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Festive fitness: Don’t become a Christmas couch potato

Christmas can be tricky even for those of us who frequently lead healthy, active lifestyles, holiday closures, a truckload of chocolates, canapés, and other unhealthy snacks appear in the shops to tempt us, not to mention the calorie laden glasses of champagne, endless bottles of beer and even unlimited table wine. However, apart from buying home exercise equipment, here’s what you can do to get through the holidays without sacrificing healthy habits.

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Christmas can be tricky even for those of us who frequently lead healthy, active lifestyles, holiday closures, a truckload of chocolates, canapés, and other unhealthy snacks appear in the shops to tempt us, not to mention the calorie laden glasses of champagne, endless bottles of beer and even unlimited table wine. It’s also cold, dark and with family and friends always popping in and out it’s difficult to set aside the time to even go for a quick run. However, apart from buying home exercise equipmenthere’s what you can do to get through the holidays without sacrificing healthy habits.

FLICKR IMAGE CREDIT: Maciej Kraus

BE AN EARLY RISER

Having a regular sleeping pattern is vital to our health, but also those that get up earlier are often more, awake, alert and productive throughout the day than people that leave their bedroom later. Not only do you get more done undisturbed, things like filing, quiet housework and organizing cupboards. Plus, if you do wake up at the crack of dawn you’ll be able to go for a run without anyone realizing you’re gone. According to a recent US nursing study, the longer you can achieve REM sleep, the lower your Body Mass Index will be. By getting out into the crisp, morning sunshine, you’ll be receiving plenty of vitamin D, as well as having the sidewalk, track or road to yourself.

TURN UP THE MUSIC

Funnily enough, scientists say that the tunes we choose to listen to while exercising can have an impact on our performance levels. For example, if while running, your heartbeat is around 120 beats per minute, you can reach a faster pace by listening to a track whose baseline runs at 125 beats per minute. An Up-tempo track will make you feel stronger, quicker and get the adrenaline going faster than slower songs; this is why so many gym, running and training playlists are available online. To add some festive fun why not choose Christmas carols, songs or jingles that match your current level of exercise? No matter what you decide to listen to, as long as the music you’ve chosen is around five beats above your heart rate then studies show you’ll perform better than you would otherwise.

USE YOUR ENVIRONMENT

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We accomplish many daily tasks without thinking about it before we begin our workouts but what if you could add them in, almost unnoticed, to your routine. For starters, you could perform squats while brushing your teeth, stretches while getting ready and use the stairs as an inclined treadmill. While outside speed walk to wherever you’re going, run for an occasional bus and even jump up and down a few times while waiting for the lights to change.

PICTURE THIS

The invention of Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram means that we’re all taking more photos than ever before, but what if you could harness social media to help keep you healthy? By posting, or simply taking pictures of what you eat you are less likely to snack, give you an instant breakdown on what your diet is actually like and highlight any areas that could be improved. Plus, those who do post their food pictures online often end up with different ideas for recipes, chatting with people who lead similar lifestyles and, if you’re looking to lose weight, evidence can keep you from overindulging because you’re more likely to remember.

GRAB SOME GARLIC

Taking fresh, or capsule, garlic has been known to beat bloating because it contains a chemical called allicin that works with your body to combat unwanted bacteria, unpleasant acids and bubbling yeasts in the stomach. Studies show those who ingest a daily garlic capsule have significantly flatter tummies than people who don’t.

EAT PURPLE VEG

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It might sound a little strange but purple veg are some of the healthiest, and many celebrities will eat nothing but violet shaded foods before an important event. Luckily, you don’t have to be an A-lister to get your hands on these goods as many supermarkets now stock purple cabbage, potatoes, asparagus and even sprouts. These plum colored products are packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants while tasting great! Incidentally, the purple hue comes from anthocyanins pigments found naturally in certain plants and are often used by restaurants to create a unique looking dish

TRY A MEAL PLAN MENU

Leading a healthy lifestyle all the time isn’t always possible, and you can sometimes run out of ideas on what to cook or drink which leaves you feeling demotivated. Some people choose to combat this by using a meal plan guide, or fitness manual often written by health gurus, fitness experts, and good lifestyle practitioners. These days, it’s also common to see books written by online personalities, celebrities, and personal trainers. There are lots of guides, meal plan menus and fitness books out there including Kayla Itsines,  a personal trainer and prominent YouTuber so for more info look at this link for a kayla itsines review in detail.  

