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Beginner’s Guide to CrossFit: What You Need to Know Before Starting

There are actually so many CrossFit gyms around Singapore now! You might even have a co-worker or a friend who’s already going to one. Being one of the most popular fitness regimes today, CrossFit has earned a reputation for being tough yet very rewarding. So, let’s get to know it better!

What exactly is CrossFit?

CrossFit is basically a fitness program that mainly focuses on strength and conditioning. It takes functional movements from many different sports like weightlifting, gymnastics, rowing, and etc. Most of the exercises utilized are in different varieties and are meant to be challenging. Generally, workout routines will change each day testing different parts of strength and conditioning. This is in line with the focus of CrossFit to help an individual create the “fittest” form of himself with a body capable of almost anything.

A CrossFit gym can also look very different from a bodybuilding gym. You’ll see more bars, boxes, and ropes than the usual weight machines and dumbbells!

Is it the right form of exercise for me?

If you’re a complete beginner at weight training or maybe you just lift casually in an ActiveSG gym, you won’t have any problems with CrossFit at all. One of the main advantages you’ll have when starting a fitness journey through CrossFit is that you’ll be trained with the basic and most important lifts to learn. In addition to that, the whole community is very welcoming and everyone helps each other progress one way or another. Many CrossFit athletes are even martial artists, former athletes from different sports, and just fitness fanatics in general.

Is it dangerous?

Looking at it from an audience perspective, CrossFit can look very intimidating. Watching CrossFit athlete squat 465lbs, then move immediately to a 200-pound shoulder press, AND THEN do a 400-pound deadlift can definitely make you doubt if you can even do it. The intensity of the workouts makes people think that CrossFit can cause a lot of injuries. But that’s not really the case at all. Even if CrossFit is all about pushing your body to the limits, it’s doesn’t get to the point of actually destroying your body. The individuals you see that are already doing those extremely high-intensity exercises are already seasoned CrossFit athletes. But they started also started from the bottom like you.

What do I need to start?

CrossFit gyms or ‘boxes’ usually have all the equipment needed for the workouts. Plyometric boxes, barbells, pull-up bars will always be present in CrossFit gyms. If there’s one thing, it would be good to buy a jump rope. Because much of CrossFit is also about endurance, you’ll want to start getting used to conditioning and stamina training before you even start. Having a jump rope can be a good way to start. So aside from the actual things you need like your training attire and extra clothes, all you really need to bring is yourself.

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7 Best Benefits of Getting a Massage Regularly

There’s every kind of massage spa around Singapore. Whether it’s for the stressed office worker or just couples wanting to have a massage together, you’ll always be able to find a good massage place. Aside from it being very relaxing, there are also many benefits to get a massage. Here are only some of them!

1. It helps reduce anxiety

Obviously, a massage therapist employs the sense of touch when doing his/her job. In that situation, human touch is used in a safe, professional, and almost intimate environment. That’s why massages can be therapeutic to many people. This means that when you get a massage from time to time, you can reduce your anxiety and stress significantly.

2. Lower blood pressure

Aside from the therapeutic effect mentioned above, massages help lower our blood pressure because they improve our circulation. No matter what part of your body is getting massaged, your blood will circulate a lot better not only on that specific part but also throughout the body.

3. It can help improve sleep

Again, this owes to the fact that massages promote relaxation. But getting a massage also boosts the production of serotonin in the brain. Not only will this help you sleep better, but you’ll also get a deeper, better quality sleep. And the best thing is, it’s natural and you don’t have to take medications to force yourself to sleep!

4. Massages can help reduce muscle pain

When we get sore muscles, most of the time the first thing we think about is getting a massage, and for good reason! As said earlier, massages help improve blood flow and overall circulation. Usually, muscle pain comes as a result of restricted blood flow. So having a massage will definitely help.

5. It also helps soothe headaches

Firstly, when you get time to relax and ease tension in the body, your mind will also stay loose and feel at ease. Massages also help a lot when you get a migraine or maybe other chronic headaches. Aside from the head, it will also help to massage the neck and shoulders when experiencing headaches.

6. It might help you fix your posture

Because of all the prolonged sitting we do each and every day, our posture will definitely be affected negatively. All this stress on our posture will lead to a lot of problems such as the neck, shoulder, and lower back pain. Getting regular massages, though, can at least help you lower the risk of getting such issues.

7. It helps improve physical performance

The reason why massage therapy is always used in sports is already pretty obvious. Athletes or even just those who like to exercise constantly put tension on their bones and muscles. Having massages can help them get rid of stiffness and other kinds of tension in the muscle. This, in turn, will help them maximize the use of these muscles for a better performance.

