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Oranges vs OJ

Good morning and Happy Monday! How was your weekend? Did you manage to fit in some exercise? How was your motivation in the cold temperatures?

Speaking of cold, now that the temperature has dropped a few degrees, it will be important to try to avoid winter colds.  A lot of people reach for orange juice to boost their Vitamin C intake.  However drinking juice is not necessarily the best way of increasing your Vitamin C.
 
Instead, increase your fluid intake, eat more vegetables that are high in Vitamin C (particularly red peppers, kale and broccoli) and sleep more to help prevent colds.
 
Fruit juice is often in debate about whether it is healthy or not, especially for those trying to lose weight.  If you want to lose weight or are struggling to keep consistent weight loss, the best advice I can give you is to avoid fruit juice.  Fruit juices are high-carbohydrate and high-sugar. Even though they’re “good for you” there are better sources of nutrients with much less sugar (or none at all).  Eat fruit and vegetables, don’t drink them.  

But why is orange juice not ideal to be having regularly?
 
The key issue is a lack of fibre. When we eat fruit, the fibre forms a protective layer that acts as a barrier to the intestine, slowing down the absorption of sugar. The high sugar content obtained from the digestion of fruit juice can elevate your blood sugar levels, which in turn stimulate your pancreas to produce insulin. The more carbohydrates you eat at once, the higher your insulin levels are likely to increase. For example, your insulin levels will increase more after having a large banana and orange juice compared to after eating an egg and glass of milk, which is much lower in carbohydrate. Having other carbohydrates at the same time, such as a  a slice of bread or cereal, can also further increase your insulin levels.  If this blood sugar is not used for activity/body function, it may get stored as fat to use 'later'.  If you are very active or not trying to lose weight, this is not generally a problem as you are using the energy that you are consuming.

Oranges themselves are an excellent source of vitamin C, just one large orange contains a full day’s dose. Vitamin C is critical for producing white blood cells and antibodies that fight off infections; it’s also a powerful antioxidant that helps protect cells from free-radical damage and plays a key role in producing skin-firming collagen.

Oranges are also high in fiber and folate.  They contain on average:

60 calories for one, 12.5g of sugar, 3.1g fibre
116% of your recommended intake of Vitamin C.

Compare this to orange juice:
 
250ml: 125 calories, 25g of sugar, 0.6g of fibre
200% of your daily recommendation of Vitamin C.
 
Compare this to 1 slice of wholemeal bread (which people often cut out to try to reduce carbs):
 
80 calories, 15g of carbohydrates, 1.5g sugar, 2g of fibre

Please do ask me any questions at all if you want to know more.

Have a 

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Just how important is diet and exercise to improve your heart?

Good morning and Happy Wednesday! I hope you've had a great week so far. We've had a busy week here at Clinical Exercise - lots of new enquiries, lots of fab chat over on our Healthy Hearties Facebook group, a HUGE batch cooking session on Monday (fish pie, fish chowder and fish cakes - yes a lot of fish this week!) and an old client has returned from overseas and is getting restarted on his exercise programme.

This week I'm talking all about Heart Health - obviously I'm always talking about heart health but I wanted to really focus on what you can do to ensure you are reducing your risk of having future heart problems.  This is particularly relevant if you have a history of heart problems in the family or if you are recovering from a heart event or currently have a heart condition.

There are so many do's and don'ts to look after your heart - below are the top 5 things you should be doing to ensure your heart is in tip top condition.

Also, this week I have a simple exercise that you can do any time of day to tone up the back of your arms - easy!

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Looking after your heart

Cardiovascular disease (heart disease) is the world’s biggest killer, causing over 17 million deaths a year and many of these deaths are preventable through lifestyle changes.

Most people know someone or have themselves been directly affected by heart disease and a lot of times it is avoidable by changing lifestyle habits. If you've had heart problems in the past it's never to late to make improvements to improve your health for the future.

Simple changes in diet by reducing your salt intake and eliminating processed foods from your diet and trying to get a couple of hours of exercise a day can make a huge difference.
 
A healthy diet reduces the risk of coronary heart disease and prevents weight gain which puts pressure on your heart, the introduction of a healthy diet also helps to prevent further worsening of existing heart disease and it’s not too late to start eating healthily.
 
