Exercises for a pain free back

Lumbar Excersices

If you spend a lot of time sitting at your desk or driving the car often, your back muscles and hips stay inactive for long periods. This can lead to back and hip pain. But simple stretching exercises can improve your condition and sometimes bring immediate relief.

Back Stretch

Lie on your stomach and use your arms to push your upper body off the floor. Hold that position for five seconds, relax and repeat five times.

Lower Back Stretches

Lying on your left side with the left hip and knee at 90 degrees, keep your right leg straightened and lift it upward, holding it up for five seconds before releasing. Repeat one to three times with each leg.

Try lying face down on the floor with your arms forward and the palms down for support. Lift your right leg behind you as high as you can with your leg straightened. Hold it in position for five seconds and release. Do this with each leg one to three times.

Abdominal Tightening

Lying on the floor with your knees bent so the small of your back does not touch the floor, tighten the abdominal muscles for five seconds. Keep your back pressed flat against the floor before you relax the muscles. Repeat this three times and try doing it more over time.

Leg exercises build up your legs to help support and strengthen the hips.

Leg Raises

Lie on your back and keep one leg straight and the knee bent on the other. Tighten your abdominal muscles as you lift the straight leg about six to 12 inches. Hold the position for five seconds and lower your leg. Repeat 10 times.

Leg Stretch

Keep both legs bent as you lie on your back. Hold one thigh behind the knee until you feel the back of the thigh stretch. Hold that position for 20 seconds before relaxing and repeat five times on each side.

…. J. Shaw, Health Editor

Peanut Butter - Healthy Snack

Trying to avoid chocolate or other tasty sweets? Try some healthy peanut butter as an alternative. Peanut butter tastes great while improving your health. It contains fat and calories, but most of the fats in peanut butter are healthy fats. The product also contains nutrients for an inexpensive addition to your diet.

Peanut butter contains some saturated fat, but should not cause health issues when consumed in moderation. A serving, or 2 tablespoons, of peanut butter has 3.3 grams of saturated fat to 12.3 grams of unsaturated fat, according to the “Harvard Heart Letter.” Just as you eat lean meats, skinless poultry or low-fat and fat-free dairy products to avoid too many saturated fats, eating moderate amounts of peanut butter once in a while to flavor your lunch or snacks avoids high-fat intake.

The monounsaturated fats, which outnumber saturated fats in peanut butter, provide heart benefits associated with healthy fats. Monounsaturated fats help lower LDL cholesterol, the “bad” cholesterol that can accumulate in the arteries, and raises levels of HDL, or “good” cholesterol, which helps flush out excess cholesterol from the bloodstream.

The protein, fiber, carbohydrates and fats in peanut butter give you an energy boost. Peanut butter also provides a full feeling to satisfy your hunger. The niacin, phosphorus and magnesium in peanut butter add to its healthful content. Peanut butter also contains antioxidants and oleic fatty acid, which may benefit the heart, according to the Health Services at Columbia University.

The vitamin E in peanut butter also helps protect against heart disease. Vitamin E acts as an antioxidant to prevent cell damage. Peanut butter has the same amount of vitamin E as in whole peanuts. The commercial processing does not affect the content of the vitamin. A study by the USDA of commercial and natural peanut butters showed that neither contained detectable amounts of trans fats, which raise cholesterol levels.

The “Harvard Heart Letter” points out that research shows people who regularly consume nuts or peanut butter have a less-likely chance of developing heart disease or type-2 diabetes than those who rarely include nuts in their diets. Although peanut butter contains sodium, it has about twice as much potassium to counter the effects salt may have on the heart.

Try a peanut butter, skim milk and banana smoothie by mixing the items with ice in a blender. Use peanut butter instead of cream cheese on celery. A healthy breakfast includes peanut butter on whole-grain English muffins, toast or crackers. Dip fruits or carrots in peanut butter for a nutritious snack. Make yourself a peanut butter-and-non-jelly sandwich by using apple slices instead of jelly.

…… J. Shaw, Health Editor