How To Be Healthier: Exercise

By Dr Murray McDonald
You don’t need to conquer the Comrades or deadlift a dump truck to improve your health. Doing ANYTHING is better than doing nothing – so pick something you like and commit to improving at it. That’s about the long and the short of it. But if I had to expand on how best to approach exercise - and I guess I have to now, you came all this way - it would be the following four factors:

1. Goals: When exercising, it’s important to have goals – it can keep you motivated, directed and committed e.g. I want to run 10km. A nice goal. But how will you get there? Goals don’t get reached without a plan. So make a plan. Then make each step in the plan an individual goal. Even better: make it a SMART goal -
  • Specific - the time, the time of day, the outfit you’ll wear… don’t leave yourself wiggle room to wiggle out of it
  • Measurable - don’t “go for a walk”... go for a “12 minute walk”
  • Achievable - don’t set the bar too low, but also not too high… there is benefit to building confidence with easier starter goals
  • Relevant - pick something that matters to you e.g. running so you can be a fitter mom/dad
  • Time-bound - what will you do this week? Month? Year? Keep yourself honest by making deadlines
2. Effort: if it is not at least a little difficult, then it is not helping. Your body needs to receive a sufficient stimulus in order to change – the work needs to be hard enough that it thinks, ”Oh dear, better be ready for next time!” The size of the effort needed increases as you get fitter e.g. in the beginning, walking arousweat, breathe hard and revel in a challengend the block is enough, but Olympic level athletes train 3-6hrs a day in order to improve their fitness. So as long as the exercise is challenging, it should improve your fitness – so break a overcome.




Consistency: Do not be the person who makes a New Year’s Resolution, gets to the gym 5 days a week in January and then gives up in February (insert excuse here: tired/busy/injured/etc). We should all be exercising for the rest of our lives (which, if we exercise, will be even longer). So take the baby steps. You have time! The success of any training program is directly correlated to how many training sessions you can string together – the longer the chain, the closer you are to your goals.

Progression: If you don’t increase the stimulus to the body, the body will stop adapting. You can’t keep running the same pace or lifting the same weights for months on end and hope to keep improving. If you’re not getting just a little stronger/faster, you’re not getting fitter. And you won’t get stronger or faster if you don’t keep pushing yourself just a little bit harder each week. So instead of running 5km in 30mins, try to run it in 29min and 30seconds. Instead of lifting 5kg weights, lift 6kg weights. Gradually increase the stimulus and you will keep making gradual progress.

And that is about it. I’m not going to go into resistance vs. cardio, yoga vs. Crossfit, or any of those other detail-based arguments. Because to be honest, that’s not the point of this article. The point is this:

Do something. Make it challenging but achievable. Be consistent. And keep increasing the challenge. That’s it.

If you have any questions, follow me on Twitter: @DrMurrayMcD

Thanks for reading.

Claremont Chiropractic Health Centre



A resident reminisces

Harfield Village ~ Living here for the last 2 ½  Decades & looking back to the early 1970’s

I’ve been living in Harfield Village for 26 years this time round & it has been some of the happiest times of my life.
I’m originally a refugee from Rhodesia who fled when the Bush War began, so this was a great blessing for me. I am a gypsy, who found roots for the 1st time when I came back to live here after living all over the Peninsula. I have lived in grander more practical houses but I’ve never had a better home.

In 1989 I visited the area attracted by a newspaper advert to attend a Writers Salon one evening, which was a regular sociable event with dinner & wine given by a writer called Glynn Croudace. He was retired from the Cape Times but still writing & teaching. He was famous for his plays on Springbok Radio called “The Destined Hour” which some of you may remember as this was very entertaining & yet philosophical too.

As I write this I can almost hear Glynn say over my shoulder that this form of sociability was rather suitable one, as a writer’s life is a rather lonely one. I remember standing outside this house that was to become mine & feeling a very welcoming & warm atmosphere coming from the house.
Even more unexpectedly was when I fell in love with Glynn, as he was far older than me but we were kindred spirits & before long I ended up living here. Then later marrying him!

My husband Glynn lived through & witnessed many more changes than I have, as he lived here for through the two decades before I returned. He was newly divorced with very little money when he moved here through necessity.
The cottage called Hamilton Villa was in a very bad state. Glynn did many renovations over time & this task I took over from him & this is still on going to this day!

