Life can be a real beach, if you’re not really at the beach.

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What if we told you that there’s one healthy activity you could do to keep your heart healthy, improve work production, enjoy less stress in your relationships, feel happier and live longer. What would you guess?

When asked most people guessed some form of exercise or sleep. Those are pretty good guesses, but it’s something even easier, and even more fun! Anymore ideas?

I’ll give you a hint:

It’s true, but did you know that a large percentage of people who have access to PTO (paid time off) either don’t use it, or just use it as sick time? On top of that, how many of us use our vacation days for our kid’s school breaks or even when our kids get sick? Life can get so busy and it seems the first thing to be put on the back burner is vacation. We’ve all done it, said we’d wait until the kids are a bit older, or the weather is nicer. How many of us feel guilty leaving work? We put vacation off until the new employees are trained; just to have new employees follow them and so on and so forth. Many people find the solution is to take work with them on vacation. This seems like the best of both worlds, right? Studies have showed that up to 61% of people take their work with them when they leave the office. This is actually counterproductive, ideally you would be leaving the work behind as it’s important to switch off. Taking a technology break during this time would be a great idea as well.

Rest, relaxation, and stress reduction are very important for our health and well-being. Some much needed time off has significant health benefits such as; decreasing risk of heart disease and fewer arguments with your spouse. Additional benefits of vacations are more positive emotions and lower risk of a major depressive episode.

Another perk of vacations are improved relationships. According to Wisconsin Medical Journal – women who take vacations twice a year are “less likely to become tense, depressed, or tired and are more satisfied with their marriage,” and that the “odds of marital satisfaction decreased as the frequency of vacations decreased. These personal psychological benefits that lead to increased quality of life may also lead to improved work performance.”

Speaking of work, there are many benefits of taking a vacation at the work place too. Skipping out on vacation may be hindering you from completing your tasks. Working day in and day out without taking a moment to step out and disconnect can lead to no enjoyment or connection at work. Studies have also shown that not taking vacation causes people to feel resentment toward coworkers and increases likelihood of mistakes in the work place. Taking a vacation can help refresh motivation, boost productivity, improve memory skills and increase levels of happiness.

So next time you get the chance to get away, do it. Studies do show that by the third day of vacation most people will improve sleep quality and gain an hour of sleep by the 3rd day. Those effects can hold on for a minimum of 5 weeks after you return. Are you ready for a vacation?

Do this, not that for joint pain.

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Last week in the office we spoke with our patients about healthy foods to eat to avoid inflammation. Inflammation can not only be uncomfortable due to the bloating it causes, but also painful.

Other than the foods you eat, it may surprise you that many of our daily activities are causing us to be in pain as well. Most people associate their sore back and neck to the jog they completed this morning, or when they helped their friend move last weekend. While exercising without proper stretching and poor lifting form can cause pain, there are things we do each day that are contributing to our back and next pain as well.

How many of us have desk jobs? We spend 8 hours, 5 days week sitting at our desk and then we can’t wait to get home and plop down on the couch to watch TV or read a good book. And let’s be honest, isn’t the perfect Saturday one where we didn’t even have to change out of our pajamas? Netflix marathon, anyone?

What most of us don’t realize is that prolonged sitting all day, followed by more sitting/slouching at night is wreaking havoc on our backs. The leading cause of back pain is a sedentary lifestyle with poor posture.

A few of the most common posture mistakes happen when we’re:

Looking down at your phone screen, iPad or Kindle.

Leaning forward playing video games in front of the big screen.

Sitting at a computer desk.

Talking on the phone (holding our phones to our ears).

Let’s be honest – how many of us are guilty? Now that we’ve determined how easy it is to fall into posture habits that harm our back. Lets work on getting back on track! First and foremost, get moving! If you have a desk job, consider getting up once every 1/2 hour and walk around the office. When using your iPad or Kindle, how about getting a case that allows you to position the screen at different angles. You can adjust as needed. When sitting at the computer desk, avoid strain on your shoulders and upper back by keeping the keyboard and mouse closer to you.

Those are just a few suggestions on how to ease the strain on your back, but another huge aspect is exercise in general. Exercising not only reduces stiffness in your back, it also stretches, strengthens and repairs muscles that help support your back.

If you’re experiencing low back pain, then it’s time to come on in for a check. Chiropractors work hard not only to treat your pain but help find the cause of it. As with many other areas of your life prevention is key. Just like checking up with the dentist every six months and doing a yearly physical, a check up with your chiropractor can help keep you and your back in tip top shape! Visiting the chiropractor regularly can help to keep your spine in perfect alignment and prevent future aches and pains. We also retrain your muscles so you can hold the correct alignment longer.

PHOTO CREDIT:Start Standing

Got Inflammation?

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Do you ever feel like you’re doing everything right with your diet, and yet you can’t seem to button your favorite pants? Let me guess; you’ve been working out, cutting calories, avoiding those late night cravings and you even joined a yoga class at the YMCA? It’s defeating to try so hard with little to no result.

Did you know that certain foods can actually work against your efforts and cause chronic inflammation? Inflammation can being annoying, especially when over time you notice that not only have you packed on weight, but it hurts. It’s true; there are certain foods that in addition to weight gain can actually cause inflammation and pain.

Inflammation is our body’s natural response to protecting itself against harm. There is more than one form of inflammation, first is acute. Acute inflammation occurs when you hit your elbow or worse…a paper cut! What we’re talking about in this case though, is chronic inflammation. Chronic inflammation occurs in response to unwanted substances in the body. These substances can be found in number of foods that I am sure you could easily find on your daily menu.

I’m sure it’s no surprise that at the top of the list of foods that cause inflammation we see refined carbohydrates (this includes flour, white rice, processed cereals, chips, crackers and french fries). Also, I’m sure you wouldn’t be surprised if I said that sugar, caffeine and alcohol were on the list too. But would it shock you a little if I said lactose (milk and other dairy products), yeast and meats (beef, pork and less commonly poultry) were among the culprits too?

I know what you’re thinking, what’s left, right? Although there are many foods that we should avoid there are still plenty of healthy foods to enjoy. Consider the following:

     Breakfast – Try to avoid sugary processed cereal, cereal bars and bakery items. Instead try an egg, plain Greek yogurt, or      a daily shake. Instead of a glass of 2% milk, try coconut milk or almond milk.

     Lunch – Instead of having a sandwich with highly processed white bread, consider a wrap with fresh veggies and chicken.

     Snack – Try some mixed nuts or a handful of blueberries.

     Dinner – A nice salad topped with fruit, veggies, avocado or nuts could be a great way to end your day. Also a stir fry with      brown rice and vegetables is a wonderful choice.

When choosing foods, think about whole foods and don’t be afraid of colors. How about taking an alcohol or caffeine vacation? You may find that by eliminating some of the processed foods (even foods that say “low calorie or low fat), artificial sweeteners (diet sodas!), and refined carbs you may not only be able to squeeze into those pants but also feel better and more pain free at the same time!

Foods that fight inflammation-infograph
Photo Credit:Harvard health