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Scottish people are suffering from a lack of sun, a new report says. They are famously unhealthy, with one of the highest premature mortality rates in Europe, but it’s not just because Scotland has extreme areas of poverty, says the Times. The new study suggests that the country’s relatively sunless and rainy climate is a crucial factor. The study published last week finds a link between a lack of vitamin D, which is generated by sunshine, and Scotland’s unusually high incidence of diseases like multiple sclerosis (MS), diabetes, arthritis and some cancers. For instance, Orkney and Shetland get just 24% of the maximum possible sunshine hours, and have the highest prevalence of MS in the world. Vitamin D deficiency is twice as common among the Scots as among the English, while the average Scot has a vitamin D level four times lower than their neighbours south of the border. To compensate for the lack of sunshine, Dr Oliver Gillie, who conducted the 5 year research programme is urging the Scottish executive to launch a programme to encourage every resident to take a daily supplement of vitamin D.
A new U.S. study into obesity shows that once we start to eat bad things it can be hard to stop! The discovery of another way in which the body appears to control how much it eats could shed fresh light on obesity. US researchers said poor diets may trigger a signalling system which prompts the body to consume even more. When the signals – involving a protein linked to inflammation – were blocked in mice, they maintained normal weight. A UK expert warned that the finding, in the journal Cell, may not lead to an effective anti-obesity drug because it could interfere with the immune system.
The complexity of the controls governing the human metabolism, appetite and the laying down of fat has become clear over recent years. Despite some promising experiments in animals, none has yet produced a breakthrough in the battle against obesity. The latest “pathway” under investigation, by scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, is normally associated with the immune system and inflammation, one of the body’s defence systems.
At Diets Don’t Work we have all sighed and shaken our heads once again. The best way to stay trim and sexy is simple to exercise more in a structured manner, including all the components of fitness, and eat with moderation. We are not angels all the time, but as we constantly advise our personal training clients, try to follow the 80/20 rule; be a saintly eater for 80% of the time, exercise well, and so for 20% of the time you can let it go a bit more. Go to the how we do it section of our website to read more.
Women having fertility treatment might also want to consider having acupuncture, reports the Daily Telegraph, following research that it improves chances of conceiving. In a study of 2000 women at the University of Southampton, one in three of those given acupuncture alongside IVF therapy successfully conceived, compared to one in five of those who just had the IVF. The timing, however, is key: the increased chance of conception only applied if the women had the acupuncture at around the same time as the transfer into the womb. If the acupuncture was given after the fertility treatment there was no discernable benefit.
Remember of course that at Diets Don’t Work our trainers are all REPS level 3 and so are qualified for special populations, including pre and post natal training, so after you have had your IVF and acupuncture, or if you have just conceived naturally, then some personal training sessions can keep you in good health before and after the birth.
Article adapted from “The Week” magazine.
Manorexia, which of course is slang for the male version of anorexia, is on the up according to the Independent, having increased by 67% over the last 5 years. Men now account for between 5% and 10% of all eating disorders. Should you be one of these our advice as personal trainers is to a) get help, go have a chat with your GP and see what he/she says, b) realise that nearly everyone, from the buffest gymaholic to supermodels have some part of them that they think is big or fat or ugly. Remember that we are all unique and beautiful in our own way. Just try to be healthy, eat well with moderation and try to get some exercise.
Give us a call, we have a personal trainer that will make you feel better about your self.
Great art has long been known to lift the spirits, but can it also help to ease physical pain? Researchers from the University of Bari, in Italy believe it can, after an experiment in which volunteers given pricking sensations felt less discomfort when looking at beautiful works of art than at unattractive paintings or a blank canvas. The 10 volunteers had been asked to pick their favourite and least favourite works from a selection of 300 including Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus. They then looked at the paintings while researchers blasted a laser pulse at their hand. The volunteers reported feeling a third less pain when looking at the beautiful pictures that when looking at the ones they did not like or a blank canvas. “Hospitals are designed to be functional,” says Dr Marina de Tomaso, who led the research. “We think their aesthetic aspects should be take into account too”.
There are companies that address this in both prisons and hospitals in the UK. In fact one of our personal training clients in West Drayton works for an organisation that addresses aesthetics in public places, including hospitals – from a common sense point of view it follows that patients will feel mentally better if they are in pleasant surroundings.
We’d like to welcome a new personal trainer to the team for the areas ofHemel Hempstead, Chesham and Berkhamstead. Harriet Goslett is a premier qualified REPS level three trainer, and her chirpy nature combined with her enthusiasm will mean that your sessions will be both effective and fun. Although we really only cover personal training in London and Berkshire, due to demand coming through the site we have recruited Harriet. Read a bit more about her on our meet the trainers page, and if you are in the area and looking to change your life for the better by getting fit and healthy (and most likely thinner in the process) call or email us, even easier fill in the contact form on the contact page!
A million years into the future we may have evolved into a race of super beings, or possibly regressed into a troll like state, but a leading geneticist says we will most likely be more or less the same as we are now. Stece Jones argued in a recent lecture that the forces driving evolution (principally natural selection and genetic mutation) no longer have much of an impact. In the past, tiny advantages could have made the diference between life or death, making it more likely that the strongest/quickest/smartest would survive to pass their genes on to the next generation. But in the west, modern life is so comfortable that 98% of children survive into adulthood and natural selection no longer has death as a handy tool to promote advantages. Another factor is that fewer men have children in old age, and it is the sperm of older men that is the most likely to produce mutations and genetic variations. Finally, the opportunity for random change is dwindling because we no longer live in small isolated populations in which genes can be accidentally lost.
“History is made in bed, but nowadays the beds are moving closer togther. We are mixing into a global mass, and the future is brown” says Jones.
