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Research by Harvard Medical School shows that exercise is an effective treatment for depression

and in some cases more effective than taking anti depressant drugs.

When you have depression or anxiety, exercise often seems like the last thing you want to do. But once you get motivated, exercise can make a big difference to your mental and physical health. In people who are depressed, neuroscientists have noticed that the hippocampus in the brain - the region that helps regulate mood is smaller. Exercise supports nerve cell growth in the hippocampus, improving nerve cell connections, which helps relieve depression.

Research on depression, anxiety and exercise shows that the psychological and physical benefits of exercise can help improve mood and reduce anxiety by:

  • Releasing feel-good endorphins, natural cannabis-like brain chemicals (endogenous cannabinoids) and other natural brain chemicals that can enhance your sense of well-being

  • Taking your mind off worries so you can get awa...

Can exercise strengthen your mind and make you smarter? The answer is yes! Sitting at a computer all day whether at work or studying for school for extended periods can have negative effects on blood sugar, blood pressure, cholesterol and mood. The good news is that exercise can help you work and study more productively as there is a positive relationship between physical exercise and academic and work performance.

According to a recent study, exercise can help you:

  • Increase your attention span

  • Improve working memory

  • Make better decisions

  • Solve problems more effectively and efficiently

Even more importantly, exercise produces neurobiological effects to improve the capacity to learn as it contributes to increasing the volume of the hippocampus (a part of the brain associated with memory and learning). It also protects the brain from aging and promotes neurogenesis (the production of new neurons) in the same way that daily meditation does.
 

As a parent, you might...

Why are the last few kilos the hardest to lose? Plateaus are part of your weight loss process and they occur for a very simple reason. Once your body has lost weight, your body works better, but it perceives weight loss as a negative energy state and will do everything it can to slow this loss. Your body slows its metabolism as you reduce food intake to conserve energy so it's important to understand whether you are eating enough of the right foods that are high in protein, good fats and slow release carbohydrates. Also start looking at your portion sizes - there may be a bit of wiggle room to cut the size of your meal by 10% to help shift a little more and as fitness improves, you have to go harder with exercise for additional weight loss. Try changing the type of training you do. I like to suggest to clients that they do body weight, resistance training with weights, pilates/yoga, HIIT and Boxing to mix it up. This keeps your body guessing and burns calories!

Despite what the num...

It's winter so many of us are eating more stodgy (high carb) foods such as pizza, pasta, bread, rice and potatoes and have started noticing a creep up the scales or a little extra around the middle. Belly fat is a tough area to shift for most people but there are a few things you can do to help trim the tum and in turn feel more energised.

The first thing to do is cut down on refined carbs - highly processed foods like white bread, biscuits, chips, pastries and cakes cause rapid increases in your blood glucose levels which trigger an insulin response. The result is your body stores excess glucose as body fat if you aren't doing enough exercise to burn it off. Whole grains and slow release (low GI) such as brown rice, sweet potatoes and wholegrain sourdough breads are healthier alternatives than the white food varieties especially pasta, bread and sweets. Just try to eat strchy carbs at lunchtime and restrict them at dinnertime, opting for a plate of greens and protein for dinner.

Th...

There's something going on with children's health - children are less active and eat more junk food than ever before. So how do we keep kids healthy and active and set them up for lifelong good habits? Here are some simple routines you can implement in your home and day-to-day lives.

Move together every day - Kids are active in a different way to adults. While we might set aside time for the gym or a walk, most kids will play happily play and run during school time. But at home, where there are numerous electronic gadgets, kids now spend only 8% time outdoors playing and spend a whopping 2 hours a day on average on devices for non-homework purposes and take on average 1000 steps less a day, instead spending time on screens. With extensive research finding that long periods of time sitting and spending time on screens is linked to obesity, diabetes and behavioural issues.

Try to allocate time for your kids to do at least 30 mins of physical activity with you every day such as walking the...

