What Is Oxidative Stress? How to Identify and Overcome It

Antioxidants. Inflammation. Metabolism. Free radicals.

If you’re interested in health, these terms have at least entered your periphery. They are hard to avoid: During the last few decades, these terms have gained a lot of steam. They are popping up in every conceivable space in the health world — from listicles to food labels to instructions coming from your dietitian’s mouth.

So how do they all relate and how can you process all of this information to make good decisions about your health? Read more

How a Positive Attitude Affects Your Health

If you’re already on the path to a fit and healthy lifestyle, you know the importance of proper nutrition. You know the effects that eating clean and whole foods can have on your appearance, energy levels, endurance and overall feeling of well-being. You do a good job of nurturing your body, but are you aware of the importance of nurturing your mind, too?

A positive attitude isn’t just critical to your mood, it’s essential to your overall health. Read more

Can Stress Make You Sick?

Stress is not just a mental concept; it also has a huge effect on your physical wellbeing.

In short doses, acute stress can help you become focused and give you an actual rush of adrenaline that energizes your body to get the work done. Unfortunately, most of us are unable to let go of stress once the initial panic is gone. Read more

Why Are My Hands Always Cold? A Guide To Warming Up Cold Hands

“Cold hands, warm heart!” as they say. But even if it indicates a kind and loving personality, that doesn’t make it any easier to deal with constantly-frigid fingers and hands.

Having cold hands in cold weather is expected. However, even when indoors and otherwise warm, having cold hands is a common complaint coming from people of all walks of life.

But why do people get cold hands? Is this something to worry about? Or is it just a minor annoyance to be placated by cute idioms like “cold hands, warm heart!”? Read more

How Does Exercise Reduce Stress? (And How to Use It To Your Advantage)

Think about the last time you were stressed – did you exercise that day? We are betting that the answer is “no”. It probably didn’t occur to you that exercise would help. While we all know about the physical benefits of exercise, we rarely think about exercising to improve our mental health.

But exercise isn’t just for physical health. It is one of the best things you can do to develop a healthier brain and reduce stress levels. If you feel regularly stressed and aren’t frequently exercising, a bit of physical activity might be just what you need.

Let’s dig into the science behind how physical exercise reduces stress, and then cover a few ways you can start using it to your advantage. Read more

Mindfulness Goes Mainstream

Mindfulness is now mainstream.

More wearable technology companies are starting to understand the potential impact of mindfulness – and we’re thrilled. Since 2014, we’ve talked about why breath and mindfulness are the next frontiers in wellness. Back then, pundits called our app, market-focus and breakthrough breathing sensors “niche.” They were wrong: now, almost every other major wearable technology company is attempting to enter the space we’ve led.

But there is a big difference between a paced breathing exercise using LEDs on your wrist and actually measuring and impacting your breathing and state of mind in daily life. At Spire, we continue to invest in developing deep technologies and experiences that do what wristbands cannot: provide real-time insights on your breathing and measurable outcomes to improve your state of mind in daily life.

We do it by actually sensing respiration, improving mindfulness, and training in breathing practices. Here’s how:

Patenteblog_quote1d Respiration Sensors

Spire’s sensors – which go beyond simple accelerometers – and algorithms measure respiration patterns continuously, throughout the day (not only when to stop to meditate).

This means Spire can:

  1. Notify you in-the-moment when your breathing changes – like when you are getting tense or haven’t taken a deep breath in a while. This is key!

    “I set up an immediate alarm to notify me of my ‘Tense’ streaks, and that really helps me to become instantly aware of the fact I have to get calmer.” -A.C.
  2. Deliver a complete picture of your day to help you understand your breathing and state of mind all day long. For example, understand what makes you tense, what brings you calm, and when you get most focused.

    “I’ve also noticed that I’d often become tense when speaking about my work projects, or discussing things with my team members. Spire helps me there as well, notifying me of a tense streak.” -J.G.
  3. blog_quote2Visualize your breathing, in real-time, while doing any breathing practice or meditations.

“The breathwave visualization is the best thing I’ve ever used as a breathing technique for calming down.” -J.J.

Spire feeds your respiration data to algorithms that strip out the noise and classify it according to the way you normally breathe (what’s calm for you is different than calm for another person).  Our algorithms are based on dozens of laboratory studies around the world that distinguish how respiration patterns vary with cognitive and emotional state.

The success of wearables has been built on using new sensors to measure and provide feedback that you can directly use. This rule is no different when it comes to breathing and mindfulness: measuring your breathing is paramount.

blog_quote3Mindfulness:

Mindfulness is the practice of creating space between stimulus and response; it helps you respond to life situations versus reacting irrationally. This requires strong ability to direct one’s attention as well as the ability to observe without judgment.

A core technique in mindfulness is to use breathing as an anchor for attention. This is because respiration is the only autonomic function you have direct control over. Greater mindfulness practice results in a lower resting respiration rate, among other clinical outcomes such as reduced depression and stress. The guidance in the Spire app is based on protocols from clinical studies to alleviate anxiety and pain, increase heart rate variability, reduce blood pressure, and more.

