Do Alternatives to The Traditional Office Chair Work?

Most of us spend the day sitting at an office chair and staring at a computer screen. Sitting for prolonged periods of time can cause low back pain or worsen an existing back condition.

When sitting in an office chair for a long period, our natural tendency is to gradually slouch over; this can overstretch the spinal ligaments and strain surrounding structures in the spine. Over time, all of this slouching can contribute or worsen back pain. Recently, more people are gravitating toward more ergonomic, active chairs.

Advantages of Non-Traditional Office Chairs

While a traditional office chair is designed to provide complete support, some recently designed alternatives help promote good posture without back support. In addition, they also require more muscle use.

The Kneeling Ergonomic Chair

As far as selecting a more spine-friendly chair for your office, there are two options that stand out the most. The first is the kneeling ergonomic chair. This chair has no back, and places the user in a modified kneeling position. This design encourages good posture by sliding the hips forward and aligning the back, shoulders and neck. The forward slanting seat of the chair leads to a more natural seated position for the spine.

The Saddle Ergonomic Chair

This type of office chair is in the shape of a horse’s saddle and puts the user in a position somewhere between sitting and standing, similar to riding a horse. This will allow the legs to drop and widen naturally, creating a healthy and stable position. With long-term use, this design can even help strengthen the back muscles.

If you have an injured back, it is best to talk to your doctor first before using an alternative to the traditional office chair. Since there is no single type of alternative office chair to use, it is best to determine your own preference for comfort. Just remember that you only have one spine, and it’s your job to do all that you can to take care of it!

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How to Make Your Office Chair Better for Your Back

We all know that familiar feeling we get after sitting down for too long; our rear ends may become numb and our lower backs will begin to ache. Unfortunately, the majority of us know this feeling all too well as our jobs usually require us to sit at a desk and stare at a computer screen for hours at a time.

The act of sitting, in general sense or when sitting in an office chair, is a stationary posture that increases stress in the back, shoulders, arms and legs. It can particularly add large amounts of pressure to the back muscles and spinal discs. Here are a few ways in which you can make your office chair a little more back-friendly:

Stay Active to Reduce Back Pain

No matter how comfortable you are in your squishy office chair, this prolonged static position is rough on your back. To avoid keeping your back in one position for too long, remember to stand, stretch and walk for at least a minute or two every half hour that you are at work. Moving and stretching throughout the day will help keep your muscles, joints, ligaments and tendons lose. This in turn will help you to feel more comfort and assist in your ability to focus productively.

Office Chair Setup

Once you have stretched and walked around for a bit, you’ll have to return to your office chair eventually. As far as low back support goes, make sure your bottom is firmly pressed against the back of your chair, and there should be a cushion that causes your lower back to arch slightly so that you can avoid slouching over time. Never slump or slouch forward in your office chair, as that can add extra stress on your lumbar discs.

Considering the way in which you sit at your office chair and moving around once in a while can save you on some major back pain, and even an extra visit to the chiropractor!

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Top 3 Triceps Workouts

If you’re looking to tone and enlarge your triceps, you must first the mechanics behind these muscles. Your triceps are made up of three different heads. They are the lateral head, the medial head and the long head. Together, these three form the larger “triceps” muscle group.

Here are three exercises that can help strengthen and tone your triceps.

Triceps Dips

Triceps dips are great for hitting all three parts of the muscle group. What’s great about this particular exercise is that you can overload your triceps with any amount of weight. You know what they say, the more weight lifted, the more muscle gained.

How To Do The Triceps Dip

If you’re a beginner, the easiest way to do the triceps dip is by using a bench dip. Place your feet in front of you on the ground, or on another bench. Have your hands locked behind you on the bench beneath you. Simply put all your weight on your hands and bend your elbows in a 90-degree angle. Make sure to apply pressure and lift your body weight with your triceps.

Lower your body slowly all the way down until your triceps are parallel with the ground. When you’re at the top of that motion, squeeze your triceps for a couple of seconds.

The Skull Crusher

Also known as barbell lying triceps extensions, the skull crusher works two parts of the triceps, the long and medial heads. As you build up the long head of your triceps, the inner bottom portion of the arm becomes bigger. This, in turn helps to add overall height in your arms.

How To Do The Skull Crusher

Use an EZ bar and load weight plates evenly on each side. Using a flat bench, lie down flat on your back and extend your arms straight up. Continue by bending your arms at the elbow without moving your upper arms, and lower the bar back until it is at your forehead allowing your arms to form a 90-degree angle. When you’re at the top of the motion, contract your muscles for a few seconds.

The Overhead Extension

This last exercise mainly focuses on the lateral head of the triceps, which helps to build a dense, well-shaped horseshoe. One great aspect of the overhead extension is how it gives you a nice stretch when you lower the weight down, and a sharp contraction when you pull up.

How To Do The Overhead Lateral Triceps Extension

One option for this exercise is to use both arms at the same time using a dumbbell. When using one arm at a time, start by raising one arm vertically above your head. Slowly bend your arm at the elbow and lower the weight sideways behind your head, keeping your upper arm locked in place. When you’re at the top of the motion, contract your muscles for a couple of seconds.

