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Epsom Salt Bath Makes You Less Anxious

Epsom Salt Bath Makes You Less Anxious

Anxiety is a natural human emotion. It’s usually caused by our mind entering the ‘fight or flight’ response when situations occur. For some, it can be a fleeting feeling felt when big changes occur in our lives such as starting a new job, speaking in public or getting married. But for others, it can be a daily ongoing mix of fear, worry, and uneasiness. The constant nervousness and inner turmoil can be uncomfortable and tiring. Sleep patterns can become disturbed and concentration wanes. In terms of the mind, it does not only deplete our happiness but it can also cause physical symptoms like headaches, muscle aches and tension. There are many ways to cope with anxiety issues but daily relaxation techniques can help calm the inner turmoil, help you sleep better and give you a greater peace of mind. Many people suggest taking a bath using Epsom salt as it is known to relieve symptoms of anxiety and actually improve our mood. But what is Epsom salt and how does it work?

How Is Epsom Salt Different To Other Salt?

Epsom Salt is not like sea salt or regular table salt. Although the crystal structure looks similar, Epsom salt is a mineral compound made up of magnesium and sulphate unlike other salts that are almost entirely made up of sodium chloride. Another huge difference is that sea salt, when left on the skin, will dry it out pretty quickly and leave a residue whereas Epsom salt actually rinses off and leaves the skin soft. So because of its specific structural composition, the way Epsom salts work are greatly different to other salts and the benefits are far greater.

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How Epsom Salt Baths Work – The Science

Mention an Epsom salt bath to anyone and they will probably conjure up thoughts of a hot, steaming bath – a welcome delight at the end of a hard, stressful day. But an Epsom salt bath is actually unlike a normal one. Remember the magnesium that makes up most of its compound? Well it’s this that gives you the great health benefits that can relieve anxiety issues. When we’re feeling stressed, our magnesium levels are decreased and depleted. Magnesium is a mineral that is important in the production of serotonin – the feel-good hormone – so less magnesium equals less serotonin. Serotonin is crucial for enhancing our mood and sense of wellbeing so without it, anxiety attacks can seem worse and prolonged.

A study, conducted by researchers at the School of Biosciences, University of Birmingham, showed that a certain amount of magnesium in Epsom salt is readily absorbed through the skin. They studied a group of participants before and after being immersed in a bath with dissolved Epsom salt and found that their magnesium levels had risen without any adverse effects. Therefore using Epsom bath salts is an effective, yet-gentle, way to raise magnesium levels without taking supplements.

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How To Make Your Own Epsom Bath Salt

There are many ready-made Epsom salt products in stores but they can prove costly. Plain Epsom salt usually comes in bigger packs and is more economical. But why not try making your own? It’s actually very easy and fun to do and you can make your own varieties. All you need is:

  • 1/2 cup of Epsom salt (magnesium sulphate)
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • A small cup or bowl
  • Food colouring (optional)

What to do:

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  1. Boil the water and stir in the 1/2 cup of Epsom salt for around a minute in the cup or bowl. This creates a saturated solution, meaning no more salt can dissolve in the water. (Some undissolved crystals will be at the bottom of the glass.)
  2. Choose a food colouring and add a couple of drops to give them a nice vibrant colour. (optional)
  3. Place the cup or bowl in the refrigerator straight away as the solution needs to be cooled down rapidly.
  4. After a few hours, check it to see the cup full of crystals. Pour off any remaining solution.

Your end result should see small, thin, and numerous crystals which you can add to your bath. Although you can create a scent-less bath salt mixture, adding essential oils creates a calming atmosphere when you take your bath and will help you to relax a bit more. Just combine your favourite essential oil and leave it to infuse in the cup or bowl before adding it to your bath.

How To Use Epsom Bath Salt

The ideal concentration for using Epsom salt baths to raise magnesium status, according to the study, is approximately 500 grams, or 2 cups, of Epsom salt dissolved in 15 gallons of water – the amount that can fit in a standard-sized bathtub. Ideal amount of time spent soaking is 10-20 minutes, two to three times per week.

