5 Ways to Eliminate Stress

Wednesday, October 22, 2014
You might think illness is to blame for your nagging headache, frequent insomnia or decreased productivity at work. But what if we told you that the cause just might be stress. Between taking care of the family, responsibilities at work, upcoming holidays, and life in general, it's easy to see how quickly stress can take over. We've got 5 simple ways to reduce stress levels when they hit a high and get you feeling good again.

Treat yourself to some silence
Silence can mean different things to different people. The early hours of the morning, the serenity of the countryside, the few moments after you turn off the motor of your car, or even the simplicity of a clean and tidy room. Do your best to seek out this kind of silence and take a moment to notice - and enjoy it - at least once a day. You deserve it.
Do one thing at a time
Contrary to popular belief, only about 2.5% of people have the ability to effectively focus on more than one task at a time. So for the other 97.5% of us, multi-tasking makes things harder, not easier. Give yourself a break -- focus on one thing at a time and you'll be crossing items off your list faster than you thought you could.

Get Moving 
Virtually any form of exercise, from aerobics to hiking to yoga, can act as a stress reliever. If you're not an athlete or even if you're downright out of shape, you can still make a little exercise go a long way toward stress management. Even five minutes of aerobic activity can stimulate anti-anxiety effects. So go for a quick walk around the block, take the stairs up and down a few flights, or do some stretching exercises like head rolls and shoulder shrugs.

Learn how to meditate
Just a few minutes a day can help ease anxiety and alter your neuro pathways, making you more resilient to stress. To get started, simply sit up straight with both feet on the floor. Close your eyes. Focus your attention on reciting -- out loud or silently -- a positive mantra such as “I feel at peace” or “I love myself.” Place one hand on your belly to sync the mantra with your breaths. Let any distracting thoughts float by like clouds.
Remember the blue sky
When you get in a plane and rise above the clouds, you see that incredible bright panorama of blue sky. The mind is no different; thoughts are like clouds, and although they may build up and even look stormy, the blue sky is there all along. Just remembering this is enough to help you get a little more clarity.

What are your go-to ways to reduce stress? We'd love to know.

10 Superfoods that Fight Stress

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Boost immunity, eliminate stress, and feel great... here are 10 Superfoods you should have on your grocery list each week.

1. Blueberries
These low sugar super fruits are packed with antioxidants, vitamins C and E, magnesium and manganese, making them great stress relievers. Research has shown that eating blueberries regularly can also help ease depression, insomnia and other mood disorders that can be triggered by or contribute to stress.

2. Almonds
Almonds provide high levels of vitamins B2 and E, magnesium, zinc, selenium, and healthy oils that provide stress reducing benefits. Enjoy a handful a day - raw or roasted. And don't forget to toss almonds in your desserts and baked goods. In addition to almonds, walnuts and pistachios lower your stress hormones, reduce your blood pressure and boost your energy level.

3. Spinach
Dark green vegetables like spinach are rich in vitamins A, B and C. Spinach also contains high levels of calcium, potassium, magnesium and phosphorus that help reduce stress hormones in the body and stabilize your mood. One cup of spinach each day can have relaxing, calming effects on the body. And, there are so many ways to include spinach in your diet - add it to your wrap, omelet, sandwich or salad.

4. Avocados
Fiber, potassium, healthy fat, minerals, protein, and vitamins C and E - all found in avocados and all nutrients that help regulate stress hormones by keeping your nerves and brain cells healthy. Eating one-half or whole avocado daily can significantly lower your blood pressure level and reduce your stress hormone level. Avocados are great  plain, on salads, sandwiches, or in smoothie.

5. Salmon
Lots of omega-3 fatty acids with strong anti-inflammatory effects make salmon a great superfood. Omega-3 fatty acids boost brain chemicals like serotonin that help maintain that happy feeling and regulate stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. And, omega-3 fatty acids help the brain function at a higher level. Try two or three servings of salmon per week.

6. Yogurt
Yogurt is loaded with calcium, protein, vitamins and good-for-you-bacteria known as probiotics. It can help decrease the risk of osteoporosis and contains 20% more protein than milk per serving. But, you have to stick with organic or Greek yogurt in order to take advantage of all the benefits.

