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Learn to Buy the Best Basketball Gear

Buying the best indoor basketball gear is probably just as important as being good at playing basketball. You can take a great player and put him out on the court, but he won’t live up to his potential if the gear isn’t suited to his playing style or his body. I learned this when I was a young man playing high school basketball in a city in the Midwest. My family didn’t have a lot of money so I played with what I could get. I often played in normal sneakers. I succeeded but only just barely.

I had enough talent to go on to play ball in college where I got outfitted with great equipment, and I played even better because of it. My son wishes to follow in my footsteps and I think he’s got a lot of potential. He’s as good as anyone on his team and his coach thinks he’s got a great shot of getting into an excellent school with a top rated team. Maybe he’ll go on to the NBA, probably not, but it won’t be for a lack of great basketball gear.

I went online and found a site that reviews a lot of indoor basketball gear. Shoes mostly, but also socks and braces. Those are just as important. Everything has to fit nice and snug so you’re not worrying about hurting yourself when your crossing the court or driving to the net. I took their advice and picked up the best of everything I could find so my son doesn’t experience the exquisite sensation of blowing out your ankle as your going up for a lay up. My boy goes on and on about his great indoor gear and how it makes him a better player. His friends on the team keep asking him where he’s getting the big bucks for all this fancy gear.

Get Fit and Stay Fit With Aqua Aerobics

Aqua aerobics is basically doing exercises (other than swimming) in the pool. It has a lot of advantages over more traditional exercise routines, and can provide an excellent and enjoyable workout.

Low impact – One of the best advantages of aqua aerobics is that the workouts are low impact. The cushioning of the water allows someone to exercise without taking a toll on joints. As a cross training tool, or a way for people like runners to recover from an injury, aqua aerobics is a wonderful option.

Needs little equipment – Just walking into a gym for a weight workout shows how much equipment is needed for traditional workouts. The lineup of weight stations, long rows of weights, and people standing in line to use them can sometimes be a deterrent to getting a good workout. By contrast, the most frequently used aqua aerobics tool is a foam noodle – a long rubber tube strong enough to support the person’s weight in the water. They can be obtained here, and are easy to carry to class.

A variety of choices – Most people think of aqua aerobics as a group of people in the water doing exercises together. While that is true, there are a number of great options for getting in that workout. Aqua jogging classes have available kick boxing, yoga, tai chi, the newly popular Zumba, and weight classes. One of the enjoyable components of aqua aerobics is the variety.

Aqua jogging for cardio – For a runner who scoffs at an aqua jogging workout, have them try it first. Experienced runners who get in the water, planning to knock off 5 miles, are surprised at how they have to scale back their first session. The resistance component of water can bring the heart rate up like a hill repeat workout. Injured runners who have used aqua jogging for as long as six months have reported no loss of cardio capability.

A social workout – A group doing exercises in the pool may work out and breathe hard during the exercise, but there’s a lot of laughing and conversation between sets or exercises. The enjoyment factor of aqua aerobics is a huge plus, as people in the class compare notes about how they fell during that last balancing exercise, or how tough the teacher is.

A lot of fun – Remember walking into the gym and seeing all the serious faces? Especially in the weight workout area, those working out tend to be very focused on their work, and don’t look like they’re having a lot of fun. By contrast, aqua aerobics is a lot of fun. People smile a lot, enjoy the workouts and the different exercises, and don’t seem as gnarly as the guy at the lat station in the local gym.

There are many ways to get in an aqua aerobics workout, and a lot of advantages to this method of exercise. For the beginner, start with a class to see what the experience is all about, and what kind of workout routine will work best for you.

Becky Flanigan was an English major in college, and now enjoys writing freelance articles for In The Swim. Becky has a great time on family weekend trips with her husband, 3 kids, and 2 golden retrievers. She spends many happy hours at the family swimming pool, watching the kids and dogs splash around.  She is also an avid gardener – and even helps friends landscape and decorate their yards.

Seven Pool Exercises to Enhance Your Cardio Workouts

When the weather is warm, the building is open, or the inner polar bear is roaring for a chilly adventure, a pool workout may be just the ticket for a new or re-energized cardio workout routine.

