0800 040 7526
For holiday makers and in particular businessmen subjected to lots of flights, jet lag can be debilitating and downright horrid. Here are some tips on overcoming jet lag..
The general rule is that it takes one day per hour of time change to recover when going east, a little less when going west. Some drugs help to combat the effects of jet lag in relation to sleep problems. Melatonin and modafinil both help to support hormones that regulate our sleep/wake cycle. They are both legal in the U.K. but you should consult your doctor before taking them.
If you can, start to adjust to the new time zone before you leave. Three days is usually a good start. So for a flight east, three days before you go you should force yourself to go to bed an hour earlier and wake up an hour earlier, increasing this each night. Reverse the process for trips to the west.
When you arrive at your destination use light exposure to regulate sleep patterns. Get as much sunlight as you can (you can use lamps if you are in a dark country or travelling in winter) in the morning or at least before noon. In the late afternoon try to close curtains and stay out of bright sunlight. It sounds silly, but dark sunglasses can help too.
Don’t drink too much alcohol or caffeine. These dehydrate you and exaggerate the effects of jet lag. Instead drink as much water as you can
Move about on the flight as much as possible and do exercises – most airlines have a little book of exercises that you can do in your seat. These will help keep the metabolic rate going to reduce tiredness and stiffness upon arrival.
Get some exercise. High intensity aerobic intervals help to stimulate the endocrine system and regulate sleep/wake patterns. Exercise is also a great way to keep alert for any important meetings.
This winter the number of colds, flu and viruses have been at record levels. Most people in an average year catch two to three colds. For children this number is even higher. But wouldn’t you love to get just one cold every two years? Exercise is a big way to prevent colds and flu. Healthy eating, including good amounts of fruit and vegetables will help keep the immune system healthy, but exercise can also play a key role. Findings show that exercise not only prevents serious life threatening diseases (like heart disease and cancer) but also helps your immune system fight colds and flu. It could give you the immune system of someone half your age!
With regular exercise, both the amount of infection fighting cells and their aggressiveness can be greatly increased, from 50% to a whopping 300%. These “natural killer” cells are the first defence agains colds, and so the more you have, and the more effective they are, the less likely you will be to get a cold. Even moderate exercise (like biking, walking or moderate gym exercise every other day) will reduce the amount of colds that you catch.
In an American Journal of Medicine study, women who walked for half an hour a day for one year caught half the number of colds as those who did no exercise at all. The researchers linked exercise with the production of infection fighting white blood cells. In other studies on subjects aged 65, researchers found that the number of T cells (cells that are helpers to white blood cells in fighting infection) was as high as someone in their 30s. The benefits of fitness in general are deemed to increase with age; see our section on 50+ fitness.
A personal trainer in Windsor and Maidenhead from Diets Don’t Work can get you started on a fitness program that will not only progress you gradually from your starting point, but that will also help you stay fit and cold free for as long as possible.
The common thinking is that smoking makes people calm and eases anxiety. Put a smoker in a stressful situation and they will want to smoke. But according to new research (and some established methods of stopping) the best thing for stress is to actually stop smoking. For the research, 491 smokers were recruited from NHS smoking clinics. Their anxiety levels were were tested while still smokers, then after six months, the 14% of smokers who had succeeded in stopping were then tested again. Those who had stopped were found to have anxiety levels 10% lower than when they were smokers. Those who failed to stop smoking had actually become more anxious, by 3%.
Interestingly, those who gave their reason for smoking as “coping with life” were the ones who showed the biggest reduction in anxiety. Those either interested in the psychology of smoking or in stopping may find “The Easy Way to Stop Smoking” by Allen Carr an interesting read. If you are really serious about stopping then the Allen Carr Clinics have the highest success rate.
Many articles and websites write about the importance of lean muscle mass. It is important, but why? Your muscles provide may functions: just about all body movement, from walking to nodding your head, is caused by skeletal muscle contraction. Your skeletal muscles function almost continuously to maintain your posture, making one tiny adjustment after another to keep your body upright. Skeletal muscle is also important for holding your bones in the correct position and is essential for strong, stable joints. Muscles store fuel too, and along with the liver make up most of our energy stores.
Important bit: they also play a large part in defining how much energy we need to function, hence they play a vital role in weight loss and maintenance. They are, as mentioned above, functioning continuously, therefore the more we have and the more toned they are, the more fuel we will need all day, every day. As weight loss depends on someone expending more energy than they are taking in, energy used becomes an important part of the weight loss equation; the more the merrier. Although cardio-vascular exercise will burn lots of calories when you are doing it and for a short time afterwards (depending on the intensity of exercise), it won’t increase calorie output all the time. Strength training, however, will! Increasing the tone and amount of muscle we have is like replacing A 1.2 engine in a car with a 2 litre. And that 2 litre is going all the time. It needs more fuel. Combined with sensible eating lean muscle will lead to sustained weight loss that stays off.
Correspondingly, loss of lean muscle will depress the metabolic rate – the amount of fuel we need to function. This explains why crash diets look great on the scales but don’t last. Although you will lose fat, you will also lose muscle. There is weight loss, but after the diet you now need less calories than before, so a return to normal eating will lead to unavoidable weight gain.
We also lose lean muscle as we age; from the age of 30 this can be up to 1lb a year. This explains why it gets harder to maintain weight as we get older. Our engine (lean muscle) is getting smaller, so we actually need less fuel!
