International Women’s Day: Everyday Health Apps For The Working Woman

Today is the 103rd anniversary of the first International Women’s Day and this commemorates the strides that women suffragists and advocates have made. While there has been a progression on number of issues, such as wage disparities and crimes against women there is still more efforts that need to be made. These are more than just a women’s issue, but global issues concerning human beings of all sexes, ages and races. Women are not only seen as mothers, but they make up a large number of the corporate and working communities. In order to help manage their busy lives, many smart phone apps have developed a number of apps geared to help working women. Here are a few of the best rated health-related ones:

1.       iPeriod: For working women, the surprise of their upcoming menstruation cycle might be a huge annoyance. Being able to track when your period might come and how long it might last can be extremely convenient. It is able to predict your ovulation and fertility, alerts you when your period is late and is able to track symptoms or moods.

2.       My Fitness Pal: This is a calorie counter that not only tracks your meal intake, but also tracks your exercise plan. So during the day, before you reach for that extra cookie, you can see what sweets you’ve already had for the day.

3.       Snapp!: This completely removes the needs for an old-fashion rolodex. It lets you collect and store all of those business cards you receive from your meetings and events.

4.       Stylebook: Don’t know what to wear? This app will tell you. You snap photos of your clothing and this app will pair different pieces together — helping you put together your look on the days you’re in a rush.

5.       Mint: When you’re on the go, it’s sometimes hard to manage your finances. Mint has an online version that lets your input your credit cards, checking information and any other debts. Using the app version lets you manage your money from your phone.

6.       Intuition + Mom’s Personal Assistant: The title might be a little misleading, it’s can be used for the working woman on the go. It helps to organize tasks, make a grocery list and synchs with your Google calendar.

7.       Yoga STRETCH: A little personal time in the morning is always a great start to your day. Combining that with yoga just tops everything off to make it better. This app will let you custom make a series of yoga stretches allowing you up to 60 minutes of “pure bliss”.

Source: Medical Daily

Could Regular Yoga Practice Replace Your Coffee Habit?

The claim: Just two 90-minute yoga sessions a week for 3 months is enough to lower your inflammation levels by 20%. The same amount of yoga also reduces fatigue by 57%. And these benefits persist for months—even if you stop going to yoga, according to a new Journal of Clinical Oncology study.

The research: A study team from Ohio State University measured markers of inflammation among 200 breast cancer survivors—half of whom practiced hatha yoga on a twice-weekly basis. The researchers also collected psychological surveys designed to gauge the participants’ energy and depression levels. Compared to the no-yoga group, the downward doggers enjoyed the lasting inflammation- and fatigue-lowering benefits detailed above.

What it means: The meditative component of yoga is a proven stress fighter, says lead study author Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, PhD. And thanks to the uptick in physical activity, the yoga practicers also slept better at night. Both of those factors could explain the improved inflammation and energy levels, Dr. Kiecolt-Glaser explains. Also, because yoga helps you learn to manage stress through concentration and breathing, its positive effects last even if you stop practicing, she adds.

The bottom line: Anyone who takes up yoga should experience lower inflammation and fatigue levels, as well as better sleep, Dr. Kiecolt-Glaser says. And her study showed the more often you practice yoga, the better the results.


Subway to remove chemical found in yoga mats from its bread

Subway announced this week its plans to remove the controversial chemical Azodiacarbonamide from its bread products, USA Today reported.

“We are already in the process of removing Azodiacarbonamide as part of our bread improvement efforts despite the fact that it is USDA- and FDA-approved ingredient,” the company said in a statement. “The complete conversion to have this product out of the bread will be done soon.”

Though the company said the removal process has been ongoing, the announcement coincides with an online petition started by health activist Vani Hari, who runs the site According to Hari, the chemical is also commonly used in products like yoga mats and rubber shoes to increase elasticity.

“It’s banned all over the globe, because it’s linked to respiratory issues, allergies and asthma,” Hari wrote in her petition.  “This is not ‘eating fresh!’”

Hari considers the company’s decision to remove Azodiacarbonamide’s from its products a great victory for health advocacy.

“I commend Subway for finally responding to me and now over 58,000 concerned citizens. Their swift action is a testament to what power petitions and individuals can have,” Hari told USA Today in an email. “I’d like to note that current Subway sandwiches still have this ingredient, and I urge everyone not to eat their sandwich bread until they have finally removed the chemical.”


