A Couple of Reasons to Take Up Cycling

Transportation is an issue that has plagued people since the times of the first civilizations; the question of how to get from one point to another with minimal effort, greatest haste, and maximum safety has led to advancements in technology in all its forms, from the conception of the wheel, to the construction of the modern-day airliner. Today, most transportation is done with high-speed machines that can carry heavy loads of people and luggage across routes that would have been deemed impossible a mere half-century ago.

Interestingly enough, one widely used transport vehicle has remained the same in basic design and concept, despite the march of modern-day machinery in the transportation industry: the bicycle.

Since the idea for two-wheeled transportation first arose in Germany in 1817, it seems that generation after generation that followed had stuck to the idea, gradually evolving it into the bicycle that riders know and love today. What is it that has allowed cycling to remain a recognized form of transportation despite the fact it is outclassed in terms of speed and power by almost every motorized vehicle in existence?

One of the first reasons to take up cycling as opposed to other forms of transport – such as driving for example – is the fact it is often more economical. Cars tend to break down, no matter how well their owners take care of them. They require gas to run, and that doesn’t come cheap either. Then, there’s the cost of motor oil, difficulty of cleaning; the list goes on. Bicycles however, are much easier to maintain. While they too break down, the parts needed for a bicycle to run are much cheaper in contrast to an automobile. They are far less bulky. Most importantly, they do not require any form of fuel to run.

Bicycles are also arguably the healthiest form of transportation available. It is well-known that riding bicycles greatly improves the body’s cardiovascular performance, giving riders generous reserves of stamina. Cyclists – particularly those who are into mountain biking – also develop solid muscles in their bodies, due to the long periods of gradual physical exertion. In addition to the aforementioned health benefits, research has also shown that the motions performed when cycling are much smoother than those performed when jogging or running. This means there is less unnecessary strain on the body, allowing for a longer and more efficient workout.

Finally, if a person cannot find a reason to ride a bike for business or health, there is always leisure. Cycling, like most physical exercises, triggers the brain to release endorphins into the bloodstream in much greater amounts than antidepressants can. Mountain bikers can find leisure in carefully navigating rough terrain. Track cyclists can find it in going at high speed on a smooth road, and feeling the wind in their faces. Regardless of the style of riding, cyclists often feel a sense of accomplishment upon completing a course.

Cycling isn’t as hard as it looks. Like everything, it does require that the rider get a feel of what he/she is doing before it becomes second nature, but once a person has found a reason to get on a bike, it only takes a little bit of practice before the cyclist is able to take the machine where he/she pleases.

True, bicycles are not often viewed as a primary means of transportation. However, the fact remains that they have survived over two centuries of rapidly evolving technology, and have remained popular among cyclists worldwide. There are several roots behind this; economy, fitness, and leisure are just the most widespread of reasons for people to get on a bike and start cycling, but there are many more personal motivations. If all that is needed to join the flow is the motivation, then there really is no shortage of that.

Cycling Accessories for the Serious Cyclist

Cycling is one of the world’s most popular outdoor activities. It can be done in most roads worldwide, and rougher cyclists also push their performances to off-road routes. It is healthy, fun, fast, and just about anybody can do it.

But what if it isn’t enough? What if there’s that road you can’t speed down, or that hill you can’t climb with your bike? What happens when you and your bike find that path you cannot trek? Well the most experienced of cyclists will often tell you that there’s nowhere you can’t go with a good bike, and they are right in saying so. If you or your bike can’t make the ride somewhere, the most obvious thing to do is get an upgrade.

These days, there are bike accessories to solve every conceivable problem a bike can face; from flat tires, to fog, to falling. The only thing the serious cyclist needs to do is find them.

If the challenge is low-visibility for example, the accessory of choice of course, is lighting. Front and rear bike lights range in price from $25.00 each, to just under $300.00. Most come with an easy-to-install wiring system that doesn’t even interfere with the motions cyclists perform. Bike lights are used to deal with the dangers of night cycling or routes where fog would stop most trekkers in their tracks.

