Archive for the ‘health’ Category

Grooming, health, Lifestyle

Review: Philips Sonicare DiamondClean

By Laura on January 1st, 2012

Philips recently released The Sonicare DiamondClean, a £250 toothbrush, but is it worth it? Read on to find out.

The Sonicare DiamondClean is probably one of the most techy toothbrushes I have ever come across, its packed with teeth cleaning features and even looks good.

The bush has a long oblong handle that features a power/mode select button and an illuminated display to indicate which of the brush’s five cleaning modes you’re currently using, in addition to battery charge levels. The five cleaning modes are designed to target specific areas of your mouth, allowing you to specialize your brushing with settings such as gum care or the whitening mode. Th brush has been clinically proven to remove up to four times more plaque than a manual toothbrush, increase gum health in only two weeks and whiten your teeth in as little as one! In addition it has an impressive rechargeable lithium-polymer battery, which is good for 3 weeks of regular usage from a single overnight charge.

Tech aside, the DiamondClean looks great on your bathroom shelf. The brush comes with an eye-catching silver travel case and a nicely cut glass tumbler with a silver base unit that it rests in all while wirelessly charging.

Using an inductive charging system similar to that found in Powermat chargers, simply placing the brush into the glass resting on the base unit (with the base unit plugged into a wall socket) charges the DiamondClean. With the green-lined travel case, it’s a similar principle, lying the toothbrush down inside rather than standing it up, and connecting the case via a USB connection on a PC or laptop to charge the brush. A useful feature for those who travel a lot.

After only one use of the DiamondClean I was a fan. My teeth as clean as they do after a visit to the dentist. For those not use to using an electric toothbrush Philips have cleverly designed the brush to ramp up the intensity of the cleaning cycle progressively after your first few brushes, letting you get used to the brush gradually. While testing out the brush I generally stuck to the default “Clean” setting. In this mode the DiamondClean uses a 2 minute “Smartimer”, automatically switching off after you’ve brushed for the recommended 120 seconds. In addition it will stop the motor for a split-second at 30 second intervals to help you better judge when to move onto a new area in your mouth. It’s a great way of making sure you’ve done a thorough job. After only a few weeks of using the brush I noticed my teeth look notably whiter and my mouth felt fresh.



features, health

Stay healthy this winter: get your vitamin D

By Laura on October 11th, 2011

With the winter months getting ever closer, we know how tempting it is to slip into hibernation mode. Baggy clothes, comfort food and general avoidance of the outdoors… let’s admit it, we’ve all been there. And If like us you, work in an office tied to your desk all day, falling into this routine is not hard.

So to keep you motivated over the winter we will be doing a series of features of tips and products to keep you in top shape. To kick off the series, we spoke to nutritionist and author, Fiona Kirk to get the low down on how you can stay focused and energetic.

Her advice – get your vitamins, especially vitamin D.

Vitamin D has become one of the most researched and positively-publicised vitamins over the past few years and for good reason. It seems that hardly a week goes by without another study highlighting a new benefit. Most of us already know about its role in helping to form and maintain strong bones by aiding the absorption of calcium, but it appears that thi bone-strengthener may also be a brain-sharpener.

Fiona pointed us to one recent study which compared the cognitive performance of more than 3,000 men between the ages of 40 and 79 and found that the men with the highest levels of vitamin D showed the best cognitive function. In fact, the men with higher levels of vitamin D performed consistently better in a simple neuropsychological test that documents an individual’s attention and speed of information processing.

Vitamin D is primarily synthesised in the skin after exposure to sunshine. It was previously thought that as little as 5-10 minutes of sun exposure on arms, legs and face 3 times a week without sunscreen between 11am and 2pm during the spring, summer and autumn months should provide a light-skinned individual with adequate vitamin D and allow for storage of excess for use during the winter with minimal risk of skin damage. Those with dark
skin may require twice or three times the exposure. However, a recent survey in the UK indicates that more than half the adult population are deficient and in winter around 1 in 6 people show a severe deficiency. If the body cannot produce enough vitamin D because of insufficient sunlight exposure, we need to up our levels with D-rich foods but even then we may be short.

So if you want to stay sharp and avoid winter lethargy try and get out of the office for a brisk walk at lunchtime and get plenty of D-rich foods into your day. This includes foods like canned salmon, sardines and mackerel, soya milk, yoghurt, cheese, cow’s milk, egg yolks, orange juice and cereals fortified with vitamin D.

