Fitness - What Is Fitness?

Aristotle helped define the standards of fitness 2,500 years ago when he taught that a thing that suits its purpose well is fit. Fortunately for us, the cardiovascular system, lungs, skeleton, muscles, endocrine system and all the other amazing components of the body function for our purpose: to live well.

Exercising aids fitness in numerous ways, each involving one or more of those systems.

Increased physical activity causes the heart to work harder than at rest. That increases blood flow, floods tissues with fresh oxygen and removes cellular waste products.

Exercise causes the lungs to draw in extra oxygen to bathe the tissues and help power the heart. Exhalation removes carbon dioxide, a waste product of certain biochemical reactions.

Regular, moderate exercise helps raise HDL (High-Density Lipoprotein) cholesterol (the 'good' type). It helps regulate blood sugar levels and converts stored fat into sugars that are used to provide energy. That process also prevents obesity.

The other benefits of a regular fitness program are more obvious and usually among the more direct goals of most people who make the effort: increased muscle mass, toned legs, buttocks, arms, stomach and healthier looking skin. Along the way, the individual receives the added value of greater strength, improved balance, higher endurance and (often) a better frame of mind.

Different types of routines will emphasize one area more than another. Aerobic routines help the cardiovascular and pulmonary systems, weight lifting focuses on building muscle tone and mass, yoga and pilates helps balance, flexibility and muscular control. But each of these, and several more, help more than just the intended focus group. The body is an integrated system and improving one area almost always has beneficial consequences for others.

All those benefits, at least to a moderate degree, can be had for minimal daily effort. Moderate intensity activity for 30 minutes per day, at least five days per week, will go a long way toward optimizing fitness.

A brisk walk, taking the stairs up one or two flights, a short daily jog, jumping rope and many other simple activities can be carried out with no special equipment or training.

More intense activity, done properly, can raise that level even further. A vigorous tennis game, a few laps in the swimming pool, an hour on the treadmill or exercise bike, or any of a dozen others, can raise your fitness to a peak with only a moderate investment of time and money.

For the truly committed there are, of course, a thousand and one classes at the gym, and every conceivable kind of home fitness equipment to fit a variety of budgets. A daily routine using free weights, followed by a good jog around the park will keep all systems functioning well.

And, as Aristotle taught all those centuries ago, to function well is to live well.

Impact of Winter Colds on Production

winter cold

The United States Department of Health and Human Services Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “Extreme Cold” guide offers several steps that adults and children can take to prevent themselves from getting sick during winter months. An early step toward avoiding catching a cold, swine flu or other general weather related sickness is to maintain an adequate body temperature.

Winter Warmth Staves Off Flu and Colds

Prior to winter, home owners should check their heating systems to make certain that they are functioning properly. General maintenance for some heating systems will require no more than changing the filter on a regular basis. Check to be sure that windows are properly insulated. Make sure that hot water heating system circulating pumps are adequately lubricated.

Radiators and vents should be free of debris so that warm air will easily circulate throughout the home. Many of these general maintenance steps can be performed over the course of one to two days. People who live in an apartment should ensure that their building maintenance crews check their unit heating system and install new filters as needed.

While indoors, keep the thermostat set at about 62 degrees Fahrenheit. People who get cold with temperatures set in the low 60 degree level might consider putting on a sweater while they are indoors until they retire to bed. Layering clothes and adding one to two additional blankets atop beds is another way to maintain a healthy body temperature during winter.

(An additional benefit to layering clothes and adding blankets to beds is lowered heating expenses. In fact, the United States Department of Energy notes in their “Energy Savers” tips that home owners can decrease their energy bills by about 10% if they turn their thermostat back 10% - 15% for eight hours each day).

Proper Nutrition Works Like Good Winter Medicine

Consume plenty of liquids and eat healthy meals. People who feel they might not be getting enough vitamins and minerals might consider taking a multivitamin in the morning with their breakfast. Drinking fruit juices or eating raw fruit feeds the body valuable Vitamin C. Together, raw fruit, healthy juices and multivitamins can help to keep the immune system strong throughout winter.

