Can You Fall Asleep In Just One Minute?

Having a good night’s sleep helps to regulate your blood pressure, but sleeplessness affects many people.

One survey found that more than 50% suffer from insomnia and most blame stress. Stress switches on your body’s fight or flight response so your muscles tense, heart rate rises, blood pressure increases and your breathing quickens in anticipation of action.

While this may be useful at times during the day, it’s counter-productive when trying to get to sleep. A simple exercise known as the 4-7-8 breath technique can switch off the stress response and help you drift off more quickly. It works on the principle that breathing influences physiology and thought processes, including moods. Done at least twice a day, the results improve with practice.

Simply breathe in for four seconds, hold the breath for seven seconds and exhale completely to a count of eight. Repeat up to four times. Some users have reported being able to get to sleep within a minute using the technique.

Why good food choices are important

Your food therefore needs to provide all the energy, essential fatty acids, amino acids, vitamins and minerals you need for optimum health.

Every cell in your body is composed of different molecules than those present just one year ago. All these new building blocks are derived from your diet.

Your food therefore needs to provide all the energy, essential fatty acids, amino acids, vitamins and minerals you need for optimum health. Fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds also provide substances that contribute to colour and flavour as well as protecting plants against sun, viruses, bacteria and other predators.

Known as phytochemicals, these have beneficial effects on human health, too, providing some protection against high blood pressure, raised cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, heart disease, stroke, visual loss and even cancer. The average diet is believed to supply more than 1 gram of phytochemicals per day.

Aim for colour on your plate for a good mix of phytochemicals – mix dark green, orange, yellow, red and purple fruit and vegetables as much as possible.

Eating at the table is better for kids

Busy lives and changing habits mean that fewer families now eat their evening meal at the dining table, preferring to tuck into their meal in front of a television or computer instead.

Yet a recent study of children aged between two and five found that those who eat their main meal at the table are slimmer than those who are served in front of a screen. Researchers believe that children served at the dinner table eat less because they recognise when they are full, while those eating in front of the TV are too distracted to spot when they’ve eaten enough. Children allowed to serve their own portions also tend to put less food on their plate than if their food is simply handed to them.

Stop at One

The National Osteoporosis Society has launched a campaign called Stop at One to raise awareness of bone health. One in two women over 50 have suffered a bone fracture but many are only diagnosed with osteoporosis after they’ve broken three or more bones.

As a fracture relating to osteoporosis occurs once every two minutes across the UK, it’s vital to make your first break your last. GPs and hospital staff often fail to talk about bone health with those at risk, and an astonishing one in ten people experiencing more than three broken bones said they had never discussed bone health or osteoporosis with medical professionals treating their fractures. Stop at One encourages you to find out more about osteoporosis by taking an on-line bone health quiz.

Six Ways to Sabotage Your Work Out

If you’ve been working out for more than eight weeks and still haven’t seen the benefits, there’s a good chance you’re doing something wrong.

Here’s what to look out for:
• Warm Up – Not warming up before exercising means a decrease in the effectiveness of your workout and an increase in the chance of injury.

• Diet – If you want to build muscle, you need sufficient protein in your diet and the right type of fuel if you want to lose weight.

• Training too long – A common physiological response to training is the release of hormones, such as testosterone and dopamine, into the bloodstream. After 45 minutes the body can move into a negative hormonal state, meaning adrenal fatigue and reduced performance.

• Training too often – Similarly, adaptations happen during the recovery period, so give your body time to recuperate, then it can efficiently build muscle and burn fat during your next workout.

• Get regular sleep – Hormones such as growth hormone and IGF-1, which help your build muscle and burn fat, are active when you sleep, so try to form a healthy sleeping pattern.

• Distractions – While workout buddies are great for motivation, talking during a workout can decrease the metabolic effect of your workout. When rest intervals increase, the body cools and metabolism slows. And leave your phone in the locker!

Future Fitness Trends

The American College of Sports Medicine recently surveyed nearly 4000 fitness professionals from around the globe to determine which exercise trends were likely to become most popular over the coming months.

They predicted the Top Ten activities would be:
1.High Intensity Intermittent Training (HIIT)
2.Body weight training
3. Using certified fitness professionals
4. Strength training
5. Exercise for weight loss
6. Personal training
7. Fitness training for older adults
8. Functional fitness training
9. Group personal training
10. Yoga

The interest in HIIT has grown over the last two or three years as the idea of working hard, for shorter periods, for greater long-term gain, appeals to both fitness trainers and clients alike.

