Health Information

Table of Contents

Smoking
Alcohol
Diet
Exercise
Flexibility
Strength
Body Mass Index, Body Fat Percentage & Waist to Hips Ratio
Blood Pressure
Resting Pulse & Maximum Heart Rate
VO2(max) & Peak Flow
Target Training Zones


Smoking

For a smoker, no matter what quantity or strength, the health message is clearly DON'T. High blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, heart attack, heart disease, stroke, bronchitis, asthma, lung cancer, mouth cancer, leukaemia and ulcers are only a sample of conditions either caused or enhanced by smoking. If you do smoke, stopping will be the most significant thing you can do for a healthier lifestyle.

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Alcohol

The standard yard stick to judge if you are drinking too much is 21 units per week for a male and 14 units per week for a female. Excess drinking can do irreversible damage to your liver in addition to contributing to heart disease, high blood pressure, a stroke, stomach disorders and increasing your fat level (alcohol is loaded with calories). Drinking in a binge may well lead to alcohol poisoning. However, many people like drinking alcohol because of its social presence and its ability to make people loose their inhibitions and gain a sense of fun. As long you do not over indulge, it is said that alcohol may lead to lower blood pressure and a decreased risk of heart attack.

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Diet

Avoiding heart disease and possibly some types of cancer means eating less fatty food and using oils instead of hard (saturated) fats. Most of the wrong type of fat we get comes from butter, cheese, full-cream milk and meat fats. The fattiest meats are meat products (e.g. pies & sausages). Pies are the worst because of the pastry. Fish, poultry, and lean meat are fine. Low fat spreads or margarine's high in polyunsaturates are healthier alternatives to butter. But if you are a butter addict then just don't eat too much.

A high fibre diet is a healthy diet. As well as preventing constipation, fibre has been known to reduce the risk of intestine related diseases and cancers by helping the flow of waste through your intestine. Therefore not leaving decaying food waste in your system for any longer than is necessary. Fibre can also help to reduce the cholesterol levels in your body.

A regular intake of fruit and green, yellow and orange vegetables, besides being a good source of vitamin A and vitamin C, may also prevent heart disease and cancer. When you cook vegetables it's best to microwave or steam them without adding salt. If you boil them in a large amount of water you will be loosing most of the vitamins in the cooking water. If you add butter to vegetables be careful not to over do it.

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Exercise

Being fit has many advantages, from helping you to control your weight to giving you a better nights sleep. Most important of all, there is impressive and mounting evidence that people who exercise regularly, and in the right way, are less prone to killer diseases such as heart attacks and strokes, and live longer than people whose life is sedentary. Exercise can help your fitness and well being in many different ways, these include:

Exercise, above all, makes you look and feel well. Few adults who have taken the trouble to get fit will ever allow themselves to become unfit again.

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Flexibility

Flexibility is an important attribute for all physical activities. In particular, tight leg and back muscles impede movement in many activities and can cause back pain and stiffness after exercise. Stretching exercises tend to lengthen the muscles and tendons to make them more flexible. Try some simple stretching exercises to improve on your score where necessary.

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Strength

Muscular endurance is necessary for fitness because muscular effort has to be sustained without fatigue if aerobic fitness is to be maintained. It is therefore important for general fitness and a prerequisite for good performance in many sports and fitness activities. One method of measuring strength and muscular endurance is by your ability to do sit-ups.

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Body Mass Index, Body Fat Percentage & Waist to Hip Ratio

No matter how fit we are, our bodies will have some fat, but how much is too much? This is not an easy question to answer as different people have different skeletal frames and have more or less muscular bodies. The measurement of Body Mass Index is calculated as a ratio of a persons weight to height.

Body fat is usually given as a percentage of total weight. An estimate of body fat is gained by using special callipers to measure the thickness of subcutaneous fat at specific locations on the body. If a 60 kg person has 10% body fat, that person has 6 kg of fat and 54 kg of lean body mass (water, muscle, bone, etc). There are 9000 calories in 1 kg of fat. Don't be so concerned about how much you weigh. Instead, be concerned about how much of that weight is fat. You want weight loss to be caused by losing fat, not muscle or water. For men, 15% is considered athletic and 25% is about average. For women, 22% is considered athletic and 30% is about average.