To help prevent heart disease here are five ways to change your lifestyle and take better care of your heart.

1. Follow the Mediterranean diet

A 2013 study showed the Mediterranean diet reduces the risk of coronary heart disease by 30% and prevents weight gain which puts pressure on your heart, the diet also helps to prevent further worsening of existing heart disease and it’s NEVER too late to start eating healthily. Recent attention has been drawn to the benefits of the Mediterranean diet by cardiologist Aseem Malhotra who has recently filmed the ‘Cereal Killers Movie’ about his quest to find out the secret to a long life in the Mediterranean. Check it out here.

2.  Reduce salt
 
Too much salt can cause high blood pressure, which increases the risk of developing coronary heart disease. Reduce your consumption of crisps, take aways, packaged snack foods and processed sauces. As a cardiac nurse this is one of the biggest misconceptions people have – they think if they don’t add salt to their food then their diet is low in salt.  However salt is hidden in so many things you wouldn’t even think – cans of tuna, ham, tomato paste and roasted peanuts.  Always check the label – if a serving size contains more than 10% of your daily recommended intake, avoid or reduce the amount you have.

3.  Say no to processed foods
 
There are lots of hidden saturated fats, sugars and salts in processed food, fast food and ready meals.  Even foods that may appear ‘healthy’ traditional meals such as lasagne are usually made with cheap ingredients and are laden with salt. I would strongly advise people to check the content of the ingredients of any food they buy and start cooking from scratch together – it’s more fun too!

4.  Quit smoking
 
Smokers are twice as likely as non-smokers to have heart disease with all the health issues it causes it is the most important thing you can do for your heart. Try a nicotine replacement to reduce your cravings – electronic cigarettes, patches, gum or lozenges are a great help when you’re quitting.

5.  Exercise more

The heart is the most important muscle and just a small amount of exercise will keep it functioning properly. Exercising for as little as ten minutes a day can make a huge difference. If you haven’t exercised for some time start out with gentle walking and build up – we should be aiming for a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise 5 days per week.

Aim to improve in one of the above areas each week and you’ll soon be on your way to a healthy heart.

Let me know if you have any specific questions at all!

Exercise of the week - Tricep Dips


1.  Sit up straight on the long edge of a stable, heavy chair or a bench. Your legs should be slightly extended, with your feet flat on the floor.
2. Place your hands on both sides of the bench just outside your thighs. Your palms should be down, fingertips pointing towards the floor.
3. Without moving your legs, bring your bottom forward off the bench.
4. Steadily lower yourself. Beginners: Bend your elbows 1-2 inches and push yourself back up. Advanced: When your elbows form 90˚ angles, push yourself back up to starting position.
5. Repeat up to 10 reps, rest and then repeat up to 2-3 times.

Some people find that this exercise is too much on their wrist joints. If so, you may need to change the exercise to triceps kickbacks, which we will cover in the next couple of weeks.

Do let me know if you have any questions at all!

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Travelling with a heart condition

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Travelling with a heart condition

As Christmas gets closer, a question I'm often asked is about travelling with a heart condition. Is it safe? Is there anywhere I shouldn't go? Any foods I should avoid? Can I get travel insurance? What do I do if I don't feel well? Will I be allowed to take all of my medications on the plane?

Travel can bring out all sorts of questions, concerns and anxieties and of course every person is different so often my answer is 'it depends'.

Can you answer 'yes' to all of the following:

  • Is your condition currently stable and you aren't awaiting any test results or treatment?
  • Has your doctor told you that you are safe to travel?
  • Have you been taking the same medications for a while and any side effects have reduced or stabilised?
  • Does the place you are going to have a hospital or good medical facility close to it?
  • Can you email/phone your doctor or health team if you have any questions?
  • Do you know what to do if you are going to an extreme temperature? eg hydration, keeping out of the sun etc
  • Have you told your travel insurance and will they cover you for heart related problems whilst you are away?