If the bar of difficulty is raised, and the route leads through rough terrain, the cyclist has two options to make it through the obstacle: shock absorbers and handlebars. While shock absorbers are not always modifiable, as some bikes do not come with them, and might not always be modifiable, handlebars are easier to come by. The design of handlebars varies with what the bicycle is meant for. For example, drop handlebars – a popular handlebar type that curves forward and down, then back toward the rider – are used for speed, and are used by most track athletes. For the mentioned rough terrain, a flat t-shaped handlebar with rough handle coverings allows the cyclist to negotiate the worst surfaces with the finest control; they may even have bar ends attached as additional accessories to increase the number of available hand positions when cycling.

Some courses may also call for better safety standards on the bicycle. Cyclists can achieve this with a proper choice of bike pedals. The safest of pedals are designed to lower the chances of the rider’s shoe slipping off. Some have cleats that attach to cycling shoes, while others have a more direct approach, coming with a toe clip to secure the rider’s foot in place.

The saddle can also be customized in most bicycles, allowing the rider to maximize comfort. Some cyclists may have an actual seat installed; these have some form of structure to support the rider’s back. Other cyclists will prefer the classic saddle, but have it made of more shock-absorbent material. The toughest of courses might call for specialized saddles with no nose to prevent damage to the rider’s pelvis.

Finally, whether speed or precision is called for, safety is still the primary concern of cycling accessories. The cyclist can purchase elbow and knee pads to protect against nasty falls, and of course, a good cycling helmet is necessary to minimize the risk of injury. While it is possible to afford such safety gear at less than $50.00 for the helmet, and less than $20.00 for a full set of cycling pads and armor, it is recommended to invest a fairly larger amount than this for protection. After all, the best bicycle in the world is worthless if the cyclist can’t ride it anymore.

Swallowing Without Fear: Low-carb Fruits and Vegetables

Do you ever get that guilty feeling after eating a complete meal? That one that mocks you, saying you’re growing fat and it’s your own fault for gorging on food? If you’re like me, and you hate that feeling, but can’t resist a good meal anyway, there is a simple solution.

Food itself isn’t a bad thing. Food provides carbohydrates, and carbohydrates provide the energy we need to keep functioning. However, not every human body is the same. For example, some people might be able to live on the 2000-calorie recommended dietary intake without either gaining or losing weight. Others might find they need more energy every day than that. Others still, find that following the so-called “healthy” diet causes them to put on more pounds than they can lose with physical exercise. This is metabolism in action. If a person has a high metabolic rate, he/she burns through energy reserves extremely quickly. There simply isn’t enough time for the energy to be converted into fat deposits. A person with low metabolic rates however, has a body that doesn’t make use of energy as quickly as he/she would like. Instead, a bit of energy is used to power bodily function, and the rest is stored away as fuel for later use.

So your rival here isn’t your food; rather, it’s your metabolism. Your enemy is yourself, and if you want to have any chance of winning, then you have to find a way to play the game on your terms. You need to find a way to eat to your heart’s content without causing the weighing scale record so much as a single digit higher. With a diet of low-carb fruits and low-carb vegetables, this is not an impossible task.

Most fruits and vegetables already have a naturally low amount of carbohydrates in them. They also usually have very low amounts of cholesterol and sodium. This means that a diet of carefully chosen fruits and vegetables can be eaten in very large quantities without fear of weight-gain. The only real question is what products have this miracle property in them.

For starters, if you want to lose weight, stick to your greens. Leafy vegetables are high in fiber, and contain fewer carbohydrates than fruits. In nature, leaves are the parts of the plant that keep the rest of the crop alive; it makes sense then, that a lot of minerals necessary for life are processed here at a cellular level. Take a leaf of lettuce, for example; at 1 calorie, zero carbs, and 4-5 grams total weight per leaf, it is possible to plan a full vegetarian meal based on lettuce, feel full afterwards, receive necessary nutrition, and not gain any weight whatsoever. It doesn’t go for just lettuce, either. In fact, just about every leafy vegetable follows the same healthy trend.

Fruits however, can be a bit trickier. They almost always contain calories, sugars, and carbs; the necessary ingredients for energy, but also for fat deposits. In fact, some meats actually have lower carbohydrates per 100-gram serving than the vast majority of fruits. Still, low carb fruit options do exist. A cup of raw, chopped cucumbers is both nutritious and filling. While a large part of the calorie content it has comes from fructose – sugars – the benefits of eating cucumbers far outweigh the bad. Balsam-pear is also a good candidate, though the taste can put people off at times. As with low-carb vegetables, a good rule to follow is “green is good.”