SKATE YOUR SOCKS OFF

Not only is ice skating a great form of cardio, exercising your lower core, strengthening your muscles and so forth but it’s also great fun at the same time. Why not invite friends or family to go with you? That way not only is everyone exercising and getting plenty of fresh air they’re also having loads of fun. You can also combine skating with another fitness tip, wear compression socks, like marathon runners, do and as they support your calf muscles they could help you to skate faster, stronger and longer than before.

AVOID CHRISTMASSY CLASSES

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At this time of year, your local gym or activity center might be offering a range of festive/New Year themed classes aimed at getting users in shape. While these sessions such as, stiletto fitness, dancing queen and even booty beautiful may work in the short term they’re often quite gimmicky. Experts say that it’s best to stick to a class that is available all year round and one that has proven, reliable results like Yoga, Pilates, Zumba or even martial arts sessions like Capoeira which can be perfect for all over fitness as well as building confidence.

Health & Wellness

LGBT adolescents more likely than other kids their age to try to kill themselves

A study found that sexual minority youth were 3.5 times as likely to attempt suicide as their heterosexual peers. Meanwhile, transgender adolescents were 5.87 times more likely, gay and lesbian adolescents were 3.71 times more likely and bisexual youth were 3.69 times more likely than heterosexual peers to attempt suicide.

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LGBT youth have higher risk for suicide attempts.

This is according to “Estimating the Risk of Attempted Suicide Among Sexual Minority Youths: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis”, a study done by Ester di Giacomo, MD; Micheal Krausz, PhD; Fabrizia Colmegna, MD; Flora Aspesi, MD; and Massimo Clerici, PhD and which was published in JAMA Pediatrics.

For this study, the researchers pooled data from 35 earlier studies to show that sexual minority youth were more than three times as likely to attempt suicide as heterosexual peers. Transsexual youth were at highest risk, nearly six times as likely to attempt suicide as heterosexual peers, researchers reported.

“Adolescents facing ‘non-conventional’ sexual identity are at risk of higher self-threatening behaviors, independent of bullying and other risk factors,” Dr.di Giacomo, the study’s lead author, was quoted as saying by Reuters Health. “I think that a difficulty in self-acceptance and social stigmatization might be keys for understanding such elevation in the risk of self-threatening behaviors.”

This may be because many LGBT youth have trouble accepting who they are because of the way they are seen by others, di Giacomo added.

The study noted that “suicide is the second-leading cause of death among adolescents” and that “sexual minority individuals are at a higher risk of suicide and attempted suicide.”

Thirty-five studies reported in 22 articles that involved a total of 2 ,378,987 heterosexual and 113, 468 sexual minority adolescents (age range: 12-20 years) were included in the analysis. The study found that sexual minority youth were 3.5 times as likely to attempt suicide as their heterosexual peers. Meanwhile, transgender adolescents were 5.87 times more likely, gay and lesbian adolescents were 3.71 times more likely and bisexual youth were 3.69 times more likely than heterosexual peers to attempt suicide.

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Since the findings suggest that youths with non-heterosexual identity have a significantly higher risk of life-threatening behavior compared with their heterosexual peers, the researchers stressed that “public awareness is important, and a careful evaluation of supportive strategies (e.g. support programs, counseling, and de-stigmatizing efforts)… be part of education and public health planning.”

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Health & Wellness

4 Reasons why people put off doctor visits (But you really shouldn’t)

Whether it be for an annual checkup or because you know that you’re sick, everyone needs to visit the doctor now and then. That being said, chances are, you don’t go as often as you should.

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Whether it be for an annual checkup or because you know that you’re sick, everyone needs to visit the doctor now and then. That being said, chances are, you don’t go as often as you should. This certainly isn’t the most enjoyable activity, but it’s one that is necessary for optimal physical and mental health. Despite this, more and more people choose to skip instead, with the biggest culprits being millennials. This is a risky decision that could put your whole life at risk.