Here are some insurance companies that seem to cover for heart conditions - you will need to talk to them to find out more about what is included:

Some tips while you are away:

  • Pack a copy of your latest medical report with a summary of your health conditions and medications.
  • Ask your doctor if there's anything you should be aware of (or any activities you should avoid).
  • Take all of your medications in your carry-on luggage with your medical letter/list (just in case your luggage gets lost!).
  • If you are travelling to a hot country, take a few days to adjust to the warmer weather - spend the first few days in the shade and avoiding the peak of the sun (10-4pm) so that your body can adjust.
  • Keep an eye on your weight /fluid retention by looking at your ankles for any swelling, how your clothes are fitting (or your weight if there is scales).
  • If your weight seems to be increasing, you may need to take an extra diuretic or adjust the fluid you are drinking (ask your doctor before you go what you should do).
  • Increase your fluid intake based on how much you are sweating, how hot it is and how much activity you are doing - probably lots more than usual if you are out exploring!
  • Avoid too much alcohol - it's dehydrating and can affect your medications. It's easy to over-indulge on holidays but try to stick to your usual routine and don't overdo it.
  • Call your nurse/doctor if you have concerns while you are away - they are more than happy to give you some advice over the phone about what to do.
  • Relax and enjoy! It may be hard at first but the risk of any heart problems occurring while you are away is low. Try to enjoy yourself!
  • Don't forget your exercise - if you can, choose a room which has a comfortable temperature - if it is very hot, you may need to do some simple exercises in your air conditioned hotel room. Or go swimming! If you are going to a very cold country, the same principle applies - the room shouldn't be too hot/cold.

Let me know if you'd like me to put together a 'travel circuit' for you to do while you are away!

Until next time....

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How much sugar are you really eating?

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How much sugar are you really eating?

This week is all about sugar - we've been through the reasons why it's bad for you (leads to insulin resistance, fat gain inflammation and can damage the arteries), so this week I wanted you to take a little test for me. Download the app My Fitness Pal  on your phone (or you can use it on your computer)- https://www.myfitnesspal.com/.

Once you've got a profile (it's free to use), fill in your daily food and drink intake for a few days. Include sauces, condiments etc.

Here's a sample of what it looks like:

Next, take a look at the breakdown - go into the 'nutrition' section and have a look at the breakdown. Click on 'nutrients' and it will give you a breakdown of how much protein, carbohydrate, sugar and fat you are consuming. 

For the purpose of today just look at the sugar - what does it say? Your profile will set a target range of sugar for you to be having each day. Are you close to your target or way over? Have a look at the foods that may be the culprit - it's not always as obvious as avoiding sugar in your tea and not eating chocolate. Here is a list of products which are high in sugar which you may have thought were 'healthy':

  • Muesli or granola (aim for one that has less than 15g of sugar per 100g)
  • Yoghurt (aim for less than 5g of sugar per 100g)
  • Juice (can contain up to 25g of sugar in a small glass)
  • Sauces especially sweet chilli and tomato sauce
  • Dressings - particularly ones that are fat free
  • Baked beans - the second ingredient is often sugar!
  • Pre made meals - even the 'healthy' ones can contain a lot of added sugar

So you see how easy it is to add up. Have a look at the ingredients on the foods you buy - check out if sugar is on the ingredients list. The higher up the list (i.e. if it's in the top 5 ingredients) then it is usually high in sugar.

Try to avoid as much added sugar as you can. There's nothing good to say about it! Stick to foods that are unprocessed and still in their 'natural' form. Vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds, lean proteins and some good fats like avocado, olive oil etc. If you are worried about your food lacking flavour then try adding chilli, herbs, pepper, pesto etc to liven things up.

Check out this website for more ideas on how to reduce sugar:
https://iquitsugar.com/recipe/

Until next time....

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Running with a heart condition

Good morning and happy Wednesday! I can't believe we are more than half way through November already. Oh and apparently there are only 5 Mondays until Christmas. Who's counting! There are a few problems with this:

A) I haven't bought any presents yet
B) I have no idea what to buy
C) When I did attempt to go shopping the other day I wandered aimlessly not having any inspiration at all.

There must be something to be said about last minute shopping panic mode - it forces you to get your act together! Anyway I'm off tonight for a special 20% off sale at a big department store nearby - let's hope there's hardly anyone there and I don't end up simply buying things for myself.....Fat chance of either happening?!

I digress. This week I want to talk all about running. As you may know, I love running. Having done a few marathons, a lot of trots down the river and back and a few ParkRuns(check it out if you haven't heard of it - BRILLIANT free run every Saturday morning all around the world!).