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) the consumption of alcoholic or caffeinated beverages can hasten the lowering of a person’s body temperature. For this reason, it is beneficial to limit the amount of alcoholic and caffeinated beverages one consumes during winter. Drinks and food like hot decaffeinated teas, hot cocoas and soups are good sources of taste, warmth and nutrition. They are also quick and easy to prepare and are generally inexpensive.

Layer Clothes While Outside in Cold Air

Before venturing outdoors, people will do well to make sure that they are properly clothed. Wear hats, gloves, scarves, socks and well insulated shoes to help maintain a good body temperature. Keep in mind that when the body begins to shiver, it is a sign that one’s body temperature is dropping. In these cases, it might be a good idea to head indoors.

Wear layered clothes and avoid overexertion. The more the body sweats while outdoors in cold weather, the harder the body and the heart have to work to maintain adequate body heat. This can put a strain on the heart and other bodily organs.

Throughout the day, adults and children should take the time to wash their hands. Keeping an antiseptic hand gel or wash nearby can make it easy to clean the hands regularly. Wash or clean hands thoroughly after each trip to the bathroom and after a thorough nose blowing.

At the first sign of sickness, get plenty of rest and begin to feed the body additional vitamins and liquids. Avoid the temptation to push oneself to the point of exhaustion. With proper care, including staying warm, avoiding over exertion and consuming adequate vitamins and minerals, children and adults can avoid suffering through a major cold, flu or other general weather related virus during winter months.

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Identifying Symptoms of Yeast Infections and Their Causes

symptoms of yeast infections


Symptoms of yeast infections, also called candida infections, can occur throughout the body systemically, wrecking havoc with bodily systems and causing numerous problems. Candida is an organism found naturally in the body, which under ordinary circumstances does not cause problems. Overgrowth may occur due to a weakened immune system or after taking antibiotics or a round of cortico-steroids. Those with AIDS or other immuno-compromised conditions are at greatest risk for developing a serious yeast infection. It is important to learn how to recognize symptoms of yeast infections so treatment can be started immediately.

Early Symptoms of Yeast Infections

Early symptoms of the majority of candida yeast infections often appear when candida colonies in the bowel become unbalanced due to the presence of antibiotics. Some of these yeast infection symptoms include itching, discharge, migraine headaches, stiffness in shoulders, fibromyalgia-like muscle and joint pain, cramping and mucus in the stool. Additional symptoms of yeast over-colonization include, bloating, intestinal gas, bad breath, indigestion, constipation, reduced appetite and a white film that forms on the tongue called thrush.

Mental and Emotional Symptoms of Candida Infections

As a yeast infection becomes more widespread, more profound mental and emotional symptoms may appear, including but not limited to suicidal depression, hyperactivity, anxiety, memory loss, autism, learning disorders irritability, fatigue and mood swings, shortening of the attention span, and nervousness.

Systemic Candida Infection Symptoms

Systemic yeast infections may occur, originating from the bowel in people with weakened immune systems or those who have been exposed to long term antibiotic or steroid treatment. Mild systemic infections do not occur – the disease is always severe and may be quite serious, according to the Life Extension website. Invasive yeast starts off in the bowel and spreads through the bloodstream, causing possible fever and shock, elevated heart rate, respiratory problems, decreased blood pressure, skin rashes and organ damage. Additional severe candida infections symptoms may be hypoglycemia, multiple sclerosis, acne lesions, hormonal problems, allergies and gluten intolerance.

Skin Symptoms from Yeast Infections

Red, sore and itchy skin may occur. A rash with sore patches may appear in skin folds where moisture gets trapped, resulting in itching and peeling of the skin. Unpleasant body odor under breasts and in folds of skin may occur from the presence of yeast on the skin.

Cravings from Yeast Infections

Yeast infections, locally or systemically, can cause cravings for various foods, such as breads, pasta, and various sweet and starchy foods. One of the earliest signs an individual may have a yeast infection is the appearance of food cravings. Eating a well-balanced diet can help manage cravings and body aches.

Other Concerns and Symptoms of Yeast Infections

There are other symptoms and conditions which may appear as a result of a systemic yeast infection such as vaginal infection with discharge, accompanied by severe itching and irritation, as well as bladder infection, impotence in males, urinary tract problems and menstrual irregularities.

