Tag Archives: weight

Six reasons to add exercise into your day

Your body was made to move. But because of the hectic pace of 21st century living, many of us don’t fit enough exercise into our day.

Research from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare shows that 56 per cent of us don’t get close to the recommended 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity on most days of the week[i].

If you make time for exercise you’ll benefit not just your body, but your mind, too. Sports and exercise help boost your mood and blast stress. As you know prolonged stress can lead to serious health problems.

Different exercise, different health benefits

Aerobic or cardiovascular exercise helps to protect your heart and lungs, improve endurance and builds your fitness, strength and stamina.

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Strength training (working with weights) will sculpt your body because it builds muscle and burns fat. By the way, ladies, don’t worry that weight training will make you look like a man – you don’t have enough of the muscle building hormone testosterone so weight training will make you look slender – not manly!

If you have a lot to lose or have stiff joints, swimming is a great low impact-exercise. And walking is a great workout too, especially if it’s brisk.  All types of exercise burn kilojoules, helping you manage your weight.  And if you want to lose a few kilos, exercise also helps you to focus your mind on your healthy plans so it’s easier to get to a healthy, happy weight!

Not convinced? Here are six super reasons you should fit exercise into your day! 

  1. Burn those kilojoules

Dieting 101: Consume more kilojoules than you burn and you’ll gain weight. Burn more kilojoules than you consume and you’ll lose the kilos. But whether you want to lose weight or not, exercise is vital to help you get lean and stay that way. Though beware, if you’re exercising to lose weight – the exercise will need to be intensive and prolonged.

Not seeing the results you want? You may not be burning off as much as you think. For example, if you weigh around 60kg and you eat a 50g chocolate bar (1,130 kilojoules) you’ll need to cycle at a moderate pace for 35 minutes or walk for over an hour to burn it off! So, think about what kind of exercise you do and your exercise intensity so you become an active exerciser and not a distracted dieter!

  1. Boost circulation

When you exercise your working muscles produce chemicals, which leave the muscle cells and dilate (widen) tiny capillaries (blood vessels). This makes it easier for blood to reach your body and brain cells, bringing more nourishing oxygen-rich blood to your cells. Another benefit of better circulation is that you’ll nourish your internal organs. So you feel good on the inside – and on the outside, too!

  1. Support the muscles that support your joints

Exercise helps to build strong bones and maintain strength and flexibility. Strength and flexibility is important at every stage of your life but especially as you get older.

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  1. Shape up!

Ever heard that if you build lots of muscle that it will turn to fat if you don’t exercise as much? Not true. Muscle and fat are two completely different tissues so it’s not possible to replace one with the other. But you can build muscle and reduce body fat with weight training and strengthening exercises. Muscle burns more kilojoules than fat because it needs a lot more fuel to simply exist, compared with fat, which is a storage material. Exercising helps your body use up fat stores and gives a sleeker shape. That’s because muscle and fat take up a different amount of space in your body.

  1. Tone up the right places

Everyone has target areas they’d like to tackle. Aerobic exercise blasts fat from all of you, but you can target your problem areas. Fat from around the exercising muscle is used for energy as the muscle grows, enabling you to trim down and firm up trouble areas.

Lifting weights can really help to tone up! Aim for strengthening exercises with weights at least twice per week for up to 30 minutes, to slowly build up your body’s muscle. If you haven’t exercised for some time, speak with your doctor first and get the help of a qualified personal trainer who can help you get your technique, posture and balance right.

Your posture is about the way various parts of your body align in relation to one another. Good posture can help to prevent fatigue, headaches and chronic muscular tension. Perfecting your posture can also help to boost circulation, aid digestion and may help you sleep more soundly.

For good balance, you have to be able to control a number of muscles in order to prevent falls, which may help prevent injuries as you age.

  1. Feel good about you!

Australia’s Black Dog Institute says, ‘Numerous studies have shown that people who exercise regularly experience fewer symptoms of depression and anxiety than those who do not exercise regularly. Several trials have shown that regular exercise of moderate intensity can be an effective treatment by itself for mild-to-moderate depression[ii].’

One of the reasons is that exercise boosts the release of endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers and feel-good chemicals, which helps to boost your mood[iii]. And as regular exercise helps to tone and shape your body, you’ll have another reason to feel good!

So go on, get moving!

This health information is brought to you by the health and wellbeing team at rt health fund.

*The advice provided is for the average adult and should not be interpreted as being applicable to children, the elderly or those with a chronic medical condition necessitating prescribed diets and physical activity regimens.

[i] Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Risk factors to health. http://www.aihw.gov.au/risk-factors/ 

[ii] Black Dog Institute. Diet & exercise – Exercise  – Getting help. http://www.blackdoginstitute.org.au/public/gettinghelp/exercise.cfm

[iii] Black Dog Institute. Diet & exercise – Exercise  – Getting help. http://www.blackdoginstitute.org.au/public/gettinghelp/exercise.cfm

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Seven reasons to think about going dry this July …

Do you enjoy the odd beer, wine or cocktail? Many of us do. But sometimes, do you find that you overdo it? Or, that the morning-after-fuzziness sometimes interferes with your day? Perhaps your waistband is feeling tighter and tighter? It could be time to tame your tipples …

Dry July is upon us – it’s the charity fundraiser that challenges participants to ditch alcohol to support adults living with cancer. Here are some reasons to try it!