Being overweight is a greater health risk if you carry most of your fat around your waist. It could also be an indication of a high cholesterol level in the blood for "chubby" men, though slightly less for women with large hips. A waist to hips ratio higher than 0.80 for women and 0.95 for men indicates excess intra-abdominal fat, which will lead to increased disease probabilities.

As your height and Body Mass Index are known, your ideal weight range is simply computed. You might like to use this as a target for your training.

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Blood Pressure

Measurement of blood pressure is made in mmHg (millimetres of mercury) and taken with the use of a sphygmometer. Results are expressed as either depressed, normal or elevated.

Systolic pressure is the force that is exerted on the walls of your arteries as your heart beats and pumps the blood. Diastolic pressure is the pressure on the artery wall at the relaxed state between each heart beat.

The parameters for the comments are based on your sex and age and are representative of a healthy person. Blood pressure results vary under many circumstances, such as if you smoke, are anxious or nervous, your race, family history, the temperature, your level of fitness and simply how you are feeling at the time of the readings. In fact, resting blood pressure can fluctuate during the day!

A high and constant level of elevated blood pressure strains the heart and arteries and can give cause for concern. This is sometimes called hypertension, and is an accelerating factor in heart disease and gives an increased risk of a heart attack or stroke when you are older. Weight reduction, regular exercise, reduction of stress and giving up smoking may be all that is needed to address this.

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Heart, Resting Pulse & Maximum Heart Rate

Your resting pulse is a simple and accurate gauge of cardiovascular fitness. As your fitness level increases, your resting pulse rate will become slower, stronger and more regular, therefore indicating circulatory efficiency and less wear and tear on your arteries and heart. The speed at which your heart rate drops to your resting heart rate after exercise also indicates increased fitness levels. The sooner your heart rate returns to your resting heart rate the fitter you are getting. Individual rates will vary, but as a general rule, women have a slightly higher pulse rate than men.

Prior to doing aerobic exercises, you need to determine your Maximum Heart Rate (MHR). Your MHR is defined as your age subtracted from 220. A 20 year olds MHR would be 200, while a 50 year olds would be 170. Your maximum heart rate is a limit on your heart rate that you should try not to exceed. You will not gain any benefit from training above this limit and could cause undue strain on your cardiovascular system.

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VO2(max) & Peak Flow

VO2(max) is the predicted, maximum amount of oxygen that your body can utilise during exercise and is an excellent indication of fitness level. To get an accurate measurement of your V02 Max you would have to go through a thorough test where you would exercise to your maximum capabilities until exhaustion. The Online system enables us to predicted your V02(max) value, estimated from a sub-max step test. The measurement is expressed in millilitres of oxygen per kilogram per minute.

Peak Flow is a simple measurement of how fast you can blow out. A Peak Flow Meter is used to record your maximum flow over 10 milliseconds at the beginning of expiration. Assuming you blew as hard as you could, how fast you blew will depend on whether your breathing tubes are wide or narrow. Your result will be compared to the expected average for your age, sex and height and either a comment of Outside Normal Value or Inside Normal Value will be made. There are a number of reasons for abnormal values, the main being asthma.

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Training Zones

While performing aerobic exercise, your heart rate should stay in a range between 50% and 80% of your MHR. This is your Training Zone. Keeping the heart rate above this zone will not provide additional aerobic benefit. In fact, it may provide no aerobic benefit at all. For best results, aerobic and fat burning, keep your heart rate in the Training Zone for at least 12 minutes. The longer and more frequently you do this the more improvement you'll see. An aerobic work out should last at least 12 minutes, not counting warm up or cool down, only the amount of time your heart rate is within your Training Zone. Why 12 minutes? This is the amount of time needed for the body to start producing fat burning enzymes. It does level off, but the idea is that you want to get your body to use fat for energy. After 12 minutes you start to burn fat at a higher rate. In general, if you train at the higher end of your Training Zone, you will burn more glycogen improving your aerobic fitness. Training at the lower end of your Training Zone for a longer period will allow the body to use your fat reserves for energy, thus burning fat.

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