While there’s something decidedly un-glamorous about the phrase water aerobics, the health benefits of water aerobics are undeniable. The resistance that water generates creates stronger muscles and boosts workout intensity, and because water also supports your weight, pool exercises are ideal for many people dealing with painful conditions, chronic illness, or recent physical trauma like surgery or injury. Here are seven swimming exercises you can do to create your own water aerobics routine.

1. Jogging. Jogging in the water burns more calories and strengthens you more than jogging on land. For your water jogging to be most effective, stay in water that is waist-deep and jog in high-intensity intervals of 1-3 minutes, alternating with some of the less intense exercises on this list. If jogging is too intense, try walking at a fast pace. This is a terrific cardio exercise.

2. Spiderman. Facing the side of the pool, in water that is chest-high, use a sweeping motion with your arms to keep your upper body stable while your legs “run up” the side of the pool, just like Spiderman. This exercise simply cannot be imitated on land, and it will strengthen your core and back muscles.

3. Fly Backs. In chest-high water, extend one leg forward and lunge with the back leg straight until the water comes over your shoulders. Hold both arms in front of you, with elbows straight, palms flat, fingers extended, and thumbs forward (like a stiff clap). Open your arms straight out to your sides – don’t let your wrists get too far behind you. Sweep your arms open and shut for 8 to 15 reps. Do four sets of reps, alternating which leg is in front. These will work out your chest and upper back muscles; add a cardio element by walking or jogging around the pool while you do them.

4. Superman. Stand facing the side of the pool in chest-deep water. Rest your hands on the edge of the pool and bring your body and legs straight out. Hold this position for 30-second intervals, with a 1-2 minute rest between. If this move is too easy, try moving your legs up and down in a continual motion. This exercise strengthens the shoulders, back, and core.

5. Leg Lifts. Stand facing the side of the pool in waist– or chest-deep water. Rest your fingers on the side of the pool for balance, stand on one leg, and raise the other leg as high as you can while maintaining proper alignment (hips parallel to the wall, toe pointed, and top of the foot straight up or tilted slightly back, not rolled forward). Hold the position for 10 to 20 seconds, lower it, and do the same thing on the other side. Do 8 to 10 reps, with one rep being a lift on both sides. You’ll strengthen the core, build balance, and improve flexibility.

6.  Current Chaos. If you have the whole pool to yourself, you may want to try creating currents and then running through them. Start in one corner of the pool and run in a wide zig-zag pattern to the opposite corner. Immediately return to your starting corner, taking a straight path. You’ll have to cross through all the currents you created with the zig-zag, adding all sorts of chaotic resistance. Repeat the pattern for as many three-minute intervals as you’d like, alternating with some of the less intense exercises above. NOTE: good posture is essential for this exercise. Your shoulders, hips, and ears should all be in a straight line up and down each other.

7. Laps. Laps are maybe not the most exciting pool exercise, but they are absolutely one of the most effective ways to get your heart rate going, burn fat, and tone your body. If you are new to swimming laps, start out with an easy regimen: swim four lengths of the pool, in any stroke, at an easy pace. Take breaks at each end, as needed. Repeat five to ten times. And if you are new to swimming or are otherwise struggling, there is no shame in using a kick board for your first few sessions. As your cardiovascular system adjusts to the new requirements of working in water, you’ll be able to toss the prop and increase the number of laps you do.

Water exercise would make a great addition to your workout routine. In the pool, you can get an effective workout for your core and your cardiovascular system while easing the strain on your joints and spine. So next time you think you couldn’t handle another minute on the treadmill or in the weight room, give the pool a try. Check out this awesome pool exercise article on Lifescript and this great video about pool workouts on Youtube.

Ten Things You Need to Know About Colonics

Though it is an ancient procedure that dates back thousands of years, these days a little something called the “colonic” is getting some fresh attention in high-end spas and health circles. While the procedure itself is far from glamorous, it is not nearly as embarrassing as you might think.

A colon hydrotherapist uses a speculum with a tube attached to flush your colon with water; your bowels get moving, and the tube removes the waste. There’s no yucky smell and the only embarrassing moment is right at the beginning when it’s time to put the speculum in; the rest of the time, the procedure is usually pain-free with very little discomfort. And don’t believe the rumors that you are chained to a toilet for the rest of the day after having the procedure – that’s just not true!

