This coronavirus outbreak has obliged us to be in lockdown confinement in order to prevent the spread of the disease. One year after the original lockdown, only a handful of countries can claim to be back to this new normal. And for the rest of the world, it’s more restrictions, lockdown time and patient waiting. “How did you spend all this timewaiting”? Watching Netflix, reading, cooking, playing with your kids, being active on social media, etc…. or are you using this precious time to learn new skills online to embrace this upcoming digital era?
I have to admit that for many years I was slow in recognising all the changes in the traditional economy. But, that said, it is never too late to learn and some months back I finally embraced this digital era and started my online education.
We are living in the Digital Era!!
Recently I seem to be hearing the term “work-life balance” all the time.
Perhaps I am just so much more aware of the importance of that balance.
Work is such an important part of our lives, it is hardly surprising that “happiness-at-work” is a big part of the discussion.
Did you know that you can hack ageing? Anti-ageing hacks are ways to prevent, slow down and maybe even reverse (according to Dr David Sinclair) the deterioration that happens as we age. To be honest, I have chosen Sauna heat therapy, anti-ageing hack #1, on my list, as it’s one of my favourite and most pleasurable anti-ageing hacks! In this blog we will quickly cover the types of saunas you can use and dig deeper into all the benefits of sauna heat therapy. Jokes apart, this has become a hot topic in the longevity and anti-ageing community! Let see why?
TYPES OF SAUNA.
A sauna is typically a room heated to between 70° to 100° Celsius or 158° to 212° Fahrenheit.
Traditional Finnish saunas usually use dry heat, with a relative humidity that is often between 10 and 20 per cent. In other sauna types, the moisture is higher. Turkish-style saunas, for example, involve a greater level of humidity.
There are several types of sauna, Traditional and infrared, based on how the room is heated.
Traditional vs Infrared
Traditional ones use hot rocks or heating elements to warm the air between 150 and 200º F, which then warms your skin. On the other hand, the infrared ones use non-visible light and directly heat the user. Infrared ones cause more sweating because of their deeper penetration (generally 2-6 inches through the layers of skin). So they are, apparently, better for detox. Instead of dry heat, a steam room involves high humidity (almost 100%) and moist heat. Those are my favourite ones!
The ones I normally use (not at the moment, of course, due to covid restrictions) are traditional saunas with heated elements and steam rooms (or Turkish bath). Whenever possible I would use them daily after my weights workout, for 15 to 20 mins, and keep alternating between the sauna and steam room. I have to admit that my detox and heavy sweating starts after 10 minutes, but we are all different so check it out for yourself.
On the other hand, an infrared sauna heats your body much the same way as the sun does. This makes it vastly different to more traditional saunas where the air is heated to a high temperature and the air, in turn, heats your body.
There are two types of infrared saunas: Far infrared and near infrared saunas. The question is, what is the difference? It mainly has to do with the light spectrum.
About half of the sun’s energy is released in the near-infrared spectrum. Our bodies use this energy to make vitamin D in order to be healthy. Near-infrared saunas are great for the skin, give relief from pain, raise the core temperature of your body and help to improve your body’s circulation.
Far infrared works just like near-infrared except that it works on a different wavelength. Besides the benefits of near-infrared, far-infrared also helps relieve stress, boosts your immune system, helps with weight loss, increases your metabolism, and detoxifies your body. Now is the right moment to talk more about the benefits of sauna heat therapy…
SAUNA HEAT THERAPY BENEFITS
Inflammation and pain relief
Sauna heat exposure starts with the activation of a protein called heat shock protein or HSP’s. Several heat shock proteins function as intra-cellular chaperones for other proteins and have different functions in the body. They play an important role in protein-protein interactions such as folding and assisting in the establishment of proper protein conformation (shape) and prevention of unwanted protein aggregation. That’s not all.
HSPs help to clean up all the damaged, deformed and misfolded proteins. Our ability to perform this cleanup declines with age so preventing proteins from clumping or remaining misformed is of the utmost importance.
This is particularly important for the prevention of diseases like Alzheimer’s (accumulation of beta amyloid protein) Parkinson’s, Dementia, Huntington’s and cardiovascular disease.
Heat exposure increases by 300 percent the production of norepinephrine, another anti inflammatory by product. Some patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis who undergo frequent sauna sessions have had a significant reduction in pain. So it seems logical to assume that sauna use is reducing their pain via the production of norepinephrine.
Along with norepinephrine, the body releases other anti-inflammatory hormones like adrenaline, cortisol and IGF-1, all of which help in relieving pain.
Many benefits are immediate and probably due to tissues made of collagen, like tendons and fascia, becoming more flexible when exposed to increased temperatures, but some of these benefits can last for months.
Sauna therapy has been effective at lessening the pain experienced in some fibromyalgia and at managing some cases of rheumatoid arthritis.
This intense heat can also cause the release of endorphins, opioid-like chemicals which act as a natural painkiller.
Sauna heat therapy can improve brain function
As we have seen above, one of the body’s responses to heat exposure is the production of HSPs. Beyond the anti-inflammatory and longevity properties, HSP protects the brain in times of crisis, such as traumatic brain injury or during a stroke.
Sauna heat therapy has also been shown to increase the levels of BDNF brain-derived neurotrophic factor. BDNF is a powerful regulator of brain development, memory, learning abilities and neuroplasticity. So all this time spent in the sauna is also very valuable for helping the brain to develop new neural tissue and preserve the integrity of the existing brain cells.
This can become a powerful strategy when it comes to preventing the brain from ageing and the appearance of Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.
Going back to the norepinephrine we see additional benefits beyond just inflammation reduction. This hormone acts to help the brain promote attention and focus.
Improves cardiovascular performance
Researchers have found that frequent sauna baths were associated with a reduced risk of fatal cardiovascular disease (CVD) events (such as heart attack and stroke) and all-cause mortality. The heat from the sauna relaxes the body’s muscles, improves circulation and stimulates the release of endorphins. Endorphins are the body’s all-natural “feel good” chemical. Their release provides a truly wonderful “after sauna glow.”
Beyond that, this excess heat also increases plasma volume which improves blood flow and reduces the strain on the heart. The fact that the heart doesn’t have to work as hard is another factor that lowers the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
Studies have also shown that this effect improves your endurance. Whether you are a seasoned athlete or a beginner this higher blood volume helps with an effective supply of nutrients and oxygen. Finally, this increased blood flow also makes your muscles more efficient at removing metabolic waste, such as lactic acid, which in turn increases your muscle endurance. Pretty amazing don’t you think?
Sweat it all out with sauna heat therapy
If you have tried the sauna before, you know how much it can make you sweat! As the heat from the blood begins to move toward the skin’s surface the body’s nervous system sends signals to millions of sweat glands. Once stimulated they start to produce sweat which is 99% per cent water. This profuse sweating that you experience in a sauna not only regulates your body temperature but also gets rid of toxins that have accumulated in your body.
What’s more, toxins like lead, copper, zinc, nickel and mercury are absorbed during our day to day interaction with the environment we live in. Our liver is the main detoxifying organ and under normal conditions does a fine job at getting rid of the toxins that we store in our body. However, when these toxins cannot be removed by the liver they are stored in our fat cells and other organ tissues.
Sweating releases toxins that have accumulated in fatty tissue, including sodium and lactic acid. These fat-soluble toxins and chemicals are released from the body through perspiration, effectively cleansing the body.
Increase muscle mass
Sauna heat therapy also promotes muscle growth. This massive release of HSP has been shown to repair damaged protein that otherwise would be destroyed by the body. IGF-1 is a hormone that promotes muscle growth, and its production also increases with heat exposure.
Sauna bathing improves the body’s blood flow to muscles. More blood equals more glucose, essential fatty acids and oxygen. This results in less glycogen depletion during your workouts.
Increases longevity and happiness
Finally, onto my most favourite benefit… Yes, sauna heat therapy is known to increase longevity and happiness.
