Pittwater Life February 2017 Issue

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problems and weight gain.

Australian guidelines recommend

people between ages 18-64

accumulate 2 ½ to 5 hours of moderate

intensity physical activity or 1 ¼ to 2½

hours of vigorous intensity activity, or

a combination of both each week and

do muscle strengthening activities on

at least two days each week.

It is also important to make an

effort to sit less and break up long

periods of sitting as often as possible.

Sedentary behavior is associated with

poorer health outcomes including an

increased risk of type 2 diabetes.

Healthy weight

Being overweight increases the risks of

a number of health problems.

If you are within a healthy weight

range make an effort to stay there – by

watching what you eat and exercising.

If you are overweight, a crucial first

step is to do whatever you can to

prevent gaining more weight. Then,

when you are ready, plan how you can

drop some kilos and keep them off.

Healthy weight management tips

n Set a weight goal you know you can

meet, then aim to make permanent

changes to both food and activity

habits.

n Hunger is the best guide – be aware

of eating when you are bored or

stressed or eating out of habit.

n Change your eating and physical

activity habits in stages.

n For weight loss aim for 60 minutes of

physical activity a day.

n Seek professional advice on the best

way to manage your weight.

How do you measure up?

An easy way to determine if you are

a healthy weight is to measure your

waist with a tape measure. This gives

you an idea of whether you have a

lot of fat stored around your middle.

People who have a lot of fat around

the middle are at greater risk of

developing diseases such as heart

disease and type 2 diabetes. For

women, a waist circumference greater

than 80cm is associated with increased

health risk.

Emotional health

Hormonal and physical changes before

or during menstruation, pregnancy

and menopause can make many

women feel down, irritable and moody.

It’s perfectly normal to feel sad and

stressed at times. But if you have felt

depressed or anxious for more than

two weeks and lost pleasure in most of

your usual activities you should talk to

your doctor.

Nutrients: Are you

getting enough?

Nutritional and energy needs

change throughout life.

Calcium and iron are both

important nutrients for women

at certain ages and life stages,

says nutritionist Kylie Dowling.

“In the menstruating years iron

deficiency can cause anaemia

and calcium deficiency can be the

cause of PMS,” says Kylie.

“During pregnancy and

lactation additional energy is

required to cover the needs of

the growing foetus, placenta and

expanding maternal tissue.

“Also, for the production of

milk during the 3rd trimester

lactation period, calcium is

important.”

Osteoporosis is common

in postmenopausal women

because of hormone-related

changes. Paying attention to

the amount of calcium and

iron-rich foods in the diet before

menopause can help prevent

inadequate mineralisation of the

bones, says Kylie.

Some good dietary sources

of iron are red meat, chicken

and fish, nuts and legumes,

wholegrains and leafy green

vegetables.

“If you are vegetarian and

getting your iron from non haem

sources, combining sources

of vitamin C, for example

strawberries on your cereal or

lemon juice dressing on salad,

will help increase absorption,”

she said.

Some good sources of calcium

include dairy such as milk,

cheese, yogurt, fish with edible

bones, tahini and dried figs.

Smooth move

Struggling to squeeze in

moderate physical activity

and dedicated muscle

strengthening activities into

your routine?

“Pilates falls under

both of these categories,

especially when done with

weighted or spring resistance

based equipment,” says

physiotherapist Jen Smith

of Fix + Flex Pilates and

Physiotherapy.

Pilates is a great way to

tone, lengthen and strengthen

muscles at a resistance level

suitable for the female body.

HEALTH CHECKS

Regular health checks are an important part of

keeping healthy. Having regular health checks

and screening tests can help prevent disease and

keep you aware of possible health risks.

Health checks include the following:

n Physical examination including blood pressure,

height and weight, waist measurement every few

years

n Pap smear from age 18 (or two years after first

sexual intercourse) up to age 70 (note this will

change from May 1 when the Pap smear will be replaced

by a more accurate Cervical Screening Test)

n Skin examination for skin cancer

n Breast awareness – being familiar with the normal

look and feel of your breasts.

n Mammogram screening

n Bowel cancer screening

n Oral/dental health check – dental examination.

n Hearing tests

n The ‘45-49 year old Health Check’ – a once only

check with your GP for those at risk of developing

a chronic disease.

n The ‘75 year old Health Check’ – a health assessment

for people aged 75 years and older.

Talk to your doctor and find out what checks are

needed and how often you need to have them to

maintain your health.

Family planning:

‘an active choice’

Family planning is not just about contraception,

it is about making an active choice to have

children at the right time for you, your partner and

any children you already have, and being able to

optimise your health prior to pregnancy.

Dr Fiona Collins from Gilbert Collins Medical

practice in Mona Vale, said most women spend a

significant proportion of their lives either trying not

to get pregnant or trying to conceive, and unplanned

pregnancies are unfortunately still too common.

“As a GP with a special interest in women’s health,

I see many women who continue to take the pill and

have little knowledge of or have never been offered

other options,” she said. “The ideal contraception

would be 100% effective, have no risks, no sideeffects,

be cheap, readily available and easily

reversible... We are not quite there yet but there are

a good range of contraceptive options for women.”

Dr Collins cited Long-Acting Reversible

Contraception (LARC) which includes contraceptive

implants (Implanon) and Intra-Uterine Devices

(IUDs) – both hormonal (Mirena) and non-hormonal.

“These last for three, five and 10 years

respectively and are extremely reliable– in fact

more so than female sterilisation,” she said.

“Once in they do not require regular checks and

if wished can be removed early with restoration of

previous fertility levels within a week.”

Dr Collins urged all women wanting longer-term

contraception to discuss their requirements with

their GP – “and make an active choice.”

FEBRUARY 2017 39

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