Healthyreading issue 10

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HEALTHY READING Issue 10 £1.99



NATURAL BEAUTY WHAT´S IT ALL ABOUT? Transforming the health of your workplace






s I write this the sun is warm and streaming through the windows and it couldn’t feel less like autumn if it tried. Personally, I hate the long dark grey days and thrive on long, bright days of sunshine, so this little piece of respite is very welcome. Before long, we will be huddling up indoors or if we venture outside we will cover ourselves in hats, scarves and gloves, and unless you are particularly hardy open windows day and night can seem like a distant memory. One of my greatest stress busters on a cold bright day is wrapping up and going for a walk in my local park, as it gives me the opportunity to get outside for some fresh air and relax; kicking leaves is optional! I also enjoy looking out at the spiders’ webs clinging to the fences and glistening in the sunlight, with frost on them. It’s also a time to start to prepare the garden for next year and plant bulbs in readiness for spring. As 2017 draws to a close, and with shorter daylight hours it can be difficult to remain motivated, and this bumper issue is packed full of interesting articles to help you survive through autumn, the seasonal festivities and beyond. We’ve something for all the family, from the Men’s lifestyle section to looking after our younger generation’s teeth, as well as how to get a good night’s sleep. We’ve also included information for the older generation and also how to cope as a woman with different medical issues. We haven’t forgotten how to have fun but still stay healthy with our tips on how to survive the Christmas period. If you are more active we also include some outdoor sports to try, or if you are interested in ergonomics take a look at our information about available products.

We also consider some of our different senses, from hearing and noise pollution to smell and the impact that aromatherapy can have on our lives. If you’re looking to try something new, the Blend Bar is now open at Humos in Church Road, Caversham, where you can come either on your own or as part of a group to learn about different scents and make your own candles: a lovely present for someone or equally a lovely treat for a group of friends or colleagues. On my return from the park I am looking forward to curling up with this edition and a mug of hot chocolate for a good read. We would like to take this opportunity to wish all our readers a very merry Christmas and we wish you all the best for an healthy and prosperous New Year.

Healthy Reading Editor


Wellness life


Ergonomic life / Environmental health


Health at work

8-11 Women´s lifestyle 12 Children’s & Adolescents’ health 13

Healthy eating


Men´s lifestyle


Staying fit during the Christmas period

16-17 Sports & outdoors / What´s On 18

60+ Prime time

Publishers: Healthy Reading Ltd. Editor: Advertising: Contribute: Website: Twitter: @healthyreading Facebook: Contributing writers: Gabriel D C., Katia Major, Sara M., Paul Davies, Efthymios F., Jill S., Mary S., Nikki W., Carole T., Jema B., Judith H.

Disclaimer: The publisher has taken all reasonable measures to ensure the accuracy of the information in Healthy Reading and cannot accept responsibility for errors in or omissions from any information given in this or previous editions or for any consequences arising thereof. The editor may not always agree with opinions expressed in Healthy Reading but allow publication as a matter of interest. Nothing printed should be construed as Policy or an Official Announcement unless stated. The information contained in Healthy Reading magazine is not intended for the purpose of diagnosing or prescribing. Please consult your Doctor/GP before undertaking any form of medical treatment or adopting any exercise program or dietary guidelines. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form or by any means whether electronic, mechanical and/or optical without the express prior written permission from the publisher.


WELLNESS LIFE OUR INNER CLOCK AND THE IMPORTANCE OF A GOOD NIGHT’S SLEEP l Most people are familiar with the concept of an internal clock. When suffering from jetlag or a series of sleepless nights, the usual suspect is our body clock being “out of sync”. It’s not just pseudo-science either; since the 18th century, scientists have explored how the cycle of day and night affects living organisms. However, it was only fairly recently that researchers were able to explore in greater detail what it is that drives the body clocks of plants, animals and humans. The recipients of the 2017 Nobel Prize for medicine were the discoverers of the gene that controls the inner workings of our biological clock. Jeffrey C. Hall, Michael Rosbash, and Michael W. Young were awarded the prestigious prize for their work throughout the 1980s and 90s. By examining fruit flies, the team were able to isolate the gene that controls their daily, biological rhythm. The gene encodes a protein that accumulates in the cell at night and depletes during the day. Expanding on this, they were able to explain the intricate workings of the cell’s clockwork that, as the Nobel committee note, allows us to understand “how plants, animals and humans adapt their biological rhythm so that it is synchronized with the Earth’s revolutions.” The gene and its associated mechanisms allow our bodies to prepare themselves for the different stages of the day. The circadian rhythm, as the system is known, controls some



of the key functions of the body, such as sleep, body temperature, hormone levels, behaviour, and metabolism. These systems can all be impacted when the internal workings of our cells are out of sync with external conditions. A key example of this is jet lag, where it takes the body some time to adjust internally to the new time zone travelled to. There is increasing evidence to suggest that repeated, chronic misalignment of the natural circadian rhythm is associated with higher risk for various diseases. This may explain the increased health risks to shift workers who are more susceptible to issues such as heart disease, dementia, diabetes and some cancers. It’s not just shift workers’ lifestyles that may have a negative impact. In an article in The Guardian, Michael Rosbash, one of the professors who authored the study said, “All of western society is a little bit sleep deprived and, when I say a little bit, I mean chronically.” All the evidence suggests that a healthy and regular sleep routine is essential for maintaining a healthy circadian rhythm.

l Jonathan Lyon was just like many other teenagers. He was into fitness, he practiced a range of sports, and he regularly attended the gym. However, all that changed when he was 17 years old. As he details in an article in Men’s Health, after contracting Swine Flu his physical health deteriorated beyond expectation. His eventual diagnosis: fibromyalgia and myalgic encephalomyelitis, or M.E. “I’d feel a heat in my glands and an ache throughout my muscles, sort of like I had the flu. The symptoms would last for a few weeks, then subside, then come back again.” Along with the fever-like aches and pains, Jonathan experienced exhaustion, localized pain and an inability to mentally focus. Initially doctors attributed his symptoms to anxiety or depression, or simply the rigours of growing pains. Yet as his suffering persisted and became more severe, Jonathan decided to research his illness further. After a long struggle with his health, he finally suggested to a specialist that his symptoms closely matched what he’d read about fibromyalgia and M.E. The specialist agreed, and after a years-long struggle Jonathan finally had an answer as to what had been robbing him of his health and happiness. Fibromyalgia is long-term, chronic illness that causes muscle fatigue, pain, and tenderness throughout the body. M.E. (also known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) can be separately or synonymously diagnosed, causing similar symptoms of fatigue, pain, and poor memory and concentration. Although fibromyalgia is one of the most common chronic pain disorders, WebMD u