Fiona even shared a meal plan with us designed to not only keep you on top of your game, but to help you avoid blood sugar peaks and troughs which are the enemy if you are looking to shed a few pounds and/or keep your waistline in check.

Meal Plan:

Breakfast: 2 scrambled eggs (add an extra yolk), a couple of slices of lean,
grilled bacon, grilled tomatoes and mushrooms, rye toast and a large glass of
D-fortified orange juice

Mid Morning Snack: tinned, mashed salmon on oatcakes and a latte made
with soya milk

Lunch: Bean or Lentil Soup and a big mixed salad with lots of colour topped
with a dollop of cottage cheese and mixed seeds or pine nuts

Mid Afternoon Snack: Couple of pieces of fresh fruit with a chunk of hard
cheese

Evening Meal: Very Quick Mackerel (bake a couple of smoked mackerel, skin
side down, in a medium hot oven until deliciously hot and smokey, about 4-
5 minutes) and serve with lots of roasted vegetables, drizzled with soy sauce
and sweet potato chips.

For more fitness advice check out Fiona’s latest book ‘2 Weeks in the Fast Lane’



features, Footwear, health, Sports, Sportswear

Barefoot Running: The Safe Way To Get Started

By Laura on September 19th, 2011

Last week a good friend posted a video explaining the benefit of Vibram Five Finger shoes, made entirely by fans. At first I was hugely cynical, after all they do look completely ridiculous. However, my friend is a bit of a fitness fanatic and I figured he probably had some good reasons for converting to “barefoot running.” With this in mind I began to do a little research and discovered there might actually be something to this whole Barefoot thing. Below I have put together a guide on how to get started. Personally I plan on picking up a pair to try it out for myself, but we would love to hear if any of you give it a try too.

Since the 1960s athletes have been competing in races barefooted and, with the recent increasing wave of interest in barefoot running, many people have raced to purchase minimalist shoes and jumped, quite literally, feet first into the sport. The reason being that with natural, ‘shoeless’ running, the lateral edge of the human forefoot is the part which strikes the ground with the most force. Running in padded shoes typically alters this as more emphasis is placed on the heel and the area towards the back of the foot – which has been claimed to cause more stress on the heel, knees and hips. Therefore many athletes became interested in the sport to strengthen the foot and help improve speed.

Although not strictly a shoe-less sport, there are various ways of tackling barefoot running; some runners wear specially adapted socks, some opt for running moccasins (like outdoor bedroom slippers) and some use minimalist shoes that resemble ordinary running shoes but are constructed from very thin, unpadded materials and have a flat sole with minimal tread. It isn’t, however, as simple as changing your running shoes.

It’s Not ‘Ready, Steady, Go’….

Going from padded, structured running shoes to minimalistic ones is quite a physical change for
your feet and not one which should be presumed easy or natural. It is essential that you train the foot and leg muscles gradually to run in such minimalistic shoes to help reduce injuries and lessen metatarsal stress. Due to the design of barefoot running shoes it is actually recommended that you alternate; training in barefoot shoes whilst running in your specialised running shoes. As Daniel E. Lieberman*, professor of human evolutionary biology at Harvard University states, “If you’ve been a heel-striker all your life you have to transition slowly to build strength in your calf and foot muscles.”

Choosing Your Minimalist Shoes

The first consideration when choosing your first pair of minimalist running shoes is the thickness, or profile, of the sole and heel as you want your feet to immediately sense and communicate to your brain the type of terrain you are on, adapting to a natural running style. Avoid shoes which have a built up heel as these encourage you to over point your toes when running, which could lead to foot damage.

Secondly, think about the flexibility of the sole and check there is no arch support. Barefoot running is all about training your foot arch to naturally flatten so a stiff sole and arch support will only preventing the muscles from acting in this way. A good way to test this is by seeing if you can twist and bend the sole of the shoe with ease. Obviously it needs to protect the sole of your foot from the environment, but flexibility allows your foot to become more familiar with the ground.

Thirdly, remember that the lighter the shoe the better. If the shoes weight is distributed unevenly
(i.e. heavier at the toe or heel) it will cause a bias tendency in the way the foot moves with the shoe and go against its natural movement.

It is advisable to go for a mid-sole level to begin with. The Nike Free Run range has a helpful 10 point number scale which helps identify the thinness of the soles – for example models with a 3 in the name will be more flexible than those with a 10 (which is the thickness of an average running shoe), making the range a good starting point for first time minimalist shoe buyers. Alternatively, Saucony have the Kinvara or Mirage shoes which are also mid-point shoes.

