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4 Cooldown Rituals to Start Doing After a Long Run

As much as running can be an enjoyable way to stay in shape, you can tire yourself out and even cause potential injuries if you’re not careful – and to prevent that, you need to make sure that your body is able to recover from this kind of strenuous activity.

Start doing these cooldown rituals right now to cool down and catch your breath more quickly after a long run:

1. Stretch
A long run should be ended by a few minutes of easy walking to allow your body to cool down.

Doing a brief stretching exercise post-run will not only keep your muscles from cramping up after a long run, but it also helps you lower your temperature and catch your breath more quickly.

When stretching, pay attention to your whole body rather than just your legs as you’re using every muscle when you run, and you want to make sure that you didn’t leave anything out.

2. Rehydrate
Long-distance running can make the body lose a lot of water through sweat, so it’s important to stay hydrated.

It’s also not just enough to drink water after a long run – it’s important to refuel afterwards, which is why you need to be extra careful about what you eat in order to replace the glycogen stores in your muscles.

3. Take a shower
Taking a shower is not only a great way to relax and feel more refreshed after a long run, but it also gets keeps the dirt and dust from sticking too long to your skin.

However, be sure to take a shower only about thirty minutes after running to ensure that your body’s temperature stabilizes gradually, since not doing this can easily mess with your internal body heat and make you feel under the weather.

4. Make rest a priority
Don’t try to over-exert yourself – listen to your body! Prolonged strain can result in injuries that will leave you out of the action for longer than what you would expect.

Contrary to popular belief, it’s not adding more days of exercise that are better, but having days of exercise that are planned and following through them consistently. By alternating between rest and exercise, you allow your body to recover steadily while increasing your endurance and metabolism.

Running can be exhausting as an intense physical activity, so make sure to keep these following steps in mind while gradually setting up new goals and achievements for continued improvement.

One last thing you need to keep in mind when committing to your running routine is to keep track of it. When you think you’ve made a significant amount of progress, celebrate your progress with friends or other fellow running enthusiasts over a meal or two.

Reasons Why You Should Learn to Meditate

A lot of people say that it’s hard for them to meditate. This is quite reasonable because of how fast-paced we live our lives now. Some say they rather continue working rather than waste time. But you actually do have time, you just don’t know how to make it. People should really consider incorporating meditation in their daily lives. It helps you slow down and refresh your mind from all the work. Just try meditation now, you might just grow to be the best version of yourself!

To relieve stress
Many people already consider meditation as a great way to relieve stress. This is all due to the relaxing and calming nature of meditation. It has also been observed that meditation balances the levels of cortisol in the body. Meditating for at least 10 minutes a day will allow you to relax and reduce your stress and anxiety.

Helps protect the heart
As mentioned earlier, meditation promotes relaxation. This, then, can cause our blood vessels to ease up hence improving blood circulation all over the body. Plus, the breathing exercises involved in meditation can improve your oxygen consumption. This also allows oxygenated blood to travel more efficiently to organs and other tissues. Of course, this good for our overall health, but it benefits our cardiovascular health all the more.

To help improve your focus
We all know that Singaporeans are among the hardest-working in the world. But surely there are times when we lose focus at work. One type of meditation called focused-attention meditation can boost focus and concentration. This works by simply focusing on an object or thought that comes through your mind. This can help with concentration because you are focusing on one thing while trying to not be distracted by your other thoughts. Improved focus also comes as a result of being calmer when you meditate making you more productive and more focused than ever.

To improve self-awareness.
Another type of meditation, called mindful meditation involves being aware of who you are, where you are, or even how your thoughts flow through your mind. It helps you develop a better understanding of yourself. You will have a better understanding of your thoughts and having done that you’ll be able to think more positively. You’ll be able to steer your thoughts away from negative and harmful thoughts no matter what situation you are in.

It also helps boost creativity.
Meditation also helps you pay attention to certain details that you otherwise would not be able to notice. The ability to do this can greatly enhance creativity because you will be able to use your mind clearly in different situations. This also means that your senses can be more acute, which can help improve your overall creativity.