estimate that only around 10% of sufferers are male (although one expert suggests up to 20% of male sufferers could go undiagnosed). However, the disorder made headlines recently when Pop superstar Lady Gaga revealed she suffered from the illness. She was forced to cancel tour dates whilst she dealt with her symptoms, and the topic arose in public conversation. As Jonathan explains in his article though, the treatments for fibromyalgia are vague and not standardized for all patients: “there is no one-size-fits-all cure for fibromyalgia. I didn’t have a doctor. I didn’t have a treatment plan. And I didn’t have any hope.” As he struggled to find a suitable way of dealing with his illness, he struggled to socialize, maintain friendships, and be physically intimate with anyone. Jonathan’s youth was slipping away from him and his frustrations with his physical limitations grew to anger and hopelessness. He turned his efforts towards writing a novel to express his pain, and after its completion he resolved to take back some degree of physical control over his body. After further research and trial and error, he came up with his answer: an exercise program known as calisthenics. Calisthenics is essentially a form of exercise that uses the weight of one’s own body. Exercises can include sit-ups, press-ups, pull-ups and squats. Jonathan found that he could practice calisthenics anywhere, even outside. This took him away from the pressured setting of the gym and gave him renewed confidence and a mental health boost. Despite the ailments that persisted, and despite reaching his physical limits numerous times, Jonathan persisted with his calisthenics routine. He would take it at his own pace, trying not to push himself too far. While initially he only felt the benefits to his mental health, he eventually found the physical breakthrough he was looking for. “I realized that after I’d finished my last press-up, my body felt like it was filled with pulsating liquid gold, which hummed through all of my arteries. It was a rush unlike anything I’d felt in nearly a decade.” The casual observer would note his now strong physique and never guess at the physical and mental pain he still suffers. He’s determined to continue finding ways to relieve his pain and improve his physical performance, yet bemoans the fact that there is very little funding and research into fibromyalgia. Although calisthenics have helped him, there’s no cure and still very little in terms of reliable treatment. He remains hopeful that he, as well as stars like Lady Gaga, can raise awareness of this “invisible epidemic” as he terms it. In the meantime he continues to bravely persist in the face of his condition. By Gabriel De Carvalho Head Therapist, Le Masseur Personnel

SAD, DEPRESSED OR IN NEED OF A CHANGE? l Depression is a term used by almost everyone these days, but do we know exactly what it is? Of course, at some point in our lives we have all felt sad, overwhelmed, worried, anxious, guilty, hopeless or without “energy”, but do these feelings constitute depression? The short answer is “no”. The roots of depression may be emotional problems, genetic inheritance, abuse and trauma, use/abuse of substances and/or certain medication, a loss of a loved one or even suffering from another serious illness. Although the causes and duration can vary between the several types of this disease, the person suffering from any of them will experience feelings of emptiness, sadness, irritability and alterations in their mind, intellect and body that will lead to their diminished functionality (American Psychiatric Association, 20171). Nevertheless, what needs to be stressed is how crucial it is to leave the diagnosis and treatment of complex and severe mental disorders to the experts, and these are clinical psychologists and psychiatrists. After many years of training they know exactly how to read the signs and symptoms, diagnose accurately and treat each mental disorder in the correct way so that the individual can get better. However, even without having been diagnosed with a serious mental illness, feeling “down”, sad or not “ourselves” is a very important issue and we should address it immediately and with respect. The hormones serotonin and dopamine (sometimes known as the happiness hormone and pleasure hormone respectively) play a big role in the maintenance of good health, and their imbalance is linked to both to depression and sadness. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that is mostly found in the gastrointestinal tract as well as the central nervous system and blood platelets. Not only does it regulate our mood but it also helps with our sleep, appetite, digestion, wound healing, bone health and sexual function (McIntosh, 2016). Dopamine’s functions mainly concern the pattern of motivation, reward and pleasure. Furthermore, Dopamine is important for our memory, attention, creativity, and sleep (Radiyyah, 2016). To a certain extent we can help ourselves to deal with a problem before it becomes well-established and deep-rooted. Sadly, a very common tactic nowadays is hiding and suppressing our emotions, both out of fear of not knowing how to deal with them or how painful it would be to confront them. In my personal opinion this could be much more destructive than actually going through this process. Luckily it is never too late for change. When we notice that emotionally we are out

of balance we should seek assistance. This could be talking to our partner, a friend, a family member or someone that we trust and love. If the issue is persistent and we don’t feel better, maybe visiting a specialist, such as a counsellor or a psychotherapist, would be the best option. At the same time, small changes in our lifestyle could help to increase our serotonin and dopamine levels, as well as the natural release of endorphins (Axe, 2017). Such changes could be exercising, engaging in activities or hobbies, laughing more, setting goals and achieving them, having a healthy sex life and being in the sunlight for at least some time every day to enhance vitamin D production (Anchan, 2015): In addition try aromatherapy, meditation and acupuncture and a healthy diet that combines food rich in tryptophan (such as eggs, cheese, pineapple, tofu, salmon, nuts and turkey) with a serving of carbs (like rice, oats, or wholegrain bread) (Butler, 2017). Last but not least, over thirty established studies have proven that massage helps us on a biochemical level in many ways. Measurements have shown that massage therapy increases serotonin and dopamine, decreases cortisol and alleviates stress effects (Massage Magazine, 2009). One study (Perreau-Linck and colleagues 2007) indicated the possibility that the relationship between the production of serotonin (as well as of other neurotransmitters) and our mood, could be bidirectional, one influencing the other. Shouldn’t we help our emotional state and our bodies, so that they can help us in return? By Efhymios Forteinos Massage therapist at Le Masseur Personnel, Psychotherapist and Counsellor 1 – References in short form. Full references are available on request.


ERGONOMIC LIFE BY HANNAH HAMBLETON l Maintaining a static seated position for long periods, and the closed posture that we have when sitting in a normal chair, can cause poor health and unnecessary pain. In the 1970s two doctors challenged designers to confront these problems, and the Variable™ balans® kneeling chair was born. The name kneeling chair is somewhat misleading, as you do not sustain your entire weight on your knees. The lower pads support your knees and shins to assist you in maintaining a healthy sitting position, with your pelvis pushed forward, but you still have most of your weight on your buttocks. The chair’s curved base runners encourage you to shift your weight and change your position to encounter your own line of balance. This allows your spine to follow its natural curvature, relieving spinal compression and alleviating backaches. The kneeling position also helps to alleviate muscle tension in the legs and the lower back, and the open posture, of around 110-degrees, improves breathing by allowing freer movement of the diaphragm, and aids blood circulation. The Variable balans comes in a wide range of colours and fabrics and can be used while sitting at a desk, relaxing or dining. Both adults and children over seven can benefit from

the continuous cycle of action and reaction that is created between the body and the chair. It may take a little while to get used to using a kneeling chair and to adjust to active sitting, but you will soon discover the benefits to your health, like strengthening core muscles to improve posture, increasing joint mobility, and promoting focus, energy, and concentration. The perfect design, functionality, and great price, of the Variable balans, means that it is still one of the most popular kneeling chairs on the market. Purchase from Back in Action for £265 l The Masai Barefoot Technology (MBT®) shoes make use of the same instability principle. Their unique soles are available in three different curvatures which offer distinct rolling levels to suit your needs. Whether walking or standing, the award-winning design of these shoes keeps you moving and improves your balance. Being in constant motion tones and builds muscles, improves posture and body alignment, alleviates back, foot and leg pain, and reduces stress on joints. The curved sole exaggerates our natural walking motion of sway from our heels to our toes to increase the benefits to our body. Higher levels of