Meditation:

Meditation is the exercise of practicing to be more skilled with our attention and to have greater awareness and control over emotions. The most common meditation technique is to maintain attention on the breath.

At Spire, we’ve always believed that helping improve wellness requires more than just tracking steps and calories burned. That’s why we’ve always taken a holistic approach to personal health.

Body + mind, together.

Make Healthy Eating a Reality

The new year is here. Now that schedules have resumed and life is back to normal, you may be doubting your resolutions. Feel like you’ve already fallen off the nutritional bandwagon? Are you overwhelmed or discouraged? Don’t worry, you’re not alone! Eating healthier is not simple and doesn’t happen overnight. Creating a mindful practice around health and nutrition is the key to better health overall.

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6 Types of New Year’s Resolutions You Should NOT Make!

Happy New Year! Unfortunately by now, studies show that many of our resolutions will be Gone With The Wind. Can’t you just hear yourself echoing Rhett Butler as you mutter, “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn,” while reaching for those donuts you recently swore off of?

No worries! Instead of being one of those writers who chides, “I told you so!” (because one of MY resolutions is to stop being so holier than thou!) I’m about to teach you how to modify your resolutions to favor more success. After all, Spire is all about attitude adjustment (breath adjustment too!) because it’s never too late to improve.

Six Resolution Traps To Steer Clear Of!

1. Resolutions that are generic and subjective.

A. I will eat healthy! B I will get in great physical shape! C. I will be a better parent! D. I will have no more financial worries! E. I will be an incredible lover!

Do any of these ring a familiar New Year’s bell? When resolutions are vague and nebulous, you won’t personally identify with them because they could apply to almost anyone. Zeroing in on the more concrete and intimate parts of these affirmations will keep them resonating with you far longer.

So as an example, here’s how I’d tweak the above popular resolutions so they’ll strike a more meaningful chord for me.

A. I will try to eat a deep green vegetable daily. B. I will do upper body resistance training three times a week. C. I will take a class on how to deal with rebellious teenagers D. I will give up my thrice weekly Starbucks lattes and put the saved $ in a jar (note: this simultaneously helps with resolution ‘A’ too!) And finally . . . E. I’m already an incredible lover so I’ll just resolve to find someone who appreciates me. Ha, but you get the idea!

2. Resolutions that use the words ‘Never’ or ‘Always.’

I don’t need to give examples because we all know how these resolutions go. But you’re not a rigid machine, you’re a flexible human who messes up every once in a while. Therefore, you WILL occasionally partake in dessert, an alcoholic beverage, or forget to floss your teeth. So do yourself a favor and stay away from the All or Nothing types of goals as they will only lead to feelings of failure and you’ll abandon hope faster than ever.

3. Resolutions that are normally done on a volunteer basis.

If you resolve to do something out of the goodness of your heart, it could doom you to falter. Pledging to help out in your child’s classroom, give more time or money to charity, or playing Bingo with seniors, (But why is it always Bingo? Wouldn’t Pictionary be fun too?) are all worthwhile endeavors, but the obligatory nature of the vow itself will turn you off. It’s better to leave these kinds of altruistic ambitions to when the spirit moves you, rather than making them mandatory in a particular year.

4. Resolutions that involve another individual.

You only have control over yourself so saying something like, “WE will travel to exotic places more often” is probably not going to fly. (Well it may fly a bit better if you purchase their airfare to Tahiti!)

5. Resolutions made in secret.

I’m as private a person as anyone (Do you think I ever chose “truth” when playing Truth or Dare?) but now’s not the time to be clandestine. If you have zero accountability, chances are high you’ll sweep your resolution under the rug.  Find a trusted confidante and disclose what you’re committing to this year. At the very least, make some documentation on paper. There’s just something about putting it in writing.

6. Resolutions that add up.

Yes, I know you’re enthused at the prospect of leading “a new life” when January rolls around, but overwhelming yourself with making tons of changes will surely backfire. Choose three of your most personally meaningful resolutions (at the most) and that way you’ll have more time and energy to devote to each one.

And remember, slipping up once or twice isn’t the end of the world.  Give yourself a break and this time let’s borrow a brilliant quote from that famous last scene in Gone With The Wind. Just like Scarlett O’Hara does here, pick yourself up, dust your clothes off with renewed vigor, and exclaim with gusto, “After all, tomorrow IS another day!”

Forget Your New Year’s Resolution, Set a Theme for the New Year

How’s your New Year’s Resolution doing? According to this, at least 25 percent of you have ditched your resolve and settled back into the pattern you were trying to avoid.

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Skip the New Year’s Resolutions, Change Your Habits Instead!

Each year when New Year’s Eve rolls around many of us get inspired about all of the possibilities that exist in the coming months, and all of things that we’d like to let go of from the previous year. For many of us this thinking often results in resolution setting. The problem is, just like diets, most resolutions fail. Failing is ok, in fact, often our failures produce the most growth for us, however, this may leave us feeling like our year is doomed because we’ve failed this one thing that we’ve set out to do.

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