All Posts tagged energy

Exercise for your brain?! Heck, yeah!

By Dr. Lindsay Grieve, DC

Becoming a mom has been such a life-changing experience for myself. As a “modern-day” mom I try to be a variety of things for my son: role model, health advocate, provide a loving & nurturing environment and help my son grow up and develop into the person he was meant to be. Oh and did I say fun? I want to do all of the above and also be remembered as the “fun mom”….am I asking for too much?

With all those objectives in mind I make an effort to prepare healthy meals, incorporate fun activities, play dates, get him to bed in a timely manner, teach him to move his body, challenge his mind and exercise his brain. Yes you read that right, exercise his brain!

There is so much growth and development that happens in a child’s first year of life. By the age of 1, the brain grows 2.5-3x it’s size from birth. 1,000 to 100,000 brain synapses are formed in the first year of life alone. By the age of 2, the brain reaches 80-90% of it’s adult volume. And by the age of 6, they have formed almost all of the major sensory and motor pathways they will need for their entire adult life. That is an immense amount of growth and development in a short amount of time! There are a lot of things, particularly in modern-day, that can interfere or hinder a child’s normal growth and development: birth trauma, skipping milestones (ex: going from sitting straight to walking, missing the crawling stage), overuse of “screen-time” (iPad, computer, cell phone, video games, TV, etc), lack of movement and stress.

Did you know movement and brain function are inter-related? A large study conducted in California assessed 1 million students over a 10 year period and found that just 20 minutes of walking improved a child’s ability to concentrate and improved their overall performance on an academic test. Movement and cognition happen in the same parts of the brain and use the same pathways. Our ability to think, control our emotions, pay attention, understand math, learn to spell and use language are all related to our body’s ability to move well.

What if I told you that you can help stimulate your child’s brain by doing specific exercises? When we practice movement patterns we build nerve pathways and establish connections in the brain.  A study was conducted in 2003 that looked at the effect of 6 months of brain-coordination exercises on kids with learning difficulties. The children who were in the exercise group had significant improvements in reading, writing & comprehension, dexterity and speech fluency.  When they followed up with those kids 4 years later the children had still maintained those same improvements….it’s long lasting!

Tonight try these 3 brain stimulating exercises with your little ones. (Some of the exercises may be challenging at first but the exciting thing is, the brain will catch on.) Get down on the floor with your kids and and make it a fun activity.  My son has a blast doing them and some of the exercises are even challenging for me too! We aim to do the exercises every other day.

Log Rolls: great for stimulating the vestibular area of the brain.

Have your child lay on their stomach with their arms out overhead. Keep the body straight and try and encourage them to use their abdominal muscles to slowly roll onto their back. Continue rolling back and forth and work up to 12 rolls to each side.

Inch worms: Great for increasing central muscle tone and overall increasing stimulation to the whole brain. This exercise incorporates cross-body movement which connects the two halves of the brain.

Have you child lay on their back on the floor with their arms at their side, knees bent and their feet flat on the floor. Instruct them to roll one shoulder up and backwards well pushing a little with their feet. This will drag and push the body along the floor. Then roll up the opposite shoulder and do the same.  Continue the exercise for 2 minutes.

CrossCrawling: This is great for integrating the left and right sides of the brain. All actives of the brain require input from both sides of the brain and this movement is essential for optimal brain function for all forms of learning: Reading, thinking, math behaviour, emotional control and planning. Cross-crawling is also essential for training the eyes to cross the midline and for the eyes to focus and track.

Get on your hands and knees. Move the opposite arm and leg forward at the same time. Try to focus on your hands when you do this exercise. Continue for 60 seconds.

For more information and video demonstrations of the above exercises, check out Dr. Lindsay Grieve’s website and blog: www.drlindsaygrieve.com

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Welcome Back Fall!

As the temperatures begin to cool and our schedules begin to look hectic, we can all succumb to that first seasonal cold.  Cold and Flu season may not be here yet, but we know that it is on its way!

We at Thrive wanted to give your immune system a little boost by giving you some ideas on what you can incorporate into your diet that might help you fight off those nasty germs.

