Healthy and Fit

Exercise and keep back pain at bay

If you have experienced back pain, you might be surprised to learn that exercise, especially when you have pain, is good for you. In fact, exercise is so good for your back, we include it in almost every long-term treatment plan that we recommend at The Back Clinic.
While there are some strenuous work-outs that we warn against when you have back pain, we encourage you not to always take it easy but rather engage in moderate exercise to alleviate pain and speed up recovery. This is important because during exercise, you develop core strength which is beneficial for your back’s health and healing. Core muscles are some of the most active muscle groups in the body and play an integral role in supporting your back and protecting soft tissue from strain. We often encourage our patients to maintain core strength through exercises that are simple and easy to do at home or even at work. Another benefit of exercise is flexibility. The connective fibres of ligaments and tendons become more flexible with movement, reducing the likelihood of fibres tearing during stress. As a result, you can avoid back pain and future injury. More importantly, exercising and movement allow the vertebral discs in your back to exchange fluid through a squeezing motion that keeps nutrient-rich fluid continuously moving between the discs, which require this to remain healthy. We see this time and again in our patients, encouraging them, both young and old, to keep active as this movement benefits their health in the long run and produces the best outcomes for most of our treatment programmes. If you are sceptical about the benefits of exercise for back pain, we recommend that you try it and evaluate the positive effects on your back. Contact 011 883 3618 or [email protected] Visit www.thebackclinic.co.za for more info.

The physical, mental and emotional benefits of exercising regularly

We have all heard it said at least once in our lives – exercise is good for us – but why is that so?
Let’s start with the obvious, and that is the physical benefits. Exercise speeds up the metabolism which means more calories burnt and more fat shed. Exercise also increases and improves blood circulation which aids in good heart health, and just for this winter season, better circulation and blood flow also means a slightly higher average body temperature. Overall exercise reduces unhealthy fats in the body and increases lean muscle mass, and this does not only make you look great but promotes good joint and organ health. Slightly less obvious are the mental benefits of exercise. It is a scientific fact that while exercising, your body produces chemicals called endorphins which interact with the receptors in your brain that reduce your perception of pain. Endorphins also quite simply trigger a positive feeling in the body, similar to that of morphine. Many studies show that people who exercise regularly benefit with a positive boost in mood and lower rates of depression. This leads us onto the emotional benefits. With your body looking better and your mental state of mind being boosted by endorphins, one can’t help but feel more confident. Also, as you start achieving your goals, be it losing 1kg or 10kgs, chest pressing 20kg more, or finding those lean bulging bicep muscles, you develop a sense of accomplishment. The benefits of this new-found confidence and sense of being able to tackle and achieve goals spills over into all aspects of one’s life, from work to relationships to one’s own sense of self love. From here the cycle begins. The more you exercise the better you will feel and the more you will want to exercise. For more information please email: [email protected] or phone 011 675 0977.

Happy eating

Does the thought of being on a ‘diet’ make you think about feeling deprived, suffering and going hungry?
If so, you need to think again. The meaning of the word diet is, “the kinds of food a person, animal or community habitually eats”. We should all pay attention to the diet that we follow daily. There is a saying, ‘Let food be thy medicine and let medicine be thy food”. It has never been more true than in the times we live in today. We live fast-paced lives. Fast-food outlets are around every corner. Many children grow up on fast-foods, and do not even know what it is like to sit around a table and enjoy a balanced, home-cooked meal as a family.
The reasons I hear in my practice are always the same. Too little time! Lack of knowledge! It is too expensive! Well, our bodies do not accept any of the reasons. We need specific nutrients every day. The list of those nutrients is long and not negotiable. There is a big difference between feeling full and being nourished. A pie from the garage shop can make the tummy feel full, but it provides very little nourishment. Therefore your body remains hungry. In my opinion, visiting a registered dietician is a good starting point. The information about nutrition that is available in the media and online is vast and confusing to say the least. It is also not at all personalised. My practice scope includes clinical work in the hospital ICU and ward setting. It also includes consulting with clients in my rooms.
Article by Amanda van Huyssteen, Dietician at Life Wilgeheuwel Hospital.

Winter preperation

A delicious hot chocolate, soup and stew, thick blankets, warm soft jerseys and all your favourite winter things are soon going to be on your preparation list for the winter months. As the morning air starts to chill, your breath clouds up the air and you start to feel it in your bones, don’t be left wondering what it was that you could have done to prevent the dreaded changes in health that accompany the coming winter.

Basic general advice holds true for your health. Eat healthily, continue your exercise programme, stay warm, cough and sneeze into your hands and wash your hands regularly, especially when you’ve been in public places or in contact with others. More specifically, if you have a general medical condition, ensure that all has been done to optimise your health.