TIME Magazine’s Latest Issue Dives Into The Benefits Of Mindfulness

Are we in the middle of a mindfulness revolution?

That’s what the cover of TIME Magazine’s latest issue claims — and it isn’t without some merit. The piece dives into how the practice can help people find focus in our overwhelmed, always-on culture. With the persistent need to multitask and the constant pressure of having to be plugged in to technology at all hours, the practice has become more prevalent as a way to fight stress and anxiety.

TIME editor Radhika Jones talked to Morning Joe host Mika Brzezinski about how multitasking is affecting our concentration and how mindfulness can sharpen that lack of focus.

“Mindfulness, very simply put, it’s the ability to focus your attention on the thing you are doing when you are doing it,” she said. “It sounds so basic. And my guess is 150 years ago, people were not so concerned about mindfulness but we have kind of done this to ourselves. We have created some amazing technology that has enabled us to be on and do five things at once — and we know, the studies show, that multitasking doesn’t actually make you more productive.”

Jones went on to say that while mindfulness is built on the premise of meditation, there’s also a way to weave the practice into everyday habits.

“You can also do things in your life mindfully. You can eat mindfully, you can exercise mindfully, you can apply these principles just of focusing your mind to everything you do,” she said. “There is evidence that shows that mindfulness does in fact have really positive health effects … Your mind is like a muscle. And it needs a workout.”

Source: Huffington Post

Yoga: Boosts Cancer therapy and also base for healthy future

The century old practices of Yoga can be useful to help in young cancer patients and can lay the foundation for a healthy future if it has been combining with the nutrition education, as the latest study suggests today.

According to sources, Departments of Clinical Nutrition and Rehabilitation Services have created a program at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital that focuses on all of the benefits of yoga, which include balance, coordination, a decrease in pain and improving quality of life.

Jessica Sparrow, an occupational therapist trained in providing yoga for children, at the rehabilitation services said that having this special combination of yoga and nutrition as a service provided for patients is a true complement to treatment.

She further said, “Our ultimate goal is that they take this practice into their everyday lives-like breathing exercises to help with anxiety and pain. We intend to monitor the outcomes and track the progress as evidence-based research to not only improve upon existing knowledge at St. Jude, but also to share with others.”

Sparrow worked with Danielle Doria, also of Rehabilitation Services, and Karen Smith of Clinical Nutrition to create the program’s outline. After each yoga session, patients get a lesson on healthy eating, which often includes a hands-on demonstration from a St. Jude chef.

The combination program has been successful, with many of the patients using basic poses at home or even in the hospital’s hallways.


Meditation May Help Paralyzed People Sync Their Brains to Computers

Yoga and meditation may help paralyzed people learn how to link their brain with a computer, according to a new study.

Systems that connect brains with computers are increasingly used to help patients with physical disabilities like paralysis. But the length of training has been a major obstacle to success, study lead author Bin He, director of the Center for Neuroengineering at the University of Minnesota, said in a Society for Neuroscience news release.

“This research tells us that we can significantly cut this time with practices like yoga and meditation to make these tools more successful for more patients who need these devices,” He said.

The study was scheduled for presentation this weekend at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience, in San Diego.

Researchers studied 12 people who practiced techniques such as yoga and meditation and a control group of 19 people who did not. All of the participants were trained to use an electroencephalography-based brain computer program, which used sensors on the scalp to pick up electrical impulses from the brain.

The volunteers imagined moving their hands, and the computer program translated that brain activity into the movement of a cursor on the computer screen.

The participants who practiced yoga and meditation learned the brain-computer interface faster than the control group. Also, 75 percent of them became competent with the program, compared to 42 percent of people in the control group.

The researchers said their findings suggest that training in yoga and meditation techniques could help people master the computer-assisted technology in order to help them regain functions lost to injury or disease.

Data and conclusions presented at meetings typically are considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.

Yoga improves men’s sex life

Yoga improves lung capacity, stronger bones and lower risk of heart disease, but it also helps men have better sex, it has been revealed.

During a Huffington Post Live discussion with men who love yoga, host Caitlyn Becker got the scoop on how the practice benefits them in the bedroom.