Different Healthy Alternatives to Your Favorite Ju...

It’s easy to get sucked into junk foods. You can get them anywhere, they’re cheap, they’re delicious, and the sugar can give you the boost of energy you need to coast through a rough day. But they’re called that way for a reason.
They’re high in sodium (which can raise your blood pressure), way more sugar and carbohydrates than what you need every day, and are an abundant source of bad cholesterol (which can put you at a higher risk of heart disease).

It can also be hard to make the switch to healthier whole foods, especially if vegetables make you feel like you’re eating leaves compared to junk food.

But there is good news – there are healthier alternatives to the unhealthy foods you’re used to eating:
• Chips – Instead of your go-to potato crisps that are high in sodium and vegetable oils (which, surprisingly, can be quite uhealthy), try swapping out the potatoes for sweet potato wedges or fried kale chips.

Potato Fries – Potato is a versatile food ingredient, which means it can be cooked in many different ways. Instead of frying potatoes, baking them is a healthier alternative that results in fries that are just as yummy – but without the unhealthy fats that come with frying.

• Cake – Try banana cake instead! While most cakes aren’t really all that healthy, whole wheat banana bread has a lot of fiber and contains important nutrients such as potassium and zinc.
Banana cake is also made with bananas, and is just as delicious while still being a healthy option.

• Ice Cream – There’s nothing quite like this special treat that’s essentially frozen fat and sugar churned a certain way, but frozen yogurt (packed with probiotics that help your digestive system) paired with fresh fruits also works as a sweet, healthier option for beating the summer heat.

• Candy – Swapping out the refined sugar with fresh fruit doesn’t have to feel like a downgrade when you there’s kinds of fruits to choose from. You can even bring them together, add cream, and chill for a few minutes to make a fruit salad.

Eating healthy doesn’t have to feel at all like a culinary downgrade once you know there are a lot of ways you can prepare and season them to your liking. And since the same can be said for fruits (you can preserve them, make them into fruit shakes, etc.), it’s really all about finding the right foods that work for you.

So the next time you get your cravings for some of your favorite foods, keep these healthy alternatives in mind and indulge yourself guilt-free

Understanding and Managing Hypertension

Hypertension, the medical term for high blood pressure, is a condition wherein there is prolonged high pressure on the walls of the arteries. It is a dangerous condition as it makes the heart work above its capacity, causing the arteries to harden over time (a condition called atherosclerosis).

Hypertension increases one’s risk of other dangerous and potentially fatal conditions such as heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, and heart failure—some of the leading causes of death in modern times.

Risk Factors for Hypertension
Risk factors for high blood pressure are either controllable or uncontrollable.
Its two uncontrollable risk factors are age and genetics. Men above 55 years old are unavoidably at a higher risk of developing the condition; for women, the age is 65. Having a family member with hypertension also increases one’s chance of developing it.

Controllable risk factors of hypertension include the following: a high-cholesterol diet, diabetes, being overweight, smoking, and a sedentary lifestyle. Risk factors compound; thus the presence of multiple factors raises one’s chance of having hypertension exponentially.

Blood Pressure Levels in Adults
Blood pressure level is read by combining a person’s systolic and diastolic levels. Normal blood pressure have systolic level lower than 120 and diastolic level lower than 80; persons with a systolic level between 120 and 139, or diastolic level between 80 and 89 are considered prehypertension; while persons with a systolic level above 140 or diastolic level above 90 are considered hypertensive.

Individuals with prehypertension should already take measures to lower their blood pressure, such as by following a healthier diet and becoming more active.

Lifestyle Changes to Prevent Hypertension
While most people will have hypertension in their old age, it can still be prevented or delayed. Luckily, avoiding the condition is the same as simply following a healthy lifestyle. This means doing the following:

• Avoiding eating salty foods
• Limiting alcohol consumption
• Observing a healthy, balanced diet
• Staying within one’s recommended BMI
• Taking medication only as prescribed, and
• Maintaining an active lifestyle

Weight and Hypertension
Weight is perhaps the biggest factor in controlling hypertension, with one’s risk of developing high blood pressure rising along with one’s weight. Furthermore, risk of heart disease (the biggest cause of death in developed countries) are higher for people who are overweight or obese.

