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Get Active to Reduce Stress

January has been called “the Monday morning of months.” It’s easy to get swept up in a bad headspace because of the shorter days and colder temperatures. However, exercise can be a great natural remedy to help combat that. Here are a few ways that exercise helps reduce stress, both biologically and psychologically.

 

Releases Endorphins

Often known as the “happy hormone,” why wouldn’t you want to do whatever it takes to get more of those produced? According to MayoClinic, “Physical activity [helps] bump up the production of your brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters, called endorphins. Although this function is often referred to as a runner’s high, any aerobic activity, such as a rousing game of tennis or a nature hike, can contribute to this same feeling.” Have you ever heard people say that they just “feel off” if they don’t get their workout in? They are actually on to something! 

Leads to Better Sleep

Often, the secret cause of stress is how you start and end your day. The quality of your sleep directly affects the quality of your mental health. Johns Hopkins Medicine notes, “Recent research indicates that exercise decreases sleep complaints and insomnia in patients. The effects of aerobic exercise on sleep appear to be similar to those of sleeping pills.” Unlike sleeping pills, exercise also helps improve your skeletal and muscular health as well. So, it seems like a no-brainer, in terms of making your decision, to us. 

Provides You With Something to Look Forward to

Now that we’ve tackled the biological elements of how exercise can reduce stress, let’s go into the more psychological aspects. To start off, there’s nothing like having an element of your daily routine to look forward to. A therapist quoted in The Huffington Post stated, “During particularly stressful moments in time…. it can be more beneficial to have something to look forward to.” While we are physical therapists, we’ll leave it to the mental health therapists on this one. However, we can attest that having a workout to look forward to is one of the best ways to turn around a stressful day.

It Just Feels Good

We don’t know how else to describe it other than that. It just feels good to get a great workout in. It starts your day off on the right foot and gets your brain out of whatever fog it might be in. CNet is on the same page as us saying, “There are many other ways exercise makes us happier — by lowering stress levels, reducing feelings of loneliness and isolation, and helping people relieve anxiety and depression, among other benefits.” Exercise just makes you feel good, plain and simple.

 

We hope we have convinced you to make exercise a part of your daily routine. It may just be the secret to getting you out of whatever funk you’re currently in. 

Simple Weight Loss Tips That Will Stick the Whole Year

We’re officially past the first week of the new year, and you may already be struggling with the resolutions that you set for yourself. Fear not! We are here to help you with simple weight loss tips that will stick throughout the year. These may be just what the doctor (Doctor Hartle, to be exact) ordered to get you back on track for success.

 

Small Steps are Still Steps

The answer is not to go from Brendan Fraser in “The Whale” to a swimsuit model overnight. Small steps are still crucial and will lead to more significant steps down the road. According to LifeHack, “Once you’ve established momentum with micro-steps and add it to your schedule before or after an already established habit, you will have a much greater chance of success.” Getting overwhelmed and giving up never helps anyone. Start small and track your success accordingly.


Consistency is Key to Success

On that same note, consistency is the secret to being successful. Doing something once, especially regarding weight loss, will not change anything in the long run. Too often, we have seen people go hog wild on one trip to the gym and 1) hurt themselves and 2) not do it again when they don’t see immediate results. Entrepreneur notes, “Consistency is massively important because it allows you to focus on what you want. Focusing on a goal and working toward it every day allows you to utilize the power of intention.” Doing a simple thing every single day beats doing an insane task once every single time.

Stick to Measurable Results

Speaking of getting results, the only way to stay motivated to achieve a goal is to make it measurable. That means that instead of saying, “I want to lose weight,” you should say, “I want to lose 5% of my body weight by the end of the month.” ClarityChi echoes this by saying, “Making a goal measurable entails setting a deadline and making sure you know what you are looking for once you reach that deadline.” Keep the old acronym of a SMART goal in mind when you make a resolution for yourself, and you’ll be one step closer to success.

