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Today is March 19

World Sleep Day

Regular exercise has been linked to a host of health benefits. People who exercise regularly can lower their risk for chronic diseases like heart disease and diabetes, and routine exercise can improve mood and potentially delay the onset of cognitive decline.

As vital as physical activity is to a healthy lifestyle, there is such a thing as too much exercise. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, rest is an important part of training. Without ample rest, the body does not have time to recover before the next workout. That lack of rest not only adversely affects performance, but also increases a person’s risk for health problems, including injuries that can sideline athletes for lengthy periods of time.

Committed athletes may have a hard time recognizing when they are pushing themselves too hard, and the line between perseverance and overdoing it can be thin. Many athletes credit their ability to push themselves mentally and physically with helping them achieve their fitness goals and thrive as competitors. But it’s vital that athletes learn to recognize the signs that suggest they’re exercising too much. The USNLM notes that the following are some signs of overdoing it with an exercise routine.

  • An inability to perform at your established level
  • Requiring longer periods of rest between workout sessions
  • Feeling tired
  • Feeling depressed
  • Experiencing mood swings or irritability
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Feeling sore muscles or heavy limbs
  • Suffering overuse injuries such as runner’s knee, achilles tendinitis, shin splints, and plantar fasciitis
  • Loss of motivation
  • Getting more colds
  • Unintended weight loss
  • Feelings of anxiety

The USNLM urges anyone experiencing these symptoms to rest completely for between one and two weeks. After that period of rest, the body should be fully recovered. However, if any of these issues linger after two weeks, seek the advice of a health care provider. A health care provider may recommend additional rest and/or conduct a series of tests to determine if an underlying issue is causing any of the aforementioned symptoms.

Rest is as vital to an effective exercise regimen as proper technique, ensuring the body has ample time to recover and reducing the risk of overuse injuries

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National Poultry Day

Healthy Sonoma Chicken Salad Recipe

By Molly Kimball, RD, CSSD

Ingredients

  • 1- 1/2 cups plain low-fat Greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 5 teaspoons Swerve Sweetener (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons poppy seeds
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 3/4 cup pecan pieces, toasted
  • 2 cups red seedless grapes
  • 3 stalks celery, thinly sliced

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. In a bowl, combine Greek yogurt, vinegar, Swerve Sweetener, poppy seeds, salt and pepper. Refrigerate dressing until ready to make the salad. This can be prepared up to two days ahead.
  3. Place the chicken breasts in one layer in a baking dish with 1/2 cup water. Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes until completely cooked through. Remove cooked chicken breasts from pan, cool at room temperature for 10 minutes, then cover and refrigerate.
  4. When the chicken is cold, dice into bite-size chunks and transfer to a large bowl. Stir in pecans, grapes, celery and dressing.

Molly Kimball, RD, CSSD, registered dietitian with Ochsner Health System, manages the nutrition department of Ochsner Fitness Center and is founder of the Ochsner Eat Fit nonprofit restaurant initiative.

Tune in to her podcast, FUELED | Wellness + Nutrition and follow the Eat Fit team on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter at @EatFitNOLA.  Looking for healthy recipes? Download the Eat Fit Smartphone app, and coming soon, check out the NEW! Eat Fit Cookbook at www.EatFitCookbook.com

For more details, visit OchsnerEatFit.org 

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Let’s Laugh Day

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Why Laugh?

“Laughter is the best medicine”.

We’ve all heard the saying, but have you ever wondered what it is about laughing that makes us feel so great?

Try it. Fake a laugh right now and feel what your body does. You’re exhaling as you laugh and inhaling deeply to catch your breath. And that right there is the magic.

Deep inhalation of oxygen is critical to our overall health, but on average, normal inhalations use only a small portion of our overall lung capacity (referred to as tidal volume), leaving large amounts of old, stale air behind. Stress makes our breathing shallower, blocking increased consumption of oxygen and all the benefits that come along with it.

“Oxygen plays a pivotal role in the proper functioning of the immune system. We can look at oxygen deficiency as the single greatest cause of all diseases.” Stephen Levine, a respected molecular biologist and geneticist, and Dr. Paris M. Kidd, Ph.D., Antioxidant Adaptation

“Deep breathing techniques, which increase oxygen to the cell, are the most important factors in living a disease free and energetic life… Remember. Where cells get enough oxygen, cancer will not, cannot occur.” Dr. Otto Warburg, President, Institute of Cell Physiology, Nobel Prize Winner

Laughing not only promotes deeper inhalations, but also requires it because of the deep exhalations that take place when we are actually laughing. And that increased oxygen intake is what kick starts all the benefits that laughter provides, including:

You feel great: Laughter actually lowers stress hormones and increases endorphins (otherwise known as “happy hormones”) almost immediately, creating a positive state of mind and increasing confidence. You cannot be angry while you are laughing. I dare you to try!

You boost your immune system: Yes, you can fight against colds and coughs by laughing! It has to do with increasing levels of anti-viral and anti-infection cells in our bodies that help protect us against viral infections.

You get stronger: Not just in your cardiovascular strength through prolonged deep inhalations and exhalations, but laughter also provides what is often a much needed cathartic release of built up emotions, leaving us better equipped to manage stress and be resilient to challenges.

But the best reason to laugh – it’s contagious, and let’s be honest, it’s the only thing we really want to catch from someone else!

It doesn’t matter if you speak different languages or come from different places; laughter sounds and feels the same. And that social connection to others, along with increased oxygen levels, the reduction in stress hormones and the boost to our immune system, makes a big difference in our overall health.

So find what makes you laugh and do it often. Or here’s a secret worth sharing – fake your laugh! Your body doesn’t know the difference and the health benefits are the same if your laugh is fake or real.

For more information about laughter and its benefits, visit http://funnybonesimprov.com/program-details.

Jolene Fehler has an MBA and is the Executive Director of Funny Bones Improv, which integrates these principles of laughter therapy into its programming. Jolene was certified as a Laughter Yoga Leader in December 2008 and as a Teacher in April 2010. She has also been training and performing improvisation since 2001 in Toronto, Vancouver, Chicago and New Orleans. The positive effects of laughter on her life were instantaneous and it became immediately apparent that she wanted to devote her time to sharing this gift with those who don’t otherwise have the opportunity to play with it. Jolene lives in New Orleans with her husband and two sons.