Meet Mark

Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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Category: Stress Management

Tips for Getting the Best Massage

With the right masseuse, massage is a healthy and luxurious treat for addressing everything from sore muscles to stress to minor injuries. Here are 10 great tips to get the most from your next (or perhaps very first) massage. Massage is also great for teenagers, particularly if they play sports. There are so many styles and ways to go about this natural therapy, there really is something for everyone, whether it’s deep-tissue massage to iron out exercise kinks or a relaxing Swedish session to soothe your frazzled nerves.

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Is Having a Job Bad for Your Health?

Is it time to move to the Bahamas? A new study finds that the risk of a repeat heart attack increases if you’re in a stressful job (stop the presses!). This reinforces an earlier study which concluded that job stress is a major risk factor for cardiac events.

From the study:

“A job was defined as stressful if it combined high psychological demands (heavy workload, intense intellectual activity and important time constraints) and little control over decision-making, including a lack of autonomy, creativity and opportunities to use or develop skills.”

What’s your definition of stress? It isn’t typically realistic to completely eliminate stress, but we all have different response levels to stress and therefore, different needs for coping with it.

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The 10 Rules of Aging Well

1. Eliminate Self Destructive Behaviors

This is the first step in preventing disease and meeting your later years with vitality and good health and it almost goes without saying – almost. The health toll of destructive behaviors such as smoking and excess drinking do not necessarily manifest for many years, thus discouraging motivation to stop. It’s natural to forgo making changes when the results are seemingly intangible or minimal at best. Smokers, of course, often report almost immediate improvements in breathing, sleep, and general health, but even so, indulgent habits are difficult to break. Do it now anyway. Whether it’s nicotine or sugar or drugs, don’t let your “vice” become your master. In time it will not only rule your life; it will destroy your body.

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10 Forgotten Stress Relief Tips

There are plenty of excellent stress guides out there. Some will offer spiritual tips, while others will give you practical advice. Still others offer nutrition and fitness ideas to mitigate stress. Stress comes in many forms – relationships, work, health, hormones, momentary dilemmas, and more – and there are just as many ways to tackle it. Here’s a list of helpful stress soothers that are so simple, they’re often forgotten. They’re not ground-breaking by any means, but they work! So, while these won’t resolve major conflicts or heal a tired body, they will give you a quick mental lift. And sometimes, that’s all you really need.

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The Watering Hole

I am going to do something a bit unorthodox for the PH column this week. I had planned to move on from the hormone-stress topic to another issue, but due to the responses from so many of you, it is clear this issue resonates with many, and therefore deserves some additional attention. There are so many important issues related to this umbrella term of stress, particularly when viewed from the “primal” perspective of our evolutionary blueprint. I’d like to share some curious, persuasive and otherwise interesting snippets that might serve to get us started in discussing the myriad issues surrounding our modern, stressful lifestyle and its consequent impact on hormone function, stress management, mental health, aging, and obesity. Consider this a starting off point for a conversation that can – and should – go in any number of provocative directions based upon Part 1 from last week. Fodder for the watering hole, if you will. Whether you’re a scientist, teacher, health care provider, or simply interested in health and wellness, I want to hear your thoughts, blue-sky ideas, and varied perspectives. If this gets some thoughtful discussion started, we can carry it on as long as we like.

A few starters to get us going in any number of ways:

1. Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers

This best-seller (inaccurate title notwithstanding – ulcers are caused by bacteria, not stress) addresses the severe health implications of a life filled with daily, unmitigated stress. Robert Sapolsky posits that the reason we get “ulcers” – and heart disease, and diabetes, and obesity, and dementia, and memory loss, and depression – is because our genetic blueprint, as it were, simply isn’t developed to properly handle the enormous amount of stress present in modern life. Our bodies respond to traffic and bills as if they were serious threats – and a number of problematic side effects occur, namely, things like decreased immunity, inflammation, and impaired cognitive function. First, let’s be sure to discuss just how extensive the role of stress is (no surprise that I believe it’s perhaps the most important factor influencing human health). Prolonged and excessive stress – and specifically, we’re talking about stress to the adrenal cortex – is related (but not limited) to:

– depression

– hormonal imbalances

– sex drive

– anxiety

– immunity

– mental function

– weight and metabolism

– fibromyalgia

– cravings

– headaches

– pain and muscle tension

– aging

– sleep

2. Addressing Stress: Some Questions

– To the extent that we agree (or disagree) about the impact of stress upon health and longevity, how, then, do we best address and manage stress? What lifestyle changes do we make? What is realistic?

– I believe the modern diet, high in refined sugars and fats – worthless, toxic calories – exacerbates the already stressful lifestyle we face. Is there a place for sugar – ever – in the modern diet? And how much benefit can we really expect from dietary prescriptions for stress?

– Spirituality

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The Definitive Guide to Stress, Cortisol, and the Adrenals: When ‘Fight or Flight’ Meets the Modern World

One of my goals with this weekly column is to make significant human health issues easy to understand and discuss. I was pleased that last week’s piece, the Definitive Guide to Insulin, Blood Sugar & Type 2 Diabetes, garnered some rave reviews. The Case Against Cardio piqued some great conversation and interesting criticisms (one soul out there in the webosphere took issue with the fact that I positioned Cardio exclusively from my personal perspective as a runner rather than authoring a more scholarly article. Well wasn’t that spot on. It’s called my blog.) My opinions can’t please everyone, of course, but – based on my experiences and understanding – I am certain that contributing some insights on health in light of our (all together now) genetic blueprint is a worthwhile and timely endeavor.

Now to the topic at hand. Stress can make you gain weight, and it contributes to premature aging. Understanding how stress is related to your overall health and potentially even longevity is essential to achieving your health goals. But do not, repeat, do not go and buy yourself a bottle of Cortislim – just read this quick summary and you’ll know all you need to know.

Ariel Amanda Flickr Photo (CC)

The adrenal glands are not unlike a walnut.

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