Start writing: it could save your life

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Writing in the latest edition of Australian Prescriber, Associate Professor Helen Reddel, of the Woolcock Institute of Medical Research, says personal asthma action plans are an important part of helping people recognise and respond to worsening asthma.

However, only a small minority of adults have worked with their health professional to write one.

“If you have asthma and you don’t have a written asthma action plan, ask your doctor for one,” Dr Reddel said.

“Asthma action plan templates are freely available.

“Your doctor can help you personalise the plan with information relevant for you.”

The written action plan should include your current asthma preventer and reliever medicines.

It will tell you when you should move to the next step in your plan if you are having asthma symptoms.

The plan should outline when you should contact your doctor or go to hospital if your symptoms are worsening.

Dr Reddel also said that while it might seem obvious, people with well-controlled asthma often needed a prompt to keep a reliever inhaler on hand.

“If your asthma gets worse, remember to use your reliever inhaler as often as needed, but seek help if you need it again within four hours,” she said.

An asthma action plan should also include a section on asthma first-aid, which people can share with their friends and family so they are aware of what to do in an emergency.

“Asthma is a treatable condition but it is still important for people who do have it to make sure they are being proactive in their own health care,” Dr Reddel said.

“Your asthma action plan should be reviewed with your doctor whenever your medicines are changed or at least on a yearly basis.”

To read the full article and others, visit australianprescriber.com.

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Walk each day and win back your good health

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There is a funny slogan going around for aging – “I’ve finally got my head together and now my body is falling apart”- but it doesn’t have to be that way even if statistics show the risk of falling escalates around 65 years of age.

The cause of the problem is a lack of exercise and poor diet in earlier years combined with the process of aging and with the environments in which we live.

Falls prevention should start as young as 40. So some of you reading this and thinking about your parents really need to take heed and think about yourselves.

 

Causes of falling

Personal

  • Deteriorating health
  • Mobility and strength associated with aging
  • Lack of exercise leading to impaired balance
  • Gait
  • Impaired visual acuity
  • Inappropriate footwear

Environmental

  • People traffic
  • Unfamiliar environment
  • Uneven, loose or slippery floors

 

The solutions

The strongest evidence available for countermeasures to date might be summarised as:

  • Increasing muscle strength, flexibility and bone density
  • Improving balance and gait

Although there are a number of areas that we are categorised in as we age (independent living, supported care and acute care), I am focusing on the independent living community for this article.

Start today, not after Christmas, to increase the strength and endurance in your legs, because if they give way the only way you will be going is down.

 

Movement opportunities

Walking

  • In the house, veranda or yard
  • Up and down the street
  • Around some parks, the Jetty and harbour area
  • With a friend or solo

 

When you are no longer being challenged, increase the distance or the intensity by:

  • Finding a gentle hill to walk up
  • Walking faster, and/or
  • Increase the distance
  • Pick up a dancing class or two
  • Attend classes specifically for your age group at reputable health clubs

 

Increase your leg strength

As I have said in previous articles, you lose 10% of muscle up to 55 then 40% more after that.

Try some:

  • Step ups
  • Seated squats

 

Don’t ignore your balance

Try standing on one leg (hold on to support if needed) and as your balance improves, release your death grip, and move to less assistance.

We all want to continue to complete our daily chores and still feel energetic enough to enjoy life, to remain active.

So keep fit or get moving.

Fitness stations to fight fat

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TWO fitness stations could soon be installed on Bargara’s foreshore to help fight the region’s worrying obesity levels and motivate people to exercise.

Btransformed Health and Fitness Clinic personal trainer Sarah Forbes yesterday was “over the moon” with Bundaberg Regional Council’s decision this week to approve the project “in principle”.

Ms Forbes was moved to do something about the region’s bulging obesity after she saw aNewsMail article earlier this year stating Bundaberg had a whopping 62% of people overweight or obese, compared with a state-wide average of 50.1%.

“Our rates of obesity in this town are, unfortunately, not a good statistic, and when I saw that I thought something has got to happen,” she said.

Ms Forbes said it was about time Bundaberg caught up with other coastal areas which had similar fitness stations already in place.

The project’s success was now contingent on the community raising enough funds to cover the costs of purchasing the equipment.

Ms Forbes said more than $3000 had already been raised from a Coral Coast Chamber of Commerce ball, and more fundraising events would be held in the near future.

“We’ve got the most gorgeous esplanade and if we can start putting these stations in, I don’t see why we can’t continue it all the way along the Esplanade. I’m so excited, I’m about to explode. This is just great,” Ms Forbes said.

She said Bundaberg’s Megatoy Company already made a “Move System” fitness station range which could provide a full body workout.

The project is expected to cost $21,000, including $7000 for installation.

Btransformed Health and Fitness Clinics made the application to install the stations but council deferred consideration of the matter in May to gain further information.

