Woman with pruritis

Identifying The Root Causes of Pruritis

Generalized itching, also known as pruritus, can be maddening, perplexing, and even downright depressing. If you are suffering from annoying itchiness, here is some information on pruritus and its causes.

What is Pruritis?
Pruritus can be defined as profuse itchiness of the skin and is a relatively common disorder affecting 20-25% of the population at one time in their lives. The condition can be, but is usually not, accompanied by a rash and the itching can range from a minor itch to a very severe itch, capable of disrupting quality of life. “Acute pruritis” is the term used for pruritus lasting six weeks or less; while “chronic pruritus” is used to refer to cases which exceed a six-week duration. For the majority of cases, there is no identifiable cause. If the condition is chronic and no cause is found, the condition is termed “Idiopathic Chronic Pruritis.”

What are the Causes?
Itching can be caused by many things including allergic manifestation, a side effect of medication, an infection, a skin disorder, or a psychological disorder. It can also be caused by a systemic disease such as, a kidney problem, thyroid disease, a neurologic disease, a blood disorder, liver disease, or connective tissue disorder and malignancy; it can also be caused by pregnancy.

How Is Pruritis Diagnosed?
A board certified allergist should be able to ask the correct questions to discover the cause of pruritis. A detailed family history should be taken from the patient and a thorough physical examination should follow. The next steps may include laboratory tests such as urinalysis, X-rays, skin biopsies , patch tests, and stool samples.

How Is Pruritis Treated?
If a systemic disease is determined to be the root cause, the itching usually subsides after the disease is treated. If there is no identifiable cause, there are a number of treatment alternatives. Medications can be given to lessen or relieve itching. Oral medications are primarily used, but topical creams can also be successful. Medications are usually administered for one to two weeks, but more severe cases may require years of treatment. UV light therapy has also been used, although degrees of success vary.

If you suffer from generalized itching, it is recommend that you seek professional help in finding the cause. Even if no cause is found, you may be given something to reduce or completely relieve your itching. If you have struggled with pruritis, feel free to contact us and share your experience.

Woman sleeping

Risks Associated With Sleep Deprivation

If you are, or were, an avid watcher of the sitcom Seinfeld, you may recall an episode in which Jerry is tortured by the neon light from a chicken restaurant which shines into his apartment and disturbs his sleep. You may recall him sliding into his own apartment after a night spent at Kramer’s and announcing,”I’m on no sleep! No sleep!” He then proceeds to go into a mini-tirade about how everything is “creaking and cracking in there” and the red light is, “burning his brain.” He finishes when Elaine comments that he seems stressed by replying, “Oh, I’m stressed.”

We hear you, Jerry, sleep deprivation is no fun for any of us, and it can be dangerous and affect your mood, judgment, and health. If you’re pushing it to the limit when it comes to catching zz’s, here are risks that you may be exposing yourself to.

Short Term Affects Of Sleep Deprivation

  • Poor performance and decreased alertness. Every little bit matters, Studies show that reducing sleep by as little as 90 minutes per night can cause a loss of alertness of up to 32 percent.
  • Memory and cognitive impairment. Feeling out of it? Lack of sleep can lower the ability to process information and to think.
  • Relationship stress. One partner’s sleep problems often become the other partner’s sleep problems. Sleep disruption can lead to fights, irritability, and sometimes, separate bedrooms.
  • Lower quality of life. If you have trouble staying alert, you may find it difficult to enjoy movies, sports games and watching tv.
  • Job related injury. Sleepiness can double your risk of injuring yourself on the job, sometimes leading to more long-term consequences.
  • Injury while driving. According to the National Highway Safety Traffic Administration, driving while drowsy has been the cause for at least 100,000 automobile crashes, 71,000 injuries and 1,550 fatalities per year.

Long Term Effects
The short-term effects of sleeplessness can usually be reversed after treatment, however, there are some longer lasting effects which may be more difficult to deal with. These include psychiatric problems, stroke, obesity, ADD, high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, and obesity. Studies show the risk of mortality is higher for those who sleep less than 6-7 hours per night with one study finding that insomnia is a greater health risk than smoking. Lack of sleep is also an accurate predictor of institutionalization during old age, and triples the rate of mortality in elderly men.

