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Arthritis

Stress and Arthritis

Many people believe that arthritis can only come from physical activity in your body, and it certainly does, but what others tend to forget, or simply don’t know, is that an individual’s mental health is a huge factor in arthritis as well. A study in 2009 by researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention claimed that people who experienced traumatic events during their childhood, which included physical or emotional abuse, had a much higher risk for developing rheumatoid arthritis compared to individuals who did not experience trauma.

Can Stress and Anxiety Actually Worsen Symptoms of Arthritis?

Some researchers claim that there is a direct relationship between a person’s stress response and inflammation in their body. Author Andrea W.M. Evers, PhD, took blood samples from 80 rheumatoid arthritis patients once every month for six months to measure the correlation between the stress hormone and inflammatory cytokines, and found that it played a main role in the amount of arthritis severity. Releasing cytokines in your body are the cause of inflammation, and exhibiting various levels of stress can also cause these specific molecules to be released, which eventually will promote inflammation and pain. Evers concluded that “patients who have a tendency for more worrying reported slightly more disease activity, more swollen joints, and more pain.”

Identifying the Root of Your Stress

As an individual becomes diagnosed with arthritis, their emotions can become extremely overwhelming. They may grow frustrated, uncomfortable, or in some cases, become very depressed. It becomes harder to perform normal daily tasks like putting on socks, cooking food, climbing stairs, and even just walking for some people. Their daily routine has become altered, and while some people can handle the change in lifestyle, others find it harder to cope and their stress can actually make the physical pain worse. Being able to identify where the arthritis is coming from in the body and developing a plan to improve it is the first step to reducing the stress associated with this disorder.

Tips for Handling Stress with Arthritis

Learning how to cope and finding ways to relieve tension can improve an individual’s quality of life physically and emotionally. One tip to handling stress would be to stay as active as you can throughout the day. Many people who have arthritis are often fearful of performing exercises simply because they worry it might make the pain worse or damage the joints, however, physical activity can actually improve the symptoms of rheumatoid and osteoarthritis. Daily activities like swimming and walking can reduce stiffness and stress on the joints while releasing endorphin hormones, (the hormones that make you feel good), ultimately improving the pain associated with arthritis and putting you in a better mood altogether.

Another tip would be to eat right so your body can fight inflammation. This tip seems like common sense, however many people don’t know which foods to eat and which ones to avoid. Some foods to start including in your every day diet are salmon, berries, and leafy green vegetables. Foods to avoid are red meats and vegetable oils, mainly because they contain omega-6 fatty acids which actually cause inflammation instead of reducing it.

Becoming more aware of your arthritis and coping with it appropriately will relieve pain in the body, resulting in an all-around happier and healthier you.


Lauren Adkins is a senior at Rowan University studying Health Promotion and Wellness Management. She is currently an intern at The Stress Management Institute and has a passion for helping people live a healthier lifestyle and improving their well-being. Lauren has also volunteered for a program at Rowan called “Get-FIT,” where she worked with individuals with developmental disabilities and promoted a happy, healthy, and fit lifestyle for them. Other than working towards a degree, Lauren enjoys spending time with family and friends, painting, and listening to music in her free time.

References

https://www.arthritis.org/living-with-arthritis/comorbidities/depression-and-arthritis/stress-rheumatoid-arthritis.php

https://www.everydayhealth.com/rheumatoid-arthritis/living-with/rheumatoid-arthritis-stress/

lungs

Pulmonary Hypertension and Mind/Body Medicine?

To understand how Pulmonary Hypertension reacts to Mind/Body Medicine, you must understand what is going on biologically. Mind/Body Medicine, such as meditation and exercise, can help to give these clients a better quality of life. As a fitness professional, it is important to know how, when and why you are using certain mind/body modalities.

Pulmonary Hypertension is a very rare disease of the lungs and right side of the heart. Sometimes there is no known cause except a change in the cells that line the pulmonary arteries. There is no cure, so managing the disease is the best most people can do. Some clients may be on multiple medications, which is normal. The changes in the pulmonary cells cause the artery walls to be thick and stiff. Extra tissue may form and the arteries may become tight. Young individuals usually become diagnosed by the age of 36 and women are diagnosed more often then men. Each year, 10 to 15 people per million are diagnosed in the United States. It is important to note that life expectancy is about 3 to 5 years if not diagnosed and treated.

