Category Archives: health

Are we living healthy lifestyles?

If you’re looking to lose weight fast, then the diets mentioned below may be the ones for you. But if you are like me, and want to live healthily, then these diets are not recommended as they can result in long-term health risks.

 

 

The following infographic shows us what the diets mentioned in the audio are and how they make you lose weight.

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Are you running towards an early grave?

In an age where we have a thorough understanding of our bodies and knowing that exercise is a crucial part to leading a healthy lifestyle, there are those who take it to the extreme. Running for pleasure has risen in popularity, and is now one of the most practiced and most popular sports in the world, with over 60 million people engaging themselves in the sport regularly across the world. 

I’m sure you will have already heard a lot of the amazing things that running can do for your body and mind, such as strengthening the heart, boosting energy levels, better sleep and the benefit of burning serious calories. 

When you run, your heart beat faster and harder, pumping blood around your body faster; running consistently means your body can do this naturally more efficient. Another thing your body would learn to do better is burning calories, as running boosts your metabolism, which means you burn calories at a higher rate when you consistently exercise. 

Another benefit to running is the endorphin high many people call a ‘runners high’ which is a boost in serotonin levels which is an instant mood booster. This healthier brain improves your memory, which leads to protection against dementia. 

All in all it sounds like a super-drug, but with all these benefits, surely there has to be things that go wrong?

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Those who enjoy running might aim higher than your average 5km, and try to tackle the beast of the running world. Marathons. 

The first marathon race was created in 1896 to honour the legendary run of the Greek messenger Pheidippides from Marathon to Athens. There is no way of knowing if this was myth or fact, but Marathons have become more and more popular, with only around 500,000 completing one in the US in 2014. 

Marathons are 26.2 miles long (42km), with the average time being around four and a half hours. What sort of pressure does it have on your body? And does extreme running actually cause any harm to your system? 

Marathon runners have spoken before on feeling sore, achey and run down for days after they’ve completed it. Your body would be experiencing inflammation and swelling around your knees, as they take most of the impact, and a lower immune system means you have a higher chance of getting a cold afterwards. 

This doesn’t stop people from going out and completing these marathons every year. “Before I took up running I had real problems with my knees. Not any more, a couple years of running and i am leaner, stronger, my resting heart rate is massively reduced and my knees don’t hurt anymore” says Steven James from Manchester. 

There has been a new trend forming within the running community of ‘ultra-marathons’ which is considered as anything over the 42 kilometres of a marathon, with the average being around 50km. For an average person, these miles could seem crazy, as this is around the distance between London and Bedford. 

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“I have run an ultra and felt it at mile 25, however the cross training (swimming and biking) really made a difference, I felt good!” Says Linda Ross from Stevenage. 

This increase in milage can take months to train for, however if not done safely or consistently, could lead to fatal injuries. Across last decade, 42 people died whilst running due to cardiac events, with your chance of a heart attack heightened 24 hours after intense exercise.

Marathons can literally destroy your body, with many runners experiencing acute kidney injuries, a compromised immune system, temporary loss of fluid in the spine and a huge break down in muscles. 

However, overall, there are no long term effects of harm to the body when running long distance, with many people preferring it to shorter distances. However, with regular training, extensive build ups and cross training, your body will benefit more from your mission to beat 26.2 miles than cause injury. 

The science of relaxation: learn to de-stress using your senses

Whether it’s running late for work, revising for exams, or something bigger concerning family or friends, stress occurs on a daily basis for the majority of adults in the UK. But learning how to deal with it is important for mental and physical wellbeing.

 

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One of the most common relaxation methods is visualisation, picturing a scene and focusing on the smallest of details using all of your senses.

But how do you visualise a calming atmosphere when you’re surrounded by office desks, traffic or road works?

Take this opportunity to learn, by listening to different sounds, learning about different scents, and watching different scenes, and discover how to unwind using all your senses.

Sounds

 

A study at the University of Sussex has scientifically proven that nature sounds help us relax, and Jo, a Londoner, agrees. “Just generally being outside is relaxing” she tells WNOL. Orfeu Buxton from Pennsylvania State University explains that when we sleep, we can hear threatening and non-threatening sounds, with water being considered the latter. It tells our brains not to worry, whereas harsher sounds, like alarms and thunder, can be considered threatening, and wake us up.

 

 

Most of the people WNOL spoke to mentioned “birds singing” as a calming sound. A study led by Dr. Daniel Cox found stress, depression and anxiety levels decreased when participants were watching birds. Listen to the clip and see how the bird calls make you feel.

 

 

For many people living in cities, traffic can be a trigger for stress. But compare it to the sound of waves crashing against rocks – it’s surprisingly similar. None of the people WNOL spoke to had ever considered this, but one man did say white noise, like car engines, is soothing, along with the ocean, so this visualisation is likely to help him destress.

 

Scents

 

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Many people rely on lavender to help them fall into a deep sleep (image by Alysia Georgiades)

Lavender is arguably the most popular scent for relaxation, with a range of pillow sprays being sold to improve sleep. But why does it work so well?

One suggestion from Christabel Majendie, a sleep therapist at Naturalmat, is that linalool, a part of lavender oil, acts as a sedative by affecting vital neurotransmitters that help us sleep.

Maybe it’s time to try one of those pillow sprays…

 

 

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There are hundreds of species of jasmine, but they all have a sweet, calming scent (image by Alysia Georgiades)

Jasmine is another scent that has been proven to combat stress, with its subtle, sweet smell helping participants of a study fall into a deeper sleep than if they were exposed to lavender.

