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Here we are again. As the time for making resolutions draws near it is easy to switch off and be resigned to the inevitable: at Christmas you will put on weight. However, there is no need to deprive yourself in the name of health and fitness just to stay the same weight. Here are three tips as to how to cheat the seasonal pounds.
1 – Stay as active as possible. An obvious one I know, but it’s worth saying again. It’s the inactivity of Xmas that is the killer. Coupled with increased calorific intake this double threat of being still and eating more is hard to avoid. So do yourself a favor and help with the dishes, clear up the table, move the furniture to keep grandad close to the TV where he can actually hear it, have a walk after eating. In short, do whatever you can to keep moving. Even small does of activity will add up during the course of the day and help to keep the weight equation balanced.
2 – Just have the main meals. Personal trainers often talk about small meals often, but at Christmas it’s the snacking on chocolate, biscuits and other dainties that’s dangerous. The actual main meals at Christmas are surprisingly healthy, being made up of lean protein and vegetables. So have a pig-in-blanket, but quietly turn down the Quality Street when they go by. No one will notice, they will be too engrossed in the James Bond.
3 – Moderate alcohol. You may need half a gallon of Guinness just to manage sitting next to your relatives, but drinks containing alcohol are very dense in calories. That is to say there are a lot of calories in just a small amount. So drink away, but just make smart choices. Try spirits with low calorie mixers; use lime and other toppings to make your drink interesting; put lots of ice in your drinks – the central heating is bound to be on too high so you will keep cool whilst diluting each drink a little. Try to also have a soft drink or even a water between the stronger stuff. You will feel better in the morning and be lighter.
Good luck, remember the motto – SPAM – Small Portions And Move!
Penicillin doses for children – which have stayed the same for 50 years – need to be reviewed because youngsters are getting heavier, experts have said.
Dosages are based on age but an average weight is assumed and average weights have risen, the London-based team warn. In the British Medical Journal, they say a review is needed to ensure children are getting enough medication. But one pharmacist said using weight could mean more room for error. Oral penicillins, such as amoxicillin, account for nearly 4.5 million of the
total six million annual prescriptions for antibiotics given to treat childhood bacterial infections each year in the UK. The current dosing guidelines are set out in the British National Formulary for Children.
Experts from King’s College London and St George’s, University of London, say doses on a child’s age was first suggested in the 1950s, and the guidelines medics still use were published in the BMJ in 1963.
“What may have been adequate doses of penicillin 50 years ago are potentially not enough today”
said Dr Paul Long, King’s College London
These estimated that a baby aged up to one weighed 10kg (22lbs), a two-year-old weighed 13kg (28.6lbs), a five-year-old 18kg (39.6lbs) and a 10-year-old 30kg (66.1lbs). However, according to the Health Survey for England 2009, the average weight of a five-year-old has risen to 21kg (46.2lbs) and a 10-year-old is 37kg (81.5lbs), suggesting average weights are up to 20% higher than in 1963.
Dr Paul Long, an expert at King’s College London who was part of the review team, said:
“We were surprised at the lack of evidence to support the current oral penicillins dosing recommendations for children, as it is such a commonly used drug. Children’s average size and weight are slowly but significantly changing, so what may have been adequate doses of penicillin 50 years ago are potentially not enough today.”
He added: “These days new medicines go through very rigorous testing processes, but we seem to forget about the old ones. For adults, penicillin dosages have been reviewed twice in the same period.”
The need for children to take part in more physical activities and exercise is also highlighted by this report. A generation ago kids would be more likely to play outdoors and participate in organised sport. However, many factors, including the popularity of video games, easy access to different forms of media entertainment and more sedentary parents are all contributing to overweight children.
Very often overlooked, even by those who are already exercising, there are lots and lots of benefits to stretching and flexibility. Our teacher at Premier Training always used to nag us by saying “the basis of all mobility is flexibility – no flexibility means no proper movement”. If you see an older person shuffling along the street this shuffling is most likely due to shortened hamstrings that are stopping the leg going forward all the way properly.
