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Are Daily Cold Showers Good for You?

24 Apr

Since ancient times, as far back as the days of Hippocrates (the father of medicine), people have taken cold baths in the belief it could both treat serious illness and maintain one’s good health.

In a 2016 study conducted by a team of Dutch researchers, a group of roughly 2,800 participants were split into four groups: three of which were asked to take a 30, 60, or 90 second shower every day for a month while the last group avoided cold showers to serve as a control group.

Nearly 80% of participants completed the study, of which two-thirds continued to take regular cold showers after their initial 30-day commitment had ended. Outcome assessments revealed those in the experimental groups experienced an increase in quality of life as well as a 29% reduction in sick days from work that researchers did not observe in the control group. Some participants even noted their cold showers increased their energy in a manner similar to drinking a caffeinated beverage. Of note, the results were consistent across all three groups, suggesting a 30-second cold shower was just as beneficial as a 60- or 90-second cold shower.

Presently, the authors of the study can only speculate on why the study participants benefited from cold showers. Possible explanations include: the shivering induced by cold exposure increases hormones in the body that can affect the immune system; cold exposure creates some type of neurological benefit; or the effect among participants was entirely psychological, as they had volunteered for a study about how cold showers might improve one’s health.

Lastly, the researchers even speculate that routine cold showers may affect the body in the same manner as engaging in regular physical activity, thus improving the participants’ fitness levels. They write, “In the present trial, reduction of sickness absence of a routine cold shower (29%) was comparable to the effect of regular physical activity (35%).” Of course, more research is necessary to understand why frequent cold exposure has been historically observed as having healthy benefits.

FOR A FREE NO-OBLIGATION CONSULTATION CALL 717-697-1888

Dr. Brent Binder
856 Century Drive, Suite C
Mechanicsburg Pa, 17055
Member of Chiro-Trust.org

High-Intensity Interval Training – What Is That?

27 Mar

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is characterized by 30-60 second bouts of high-intensity output followed by a very low-intensity exercise (like walking or slow pedaling) which allows one’s heart rate and breathing to recover before the next high-intensity segment.

Studies have shown HIIT can produce similar results as low-intensity aerobic exercise, but with significant differences in intensity, duration, and energy output. HIIT participants can experience improved maximal rate of oxygen uptake (VO2max), improved skeletal muscle capillarization, increased enzymes of fat metabolism, and improved insulin sensitivity—all of which result in better overall health-status and physical performance.

Three separate studies report that HIIT can reduce one’s body fat percentage using durations of only nine total minutes high-intensity activity per week—without controlling food intake! A 2016 study looked at even shorter weekly time durations and included both male and female participants to see what differences exist between the sexes.

The study involved 24 men (average age 38) and 17 women (average age 41) who performed HIIT three mornings a week using a cycle ergometer followed by a blood sample draw over the course of twelve weeks. Their routine consisted of a two-minute warm-up (moderate intensity) followed by four bouts of 20 seconds at maximum effort (set at 175% of the workload attained in the VO2max test) separated by two-minute recovery bouts using very low-intensity cycling (~20% VO2max).

After the three-month study, the participants experienced a lower body fat percentage (average 1%), higher rates of fatty acid oxidation (average 13%), and a greater VO2max (average 9%). Women had greater gains in their VO2max than men, while men lost more fat than the women. Keep in mind the participants only engaged in high-intensity activity a total of 240 seconds per week!

The “TAKE HOME” message is that if you don’t enjoy spending 30-60 minutes per day doing aerobic exercises, then HIIT may be something to consider, as it can produce similar (sometimes even better) results in less time.

FOR A FREE NO-OBLIGATION CONSULTATION CALL 717-697-1888

Dr. Brent Binder
856 Century Drive, Suite C
Mechanicsburg Pa, 17055

Member of Chiro-Trust.org

 

How Can I Improve My Sleep Quality?

27 Feb

Here are a few ways to improve your sleep quality in spite of a busy lifestyle:

  • SET A SCHEDULE: Set a time for BOTH going to bed AND getting up in the morning, preferably at the same times each day—even on weekends.
  • EXERCISE: Try to get 20-30 minutes of exercise every day (but NOT just prior to bedtime). FIRST thing in the morning is often the best time—before we can “talk” ourselves out of it!
  • AVOID CAFFEINE, NICOTINE, & ALCOHOL: These stimulate the brain and keep us awake. Caffeine sources include coffee, chocolate, soft drinks, non-herbal teas, diet drugs, and some pain relievers. Smoking promotes light sleep and early morning waking from nicotine withdrawal. Alcohol also interferes with deep sleep and REM sleep—especially when consumed before bedtime!
  • RELAX BEFORE BED: Take a warm bath, read (but not an action-packed book), and/or perform relaxation exercises before bedtime, as studies have demonstrated these to help one fall asleep.
  • SLEEP UNTIL SUNRISE: Try to wake up with the sun or turn on very bright lights in the morning. This helps “set” the body’s biological clock and exposure to morning sunlight can help people fall asleep later that night.
  • GET OUT OF BED: If you can’t sleep, do something like read, watch TV, or listen to music until you feel tired. Anxiety about NOT being able to sleep contributes to insomnia!
  • CONTROL ROOM TEMPERATURE: Keep the temperature comfortable. If the room is either too hot or too cold, it may prevent you from both falling asleep and also reaching deep, restful sleep when you do finally clock out.
  • SLEEP AIDS: These can include sleep supplements such as valerian root, melatonin, chamomile tea, and/or kava starting with a low dose and gradually increase it as needed.