muscular activation can stimulate metabolic activity, increasing heart rate and oxygen consumption to burn up more calories. The patented construction of the MBT sole is composed of five distinct layers. The insole is formed of contoured Polyurethane and beneath it there is an engineered shank. The midsole has a Pivot Axis, and this, along with the Sensor Technology™ in the next layer contribute to the supreme comfort of these shoes. Finally, the outsole has enhanced traction to ensure a good grip for safe walking on all surfaces. People describe wearing MBT shoes as a pleasant and natural sensation like walking over soft moss or along a sandy beach. These shoes are super comfortable, have lots of health benefits and still look stylish a n d fashionable. This year’s new styles include these low-cut ladies Sheffield slip-ons. They have burgundy Dynamic soles which offer an intermediate level of instability, and the uppers are made of soft Nappa leather in burnished navy with original die cutting to enhance their style and elegance. Purchase online direct from MBT for £172

ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH NOISE POLLUTION AND YOU l We are all aware of the impact different types of pollution have on us, but we tend to overlook noise pollution. Think back to the last time you experienced true silence. If, like most people in the developed world, you live in a village, town, or city, then you probably cannot recall the last time you enjoyed true silence, and this is a problem. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that excessive noise, which includes both loud noise and constant moderate level noise, causes a whole host of health complaints. High volume, continuous noise can cause: • ear aches and headaches • disruption of daily activities such as at work and school • disruption of sleep and worsened quality of sleep • cardiovascular damage • psychophysiological damage • behavioural disorders We are not made to be subjected to constant, moderate-to-loud sounds. We


evolved in an environment where continual low-level sounds, such as rustling, splashing, and swishing were normal, while continual moderate sounds such as talking and tapping were a sign of social events, and where a loud sound, whether brief of continual, such as a shout or a crash, was a sign of serious danger. Our minds are simply not ready for all this sound, and it can leave us in either a constant state of alert panic, or a constant state of noise-blind obliviousness. These are harmful both short and long term, inducing stress, depression, or paranoia. Research has found that sounds at the right frequency, such as soft music emulating waves, or the purr of a cat, stimulates our immune and healing processes. Likewise, the wrong types of sounds can cause ill health by disrupting our bodily processes. Excessive noise interrupts our heart rates, healing, and digestion, among other functions, making us more likely to get and stay ill. The WHO has strict guidelines on the sound conditions necessary to be healthy.

The upper limit for daytime sounds is 55-65 decibels on average, and for working and studying 35 decibels, with the upper limit for night-time sounds of 40 decibels and for sleep 30 decibels. Anything above those levels of noise, in those situations, leads to adverse health effects. However, research has found that across Europe 20% of people are exposed to noises above 65 decibels on average during the day and 30% are exposed to noises above 55 decibels on average during the night. Unfortunately, there is not much you can personally do about the amount of noise in your area, short of moving. However, you can take steps to reduce the impact which noise has on your health, such as investing in noise cancelling headphones or ear plugs. You may also find it pleasant to listen to ambient music on a regular basis, as these sounds are healing and relaxing and even more therapeutic than silence. If you can break away from the noise and go somewhere in nature for a day, even better!




ur workforce and organisations are sick, depressed and stressed… According to the latest Government figures from the Labour Force Survey: The total number of cases of work-related stress, depression or anxiety… was 488,000 cases. The total number of working days lost …was 11.7 million days…. Stress alone accounted for 37% of all work-related ill health cases and 45% of all working days lost due to ill health.1 It has become clear that ensuring job satisfaction and ultimately securing high productivity and retention requires more than increased pay. In their 2017 findings on reward and pay, CIPD (The Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development), state that: Modern research indicates that individuals are attracted, retained and engaged by a whole range of financial and non- financial rewards and that these can change over time depending on personal circumstances.2 Through my yoga work, I have seen a significant increase in the number of requests for our office yoga programmes, along with a growth in enquiries for our support in running wellbeing days, sometimes working alongside other health professionals such as nutritionists, massage therapists and fitness trainers. The rhetoric around what a healthy and productive workplace looks and feels like is starting to change. Slowly perhaps, but there is a definite change. Where this wellbeing work is most successful, we see the management structure within the company fully embracing and taking part in what we have to offer: incorporating, for example, a weekly yoga class in the work timetable, providing free access to all staff at appropriate times in the day.

In doing so, the wellbeing of everyone actively becomes part of the work-culture of that organisation and it’s not just a matter of paying lip service to the ethos of work-life balance. Some companies are taking it yet further by making wellbeing part of the fabric of the workplace itself. For example, Thames Tower, the new office building that faces onto Reading station, offers a range of wellbeing activities to their tenants. Here it’s the management company of the building taking responsibility for this offer and they


are honest about the reasons why - James Sliver, Development Director at Landid explains: “We believe that businesses today expect much more from their workspace and that providing really great amenities is hugely important to tenant satisfaction. We want people to enjoy coming into work and not watch the clock – and occupiers understand that having a healthy, vibrant and fun space to work is now crucial if they want to attract and retain the best people.” The feedback from staff shows that this creative approach to their working environment is valued and having a tangible impact on their wellbeing: “I really look forward to our weekly yoga classes in Thames Tower, there’s no better way to end the day than switching off and having a good old stretch.” “I was given advice from my Chiropractor to start yoga to help my bad back … we now have a free session which is very convenient after work and I feel it has made such an improvement in my posture and back pain. It also makes you release any stress from your day-to-day life” In my opinion, valuing the health of the people within your organisation is a smart way to improve the health of the business. Certainly, from what I’ve seen, the organisations who are having genuine conversations about wellbeing at work and engaging with health professionals to innovate are coming up with exciting solutions – and the results for individuals and the business as a whole can be truly transformative. 1 Source:

2 Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development: https://

/yogareading @yogareadinguk

Yoga classes for all levels  Workshops  Beginner’s Courses   Retreats  One to Ones   Office Yoga 


Aroma House, 3-5 Cremyll Rd, Reading RG1 8NQ



Breastfeeding is known to provide many benefits to babies, but did you know that it could also prevent mothers from experiencing chronic pain after a caesarean section? Research conducted in Spain studied 185 mothers who underwent a C-section between January 2015 and December 2016. The mothers were interviewed about their breastfeeding patterns and level of pain around their scar at 24 hours, 72 hours and 4 months after their operation. 8% of mothers who continued to breastfeed beyond 2 months experienced little-tono pain, compared to the 23% who breastfed for 2 months or less and were still experiencing chronic pain at the surgical site 4 months on.


Even though Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a common condition, affecting one in five women in the UK, there is often confusion about its symptoms and how they can be managed. Five common signs of the hormone-related condition include: 1. Irregular periods 2. Weight gain 3. Excessive hair growth 4. Acne 5. Difficulty getting pregnant However, as symptoms vary from one woman to the next, PCOS can often go undiagnosed. If you believe you are experiencing symptoms of PCOS it is recommended that you see your GP, who will conduct tests and discuss the best way to manage your symptoms.


