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Happy Earth Day!

It’s Earth Day tomorrow!

Although we all generally try to live life a little 'greener' these days, it's good to draw special attention to this day. There's always something more we can do to embrace Earth Day and help the environment. Here are some ideas:

WALK: Every time you start your car, you release carbon dioxide into the air. There are lots of ways to get where you need to go without driving. You can carpool, take public transit, work from home, or ride your bike. Or you can walk! Great for the environment and great exercise as well!

SAVE WATER: There are many ways we can conserve water. The amount we use to keep ourselves clean is alarming. A daily shower or bath isn’t mandatory, it’s a comfort. We can use over 100L of water every time we bathe. Consider taking a day off from showering. It'll save water and money, and the natural oil build up is actually good for your skin. In the long term, equip your house with high efficiency shower-heads and toilets to save water every day.

VOLUNTEER: If you really want to get into the fun of Earth Day, pitch in.  There are bound to be many opportunities in your community. Earth Day Canada has an Events page, where you’ll find a list of activities for your area, many of which will provide you with a good dose of exercise! How about planting some trees, for example, or helping to clean up a local park?

COMPOST: All of your coffee grounds, paper towels and food waste can be turned into compost resulting in a great (and free!) way to fertilize the garden. If you don't have the time or inclination (or garden!) necessary to set up a composting system at home, at the very least get yourself a green bin and compost your biodegradable waste that way, instead of adding it to the landfill.

DON'T STOP:  Make all of your Earth Day good behaviours into everyday habits. Walk instead of drive, equip your house to save water, help out with local 'green' initiatives, and compost all your food waste.

Happy Earth Day!

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Bone health concerns everyone.

Some common health conditions contribute to low bone density. These include:
• Anyone on bed rest exceeding several days
• Depression
• Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
• Parkinson’s disease
• Cystic Fibrosis
• Stroke
• Cancer (especially when the reproductive organs are involved)
• Ankylosing spondilitis
• Down’s Syndrome

We tend to take our health and healthy bones for granted. Although a large percentage of senior women have low bone density and are at an elevated risk of fracture, both men and women have to take care of their bones.

The sooner you start, the better it is for your skeleton. Strong bones reduce the risk of fractures in the future.

There is a growing preference for more natural ways to strengthen bones rather than using pharmaceuticals. Physiotherapy can play an important role in the prevention and management of osteoporosis.

Physiotherapists are trained to assess a person’s needs and identify an exercise program that is both effective and safe for the treatment and management of osteoporosis. We have the knowledge, training and skills to address this important and growing need.

An exercise program can increase bone strength. However, some exercises increase the possibility of a vertebral fracture. It is important to get the right guidance and education. This is where a Physiotherapist can guide you safely through your program. Physiotherapy can help you improve the health of your bones.

Physiotherapy intervention includes, but is not limited to, some of the following:
• Optimizing posture and body alignment (especially important before we start to load the body through strength training)
• Core stabilization
• Breathing technique
• Safety tips for exercising
• Reviewing all aspects of daily activities that can place the spine at risk
• Safe and effective flexibility exercises
• Safe and effective core strengthening exercises
• Individualized strength training that incorporates all the elements needed to stimulate bones
• Balance training and fall prevention
• Cardiovascular recommendations based on your fracture risk

Exercise in the water can be very beneficial. The resistance of the water helps strengthen muscles and it is safe even when balance is an issue.

by Erna Stassen (originally appeared on www.focusonhealth.ca)

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Why Walking Is Good For You

Walking is a gentle, low-impact form of exercise that’s easy, free and suitable for people of all ages and most abilities. Here’s why it’s so good for you:

1. It strengthens your heart

Regular walking has been shown to reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke. It lowers levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol while increasing levels of HDL (good) cholesterol and keeps blood pressure in check.

"Anything that raises your heart rate and gets your blood pumping is a workout for your heart and circulatory system," says personal trainer Stuart Amory. According to the Stroke Association, walking briskly for up to 30 minutes can help prevent and control the high blood pressure that can cause strokes – reducing your risk by up to 27 per cent.

