Take your exercise outdoors this springtime

The sun is shining and the days are longer, yes springtime has finally arrived! For those of you that turn your back on outside exercise during the colder months, now’s the time to embrace the spring sunshine and take your workout to the great outdoors.

Forest and park runs

Dedicated runners will still have pounded the pavement during the cold, dark winter days while many of us stuck to the gym. Now the weather is milder, take your run to your local forest or park to enjoy nature as well as fitness. Starting your day with a jog in lush green surroundings will invigorate both your mind and body. It will leave you feeling refreshed and ready for the day ahead with a smile on your face.

Garden yoga

Yoga is such a versatile activity and can be done anywhere; from in front of the TV to a gym studio. Why not make the most of the sunny weather and move your mat to a nice piece of grass. Whether it’s your own back garden, or a communal class in the park, doing the downward dog outside will add a whole different dimension to your workout.

Sand sprints

If you’re lucky enough to live near a beach, then running on the sand is a must. Keeping fit at the beach gives your body a tougher workout, as sand adds resistance, making exercise more challenging. Running across a beach as opposed to the pavement will see calf circumference increase and keep your lower body engaged at all times. You don’t have to just stick to running though; crab walks, mountain climbers and planks are just a few exercises that will yield impressive results.

Pregnancy skin conditions part 1

Pregnancy can play havoc with your skin, with many women complaining of acne, rosacea, dryness and, of course, stretch marks.

Swollen ankles, tiredness and havoc with your hormones are all anticipated during pregnancy, but your skin can also experience changes. Many women complain of sensitive skin, redness, itching, stretch marks and even acne. With so much going on inside your body it’s no surprise that you skin can suffer, so we’ve spoken to some experts about the issues.

Stretch Marks

It has been claimed that more than half of all pregnant women get stretch marks during pregnancy. While some ladies swear by rubbing hydrating oils and creams on their tummies, butt and thighs, other studies have claimed they are hereditary and therefore unavoidable. Stretch marks are caused by small tears in the connective tissue supporting your skin, and usually occur in the latter stages of pregnancy.

“Keep your belly well hydrated as it grows,” dermatologist Dr Howard Murad told Cover Media. “Look for a lotion that contains shea butter and Vitamin E to help provide hydration, and Vitamin C to help enhance skin’s elasticity. Also, keep your weight in check by gaining the healthy amount recommended by your doctor and try to avoid sudden weight gains.”

Melasma

This skin condition is common during pregnancy, and can be blamed on shifting hormones as well as sun exposure. Typically it appears as discoloration on certain areas of the face and is known as the ‘pregnancy mask’. “Oestrogen and progesterone interact with sunlight giving pigmentation on the skin,” Dr Adam Friedmann, consultant dermatologist at The Harley Street Dermatology Clinic, told Cover Media. “It is typically found on the cheeks, nose, lips and forehead.”

Using SPF and wearing a broad rim hat or baseball cap can reduce the effects of melasma by protecting your skin from sun exposure. Beauty products containing Vitamin C may also help to break down pigmentation, while exfoliators with lactic or glycolic acid can gently lighten skin. Fade Out Extra Care Cream has SPF 25 and may help to brighten and even skin tone.

How to season food without salt

No one wants to tuck into a meal that’s bland and lacking flavor, but smothering it in salt isn’t the answer. Many of us exceed the daily recommendation for sodium without even realizing, which could lead to hypertension, raising the risk of strokes, kidney failure and cardiovascular disease.

Various studies have found links between high sodium intake and obesity in kids, while others discovered reducing salt and increasing fruits and vegetables reduce the risk of health issues later in life.

If you have children to look out for, or need to cut back on salt yourself, read on for alternatives, courtesy of registered dietitian and nutritionist Jennifer Glockner.

Go for whole foods

Processed meals are known to be bad for us, with 70 per cent of salt in our diet added during processing. Jennifer suggests small swaps to lower our sodium intake, such as replacing deli and cured meats with fresh chicken, fish or turkey in sandwiches or salads. Be careful about which cheese and bread you use too, and read packets when you can to keep on track.

The same goes for vegetables and beans; when they’re canned sodium is used to preserve them, so give them a thorough rinse before use. Alternatively, buy fresh or frozen versions as these won’t make a dent in your salt intake.

