Achy spine? We’ve got your back with these drug-free remedies from Details magazine:
- Yoga: researchers say a weekly class may improve back function more than medication or physical therapy.
- Stretching: may be as effective as yoga for a healthier back.
- Massage: weekly massages have been shown to reduce back pain.
- Acupuncture: may be effective in relieving chronic back pain.
- Talk therapy: British researchers say even just talking to a therapist may ease your discomfort.
- Strength training: getting your back and core stronger can do wonders.
- Physical therapy: can limit your need for further medical treatment for back pain or injuries and reduce healthcare costs.
- Osteopathic manual therapy: manipulation of your back muscles by an osteopath or chiropractor can help ease pain.
- Stress reduction: relaxes those tense back muscles.
- Meditation: another proven relaxation technique that can reduce pain.
- Comfrey root: apply a paste made from this root to your lower back for pain relief.
- Aquatic therapy: low-impact exercise for back health.
- Tai Chi: ancient martial arts practice also shown to reduce back pain.
- The Alexander technique: posture-based training for a stronger, healthier back.
- Pilates: exercise can actually make you hurt less than sitting around and resting your back.
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A public-health campaign in England helped cut salt consumption by 15 percent, which in turn was credited reducing stroke and heart disease in the country by 40 percent in the last 10 years, the Los Angeles Times reported April 14.
The British government launched a successful campaign in 2003 to get manufacturers to reduce the salt content in processed foods. Since that time, salt consumption has fallen along with blood-pressure and cholesterol levels. At the same time, smoking has declined, while produce consumption and body-mass index has risen.
Processed foods account for about 80 percent of all sodium intake, and while researchers can’t definitively attribute the decline in salt use to the government’s campaign, it seems a likely cause.
“The U.K. is way ahead of the United States in reducing sodium intake and improving the public’s health,” says Michael Jacobson, executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI). When CSPI tracked 480 processed-food items over a 6-year period ending in 2011, they found that U.S. manufacturers had cut the sodium in 205, left salt content the same in 117, and increased the sodium content in 158.
The details on the U.K. campaign and its results were published in the journal BMJ Open.
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Some gyms and personal trainers are taking technology to the next level by tracking your exercise activities as recorded by fitness devices like FitBit, the New York Times reported April 17.
It used to be that trainers could only control what clients did in the gym. But for those who need more hand-holding/scolding about their everyday habits, motion-sensitive fitness devices can provide detailed information to exercise consultants on literally every step you take, as well as how much you are sleeping or sitting.
How much information you want to provide to your trainer is your choice, of course, but as fitness instructor Angela Harrigan of Life Time Fitness says: “I know if they’re keeping me from seeing the data, they’re probably up to no good.”
Some gyms are selling activity trackers as well as encouraging their use. “The gym market has long wanted to extend beyond its present reach,” says Bryan O’Rourke, president of the Fitness Industry Technology Council. “There’s going to be the merging of the digital and physical worlds from a service perspective, just like it is in retail shopping.”
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The secret to beautiful skin may not come from a cosmetics bottle but rather from sweaty exercise, the New York Times reported April 16.
The outer layer of your skin gets dryer, denser and flakier as you age, while the layer of skin below that becomes thinner. The result is wrinkles, but exercise not only can keep your skin younger-looking, it also may reduce some of the signs of aging.
Researchers say that after age 40, people who exercise frequently have skin that is much closer in composition to 20- and 30-year-olds than it is to other people their own age. Even people whose skin looked normal for their age were able to improve its composition by starting and maintaining an exercise regimen.
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Try peas and beans rather than pork and beans if you want to lower your levels of “bad” cholesterol.
The New York Times reported April 14 that eating 4.5 ounces of cooked legumes daily can reduce your levels of LDL cholesterol by 5 percent, according to researchers. If everyone did so, heart attacks and other major cardiovascular events (like strokes) could be reduced by 5-6 percent, the study says.
Currently, the average American eats only about one ounce of legumes daily.
The research was published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.
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