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Q&A on Psychiatric Medications
The Art of Breathing
Tips for Body Maintenance
Tips for Mind Maintenance
Wisdom for Life, New and Old
The information and materials contained on this web site are for educational and informational purposes ONLY. You are solely responsible for how you perceive and use the information contained on this site. Dr. Ogura and all staff associated with this site and its contents cannot be held responsible for losses, damages or injuries of any kind that may result from the information contained on this site.
All exercise programs carry some risk, and each person's physical condition and medical history is unique. The information presented is not a substitute for the advice of your personal physician or fitness trainer. To further reduce the risk of injury, you should listen to your body. It is always advisable to seek professional advice or supervision from a professional physical trainer or your physician for any concerns you may have before following the programs suggested here. If you feel any discomfort such as dizziness or undue pain, immediately stop the exercise and seek help.
I. Muscle Building Exercises
Different muscle exercises (e.g.: weight training, Pilates, yoga) will stress the muscles in different ways and will, therefore, produce different results. Your muscle training methods will be very different depending on whether you want to build big, bulky muscles, or long, lean muscles, or muscles with pure power, or muscles with high endurance, etc. You should choose your muscle training program that fits your desired goals.
The exercises described here should be a good start to help build muscles for normal individuals who want to maintain a generally fit body. They are meant to be done slowly. The slow movement has several benefits. By moving slowly, you're less likely to use momentum which can increase the risk of injury and also greatly reduces the effectiveness of the exercise. When your movements are slow, you are also more aware and in control of your movements and better able to control your breathing. Finally, your muscles are working most efficiently since they are under tension for a longer period of time for each repetition.
These exercises may be too hard for people who are not in good shape, who have not recently participated in a regular exercise program, or who have a physical condition or ailment which prevents them from performing these exercises.
Modified versions of the exercises are presented here, for those who are less physically fit, but, as with any exercise program, consult your doctor and professional trainer as needed to make sure the exercises are appropriate for your physical condition. Working out with a professional trainer will also help ensure that you are performing each exercise with proper form to maximize effectiveness and minimize the risk of injury.
In the exercise descriptions below:
Mode 1 is for normal people who are already physically fit and strong.
Mode 2 is for those who are not strong enough to practice Mode 1 but still have fair strength.
Mode 3 is for those who have not been exercising much and do not have enough strength to try Mode 1 or Mode 2.
You should start with Mode 3 (the easiest) and progress to Mode 2 and then Mode 1 as your physical conditioning improves.
A. Slow Push-ups
1. Assume a standard Push-up exercise position with your hands and feet approximately shoulder width apart. As your strength and balance improve, you can bring your feet together to increase the difficulty level. Breathe in deeply from your nose.
2. Slowly sink down towards the floor with your back straight, while breathing out from your mouth. Hold the position close to the floor (not ON the floor) for 2 seconds while slowly breathing in from your nose. It is important that your body is not resting on the floor while in this position. Try to get your body as close to the floor as possible without actually touching the floor with any part of your torso. Your muscles should be under high tension throughout this step.
3. Slowly push the body up while breathing out from your mouth.
4. Repeat this cycle 10 to 20 times, twice a day. You may, of course, increase the times and frequency according to your needs.
1. Do the same exercise as in Mode 1 except with your knees on the floor instead of your feet. Adjust the distance of your knees from your hips, according to your strength. The farther the knees are away from the hips, the harder the exercise.
2. Perform the full push-up exercise routine as described in Mode 1.
3. Try to pull your knees farther away as you gain strength.
4. Do as many as you comfortably can. Gradually increase the number of your push-ups up to 10 times twice a day as you gain strength. When you feel you can do ten Mode 2 push ups easily, try Mode 1 push ups.
1. Do the same exercise as Mode 1 but with your hands on top of a stable desk, stairs or wall. Make sure that whatever you are leaning against is stable, otherwise you risk having it slip out from under you, causing injury. Keep your feet shoulder length apart on the ground as in Mode 1 but instead of pushing off the ground, push off against the desk/stairs/wall.
You can vary the difficulty of the push up by changing the distance of your feet from the object or by using objects to hold onto that are higher off the ground. The closer your feet are to the object, the more vertical your body will be, and the less weight/stress will be on your body. So, standing nearly vertically against a wall would be the easiest to start with.
2. As you gain strength, place your hands on an object that is closer to the ground. Stairs can be helpful in this situation. As you improve over time, place your hands on successively lower steps.