The good news is that unlike most symptom of ageing, you can keep or even increase lean muscle as you get older through strength training. And as a lady you don’t have to be muscly, just toned and strong. A recent study into strength training by the University of Pittsburgh showed that adults in their 70s and 80s who did strength training had nearly the same muscle mass as someone in their 40s.
All our courses at Diets Don’t Work include strength training, and you are never too old to start. Our 50plus training gets great success too – http://www.dietsdontwork.co.uk/services/50plus-fitness
Yesterday, the 9th of January, was the day on which, statistically, 3 out of 4 people gave up on their New Year’s resolution. Here are some tips on how to stick with it this year.
1 – Be realistic. With all the good intentions in the world, if you have done no exercise for an extended period, deciding to start marathon training this week might not be realistic. Setting yourself unachievable targets is likely to lead to failure and may not be safe. Get going slowly and build it up gradually. Keep it short and often, focusing on quality (actually working really hard in exercise) rather than quantity. Build form there!
2 – Set goals. Starting with the notion of “I’m going to get fit!” is a bit vague. Have 3 goals, a short, medium and a long term one. Write them down. Now focus on the first short term goal, keeping in mind that if you achieve this first one you are already on the way to achieving the other 2! Remember, goal one needs to be challenging but achievable. Target being able to jog for a full 20 minutes non-stop for example. 4-6 weeks is a good time frame for a first short term goal.
3 – Be accountable. When you set your goals, tell your family, friends and colleagues exactly what they are. Publish them on all the social networks that you use. Not only does this round up early support, but once your secret quest is out there the pressure of everyone knowing will help to keep you on track.
4 – Enlist support. This doesn’t just mean tell everyone you know and wait for the encouragement. The support needs to be tangible and target obstacles to success. Your family are usually closest to you, so can help the most. If you have no time for exercise because you have to look after the kids, for example, get a friend to agree that as part of the quest they will babysit twice a week for 20 minutes each. If your fellow fridge users keep it packed with temptation, ask them to keep their chocolate hidden from now on.
5 – Get a partner. Batman and Robin. Morecombe and Wise. Everything is much easier with a friend. Embark on your quest with someone you know that has similar goals. You will provide each other with invaluable camaraderie, support, accountability and encouragement.
6 – Timing. The 2nd of January might not be the best time to start. Don’t put it off indefinitely, but don’t start just as a huge work project kicks off. Try to find a week when there are fewer possible obstacles and distractions.
7 – Self-congratulate. Rather than focus on the things that you may have failed to do, think about the ones you have succeeded in. Add up all your exercises sessions in a week. 10 lunges may not sound too good, but if you did them twice in each session, and did 3 short sessions, that’s 30 lunges! Much more impressive.
8 – Be persistent. It is highly unlikely that everything will go to plan. Expect setbacks, take them in your stride, and move on with what you have learned.
9 – Get professional help. It might only be for a session a week, or a few initial sessions, but by hiring a personal trainer you will actually get all of the above! Encouragement, support, someone there with you as you exercise, a professional to plan your nutrition and workouts, plus certain accountability.
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!
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.
To lower your blood pressure, go out and have fun. Researchers in the U.S. have found that laughter not only lifts the mood but it also has a powerful effect on hypertension. The study, reported by Sciencedaily.com, split people into two groups. One group was shown clips from the comedy “There’s Something About Mary” while the other was shown parts of the war movie “Saving Private Ryan”. During the funny scenes (in the first film of course!) the volunteers’ blood vessels dilated and expanded, improving circulation and lowering blood pressure. “The magnitude of change we saw after the laughter was similar and consistent with the benefits that we might see with the use of statins and aerobic exercise” said Dr Miller of the Maryland School of Medicine.
If you are not generally amused however why not try a bit (and I mean a bit) of chocolate? A Cambridge University review of studies using data from 114,900 patients found that consumption of chocolate was associated with a 37% reduction of cardiovascular disease over not having chocolate. The experts did warn though that these results should be interpreted with caution, as chocolate does of course have a high sugar content, so too much will lead to weight problems, diabetes and heart disease.
Other recent studies have also shown that you don’t need to sweat it out in the gym for hours at a time; short reasonably high intensity bouts of exercise can be just as effective in making you fitter and healthier. So spend your time constructively when exercising, don’t wander aimlessly, and success will be yours. Many of our personal training clients have really busy lives, so we use short effective homework routines outside of their one-on-one sessions to keep them fit and trim.
More than 5 million people suffer from asthma in the UK and most of them use inhalers to manage the condition. However, for many of them this is an unsatisfactory solution; they either find it hard to breathe in the medicine properly (it’s thought that up to a third of people may be using their inhalers incorrectly) or they forget to bring their inhalers with them in the first place. At Diets Don’t Work we have first hand experience of the latter as quite a few of our PT clients forget their inhalers, making it difficult for us to do effective cardio vascular work with them.
A simple solution may be at hand though. Researchers have concluded that a rarely prescribed asthma pill is just as effective at controlling symptoms. A two year study at the University of East Anglia found that the class of one a day tablets known as leukotriene receptor antagonists, which are currently only recommended as a third or fourth option, worked just as well as inhalers. They were also easier for the patients to manage. Adherence to treatment improved by as much as 60%. Samantha Walker, director of research at Asthma UK says the pill may offer a “realistic alternative choice of treatment”.