Here are four reasons people why put off doctor visits, but you really shouldn’t.

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1. “There Is Never Enough Time”

Everyone in the world has better things to do than visit the doctor, but, you’re kidding yourself if you think that you can’t spare enough time for an appointment. Annual checkups usually last no longer than half an hour, with more specific issues often taking up even less time. There’s no use in putting off or canceling these trips to do one thing or another, because, if you were to get sick or worse, you wouldn’t be able to do them anyway. Your health should always be the priority.

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2. “I Am Probably Healthy Anyway”

Unless you’re showing signs of being sick, you probably are okay, but that doesn’t mean that you should take this chance. There are lots of incredibly serious conditions that have very few or no symptoms or don’t start showing these until it’s far too late. Finding illness early gives you a much better chance of getting better, which is why you should never skip your annual checkups. You’re not a doctor, so don’t assume that there isn’t an issue until you’ve actually spoken to one.

3. “It Is Better Not Knowing”

Even if your doctor tells you some bad news, it’s never better not to hear it. After all, there is usually something that can be done to help. If you went your audiologist for poor hearing, for example, they would be able to tell you all about hearing aid benefits and their success rates. You can’t get treated if you bury your head in the sand, regardless of what the issue is. You might not even be sick, but, if you are, you should give yourself the opportunity to get better.

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4. “My Partner Won’t Stop Nagging”

You and your partner can argue about almost anything, from the washing up to the weather, but the one thing that you shouldn’t disagree on is the importance of your health. Even if your significant other tends to nag about anything and everything, you should listen to them when they tell you to go to the doctor. After all, if they didn’t believe that it was necessary, then they wouldn’t try to convince you. Listening to your loved one is not defeat, but a chance to be together longer.

When push comes to shove, there is never a good reason not to go to the doctor. Instead of coming up with excuses, you should book an appointment and get it over with.

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Health & Wellness

Sexual minority adults are poorer than their straight peers

Researchers found that sexual minority women were more likely to be near poor, receive public assistance and report economic hardship in the past year. In addition, sexual minority women were less likely to graduate from college and were twice as likely to be unemployed, compared to heterosexual women.

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Sexual minorities in have fewer economic resources than their straight peers and the gap is more pronounced among women. This is according to a new study by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law.

The report, “Sexual orientation and sex differences in socioeconomic status: a population-based investigation in the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health,” appears in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health and is co-authored by Kerith J. Conron, Blachford-Cooper Distinguished Scholar and Research Director at the Williams Institute, along with Shoshana K. Goldberg, Research Assistant Professor at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, and Carolyn T. Halpern, Professor, Department of Maternal and Child Health, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.

Researchers analyzed data gathered from 14,051 participants in the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health in the US, and they found that sexual minority women were more likely to be near poor, receive public assistance and report economic hardship in the past year. In addition, sexual minority women were less likely to graduate from college and were twice as likely to be unemployed, compared to heterosexual women.

Among women, sexual orientation inequities in homeownership were more pronounced for whites than racial minorities. However, rates of homeownership were the lowest for Black and Latina sexual minority women and were the highest for heterosexual white women.

“Socioeconomic status is a major contributor to health and disease throughout a person’s life,” said Conron said lead author Kerith Conron, Blachford-Cooper Distinguished Scholar and Research Director at the Williams Institute. “Understanding the extent and nature of sexual orientation differences in socioeconomic status is essential to reducing health inequities, particular as the population of sexual minorities grows and ages.”

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Fewer sexual orientation differences in economic status existed for men. Sexual minority men were more likely than their straight peers to have a college education. Yet, they earned less and were more likely to report economic hardship in the past year than straight men, which could indicate that sexual minority men face wage discrimination.

In addition, socioeconomic status among men differed by race. White sexual minority men were less likely than white heterosexual men to be among the highest earners. But Black and Latino sexual minority men did better economically than their Black and Latino heterosexual peers.