Of course, most fleshy fruits are still a solid and healthy option to eat; just hold back a bit on eating more than an apple a day or losing weight gets a bit harder.

Beyond those rules, it only takes the willpower to beat your metabolism at its own game. Roads only take you where they lead if you follow them; at the end of the day, the same thing goes for diets.

Feeling Nervous: The Effects of Diabetes on the Nervous System

Diabetes is a scary thing. It is almost literally a curse many people bear, and sometimes, has consequences more serious than even diabetics themselves ever come to terms with.

I recall a friend of mine – a teacher – who used to complain to me on a regular basis about her health. She used to whine about headaches while teaching, nausea, fatigue… and we usually listened (as best as we could anyway, as some of the stories tended to be re-runs). We were never really surprised with her stories, given the stressful nature of her job, and the fact she made no secret the fact she had type-II diabetes.

One day however, she started complaining about pain on top of her foot. Of course we listened, and of course she was met with our usual responses and advice. “Maybe you’re working too hard?” I asked her. And we shrugged it off.

She started to complain more and more about the pain though. I started to worry for her, as it had been two weeks since she first told us about it, and she claimed it seemed to have spread to both feet. She tried to act calm, and laughed off my advice to see a doctor. The last straw came a few hours later; she started to complain about pain in her lower abdomen, right where the liver should be.

I set an appointment with a doctor to have her checked up. When he finally did so, we found out her diabetes had damaged her peripheral nervous system.

Peripheral neuropathy is a condition where the peripheral nervous system – the system of nerves that sends signals from the brain and spinal cord to the target organs and back – has its function impeded for any number of reasons. It is the most commonly caused by diabetes, and is also the most common cause of death among diabetics. Diabetes is thought to lead to this condition when capillaries that supply nerves or innervated tissue are damaged by the high concentrations of sugar in the blood. This damage can happen anywhere in the body, and because of that, it can affect any number of systems and organs. Without proper treatment, peripheral neuropathy could escalate to cause more pain, or even dulling of sensor motor function.

The doctor prescribed duloxetine. The drug, though meant to treat severe anxiety or depression, was meant to dull the pain of peripheral neuropathy by inhibiting reuptake of the neurotransmitters called serotonin and norepinephrine. He also put her on a short physical therapy program and warned her to be stricter with regards to her glucose control; advice she took happily.

The treatment worked; while the doctor told us that the only true way of dealing with diabetic peripheral neuropathy is to observe and control glucose levels, the physical therapy and medication worked wonders to reduce the liver pain and foot pain my friend was going through. As it turns out, the body is able to reverse the damage dealt to the nervous system; but only if the onset of neuropathy is recent. Had we waited even a few days longer, the damage could have been permanent.

Coughing Up a Cure: Dealing with Allergic Asthma

Allergic asthma is a nasty thing to deal with; there’s the coughing, the wheezing, the phlegm… then there’s the asthma inhaler, the nebulizer, and especially for kids, the ridicule that comes with the treatment. It doesn’t help that the treatments are pretty expensive as well.

Unfortunately, allergic asthma isn’t something like a common cold that a good rest and some chicken soup can get you through. It is triggered when allergens are able to enter the body through the mouth and nose during inhalation, and irritate the sensitive lining of the windpipe and bronchial tubes. The body responds by sending white blood cells to the irritated area in an inflammatory response. While this is normally helpful when it comes to fighting diseases, in the lungs, it constricts the airways, making breathing difficult. Neglecting asthma can lead to fatigue, fever, and pulmonary edema: a buildup of fluid in the lungs.

Thankfully, a number of ways exist to treat allergic asthma in the event that medication is unavailable.

First of all, you will want to cut the problem at the source. Do you know what the victim is allergic to? If so, move it away as soon as possible to stop airborne allergens from continuously entering the asthmatic’s body. If not, then make it a point to identify it. If necessary, move the victim to a different area. For allergic asthmatics, this is the equivalent of stopping the bleeding during first-aid treatment.