7. Green Tea
Green tea contains powerful antioxidants such as polyphenols, flavonoids and catechins - all of which have a calming and positive effect on the mind and body. Green tea also contains an amino acid called theanine that promotes relaxation and improves focus and attention. Try substituting green tea for your morning cup of coffee and see if you can feel the difference.

8. Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate contains theobromine which is a natural mood elevator, and magnesium which helps fight stress, fatigue, depression and irritability. Research has shown that eating about an ounce and a half of dark chocolate a day can greatly reduce the level of stress hormones in the body. Organic, raw chocolate will be your best choice.

9. Oranges
The perfect snack, oranges boast a wealth of nutritious benefits and they provide over 100% of the daily value for vitamin C making them an immune-boosting superfood. Oranges are a good source of B1 and folate for proper brain development, potassium to maintain electrolyte balance, calcium for healthy teeth and bones, and over 170 antioxidants. The vitamin C and antioxidants help boost immunity and fight free radicals, which are increased with the presence of stress.

10. Brown Rice
Brown rice contains generous amounts of B vitamins, which are important for maintaining cells, tissues and organs. They work as natural mood stabilizers and help in biochemical reactions involved in brain function, healthy red blood cells, immunity and cardiac functioning. When you get an adequate amount of B vitamins, you’ll be better able to fight off stress and other mood disorders.

BIG Announcement :: NEW Fitness Center and Physical Therapy Clinic in Grand Rapids

Tuesday, October 07, 2014
We've had a hard time keeping this one quiet, but we're finally ready to break the silence and shout from the rooftops.

Drumroll please . . .

We're opening a sixth physical therapy clinic and it's going to be in Grand Rapids! But if that wasn't news enough, there's more excitement to be had. The new clinic has a giant fitness center attached, and it's open to the public!
That's right folks...big news! It's been 11 years since we added our fifth clinic and while continuing to expand the business has always been in the back of our minds, we had to wait for the right time and the right opportunity. And we're SO excited to finally announce that the time is now. After nearly a year of planning, our hard work is finally paying off and we can hardly contain our excitement!
Our new operation will be located in the fitness wing of Northview High School, 4451 Hunsberger Avenue NE in Grand Rapids. The new fitness center, which will be open to the public on November 3, is owned by Northview, but when the opportunity came along for us to run and manage it, we knew it was going to be a great fit. Our goal has always been to help people feel their best and fitness is such a big part of that. The new center features state-of-the-art workout equipment and multiple areas for fitness classes and events, which thrills us beyond belief. We've been expanding our fitness class selections over the last 3 years and we now offer yoga, HIIT, boot camp, 20:20:20, and pool fitness classes at some of our five other locations. Having this large fitness center, which is open to the public, right at our fingertips gives us the opportunity to offer an even wider variety of classes. We've got a great lineup of new classes in the works right now and we'll be ready for signups in early 2015.
The physical therapy clinic, which is also open to the public, is located inside the fitness center. This is an ideal situation because we so often do a variety of exercises and stretches with patients and here we'll have an incredible amount of equipment to make physical therapy even more fun and dynamic. The PT clinic will be open for business early in 2015 (maybe even a little sooner...fingers crossed!)

If you want to get a sneak peek of the new facilities, Northview High School will be holding an open house and ribbon cutting ceremony on Thursday, October 23 from 5-8pm. To celebrate, we'll be offering a special discount to people who sign up that night - buy a 3 month membership, get the 4th month FREE! You'll also want to watch your inbox because Northern will be hosting a big open house for the facility in early 2015. We can't wait to show you our new digs! For more information on the fitness center and all it has to offer, click here.

What to Eat Before and After a Workout

Friday, October 03, 2014
Looking for a way to stay energized during your workout? Would you believe that diet is the single most important element to develop and maintain those energy levels throughout your workout? 

Morning Workout
Eat one to two hours before heading to the gym to give your body time to store the energy you need to push your muscles to the limit. A combination of a carbohydrate and a protein source is one of the best choices! The carb dilates the blood vessels so they can carry oxygen to the cells and remove waste products, and they'll provide you with a source of simple sugars that will fuel your body immediately, while the protein will stick with you and keep you from getting hungry too soon. Grab an orange or a banana and a ½ cup of Greek yogurt to provide a quick dose of carbohydrates that provide immediate energy and digest slower, and the protein will continue to provide energy throughout your workout.
Afternoon Workout
Complex carbohydrates are the best sources of long-term energy. This includes food groups like whole grain breads, pastas and beans. And don't forget the protein, which is the major building block for new muscles developed in the gym. The best sources of protein include fish, chicken, turkey, milk, cheese, yogurt, legumes and nuts.