The World Health Organisation considers migraines one of the top 20 disabling lifetime conditions but what exactly causes them? According to the latest studies, it’s all to do with change. Yes, anything from a fluctuation in oestrogen levels and disturbed sleeping patterns to changes in the environment and weather can result in a nasty migraine. Skipping meals, eating certain foods and over-doing it in the gym are also commonly associated with the condition. So what can you do about it? The key is to identify your trigger and avoid it. Staying hydrated is also essential, with Migraine Action recommending you drink 1-2 litres of water a day.


Morning sickness is common in pregnancy, with 80% of women experiencing some form of nausea or vomiting, but when does it become a concern? If you’re extremely nauseous, struggling to keep down fluids or vomiting excessively, you may have Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG). This severe form of sickness is something the Duchess of Cambridge is currently experiencing with her recently announced third pregnancy. The pregnancy-related condition is so debilitating that hospitalisation is often required in order to administer antisickness medication and IV fluids. If your ‘morning sickness’ is crossing the line, seek advice from your midwife or GP.


‘Going grey’ is a fact of life but finding grey hair in your twenties or thirties can be rather alarming. Although it’s nothing to worry about, there may be a reason for your premature greying and it’s not just genetics. Sure, if your parents greyed at a young age, you’re more likely to as well, however other factors can contribute including a B12 deficiency, smoking and stress. Eating a balanced diet, avoiding smoking and living a healthy lifestyle can greatly improve the condition of your hair. Whilst there’s no way to un-grey your natural hair, you have two options: dye or embrace. The choice is yours!


Is a bad back ruining your sex life? According to a study conducted at Waterloo University in Canada, spooning is the answer. If you experience back pain when sitting for long periods or touching your toes (known as flexion-intolerant), opting for a spooning position during sex, will provide the support you need for ultimate comfort and enjoyment. You are most welcome.



We rarely hear men complaining about their cellulite and do you know why? Cellulite is much more common in women. Cellulite appears when the collagen fibres that bind fat to our skin stretch and tear, causing the fat cells to expand. Unfortunately, women’s skin is more susceptible to cellulite, as the pillared pattern of collagen allows for a greater compartmentalisation of fat. Men, on the other hand, have collagen arranged in an X-pattern, which allows for less dimpling and therefore a reduced appearance of cellulite.


Natural Cycles is a new birth control app, designed to change the way we think about contraception. Period-tracking apps have been around for a while but Natural Cycles takes things a step further, requiring women to take their temperature every morning in order to accurately predict ovulation. It uses an algorithm to determine the six days a month in which women may fall pregnant after having sex, allowing them to either use a barrier method on those days or avoid sex completely. Sceptics are likening the app to the rhythm method, however Natural Cycles has already received approval to be marketed as a medical device for contraception in the EU. Findings show it to be 99% effective under ‘perfect’ use. Could it be a real game changer or is it just one big risk?

1. Sit on the floor and put your feet together. Your knees should spread outwards, creating a diamond shape with your legs. 2. Lie back on the floor 3. Squeeze your bottom hard as you lift up your hips, creating a straight line to your knees 4. Lower your bottom back down


Turmeric has long been associated with health and wellness thanks to its antibacterial and immune-boosting properties, but did you know it is also associated with weight loss? The yellow-coloured spice has been found to turn white fat, which stores calories, into brown fat, great for energy. And it is not just for curries either – people are even adding turmeric to their morning coffee to get their fix!


Not ready to retire your summer bikini bottom? Frog pumps are the answer. We have all heard of squatting but frog pumping is the new way to sculpt a better bottom in four easy steps.


WOMEN’S LIFESTYLE AROMATHERAPY AND NATURAL PERFUMERY l Of our five senses, smell is perhaps the one that we appreciate the least. We tend to view our other senses as physical, whereas smell evokes much more of an emotional response, making us happy or invigorated, for example, or even nauseous or afraid. Our sense of smell is inextricably linked with memory, and our reaction to different smells can often be linked to specific memories from the past. The smell of a freshly baked cake might make us remember times from our childhood, when Grandma had been busy in the kitchen, and the scent of cut grass or fresh apples might evoke memories of time spent in the countryside. Just as certain scents from everyday life can trigger warm memories and feelings of contentment or vitality, so natural scents, in the form of essential oils, can be used to influence our sense of emotional wellbeing and happiness. Rose essential oil might make us think of our garden, for example, or even of our wedding day, whereas lavender could conjure up peaceful images of the rolling hills of Provence, with fields of scented purple flowers stretching out as far as the eye can see. Of course, the scents of cinnamon, orange and cloves all have the power to make us think warmly of Christmas time. The emotional response that a particular scent evokes is, of course, unique to each individual, depending on that person’s experiences and the memories that a certain scent is attached to. Yet the beauty of aromatherapy and essential oils is that some scents can be relied upon to trigger specific emotional responses in the majority of people, without the need for an associated memory. The zingy citrus smell of lemongrass or orange essential oils leave us feeling refreshed and invigorated, whilst frankincense, clary sage and patchouli all offer gentle, calming and soothing properties. In a fast-paced world, where we all need a pick-me-up boost from

time to time, or a way to relax and unwind, using scent to alter our mood and mental state makes a lot of sense. Using scent in this way has a long history, when women often carried a small silver box, called a pomander or vinaigrette, which contained a sponge impregnated with a reviving scent. Whilst nowadays we might not need to use scent to bring us round after fainting, it still makes sense to use it to improve our emotional well-being. Essential oils offer an easy and convenient way to do just that, and they can be used in several ways. Reed diffusers are one of the most popular choices for using essential oils in the home, providing a gentle and longlasting scent that can fill a room without becoming overpowering. The diffuser reeds sit in a bottle of fragrance oil, slowly dispersing the scent into the air over time. A good quality reed diffuser can last for up to six months, gently scenting the room at all times. Room sprays offer a quick and simple solution for when you need to scent a room instantly. If you have friends coming to dinner and you want to create a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere, a room spray can provide that instant sense of convivial warmth. If you exercise, do yoga or meditate at home, a room spray can immediately put you in the right frame of mind to enjoy the activity. Aromatherapy candles are another good way to add scent to any room, although obviously, you need to take some basic precautions when using candles. Many aromatherapy candles are supplied in stylish tins, which act as the candle holder, with a lid to seal in the fragrance when not in use. Burners are perhaps the method that people are most familiar with when it comes to using essential oils. Originally, burners involved a small dish for the oil, suspended over a tealight, but plug-in burners are now available. These feature a small oil container on the back of the plug which is heated


just enough to disperse the scent around a room. Diffusers are also available as a plug-in, offering another convenient way to use essential oils in any room. Plug-in diffusers are a great option for those who travel frequently, as you can simply pop them in your travel bag, then plug them into any convenient socket in your hotel room or workplace. Plug-in diffusers and burners create the same overall effect, but burners heat the essential oils, causing them to evaporate into the air, whereas in a diffuser, the essential oils are suspended in a liquid, which is dispersed into the air via a nebuliser. Which plug-

in option you choose is largely a matter of personal preference, but the important thing with both is to choose good quality essential oils. With so many enticing fragrances to choose from, and untold possibilities available by blending your own scents from different oils, using aromatherapy principles to positively influence emotional wellbeing is perhaps one of the simplest forms of selfhelp there is. The next time you feel you need to unwind, or to be refreshed and rejuvenated, grab a reed diffuser, candle, burner or spray, and let the power of scent work its magic.

