Long, deep, full: These are the kinds of breaths you need to take when you’re at wit’s end and desperately in need of an outlet for pent-up stress.

Normally, we tend to take breaths that are short and shallow, and when we’re under stress, we tend to breathe even shallower.

Stress attacks can creep up on you anywhere these days: in the office, at home, in traffic, at a supermarket checkout line. It’s the bane of modern living, and affects most everyone. It’s a good thing there are a few subtle exercises you can do without other people knowing about the boiling rage inside you.

Deep breathing exercises are recommended to soothe the weary body and clear the mind.lady meditating and deep breathing

It is said that about 20% of the oxygen supply circulating in our bodies is taken up by the brain. People into meditation devote a lot of time perfecting the art of deep breathing. It helps put their minds in a level of total relaxation.

The easiest deep breathing exercise you can do is to close your eyes (not while driving, though) and sit quietly for only a minute, all the while focusing your mind on the center of your forehead.

Breathe deeply, slowly, and steadily.

Try to imagine your favorite vibrant color coursing through your body, which you should now envision as a large hollow tube through which the oxygen can flow freely.

You can also choose a place where you can lie down. Assume a supine position and bend your knees.

Breathe through your nose and take deep long breaths. Doing so alters the percentage of CO2 in our bodies and helps put is in a more relaxed condition. Make sure that your stomach rises as you breathe. Once you have perfected breathing into your stomach, you can do the same routine while sitting up.

You can tell if your breathing is still shallow if your shoulders are still moving up and down as you breathe. They should also be relaxed. The “proper” deep breath should be able to bring out your clavicle, your chest, and your stomach.

The required deep breath should also be steady and slow.

Devote about 5 seconds for every exhalation and inhalation, but don’t focus too much on your pace. Instead, feel at ease with your technique. As you take in air through your nose, air should exit through your mouth. Repeat this ten times.

Deep breathing should take your mind off stress so you mustn’t strain yourself while doing it. If you find yourself thinking of other things, try to re-focus on the breathing technique again.

Although this short exercise is great for when you’re having panic attacks, stage fright, or anxiety, you can try doing this deep breathing exercise several times a day even when you’re not feeling stressed.

It only takes a minute each time but it can do wonders for the circulation of oxygen in your system. You can gradually increase your sessions to 3-5 minutes – soon you’ll find it easier to focus on deep breathing rather than on all your pending paperwork!

M. Jamal

P.S. What’s the first thing you do when you’re stressed out and want to relax? What’s your favorite way of unwinding and clearing that pressure? (Click ‘comment’ and let us know)

Have you ever noticed how you instinctively rub your temples with your fingers whenever you feel a headache coming on?

This is because massaging an aching part of the body has long been practiced in ancient societies. In fact, Hippocrates, the Father of Medicine, defined Medicine in 400 B.C. as “the art of rubbing.”

Massage therapy is enjoying a comeback these days, having been reintroduced as a form of alternative therapy. For athletes who train or exercisers who simply need to repair overused muscles, massage is a must to help them recover.

A study made by Cornell University, published in 2003 in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, found that a 20-minute massage after a session of vigorous exercises helps relieve sore muscles after two days.lady massage

What is the implication of their findings?

Muscle soreness is used by athletes to guide them in their training regimens. Many of them train by undergoing extremely strenuous workouts which injure the muscles as they are overused. What happens is that when their muscles feel sore the next day and the succeeding days, they only take light workouts until the soreness is gone.

A massage helps athletes build stronger muscles because they can take more frequent workouts with consistent intensity.

Even the iconic Madonna succumbs to a 3-hour Shiatsu massage session every week to relieve muscle strain – the price she pays for a very punishing exercise regimen.

Madonna is not the only celebrity to take advantage of massage’s soothing effects. Supermodel Claudia Schiffer goes through a cellulite treatment involving mechanical rollers which massage affected areas to excrete toxins and enhance lymphatic drainage.

Actress Keira Knightley is a devotee of tailor-made massage treatments for the face and the body, said to reduce puffiness and enhance skin glow.

Cat Deeley, a former model and now a popular DJ, swears by stomach massage and reflexology to eliminate harmful toxins from her body and give her a svelte shape.

The following are a few of the amazing findings associated with the unparalleled benefits of massage:

  • It has been found to produce a decrease in depression and anxiety among bulimic females. Significant decreases in urinary and salivary cortisol suggested that massage played a marked role in the reduction of stress.
  • Massage therapy studies made by Tiffany Field of the Touch Research Institute showed enhanced immune functions, increased alertness, growth facilitation, and significant weight gain in babies who were stroked with pressure;
  • Eases cramps due to the onset of the menses.This is specifically important for ladies who do not want their exercise routines to be hampered by painful periods. A massage of the area just above the pubic bone easily relieves cramping and prepares you for your scheduled exercise routines.

M. Jamal

P.S. You know what, my favorite part of massage is the feeling that you’ve got a ‘New Body’ when you wake up the next day (well, it kind’a feels like that… especially if your body is sore from all those workouts).

So… have you tried a massage lately? What kind of massage and did you feel it was worth it? (hit ‘comment’ and let us know)

Picture this…

You check-in your luggage, go through immigration… and… well, you’ve got an hour before your flight boards. You’re already done plenty of shopping and the last thing you’re thinking of is sitting idle for some 50 minutes till the flight boards.