However, some professionals are concerned with the increased risk of injury for deconditioned individuals who jump straight into this type of training without the necessary fitness foundation. HIIT can be very effective for boosting fitness and supporting weight loss, but it is best to work through a two to four week preparatory fitness regime before embarking on a HIIT protocol.

Body weight training has a long history within the fitness industry. It’s popular as it uses minimal equipment (your own weight provides resistance) and can be used in many environments, in and out of the gym. There’s plenty of scope for fun and innovative bodyweight training for those who wish to explore this new trend. Most of the other top ten trends have proven, longterm staying power and are important elements of a strengthening and important industry for health and wellbeing.

Have you ever ‘Pulled a Sickie’?

What do you do when you’ve used up all your annual leave but need a day or two’s extra break?

A survey of over 2000 people by VoucherCodesPro.co.uk found that 69% would consider faking an illness, with December being the most likely month in which to do so, and on average they would take six days off! More than a third of British parents pull sickies to spend time with the kids, and when asked what they had done instead of going to work, they most commonly spent time watching films (31%), having a family day out (27%) or visiting family (24%).

1. To go to a job interview elsewhere, with people in the South West stating this as the number one reason for having a sick day

2. To nurse a hangover, with those from the North West most likely to succumb to a boozeinduced day off, closely followed by Londoners and Scots

3. To watch a major sporting event, with 18-24 year olds from the North East being the most dedicated fans in the nation

4. To enjoy the sun, with those in the West Midlands needing little convincing to enjoy a sunny winter’s day.

5. Because it’s Monday, especially among 18-24 year olds in the East of England. In fact, the first Monday in February is the busiest day for being off sick as workers struggle under the weight of festive credit card bills, wintry weather and the next holiday seeming far away

6. Because I was dumped by someone in the same office, especially popular with 25-34 year olds and the over 65s

7. To prepare for a big date, with the South West of England being the most likely to put romance before reports

8. To hide a bad haircut, with18-24 year olds in London most likely to use this ruse to protect their pride during the party season.

9. Because I woke with a huge spot on my face.‘Taking a sickie’ is a common phenomenon in the UK, according to Work & Coaching Psychologist David Dean (www.brightsparkscoaching.co.uk). Sickness absence accounts for 4% of working time and costs the UK economy £12 billion pounds annually. ‘While no-one would want to push anyone into work if you are ill or contagious, evidence suggests there are four key factors involved in ‘pulling a sickie’. They are a lack of job satisfaction, gender (men are less likely to be absent than women) poor involvement in the decision making process of your job, and your attitude to the business and your work,’ says David. ‘If your job is satisfying, you love what you do, believe in the vision of the company and have a great attitude to your work, sickies are unlikely to happen to you.

To avoid your potential for sickies, he suggests:
• Look at re-designing your job i.e. more flexibility, promotion possibilities and seeking recognition of your great work through salary or other rewards.
• Help your line manager or staff teams be more engaged with what they do and how they do it. People are then less likely to let down team members by dumping extra work on them through their absence.
• A quarter of European employers now offer incentives to staff to take fewer sick days through vouchers and bonuses to help those wavering under their duvet. Tip the balance in favour for going into work.
From a personal perspective try to get involved in your job, seek out new opportunities in the role and being more proactive will help you focus upon upon getting the job done and most of all being happier in the workplace.

Tips To Boost Energy

Studies show that exercise increases your energy in many ways – from building up muscles to boosting your mood and self-confidence.

How often do you feel so exhausted that you would rather hit the sofa than the gym? Yet if you do make the effort, you will feel re-vitalised. Studies show that exercise increases your energy in many ways – from building up muscles to boosting your mood and self-confidence.

Watch the caffeine which is often demonised as an addictive drug that should be avoided wherever possible. But in moderation it can be a useful pick-me-up, can improve physical performance and appears to have health benefits, too, such as improving mental performance and reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s and diabetes. Just avoid it after lunch as it takes time to clear from the system and may affect your sleep.

Mind your omegas Omega 3 fatty acids found in oily fish have been shown to help sleep and improve mental concentration. However, high levels of omega 6, found in processed foods (cakes biscuits etc) as well as dairy, can compete with omega 3. Try to redress the balance by cutting down on processed food and eating oily fish or seafood three times a week (or using high quality supplements if you aren’t a fish lover).