3. When you have developed enough strength, move up to Mode 2 (and eventually to Mode 1).
B. Slow Sit-ups
1. Lay on the floor with your knees half bent and your hands on the back of your neck. If you place your hands behind your head, you risk pulling your head up with your hands and straining your neck. If you need to, fix your feet under some weight or have someone hold your feet to the floor.
2. Breathe in deeply from your nose and then, slowly contract your abdominal muscles and then slowly raise your upper body to 45 degrees while breathing out from your mouth.
Try to keep your elbows out flat to the sides and not pointing up. If your elbows are pointing up, this means you are pulling your body up and not performing this exercise correctly.
3. Maintain position while slowly breathing in from your nose.
4. Then, slowly go down to the floor while slowly breathing out from your mouth. Do not lower your shoulders all the way to the floor so that you will maintain the tightness of the chest, abdominal, waist, and thigh muscles.
5. Repeat this cycle 10 to 20 times, twice a day.
Your chest, stomach, waist, and upper leg muscles should remain tight and tense throughout the sit up motion.
1. Lay on the floor with the knees half bent with your hands on your sides and the feet fixed on the floor.
2. Breathe in deeply from your mouth. Then, slowly raise only your shoulders off the floor while breathing out from your mouth, feeling the tightness of the muscles over your upper and lower body.
Even if you are physically fit, if you have a weak back or any sort of back problem, leave the small of your back on the floor and instead, slowly roll or curl your abdomen up until only your shoulders are off the ground. This will only work the upper abdomen but will significantly reduce the strain on your back.
3. Hold your shoulders up while breathing in deeply from your nose.
4. Then, slowly lower your shoulders to the floor while breathing out from your mouth. Do not lower your shoulders all the way to the floor so that you will maintain the tightness of the chest, abdominal, waist, and thigh muscles.
5. Repeat this cycle at least 3 to 5 times or more, if you can.
Your chest, stomach, waist, and upper leg muscles should remain tight and tense throughout the sit up motion.
1. Find a solid, stationary object on which you can tie a piece of rope or long belt. A bed post or staircase railing might work. Better yet, get a partner to help you. Lay on the floor with the knees half bent with your hands on your sides and the feet fixed on the floor in front of this stationary object.
2. Breathe in deeply from your mouth. Then, use the rope to help pull you up and gently and slowly raise only your shoulders off the floor while breathing out from your mouth, feeling the tightness of the muscles over your upper and lower body.
3. If you can, hold your shoulders up in this position while breathing in deeply from your nose.
4. Then, slowly lower your shoulders to the floor while breathing out from your mouth.
5. Repeat this cycle at least 3 - 5 times or more, if you can.
Your chest, stomach, waist, and upper leg muscles should be tight and tense throughout the sit up motion.
C. Slow Squatting
1. Stand with your feet slightly wider then the width of your shoulders. You should feel stable and balanced while performing this exercise. Breathe in deeply from your nose.
2. Then, very slowly sink down until your thighs become parallel to the floor while breathing out from your mouth, keeping your upper body as straight as possible. Do not lower your body lower than this. You can raise your arms forward to help maintain your balance.
You can also practice with a chair. Perform the movement as above as if you are about to sit in the chair, but stop just short of touching the chair. In the event you lose your balance, you will simply land on the chair so it can be a useful training aid until you build strength and balance.
3. Hold your body in this position while breathing in deeply from your nose.
4. Then, slowly rise while breathing out from your mouth. Do not rise all the way but keep your knees moderately bent so that you will maintain the tightness of the waist, thigh and leg muscles.
5. Repeat this cycle 10 - 20 times, twice a day.
Make sure your knees do not go beyond your toes in order to avoid overly taxing the knee and the ankle joints and, at the standing position, do not lock your knees. In the standing position, they should be slightly bent so that your thigh and leg muscles remain tight and tense.
If you have problems with your knees or are not strong enough to practice Mode 1 above, modify it by sinking down only part of the way and holding onto a solid, stable object for support. Because you do not sink in deep, you do not tax your knees, thighs and legs as much. As you gain strength or have less pain in your knees, slowly go down deeper until your thighs are parallel to the floor.
Maximizing the benefits of the Muscle "Torturing" Exercises:
After torturing your body muscles, you must perform some cardio-vascular (calorie burning) exercises. You can do some brisk (stationary) walking, bicycle riding, (stationary) running, rowing, etc. Stationary exercises are described later.
During the Muscle Torturing exercises, when the larger muscles are kept tightened for an extended period of time, they will be deprived of their oxygen supply, since normal circulation is blocked. This oxygen deprivation in the muscles is communicated to the brain as a crisis. The brain responds to it by ordering the pituitary glands to release growth hormone.