Sleep Disorders
It is worthwhile to note that much of sleep deprivation is due to sleep disorders. According to the American Sleep Disorders Association, there are over 85 sleep disorder which affect more than 70 million of Americans with only 10% of them recognized by primary care physicians. Chronic snoring can often be a sign of sleep apnea, as well as heart and brain related diseases. Patients with sleep apnea have a 15 time greater risk of automobile accidents than those without the condition and have been known to be on a par with drunk drivers in terms of driving ability.

If you feel you suffer from a lack of sleep, we especially value your comments. Increased awareness is crucial to avoiding unnecessary suffering. If you feel you may have a sleep disorder, we urge you to contact a physician. Know that there is a wide range of treatments available.

woman running barefoot

Are You Ready for Natural Running?

Running baefoot… it seems ridiculous, preposterous even…but believe it or not, it’s getting to be a real trend in the sporting industry. When Kate Clemens, personal trainer was feeling knee pain 6 miles into a 18 mile race, she took off her shoes and ran barefoot and the pain went away. But why run barefoot, what can you expect, and how do you know when you’re ready to run barefoot?

Runners who wear shoes tend to strike the ground heels first. This generates a force of up to three times the body’s weight which can lead to injuries like Achilles tendinitis and stress fractures. Barefoot runners land on the balls of their feet which generates less impact when their feet strike the ground.

Doctors, such as Irene S. Davis, PhD professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation at Harvard Medical School, believes that the running shoes over support feet to the point that they make them do what they are not designed to do. She feels that this over support results in muscles not working as hard and therefore becoming weak. She believes that your body will instinctively adjust once extremely lightweight or ‘barefoot shoes’ are worn. “Barefoot runners shorten their strides reducing impact on their lower bodies and automatically flex their knees, hips and ankles for a softer landing on hard surfaces,” said Davis.

There are a few things you know before you embark on barefoot running. The key seems to be to start off slow. You’re more likely to get injured if foot and leg muscles aren’t properly conditioned for barefoot running. Experts recommend you to start with walk-jog intervals. A good ratio might be walking for 9 minutes and jogging for one, then repeating. Gradually work up to longer distances. This will also help the skin thicken which is key in adjusting to barefoot running.

There is a risk of stepping on glass and pebbles while running. Although some claim barefoot running is safe, if this is a concern to you, you may want to opt for barefoot running shoes instead of going completely bare.

A good way to tell if you are landing properly when running is to run totally barefoot on a hard smooth surface that is free of debris. Sensory feedback will tell you if you are landing too hard, as a good landing should feel gentle, relaxed and compliant. You typically want to land on the balls of your feet without overstriding which will add stress on the calf muscles, Achilles tendon, and the arch of the foot.

Barefoot running is not recommended for people with diabetes or those who lose feeling in their legs. If you have any history of foot problems, you should check with a doctor before barefoot running. The American Academy of Sports and Medicine and the American Podiatric Medical Association believe that more research is needed to check for any risks or benefits of barefoot running. They recommend consulting a podiatrist before handing in your running shoes.

Woman hiding from the sun

Avoiding Phytodermatitis

Phytodermatitis… sounds scary doesn’t it? For those who aren’t familiar with this condition, it develops when certain plant compounds come into contact with the skin making the skin more sensitive to light. So how can we avoid phytodermatitis, how can it be identified, and how can it be treated? Read on to find out.

Phytodermatitis occurs in two steps. First the skin is exposed to a photosensitizing chemical called furocoumarins that are found in certain plants and fruits. The compounds are at their highest level in summer and spring, increasing the risks of exposure. Plants and fruits to be aware of are celery, parsley, citrus fruits, parsnips, figs, Queen Anne’s lace, bergamot and more.

Symptoms will become apparent after skin is then exposed to UV light from the sun. Within 12 to 36 hours a red, swollen rash will develop which is then replaced by discoloration that can last months or years. The key clue that you have phytodermatitis, and not another condition, is that the rash often appears in the shape of drip marks or hand prints. This is because it is apparent only on the skin that was affected by the toxins. It will also burn rather than itch.

Phytodermatitis is commonly contracted from fruit drippings, airborne particles or scratches from branches. People at risk include those who handle fruits and vegetables, bartenders, grocers, and farm workers. It can also affect people who frequently run, walk, hike or bike in wooded areas or other wild places where the plants that cause this condition grow. Sometimes children might contract it from playing in grasses that come from the same family as Queen Anne’s lace. It can also be contracted from some natural perfumes or essential oils that come from wild plants containing the compound that causes phytodermatitis.

