Should You Be Wearing a Mask at the Gym?

Covid-19 mask mandates are returning.

It’s been a nice, mask-free summer for those of use that are vaccinated, but with the Delta Variant on the rise, many states are considering more mask mandates, for everyone.

Right now only certain states are suggesting that we once again don our masks, but currently the masks are only suggested, meaning that it is still our choice.

Many of us have been going to the gym mask-free this summer, and the thought of covering our faces again undoubtedly fills us with a light sense of dread.

That being said, should you be wearing one anyway?

First off, I would say that you need to listen to your local governments regarding mask mandates. If they are suggesting masks, it is because the Delta Variant is likely effecting your community in higher numbers than other areas, and wearing a mask will both reduce your chances of getting it, as well as protect the people around you.

READ MORE: 3 Workout-Friendly Face Masks

The gym is one place where you should probably consider wearing masks anyway. The high levels of traffic, as well as the amount of people touching the same machines all day should be reason enough.

On top of that, people that exercise regularly are more likely to take their fitness seriously, and suffer more from complications of both Covid-19 and the Delta Variant. Even vaccinated people can get the variant, and the long term side effects can take a toll on your ability to do any physical activity, especially working out.

People who frequent the gym are also more likely to care about their physical appearance, so if you think wearing a mask is bad, imagine what having to skip the gym for a few months will make you feel like.

Wearing a mask also covers half your face, so you can worry less about what you look like and more about your workout routine and proper form.

In times like these we have to listen to the mandates and suggestions of our governments, and make the right decisions for our family, and communities.

So if wearing a mask doesn’t really bother you all that much, you should consider it at the gym, regardless of your vaccination status. We go to the gym to be healthy, after all. There is nothing more healthy than avoiding a potentially deadly disease by being a little more cautious.

Five Best Natural Deodorants for Athletes

Any athlete will tell you, deodorant is a must.

Finding the right deodorant can be a tricky process, especially for an athlete. Not only do you have to find one that smells good, but your body will eventually get used to any deodorant you use, so you also have to switch it up.

Many deodorants also contain aluminum and other not-so-great ingredients so it becomes even trickier when you are looking for something all-natural.

READ MORE: Natural Ways to Combat Athlete’s Foot

Still, according to the rules of polite society (that don’t always apply on the field) its important to smell good. Here are five great all-natural deodorants to try out (and cycle through, when your body gets acclimated to them and they stop working):

Ursa Major $18- Ursa Major is unisex, sweat-absorbing, and long lasting. What more could you want?

Megababe $14- Megababe is baking soda-free, so if baking soda irritates your armpits, it is a great natural option.

Milk + Honey $16- Milk + Honey is great because it is both an anti-perspirant and deodorant.

Violets $25- Violets is a scent-free deodorant, and contains magnesium to block body odor.

Schmidt’s Jasmine Tea $10 – Schmidt’s Jasmine Tea is perfect for sensitive skin, and contains magnesium instead of baking soda with a pleasant jasmine scent.

How to Stay Cool in Extreme Heat

Temperatures are rising, so staying cool is imperative.

I don’t know how anyone can argue with global warming given that we are basically living in an earth-sized oven. Temperatures are reaching record highs all over the country and world, and that can be absolute torture for people without air-conditioning.

Not only is dehydration a risk, but overheating, and heat exhaustion can also cause both short and long-term health problems.

While there may not be anything we can do about Mother Nature, we can be extra vigilant of our choices, and make sure we are doing what we can to mitigate the heat in our own lives.

If you’re really feeling the heat right now, here are a few options to ease your suffering.

Block the sun- If you are going outdoors, this means wearing sunscreen. If you are indoors, close the windows, and curtains. If you have plenty of windows without curtains, tack some sheets up. It may not look the best, but it’ll help keep out the damaging heat.