Hypertension, as most people know, is a blood pressure which is 130–139 over 80–89. Individuals with hypertension can usually come off of medications with eating healthy and exercising. There are instances where the client will never stop taking medications,  due to genetics. The client can eat healthy and exercise, but the blood pressure does not come down. A primary doctor may try to get the blood pressure under control, but can’t.

In this situation, the individual would be sent to a Cardiologist who specializes in Pulmonary Hypertension. There are four types of Pulmonary Hypertension and they each have their own symptoms and treatment. It is important to obtain a doctor’s clearance before working with this population.

Types of Pulmonary Hypertension

Group 1: Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension
This group is usually classified as having no known cause. It can be genetic or develop from someone having Lupus, Scleroderma or HIV. Symptoms for this classification can be chest pain, dizziness, fatigue, inability to exercise, low blood pressure, chronic cough, shortness of breath, swelling or swollen legs.

Exercise is very important for this group by strengthening the heart and lungs. Clients will initially go to cardiac rehab for four to twelve weeks. When rehab is over, remember to obtain a clearance prior to working with your client. Start your client out by doing their cardiac rehab program.  The goal is to strengthen the heart and help the client to build cardiovascular endurance.

Group 2: Pulmonary Hypertension due to left lung disease
The heart does not pump blood or relax effectively. Medications are used for this group to help lung functioning. Blood pressure medicine and diuretics may also be prescribed. The physician may also ask their client to lose weight or use a CPAP if they have sleep apnea.

Group 3: Pulmonary Hypertension due to lung disease
This group of individuals may have COPD, Interstitial Lung Disease, Sleep Apnea, chronic high altitude exposure, and pulmonary fibrosis. Treatment consists of improving lung function, proper sleep breathing and staying away from high altitudes.

Group 4: Chronic Thromboembolic Pulmonary Hypertension
In group four, clients have blood clots in the lung. The blood clot restricts blood flow causing hypertension. It is important to work closely with the client’s physician for this type of hypertension.

Overall, exercise is thought to be good for individuals with Pulmonary Hypertension. There are, however, some guidelines to follow. Clients should never over exercise or become overheated. If you are working with someone who presents with symptoms, do not exercise upper and lower extremities at the same time. Exercise in extreme hot or cold environments should be avoided.

Stress management techniques will not help with bring blood pressure or heart rate down. For these clients, it is important to concentrate on the symptoms. Many individuals with Pulmonary Hypertension develop anxiety, depression and chronic stress. Clients may sit in a chair or lie on the floor for mind/body classes. It depends on what is comfortable for each client. It is important that the client knows to not get discouraged because they are not seeing a drop in blood pressure.


Robyn Caruso is the Founder of The Stress Management Institute for Health and Fitness Professionals. She has 18 years of experience in medical based fitness.

References:

  • http://www.tsmihfp.com
  • https://pulmonaryhypertensionnews.com/pulmonary-hypertension-who-classification/
  • https://phassociation.org/medicalprofessionals/consensusstatements/exercise/
  • http://pulmonaryhypertensionrn.com/types-of-pulmonary-hypertension/
STRESS pencil

11 Tips to Prevent and Relieve Stress

“Just relax.”

“Don’t worry, you deserve the break.”

“It will help you to focus better and tackle the upcoming problems head-on.”

This is all very nice to hear, but to practice it in real life is really tough.

As such, here is a list of tips which can help you to stretch your legs and have a little break.

Be Assertive

Maintaining clear communication is one of the most effective ways to reduce stress. In this way, you can ask people what you need from them clearly. You can stand up for yourself and deal with toxic people firmly. This is the only way for you to be proactive in a stressful situation. In many cases, this assertion of your thoughts can effectively reduce your stress.

Reduce the Stimuli

In the modern world, there is no dearth of stimuli, and this stimuli can increase stress levels. To relieve stress, you should make time each day to spend quietly — silence can help you to slow down. Spending some time quietly can help you recharge to take on challenges.

