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How Massage Therapy Can Make You Much Healthier

How Massage Therapy Can Make You Much Healthier

Most people consider a massage to be a relaxing spa treatment. They’re not wrong. A good massage can relieve anxiety and help you shake off the stress that you face each day. But massages are not just for those who can afford to go to Canyon Ranch. Massage therapy can actually be an integral part of your general health routine.

For the last 15 years, researchers have investigated the potential health benefits of massage therapy. Some research suggests that massage therapy can help boost immune function. Other studies have suggested that it can improve overall well being in chornically ill patients. It can even help children and parents deal with behavioral disorders.

The way massage therapy affects people depends not only on the individual but on the type of massage they receive. Each treatment focuses on different areas. Each may also elicit different benefits depending on the patient. Here are three great ways that massage therapy can benefit people whether they are sick or healthy.

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1. Massage Can Boost Immune Function

Massages are more than just a relaxing spa treatment. Some research suggests that your immune system will get a boost after you have a massage. Research shows that the number of white bloods cells in your body increases after you have had a 45 minute massage. White blood cells, or lymphocytes, are essential to your body because they help protect it from diseases.

One study was performed on 29 people who each had a 45 minute Swedish massage and had filled in a claims process. The participants were wearing catheters to help the researchers take blood samples during the massage. The study session began with each person spending half an hour resting before receiving the massage. Then, the researchers took a blood sample. After the massage, more blood was taken at several intervals including one, five, 10, 15, 30 and 60 minutes after the treatment was finished.

Researchers then compared all the different samples. The results of the study suggested a heightened immune response in those who had the Swedish massage.

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2. Massage Can Improve Quality of Life

It may seem obvious that massage can help improve your quality of life. Massages help relieve pain and stress. Plus, a massage is incredibly relaxing. There’s almost nothing about massage that would not make you feel better.

Several studies have shown that massage increases your normal comfort level and keeps you relaxed. As a result, several other physiological reactions are improved by massage. When you are relaxed, your body finds it easier to complete basic processes like sleeping and digestion. This helps relieve nausea and fatigue.

But massage can improve your quality of life in several other ways as well. This is particularly true for people suffer from HIV/AIDS. A series of recent reports have shown that massage can help HIV/AIDS patients in several ways.

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One study showed that HIV positive babies who received regular massages were able to gain more weight than babies who did not participate in massage therapy. Another study showed that massage therapy benefits the immune system of HIV patients who otherwise suffer from a compromised system. The results of the second study showed that massage helped increased cell cytotoxicity in patients. This is especially important for HIV patients.

Finally, almost every study done on the subject has shown that HIV patients who use massage therapy have less anxiety. Almost all those who have less anxiety were shown to have a better quality of life.

3. Massage Can Have a Positive Impact Behavioral Disorders

As it turns out, hyperactive kids do not necessarily need to be calmed with medications.

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There have been numerous studies done on the benefits of massage therapy on behavioral disorders. One study demonstrated that massages helps children decrease the amount of fidgeting they do. Another showed that massages increased a child’s serotonin levels. From doing homework to learning how to cope with stress, two out of three children in these studies found it was easier to function in social situations when they participated in massage therapy.

Although different studies had different goals, each one of them has shared a mutual outcome. In every study, the parents and the children both said that regular massage therapy was a positive experience.

At the end of the day, most doctors recommend that you use massage therapy in conjunction with traditional medical treatment. But if you use massage therapy in conjunction with a healthy diet and regular exercise, you could see real benefits. Your health is worth more than just an occasional trip to the spa. Getting involved with a licensed massage therapist could lead to a healthier you.

Featured photo credit: Tara Angkor Hotel via flickr.com

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Last Updated on May 22, 2019

10 Simple Morning Exercises That Will Make You Feel Great All Day

10 Simple Morning Exercises That Will Make You Feel Great All Day

There are lots of studies that show if you do some exercise in the morning, you will be in a better mood all day long. You will have more energy and you will certainly be a better colleague, friend or partner.

One psychologist at Duke University has researched the effects of exercise on depressed patients and he has come to the conclusion that exercise has a definite role in treating this condition and has an important role in preventing people from relapsing.[1] According to the New York Times, scientists have now established that exercise also boosts your brain power.[2]

In addition, there are studies from the Appalachian State University which show that blood pressure can be reduced by doing regular morning exercise.[3]

Here are 10 simple morning exercises that will help you feel great the whole day long. You can include some of them in your morning exercise routine or do them all at home without having to enrol in a gym. Consult your doctor before starting any form of exercise routine if you are new to this.

1. Cat Camel Stretch

Stretching exercises are useful for muscle toning and also preventing arthritis. They can either be dynamic or static.