READ MORE: Five Foods to Eat to Treat Dehydration

Cold Compresses- If you live in a space without air conditioning, putting some ice and water into a bowl, and using a damp cloth on the back of your neck or your forehead might be your best bet.

Drink Water- Dehydration is always a threat, so not only should you be drinking lots of water at home, but you should also take a reusable water bottle everywhere you go.

Relocate- If the heat becomes too unbearable, consider going to a movie theatre, library, restaurant, or coffee shop.  In these extreme conditions, there is no shame in posting up somewhere with air conditioning.

Dress Appropriately- Wear loose-fitting clothing, or things made of synthetic fibers that wick away sweat. We are all going through this heat together, so nobody will fault you for wearing less clothing, just make sure to cover your skin with sunscreen.

7 Foods to Keep you Full Longer

Staying full after eating is half the battle in terms of weight loss.

When it comes to a healthy, balanced diet, one of the problems we face is how to eat foods that will keep us full. Generally speaking, lots of healthy foods taste great, but don’t really fill us up. We then turn to unhealthier options or junk food to fill that hole in our bellies.

Dieting can be used strategically to lose weight or get in shape for a particular event, but if you really want to lose weight and keep it off you need to make life choices that are in alignment with that. Healthier foods, eaten regularly are the correct way to change your overall diet, and foods that keep you full longer can help stave off those cravings for unhealthier options.

There are four basic categories for food that will fill you up: Protein-rich, fiber-packed, foods that are high in volume, and foods that are high in energy. Choosing meals and snacks that fit in these categories will help keep your waistline trim, and your belly full.

Oatmeal- Oatmeal is low in calories, and high in fiber. For an extra kick, stir in a dollop of natural crunchy peanut butter, and some fresh berries. You will remain full all day.

Eggs- Eggs are high in protein, and contain antioxidants that will help with eye health.

READ MORE: Three Ways to Add More Fiber to Your Diet

Greek Yogurt- Greek yogurt is not only thicker than regular yogurt, but it also has a high protein level, which makes it a great snack, or addition to a meal (try it with honey, granola, and fresh berries for a nice ice cream replacement0.

Meat- Meat is very high in protein, and it helps to reduce hunger producing hormones.

Quinoa- Quinoa may be hard to pronounce, but it’s very good for you as a source of protein. Quinoa is also high in fiber, and contains valuable amino acids.

Nuts- Nuts are high in protein and fats, and can help regulate the hormones that cause hunger.

Fruit- Fruit is high in energy, high in fiber, and low in calories. Just make sure you eat fresh fruit rather than juice, which is mostly sugar.

Five Foods to Eat to Treat Dehydration

If you are feeling dehydrated, stock up on these foods now!

Did you know that 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated? That means it is very likely that you’re dehydrated right now, and don’t even know it. While it is technically possible to over-hydrate, chances are you are way more likely that you aren’t drinking enough water, rather than too much.

Hydration is one of the most important things to keep an eye on. If you feel dizzy or lightheaded, tired, thirsty, or your urine is dark yellow or strong-smelling you may be dehydrated as we speak.

Long story short, you can stay hydrated by drinking lots of water, and supplementing with electrolyte drinks, but adding more hydrating foods to your diet will help counteract dehydration on a regular basis.

Here are five foods that support hydration naturally:

Melons- Fruits and veggies are high in water content, especially melons like watermelon, cantaloupe, and honeydew melon. Just one cup of watermelon is over 90% water, so snacking on melons during the day is a great way to stay hydrated.

Soup- Soups and broths are chock full of water, and also electrolytes. They also contain sodium, which can help rehydrate you, although you don’t want to overdo it.

READ MORE: Is the Color of Your Urine a Sign of Dehydration?

Cucumbers- Cucumbers are 95% water and contain electrolytes that can help with water content. Want a double dose of hydration? Drink cucumber water!

Milk- Milk contains protein, carbs, and electrolytes which make it helpful for rehydration. Milk also contains sodium in small amounts, which help you retain liquid.