NATURAL BEAUTY – WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT? l When it comes to putting things INTO our bodies we’re pretty good at considering the ingredients, and maybe even their origins, but this often slips us by when it comes to what we’re putting ONTO our bodies. We sometimes forget the skin is an organ – and our biggest one at that. It is said to be the first line of defence for the body; it protects us, houses millions of nerve endings and regulates our body temperature. The skin is sometimes also referred to as the ‘third kidney’ because of its key function in eliminating sweat and toxins. It is about so much more than appearance and the cosmetics and toiletries we apply each day! Our skin is a reflection of our overall health and wellbeing. The skin reportedly absorbs

60-70% of what you put on it (think nicotine or HRT patches). Therefore just as we might be hesitant to eat food covered with chemicals and pesticides, it follows that we should really also be thinking about our skincare in the same way, to avoid potentially harmful chemicals entering our bloodstream. If you are prone to breakouts, redness and sensitivity, it is worth being especially cautious, as these ingredients may well be partly to blame for your skin issues. Surely cosmetics companies have an interest in creating products that don’t harm their customers? They do. However some widely-used skincare ingredients (phthalates, parabens and triclosan for example) have been shown in animal studies to interfere with

the body’s endocrine system. We also don’t really know how other ingredients like Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and silicones affect us over time. What we do know, however, is that the more unsafe ingredients we are exposed to, the higher unnecessary burden it places on the body’s detoxification processes as well as the entire immune system, including the skin. Given the number of personal care products the average person uses daily, it makes sense therefore to err on the side of caution and avoid potentially harmful ingredients having the chance to enter your bloodstream. Recent research shows that even a short break from certain kinds of makeup, shampoos and lotions can lead to a significant drop in levels of hormone-disrupting chemicals in the body. Being wiser about the products you use involves learning to read labels and becoming familiar with ingredients. Although this might sound daunting, there is no need to make it too complicated. Here are a few tips: 1. Different products mean different levels of exposure. For instance, an all-over body lotion that sinks in to the skin all day will provide significantly more exposure than using the same ingredients in a face cleanser that is quickly washed off. So rather than worrying about every single ingredient all the time, you may want to choose when to be strict and when to relax your standards. This way you will still significantly improve the overall quality of your beauty products. 2. Seek out products made mostly

from (ideally organic) plant oils and butters (e.g. jojoba, rosehip oil, shea and mango butter to name a few). Plant oils are some of the best ingredients you can use to keep your skin soft and smooth. They have high concentrations of vitamins, minerals and fatty acids, thus providing more of what your skin actually needs whilst allowing the skin to breathe and eliminate toxins. The essential oils these plant oils tend to be blended with provide additional therapeutic benefits both to the skin and overall wellbeing. 3. If you’re finding it hard to decipher a long list of ingredients without having to call someone with a PhD in chemistry, chances are that your body might struggle with it too. The ingredients that are generally considered better to avoid where possible include parabens (Methyl-, Propyl, Ethyl-, Butyl-), petrochemicals (e.g. petroleum, paraffinium), phthalates, SLS, or Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES), synthetic fragrance and Triclosan; 4. Know who you are buying from, what they stand for and how transparent they are about their ingredients. As the saying goes, you are what you put in – and on – your body. To allow our skin to do its job in the body’s detoxification and immune processes, therefore, we should really view skincare as feeding our skin in the same way we feed ourselves, and choose our products accordingly. Make it enjoyable and be kind to your skin! Maia Smith is the Director and Founder of Reading-based h by Maia honest, natural skin care



With childhood obesity on the rise, parents may worry about how to ensure that their child eats sensibly. Advice from NHS Choices is that any changes to your child’s diet and lifestyle are much more likely to stick if the whole family gets involved. Firstly, eat at the table together – studies show families who have regular meals at the table with no distractions are more likely to be a healthy weight. Research from Wageningen University in the Netherlands found that families who ate dinner in the kitchen or dining room tended to have a lower BMI. Parents with a higher BMI were more likely to eat with the television on, while boys who had more “sociable” family dinners tended to be slimmer. This was particularly true in families where nobody left the table until everyone had finished eating. Avoiding oversized portions can also make a difference. Research funded by the UK Department of Health found that portion sizes have increased over the years and are one of the reasons children become overweight. Many children are encouraged to clear their plate, but if you start with small servings, you can encourage your child to ask for more if they are still hungry. Giving adult-sized plates to younger children should be avoided, as the study found that this can encourage children to eat too much. Children tend to copy their parents’ behaviour, so consider banning fizzy drinks from the house and persuading your child to drink water instead. Research carried out by the Natural Hydration Council found that

children whose parents drank fizzy drinks were 192% more likely to consume them than other children their age. The study found that 37% of children do not drink water on any given day but this fell to 13% when their parents drank water often.

Mental health

According to the Mental Health Foundation, 1 in 10 children and young people in the UK have a diagnosed mental health issue. These issues include anxiety, depression and behavioural disorders. An important factor which can impact on a child’s mental health is bullying. The UK Household Longitudinal Study found that frequency of being bullied was by far the strongest predictor of how difficult children are finding life. Children spend a significant amount of their time at school, and their happiness within school can be an important part of their life. A study of the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents found that different children can have different experiences at the same school and emphasised a “child-school” fit as being as important as attending a “good school”. The Children’s Society have found that a child’s relationship with their parents is an important factor in overall well-being, with closeness to parents contributing to children’s happiness and life satisfaction and reducing the likelihood of psychological distress. Finally, exposure to television, online gaming and gadgets also has an important impact on children’s mental health. The “How Healthy Behaviour Supports Children’s WellBeing” report from Public Health England identifies a large body of research that shows a negative association between screen time and mental well-being. It also reports that “children who spend more time on computers, watching TV and playing video games tend to experience higher levels of emotional distress, anxiety and depression.” The Mental Health Foundation have identified that things that can help keep a child mentally well include: being in good physical health, eating well and exercising; having the time and freedom to play, indoors and out; being part of a family that gets on well most of the time; going to a school that looks after the well-being of all its pupils; and taking part in local activities for young people.

