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Avoid stress related illness this winter

Winter is a time that we all associated with colds and flu; and sometimes it is difficult to stay healthy during the winter months. Stress pays a major part in how resistant and susceptible we are to picking up infections and ailments so tackling stress before the cold and flu ‘season’ is upon us will help avoid days off work and lost time feeling unwell.

Winter is a time that we all associated with colds and flu; and sometimes it is difficult to stay healthy during the winter months. Stress pays a major part in how resistant and susceptible we are to picking up infections and ailments so tackling stress before the cold and flu ‘season’ is upon us will help avoid days off work and lost time feeling unwell.

Effective stress management techniques form part of many therapeutic programmes and they include reducing the stress hormone cortisol and so increase the efficiency of our immune systems; making healthy lifestyle choices which is difficult during dark winter months, so getting enough sleep, eating healthily and most importantly getting fresh air and exercise. Avoiding stressful situations will help and also practising stress management techniques such as physical activities, relaxation and meditation, and interacting with other people.

Stress continues to be a significant problem and according to research in the UK, work related stress is responsible for major loss of productivity because of lost days sickness or absence. So if you want to stay healthy, boost your immune system, and maintain good levels of wellbeing during the winter then reduce stress levels and make sure that you maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Categories: Counselling & Stress Management, Health and Social Care


Stand up!

The media has been reporting that we should all stand up more, so this means standing to work rather than sitting; walking or pacing when using the telephone, and generally being upright for a lot more of the day that we are perhaps used to. So what’s behind this suggestion? There has been a flurry of recent research into this and the findings suggest that being upright and slowly mobilising whist carrying out everyday tasks can lower the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes and also reduce obesity levels because low intensity exercise (which standing and pacing are) modify energy expenditure quite a lot. A study in 2007 by Levine and Miller outlined this process and from their research a ‘walk and stand desk’ was created.

The media has been reporting that we should all stand up more, so this means standing to work rather than sitting; walking or pacing when using the telephone, and generally being upright for a lot more of the day that we are perhaps used to. So what’s behind this suggestion? There has been a flurry of recent research into this and the findings suggest that being upright and slowly mobilising whist carrying out everyday tasks can lower the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes and also reduce obesity levels because low intensity exercise (which standing and pacing are) modify energy expenditure quite a lot. A study in 2007 by Levine and Miller outlined this process and from their research a ‘walk and stand desk’ was created.

This new regime is not just for office workers though; it has been taken up by those involved in childhood obesity research, diabetes research and also stress management research because it has been found that standing up more in all daily activities can yield significant benefits for our health. Therefore reading the paper, eating breakfast, speaking to clients on the telephone, can all (it is suggested) be easily done whilst standing. Research suggests that more standing and less sitting promotes an optimum metabolic level whilst the converse has a negative effect on cholesterol levels and fat metabolism. Standing up for three hours a day can use up an extra 750 calories which is a significant amount of energy. The benefits of this rather non- physical form of exercise should not be underestimated as it has other positive effects too, for example it improves balance and posture!

Schools in the UK are using this idea to try and tackle high levels of obesity in school age children. According to the Mail Online (2014), one school involved in a recent research study have been given adjustable desks which allow them to stand and do their schoolwork so that they are not sitting all the time they are in class. The research is based on the statistics that children living in developed countries spend 65% of their waking hours sitting down and these types of sedentary habits generally continue into adulthood; so the intention is to instil a healthier approach to low intensity exercise.

References

Clark, Laura, (2014) www.dailymail.co.uk

Levine JA, and Miller J. (2007) The energy expenditure of using a “walk-and-work” desk for office-workers with obesity. British Journal of Sports Medicine.

Categories: Health and Social Care, Sports & Fitness


The facts about vitamin D3

Summer is here once again and we are all aware of the possible consequences of over exposure to ultra violet light and according to recent research statistics of sun related malignant melanoma (skin cancer) continue to rise (www.skincancer.org, 2014). But the flip side is that because we are all spending so much time indoors or protected from the UV rays of the sun there is growing problem with vitamin D deficiency being seem amongst the general population.

There are three ways of obtaining vitamin D; through sunshine, food supplements and food; but you can’t get enough through supplementation and diet to meet the needs of the body. The skin makes vitamin D from the UVB rays in sunlight and stores it for use. The amount produced depends on time of day, season, skin pigmentation and other factors; and use of sun block impacts the skin’s ability to produce vitamin D. For vitamin D production it is suggested that we all spend about 20 to 30 minutes per day outside.

We also need vitamin D in the required quantities so that our bodies can absorb calcium and phosphate which are essential for bone and teeth development amongst other key functions and processes.

An example: an eight ounce service of whole milk will provide approximately 25% of the daily vitamin D requirement, but 20 to 30 minutes outside in the sun will provide 90% of the daily requirement.

If we do not get enough vitamin D then there are several possible consequences, such as loss of bone density; osteomalacia in adults and rickets in children, osteoporosis in  later life, and a range of other serious conditions which include coronary heart disease because vitamin D has been shown to have protective qualities such as reducing blood pressure and lowering cholesterol levels (Siadat et al, 2012).

References

Siadat, Z., Kiani, K., Kheirmand, M. (2012) Association of vitamin D deficiency and coronary artery disease with cardiovascular risk factors. Journal of Researching Medical Sciences.17(11):  pp1052-1055

Skincancer.org, (2014),www.skincancer.org/skin-cancer-information/melanoma

Categories: Complementary Therapies, Health and Social Care