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Do you realize than the food we eat in America today has about 50% fewer vitamins and antioxidants than it did 50 years ago? It’s true. And with certain vital nutrients it’s an astonishing 80% percent less.
You’d think those stats were from a third world country, but they’re not. They’re from right here at home. Sound far-fetched? Well it’s not.
These figures come from a research group at the University of Texas – and they’ve been tracking this information non-stop since the 1950s.
It’s no wonder conditions like diabetes, Alzheimers, cancer, heart disease and even arthritis are growing to epidemic levels.
While many of us are trying to eat better, educating ourselves and getting physical activity – the rates of injury, illness and disease in this country are going through the roof.
Why is that? I’m so glad you asked…
Most of us know that eating right and exercising are important to living a healthy life. So I don’t want to focus on those today. Instead, I’d like to share some other ways to unlock your potential and create new results.
While diet and exercise are important, they’re just two small pieces to the puzzle when it comes to looking and feeling your best. There are other pieces you have to put together if you want to see the picture on the box.
In our fast passed, forward moving world we’re always on the go. People are stressed out with work, anxious about their lives and can’t sleep at night because they simply can’t “shut down” their brains.
Can you relate? Do you keep making changes in your life but nothing ever seems to truly change? Well, there’s a reason.
See, words like “balance” “sustainable” and “integrated” tend to get tossed around so much by marketing and sales people these days that they’ve lost their meaning. But they’re critical to living a healthy life filled with vitality.
For instance, researchers at the University of Oregon recently found that meditation can improve self control, self confidence, mood, stress responses and immunity.
Using brain imaging technology, they found that a mindful meditation practice can alter something called “white matter” in the brain. White matter is thought to affect how your brain learns and deals with situations. It acts sort of like a relay system, coordinating different areas of your brain.
A separate study from Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School found that meditation can help you block out distractions, focus and more rapidly remember and incorporate new information.
The study found that a meditation practice can impact a brain wave known as an “alpha rhythm.” Alpha rhythm can help you identify and ignore distractions. Research shows that these waves also play a role in cells that process sensory experiences like touch, sight and sound.
In other words, they help you focus on what’s important while a lot of different things are going on around you. Think you could benefit from being able to more effectively filter out the distractions going on around you and focus on what’s truly important? I sure could…
Other studies have shown that meditation can combat depression, reduce pain, help you fall asleep, enhance relationships and sex, boost energy levels and more.
These studies explain why many people are beginning to accept that a mind, body, spirit approach to health can unlock new benefits in their lives. There’s a reason why this integration is gaining so much traction – the science is staggering.
Take massage for instance. You may know that massage can help with sore muscles and relaxation. When you tense up your muscles can become locked and knots form. This can cause discomfort, tension and pain. But the problem goes much deeper.
When those knots form you can’t get blood and oxygen to your muscles. This will hinder your workout performance, decrease nutrient absorption and can even increase injury risk.
Getting a massage doesn’t just feel good, it also serves several biological, chemical and physical functions. Let me explain what I mean with a little science.
According to a study from the National Center for Complimentary and Alternative medicine, massage speeds the flow of oxytocin.
Oxytocin isn’t that painkiller you got after your ACL surgery (that’s oxycontin), it’s a hormone that relaxes muscles and encourages feelings of calm and contentment in your body. It may also reduce pain by making the brain forget about injuries and aches.
After years of reputable research, there’s now a large body of evidence that massage can lower stress, reduce recovery time after injury or strenuous exercise, flush out toxins and increase blood flow.
But perhaps even more powerful than science behind some of these mind/body practices and therapies are personal experiences.
At the Vail Vitality Center we offer multiple yoga classes every day. Without fail, not a day goes by where I don’t overhear a conversation among members and guests about how these practices have changed their lives.
Some see increased energy levels. Many experience a sense of serenity after a class. Others talk about how great yoga is for ridding the body of toxins, clearing the mind, helping with digestive issues and even opening up sinuses.
For me, yoga kicks my butt physically… but it also helps me to stay centered and prepared to approach the day. I’m better able to deal with whatever life throws my way.
Everyone has a different take on the benefits. But Science seems to support the conversations I hear going on outside the yoga studio.
Take a study published in the September issue of Spine. Researchers split a group of 90 people with back pain into two groups. One group practiced yoga for 90 minutes twice a week for six months. The other group continued with whatever medical or therapy treatments they had been using.
At the end of the study the yoga group reported significantly less pain and were better able to perform physical tasks. Even better, the group also reported fewer symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Other studies have shown that yoga can slow the progression of arthritis, lower high blood pressure, reduce injury risk and even help prevent a host of diseases from the common cold to dementia.
As you can see, “integrating” the “mind, body and spirit” into your daily routine can help you look and feel your best. The approach can help prevent injuries, diseases and generally elevate your mood and outlook on life.
At the Vail Vitality Center we offer yoga classes daily and a full service spa featuring enhanced therapies like Rolfing, Myofascial release and neuromuscular therapy.
Starting in July, we will be conducting guided meditation classes at the Vail Vitality Center. Visit our class schedule to learn more.