From a respiratory point of view, have common undiagnosed symptoms (e.g. cough, tight chest) evaluated and managed. Prevention is better than cure and in winter this is clearer than ever. Effective annual flu vaccines are available – last year’s statistics indicate that they offered 60 per cent coverage of the seasonal viruses that affect so many people, keeping them away from work.

Recovery rates will be shorter and symptoms milder if you are exposed to a virus to which you have a preformed immune response.
The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend administration of the flu vaccination in the following population groups: Children aged six months to four years; adults 50 years and older; people of any age with chronic respiratory conditions; people with chronic cardiovascular, renal, hepatic, neurologic, haematological or metabolic disorders including diabetes; those pregnant or planning to fall pregnant and for the first two weeks after delivery; residents of nursing homes; health care personnel; household contacts and caregivers of children less than five years of age, and adults with predisposing chronic medical conditions.
Article by Dr Ziyaad Laher, Specialist Physician and Pulmonologist practising from Life Wilgeheuwel Hospital.

For more information please email: [email protected] or phone 011 796 6517.

Ageing – and how to do it properly

Substantial advances in medicine have led to a dramatic increase in life expectancy, resulting in people living much longer than just a few decades ago. Older adults need to ensure that they are able to remain physically active and functional for the duration of their lives, in order to be able to carry out their day-to-day activities independently as they age.
Active ageing, which is becoming a buzzword in the health and fitness industry, is simply ensuring that exercise and movement become habitual practices especially in one’s golden years. According to International Exercise Guidelines, older adults should accumulate 150 minutes of exercise per week, and this needs to include aerobic (cardiovascular), strength and flexibility training. In addition, it’s vital that older adults add targeted balance and mobility exercises to their weekly dose of physical activity as the risk of falling increases with age.
Research shows that physical activity and exercise rates decrease with age, with older adults achieving the least amount of exercise compared to younger adults. Inactivity is linked to an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease and many other chronic conditions such as diabetes, certain cancers and depression. Many older people are not sure where to start when it comes to embarking on a new exercise routine. Commercial gyms can sometimes be intimidating, especially if they do not offer specialised programmes that suit the needs of older adults. Silver Fit is a new and exciting community-based exercise programme that has recently been launched in Gauteng. The programme is specially designed to keep people 60 years and older, mobile and strong. Although it is never too late to start an exercise programme, if one adopts an active lifestyle throughout life, the ageing process is much kinder on one’s body. Silver Fit’s aim is to provide an opportunity for older adults to participate in sustainable and effective exercise, while the fun and social effect is just a bonus. We are opposed to the anti-ageing messages that we are so often fed in the media. Instead, we are pro-ageing – we celebrate ageing, it’s an achievement! What is most important is that you must keep moving as you age. Article by Hannah Raath.
For more information please email: [email protected] or phone 011 481 4964.

Arthritis 101

Orthopaedic surgery treats a spectrum of disorders affecting movement of the body. One common condition seen is arthritis. Arthritis is a broad term used to describe pain and swelling of any joint. There are many types of arthritis. Inflammatory arthritis occurs when one’s own immune system spontaneously destroys tissues within the joint.

The commonest type of inflammatory arthritis is rheumatoid arthritis (RA). It is often first diagnosed in young and middle-aged individuals, its symptoms are morning pain, and swelling and stiffness in the small joints.

There is no cure for RA. Medical treatment from a rheumatologist aims to ameliorate the destructive process, through drugs that modulate inflammation, suppress the immune system and manage pain. In advanced RA, the orthopaedic surgeon may recommend joint replacement and other surgical procedures to correct deformity, restore function and improve mobility.

Osteoarthritis (OA) is a degenerative disease of the joints. Unlike RA, it may occur well after traumatic injuries to or near the joint, or with advanced age. Symptoms include stiffness, limited range of movement, deformity and swelling. OA most commonly involves the knees, but can affect any joint. Weight loss, orthotics, walking aids, pain management, physical rehabilitation and intra-articular injections may improve symptoms in select patients. However, osteotomies about the knee and joint replacements are proven surgical options.

Finally, many people confuse the diagnosis of osteoarthritis with osteoporosis. Osteoporosis (OP) is a serious metabolic condition, common in postmenopausal women and the elderly. OP denotes a decreased bone density and an increased risk of low-energy fractures. After its onset, affected individuals may complain of back pain, loss of height and a progressively stooped posture from spontaneous spinal column fractures. OP may be diagnosed after a low-energy wrist or hip fracture. OP increases the complexity of orthopaedic surgery and the course of rehabilitation. Article by Dr Anne Maina, Specialist Orthopaedic surgeon (MB BCh (Wits), FC Orth (SA), MMed Ortho (Wits) at Life Wilgeheuwel.

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