Hiking Benefits

Hiking Blog

Hiking takes walking, as a healthy exercise, to the next level. Both are excellent cardio workouts, great for the cardiovascular system, the respiratory system, our bones, and our muscles. Each will lower our stress levels and is great to support any weight loss program. But hiking gives us the extra piece: it can improve our balance and increase our strength and endurance as we navigate the steep and/or bumpy trails. An old English term used for hiking was “hillwalking”. Walking poles can be included for balance or stability in order to provide additional security and safety.

 

Hiking uses muscles that are rarely used in the gym. It is also considered one of the best ways to burn fat – even that stubborn belly fat. This physical exercise promotes the release of endorphins – the hormones that make you happy.

 

Studies have found that exercise and cardio workouts benefit us – mind, body, and spirit. So why choose to walk outside or hike? For many, exercise can be tedious and boring. Something on our daily routine “have to” list. Not something that brings us pleasure. On a treadmill, an hour can feel like a very long time. So we manage to pass the time by watching TV, reading our emails, and/or talking on our cell phones. By doing this, we are being mindless. Our focus is entirely outside of ourselves. We are still working, still obsessing, still stressed. Being outside, on the other hand, on a hike, maneuvering the trails, time seems to fly by. It also adds the extra dimension of being in beauty. Surrounded by nature, we reduce our levels of anger and fear and increase our feelings of wellbeing.

 

Exercising at the gym or at home is usually a solitary act. Hiking with friends may turn this dull activity into a fun-filled experience. Connecting with friends in a natural setting, can involve opening ourselves up and even allow them to see our limitations, our stumbles, our vulnerability. It encourages us to share stories that we might otherwise keep hidden or have even forgotten. We may deepen some of these friendships, making them more meaningful. There is something very special about sharing this experience with others, making memories, and changing relationships. We may even get out of our egos and become ourselves.

 

Many have written about the benefits of hiking. Lao Tsu wrote, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Ken Ilgunas: “On a hike, you’re less a job title, and more a human being.” “All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking.” – Friedrich Nietzsche. “Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit, and as vital to our lives as water and good bread.” – Edward Abbey. “Me thinks that the moment my legs begin to move, my thoughts begin to flow.” – Henry David Thoreau.

 

Hiking, whether alone or with others, is a way of enjoying the beauty of nature while promoting mindfulness, as we remain closely aware of what is underfoot so as not to stumble or fall. Focusing on our surroundings and the possible dangers stops the monkey mind from regretting the past and worrying about the future, thereby lowering anxiety and improving our mood. Hiking is also a great way to unplug. Rarely do we see a hiker spending their time on the hills checking emails, texting, taking selfies, or tweeting.

 

Whichever you choose to engage in, whether walking or hiking, remember to dress accordingly, wear the proper footwear, and stay hydrated. Bring your water bottle and, of course, your phone, (just in case of an emergency)!

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Pain

Pain blog image

Do you suffer from debilitating pain? Pain can sometimes be a gift, a message sent from the Central Nervous System to the Brain. It is the body’s way of letting us know that something is wrong, of protecting us from continuing to injure ourselves, making things worse, and, sometimes, telling us that it is time to see a health care professional. There is a TV commercial for a pain drug that says, “When the body says no, ‘……’ says yes.” But, in order to be safe, when the body’s wisdom tells us “no”, we should respond accordingly.

 

Pain after a cut, bite, fall, injury, or a medical procedure is short term and is referred to as acute. In these cases, inflammation is the body’s way of healing and repairing the injured tissue. But, if it continues longterm, even permanently, it is labeled as chronic. Chronic pain is often described as lasting many months after the injury or medical procedure has healed. In most of these cases, the primary origin is excess inflammation. The names given to many painful conditions end in “itis”, denoting inflammation. In the case of arthritis, it involves inflammation of the joints. Inflammation also increases when under stress.

 

Pain may be mild, moderate, severe, constant, occasional, sore, dull, throbbing, sharp, aching, pulsing, stabbing, annoying, uncomfortable, debilitating, or even unbearable. When seeing a doctor or a therapist, being able to identify the type and location of pain can help with the diagnosis and sometimes indicate a particular condition. Some people can point directly to the tiny spot where the pain is felt. Yet, for others, it is in the left shoulder, or in the head, or in the right knee. It may even be referred pain felt, for example, in the right hip and originating from the left side of the neck. Pain can impact our daily activities, work, emotional and psychological well-being, and social activities. 

