Launches All-In-One Payment Processing Solution for Restaurants

If you operate a restaurant, you are likely to have ran into issues and frustration involving payment transactions. Payment processors that handle customer payments can be riddled with complex pricing models, poor support, and hidden fees. Agen ceme online Inc. believes it has a solution for the restaurant industry. The company has introduced a new all-in-one payment processing solution for restaurants.

ParTech Payment Services for Restaurants
The PAR Payment Services aims to turn the complexity and confusion of payment processing in restaurants on the head. Instead of paying multiple fees with ‘hidden extras’, restaurants pay one simple fee to PAR. Rather than leaving restaurants guessing, it is clearly stated within the fee what is included and not included.

Addressing Customer Issues Quickly and Efficiently
Another leading irritation of payment processing within the restaurant sector is poor customer support. PAR Payment Services features PAR’s experienced and quality technical support team. The experts address all customer issues in a single call. This contrasts to what many restaurants are used to – being “passed from pillar to post.” With PAR, the frustration of multiple operators dealing with an issue is substituted with a single expert ensuring the problem is resolved.

DCI and PA-DSS Compliant
PAR Payment Services is compliant with DCI and PA-DSS, the Payment Application Data Security Standard. Such compliance ensures restaurants use reliable payment processing that protects consumer data through fraud and chargeback monitoring.

PAR Payment Services include a Hardware Payment Plan. The plan eliminates upfront costs as restaurants pay for PAR hardware and services monthly. This could prove valuable during these testing times when many restaurants may be struggling with cashflow.

4 Best Exercises for Stress Relief

Do stressful days have you reaching for a pint of ice cream? If so, you’re giving your body a double whammy of bad. Start exercising instead; it’s a powerful stress reliever. Here are workouts to tame that tension. Plus, do you know the symptoms of stress? Take our quiz to find out…

Stress isn’t just a mental or emotional issue – it can physically hurt too.

Chronic tension can be the culprit behind both long-term conditions (depression, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure) and everyday health woes (headaches, back pain, insomnia, upset stomach, anxiety, anger).

Stress isn’t gender-neutral either.

Research shows that women experience it more acutely than men and we’re more susceptible to the physiological effects of chronic stress.

But crashing on your sofa isn’t the answer. Sweat it out instead.

“The human body isn’t designed to sit all day,” says Jeff Migdow, M.D., an integrative physician in Lenox, Mass.

Just getting up and moving around is a powerful way to reduce stress, he says. “It allows our muscles to move, encourages blood to flow and helps us feel more like ourselves.”

Exercise also gets us breathing deeper, which triggers the body’s relaxation response.

But some exercises are more helpful than others when it comes to stress reduction.

“Running on a treadmill while watching TV really doesn’t cut it,” Migdow says. “Instead, pursue activities that encourage the mind and the body to work together.”

Here are 9 stress-busting ways to exercise:

1. Yoga

Why it works to reduce stress: Yoga postures are a form of strength training, making you more resilient and flexible, which in turn relieves physical tension. It also uses deep breathing, which triggers the body’s relaxation response.

Studies have shown that yoga reduces blood pressure too.

But perhaps yoga’s biggest benefit is the mental focus it promotes. Focus is key to stress management.

Poses require concentration, “which keeps your mind focused on what you’re doing instead of analyzing, planning and worrying,” says Noel Shroeder, a Boston-based yoga teacher and creator of the Notice Your Experience DVD (yinward.com).

How to do it: Yoga classes that appeal to all ages, temperaments and fitness levels abound at gyms, studios and community colleges.

Some classes, such as hatha, are gentler and focus primarily on stress reduction, while others – ashtanga, vinyasa, power, Bikram – are more athletic.

You can also practice yoga on your own at home.

Two good DVDs for beginners are Shiva Rea: Flow Yoga for Beginners and Element: AM and PM Yoga for Beginners With Elena Brower.

For a complete overview, visit our Yoga Get Fit Guide.

2. Tai Chi

Why it works to reduce stress: Derived from an ancient Chinese martial art, tai chi (also known as tai chi chuan) links physical movement to the breath.

Often called “meditation in motion,” tai chi promotes a focus on the present – a mental absorption in which everyday worries fall away.

Tai chi also increases flexibility and boosts energy, which result in an improved sense of well-being.

Other benefits include better balance, more restful sleep and increased cardiovascular fitness.

How to do it:Tai chi is comprised of more than 100 gentle, fluid movements that are linked with each other and your breath; unlike yoga, there are no pauses between the poses. Like yoga, there are several styles of tai chi that range in intensity.

Many senior centers, wellness centers and community colleges offer classes. To get started at home, try the DVD Step by Step Tai Chi With Tiffany Chen.

3. Qigong

Why it works to reduce stress:Similar to tai chi, qigong is considered one of the cornerstones of Chinese medicine, along with acupuncture and herbs.