Liquid Calories are the Silent Killer

This is a secret that isn’t so secret but is so often forgotten about. When people want to lose weight, they immediately look at their plates, trading high-calorie food items for vegetables, while neglecting to look at the glass next to it. You’d be amazed by how many inches you can drop off your waistline when you remain firm to strictly drinking water (and, yes, that means water, not water with a pouch of something added to it.) Per a study shared by FitDay, “Research suggests liquid calories can be an even bigger diet bust than food. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found a stronger link between cutting liquid calories and losing weight than it did between reducing solid calories, or food, and losing weight.” So, next time you want to lose weight, don’t bring soda along with you for the ride. Don’t even get us started on Gatorade!

 

Simply put, the secret to being successful on your weight loss journey is to keep it simple, consistent, and easy to measure. We wish you much success with your resolution.

Kettlebells Make the Perfect Gift for the Fitness Junkie in Your Life

While you may be past the point of getting it in time for Christmas, if you need a belated gift for the gym rat in your life, look no further than a new set of kettlebells. The perfect addition to either the most humble workout room or a fully fleshed-out home gym, kettlebells are a versatile and space-friendly option that will add immense value to their next workout session. In case that isn’t enough, we have taken the liberty of offering you a list of the benefits of utilizing kettlebells in your next workout. We figured it would also help this article be useful to those who are already on the kettlebell train. 

They’re Great for Cardio

We all know the typical cardio exercises involving a treadmill or a walk around the town. However, did you know kettlebells offer benefits just as valuable for your cardiac health? According to BarBend, “Many kettlebell exercises are ballistic in nature, making them ideal for low-impact cardiovascular training. Kettlebell circuits and flows don’t take up a lot of time, are performed at submaximal loads, and will place a lot of positive demand on your cardio system.” Taking up less space than a treadmill but still offering similar benefits? Sounds like a win-win to us. 

They Improve Core Strength

Is a six-pack on your list of New Year’s resolutions? First of all, join the club. Second, look to kettlebells for help in that department. GymReapers notes, “An amazing benefit of kettlebell workouts is that it engages your core muscles. When performing a goblet squat, for example, having a firm core improves your overall form while strengthening the muscles.“ The secret to tightening those core muscles may very well be in the power of the kettlebell.

And So Much More

The benefits we listed above are only a few of the countless benefits that implementing kettlebells into your next workout can have for your health. SetForSet echoes this point by saying, “Kettlebells can be used for strength, endurance, flexibility, and balance training…the four main aspects of fitness.” Whether your goal is more muscle volume, better posture, improved balance, or anything else, kettlebells can help you get there. It truly is the all-in-one gift this holiday season.

Where Can You Get One?

By now, we have hopefully convinced you of the immense benefits of implementing kettlebells into your workout routine. With so many options on the market, where are you meant to start looking for one? We’ve got you covered there, too. Our shop offers top-of-the-line kettlebells at an affordable rate so that, no matter your budget, you can make a real impact with the gift of kettlebells this holiday season. Check them out by clicking here.

We want to take this opportunity to wish you and your loved ones a very happy and healthy holiday season. We’ll be back with another new blog article in the New Year, so stay tuned for more!

Benefits of Exercise for Mental Health

While this time of the year can be a favorite season for many, for others, it can be a tough time. Whether you have experienced a loss that hits a little harder during the holiday season or the changing seasons cause you to experience Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), it’s important to keep extra attention on your mental health during this time of year. Exercise is by no means a substitute for personalized treatment from a mental health professional, but it still comes jam-packed with benefits for your brain. Below, we’ll go over a few of the most prominent ways that explain how exercise can provide you with a much-needed boost of serotonin this holiday season.

 

There’s a genuine biological reaction. 

Speaking of serotonin, exercise has a bona fide chemical reaction that has been proven to better position you for good mental health. You may have noticed firsthand (or seen other people) the post-workout glow that people have. No, we’re not talking about sweat. We’re talking about the good mood that is visible right on their faces after an excellent workout. According to HealthDirect, “Exercise releases chemicals like endorphins and serotonin that improve your mood… [it also] pumps blood to the brain, which can help you to think more clearly.” So, if you don’t want to take our word for it, given that we’re a bunch of gym rats, listen to the scientists.

 

It improves your memory.

