pointspace’s May Round-up | How a little exercise brings big benefits and does a lack of vitamin D affect our health?

Image: AJ Batac via Flickr

What weather we’ve had this month! The wettest drought since records began all the way to the glorious week of summer. The important question, of course, is will it be a washout during the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee bank holiday next week?

1.  It’s typical that the weather is a bit rubbish around bank holidays, but a lack of vitamin D means much more than rickets. A Danish study adds to a growing body of evidence that the paucity of sunlight in the UK for most of the year not only makes us miserable, but could actually be doing us harm.

2.  Another preliminary study from Denmark showed that joggers live longer, with an average of 6 more years of life. The interesting thing about this research is that it appears, the “optimum benefit was realized for those who jogged at a slow-to-average pace between an hour and two and half hours done in two to three sessions over the course of a week.”

3.  And now from jogging to just plain moving. Last week I blogged about research showing that sitting is really bad for you. So in the scheme of things: sitting is really bad, standing is good and moving is even better. You would think then that running marathons is much better than sprinting – after all you’re putting in so much more effort for a much longer period of time. As it turns out, that’s another myth, so hurray for us time-strapped people. Time Healthland had an interesting interview this month with New York Times columnist and author Gretchen Reynolds about her new book on how a little exercise brings big benefits.

4.  What do you think is the cause of the obesity epidemic: our more sedentary lifestyles, the lack of exercise, genetics, poor diets or overeating? Carson C. Chow is an investigator at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases trying to figure out why 1 in 3 Americans are obese. The surprising thing about Dr Chow is that he’s an M.I.T.-trained mathematician and physicist using mathematics to solve the problem. His work has brought up some interesting information such as “the fatter you get, the easier it is to gain weight. An extra 10 calories a day puts more weight onto an obese person than on a thinner one”. Read the complete interview here.

5.  As news of a “fat tax” on unhealthy food was being discussed, UK sales of processed breakfast cereals are dwindling with more and more people favouring healthier, more natural alternatives to the sugary brands. Nick Barnard of natural foods company Rude Health says, “I do think, in 20 years’ time, we might look back at the past 100-odd years and say: ‘We took good, natural, healthy, original grains, and turned them into sweet, scientific, industrial concoctions. Why?'” Put that way, it does seem all a bit silly, doesn’t it?

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Pointspace’s monthly roundup | November



Bonfire Night, pointspace turns one, mild weather, the turning on of Christmas lights all around London. It has been a particularly delightful November this year.


1.  In case you need even more reason to avoid sugary beverages, a new study has found that women who drank two or more sweet drinks (sweet tea, soft drinks, coffee drinks that look like desserts) were at an increased risk of heart disease even if they did not gain weight. Even more reason to kick that caramel frappuccino habit.


2.  Saunas always evoke that lovely feeling of calmness and maturity for me (there was no way you could get my 15-year-old self to sit there and just be for more than five minutes). It turns out that saunas really can improve your mood and your heart by improving your heart function by increasing the heart’s ability to pump blood (and boosting the amount of exercise you can do) as well as allowing the body to release more serotonin (the happiness molecule).

3.  What is your view on the nature or nurture discussion? Well when it comes to your health, it may appear that your living conditions as a child does have an impact on your biological being, more specifically your DNA.


4.  Stress has been in the top three of health concerns I’ve seen amongst my clients this year, regardless of what their actual main health reason was when coming to see me. How does traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and acupuncture approach stress? At its simplest, as with a lot of disease and disorders, it’s down to an imbalance. This easy to understand article, by acupuncturist Janis Egan, gives quite a good explanation of the concept.


5.  Video: Work out like a Hong Kong action hero. I came across this set of exercise routines from Michael Nevermind (that’s his name, not because I couldn’t be bothered to write it up). It seems like a great fun way to work up the heart rate in your living room, shades optional. 


6. And finally, something truly inspiring: watch this video of what a simple bottle can do.

Photo credit: mendhak via flickr

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