Mike the Psych's Blog

What if psychologists ruled the world? In real life?


Stand up for health’s sake

Sitting down for just two hours can significantly increase your blood pressure.

Sitting is linked to increased risk of disease of the heart and circulatory system and it doesn’t matter if you exercise it’s the sitting that is the problem.

Blood pressure was statistically significantly elevated after two- and four-hour bouts of sitting in healthy older adults” according to scientists at Birmingham University’s school of sport, exercise and rehabilitation.

Sitting for less than two hours is significantly safer so getting up and walking around can reduce the risk.

Although the research focused on the over-70s it’s the same across all age ranges.

The American Cancer Society reported last year that people sitting for more than 6 hours a day had a 19% higher death rate than those who spent less than 3 hours seated.

Research at Liverpool John Moores University showed that prolonged sitting slows blood flow to the brain and may raise the risk of dementia.

So overall it’s clear that sitting damages health. “There is growing evidence supporting the longer-term health effects of prolonged sedentary behaviour across the life course” said the researcher at Birmingham who presented these results  at the British Science Association’s annual meeting last week.

It is important to make people aware that they need to try and reduce sitting time as well as going to the gym” she added.

So get up off your bums for you health’s sake!

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Coffee shops told to stop selling calorie-rich cakes

Public Health England (PHE) has criticised coffee shops for pushing customers to buy snacks.

They are working with the food industry to reduce the sugar content of foods in shops and are now looking at food eaten outside the home. Chief nutritionist Alison Teddistone said “Coffee shops have got a long way to go”

A muffin adds about 400 calories to an order. Just because it has a healthy sounding name it’s still part of the problem, she says, with all the little nudges to buy extras.

Major coffee chains have committed publicly to reducing sugar and now it is time for all to raise their game. More action is needed to tackle obesity”.

PHE has set a target for cafés restaurants and coffee shops to reduce sugar in their everyday products by 20% by 2020. They are also concerned about takeaway deliveries who are doing a Facebook and saying they are “only connecting people”.  The government is also keen for restaurants, cafés and take-aways to list calories on their menus.

The WHO has warned this week that the UK was the 5th out of 176 nations for cancer linked to obesity. That is truly a shocking statistic, especially for an advanced country like the UK.

PHE said people know smoking is linked to cancer but don’t realise obesity is also increasing the risk of cancer (and diabetes and stroke).

FYI

  • Costa Coffee Blueberry muffin = 434 calories with 25.7 g of sugar
  • Costa Coffee bonfire spiced hot chocolate whole milk = 311 calories with36.5 g of sugar
  • Starbucks skinny blueberry muffin = 312 calories with 24 g of sugar
  • Starbucks venti oat vanilla latte = 438 calories with 52.2 g of sugar
  • Caffe Nero blueberry-filled muffin = 418 calories with 29.1 g of sugar

NHS advises only 30 g of sugar per day

This is all very well but perhaps if people exercised more then they could enjoy these treats in moderation.

And I’ve previously posted about Costa Coffee’s decision to impose semi-skimmed milk on customers without warning or having signs anywhere. They say it’s for health reasons yet still encourage people to have syrup, marshmallows and chocolate logs in their coffee. How hypocritical is that?


If you really have to make new year resolutions..

here are some sensible ones from Dr Mark Porter who writes for the Times (with my own comments added):looking_in_mirror_1600_wht_5647

  1. Get a tape measure and measure your waist. This should be less than half your height to maintain good health. Body Mass Index (bmi) is so out-of-date as I’ve written before.
  2. Buy a blood pressure monitor as one in three of us develops high blood pressure which often requires lifelong treatment. Taking your BP at home may be more accurate than if taken in a stressful environment such as a hospital or GP’s surgery (the well-known white coat effect).
  3. Buy a petrol car next time as diesel has been proved to be dirtier fuel and unhealthy in built-up areas
  4. Learn what sepsis looks like. Blood poisoning or septicaemia as it was once called kills thousands of people a year. It typically starts with bacterial infections of the chest, abdomen, or urinary tract. You can get it at any age and it often mimics flu or gastroenteritis. Doing a SEPSIS test means looking for Slurred speech,Extreme shivering or muscle aches, Passing no urine (in a day), Severe breathlessness, “I feel like I might die”, Skin mottled or discoloured and any rash that doesn’t blanch under pressure from glass tumbler.
  5. Check your heart age. Go to nhs.uk/conditions/nhs-health-check/pages/check-your-heart-age-tool.aspx or download a free heart risk app fromwww.jbs3risk.com. These might prompt you to change your diet and lifestyle habits.
  6. Eat more nuts. More evidence that a good intake of nuts (no more than a handful a day but not salted peanuts) is associated with a longer, healthier life. I’ve blogged about nuts before.
  7. Get stronger. Build strength as strong muscles are good for arthritis and thinning bones, reduce the risk of falling and can prevent pain. Exercise is good at any age but don’t overdo it.
  8. Make Saturday at home an internet-free day. Get people off the screens and doing something together. Why not the whole weekend? In France they have banned firms e-mailing staff outside working hours which is a good move as well.
  9. Cook more. Use fresh food rather than relying on processed food. And invest in the future by teaching your kids.
  10. Give up vaping. Although less hazardous than smoking the long-term inhalation of glycols is bound to have some impact on your lungs. Some experts say it helps people give up smoking. Fine but don’t keep on vaping. In any case people who vape in public look like prats.


Some weight loss myths

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apple_measure_tape_1600_wht_131291   Giving up carbs

Processed carbs can contribute to weight gain but you shouldn’t give up on complex carbs or wholegrain such as brown rice which have a lot of fibre and make you feel fuller longer.

Complex carbs can also have a lower glycaemic index (GI) – which is a measure of the rate at which sugar is digested – so you won’t get highs and lows in blood sugar.

Dietician Dr Sarah Schenker says it’s more about portion control and suggests limiting the calorie-dense healthy carbs such as rice, oats , or pasta, and alternate with lighter ones like butternut squash or corn on the cob which are just as filling.

2   Extreme exercise 

We think that if we expend more energy than we consume we should lose weight. And exercise does increase our metabolism (the rate at which we burn calories) but when we…

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Marriage isn’t all it’s made out to be

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champagne_banner_our_wedding_500_wht_604For years scientists have said that married people are happier, healthier and wealthier than single people.

Well it’s not true!

Single people exercise more, have better health and more friends compared to married people.

Psychologist Bella DePaulo says earlier studies are flawed because they didn’t take into account the consequences of divorce. In most studies people for whom marriage was awful were excluded as divorcees were counted as singletons.

In reality married people are unlikely to see life as a continuous opportunity to learn new things and develop friendships.

They are more likely to be putting up with an unfulfilling job and a dwindling circle of friends a they await their end.

DePaulo says that for many people being single is a positive, rational choice and they are living the dream.

Lifelong singletons also have more fulfilling jobs and are more interested in self-improvement.

Married people who end up getting divorced…

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