While not related to how you’re feeling, memory is still an element of your mental health. Luckily, exercise is one of the best natural supplements for your memory. Findings from Brigham Young University found, “Exercise improves memory by increasing molecular targets like the brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). This molecular factor increases synaptogenesis, forming new synapses that mediate learning and memory, making it easier to absorb information and form long-term memories.” Get that blood flowing into your brain and experience the memory benefits for yourself.

 

Exercise helps combat anxiety and depression.

Regarding mental health disorders, let’s talk about the two biggies: anxiety and depression. Especially in a post-COVID world, there’s seemingly no way that you, or someone in your immediate circle, are not impacted by one of these two insidious conditions. As we mentioned at the beginning of this article, no amount of exercise will be able to compete with the assistance a mental health professional can offer. However, MayoClinic noted, “Research on depression and anxiety shows that exercise and other physical activity can help improve mood, reduce anxiety and improve other health problems.” As a disclaimer, if you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, please contact your local emergency mental health services or dial 911. 

 

Finally, it relieves stress.

Last but not least, it’s just an all-around stress reliever. It’s really as simple as that. After you work out, you just feel better. The geniuses at Harvard have echoed this point by saying, “Exercise reduces stress hormones and stimulates the production of endorphins, which together help foster relaxation.” We second that statement!

 

We hope you find these tips helpful, especially if you are struggling with your mental health as the days get shorter and the holidays come around. A nice workout at the gym may be just what the doctor ordered.

Healthy Options for Thanksgiving Dinner

We understand the big feast’s temptation on you to drown your insides with the most carb-heavy options available. Gooey mac and cheese? Two scoops, please! Mashed potatoes? Keep them coming my way! However, your body will thank you for considering some healthy options to help balance the meal and ensure your Black Friday isn’t spent in a food coma.

 

Broccoli: the Tastiest Green Option.

Argue with the wall on that. Broccoli is one of those foods that may have repulsed you as a kid, but as adults, you find a newfound appreciation for it. The best part is that, when you are eating it, you won’t even miss the butter-coated corn a few bowls down. According to Healthline, “Broccoli is high in many nutrients, including fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, iron, and potassium. It also boasts more protein than most other vegetables.” So it looks like its taste isn’t the only superior element of broccoli after all. 

Feel Festive with Pumpkin Soup.

It is fall, after all. Being healthy doesn’t mean you have to ditch the fun elements of Thanksgiving. Pumpkin soup is a great substitute for the pie you might have had on the lineup, which still keeps with the theme. The experts at Possible agree that, “Pumpkins and pumpkin soups are a powerhouse of vitamins and nutrients…Soups are a powerhouse of all kinds of vitamins, minerals, proteins, and various nutrients that promote weight loss, better gut health, and a good boost of micronutrients.” All the pumpkin greatness, without the health ramifications.

Skip Wine for Water.

Depending on what you believe in, this could be sacrilegious on Christmas. However, it’s safe to say you get a pass on Thanksgiving. Liquid calories (especially alcohol) are the easiest way to screw up progress on a diet/workout plan without even noticing it. Alfa claims, “As a natural remedy that helps you lose weight, water has zero calories, sugar, or fat as opposed to drinks like sweetened beverages and alcoholic drinks that are full of calories.” So keep passing the white wine around the circle and opt for a glass of refreshing water instead this Thanksgiving! 


Turkey. Yes, That Can Stay.

We aren’t insane, after all. Luckily, turkey is actually a very low-carb and healthy protein that you can indulge in. Heart.org states that, “Turkey is a great source of protein, rich in many vitamins and minerals, and is low-fat…It’s rich in B-complex vitamins, niacin, B6 and B12, and the essential nutrient choline.” So, yes, gobble up that turkey this Thanksgiving.



We hope you take our advice and give these choices a spot at the feast this year. Have a great holiday!

Burn Those Post-Halloween Calories with these Simple Tricks

Now that spooky season is officially behind us, you may be feeling a bit of “Post-Halloween Guilt” about eating too many calories. While it’s healthy to let loose a little bit during this time of year, it’s equally important to your health that you keep your body in top shape. Luckily, unless you went absolutely crazy, the calories eaten during a fun-filled night of trick or treating can easily be burned off. In that spirit, here are some easy ways to give your body a healthy kick in the right direction.