We spoke about the production of HSPs by the body whilst sauna bathing and we have also discussed the benefits. This HSP protein has been found in higher amounts in people that live to 100 and more, regardless of heat exposure, so it should be no surprise that having more HSPs increases your lifespan.
Sauna bathing helps you to live longer and happier.
Saunas are warm, quiet places and removed from the rest of the world. This heat relaxes your muscles, improves circulation, releases endorphins and keeps you away from all distractions of everyday life. This is the perfect combination for relieving stress.
In some cases, Sauna heat therapy has helped people that struggle with depression. Because of the hormetic stress that heat causes to the body, your brain produces and releases more euphoric hormones to cope with it. Since studies show that all these changes are semi-permanent, it is safe to say that regular sauna use could end up making you a happier person. Well, I think it’s worth a try!
Sauna use increases the hormone BDNF(brain-derived neurotrophic factor). Studies have also shown that a rise in BDNF is an effective way to combat anxiety and depression.
As mitochondriaare the energy generators in our cells, they are a very important part of our levels of energy production throughout the day. If they are not able to function properly, your body’s ability to generate energy is impaired.
Well, guess what! Sauna use also helps biogenesis. This mitochondrial biogenesis process gets rid of the old and creates the new, therefore being a huge contributing factor in making you feel energized all day long.
Once more we have to refer back to the hormone norepinephrine, as it also acts as a mood modulator by promoting happiness. For this reason, regular sauna use could be a helpful tool for those who suffer from occasional anxiety or depression. Although it may not be enough to replace traditional therapies, certainly adding some sauna use should lend a helping hand in regulating your mood.
Bear in mind that due to the strict covid restrictions we had in place, many gyms and saunas have been closed to the public this winter. So, I haven’t been able to enter a Sauna in 6 months. But once they reopen, I’ll be there ready with my swimming trunks, flip flops and towel, for my weekly 20-minute sweating session. Needless to say, I am eager to get sweating again!
Nevertheless, it is clear to me that sauna use has so many anti-ageing benefits from pure well being, to improving muscle growth, blood circulation, toxin elimination, reducing inflammation and much more. The way things are going I may have to wait until next winter.
To be honest, here in Mallorca from May onwards, I will get my heat directly from the sun, along with tons of vitamin D… so truth be told, I don’t mind the wait.
That’s why heat exposure is one of my best anti ageing hacks and I intend on incorporating this practice at least once a week for many years to come.
I can still remember my first Wim Hof guided breathing session, I lay on the sofa, listening to the “Iceman’s ” instructions,…” deeply in…and let it go”…Although I was used to holding my breath underwater, this time it felt slightly odd at first, not at all what I was expecting!. The second round felt better. By the end of the third round, It felt like an internal revolution was happening, my hands were tingling, I could see multicoloured flashing lights coming and going behind my eyes and mini lightning bolts going through my brain. My mind was leaving my body and floating above me, that was surreal!. But, I did not panic and went along with it… fast forward 3 and half years of practice I feel ready to share my findings. In this blog, you will discover who the “Iceman “ is, how to practice this amazing breathing technique, and more to the point, my “ 5 reasons to try the Wim Hof Method ”. Sounds exciting, right!
SO WHO IS WIM HOF OR THE ICEMAN?
Dutch extreme athlete Wim Hof got his nickname “The Iceman” by breaking a number of records related to cold exposure including climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in shorts, running a half marathon above the Arctic Circle barefoot, and standing in a container while covered with ice cubes for more than 112 minutes.
Using “cold, hard nature” as his teacher, his extensive training has enabled him to learn to control his breathing, heart rate, and blood circulation and to withstand extreme temperatures.
A MAN ON A MISSION
Armed with his motto “what I am capable of, everybody can learn”, Wim Hof is convinced that everyone can tap into their inner potential without having to invest the same decades worth of study, travel and daring.
With his Wim Hof Method, he teaches people from all over the world, from celebrities and professional athletes, to people of all ages, to control their body & mind and achieve extraordinary things.
WIM HOF’S EXTRAORDINARY ACHIEVEMENTS
“The Iceman” Wim Hof has not only helped advance scientific understanding but also accomplished extraordinary feats of human endurance, including 21 Guinness World Records. Below are some of his most memorable achievements.
Running a half marathon above the Arctic Circle, barefoot only wearing shorts
Swimming underneath ice for 66 meters
Hanging on one finger at an altitude of 2,000 meters
Climbing the highest mountains in the world while wearing only shorts
Running a full marathon in the Namib Desert without drinking
Standing covered in ice cubes in a container for extended periods of time
Shown scientifically, that the autonomous nervous system related to the innate immune response, can be willfully influenced, something that was previously unknown to science
Now here’s the most important part!
WIM HOF BREATHING METHOD! GIVE IT A TRY!
Wim Hof Method breathing is simple and easy — everyone can do it! Just follow the steps below. We recommend practising right after waking, or before a meal when your stomach is still empty. Note that WHM breathing can affect motor control and, in rare cases, lead to loss of consciousness. Always sit or lie down before practising the techniques. Never practice whilst piloting a vehicle, or in or near bodies of water.
Step 1: Get Comfortable
Assume a meditation posture: sitting, lying down — whichever is most comfortable for you. Make sure you can expand your lungs freely without feeling any constriction.
Step 2: 30-40 Deep Breaths
Close your eyes and try to clear your mind. Be conscious of your breath, and try to fully connect with it. Inhale deeply through the nose or mouth, and exhale unforced through the mouth. Fully inhale through the belly, then chest and then let go unforced. Repeat this 30 to 40 times in short, powerful bursts. You may experience light-headedness and tingling sensations in your fingers and feet. These side effects are completely harmless.
Step 3: The Hold
After the last exhalation, inhale one final time, as deeply as you can. Then let the air out and stop breathing. Hold until you feel the urge to breathe again.
Step 4: Recovery Breath
When you feel the urge to breathe again, draw one big breath to fill your lungs. Feel your belly and chest expanding. When you are at full capacity, hold the breath for around 15 seconds, then let go. That completes round number one. This cycle can be repeated 3-4 times without interval. After having completed the breathing exercise, take your time to bask in the bliss. This calm state is highly conducive to meditation — don’t hesitate to combine the two.
Breathing bubble; Start breathing with the Iceman himself!
What does the Wim Hof method do?
The Wim Hof Method is a combination of meditation, breathing exercises, and exposure to cold that can help you regulate your stress levels.
Is Wim Hof Method good before bed?
As such, the Wim Hof Method acts as a natural sleep aid. People who practiced the Wim Hof Method report many benefits, such as better sleep, better focus, more energy and stress reduction. When you regularly experience sleeping problems, the Wim Hof Method is a great way to improve your sleep.
Can cold showers help you sleep?
An ice-cold shower helps the body to relax, which reduces anxiety and soothes tired muscles. This slows the heart rate, releases unwanted tension and heightens feelings of comfort and rest. When it comes to sleep quality, cold showers are best kept for the mornings.
Do cold showers help lose belly fat?
Ice baths and cold showers can activate the brown adipose fat and muscles. Once activated, they release two hormones: irisin and FGF21. These hormones then burn white fat tissue and help you lose weight.
5 REASONS TO TRY THE WIM HOF METHOD! MY EXPERIENCE.
1- LEARN TO LOVE THE COLD PRACTISING THE WIM HOF METHOD!
Mallorca is not known for its harsh winters, but during the coldest months ( December, January and February) the air temperature can drop to 2/3ºC at night and the sea temperature to 12ºC. So over the last 3 and half years, I have exposed my body to these conditions with daily cold showers and weekly swims in the sea to gradually increase my tolerance to the cold. This is a slow and sometimes painful process where you teach your mind to let go, not think of the cold and instead to place your attention on what your body is trained to do… yes!!! To warm you up!
Subsequently, you get to train your vascular system to contract and react to cold exposure. The more you repeat this experience with daily cold showers, ice baths or cold water swims, the more efficient your cardiovascular system will be at pumping the blood around. Considering that cardiovascular diseases are the number one killer in our modern society, it is of the utmost importance to start cold water training as soon as possible.