Running when you have a heart condition can be scary, overwhelming and something that you may think can never happen again. However this isn't the case. If you have been given the ok from your consultant to exercise again, there is no reason that you can't safely build up your fitness (both body and heart) to be able to jog/run again. So you may not be the fastest anymore (who needs to be) but if it's what you enjoy, then let's try to get back out there!

The below also applies if you haven't exercised for a while and would like to ease back into running.

By the way, don't forget to join my brand new group - Healthy Hearties! It has tips/advice/feedback from others who have a heart or health condition. We've almost got 100 members already in just 2 weeks! 

Below I've put the key things to focus on when getting back into running with a heart condition. Remember to always check with your doctor to find out what level of exercise is safe for you.

The following tips are relevant to anyone who would like to improve their running, for those who do and don't have a heart condition. After all, training smarter can definitely help us all!

The below focuses on an aerobic workout. This means that you body is able to use oxygen as it's fuel source. This allows enough oxygen to get to your muscles without reducing the oxygen available to the heart (our main priority).

If you feel out of breath, have any sensation of pain or feel uncomfortable, please slow down, rest and either try another time or see your doctor for more advice.

1.  Always perform a warm up - this applies to walking as an exercise as well as running. To do a proper warm up:

  • Allow at least 10-15 minutes at the beginning of your workout.
  • Start out at a slow walking pace - slower than your normal walking speed (or start by marching on the spot).
  • After about 5 minutes, bring the speed up to your normal (comfortable) walking speed.
  • After 10 minutes, begin to walk at a faster pace, slighter faster than before.
  • After 15 minutes, walk at a faster speed and swing your arms in exaggerated movements by your sides.  You are now ready to begin the jogging section (or stick with the faster walking speed until you feel ready to add some jogging in).

2.  Watch your intensity. You can do this in a few ways:

  • Do the talk test - at the beginning of your warm up you should be able to talk in full sentences.
  • By the end of your warm up, you should still be able to have a conversation and be able to say 7-8 words at a time without pausing for breath.
  • For the jogging component you should be able to say at least 5-6 words without pausing for breath (we are focusing on aerobic exercise so will not be pushing it any harder than this). If you are alone try singing to make sure you aren't working too hard!
  • Get a heart rate monitor. These can act as a great tool to monitor the intensity of your workout. Your individual heart rate is based on your age, medications and genetics so I can't give you the exact heart rate to target. As a rough guide, your heart rate at the end of your warm up, when you are feeling like you are working fairly hard but can still say at least 5-6 words, is about 60% (6/10 effort) of your maximum heart rate zone. Ideally you wouldn't go above 70% (7/10 effort) when you are working aerobically as this starts to reduce the oxygen available. Here is the one that I use with all of my one to one clients: Polar FT7 or Polar FT4. If you want one that does the distance travelled it will need to have a GPS and thus becomes more expensive. Here is a Garmin one that is highly rated.

3.   Build up the jogging gradually. If you haven't run for a while, you will need to start with a walk/jog/walk method. Here's how:

  • Complete your 15 minute warm up.
  • When you feel ready, start your first jog. It doesn't matter how fast it is, just pick the feet up and move a bit quicker than your walk. It is better to start out slow than to sprint and run out of energy. You are aiming to work at about 6-7/10 (10 being an all out sprint).
  • Aim for 20-30 seconds of jogging.
  • Slow back down to a walk and recover until you feel ready to jog again. This may take a few minutes, so take as long as you need.
  • Repeat. For your first few jogs, you may want to stick with 2 or 3 jogging sets. Build it up gradually over the weeks.
  • Eventually, you will feel more comfortable to increase the amount of time jogging and reduce the amount of time walking in between. There is no rush to do this, only when you feel ready.
  • Your goal is to complete slightly more each week, unless you are feeling unwell, tired etc. In which case it is better to complete the exercise walking and get some rest, coming back out when you feel better.
  • For some their goal may be to be able to jog for 5 minutes without stopping. Others may want to build up to running 5km, 10km etc. It is all dependent on your personal goals and how able your heart is to cope with the increased demands. For some their fitness will increase very gradually, other may see an improvement quite quickly.

4.  Stay close to home. This means that if you get tired you are never too far away. Also, tell someone what your plans are and what route you plan to go.