2. It lowers disease risk

As well as heart disease, a walking habit can slash your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, asthma and some cancers. A study in the British Medical Journal showed taking more steps every day can help ward off diabetes. And according to the charity Walking For Health, regular exercise such as walking could reduce risk by up to 60 per cent. Those of us who are active have around a 20 per cent lower risk of developing cancer of the colon, breast and womb than those least active.


3. It keeps weight in check

"If you’re trying to lose weight, you need to burn about 600 calories a day more than you’re eating," says Amory. "Putting one foot in front of the other is one of the easiest ways to do that." A person weighing 60kg burns 75 calories simply by strolling at 2mph for 30 minutes. Increase that to 3mph and they’ll burn 99 calories. Speed it up to a fast walk (4mph) and that’s 150 calories – the equivalent of three Jaffa Cakes or a jam doughnut. "Walking also increases muscle mass and tone and the more muscle you have, the faster your metabolism – so the more calories you burn, even at rest," he adds.

4. It can help prevent dementia

Dementia affects one in 14 people over 65 and one in six over 80. We know being active has a protective effect on brain function and regular exercise reduces dementia risk by up to 40 per cent. And, according to Age UK, older people who walk six miles or more per week could avoid brain shrinkage and so preserve memory as the years pass.

5. ...and osteoporosis, too

"Walking counts as a weight-bearing activity," says Amory. "It stimulates and strengthens bones, increasing their density – really important, especially for women. It also helps maintain healthy joints so may stave off conditions such as arthritis."

6. It tones your legs, bum – and tum

A good walk can help strengthen and shape your legs, giving great definition to calves, quads, hamstrings and lifting your glutes (buttock muscles) – especially if you add hills. But if you really pay attention to your posture as you walk, it can tone your abs and whittle your waist, too.

Fitness expert Joanna Hall is founder of the Walkactive method of 'conscious' walking for better posture and overall fitness results. She says: "Think about lengthening up through your spine to create space between your earlobes and shoulders. Relax your shoulders, pull in your tummy and pelvic floor and imagine you have a cup of water balanced on top of each hip bone that you don’t want to spill. As you walk with this posture, your shoulders will naturally rotate and this works your oblique abdominal muscles – you’ll be taking inches off your waist with every step."

7. Let’s not forget your arms

"Your speed when walking comes from your arms," says Hall. "Hold them at a comfortable level, bent at the elbow, and swing them backwards and forwards as you walk. Swing them faster and you’ll automatically speed up. And all this movement tones your arms, shoulders and upper back." Bye bye, bingo wings!

8. It boosts your vitamin D levels

If you’re walking outside in daylight, you’ll be boosting your body’s stores of Vitamin D – a nutrient that’s hard to get from food, but that we can synthesise from exposure to sunlight. Many people in the UK are deficient in vitamin D and it’s a nutrient that plays a big role in everything from bone health to immunity. While sun safety is still important (see www.sunsmart.org.uk), experts agree that exposing as much skin as you can to the sun, little and often and without burning, will help you to produce sufficient vitamin D.

9. It gives you energy

It might seem like a paradox (and the last thing you might feel like) but a brisk walk is one of the best natural energizers around. It boosts circulation and increases oxygen supply to each and every cell in your body, helping you to feel more alert and alive. It wakes up stiff joints and eases muscle tension so you feel less sluggish. Always have a mid-afternoon energy slump at work? Head out for a walk at lunchtime instead of sitting in a café or at your desk and see what a difference it makes.

10. It makes you happy

The ability of exercise to boost mood is undisputed. Studies have shown regular, moderate-intensity exercise (such as brisk walking) to be as effective as antidepressants in cases of mild to moderate depression. Getting active releases feel-good endorphins into the bloodstream, reducing stress and anxiety. And don’t forget it’s often a social activity – joining a walking group or meeting friends to walk and chat is a great way to banish feelings of isolation and loneliness. A survey by the charity Mind found 83 per cent of people with mental health issues look to exercise to help lift their mood. For greatest benefit, they say, get active outdoors and somewhere green.

Hannah Ebelthite (originally posted on www.tescoliving.com)

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