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This past weekend, Daylight Savings Time ended and once again, we find ourselves in the dark by 5 p.m. As we approach the winter solstice, with shorter days and colder temperatures, it’s tempting to stay indoors and do things that bring us comfort, like reading books and watching movies. Unfortunately, these activities often leave us sedentary.
The importance of staying active
When we are not as active as we are in the summer, it affects the balance of chemicals produced in the body that impacts how we feel pain and pleasure: our endorphins.
Endorphins are produced by the body to respond to things like stress, fear, or discomfort. They interact with the parts of your brain responsible for your emotional responses and sensitivity to pain. Endorphins are responsible for your feelings of pleasure and are involved in your built-in reward system linked to eating, drinking, sexual activity, and maternal behaviour.
Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to help boost the level of endorphins in your body. One of those things is exercise.
Exercise encourages the body to produce more endorphins.
For example, sometimes runners experience a “runner’s high” level of vitality after a workout. The same experience can be had by anyone after an extended period of physical exercise. There are other benefits to working your body physically: exercise can give you more energy throughout the day, allowing you to sleep better at night and feel more relaxed. It also helps the brain repair and recover, reduces inflammation in the body, and helps you feel calm and have an overall sense of well-being.
The good news is that you can replicate these positive sensations by taking steps to add a bit more exercise to your day. Any activity leaving you out of breath for bouts of 10 minutes or more throughout the week can help you fend off the winter blues.
Other ways to boost endorphins
It’s not just exercise that helps your body boost endorphins: regular meditation, yoga, and tai chi help to decrease stress hormones and increase endorphins. Not only that, simple pleasures such as love, laughter, sunshine, and chocolate all increase endorphins as well.
Take care of yourself during the cold-weather months.
There are lots of ways to make the short winter days a little brighter. The wellness team at Pickering Village Chiropractic and Massage encourages you to make your physical and mental health a priority.
We provide our patients with more than just chiropractic and massage therapy services, but also the know-how to build better personal wellness habits so you can be at your best for work or play, every day.
With content from the Canadian Chiropractic Association.
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As you head out to rake your leaves this month, chances are the last thing you’ll be thinking about is your posture. But you should, because an hour or so spent tidying your lawn can have long-term consequences if your body isn’t accustomed to the activity.
Ajax Chiropractors Dr. John Noble and Dr. Mark Fera and the massage therapists at Pickering Village Chiropractic and Massage have helped numerous patients overcome injuries, many of which have occurred while working around the home.
“Although raking may seem like an easy task, it’s actually an intensely physical activity,” says Dr. Noble. “To avoid injury, it’s important to make sure you’re performing this task correctly.”
Follow these tips and avoid a backache next time you rake.
Pick the right tool for the job
Is your rake the correct length for your height? Ideally, your rake should be about chin high. If it is too tall or too short, this could lead to improper reaching or bending and potential injury.
Get your body moving before the raking begins
Before you grab the rake, spend five to 10 minutes doing a variety of whole-body stretches. These can include a basic hamstring stretch, shoulder, wrist, and side stretches. For a full list of stretches, click here. Do each of the exercises five times, holding each for 15 seconds. Be sure not to bounce, jerk or strain. It should be a gentle stretch, not a pain.
Ensure proper raking posture
Once you’ve warmed up, keep your back straight while raking and avoid repetitive motions by switching arms and pulling in different directions. This allows you to work out different parts of your body equally.
Remember to bend at the knees when lifting
Whether you’re moving a planter across the deck or lifting a bag of leaves, remember to bend at your knees, not at your waist, and keep your feet shoulder-width apart. As you’re lifting, tighten your abs, straighten your knees and keep your back straight. For turning, you should avoid twisting at the waist by moving your feet instead.
Take frequent breaks
Every 20 minutes or so, pause for a few minutes to catch your breath and stay hydrated. Check your posture and perform a few stretches to ensure that you are maintaining flexibility throughout raking.