I was already familiar with the area because I originally lived here in the early 1970’s, directly opposite the Harfield Village Station in a Council House. I shared this house with my husband Garth,  my small daughter Genevieve & our business partners Johan & Ross. It was a large solid Victorian House with a large garden big enough for us to work from home & we had just opened a unique rather exotic shop called Sharg & Gathron’s Circus in the first shopping centre in Cape Town ~ the newly built Cavendish Square in Claremont.

I had a room for designing & manufacturing alternative feminine clothing, Garth & Johan had another for leatherwork. Ross ran the shop & I worked there too in the School Holidays & on Saturdays. There was no Sunday trading in those days!

It was still a mixed area of people as although it had been declared for white occupation only on the 14th of November 1969, it took the government the next two decades to  forcibly moving a large number of coloured residents out of the area. I would highly recommend that you read the excellent History of Harfield which is part the website, where I learnt more about this while I researched for this article.

We had a very colourful Shabeen with a very mixed clientele next door to us some of which belonged to the gangs & were often recently out of jail for various crimes. The crime rate was escalating in the area in the 1970’s but was nothing like what we are experiencing today. We had only one very unpleasant burglary but otherwise we lived in harmony with the residents, although it was a time of great & sad change.

I feel the most appropriate photos of the 19 70’s were street scenes, as a hard working Hippie that is mostly what I saw in my everyday life. There were always guys hanging around talking & watching….It was a kind of past time! Children playing in the streets like it was their back yard. Streets were great very sociable places unlike today!


Claremont Histories John Tindall Collection (http://www.claremonthistories.co.za/tindall-gallery.html) 

Claremont Histories Kamish Gallary (http://www.claremonthistories.co.za/kamish-gallery.html) 

Claremont Histories Kamish Gallary (http://www.claremonthistories.co.za/kamish-gallery.html) 
I used to walk to the local shop in 1st Avenue which still exists today to buy a few necessities like bread & milk. I became used to the men who were socialising outside, although it was unfamiliar at first. I have a vague memory of great sadness as I think the owner whose name I think was Ali died of a broken heart before he could be forcibly removed.

I walked my daughter Genevieve to the Waldorf School Michael Oak in Kenilworth & home again every day. It was on those occasions that I was in the street as I could not yet drive a car, that I became familiar with the children playing in the street. I never felt threatened walking on these occasions as there was a friendly atmosphere here generally, but the subway to the other side of the railway track was never a pleasant place!

I remember being very intimidated by the authorities of this time myself, as our situation was precarious not being South African & being afraid of being sent back to a crumbling Rhodesia in the process of becoming Zimbabwe.
We were working very hard during this time which led to our success & we moved on to rent a beautiful historic house in Constantia called “Fair View Farm” but a certain fondness always remained in my heart for the area.

I have lived here now for two & a half decades,  self-employed working from home teaching sewing & seen myself the many more changes as we continue to adapt & evolve to our environment becoming a united community of mixed residents once more.

For further reading on the history of Harfield Village, I recommend the following websites:

Established 1990
Phone 021 6711387 /  Whatsapp 076 562 8151

Best times to phone are lunchtimes 1 pm – 2 pm  most week days including Saturday.

SWEET AND SOUR MUSTARD SAUCE

This sauce is absolutely divine with cocktail sausages.

INGREDIENTS:
2 desert spoons dry mustard
½ cup sugar
½ cup vinegar
2 eggs

METHOD:
Beat together and bring to the boil briefly. 
Allow to cool.
Then refrigerate. 
Lasts for weeks in the fridge.


Wool Wrapped Candle Holders

Are you looking to create a warm atmosphere without the effort of a fire in winter? Or do you perhaps want to create a romantic setting for a quiet dinner with your special person? Candle light is a really amazing and easy way to achieve this and with this great candle holder DIY trick, you can turn a simple tea light candle into a beautiful attention grabbing centre piece.

Wool wrapped Candle Holders are beautiful, easy and offer the perfect flickering light required to make the room cosy.

There are only 5 requirements:
  • A glass Jar,
  • Wool,
  • Spray Paint (colour of your choice – be we will use white),
  • A tea light candle,
  • Newspaper.