Hypertension is the clinical term used to describe a high blood pressure (BP) of 140/90 or higher. It is such a health risk that the world health organisation (WHO) claims that it is “one of the biggest challenges facing public health authorities and medical practitioners”. Worldwide, high blood pressure affects 1 billion people (NIH 2003) and is estimated to cause 7.1 million deaths: 13% of all deaths globally. For those suffering with hypertension there is increased risk of coronary artery disease, strokes, renal disease and all cause mortality (so that means everything else!!).
Hypertension as almost always asymptomatic or without symptoms (WHO 2002), thus it is described as the “silent killer” and is normally only detected with the use of a sphygmomanometer (the thing that the doctor puts on your arm and inflates). Only people with severe hypertension or an abrupt rise in blood pressure will experience the symptoms of headaches, blurred or impaired vision, fits or blackouts. Elevated levels of BP can produce a variety of structural changes to the arteries that supply the brain, heart, kidneys and elsewhere. Yet 7 out of 10 people globally are not being properly treated for hypertension.
Fortunately, in most cases exercise and correct nutrition will cause a reasonably quick lowering of high BP. At Diets Don’t Work all our personal trainers are qualified to train special populations including those with high blood pressure. In most cases some structured exercise at the correct level with your personal trainer wil lead to a big improvement in your blood pressure.
Blood pressure is commonly measured by wrapping an inflatable cuff around the upper arm. Air is pumped into the cuff until the blood vessels in the arm get so squeezed that the circulation is cut off; when a stethoscope is then placed just under the cuff there should be relative silence. As the air is slowly let out of the cuff the squeezing eases, blood begins to flow again and can be heard through the stethoscope. This is the point of greatest pressure (called Systolic), and is usually expressed as how high it forces a column of mercury to rise in a tube. At its highest normal pressure, the heart would send a column of mercury to a height of about 120 millimeters. At some point, as more and more air is let out of the cuff, the pressure exerted by the cuff is so little that the sound of the blood pulsing against the artery walls subsides and there is silence again. The last audible beat heard through the stethoscope is the point of lowest pressure (called Diastolic), which normally raises the mercury to about 80 millimeters. Systolic and Diastolic readings are both important but it must always be remembered that lots of things will cause fluctuations in BP. Exercise will make the systolic leap up, while the lower reading (the diastolic) will usually stay fairly constant. Simply having your BP taken can cause an elevation in BP (white coat syndrome – the nerves you feel make your BP go up!). Diastolic pressure has traditionally been emphasized because it is less subject to fluctuations. However, recent studies have revealed that systolic pressure may be as significant a heart attack predictor as diastolic pressure.
Normal blood pressure is thus usually said to be 120/80 (systolic/diastolic), measured in millimeters of mercury (abbreviated as mm Hg). What do blood pressure numbers indicate? The first is the big push from the larger left ventricle (the heart is lopsided, one side being stronger than the other.) The second reading is the relaxation of the heart between beats as the right atrium pulls blood into the heart. The higher (systolic) number represents the pressure while the heart is beating, or on the push. The lower (diastolic) number represents the pressure when the heart is resting between beats, creating lower pressure and sucking blood in. A good way of imagining this is to look at the heart as your central heating pump – the pipes and radiators are your blood vessels. The clearer the pipes (blood vessels) the less pressure will be exerted on the system by the pump. But if the pipes are clogged (with fatty deposits!!) then the pressure in the system will be higher and the pump will have to work harder to force circulation through the narrower pipes (or blood vessels), eventually to breaking point. The systolic pressure is always stated first and the diastolic pressure second. For example: 122/76 (122 over 76); systolic = 122, diastolic = 76. Blood pressure of less than 140 over 90 is considered a normal reading for adults. A systolic pressure of 130 to 139 or a diastolic pressure of 85 to 89 needs to be watched carefully. A blood pressure reading equal to or greater than 140 (systolic) over 90 (diastolic) is considered elevated (high).
A good test of your personal trainer is to see is he/she understands this. A personal trainer worth his salt and at REPS level 3 will have an in depth knowledge of BP and the ways to help it.
With blood pressure it’s important to “know your numbers”. Life-threatening complications can develop over a course of years when hypertension exists. Increased pressure on the inner walls of blood vessels make the vessels less flexible over time and more vulnerable to the buildup of fatty deposits in a process known as atherosclerosis. High blood pressure or hypertension also forces the heart to work harder to pump adequate blood throughout the body (see the previous blog). This extra work causes the muscles of the heart to enlarge, and eventually the enlarged heart becomes inefficient in pumping blood. An enlarged heart may lead to heart failure, in which the heart cannot pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs.
In some people, the system that regulates blood pressure goes awry: arteries throughout the body stay constricted, driving up the pressure in the larger blood vessels. Sustained high blood pressure – above 140/90 mm Hg, according to most experts – is called hypertension. About 90 percent of all people with high blood pressure have “essential” or “primary” hypertension – meaning that it has no identifiable cause. It is, however, common that a combination of the usual suspects, stress, anxiety, lack of exercise, nutrition high in saturated fats, high salt intake and excessive alcohol all play a part. In the remaining 10 percent of cases, the elevated blood pressure is due to kidney disease, diabetes, or another disorder. This is known as “secondary” hypertension.
Remember that at Diets Don’t Work our personal trainers are qualified to deal with this high blood pressure, and can prescribe a suitable exercise programme to start tackling the problem. Here are the numbers, so you know whether you are OK or whether you need to eat better (included in our block booking personal training sessions) and get moving!!
|Blood Pressure Category||Systolic
|Normal||less than 120||and||less than 80|
|Stage 2||160 or higher||or||100 or higher|