Monday, 7 March 2011

Virgin lounge masseuses sue airline after developing RSI

Saw an interesting article in the Daily Telegraph. This could set a precedence for other therapists who develop RSI due to heavy workloads.

I do hate the way media still uses the word "masseuse" instead of massage therapist - it's so outdated!

Virgin lounge masseuses sue airline after developing RSI - Telegraph

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Dusty was right - Make It Easy On Yourself

I know for a fact that I'm way harder on myself than other people. I've recently decided to stop expecting so much from myself and I'm a LOT happier. You can't do it all and you can't have it all. Simples!

My favourite source for recent research is the New York Times, which says......  " research suggests that giving ourselves a break and accepting our imperfections may be the first step toward better health. People who score high on tests of self-compassion have less depression and anxiety, and tend to be happier and more optimistic. Preliminary data suggest that self-compassion can even influence how much we eat and may help some people lose weight"

Read full article here

Thursday, 17 February 2011

New fitness craze in the U.S headed to our shores ...

Whatever starts off in the U.S - like Bikram Yoga for instance - shortly ends up on our shores.

Throw away your trainers ;-) in preparation for going .........

Barefoot in the gym Health & Beauty

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Austerity does not work; don't go there

Very interesting article in The Guardian about how the US can learn lessons from Austerity Britain.  All the more relevant when today the news if full of the pending interest rate hike.

I particularly love the last paragraph of the article:

"The takeaway lesson should be "austerity does not work; don't go there." Unfortunately, in the land of faith-based economics, evidence does not count for much. The UK may pursue a disastrous austerity path and those of us in the United States may still have to follow the same road anyhow. But we opponents of that course all appreciate the willingness of the UK to demonstrate the foolishness of this action"

I do believe I'm going all "political" in my middle age but considering that politics seeps into every facet of our lives and that more are more people are suffering stress due to job cuts and high inflation,  I think politics has a lot to answer for when it comes to the current decline in general wellbeing.  [I've even created a new label called "politics of health and fitness"].

England Finds 2012 Olympics Don’t Spur Exercise

Here is an excerpt from a sad, but utterly predictable, article on the front of the New York Times online:

London's original pledge was to get two million people active ie. playing sports three or more times a week for at least 30 minutes at a time, known as the 3x30 plan. This target was quickly revised to one million. Even that target is proving elusive.
Figures issued in December by Sport England, the governing body for community sports, indicated that participation at the 3x30 level had increased by 123,000 since 2007-8, when the one million baseline was established. But that number increased by only 8,000 in the last year. At the current rate, the goal of one million new participants would not be reached in 2012-13 as hoped but more than a decade later in 2023-24.

Meanwhile, in a country that is among the fattest in Europe, the number of couch potatoes apparently continues to grow. Surveys by Sport England indicate that the number of adults doing zero moderate sports activity rose by nearly 300,000 from 2005, when London was awarded the Olympics, to the fall of 2010.

In the meantime this information came to light:
 "Research on the Olympic Games stimulating mass participation in sports has not produced encouraging results. In 2007, the Culture, Media and Sport Committee of the British House of Commons concluded that “no host country has yet been able to demonstrate a direct benefit from the Olympic Games in the form of a lasting increase in participation.”

To read the full article from the New York Times click here

What on earth induced the two million figure to be plucked from the air - other than it sounded good?  These days it seems that those in power are apt to make sweeping soundbytes that bear absolutely no relation to reality.  Such as David Cameron's Big Society initiative.  It seems like the thinking behind it goes no further than "if I say it shall come to pass, then it shall come to pass".  Politicians really do have God complexes!

Photo courtesy of Flickr CCL: by chrisjohnbeckett

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Can't afford a massage? Find a tennis ball

Can't afford a massage?  Then dig out a tennis ball and roll away those knots.

photo courtesy of Flickr CCL - Linda Giddens

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Create new nerve cells - prevent memory - learn faster?

I've been going through a bit of an exercise crisis of late.  For the 3+ hours I put in at the gym a week,  I expect to be brimming with energy and bouncing out of bed.  Instead I'm yawning as I drink my morning espresso and feel like I'm getting achier as each day goes by.