After you have completed these exercises, take plenty of time to stretch in order to avoid any strains. Drink lots of water in order to flush away the excess lactic acid built up in your muscles.

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How to Strengthen Your Scapula

For those of us who aren’t the most familiar with the human anatomy, the scapula is most commonly known as the shoulder blade. It is the bone that connects the humerus (upper arm bone) with the clavicle (collar bone).

The scapula bone is held flat against your rib cage by your serratus anterior and rhomboid muscles. If these muscles become stretched or weak, your scapula will lift. When this occurs, a condition called winging occurs. A winged scapula protrudes outward, and the condition can occur to one or both scapulae. Strengthening your muscles will help to stabilize your scapula and reduce winging. Here are a couple of exercises that could prevent that from happening:

Band Pull-Aparts

This exercise will target your rhomboids, middle trapezius and posterior deltoids. Hold an exercise band by its ends and raise your hands to shoulder level. Bend your elbows slightly and keep your shoulders down and relaxed. Keeping your arms parallel to the floor, pull the ends of the band apart until it is stretched across your chest. Return to the starting position and repeat.

Ball Circles Against a Wall

This exercise will not only strengthen your serratus anterior, but also your rotator cuff muscles within your shoulders. Place and hold a stability ball against a wall at shoulder height. Position one hand at the apex of the ball and rest your other by your side. Keep your shoulders down and back. Make small circles with your hand while maintaining pressure on the ball. Work clockwise, counterclockwise, and in a figure-eight movement. Start by performing this exercise for 15 seconds per arm and increase the length of time as your muscles get stronger.

By performing these exercises, you will strengthen your shoulder muscles and will also prevent any future scapula injuries. Lack of strength in these muscles can lead to serious medical issues, such as rotator cuff tears and severe headaches. Other more advanced exercises exist beyond the ones listed here, but it’s good to start with these and build your way up.

Check out our blog about great fitness apps that can help you stay in control of your body while keeping you healthy by clicking here

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Is it Better to Sit or Stand at Your Desk?

Most of us are sitting down for the majority of our day. A recent survey found that we spend up to 12 hours a day sitting on our bottoms staring at a computer screen or watching television. Add in seven or eight hours of sleeping and you’ve got up to 19 hours a day being sedentary!

More and more businesses are beginning to use stand-up or treadmill desks in the workplace, with the idea behind them being that a few extra hours standing up should lead to better health and lower the risk of heart disease, stroke and cancer. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of standing at your desk during the workday:

Get Out of Your Chair!

We all know that sitting down or performing minimal movement doesn’t work most of the muscles we should be exercising each day. Research has found that small movements in the muscles, such as standing while waiting in line at the store or standing up at work burn a small amount of calories that add up over time. Sitting down for long periods of time increases the chances that your body’s system will store fat easier in the blood cells.

Take it Down

As much as research tells us to stand up from our desk chairs and stand for better health, there may also be some slight risks from standing too long. Just as if you were sitting, new research suggests that you must constantly re-adjust your posture and distribute weight. There is also a slightly higher risk for conditions like varicose veins, which occurs when veins twist and enlarge near the surface of the skin, occurring mostly in the legs and ankles.

When debating whether standing or sitting is better, listen for body cues. If you begin to feel lethargic and sluggish at your desk, stand up for a bit. However, if your legs or feet begin to ache after a while, sit back down. The key is to incorporate small movements throughout your day.

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Top 3 Places to Jog in St. Petersburg, FL

Whether you’ve come to St. Petersburg for vacation or live here year-round, it’s no secret that the beautiful area is full of scenic trails and sidewalks that are perfect for walkers and joggers. The area also hosts events, such as the St. Anthony’s Triathlon and other various races for the more advanced runner. However, for the rest of us there are plenty of areas in St. Pete to enjoy a casual jog.

Here are the top three places to walk and jog in St. Petersburg:

Fort DeSoto Park

Often noted as the crown jewel of the county park system, Fort DeSoto Park is nationally known for its white sand beaches. In addition, the park also contains a 6.8 mile asphalt running/biking trail. Winding along the beaches, the trail curves around mangroves and palm trees. Sea oats and beach daisies line the trail and a warm sea breeze wafts through the air. Remember to wear plenty of sunscreen since the trail isn’t shaded, and try to hit it early in the morning, especially in the summertime!

Vinoy Park

For more of an urban feel on your run, you may want to give Vinoy Park a try. Located in downtown St. Pete, the park is an excellent option as a running spot. Stretching along Tampa Bay, the park gives runners access to wide-open green spaces, as well as numerous sidewalk cafes, in case you want to grab a cup of coffee afterward. You may even find yourself accompanied by dolphins that surface along the seawall in the early morning or evening!