Use vegetables to enhance

Following the veg route again, why not use strong-flavored foods like onion, garlic or celery to give your dish that extra oomph rather than reaching for the salt shaker. This also lowers the fat content of meals, as does swapping meats for mushrooms to keep things bulky but healthier.

Or for a fresh zing, squeeze a lemon or lime into your dish to create a citrus twist, perfect for poultry or fish.

Swap salt for spices

This is often recommended and Jennifer has reminded us how much this small move can improve our overall health. Herbs and spices instead of salt not only lower the problems associated with high sodium levels, but it also boosts the body’s antioxidants. This will prevent disease and keep you in good form, similar to the benefits of fruit and veg.

Previous studies have found that clove, oregano, and caraway boast the highest levels of antioxidant and phenolic properties, so adding these to your food could really work wonders.

There’s so many options with spices, therefore you won’t ever struggle to find one that fits your cuisine. Ginger for Asian influence, cumin for Indian and Middle Eastern meals and paprika for smokiness are just some of the examples you can enjoy.

Yogurt ‘cuts blood pressure risk

If you’re bored of cereal and have had it with porridge, it might be time to mix up your breakfast routine by adding in some yogurt. That’s because it’s been found that women who fit the dairy treat into their diets at least five times a week and much less likely to suffer from high blood pressure, with the risk dropping by a fifth.

The study was vast, using data from 240,000 nurses, who were mainly women aged between 25 and 55. This was added to information gathered from 51,000 other people in the health professions, this time who were men aged mainly 40 to 75.

The research was funded by the National Dairy Council in America, with the findings that women who ate yogurt five times or more a week had their high blood pressure risk cut by a fifth. The effect was more noticeable in women because guys don’t tend to eat as much yogurt.

On top of this, those whose diets were also full of fruit, vegetables, beans and nuts were even less likely to suffer the ailment. This group saw their threat slashed by 31 per cent, when compared to people who feasted on yogurt just once monthly.

“No one food is a magic bullet, but adding yogurt to an otherwise healthy diet seems to help reduce the long-term risk of high blood pressure in women,” Justin Buendia of Boston University School of Medicine, America, explained.

“I believe this is the largest study of its kind to date to evaluate the specific effects of yogurt on blood pressure.”

The findings were presented at an American Heart Association conference, but at the moment there are no details about why yogurt has such an impact on blood pressure.

High blood pressure is also known as hypertension and often goes untreated as people don’t realize they are sufferers. However, it is a major health concern as it can cause heart failure, kidney disease, heart attack, dementia and stroke. In the UK it affects more than one in four adults, with five million thought to be secret sufferers.

Vessels need to have some pressure in them to keep the blood pumping around your body, but if there is too much there is an increased strain on arteries and the heart.

This isn’t the first time yogurt has been lauded for its health benefits. In the past the food has been linked to lowering cholesterol, helping maintain healthy blood sugar levels and guarding against brittle bone disease osteoporosis. That said, it’s important you choose your dairy dessert carefully as some versions are crammed with fat, sugar and sweeteners.

Is salt making your child fat?

Children who eat a diet high in salt are at an increased risk of becoming overweight or obese, warn health experts.

A study found that almost three in four children are eating above the recommended amount of salt, typically found in everyday foods such as bread, cheese, ham and sausages.

Researchers at Australia’s Deakin University analysed the urine of 666 school children and found 70 per cent of the children ate over the maximum amount of salt recommended for good health.

Children who took part in the study were eating on average 6 grams or over a teaspoon of salt a day. The recommended daily amount is 4- 5 grams.

Each additional gram is associated with “a 23 per cent greater likelihood with being overweight or obese,” explained lead researcher Dr Carley Grimes.

“Foods that contain higher levels of salt may enhance the flavor of foods which are often also higher in fat and energy and a salty diet may also encourage greater consumption of high energy sugar-sweetened beverages when these are available.

“This study is ringing alarm bells as we now have good evidence to indicate the need to cut the amount of salt that our children are eating,” added Dr. Grimes.

The effects of child eating too much salt can impact on a child into adulthood if not addressed.

“Such high intakes of salt are setting children up for a lifetime risk of future chronic disease such as high blood pressure and heart disease,” she further explained.

The occurrence of abdominal obesity was also higher in children aged 4-7 years old and 8-12 years old, who registered the highest intake of salt out of the sample.

Carrying extra weight around the stomach increases the risk of a number of chronic diseases, including type 2 diabetes.