“These patterns suggest that multiple forms of inequality, as well as factors that promote resilience, must be considered in analyses of the diverse LGBT community,” said Conron. “Moreover, findings emphasize the need to include LGBT measures in large surveys conducted by the US Census Bureau, including the American Community Survey and the Survey of Income and Program Participation, in order to better track, understand, and respond to observed economic inequities.”

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Health & Wellness

Female to male trans adolescents report highest rate of attempted suicide at 50.8%

A study found that almost 14% of adolescents reported a previous suicide attempt, with disparities by gender identity in suicide attempts. Female to male adolescents reported the highest rate of attempted suicide (50.8%), followed by adolescents who identified as not exclusively male or female (41.8%).

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 Nearly 14% of adolescents reported a previous suicide attempt, with female to male adolescents reporting the highest rate of attempted suicide at 50.8%.

This is according to “Transgender Adolescent Suicide Behavior“, a study done by Russell B. Toomey, Amy K. Syvertsen and Maura Shramko, and released in Pediatrics. The study eyed to examine prevalence rates of suicide behavior across six gender identity groups: female; male; transgender, male to female; transgender, female to male; transgender, not exclusively male or female; and questioning. A secondary objective was to examine variability in the associations between key sociodemographic characteristics and suicide behavior across gender identity groups.

Data from the “Profiles of Student Life: Attitudes and Behaviors” survey (N = 120 617 adolescents; ages 11–19 years) were used to achieve the study objectives. Data were collected over a 36-month period: June 2012 to May 2015. A dichotomized self-reported lifetime suicide attempts (never versus ever) measure was used. Prevalence statistics were compared across gender identity groups, as were the associations between sociodemographic characteristics (i.e. age, parents’ highest level of education, urbanicity, sexual orientation, and race and/or ethnicity) and suicide behavior.

The study found that almost 14% of adolescents reported a previous suicide attempt, with disparities by gender identity in suicide attempts. Female to male adolescents reported the highest rate of attempted suicide (50.8%), followed by adolescents who identified as not exclusively male or female (41.8%), male to female adolescents (29.9%), questioning adolescents (27.9%), female adolescents (17.6%), and male adolescents (9.8%).

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Identifying as non-heterosexual exacerbated the risk for all adolescents except for those who did not exclusively identify as male or female (i.e. non-binary). For transgender adolescents, no other sociodemographic characteristic was associated with suicide attempts.

According to the researchers, “Suicide prevention efforts can be enhanced by attending to variability within transgender populations, particularly the heightened risk for female to male and non-binary transgender adolescents.”

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Health & Wellness

Trans-inclusive policies on college campuses improve the well-being of trans students

New report provides recommendations to institutions of higher education regarding the creation of trans-inclusive communities.

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report by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law finds that transgender-inclusive policies and support systems on college campuses provide transgender students a greater sense of belonging and more positive perceptions of the campus environment.

The report reviews previous research on the experiences of transgender students and presents new findings from interviews, surveys and focus groups conducted with transgender students.

“The majority of transgender students arrive at college having endured harassment and bullying in secondary school, which research shows have a negative impact on their academic performance and mental health. This cycle may be compounded by further adverse treatment and institutional invisibility at college,” said author Abbie E. Goldberg, former visiting scholar at the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law. “However, through relatively small changes, faculty and administrators can make a world of difference in the lives of transgender young adults.”

The current research focused on the institutional structures and interpersonal interactions at colleges and universities that either enforce biases or serve as sources of support for transgender students. The report concludes with ten recommendations to institutions of higher education on how to create more transgender-inclusive campus communities.