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Good or Bad: What Salt Actually Does to Your Body

Sodium chloride, or table salt, is a vital component in the human body needed for both fluid balance as well as to keep the nerves and muscles functioning normally.

In fact, having too little sodium in the body (hyponatrmia) has been linked to symptoms of dizziness, muscle twitches, and even seizures. The amount of sodium in the body is severely diluted in this case, and if you’re older, these symptoms can be more severe.

However, having too much sodium also gives you all kinds of health problems, from kidney stones to high blood pressure.

How Your Body Regulates Sodium
Sodium is regulated by the kidneys, which do this by removing excess fluid from the blood in order to dilute it. This process helps to retain normal blood pressure, and the by-product is removed from the body as urine.

Sodium is also used as an electrolyte and pairs with potassium to carry, or “pump”, electrical impulses throughout nerve cells and muscles alike. The former is pumped out of cells, while the latter is pumped in, which creates the electrical charge and transmission.

The Dangers of Too Much Salt
Just like most things, salt should be consumed in moderation and too much sodium in your body can have the following effects on your body:

• Higher blood pressure – The more sodium you have in your body, the more your body will try to use up more water to dilute the sodium. This results in having more water in your body, which in turn raises your blood pressure.

• Higher chance of kidney stones – A higher sodium content in your body also means that your kidneys will be strained. Once this accumulates in unhealthy amounts, you increase your risk of getting kidney stones.

• Higher risk of heart attack – Diabetics should especially be on the lookout to make sure they don’t consume too much salt, since it easily doubles the threat of cardiovascular disease.

Sodium is definitely essential, but the good news is there’s no need to worry too much about getting too much or not enough.

In fact, the ideal amount of sodium that you should consume daily is about 2,300 milligrams for healthy adults, and 1,500 milligrams for those with high blood pressure. In fact, most foods you see in supermarkets today contain a significant amount of sodium that can easily exceed the daily recommended amount.

While there are a lot of reasons to cut down on salt and use less of it in your cooking, you can still use it to add flavor to your dishes however you’d like. As long as you maintain a healthy, balance diet, you should be fine.

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4 Amazing Health Benefits You Can Get from Drinking Tea

Tea is an amazing beverage that be served hot or iced, depending on the season, but there’s always more than just the refreshment and the calm, yet alert state of mind when it comes to enjoying a cup at any time of the day.

In fact, studies show that drinking tea is actually good for your health, and there are a lot of reasons why you should start (if you haven’t already). Here are a few out of the different benefits you can get from drinking three to four cups a day:

Catechins in found in certain tea varieties increase muscle endurance.
Catechins are a type of polyphenolic compound that are found specifically in green tea, and not only increases muscle endurance capacity but also promotes the use of stored lipids in the body.

In many studies, subjects who consume tea regularly are also found to have lower body mass indexes (BMI), as well as a lowered risk of cholesterol-related diseases such as atherosclerosis and diabetes.

Another type of tea, oolong tea, not only helps dissolve fat in the bloodstream, but also introduces antioxidants that bind to free radicals and get rid of tooth decay.

Drinking tea helps protect against many different kinds of cancer.
Various antioxidants that can be found in your ordinary cup of tea do this by binding against free radicals that increase the rate of rogue cells in the body, which can lead to cancer in the long term.

Aside from cancer, polyphenols and antioxidants found in tea extracts (i.e. green tea and black tea) also helps against the formation of blood clots and cholesterol build-ups that are the two biggest causes of most heart diseases.

Despite the caffeine, tea actually hydrates the body.
Though commonly believed, caffeinated beverages such as tea and coffee don’t actually dehydrate the body on their own, and tea even contains flavonoids that promote hydration in the body.

For those who need four or more cups to start their day, there is good news. Tea is also credited with having less caffeine than coffee, which lessens the upsetting effect of caffeine’s acidity on the stomach.

Tea improves bone strength and density.
As much as we like to credit bone strengthening to milk, studies have also shown that the polyphenols found in green tea have a positive effect on the body in terms of overall bone quality.

Aside from improving bone quality and body composition, it also prevents against cellular degeneration (i.e. due to radiation exposure) and restore the skin’s elasticity, as well as the onset of certain neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s.

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The Key Benefits of Cuddling (And Why You Should Do It with Your Partner More Often)

Finding time to relax today can be really difficult, especially with a hectic schedules, long hours, and equally long commutes, but there are a few ways to wind down after a really long day – and the easiest way to do that is by cuddling.