Prioritize

If you want to escape the all-consuming business, you should organize tasks by priority. Organizing tasks can make life less stressful.

Set Boundaries

Start creating a boundaries for yourself. This can help create a peaceful balance between work life and personal life. Be assertive if people try to break these boundaries.

Take a Break

Day to day life can become monotonous, which can become an added stressor. Break the monotony by taking a break. Watch a movie, read a book, or catch up with a friend. In short, do something positive!

Meditate

Just take a few minutes per day to meditate. Many studies have shown that just a few minutes can ease anxiety. In fact, some studies showed that meditating every day can change the neural pathways of the brain.

Breathe

Studies have shown breathing has a positive effect on stress and anxiety. If you feel stressed, take a short break and breathe deeply. Deep breathing slows down your heart rate and lowers blood pressure. You can feel the effect almost immediately.

Live In the Present

Slow down and appreciate the moment. Just feel the light touch of air on your face, or watch the sunlight streaming through the window pane. Studies suggest that taking little breaks to focus on the senses can be a great stress reliever.

Reach Out

Reaching out to your near and dear is one of the most effective ways to handle stress. Talk to your friends and family and share your problems. This routine can give a fresh perspective on situations.

Exercise

If stress is bogging you down, dance it away! Or choose any other type of exercise. You don’t need to be an athlete…. just walk for half an hour and see how the stress melts away. The hormone released during exercise helps you sleep better and increases self-confidence. Take baby steps if you are new to exercise. Just remember that every step you’re taking is reducing your stress level.

Laugh

The moments we spend laughing are getting more rare. Try to see the small bits of humor scattered in everyday life. Grab every opportunity to laugh out loud. Laughing releases a hormone that lifts your mood, and it lowers the stress-inducing hormone. So, why wait? Just tune in to your favorite sitcom or meet with a friend for laughs.

Try different techniques and find the one(s) that work best for you!


Catherine Park is a content writer who help businesses find their audience online. She loves working in the ever-changing world of digital and is fascinated by the role content plays in today’s marketing.

quitting as self care

Quitting as Self-Care

A few years ago the term self-care appeared as a means of describing anything that a person does to take care of themselves, like getting a massage, meditating, going for a walk in nature, or taking a relaxing bath in essential oils. All of the above are great ways to improve your physical and emotional health; however, they are often used not as a way to improve health, but to undo the damage caused by underlying stresses and simply restore one’s previous level of health.

Take meditation. It’s a practice that has been used for millennia as a means of trying to reach an enlightened state. But what do we often use it for now? As a means to calm ourselves down after an argument with a significant other or a way to gain a glimpse of equanimity before what we know will be a tough day at work.

In the above instances, meditation isn’t being used to take us to a higher place, it’s being used to get us back to baseline. And then the next day, when our job or our toxic relationships drag us back into sadness or anxiety, we use it again to bring us back up.

This is akin to using Tylenol to treat cancer. Cancer causes pain, so we take Tylenol to relieve the pain. This treats only the symptoms and ensures that we’re going to have to take Tylenol again and again each time the pain arises.

How would we stop that cycle? By curing the cancer.

Similarly, you can’t massage away a bad job and you can’t journal away a toxic relationship. In both instances, you’re merely treating the symptoms.

What’s the cure? Quitting.

Quit the job that’s taken your sanity day after day. Quit the relationships that have led you to the negative self-talk that requires hours of journaling and meditation to sort out.

Because all of the above self-care tools are amazing in their own rights, but are so much more helpful in improving your physical and mental health if you’re starting from a more stable baseline — which requires taking a good look (often through journaling!) at what is disturbing your peace.

So next time something has you anxious or depressed, grab that journal and write down what led to that feeling. Then start analyzing whether the cause can be quit. You may need a job-ectomy, or to have some toxic friends surgically removed from your friend circle.

And after you do, be sure to light some candles, throw some essential oils in a bathtub, and meditate your way to enlightenment — free of whatever was holding you back!

Reprinted with permission from Dr. Morski.