5.  Always cool down. Take at least 10-15 minutes to reverse the warm up - start by walking briskly at the end of your jogging, gradually slowing the pace until you are walking very slowly by the time you finish. This is a crucial step that is often overlooked. It is essential to ensure that blood in the muscles is returned to the circulation, waste products created from the muscles are moved into the lymph to be cleared and to return the heart rate towards its resting rate gradually, helping to prevent arrhythmias. 

6.  Stretch!!!  Often forgotten, never should be. Stretching helps to release the muscle fibres that have tightened whilst you were exercising. This helps to reduce muscle soreness and prevent injury the next time you exercise.

Don't exercise if you:

  1. Feel unwell
  2. Have a fever
  3. Have very high blood pressure - it needs to be under control/treated first
  4. Have unstable angina
  5. Are waiting for test results or treatment

All of the above is based on an average. Please do get in touch if you'd like more information specific to you. Don't forget to ask your doctor for clearance before starting any new exercise programme.

Kind regards,

Angela Hartley

Cardiac Specialist Nurse, Exercise Coach

Please note that the information provided is a guide only and does not take into account your individual circumstances. Please seek advice from a medical professional before commencing any exercise programme or new diet.

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Can Trump at least fix the obesity crisis?

What a night/morning - big news across the world today and what an interesting few years ahead for all of us. 

One thing I was interested in was what Trump's policy on health and the obesity crisis in the US and what he proposes to help turn the problem around.

Hmmm... it's not looking good for this side of things. At the moment, the US spends almost $322 billion every year on treating Type 2 diabetes. And that’s for a single disease that’s almost entirely preventable through a healthier diet and lifestyle (http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/statistics/infographics/adv-staggering-cost-of-diabetes.html).

Trump does not have a policy or plan on tackling the obesity or diabetes problem, in fact, he doesn't really have a plan on improving the health of the US at all. In questions that he's been asked about health, Trump has stated he supports mass meat production regardless of the treatment/health of the animals, doesn't mind GMO food and believes global warming is a made up phenomenon - he tweeted 'The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.'  Also, he doesn't know much about obesity, blaming poor genetics and lack of exercise(rather than the poor diet that a lot of Americans eat). 


Let's hope that we can spread the message about how to improve health so that people can take control of their own, as it doesn't look like much will change for the better in this department for a while!

It's not easy, but the key message we need to be teaching the world is: eat mostly fresh, natural foods that having been altered by processing. Limit meat to a few servings per week, drink plenty of water, avoid foods with artificial colours/flavours/sweeteners and exercise regularly. Sounds simple but can be a big challenge when our habits have been one way for so long. 

What do you think?

Food of the week

This week's 'Fruit of the Week' is the Clementine.

A clementine is often just thought of as a small orange, but they are a fruitlike no other!  The small fruit's size makes it a comfortable fit inside a handbag or a packed lunch, there are no seeds and they are easy to peel.  Out of the refrigerator, a clementine lasts for two to three days, so you can leave a few in your office or on your table and they are less messy than an orange, making it an easy snack. 

They are also packed full of nutritional benefits such as….

  • A Clementine contains a good amount vitamin C, which is necessary for the production of collagen, a structural compound throughout the body, from the skin to the bones.  Vitamin C helps to transport fat to cells to convert it to energy and even helps convert cholesterol into bile, which can play a role in protecting one from heart disease and gall stones.  Since humans cannot produce their own vitamin C within the body, we need to consume it from an outside source.
  •  Clementines also contain calcium, which is necessary for muscle contraction and bone growth
  • Clementines are also a source of potassium, but contain much less sugar than a banana
  • They also contain only 35 calories each so make a great snack.  Try having one with a handful of cashews for full healthy snack status

HEART FACT OF THE WEEK
WHAT IS YOUR HEART AGE?


Here is a handy calculator to assess your 'heart age' - it adds up your risk factors for developing heart disease or stroke and gives you an age based on your health.

Let me know if it says you are much younger or older than your 'real' age - if it's older than we can look at ways of bringing your heart age down.

Click HERE to take the test.  Let me know your score!

 

Have a great week! Please let me know if you have any questions at all.

Kind regards,

Angela Hartley

Cardiac Specialist Nurse, Nutritionist, Exercise Coach

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Week 3 & 4 of Mike's journey - let's catch up with him!