Coconut Water- I saved the best for last, because coconut water is one of the best ways you can support your hydration. Coconut water contains electrolytes like sodium, magnesium, potassium, and calcium, all of which help to keep your body hydrated.

Six Potential Health Benefits of Ashwagandha

In terms of herbal supplements, should you give ashwagandha a try?

As a surgeon, I obviously believe in the benefits of Western medicine. As a society we have made huge strides in treating diseases and illnesses, and we have our life expectancies to show for it. That being said, I also believe in the use of herbal supplements and natural remedies to help support overall health.

I think in terms of health it is important for everyone to make their own minds up about what will or won’t work for them. Some people prefer all their healthcare to take place in a doctor’s office or hospital, and some people prefer a more holistic approach.

Lately, I’ve been hearing a lot about an herbal supplement called ashwagandha, so I decided to do a little more research about the potential health benefits of this ancient medicinal herb. Here are six ways ashwagandha can help support your overall health:

Lower blood sugar- Ashwagandha can potentially help diabetics, because it can increase insulin secretion, and make your muscle cells more sensitive to insulin.

READ MORE: Should You Get Your Omega-3 Fats from Supplements or Food?

Lower cortisol levels- Ashwagandha can help with stress and anxiety because it reduces the production of the stress hormone cortisol.

Treats anaemia- Anaemia is most often caused by an iron deficiency, and ashwagandha is rich in iron. Regular consumption can help support your anaemia treatment regimen.

Reduce inflammation- Ashwaganda helps increase the activity of your natural immunity cells, and decrease markers of inflammation, like the C-reactive protein (CRP).

Increase testosterone- Studies of ashwagandha and its effects on men show that taking it regularly can increase sperm count, and the production of testosterone.

Improved memory- Ashwagandha promotes antioxidant activity, which protects the nerve cells in the brain from free radicals. This is especially helpful for people suffering from brain injuries or disease.

Long story short, ashwagandha is a difficult word to spell, but a potentially helpful supplement to add to your daily vitamin regimen. The main goal with taking supplements is to improve your overall health incrementally, and make you less susceptible to illnesses and diseases that require invasive treatment.

Four Reasons to Eat More Probiotics

Your immune system could always use more support.

One of the main reasons you should eat more probiotics is for your immune response. Your digestive system plays a huge part in your overall health, and the bacteria in your gut supports your immune system, as well as your stress levels, cholesterol, and even your skin.

Keeping your gut healthy is crucial to a lot of your body’s systems, and the best way to do that is with regular probiotics, from foods like Greek yogurt, dairy, and kombucha.

Here are four benefits to probiotics:

Regularity- Staying regular is one of the best ways to keep things flowing in your digestive system. Unfortunately a lot of the junk food we eat these days doesn’t pass through our systems very easily. Probiotics help keep things running smoothly, which is great for weight-loss, metabolism, and overall health.

Energy- When your body is getting the right nutrients, it creates more energy which helps you feel better overall. Have you ever noticed that you feel sluggish after eating a bag of chips, and energized after eating a kale salad? There’s a reason for that.

READ MORE: Must-Know Facts About Probiotics

Weight Loss- When your digestive system is healthy, your absorption of nutrients helps keep your metabolism up and running. This helps aid in weight loss, so eating more probiotics will not only make you feel better, but look better too.

Less Bloating- Bloating is generally caused when the balance of good and bad bacteria in your gut is thrown off. Once that balance is achieved, you will experience less bloating overall.

Mental Health Benefits of Nature

The most natural stress reliever is nature itself.

I don’t know about you, but I try and spend as much time in nature as possible.

Escaping into the wilderness isn’t something we normally prioritize. Our lives are built around family, jobs, and technology, so in order to really get out and experience nature we have to make an effort. That being said, absconding into the wilds for an afternoon can be one of the healthiest things you do for your mind.

