How Fast You Walk Is More Telling Than You Think

Walking

Slow walkers commonly feature in round-ups of pet peeves, but those who move at a slower pace could have more to worry about than simply annoying the general population. According to new research, the speed at which we walk could reflect how quickly we are ageing. 

Researchers at Duke University in North Carolina assessed the gait measurement of just under 1000 people in New Zealand, who were born in 1970 and had had their pace of walking documented when they were three years old. The results showed that slower walkers had aged quicker than those who walked faster, particularly in terms of their brain, lungs, teeth and immune systems. If that wasn’t enough, the slower walkers also looked older.

“Doctors know that slow walkers in their seventies and eighties tend to die sooner than fast walkers of the same age,” said senior author Terrie E. Moffitt from Duke University. “But this study covered the period from the preschool years to midlife, and found that a slow walk is a problem sign decades before old age.”

Not all is lost though, as researchers believe that lifestyle choices would have played a role in the ageing process. For example, those who have chosen not to exercise are likely to have aged quicker and there are plenty of studies to back-up the argument that working out regularly can help keep you mentally and physically healthier. Just last week a study in the Canadian Journal of Cardiology highlighted that exercise can help those over 65 years who experience symptoms of depression.

What else can you do? Well, it goes without saying that eating a balanced diet and keeping your stress levels down are also essential to fending off premature ageing. Shabir also recommends keeping your antioxidant levels up to counteract the damage caused by free radicals. Astaxanthin is 6000 times more powerful than vitamin C and 500 times more powerful than green tea. Intrigued? Read Shabir’s full guide to the antioxidant, here.

Those who are open to more experimental methods for slowing down the ageing process might be interested in the ticking technique. Earlier this year, scientists at Leeds University discovered that ‘tickle’ therapy or ticking the ear with a small electrical current can help to rebalance the nervous system of 55 year olds. It might not be for everyone, but if you’re worried about your walking pace then a quick tickle might help in a small way to counterbalance…

Hello Darkness, My Old Friend

Chalk board graph with icons on an ascending rightward stepped graph

I was never one of those kids who was afraid of the dark. I loved the cloak of invisibility that it gave me. And while there is nothing I love more than a bright, sunny day, I have become pretty obsessed with darkness over the years – not in an ominous way (as in ‘going over to the dark side’), but in terms of the important role it plays in my wellness.

You really ought to stay in a hotel room with me, sometime, to fully understand my obsession with darkness. I travel with a roll of black gaffer tape, the better to ensure a good night’s sleep undisturbed by the cockpit’s-worth of blinking lights that many modern hotel rooms feature. My first task, on checking in (even before switching on the kettle and attacking the free shortbread), is to eliminate as many of those lights as possible with two neatly-snipped squares of gaffer tape. Message lights on phones. TV control lights. Aircon on/off lights. Charging electrical gadgets. And of course, the light ‘leaking’ through the edges of the curtains. Read More…

Total Wellbeing: The Term You’ll Be Hearing About A Lot In 2019

total wellbeing

There were whisperings of self-care throughout 2017, but it wasn’t until this year that the term really came into its own. Over the past few months brands, magazines and influencers have all tapped into the theme. It has its own dedicated week in November and a quick scroll of Instagram on a Sunday reveals that it even has its own hashtag, #sundayselfcare.  

But, what does self-care actually mean? Well, essentially it’s anything that encourages you to spend some quality time with yourself and leaves you feeling good, including taking a bath, putting on a face mask or reading your book, you name it. The NHS defines it clearly as ‘keeping fit and healthy, understanding when you can look after yourself, when a pharmacist can help, and when to get advice from your GP or another health professional.’

According to Mintel’s latest report, as we progress into next year self-care will evolve into ‘total wellbeing’. The report states, ‘Consumers are treating their bodies like an ecosystem and seeking solutions that complement their personal health and evolving needs.’ From the moisturisers we slather on to the sprays we use to clean our houses and the cars we choose to drive, total wellbeing spans across all aspects of our life.

“Consumers are looking externally to their surroundings and internally towards their physical and mental wellbeing, expecting holistic approaches to wellness,” says Gabrielle Lieberman, Director of Trends & Social Media Research Americas. “Developments in health monitoring, such as skin sensors or ingestible capsules, will satisfy consumers’ demand for this personalised approach, while also building on scientific research in these emerging fields.”