First - a set back. Last week Mike had a follow up appointment with the Electrophysiologist who performed his ablation. Mike was worried that he was still having several runs of atrial fibrillation (AF). His consultant confirmed from Mike's AliveCor readings (a nifty little gadget you can use at home to measure your heart rate) that he was having several runs of AF every week.

Read more about Mike's journey up until now - Week 1, Week 2.

The good news - this is normal in the weeks after an ablation. Often the heart takes several weeks to settle down and may in fact never stay in sinus rhythm completely. The difficulty with AF is the unpredictability of it - some patients have no symptoms at all, some feel rubbish.

Mike doesn't feel rubbish for our exercise sessions - he's motivated to just 'get on with it'. We start this week with a longer warm up - when you are in AF exercise can feel more difficult and thus a long warm up can help the heart to prepare for exercise much better.  Keeping an eye on Mike's breathing, we were able to complete 9 different exercises - a combination of lower body and upper body. By alternating between an arm and a leg exercise, it means we don't need to rest as much as legs rest whilst the arms are working and vice versa.

This week Mike completed over 40 minutes of exercise without stopping and without feeling breathless. Add this to his homework that he's been sticking to - walking every day and a couple of games of golf last month and he is getting on track to improving his fitness.

Next week we will aim to increase the amount of cardio that Mike completes in one go - our end target is 30 minutes so each week we will add a few minutes until he is able to sustain 30 minutes of continuous cardio work.

Mike thought he couldn't exercise again - he's proven himself wrong week after week. Although it seems like a long road, after 4 weeks he is already doing 40 minutes of exercise in one go - way more than he thought possible!

Follow/Like us on Facebook to get regular updates on Mike's progress! 

Yours in health,

Angela Hartley

Team Leader of the Healthy Hearties!

Read more about our programmes here.

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Tea on the green...

Good morning and Happy Wednesday!

I hope you are having a great week so far. Did you watch the US Presidential Debate? What did you think? Staying up until 3am watching it was certainly different to my usual choice of television (Grey's Anatomy, Home and Away, Location Location Location). Yes guilty of watching rubbish so thought I'd try to understand more about the Presidential race. I still don't understand it! Seems to have become a media race to see who has more 'pizazz' more than anything. Let me know if you predict Trump to win and what you predict will happen if he does! To use some of Trump's fabulous words - I'm not trying to be Bragalicious but I'm getting really busy! Do speak to me if you'd like some extra support with your exercise or nutrition. I'd love to help you in a Bigly way. Isn't he just great for entertainment value?!

This week's I am talking all about green tea and it's benefits. I've also put in a great exercise for your arms and of course the Heart Fact of the Week.

Have a fab week and keep sending me your ideas please!

 

Food of the week

Green tea

This week's 'Food of the Week' is actually a drink – Green Tea.

All types of tea come from the camellia sinensis plant.  The differences stem from the way the leaves are dried and processed.  The key active ingredients in green tea leaves are called flavonoids; they belong to the catechin family, which is a powerful antioxidant.     

In some tests, catechins were found to be more powerful than vitamins C and E in halting oxidative damage to cells and appear to have other disease-fighting properties.  

Additional benefits include:

  1. May bring down your heart disease and cancer risk: Green tea’s powerful antioxidants have been found to reduce some types of lung cancer, prostate cancer, skin cancer, stroke and heart attack risks. To add an extra boost, squeeze in a lemon — the vitamin C helps your body absorb more of the antioxidants.
  2. Lower your cholesterol and blood pressure: Three cups a day has been shown to help bring down blood pressure and cholesterol when used in combination with a healthy diet.
  3. Help you lose weight faster. Drink a cup before your workout and you might boost your fat burn. Studies suggest that the caffeine frees fatty acids so you can burn fat more easily. The tea’s antioxidants might also work together with the caffeine to help you burn more calories.
  4. Prevent arthritis. Imbibing green tea daily might help keep your joints healthy, preliminary research suggests.
  5. Keep allergies at bay. Japanese researchers found that the compound EGCG (the same one that might fight hepatitis C) found in green tea may help stop your body from reacting to allergens like pollen, pet dander and dust.
  6. Less caffeine than coffee:  One cup of green tea contains around 25mg of caffeine compared to 100-150mg per cup of coffee.