Stressless Being under stress throws your hormones out of kilter. Those fight-or-flight hormones, cortisol and adrenaline, are supposed to provide a short-term reaction to help you deal with potential danger – not be switched on all the time. Not only does stress interfere with your sleep but it can affect your digestion, heart, weight, memory and mood.

Shut-down the screens More and more evidence is showing that our addiction to screens – computer, TV, phone etc – is affecting our sleep and general well-being. Not only do you find it difficult to switch off if you have been working or surfing the net late into the night, but the bright light affects your melatonin levels, throwing your natural circadian rhythms way off course. No wonder studies show that people sleep badly after excessive screen time in the evenings. Back to the hot bath and cocoa pre-bed routine!

Avoiding excess sugar wherever you can will also do wonders for your energy levels. The rapid boost it provides is soon followed by a slump as your blood sugar levels plummet in response to the hormone insulin, which is released when you eat sugar. Much better for energy levels is to have slower burn energy sources – protein, fats in moderation and complex carbohydrates such as wholegrains.

Stand up for wellness

Sitting down for long periods of time during the day increases the risk of diabetes, heart disease, cancer, obesity, and even premature death.

When you’re standing, you’re also exercising, even if only gently, so many office furniture ranges now include a ‘sit/stand’ desk and, in Denmark, companies must offer workers the option of a ‘standing’ desk by law. Best advice is to break up your sitting time throughout the day. If nothing else, make a resolution to stand and walk around whenever you are on the phone – you could be surprised what a difference this makes to your health in the coming year.

Are you embarrassed by what you eat?

More than one in three working women suffer from ‘food shame’ according to a study carried out by food manufacturer, Jacob’s, and actively worry they will be judged on what they eat by employers and co-workers. Eight out of ten women surveyed admitted their self-confidence was directly linked to their weight and stomach size, while one-in-five said they were unhappy with their appearance.

Half of those aged between 18 and 35 said they constantly worry about what they can and cannot eat. Kathryn Thomas, ambassador for Jacob’s ‘Real Me Moments’ campaign said, ‘Women are facing increasing pressure to match up to the unrealistic body perfection they see in magazines and on social media. It’s more important than ever to encourage a more balanced approach to health and beauty.

How to Boost your popularity at Work

A great way to get to know people is by asking questions. If your workmates mention a particular hobby they enjoy you can make a mental note to ask them how it’s going at a later date.

Avoid Gossip
It’s all too easy to get drawn into office gossip but not only is talking about your workmates behind their back unprofessional, being known as a gossip makes it difficult for your workmates to trust you. If you find office chats often turn to gossip, either try to change the subject or make an excuse to leave the conversation.

Offer Help
If you see a colleague is struggling with a particular task or is simply overwhelmed by their workload, offer to help. People will remember your kindness and will often return the favour in the future.

Stay Cheerful
Even if you’re busy or having a bad day, take the time to say good morning to your colleagues. And if you’re feeling stressed, don’t take it out on your workmates – chances are they are under pressure too so always greet people with a smile.

Be Sociable
Spending time with your colleagues outside of work hours is a great way to increase your popularity – particularly if work pressures mean you don’t always get the chance to chat in the office. Regularly accept invitations for afterwork drinks or parties – or suggest your own after-hours activities. And if people invite you to join them for lunch, take them up on the offer. It’s a great opportunity to let your workmates get to know you better.

The Health Dangers of Tight Jeans

Jeans that are too skinny-tight can lower sperm counts and have been linked with twisted testicles in men.

iPhone users may have been warned not to keep their new, ultraslim phone in the pocket of skinny jeans in case it bends – but wearing skinny jeans is bad for your health, too.

Jeans that are too skinny-tight can lower sperm counts and have been linked with twisted testicles in men. In both sexes, regularly wearing tight jeans can also promote urinary tract and fungal infections.

Doctors warn that tight legwear can compress the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve, which runs down your thigh and, like all other nerves, is there to register physical sensations like touch and pain. Constant pressure on this nerve can result in a condition known as meralgia paraesthetica, which causes numbness of the leg, stinging pain, over-sensitivity to heat and even muscle wasting.

If you simply can’t do without your skinnies, buy those with a little stretch to them and, if you feel pain or numbness in your legs, shift up a size—otherwise, you could develop permanent nerve damage.