Here’s the thing, ice baths and cold showers can activate the brown adipose fat, which in turn burns white fat tissues and can help you lose weight. New born babies come to this world already well equipped with copious amounts of brown fat to protect them from hypothermia. As we grow up and become busy adults, living in overheated apartments, wearing too much clothing, we progressively lose the ability to produce this amazing substance to refuel our heating system. So what’s the answer?
Wim Hof says “ A cold shower a day keeps the doctor away”. So start the training at home, after a warm shower always end up with 30 seconds of cold water and over time gradually increase until you begin enjoying it and look forward to turning the dial to cold… I promise you, this will happen !! Then you will be ready to go directly into a cold shower…. It took me about six weeks of daily practice to start enjoying the cold shower and now I can step into cold water or even an icy bath without a thought. This cold training gave me more control over my mind.
A cold shower is also ideal to stimulate the brown fat-producing cells as they are usually located around your neck, chest, back and shoulders. I have managed to enrol my family in this crazy but healthy habit, so now it’s your turn!
2- SAY BYE, BYE, TO FEELING STRESSED!
Just after starting this method, I got offered a job in a private school as an assistant PE for their primary section. I accepted the position and started teaching, not realising how demanding 25 screaming little kids would be. During my first week, I could feel the stress mounting up to such levels that I had difficulty taking a deep full breath.
And that’s when it clicked in my mind, I had my answer, I had to take deep breaths as often as possible. So that’s what I did, as I walked through the corridors of the school, I would silently murmur in my mind, “ Deeply in,…and let it go”, and actually take a few deep breaths before welcoming my new lot of 25 children all eager to run and jump and have fun. This worked a treat as I was able to control my stress just by breathing alone.
Of course, this is not the way I recommend you practise the Wim hof method. My ritual starts just after I awake, I sit cross legend, and do 5 to 8 rounds of breathing.
With daily WH practise, you learn to follow your breath and control your stress. This deep breathing and super oxygenation process make you control all the stress hormones, adrenaline, cortisol, epinephrine, and that’s how you gain control over your body and mind. So when you are exposed to cold, heat, any emotional or physical stress, you are able to move your attention away from the prefrontal cortex to the insula ( which is the deep part of the brain that you engage during deep meditation) and this shift usually leaves you with a pleasant floaty feeling. This is often accompanied by a release of opioids thanks to the periaqueductal grey hemisphere originating from your reptilian brain. These opioids help in making you feel good and experiencing this familiar euphoric sensation not dissimilar to the one you experience during exercising or running (Runner’s high!!). And after this, I sleep like a baby. Really you can’t afford not to give it a go!
3- NEVER GET SICK AGAIN…WITH THE WIM HOF METHOD
I was brought up to fear getting cold, to never go out without a jacket, or with wet hair or barefoot and so on. All these rules which I am sure are familiar to you, did not prevent me from catching a cold, the flu, having a stomach ache or headaches, developing light eczema or many other little annoyances. So needless to say, when I saw this Dutchman swimming in icy water, I thought at first that he was totally mad.
It all changed when I started my cold shower progressive training. I immediately felt different and was almost looking forward to this challenge. Once I realized that I was gradually changing my mindset from fearing the cold to enjoying it, there was no stopping me, I was gone like a rocket…. I literally understood that I had changed my perception of the cold and this all happened with the power of my mind.
Now 3 and half years down the line, no aches or pains, no flu or colds, no more allergies or eczema, no more fatigue. All in fine working order and I have exceptional levels of energy.
But that’s not all! In the last 10 years, I have also suffered from old sports induced injuries that kept dragging on and on. Well, surprise surprise… with the cold exposure and the breathing techniques these old pains and aches have subsided tremendously and no longer stop me from any physical activity.
When you feel the cold or the heat and get out of your comfort zone with the Wim Hof Method (WHM) you learn to tap into that mind/body connection and regain control over it. So by breathing deep and changing your focus you can willfully influence the bone marrow to activate T cell and B cell production and these, in turn, will fight any inflammation that is taking place in your body.
With this breathing method not only do you bring more oxygen to your tissues to subside inflammation, but you also increase your adrenaline production which in turn will suppress inflammatory markers in your body.
4- THE MOST ENERGY AND STAMINA I’VE EVER HAD!
I love working out, and pre covid, I used to slip into the gym every day at 6 am before work. I am 55, and over the last 15 years, I have noticed a slow and steady decline in my performance. I was told this is normal … doctors said that this is age catching up with you…. or after 50 it’s all downhill from there… Does this sound familiar?
Somehow I did not believe them …so I decided to change my mindset and believe that age is only a number. So much so that I have made a conscious decision to Live to 100! And when I read about the Wim Hof method, his life story and philosophy I said to myself, “ at last, there is a man who doesn’t talk about ageing, feeling ill and limiting beliefs”. Instead, his message was that we all have the innate capacity to thrive in life, to be energized and be strong, happy and healthy.
Ever since I started the WH guided breathing I can go on and on during my workouts. I oxygenate myself before, during and after physical exercise. The result is that any physical activity becomes more enjoyable, I can push myself a bit more whilst I am engaging in it, and the next day there is no muscle pain. It’s a win-win situation. What happens is that this deep breathing floods the muscle tissues with surplus O2, makes them more alkaline and in such an environment they perform more efficiently. At a cellular level, the mitochondria are also surrounded by this excess of oxygen and do what they are designed to do … produce more energy for you to use. It has literally increased my sports performance by a mile.
5 – FEELING HAPPY & CREATIVE LIKE A CHILD.
We all start life with a deep breath and end it by releasing a last long breath. Breath is our life force, capable of giving us life but also removing it. Now more than ever I am aware of my breathing way beyond the pure chemical aspect of breathing. I often contemplate this air moving throughout my entire body feeding my every cell and giving me life.
During my daily breathing exercises, I visualize this life force gently moving from place to place and awakening all the creative parts of my brain. This combination of breathing and visualizing has allowed me to tap into my innate creativity, the very same one I had as a child. It has given me back this childish enthusiasm to learn new things and be happy to wander out of my comfort zone.
Beyond that, this breathing technique will help you make your internal chemistry more alkaline, and reach deep into your lymphatic system. Your lymphatic system, part of your immune system, has many functions. They include protecting your body from illness-causing invaders, maintaining body fluid levels, absorbing digestive tract fats and removing cellular waste. Think about it another way! It’s like removing the trash from your house, it has to be done every day, so you are left with a clean and inspiring place to start creating.
The three pillars to the WHM are breath work, cold exposure and commitment. So following the tutorials of the WH fundamental 10-week course, I engaged daily in a WH guided breathing session, plus a cold exposure routine and some sort of meditation practise.
The first and most obvious outcome is that I developed a profound mind & body connection. I have felt a sense of well being that starts in my brain and fills my entire body… I am now able to tap into my autonomic nervous system and produce my own feel-good hormones. This is free and always readily available… I love it !! All you need to do is to lie down in a safe and comfortable place and do the breathing. To quote The Iceman, “ Get high on your own supply”!!
So now it’s your turn! I have left some free links down below to get you started! If you want to know more about the benefits of the wim hof method, check this link
One of the biggest takeaways I’ve had from practising the Wim hof method has to do with attitude and mindset! It has been a lifesaver during those long and hard lockdown periods. This amazing technique has helped me uncover the huge power that resides in my mind (and yours too). It has given me a life long wish to discover and work on this almost mystical mind-body connection. I’ve learned that we are a lot more capable than we believe ourselves to be and that there is a lot to gain from pushing past our comfort zone.
What’s more, this is now my daily mission, to explore the limits of my mind, push through my limiting beliefs, learn new skills, enjoy every moment as it is and help as many people as I can along my journey to 100. I feel happy, grateful and privileged to be able to take yet another breath. It has made me so aware that breathing is a gift that we carry everywhere with us all the time. I am only 55 and as you know I am going to live to 100 (or more) and I haven’t counted them yet, but that’s many breaths left…
That’s all for today, take care my friends, until next week.