Practicing qigong regularly can promote feelings of serenity, improve sleep and digestion, and increase energy.

Like tai chi, qigong helps you be more present in your body, Migdow says.

“Its slow gentle movements and focus on moving in harmony with the breath are extremely relaxing to the nervous system,” he says.

How to do it:Qigong is offered at many senior centers, community centers and YMCAs.

At home, try The Essential Qigong Training Courseby Kenneth Cohen or the DVD Qi Gong Fire and Water With Matthew Cohen.

4. Walking

Why it works to reduce stress:It’s easy to do and requires no classes or special equipment.

Walking frequently can reduce the incidence of many of the stress-related conditions, including cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure and cholesterol, and type 2 diabetes.

People with regular walking regimens also report reduced stress levels and a self-confidence that comes from taking an active role in their well-being.

“Walking releases tension from the major muscle groups, deepens the breathing and quiets the nervous system,” Migdow says. “It also gets us out into nature, which is relaxing.”

How to do it:If you’re just getting started on walking for exercise, aim for two 10-minute walks a week.

After two or three weeks, gradually increase the frequency and duration of your walks.

Five or six 30-minute walks a week are usually recommended to maintain health and stress management.

To lose weight, you’ll have to make those walks longer when you have time (say, 90 minutes on Sundays) and/or more intense (take a hilly route or ramp up speed). Your breath should be heavy but not labored.

The Lifelong Benefits of Exercise

Feel younger, live longer. It’s no slogan — these are actual benefits of regular exercise. People with high levels of physical fitness are at lower risk of dying from a variety of causes, according to a recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Physical Fitness: What the Benefits of Exercise Mean for You

There’s more good news. Research also shows that exercise enhances sleep, prevents weight gain, and reduces the risk of high blood pressure, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and even depression.

“One study found that when breast cancer survivors engaged in exercise, there were marked improvements in physical activity, strength, maintaining weight, and social well-being,” explains Rachel Permuth-Levine, PhD, deputy director for the Office of Strategic and Innovative Programs at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health.

“Another study looked at patients with stable heart failure and determined that exercise relieves symptoms, improves quality of life, reduces hospitalization, and in some cases, reduces the risk of death,” adds Dr. Permuth-Levine. She points out that exercise isn’t just important for people who are already living with health conditions: “If we can see benefits of moderate exercise in people who are recovering from disease, we might see even greater benefits in those of us who are generally well.”

Physical Fitness: Exercise Basics

Physical activity doesn’t have to be strenuous to produce results. Even moderate exercise five to six times a week can lead to lasting health benefits.

When incorporating more physical activity into your life, remember three simple guidelines:

Exercise at moderate intensity for at least 2 hours and 30 minutes spread over the course of each week.

Avoid periods of inactivity; some exercise at any level of intensity is better than none.

At least twice a week, supplement aerobic exercise (cardio) with weight-bearing activities that strengthen all major muscle groups.

Physical Fitness: Making Exercise a Habit

The number one reason most people say they don’t exercise is lack of time. If you find it difficult to fit extended periods of exercise into your schedule, keep in mind that short bouts of physical activity in 10-minute segments will nonetheless help you achieve health benefits. Advises Permuth-Levine, “Even in the absence of weight loss, relatively brief periods of exercise every day reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.”

Set realistic goals and take small steps to fit more movement into your daily life, such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator and walking to the grocery store instead of driving. “The key is to start gradually and be prepared,” says Permuth-Levine. “Have your shoes, pedometer, and music ready so you don’t have any excuses.”

To help you stick with your new exercise habit, vary your routine, like swimming one day and walking the next. Get out and start a baseball or soccer game with your kids. Even if the weather doesn’t cooperate, have a plan B — use an exercise bike in your home, scope out exercise equipment at a nearby community center, or consider joining a health club. The trick is to get to the point where you look at exercise like brushing your teeth and getting enough sleep — as essential to your well-being.

Remember that physical fitness is attainable. Even with small changes, you can reap big rewards that will pay off for years to come.

Know More About Exercise & Fitness

Exercising regularly, every day if possible, is the single most important thing you can do for your health. In the short term, exercise helps to control appetite, boost mood, and improve sleep. In the long term, it reduces the risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, dementia, depression, and many cancers. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend the following:

For adults of all ages

At least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise like brisk walking or 75 minutes of rigorous exercise like running (or an equivalent mix of both) every week.  It’s fine to break up exercise into smaller sessions as long as each one lasts at least 10 minutes.

Strength-training that works all major muscle groups—legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms—at least two days a week.  Strength training may involve lifting weights, using resistance bands, or exercises like push-ups and sit-ups, in which your body weight furnishes the resistance.