Here are the biggest reasons why cuddling is amazing, and why you should cuddle more often with your partner:

1. It releases a feel-good hormone
Physical intimacy releases oxytocin, a neurochemical made by the hypothalamus in the brain, and plays a lot in helping you feel connected to not just other people, but also towards your partner.

If you’re feeling quite isolated after a significant amount of time at work, hugging your partner after long stretches of time can really do a lot to curb symptoms of depression, and life your spirits.

2. It relieves pain and lowers the risk of heart disease
Oxytocin is a feel-good hormone that reduces the symptoms of pain, which is great if you’ve been feeling discomfort all day, whether you’ve been feeling pain in your neck or anywhere else on your body.

And because it’s crucial in lowering stress, it also in turn lowers blood pressure, which means that your heart doesn’t have to work as hard to combat stress and sickness. This lowers the risk of heart disease, and allows you to live healthier and for longer.

3. Cuddling reduces stress
The effect of oxytocin on the human body not just lowers heart and breathing rates, but in turn also reduces stress and gives you more confidence when dealing with social situations. It can even allow you to manage stress better.
Because it lowers heart and breathing rates, it also helps you sleep better with your partner, and you’re more likely to fall asleep faster when your breathing and heart rates are lower thanks to cuddling.

4. It deepens relationships
Communication is a lot more important in relationships than you think – and your partner’s meaningful touch after a long, stressful day can give you the much-needed break and give you time to focus solely on your partner.

This also gives way to a deeper and stronger relationship, and a hug or more is great for not just relieving stress, but also an easy way to keep having regular intimacy (and even sex) with your partner, which is always a plus.

The more frequently you cuddle, the more likely you also are to trust your partner and vice versa, as it fires up the neurons in your brain that tell you to trust your partner, which in turn leads to a deeper and more fulfilling relationship.

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What is Parkinson’s Disease?

Neurological disorders affect at least 1 billion people worldwide according to the World Health Organization. The most common illnesses include epilepsy, headache disorders, multiple sclerosis, dementia, and Parkinson’s disease. In Singapore, it was estimated in 2015 that 4,000 people suffer from Parkinson’s and 3 out of a thousand of these are the elderly.

What are the Symptoms?
Parkinson’s disease is a form of movement disorder that can disrupt the person’s ability to perform everyday activities. It is also a chronic and progressive illness that cannot be reversed. Parkinson’s affects a specific region of the brain called substantia nigra, where loss of neurons occurs. The neurons in this area are responsible for producing dopamine, which help in the movement of the body. Low levels or loss of dopamine will result in the inability to control movement.

Most of the people afflicted are aged 50 and above, but there are cases of early-onset or young-onset Parkinson’s. A person with Parkinson’s disease will suffer from various symptoms (and symptoms will usually manifest on one side of the body), but the most common are following:

1. Muscle tremors at rest
2. Slow voluntary movements or akinesia
3. Stiff or rigid muscles
4. Stooped posture
5. Less control over facial expressions
6. Mood swings, anxiety and/or depression
7. Fatigue and difficulty concentrating
8. Sleep problems
9. Digestion and bladder problems
10. Deterioration or loss of the sense of smell
11. Poor memory and speech difficulties

At stage 5 of the disease, the person might not be able to stand and walk and will experience hallucinations.

What are the Treatments?
The causes of Parkinson’s depend on the form of the illness. The most common type of Parkinson’s is idiopathic, which means that there is no clear cause that can be found. The damage is done to the nerve cells that produce dopamine, a neurotransmitter that sends electrical impulses to the muscles from the brain. There are cases, however, where Parkinson’s is caused by other neurological disorders, tumors, infections, or it could be a side effect of drugs.

The symptoms of Parkinson’s are apparent even before the person can get a diagnosis. The doctor, however, needs to do a physical exam and examine all the symptoms by testing the person’s reflexes, agility, and sensitivity to pain. Additional tests such as the L-Dopa, CT and/or MRI scans are also performed to rule out other potential illnesses that share the same symptoms with Parkinson’s.

There is no cure for Parkinson’s to date, but there are treatments that will help ease the symptoms so that the afflicted can still function and live a productive life. The treatment will be based on the stage or progression of Parkinson’s using the Hoehn scale, Yahr scale or UPDRS.

Parkinson’s is treated with medications to replenish the dopamine levels. This is adjusted as the symptoms progress and are paired with other treatments such as occupational therapy, physiotherapy, speech therapy, and deep brain stimulation.