Key recommendations include:

  • Colleges and universities should explicitly include gender identity and expression in their nondiscrimination policies.
  • College curricula should address gender identity and specifically transgender identities and experiences.
  • Students should be provided with education/training to enhance their understanding and acceptance of gender diversity.
  • Faculty/staff should be exposed to mandatory training on gender identity issues.
  • Students should be able to list their preferred name on campus records and alternatives to male/female should be provided.
  • All university literature and publications should use gender-inclusive language.
  • Gender-inclusive or single-stall restrooms should be readily available on campus.
  • Universities should provide trans-inclusive/trans-accommodating housing options.
  • Counseling and health services staff should receive training on trans-inclusive and trans-affirming practices and health insurance coverage should be inclusive of trans students.
  • Trans-specific spaces and/or groups should be created with sufficient resources to support programming and events.
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“A growing body of research indicates that gender, including gender identity, expression and gender norms, plays a key role in academic, health and economic outcomes,” said Kerith J. Conron, the Blachford-Cooper Distinguished Scholar and Research Director at the Williams Institute. “Colleges should engage students and faculty in conversations about gender and examine policies, including those related to information systems, through a comprehensive gender lens. This would have the potential to improve campus safety and promote academic success for all students.”

READ THE REPORT HERE.

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Health & Wellness

Report identifies unique challenges for LGBT community facing Alzheimer’s and other dementias

Despite recent advances in LGBT rights, LGBT older people are often marginalized and face discrimination. They are twice as likely to age without a spouse or partner, twice as likely to live alone and three to four times less likely to have children.

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LGBT and Dementia – a new issues brief developed by the Alzheimer’s Association and SAGE – outlines the unique issues that arise when Alzheimer’s disease, sexual orientation, and gender identification and expression intersect, allowing advocates and care providers to better meet the needs of LGBT elders and their caregivers facing dementia.

“Living with Alzheimer’s or another dementia is not easy for anyone,” said Sam Fazio, Ph.D., director of quality care and psychosocial research, Alzheimer’s Association. “But LGBT individuals can often face additional challenges that need to be considered and addressed to ensure this population gets respectful and competent care.”

It is estimated that there are 2.7 million LGBT people over age 50 living in the US alone, and that number is increasing rapidly as baby boomers age and more people self-identify as LGBT. New research presented at the 2018 Alzheimer’s Association International Conference found that about one in 13 lesbian, gay or bisexual (LGB) seniors in the US are living with dementia. Dementia rates for the LGB population are 7.4 percent, compared to about 10 percent for the general population.

“While the LGBT community faces similar health concerns as the general public, LGBT people who receive a dementia diagnosis and LGBT caregivers face uniquely challenging circumstances,” said SAGE CEO Michael Adams. “This brief shines a light on these challenges, so we can begin taking steps to address them and improve the care and support LGBT people receive.”

Despite recent advances in LGBT rights, LGBT older people are often marginalized and face discrimination. They are twice as likely to age without a spouse or partner, twice as likely to live alone and three to four times less likely to have children – greatly limiting their opportunities for support. There’s also a lack of transparency as 40 percent of LGBT older people in their 60s and 70s say their healthcare providers don’t know their sexual orientation.

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The brief identifies seven areas which can create unique or additional challenges for LGBT individuals living with dementia and their caregivers. They include:

  • Stigma
  • Social isolation
  • Poverty
  • Health disparities
  • Sexuality and sexual expression
  • Barriers to utilizing existing services
  • Living with HIV/AIDS

According to the brief, LGBT individuals may not reach out for services and support because they fear poor treatment due to their LGBT identity, because they fear the stigma of being diagnosed with dementia, or both. Several studies document that LGBT elders access essential services, including visiting nurses, food stamps, senior centers, and meal plans, much less frequently than the general aging population.

The Institute of Medicine identified the following pressing health issues for LGBT people: lower rates of accessing care (up to 30 percent); increased rates of depression; higher rates of obesity in the lesbian population; higher rates of alcohol and tobacco use; higher risk factors of cardiovascular disease for lesbians; and higher incidents of HIV/AIDS for gay and bisexual men. Risk factors for heart disease — including diabetes, tobacco use, high blood pressure and high cholesterol — are also risk factors for Alzheimer’s and stroke-related dementia.

Among the recommendations for organizations and service providers, the Alzheimer’s Association and SAGE suggest:

  • Expand your definition of family.
  • Educate yourself and your staff on LGBT cultural competency.
  • Find or create support groups specifically for LGBT people.
  • Partner with local LGBT community groups and political organizations.
  • Help LGBT people and their families with legal and financial planning.
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