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Stay Flexible With Pilates

How It Works

Pull out your gym mat and get ready to do a series of movements that will stabilize and strengthen your core.

The exercises are usually done in a specific order, one right after another. The movements have names, like “The 100,” Criss-Cross,” the “Elephant,” and the “Swan.”

The moves may look simple, but they take a lot of precision and control. It’s not like doing a bunch of crunches; there’s a strong emphasis on technique.

You can do Pilates on an exercise mat, either in a class or at home, using a DVD. Or you can go to a gym or studio that has special equipment, a class, or a trainer who can supervise you.

Pilates classes typically take 45 minutes to an hour, but you can do fewer moves in less time.

You’ll get stronger, more sculpted muscles and gain flexibility. You may also have better posture and a better sense of well-being.

Plan on doing this workout a few days a week, in addition to cardio, since Pilates isn’t aerobic.

Intensity Level: Medium

It’s demanding, but it’s not the kind of workout that always works up a sweat. It’s all about concentration and breathing. But you’ll definitely feel it in your muscles during each exercise.

Areas It Targets

Core: Yes. Your core is the main focus of this workout.

Arms: No. This workout doesn’t specifically target your arms.

Legs: Yes. You’ll use your upper legs to help engage your core.

Glutes: Yes. You’ll use your glutes as you work on moves that stabilize your core.

Back: Yes. This workout focuses on stabilizing and strengthening your back as you strengthen your abs.


Flexibility: Yes. The exercises in a Pilates workout will boost your flexibility and joint mobility.

Aerobic: No. This is not a cardio workout.

Strength: Yes. This workout will make your muscles stronger. You’ll use your own body weight instead of weights.

Sport: No.

Low-Impact: Yes. You’ll engage your muscles in a strong but gentle way.

What Else You Should Know

Cost: You can do it at home for the cost of a Pilates DVD (about $15). Or you can go to a Pilates class. Expect to pay $50 or more for a private session or $10-$30 for a group session.

Good for beginners? Yes. You can start with basic exercises then try advanced moves as you get better. If you’re starting out, opt for a class or private lessons so an instructor can keep an eye on your form to help prevent an injury.

Outdoors: No. Expect to go to the gym or be in a room with a TV for this workout.

At home: Yes. Pull out your mat and press play on your DVD player for a convenient at-home workout.

Equipment required? Yes, you’ll need a mat. Some gyms have special machines for Pilates, called a Reformer. You can get a modified version for your home, but you probably don’t need it.

What Dr. Melinda Ratini Says:

If you are looking to strengthen your abdomen and pelvis as well as maintain good posture, then Pilates is for you. It also has a strong mind/body connection, so you may like it if you enjoy yoga but need a more intense core workout.

Pilates is great for strengthening and toning your core and for increasing your flexibility, but it’s not a comprehensive strength building program. You will need to supplement it with some other exercises if you want to build up your arm or calf muscles. Talk to your trainer to see what would be best. And don’t forget your cardio!

Pilates involves precise moves and specific breathing techniques. It’s not for you if you prefer a less structured program. It also won’t fit your needs if you are looking for an aerobic workout.

Pilates can be very demanding, so start slowly. Instructors do not have to be licensed, so it’s best to get recommendations before selecting one.

Is it good for me if I have a health condition?

You can tailor Pilates to your individual needs, so it can be a great addition to your aerobic workout, even if you have health issues like heart disease, high blood pressure, and cholesterol. Check with your doctor first.

If you have diabetes, you may need to make some adjustments in your diabetes treatment plan, since adding muscle mass helps your body make better use of glucose. Your doctor can tell you what changes you need to make. Tell your instructor that you have diabetes and particularly if you have any complications such as diabetic retinopathy. You may need to avoid certain Pilates moves.

If you have arthritis, a strength-training program such as Pilates is a very important part of your exercise program. Research shows that a combination of aerobic exercise and strength training can help curb symptoms, maintain balance, keep joints flexible, and help you get to and keep an ideal body weight.