 

For many, it is worse in the morning and is accompanied by stiffness. Lack of movement during the night can increase morning inflammation. A gentle morning exercise routine may help minimize this discomfort. Doctors used to recommend complete bedrest during painful periods, but this is no longer the case. For most types of chronic conditions, movement and increased blood flow has been seen to promote healing and reduce pain.

 

Waking with a sore neck may be due to poor a sleeping position or to the type of pillow being used. Also, sore backs, are often the result of poor posture. Try standing with your feet pointing straight ahead with a slight pelvic tilt, tummy tucked in, head comfortably forward, shoulders back. This is how to align the spinal chain properly with the joints stacked evenly, one above the other. Your weight will be evenly placed and you will no longer be compensating for a weak area by putting extra pressure on the healthy side. Use your muscles rather than your joints wherever possible.

 

Running shoes may be the best type of footwear, offering additional support, and resulting in a reduction in back pain. When bending, hinge at the hips instead of at the waist. Lift with your knees, never your back, and do not twist your body to reach for something that is off to the right or left. If sitting for hours at a desk or computer, ensure that you have a proper chair, that your arms are at a height that doesn’t put strain on your shoulders, and that you get up every half hour to move.

 

To minimize pain, naturally, deep breathing exercises, meditation, or relaxation techniques can be extremely helpful. One breathing exercise that can be done in bed each morning before rising involves lying down, eyes closed, one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach. Focus on the breath moving slowly, in through the nose and out through the nose. The count of four for each is comfortable for most. Feel the breath move in, through, and out of your body for even 10-15 minutes. This can be followed by gentle exercises, like bending your knees and moving your legs from one side to the other. Gently and comfortably, move and bend your arms and your legs.

 

There are also many safe physical exercises that result in increased blood flow which will help minimize pain. Some of these include Tai Chi, Qi Gong, and Feldenkrais. Stress reduction, 7-8 hours of sleep, and therapies such as massage, acupuncture, osteopathy, and myofascial release can also help tremendously in minimizing pain. Exercise programs that strengthen your abs and glutes, in a safe manner, are extremely helpful.

 

Magnesium is an important supplement that will relax the muscles and improve sleep. A daily vitamin D supplement will improve immunity and strengthen bones and muscles. Also, Boswelia, SAMe, MSM, and fish oil may help reduce chronic pain. Both turmeric, added to food or taken as a supplement, and tart cherry juice, combined with water as a drink one hour before bed, have anti-inflammatory properties.There are also homeopathic remedies that may reduce pain and inflammation including Arnica, Belladonna, Bryonia, Rhus tox, and Ruta. For these, the symptoms must match the remedy. Like cures like. So, please read about the remedy first.  And, also, there are essential oils like Lavender, Peppermint, Copaiba, and Pan Away applied to the body and/or diffused through the room which may promote muscle relaxation, restful sleep, and reduce pain. As CBD becomes legal, there will also be many ointments, creams, and oils on the market that can offer relief.

 

It is important to stay well hydrated, and to eliminate, or at least, reduce the consumption of coffee, alcohol, and tobacco. Remember to eat a nutritious, well-balanced diet, low in sugar, processed foods, hydrogenated fats, and carbonated drinks. All food that increase inflammation, like nightshades, will increase pain.

 

Related NPP Webinars:

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Bone Health: Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is not just A Calcium Deficiency!

 

What is holding you up?  Bones are made up of at least a dozen minerals and more. We need to have these minerals, all in perfect proportion, in order to have healthy bones and healthy bodies. Before we start rebuilding the bone, and adding calcium, magnesium, potassium and all of the other important minerals and supplements, we must address the original cause of bone deterioration.

 

Osteoporosis is a “silent disease” where the bones become less dense, weak, and brittle. Its name comes from the latin – “osteo” meaning bone and “poras” meaning porous. For many adults, a slight fracture is the first indication that there is a problem. We may experience a minor bone break due to a benign event, possibly after a cough or a sneeze, increasing the probability of future fractures.