When it comes to colon hydrotherapy, there’s a lot you need to know before taking the plunge. While there can be many benefits to having your colon flushed, it’s a significant procedure that you need to give careful consideration before scheduling one. I’ve compiled a list of ten things you need to know about colonics – five things that are considered benefits, and five things you need to take a close look at before deciding to have one.

The benefits

1. A colonic is not the same thing as an enema. An enema addresses the lowest 5 or 10 inches of the colon, whereas a colonic flushes the entire intestinal tract. A colon cleanse flushes the entire colon, using a speculum and tubes to dissolve and flush out any excess waste present in the colon.

2. Colonic irrigation is touted by alternative medicine practitioners and some health experts as a gentle, effective way to cleanse your colon and rid the body of toxins and harmful bacteria that may be growing. By stimulating the removal of excess stool from your system, the procedure is thought to assist the body by clearing out the excess waste and allowing the colon to perform at its best, improving health of both the colon and your body as a whole.

3. There are different types of fluids used to perform the colon hydrotherapy. Some offices use filtered water, while others use a fluid mixture that can specific herbal ingredients that have long been thought to provide healing and support to the intestines. Some practitioners may also use coffee, enzymes, or even probiotics in their hydrotherapy fluids.

4. Many people think that colon cleanses affect not just the colon, but the whole body as well as the mind. Some of the conditions colonics are thought to alleviate include depression, anxiety, headaches, skin conditions including eczema and psoriasis, and even joint pain and gout. Some athletes get colonics to improve their metabolic rates, and mental health patients will at times use colon hydrotherapy to help them overcome emotional issues that they feel are somehow housed or stored in the intestines.

5. Colon hydrotherapy reshapes the colon. The theory suggests that waste buildup causes the colon – which is a muscle – to expand to accommodate the excess bulk. The removal of waste, it follows, would allow the colon to shrink down to its normal size, thereby reducing the amount of pressure on other organs in the abdomen and causing the patient to lose weight.

The cautions

6. Colonics can increase your risk of dehydration. If you decide to go for it, drink plenty of extra fluids in the days immediately before and immediately after the procedure to make up for the water absorption that you’ll be losing with the big flush.

7. Check with your doctor before scheduling a colon cleanse, especially if you’re taking any medications. There are some medications that would be rendered ineffective or might even be damaging with a colonic, making it a potentially harmful procedure. You will also want to be sure that if the fluid used in the colonic has anything other than filtered water, none of the additives would in any way interfere with your medications or trigger any other allergies or negative side effects for you.

8. People with specific health conditions should not get a colonic under any circumstances. If you have diverticular disease, Crohn’s disease, a blood vessel disease, congestive heart failure, ulcerative colitis, an abdominal hernia, gastrointestinal cancer, intestinal tumors, or severe anemia, do not get a colonic. Pregnant women also should not have colon hydrotherapy, as the procedure may stimulate uterine contractions.

9. There can be very real, uncomfortable side effects to colon hydrotherapy, though many of the more severe ones rarely occur. Common complaints include abdominal cramps, nausea, and dizziness, though the dizziness especially may be attributed to dehydration and not to the procedure itself. Other, more dangerous but very uncommon, results may include a perforated bowel, a mineral imbalance, and infection.

10. Probiotics are important. As the colonic flushes waste, toxins, and harmful bacteria out of the colon, it also flushes away the good bacteria. Be sure to take plenty of probiotics on the day of and days following your colonic procedure to replace these good bacteria and keep your colon functioning at top speed.

All in all, the colon is such an important part of your overall health picture that you want to take the absolute best care of it. A huge part of colon health has to do with your diet, so the very best thing you can do for your gut is eat well, with lots of fresh fruits, vegetables, and lean meats, going easy on the refined carbs. You may find, after reading here and talking to your doctor and other health practitioners, that a colon cleanse is the right choice for your health. If you decide to go for it, do yourself a favor and find a colon hydrotherapist licensed by the International Association for Colon Hydrotherapy so that you can be sure you are receiving treatment from someone with the best training.

So tell me – have you had a colonic before? What did you like about the experience? Would you have another one, or would you recommend the procedure for a friend?

Five Stevia Side Effects and Warnings

Stevia is a natural sweetener with proven health benefits. Stevia is sweeter than sugar and calorie-free, making it a healthy and natural sugar substitute. Despite the benefits, there are 5 stevia side effects and warnings associated with making the switch from sugar to stevia.

