I can now nasal-breath for the first time ...
One hundred and thirty-eight days ago, on July 7th, 2020, our city went into a tight COVID lockdown. We were only allowed out for one hour daily (plus essential trips) and masks were compulsory.
If exercising, masks were optional. Since we propel massive volumes of moist air from our lungs when running past people, I chose to wear a mask. Today restrictions were lifted.
I trail run 5km daily, so that meant I ran 138 days with a mask.
It wasn't what I would call enjoyable, but it did have some benefits. Today, running without a mask for the first time since lock-down, I was able to sustain my pace just breathing through my nose - that's a first.
A little imagination helps ...
I trail run with injury-free at the top-of-mind, but I also enjoy challenging myself along the way. If I see someone 200m ahead, then it becomes my challenge to calculate a passing move.
That takes stamina.
You want to run at tempo pace to close the gap, pass strongly enough to discourage tailgating, and then settle back into a pace that keeps you moving ahead. What you don't want is to pass and then blow-up. This is where stamina comes in to play.
My feet told me that they'd had enough
I have zero brand allegiance. I buy when a quality item is on special, including running shoes, irrespective of brand. But from the moment that I stood up in my Saucony Freedom ISO shoes (Black 8.0D) I knew that I could be a fanboy.
Just two years before, almost to the day, I hated running. You know, when you do a "power hour" and the instructor lines you up at the finish for the fireman's shuttle run. Hated it. Even just lining up for sprints across the room - not happy.
I could do it well. It was rare if I was not in a leading group. But I just wanted it to finish.
The gym went on a summer roster over Xmas (down under in Australia). Although classes were peripheral to how I trained at the gym, I liked to do one class each week for variety. I tried boxing classes and found them a waste of time. As there was nothing in the Xmas program that interested me, I decided to run, twice a week.
Lower blood pressure and more flexible arteries
There is a growing body of evidence suggesting that dietary nitrate may have a protective role in health, in particular vascular health, and in particular by lowering blood pressure.
Coronary heart disease (CHD), stroke, and heart failure are three of the leading causes of death globally. Cardiovascular Diseases (CVDs) are responsible for a significant (typically about 25%) of premature deaths, and the risk substantially increases with age.
For such a major public health problem, it is perhaps surprising that by simply improved our diet quality - by eating more vegetables - we can substantially reduce the risk of dying early.
As long as you don’t do it before exercise
Doing simple stretches may improve blood flow throughout our body by making the arteries more flexible and able to dilate, according to a study in the July 1, 2020, Journal of Physiology.
More than 300 years ago, the great English physician Thomas Sydenham observed, "A man is as old as his arteries."
It's as accurate today as it was then. In fact you might consider that your health is only as good as your arteries since these blood vessels carry vital oxygen-rich blood to all of our body's tissues.
How you peel it makes a difference!
Avocados might be the last thing you would consider would help you lose weight, but you'd be wrong. Not only can they help you lose weight, but they also improve your heart and brain and eyes, and can rejuvenate your skin.
And their effects are even more beneficial if you are older. When we're older, we need more metabolic repairs done inside and out - and avocados are the perfect food to help.
I eat a half-avocado every day. I lace it with other goodies such as turmeric, ginger and apple cider vinegar. But putting those aside, whatever you do with avocado - chop it, slice it, mash it, mix it - it has an astounding range of nutritional benefits, including:
How I get five "doses" daily
I recently learned of the specific health benefits of drinking black tea and decided to add it to my regular diet. However, I don't enjoy drinking it.
Here’s how I get the benefit of five “cups” of black tea daily. It’s a matter of process over preference.
But why bother?
The micronutrients in both black tea and green tea are associated with a range of health benefits, particularly related to cardiovascular health. Studies have shown that drinking black tea on a regular basis helps to reduce the chances of onset of cardiovascular disorders.
Both teas have anti-cancer properties and are good for diabetic patients (since polyphenols present in tea inhibit obesity by suppressing the digestion and absorption of fat and complex carbohydrates).
They also both reduce the risk of dementia. The research supporting tea’s dementia-fighting benefits isn’t as extensive as research on coffee. But so far, it seems that tea may offer similar benefits to coffee.
Including helping maintain healthy blood pressure
High blood pressure is a leading cause of cardiovascular disease in developed countries. Yet some countries, such as Italy and Japan, have low rates of high blood pressure and lower mortality rates due to CVD.
That's not because they all go to the gym 5 times a week or due CrossFit. The reason is far less complicated and available to everyone.
They eat more fruit and vegetables, and in particular more nitrate-rich vegetables.
Up to 75% of lower extremity amputations are performed on diabetics
When it comes to health advice getting too much leads to indecision and inaction - we don't know what's best to do.
Et cetera. It's confusing, isn't it? I've provided answers to those questions at the end of this post.
I’ve had diabetes for 20+ years — I don’t want you to get it too!
The focus of this post is to provide you with the answer to this one critical question:
Question: What is an easy, reliable way to predict my chance of developing diabetes?
How to boost your brain for a better mood and less stress
In these times it is worth sticking with whatever exercise you can consistently do in the circumstances, as exercising regularly is linked to better eating habits. Conversely, a lack of social contact is linked to poorer eating habits and, over time, poor health outcomes.
A 2019 study published in the International Journal of Obesity, looked at 2,680 young adults who were not exercising regularly or dieting. Scientists found that after exercising for several weeks, formerly sedentary study participants were more likely to choose foods like lean meats, fruits and vegetables, while preferences for fried foods, sodas and other unhealthy options decreased.
Since I was diagnosed at 50 with Type 2 diabetes I've been learning how to do bone-building fitness training which lowers my age. You can too. It's your choice. Walter