Post Workout
You'll want to grab a snack or light meal within 30 minutes of your workout so your body doesn’t start burning muscle. Foods high in protein are wonderful options.

In addition, eat small meals every 3 hours throughout the day. Snacking on healthy foods like nuts, cheese, fruit or foods that consist of complex carbohydrates throughout the day is a great habit to develop. Supplementing your diet between meals with snacks will keep your body running at peak performance.
If you have any questions on pre and post workout diets, we'd be happy to go over your workout and meal plan with you, just give us a call at 616.997.6172.

5K Training Tips

Thursday, September 11, 2014
If you've never been a runner, completing a 5K might seem out of reach. But, with the right practice, you may find that training is easier than you thought, and it can be fun too.
Take it Easy
Don't advance or increase your mileage, terrain, or running form by over 10% per week. Pushing yourself too hard can result in injury. Remember - slow and steady wins the race. Give yourself 8 weeks to go from walking to running.
Walk, Then Run
Start with a 5 minute brisk walk to warm up. Begin running for 30-60 seconds, followed by a 2-3 minute walk. Gradually increase running time and/or decrease walking time. End with a 5 minute walk to cool down, followed by some gentle stretching. Progressively increase your total time. For example, start with a total of 15 minutes and work your way up to 40 minutes. 
Know Proper Form
Shorter steps with a “soft” foot strike will result in less fatigue and a more efficient run pattern. The ideal range is 170-190 steps per minute. Try counting as you begin to run.
Stretch Those Muscles
Do a slow 5-10 minute warm up, then stretch prior to your workout. Stretch again after a 5 minute cool down. You can choose to do either a traditional (static) form of stretching or a dynamic stretch. Static stretching involves holding the joint or muscle in a position that is minimally challenging for 30-60 seconds. This method is designed to relax the body part that is being stretched, allowing it to go further on its own.

Dynamic stretches involve continuous movement through the exercise in order to increase flexibility. Moving your legs and arms and gradually increasing your reach and speed of movement takes you to the limits of your range of motion. In dynamic stretches, there are no bounces or "jerky" movements. An example of dynamic stretching would be slow, controlled leg swings, arm swings, or torso twists.
Vary Distance and Speed
Don't run everyday, especially when you're starting out. 3 days per week is ideal and each week your schedule should include 1 long run, 1 workout run where you increase your speed to race pace or increase the number hills and run for a shorter distance, and finally 1 recovery run which is done at a slower than race pace. Muscles and joints need time to recover. If you push them too far you risk injury or recurring pain.

Go At It Gradually
Gradually progress your weekly mileage and long run distance so you can comfortably run at least 2.5 miles prior to racing. And always reduce mileage the week prior to the big race. 
Listen to your body
If you are waking up sore or feeling sluggish during your runs take a few days off and/or cross train. Cross train with strengthening and core exercises 2-3x weekly for best results.

If you're looking for a partner along the way, we like the app Couch to 5K. And always remember that you don't have to worry about time on your first 5K. Stay steady, stay healthy. And watch out, the running bug may bite you, and as you cross that finish line you may be planning your next 5K.

If you have any questions, our fitness trainers can offer running specific training programs to make sure you build the right muscles, call 616.997.6172. The right coach can help you stay injury free and make training fun.

A New Partnership with Psychologist, Dr. Amy Dahl

Wednesday, September 03, 2014
Help us welcome Licensed Psychologist, Dr. Amy Dahl, Ph.D., LP, LPC, CAADC, to our Cedar Springs clinic! Dr. Dahl provides individual, group, couple, adolescent, adult and family therapy services. She has experience working with a variety of treatment concerns including depression, anxiety, co-dependency, grief, adjustment, stress management, substance abuse, domestic violence, and relationship issues. In addition, Dr. Dahl has further experience working in a sub-acute detoxification unit, and at two different residential treatment centers, treating women coping with substance abuse concerns and treating abused children.