In order to restore my faith in why I put myself through all this, I decided to try and find evidence that exercise really is vital for good overall health.

I found this interesting article on this site:

It says: 

Exercise appears to directly affect a region of the hippocampus, the area of the brain concerned with memory and learning, called the dentate gyrus, one of the few areas of the brain where neurogenesis – the creation of nerve cells – takes place. Building up the number of nerve cells (neurons) and the connections between them in the dentate gyrus is vital to the prevention of memory decline that typically begins at around the age of 30. So does this mean that aerobic exercise can help anyone increase their learning potential?

Cell production is a complex affair relying on a ready supply of proteins and hormones, particularly a hormone called Insulin-like Growth Factor 1 (IGF-1). IGF-1 is known to be crucial in child growth and the development of every cell in the body. It is released into the bloodstream every time you contract and relax a muscle and so levels rise when you exercise.

When IGF-1 reaches the brain, it acts on the cells that release neurotransmitters, the chemicals responsible for communication. It triggers an increase in production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor or BDNF, which promotes the growth of new nerve cells and which Harvard psychiatrist, John Ratey, has nicknamed “Miracle-Gro for the brain”.

As new brain cells are created, they form pathways and links, as we learn new facts and skills. The greater level of BDNF you have, the more new nerve cells you can produce and the greater the number of building blocks available to you to extend your learning capacity. But if levels fall, it can work in reverse. Those born with a faulty variant of the gene responsible for the production of BDNF have trouble with recall and creating new memories.

Using an MRI scanner, the Columbia researchers led by Professor Scott Small examined a living brain before and after exercise and, for the first time, were able to see neurogenesis effectively in action.

Those most likely to benefit from the finding are victims of degenerative brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s, and the next step will be to use this information to create an exercise regime specifically tailored to preventing age-related memory loss.

Professor Bruce Lynn, from University College London, welcomes the new findings. He recalls similar findings being presented in the 1960s – and then ignored by the scientific community. Even five years ago, he says, there were only half a dozen papers on the topic; yet now it has become a very active area for research, as it has become abundantly clear that those who remain physically active stay cognitively fit, too.

“The big question however,” says Prof Lynn, “is what is the link? It is not obvious why exercise has this effect on the brain. Growth factors are important but blood flow to the brain is not relevant. Some people suggest increased oxygen is crucial but our blood is always saturated with oxygen unless we’re in the Himalayas – or, ironically, exercising.

“What type of exercise you choose seems to matter: aerobics works, but you don’t get the same results from strength training. However, when you are strength training – using weights – you see big increases in the production of IGF-1.”

At the University of Birmingham, Professor Asker Jeukendrup, a specialist in exercise metabolism, confirms there is a lot of evidence that physical activity helps brain development. He thinks there is some truth to the theory that suggests improving blood supply and therefore fuel to the brain is important.

“You don’t need to do much to get an effect,” he says. “Studies have already shown that just 20 minutes walking – not even particularly briskly – will reduce degeneration of the brain and improve learning ability. Yet many people are still below that threshold. And, of course, other studies show that the more you do, the better it gets.”

This has somewhat validated my regime of spin, bodypump and yoga - I like to think I've got all bases covered and may not start losing my marbles before good time.

Monday, 7 February 2011

How Hormones Can Make You Fat

Lately I've been experiencing unexplained muscle fatigue and joint aches and whenever my body throws up some issues I immediately consult the oracle - the internet.  I've been doing some research into the effects of hormones on the body and came across this interesting article.

I'm not one for blaming "glands" or hormones for putting on weight.  I'm a full subscriber to the simple equation of eat less and exercise more as the no-brainer diet of choice.  However, this article speaks common sense on why some people seem to put all their weight on around their middle and also why some people say "I just have to look at chocolate and I put on weight".  Well, we all know they're not "just looking" at it but this article puts forward a reason as to why eating refined sugar is so easily transferred directly to fat.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Has this age old question finally been answered............

Does stretching before running prevent injuries?  Now there's a contentious issue if ever there was one!