Walking

 

We’ve said this a few times now, but it really does bear repeating that walking is the secret weapon for a healthier lifestyle. Too many people think that unless you’re benching two-hundred pounds at the gym, then you aren’t getting a valuable workout. According to experts at BetterHealth, “Just 30 minutes (of walking) every day can increase cardiovascular fitness, strengthen bones, reduce excess body fat, and boost muscle power and endurance.” We’re all busy, but you can find 30 minutes to invest in your health. Your body will thank you. 

 

For Every Cheat Day, Balance it with a Healthy Day

 

We’re not gonna spout out the same stuff when it comes to diet that you’ve heard a million times by now. Yes, you’re supposed to be eating more fruits and vegetables while keeping away from those McDonald’s fries. But, let’s face it, sometimes those fries are too tempting. The key to health is balance. When discussing cheat days, Samantha Cassetty, MS, RD stated, “There is no best time of day, week, or month to return to healthy eating, so after a cheat day, take the next chance to re-establish your healthy routine. If you had an indulgent brunch, have a balanced dinner that evening.” We definitely agree with that sentiment. 

 

At-Home Light Workouts

 

Don’t go hurting yourself but simple, light workouts at home can be a great way to easily burn some of those Halloween calories. When we say simple, think living room yoga, a few pushups, situps, or jumping jacks. Fatherly shared this view by saying, “The best at-home workouts will help you drop weight, build muscle, and avoid those recurring monthly gym fees.” If you’re looking for the perfect kettlebells to add to your home gym routine, we’ve got you covered there too.

Drink Tons of Water

All of these activities will be slightly strenuous on your body, and you will need to be sure to keep hydrated. We truly cannot stress the importance of keeping hydrated enough. The brainiacs over at Harvard went so far as to say, “Drinking enough water each day is crucial for many reasons: to regulate body temperature, keep joints lubricated, prevent infections, deliver nutrients to cells, and keep organs functioning properly. Being well-hydrated also improves sleep quality, cognition, and mood.” So, remember to keep drinking plenty of water as you practice all these strategies.

We hope these tips will put you in good shape (literally) to burn those Halloween calories. Feel free to stop by our office and tell us all about your progress.

Simple Foods that Encourage Physical Fitness

In today’s age of extreme mukbangs and radical diets, it’s time to break through the noise. We will be sharing some Dr. Hartle approved foods that will help you live a healthier and more fit lifestyle. For those of us who identify more as a home chef than Gordon Ramsay, these are also simple to create for even the most unfamiliar people in the kitchen. 

 

Oatmeal

Oatmeal and gym rats just go hand-in-hand and for good reason! According to Natural Balance Foods, “Oats are supremely beneficial to those who keep to a fitness regime or have physically demanding work due to their high protein…. Adding oats to your diet is a great way to easily boost your protein intake.” As you likely know, protein is a crucial element of any fitness routine. With that in mind, when you’re looking to bulk up or just enjoy a healthy start to your day, look no further than a tasty bowl of oatmeal.  

Eggs

What did Rocky Balboa drink during the famous workout montage? Oh right, raw eggs! Our new favorite website, Eggs.ca (an official government website based in Canada that provides education about the benefits of eggs), chimed in by stating, “Eggs provide all of the nine essential amino acids (also known as the building blocks of protein), making them an effective food for maintaining, building and repairing muscle.” We have to agree with the experts here, and we recommend you to utilize eggs in all of their many, many forms when you’re looking for a fitness-friendly food.

Healthy Snacks

We know how boring healthy snacks may sound when compared to potato chips, crackers, cookies, and ice cream. However, for snacks to be healthy, they don’t have to be boring or sacrifice on taste either. The Food Network notes that bananas, nuts, and even chocolate milk all make for wonderful options when you’re looking for a treat that comes packed with health benefits. 

Lean Meats

Nothing builds up an appetite like a high-quality workout. Sometimes, those of us who eat meat want to embrace our primal instincts and get a juicy burger in our stomachs immediately. Experts at A Lean Life claim that, “Lean protein meats are a near perfect source of protein. Because they come from animals, the protein structure is perfectly suited for your own protein needs because of tissue similarity. Without animal products it is difficult to consume that perfect protein ratio, and the necessary amino acids to build lean muscle.” If you’re a carnivore like us, feel free to enjoy the fitness and health benefits of ground beef or chicken breasts.