Other “lifestyle” tips on getting a higher quality sleep include: 1) keep noise and light to a minimum (use earplugs, window shades, or an eye mask); 2) avoid large meals two hours before bedtime; 3) avoid afternoon naps; 4) stop mentally taxing tasks one hour pre-bedtime; and 5) avoid emotional discussions/thoughts right before bedtime.

This list is certainly finite and could go on much longer. The BOTTOM LINE is that if you need help, your doctor of chiropractic can offer a LOT of benefits and when necessary, can work with primary care physicians and sleep specialists—all in the quest of getting you to sleep!

FOR A FREE NO-OBLIGATION CONSULTATION CALL 717-697-1888

Dr. Brent Binder
856 Century Drive, Suite C
Mechanicsburg Pa, 17055

Member of Chiro-Trust.org

This information should not be substituted for medical or chiropractic advice. Any and all healthcare concerns, decisions, and actions must be done through the advice and counsel of a healthcare professional who is familiar with your updated medical history.

How Important is Sleep?

30 Jan

Do you frequently feel sleepy throughout the day? Do you doze off soon after you sit down? Do you feel “restored” when you wake up in the morning? How much sleep is REALLY needed and how important is it? Let’s take a look…

The short answer is that sleep is REALLY important! Prior to the 1950s, most authorities thought sleep was just a passive, dormant part of life. However, we’ve come to appreciate that our brains are quite active during sleep, and sleep quality affects our daily functioning and our physical and mental health in ways we’re JUST beginning to understand!

There are five phases of sleep: stage 1-4 and REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. These stages occur in that order creating distinctly different brain wave patterns. We spend about 50% of our sleep in stage two sleep, about 20% in REM sleep, and about 30% in the other stages (this varies with age).

We sleep much lighter in the early stages (one and two) of sleep—meaning it’s easy to be woken up by noises or other disturbances. Sleep is much deeper during stages three and four (called delta wave sleep) and if something manages to disturb these stages of sleep, you’ll find yourself groggy and disoriented for the first couple minutes upon waking. REM sleep includes rapid, irregular breathing, increased heart rate and blood pressure, and this is often when bizarre, illogical dreams occur.

Infants need require about sixteen hours of sleep, teenagers need nine hours, and adults should sleep seven to eight hours a night (more during pregnancy). Too little sleep leads to “sleep debt,” which must eventually be re-paid. Though we can function on little sleep for a while, our judgment, reaction time, and other functions are impaired. If you feel drowsy during the day, experts say you haven’t had enough sleep, which unfortunately has become the norm in our society!

There are MANY studies that make it clear that sleep deprivation is DANGEROUS! Sleep deprived drivers may be as unsafe on the road as drunk drivers. In fact, experts estimate driver fatigue plays a role in about 100,000 car wrecks and 1,500 deaths each year in the Unites States alone—which is probably a conservative estimate!

While we are still trying to figure out WHY sleep is so important, animal studies show that rats will die within three weeks when they are deprived of sleep and within five weeks if they’re only deprived of REM sleep.

Bottom line: getting enough quality sleep each night is important for maintaining your mental and physical health.

FOR A FREE NO-OBLIGATION CONSULTATION CALL 717-697-1888

Dr. Brent Binder
856 Century Drive, Suite C
Mechanicsburg Pa, 17055

Member of Chiro-Trust.org

This information should not be substituted for medical or chiropractic advice. Any and all healthcare concerns, decisions, and actions must be done through the advice and counsel of a healthcare professional who is familiar with your updated medical history.

Walking vs. Running – What’s the Best?

26 Dec

The focus on aerobic exercise is all around us. You can’t pass a magazine stand without being inundated with cover pictures of people walking, running, cycling, or doing some form of exercise. So the question begs, is walking good enough? Let’s take a look!

A GREAT plus about walking is that it can be done virtually anywhere and at any time, indoors or outdoors. It can be mixed into a routine that may include stretching, strengthening, balance training, HIIT (high-intensity interval training), and more. The options associated with combining walking with other forms of exercise are limited only by one’s imagination!

Though walking may not be as “sexy” as some other sports, scientific evidence continues to grow regarding the benefits of walking when compared with other more physically intensive activities.