How do you create this stunning centre piece?
Step 1: Wrap a piece of wool around the glass jar in any shape you want and secure it,
Step 2: Place the jar on a piece of newspaper,
Step 3: Spray paint over the jar until the jar is fully covered in paint,
Step 4: Wait for the paint to dry (see tin of paint for exact time – usually around 2 hours),
Step 5 : Repeat step 3 and 4,
Step 6: Remove wool from jar,
Step 7: Place candle in the jar,
Step 8: Light candle.

And….voila – your simple tea light candle is turned into a centre piece!


Along with a heater in a stormy night, your candle holder will create the perfect flicker and mood.

This is a very basic version of a Wool wrapped Candle Holder; should you be creative there are so many different ways of spicing up your jar.

  • ·       When the paint is still wet – you can roll the jar into a bowl of glitter or sand to add a different texture and dimension to your jar and is great for getting the kids involved as a weekend project.

  • ·      Rather than use only one colour – you can use a few colours to paint the jar, white, silver and gold complement each other and are very ‘in’ colours.

  • ·         You could leave the wool on the jar to create an additional 3 dimensional element.


Norgarb Properties Agent Andre Ter Moshuizen, who specialises in the Claremont area, regularly shares household tips and handy home hints. For more tips and hints click here.

Andre Ter Moshuizen: 082 602 1367   |   andre@norgarb.co.za  |  www.norgarbproperties.co.za

Don't wait for "the one" before you buy a home

If you’re young and working, you don’t have to wait until you’re in a permanent relationship before you buy your first home.

That’s the advice of Shaun Rademeyer, CEO of BetterLife Home Loans, SA’s biggest bond originator, who says young people often argue that they are not sure they will stay long in the same area or the same job, and that the flat or house they buy may not suit a future partner.

“But we believe Millennials should be aiming to buy a property of their own as soon as possible. After all, you don’t wait to find the perfect partner before you buy a new car or furniture, or before you decide to take an overseas holiday. And the sooner you stop spending your hard-earned money on rent – which generates no return for you and buys you no asset - the better.”

Indeed, he says, the main aim for young buyers should be to get a foothold in the property market, almost irrespective of the state of the market or the economy at the time. "Home prices keep rising – in fact they have continued to rise even in the super-slow economy of the past two years - and the longer you wait the more difficult it becomes to afford that first home.”

Rademeyer says the other positive reasons that drive young couples to buy a home should also drive young singles. These include:

*The chance to build up equity and gain economic empowerment. As the value of your home rises and your home loan balance declines, you’ll be building wealth, giving you something to borrow against should you ever need money to start a business, for example, or to pay for further education, or to fund a better retirement.
*Owning an asset to sell or to rent, should you want to. This means that even if a change in your circumstances does prompt a move, you will have a way of raising the deposit on a new home close to your new job or more suited to a new family. Alternatively, the property can be rented out, giving you some income and security while you travel or take a work assignment abroad.”
*Gaining independence. Having your own home means not having to share your space – or at least being able to call the shots if your roommates / tenants are too noisy or messy.

As for what type of property to buy, he says many young buyers find the transition to home ownership easier if they buy an apartment or a townhouse. “Such units usually require less upkeep than freehold homes, and come with built-in neighbours as well as extra facilities in many cases, such as a pool, gym, entertainment area and even a laundry or a tennis court. Of course they are also usually much less expensive than freehold homes.”

This is important, Rademeyer says, because young people should only buy properties that they can comfortably afford. “And the calculation of how much they can afford to repay on a home loan must be done very carefully, and must take into account any other financial commitments they have as well as the ongoing costs of home ownership, to ensure that they will not be over-extended financially.
“Otherwise the property is likely to become a burden rather than a pleasure, and they could even end up in a foreclosure situation that would leave a black mark on their credit record and makes any future loan application or property purchase very difficult."

Consequently, he says, obtaining mortgage pre-approval through a reputable bond originator such as BetterLife Home Loans is an excellent first move, which should be followed by the selection of a qualified, experienced estate agent to help find exactly the right type and size of property.
Contact us today and let’s get you into that dream home.

Anne-Marie Bamber
Home Loans consultant
Tel: +27 (0)21 851 3568 | Fax: +27 (0)21 441 1494 | Cell: +27 (0)82 071 1665




TOXOPLASMOSIS - what is it?

We were recently asked about Toxoplasmosis and the dangers this protozoa poses to humans, particularly pregnant women. So, this month we are going to find out all about it and what precautions you need to take to keep yourself and your unborn baby safe! 