Oral health

Tooth decay is a largely preventable problem, yet it remains widespread. Findings from Public Health England’s (PHE) national dental epidemiology survey of 5 year olds showed that a quarter had experienced tooth decay. Tooth extraction was the


sixth most common procedure in hospital for children under 5, and was the most common reason for hospital admission for children aged 5 to 9. So how can parents avoid tooth decay in their children? Research indicates that parental input can make a difference, right from birth. PHE recommends that breast milk is the only sustenance babies need for around the first 6 months, with first formula milk as the only suitable alternative. Current evidence from the UK government suggests that breastfeeding for up to one year is associated with a decreased risk of tooth decay. The PHE also recommends that bottle-fed babies should be introduced to drinking from a free-flow cup from 6 months, and bottle feeding should be discouraged from one year, with only breast or formula milk or cooled, boiled water being given in bottles. The main message from PHE for children is to reduce the amount of foods and drinks that contain “free” sugars – a definition set by the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN). SACN’s definition of “free” sugars includes all added sugars, as well as sugars naturally present in honey, syrups and fruit juices. It does not include sugars naturally present in milk and food, particularly fruit and vegetables. PHE recommends that for all children: reduce the quantity and frequency of foods and drinks containing sugar, only give sweet foods and dried fruit at mealtimes; eliminate squashes sweetened with sugar and fizzy drinks from a child’s daily diet; limit fruit juice and smoothies to a maximum of 1 portion in total per day, drunk with meals; and always ask for sugar-free medicines.

HEALTHY EATING SOME OF AUTUMN’S HEALTH GIVING BOUNTY l Seasonal fruit during the autumn and winter can feel a little repetitive, especially if you prefer to buy British; we’re all familiar with imported tasteless strawberries in the autumn and winter. There is a reason why our predecessors ate seasonally: air and sea freight were not options open to them and the seasons controlled what we were able to produce locally, according to local climate. However, if you do want to add variety to your diet, then there is little option but to buy and eat imported fruit. The UK has over 3,000 varieties of apples, with home-grown apples being picked from August to October. Apples store well, and our native fruit are available throughout the autumn and winter months. Not all of these are the eating type, although all can be used for cooking while some are used to make cider. Choosing your favourite apple is very much like selecting wine, with some people preferring the crisp texture of a Granny Smith or Cox while others prefer the nutty taste of the various types of Russets. There is something of a revival in interest in the more traditional varieties, with supermarkets having a wider selection of British apples than in the past. We should not neglect our native pears, either, although the selection of native fruits is generally limited to a few varieties. We are all familiar with the saying “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” but is it an old wives’ tale or is there some truth in it? Apples are low in calories with naturally occurring sugars, and providing you eat the skin they are a great source of fibre. So apples are a great addition to your diet and easy to take with you as a snack. (As a precaution always wash fruit if you’re going to eat the skin as pesticide residues and other less wholesome chemicals may linger.) I’m sure many of us are familiar with the oranges and other citrus fruit on the trees when visiting Mediterranean countries but did you

know that lemons are the only citrus fruit that can bear fruit and flower at the same time? The health benefits of eating oranges are well documented, and high levels of vitamin C may help to fight off colds, although once your body has reached your requirements of vitamin C the rest is excreted, so you don’t need to have too many at a time and an unwanted side effect of high consumption can be diarrhoea. Unfortunately, citrus fruit don’t grow readily in the UK so we are left with imported fruit whose flavour is not always the best, mainly because they have to be picked before they are ripe. Wherever possible try to buy unwaxed varieties as their flavour is better. Eating citrus fruit has been shown to help protect our heart and also lower blood pressure. You may be familiar with detoxing using lemons, and many people kick-start their day with a squeeze of lemon in hot water saying that it helps to balance their immune

system, but a word of warning: some people with digestive problems may not be able to tolerate it due to the acidity of the lemon. Again unwaxed ones are best and you can use both lemons and limes. On the other hand, autumn is a great time for getting outside and picking blackberries (cultivated ones are available in the supermarket). If you go blackberrying avoid picking by busy roads and also near to the ground due to contamination from fumes and animals. As few as 10 blackberries a day count towards one of your 5 a day. Like other purple fruit and vegetables, they are packed with vitamins A, C, E and most of our B vitamins as well as minerals including calcium, potassium and magnesium. You can eat them fresh or cook them (and they freeze well), although there is a suggestion that cooking does lower their antioxidant properties.


is cooked through. If using olives, scatter a handful over the vegetables about 5 minutes from the end.

by Paul Davies

SERVES 4 • • • • • • • • •

800g chicken thighs, skin removed 1 red pepper, seeded and diced 1 yellow pepper, seeded and diced 1 medium courgette, diced garlic cloves (to taste), peeled but kept whole (optional) 250 g cherry tomatoes 25 g pack basil, shredded 1 chicken stock cube Black olives (optional)


Pre-heat oven to 200°C, gas mark 6 Place the chicken, peppers, courgette, garlic and tomatoes in a baking tray together with half the basil. Blend the stock cube with 1 tbsp boiling water and drizzle over the chicken. Roast for 30 minutes until the chicken

• Add the rest of the basil and serve with a salad.


Omit the chicken and stock cube and use cod steaks instead. In this case add the fish about 5 minutes from the end.




If you can’t help giving into the temptation of tucking into a milk chocolate bar every now and again, you may be giving your body a health boost. While dark chocolate is known to have many health benefits, a recent study has shown that the milk chocolate counterpart can also benefit your body. Participants who indulged in a 100g milk chocolate bar were shown to have a lower risk of strokes and heart attacks.





Spinach could be the key to welcoming a new baby into your family. Studies have shown that increasing your vitamin C intake can improve the health of your sperm. Men who consumed high levels of vitamin C saw a 40% increase in the life-span and swimming efficiency of their sperm. Another great reason to pack some nutrient-rich spinach into your diet!



Researchers from Turkey have discovered that there is a higher chance of suffering from erectile dysfunction if you have a bigger neck. Erectile dysfunction is a common condition, with around 50% of men over the age of 40 experiencing it to varying degrees. Thankfully there are treatments available, and a large neck doesn’t guarantee that it will develop!


Singing in the shower can be much more beneficial to your well-being than you might think. Exercising the left side of your brain by performing your own rendition of the latest hits in the shower gives the right side of your brain time to relax and recharge. Although your household might not be so willing to accept just how healthy it can be!


Pimple popping videos have been circling on social media websites for some time now, with very mixed reviews. Some men can’t help but to tune in for the duration, while others are very quick to scroll on by. But why the fascination? For many watchers, the act of popping pimples can deliver an adrenaline rush, like that of being on a highspeed theme park ride!


Among the latest food trends to be making the rounds are cloud eggs, and they are worth a taste test if you’re trying to add a little more muscle-building protein into your diet. Simply whisk up the egg whites, bake until browned, and then put the yolk into the middle of the ‘cloud’ before placing it back into the oven for a few minutes. An easy way to make a healthy breakfast to impress!


If you want smooth skin and a clear complexion, cleaning your pores is very important. Generally, men have tougher skin and larger pores than women, so they need a more tailored cleaning plan than just reaching for the nearest pore-cleaning product. You can make your own pore-cleaner at home with just half a banana, a tablespoon of yogurt, and a teaspoon of honey.


You may not envision enjoying a glass of vodka over dinner, but the health benefits are very similar to indulging in a glass of wine. Recent research has shown that vodka can help to increase the blood flow that goes to your heart and promotes good levels of cholesterol. While vodka may not be able to replace a good glass of red, it could certainly pay off to enjoy a low-calorie vodka shot every now and again.