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While an Epsom salt bath is generally a safe and gentle way to raise magnesium levels, it is good to check with your doctor before using it to treat any medical conditions or using it while pregnant.

Featured photo credit: Matt_Weibo via flickr.com

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Last Updated on August 15, 2018

7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day

7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day

Bodyweight exercises are gaining ground in the fitness world due to the practicality and simplicity of getting in shape using your own body weight. Planks are one form of bodyweight exercises that will never go out of fashion. Planks are one of the most effective exercises you can do. Why? Because they require a small time investment on your part, and offer the chance to achieve substantial results in a relatively short span of time.

Video Summary

Why is it important to train up our core strength?

There are numerous sites and blogs which detail ways to build your core muscles or core strength. Often though, these sites neglect to explain what your core muscles actually are, and why building them is important.

This is quite surprising, as core muscles are quite easy to explain. Your core muscles are a series of muscles in your midsection, and are used in most forms of movement. Though they aren’t housed in your arms or legs, your core muscles can help transfer force from one limb to another, or are used in addition to muscles in your arms or legs to increase their effectiveness. As such a strong core will make a big improvement on your ability to move and exercise further.

Also they are great for helping other muscles in your midsection such as your abdominal muscles. Your abdominal muscles are important for supporting your back and spinal column, and as such are important aids in preventing injuries. However for them to be most effective you need to spend a lot of time developing your core muscles.

In short, planking exercises can make a huge improvement in your muscles down your whole body. Making them a hugely effective exercise to perform.

One Exercise, multiple benefits

There are few forms of exercise as effective at building your core as planking exercises. However, planking exercises benefit far more than just your core strength.

By holding yourself in the position for a planking exercise, you’ll notice that your biceps, neck, and shoulder muscles are also being tested and strained. This this encouraging their buildup and development. This is great news if you like to do press ups, developed shoulder muscles will have a big impact on your press up performance.

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When planking, you are holding yourself up through your arms and biceps and so by holding a planking position, your arm muscles are being toned and developed. Making planking a great alternative exercise to other forms of bicep developing exercises.

Moving down your midsection, successful plank exercises actually develop the muscles in your butt! These muscles tend to be ignored by a lot of exercises, so this is another great benefit of plank exercises.

In much the same way as you develop your biceps and arm muscles, holding the planking position helps develop the muscles in your thighs too.

What is even better is that planking exercises don’t take much time at all. In fact you should probably only spend about ten minutes max per day in the planking exercise.

What will happen when you start doing planks every day

    1. You’ll improve core definition and performance: 

    Planks are an ideal exercise for the abdominal muscles exactly because they engage all major core muscle groups including the transverse abdominus, the rectus abdominusthe external oblique muscle, and the glutes. The importance of strengthening each muscle group cannot be underestimated either, for all of these groups serve their own purpose. If you strengthen these muscle groups you will notice:

    • Transverse abdominis: increased ability to lift heavier weights.
    • Rectus adbominis: improved sports performance, particularly with jumping. This muscle group is also responsible for giving you the renowned six pack look.
    • Oblique muscles: improved capacity for stable side-bending and waist-twisting
    • Glutes: a supported back and a strong, shapely booty.

    2. You’ll decrease your risk of injury in the back and spinal column

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      Doing planks is a type of exercise that allow you to build muscle while also making sure that you are not putting too much pressure on your spine or hips. According to the American Council on Exercise, doing planks regularly not only significantly reduces back pain but it also strengthens your muscles and ensures a strong support for your entire back, especially in the areas around your upper back.

      Check out this article if you would like to find out about how doing planks on different surfaces can impact the effectiveness of this exercise in strengthening your core.