If you have had a recent back or knee injury, put off Pilates until your doctor clears you. Pilates strengthens the thigh muscles (quadriceps), and this may help prevent arthritis and knee injuries. It may also help prevent greater disability if you have arthritis.

Ask your doctor if Pilates would be a good choice if you have chronic low back pain. It will help strengthen your weak core muscles that may be adding to your pain. For the best results, seek out a Pilates instructor who has at least several years of experience working with people with low back pain.

If you are pregnant check with your doctor. She will probably let you continue Pilates if you are already doing it, as long as your pregnancy is going well. There may be some changes needed as your belly grows. For example, after your first trimester you shouldn’t exercise while lying flat on your back because this reduces blood flow to your baby. There are also special Pilates programs for pregnant women that you can try.

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Don’t Forget The SPF

New research suggests a quarter of normally functioning skin cells that have been exposed to sunlight could be on their way to becoming skin cancer. Scientists from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in Cambridge, UK, took skin samples from plastic surgery patients and analyzed them to find that mutations in these cells were occurring as often as once per day.

“You need maybe half a dozen, maybe 10 changes, particular changes, in genes to cause cancer,” according to Philip Jones, the research team leader in pre-cancer at the Wellcome Institute. “These cells, as far as we know, (are) carrying maybe one or two of those, so they’re taking a couple of steps down the road.”

The researchers are actively trying to work out how many mutations, exactly, it takes to cause cancer. But though they don’t know for sure, they say the results of this study show, “a very good motivation to carry on using sunscreen.”

Jones says the mutations most commonly found in the experiment were associated with Squamous skin cancer. He warns people who notice lumps or peeling on the skin that progressively gets bigger — signs of the cancer — to see a doctor and get them removed. “If they occur early it’s easy to deal with,” he says. “If they’re left for a long time, they’re not easy to deal with.”

Unfortunately, the only way to completely protect your skin from mutations caused by the sun is to stay indoors and never see the sun, says Jones. But he knows this isn’t realistic, or even healthy. “You would be very miserable and you would have a deficiency in a vitamin called Vitamin D.”

Instead, he suggests practicing “safe sun” which means not going into direct sunlight between 10 a.m and 2 p.m. when the rays are the strongest, covering up skin and using sunblock for areas that regularly are exposed. “This makes a huge difference to how these groups of altered cells develop,” he says.

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Purified Water


Why drinking triple-filtered and purified water should be a vital part of your healthy daily diet

While having your mind boggled by the myriad methods of getting super healthy in super quick time, one simple truth usually escapes us: pure water is really good for you. Lots of it. All the time. It can do wonders that bogus remedies only dream of (but still market themselves as being able to do so).

But if the quality of the main ingredient of your health regimen is inferior then it pretty much negates the benefit of any other nutritious stuff you also consume. Why scoff a bag of pricey goji berries when you’re washing them down with yucky-tasting, suspect tap water?

So why is purified water better than any other alternatives? Here are our top five reasons:

1) Chlorine

chlorine pipes water treatment works

You know that stingy, pongy stuff they use to disinfect swimming pools? Yup – that’s also used to disinfect your drinking water. That’s why your tap water might taste a bit bitter and have a slight whiff that really shouldn’t be there. We really don’t fancy too much chemical disinfectant in our daily drink. A decent carbon filter will reduce the chlorine by 99%.

2) Dirty pipes

Your drinking water may be relatively free of loads of dirt when it leaves the water treatment works, but it travels a fair old distance before it gets to your taps. It could be travelling miles through rusty old pipes, and that’s even before it has to go through the pipework in your building – which could also be donkey’s years old.

Even though you can’t always see bits of rust, sand and other dirt coming out of your tap – it’s there. Take a look at this photo of what Virgin Pure’s filters pick up in a typical home:

Captured dirt in the Virgin Pure WaterBar mesh

3) Bacteria


Aside from the chemicals and dirt that can get in to your water, perhaps the scariest of all is the thought of microorganisms. Ee-euw, actual living little beasties lurking around stored water that can grow and breed. Ultraviolet purification zaps these little germs and stops them reproducing. This needs to be done once any chlorine has been removed.