It appears the trend of walking is catching on! The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that from 2005 to 2010, 20 million more people initiated the habit of walking for at least ten minutes once a week. With this increase, New York, Chicago, Cleveland, and Boston and many other cities have transformed busy traffic routes into pedestrian-friendly pathways. A trend of changing from walking as a sport or separate activity to walking as a necessity such as to get to work, school, or to shops and grocery stores IN PLACE OF driving is gradually becoming more popular!

Doctors, insurance companies, and public health personnel have been promoting walking because, quite simply, “it’s good for us!” Some have described walking as “a wonder drug” without a prescription or cost because of its MANY benefits—­a few of which include: 1) weight loss and maintenance; 2) stimulates energy (especially a couple hours after eating due to a drop in blood sugar levels); 3) it lifts our spirits (in just ten minutes, it boosts the mood for up to two hours!); 3) it strengthens our memory (in an elderly study group, 40 min. walks, three times a week resulted in a 2% average increase in the size of the hippocampus vs. a 1.4% loss in size in those that utilized only stretching; 4) heart disease protection (lowers BP by at least 4.2% and heart disease risk by 4.5%); and 5) may reduce cancer risk (in those with colorectal cancer, those that walked for six or more hours a week were 60% less likely to die from the disease than the sedentary patients. One hour of daily walking may reduce a woman’s likelihood of a breast cancer onset by 14%).

If a more intense exercise effect is desired, interspersing short, intense bursts of high-intensity activity for short time periods can add additional health benefits. For example, try walking for five minutes at a leisurely pace (2.5-3 miles/hour on a treadmill) followed by five minutes at a brisk pace (3-3.6 mph)—walk as if you’re late for an appointment, followed by a 30 second really fast walk (4.5 mph) and then taper back down in reverse order. Increase the ‘sets’ gradually as you’re able to.

There are so many ways you can walk! The bottom line: Whether you walk, run, or mix it up, the evidence is clear—ALL approaches far outweigh none. Plus, you’ll live a longer and happier life!

FOR A FREE NO-OBLIGATION CONSULTATION CALL 717-697-1888

Dr. Brent Binder
856 Century Drive, Suite C
Mechanicsburg Pa, 17055

Member of Chiro-Trust.org

This information should not be substituted for medical or chiropractic advice. Any and all healthcare concerns, decisions, and actions must be done through the advice and counsel of a healthcare professional who is familiar with your updated medical history.

What About Taking Opioids to Manage Pain?

29 Nov

In the United States: 1) seniors represent over 13% of the population but consume 40% of prescription drugs and 35% of over-the-counter drugs; 2) on average, people 65-69 years old take nearly 14 prescription drugs per year, and those 80-84 take an average of 18; 3) 15-25% of drug use in seniors is considered unnecessary or inappropriate; 4) adverse drug reactions & non-compliance are responsible for 28% of hospitalizations of the elderly; 5) 36% of all reported adverse drug reactions involve an elderly person; 6) annually, 32,000 seniors have hip fractures related to medication-related problems.

Regarding pain control, let’s look at opioid use and the impact it has on our overall health. One recent study investigated problems associated with chronic low back pain (cLBP) and its effect on daily function. The authors specifically focused on the sleep patterns in patients with cLBP and then looked to see if there were differences between those taking opioid vs. non-opioid medication.

The study compared ten healthy “controls” and 21 cLBP patients where six were taking non-opioid meds and fifteen were taking an opioid medication. Using questionnaires and sophisticated sleep study equipment, the researchers found that patients in both cLBP groups—regardless of medication type—had significant sleep and wake disturbances, decreased sleep quality, increased symptoms of insomnia, increased fatigue, spent more time in bed, took longer to fall asleep, and had higher variability in other measurements compared to the control group.

However, those taking opioids (>100 mg morphine-equivalent/day) had distinct abnormal brain activity during sleep unlike the others. It’s well known that sleep disturbance can gravely affect our overall health and longevity, and the use of opioids only makes sleep problems worse!

When compared with a placebo, opioid side effects include: constipation, nausea, somnolence, dizziness, itching, and vomiting. Medications to treat the primary opioid side effect of constipation (such as Movantik) have their own side-effects when compared to a placebo including abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea, flatulence, vomiting, headache, and sweating. These side-effects may prompt yet another medication to try to counteract the above, thus creating a dangerous vicious cycle!

As a disclaimer, we realize that many people HAVE TO take certain meds to stay alive or to achieve an acceptable quality of life.

The “take-home” message here is to minimize the amount of medication taken as much as possible making sure the benefits truly outweigh the risks! For conditions like musculoskeletal pain, consider non-drug, non-surgical options like chiropractic care. Many studies show chiropractic care is not only highly safe but it can get patients out of pain fairly quickly. Additionally, the benefits may persist long after treatment ends, something that doesn’t typically happen if you cease taking a medication for such conditions.

FOR A FREE NO-OBLIGATION CONSULTATION CALL 717-697-1888

Dr. Brent Binder
856 Century Drive, Suite C
Mechanicsburg Pa, 17055

Member of Chiro-Trust.org