According to recent research, engaging in sexual activity three times a week can make you look younger. A British survey found that 40-to50-year-old men looked younger on average if they had sex on a more regular basis. This is partially down to the increase in blood circulation and the positive effects that sex can have on sleep.


If you’re trying to lose weight, fats are often the first food item to be dropped from a diet. But they are much more vital to healthy eating than they let on. Healthy fats like avocados, olive oil, and chia seeds provide many of the nutrients you need to stay healthy and keep your body functioning properly. Simple swaps like switching butter for peanut butter, and sugary salad dressing for olive oil, will give you a healthy dose of nutrients.


If you’re looking for a longer relationship, then it turns out that you don’t need to be quite as concerned over penis size as you might think. Recent research has shown that women prefer men with a smaller girth as long-term partners. However, it does appear that length makes a difference, with women preferring a penis that was around 6.5 inches in length, on average.


If you keep up with the latest super food trends then you’ll already know just how nutrition packed an avocado is. However, research into the avocado seed may reveal that you’ve been throwing away the best part. While the seed isn’t the most delicious part of the fruit, it may provide a way to treat heart disease and even cancer.


If your dog is sleeping in the same room with you at night, you could be damaging your health. A new study into the sleeping patterns of dogowners indicates that having a dog in the bedroom could reduce the value of sleep. If your dog wakes you up in the night, it could mean that your attention span and mood are negatively affected.

STAYING FIT DURING THE XMAS PERIOD BY TOM BASKETFIELD, FITNESS & PERSONNEL TRAINING / l With the Christmas period fast approaching us, staying in shape becomes a challenge and our fitness regime usually fades away. This leaves us feeling pretty rubbish and uncomfortable by the time the festive period is over. It seems almost every week there is a Christmas party or social gathering of some sort, involving a lot of food and a lot of drink! Which is absolutely fine, it is a festive time of year and it is here to be enjoyed with loved ones. But over a month of eating out, snacking on treats, and drinking alcohol each week you can quickly see how the calories add up. Now add this to skipping the gym and you’re left with a lot of work to do come January! (Hence why the gyms are so busy this time of year). I have come up with some simple easy-to-follow tips just for you, allowing you to still enjoy this time of year whilst keeping the pounds off.

l Short sharp workouts; it’s a busy time of year so most of us are stuck for time. Try shortening your workouts to 20-30 minute intense sessions, keeping the rest periods short. Something like a HIIT (high intensity interval training) session or a bootcamp would be ideal, burning a lot of calories in a short space of time. l Working large muscle groups; doing larger movements such as squats/deadlifts/overhead press and other full body movements will incorporate a lot more muscles in your body and therefore work you harder with fewer exercises (again saving time). l Workout in the morning; get it out of the way so there is no excuse as the day goes on. Wake up, grab a coffee and get it done! l Book onto classes; having a booking you have to attend will give you more of an incentive not to cancel last minute. l Walk more; very easy and very basic but will make a difference in the overall calorie damage!



l Make exercise a priority, rather than letting your training take a back seat for the month; make it a priority to make sure you get the sessions in.

l Plan ahead, if you know you have a boozy night ahead or a meal out coming up, make an extra effort to eat the right type of food in the days leading up to it. This way the damage will be less, and you will have earnt it. l Fill half your plate full of green vegetables; this will make it more difficult for you to overeat on the calorie dense foods…as well as giving you many health benefits! l Diet sodas; if you have a sweet tooth be sure to choose the diet sodas. Zero sugar and you will save a lot of calories that way! l High protein; consuming more protein than usual is beneficial for those that lack protein in their diet. Protein is essential for boosting lean muscle rather than body fat and boosting your metabolism. Plenty of leftover turkey is always good!


l Try to opt for lower calorie drinks; you will be surprised how many calories you will save over December! Some examples are: light beer options, gin and slimline tonic, vodka with diet sodas. l Diet sodas; I am sure you can tell this is a favourite tip of mine! A normal can of Coca Cola packs 139 calories, whereas a coke zero has 1 calorie. Let’s take into account that some of you might be having 5+ drinks on a night out…that’s a lot of calories you could be cutting back! l Drinking water between drinks; You’re less likely to drink too much if you are having water in-between alcoholic drinks. Not only are you saving the body-shape, but I can promise the hangover won’t be nearly as bad! So, there you have my top tips on staying in shape over the Christmas period: the idea isn’t to restrict yourself but instead make small adjustments to still enjoy the time of year without as much expense for your body. If you can follow these steps I can promise that you will feel better for it!




hanks to a combination of poor weather and indoor workplaces, more of our time is spent indoors. Even our leisure time is increasingly spent indoors. It’s a shame, because the outdoors offers some fantastic opportunities to participate in sport, providing you with health and fitness benefits that you just can’t replicate in a gym or class environment: fresh air, the great outdoors, space, no opening hours, few crowds. In this article we’ll take a look at four outdoor sports and explain the benefits of each one. Before we continue, it’s important to remember to be cleared by your GP before you take part in any exercise or sport, especially if you are new to an active lifestyle.


Let’s start with the obvious one. Many people run for exercise, almost forgetting that it’s a sport in its own right. Not only that, there is an event to suit all levels of ability. It doesn’t matter if you’re brand new to running and a 5km race is a test, or you’re gearing up for your 100th marathon – there’s an event for anyone. Physically, running is an incredible cardiovascular workout. It’s probably the best-known of all cardio exercises and has the lowest barrier to entry – just put on your shoes and run. With underfoot terrain providing an extra challenge if you run off-road, you’ll see joint


and muscle strength improvements too. For runners who prefer sprint events, you’ll improve speed, power and speed endurance. These have massive crossover benefits into everyday life too. Many people think you only improve stamina with long runs, which is misguided – repeated bursts of high intensity exercise such as sprints will improve your cardiovascular system dramatically (and quickly!)


For those with a little more in the way of an adventurous spirit, climbing is a great way to get fit outdoors. A true whole-body workout, climbing is a

fantastic way to improve strength, balance, co-ordination and strength endurance. There are few sports that test your upper body strength quite like climbing, with intricate handholds, the ability to support your body weight at different angles and the need to coordinate four limbs at once. Climbing is an incredible test of athleticism and a great way to improve your strength using body weight exercises. It’s also a much more dynamic sport than many people realise – speed climbing is going to appear at the Tokyo Olympics in 2020, where climbers have to scale a 15m high wall in the quickest possible time. With speed climbing growing in popularity


and the abundance of climbing walls all over the country, climbing is a sport that is becoming increasingly easy to take part in. Head online for more details of your local climbing events.