 

Today we are living longer. Seniors have become one of the largest population groups throughout the world. As children, our body breaks down old bone and replaces it with new bone tissue. By our early 30’s, bone mass no longer increases and we need to preserve our bones for as long as possible. As we move toward middle age, and our hormones become depleted and out of balance, our bones naturally lose their density every year. Our ability to build bone diminishes, resulting in thinner and more fragile bones that will break more easily. For women, this has become a serious concern during perimenopause, as the estrogen levels decline, and, particularly, after menopause. Men begin to lose bone around the age of 60–70. Hip and knee replacements are now very common for both women and men.

 

 

Early Warning Signs:

  • Loss of height
  • Changes in posture; ie stooping forward
  • Bone fractures, particularly after age 50
  • Lower back pain

 

Risk Factors include being female; being Caucasian or Asian; a genetic predisposition; a history of irregular periods; eating disorders; early menopause; poor nutrition; lack of exercise; tobacco and/or alcohol use; a PH below 6.5; low body weight; a small, thin frame; Kidney Disease; Celiac Disease; IBS; Prednisone; Cortisones; and other Drugs.

 

Fortunately, there is a tool that can determine bone loss, using T score ratings. This is suggested for women every two or three years after menopause. This Bone Density test, also known as DEXA, uses x-ray to measure the density of the bones in your wrists, hips, or spine, three areas most at risk, and also, the neck.

 

T Scores: 

  • and above are normal
  • 1 to -2.5 are considered Osteopenia
  • 5 to -3.0 are considered Osteoporosis
  • 0 are considered Severe Osteoporosis

 

Today our systems are assaulted by more toxins than ever before. Toxicity inhibits the body from working effectively. Whatever we can’t eliminate, we store. As we become more toxic, we also become more acidic. The body then leaches minerals, particularly calcium, from the bones in order to become more alkaline. How do we reverse this process? We make changes that will begin to move our body in the direction of healing. That is what Natural Nutritionists strive to do for every client that walks through their clinic door.

 

Doctors use medication, orally or by injection, like Fosamax, Actonel, etc to increase bone density while also recommending weight bearing exercise. In men, testosterone therapy has been used to increase bone density. Women were given estrogen therapy for decades until a large number of studies discovered a correlation between hormone replacement therapy and an increase in the risk of blood clots, heart disease, and hormone related cancers, like breast and ovarian.

 

Natural therapy protocols include supplements, weight bearing exercises, an alkaline diet, and a cleaner, more active lifestyle. In my practice, I use Biotherapeutic Drainage to promote the body’s ability to eliminate toxins, by making the liver, kidneys, and other major emunctories more efficient, through the use of combination homeopathic remedies. Once the body is less toxic, it becomes more alkaline and is better able to absorb and assimilate the nutrients necessary to build strong bones.

 

A link has been found between thyroid disease and osteoporosis. Thyroid hormones can affect the rate of bone loss. Too much thyroid hormone, like thyroxine, prescribed for years, may speed up the rate at which bone is lost. The body’s osteoblasts may in turn be unable to replace the bone loss as quickly as required.

 

In the Nurses’ Health Study including 122,000 women, risk factors for chronic diseases, like osteoporosis, were analyzed. It found that “women with the highest consumption of dairy products actually had substantially more fractures than women who drank less milk”.

 

Our NPP Webinar, Osteoporosis, includes:

  • Bone formation and integrity
  • Underlying issues
  • Warning signs
  • Rebuilding the bones with Nutrition, Supplements, Biotherapeutic Drainage, Tissue Cell Salts, Diet, and Lifestyle Changes

 
Our NPP Webinar, Hormones, includes:

  • Foods to balance hormones
  • The Endocrine System
  • Adrenal & Thyroid Nutritional Support
  • Thyroid and Osteoporosis

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Snowshoeing

NPP TIP Blog-snowshoeingWinter, in Canada, is a magical season but, generally, the streets and hills are covered with snow and ice. Walking, running, and even hiking are not as easy or as safe as they were during our other three seasons. So, how do we exercise and stay in shape out of doors during the winter months? We suggest Snowshoeing, originally used by Native Americans and European Explorers to forage for food and travel through deep snow for almost 4000 years, and even longer in Central Asia.

