Website of the Month
I hosted the NHS Health Check conference last year and really loved hearing about what they are doing with the heart age test. Check out www.nhs.uk and search for heart age test. It will take just seconds to complete. You will be asked some very quick questions about yourself. It is most accurate if you know your blood pressure and cholesterol level and will give you an assessment of the age of your heart, which for many of us, sadly isn’t the same as our biological age. I use it a lot for my patients who want to lose weight or give up smoking. If you fill in the questionnaire a second time as though you had lost a stone or quit smoking, it is often striking the difference it can make to your heart age and can be a real motivator.
What’s the Alternative?
I went to visit the Dr Wolff group in Germany recently and was interested to hear about a study they conducted comparing topical hormones with a non-hormonal cream to manage the symptoms of vaginal dryness associated with the menopause. It’s a common problem affecting around half of all menopausal and post-menopausal women and I have met far too many women whose relationships have suffered because painful sex has ultimately led to a lack of any intimacy for fear of it leading to intercourse. It was only a small study and whilst gynaecologists noticed a difference in the appearance of the vaginal tissues favouring the hormonal treatment, when it came to women’s experiences, there was no significant difference between the two therapies for those women with mild to moderate symptoms. I know some women are still nervous about hormones and whilst topical hormones are very safe and work well, I have started recommending the option of a non-hormonal cream on a routine basis to my patients with great results.
The Best Time of day to Exercise
I have always been more of a lark than an owl and prefer to exercise first thing in the morning if I can, but now, wherever possible, I choose to delay breakfast until after my morning spin class or gym session. My decision is based on recent research from Bath and Birmingham Universities which showed that over a six-week period, people who exercised before breakfast burned double the amount of fat compared to the group who exercised after eating. Interestingly, this didn’t seem to have any effect on overall weight loss or fitness, but it did significantly improve their response to insulin which could have a profoundly beneficial effect on the health benefits of exercise. One caveat, the study was only done on men and we know that men and women respond differently to exercise but the teams plan to go on to look at the effects on women and I’m hoping they will get the same results.
Days Out with Dr Dawn’s Dog
This month, Mum took me to The Cat and Custard Pot in Shipton Moyne (www.catandcustard.co.uk). It’s a lovely country pub with rooms and very dog friendly. It is right on the doorstep of Badminton Park and Westonbirt Arboretum so the walking is amazing and all the staff are super dog friendly. Mum says we have to go back in the autumn to see the trees changing colour in the arboretum … sounds good to me!
This is me holding court in the main bar and showing off my Teddy Maximus coat that Mum got me last Christmas.
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I try hard to stay fit over the winter months, but like so many of us, short days and sometimes grim weather mean that I don’t always stay as active as I should, so this year, I decided to book myself into Bootcamp to get myself back on track as spring approaches. I found a place called Hillmotts, just outside Witney in Oxfordshire (and a stone’s throw from Bicester Village, which did add a certain extra appeal!). As bootcamps go, this was definitely one of the more affordable and an excellent way to kickstart a fitness regime. One of the things I really liked was the indoor studio with floor to ceiling mirrors. Initially this was rather off putting, but actually it really helped to be able to see yourself doing the exercises and my squats were definitely a little deeper by the end of the week. The instructors were really good at adjusting exercises to accommodate a wide range of ages and abilities and I met some great people. Lucy, in particular, deserves a mention. At just 21, she was on her sixth three-day visit, which she fits in around her university studies. There can’t be many students with that dedication so well-done Lucy. Maybe I will meet you again because I am already booked in for a follow up stay later in the year.