For the more extreme, hardened barefoot runner, the Saucony Hattori shoe claims to be Saucony’s lightest general purpose running shoe ever, or try out the Vibram 5 Fingers shoe which was the first of its kind on the market and the shoe of choice for many barefoot runners. Sportsshoes.com has a large range of minimalist shoes and is a good place to compare models if you are unsure.

First Steps ‘Barefoot’

As is normal before any running, stretch your hamstrings and calf muscles. Lieberman also suggests that it is a good idea to massage the arches of your feet as this helps in the breaking down of scar tissue and healing.

To begin barefoot running, it is a good idea to try it first on a hard, smooth surface such as a tennis court or running track – rather than a bumpy street. Your feet will naturally adjust to moving on this surface by forefoot striking, rather than the heel striking we tend to do in padded running shoes.During your first barefoot run do not exceed more than a quarter of a mile as your foot muscles will tire more rapidly. Leave a ‘rest day’ between each training session and remember that training your feet to run in this way will take time so build up distances by no more that 10% each week. If at any point you experience pain, stop!

Due to the focus on footwear padding and support in today’s shoes our feet have adapted to these luxuries as ‘the norm’, making barefoot running almost an unnatural, new feeling for us. Our feet have evolved to run in specialist shoes, so it will take time for them to adjust to minimalist running and they will be in discomfort to begin with. Sore, tired muscles are normal, but bone, joint, or soft-tissue pain is a signal of injury and if any of these occur, stop running immediately and see your chiropodist.

It is important that you continue to wear your padded running shoes when running long distance
or partaking in any race whilst you train your feet to run barefoot. Only when you feel 100%
comfortable running barefoot and experience no discomfort at all can you start to run in minimalist shoes more often.

Running shoe specialist Saucony highlight that minimalism is isn’t an end, it’s actually a means – and many footwear retailers agree. Brett Bannister, MD of Sportsshoes.com, believes that, “Minimalist shoes can be built into your training regime to help strengthen your feet and leg muscles, but you still need to pick the right shoes and be careful to make the transition slowly.”

Minimalist shoes are very much an excellent training aid which can be incorporated into your
running routine to great effect, but not the be-all and end-all of your running routine. Going back to basics with barefoot running is an exhilarating experience and definitely one you should embrace – just remember to play it safe!

* http://www.barefootrunning.fas.harvard.edu



features, Footwear, health, Sports, Sportswear

Get Running – Top five running tips for beginners

By Laura on July 5th, 2011

As many of you know I recently entered to take part in a triathlon…this was a massive deal for me seeing as cycling to work was about as much exercise as I was willing to do.

It’s been a few weeks now and I can officially say exercising isn’t actually as bad as I thought it was. Don’t get me wrong, I am in no way a fitness fanatic now, but have found it is definitely a great way to blow off some steam after a long day in the office.

Seeing as it is only July, there is plenty of time for you to give it a shot… maybe even sign up for a race. So to help you get started in the right direction I wanted to share the running tips the lovely experts at Sports Shoes gave me.

The Kit. Your old tennis trainers just won’t do I’m afraid. The important part of the kit is your running shoes. Ideally you should go to a running specialist to get your gait assessed. The specialists will be able to tell you what shoes are best for you so you avoid injury. Wearing the right clothing will make you more comfortable and help keep you drier and cooler. Find items that aren’t too tight or too baggy and opt for synthetic fibres which help draw moisture aware from the skin.

The Run. If you haven’t run for a while then make sure you start slowly with a mile or so, you might also want to run / walk at intervals. Gradually build up your mileage adding no more than 10% per week. If you’re running in a gym make sure you ask for guidance from staff at the gym.

Keep Hydrated. Hydration is key to your performance as a runner. Making sure that you take lots of water before, during and after your run will stop fatigue, cramping and heatstroke.

Shield Yourself From The Sun. Sunburn can occur after just ten minutes in the sun, even in the UK! While it can be hard to avoid the rays, especially if you’re committed to training, there are things you can do to protect yourself from the ill effects of too much sun: cover up well within loose clothing, sunglasses and a hat. Sunscreen, with both UVA and UVB protection and a factor no lower than 15, should be applied 30 minutes before going out and then generously and regularly throughout the day.

Company. Find a friend to run or train with or join a club – it makes it much more fun and even harder to quit! Investigate the most scenic routes in your area and organise running with friends. Or, if you prefer alone time, treat yourself to some new music on your iPod and save it especially for your training sessions. Finding ways to combine running with your favourite activities will mean you look forward to it all the more!