For people suffering from immuno-compromised states and others experiencing several of the above symptoms, a visit to a doctor or natural healthcare practitioners is recommended. After tests have confirmed the presence of candida, a variety of natural yeast infection treatments are available.

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How to Get a Good Night's Sleep Tonight

“Getting hit with insomnia is a lot like having your heart broken,” write Doctors Paul Glovinsky and Arthur Spielman in The Insomnia Answer. “You feel betrayed and sapped of vitality; what used to flow naturally and effortlessly is now agonizing.” There’s no real secret to a great night’s sleep, they say, but cultivating good habits will have you catching zzzs in no time.

good night sleep

Get Up

Sound counterproductive? Sleeping until noon because you’ve tossed and turned all night might feel good in the moment, but you’ll be paying for it later. Set at alarm and get up at the same time every day, you’ll soon train your body onto a more regular schedule. This goes for naps too: zonking out on the couch after work will do you no favours come midnight.

Go Easy on the Chemicals

Insomnia isn’t a disease; it’s a symptom. Don’t dream that a sleeping pill will somehow fix the problem—though it may work for a short time, you risk long-term chemical dependency. Instead of putting more things in your body, look at what you’re already ingesting: Have you had eight cups of coffee today? A big meal of pasta before bed? Two glasses of wine with dinner? All can cause or irritate insomnia, so pay attention.

Get Moving

It’s a common misconception that exercise before bed will energize you. In fact, a study of highly active young men found that prolonged, vigorous exercise 30 minutes before bedtime had little effect on sleep. Edward R. Laskowski, M.D., says “Exercise initially increases such stress hormones. But several hours after a workout, a rebound effect occurs.” Yep, you know what that means: less stress is more sleep.

The Physical Necessities

It’s not all mental practice; some tricks are as easy as going to the drugstore. Warm milk or herbal tea (without caffeine of course) are for many people very effective. A small snack could also help. A good firm mattress—or a soft one, if you like that better—and air-conditioning is a good investment, as are thick curtains, earplugs, a sleep mask, and a clock without a torturous illuminated screen.

Visualize, Visualize, Visualize

Forget counting sheep, new sleep techniques are much more effective. Try progressive relaxation: start at the feet, feel their weight and let them relax and sink into the bed. Move to ankles, repeat. By the time you make your way to your head, you’ll be in la la land. Or if this doesn’t work, there’s always the old backwards-count. Start at a thousand, and count one number between breaths. Good night and good luck.

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How to Check an Oral Temperature

Measuring body temperature can often give helpful data regarding a person’s health status. Taking a temperature orally is one of the most common ways to check a temperature, but it is important to ensure that checking a temperature under the tongue is performed accurately and safely in order for the data to be useful and to prevent injury.

check oral temperature

When Should an Oral Temperature be Taken?

Checking an oral temperature can be convenient, quicker, and less invasive than routes such as the rectal route, but there are certain circumstances in which an oral temperature should not be taken. If the oral route should be avoided, select a different route if needing to acquire the data immediately.

Avoid measuring body temperature under the tongue if the person is:
  • under the age of six
  • experiencing chills or rigors or if her teeth are chattering
  • bleeding orally or has pain and/or sores in the mouth
  • recovering from recent surgery in the mouth
  • receiving oxygen via a mask
  • cannot breathe or is having difficulty breathing through his or her nose
  • using a nasogastric tube for feedings
  • on seizure precautions
  • unable to hold the lips closed
  • confused, combative, or uncooperative
  • unconscious or not responsive

In order to measure an accurate oral temperature, consider other common factors that may affect the oral temperature reading. Wait at least ten to 15 minutes to check an oral temperature if the person has been:
  • eating
  • drinking
  • smoking
  • chewing gum

Types of Oral Thermometers

The equipment needed for checking an oral temperature is an oral thermometer. Clinical settings may designate an oral thermometer for either use in the mouth or under the arm (axillary). Rectal thermometers are often identified by a different shaped tip and/or a different color coding. Many oral thermometers have a blue or green end while rectal thermometers typically have a red marking.