Life coach Joseph Robinson pointed out that during great sex, “you want to be in your body, you want to be really present,” and that sensation comes with yoga.

Robinson said that after the first week he had done yoga, he was with his second girlfriend and it was a different experience than the first five years of his sex life.

Yoga, Meditation Does Away with High-Blood Pressure Medications

An intervention program that combines yoga and meditation can help manage prehypertension, often referred to as borderline high blood pressure.

he study reported in Psychosomatic Medicine: Journal of Biobehavioral Medicinefound that the mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) program helped lower blood pressure in people diagnosed with prehypertension.

Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) is a program developed by Dr Jon Kabat-Zinn from the University of Massachusetts Medical Center in the US that combines mindfulness meditation with yoga.

Researchers looked at 56 people, both men and women. All participants had prehypertension, a situation where blood pressure crosses the normal level, but does not reach a point where medication is required. The condition is among the major medical concerns as it can increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases, including heart disease.

The participants were divided into two groups. The first group received the MBSR program for two-and-half hours per week, while the rest took a program that included lifestyle advice and muscle relaxation activity. The program concentrated on body scan exercises, yoga and meditation.

At the end of the study, the researchers found that the yoga and meditation-based program helped lower systolic blood pressure in the first group -both the first high number (5mm Hg) and the second lower number (2mmHg), compared to the second group (1 mm Hg and 1 mm Hg, respectively).

“Our results provide evidence that MBSR, when added to lifestyle modification advice, may be an appropriate complementary treatment for BP in the prehypertensive range,” Dr. Joel W. Hughes, from the Kent State University, Ohio in the US, said in a news release. The authors added that mindfulness-based interventions can help avoid the need to take antihypertensive medications.

“Mindfulness-based stress reduction is an increasingly popular practice that has been purported to alleviate stress, treat depression and anxiety, and treat certain health conditions,” Dr Hughes added.

The power of yoga in keeping the mind and body relaxed and curing many deadly diseases is well known. A study presented at the International Conference on Endgame for Tobacco, held in Delhi last month, provided solid evidence to prove that yoga can help smokers to quit their habit.

Another study published in the Journal of Yoga and Physical Therapy, recently reported that yoga can treat early stage diabetes and heart disease, effectively.

Children Are Now Riding The Yoga Wave

When Jodi the Yogi said “Criss-Cross Apple Sauce”, these tots knew what was coming.

Seven toddlers sat tall and cross-legged on colorful mats, leaning forward with eager eyes. Behind them, parents imitated their movements, ready to follow their children into a world of imagination and discovery.

“Did you bring your hands to the park?” asked Jodi the Yogi, whose real name is Jodi Epstein. The children waved back in response.
A few deep breaths of Astoria Park air and the children were ready for the first song, “Tick-Tock, Little Yoga Clock”. The parents sang along as they stretched out their legs and arms alongside their children, swaying from side to side.

Soon, the sounds of the cars rushing by on Robert F. Kennedy Bridge faded away and the children were swept into Epstein’s story.
In 2012, 20.4 million Americans practiced yoga, up almost 30 percent since 2008, according to the Yoga Journal. More and more centers are popping up across the country and the trend is trickling down to children.

“There are definitely more studios,” said Zhana Galjasevic, director of The Yoga Room, where Epstein teaches. “I think the number [in New York] has quadrupled.”

Galjasevic opened the first yoga center in Astoria in 2003, aiming to create a community feel. The center has two locations, one in Astoria and one in Long Island City and offers classes to people of all ages. She added prenatal, baby and toddler classes so that the Yoga Room could provide for their community at all stages of life.

Epstein began teaching there in 2011. She was first exposed to yoga by her mother, who was a yoga instructor. After completing a training course at Karma Kids Yoga in 2009, she began to teach children.

“As I worked with kids, the kids would teach me,” Epstein said. “I’ve been so inspired.”

Studies show that yoga has many physical and psychological benefits for both children and adults. It has been used to help people with disabilities, prisoners, and people dealing with the stresses of everyday life.

For children, Epstein said, stress can develop when they are unable to express themselves. And the world can be an intimidating place for little ones. In addition to relaxing the mind, yoga helps children learn more about their bodies, especially at an early stage of development. More and more schools around New York are incorporating yoga as part of their physical education and extra-curricular activities.