Cr Danny Rowleson was the only councillor who voted against the motion. He said he was concerned with the ongoing maintenance bill that could result from the equipment and potential future replacement costs.

Cr Rowleson said he was not against exercise, however he believed any equipment installed should be made from marine-grade stainless steel.

Make-Ahead Meal Tips

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5 Quick Make-Ahead Meal Tips

Meal in a Muffin
So many great meals can be made entirely in a muffin tin! Meatloaf, quiche, lasagna, pizza and more, can be made ahead, individually frozen and then re-heated in time to head of the door!

Vegetable Soup
Soups are ideal for packing in the vegetables and being a quick healthy meals.  Add less liquid for a thicker soup that is easier to eat while at the arena or in the car.  Make soup ahead of time and freeze in individual containers for a quick option.

Crustless Quiche
Skip the crust and add in the secret filler of cottage cheese and cauliflower and you have a complete meal that freezes well.   This is one of my favorite recipes on this list of kids favorites that I make and freeze in slices. It’s easy to defrost and makes a filling meal pre-dance practice.

Fabulous Mac n Cheese
Every kids favorite can be transformed into a healthy meal that includes whole wheat, dairy, protein and vegetables!  Make your own sauce with flour and butter, adding milk until it thickens then add in grated cheese and pureed squash, cauliflower and zucchini!  Make extra sauce that you can freeze, so all you have to do mid-week is boil noodles and you are ready to go.

Veggie Red Sauce
Kids love pizza but plain crust and cheese doesn’t offer a ton of nutrients. Boost your sauce with pureed vegetables and add vitamins to any pizza melt on the run. Start with your jar of favorite sauce and add in your own pureed veggies then freeze in ice cube trays to have just the right amount ready for pizza melts on the go.

Deb Lowther is a mother of 3 young daughters who, when not running after the kids, is running in the trails! She blogs about Raising Healthy Kids and ensures her own have fun while eating healthy & staying active.  You can visit her websites to learn more www.iron-kids.com and www.adultgummies.com.

– See more at: http://www.healthyourwayonline.com/make-ahead-meal-tips-by-deb-lowther/#sthash.Y9OSvGvt.dpuf

Healthy Eating and Vitamins

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There is no question that the best source from which to get your vitamins and minerals is by eating plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, dairy, grains, protein and omega 3 rich fish.  The fact is many families are on the go and busy and quite often the side of vegetables is not served at the drive thru and the only fruit you may get your kids to eat is a glass of orange juice.

Whether or not to take a multi vitamin, or any vitamin, depends on a number of factors.  If you eat a well balanced diet that includes fruits, vegetables, fatty fish, dairy, eggs, grains and meat and alternatives then it is likely you don’t need an additional source of vitamins. If you are lactose intolerant, your kids are picky eaters, there are food allergies in your family or you are eating on the run more nights than you are sitting at the kitchen table, then there may be health benefits to taking vitamins.

Key Vitamins
This list shows the key nutrients that should be a part of your families diet to maintain optimal health.  If you know you are not getting these vitamins on a regular basis, then looking for a multi vitamin that includes this alphabet on its ingredient list may be a good option for your family.

Vitamin A for eyes, skin and immune system found in mango, sweet potatoes, carrots, spinach, and grapefruit.
Vitamin B for energy and creating red blood cells found in peas, spinach, sweet potatoes, avocado, bananas and mango.
Vitamin C for growth and tissue repair and stronger immune system from oranges, red peppers, broccoli, grapefruit and strawberries.
Vitamin D for strong bones, teeth as well as nerves, muscle and immune systems found in eggs, dairy, chicken, beef and fortified juice and cereals.
Vitamin E is an antioxidant important to boost your immune system and fight viruses and is found in spinach, blackberries, kiwi and raspberries.
Omega 3s –  Protect against heart disease, reduces symptoms of hypertension, depression, attention deficit disorder (ADHD), dementia, joint pain and boosts immune system.  Found in fatty fish such as mackerel, sardines, salmon and in some fortified eggs and juice.
Fiber – in addition to preventing constipation it helps lower blood cholesterol, controls blood sugar levels and may also help prevent and treat a variety of diseases and conditions, including heart disease, cancer, diabetes and obesity. Good amounts of fibre is found in peas, apples, pears, grains, barely, and beans.

If you have healthy fruit and vegetable eaters but they don’t like fish, then perhaps just an Omega 3 supplement is what is right for your family.  Talk to your family doctor to determine if you or your kids need to take a multi vitamin.  They will review your typical weekly meal plan to determine what nutrients may be lacking and then look to increase those foods in your diet, or consider a supplement.