Dr. Lynn Marie Morski is a Quitting Evangelist. She helps people to and through their quits through her book “Quitting by Design” and her podcast Quit Happens, along with speaking and coaching. She is also a board-certified physician in family medicine and sports medicine, currently working at the Veterans Administration. In addition, she is an attorney and former adjunct law professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law. Visit her website, quittingbydesign.com

Stressed Man Working At Desk In Busy Creative Office

Stress – How Does It Affect Our Health?

Stress is something we are all confronted with every day of our lives. Stress as a specific medical term was first defined by the endocrinologist Hans Selye in 1936 as the physiological adaptive responses to perceived (psychological) or real (physical) threats (“stressors”) to an organism.1,2 There are different types of stress such as psychological stress, physical stress and oxidative stress. All three of these are connected physiologically and how we handle stress may be determined by previous experiences and by our biochemical make-up. It has been shown that there are 50 common signs and symptoms that occur when we experience stress, and these involve several systems of our body, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, nervous, immune, etc.

The HPA Axis is a physiological pathway that is highly associated with stress and this pathway is affected by hormones, medications and an individual’s nutritional status. There is an old saying which comes first the chicken or the egg. This is also true when we are considering nutritional status and how it may affect our ability to deal with stress. For example, if you have a zinc deficiency you are more likely not to handle stress well due to the fact that zinc is related to serotonin production and this neurotransmitter helps us relax.3 On the other hand, when we encounter a stressful situation a group of hormones known as stress hormones (cortisol, norepinephrine and epinephrine) become elevated and they can cause our blood glucose levels to rise as a result of their effect on our insulin receptors. As we experience elevated blood glucose levels our magnesium status may be affected in the sense of increased urinary loss and then we experience magnesium deficiency related signs and symptoms such as headache, irritable bowel syndrome, facial twitching and insomnia.

Every one of us has a unique biochemical makeup and this is one reason why we don’t respond to stress in the same manner. Roger J. Williams was an American biochemist who spent his academic career at the University of Texas at Austin. He is known for isolating and naming folic acid and for his roles in discovering pantothenic acid, vitamin B6, lipoic acid, and avidin. Dr. Roger Williams a renowned scientist wrote a book titled “Biochemical Individuality”, which described how different each of us are. This is why none of us respond the same way physiologically when we encounter a stressful situation.

It is important that we utilize specific diagnostic methods available today to determine our individual nutritional status. Obtaining objective nutritional information is essential and it is vital to making sure nutritional deficiencies are treated properly, so other nutritional inadequacies do not occur. For example, if you started taking zinc because you were experiencing some stress and you did not consume copper with it, you could develop a copper deficiency which could result in nerve damage, anemia or skin changes. Our body tries to maintain a state of homeostasis and must have an adequate nutritional status to achieve this.


Join Dr. Grabowski and 16 other expert presenters at the Medical Fitness Tour!
February 8-10, 2019 in Irvine, CA. Learn more »


Dr. Ron Grabowski is a practicing Doctor of Chiropractic in Houston, Texas. He has presented over 500 seminars and lectures on nutrition throughout the United States and in Europe, publishing several articles and a textbook on clinical nutrition. His research interests include nutritional support of the athlete and the use of supplements in clinical practice for the prevention and treatment of chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, fibromyalgia, and gastrointestinal disorders. Visit his website, hsrnc.net

References

  1. J Physiol Pharmacol 2011; 62:591-599.
  2. Exp Neurol 2012; 233: 49-67).
  3. Sandstead, H.H.; Frederickson, C.J.; Penland, J.G. History of zinc as related to brain function. Nutr. 2000, 130, 496S–502S. [PubMed]
woman heating pad

Why Suffer in Silence?

In America today, 40% of females, including women, children and teens, suffer in silence with either primary or secondary dysmenorrhea every month. Primary dysmenorrhea accompanies the monthly menstrual cycle without any underlying medical conditions. Secondary dysmenorrhea means that there is another medical issue present, such as endometriosis. This condition makes it hard to function, with most women being bedridden for three to five days or longer. Dysmenorrhea is not a weakness, but a real medical issue.

