The Surprising Health Benefits of Hot Springs and Mineral Baths

In Japan, soaking in natural hot springs is a treasured pastime that’s steeped in thousands of years of tradition, and during my stay there, I visited a few. The experience opened my eyes (and pores) to a world of good-feeling benefits, many of which (but not all) are backed by a plethora of research.

Source: The Surprising Health Benefits of Hot Springs and Mineral Baths

I think heat is part of the stress relief.  It doesn’t have to be a hot spring – a warm blanket/etc can do wonders.  Wrapping up in one, insulating ourselves from what’s around – it’s a physical barrier.

What to Do Between Your Intervals for the Best Workout

Speedy interval sessions require rest between repetitions–and especially when you’re pushing your limits, the natural instinct may be to stop and put your hands on your knees while you catch your breath. But experience teaches us a counterintuitive lesson: Gentle jogging during those precious snippets of recovery sometimes makes it easier to run fast on the next rep. That’s because jogging keeps more blood flowing through your legs, clearing away the metabolic waste products that build up during hard running and contribute to muscle fatigue.

Source: How to Recover Between Intervals

The information applies to most physical activities.  The article is on a running-centric website, but mentions the study of cyclists.  This should be applicable to swimming… I look forward to updating my training, once my rib heals.

The Truth About Exercising While Pregnant: It’s Okay to Work Hard

Sometimes it seems the only exercise options for pregnant women are easy swimming, gentle yoga, and walking carefully in a field of pillows. But if you’re not satisfied with those, you’re in luck: many activities are safer in pregnancy than bystanders and even your doctor may realize.

…There’s a tip in here for people who aren’t pregnant, too: if a pregnant woman is doing something you wouldn’t normally imagine a pregnant woman doing…chill out.

…Keeping up fitness, even if you’re slow and sluggish for the moment, helps you return next season: you’re only taking a few weeks or months off, instead of a year or more.

Source: The Truth About Exercising While Pregnant: It’s Okay to Work Hard

Oddly, iron deficiency wasn’t mentioned in the article.  Pregnancy can make you anemic because you’re increasing your blood volume by almost 50% in a short time. Anemia will make you tired and short of breath. Standard blood tests will show if you need iron supplements, but it can take a while to get back to normal levels, and exercising during that time will be difficult to impossible, depending on how anemic you are.  This may be why the fatigue hits so early in pregnancy – there are athletes who didn’t realize they were pregnant until they saw their performance declining.

Stretching After Exercise: Does it Aid in Recovery?

Learn about the body’s adaptations to different types of post-workout activities. Did you know that serious stretching after a workout is contraindicated for recovery? Instead, avoid serious stretching after training and use a mild exercise to cool down.

Source: Stretching After Exercise: Does it Aid in Recovery?

I’ve done yoga for years, and recently started to practice on my own because it’s been difficult to find a class that meshes with my schedule.  I’ve never used it for recovery, and “restorative” classes are not for me.  The primary focus has been strength and flexibility – my hamstrings love to shrink.  And I’m under the impression I have scoliosis (I recently found out this is just a term for back curvature, it’s not just congenital) so while I don’t feel twists I experience the benefit in a portion of my lower back that constantly needs realignment.  I believe I’ve experienced an improvement in both running and cycling from doing warrior related postures…  While it might not be recovery in the sense that the article talks about, the experiences since I started practicing more regularly suggest it was a good idea.  It helps that I like doing it too.

Reverse the Harm of Sitting: 5 minute Walk

Medical researchers have been steadily building evidence that prolonged sitting is awful for your health.  And that’s before getting to Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) and/or Pulmonary Embolism (PE) sufferers.

Sitting for long periods of time, like many people do daily at their jobs, is associated with risk factors such as higher cholesterol levels and greater waist circumference that can lead to cardiovascular and metabolic disease. When people sit, slack muscles do not contract to effectively pump blood to the heart. Blood can pool in the legs and affect the endothelial function of arteries, or the ability of blood vessels to expand from increased blood flow.

…The researchers were able to demonstrate that during a three-hour period, the flow-mediated dilation, or the expansion of the arteries as a result of increased blood flow, of the main artery in the legs was impaired by as much as 50 percent after just one hour. The study participants who walked for five minutes for each hour of sitting saw their arterial function stay the same — it did not drop throughout the three-hour period. Thosar says it is likely that the increase in muscle activity and blood flow accounts for this.

Source:

It’s so crazy, it might just work…

This also lends credence to why DVTs happen on long distance travel, discounting what I never believed: the air mixture in planes was responsible.  Since my original diagnosis, I’ve been told to take breaks and walk when driving or flying long distances (basically over an hour) to prevent future problems…