  1. Drop a kilo or two …

Stock-image-lose-weight_blogIf you’re exercising (and even watching what you eat) and still not seeing the weight shift, it could be due to the added effects of boozy beverages. Why? Alcohol provides 29 kilojoules per gram, that’s second only to fat (at 38 kilojoules per gram) so it’s a concentrated kilojoule source. As it is metabolised in the liver, and because your body wants to get rid of it as soon as possible, it is converted into fat and laid down around your middle. Plus, when your body detects alcohol, it stops breaking down fat in order to concentrate on ridding the body of booze. On top of all that, alcohol is an appetite stimulant, making you want to eat more – wonder why chips and kebabs go hand-in-hand with a boozy night out? This cranks up the kilojoules even more. And, if you’re drinking, you’re less likely to be exercising, too.

  1. Say bye bye to hangovers

We all know that hangovers are caused by drinking too much alcohol. But as you get older, your body naturally carries less water so the dehydrating effects of alcohol get magnified. Dehydration can result in, and also aggravate, an already thumping headache. And, the feelings last longer and feel more intense the more dehydrated you are.

  1. Medication safety

Since alcohol is metabolised in your liver, if you take medicines that are also processed in your body’s waste management system, the rate at which alcohol is handled and detoxified could be slowed. Even some over-the-counter medicines can do this, for example, the heartburn drug, ranitidine hampers alcohol breakdown in the liver. So if you take it, you may well have higher blood-alcohol levels when you’re drinking. Plus, alcohol may interfere with the way that your body processes prescription drugs making some less effective and others circulate in such high levels that they are potentially toxic. Alcohol can also dangerously exaggerate the action of sedative drugs. Speak with your GP for more information.

  1. Brain matters

As you get older, your brain is more likely to be affected by alcohol. Alcohol triggers the release of feel-good neurotransmitters, which is why a small amount helps you feel relaxed. But with age your body produces fewer uplifting endorphins and more stress hormones like cortisol. This stress effect contributes to worsening the side effects of alcohol as your body tries to recuperate. Or, you just may feel it all the more acutely because you don’t drink as often as you might have done in the past …

  1. Sleep better, snore lessStock-image-sleeping-young-couple_blog

While one nightcap can relax you, too much robs you of restful sleep. After a few too many drinks, you can wake feeling like you haven’t slept at all. Cut the booze and you’re more likely to wake feeling refreshed and have a clearer head, too. Drinking too much alcohol also increases your chances of snoring because it relaxes the muscles that hold the throat open.

  1. Clearer, less puffy skin

Alcohol causes the peripheral blood vessels (those close to the surface) to expand and widen. If these are repeatedly enlarged, the result can be thread veins and permanent skin damage, making you look red and flushed. Facial puffiness is caused by the gentle leakage of fluid from enlarged blood vessels. Often, it settles in the eyes and cheeks where the skin is the loosest and can take on more fluid.

  1. You may look at alcohol differently

Stock-image-dancing-at-club_blogA month off the booze may help you to think more carefully about your drinking habits – hopefully for the better. Fairly recently, scientists discovered the link between alcohol and cancer. This includes bowel, breast, stomach and prostate cancer, as well as mouth and throat cancers. In 2005, there were nearly 3,000 new cases of cancer and 1,376 deaths from cancer due to excessive alcohol consumption[i]. And, as you probably already know, alcohol is a risk factor for liver disease (cirrhosis) and the potential for it increases as your alcohol intake increases. See the table below.

MEN[ii]     WOMEN

1 drink/day                            21%        32%

2 drinks/day                         45%        73%

3 drinks/day                         72%        125%

6 drinks/day                         171%     364%

10 drinks/day                      338%     969%

Stick to the Australian Alcohol Guidelines[iii]

For healthy men and women, drinking no more than two standard drinks on any day reduces your risk of harm from alcohol-related disease or injury over a lifetime. Drinking no more than four standard drinks on a single occasion reduces the risk of alcohol-related injury arising from that occasion.

A standard drink …

1 standard drink = 10g alcohol which is equivalent to:

  • 100ml of table wine
  • 30ml of spirits
  • 250ml of beer

But one drink isn’t always just one drink!

  • An average restaurant serve of wine of 180ml 12% Alc./Vol = 1.8 drinks
  • A 375ml can of full strength beer 4.9%Alc./Vol = 1.5 drinks
  • A 375ml can of pre-mix spirits 5%Alc./Vol = 1.5 drinks

Check the label to find out how many standard drinks are in your serve.

You can’t rectify a long-term problem by taking a month off alcohol. Taking a month off and going back to it with a vengeance will undo your hard work and just as before, problems will accumulate with time.