Growth hormone stimulates organ fat cells to release Adiponectin that, in turn, facilitates the catabolism (break-down) of fat into fatty acid, which will be taken into the TCA cycle for energy (burning). Growth hormone will also stimulate the growth of muscle tissues and make the muscles bigger!
This is why the Marine Corps, Police Academy, and fire fighter training centers employ these muscle torturing exercises. Through years of experience, the drill sergeants must have learned about the benefits of this type of training. Now, you can take advantage of their wisdom in your daily exercises without killing yourself and enjoy their benefits.
Why SLOW Exercises?
All the exercises described above must be done very slowly to maximize the benefits. The key for success is torturing the muscles for as long as you can endure. Only when the muscles remain very tight for a long enough period will the brain respond to it by releasing Growth Hormone and, subsequently, stimulate production of Adiponectin from organ fat cells.
In regular rhythmic exercises, the muscles are given breaks between movements. As a result, the brain will not get the crisis message from the muscles. Therefore, not much Growth Hormone or Adiponectin!
That is why this article calls the above exercises not as muscle building but muscle torturing exercises.
As explained earlier, the Muscle Torturing Exercises create increased levels of growth hormone, free fatty acids and Adiponectin in your blood stream, bringing your body up to a higher level for fat burning. This condition lasts about three hours for most people. After suffering so much from the Muscle Torturing Exercises, you cannot afford to lose their benefits.
II. Basic Body Maintenance Tips
A. Muscle Stretching Exercises (Sohtai Exercise)
When most people think about exercise and physical fitness, they either think about pure muscular strength, weight loss or cardiovascular endurance. While these are certainly important, there are many other, often forgotten benefits that improve physical fitness, such as balance, coordination, reflexes, mental focus and agility.
The relative importance of each of these skills in an exercise program will be different from person to person, depending on the specific goals they set for themselves. For example, a person who regularly performs hard physical labor might place a stronger emphasis on building strength, while a distance runner might focus on endurance. However, agility is important for everyone, from the professional athletes to the ordinary people looking to maintain a basic level of physical fitness
Agility is the ability to move quickly and easily. For the body to be agile, the muscles must not only be strong but also relaxed and supple. While you may feel that your agility is not too important on an everyday basis, the effects of keeping the muscles relaxed and supple are far reaching.
In order to keep the muscles relaxed and supple, we need to stretch the muscles. A good stretching routine would involve stretching exercises followed by a light cardiovascular routine as a warm up, and then another stretching routine. The reason why we want to warm up the muscles first is because cold muscles are harder to stretch. Think of a piece of rubber or putty or even syrup or honey. When these substances are cold, they are hard, even brittle. But when you warm them up, they become much easier to stretch out. The same holds true for your muscles.
In addition to first warming up your muscles, a good stretching routine requires proper breathing. The difference between stretching with proper, deep breathing versus shallow breathing is dramatic. You may not be aware of your own breathing while stretching or exercising, but you can ask a friend to watch your breathing, or you can consult a physical trainer to make sure you are breathing properly.
Most people thank that stretching is only for preventing injury. There are many more benefits for stretching, however, such as clearing lactic acid buildup, reducing stress and relaxing your mind. Anyone who has received a massage knows how relaxed you feel not just physically, but mentally as well. You can achieve nearly the same effect just by stretching out on your own.
Another advantage of muscle stretching is that it prevents a build-up of organ fat within the muscle tissues. When organ fat cells are not over-loaded with fat inside, they can release Adiponectin more effectively. Adiponectin is a protein hormone that facilitates glucose regulation and, more importantly, fatty acid catabolism (breaking down the fatty acids).
Therefore, it's a good idea to incorporate proper stretching exercises before and after any physical exercise as part of your warm up and cool down routines.
B. Move Around Briskly
Our body learns what we teach it. When we train to move around briskly on our feet, our body learns to move more efficiently and effectively. As you become more agile, you reduce the chance of injury from accidents such as stumbling and losing your balance. Instead of crashing to the ground, you are more likely to restore your balance. Even if you do fall, you are more likely to react quickly and automatically take action to minimize your injury.
However, moving more briskly does not mean that you move faster or in haste. When you move more briskly, you must also be more attentive and focused. As a result, by moving more briskly, you gain a more agile body as well as a sharper, more focused mind!
