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Feeling SAD?

re:new looks at five ways to fight them for good


r Gordon Lewis has been a GP for 28 years. He’s a keen sportsman and has always led a very active lifestyle, from alpine skiing to cross-country cycling. A serious back injury, though, has recently forced him to slow down – for now, at least. So Gordon understands first-hand how devastating it is to have a health problem that hampers your enjoyment of life and is passionate about giving his patients the knowledge to deal with any problems they face.

Cold, dark nights that creep into days, miserable grey weather and an overwhelming feeling that we’ve spent far too much money over Christmas can leave all of us feeling rather blue. But, for one in 20 people in the UK, winter leaves them feeling a paler shade of grey. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a specific type of depression that affects certain people during the winter months and is linked to lack of sunlight.


I’ve always loved the gym, but I’ve started noticing the aches and pains more and more over the last year. Is this a sign that I should slow down? Being active will help to prevent the onset of heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and possibly even dementia. Just because you are getting older, this doesn’t mean you need to be less active, but as you have found, the aches and pains associated with strenuous exercise seem to come on earlier and take longer to ease. Some discomfort is to be expected during or after vigorous exercise, and may indeed be a sign that the exercise is releasing important chemicals such as endorphins and encephalins, which increase your sense of wellbeing. However, you shouldn’t partake in activities that cause significant pain. It would be more sensible to graduate your exercise and modify your activities. Could you exercise for shorter periods more often, for instance?


Although this is a common impression, there is very little evidence that any specific brain exercises can delay the onset of dementia. But it is well known that memory can be increased, sometimes quite dramatically, by practicing memory games and specific tasks. As memory loss is often one of the early features of dementia, it may be worth looking into. New evidence suggests, however, that regular physical exercise may be far more effective at preventing Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. Off to the gym we go!

If these don’t work and all else fails, nothing cures the winter blues like two weeks in the sun. Now, there’s your perfect excuse... GET OUTSIDE Get as much sunlight as possible. Make the most of the short days and go for a walk in the open air. GO NUTS Nuts are rich in potassium, which helps to ward off irritability and reduce the risk of having a low mood. CHOCOLATE ORANGE No, not Terry’s, but chocolate and oranges

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both release serotonin, which boosts energy levels significantly. SLEEP WELL, EAT WELL A healthy lifestyle is essential in winter to avoid getting the moody blues. LIGHT UP YOUR LIFE Sitting beside a specially-constructed lightbox that emits UV rays for 30 minutes every morning can help to improve vitality and increase energy. RH

Photo: RH

I’ve heard that increasing your brainpower can stave off dementia. Is this true, and what are the best kinds of mind exercises?


GO NUTS Nuts are rich in potassium, which helps to ward off irritability and reduce the risk of having a low mood. CHOCOLATE ORANGE No, not...

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