Smart Living To 100
PS. Last year I have started learning new skills to help me embrace this digital era. For those that are interested, I have left here a link to click, for some Free video series to learn the huge potential this digital economy has to offer.
DISCLAIMER; The material on this post is for informational purposes only. As each individual situation is unique, you should use proper discretion, in consultation with a health care practitioner, before undertaking the protocols, diet, exercises, techniques, training methods, or otherwise described herein. The author and publisher expressly disclaim responsibility for any adverse effects that may result from the use or application of the information contained herein.
This wim hof breathing should be done laying down or sitting in a safe environment, not in water or close to water or whilst driving.
As we now all know, 2021, at least for the early months, won’t be much different than 2020. Many of us are still trapped in the world of lockdown and forced into psychological, and social isolation. We all deal with these feelings of uncertainty, isolation and global sadness in different ways. I myself have found great help and relief in reading and learning from the most influential people of all times and especially their motivational & inspirational quotes.
Such brilliant minds like the Dalai Lama, Winston Churchill,Nelson Mandela, to name just a few, have been a constant source of motivation and have helped me believe in a brighter future for me, my family and the world at large. So, I have come up with 30 motivational & inspirational quotes to empower you in 2021. I hope this post inspires you to take control, align with your purpose, and set some short & long term goals for the year. Let’s get started.
30 motivational & inspirational quotes.
1- Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it. ROALD DAHL
2- If you don’t like the road you’re walking, start paving another one. DOLLY PARTON
3- Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough. OPRAH WINFREY
4- Nothing can dim the light that shines from within. MAYA ANGELOU
5- It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently. WARREN BUFFETT
6- Life is not fair, get used to it! BILL GATES
7- We define ourselves far too often by our past failures. That’s not you. You are this person right now. You’re the person who has learned from those failures. JOE ROGAN
8- The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees opportunity in every difficulty. WINSTON CHURCHILL
9- Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve. NAPOLEON HILL
10- A real decision is measured by the fact that you’ve taken a new action. If there’s no action, you haven’t truly decided. TONY ROBBINS
11- Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined. HENRY DAVID THOREAU
12- Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.JOHN LENNON
13- There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.PAULO COELHO
14- Nothing is impossible, the word itself says ‘I’m possible’! AUDREY HEPBURN
15- Try not to become a man of success. Rather, become a man of value. ALBERT EINSTEIN
16- Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. STEVE JOBS
17- I like criticism. It makes you strong. LEBRON JAMES
Hold on there is more…
18- A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new. ALBERT EINSTEIN
19- Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time. THOMAS EDISON
20- Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall. CONFUCIUS
21- It always seems impossible until it’s done. NELSON MANDELA
22- Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will. MAHATMA GANDHI
23- Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the things you did. MARK TWAIN
24- Do all the good you can, for all the people you can, in all the ways you can, as long as you can. HILLARY CLINTON
25- Some women choose to follow men, and some choose to follow their dreams. If you’re wondering which way to go, remember that your career will never wake up and tell you that it doesn’t love you anymore. LADY GAGA
26- And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom. ANAÏS NIN
27- Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do. PELE
28- Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved. HELEN KELLER
29- There’s no shortage of remarkable ideas, what’s missing is the will to execute them. SETH GODIN
30- With the realization of one’s own potential and self-confidence in one’s ability, one can build a better world. DALAI LAMA
There are so many more motivational & inspirational quotes that I could go on and on… from religious icons to business gurus, to inventors, singers and sports celebrities… This past year has been a time of reflection, introspection and uncertainty for me. All these brilliant quotes emanating from such amazing minds have made me believe in a positive future and have empowered me with the understanding that life will return to normal very soon. Maybe you want to share your empowering quotes?…
How to slow the ageing process?… Is it possible or not? This is one of the greatest questions of all time! When you are in your 20’s, you are far too busy exploring the very essence of life itself, let alone thinking about getting old… ageing is not yet in your vocabulary… fast forward 30 years and words like ageing, getting old, joint pains, disease etc, start popping into your head more frequently. So from the title of this blog; Revealed! How to slow the ageing process?… You have probably guessed that I am on the wrong side of 50. And yes, ever since turning the half-century point, ageing (or should I say slowing down the ageing process) has become one of my main missions.
Can I be totally honest with you? This passion for living a long happy and healthy life, came to me as a revelation, after attending Granny Owen’s (my wife’s grandmother) 100th birthday. Now picture this, a 100-year old lady, immaculately dressed, laughing, eating, sipping sherry, telling stories and thoroughly enjoying the party that was thrown in her honour. Seeing her made me realise that I too could reach that age.
That’s right, turning 50 was no longer a problem… in fact, with my calculations, I realised I still had another 50 years full of fun adventures, travels, and wonderful times with my precious loved ones. But here’s the thing!
Having that inspiring picture of reaching 100, is not enough! I want to reach that magical number feeling happy, healthy and strong enough to pick up my grandkids and roll on the floor with them… as I did with my kids.
So I embarked on this insatiable discovery journey to slow the ageing process and my motto is” Never stop learning“! In my research, I came across the amazing work of David A. Sinclair, PhD, A.O. He is a Professor in the Department of Genetics for the Biology of Ageing at Harvard Medical School, and is very well known for his work on understanding why we age and how to slow its effects. So whether you are into age reversal or merely into improving your health, this video interview with the professor himself might be of interest or of help.
“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.” ~Henry Ford
What can you do to slow the ageing process?
Ageing doesn’t have to be that way. For far too long we have been made to believe that ageing is synonymous with illness, mental decline, less mobility, less money, basically that it is a struggle. Stop right there, time to change our mindset and associate this golden era with health, happiness, strength, wisdom and financial abundance. Here comes the best part…
How long you live is 80% lifestyle, 20% genetics. The good news is that it’s never too late to make the right lifestyle changes that will sustain you for longer.
You can manipulate the genes that impact your lifespan both at a personal and lifestyle level,
“Getting old is like climbing a mountain; you get a little out of breath, but the view is much better!” ~Ingrid Bergman
There’s a clock in your body that can be reset. Ageing can be reversed.
The information for your body to be young again still exists. The instructions are still in your cells. So try new things, learn new skills, be adventurous, always challenge yourself physically, mentally and spiritually.
Key life interventions to extend your life by 14 years on average:
Eat healthily; Mainly plant-based,
Workout; A weekly combination of cardio, high-intensity exercise and strength training is ideal.
Sleep well; This depends on each individual but 7 to 9 hours daily of good quality sleep is the sweet spot.
Cold exposure, for example, finishing on a cold shower, cold water swimming or simply not putting on the heating at home. Cold exposure makes white fat cells become brown fat.
Every cell in your body has to respond to at least one broken DNA strand per day – that’s 28 billion broken DNA strands, happening in your body every day. So here are a few things to avoid;
Exposure to cancerous materials
Don’t microwave plastics
Inkjet yellow dye is really toxic
X-rays and CT scans will break your DNA
“Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.” ~Mark Twain
There are 7 sirtuin genes on our body and they are our bodies protectors.Sirtuinsare protein enzymes that regulate numerous cellular functions, including ageing, inflammation, detoxification, stress resistance, fat and glucose metabolism, circadian rhythms, and mitochondrial biogenesis.
Eat foods rich in Sirtuins: kale, red wine, strawberries, onions, soy, parsley, extra virgin oil, dark chocolate ( 85% cocoa).
If you never experience COLD or extreme HEAT – if you’re never hungry – if you’re never under stress – your sirtuin circuit starts to relax and your epigenome degrades much more rapidly.
Homework: Eat less often. You still have to eat well, and you can still eat the same amount of calories, space out the meals, and don’t snack in between.
“Anyone who keeps the ability to see beauty never grows old.” ~Franz Kafka
That’s all for this week, I hope this helps you to get into the slow ageing mindset. I have started a few years back and it’s a continuous discovery journey… I love it, and I hope it inspires you to want to live to 100.