Glass thermometers are often less expensive than other types of thermometers. Older styles of thermometers contained mercury, a silver-white substance that would rise to indicate the measured temperature. According to the Environmental Protection Agency's June 11, 1998 online article entitled "Frequently Asked Questions About Mercury Thermometers," mercury poses a potential threat to the environment, people, and animals. Newer versions may look and work very similar but are mercury free and contain red or blue alcohol or galinstan, a mixture of gallium, tin, and indium.

Regardless of the type of thermometer used, inspect it carefully for any chips, cracks, or other defects. Oral thermometers used in clinical settings are often kept in chargers and have disposable probe covers. The thermometer should be cleaned between patients per manufacturer’s recommendations and infection control guidelines. Instead of using a probe cover, some thermometers may be soaked in an appropriate antiseptic or wiped with a cleaning solution before and after use.

How to Check a Temperature Under the Tongue

Shake down the liquid in a glass thermometer before placing it in the mouth. This can be done by holding the thermometer firmly and flicking the wrist until the liquid reads at or below the lowest number. Be careful to shake the thermometer away from people and objects.

Carefully place the bulb end of the thermometer under the tongue and instruct the person to:
  • close his mouth
  • breathe through his nose
  • not bite on the thermometer

Digital oral thermometers have a numeric display that appears on a small screen. This number may be in Fahrenheit or Celcius. Digital thermometers may beep, blink, or become stationary to indicate a completed reading, depending on the manufacturer. Glass thermometers should be held in place for three minutes.

After removing a glass thermometer from the mouth, remove and discard the probe cover if used and carefully wipe the thermometer with a dry tissue from end to tip. Hold a glass thermometer at eye level and read the top of the liquid level to the nearest line. Long lines indicate whole number degrees while short lines indicate 0.2 degrees. Digital thermometers may be read by looking at the number in the screen and the probe cover should be discarded if used.

Recording the Temperature

It is helpful to record a temperature so that trends can be identified. When recording a temperature in a clinical setting, it is important to follow facility procedure and to notify the nurse or designated licensed caregiver per protocol. If recording a temperature at home, it is helpful to document:
  • time the temperature was taken
  • route for checking the temp
  • any therapy given for a fever
  • additional readings as appropriate

How to Accurately Check Temperature in the Mouth

Choosing the oral route to check a temperature involves several considerations, such as the condition of the person and the thermometer. Follow appropriate hygienic measures to prevent the spread of germs and infections such as MRSA. Ensure that manufacturer’s directions are followed for using, reading, and storing an oral thermometer.

An elevated temperature or fever may or may not indicate that an infection is present and the lack of a fever does not necessarily mean that the person is healthy and well. Temperature measurements are often collected in addition to other vital signs, such as pulse, blood pressure, and respiratory rate.

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How to Quit Smoking Now

quit smoking

According to the American Cancer Society, smoking cigarettes increases a person’s chance of having a heart attack, getting lung disease, and getting cancer. The best way to reduce these risks is to stop the habit of smoking. To quit this powerful addiction, a person needs to have a solid plan and dependable support system.

Set a Date to Quit Smoking

The first step in kicking this habit is setting a specific date. For example, a person should not say that he is going to stop in the winter. Instead it should be a specific date such as November 21, 2009. If someone is not yet motivated to quit smoking, he should talk to friends, family members, or a licensed mental health professional. Even though smoking is bad for people’s health, there are psychological reasons that people do it. Maybe it helps a person to relax or makes the person feel more social. If a person is not ready to quit, she needs to examine those reasons and how it might conflict with other goals such as being able to attend her granddaughter’s fifth birthday.

Support System

When someone decides that she is going to quit smoking cigarettes, she needs a support system in place. She will need someone to talk to when it gets extremely hard, someone to encourage her, and someone to hold her accountable. People are more likely to reach their goals if they tell people about them.

If a person doesn’t have friends or family members to rely on or wants extra support, she could see a licensed mental health professional. A therapist could help the person set a date, discuss goals, and help her look at her ambivalence around quitting. The therapist might also help the person come up with a plan of action when the cravings are strong.