You can avoid phytodermatitis by washing hands after coming into contact with any of the agents that might cause it. Wear long pants and sleeves when you’re in wild and wooded areas.  Also, avoid sun exposure after cutting or squeezing fruit. Avoid drinking soft drinks or fruit drinks while you are out in the sun and avoid wearing perfumes while sunbathing. Also, be sure to use a potent sunblock and limit sun exposure.

Making a campfire can also lead to cases of phytodermatitis. Use only firewood and never put wild plants into the fire. If wild parsnip or other plants that contain phytodermatitis causing chemicals are burned, they will disperse into the air and come into contact with exposed body parts. This can result in an outbreak once you come into contact with sunlight.

Most cases of phytodermatitis are mild and don’t require a trip to the doctor. The spots will fade over time. Treat the rash as you would a poison ivy rash, with cool compresses, hydrocortisone creams and oral antihistamines. In a severe case, treatment may involve steroid pills which would be prescribed by a doctor.

woman having coffee

Daily Caffeine Doesn't Cause a Racing Heart

If you absolutely can’t start your morning without coffee or get through the afternoon without a cup of tea, you’re in for good news. For years, the healthcare community has advised against regular caffeine consumption because caffeine is thought to disturb the natural cardiac rhythm of your heart, but a recent study challenges this advice. Coffee, tea and dark chocolate are full of antioxidants that may actually benefit your heart’s health, and according to this study, they are safe to be consumed daily.

The Study
Close to 1,400 individuals were chosen to participate in a year-long study that looked at the effects of daily caffeine consumption on the heart. “Clinical recommendations advising against the regular consumption of caffeinated products to prevent disturbances of the heart’s cardiac rhythm should be reconsidered, as we may unnecessarily be discouraging consumption of items like chocolate, coffee and tea that might actually have cardiovascular benefits,” says the study’s senior author, Dr. Gregory Marcus, director of clinical research in the division of cardiology at the University of California, San Francisco. “Given our recent work demonstrating that extra heartbeats can be dangerous, this finding is especially relevant,” Marcus adds. Marcus is referring to research that points to extra heartbeats being a cause of heart problems and stroke, but this is in rare cases.

The Results
Researchers monitored the chocolate, coffee and tea consumption of each of the 1,400 participants, and participants wore portable devices that monitored their heart rhythm continuously for 24 hours. During the course of the survey, 61 percent of participants consumed more than one of the caffeinated products daily and the results were that those who consumed more than one caffeinated item each day had no extra heartbeats. These findings are important because “this was the first community-based sample to look at the impact of caffeine on extra heartbeats, as previous studies looked at people with known (heart rhythm disorders),” says study lead author, Shalini Dixit, fourth-year medical student at the University of California, San Francisco.

The results of this study are exciting and encouraging because it was previously thought that regular caffeine consumption was related to extra heartbeats or a racing heart. This University of California, San Francisco study challenges those beliefs and asserts that caffeine can be consumed daily. It is important to note that the study looked at caffeinated products that are known to have additional health benefits (coffee, green tea and chocolate) and not drinks health experts warn people to stay away from like soft drinks. Additionally, the study authors say that before determining whether or not there are additional health risks to heavy caffeine consumption, more studies are necessary.

This study seems to confirm that like most things, caffeine in moderation is safe for your heart, and that some of the products containing caffeine may have additional health benefits. The antioxidants in coffee, green tea and chocolate provide health benefits for your body by fighting inflammation, protecting against free radicals and can even help lower cholesterol and blood pressure. Enjoy these products in moderation, knowing that they won’t cause your heart to work overtime.

Woman making a heart shape with her fingers

Your Skin and Heart Health

What if you could predict your risk for cardiovascular diseases and conditions by the simple act of looking at your skin? While it might not be that easy, recent research suggests that there are links between the health of your skin and the health of your heart. Two major studies supporting this claim include one published in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology and one published in the Journals of Gerontology. Keep reading to learn about the studies and what they mean for your health.

The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology Study
The skin/heart health study published in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology involved more than 61,000 adults. Adults that had the inflammatory skin condition eczema were 48 percent more likely to have high blood pressure, 35 percent more likely to deal with adult-onset diabetes and 29 percent more likely to have high cholesterol than other adults. All of these ailments are risk factors that contribute to heart disease and the numbers remained the same, even after other factors that play into cardiovascular diseases such as alcohol consumption and activity levels, were controlled.