Once the source of the allergens is out of the way, it becomes easier to treat the asthma attack. In non-allergic asthma, home remedies only allow you to provide temporary relief by dealing with the symptoms of asthma, rather than provide a homebrewed concoction that treats asthma itself. Allergic asthma however, can be treated to a certain extent at home, because the only thing necessary is to stop the body’s reaction to the allergen. Doctors accomplish this with antihistamine. These substances counter histamine – their associated neurotransmitter – and prevent the inflammatory response from happening. Fortunately natural antihistamines are readily available almost anywhere, you can find out about them at www.commonbreathingproblems.com. Before you go trying them out however, a word of advice: Home remedies are not meant to replace a doctor’s orders to treat a condition. Rather, they are meant to supplement the treatment, and aid in recovery from the condition.

That said, here is a list of home remedies for allergic asthma.

Take a look around your kitchen. The odds are good that you have some ginger lying around. This root is known in traditional medicine for its healing properties. In actual science, ginger does contain natural antihistamine. It also lowers blood pressure, and has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Ginger can also make a fine tea. Sometimes, a sip of hot, strong tea helps too.

Another plant with similar properties is chamomile. The dried flowers of this plant can also be made into a tea. It is much milder than, and is often used together with ginger in the same concoction in fact. Chamomile tea also is reputed to aid in getting a good night’s sleep, so the odds are, you’ll wake up feeling better after taking some.

Some people don’t like tea, of course. For those of you who would rather find a more solid cure, I recommend two herbs that can deal with asthma, and add some taste to your cooking. Basil and parsley are both popular herbs found in most grocery stores and markets. Sprinkle a dash of very fine basil on your chicken soup, or decorate your plate with some parsley to go with your dinner. That works just as well as any over-the-counter antihistamine medication.

People have had to deal with allergies for as long as there has been human history. While modern medicine has spent a good sum of money in taking great strides in that direction, it doesn’t imply that we are forced to do the same. After all, if home isn’t a place of healing, then what is?

Skin Deep Beauty: Tattoo Scabbing and Skin Tears

If you have a tattoo, you know and understand that feeling when you look at the finished work of art for the first time; when you see bright, solid lines and combinations of deep and soft shades of ink on the canvas of your skin. There may be a little bleeding; perhaps a bit of a sting, but the feeling is always worth a good work of art.

Then, there’s the scabbing. Especially for those who have just gotten their first tattoo, the first couple of weeks of scabbing are a scary part.

A new tattoo will sometimes scab. Just like the peeling and flaking of dead skin off the surface of the tattoo, this is part of the body’s natural healing process, and isn’t normally too serious. Think of the tattoo as a giant painted wound just beneath the topmost layer of skin. The body will attempt to protect the wound by building a layer of cells over it. Sometimes, the scabs can look unsightly, but tattoo artists will caution against peeling them off, or tearing at them. Scabs fall off when the area under them is completely healed, and just like those on an open wound, peeling of scab tissue only prolongs the healing process. In the case of tattoos, peeling scabs also runs the risk of creating a skin tear deep enough to cause the unsettled ink to literally flow out.

Sometimes however, scabbing can be so bad, it ruins the ink underneath. If you have just spend a couple of hundred dollars on a full-back tattoo, that becomes a problem; certain precautions have to be taken to avoid excessive scabbing.

First of all, keep the tattoo clean. Use antibacterial soap to minimize the risk of getting an infection while the tattoo is still healing. The tattoo artist will tell you to wash it between three to five times per day, probably depending on the design. Cleaning a tattoo requires that minimum pressure is applied or the chance of damaging the artwork increases. The tattoo should never be rubbed whether while washing or drying it.

You can tell where scabs are going to form by where skin tears appear. These tears are normal, as many tattoo artists will admit that their needles can cause damage to the epidermis. The important thing to remember is not to overreact and try to physically handle the tear in any way. The same rules of keeping it clean apply, just as they do to scabs.

It is also advisable to keep the tattoo moisturized to avoid any more scabbing. The tattoo artist will usually recommend an ointment or moisturizer to aid in healing. However, overuse of a moisturizer can be as bad as improper washing of the tattoo. Do not apply more than necessary to keep it moist.

Again, remember that a tattoo is basically an open wound. It needs proper care and treatment in order to heal just like any other wound, with the added difficulty of preserving ink quality for as long as possible, in the best shape as possible. If you’re going to have to deal with the scabs and skin tears, remember that that’s part of the package. The real beauty is literally skin deep – just under all of that – but you can’t rush it. Once it’s under your skin, you’re going to live with it for the rest of your life; so treat it the way you’d treat anything in the same shoes.