Nicotine Replacement Therapy

Nicotine is extremely addictive which makes quitting smoking very difficult. Many people need the help of nicotine replacement therapy through patches, nicotine gum, or nicotine nasal spray. If a person thinks that he needs nicotine replacement therapy, he should discuss it with his general physician to decide the right plan for himself.

Rewards for Quitting

A person should reward herself for quitting. Before the start date, she should make a timeline and rewards for getting to that timeline. For example, she might say that after not smoking for twenty-four hours she will take a long bubble bath, one week after not smoking she will treat herself to a new outfit, and one month after not smoking she will get a massage. People can stay motivated by giving themselves healthy rewards, and they will be able to afford it if they don’t have to buy cigarettes on a regular basis.

Smoking is a habit that many people struggle with on a regular basis. It’s something that many people are embarrassed about and want to give up for their health. To be successful in quitting the habit of smoking now, people need to put a plan in place for themselves.

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How To Find Free, Cheap Drugs

Cheap Drugs

Drug prescription costs can be overwhelming, especially if you do not have health insurance or prescription coverage. Fortunately, there are some options for people who meet certain requirements. Some of these options are offered by large retailers, while others are available through organizations or pharmaceutical companies themselves.

Retailers Offer Low-Cost Prescriptions

Some of the largest retailers now offer substantial discounts on 30- to 90-day supplies of prescriptions drugs. Here is a partial list:
  • WalMart offers a $4 Prescriptions Program with up to a 30-day supply of more than 350 prescription drugs for $4 and 1,000 over-the-counter medications for $4 or less. In some cases, you can get a 90-day supply for $10. You may apply for this program even if you have health insurance. The offer also applies to Neighborhood Market and Sam’s Club.
  • Target has a program that is similar to WalMart’s: $4 for up to a 30-day supply and $10 for up to 90 days.
  • Food City, Giant Eagle, and Kroger supermarket chains also have a $4 price on 30-day prescriptions. Kroger also offers birth control for $9.
  • Weis Markets, which has 155 stores in the eastern part of the US, offers a 90-day supply of more than 350 generic drugs for $9.99.
  • Publix supermarkets offer free antibiotics if you have a valid prescription, regardless of whether you have health insurance. A 14-day supply is offered.
  • Kmart provides a 90-day supply of some generics for $10 or $15.
  • Walgreens has a program that offers a 90-day supply of more than 400 generic drugs for $12.99. You have to pay an annual enrollment of $20 for individuals and $35 for families.

Pharmaceutical Makers Offer Free, Low-Cost Drugs

Many pharmaceutical manufacturers offer medication assistance to people who are unable to pay for them. Because each company has its own rules and policies, you will need to contact each one for more information. Here are some of the companies you can contact:

Abbott: 800-222-6885
Amgen: 800-272-9376
AstraZeneca: 800-292-6363
Bayer Schering Pharma: 800-998-9180
Boehringer Ingelheim: 800-556-8317
Bristol-Myers Squibb: 800-736-0003
Eli Lilly: 800-545-6962
Genentech: 866-4ACCESS
GlaxoSmithKline: 888-825-5249
Merck: 800-506-3725
Pfizer: 866-776-3700
Roche: 877-757-6243
Schering Plough Cares: 800-656-9485
Solvay Pharmaceuticals: 800-256-8918
Takeda: 800-830-9159
Wyeth: 800-568-9938

Organizations That Offer Drug Assistance

Several organizations also offer help:
  • You can contact a nonprofit cooperative called Partnership for Prescription Assistance to see if you are eligible for any of the hundreds of programs available that offer free or low-cost medications.
  • If you are not eligible for Medicare and have no prescription drug coverage, you may qualify for a discount prescription card with Together Rx Access.
  • Other resources include RxAssist, which provides information on how to access free or low-cost medications; and NeedyMeds.com, a nonprofit that helps people who can’t afford health insurance.
  • For drug assistance with specific conditions, you can contact organizations that handle your particular health issue. For example, you may get financial assistance from the American College of Rheumatology (arthritis, lupus), the National Cancer Institute, or the AIDS Treatment Data Network.

All the information provided here is only representative. Ask your local retailers, as well as organizations and drug companies not on the above list, if they have drug assistance programs.

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