Why do those who have eczema find themselves at a higher risk for cardiovascular disease? While the exact answer is unknown, the most probable answer is that those with eczema have such intense chronic inflammation that it shows up throughout the body as opposed to just superficially on the skin. “It may be that chronic inflammation from eczema directly increases cardiovascular risk,” says Jonathan Silverberg, M.D., Ph. D, and assistant professor of dermatology and preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. Silverberg notes that not all inflammation is a bad thing for your body, in face acute inflammation is the natural response your body has to harmful invaders, it is the constant deployment of natural killer cells and T cells that can interfere with vital functioning, including circulation. Additionally, Silverberg makes it clear that not everyone who suffers from eczema will have cardiovascular problems. You can help prevent both the health of your heart and skin by consuming antioxidant-rich produce, controlling stress levels and being sure to get seven to nine hours of sleep each night.

The Journals of Gerontology Study
Researchers from Leiden University Medical Center in the Netherlands in conjunction with scientists from Unilever observed 250 women who were separated into two groups by the researchers based on high and low cardiovascular disease risk. The scientist analyzed the skin of the faces and upper inner arms of the women and found that the women who appeared younger had lower blood pressure and heart disease risks. “We have found that the feature in the face that blood pressure was linked to was not skin wrinkles but likely what we term as ‘sag’ in the face. The exciting thing is further investigations will enable exact pinpointing of the feature in the face that signposts an individual’s blood pressure,” says Dr. David Gunn, senior scientist at Unilever.

You may not be able to determine your heart health and future cardiovascular disease risk by merely taking a peek in the mirror, but it seems that your skin may reflect more of your internal health than previously thought. You can reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease by engaging in a healthy, active lifestyle that includes low stress, adequate sleep and a nutritious diet. Not only will your heart thank you, but so will your skin.

Pregnant woman in a park

Stop Aging by Having More Children

To slow down the aging process, you are told to eat well, exercise often, get enough sleep and eliminate as much stress as possible, so it may seem completely counterintuitive that if you want to stop the clock on aging, you should have more kids. Children, particularly in the first few months of life, deplete your energy, have you skimping on sleep and they seem to infinitely increase your stress level, so how can having a larger family possible keep you young? New research from Canadian researchers at Simon Fraser University suggests that the number of children a woman births has a positive impact on her body’s aging rate.

The Study
Researchers embarked on a 13-year long study that observed telomere lengths in 75 women. The 75 Kaqchikel Mayan women that the study tracked were all from two neighboring communities located in the southwest highlands of Guatemala who had their telomere length taken from their saliva at the beginning of the study in 2000. At the end of the study in 2013, the same 75 women had their telomere length measured through a buccal swab and the results showed that women who had more surviving children over the course of 13 years had longer telomeres than women who had fewer surviving children in the same period of time. Each additional child born was linked to 0.059 more telomere units.

The Science
Telomeres are important pieces of a cell that influence how the cells age and are the caps at the end of each strand of DNA. These caps are so important because they protect chromosomes – the threadlike structures containing all of your genetic information – from damage. Every time a cell replicates, your telomeres become shorter and eventually reach such a short length that they are no longer able to protect your chromosomes. When your chromosomes become vulnerable, cells age and stop functioning effectively. In the findings for this 13 year study, Prof. Pablo Nepomnaschy and Cindy Barha state that “our analyses show that increased offspring number across 13 years of observation attenuated telomere shortening, suggesting that, in our study population, having more children may slow the pace of cellular aging.”

When it comes to the “why” of the study, Prof. Nepomnaschy has some theories, one of which involves the increase of the hormone estrogen during pregnancy. “Estrogen functions as a potent antioxidant that protects cells against telomere shortening,” hypothesizes Nepomnaschy. Additionally, the social environment surrounding women with more children may positively impact their rate of aging because mothers with more children receive more support from both family and friends. “Greater support leads to an increase in the amount of metabolic energy that can be allocated to tissue maintenance, thereby slowing down the process of aging,” says Nepomnaschy.

In the never-ending quest for youth, researchers have discovered that having more children may indeed lead to delayed aging process. The surge of estrogen and the social support structure that results from being pregnant and having children are two factors that the researchers believe to be influential. Having more children may indeed keep you young, and children will always bring you incredible love and joy, which make your life, longer or not, more satisfying.

Woman down with the cold.