Take care my friends, more next week.
PS: My online journey keeps me learning, adapting and evolving every day! If you too want to share your passion with the world and earn an income from it; here’s how you too can start your own online business from scratch!
Smart Living To 100
DISCLAIMER; The material on this post is for informational purposes only. As each individual situation is unique, you should use proper discretion, in consultation with a health care practitioner, before undertaking the protocols, diet, exercises, techniques, training methods, or otherwise described herein. The author and publisher expressly disclaim responsibility for any adverse effects that may result from the use or application of the information contained herein. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinicians.
As I lay on the floor, gasping for air, after an intense 40 minute workout, I start wondering if lifting heavy weights is getting easier or harder as I age? Well at first glance it would appear logical to assume that it gets harder! What do you think?
Well, I can’t answer for you but once I recover my breath, stretch, shower and replenish with some nutritious food, I immediately feel empowered with a force field of energy that runs from head to toe, through every single cell of my body. This superhuman feeling not only elevates my physical body but also coats my brain with joy and happiness. Is this the secret to staying young? Or simply one of the most potent tactics for defying age.
So if you want to know why lifting heavy weights makes you younger, just keep on reading!
As we age, our muscles become smaller and weaker via a process calledsarcopenia. Research shows that this decline happens in our muscle’s mitochondria, the primary producer of energy in our body.
Did you know that in every cell of our body there are hundreds or thousands of mitochondria? They exist in greater quantities in the most active organs and tissues (muscles, heart and brain) and the reason we age faster derives from the constant injuries and damage inflicted to the mitochondria. Chronic stress, lack of sleep, poor eating choices, lack of exercise (particularly strength training), alcohol, tobacco, and exposure to pollutants are just a few examples of how our lifestyle can influence the function of these small structures.
Beyond that, a 2007 study demonstrated that 6 months of lifting heavy weights, made the gene expression of ageing mitochondria appear to be significantly younger. Yes, you read that right when it comes to the mitochondria, strength training can reverse nearly forty years of ageing. The benefits of lifting heavy weights don’t stop at the mitochondria, it promotes the growth of fat burning fast-twitch muscle fibres and even protects the DNA’s end caps, the telomeres, from the wear and tear of ageing.
Research shows that telomere decreases in length with age. No surprise there! But both women and men who have been physically active had longer telomere than subjects ten years younger. And in yet another study, researchers reported that “ remarkably, the increase in type II muscle fibres doesn’t just allow you to pick heavier stuff and better equip you to deal with life’s physical challenges but also are extremely important in controlling the whole-body metabolism.Still not convinced?
According to research by the University of Michigan, having strong muscles has a direct effect on how long you live and that it’s your hand strength that’s most important. The researchers found that handgrip strength declines as we age. I cannot stress enough the importance of our hands and especially how strong they are, when it comes to living independently, longevity, health, survival and coping with our daily tasks. Good handgrip strength is so valuable for all those tasks, like cooking, picking up the shopping, holding on to a railing for safety or even for preventing a fall.
There are more good reasons for strength training beyond looking good. Strong bodies are linked to strong minds. Lifting heavy weights also builds confidence, muscle, and healthy tissue. It’s also good for stable joints, injury prevention and weight loss. Sounds impressive right?
Here is the most important part! With as little as 2 non-consecutive days a week of strength training, you will get all the benefits that we spoke about.
Simple guidelines to get you started lifting heavy weights!
1-The reality is you don’t need to go to a gym to work out your muscles. In fact, this can be done from home, your garden, a nearby park, etc. You don’t need expensive equipment, although I have found an adjustable set of home dumbbells to be a great investment, especially during these recent stay-at-home months. If you are not prepared to invest in a set of kettlebells or dumbbells, no problem, simple bodyweight exercises such as push-ups, pull-ups, burpees, squats, sit-ups, and planks can be just as effective for strength training. I have personally invested in a set of kettlebells, from 6kg to 20kg, as I consider them to be more versatile than dumbells.
2– Overall, a great formula to maximize health and longevity is to exercise 6 days per week. Do aerobic exercise on 4 of those days, for just 30 minutes per day at a moderate intensity. Do strength training on your other 2 days, lifting weights or doing bodyweight exercises. My aerobic workouts these days include a rotation of walking, swimming, cycling, hill walking, and yoga. My strength training consists of one home weightlifting session and one bodyweight workout per week. In addition to the long-term health benefits, I find strength training improves my mood and confidence on a daily basis.
3-Not too much and not too little.! You won’t get stronger lifting the same five- or ten-pound weight day after day, rep after rep. For your muscles to grow stronger, you need to challenge them — gradually, over time — with heavier weights. The “right” amount of weight will always vary, but this principle remains the same: You should be able to do ten or so reps with perfect form, with the last two being a real struggle.
4– Your workouts should include an upper-body push ( overhead press, push-ups, chest ups), an upper-body pull ( bent or upright row, pull-ups, lat pull-ups), a lower-body push ( leg press, squats, lunges) and finally a lower-body pull ( deadlifts, Romanian deadlifts, lower back extensions)
5- Learn to lift heavy weights consciously, with an awareness of your breath, posture, core and limitations, so you avoid muscle strain, tendon tear or any other injury. If you are new to it, get a trainer, or teach yourself from books or videos.
6- Expect to be sore! It’s called DOMS — delayed onset muscle soreness — and it’s what you can expect after a good workout. Pain is different. “No pain, no gain” is no way to approach a sustainable strength-training practice.
7- Be efficient! 20 to 40-minute workout should be sufficient if you know what you are doing and why. A good idea is to compound movements to maximise your time. Alternate between super slow training and high-intensity interval training, use blood flow restriction bands too.
8- Add more movement! This isn’t just about doing more push-ups, lifting heavy weights and bodyweight squats. Because in the end, this is about adding more complex and difficult movements that help you in your daily activities. For example, try all 52 ways to get up off the floor.
This is why I keep lifting heavy weights!
The simple truth is that as we age, we lose muscle and grow weaker unless we make an effort to stay strong, flexible, agile and energised. We know now that lifting heavy weights can reverse ageing at the molecular level. My message is that we need to understand the immense value that exercising ( strength training ) has on our longevity. It’s within our power!
So what’s the catch! Why isn’t everybody tapping into this eternal fountain of youth? Well my friends, simply because for those benefits to occur, one needs to put hard work, time, commitment and dedication. I am now 55, and sometimes feel like I am 35, physically and mentally and I intend to push my limits even further and reach my 100th birthday still happy to be lifting heavy weights.
One of the strangest memories that I remember from my childhood is being force-fed my daily dosage of cod liver oil. Does this sound familiar? My mother was very diligent about it, every morning before breakfast she would pour a spoonful of cod liver oil down my throat. She used to say,” Son, these Fatty acids will protect you from the cold and make your brain work better”.
Fast forward 40 years…. I now firmly believe my mother was right and come to realise the massive importance of the” Fats” we consume when it comes to fueling our brain.
That’s right, in today’s blog I will share with you “what everyone ought to know about Fatty acids”.
I first understood the importance of consuming the right fats whilst listening to Dr Cate Shanahan, author of the book Deep Nutrition, who believes that a diet high in “ crappy fats” like the vegetable oils and trans fat found in french fries, doughnuts and most packaged processed foods is far worse than a diet high in sugar. Her point is that you can always lower your sugar spike, by going for a run, dropping down to do some burpees, consuming some bitter melon extracts or apple cider vinegar... you get the point! However the same cannot be said about getting rid of those crappy fats.
Needless to say, I was intrigued and extremely surprised!!!
What are Fatty Acids?