For pregnant women

The guidelines for aerobic exercise are considered safe for most pregnant women. The CDC makes no recommendation for strength training. It’s a good idea to review your exercise plan with your doctor.

For children

At least 60 minutes of physical activity a day, most of which should be devoted to aerobic exercise. Children should do vigorous exercise and strength training, such as push-ups or gymnastics, on at least three days every week.

Exercise For Stop counting calories

Put the focus on food quality and healthy lifestyle practices to attain a healthy weight.Most people have been taught that losing weight is a matter of simple math. Cut calories — specifically 3,500 calories, and you’ll lose a pound. But as it turns out, experts are learning that this decades-old strategy is actually pretty misguided.

“This idea of ‘a calorie in and a calorie out’ when it comes to weight loss is not only antiquated, it’s just wrong,” says Dr. Fatima Cody Stanford, an obesity specialist and assistant professor of medicine and pediatrics at Harvard Medical School.

The truth is that even careful calorie calculations don’t always yield uniform results. How your body burns calories depends on a number of factors, including the type of food you eat, your body’s metabolism, and even the type of organisms living in your gut. You can eat the exact same number of calories as someone else, yet have very different outcomes when it comes to your weight.

“Drop the calories notion,” says Dr. Stanford. It’s time to take a different approach, she says, putting the emphasis on improving diet quality and making sustainable lifestyle improvements to achieve a healthy weight.

Not all calories are created equal

Three main factors affect how your body processes calories.

1. Your gut microbiome. Trillions of organisms live in your gut, and the predominant types may influence how many calories your body absorbs from food. Researchers have found that people who are naturally thin have different types of organisms living inside them than those who are overweight. “Taking the gut microbiota out of people who are lean and placing it in people who have overweight or obesity can result in weight shifts,” says Dr. Stanford. This may occur because some types of organisms in the gut are able to break down and use more calories from certain foods than other types of organisms.

2. Your metabolism. Each body has a “set point” that governs weight, says Dr. Stanford. This set point reflects several factors, including your genes, your environment, and your behaviors. Your hypothalamus, a region at the base of your brain that also regulates things like your body temperature, stands guard to keep your body weight from dipping below that set point—which is not really a bonus if you’re trying to lose weight. This is why you might find your weight plateauing even if you are diligently dieting and exercising, and also why a majority — 96% — of people who lose a large amount of weight regain it, says Dr. Stanford.

“Researchers studying the show The Biggest Loser, which helps contestants lose large amounts of weight through a stringent plan of diet and exercise, found that after weight loss, contestants’ bodies would fight back in an attempt to regain the weight,” she says. The resting metabolic rate for contestants, which measures the number of calories the body uses just running its everyday functions, plummeted after their dramatic weight loss. This means it became very challenging to avoid regaining some weight because of “metabolic adaptation,” says Dr. Stanford.

3. The type of food you eat. Your food choices may also influence your calorie intake, and not just because of their specific calorie content. One 2019 study published in Cell Metabolism found that eating processed foods seems to spur people to eat more calories compared with eating unprocessed foods. In the study, 20 people (10 men and 10 women) were split into two groups. They all were offered meals with the same number of calories, as well as similar amounts of sugar, sodium, fat, fiber, and micronutrients. But there was one key difference: one group was given unprocessed foods, and the other got ultra-processed options. After two weeks, the groups switched and ate the other type of diet for the following two weeks.

“People who ate the ultra-processed food gained weight,” says Dr. Stanford. Each group was given meals with the same number of calories and instructed to eat as much as they wanted, but when participants ate the processed foods, they ate 500 calories more each day on average. The same people’s calorie intake decreased when they ate the unprocessed foods.

What’s the lesson? Not all food is created equal. “The brain likes foods that are healthy, that are in their natural form,” says Dr. Stanford.

Successful weight management

If counting calories isn’t a dependable way to manage your weight, what can you do to shed extra pounds? Dr. Stanford recommends the following:

Focus on diet quality. When planning your meals, try to cut down on or eliminate processed foods, which can drive your body to consume more. Instead, focus on choosing unprocessed foods, including lean meats, whole grains, and lots of fruits and vegetables in their natural form.

Exercise regularly (as well as vigorously). Aim to get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each week. Moderate exercise is done at a level where you can talk, but not sing. “A lot of people think moderate exercise is a casual walk to the garden, but it’s more like walking up a large hill,” she says. While any movement is better than nothing, work toward achieving a more vigorous level of exercise when you can.

Sleep soundly. Poor sleep quality can lead to weight gain, as can a sleep schedule that is out of sync with the body’s natural daily pattern, known as circadian rhythm. Your body wants to sleep at night and be awake during the day. “The Nurses’ Health Study, which followed nurses for 20 years, found that those who worked the night shift gained more weight over time,” says Dr. Stanford. The body gets perturbed when you disrupt its natural rhythm. The same is true if you are getting poor-quality sleep or not enough. A lack of sleep affects your weight in much the same way as hormonal shifts, making you want to eat more. So, addressing sleep problems with your doctor should be a priority.