Professor Garry Jennings, Chief Executive of Australia’s National Heart Foundation which funded the study, said the results are cause for serious concern.

“It highlights the importance of salt reduction to reduce the risk of future chronic diseases such as high blood pressure and heart disease later in life,” he commented.

The findings are published in the British Journal of Nutrition.

Afraid of liquid eyeliner? Don’t be

She’s been wowing fans with her incredible make-up at various events, with the most recent coming at the Grammy Awards earlier this month (Feb16). It’s Adele’s eyeliner that’s really the standout of her whole look, with the feline flicks perfectly shaping her almond shaped eyes. Of course, Adele isn’t the pioneer of this look – with Old Hollywood stars such as Brigitte Bardot and Audrey Hepburn previously showing their love of sexy eyeliner flicks. It’s the perfect look for a big party or even a glamorous day look if you have the time to do it in the morning. Achieving this look is no easy feat though, and requires more than just a steady hand.

Make sure you apply a primer to your eyelids first, ensuring that the eyeliner won’t slide off during the course of your day or evening. Urban Decay’s Eyeshadow Primer Potion is a cult classic or Rimmel London Undercover Shadow Primer is a slightly cheaper option. Once you’re all primed, you can move on to starting the eyeliner.

While eyeliner pencils are undoubtedly easier to use, your best bet to creating the perfect Adele look is to use a liquid eyeliner. Shu Uemura Calligraph: Ink Liquid Eyeliner is a popular choice among make-up artists, as it has a bristle brush based on calligraphy pens, and means you can create a thin or thick line with complete precision. For an entirely liquid eyeliner, try MAC’s Liquid Eyeliner.

If you really don’t want to use a liquid liner, you could give one of the newer marker pen style liners a go. Benefit Cosmetics’ they’re real! push-up gel eyeliner is a good choice. Be aware though, this won’t give you the same sharp look as Adele’s.

When it comes to actually applying the liner, you don’t want to be messing around with a mirror and the eyeliner brush, so the best way to ensure a straight line is to place the mirror on a table and look down into it.

Holding the edge of your eye to pull the skin taut can help if you are a novice applier and don’t try and get each eye exactly matching before you start. Give it a go on one eye before moving over to the other.

The other thing to remember is that any errors can be easily corrected. Either wipe off the whole look and try, try and try again until you get it right, or dip a cotton bud in eye make-up remover and use to get rid of any minor slip ups.

One thing you can be sure of though, if you get this look right, you’ll have all the boys saying, “Hello!”

Partner more influential than upbringing when it comes to obesity – study

A person’s partner has a greater impact on their chances of becoming obese than their upbringing, findings of a new study show.

Researchers at the University of Edinburgh have analysed data provided by 20,000 Scottish families.

They found that by middle age, the routine a couple shares – including their diet and exercise habits – has a greater impact than the lifestyle they shared with their siblings and parents when growing up.

Professor Chris Haley of the Medical Research Council’s Human Genetics Unit led the research and said that the study will help scientists better understand the links between obesity, genetics and lifestyle.

He added that the study findings support the message that lifestyle changes in adulthood may mean that people from families with a history of obesity can still reduce their risk by changing their habits.

“Although genetics accounts for a significant proportion of the variation between people, our study has shown the environment you share with your partner in adulthood also influences whether you become obese and this is more important than your upbringing,” said Professor Haley.

The information was gathered as part of the Generation Scotland project, a resource of health data that helps researchers to investigate genetic links to health conditions.

Scientists compared people’s genetics and home environments in childhood and adulthood and related those to measures linked to health and obesity.

A total of 16 measures were considered including waist to hip ratio, blood pressure, body fat content and body mass index.

The study is published in the journal PLoS Genetics.

Bright foods ‘can cut breast cancer risk’

We already know they help you see in the dark, but now carrots have another string to add to their bow; scientists claim they could cut the risk of women developing some breast cancers by 60 per cent.

It’s long been known that eating a diet rich in beta-carotene, the chemical which makes vegetables like carrots, spinach and red peppers so brightly colored, is good for health. It’s been linked to helping guard against heart disease and cancer, but a new study suggests it’s particularly beneficial when it comes to breast cancer.

The research was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition and took in 1,500 women with tumors in their breasts and 1,500 without. All were asked about the diets, as the team were trying to find a link between plant chemicals and cancer risk.