Why You Actually Get Sick in Cold Weather

Cold and flu season has officially arrived and it can be difficult to keep yourself from succumbing to one or the other, or both if you’re unlucky. It isn’t just a nasty cold or flu virus that can have you feeling less than great during the winter months, you may also experience a worsening of other health conditions such as arthritis or diabetes. Research from Cambridge University helps to bring some clarity when it comes to why you actually get sick in cold weather.

What Causes Cold Weather Illness
It’s a fact that illness rates go up during cold weather and there has been little indication as to what is actually causing this. A study conducted by John Todd, professor of Medical Genetics at Cambridge University, concludes that your genes are responsible for the increase in illness and discomfort you experience during the winter. Why does this happen? The theory is that your genes actually change their behavior in response to seasonal changes. This amazing bit of science was discovered by chance by one of Professor Todd’s Ph.D. students. The student noted that during winter, immunity genes were more active in white blood cells than they were at other times of the year. White blood cells are the cells in your body that are responsible for fighting off infection and illness.

Scientific Study Provides Support
Once the discovery had been made, Professor Todd launched a research study that included over 16,000 worldwide. The research team, lead by Todd, carefully analyzed blood and tissue samples from participants coming from a large variety of climates and environments. Your body contains around 24,000 genes and the research conducted by Todd and his team analyzed 22,000 human genes, making it a comprehensive study.

What they found was that nearly one-quarter of genes in the human body show signs of altered behavior during seasonal change. The weather in Britain changes significantly with the seasons, much like it does here. Todd found that during the winter months, immune system genes ramped up their activity during the winter months. However, samples from Iceland, where it is cold the majority of the time and there are few seasonal changes, showed that genes were more active prior to the rainy season in Iceland.

Why do Genes Change Behavior and Why Does More Immune Activity Make you Sick?
While the study indicated clearly that there are many genes that alter their behavior according to season changes, the reason why is still unclear. The researchers who conducted the study believe that genes receive natural clues from their environment, such as temperature or sunlight, and then respond accordingly.

If your immunity genes in white blood cells are more active during cold, winter months, then why do you still get sick? Shouldn’t more activity equal more protection? Not entirely. Professor Todd explains that the spike in activity can cause your cells to malfunction and attack your body instead of just foreign invaders. Your immunity genes control white blood cells, which triggers inflammation. Chronic inflammation is a major component of serious diseases such as heart disease, arthritis and type 1 diabetes.

What Does All of This Mean?
The research all boils down to one fact: if you know more about what’s wrong, you can treat the condition more effectively. Drugs that target inflammation may be more effective when used during the winter months to treat serious conditions like arthritis. Additionally, Professor Todd suggests that perhaps instead of getting vaccinated immediately when fall starts, it may be more beneficial to be vaccinated later in the winter when your body is already primed for immune action.

Staying healthy during winter weather can be a challenge and some places, like at work or school, you can’t fully control your exposure to bacteria and viruses. Understanding what happens to cause illness in cold weather is a promising step in discovering how to more effectively prevent and fight these illnesses as well. Remember to wash your hands thoroughly and often and to stay home if you are sick to avoid spreading germs. Even though your genes alter their behavior, prevention of disease by hand washing and vaccination is still important because these practices can significantly lessen the severity of your illness.

Human neuron

The Cell Transformation that Could Transform Medicine

The treatment and management of diseases and conditions is one of the most heavily studied areas of science. New discoveries are made every day, some of which have the power to transform medical practices. A recent study by molecular and cellular biologists indicates that the way in which personalized medicine is practiced may truly transform. Scientists have been able to use gene insertion to transform one type of cell into another type of cell. Adding genes into the original cells is a highly intricate process that involves a significant time investment. Additionally, when using gene insertion to transform cells, there is the possibility one of the genes meant for insertion could end up on a chromosome and activate a cancer-causing gene. New studies published online by Cell Stem Cell states that scientists have successfully transformed skin cells into neurons without the use of gene insertion.

The Study
The studies published online by Cell Stem Cell assert that scientists have been able to transform one type of cell into another type of cell with a less invasive and time consuming process. The new transforming technique involves the addition of a specific set of chemicals to the cells. Gang Pei, a co-author of one of the studies and a biochemist at the Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences in China explains that the crucial element in this new way of transforming cells is the use of small molecule chemicals. These small molecule chemicals go into the cell and enter the nucleus of the cell, the part that contains DNA. From here, the small molecule chemicals are able to alter the activity of a gene. Pei, and the team he led, spent enormous amounts of time researching the exact chemical concoction that can transform cells; in the study they transformed skin cells into neurons. The specific group of chemicals used by Pei and his team are labeled VCRFSGY and these chemicals work in stages. VCRF, the first four chemicals, begin the process by altering physical traits on a gene known as Tuj1 (a gene that is specifically active in neurons). Without the last three chemicals, the altered cell exists in an ambiguous state being neither a skin cell nor a neuron. The SGY chemicals amplify the neurological development that VCRF initiated which results in cells that looked, and acted like, neurons.In a second study, researchers in China were able to achieve the same results in mice using different chemicals.