Dynamic ones such as the cat camel stretch, are particularly useful for doing other exercises in the morning. They are also beneficial at other times of the day, especially after long periods of sedentary work. This one is great for spinal flexibility and is a good warm up exercise.

Kneel down on all fours. Start by rounding your back just like a camel so that your head will try to meet your pelvis. This is the camel position. Then lower and lift your head so that your lower back is arched. This is the cat position. Do these movements slowly and smoothly. About 4 or 5 times.

Here’s a video to guide you through:

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2. Go for a Walk or a Run

This is better done outside so that you can connect with nature but running inside on a treadmill is almost as good. You can time yourself and increase length and time according to your fitness program.

Always have new goals to reach. Start with brisk walking and work up to running. At my age, I am still walking!

The health benefits are considerable. You can build stronger bones and you can help to maintain your weight.

Also, you are helping your heart to stay healthy and keeping your blood pressure low.

Learn more about the benefits of running here: 8 Benefits of Running 5 Minutes Every Day You Didn’t Know

3. Jumping Jacks

Michelle Obama is a great fan of this exercise and has become “Jumper in Chief.”[4] They are great for cardiovascular health and also for toning muscles especially the calves and the deltoids.

Stand with feet together. Jump while spreading your arms and legs. Return to first position and keep going! You can start with doing these for 1 minute and then gradually build up to the number you are comfortable with. Here’s how:

4. Abductor Side Lifts

Watch the video below to see how to do this exercise. These muscles are important because you use them everyday to run, get into the car or onto and off a bicycle. They are very important also for your core stability and prevent the pelvis from tilting.[5]

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Do about 10 to 15 raises for each side like this:

5. Balancing Table Pose

This is a classic yoga pose. It benefits the spine, balance, memory and concentration.

Start with the table pose (hands and knees). Breathe in before starting each movement. As you exhale, raise your left leg parallel to the floor as you raise the right arm, also parallel to the floor. Breathe in as you lower arm and leg. Repeat for the other side. 10 repetitions on each side is a good starting point.

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    6. Leg Squats

    Not just legs are involved but also hips and knees.

    Stand with your feet a bit further out from your hips. Arms are out in front of you. Then lower yourself as if you wanted to sit down until you reach a 90 degree angle. You can go down further if you want to. Then return to the starting position. Repeat 15 times for 2 sets for beginners.

    The benefits are that these exercises help with knee stability and can benefit the leg muscles such as quadriceps, hamstrings and calves.[6]

    7. Push Ups

    You start lying down (face down) but with your body held up at arm’s length. Your hands should be in line with your shoulders. Breathe in as you lower your body. That is fairly easy. Now, as you exhale, you have to get back up to the starting position.

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    An easier version to start with is to bend your legs at the knees so you do not have to lift your whole body.

    Beginners may take up to a month to be able to do 100 push ups so you will have to start with a very small number and gradually increase it.

    This exercise is great for strengthening the chest, shoulders and the triceps. It is a great strengthening exercise for many muscle groups. In fact, most muscles from the toes to the shoulders are being used.

    8. Bicycle Crunches

    There are numerous crunch exercises targeting the abs. The bicycle crunch is a variation where you work more muscle groups. Aim for 15 to 20 reps to start off with.

    Watch the video to see how this is done correctly:

    9. Lunges

    Stand with feet shoulder width apart. Place your hand on your hips. Take one giant step forward with the right leg. Make sure the knee does not go too far forward, that is, past your toes. The left knee will go down to almost floor level. Alternate the legs as you go on.

    Try to do a set of between 8 and 12 reps for each leg. It is important to allow for a day of rest, so this exercise should be done on alternate days, especially if you are using weights.

    This exercise is great for strengthening and toning the quadriceps, glutes and hamstrings.

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    10. Bicep Curls

    You can do this sitting down so if you spend a lot of time on the phone, this is a great exercise to do.

    Choose suitable dumbbells or another household object that you can easily hold. Sit down with the dumbbell in your hand. You need to sit forward a bit so that your triceps can lean on your thigh to give you support.

    Then bring the weighted arm up to shoulder length and then down again. Exhale as you lift the weight and inhale as you lower it.

    Here’re some important notes before you start doing this exercise:

    Try to do one or two sets of about ten repetitions for each arm and then switch arms.

    These exercises are really useful for toning the arm muscles.[7] In addition, they can strengthen and tone the brachioradialis muscle located in the forearm. These are the muscles we use to pick up things when we flex the arm at the elbow so we use these muscles countless times a day.

    You may have to build in a rest day for the heavier exercises, numbers 6–10. On the rest days, you can do gentler stretching exercises and also some walking or running.

    Morning exercise is not only a great mood booster, but will help you keep your weight down and also sleep better![8] Start including one or some of these exercises in your morning routine!

    More Articles About Exercises for Beginners

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

    Reference

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