Under the weather? Forget your GP – get to the gym
Colds and flu
Prescription: T’ai chi
It might not give you the physique of Bruce Lee, but it’ll keep you fighting fit when the summer bugs are circulating the office. Four months of t’ai chi three times a week was shown by University of California biologists to raise protection against common viruses including flu and shingles by a massive 50%. “It reduces levels of stress hormones and boosts the immune system,” says study author Dr Michael Irwin. As well as giving you an excuse to check out sunbathers in the park.
That cardio kick could spare you the dentist’s chair, according to the Journal Of Periodontology. In tests, men who got sweaty in the saddle for 45 minutes at least three times a week were 40% less likely to develop tooth-rotting gum disease than gym-phobes. “The low-impact, high intensity workout boosts a more consistent high blood flow to the gums, which reduces inflammation and strengthens natural protective mechanisms,” explains Jacinta Yeo from the British Dental Association. A reassuring thought as you crawl out of the cardio-pit a dribbling mess.
“The most common cause of persistent headaches is postural problems, which cause muscle tension in the back of your neck,” explains state-registered osteopath Gavin Burt (www.backsandbeyond.co.uk). In University of California tests over 60% of persistent sufferers were able to do away with medication after a three-month yoga course. And joining the yummy mummies will certainly take your mind off it. Visit www.bwy.org.uk for details.
It may sound like the last thing you should do, but US physiologists claim that pounding the pavement will fix your dodgy knees. One Stanford University study found that men who ran for 30 minutes three to five times a week enjoyed 25% less musculoskeletal pain than kerb crawlers. “Running boosts the flow of protective minerals and oxygen to you joints,” says James Fries, Professor of Medicine at Stanford. “It also delays the onset of arthritis by an average of 12 years.”
While perfecting the double-twist pike won’t make your osteopath happy, making decidedly gentler waves could be just the ticket for your ricked back. “Slow, smooth strokes that don’t involved twisting are ideal, as they take any load-bearing off the back while the water dissipates the pain,” explains Sharon Morrison, sports physio with the England rugby team. Her best two options? Front crawl and backstroke, focusing on rotating from the hips rather than the shoulders. And no tuck turns.
Mild to moderate depression
Prescription: Brisk walking
As your old PE teacher used to say: walk it off. Researchers at Duke University in North Carolina found that a daily 30-minute walk can be more powerful than Prozac. Six months after 150 subjects had completed the 16-week study, only 8% had seen their depression return. “Walking boosts the analgesic properties of the body’s natural pain-relieving endorphins, an effect which lasts for up to eight hours,” says study author John Bartholomew. A bit like alcohol – with the opposite effect.