In all our sessions with a personal trainer we always do some dynamic stretching during the warm-up and then at the end of your session you get a full 10 minutes of static stretching where your trainer stretches you just like you see with the celebrities. This not only makes you feel a bit like a star, but provides more effective stretching than you would be able to do on your own, and will identify any tight areas that need extra work.
Muscles run across all our major joints, working the bones like the chains on a drawbridge. If these muscles become tight there can be severe implications such as increased risk of injury, poor posture, back problems, reduced range of movement, headaches and general aches and pains. As the body and the muscles are a kinetic chain, a tight calf muscle can cause a tight hamstring, which will tilt the pelvis and give you a bad back. So, a pain in the foot can be a pain in the neck. Inversely, the benefits of stretching are huge, here are some of them:
Increased range of motion
Reduced muscle tension and increased physical and mental relaxation
Reduced risk of joint and muscle sprains/minor and major injuries
Reduced risk of back problems
Decreased muscle soreness after exercise
Improved co-ordination through greater ease of movement and smoother muscle actions
Improved circulation and air exchange, especially in the muscles
You have stocked up on First Defence, are packing more vitamin C than a Florida orange farm, but still manage to get sick and spend the winter snivelling and feeling tired. Here are 7 tips to help you stay healthy, happy and fit throughout the festive season and beyond. Keep in mind that we only have 13 days before it will start getting lighter – 2 minutes a day, or 15 minutes a week!
Tip 1: get some exercise. Reasonably intense exercise (and strength training in particular) releases endorphins, our feel-good hormones. The presence of these hormones increases the production of white blood cells which are our immune system’s first line of defence. It’s important that the exercise is intense enough to make you breathless and sweaty, as it’s only at this level and beyond that you will produce endorphins.
Tip 2: be happy. Not so easy in the present climate of Euro crises and credit disaster, but laughter and feelings of happiness have also been shown to increase the production of white blood cells. One study at Indiana State University found that women who laughed while watching a funny film increased the activity of natural killer white blood cells. Since laughter may enhance immune function, try to watch some funny TV, do as many fun things as possible or simply spend time with your funniest friends.
Tip 3: get some sleep. Deep sleep is when the body does most of its repair work. Your body goes through several REM cycles – deep, regenerative sleep – each night, but you make the most immune-strengthening repairs during the last and longest one, which begins after seven hours of slumber.
Tip 4: listen to your favourite songs. Several studies have shown that music raises IgA levels, especially during times of stress. IgA is a protein that helps build immunity. In one, scientists played jazz for half an hour in a newspaper office while 10 reporters were on deadline. During that time, IgA levels increased, and they continued to rise for at least 30 minutes after the music was turned off. But you can listen to any genre, be it bluegrass or hip-hop; as long as you like it, your health will benefit.
Tip 5: be with friends. Rewarding relationships allow you to experience positive emotions, which lower levels of immune-suppressing hormones like norepinephrine. So get out there.
Tip 6: eat well. Even minor vitamin and mineral shortages can challenge your body’s defenses. Choose a wide variety of whole foods, including brown rice, low-fat protein sources like fish and beans, and five to nine daily servings of fruits and veggies. And make sure you’re eating enough. Even with a diverse diet, a too-low calorie intake deprives your body of the energy it needs to take care of daily functions, like staving off colds.
Tip 7: wash your hands. Wash your hands often with hot water and soap. Get a good lather going, as it’s the soap that dislodges the germs, not the water. Hand sanitisers and films are also effective.
Good luck, be healthy and wrap up warm.
The NHS will be deploying a new war in the fight against obesity: a talking plate that tells people not to gobble their food, reports the Sunday Times. The Mandometer, a £1500 Swedish made device, consists of two parts: a scale which sits under the plate, and a small computer screen. The screen displays a graph with one red line to indicate the speed at which the person is eating, and one blue line which is a guide to the healthy rate. If the lines deviate too much then an audible warning is issued to slow down. It also asks occasionally: “are you full yet?”
The system will be tested on 600 families in which at least one parent and one child is clinically obese, as part of a project run by Bristol University in conjunction with the NHS. It will also be tested on a dozen people with a genetic mutation that prevents them from recognising when they are full. In previous trials, adolescents who used the Mandometer ate between 12% and 15% less per meal after a year – and were still eating less six months after they stopped using the device.