In terms of skincare it’s likely that you’ll be hearing a lot more about probiotics and the many benefits good bacteria can have on our complexions. Of course, pre- and probiotic skincare isn’t new. In fact, good bacteria has been used in formulations for a while, but up until now it hasn’t been highlighted. Brands such as Aurelia Probiotic Skincare have been championing ‘biotic’ ingredients and the bestselling Botanical Cream Deodorant is testimony to its efficacy.

When it comes to supplements, it’s likely that future formulations will be developed in spray form as this is the best way for the body to absorb most nutrients. And, it’s likely that our supplements will be tailored to our specific needs. Although, this won’t necessarily happen next year, you can expect to read a lot more about the importance of monitoring your vitamin and mineral levels as part of the total wellbeing approach. If you’re baffled by which supplements you should be taking, it is worth reading Shabir’s Essential 6 For Optimal Health.

Why You Should Take Micro Breaks Every 30 Minutes

sittingdown_vh

We all know that sitting for too long isn’t good for you. If you haven’t perfected your desk set-up and are hunched over your screen or slouched down in your chair it is even worse for you. However, a new study by Liverpool John Moores University revealed that we should be getting up and moving every half an hour.

The researchers discovered that sitting down for prolonged amounts of time can slow the blood flow around our body and to our brains. The study of a small group of men and women was split into three sessions to determine the best method for keeping the blood flow to the brain on an even keel. The first test was four hours of sitting and working at a computer screen, the second included a two and half minute walk on a treadmill every 30 minutes, the third session was an eight minute walk on a treadmill every two hours.

While taking an eight minute break every two hours did help increase blood flow to your brain, it wasn’t able to sustain it as well as taking a shorter break every half an hour.

The study didn’t look into the impact of low blood flow to your brain or whether it impacted productivity, but it did put more weight behind the theory that spending too much of your day sitting down isn’t good for you.

Previous studies have linked sitting too long with excessive weight gain, type 2 diabetes and other serious diseases. According to the NHS, many adults in the UK spend over seven hours sitting each day and as a result, it recommends we do at least 150 minutes of exercise each week. One study recently revealed that doing an hour of exercise each day could help ward off the effects of prolonged sitting.

If that feels you with dread, making small tweaks such as requesting a standing-desk at work, choose to stand rather than sit on the train et cetera. It goes without saying that swapping watching TV for playing tennis after work will also help improve your health. Whichever tweaks to choose to make, it’s definitely worth setting a reminder to get up more at work.

Ayurveda: What Your Dosha Can Say About You

Ayuvedic tea

Health fads may come and go. But you can’t really argue with a mind-body health system that’s been around, so it’s said, for up to 5,000 years, when Indian monks were seeking new ways to be healthy. (For translation purposes, ‘ayur’ means life force, or vital energy, while ‘veda’ means science.)

Now, I’d always been interested in Ayurveda – in a magazine-reader-fun-questionnaire sort of way. You’ve probably done one yourself: answered a list of questions asking about body shape, energy levels, preferred foods, whether or not you tend to feel hot and cold, etc. I’d figured out that I was classified as ‘pitta’ – but never taken it much further than that. (Pitta is a ‘dosha’ – basically, doshas are your constitution. The other two are vata and kapha, more of which anon.) Read More…

The Joy Of Dog

Dog biscuits and leesh

Readers the title of this piece, which is indeed a play on that joyless 1970’s sex book, is not in any way to suggest that there’s anything sexual by way of your (or for that matter my) relationship with your hound of choice. But ask yourself, over the past few years, which particular relationship has satisfied you more, the one with your faithful, greying companion with the dimming eyes, the increasingly laborious gait, occasionally given to displays excitable if limited affection……. or the one with your dog?

Maybe it’s just me and if you read me before you’ll know that I’m suffering from a chronic illness, which plays havoc with one’s hormones and overall well-being, but the older I get, the more emotional, spiritual and physical value I see in owning a pooch. I grew up with and around dogs and I suspect, if I’d grown up with cats I’d see a value in them too. I don’t though. And, spoiler alert, if you are a cat lover you might want to skip over this next bit, because felines have always seemed to me like the very worst example of a best friend – around for the good times (for which in a cat’s case read food and comfort)- and utterly disinclined to offer any succour in one’s time of need. Read More…