      3. You’ll experience an increased boost to your overall metabolism

        Planking is an excellent way of challenging your entire body because doing them every day will burn more calories than other traditional abdominal exercises, such as crunches or sit-ups. The muscles you strengthen by doing this exercise on a day-to-day basis will ensure that you burn more energy even when sedentary. This is especially important if you are spending the majority of your day sitting in front of a computer. Also, making it a daily 10- to 1 minute home exercise before or after work will not only provide an enhanced metabolic rate but it will also ensure that that metabolic rate remains high all day long, (yes, even while you are asleep).

        4. You’ll significantly improve your posture

          Planking exercises have a great impact and improvement on your posture. This is great news as a strong posture brings with it a huge number of fantastic benefits .

          A good posture keeps your bones and joins in the correct alignment which means both your bones and joints will be better maintained and more healthy, but also means the overall effectiveness of your muscles will be improved.

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          A good posture will ensure your back or spine is in the correct position and so you will suffer less back pain.

          On top of everything, someone with good posture looks better, healthier, and more confident.

          5. You’ll improve overall balance

            Have you ever felt that when you tried standing on one leg, you couldn’t stand up straight for more than a couple of seconds? It’s not because you were drunk- unless you happened to be at the time!-  but rather, it’s because your abdominal muscles weren’t strong enough to give you the balance you needed. Through improving your balance by doing side planks and planks with extensions you will boost your performance in every kind of sporting activity.

            6. You’ll become more flexible than ever before

              Flexibility is a key benefit of doing planks regularly, for this form of exercise expands and stretches all your posterior muscle groups – shouldersshoulder blades, and collarbone – while also stretching your hamstrings, arches of your feet, and toes. With a side plank added in to the mix, you can also work on your oblique muscles. This will provide you with further benefits when it comes to hyper-extending your toes, a movement that is crucial for supporting your body’s weight.

              7. You’ll witness mental benefits

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                Plank exercises have a particular effect on our nerves, making them an excellent means of improving overall mood. How? Well, they stretch out muscle groups that contribute to stress and tension in the body. Just think about it: you are sitting in your chair, at home or at work, all day long; your thigh muscles get tight, your legs get heavy due to being bent for several hours; and tension develops in your shoulders due to being forced to slump forward all day. These are all circumstances that put too stress on the muscles and nerves. The good news is that planks not only calm your brain, but they can also treat anxiety and symptoms of depression– but only if you make it part of your daily routine.

                How to hold a plank position

                1. Get into pushup position on the floor.
                2. Now bend your elbows 90 degrees and rest your weight on your forearms.
                3. Keep your torso straight and rigid and your body in a straight line from ears to toes with no sagging or bending.
                4. Your head is relaxed and you should be looking at the floor.
                5. Hold the position for as long as you can.
                6. Remember to breathe. Inhale and exhale slowly and steadily.
                7. When your form begins to suffer, pull the plug. You’re only benefiting from the plank by actually doing the plank.

                Watch the video if you have any doubt!

                Here is a great infographic that shows the best plank variation exercises to evenly target all abdominal muscle groups:

                  How to improve your plank time gradually

                  1. Start with the easier variation if needed. You can start with a bent-knee plank if you can’t perform a regular plank yet. If you can hold a plank for more than two minutes with ease, you can move on to these tougher variations.
                  2. Practise every day. Space your planking exercise throughout the day and do 3-4 times every day. Try to hold the position 10 seconds longer each time.
                  3. Perform other body-weight exercises at the same time. Push-up and squat will improve your core strength too.

                  Are you ready to devote 5-10 minutes of your day, every day, to stay fit, healthy and, most importantly, strong as a bull? Then jump in and make doing plank exercises a part of your life.

                  Who Should Be Cautious Doing The Plank?

                  You need to be cautious doing Planking exercises if any of these risks apply to you:

                  • Prolapse
                  • After prolapse surgery
                  • Pelvic pain conditions
                  • Weak or poorly functioning pelvic floor muscles
                  • Previous childbirth
                  • Overweight

                  Choose an alternative pelvic floor abdominal exercise or consult your doctor before performing plank regularly.

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