Generally, the female client will have severe throbbing pain from the waist down. They can feel it in their stomach, low back, legs and feet, making it hard to move. Other symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, anxiety, stress, depression, lightheadedness, fatigue, headache, fever, and depression, weakness and fainting. Risk factors are smoking, obesity, being underweight, strong family history, high levels of stress, anxiety and/or depression. Women can still have painful stomach cramping well after menopause if they have Endometriosis.

This is a silent stressor for many women because they rarely choose to speak about it. Some have been living with the pain for twenty years or more and think there is nothing they can do. If a client comes to you and mentions that they have a lot of pain, urge them to see their doctor. This conversation is more likely to happen with a female personal trainer. The good news is that fitness professionals can help their clients to feel better during this painful time of the month.

It is important to acknowledge this painful condition because of the physical and mental implications that come along with it. As the trainer you, may be working with a therapist as well as an OB/GYN. You are trying to help your client feel better overall. We recommend scheduling an assessment first to understand the client’s medical history. As a fitness professional, you may want to refer your clients to other professionals as well. Acupuncture, for example, is well known for helping women to ease and reduce anxiety. When you network with other professionals, you form a referral system to obtain more clients for yourself, too.

After completing your assessment, you will develop a wellness program for your client. The program will include: exercise, meditation (specific to this condition), and aromatherapy, as well as other components. Try to have your client establish a regular daily wellness routine. Journaling is also important as it helps to connect your thoughts, feelings and behaviors. Support groups can also help as women share their experiences with others.

If you’re interested in learning more about this topic, The Stress Management Institute will be launching a new program called “Living Well” in January 2019. Fitness professionals can learn how to enhance the lives of women who live with this condition.


Robyn Caruso is the Founder of The Stress Management Institute for Health and Fitness Professionals. She has 18 years of experience in medical based fitness.

References:

Stress Management Exercise Programming

As fitness professionals, we know that exercise helps our clients to cope with stress. We are told that any type of exercise will help them to reduce stress levels. The problem with this way of thinking is that we do not look at stress from the same point of view as a chronic illness. In turn, you could be putting your clients at risk of developing illness’s. We know that stress can wreak havoc on the body but what can we do as fitness professionals?

When we have clients diagnosed with diabetes, cancer and heart disease, for example, we follow a certain protocol or guideline. Not everyone is the same so you may have to deviate and think outside the box. Why should there be a difference with stress management exercise programming? There are specific guidelines that you should be following.

Many fitness professionals take into consideration the mental piece of stress but not what is actually going on inside the body as a direct correlation. Or fitness professionals may think that the client is better because they feel less stressed mentally after their session. When we do any type of exercise, endorphins will be released throughout the body. This will make you feel better mentally but it is a quick fix for what is really going on inside.

If a client is highly stressed and you have them do an intense workout they may become physically worse. Exercise is a stressor on the body itself and will increase cortisol levels. This  in turn, can make blood sugars and blood pressure higher. If someone does not have either of these conditions it could become their new norm over time. When pushed to hard, a client may develop conditions like Alzheimer’s Disease earlier due to high cortisol levels.

We need to look at stress management from a physiological standpoint when prescribing exercise. Many fitness professionals do not make this important connection during their sessions. We may advise clients to do meditation, yoga and exercise as a “one size fits all approach” Our clients’ bodies are different and therefore need a customized exercise and health education plan. If you have a client who cannot lose weight when exercising and eating properly have them see their doctor. The Physician may want their patient to take a cortisol level test to make sure their body is functioning normally.

Fitness professionals should follow the FITT Principle for stress when working with this population. Knowing the appropriate frequency, intensity, time and type of exercise is very important. You must assess your client and know their stress levels before you can customize a program. It is also important to look at their health history and what medications they are taking.

One way of effectively training clients is by using the Aria Method™. Open and flowing movements are important for training individuals who are stressed. Posture and stress play an integral part of movement and should be taken into consideration. For instance, Stress can make people hunch over or adapt to a kyphotic posture. By opening the chest and strengthening the muscles you are correcting this motion. Take a moment and really look at your clients before deciding how to train them.