Fatty acids can be divided into four general categories: saturated, monounsaturated, polyunsaturated and trans fats. Saturated fatty acids and trans fats are associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease. Monounsaturated fatty acids and polyunsaturated fatty acids are associated with a decreased risk of coronary heart disease, although these associations are not uniformly supported in the literature. Omega-3 fatty acids, which are a type of polyunsaturated fatty acid, have been studied as a potential therapy for a variety of medical conditions because of their suspected anti-inflammatory properties. Omega-3 fatty acids have also been shown to provide some benefit to patients with cystic fibrosis and may have a protective effect against dementia.
So why are fatty acids so important?
You have probably heard people say “ you are what you eat” and if you follow that concept the next step is to say “ you are fat”, not literally, but you are made of fat.
Every living cell in our body is surrounded by a membrane responsible for allowing compounds to move freely in and out of the cell so it can function properly. These membranes are primarily formed from the fats we consume. This means that how flexible and permeable these membranes are, depend on the quantity, but most importantly the quality, of the fats you consume.
So if your diet is high on damaged fatty acid like those found in canola, corn or sunflower oil, or any oil that is rancid and exposed to too much light and heat, then those damaged fats get incorporated into the building block of your cells. In other words, your cells take the damaged fats, incorporate them into the membrane that wraps around the cell. And that’s how you become what you eat! Think about it for a minute, as this principle also applies to your brain!
Why is this so crucial for proper brain function?
There are copious amounts of fats in the brain. In fact, the brain is composed of and uses so much fat ( approximately 60% of the brain is fat) in a vast array of functions.
Insulating the brain
Protecting the brain from shock
Helping the brain maintain a healthy temperature.
Helping in the proper electrical signal transmission across the neuron synapses
Here’s the scary part, these” bad fats” get incorporated into your cell membrane whether you exercise or not. So a diet that is low-fat or fat-free or that consists of bad fats can significantly damage your brain health. So what’s the answer?
A good brain fuelling strategy starts first with the complete elimination of every source of damage, highly reactive fats that are found in most brands of potato chips, french fries, fried packaged foods, fatty foods that have been heated at too high a temperature or exposed to too much pressure for the fat to retain its natural structure.
The second part of this strategy is to increase your consumption of healthy fats from natural and whole food sources. So where do these healthy fats come from?
Here is a list of foods rich in healthy fats!
One 201 gram (g) avocado contains approximately 29 grams (g) of fat and 322 calories. It is high in a monounsaturated fatty acid called oleic acid. The vitamin K in avocados helps prevent blood clots in the brain and been shown to improve spatial working memory and attention span.
Avocados are high in fibre, with one fruit providing 13.5 g of the recommended 25 grams for females and 38 grams for males per day. Avocados also contain a substance called lutein, which may be necessary for eye health and are a rich source of potassium.
Beet juice contains concentrated nitrates that decrease blood pressure and improve cognitive performance. In addition, the nitric oxide contained in beet juice helps increase neurovascular function and circulation in the brain.
Beet juice may also help your stamina when you exercise. In one study, people who drank beet juice for 6 days had better stamina during intense exercise.
Blueberries, cocoa, extra virgin coconut oil.
These are all bundled in the same category as they all contain high levels of flavonoids and flavonols which can help the brain with oxidative stress. Coconut oil can also prevent age-related memory loss.
Eating just 1 oz of dark chocolate can be enough to stave off sweet cravings, while providing a good amount (9 g) of healthy fat, as well as other nutrients, such as potassium and calcium. Dark chocolate also contains 41 milligrams (mg) of magnesium, which is approximately 13 per cent of the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for adult females.
Bone broth contains a high level of glycine, a nonessential amino acid that can improve neurological function by enhancing memory.
Broccoli is a superfood! Many studies have shown that a daily portion of dark greens like broccoli may resist the mental decline associated with ageing.
Sulforaphane is another potent bioactive compound present in broccoli with the potential to support brain function after an event of reduced oxygenation to the brain.
Egg yoke contains choline which helps improve both verbal and visual memory.
The yolk also contains vitamin D and choline, a B vitamin that supports the function of the liver, brain, nerves, and muscles. The yolk also contains other phytonutrients, including lutein.
While older studies have suggested that eggs increase cholesterol, newer research disputes this. A 2018 study carried out on Chinese adults, for example, reported that up to 1 egg a day might lower the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Kale and Romaine lettuce
The nutrients in kale and romaine lettuce can be beneficial in preventing cognitive impairment and dementia.
Olive oil and nuts
Nuts have many benefits, according to several studies. They are rich in healthful fats, protein, fibre, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytosterols that may help prevent cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.
There is approximately 14 g of fat in 1 oz of almonds, 19 g in Brazil nuts, and 18.5 g in walnuts. It is best to eat a variety of unsalted nuts to reap the benefits, as each type of nut has a slightly different nutrient profile.
One of the minor constituents of olive oil is oleocanthal, which reduces the neuron damaging effects of ADDLs (amyloid beta-derived diffusible ligands, found in many cosmetics, plastic products and putties). These ADDLs can be a major contributing factor when it comes to increasing the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, and both olive oil and walnuts can help in protecting against ADDLs induced oxidative stress and cell death.
Extra-virgin olive oil is full of monounsaturated fats that are good for heart health. It also contains vitamin E, vitamin K, and potent antioxidants. Extra-virgin olive oil has an association with a lower risk of heart disease and death in those with a high risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
Rosemary extract, found in fresh rosemary or rosemary essential oil can help with chronic neurodegenerative diseases.
Fish packed with healthy fatty acids!
Fatty fish are packed with unsaturated and omega-3 fatty acids that play an important role in heart and brain health. The American Heart Association recommends that people eat 2 servings of fatty fish each week. Options include:
fresh (not canned) tuna
Salmon is naturally high in omega 3 fatty acids and boosts the layer encasing each neuron, thus strengthening the membranes of the cells in your brain and the connection between the neurons themselves. What if you don’t like fish? Or you are a vegetarian or vegan?
Sources of Omega 3 fatty acids for vegetarians and vegans
Other sources of omega 3 fatty acids; Seaweed and Algae
Seaweed and algae are important sources of omega-3 for people on a vegetarian or vegan diet, as they are one of the few plant groups that contain DHA ( is an omega 3 fatty acid that is critical for brain development in infants and proper brain function in adults) and EPA (Another omega 3 fatty acid essential in protecting your cells and particular your neurons).
The DHA and EPA content varies depending on the type of algae and the particular product.
There are many ways to include these foods in the diet. For example:
Nori is the seaweed that most people use to wrap around sushi.
Seaweed is a tasty, crispy snack.
Chlorella and spirulina make a healthful addition to smoothies or oatmeal.
Although they are small in size, chia seeds are rich in several nutrients. One ounce (oz) of the seeds contains 8.71 g of fat, much of which is made up of omega-3 fatty acids. Chia seeds are, in fact, one of the best plant-based sources of omega-3.
Chia seeds also provide antioxidants, fiber, protein, iron, and calcium.
Chia seeds are an excellent plant-based source of ALA omega-3 fatty acids. Chia seeds contain 5.055 g of ALA per 1-oz serving.
People can use these seeds as an ingredient in granola, salads, or smoothies, or they can mix them with milk or yoghurt to make chia pudding. Mixing chia seeds with water also creates an egg substitute that vegans can use. Carry on reading for more seeds!
Hemp seeds contain 2.605 g of ALA in every 3 tablespoons (tbsp).
Hemp seeds are slightly sweet and make an excellent addition to granola, oats, snack bars, salads, and smoothies.
Flaxseeds provide omega-3 fatty acids and a healthful dose of fiber at the same time. Each 2-tablespoon serving contains almost 9 g of fat, which is almost entirely unsaturated, and 5.6 g fiber.
Flaxseeds are one of the most healthful seeds that people can eat. They are rich in many nutrients, including:
These seeds may reduce blood pressure and improve heart health.
As with chia seeds, people can mix flaxseeds with water to create a vegan egg replacement. It is also easy to incorporate them into the diet by adding them to oatmeal, cereal, or salad.
Now it’s your turn,
Let’s recap, now that you are equipped with a full shopping list, you can seek out the healthy fats from natural sources, avoid damaged or unstable fats ( usually in packaged or processed foods) and give your brain the fuel it needs.