 

We hope you utilize these tips to make some simple changes to your diet that will yield major results for your fitness journey. If you have any questions or want to just stop by and say hi, feel free to come around the office and talk to Dr. Hartle for more information.

Benefits of an Improved Posture

Have you found yourself slouching more frequently? Do you seem to appear slouched over at all times of the day? It might be time to take a more critical look at your posture. Apart from the cosmetic benefits of standing a bit taller, there are so many mental and physical health benefits that individuals can enjoy when they improve their posture that we will break down below.

 

A Healthier Skeletal System

 

Your skeletal system—namely, your spine, back, shoulders, legs, and neck—is impacted heavily by your posture. According to fellow healthcare experts, “Good posture allows critical components within the body such as muscles, tendons, and ligaments to effectively do their job. When skeletal bones are properly supported, they are less likely to experience degeneration over time.” Allow those bones to be shaped the way they were designed to be by straightening out that back. Your skeletal system will thank you.

 

Easier Breathing

It’s not too complicated to understand, yet most people rarely consider internal processes such as breathing when thinking of the benefits of an improved posture. However, when you look at your body while slouching, which part of it tends to be contorted the most? That’s right, the upper body where your lungs are housed! Breathing experts have stated, “Breathing 360 degrees into the belly and back using the diaphragm with good posture can help with reducing shortness of breath long term.” They continue to state that poor posture directly causes shortness of breath “by limiting your ability to access your diaphragm and belly breathe. Your brain can’t get the oxygen it requires and you experience a sensation of ‘air hunger’ so it will recruit your backup breathing muscles that need to work more frequently to get the required oxygen intake, which makes you breathe fast and shallow.” Breathe a little easier and fuller by sitting a bit more straight at your desk today. 

 

Fewer Headaches

 

As we just discussed, your body’s external processes have real ramifications on its internal ones. Headaches are no exception. The National Health Service noted, “Poor posture causes tension in your upper back, neck, and shoulders, which can lead to a headache. Typically, the pain throbs in the base of the skull and sometimes flashes into the face, especially the forehead.” Much like the point above, this is one of those instances where it’s something that makes sense when you give it a little bit of critical thought. Straighten out your back and enjoy the benefits of it all the way up to your head.

 

Increased Confidence and Energy

 

Speaking of your head, let’s get into some of the mental health benefits of improving your posture. Think about the people you have witnessed command a room with their presence. Are they typically slouched over or standing tall and straight? It might have never crossed your mind to even look at that, as it’s a subconscious criterion we tend to judge people on, but you’ll start seeing a pattern when you analyze it closer. The one and only American Express confirmed this by stating, “You can look confident with an assertive posture that makes you appear more balanced and grounded.” Clearly, the benefits of a good posture are applicable to both your physical and mental health.

 

Overall, it seems very clear that a better posture can help you enjoy a healthier and more high-quality life. We hope this advice will help you, but if you need an adjustment, we’d be happy to have you in our office.

What to Expect When You Start to Work Out

We’ve all been there. You look at the after pictures of a body transformation and start feeling the desire to give yourself similar results. Then, the pesky part of working out comes into play, and you either go way too hard or get way too impatient, inevitably just giving up. In this blog, we will share some tips on how to set your expectations appropriately and avoid setting yourself up for failure.

You won’t be the strongest one at the gym on your first day.

That juicehead across the gym didn’t start off looking like that. He looked a lot like you do today. As humans, it’s natural to compare ourselves to others, especially when it comes to things like varying levels of fitness in a gym. According to a recent study, “One in two Americans have been found to be intimidated at the thought of working out at a gym [and] feel the idea of working out among other people in a gym environment is a daunting prospect.” Don’t let the famously coined term, ‘gymtimidation,’ keep you from following through on your workout regimen.

It’s going to really hurt afterward.