And no, you don’t need to find a new home for your beloved cats!

Toxoplasmosis is a disease caused by Toxoplasma gondii, one of the most common protozoan parasites in the world. It is able to infect a wide range of hosts and different host cells.

 
HOW DO I GET TOXOPLASMOSIS?

To become infected with toxoplasmosis you must accidently eat the parasite!

THEREFORE, THE CHANCES OF BECOMING INFECTED WITH TOXOPLASMOSIS FROM EATING OR HANDLING RAW OR UNDERCOOKED PORK IS MUCH GREATER THAN YOU CONTRACTING IT FROM CAT FAECES!

Studies have shown that approximately 50% of humans infected with toxoplasmosis, contracted the disease through:

1. FOOD
  • Eating raw, undercooked or contaminated meat such as pork, lamb or venison 
  • Accidental ingestion from not washing hands thoroughly after handling raw or undercooked meat.
  • Eating food that has been in contact with contaminated utensils, knives or chopping boards.

2. ANIMAL TO HUMANS

As the definitive host, cats do play an important part in the life cycle of this protozoa. Cats become infected through hunting and eating infected rodents, birds and other small prey. Cats will then shed the oocyst stage of the protozoa in their faeces, therefore contaminating soil and/or litter boxes. To contract this disease via your cat you must:

  • Accidentally ingest the oocysts after cleaning litter boxes
  • Ingest anything that has come into contact with your cats faeces i.e.: cleaning out litter trays or gardening then eating or drinking without washing your hands first!


FACTS!

  • Cats do not carry the parasite on their fur! 
  • Cats that spend their lives indoors are unlikely to carry toxoplasmosis unless they are fed infected meat.
  • Cats seldom will get sick themselves when infected by the parasite but will shed it in their faeces when infected for the first time.

HOW WILL I KNOW IF I HAVE TOXOPLASMOSIS?



Generally speaking healthy people who become infected show no signs or symptoms. The few that do will present with flu like symptoms.

  • Body aches
  • Enlarged lymph nodes
  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Fatigue

However, for those with weakened immune systems (e.g.; HIV/AIDS, cancer patients) it can cause serious complications. If you are pregnant and become infected it is possible to pass toxoplasmosis onto your unborn baby.

A SIMPLE BLOOD TEST CAN DETERMINE WHETHER YOU HAVE BEEN EXPOSED TO TOXOPLASMOSIS.

If you are thinking of starting a family it may be a good idea to discuss this with your doctor.

HOW CAN I PROTECT MYSELF FROM INFECTION?

PRACTICING GOOD HHYGIENEWHEN PREPARING AND HANDLING FOOD WILL HELP TO PROTECT YOU.

If you are healthy, once you have been infected with toxoplasmosis your immune system kicks in by keeping the parasites inactive and providing you with lifelong immunity.

TIPS:

  • WASH HANDS BEFORE AND AFTER PREPARING FOOD
  • Peel and wash fruits and veg before eating
  • Ensure meat is cooked at a safe temperature and is not raw
  • Avoid eating raw meat particularly if you are pregnant
  • Wear gloves when gardening and cleaning litter trays .
  • Clean litters trays often
  • Or better still ask another family member to change the Litter box!


!WASH HANDS!

Travel broadens the mind


It is often said that “travel broadens the mind” but what does this really mean for the brain?

By Dr Samantha J. Brooks Ph.D. 

Mark Twain once wrote, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”  Being a neuroscientist, I am fortunate to be able to travel to some far away places to present my work and to meet and learn from international colleagues and mentors.  And as a British citizen having lived in different countries, I am acutely aware of how different cultures can influence one’s identity. I also love spending my spare time hiking through the beautiful mountains in South Africa, which also enables me to broaden my identification with parts of the world vastly different to my home country, and with others from different backgrounds.  Identification is a self-concept that relies on interacting neurons within circuits such as those connecting the prefrontal cortex, somatosensory cortex and emotion centres in the brain.  Even neural impulses work best by traveling across and synchronising between vast areas of the cortex rather than localising to one specific area!