Personally I don't enjoy stretching and yet I love yoga?  A contradiction right?  Well not really.  You see a study published in August -  the foundation for this article in the New York Times has found that static stretching [a stretch held for up to 20 seconds] "before a workout not only does not prevent overuse injuries but also may actually hinder athletic performance".

The hindering of performance can be explained thus "“There is a very important neurological effect of stretching,” said Ross Tucker, Ph.D., a physiologist in South Africa and co-author of the Web site The Science of Sport. “There is a reflex that prevents the muscle from being stretching too much,” which is activated by static stretching, inducing the muscle to become, in effect, tighter in self-protection. Past studies have found that athletes’ vertical jump is lower after a bout of static stretching than with no stretching at all. They can’t generate as much power.

So, my thinking goes that doing a dedicated stretching session or yoga class, which requires no athletic performance afterwards, will increase flexibility, tone muscles and aid recovery. 

Simply put -  it feels great!

Photo courtesy of:  Creative Commons Flickr - lululemon athletica

Monday, 3 May 2010

Healthy Tabouleh Salad

To continue my "foodie" theme I thought I'd share another recipe that I make on a regular basis.  It's my take on the classic middle-eastern salad tabouleh.  I say "my take" because I make it with quinoa instead of bulgar wheat and I add more ingredients than tradition dictates.  This isn't only because my partner has a gluten allergy but because quinoa [pronounced keen-wah] is considered a super-food.

In recent times not a week goes by when some fruit or grain isn't declared to possess super powers.    However, this little grain was declared as valuable as gold by the Incas.  Some provenance huh?

Wikipedia says the following about it's nutritional value:

"Quinoa was of great nutritional importance to pre-Colombian Andean civilizations. In contemporary times, this crop has become highly appreciated for it's nutritional value, as it's protein content is very high (12-18%), making it a healthy choice for vegetarians, vegans and athletes.  Unlike wheat or rice (which are low in lysine), quinoa contains a balanced set of essential amino acids for humans, making it an unusually complete protein source.  It is a good source of dietary fiber and phosphorous and is high in magnesium and iron.  Quinoa is gluten-free and considered easy to digest".

For more info and pictures of the plant click here

True tabouleh doesn't include vegetables like celery, carrots, courgette etc.  However, I try and eat as much raw vege as possible, so I add whatever I have to hand.  I guess my nod towards the pukka salad is my use of copious amounts of parsley and mint.   If you're thinking you don't really like the idea of so much mint and parsley, think again.  There is a lot of it but it simply MAKES the salad.  The combination of parsley, mint, lemon juice and olive oil create magic when blended together.  A taste explosion that leaves you feeling instantly refreshed and sanctimoniously healthy.

Tabouleh keeps for at least four days in an airtight container in the fridge.  I love nothing more than having this ready to dish up into my lunchbox - add some tuna, hard boiled eggs or cubed chicken breast - and wallah - a colourful, light and super-healthy meal.

Healthy Tabouleh Salad [serves 4-6]

All the vege should be diced into very small pieces.  I use my trusty Nicer Dicer which ensures small, uniform pieces and saves loads of time.

2 large carrots - peel and dice
1 large courgette diced [skin on - spongy middle with seeds removed]
1-2 bunches of spring onions [to taste]
3 medium size tomatoes [deseeded]
1 large bunch of flat leaf parsley finely diced [curly will also do]
1 large bunch of mint finely diced [leaves taken off stalks]
1-2 cloves of crushed garlic [to taste] - I cut mine in half and leave them to infuse the salad, as I can't digest raw garlic
100g quinoa or bulgar wheat
125ml of freshly squeezed lemon juice
125ml olive oil - I don't use extra virgin as the taste is too overpowering, I tend to use light olive oil
1 tsp of salt
  • Cook the quinoa or bulgar wheat according to packet instructions and cool
  • Dice up all the vegetables and mix together in a bowl
  • Sprinkle over the salt
  • Pour over the olive oil and mix well
  • Pour over the lemon juice and mix well
  • Add the cooked and cool quinoa or bulgar wheat and mix well
Pretty as a picture!

I added some diced green and black olives to last weeks salad and it worked very well.


Related Posts with Thumbnails