Em, how about checking out the gym at the airport?

OK, you’re not up for a full blown, intense workout… you just feel like, well… maybe doing one or two exercises.

But something happens as you put your hand luggage into that locker and slip into sports wear provided by the airport fitness center…

Feeling of your body moving, blood pumping and your energy levels firing up seems like a good idea. So instead of doing just two exercises, instead you’re there for 30 minutes.

You shower and catch the plain in time. Aah… all that movement actually makes your nap on the plane that much better.

So what you think? Does that sound like something you’d like to try?imagine an airport fitness center...

I’m certainly up for it – especially that by now I’ve been stuck in the waiting area, ready to board the plane, for more than an hour!

I don’t know what airports you’ve been to… I just wish they had something close to a fitness center down here.

But you know what, I was glad to see an interesting shift in the whole fitness arena down here (Malaysia). What’s that you ask?

Well, I’ve been noticing more fitness centers in the heart of shopping malls.

Now you can pop into the gym… then relax and sip on some fresh juice shake. Doesn’t that make fitness more fun? Kind of mixing the whole window shopping (and dining) along with a good workout.

So… What you think?

M. Jamal

(OK, the queue for boarding started getting longer… think that’s my plane. Gots to go)

It might seem like a luxury for non-workout enthusiasts, but it’s a fact that there are specialized shoes for different kinds of workouts.

This is because the type of foot impact differs from one workout or sport to another, and this is where shoe engineering comes in.lady trying sports shoes

Scientists use modern technology to study the physics of workouts. Their findings are then utilized by shoe designers who make sure that function go hand in hand with aesthetics.

Allan Roberts, a personal trainer from Leamington, agrees that “function should supersede style.” But if you won’t be caught dead wearing running shoes that look like your dad’s, there’s actually a lot of brands that mix ‘trendy’ with ‘functional.’

Before you set off buying the first pair of shoes that grab your attention, first follow the recommendation of the American Orthopedic Foot & Ankle Society: When engaging in a specific activity at least thrice a week, your shoes must be sport-specific/ workout-specific.

With fit, stability, and cushioning in mind, let’s take a look at some of the most popular workouts and the shoes that go with them:

Walking:

If you opt not to use your running shoes for walking, that’s your decision.

The major differences between them are that walking shoes have less cushioning and less wiggle room for your toes than running shoes.

Running:

Running shoes are among the top-selling footwear because they’re also great for low-impact activities and walking.

They’re also low-profile enough to be worn on casual trips and whenever you just want to dress casually.

You should not, however, use running shoes for workouts that involve a lot of lateral motion because they lack enough support around your ankles.


Aerobics:

The shoes worn for aerobics and sports such as basketball or tennis should have good ankle support, better traction, and more dependable cushioning.

Shoes for these activities are designed to respond to forward/backward as well as lateral movements. They also feature flared soles which not only make your shoes look as if they mean business – they also promote ankle support and prevent possible ankle roll-overs from sudden lateral movements.

Weight Training:

Shoes for weight training? Believe it!

Otomix has specialized shoes for low-impact workouts and weight training.

The shoe has a balanced foot bed for support, control, and comfort. The design puts you in a more level position during leg presses and squats, and they are very lightweight.

Cross-training:

This is a good alternative for beginners who don’t really want to spend a fortune on workout shoes but want something they can at least rely on to be comfortable.

They are designed to be versatile and can be worn for aerobics, volleyball, basketball, walking, running, or racquet sports.

If you exercise very often, though, it is still recommended that you buy shoes specialized for your sport or workout. If, say, you are a runner, you will still be better off with running shoes because cross-training shoes don’t have strong ankle support and adequate cushioning.

Advice in buying workout shoes:Fitness Lady Running

  • If you are on a regular workout schedule, have at least two pairs of shoes to If you’re into sports, especially, your shoes are just as essential as any piece of sports equipment.
  • Don’t be tempted to buy shoes from bargain-basement sales. These are most likely products with factory defects, such as protruding glue or inferior stitching, or whose designs are outdated.
  • Choose shoes with good arch and heel support. Observe how your foot is designed, too – your feet are either high-arched or low-arched, and some are flat-footed. The former require shoes with better shock absorption while the latter require trainers with better heel control and support plus less cushioning.
  • If you’re used to shopping for “breathable socks,” then your shoes should offer good ventilation as well.
  • Keep in mind that shoes lose their effective cushioning between 3 and 6 months, so if you want to avoid ankle and knee injuries caused by jarring, make sure you always have fresh shoes with dependable support.
  • After 200-300 miles, the shoe inserts wear out. Find out if what you’re looking at could be changed in the future.
  • Try both shoes on and lace them fully. Don’t rush yourself while buying a pair of workout shoes. After all, they’ll be your companions for several hours a week, and they’re not at all cheap – a good pair can set you back $50-$80. Moreover, try them on preferably in the late afternoon, when most people’s feet swell a bit.

M. Jamal

P.S. Do you look out for certain brands when shopping for new shoes? Do you find that pricier shoes are actually worth it when it comes to function? (Go on let us know – hit ‘comment’ below)