Educating clients about stress and healthy coping techniques is also important and can make a big difference. It may be hard for some individuals to make positive lifestyle changes. Remember to praise clients for any changes they make no matter how small.


Robyn Caruso is the Founder of The Stress Management Institute for Health and Fitness Professionals. She has 18 years of experience in medical based fitness.

References:

dog

Have a Fit Vacation with Fido

While most people picture their ideal vacation as lazing about on the beach getting roasted by the sun and sipping Mai Tais, you are not like most people. If you’re going to take time off and travel, you want to make the most of it and be active during your travels. A great way to stay motivated is to bring your dog along. When you travel with your pooch, the two of you can spend your time exploring cities on walks, traversing hike and bike trails, and generally being more active than your usual lazy vacationer.

Safety First

Whenever you travel with your dog, you want to remain safe at all times. While many dogs love trying new things, they can also be overwhelmed in unfamiliar situations. Always keep your dog on a leash unless you are in a designated off-leash park. To stay safe even when off-leash, be sure your pup has updated ID tags1 and that their microchip has your current contact information. Dogs shouldn’t go to public places without vaccinations and parasite prevention products, including heartworm medicine and flea/tick/mosquito repellant. If your dog gets in a scuffle with another pooch at the park, be careful not to get in between them; instead, work at distracting your dog to get out of the fray as soon as possible.

Enjoy the Open Road

If you’re going to bring your dog on vacation, keep the locale within driving distance. Airlines may technically be able to “ship” your dog to your destination, but the process of crating, drugging, and shipping your dog in an airplane’s cargo hold is traumatic2 for the little guy. In fact, the Humane Society strongly advises against animals traveling in cargo. Beyond the stress that it causes dogs, airlines also have a habit of losing — and sometimes killing — dogs. Instead of risking it, plan a trip within driving distance so you know your dog is in good hands.

A Lot of Personality

Dogs differ in personalities3 just like people do. While some dog owners know their pup would love a day touring microbreweries in the city by foot, others would feel anxious surrounded by all those strangers’ feet and the smell of alcohol. Keep your dog’s personality and how they respond to situations in mind when planning activities. For instance, don’t take a little dog with short legs on a 10-mile hike up a mountain. Or, if your dog isn’t big on water, don’t book an afternoon kayaking in hopes that this time he will get used to it. Remember: this is your dog’s vacation too — he wants to enjoy it just as much as you do.

Take a Breather

While a fun and active vacation is great, don’t over-exert your pup. Even the most high-energy breeds need to rest. Be sure wherever you’re staying is shaded and cool if outdoors or climate controlled if indoors. Always bring a supply4 of freshwater and a travel bowl that your dog is comfortable using. Whether hiking, biking, kayaking, or simply walking around the city, your dog needs frequent water breaks to stay hydrated and healthy. Finally, it’s okay to spend a little time apart — your dog doesn’t have to be the center of the social spotlight 100 percent of the time. If you are staying in a dog-friendly room and only plan to be gone for a couple hours, he should be fine hanging out there for the time being. If you want to take a little longer than a couple hours, look into a local doggie daycare5 or pet sitter that will watch your pup while you shop, go to a museum, or do whatever not-so-dog-friendly activity you want to do.

When you bring your dog on vacation, you can’t sit around and be lazy. Beyond the daily activity a dog needs, you have to be mentally alert and stay on top of their safety. Dogs generally shouldn’t fly — you’re going to want to plan a road trip for this excursion.  Keep your pup’s personality in mind, and don’t put him in a situation that will cause anxiety. Finally, find ways to take breaks so your dog doesn’t get too worn out by this vacation.


Henry Moore is the co-creator of FitWellTraveler. The site blends two of his favorite subjects (travel and health) to provide readers with information about how to get the most out of both.

References:

1 Dog Park Safety Tips – Angie’s List
2 United Airlines had most animal deaths in 2017… – Market Watch
3 Dogs Have These 5 Major Personality Types – I Heart Dogs
4 Planning on Taking Your Dog on Your Next Vacation? – Whole Dog Journal
5 What’s the benefit of doggy daycare… – Mother Nature Network