The benefits of exercise are numerous, for instance exercise stimulates brain chemicals (endorphins) that make you feel happier and more relaxed and nurtures emotional and mental well-being. It also helps you feel better about your appearance and boosts your confidence and self esteem. Exercise improves your metabolism and the efficiency of your cardiovascular system so you have more energy.

Exercise also helps you sleep better, gives you more focus to be more productive, helps in weight loss and improves bone density, joint stability and range of motion which are the keys to reducing injury and improving daily function as we age. What can't exercise do!?!! Yet we always seem to find an excuse not to. When I'm feeling too tired and just can't be bothered, I remind myself and my clients "It's hard to start but you always feel better afterwards." When you make the effort to exercise, you never regret it!

You can incorporate exercise into your every day routines like taking the stairs...

These simple exercises will help with lower back pain and will work your core to make it stronger and more flexible, which is the foundation for a healthy lower back. When we hunch at computers, sit in traffic and slouch on the couch, we put strain on our lower back. The ideal alignment is a gentle arch and when your core is weak or tight, the curve will become flat or overarched causing pain in your lower back, hips or glutes.

1. Start with Standing torso twist, feet hip width apart and squeeze the glutes while you rotate your torso and keep your hips fixed. You can do these with light hand weights or without and breathe to a count of 3 and switch sides slowly. 

2. Pelvic tilts - Lie on your mat with knees bent, feet on the floor. Raise the pelvis up and down for a raised pelvic tilt (similar to bridge pose) for 20 reps or you can lie on the mat and just tilt the pelvis forward and back to flatten the curve of the back into the floor (bottom pic). Hold for 5 secs and release. Do 10...

There's so much misinformation about belly fat and how to reduce it that are unrealistic and simply not true. The first

thing you need to know is you can’t spot reduce fat. Diet and exercise are the critical factors in getting a flatter tummy and a 6 pack.

What’s hiding those abdominals is subcutaneous fat. Subcutaneous fat is the fat that's just under your skin. If it jiggles and you can grab it, it's subcutaneous fat. Visceral fat on the other hand is a more more dangerous fat as it wraps around your organs. Either way you look at it, holding onto excess fat around the middle is the most dangerous fat of all compared to fat on your thighs or arms.

When you see someone with washboard abs, they had to burn off excess fat to reveal the abdominal muscles and exercise is the best way to accomplish that. For this reason, HIIT and Tabata workouts, exercises that work multiple muscle groups simultaneously (like push ups, squat jumps etc.), and weight lifting are going to be the...

Every new year we set about making New Year's resolutions. These 20 tips will help improve your physical, emotional and mental health for life not just for the new year:

  1.  The more we learn about the relationship between the gut and the brain, the more evidence we get about the role of nutrition in mental health. People who consume more fruits and vegetables have lower levels of depression than those who eat less fruit and vegetables.Nutritional improvements over time (a balance of vegetables, fruits, grains and proteins) can improve your mental health and quality of life. Eating leafy greens and vegetables in the broccoli family (cabbage, cauliflower, kale) may even help slow cognitive decline.

  2. Include a handful of nuts mid-afternoon – they’ll satisfy the 3pm munchies, help with weight management and reduce blood cholesterol

  3. Consider seeing an accredited practising dietitian or personal trainer. There’s no quick fix, but professional help is a worthwhile investment

  4. ...

September 29, 2017

Statistics show that people who successfully lose weight and keep it off don't diet. Here's how they do it:

1. They don't cut out whole food groups - You don't have to eliminate dairy, carbs or other food groups. You just have to try and reduce portion sizes and eat more whle foods that are not processed so have less salt and sugar and will also make you feel full for longer. Refined sugary and high sodium foods should be saved for small treats when you have lost your desired weight when your taste buds have been retrained to eat fresh healthy food.

2. They don't sit down alot - If you sit down at work all day, always try to take regular breaks and go for a walk at lunchtime then when you come home, don't just sit watching hours of TV, sit on your phone or sit on a computer again after sitting on the commute. That's alot of sitting! According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the average Australian watches 4 hours of TV a day. If you cut viewing down to 2 hours only and went for a...

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