“Yoga, I would consider as one more modality in the toolbox of child development,” said Dr. Susan E. Klepper, a physical therapist and assistant professor at Columbia University. Yoga is “about sensory awareness and spatial awareness, and that’s important for kids. They learn a lot about themselves and there’s a lot of fun in it.”

Jennifer Batson, of Astoria, also teaches at the Yoga Room. When her daughter, Riley, was eight weeks old, she began to take mommy and baby classes. Now that Riley is two, they join in Epstein’s toddler yoga.

“[Riley’s] made some wonderful friends and learned a lot from how to count using her fingers to using her foot as a ‘foot-phone’,” said Batson. She said they do breathing exercises “when she’s upset and unable to communicate why she’s unhappy, as well as before bed when she’s still wound up and needs to calm down for sleep”.

But it’s not always easy for Epstein to keep young children’s attention for the span of her class. When a small girl ran from her mat, plastic zebra in mouth, Epstein’s exciting rhythm and flow caught the girl’s attention and lured her back in. She plopped down next to Epstein and watched, wide-eyed.

Epstein hopes to bring her songs and classes to children through television networks. She already has a Web site, where some of her songs can be found. In the coming months, she will begin fundraising so that she can pitch her idea at the Kidscreen Summit in February. Through this project she hopes to make yoga more accessible to all children.

Between the Jodi the Yogi project and the classes she teaches, Epstein has a tight schedule. But she still manages to make time to meditate and practice her own yoga every day.

“I have to, or my mind starts to get muddled,” she said. “I’m not as present, I’m not as open.”

This leaves Epstein refreshed and ready for her classes, where she likes to take children on imaginative adventures. Their chosen mode of transport proves that as early as three years, these children are true New Yorkers.

“Our taxi drived far away!” called out one little boy, as the class prepared to dive into the yoga world. “Our taxi drived to China!”
Jodi the Yogi had the solution. Placing her foot to her ear, she called the taxi back to New York. Then, Epstein, the parents and the children zoomed off to the forest to become monkeys and trees, backs upright and limbs outstretched.


Meditation’s Effects on Emotion Shown to Persist

Meditation affects a person’s brain function long after the act of meditation is over, according to new research.

“This is the first time meditation training has been shown to affect emotional processing in the brain outside of a meditative state,” said Gaelle Desbordes, Ph.D., a research fellow at the Athinoula A. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging at Massachusetts General Hospital and at the Boston University Center for Computational Neuroscience and Neural Technology.

“Overall, these results are consistent with the overarching hypothesis that meditation may result in enduring, beneficial changes in brain function, especially in the area of emotional processing.”

The researchers began the study with the hypothesis that meditation can help control emotional responses.

During meditation, a part of the brain called the amygdala (known for the processing of emotional stimuli) showed decreased activity. However, when the participants were shown images of other people that were either good, bad, or neutral for a practice known as “compassion meditation,” the amygdala was exceptionally responsive.

The subjects were able to focus their attention and greatly reduce their emotional reactions. And over an eight-week period, the participants retained this ability.

Even when they were not engaged in a meditative state, their emotional responses were subdued, and they experienced more compassion for others when faced with disturbing images.

Around the same time, another group at Harvard Medical School (HMS) began to study the effect of meditation on retaining information. Their hypothesis was that people who meditate have more control over alpha rhythm — a brain wave thought to screen out everyday distractions, allowing for more important information to be processed.

“Mindfulness meditation has been reported to enhance numerous mental abilities, including rapid memory recall,” said Catherine Kerr of the Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging and the Osher Research Center, both at HMS.

“Our discovery that mindfulness meditators more quickly adjusted the brain wave that screens out distraction could explain their superior ability to rapidly remember and incorporate new facts.”

Both studies used participants that had no previous experience with meditation.

Over an eight-week period and a 12-week period, both groups showed a marked change in their daily normal brain function, while they were meditating and while they were involved in medial activities.

Some researchers believe that meditation might be the key to help ease off dependency on pharmaceutical drugs.

“The implications extend far beyond meditation,” said Kerr.

“They give us clues about possible ways to help people better regulate a brain rhythm that is deregulated in attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and other conditions.”

Source:  Harvard University