Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Why is it important to eat food that’s in season?

Seasonal food is fresher, tastier and more nutritious than food consumed out of season. Even though we all like to eat strawberries year round, the best time to eat them is when they can be purchased directly from a local grower shortly after harvest. Seasonal fruits and vegetables produced on local farms are often fresher, as they do not require long distances for transport. Also, unlike out of season produce which is harvested early in order to be shipped and distributed to your local retail store, crops picked at their peak of ripeness are also better tasting and full of flavor. What’s more, studies have shown that fruits and vegetables contain more nutrients when allowed to ripen naturally on their parent plant.

Why is eating local food important?

Local food benefits the environment. Purchasing locally grown foods helps support local farms and maintains farmland and open space in your community. A recent USDA study also found that direct-to-consumer producers were less likely to apply pesticides and herbicides to control weeds and insects than conventional producers (with the exception of chemicals to control insects and weeds in fruit, nut and berry crops).

Local food supports the local economy. The money you spend on products from local farmers and growers stays in the community and is reinvested with other local businesses. In addition, food grown locally, processed locally and distributed locally (for example, to local restaurants) generates jobs and subsequently helps stimulate local economies.

Local growers can tell you how the food was grown. When you buy directly from farmers, you have the opportunity to ask what practices they use to raise and harvest the crops. When you know where your food comes from and who grew it, you know a lot more about your food

Where can I find recipes for the local, seasonal produce on this site?

You can find lots of wonderful recipes for even the most obscure local and seasonal produce in our Real Food Right Now series.

Where can I buy local, seasonal produce in my state?

Most of the produce included in the Seasonal Food Guide can be found at your local farmers’ market, through local Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)programs operating in your area and at restaurants and businesses committed to seasonal, local food.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

What Is Tabata Training?

The History of Tabata

Tabata training was discovered by Japanese scientist Dr. Izumi Tabata and a team of researchers from the National Institute of Fitness and Sports in Tokyo.

Tabata and his team conducted research on two groups of athletes. The first group trained at a moderate intensity level while the second group trained at a high-intensity level. The moderate intensity group worked out five days a week for a total of six weeks; each workout lasted one hour. The high-intensity group worked out four days a week for six weeks; each workout lasted four minutes and 20 seconds (with 10 seconds of rest in between each set).

The results; Group 1 had increased their aerobic system (cardiovascular), but showed little or no results for their anaerobic system (muscle). Group 2 showed much more increase in their aerobic system than Group 1, and increased their anaerobic system by 28 percent.

In conclusion, high-intensity interval training has more impact on both the aerobic and anaerobic systems.

The Tabata Program

Each exercise in a given Tabata workout lasts only four minutes, but it's likely to be one of the longest four minutes you've ever endured. The structure of the program is as follows:

Work out hard for 20 seconds
Rest for 10 seconds
Complete 8 rounds

You push yourself as hard as you can for 20 seconds and rest for 10 seconds. This is one set. You'll complete eight sets of each exercise. 

You can do pretty much any exercise you wish. You can do squats, push-ups, burpees or any other exercise that works your large muscle groups. Kettlebell exercises work great, too.

An example of a Tabata workout looks like this:

1. Push-ups (4 minutes) 
2. Bodyweight Squats (4 minutes)
3. Burpees (4 minutes)
4. Mountain Climbers (4 minutes)

Start with push-ups. Perform them for 20 seconds at a high-intensity. Rest for 10 seconds, and then go back to doing push-ups for 20 seconds. Once you complete eight sets of push-ups, rest for one minute.

Next, move on to squats and repeat the sequence of 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off. Once you finish eight sets of squats, rest for one minute, and then do burpees. After burpees, finish the workout with mountain climbers.

Tabata is great to get a quick workout in if you're short on time, you need to switch up your routine, or you want improve endurance and speed. Incorporate this type of workout into your fitness routine and produce results.

Sample Tabata Workouts and Exercises:

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Go Ahead... Take That Vacation!

Americans generally believe that they need to “deserve” their vacations—that they should work hard, even push themselves, before they actually take a break. 
Consider these statistics:  

Although Americans have fewer vacation days than people in any other country, they have been taking less and less vacation over the last 15 years. 

Fifty-five percent of Americans did not use all their vacation days in 2017.

Even when they actually do take vacation, 41 percent are checking into work while away (i.e., they are not fully unplugging).

84 percent of U.S. executives have cancelled vacations in order to work.

There may be cultural reasons for this phenomenon. Countries most influenced by the Protestant work ethic, like the United States, place a lot of value on industriousness and proving oneself — as opposed to countries influenced by Catholicism, which is a salvation-based religion. In Catholic-influenced France, for example, 90 percent of people take all of their vacation days (despite having more than twice as many —30!—as most Americans).

Ironically, while Americans may pride themselves on their hard work and dedication, research suggests that we will actually work harder, perform better, and have greater health, stamina, and enthusiasm for our work if we take time off. 

Three ways vacation is good for you

Research suggests that leisure is an important predictor of our well-being and satisfaction with life, including our health, work engagement, creativity, and even marital satisfaction. 