In all of the studies on green tea, the tea-drinking group were consuming 3-5 cups per day.  This may be difficult to achieve, so start with one cup per day and work up to replacing a few teas or coffees with green tea throughout the week.  If you aren't sure about the taste, try adding a squeeze of lemon.

A note about medications:
 

Blood Thinning Medications (Including Aspirin) -- People who take warfarin, a blood thinning medication, should not drink green tea. Since green tea contains vitamin K, it can make warfarin less effective. Meanwhile, you should not mix green tea and aspirin because they both prevent platelets from clotting. Using the two together may increase your risk of bleeding.
https://nccih.nih.gov/health/greentea

 

Exercise of the Week

Seated Row

The seated row is one of the most effective exercises for targeting your back muscles.  Because this exercise is a compound exercise, involving more than one joint, it also activates several other muscles as well.  The main muscles you will activate include your erector spinae in your lower back, your middle and lower trapezius in your upper back, your rhomboids and latissimus dorsi in your middle back and your teres major in your outer back. You will also strengthen your shoulder muscles, your biceps and your chest.

How to perform:

  1. Sit on a chair or bench with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground.  Use either a resistance band around a pole (or have someone hold the middle of the band for you) or a cable machine if you have access to a gym.
  2. Keep your back straight and hold one handle in each hand with your palms facing each other and thumbs wrapped around the handles. Your armsshould be straight and your shoulders pulled back and down.
  3. Engage your core and abdominal muscles. Keep the spine as tall and straight as possible.
  4. Pull the handles towards you, bending at the elbows until the handles reach your sides. Keep your elbows close to your body. Do not lean back from the hips, arch your back or shrug your shoulders during your pull.
  5. Squeeze the shoulder blades together at the end of the movement.
  6. Slowly straighten your elbows to return to starting position. Do not allow your torso to round or your shoulders to shift forward.
  7. Repeat 10-12 times and perform 3 sets.

et me know if you have any questions at all.

Have a great week!

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Week 2 with Mike!

His heart approves!

His heart approves!

Welcome to our Week 2 update all about Mike, who has started his new exercise regime and has a new bounce in his step after just one week. That's what more confidence can do for you and I'm so happy that he's feeling much more positive this week.

If you missed week 1 and want to know more about why Mike has started training with me (he has AF) and what the Week 1 assessment looked like, click HERE to read all about it.

Last week's homework for Mike was pretty straightforward, all he had to do was wear a step counter every day for a week and then I would take a look at what his 'everyday' activity levels looked like. This is the step counter I always recommend as it's cheap, the battery lasts for ages and it stores 7 days worth of steps.

The steps that Mike had done over the last week really varied. On sunday when it rained all day, he did 2000 steps, however on Tuesday which was a beautiful day, he hit 11,000! The average over the entire week was 7000, which is a great start and means that Mike is actually much more active than he thought. Mike's target to hit over the coming weeks is a daily average of 10,000. It is different for every person, however I believe that 10,000 is a realistic target based on what he's already doing.

For this week's session, we didn't need to do any big assessments or lots of talking - although there is always lots of questions from me throughout! We did a quick blood pressure and heart rate check and I looked at Mike's AliveCor readings for the last week. AliveCor is a fabulous little machine that you stick to your iphone and it can tell you what your heart rhythm is doing and whether you are in AF. They are a nifty little device and I alway recommend people with rhythm problems, particularly AF, to get one. You can buy them cheaply here.

Unfortunately the AliveCor showed that Mike has still been having regular bouts of AF. He could tell when he was in AF as he felt more tired and had less motivation to do things. This is one of the common complaints of AF - as the heart has to work harder to pump blood around the body, and the heart rate is higher than normal, it makes you feel more tired, like you've been running a marathon all day!For Mike his AF spontaneously came and went. We looked at some common triggers (alcohol, caffeine, stress) however he couldn't say one particular thing set it off.

Mike was in AF during our session. This means that he can still exercise, however the most important thing is we keep an eye out for his energy levels, his breathing and his blood pressure. It is safe to exercise when in AF and in fact, just walking around doing your every day activity is exercise, so don't lose hope that you can do more!

