Why do you keep fit?

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This may sound like a ridiculous question – after all don’t we all exercise to benefit our health? Not according to the results of a recent poll, we don’t.

Nurofen polled 2,000 fitness fanatics and asked why they exercise. Four in ten admitted they keep fit to look good and feel attractive. 44% said they had only started exercising to stop them from looking overweight, while 28% believed regular exercise would help them to look younger and fight the first signs of ageing. The most depressing stats from the survey (for me) were: 18% admitted they exercise just to impress their partners and one in ten said their main motivation when going to the gym was the hope of meeting someone there and falling in love. Really?

This daft approach to exercise had also resulted in four in ten injuring themselves while working out. In addition, more than half said they don’t warm up before exercise and 60% said they don’t bother warming down either. This is crazy: warming up and warming down are essential to prevent unnecessary pains, strains and injuries.

As we all know: exercise is fantastic for our health. Regular exercise is a powerful weapon in reducing our risk of developing serious and potentially fatal conditions such as heart disease, stroke, numerous cancers and type 2 diabetes.

Whatever your reasons for keeping fit: please don’t forget the most attractive thing about regular exercise is that you’re benefitting your health enormously.

What regularly slips your mind?

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For me, it’s where on earth have I left my house keys. I’m always invariably on the last minute to catch a bus, train or get to an appointment and have just realised my keys aren’t where I thought they would be. Cue mild panic: I usually find them a few minutes later in quite a sensible place. My trouble is I’ve absent-mindedly put them down while doing something else at the same time. Multi-tasking has a lot to answer for…

So, the reason for my forgetfulness introduction? New research by the Post-it brand (those providers of bright, sticky notes that are memory-jogging wonders) has revealed the average person forgets four facts, items or events every day. The study of 2,000 people found our constant busyness leads to some scatter-brained moments. It even suggests we can forget as many as 1,460 things over a year – yikes!

The brand has compiled a ‘forgotten fifty’ list of the top 50 things that slip our minds. The top five all have that air of familiarity about them, though my worst offenders are numbers one, two, five and 28.

1. Forget what you went into a room for
2. Misplacing keys
3. Forgetting items while food shopping
4. Forgetting people’s names when introducing them
5. Forgetting where you left your pen
28. Forgetting train or bus times

Our hectic lives can leave us forgetting things here and there, and this is all perfectly normal. When you add this to the fact we naturally become a little more forgetful as we become older – it’s easy to see how and why things can slip our minds.

However, if you are at all worried about your memory loss, don’t keep it to yourself: talk to someone.

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Anyone for a nutritional powerhouse ice lolly?

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Don’t they look tasty? These frozen kale smoothies on a stick have been highlighted as a key food trend by a panel of experts at this year’s Summer Fancy Food Show in New York. Kalelicious Smoothie Pops are the brainchild of Green Wave Smoothies and aim to provide a delicious and nutritious way to get your greens. These smoothie pops are made by a mum and daughter who were looking for healthy snack and dessert alternatives, so decided to make their own. They’re currently only available in the US, but could be making their way to the UK in the not-too-distant future if they are as popular as predicted. Fingers crossed…

Why do we find chips so irresistible?

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This time last week, I was sat on a local beach blissfully warm and loving the weather. I was pondering whether to get an ice cream, until I caught a whiff of the food of a stranger walking by. While the man in question was eagerly eyeing up his heavenly-smelling chip shop stash, I looked on with envy.

Before I knew it I had hot-footed it to the counter and was lovingly coating my freshly-cooked chips in oodles of vinegar. Thoughts of having an ice cream had vanished. As enjoyable as those lovely chips were, why were they suddenly so irresistible? Did the sea air make them seem all that more delectable?

Well…the overwhelming reason is because chips trigger cravings in the brain, according to new research. US researchers found foods with processed carbohydrates such as chips and white bread, trigger heightened levels of activity in the areas of our brain that are associated with rewards and cravings. Aha, that’s why.

Researchers at the New Balance Foundation Obesity Prevention Centre at Boston Children’s Hospital believe the findings of the study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, could now be used to help overweight people stop overeating by avoiding those sorts of foods.

How do you keep your processed carbs cravings in check? For me, chip shop chips are a very occasional treat. I think they taste better that way too…

Would you know what to do in an emergency?

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If someone suddenly became ill and went into cardiac arrest, would you know what to do next? For many of us, the answer is no. Around 60,000 people have a cardiac arrest outside of hospital every year in the UK. The sad reality is, less than 10% go onto survive. Yet, if a bystander is able to start CPR, this can double a person’s chances of survival.

Lifesaver is the fantastic, free resource from The Resuscitation Council that could help to save many, many lives. It acts as a crisis simulator, using live action and real-life scenarios that rely on your interactive moves and quick action to show what to do in an emergency and how to use CPR.

You really do learn as you go. If you do it wrong, you will be shown what you need to do instead. You also use your keypad to start CPR and it tells you if you need to go faster or slower. Do it right and you can make a real difference to your online victim’s life. It’s very clever stuff and is quite a thrilling experience too.

It’s available for computers and as an iPad app, iPhone app, Android tablet app and Android phone app.

Did I mention it’s free? Please download and learn – you never know when you might need this knowledge.

Why clenching your fists may boost your memory

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We all have days where our memory retention skills could do with a boost, whatever our age. US researchers feel the answer may lie (quite literally) in our own hands.

Scientists at the Montclair State University have found clenching the right hand for 90 seconds helps with memory formation, while the same movement in the left hand improves memory recall. In the experiment, 50 students were given a list of words to remember and found they performed better when using fist clenches. The researchers feel the fist clenching movements activate specific brain regions that are associated with memory processing. Further research will continue.

If you’re rubbish at remembering names or always forget at least one thing you want to pick up from the supermarket (like me), it’s certainly worth a try…

Image courtesy of Free Digital Photos

Is your dairy intolerance self-diagnosed?

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If you answered yes to the above, you could be at risk of nutritional deficiency, warns Allergy UK.

New research from Alpro has revealed 44% of people that class themselves as dairy intolerant are relying on the internet and general guess work to self-diagnose. 72% of those suffering from dairy intolerance symptoms have removed all sources of dairy from their diet, the main source of calcium in the UK. A further 25% have cut out some dairy food groups. Gut problems including stomach pain, bloating and diarrhoea were cited as the most common reasons for cutting out dairy: eczema and nasal/sinus congestion were listed fourth and fifth.

Calcium is essential for the development and maintenance of healthy bones and teeth; it also regulates muscle contractions including the heartbeat. Calcium is particularly vital for women as low levels can increase your risk of osteoporosis. It’s found in foods including milk, cheese, butter, yoghurt, green leafy vegetables such as kale, broccoli and cabbage, dried fruits such as apricots, tofu and sesame seeds.  

Over half of the people surveyed felt there was not enough advice out there for dairy intolerance sufferers. They would like to see more information on calcium, recipes, suitable dairy swaps and ideas for eating out. A huge 75% said they would prefer to be diagnosed by a face-to-face consultation.

If you are concerned you may have symptoms that indicate dairy intolerance, Allergy UK advises: “to help identify whether a food is a cause of symptoms, a food/symptoms diary can help to identify a pattern. We would always recommend taking the diary to your GP or allergy specialist who can diagnose what may be causing the symptoms or refer you to a dietitian.”

Whether you are dairy intolerant or a dairy lover, make sure you maintain a good calcium intake in your diet…

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos