Is it too Stiff?

You know that if you don’t change the oil in your car or try to run it without fuel it’s really not going to do it a lot of good and, sooner or later, the engine will just pack up; our bodies are the most sophisticated machine on the planet so we need to make sure that we are running them on exactly the right kind of fuel.

Throughout our lives we will experience aches and pains; an over energetic session in the bedroom or too many hours spent bopping away on 4 inch heels but, as we get older, we may notice that they occur more frequently and with seemingly less cause. We will have wear an tear on our joints after years of use or it may be that we have a touch of arthritis which causes stiffness, joint pain and inflammation. Fortunately there are a few things we can do to keep our joints well oiled and moving freely.

If we are carrying extra weight, that can exacerbate the problem as we will be putting strain on already stressed joints so maintaining a healthy weight is really important but as well as thinking about how much we put into our bodies, we also need to think about what we put in. You know that if you don’t change the oil in your car or try to run it without fuel it’s really not going to do it a lot of good and, sooner or later, the engine will just pack up; our bodies are the most sophisticated machine on the planet so we need to make sure that we are running them on exactly the right kind of fuel.

Omega 3 foods are great at reducing inflammation so try introducing some of these foods into your diet:

Walnuts, oily fish such as salmon and flax seeds (which you can add to cereal) are all great sources.

 Also make sure that you eat plenty of anti-oxidant foods; load up on fruit and veggies and try to stay away from foods that will make matters worse such as those containing a lot of sugar and anything that’s refined or processed – fresh and natural is really the best way forward.

If we are suffering from aches and pains, we may be tempted to spend the day in bed or in a chair in front of the television but that may be the worst thing that we can do. We need to make sure that we keep our bodies moving to try and increase our muscle strength and our flexibility and also to take our minds off the discomfort that we may be feeling. If our minds aren’t distracted and we focus on the pain, we will become tense and anxious which will only make the pain worse. Think about it, if you had a bad headache and then someone came rushing in and told you that you’d won the lottery, how long do you think the headache would last? You probably wouldn’t give it another thought would you?

Gentle walking and swimming will get your blood circulating and your joints moving and over time you can speed up and increase distances, all the while increasing your fitness levels and improving your muscle tone. You can also think about exercises that will increase your flexibility:

The stretches that form part of both yoga and Pilates are really great for loosening off those muscles and joints and the poses will help to build strength. As with any new exercise, find a really good teacher and, if you have any health concerns at all, check with your doctor before signing up.

There are also some roots, herbs and spices that you could consider.

download (15)Ginger is a natural anti-inflammatory and can work wonders for those suffering from arthritis. Try adding a few slices of raw ginger to hot water to make a tea or use in cooking to spice up your evening meal.

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Turmeric contains curcumin which is claimed to reduce inflammation, pain and joint stiffness. You can use in cooking but you can also buy as a supplement in capsule form from any good health food shop. (If your skin could do with a boost you can also use it, mixed with yoghurt, as a great facepack!)

You can also try burdock root, liquorice and nettles and try replacing your normal brew with a cup of green tea every day and see what a difference that can make to you.

We all might get a little stiffer with age but that doesn’t mean we can’t carry on with our lives or that we have to stop looking after our bodies. As Ian McKellan said: “I am lucky, I don’t have aches and pains. I do Pilates regularly, which is a series of stretching exercises, and I recommend it to anyone of my age because the temptation is not to exercise when you get older. Well, you should”

Pump it Up

This wonderfully inspiring man shows how building strength in our bodies can help to keep our minds and our spirits strong. He has cancer but he is determined to keep it at bay by working out. He trains with and motivates a guy who is 87 years old and, as he says, “It’s never too late to start working out”

 

A big shout out to all the guys who want to trade their family pack for a six pack:

What puts you off going to the gym? Is it the fact that you’ll be sharing it with lycra clad beauties and hunks who obviously don’t need to be there? Do you feel that the gym is only for twenty somethings? Maybe it’s just the fact that it looks like bloody hard work?

Well, yes there are going to be people there who look like they don’t need to be but that’s simply because they have spent so long there in the first place; to create a toned and muscular body takes time and dedication but the results that you can achieve are certainly worth it.  Don’t forget, we don’t just build muscle when we work out, we also strengthen our hearts and bones as well as keeping down our weight and body fat. Exercise that tests us and pushes our bodies is also a great way to relieve stress which means that we will then worry less and sleep better which will, in turn, give us a greater sense of well-being.

gym equipmentSaying that, the first time in a gym can be intimidating, you might feel as though everyone is looking at you as you go round with your instructor who introduces you to machines that, at first glance, look like instruments of torture. There will be a lot of information to take in and you might feel a little bit overwhelmed by it all but, it’s like anything else, you will learn over time. In my experience, because gyms are places where everyone is there because of a common interest, it’s really easy to get help if you need it; people are usually more than willing to give you the benefit of their experience if you ask. Consequently you very quickly get a sense of belonging and will probably make new friends too.

You will also find, if you combine your workouts with a healthy diet, that you’ll see results pretty quickly; you’ll notice that your body changes shape and you’ll begin to develop muscles where you didn’t even know you had places ;O) For this reason alone it’s easy to keep motivated and to keep working towards improving your physical condition. If you chose to work with a personal trainer you’ll find that you’ll see any even more rapid change as they will work out a programme tailored especially for you.

As for gyms just being a place for twenty somethings, check out the guy in this video; he looks a hundred times better at 50 than he did at 40! The hard work that he has obviously put in at the gym has paid off big time – at age 49 he was adopted as the ‘poster boy’ for the MegaGym Group. His dedication to transforming his body is proof that you don’t need to be a teenager to start working out.

Maybe you used to work out when you were younger but just reached a point when you decided that you were too old to continue? Forget that, have a look at someone who started training young and just carried on – a 69 year old Arnold Schwarzenegger show us that you don’t have to stop when you reach a certain age. His body still looks incredible and yours could too if you stop reading this and get yourself off to the gym!

This wonderfully inspiring man shows how building strength in our bodies can help to keep our minds and our spirits strong. He has cancer but he is determined to keep it at bay by working out. He trains with and motivates a guy who is 87 years old and, as he says, “It’s never too late to start working out”

Many in the medical world are right behind the idea of working out to help reduce the risk of illness but also to reduce the symptoms of chronic illness. There is also research to show that regular exercise can reverse the aging process. The author of a recent study, Larry Tucker, claims that there is a definite link between physical activity and aging at a cellular level so if you want to live younger it’s time to get off the couch and get in the gym….

 

Length Matters

They may not have found the elixir of life just yet but there is no doubt that the scientific community is working hard towards it.

 

Our bodies really are the most advanced piece of engineering in the Universe; what we can achieve, feel and experience is absolutely mind-boggling when you think about it. We even have an inbuilt repair mechanism, how awesome is that?! We are made up of around 37 trillion cells which reproduce to create new cells when old ones die, repair damaged cells and promote growth. However, every time a cell reproduces, effectively makes an identical copy of itself, telomeres at the end of our chromosomes get shorter and shorter and, once they get too short, the cell is unable to replicate itself. This means that the cell ages and is then not able to properly do the job that it’s meant to and it will eventually die. The result for us is old age and eventually death.

The guy in the video below is Bill Andrews PHD and he’s a molecular biologist and gerontologist who has spent pretty much all of his working life trying to find a ‘cure’ for aging. He says that he will achieve his aim ‘or die trying. His work centres around creating a product that will lengthen telomeres and therefore, he believes, increase life expectancy.

Scientific research into telomeres is considered to be of vital importance, so much so that, in 2009, the Nobel prize for Physiology or medicine was awarded to three American scientists who discovered telomeres.

They may not have found the elixir of life just yet but there is no doubt that the scientific community is working hard towards it.