Immune Boosting Foods:

Garlic
Add some garlic to your dishes and not only enhance the flavours of your foods, but also allow your white-blood cells (aka. The Cold Fighters), to flourish and increases the efficiency of antibody production.  This means your body is able to fight off any virus more easily, and makes the long cold and flu season a bit shorter.  Have trouble digesting garlic?  Try taking out the green root in the centre of each clove to make those garlic burps a bit less potent.
Citrus
Lemons, limes, grapefruit, oranges- you name it- if it’s a citrus, it has Vitamin C.  Increasing your Vitamin C intake naturally increases your immune efficiency, which is exactly what we need for this time of year.  If you need an easy way to add a bit more Vitamin C into your diet, as well as help increase your water intake, try adding lemon to your morning glass of water.  Not only do you instantly have flavoured water, you start off your day right with a bit of Vitamin C!
Turmeric
Have you been noticing this spice everywhere these days?  Us too!  But for good reason- turmeric is a natural anti-inflammatory and more recent studies show that it also might be good for reducing fever.  So drink up those Turmeric lattes and eat up some Indian curries and you may be helping your health!
 Bell Peppers
These beauties have twice the amount of Vitamin C as citrus, and the added bonus of beta-carotene which is great for healthy skin.  Add some to your stir fry or simply eat as a snack with hummus (perhaps garlic hummus?) and your body will thank you!
Ginger
Ginger works in the same way as Vitamin C and can help you avoid a cold.  It can also help if you are just starting a cold by relieving your sore throat. Feel a tingle in your throat?  Boil some ginger and lemon to make a natural tea that soothes the throat and boosts your immune system.  Add a bit of honey and you have a sure fire way of fighting those cold systems.
For an easy way to combine some of these great immune-boosting ingredients (and some not mentioned here), check out this Turmeric Pineapple Kiwi and Kale recipe:


Ingredients:
2 cups frozen pineapple
¾ cups unsweetened almond milk
½ tsp turmeric
2 kiwis
1 banana
2 cups Kale

Blend all ingredients and enjoy!

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Meditation for the Skeptics!

To some, the word “meditation” connotes relaxation, calm, and introspection. For many others however, the practice falls outside their comfort zone. You may feel confused or awkward, or simply unfamiliar with taking time out for yourself on a regular basis. In truth however, meditation is a fairly flexible practice –it truly is whatever you make of it. Plus it’s one of the most widely accessible and completely free therapeutic activities you can do. Without the necessities of equipment, money, or even very much spare time, excuses for not trying meditation are slim!

Still skeptical? Skim this list of 100 benefits of meditation until one jumps out at you. While all of these are not expected or typical outcomes, the potential exists for meditation to impact many areas of your well-being, whether as a mood stabilizer, a heart rate slower, or an emotional outlet. And if a simple practice can yield so many different psychological, physical and spiritual benefits, it’s definitely worth a try.

While many of us think of meditating as a stress buster, research conducted by Harvard Medical School suggests that the health benefits of meditation may be greater than anyone initially conceived of. In a study, participants who regularly practiced relaxation techniques like meditation were found to have more active disease-fighting genes than those who’d never tried any such thing. It turns out our genes are very responsible to our behaviours and environment. When we create the optimal conditions by relaxing and meditating, many of these genes activate over time.

Since these types of genes are responsible for fighting inflammation and killing diseased cells, it would seem that meditation has the potential power to boost your immune system. The tangible health perks don’t end there. Medical studies have demonstrated that meditating has the potential to boost fertility, ease irritable bowel syndrome, help with chronic pain management, and lower blood pressure.

The scientific support for these important health benefits has begun to inch meditation into mainstream health practiced. Don’t be afraid to join the trend. The key is to redefine meditation so that it means something accessible, uplifting and useful to you personally. Your meditation practice could be as simple as taking time out to stretch, breathe deeply and sit silently for a few minutes when you get home from work. It could be ten minutes spent sitting with your eyes closed in the sun, or a deeply spiritual practice that you conduct with your family and peers. You might also try a group yoga class which can be a rewarding opportunity to try meditative practices with group support.

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5 Reasons to Avoid “Mom Neglect”

Mothers put their children before anything-if you’re a parent, this probably isn’t news to you! The love, commitment and protectiveness we feel toward our children is truly transformative. But how much are moms sacrificing in the name of maternal love?

