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Health Information Easy as 1, 2, 3 ... Slow Down

 

Sometimes moving quickly is necessary even healthy. For example, to get the full benefits of exercise, you need to move fast enough to raise your heart rate.

"Sometimes, however, we all need to slow down, take a deep breath and relax," says Myriame Casimir, MD, a general internist at Rush University Medical Center. Casimir offers the following examples of when slowing down can safeguard your health and well-being.

1. Take time to stretch. When you exercise without slowly and properly stretching, you risk injury.

"We see patients with muscle spasms and strains that couldve been prevented, Casimir says.

Stretch for five to 10 minutes before and after exercising, working leg, arm, shoulder, hip, back, abdomen and chest muscles.

It's also a good idea to stretch during the workday to help manage stress. For example, if you work at a computer, take a break from your keyboard to stretch your wrists. Holding your hands together palm to palm, slowly raise your elbows until your arms are parallel to the floor (at a 90 degree angle from your wrists). Hold the stretch for 10 to 30 seconds, and repeat three to five times.

2. Lose weight slowly. "If you use diet pills or crash diets, the weight you lose is just going to come back," Casimir says.

Quick, radical weight loss is not only difficult to maintain, its not healthy. You may be robbing your body of important nutrients and risking gallstones or even heart arrhythmias by severely restricting calories. For most people, losing one half to two pounds a week is a healthy weight-loss rate.

3. Ease into exercise. Its important to move slowly into a new exercise routine.

"If you have specific health conditions, check with your doctor before you get started," Casimir says.

Start with slower activities, such as walking at a gentle pace, perhaps for 15 minutes a day three days a week. As you get into shape, slowly increase both your pace and the amount of time that you exercise.

Myriame Casimir, MD, is with the practice Internal Medicine at Rush University Medical Center. She has special interests in women's health and diabetes management and speaks English and French.

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