for your heart health — running, biking, strength training and even gardening,” says Steinbaum. “The most important feature is getting your heart rate up, and doing that 150 minutes a week.”


READ MORE > 12 AMAZING EXERCISE BENEFITS THAT AREN’T ABOUT WEIGHT LOSS


HIT THE YOGA MAT

Studies show yoga offers many defenses against heart disease. “Yoga can help lower blood pressure, increase lung capacity, improve respiratory function and heart rate and boost circulation and muscle tone. Yoga has been shown to decrease the stress hormones and fight-or-flight response and decrease blood pressure, heart rate and can help dilate the arteries,” says Steinbaum.

EAT A HEART-HEALTHY DIET

“Maintaining a healthy diet, that you adopt early in life, can help keep your heart healthy by keeping your cholesterol, sugar and blood pressure low,” explains Steinbaum. Morton Tavel, MD, clinical professor emeritus of medicine at the Indiana University School of Medicine recommends the DASH diet as an effective way to stop hypertension. “The DASH diet is a diet that is low in saturated and trans fat, cholesterol and total fat. It is rich in fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy foods. The DASH diet also includes whole-grain products, fish, poultry and nuts. It encourages fewer servings of red meat, sweets and sugar-containing beverages. It is rich in magnesium, potassium and calcium, as well as protein and fiber,” he explains.

GET YOUR OMEGA-3S

Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to decrease the risk of arrhythmias (abnormal heartbeats), reduce triglyceride levels, slow the growth rate of atherosclerotic plaque and lower blood pressure. Matthew Budoff, MD, professor at the David Geffen School of Medicine and director of cardiology at the Harbor-UCLA Medical Center in Torrance, California, suggests eating two or more servings of fish per week. “Fish is an excellent food substitution for meat products and is high in protein and omega-3’s [good fats],” he explains. To maximize the health benefits, opt for fatty fish such as salmon, herring, lake trout and sardines. Avoid varieties with high mercury levels like swordfish and bigeye tuna.

MANAGE STRESS

“The sooner that you find a regular practice to deal with stress, the better off that you are,” notes Steinbaum. “Stress can be debilitating, increasing blood pressure, heart rate, causing lack of sleep and leading to obesity. And when you’re under stress, making heart-healthy choices is less likely.” To get a grip on life’s anxieties, try meditating, doing a yoga session, listening to calming music, taking a relaxing bath or booking a massage.

STOP SMOKING

Lighting up a cigarette has serious heart-health repercussions. According to Steinbaum, continuing to smoke throughout your life can shave as much as 13–14 years off of it. “Once you stop, your risk for heart disease and stroke can be cut in half after just one year and will continue to decline until it’s as low as a non-smoker’s risk,” she explains.

MANAGE YOUR WEIGHT

According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, being overweight can increase your chances of falling victim to an array of serious ailments such as heart disease. A good way to make sure you are at a healthy weight is to keep tabs on your body mass index. To find your current BMI, plug your weight and height into the MyFitnessPal BMI Calculator. The tool helps you to determine whether or not your BMI falls within a normal range and also suggests a target weight range to aim for if your current body mass index falls outside the healthy zone.

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