You’ve heard the phrase ‘no pain, no gain’? Well, when it comes to working out, they really mean it. That’s because for your muscles to get bigger, the fibers literally have to break and heal again over and over and over again. Health experts have confirmed that, “After you workout, your body repairs or replaces damaged muscle fibers through a cellular process where it fuses muscle fibers together to form new muscle protein strands or myofibrils. These repaired myofibrils increase in thickness and number to create muscle hypertrophy.” So, yes, expect pain. You have to power through in order to make noticeable gains. 

You’re going to be tempted to skip a workout plenty of times.

Going off the last point, whether pain or outright laziness causes it, you’re going to be tempted to skip your workout constantly. Remember that habits take time to form and, until it feels natural, they will probably feel like a chore. Livestrong echoed this point by simply stating, “There will never be a shortage of excuses to skip the gym.” By expecting the temptation of skipping a workout, you’ll position yourself better to avoid giving in to the aforementioned temptations.

Results will not be immediate.

If there were a way to get ripped after one quick trip to the gym, then everybody would be ripped. It’s unfortunately not that easy. Realistically, it will take weeks, maybe months, to start seeing any visible and tangible benefits of your efforts. US News pointed out, “People who are trying to lose weight would love to drop pounds—especially fat—quickly and easily. Of course, that’s not how weight loss typically works.” Don’t get discouraged if you don’t see a jock looking back at you after the first few workout sessions. Good things take time.

At the end of the day, setting healthy expectations is key to ensuring longevity in your efforts. We hope you found these tips valuable, and we wish you the best in your fitness journey.

How Physical Therapy Can Help Reduce Pain Associated with Aging

At Allen County Family & Sports Chiropractic, we want to take this opportunity to focus on the family element of our name. While most of our blog posts discuss educational opportunities for either adolescents or young adults, we are still happy to provide some useful guidance for those of us who are in our later years. With that in mind, we wanted to talk about some of the most common pain conditions that may rear their ugly heads as we continue to get older. Of course, these are also all conditions that Dr. Hartle or any of our trained staff members would be happy to help you with.

Arthritis

Physical therapy and arthritis go way back. It is arguably the most common condition that older adults face as it amounts to more than three million US cases per year. In fact, according to the National Institute of Aging, “Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis among older people, and it is one of the most frequent causes of physical disability among older adults.” The next time that you feel pain or stiffness that seems to be getting worse, consider looking at arthritis as the culprit.

Cancer

It is a simple fact of life that many of us will face a cancer diagnosis in our lifetimes. Whether it is your friends, family members, or yourself, physical therapy has been proven to be a helpful tool in combating pain experienced as a result of this insidious disease. When discussing how physical therapy can help cancer patients, fellow experts in the space have stated, “Physical therapists create treatment plans that use physical activity to help cancer survivors manage side effects of treatment and cancer-related problems.” While, unfortunately, we can’t cure the disease for you, we can do our best to provide treatments that will help make it a little bit easier to live with.

Tendonitis

Our skeletal system has so many intricacies, and they all get a bit worn down with age. Our tendons are no different. These cords work together to attach the muscles in our body to the bones, and sometimes they can become irritated or inflamed resulting in tendinitis. The HSS notes that, “Although tendonitis can occur at any age, it is more common in adults over 40… As tendons age, they tolerate less stress and are less flexible.” Sometimes, the magic of physical therapy is knowing when to instruct clients to cease the movement of the affected area rather than having them power through and exercise it, which is true with patients suffering from tendonitis.

Multiple Sclerosis

While this is one of the more rare conditions of the bunch that we covered today, it is still a very real threat for people, especially as they get older. In case you didn’t know, Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a disease in which the immune system eats away at the protective covering of nerves. While there is currently no cure for MS, this is another condition that can be effectively managed by physical therapy. The National MS Society themselves have reported that, “Physical therapists play an integral role in the management of MS throughout the disease course – at diagnosis, during and after relapses, during periods of progression as well as periods of stability, and when the disease becomes more advanced.“ While physical therapy cannot solve the problem entirely, it can certainly help you feel just a little bit better if you are struggling with it.

 

If you or someone you know is dealing with any of the above diagnoses, Allen County Family & Sports Chiropractic is here to help however we can. We support all members of the family, including those who may not be quite as young as they used to be.