  1. Some Stevia Products Are Still Pending FDA Approval

The most alarming warnings surrounding stevia stem from the FDA. The FDA considers purified stevia extract safe. However, they have not yet approved whole-leaf or crude stevia as a food additive due to safety concerns. Some evidence suggests that crude and whole-leaf stevia are linked to negative impacts on cardiovascular systems, blood sugar control, kidneys, and reproductive systems. This means that stevia users should only purchase purified stevia extract. The relative newness of stevia as a commercial sweetener poses additional concerns.

Scientists have not had enough time to fully evaluate the effects of stevia over time. This means that at-risk individuals, like nursing mothers, should be cautious about using stevia while breastfeeding or during pregnancy. The effects of stevia on fetal development are not yet known, offering another potential concern for pregnant mothers.

  1. Allergic Reactions

If you have an allergy to chrysanthemums, marigolds, daisies or ragweed, stevia might not be for you. Anaphylaxis is rarely reported by stevia users but those that do report it usually have a pre-existing allergy to one of these plants. Allergic reactions are serious and possibly life threatening if left untreated. If you experience difficulty swallowing, hives, dizziness, wheezing, shortness of breath, weakness, or pale skin, you need to get medical treatment immediately.

  1. Upset Stomach And Headaches

Stevia can cause upset stomach and bloating in some users. The sweetener contains steviosides, which sometimes irritates the stomach and digestive tract. Feelings of mild nausea are not uncommon among stevia users along with uncomfortable bloating. Stevia also is known to decrease appetite. The sweetener creates an artificial feeling of fullness. This makes it an effective weight loss sugar alternative. However as with any appetite suppressant, it is crucial that you ensure your body receives adequate nutrition.

A healthy diet and exercise are just as important to a weight loss strategy as appetite suppressants. Headaches are another common side effect associated with stevia. Headaches and mild dizziness could be caused by a drop in blood sugar. The FDA has ruled that stevia is safe for people with diabetes, however, the sweetener could increase the effects of diabetes medication. This causes blood sugar to drop lower than normal, contributing to feelings of dizziness and headaches.

  1. Mental Health Side Effects

Many people don’t connect their mental health with what they eat. This is a dangerous misconception. Foods are chemically based, and sometimes they compete for the same receptors as medications and our bodies’ natural chemicals. Scientists are still studying the links between stevia and mental health. Preliminary evidence suggests that stevia might affect hormone and neurotransmitters production. These chemical signals play a large role in our mental health. Neurotransmitters like seratonin and dopamine directly impact mood regulation and our ability to feel happiness and satisfaction. Stevia might slow the release of dopamine and seratonin. This is bad news for individuals suffering from anxiety or depression. Carefully monitor your moods if you have a history of depression or anxiety and take stevia.

Seek professional help immediately and stop taking stevia if you notice drastic mood swings or increased feelings of depression and anxiety. Stevia could also interfere with anti-psychotic medications. The New Encyclopedia of Vitamins, Minerals, Supplements, and Herbs suggests that stevia could compete for the same receptors as these medications, limiting their effectiveness.

  1. Medication Interactions

Mental health concerns aside, there are medications with documented drug interactions with stevia: lithium, diabetes medication, and high blood pressure medications. Stevia can negatively interact with lithium. Lithium is used to treat psychiatric conditions like bipolar disorder and depressive disorders. S

tevia could have a diuretic effect on the body (meaning it causes you to urinate more frequently). This leads to increased lithium levels in the blood, which causes serious side effects. Diabetes medications carry similar risks. The FDA has ruled the sweetener safe for use by diabetics, but caution is still necessary. Stevia could cause abnormally low blood sugar by increasing the effectiveness of the medication. If you are taking a medication for your diabetes, monitor your blood sugar levels carefully and consult your doctor.

Stevia appears to lower blood pressure in certain individuals. This is problematic if that individual is also taking a medication for high blood pressure. Dangerously low blood pressure leads to serious health concerns. It is a good practice to check your medications for drug interactions any time you add something new to your diet. Grapefruit, for instance, interacts with many drugs.

Talk with your pharmacist to see if stevia poses any risks for you. Now that you know a little more about the risks and side effects associated with stevia you can decide if stevia is right for you. When in doubt, talk to your doctor or health care provider for additional advice.