 

Snowshoeing, now seen as a recreational exercise, is a fun way to lose the calories that we generally pack on during the winter months. It is said to burn off anywhere between 420-1000 calories per hour. The colder the weather, the more energy we use; the taller the snow, the higher we lift our legs; thus, a great fat-burning, muscle-building exercise. Snowshoeing is a terrific low-impact aerobic exercise that is easy on the joints, healthy for the heart and the lungs, strengthening for the muscles, and great for improved balance and stability. If balance is an issue, poles can keep you upright and protect you from slipping.

 

This is also a wonderful way to dispel the winter blues. Being in nature is known to decrease depression and stress levels. Practising mindfulness, while walking along the snowy, beautiful terrain on a sunny day, will stop the monkey mind from taking you to the past, where you house your regrets, or into the future, worrying about what lies ahead. Good for all ages, including children and seniors, Snowshoeing is a safe and healthy way for us to get outside all winter long, burn calories, strengthen our glutes, quads, and our calves, unplug, relax, and simply have a lot of fun. Check out the many schools, recreational facilities, and resorts that offer snowshoeing lessons for beginners. If you can walk, you can snowshoe. Please remember to stay hydrated, so bring along your water bottle!

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Human Connections

For a happier, healthier existence, it is essential that humans maintain relationships with family, friends, and community, particularly as they age. When this does not exist, there is an increase in loneliness leading to depression, anxiety, and mental conditions. This ultimately may lead to physical illness and dis-ease. Human interaction helps us cope with stress, difficult life events, and even lengthens our lifespan.

 

We now know that newborn infants are soothed, cry less, and sleep more peacefully after “skin-to-skin” contact with a loving human. Babies that are not touched or held, as those in an orphanage, do not thrive or grow in the same way and may even have a shorter life span. As they grow, toddlers develop social and life skills by modelling what they see .

 

Children learn much better in a classroom situation with a kind teacher, friends, and playmates than in virtual classrooms. They learn when it is time to laugh and make noise and have fun and when it is time to settle down and get to work. Recess is a time to play, relax the nervous system, regenerate, and renew. The classroom, no matter how crowded, is a wonderful place to learn cooperation, manners, the sharing of ideas, patience, rules, how to get along with others, including those from differing backgrounds, and respect for the property of others.

 

Seniors often experience a dramatic decline in human interaction due to the loss of friends through illness or death, a move to a nursing home, diminished eye sight or hearing, and/or a loss of mobility. They may no longer be able to drive their cars or easily visit with friends or neighbours. This is a definite precursor for loneliness, depression, and dementia. Having friends and family close by will keep them engaged, happy, and feeling like there is life yet to be lived. Living in a senior community can be a great solution for those that are still active. Being computer savvy can definitely be a blessing allowing them to stay in touch, share and save photos, be creative, and play games, despite a more sedentary lifestyle.

 

Around the beginning of the 21st Century, technology began to replace face to face connections for many addicted to their smart phones. Many chose to text, message, and email one another, while ignoring the people sitting right next to them, at the dinner table, at a restaurant, in their car, and even at a party. Others spent more time chatting with strangers on social media than with family and friends living close by. Studies indicate that obsessive users of cell phones may experience greater anxiety and depression.

 

Yet, as we navigate the “new normal” of 2020-21, we have found many creative ways of staying in touch without touching, even while social distancing, through the use of this technology. Online Book Clubs, Exercise Classes, Bridge and Canasta groups, Coffee Clutches, Meditation Workshops, Seminars, Webinars, Weekly family get togethers, Spiritual discussion groups, and more have sprouted where none existed virtually prior to March and have managed to keep us feeling connected.  Many of us have even figured out how to create a way of working online and, at the same time, staying in touch with fellow workers by email, text, ZOOM, and phone. In the short term, this has been a way to dispel the feelings of isolation during a pandemic.

 

But the question still remains. Can we survive on a permanent basis without face to face interactions, hugs, and time spent with the people who feed our souls? Is a virtual connection enough? Can we survive without other human beings to touch, hug, or connect with, physically and emotionally? We are, in fact, social beings, beginning from the moment we are born. Nothing can take the place of human connection and human touch. There is a wonderful quote by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, “My humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together.”

 

NPP Related Webinar

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