Weekly Health Tip: A healthy case of the giggles

Did you know that laughing actually triggers the manufacture of endorphins in your brain? Endorphins function like opiates - producing a sense of well being and easing pain.

What makes you happy? What makes you laugh? Take stock. Are you making enough time in your day to allow for humor and spontaneity? Make time every week, every day, to do things that make you smile.

Stretches you can do at work

Do you get a sore neck and back from sitting or standing all day? Sitting and standing for prolonged periods shortens certain muscles while over stretching others (e.g. piriformis, hip flexors) making you more susceptible to sciatica, low back pain, neck pain and headaches. Sound familiar?

If you'd like a sample of some stretches that you can easily do at your work station during the day then take our survey! It is painless and short and at the end of it, we grant you access to an office yoga blog showing instructions on various workday stretches that might help ease your pain.

If you've never attended a Recess presentation, click here.

If you've attended a Recess session or presentation, click here.

If you've already taken our survey, and still want the stretches, email us.

Introducing Guilt Free Gourmet

If you live in Portland, OR (and even if you don't) you now have a personal assistant to help you make good decisions when eating out. Each month the The Guilt Free Gourmet features a NW Portland restaurant and 1-2 dishes that are relatively healthy in comparison to their culinary peers on the menu.

The articles appear each month in Portland's NW Examiner, or, as a .pdf file that you can access by clicking one of the links in the menu to the left. While non-Portlanders might not be visiting local restaurants any time soon, the description of the dishes (from Vietnamese fine dining to greasy spoon) and their preparation is certain to be a good guideline for how to order in your own home town.

Check out July's article by clicking here.

We're letting you do the bragging

Of course we love to brag. Who doesn't? But our high opinion of ourselves is hardly unbiased. So if you feel like us tooting our own horn lacks credibility then check our Web site each month to see what some of our customers have to say about us:

"I'd spent years on and off doing my own thing in stinky gyms, and I have to admit...I just started to cut corners and didn't really have my heart in it anymore. So when I signed up for Recess, I was skeptical of their holistic approach. Would it really make a difference?

After sessions [IN MY OWN HOUSE] with a fitness trainer, a yoga instructor and a nutritionist I rediscovered how easy it was to work out, eat well, and keep in tune without that additional obstacle of going to the gym. It made healthy choices easier to understand and make when done in the context of my own home."

- Melissa N. in Portland, OR

Healthy lifestyle D.I.Y. - Overtraining

Could overdoing it cost you results?

Most of us will never have to worry about overtraining. More than 60% of adults fail to get enough regular exercise in their daily lives. On the other hand, exercise novices and seasoned athletes alike can fall victim to training in excess (a.k.a. overtraining). For athletes, the results are counterproductive to sustained good health and performance. For novices it often means going from gymbot to couch potato because the novelty of exercise appears to wear off.

Symptoms and causes of overtraining:

In the normal course of most training we strengthen muscles by doing a small amount of damage and then allowing those muscles to repair themselves through rest and nutrition. The difference between healthy amounts of training and suboptimal training depends on each individual's phsyiology, health and environment.

Overtraining can be the result of chronic, small muscular microtrauma (i.e. doing the same small motion repetitively and/or incorrectly over a long period of time) or, acute bouts of intense muscular exhaustion (i.e. grueling workouts on either a fatigued body or before muscles have had a chance to recuperate). The symptoms of acute versus chronic overtraining can vary, but generally some signs include:

* Continued training with no improvement in results
* Persistent fatigue or muscle soreness
* Elevated resting heart rate
* Increased susceptibility to infections
* Increased incidence of injuries
* Irritability
* Depression
* Loss of motivation
* Insomnia
* Decreased appetite
* Weight loss

Environmental factors such as stress, lack of sleep, and illness can worsen symptoms of overtraining as can physiological issues such as hormonal cycles and inadequate nutrition.

Some tips to avoid overtraining:

Split your training program so that you work different sets of muscles on different days.

Allow 36 hours for each major muscle group to recover between intense bouts of exercises.

If you are a novice, plan on working your way up to more intense exercise.

If you are an athlete or workout intensely, eat or drink a carbohydrate rich food directly after more than 30 minutes of very intense exercise (fruit juice, dried fruit, or an energy bar are good examples). This replenishes muscle glycogen used during intense exercise.

Eat a diet rich in good carbs (vegetables, whole grains), lean proteins and low in processed food and saturated fats.

Find out how many calories and what nutrient ratios you need in order to maintain your training regimen. Consume those calories throughout the day to ensure you are maintaining healthy blood glucose levels and not forcing your body into "starvation mode." The brain cannot rely completely on fat for fuel and restricting calories, whether by dieting or through absent mindedness, will force your body to start metabolizing muscle glycogen.

Try something new - pilates, yoga, basketball, biking, etc. Cross train, or, experiment with exercises that use different muscles in different ways to ensure that repetition is not thwarting your training plans.

If you have a health topic that interests you and you would like to see it in the next DIY Healthy Lifestyle then write to recess@recessfitness.com with your request.