We started out slowly, getting warmed up for 10 minutes before moving on to some great exercises for the lower body. The legs have the biggest muscles in the body, so by building leg muscle, it helps to burn more body fat, supports the whole body, gives you more energy when out walking and makes the body feel stronger and improves your posture.

During the session, if Mike became uncomfortable with his breathing, we slowed things down without stopping. This meant that he could catch his breath, feel more comfortable and then increase again. We aimed to build up to working at an intensity of 6 out of 10, with 10 being the maximum effort he could imagine. A 6 should feel like you are working but comfortable. 

I always encourage people to leave some 'fuel in the tank' and so we never aim to finish a session exhausted. It's important that they can get on with their day and complete their normal every day activities without feeling wiped out.

This week's homework is to replicate the session we did once over the next week, as well as aiming to walk an average of 7500 steps every day. I've reminded Mike that if he feels tired, he should always choose rest over pushing himself and can always do something the following day. 

Next week: we aim to build up to 35 minutes of exercise and will add in some upper body exercises that he can do without any equipment at home.

Making exercise realistic is all part of the fun, there's no point having fancy equipment if you hate using it!

Making exercise realistic is all part of the fun, there's no point having fancy equipment if you hate using it!

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An easy morning detox for your liver and energy levels

Good morning and Happy Wednesday! I hope you are having a great week so far. I've had lots of requests for future newsletters this week - which milk is best? Is cheese ok to eat? What is AF? Are e-cigarettes bad for you? Keep the ideas coming as that's how I get my ideas to do research for each newsletter.

This week is all about an easy morning detox routine you can start and all about what Atrial Fibrillation (AF) is.

Enjoy! Keep you suggestions and questions coming.

p.s If you want daily updates about the latest in health and fitness, as well as up to date facts about the heart, follow us on Facebook HERE (click Like to get our updates).

Food of the week
Apple cider vinegar

For years my friend has been taking apple cider vinegar regularly and as I was visiting this week I noticed it again in her kitchen.  She swears it has helped improve her skin as well as reduced her knee pain so this week I have been looking into how and why it may help.
 
Apple cider vinegar contains several minerals including magnesiumphosphorus,calcium and potassium.  

It has been found that mineral deficiency can worsen joint pain, so a diet rich in essential minerals is an important step to relieving the pain of arthritis. The potassium in cider vinegar may be especially beneficial because it works to prevent acid build-up in the joints, which is linked to joint stiffness.
 
Apple cider vinegar is also rich in beneficial enzymes and acids that improve digestive health. Taking a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar before a meal will encourage proper digestion of food and absorption of nutrients. This is vitally important for those with arthritis or any digestion issues, as poor digestion can lead to deficiencies in minerals and other nutrients. These nutrients are crucial for joint health, so it is imperative that the body be capable of absorbing and using them. With apple cider vinegar, this is made possible even if you have arthritis.
 
Studies suggest that joint pain and arthritis may be linked to toxins accumulating in the joints, since metabolic waste is often stored in connective tissues. At the same time, people with joint pain tend to shun activities that might trigger more pain, and the lack of movement may cause toxins to build-up even more. The pectin in apple cider vinegar helps absorb toxins and move them out of the system, while the acids in cider vinegar work to purify and detoxify the entire body.
 
Unfortunately there has been no concrete scientific research that proves apple cider vinegar helps with joint pain however most doctors conclude that it will not cause any harm and may have a placebo effect. So why not!

 

This is the one that I use - I bought it from a health food shop.

This is the one that I use - I bought it from a health food shop.

How to Use Apple Cider

All of the benefits of apple cider vinegar can only be achieved with vinegar that is organic, raw, unfiltered and unprocessed. Your apple cider vinegar should be ruddy-colored with a noticeable amount of residue floating around in the bottle. This is the natural accumulation of beneficial enzymes and nutrients.
 
The simplest way to incorporate apple cider vinegar into your diet is to mix 1-3 teaspoons in a glass of water three times per day, preferably just before meals. You can sweeten the drink with a small amount of honey if you like. 

I'll be honest, the taste isn't amazing, but it tastes....healthy! Mix it with a bit of water and down it like a shot - gets it out of the way!

 

Interactions to be aware of

Apple cider vinegar interacts with the following medications in large doses so be cautious if you take the following:
Digoxin, insulin, diuretics.

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