Check your medications. Sometimes medication causes weight gain. Be aware if you start a new medication and you notice you’re putting on weight. Your doctor may be able to prescribe an alternative that doesn’t have the same side effect.

Reduce your stress levels. Stress, like poor sleep, can lead to weight gain. Controlling stress can help you keep excess pounds at bay.

Consult a professional. “A lot of people believe it’s a moral failing if they are unable to lose weight,” says Dr. Stanford. But it’s not. As with other medical conditions, many people will need help from a doctor. Successful weight loss may require more than just diet and exercise. “You may never have thought about using medications to lose weight. Only 2% of people who meet the criteria for the use of anti-obesity medications actually get them. This means that 98% of people who could be treated, aren’t,” she says. Some people may also need surgery to lose weight, she says. Don’t be afraid to seek help if you need it.

Reinvent your walking regimen

Switch the type of walking in your routine to stay motivated and active.Putting one foot in front of the other is a simple way to trigger a cascade of health benefits. Regular brisk walks help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol; control blood sugar; and reduce the risk for high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Brisk walks also strengthen muscles, burn calories, and lift mood.

Just one problem: some people find walking boring. Boredom may diminish your motivation and interest in exercising. Before that happens, mix up your regimen with different types of walking that maximize physical, mental, and emotional health benefits.

Exercise-focused walking

While all brisk walking is good aerobic activity, you’ll boost physical benefits even more if you incorporate other exercises in your regimen. Here are some options:

An interval-training walk. Adding brief bursts of speed during a brisk walk boosts cardio fitness. “You speed up, push your intensity, recover, and then pick up the pace again,” says Harvard fitness consultant and certified fitness instructor Michele Stanten. She recommends timing yourself for 15, 30, or 60 seconds at the heightened intensity and then doubling that amount of time to recover at your normal pace. “If you need longer to recover, that’s fine too. When you feel ready, pick up the intensity and go faster.” If you don’t want to time yourself, use landmarks: speed up as you walk past two houses, go slower for four houses, and repeat.

A strength-training walk. At least twice per week, take a resistance band on your walk. “Work your chest, arm, or shoulder muscles by stretching the band while holding it in front or above you, or loop it around your back and press it forward,” Stanten advises.

Sport walking

Some activities make walking feel more like a sport. Consider the following:

Nordic walking. Using Nordic poles (which have a special glove-like attachment) adds upper-body exercise to a traditional walk, engaging twice the muscles and increasing calorie burning. You can walk on level surfaces or on varied terrain, and you can even do it (with a doctor’s okay) if you have balance difficulty, since the poles help keep you stable.

Hiking. “Hiking with or without poles will you get out of the house so you can enjoy nature. If you use hiking poles, they’ll help take pressure off the joints,” Stanten notes.

Meditative walking

The repetitive nature of walking makes it a natural activity for meditation or self-reflection. Try one of these:

A breath-focused walk. The combination of breathing and stepping creates a rhythm that helps quiet the mind. “Breathing and counting are key,” Stanten says. “Match your footsteps to your inhalations and exhalations. Take four steps as you inhale, take four steps as you exhale. You can lengthen those counts as you relax.”

A mindful walk. Use walking as an opportunity to become more mindful. “Really be present in your walk. Pay attention to what’s going on around you, and feel the breeze and the sun on your body. Pay attention to what you’re hearing — the birds chirping, the rustle of leaves,” Stanten suggests.

Walk-enhancing apps

Elevate your walk by pairing it with a free app to make your time more inspirational, educational, or exciting. Consider downloading one of these:

Charity Miles (charitymiles.org). Raise money for numerous charities as you walk.

The Walk: Fitness Tracker and Game (thewalkgame.com). Listen to a spy story that only reveals itself as you rack up the required miles.

A free podcast app. Listen to interesting interviews while you walk, such as the Harvard Health Publishing podcast Living Better, Living Longer (www.health.harvard.edu/podcast-living-better-living-longer).

Note: Use just one earbud to listen to a podcast during a walk. Keep your other ear free for sounds in your environment that can alert you to hazards, such as approaching cars.

Social walking

Think about walking as a time for social interaction. Some possibilities:

A chatty walk. Instead of sitting and talking to catch up with loved ones, chat during a walk in the morning, afternoon, or evening. The more you walk and talk, the more exercise you’ll fit into your day.

A heart-to-heart walk. If you need to have a tough conversation with someone, walking can make it easier. “Walking relaxes your body, and you don’t need to make eye contact with the other person when you’re walking,” Stanten says.

Note: Texting is a form of communication, but avoid texting during a walk; the distraction can lead to a fall or keep you from seeing oncoming traffic.