Objectively monitoring one’s risk for high blood pressure requires watching one’s body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference. Overweight and obese people should immediately take action to reduce the effects of hypertension.

Understanding BMI
BMI compares one’s height and weight, thus giving an approximate total body fat. (Note that it’s fat that actually makes one prone to hypertension, not being heavy per se.) The normal BMI is 18.5 to 24.9; an overweight BMI is 25 to 29.9; and an obese person has a BMI of 30 or higher. However, some people with a high BMI may simply be muscular; therefore it’s also important to measure one’s waist.

What You Need to Know About Acid Reflux

Acid reflux (also known as heartburn) is a medical condition characterized by a burning and/or sensation around the chest area caused by acids in the stomach going back up the esophagus.

One of the most common medical problems in Singapore, it’s estimated that about 60% of the population will experience some form of the condition at some point in their adult lives. The medical term for acid reflux is gastro-esophageal reflux disease or GERD.

Causes
The causes and triggers of acid reflux vary. Most people who have the condition exhibit the following:

• Abnormalities in the lower esophageal sphincter
• Abnormalities in esophageal contractions
• Slow digestion of food in the stomach
• Hiatal hernias

Factors that increase the chances of a person having acid reflux are:

• Eating very large meals
• Obesity or being overweight
• Lying down or bending after a heavy meal
• Eating before going to sleep
• Pregnancy
• Smoking
• Eating certain foods, such as tomatoes, citrus and chocolate
• Taking certain medications like ibuprofen, aspirin and muscle relaxants

Symptoms
The most common symptom of acid reflux is heartburn, the burning sensation in the chest as acids go back up the food pipe. Other symptoms include:

• Nausea
• Laryngitis
• Hoarseness
• Regurgitation
• Ear pain
• Asthma
• Salivating
• Lingering bitter taste
• Teeth corrosion (due to the acids)
• Trouble swallowing
• Chronic cough
• Sore throat

Acid reflux is unusual as, in some people, resting only makes the pain worse

Treatment and Prevention
The most common treatment for acid reflux is taking antacids, an over-the-counter medicine that works by reducing the acidity of the stomach. This is advised for infrequent episodes. However, antacids are not advised for regular use as they inhibit absorption of nutrients.

For persistent or chronic acid reflux, a GP may advise taking specific medications like proton-pump inhibitors or H2-receptor antagonists. In severe cases, surgery may be requires to prevent the acid from leaking into the esophagus.

Self-help measures can also be practiced to treat or prevent acid reflux. These include eating smaller meals, chewing food carefully, avoiding foods that trigger the condition, maintaining a healthy weight/BMI, and raising one’s head when sleeping.

Complications
Occasional acid reflux is normal and may need no further treatment. However chronic episodes may cause serious complications, such as ulcers in the stomach or esophagus, scarring and narrowing of the esophagus (this will make swallowing more difficult), and Barrett’s esophagus (a condition the cell linings change).

Getting the help of a medical professional is advised for people who experience prolonged or repeated acid reflux, severe pain, difficulty swallowing, or for whom OTC medicines provide no relief.

A Quick Guide on The Importance of Getting a Heart...

Majority of people in Singapore easily dismiss the need for a heart screening when they don’t fit under the obviously at-risk bracket. This risk bracket usually includes people who smoke, are overweight, have high blood pressure, or at an advanced age. Other factors might also come into play: such as kidney diseases, high cholesterol, diabetes, and other psychosocial factors.

However, every cardiologist would know that a cardiac screening isn’t just for these people. The risk may increase with age and it is notably higher in men, but other people can also be put at risk of developing a cardiovascular disease (CVD).

Statistics

According to the World Health Organization in 2013, approximately 17.5 million people die annually due to CVD. This accounts to an estimated 31% of all deaths across the globe. Due to the alarming figure, cardiovascular diseases have also been globally declared as the leading cause of death in comparison with other potential causes such as injuries and communicable conditions.