Until someone comes up with a pill or a tonic that will stop or even reverse the aging process, what can we do to help keep our telomeres at a good length? Making sure that we get enough of the right vitamins is a sensible place to start.

Apparently there is a molecular link between Vitamin D and DNA repair which is essential to maintaining telomere length.  So, where do we find Vitamin D? Firstly, from sunlight which promotes vitamin D synthesis from cholesterol in the skin but it can also be found in certain foods such as:

Eggs, cheese and oily fish, such as mackeral, all contain vitamin D as does, love it or hate it, beef liver which also contains B vitamins, considered vitally important for natural cell replication. If you’re not a liver fan you can top up your B vitamin intake with fish such as sardines and fresh, wild caught salmon.

If we want to address DNA damage and help boost telemere length we should stock up on natural sources of C and E vitamins which can be found in oranges, avocados, almonds, red peppers, sweet potatoe and spinach.

These foods, as well as being rich in the vitamins believed to influence telomere length, also form the basis of a healthy and natural diet; combine this with a good exercise programme and stress reducing meditation and you could live better, younger and maybe even longer.

 

 

Self Repair: ON

there are many natural remedies we can use which have the added benefit of no side-effects, unlike many drug treatments.

“We have finally started to notice that there is real curative value in local herbs and remedies. In fact, we are also becoming aware that there are little or no side effects to most natural remedies, and that they are often more effective than Western medicine”. Anne Wilson Schaef

It’s natural that, as we get older, we may get more aches, pains and ailments but that doesn’t mean that we need to take root in the local doctor’s surgery; there are many natural remedies we can use which have the added benefit of no side-effects, unlike many drug treatments.

Take something like a touch of arthritis, common in many middle aged people; we get some pain and reach for the nearest bottle of pills, typically an anti-inflammatory such as ibuprofen. Unfortunately, this group of medicines, known as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, can have a number of side effects, some quite mild such as headaches, nausea, stomach pain, changes in bowel movements and heartburn but, especially with prolonged use, they can also cause stomach ulcers, blood clots and high blood pressure. Although pills are an easy and quick acting option there are also natural anti-inflammatories that Mother Nature has been kind enough to give to us:

 Curcumin which is found in turmeric is a naturally occurring anti-inflammatory and you can find it easily in big super markets or health food stores. Mix a teaspoonful with hot water to make a tea and drink twice a day; if you’re not keen in the taste, add in a spoonful of honey.  download (16)

Ginger is another natural alternative to ibuprofen. Take a piece of fresh ginger root about half the size of your thumb and then slice, crush the slices a little to break them down and then add to hot water; let it stand for 10 minutes or so and then drink up. If you’re a juicing fan, you can also add raw ginger to orange and carrots……

Adding shitake mushrooms to our diet is another great way to discourage inflammation in our bodies and the same applies to fatty fish such as salmon.Fresh-salmon-with-spices-and-lemons-1030x686

Another common ailment in older people is high blood pressure which can lead to some serious health problems; medicines are available to treat it but side effects can include stomach problems, dizziness and headaches so some dietary changes could be your first port of call:

Increase your intake of potassium, magnesium and calcium by adding white beans, greens such as spinach and kale, fresh milk and bananas to your diet. Scientific studies have also shown that eating garlic regularly can help significantly to help reduce your blood pressure.

High levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol put us at risk of serious heart problems and, unfortunately, as we get older, our LDL cholesterol levels rise so we need to do what we can to lower the bad and raise the good (HDL) and food can help with that:

When you cook or make salad dressings use Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Increase your intake of high fibre fruits such as prunes and pears

Eat more avocado and almonds both of which will help raise HDL levels and lower            LDL levels.

Avoid trans fats which are often found in processed and junk food.

Ultimately there will be times when we need to see a doctor and have our medical problems fixed but improving our diets and getting our bodies moving more will mean that our visits will be likely to be less frequent…