Blood tests allowed the group to investigate the amount of beta-carotene in the women’s bodies, alongside other things which are derived from plants like vitamin C.

It was discovered that those whose meals tended to be crammed with beta-carotene rich foods were 40 to 60 per cent less likely to develop estrogen receptor negative breast cancers. One in three women with breast cancer have this type of tumor.

However, the level of the chemical didn’t have an impact on estrogen receptor positive tumors, which the bulk of breast cancer cases are.

Other plant chemicals didn’t have much of an effect either way, with one expert keen to point out that no food should be viewed as a magical cancer cure.

“We’ve long known that a healthy diet – carrots included – can help to lower your risk of breast cancer because it helps to maintain a healthy weight,” Dr Richard Berks, senior research communications officer at charity Breast Cancer Now, said.

“While it’s really important to eat vegetables as part of a balanced diet, there is unfortunately no such thing as a superfood when it comes to breast cancer risk.”

Beta-carotene is transformed into vitamin A in the body, which helps keep a host of processes healthy, such as vision and the immune system.

Almonds = weightloss

Another day, another weight loss tip – this time it seems almonds could be the answer to our slim-down prayers. Many of us want to drop a few pounds, but it can be tricky to dedicate yourself to a diet when there are so many delicious treats winking at you from supermarket aisles. If that sounds familiar, switching some snacks to a handful of almonds daily could be what’s needed.

A team of researchers at the University of Florida in America have looked into the impact the seeds have on diets. Data was taken from 28 pairs of parents and their children, with the mothers or fathers munching on 1.5 ounces (400grams) of almonds a day for three weeks. The kids got half an ounce, or the same amount of almond butter.

Before this, each of them were measured on the US’ Healthy Eating Index, which shows how good someone’s diet is. Scores under 51 show a poor diet, 51 to 80 means things could be better with some tweaks, while over 80 indicates a healthy food intake.

When things kicked off, the adults’ average score was 53.7, with a fluctuation of 1.8 either way. The children came in at 53.7 too, with a change of 2.6 in either direction.

After the almonds were introduced, the results changed dramatically. The mothers and fathers saw their diets rise to 61.4 (with a fluctuation of 1.4), with the kids’ climbing to 61.4 plus or minus 2.2.

Everyone ate more protein, which is known to keep you full for longer, and saw the amount of empty calories (ones which don’t offer any goodness or nutrients to the body) reduce.

“The habits you have when you are younger are carried into adulthood, so if a parent is able to incorporate almonds or different healthy snacks into a child’s diet, it’s more likely that the child will choose those snacks later on in life,” author Alyssa Burns explained.

One issue was that the children sometimes got bored with almonds and wanted more variety. It’s suggested that parents should get creative in the kitchen to guard against this, meaning using the seeds in porridge or sandwiches.

Knee pain? Try Botox

Suffering from knee pain? Botox may be the cure, as a new study has discovered the usually cosmetic treatment helped ease a painful joint condition which affects more than one in eight active individuals.

Scientists at Imperial College London and Fortius Clinic looked at 45 people suffering with what’s known as lateral patellofemoral overload syndrome (LPOS), with sufferers experiencing severe pain at the side and front of their knee joint. It is often round in runners and cyclists.

Dysport – a protein known as a botulinum toxin, which is what Botox is – was injected into the muscle at the front and outside of the hip of the participants in the trial, then they were given personalized physiotherapy treatment.

In total 69 per cent didn’t need any more procedures on the joint and after five years were free of pain entirely. This is a stark contrast to previous studies which showed that 80 per cent of people suffering from the condition still had ongoing symptoms after other treatments, while 74 per cent reported being less active.

Usual treatments include steroid injections, physiotherapy and anti-inflammatory drugs. If these fail, surgery is often considered as an option, and even then patients aren’t always guaranteed the issue will go away completely.

“As a physiotherapist it can be incredibly frustrating to run out of treatment options for patients with this painful condition,” study co-author Doctor Jo Stephen, of Imperial College London and Fortius, said. “Many athletes who took part in this study had exhausted all other treatment options and this was their last resort.

“We are really excited that our approach is showing positive results for patients, which could have implications for active people around the world.”

Findings were published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine.

“Patients traveled from all over the country to take part in this study, which is an indication of their eagerness to find a solution to their discomfort,” co-author David Urquhart, of Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, added.