A couple of Londoners mentioned jasmine when asked to list calming scents, which could act as an alternative for those who are not a fan of lavender.

 

 

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Pine will remind most people of Chrismas, but its scent is excellent for our mental wellbeing (image by Alysia Georgiades)

Finally, pine (aka Christmas trees) is proven to be a relaxing scent, with its essential oil being found in most health stores. A study from Kyoto University in Japan found that stressed participants who were taken for a 15 minute walk in a forest everyday, were considerably more relaxed afterwards, compared to a group who were not taken for walks. Burning the oil above a candle can fill a room with its aroma, helping you unwind after a long day.

 

Scenes

 

The University of Illinois found that the more trees in a scene, the less stress a person feels. It’s arguably one of the easiest to visualise, with trees scattered all around London, 8 million to be exact, and was a popular response among Londoners, who all said they enjoy watching the branches sway in the breeze.

 

 

For many people, watching a crackling fire can help them wind down, and this no coincidence.

Dr. Christopher Lynn explained to the Telegraph that watching a fire lowered blood pressure and increased relaxation the longer people were exposed to it. When Jo was asked what she thought she explained, “as long as it’s a cold winter’s night and I have a good book it’s relaxing”, which sounds like a pretty perfect moment.

 

 

You’ve already listened to water, but watching it is also proven to lower stress and anxiety levels. Professor Michael Depledge and environmental psychologist Mat White found that showing images of landscapes containing a water feature alongside greenery resulted in positive responses in the participants that significantly lowered stress levels.

The ocean was a popular response from Londoners, who all enjoy staring at the waves moving back and forth. “I like the waves crashing against the shore” said one person, who finds the British seaside and pebbled beaches more calming than ones with sand.

 

So how do you feel?

After watching the videos, listening to the sounds and imagining the different scents, have you been able to visualise the perfect, peaceful environment?

If you have, try picturing it whenever you’re stressed, or need a moment to yourself, focusing on everything from what you can see and hear, to how it makes you feel. Let your muscles grow heavy and your breath soften, and leave all your worries behind.

 

Audio and video recorded by Alysia Georgiades

 

The best way to curb climate change: have one less child

In a world with 7.7 billion people, water is scarce, food is no longer abundant (despite over production), and affordable shelter is becoming rapidly more difficult to find, is our population truly sustainable?

Every year the world’s population grows by another 83 million people. With an upward trend in population size leveling out at an annual 1.4% increase, it is no question that the size of our population is slowly, but surely becoming a clear issue.

In 2017, the Guardian brought the topic of overpopulation to light.

Now more than ever, environmentalists are posing if more feet equals more heat and if having one less child is actually the best way to help correct climate change.

Like a virgin: Millennials are waiting longer to have sex

New research by The Next Steps project found that millennials are waiting longer to engage in sexual activities than previous generations.

The project is a University College London study that followed 16,000 people born in 1989 and 1990 since they were 14 years old. One in eight millennials reported they were still virgins at 26 during interviews carried out in 2016.

The study also shows that young people maintain personal independence later into adulthood and are less likely to have sexual partners than older generations, as they grow older.

Helen Fisher, a biological anthropologist at Rutgers University, blames it on millennials being ambitious and motivated. She told The Washington Post: “a lot of them are afraid that they’ll get into something they can’t get out of and they won’t be able to get back to their desk and keep studying.” London is certainly a city where young people are focused on thriving.

The results support the common myth of fear of intimacy and commitment amongst young people. Susanna Abse, psychoanalytic psychotherapist of the Balint Consultance, told the Sunday Times “millennials have been brought up in a culture of hypersexuality, which has bred a fear of intimacy”.

Student health nurse at the University of Westminster, Martin Jones, says he is surprised with the results, as his own experience proves otherwise. He points out that the sample of the study is very early on in an entire generation and that “there are certainly more partners now than their parents”.

Featured image by Crew on Unsplash

Ban on junk food ads: What is the point?

As childhood obesity levels skyrocket, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan is proposing that junk food advertisements are banned from all London public transport — buses, tube and trains.

So will we no longer see fast food chains advertising everywhere?

No. Well, not as they are today. Instead of advertising burgers, chips and ice creams, we will see carrot sticks and salads making their way on to the tube.

Carl W Jones, senior lecturer for PR and Advertising at the University of Westminster, told the university’s radio station that the new advertising campaign will help to battle childhood obesity within the city.

“If TFL don’t advertise those brands, the organisations have to adapt” so they’ll have to come up with new products or find other ways to reach the same audience. As TFL tube alone reaches 4.8 million commuters each day, companies do not want to lose their advertising spot.

Advertising healthier options rather than junk food will help to reduce the amount of junk food seen across the capital as the publics “opinions will be influenced” as at the moment it is all we see. It will seem as though there is a wider range of choice of food that is available to the public.

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Graphic by Tabitha Durrant     Statistics from: gov.uk/health 

Jones also mentioned the companies targeted will have to be seen as though they are “caring about children”. Children are easily influenced and as society becomes more health conscience we need to give children a range of choice, without only advertising unhealthy foods and drinks.

The ban on junk food advertisements comes shortly after the sugar tax, which all companies, aside from Coca Cola, which will help reduce the intake of sugar. Now, if you wanted to buy a full fat Coca Cola, you need to pay an extra 12 pence.

A quarter of children aged between two and 10 being classed as overweight. In 2014/15, the NHS spent £6.1 billion treating patients suffering from the condition.

See what you can do for National Eat What You Want Day

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