Think about it – if you haven’t got chlorine in your drink then you can’t store it for too long or else bacteria will grow. So you really don’t want to be storing opened bottles of water or old jugs of filtered water because they could be swimming with germs.

4) Essential minerals

woman drinking water in the sunshine

You don’t want absolutely everything taken out of your water – because natural, pure water is healthy, right? It’s healthy because it packed full of essential minerals like Calcium, Magnesium and Potassium that your body needs.

Some people are going crazy right now for ‘reverse osmosis’ – but this method of purification takes everything out of the water – even the essential minerals, so where’s the good in that?

Purifying your mains water on demand the Virgin way and leaving in the essential minerals means it’s like having mineral water on tap.

5) Taste and smell


Why is it that some of the healthiest things in life taste so awful? Spoonful of spirulina anyone? Shot of wheatgrass? No one can accuse quinoa of provoking a taste sensation and a topping of flaxseed certainly doesn’t make your mouth water.

We should be willing to guzzle water by the gallon in the quest to be healthier but substandard water just doesn’t taste that great – and water really should be tasty. You should enjoy drinking it.

A bit of something you like is good for you. Therefore, if it’s good for your health to treat your taste buds and not offend your nostrils, then tasting great is a scientific-enough health benefit for us.

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The Power of Raw Foods

By: Lola Frailey

Want more energy, more satisfying food, and better immune response? Try incorporating some more raw foods into your diet!

You don’t have to go on a restrictive diet to start enjoying more raw foods. Just adding some more fresh and dehydrated fruits and vegetables to your diet can make a big difference. In particular, adding raw, organic Noni Fruit Leather to your diet can hugely improve your overall health and well-being.

Keep reading to learn more about raw foods, and how they can improve your quality of life.

What’s the Definition of a “Raw Food?”


In general, a raw food is simply a food that hasn’t been cooked. Many raw foodists talk about food that’s “alive.” Specifically, raw food refers to  food which has been kept below 115 degrees.

Raw foods can be eaten fresh, juiced, pureed, or dehydrated. There’s a wide variety of recipes, substitutions, and creative combinations out there.

Types of Raw Foods

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Unroasted nuts
  • Sprouted grains
  • Seeds

Some raw foodists also include animal products like organic eggs, organic raw yogurt, raw fish, and even raw meat. Obviously there are significant dangers associated with eating raw animal products, and most raw foodists are vegan.

What Happens to Food When It’s Cooked?

Different kinds of foods react differently to being cooked, but cooking always dramatically changes the chemical composition of food. In general, cooking maximizes the amount of calories a person gets from food, while limiting the nutrition that can be extracted.

This easy access to calories allowed our primitive ancestors to have significant advantages over other species, but, in our modern lifestyle, eating too much cooked food gives us a lot of calories for just a little nutrition. Not ideal for weight-loss, sustained energy, healthy blood sugar levels, or good digestion.


The human body needs a wide variety of vitamins for good health, including the important antioxidants in Vitamins A and C. Many vitamins are destroyed by heat, particularly Vitamins C, B1, B5, B6, and B9. In particular, pasteurized products, including juices, lose a huge amount of Vitamin C.


Enzymes break down raw foods. They’re the reason that foods spoil — they’re being broken up and fermented by enzymes. When you eat fresh, raw food, those enzymes go to work helping your body fully digest the nutrients in the food you eat. That’s why it can be good to finish a meal with a raw salad!

Enzymes are incredibly heat-sensitive, however. When you preserve food by canning or pasteurization, part of what you’re doing is eliminating the enzymes that would cause the food to spoil. But your body misses them!

How to Incorporate More Raw Food Into Your Diet

You don’t have to switch to a fully raw diet to get substantial nutritional benefits. Here are a few easy ways to get your daily dose of raw!

  • Switch out a few breakfasts per week for a homemade raw green smoothie or juice
  • Add a small fresh salad to your lunch
  • Snack on whole, raw fruit, or dehydrated fruit
  • Learn some easy raw side dishes
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