This is just one of the long list of strategies and tactics to live to 100 in a happy, healthy and fulfilling way. Keep in mind, some simple tactics we have seen before like fasting, ketosis, feeding your gut bacteria, exercising, etc…and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Retiring early versus working for as long as possible!!!
What do you think about “retiring early”? The simple truth is that if you want to live to 100 you are going to need more money. This means working for longer or saving more and in some cases both. Times have changed, and the standard model of working in one job all your life and then retiring at the age of 65 (now 67 in some countries) is no longer applicable to our modern times.
The idea that retirement promotes health and prolongs life isn’t obvious for all individuals. Some people say retiring is boring... and others claim it will give them a new lease of life! After all, work provides you with an income, health insurance,a purpose,social interaction and physical activity, in some cases, all contributing factors to your well being. The answer to this life decision is not that simple, so here we will examine the pro and cons of “ Retiring early versus working for as long as possible”.
2- Working for as long as possible, pros and cons!
Working for as long as possible… The pros!
You get to enjoy your work and your colleagues for longer on a full or part-time basis
Your body and mind will remain active for longer
If you have any work benefits (private health, company cars etc.) you will continue to receive these.
It can be financially beneficial for you and your family to keep working longer.
You can keep your savings untouched for longer and your social benefits carry on accumulating
Working for as long as possible, The cons!
If you have an unfulfilling and stressful job, if it’s physically challenging, or simply put if you do not enjoy what you do, well prolonging your work time could have some health repercussions later on in life.
If you have a bucket list to go through, or travels planned ahead, you could be reducing your retirement time by staying at work longer.
You could be preventing younger people from advancing in their careers if you look at the bigger picture.
Although this list of pros and cons is food for thought, the question still remains, should you retire early or should carry on working after retirement? Calculating saving rateand working years is complicated enough because there are too many assumptions in the equation! How much will you earn? How many children will you have? What will be your average income over your working career? How much do you need to be happy? And the list goes on…
The good news is … That, the answer lies within each and every individual. I strongly believe that it’s all down to your mindset, how you see yourself ageing, how healthy you plan to be, how well you look after your body, mind and soul. Since I turned 50, I have decided to see my next 50 years as a journey of total discovery, a time to learn new skills, to adapt, evolve and always acquire new perspectives on the world we live in and the people that surround us. Working is good for many reasons, but doing something that you love is even better.
I suppose what I am trying to say is that the key to a long, happy and fulfilling life is more about your passion for life, your purpose, your projects and your loved ones than complex calculations about savings and investments…
January is one of the most depressing months of the year and this one will be no exception! It’s cold, dark, and rainy, perhaps some struggle financially, others are forced to diet after the Christmas feast or begin their “Dry January “ challenge and many more are back to the reality of work (or not). To top it off, most of us will be confined at home for the next few months. So this is the perfect time to focus ontaking care of yourself and to regain control of your thoughts amongst all this negativity. To achieve this I have begun with one of the most basic and essential tools we have always at hand, for free, 24/7 … our breath, and in particular the practice of Pranayama breathing. So,” Does Pranayama Breathing reduce stress?”
The answer to this very important question lies in this blog, where you will discover what pranayama breathing is, how it can decrease the effects of stress on the body, and increase overall physical and mental health. Finally, we will explain 5 of the most popular pranayama breathing techniques so you can practise them all by yourself.
What is pranayama breathing?
Pranayama breathing techniques are thought to have come into existence around the same time as yoga and meditation – in India, around 5000 BC.
In Sanskrit (the classical language of India), the word “ prana “ means life force and “Ayama” means extending. Thus, the word “pranayama” translates to the control of life force, or more loosely, control of breath.
Breathing is something we do on a daily basis. Strangely or not, life starts as a newborn baby by taking a huge inhale (along with copious amounts of crying) and ends in a deep and long exhale. Breathing is living, it is a vital function of life as every cell in our body needs oxygen to function properly.
The way we breathe controls everything, our nervous system via the vagus nerve, our cardiovascular, respiratory and digestive system. Pranayama refers to a variety of breathing exercises that are known to reduce stress, improve sleep, help digestion, cool you down, as well as clear the physical and emotional obstacles in our body to free the flow of “prana” or life force.
The benefits of pranayama
There is no doubt that Pranayama breathing has a vast array of benefits, and during these pandemic times, the most useful ones are stress relief and immunity boost. Here below is the full list of the pranayama benefits.
Boosts your Immune system:
First, belly breathing or diaphragmatic breathing (this is when your lower belly expands outwardly as you inhale and contracts inwardly when you exhale) offers a light massage to your internal organs and glands. Since about 70 to 80% of your immune tissue is situated in your digestive tract, breathworkcan improve the body’s immune response. This light internal massage, in turn, helps move lymph (fluid containing white blood cells) throughout the body. Second, breath retention significantly increases our count of white blood cells, which are the first line of defence for infections and viruses.
Does Pranayama breathing reduce stress?
Our typical response to stress is shallow and rapid breathing and an increased heart rate. On the other hand, Pranayama breathing tends to engage our parasympathetic nervous system in order to make our body more relaxed, slow down our breathing and reduce our heart rate.
When breathing deep and slow in a controlled manner, we activate our vagus nerve and consequently increases our GABA production, the neurotransmitter that helps us unwind.
Increases lung function and capacity
A 2019 study determined that 6 weeks of practising pranayama for 1 hour a day could have a significant effect on lung function. Breath control improves lung function and capacity for healthy individuals and can also be used as a lung strengthening tool for those with asthma, chronic bronchitis or recovering from pneumonia.
Improves Digestive function:
Our head-brain (100 billion neurons) and our gut-brain (200 to 600 billion neurons) are in constant communication with each other via the nervous system. When something’s going wrong in our gut, like IBS, diarrhoea or hyperacidity there seems to be a breakdown in communication between the 2 brains. Studies show that regular pranayama breathing has a calming and soothing effect on the entire digestive system and helps re-establish harmony and communication with the brain.
Improves Cardiovascular health:
Stress is a major risk factor for high blood pressure. It increases the risk for some potentially serious health conditions like heart disease and stroke.
Pranayama can help minimize this risk by promoting relaxation.
When you concentrate on deep, slow breathing, it can help calm your nervous system. This, in turn, may help reduce your stress response and risk of hypertension and has some immediate and positive effects on your heart rate and blood pressure.
Improves Sleep quality:
Being stressed before bedtime is a recipe for disaster when it comes to sleeping. As we have seen before when we’re stressed, we take short, shallow breaths and our heart rate increases rapidly. On the other hand, deep slow and controlled breathing slows our heart rate and relaxes our mind. This improves sleep quality, decreases snoring, sleep apnea and combats insomnia.
Pranayama breathingHelps with Skincare:
When we hold our breath, some oxygen supplies are forced into our skin cells. This increases blood supply and improves skin appearance and prevents premature ageing like wrinkles and sunspots.
Find here a few studies on the benefits of Pranayama!
Does Pranayama breathing reduce stress?Find out here!
There are many Pranayama breathing exercises, and they all have their own unique benefits. I have chosen to explain 5 of the most widely used, so you too can practise them on your own, and possibly try to incorporate them in your daily routine.
1. Kumbhaka or “Full Breath Retention”
This is my number one as it is an immune system booster.
“Full breath retention” presents a multitude of benefits, like increased lung capacity, brain tissue regeneration and reduced inflammation. Most importantly, though, it increases oxygen and CO2 levels in our bodies, nourishing our white blood cells to fight off infection and virus. I personally do thisbefore going to sleep, as I find it does relax me as well.
How to do it:
Sit or lie down comfortably for 10 to 15 mins per day.