1. Vacation is relaxing. We often take vacations in order to relax, but do they actually work? Scientists out of the University of California, San Francisco, examined this question with a rigorous study: They looked at the impact of a resort vacation and a meditation retreat on biological measures of stress and immune function. The data showed that a resort vacation not only makes us feel more energetic and less stressed than we were before we took the vacation, it also leads to a strong and immediate impact on molecular networks associated with stress and immune function. Participants who attended the meditation retreat also showed a boost in antiviral activity.

So pick your favorite leisure activity: surfing in the sun and hanging under the cabana, or sitting on a zafu and taking yoga. 

2. Breaks make you more productive. Another personal and professional advantage of taking vacations is the ability to detach from work.

Sabine Sonnentag, professor of organizational psychology at the University of Mannheim in Germany, finds that the inability to detach from work comes with symptoms of burnout, which of course impact well-being and productivity. However, disengaging from work when you are not at work, she finds, makes us more resilient in the face of stress and more productive and engaged at work. Even a short weekend getaway can provide significant work-stress recovery, while longer trips away provide even more relief.

After a vacation, 64 percent of people say that they are "refreshed and excited to get back to my job." It’s a win-win both for employees and organizations alike, especially given the fact that unused vacation costs U.S. business$224 billion per year.  

3. A change of pace boosts creativity. Another professional advantage from taking time off is a boost in creativity. Across countries and industries,CEOs rate  creativity as the #1 most important trait for all incoming employees. Yet researcher Kyung Hee Kim, author of The Creativity Challenge, has shown that we are facing a dramatic "creativity crisis," with creativity scores dropping significantly in younger generations. Here again, more vacations and leisure may help. 

Many workers tend to specialize in their own field, and fail to explore new areas or diversify their interests. Yet research shows that being exposed to new and different experiences actually boosts your creativity. For example, one study showed that hiking in nature disconnected from all devices for four days—a very unusual experience in our day and age—led to a 50 percent spike in creativity. 
Brain imaging studies show that doing nothing, being idle, daydreaming and realxing create alpha waves in the brain that are key to creative insights and innovative breakthroughs. And research by Dr. Barbara Fredrickson has shown that positive emotions—the kind we feel on a relaxing, playful vacation—make us more inventive and able to think outside the box.

How to make the most of your vacation

When planning your time off, keep in mind that all leisure activities are not created equal. A German study comparing different leisure activities showed that while spending time with friends, doing sports, and vacationing boost your well-being substantially, other leisure activities including Internet browsing and TV watching do not; in fact, they lead to lower satisfaction with life. That means that your couch isn’t necessarily the best vacation destination.

Depending on your age and gender, research by Iva Sverko and colleagues has shown, different leisure activities may lead to greater well-being—but for people of all ages, leisure activities like visiting friends and family and going to church are positively linked to well-being. Later in life, for example, social activities seem to be particularly important. This finding makes sense since a large and growing body of research shows that the degree to which we are socially connected across our lifespan significantly improves our physical and psychological health, and even our longevity.

When should you schedule your time away from work? Some of us are so good at delayed gratification that we’re constantly putting off our vacations, thinking we’ll enjoy our “well-deserved” leisure more later—after we write that report, finish that big project, or get a promotion. But this is not necessarily true: A new study shows that fun times are fun times no matter what, and we enjoy them just as much whether they come before or after hard work. Also, the professional and personal benefits that we get from leisure time may help us succeed at our work goals. 

So plan your vacation now. Better yet, don’t get caught up in too much planning. Another recent study suggests that spontaneous leisure activities are more rewarding than planned ones. So let your hair down, play hooky, and let loose once in a while. There’s still some summer left, so enjoy!

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

It is the position of the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) that massage therapy can improve health and wellness through its effects on the physical, mental and social well-being of an individual.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), "Health is a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity." With this in mind, it would be appropriate to state that anything that positively impacts the physical, mental and social well-being of an individual as well as possibly decreasing incidence of disease would improve health.

“Quality of life has become a pre-eminent goal of rehabilitation and a key outcome measure in ascertaining the effectiveness of interventions and rehabilitation programs.  Indeed, maintaining or enhancing quality of life is the ultimate goals [sic] of all health-care professional interventions.” Quality of life is regarded as a key determinant of overall health. 

We are now starting to understand how greatly stress negatively impacts our lives, health, well-being and quality of life. Research has shown that massage therapy can have a positive influence with the issue of stress and improving quality of life.

Research is showing us that massage therapy can help in varying populations with:

Boosting immune function 
Lowering blood pressure 
Heart rate 
Decreasing pain 
Range of motion
Quality of sleep 

There are some smaller studies indicating massage therapy can help those with dementia, and may improve body image.

Massage therapy helps with various health conditions including but not limited to: headaches, carpal tunnel, post-surgical recovery, burn recovery, fibromyalgia and minimizing side effects of anti-cancer treatments.  

Massage addresses the issues in the WHO's definition of health; it can aid in physical, mental, and social well-being; and it may help prevent disease by improving immune function and reducing stress.