Remember, it’s the nutrients we need and not artificial colouring, flavours or sweeteners. Read the label carefully for the medicinal and non-medicinal ingredients and choose one that is specially formulated to meet your needs. 
Good nutrition for all ages starts with serving a wide variety of whole, fresh foods as much as possible. A good multivitamin acts like a back up plan and is a great way to enhance this balanced, healthy diet – not replace it.  Including a daily multivitamin alongside fruits and vegetables will help to ensure your family gets all of the vitamins they need to be healthy and active!

Deb Lowther is a mother of 3 young daughters who, when not running after the kids, is running in the trails! She blogs on dozens of websites about Raising Healthy Kids and ensures her own have fun while eating healthy & staying active.  To read more articles and see her favorite recipes starring squash and spinach that she promises even your kids will love, visit her websites www.iron-kids.com and www.adultgummies.com or visit her on Twitter @KidsGummyMum or Facebook at IronKids.Health and Adult Essentials.

 

5 Stretches to Transition from Work-Time to Relaxation.

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Perform these easy stretches to relieve work-day stress and ease your body (and mind) into relaxation of evening-time. The following stretches are for those without injury. Please consult your physician before beginning this or any exercise program.

Single Knee to Chest Stretch. Lie on your back. Inhale; Extend both legs straight on the floor. Exhale; Pull your right knee in toward your chest. Inhale;Release your right leg. Exhale; Pull your left knee into your chest. Release your left knee back to the floor.

Hamstring Stretch. Lie on your back. Inhale; Extend your right leg straight up, perpendicular to the floor. Exhale; Hold ten to twenty seconds. Change leg position; extend your left leg straight up, perpendicular to the floor and hold.

Figure 4 Stretch. Lie on your back. Inhale; Cross your right ankle onto your left thigh, pull both legs off the floor and in toward your chest. Exhale; Hold ten to twenty seconds. Change leg position; place your left ankle on your right thigh, pull both legs in toward your chest.

Cat-back Stretch. Begin on your hands and knees on the floor. Inhale; Round your back up. Exhale; Arch your back.

Standing lunge stretch. Standing, inhale and step your right foot back about three feet. Keep both feet flat on the floor and pointing forward. Exhale; Bend your left knee and hold ten seconds. Change leg positions; step back with your left foot back about three feet, keeping both feet flat and pointing forward, bend your right knee and hold ten seconds.

 

Cardio Basics for Beginners

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Many people are not patient enough to go about starting aerobic (cardio) exercise correctly and often quit soon due to injury or exhaustion without achieving any real results. My first word of advice is to be patient, and proceed slowly. There are 4 things to consider when starting cardio known to fitness professionals as the FITT principle (Frequency, Intensity, Type, and Time). Simply put, that means choose something you like to do (Type) several times a week (Frequency) for a particular amount of minutes (Time) at a certain effort (Intensity.) It is important to increase only one of these things at a time as you continue your cardio program to keep you safe.  

  Type:
The type of exercise you choose is entirely up to you, but to be considered cardio, it must keep your heart rate elevated for a minimum of 10 minutes. Do not choose an activity you don’t enjoy simply just because it burns more calories. You will end up quitting. There are many appropriate exercises such as walking, biking, hiking, dancing, running, rowing, and kickboxing. At first choose one thing, but as you get going, feel free to add as many as you like. Variety will keep you exercising for life. The types of exercises you choose should also be based on your ablility. Just as a baby doesn’t start walking before crawling, do not start running before you can walk. Also, it is important to consult your doctor before embarking on an exercise program to rule out any possible medical issues, especially if you are over 40 and have health risks such as smoking or family history of heart disease.
 
Frequency and Time:
Beginning exercisers should start with no more than 20 minutes of cardio 3 times a week at a moderate pace. Build slowly and appropriately toward the standard recommendation of 150 minutes of cardiovascular exercise per week (30 minutes, 5 times a week.) If you have done nothing for a long time, it’s important to allow your body sufficient time to adapt to exercise. When what you are doing feels easy, that is the time to add more times per week or more minutes per session.  Add frequency and time slowly. It will keep you injury free.
 
Intensity:
One of the most misunderstood concepts of fitness is intensity. Somehow people think they either have to work so hard that they can hardly breathe, or be able to have a full-on conversations to exercise safely. The truth lies somewhere in the middle. Many people use heart rate to guide their intensity. It is a good method, but can also be confusing. Subtract your age from 220, then multiply that number by .80 and .60 to give you a range. For example, if you are 40 years old, you would want to stay inside a heart rate range of 144 and 108 beats per minute (220-40=180;180x.80=144 and 180x.60=108.) Heart rate range is only an estimate and does not necessarily mean you are at the right intensity to achieve your goals. A simple way to gauge this, in addition to using appropriate heart rate guidelines, is called the “talk test.” Simply, can you say a phrase or two, but not have an easy conversation? If so, that is probably a good intensity. As it feels easier to talk, that is a sign that you can increase your intensity. 
 
Now that you know the basics of beginner cardio, it is time to get off the couch and get started.