We all know the feeling of being stressed out. Anxiety can make you feel trapped in a cage. Whenever things are going wrong at every turn, we often turn inwards and hide under the covers with a pint of ice cream. While this coping mechanism works, it doesn’t work half as well as forcing ourselves to take a short day trip into nature.

READ MORE: Five Reasons to Take Your Kids on a Mental Health Hike

Studies show that even looking at scenes of nature can have a calming effect on the mind. Being in nature itself helps to combat stress, reduces blood pressure and heart rate, and is great for your emotional well-being.

Physically taking yourself out of a stressful situation will do wonders for your mental state. But where should you go?

Two of my favorite natural getaways are the beach, and the mountains, for different reasons.

At the beach, you can sit and listen to the waves crash, watch the horizon (which is in and of itself, a great stress reliever), go for a long swim, or take a nap under an umbrella. The beach is great for melting your stress away by relaxing.

The mountains are great for reflection. You can hike, get your blood pumping, take in breathtaking views, and practice problem solving with different rocks and trails. If you need to solve some problems in your life, getting out into the mountains is the best way to clear your head and gain some clarity around the stressors in your life.

If you don’t live anywhere near the mountains or the beach, just walking around a local park, or sitting by a small creek or stream will also help your mental state.

The key is to unplug, and take yourself out of the stressful situation. Nature heals, but you have to make the effort, and seek it out.

PODCAST: The Ins and Outs of Early Sports Specialization on Now We’re Talking Darien

Early sports specialization isn’t always a good thing for young athletes.

As a life-long athlete, I was able to get involved with lacrosse at an early age. Lacrosse has always been one of my biggest passions, and I am very lucky to have found a sport that I love so much, and have never burned out on. I specialized in lacrosse, and although I have no regrets I will say that I have seen potential negative effects of early sports specialization on young athletes.

Early sports specialization is when a parent encourages their child to specialize in a sport at a very young age. This can be great for raising athletes and healthy children, but focusing on one sport and encouraging competitive habits in children can become problematic.

READ MORE: An Interview on Duke Lacrosse

Early sports specialization can cause a lot of issues, from burn out, to travel issues, and injuries from over-use.

I recently discussed this topic on the Now We’re Talking Darien podcast. Listen HERE:

Featured on Wall Street Journal: Five Exercises to Boost Speed and Agility

You don’t have to play lacrosse to learn from it.

I recently collaborated with Jen Murphy of the Wall Street Journal on an article about how to increase your speed and agility, using lacrosse workouts.

Every sport has specific benefits that can help increase your fitness in different ways. My personal favorite sport is lacrosse, and the coordination, speed, and agility I have learned from playing this sport has helped me excel in other sports, and in my general fitness regimen.

READ MORE: Strong is the New Pretty: Dr. Karen Sutton feature in US Lacrosse Magazine

This article focuses on specific workouts you can do to up your fitness game on all fronts.

Here is an excerpt:

“Lacrosse is a physically intense sport that requires players to use netted sticks to scoop up, carry and shoot a ball into a goal, all while evading opponents.

The sport requires speed, agility and coordination, says Dr. Karen M. Sutton, the Stamford, Conn.-based chief medical officer for World Lacrosse and a sports-medicine surgeon at the Hospital for Special Surgery. “You also need dexterity and stamina, as well as the ability to dodge quickly.”

Being able to think on your feet and change directions quickly is crucial on the field, says Dr. Sutton, a 45-year-old former Duke University lacrosse player. These skills also help you avoid injuries in day-to-day life.

As we age, we tend to slow down. Training for speed and agility can come in handy whether you want to improve your 5K time or avoid injury the next time you need to sprint to catch the subway. We also tend to move in a forward plane of motion. Working other planes in dynamic ways can help train the body for when you need to suddenly lunge to catch a Frisbee while playing with your kids, or swerve your shopping cart.”

Read the full article HERE.