Begin following a 1-1-2 pattern. For example, inhale for 5, hold for 5, exhale for 10
With practice, begin to increase the retention for a ratio of 1-2-2 or 1-3-2. It will become easier to inhale for 5, hold for 10, exhale for 10. Increase to inhaling for 5, holding for 15, exhaling for 10, and so on
2. Kapalabhati Pranayama
Kapalabhati means skull shining breath. Kapalabhati is believed to help clear mucus in the air passages, relieve congestion, reduce bloating, and improve lung capacity. Kapalabhati is an invigorating breath that can build heat in the body. It is best done in the morning if you are feeling cold, sluggish, congested or bloated.
How to do it:
Sit (cross-legged or on your knees), resting your hands on your thighs
To begin, inhale and exhale fully
Then, inhale halfway and begin forcefully exhaling in short bursts
Place a hand on your belly to feel contraction and expansion
Continue for 20-30 intervals before breathing in fully, retaining the breath for as long as you can, and finally, exhaling
Repeat cycles for 10 to 15 minutes (daily!), finishing with an exhalation through the left nostril
3. Nadhi Sodhana aka Anuloma Viloma
Widely known as ‘alternate nostril breathing’, this pranayama helps to bring balance to the three doshas of the human experience: the mind, body and soul. This is a very relaxed, balancing breath that is used to help calm the nervous system and aid in a restful night’s sleep. By increasing the amount of oxygen taken into the body, Nadhi sodhana, is believed to purify the blood, calm the mind, reduce stress, and promote concentration. Ideal before bed or when trying to calm down.
How to do it:
Sit, with crossed legs or on your knees, or lie comfortably
Bring your right thumb to your right nostril and your ring and pinky fingers to your left. Your index and middle fingers can rest on the bridge of your nose or fold down toward your thumb.
Using your fingers, press on the right nostril and inhale through the left.
Exhale through the left, close the nostril, and inhale through the right
Exhale through the right to complete one cycle.
Repeat for 10-12 cycles
4. Ujjayi Pranayama
Ujjayi means victorious breath; it’s also referred to as ocean breath due to the sound it creates. Ujjayi encourages the full expansion of the lungs, and, by focusing your attention on your breath, it can assist in calming the mind. This is the most common breath used during yoga sessions. Research has shown that Ujjayi Pranayamas can help to reduce anxiety and maybe a potential alternative treatment for both stress and PTSD. This breath can be practised for up to 10 minutes at any time of day.
How to do it:
Find a place where you can sit comfortably with a straight spine.
Take a steady breath in through both nostrils. Inhale until you reach your lung capacity; maintain a tall spine.
Hold your breath for a second, then constrict some of the breath at the back of your throat, as if you were about to whisper a secret, and exhale slowly through both nostrils.
This exhalation will sound like an ocean wave or a gentle rush of air. You should feel the air on the roof of your mouth as you exhale. Repeat up to 20 times.
5. Sitali Pranayama
Sitali also means cooling, which explains the effect it can have on your mind and body. This breath encourages clearing heat with coolness. It’s especially helpful during summer and in hot climates. I use this pranayama breathing a lot during our summer as temperatures in Mallorca are usually high. But not now, believe it or not, we have some snow in the mountains, so I don’t need cooling down.
How to do it:
Sit in a comfortable, cross-legged position
Take a few deep inhales and exhales to prepare
Roll your tongue in an O shape, sticking it out through your pursed lips
Slowly inhale through the mouth
Hold your breath
Exhale through your nostrils after some time
Repeat until you have reached between 8 and 15 cycles
Helpful Tips for Getting Started
You be the judge. If you feel any discomfort or light-headedness, stop immediately and return to normal breathing. Consult an instructor for guidance and supervision.
Never force or restrict your breath. Don’t compromise the quality of the breath. Do the best that you can. The more you practice, the longer you’ll be able to perform the exercises, and eventually, you’ll be able to use more of your lung capacity.
Patience and practice. Pranayama should be done with great care and awareness. Try to stay focused on the journey, not the destination! Over time, you will start to notice the benefits of the practice.
Precautions. If you are pregnant or suffer from diabetes, high or low blood pressure, heart conditions, epilepsy, or vertigo, please consult your health care provider before performing any of these breathing exercises. Practise them in a safe environment, where you can sit comfortably.
The goal of pranayama is to strengthen the connection between your body and mind. According to research, pranayama can promote relaxation and mindfulness. It’s also proven to support multiple aspects of physical health, including lung function, blood pressure, and brain function.
Can I do pranayama before sleeping?
Pranayamas help in activating the parasympathetic nervous system & have a relaxing effect on the body. Before going to bed try out these pranayamas, ensure you have a light dinner and a gap of at least two hours before you perform them.
Does Pranayama breathing reduce stress!
Breathing exercises that help alleviate stress
Explains Mansi, “Pranayama is effective in alleviating stress by having our body breathe in more oxygen. There are multiple variations and each one helps cool the mind and alleviate stress. Both anxiety and depression can be cured doing pranayama regularly.
Can pranayama be done lying down?
No. There are some strict rules about Pranayama and not following them cause more harm than any benefits. … When you lay down, all the muscle mass on the front surface your body will bring pressure on all the organs used in Pranayama process which will not allow the proper movement of lungs, abdomen etc.
Which pranayama is good for anxiety?
Ujjayi Pranayama – It is a recommended Pranayama for depression, anxiety and stress. Ujjayi Pranayama is also beneficial for calming and soothing the nervous system.
Does Pranayama breathing reduce stress? My answer is definitely YES.So many people think that “ Breathing is just breathing”….right! Well, they are wrong! Breathing is a lot more than that! And that’s what I discovered after my first pranayama breathing sessions 15 years ago. Since then I believe that the practice of various breathing exercises is essential to our health, vitality and longevity. Now I see it as a gift and a very powerful tool that can enable us to create more ease and balance in our lives. So now more than ever and especially if you are on lockdown, I invite you to take some time to focus on your breath. Because when we focus on the breath we can return to a neutral state of being, gain clarity, feel rejuvenated, and enhance an overall sense of well-being.
Take care my friends, and see you next week.
Smart Living To 100
DISCLAIMER; The material on this post is for informational purposes only. As each individual situation is unique, you should use proper discretion, in consultation with a health care practitioner, before undertaking the protocols, diet, exercises, techniques, training methods, or otherwise described herein. The author and publisher expressly disclaim responsibility for any adverse effects that may result from the use or application of the information contained herein. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinicians.
Every January usually starts with a list of ” New year’s resolutions”. Well for 2021, I have decided to make mine “very long term resolutions”. In fact, these are more reasons why I want to live to 100… So here are my ” 50 reasons to live to 100 “.
1. Lying in bed whilst it is rainy, stormy and windy outside.
2. Having a delicious hot cup of coffee, oh dear,… I would find it impossible to give that up!
3. Because there are so many places in the world you still want to see.
12. Getting recognition for something you thought no one noticed.
13. Christmas secrets! I normally don’t like secrets except the ones involving presents.
14. Getting a hug from your spouse just when you most need it.
15.Lying on a beach on a hot summer’s day and feeling the sun on your skin.
16. Starting andfinishing a good book.
17. Noticing all of nature’s little things, like a little seedling coming out of the soil, the veins on a leaf, etc…
18. Knowing that there is only one of you in the world and that this makes you unique and special.
19. Discovering as many oceans as possible.
20. Knowing that you have the ability to make others laugh.
22. Enjoying all the simple pleasures in life, like a sunset, taking deep long breaths, a cold shower on a summer’s day…
23. To have the privilege to see your kids grow into real people with their own thoughts, opinions, feelings and eventually meet their partners.
24. The beauty of knowing that no matter what happens in your life you have a handful of people there for you. Even if they might not know how to help or what to say they care enough to be by your side.
25. Diving in a brand new exotic location.
26. Realizing that Life has meaning, even when it is difficult, unpleasant and you haven’t a clue what it is.
27. Having a nutritious meal after an intense workout.
So here are 50 things that will keep me going until my 100th birthday. Now it’s your turn!
Take care my friends , see you next week.
Smart Living To 100
PS: Happy New Year 2021
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