Why it Matters
With two separate studies, and two sets of chemicals, producing the same results, molecular and cell biologists believe that this process could compete with gene insertion in order to reprogram and transform cells. They believe that the process of using small molecule chemicals will especially benefit the field of personalized medicine. These study is exciting because with these processes, a patient’s own cells can be used to treat illnesses and other conditions. Pei’s team was able to transform skin cells from an Alzheimer’s patient into neurons that exhibited markers of Alzheimer’s disease. With this process, researchers would be able to safely and accurately research the disease and perform drug tests on the transformed cells without endangering the patient.

These studies indicate that medical research and development continues to reach new and exciting heights constantly, which provides the scientific community with hope that disease study will advance to the point where cures are possible. These studies are just the beginning of the powers of cell-transforming technology and only time will tell what will be possible in the future.

Woman working out in a gym.

Change How You Think – Make Working Out a Habit

You think about heading to the gym and working out. You may even plan out your exercise routine or when you are going to hit the gym. But somehow, those plans seem to fall by the wayside when it comes time for you to actually get moving. It doesn’t help that you have friends or know gym-goers that show up without fail every single day. Even more frustrating is that these fitness junkies actually like the process of exercise and look forward to this part of their day. While you mentally curse them for their dedication, you probably also wish that you could be more disciplined and more excited about your own exercise and now you can. A recent study published in the Health Psychology journal suggests that there really is a difference between those who consistently exercise and those that struggle with merely making time to head outside or to your gym, but don’t lose hope yet. Just because there is a difference between you and faithful gym-goers doesn’t mean that you can’t become one of the latter. The study suggests that you can learn to make exercise an essential part of your day.

What Sets Regular Exercisers Apart
The answer to what makes regular exercises different is frustratingly simple and you have probably heard it before. Those that workout without fail do not dread exercise and they don’t think of exercise as a chore that has to be done. It’s that difficult and that simple. Rather than thinking about exercise as one more thing that you have to cram into the day, consistent exercisers get active almost automatically; it is just a part of their daily routine. Those that exercise regularly receive cues, either internal or external, that signal it is time to get up and move. Some may respond to external sources, like the alarm going off in the morning, while others respond to an internal cue “I’m stressed from work and home obligations, it’s time to relieve some stress at the gym.”

In the study, the researchers referred to this tendency as the “instigation habit.” The researchers set out to find out whether the instigation habit would be indicative of people being able to stick to an exercise regime, and they definitely proved their hypothesis. In fact, the instigation habit was the only predictor that people would stick with exercise and that the more time spent exercising (for example going from the first month to the third), the stronger the instigation habit became. Why? Because it seems that exercisers with a high instigation habit do not think only of the work that awaits them when it’s time to exercise. They associate exercise and gym time with specific parts of their day; they hear their alarm in the morning and know it’s time to lace up the gym shoes. It isn’t only the exercise that the consistent gym-goers think of, they think of the entire experience of exercise, including that awesome post-workout high, as a habit they have cultivated, not as a chore that they have to cross off their to-do list.

Why it Matters
It seems like a great excuse (“I don’t intrinsically have a strong instigation habit so I shouldn’t even bother”), but it’s actually the reverse. If you weren’t blessed with a high instigation habit, it takes a bit more work on your part, but you absolutely can strengthen it. Beginning an exercise routine after a long break in physical activity (or a lifetime or inactivity) is by no means an easy task, but stick with it. The longer that you make regular exercise a part of your routine, the more you condition your mind to think of exercise as an essential part of your day.

The temptation to hit the snooze button or drive past the gym after a super long day at work is definitely great, but sticking to your exercise routine in the beginning makes it easier to make working out a lifelong habit. Physical activity is incredibly important for a healthy life and right now, it may not be your favorite thing to do. But if you can shift your thinking from “I hate this chore” to “oh, my alarm is going off, time to hit the gym,” you will be able to make exercise an essential part of your day, and your body will thank you.

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