About 80% of all cardiovascular disease deaths are due to strokes and heart attacks. Furthermore, the Ministry of Health published that about 16 people die due to CVD on the daily in Singapore. In 2015 alone, it accounted for nearly 29.6% of all deaths in the city-state. This translates to the fact that nearly one of every three deaths in SG is caused by a stroke or a heart attack.

Why do you need heart screening?

If you do not want to meet a heart surgeon for complicated cardiovascular cases, it is better to at least get your heart screened regularly. This would allow you to see if there are any factors that may suggest the occurrence of the disease and monitor if your arteries and veins are functioning well.

Getting a heart screening is particularly important among those who have a family history of cardiovascular diseases. If an immediate family member has been diagnosed with a heart disease or any other cardiovascular problem, consult your heart doctor to see if you likely possess an elevated risk of heart diseases.

Taking care of your heart by regularly going to a heart screening specialist clinic in Singapore is a responsibility you must always address. After you reach the age of 40, your body will become more vulnerable to diseases. Think of getting a screening to constantly keep in check with your general health.

Regardless of whether you’re in the higher risk group or not, getting your heart regularly screened after the age of 40 is crucial. Doing so would detect hidden risk factors, such as raised cholesterol or alarmingly high blood pressure. These factors may seem minute – but keep in mind that these small factors can put just about anyone at risk of getting a heart disease even if you feel healthy.

Keeping track of your heart’s wellbeing also helps you realize when you need to make lifestyle changes. You might be advised by your heart doctor to get some more exercise, avoid consuming fatty foods, or take some medications which can help in your circumstance. Either way, this is done to ensure that any cardiovascular issues which require immediate treatment must be detected and treated as soon as possible.

Heart screening is also a non-invasive procedure. You don’t have to worry over any heart surgeon to work their scalpel inside your internal organs, but if you are diagnosed with an advanced form of any cardiovascular disease after your screening – it might be best to consider surgery as a likely option.

General assessment

Your initial heart screening involves a quick review of your relevant family history. The best cardiologist would ask if you have a history of cardiovascular disease in the family, or if any immediate family member has been diagnosed with CVD. You will also be subjected to a comprehensive cardiac risk assessment – which includes your current blood pressure, age, HDL level, total cholesterol level, hypertension and smoking history.

In some cases, your cardiologist would allow you to work directly with an experienced practitioner to develop an individualized plan to reduce your identified risk factors.

The general examination and assessment of a heart screening includes the following:

    1. Body Mass Index (BMI)
    2. Cholesterol evaluation
    3. Blood pressure
    4. Fasting blood sugar test
    5. Depression scale assessment
    6. Physical exam
    7. Sleep evaluation
    8. Weight consultation
    9. Pregnancy history (for women)

If you are diagnosed with an existing intermediate risk, the heart screening process may also include getting a/an:

    1. Echocardiogram – A test done to evaluate the structural aspects of your heart
    2. Ankle Brachial Index (ABI) – To screen if there are any abnormalities in your circulation of your lower extremities
    3. Electrocardiogram (EKG) – For your cardiologist to easily evaluate the electrical conduction of the heart
    4. Microalbuminuria – A urine test to screen the existence of any early kidney disease
    5. Hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) – A blood test to determine one’s risk of Diabetes

Note that this list is compiled in no particular order. Moreover, it is advised to have a cardiovascular/heart screening as early as the age of 20. Your screening procedure is an opportunity to take control of your health and general well-being.

A consultation after your screening also allows you to modify any unhealthy lifestyle habits. Note that we are all exposed to obvious lifestyle factors which can put us at risk of getting a heart disease; such as smoking, being overweight, having an unhealthy diet, excessive drinking, and not getting ample exercise.

It can be easy to ignore these problems and go by the adage, ‘You only live once’ – but if you don’t want to regret your youthful decisions at some point in your life, you must think twice about your lifestyle habits as early as today. Getting your heart screened is also a chance for you to discuss any existing risk factors or get some advice on how to prevent/reduce them.