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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 November 20, 2018

10 Reasons Why New Year’s Resolutions Fail

10 Reasons Why New Year’s Resolutions Fail

A new year beautifully symbolizes a new chapter opening in the book that is your life. But while so many people like you aspire to achieve ambitious goals, only 12% of you will ever experience the taste of victory. Sound bad? It is. 156 million people (that’s 156,000,000) will probably give up on their resolution before you can say “confetti.” Keep on reading to learn why New Year’s resolutions fail (and how to succeed).

Note: Since losing weight is the most common New Year’s resolution, I chose to focus on weight loss (but these principles can be applied to just about any goal you think of — make it work for you!).

1. You’re treating a marathon like a sprint.

Slow and steady habit change might not be sexy, but it’s a lot more effective than the “I want it ALL and I want it NOW!” mentality. Small changes stick better because they aren’t intimidating (if you do it right, you’ll barely even notice them!).

If you have a lot of bad habits today, the last thing you need to do is remodel your entire life overnight. Want to lose weight? Stop it with the crash diets and excessive exercise plans. Instead of following a super restrictive plan that bans anything fun, add one positive habit per week. For example, you could start with something easy like drinking more water during your first week. The following week, you could move on to eating 3 fruits and veggies every day. And the next week, you could aim to eat a fistful of protein at every meal.

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2. You put the cart before the horse.

“Supplementing” a crappy diet is stupid, so don’t even think about it. Focus on the actions that produce the overwhelming amount of results. If it’s not important, don’t worry about it.

3. You don’t believe in yourself.

A failure to act can cripple you before you leave the starting line. If you’ve tried (and failed) to set a New Year’s resolution (or several) in the past, I know it might be hard to believe in yourself. Doubt is a nagging voice in your head that will resist personal growth with every ounce of its being. The only way to defeat doubt is to believe in yourself. Who cares if you’ve failed a time or two? This year, you can try again (but better this time).

4. Too much thinking, not enough doing.

The best self-help book in the world can’t save you if you fail to take action. Yes, seek inspiration and knowledge, but only as much as you can realistically apply to your life. If you can put just one thing you learn from every book or article you read into practice, you’ll be on the fast track to success.

5. You’re in too much of a hurry.

If it was quick-and-easy, everybody would do it, so it’s in your best interest to exercise your patience muscles.

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6. You don’t enjoy the process.

Is it any wonder people struggle with their weight when they see eating as a chore and exercise as a dreadful bore? The best fitness plan is one that causes the least interruption to your daily life. The goal isn’t to add stress to your life, but rather to remove it.

The best of us couldn’t bring ourselves to do something we hate consistently, so make getting in shape fun, however you’ve gotta do it. That could be participating in a sport you love, exercising with a good friend or two, joining a group exercise class so you can meet new people, or giving yourself one “free day” per week where you forget about your training plan and exercise in any way you please.

7. You’re trying too hard.

Unless you want to experience some nasty cravings, don’t deprive your body of pleasure. The more you tell yourself you can’t have a food, the more you’re going to want it. As long as you’re making positive choices 80-90% of the time, don’t sweat the occasional indulgence.

8. You don’t track your progress.

Keeping a written record of your training progress will help you sustain an “I CAN do this” attitude. All you need is a notebook and a pen. For every workout, record what exercises you do, the number of repetitions performed, and how much weight you used if applicable. Your goal? Do better next time. Improving your best performance on a regular basis offers positive feedback that will encourage you to keep going.

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9. You have no social support.

It can be hard to stay motivated when you feel alone. The good news? You’re not alone: far from it. Post a status on Facebook asking your friends if anybody would like to be your gym or accountability buddy. If you know a co-worker who shares your goal, try to coordinate your lunch time and go out together so you’ll be more likely to make positive decisions. Join a support group of like-minded folks on Facebook, LinkedIn, or elsewhere on the internet. Strength in numbers is powerful, so use it to your advantage.

10. You know your what but not your why.

The biggest reason why most New Year’s resolutions fail: you know what you want but you not why you want it.

Yes: you want to get fit, lose weight, or be healthy… but why is your goal important to you? For example:

Do you want to be fit so you can be a positive example that your children can admire and look up to?

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Do you want to lose fat so you’ll feel more confident and sexy in your body than ever before?

Do you want to be healthy so you’ll have increased clarity, energy, and focus that would carry over into every single aspect of your life?

Whether you’re getting in shape because you want to live longer, be a good example, boost your energy, feel confident, have an excuse to buy hot new clothes, or increase your likelihood of getting laid (hey, I’m not here to judge) is up to you. Forget about any preconceived notions and be true to yourself.

  • The more specific you can make your goal,
  • The more vivid it will be in your imagination,
  • The more encouraged you’ll be,
  • The more likely it is you will succeed (because yes, you CAN do this!).

I hope this guide to why New Year’s resolutions fail helps you achieve your goals this year. If you found this helpful, please pass it along to some friends so they can be successful just like you. What do you hope to accomplish next year?

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