Even if you decide not to go dry in July, cutting down and being more focused on how much you’re drinking can really give your health a boost.

For more information:

Dry July 2015: https://au.dryjuly.com

Alcoholics Anonymous: http://www.aa.org.au

Cancer Council Australia: http://www.cancer.org.au

[i] Cancer Council Australia. Improving alcohol control. http://annualreview.cancer.org.au/2009-10/LeadingChange/ImprovingCancerPrevention/EncouragingHealthyLifestyle/ImprovingAlcoholControl.htm

[ii] National Health and Medical Research Council. Australian Guidelines to Reduce Health Risks from Drinking Alcohol. https://www.nhmrc.gov.au/_files_nhmrc/publications/attachments/ds10-alcohol.pdf

[iii] Department of Health. Alcohol – Reduce your risk: new national guidelines for alcohol consumption. http://www.alcohol.gov.au/internet/alcohol/publishing.nsf/Content/guide-adult

Seven ways to feel fab and beat the bloat this summer season

Simone Tregeagle is the Chief Operating Officer at rt health fund
Simone Tregeagle is the Chief Operating Officer at rt health fund, one of Australia’s oldest and most trusted not-for-profit funds

According to Nutrition Australia, Aussies will pack on between 0.8-1.5kg over the festive season[i]. It doesn’t sound like much. But the problem is that most of us don’t shift the extra kilos during the year. When you add it all up over the years it’s no wonder Australia has a major weight problem! What with all the festive buffets and bring-a-plate get-togethers, there are plenty of chances to eat and enjoy – perhaps a little too much! So, here are seven ways that you can do both without ending up with a weight hangover when the new year arrives.

  1. Don’t skip brekkie.

A healthy breakfast provides long-lasting energy and helps to prevent you becoming so hungry that you  overindulge at your festive feast. Protein and healthy fat keeps you fuller for longer, so try some peanut butter with wholegrain bread, eggs with tomato and sourdough, or yoghurt with sweet seasonal fruit.

  1. Expect some stress

You might find that the season of good cheer isn’t always that cheerful. In fact, it can be a pretty stressful time of year, and studies show that your emotional state guides your food choices. So, when people are in a good mood, they make  healthier choices while more indulgent foods are more likely to be on the menu if you’re feeling down or stressed. There are lots of things that can help you de-stress, but one size doesn’t fit all. Try exercising (strenuous exercise like fast walking or running and mind-body exercise like yoga and tai chi), eating well and deep breathing. Try to plan ahead and be realistic – stick to a Christmas budget, avoid family conflicts, make time for yourself and create to-do lists.

  1. Choose your mates wisely

Your eating buddies are strong influences and lots of research shows that you tend to mimic the eating and drinking habits of the people you’re with. So, if you want to make healthier choices, stick with people who have healthier attitudes to food and drinks.

  1. Expect to fall off the wagon

With so much food and drink around, you’re bound to overindulge. The trick is to make up for it. So, if you know you’re heading for a family blowout, cut back a little at lunch and do some extra exercise to burn it off. Try to opt for 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise every day . Even if you can’t manage half an hour in one go, opt for three ten-minute mini workouts. Great for your body – and helps to beat stress, too! Don’t forget to check with your GP if you haven’t exercised for a while or if you have a medical condition.

  1. Watch your drinks

Your body was made to expect zero calorie water to quench thirst – not juices, sugary drinks and boozy beverages. So, it can’t clock up the calories in drinks as well as it can when you eat solid foods. A standard drink = 10g alcohol, which is equivalent to: 100ml wine, 30ml spirits or 250ml of beer. But restaurants can serve wine in glasses that are two or three times the standard serve – and when you lose count of the top-ups, it’s difficult to keep a handle on your drinking. So, finish one glass before accepting a top-up, go for low sugar, low-cal options when you can. And, when you’re choosing coffee, opt for low-fat milk and say no to syrupy add-ons (one medium latte can add up to 300 calories – the same as a jam doughnut!).

  1. Fill up at the buffet – but don’t fill out!

Buffets can be a minefield but they can be your friends, too. Opt for masses of low calorie salad and veggies as a first plate (minus the cheesy/oily dressings) and eat slowly. Soup is also a great starter even though it’s summer. It takes a while for your body to ‘sieve out’ the ingredients in soup so your stomach stays fuller. This helps to take the edge off your appetite so you’re less likely to go overboard when you get your next plate.

  1. Downsize your crockery

According to pioneering food psychologist Dr Brian Wansink, subconscious eating habits lead to unnecessary weight gain. He has shown that people eat more food if the food is served on large plates – even if they don’t like the food they’re eating! Plus, people feel just as satisfied and enjoy food just as much if it is served on a smaller plates. So trick your appetite into satisfaction – go for smaller crockery and slimmer glasses!

Good health is what we’re all about at rt health fund and helping you ‘be well, get well, stay well’ is what we want for you today and in the future. Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a very happy 2015!

Simone Tregeagle Chief Operating Officer at rt health fund