Another one for the adrenaline junkies! Surfing is a sport that comes with enormous health benefits. It’s also unique in that one activity has so many actions – paddling, balancing, dynamic movement and, to name but a few. From improving upper body strength and endurance through paddling, to improving core strength, flexibility and balance through the wave riding, surfing is a sport that improves your health across a whole variety of areas. The challenge with surfing is learning to balance as you ride waves, but even in the early days there are still all kinds of health and fitness benefits to be gained from the sport. The paddling alone is a workout in itself, but you’ll probably spend a lot of time climbing back onto the board after falling off regularly! For a lot of people, geography is the biggest hurdle with surfing, but with inland surfing parks popping up it’s becoming more accessible. Also, it’s a great excuse to take a weekend away at the coast! Just remember to pack your wetsuit – even in the summer the water in the UK is nippy! There are surfing events at beaches all over the UK, especially Cornwall. There are also inter-club competitions too, if you need your competitive appetite whetting (pun intended!)


Cycling is fantastic exercise because it can be both useful (as a commuting tool) or purely for pleasure. There’s also a massive range of

variety – road cycling, mountain biking, BMX, velodrome, cyclocross and tandem, so you’ll certainly find a style to suit you. Cycling needn’t be all long, slow rides either – BMX and Velodrome events in particular are high-speed races, so if the idea of 3+ hours on the bike fills you with dread, fear not – there’s a cycling event for you. If hills are more your thing, you’ll discover leg strength improvements like no other with a few decent climbs. The great thing about cycling is that all of these benefits come without the high impact from sports such as running and team sports such as football and rugby. You needn’t spend a fortune on equipment – a well maintained second-hand bike will be ideal. A good quality helmet, high visibility clothing and good lights (for nighttime) are all you need to get you started. With the saved petrol money, it’ll soon become cashpositive anyway! With competitive events every weekend, you can take your cycling beyond a simple commute or weight loss tool and turn it into your new competitive hobby!


I hope this list gets you inspired about outdoor exercise and sporting competition! I’ve stayed away from team sports because they’re so obvious. Instead I’ve tried to spark a spirit of adventure with a few ideas that don’t always spring to mind! Some of the sports we do outdoors such as running and cycling have become so ingrained in us that we forget they’re sports too! Here’s your timely reminder – they don’t have to be purely for training, they can be for competitive purposes too! Remember – you spend enough time indoors, why not take your exercise outside?



9th SupportU free sexual health check and HIV testing Monthly every second Friday 1 – 3pm. Castle Street, Reading. T: 0118 321 911 18th Autumn Classic Windsor Duathlon Eton College Rowing Centre, Dorney Lake, Windsor SL4 6QP. www.f3events. 18th Autumn Classic Windsor and Eton Half Marathon Eton College Rowing Centre, Dorney Lake, Windsor SL4 6QP. Autumn-Classic-Windsor-Eton-HalfMarathon-1060 26th Alexander Devine Children’s Hospice Santa Dash 5K fun run. T: 0845 055 8276 27th Thames Hospice Santa Dash Swinley Forest, Bracknell. thameshospice. or T: 01753 842121



8th SupportU free sexual health check and HIV testing 1 – 3pm. Castle Street, Reading. T: 0118 321 911 10th Pelican Cancer Foundation Festive Fun Run War Memorial Park, Crossborough Hill, Basingstoke RG21 3AA. T: 01256 314 746 or



12th SupportU free sexual health check and HIV testing 1 – 3pm. Castle Street, Reading. T: 0118 321 911

21ST JANUARY WINTER WINDSOR HALF MARATHON 12.30pm Eton College, Rowing Centre, Dorney Lake, Windsor SL4 6QP. Windsor-Winter-Half-Marathon-1097



Getting a good amount of sleep is important at any age, but for people over 60 it’s even more essential. Better sleep can improve many health conditions that over 60’s are more likely to suffer from, including helping to prevent heart disease and stroke and maintaining active brain function. However, as we get older, sleep becomes harder, with older people commonly reporting sleep issues such as insomnia and Restless Leg Syndrome. As we age, lower levels of the growth hormone associated with sleep is produced, leading to a decrease in the refreshing part of the sleep cycle. This leads to reduced melatonin production which increases sleeplessness. As a result, older people are increasingly relying on sleeping pills and pharmaceuticals to help get a good night’s sleep. Although sleeping pills can be useful for short term sleeplessness, long term use often comes with side effects including overreliance, daytime drowsiness and increased breathlessness. Although it can be harder to sleep as we get older, sleeping pills aren’t necessarily the answer. This article looks at how sleep can be improved through natural methods, so you can have a side-effect free refreshing sleep every night.


Exercise is a fantastic way to promote better health, but it can also have a truly positive impact on sleep quality and quantity. A Northwestern University sleep study found that on average, 30 minutes of aerobic exercise each day led to an improvement in quality of sleep for older adults experiencing insomnia. Even older adults with limited movement capability can benefit from light exercise, so it’s a great method to try. Types of low impact exercise to test out include walking, yoga, swimming and


tai chi, whereas more intensive activities can include weight training, golf and racket sports. Try introducing a light stretching routine before bed too, as including exercise in a dedicated wind-down routine can make a huge difference to your sleeping patterns.


Mindfulness is the buzz word of mental health at the moment, and with good reason. Training yourself in mindfulness can see huge improvements in encouraging restful and increased sleep in the over 60’s, with the huge advantage of not having to rely on prescribed sleeping medication. As we get older, it becomes harder to both get to sleep and stay asleep, and using a relaxation technique such as mindfulness can really help. Mindfulness is the process of actively being aware of every moment in every experience through breathing and meditation. Although it feels counter-intuitive, training your mind to be aware of the present helps you to avoid reacting to worries and stresses in life which interfere with drifting off and staying asleep. A recent study by the University of Minnesota Academic Health Center found that mindfulness was a significantly effective tool to treat insomnia over traditional sleep medication in adults, contributing to a rejuvenating sleep without any of the potential negative side effects.


Getting a good night’s sleep could be as simple as eating the right meals. We all know to avoid caffeine and too much alcohol before bedtime if we want to have a good night’s sleep. But did you know that actively adding foods high in minerals and vitamins that promote sleep to your diet can also have a hugely positive effect on insomnia and sleep problems in the

over 60’s Sleep boosting B vitamins are found in lean meats, fortified cereal and salmon and they improve your body’s ability to produce calming serotonin and regulate sleep-inducing tryptophan. Calcium also has a naturally relaxing effect on the body, so increasing your dairy intake through yogurt, fortified orange juice and cheese could really help. Iron deficiency can actually cause symptoms similar to restless leg syndrome, which is a common condition in over 60’s which causes sleeplessness. Increasing your iron intake through dark green leafy vegetables or lean beef can really help, giving you a more restful and rejuvenating sleep. Changing your diet to enhance both your sleep quality and quantity is a great method to try.


Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is a widely used talking therapy for sleep disorders, including insomnia. CBT can be conducted either in a group of people with similar sleep issues or individually, with the benefit of being tailored to your specific sleep problem. CBT-I is a specific and effective behavioural therapy for sufferers of insomnia, effectively helping older people fall asleep and stay asleep each night. Although cognitive behavioural therapy is not a quick-fix treatment for sleep problems, its effects can be particularly long lasting with the huge benefit of being without any of the side effects sleeping pills or medication can have. Patients typically have up to 8 weekly sessions, developing long-term techniques to combat their sleeplessness with a trained professional.