Weight Target. “I will be a size 10!” or “I’m running the London Marathon” – have a goal. Aim to be a certain size or weight, and put reminders around the house, especially on the fridge door. Summer is a great time for that extra fitness or weight loss push, but you aren’t going to shed stones in just a few days or become a long distance runner overnight. If you’re serious about your goal, build a training programme and stick to it for a good few months! Remember that eating healthily and getting regular exercise is the best way to lose weight and keep in mind other factors when assessing how well you’re doing- has your general mood improved? Are you more lively?

Distance Target. If weight isn’t an issue for you why not sign up for a race, even if it’s just a 5km fun run. Again, having a clear goal is so important, but a deadline makes it that bit clearer and important.



features, health, Sports

7 tips for training for a triathlon

By Laura on June 6th, 2011

Triathlon season is here and as those of you who follow us on Twitter will know I have signed up to compete in my first one next month.

Seeing as I couldn’t remember the last time I went to the gym, I decided to ask Dr Ralph Rogers from the London Orthopaedic Clinic for some top triathlon training tips. Dr Rogers is a consultant in sports & musculoskeletal medicine, specialising in soft tissue injuries, human performance, wellness and weight management. If you are training for a triathlon, marathon or just want to start exercising more read on!

1. Know what you’re signing up for – See your GP for a full check-up before undertaking any new exercise regime.

2. Increase exercise gradually – Never increase the duration or intensity of your regular exercise session by more than 10 per cent each week.

3. Prepare your body accordingly – Stretching and incorporate weight training to help muscles build strength.

4. Check your equipment – Ensuring equipment such as bike seats and even running shoes to be in good condition and suitable for the level you are training at.

5. Don’t over-do it – over-exertion and constant repetition can cause injury.

6. Recognise symptoms – it is essential to learn to recognise symptoms of various injuries and allow sufficient time to rest.

7. Typical triathlete injuries include -

‘Swimmer’s shoulder’ – swimming, especially freestyle, causes the shoulder to undergo repetitive overhead motion which may compromise microvasculature in the rotator cuff. This repeated micro trauma can result in the development of an inflammatory response and ultimately pain. Symptoms usually are reported as pain at the shoulder during the late recovery phase and early catch phase of your stroke.

‘Runner’s Knee’ (Chondromalacia Patella) – to prevent this common injury avoid hill climbs in both cycling and running, try riding higher in the saddle, and use strength training. ‘

Achilles Tendonitis’ – causing pain in posterior calf and insertion point on the heel. Overuse injury with symptoms often coming after an increase in volume, intensity, too much hill training, or poor equipment set-up.

To find out more about the London Orthopaedic Clinic check out their website here.



features, health, Lifestyle & Gadgets, News

Skate For Cancer takes on France

By Laura on June 2nd, 2011

Skate for Cancer (S4C) was started by Rob Dyer after he lost a number of important people including his mother to Cancer. Anyone who has ever met Rob will tell you that he is a truly inspirational individual who turned something very tragic into a source of inspiration, dedicating himself to raising awareness of cancer amongst young people.

In 2004, S4C was formed as a project that would see him and his crew skate across North America, building awareness and raising money to fight cancer. Since then he has now skateboarded across North America, New Zealand and Australia. Next up he will be tacking France

S4C is about “inspiring youth and building a community of informed people who were hyped on getting involved and making healthy choices that prevented contracting the disease in the first place. Rob always understood the importance of medical research, but felt that his purpose was to focus more on the preventative lifestyle decisions that are often ignored by many charities. Instead of concentrating on collecting money for research, Rob preferred to inspire people…”

Rob is an amazing individual who proves on a daily basis just how much one can achieve with a little bit of passion. To follow his journey as he prepares to for his Skate across France you can check out his blog here.



health

10 Moustaches to inspire you this Movember

By Laura on November 1st, 2010

November is our favourite time of year, possible because it is really the only time of year when you can legitimately get away with sporting a moustache, and not look like you have just walked out of a trailer park or like you spend to much time snooping around playgrounds.

But on a more serious note November is that special month known a Movember. A challenge to men to change their appearance to raise awareness of prostate cancer. The rules are simple, starting today November 1st you must start clean shaven and then grow out your mo for the entire month. The moustaches becomes the ribbon for men’s health, the means by which awareness and funds are raised for cancers that affect men.

To help inspire you this Movember, we have pulled together our top 10 moustaches

Go to http://uk.movember.com to learn more




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