Benefits of jogging come with going slowly

Jogging in the cityPeople do exercise for different reasons. For example, some people might want to lose weight and other people might want to get fit for specific sports.

I’ve reached the age where I’m thinking it would be nice to live for a bit longer, and be healthier while I’m still alive. It’s for this reason that an article published in a cardiology journal this week caught my eye.

The authors of the article had looked at a study on cardiac health carried out in Denmark over a long period of time. They had compared healthy people who jogged regularly with those who didn’t jog and were fairly inactive otherwise (sedentary lifestyle).

The main thing they were interested in was how jogging affected the risk of someone dying (from any cause).

Most people know about the benefits of jogging, and there is all sorts of medical evidence to back this up. The article this week had some surprising conclusions about how much jogging you need to do. [Read more…]

Six ways you can start to be healthier right now

Woman with clockWhen we think about trying to be healthier it sometimes seems like it will be a hard job.

You may think of a detox or other strict diet, cutting out alcohol, running for miles, or whatever. It can seem like there’s a lot to do, so you do nothing.

But does it have to be like that?

I don’t know if you follow cycling (I don’t really), but when I was watching the cycle races at the London Olympics a couple of years ago I kept hearing the phrase “marginal gains”.

The British cycling team seemed to win more medals than anyone else and these marginal gains were said to be the key.

The idea behind this marginal gains approach is that rather than producing a big improvement in one aspect of a process, very small improvements in several areas add up to a massive overall improvement.

I’ve been thinking about this as an approach to improving health. Rather than focusing on one thing, why not just do a little better in lots of areas and let all the small health improvements add up?

So what should you be doing to produce these marginal gains in health? How can you start to be healthier today? [Read more…]

High blood cholesterol – why is it bad for you?

burger with stethoscopeWhat is cholesterol anyway?

Cholesterol is a kind of fat that you eat as a normal part of the diet. You also produce your own cholesterol in your liver.

Cholesterol is essential in your body. It is used to produce steroid hormones (testosterone, estrogen, aldosterone, cortisol, and so on), and it is important to make our body cells flexible.

So why does cholesterol get such a bad press?

High levels of cholesterol in the blood, also known as hypercholesterolemia, has been linked with all sorts of health problems, mostly due to blood vessel damage.

You may have heard about “good” cholesterol and “bad cholesterol”, but really there is only one kind of cholesterol (a bit of an oversimplification but we don’t want to go mad here). It is where the cholesterol is found that makes it good or bad, and how much of it there is.

You may also have heard of LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, total cholesterol, dietary cholesterol, endogenous cholesterol, and so on. What I thought I might do here is try to make some sense of cholesterol and why too much of it can be bad for you. [Read more…]