The degree to which moms are neglecting their own needs in favour of their families’ is impacting both their day-to-day wellness and long-term health goals. The worrisome results of a recent survey reveal that Canadian moms are not taking great care of themselves, instead prioritizing other responsibilities and the health of their children at a personal cost.

So what are moms foregoing in favour of their family duties? The research found that mothers will put off visits to the doctor, exercise and personal pursuits to better serve their children. Moms also make healthy eating a bigger priority for their families than they do for their own diets.

These are troubling findings- though easy enough to believe and understand. What’s important for moms to remember however, is that self-care is an important part of being a good parent. Here are some reasons why.

1. Taking care of yourself will lower your stress. Getting too wrapped up in your maternal duties can cause major burnout. Between bake sales, daycare, soccer lessons and laundry, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Without planned breaks you not only lose some of your personal fulfillment and pursuits- you can also begin to feel like you’re on a hamster wheel with no end in sight. The tasks and chores and everyday trials will never stop- so you need to. Instead of waiting for a break, take one. This will help you calm down, refocus, and return to your other tasks with more clarity and balance.

2. You’ll boost your energy. When you stop making things like nutrition, sleep and exercise priorities in your life, your energy is (unsurprisingly) going to dip. So don’t think of these things as sacrifices for the greater good- see them for what they are: unfair denials to yourself that will prevent you from being an active and energized parent. You need to fuel and strengthen your body properly for one of your most important jobs: being a mother.

3. You’ll see a rise in your mood and an increase in your patience. A rested mom is a calm, rational and patient one. You may not realize how a lack of sleep, a sore back, or low blood sugar are affecting your mood –and by extension, your parenting. Prioritizing your health will help you to keep a clear head, which is important in your role as disciplinarian, adjudicator and teacher.

4. You’ll set a positive example. Think about what your personal neglect is communicating to your children. By making their health a priority but not your own, you may be unknowingly teaching them double standards, or suggesting that their learned behaviours end with adulthood. Try taking a more holistic approach by demonstrating that things like good nutrition and sleep schedules are important for kids and grown-ups alike. In adulthood we also often mimic the parenting styles with which we were brought up. If you’re stretched too thin your children may come to view this as a normal expectation of parents and adults.

5. You have a responsibility to yourself and your family. Being an active, available, present parent requires that you be healthy. If you want to be around for your children for many years to come, it’s never too early to start taking your health seriously.

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Managing Pain with Reiki

Reiki offers a natural alternative to over-the-counter and prescription pain management drugs.

With so many pain management therapies and drugs available, it can be difficult to determine a natural and gentle course of action. For those who suffer from chronic pain, often an alternative approach gives you a secondary, substitute or supplementary treatment option.

Yes but what is this “reiki”?

You might be unfamiliar with reiki since its introduction in Western alternative medicine is relatively recent. It is in fact an ancient Japanese practice based on a belief in the transfer of healing energy from practitioner to patient. During a session, the reiki practitioner will relax your muscles and open energy channels within the body. This is done either through direct touch, or by having the practitioner hold his or her hand just above the targeted area. Once restorative energies have been passed from the healer to the site of pain, patients will typically feel a reduction in stress, pain and fatigue.

Connecting the internal to the physical

Reiki is meant to soothe and repair both physically and mentally. There is an undeniable connection between a person’s anxiety levels and his or her ability to cope with pain. Reiki is meant to improve this coping capability by restoring productive energy. It is therefore not a cure for whatever ailment causes the pain, but has been an effective and soothing treatment for many patients.

One obvious benefit of reiki is its gentleness. For patients who cannot endure skin-to-skin contact, or for those who have been instructed to avoid any contact or rubbing, reiki is a comfortable and suitable choice. Additionally, it carries virtually no risk of adverse or side effects.

 

At Thrive Health we’re fortunate to have a very warm, skilled and compassion reiki practitioner in Monica Daoust. If you’re interested in learning more about the practice, you can expect a comfortable and rewarding introduction to reiki under her care. Click here to learn more about Monica, or book an appointment with her to continue your discovery of reiki!

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