C. Utilize Daily Chores as Exercises
We've all come up with a million excuses on why we can't exercise. Some would complain that joining a gym costs too much or that the gym is too far away, or they may just say that working out takes too much time. While you can't really substitute for a proper workout, the good news is, you can incorporate exercises into your daily life to get some of the same benefits.
Whenever you can, use the stairs instead of the elevator, park your car as far away from the entrance as you can, and walk or bike instead of riding a car. If you take the time to think about it, there are many ways you can increase your physical activity and move your body far more than you do now.
You can also do stationary walks while watching TV, sit up straight instead of slouched in a chair, using a hand basket at the grocery store instead of pushing a cart. Daily household chores such as laundry, vacuuming and yard work can also be a part of your exercise routine if you do them briskly (not necessarily faster).
Always think about how you can increase your physical activity by turning regular chores into an exercise. You should be careful to do whatever it is your doing with proper care and focus, however. The danger some people have with doing their chores briskly is that they will rush through it and do a poor job or even risk injuring themselves. As mentioned earlier, a brisk movement demands more focus and sharper concentration.
The more you move your body in your daily routines, the more agile you will become. As you start to improve, gradually step up to do your chores with rhythm, and not at the same speed or pace. Over time, you may even come to enjoy your daily chores more and more since your chores are no longer just chores but part of your body maintenance routine and your mental focus is not on completing chores quickly but rather performing a routine with purpose and for your own improvement.
D. Stationary Exercises
Some of us are too busy, too poor, too self conscious or perhaps even too lazy to go to the gym or to go for a walk outside, etc. Nevertheless, there are still exercises that can help you maintain your physical fitness. These exercises can be very effective and do not require dressing up or going to any special location. They are also free of charge!
1. Stationary Walking
It's a good idea to walk briskly outside but unfortunately, you can't always do that. If walking outside isn't an option, the next best thing you can do is to do some Stationary Walking.
Stationary Walking is simply walking in one spot while raising your knees up as high as you can comfortably get them and swinging your arms wide. Swing your arms as high as you can without force and swing them back as far back as they can comfortably go. Breathe in deeply from your nose for 2 to 4 steps and breathe out from your mouth for 4 to 8 steps (you breathe out twice as long compared to when you breathe in).
Continue this for 5 to 15 minutes but DO NOT push your self too hard (Moderation is the Key). If you are just starting out or out of shape do less and stop immediately if you feel dizzy or faint.
2. Stationary Running (Jogging)
This is the same as Stationary Walking and is an advanced exercise meant only for people who have progressed beyond Stationary Walking. If you haven't even tried Stationary Walking, don't try this exercise.
Instead of walking on the same spot, you run in the same spot with your knees up high and the arms bent. Note that your arms may not swing as widely compared to Stationary Walking. Be aware that swinging your arms vigorously will significantly increase the stress on your heart.
Try to breathe in for 2 to 4 steps and breathe out for 4 to 8 steps (again, you breathe out twice as long compared to when you do breathe in). As running is a much more vigorous activity than walking, you should modify the breathing rhythm to your comfort.
Continue this for 5 minutes or longer if you are able. DO NOT push your self too hard (Remember, Moderation!)
3. Side Stepping Exercise
This exercise will help to strengthen muscles on the sides of our body. It will also help with your agility by helping develop balance and coordination.
First, stand with your feet shoulder width apart. Breathe in deeply and then start stepping sideways to the left by two steps with your right following the left foot. Then, two steps to the right with the left foot following the right foot. Then again to the left, etc. Continue this left-to-right, side-stepping motion at a steady pace, while breathing in and out slowly (twice as long for breathing out than breathing in). Gradually speed up your motion as fast as you can comfortably go.
As you progress and become more advanced and agile with the Side Stepping Exercise, you can raise the difficulty level by crossing the feet with each step. This is an even more advanced exercise, and should not be attempted until you have completely mastered the regular Side Step. This requires much more coordination and balance than the regular Side Stepping Exercise. You can easily trip and stumble if you are not used to the movement or if you are not ready for this exercise. Always start slowly and pay particular attention to your footwork and overall balance.
For the Cross Step-Side Step, when you take your first step to the right, cross your left foot in front of the right foot. When you take your second step to the right, cross your left foot behind your right foot. Then, as you make your way to the left for your first step, cross your right foot in front of your left. And when you take your second step to the left, cross your right foot behind your left foot. People who have participated in team sports in school might know this movement as the Grapevine.
Continue this for 5 to 15 minutes but DO NOT push yourself too hard (Moderation, again!).
Good Luck and Enjoy your Day!
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