Dr. Dahl is available to see clients at our Cedar Springs office (308 South Main) on Tuesdays from 10 am to 7 pm. You can make an appointment by calling 616-361-5001, or feel free to stop in on a Tuesday and welcome her!

Corey Kuipers: Physical Therapist in Coopersville

Tuesday, August 26, 2014
Specialties: Sports Physical Therapy, Spinal Manual Therapy

I love the field of Physical Therapy because it allows me to use my skills and knowledge to empower others in taking an active role in their health and wellness. The staff at Northern is wonderful, and I love the variety of patients that I get to interact with on a daily basis. My areas of interest relate to spinal manual therapy and sports PT, along with obtaining future certifications in Mechanical Diagnosis and Therapy, Orthopedic Certified Specialist and Sports Certified Specialist.

I am a graduate of Grand Valley State University where I received both my Bachelor of Science Degree in Clinical Exercise Science and my Doctorate of Physical Therapy Degree.

I live in Holland, MI where I was born and raised and in my free time I enjoy spending time with my family and two dogs. Other hobbies include running, biking, and hiking. I love traveling and recently took a trip to Europe!

Extra Steps Can Help Those At Risk for Diabetes and Heart Attack

Tuesday, August 19, 2014
Walking can lower your risk of having a heart attack, as any doctor will tell you. Now scientists have found out exactly how many steps it takes to keep your ticker healthy.

Even people who are at risk for diabetes can cut their risk for heart-related events like a heart attack or stroke by 8%.

In research published in the journal Lancet, scientists report that among people with early signs of pre-diabetes, taking an extra 2,000 steps a day–the equivalent of 20 minutes of moderate-paced walking–helped them lower their chances of heart problems.

The research team looked at data from 9,306 adults from 40 countries participating in a trial called NAVIGATOR. All of the volunteers were assigned to a program to lose weight and exercise 150 minutes a week. They were given pedometers that they wore for a week at the beginning of the study, and again a year later.
Using statistical modeling, the researchers studied the association between the number of steps the participants took on average and their relative risk for heart events in that year, accounting for potentially confounding factors that could influence heart disease rates such as diet and the participants’ previous history of heart issues.
Two thousand steps seemed to be the magic number. Even before the study began, for every 2,000 steps a day one participant tended to walk on average compared to another, he enjoyed a 10% lower rate of heart problems by the end of the year. During the study year, there was an additional 8% lower risk of heart disease for every 2,000 steps walked a day. Here’s how the researchers explained the additive effect of walking:

If subject A took 4000 steps per day at the start of the study and did not change their activity levels over the next 12 months, and subject B took 6000 steps per day at the start of the study and increased their activity levels to 8000 steps per day over the next 12 months, by the end of the study (other things being equal) subject B would have an 18% lower risk of cardiovascular disease.

That should be encouraging news to those who have added exercise to their daily routine. You don’t have to take your doctor’s word for it — now there’s pretty convincing data on exactly how much walking it takes to avoid heart disease.

This article, written by Alexandra Sifferlin, originally appeared in Time Magazine.

Dave Sefton: Physical Therapist in Cedar Springs

Tuesday, August 12, 2014
Specialties: General Physical Therapy, Clinical Leadership

I believe that physical therapy is about empowering patients and their families to do what is meaningful for their lives. That is why as a physical therapist, I value the time I spend with my patients, getting to know their personal goals and working together with them to achieve greater things together. I am currently the team leader at our Cedar Springs clinic and we welcome patients from all surrounding areas, including Sparta, Greenville, Belding, Howard City, and Grand Rapids. 

I am a recent graduate of Grand Valley State University’s Doctorate of Physical Therapy program, and I count myself blessed to have received my bachelor’s degree in Chicago, at the Moody Bible Institute.

Outside of work, I like to spend time with my wife and family. We have two dogs, who keep our home lively, and an old house that I am slowly remodeling. I believe that incorporating exercise into life is a hallmark of healthy living, so I regularly run, lift weights, and find creative ways to be active outside.

Our HIIT Class is a Success

Tuesday, July 29, 2014
People are loving our High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) Classes! The new session starts Thursday, July 31 and goes from 5-5:30am. Class lasts for 5 weeks and it's only $30. Call 616-997-6172 to sign up today!