Crescent Lake Park

Crescent Lake Park lies just north of downtown St. Pete. Encompassing Crescent Lake in the center of the park is a circling, one mile long concrete path. Surrounded by plenty of lush trees and greenery, the park is also a great place to play tennis or pick up a game of touch football.

St. Petersburg and the Pinellas County have a wide variety of areas to walk and jog in. The parks listed are only three of many more in the area. So, lace up and enjoy the scenery!

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Nutrition Label Redesign

Choosing foods at the grocery store can be a challenge when keeping your health in mind. Reading the nutrition labels on the back of all the boxes is a hassle and is time-consuming.

The Food and Drug Administration is in the process of updating and changing our packaged food and drink labels. If these changes are approved, the new nutrition labels would highlight the total calories, added sugars and the addition of certain nutrients.

Here are some of the proposed changes:

Cut the Fat

The newly redesigned labels would remove the “calories from fat” line that is currently on labels, and focus on the total amount of calories in one serving. Nutritionists understand that the type of fat matters more than the calories from the fat. Total vs. saturated fat would remain the same in the new design.

Added Sugars

The newly designed labels will also state how much added sugar is in a product. Sometimes, it’s hard to know what sugar has been added and what is natural to the food. Added sugar is chemically the same as natural sugar. The majority of Americans have no idea how much sugar they consume, and end up eating far more than the necessary daily intake calls for. The American Heart Association recommends limiting added sugar to no more than half of your daily caloric intake. That’s 150 calories a day for men, and no more than 100 calories of added sugars for women.

Getting Your Nutrients

Under the new proposed changes, food and beverage companies will be required to state the amount of Vitamin D, potassium, calcium and iron found in the item. On average, Americans do not get the recommended amount of these important nutrients. Vitamin D aids in good bone health and potassium is essential for keeping your blood pressure under control.

Studies have shown that people who read the nutrition labels on food tend to be healthier. Unfortunately, more than a third of all Americans are obese. The new food label designs will hopefully assist in getting people to eat healthier.

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Nutrition Mistakes

Finding Balance Within Your Life

If you are spending too much time at work or feel that you never have enough time or energy for fun, you may need to stop and find some balance in your life. At its core, finding balance is all about our primary needs in life. Think about it… how do you feel when you skip breakfast and have to sit through a two-hour board meeting? Do you feel like you’ve downed your fourth cup of coffee and you could still take a nap? In order to perform at our best, we need to be able to take care of ourselves physically first.

Here are the top three components necessary for a balanced life:

Nutrition

Unhealthy eating and physical inactivity are the leading causes of death in the United States. As Americans, we don’t exactly have the best track record when it comes to healthy eating. Think of your body like a car… it needs the right fuel in order to perform at its best. The benefits of healthy eating greatly outweigh the sugary delight of that chocolate doughnut.

Regular Exercise

In today’s hectic go-go-go society, the last thing we usually want to do after being stuck at work for seven to eight hours is get to the gym. Did you have a stressful day and need to blow off some steam? Getting to the gym is your answer. Not only does regular exercise control weight and improve energy, but it also acts like a natural Prozac. Physical activity stimulates various brain chemicals that may leave you feeling happier and more relaxed.

Sleep

Turn on the news tonight, and more than likely you will hear about some new study saying how sleep is extremely important for our well-being. Scientifically, it isn’t clear as to why we need sleep, but all mammals do it. When we don’t sleep enough, we feel sluggish and fuzzy-headed. Long-term sleep deprivation has a high-impact on the human brain, so much so that it has been used as a form of military torture.

These are only three components necessary for a balanced life, but they’re some of the most important. Get your eight hours, hit the gym and go for the apple instead of Doritos!

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Is It Important to Know Where Your Food Comes From?

Food is one of our most important and basic needs. It provides us with the energy for everything we need to do, from running a marathon to presenting a project at work. There are all sorts of food grown in all different parts of the world. There’s a huge selection to choose from every time you go to the supermarket. The choices we make at the supermarket are important for our health, and where our food comes from may affect some of our choices.

Here are three reasons why you need to care about where your food comes from:

Big Corporations Don’t Have You in Mind

Most big food corporations add a lot of salt, sugar and fat into their products because it’s cheap and easy for them. Processed sugars and fats are unhealthy, and the process by which the salt, sugar and fat are added may cause you to never look at that bag of potato chips the same way again.

Knowing What’s Fed to Farm Animals

We all know that cows, chickens and pigs are fed antibiotics in order to avoid illness and are also given hormones. We all remember the outbreak of mad cow disease, right? Those cows that got mad cow disease were given feed mixed with diseased animal parts! You need to know that what your burger has eaten in its past life is also what you are ingesting.

Spending More on Health Care

Locally grown and organic food is more expensive than packaged food. The less we spend on our food, the more we end up spending on our health care. A very small percentage of our income goes toward food, an achievement of big food corporations. However, by eating the packaged and over-processed foods, we end up feeding our bodies garbage and risk an extra visit to the doctor for something like high cholesterol.

By caring where your food comes from, you are getting the most nutrients from your food and ensuring a healthy lifestyle.

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