Sometimes, as I wander through busy airports en route to my destination, I find myself glimpsing at fellow travellers, wondering whether travel really does lead to broad, charitable views of men and things, or whether mixing oneself with other cultures simply confuses our minds!  Under the spotlight of people’s current reactions to globalisation - such as Brexit, the election of US President Donald Trump, mass-migration and the increased threat of extremists from various cultures, it is useful to consider whether people who can’t or won’t travel are actually better off, and what effect traveling and migration might have on our cultural identities.  With all this exposure to new cultures and better access to travel, how do our brains respond to new places and people? If we make an effort to learn about different cultures, does it alter the brain for the better – or does traveling and migration to far-flung places have a detrimental influence on our neural pathways in the long run?

Traveling abroad and meeting new people might be exciting but for some it can also be scary! However, avoiding travel and not meeting new people (even within one’s town or local neighbourhood) can keep an underlying, general fear of the unknown alive in the mind.  The fear response in the brain is well documented by neuroscientists, and involves activation of the amygdala, an almond-shaped structure in the middle of the brain that can make our excitement become a negative emotion and behaviour.  The amygdala is often activated when we are afraid, along with the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis that together represent the brain’s threat-detector.  

A fear response to groups of people who are different to us is prominent in today’s global society and also sadly a part of South African history.  Yet this historical approach to different cultures might be changing in the modern era with greater exposure to and interaction with each other through travel and migration.  Yet the history of prejudice and discrimination that characterised the Apartheid era - which began when the Dutch, British and other European colonialists travelled long distances from Europe to South Africa – might have been made all the more worse by a lack of integration into existing African societies.  

But now we have better opportunities to learn how to integrate, as more of us, not just an elite few, are able to broaden our minds through domestic and international travel.  Exposure to people who are different to use can create lasting friendships that change the brain’s networks, including the link between the amygdala and how our prefrontal cortex evaluates our perceptions of people, places, and even ourselves. Getting to know people who might at first be unknown to us can lead to the release in the brain of the hormone oxytocin, which increases our trust and empathy, reduces feelings of threat and changes brain pathways forever.



In line with this, my colleagues at the University of Cape Town, in collaboration with Dr Melike Fourier and Professor Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela, have recently published a brain imaging study showing that cultural identity can alter the way the amygdala, frontal cortex and other parts of the brain react to physical and social pain (e.g. watching someone else being physically hurt versus social exclusion and shame).  In other words, if you can identify with a person, or group of people, even if they at first seem very different to you, it can alter your empathy towards them and how your brain reacts.  The good news is, with regular exposure to people who may be very different to you, the brain and the level of empathy towards them (understanding their feelings) can be adjusted. The process of altering our empathy and understanding towards other cultures is a hugely creative process.


Creativity in the brain also makes one a more focused problem-solver - a function linked to the prefrontal cortex and a group of microcircuits called the executive control network.  The executive control network includes the dorsolateral (literally: “top-side”) prefrontal cortex, the ventromedial (literally: “bottom-middle”) prefrontal cortex, the orbitofrontal cortex (the bit of the brain between your eyes) and the anterior cingulate cortex (that monitors whether or not you have solved a problem or achieved a goal). People who travel (either inside or outside their home country) are more likely to be creative problem solvers with broader memory networks that harness sophisticated responses to the environment, and are less likely to suffer from anxiety and depression.  These findings also coincide with being more appreciative of one’s own culture, as well as less fearful of trying new experiences, such as foods that one might once have regarded as foreign.  Planning and participating in travel often activate reward pathways in the brain, including the opioid, dopamine and adrenergic neurotransmitter systems.  And we all know that planning for a holiday in a far-away place is almost as much fun as being on the holiday itself!

So does travel really broaden the mind? Mark Twain might have been onto something!  With the advent of modern neuroscientific techniques that allow us to measure the living brain while it functions, we can corroborate his poetic viewpoint.  It seems that by increasing our exposure to other types of people who are different to us, and other countries that are different to our home country, we broaden our trust and understanding capabilities.  By doing so we are also likely to make more friends, become more creative at problem solving, sharpen our mental focus, feel less fearful and generally experience greater happiness and well-being.  So even if you cannot travel by plane, train or automobile, a trip to another neighbourhood to meet new people could broaden your mind and improve your (and somebody else’s) life!

Dr Samantha Brooks is a neuroscientist at the UCT Department of Psychiatry and Mental Health, specialising in the neural correlates of impulse control from eating disorders to addiction.  For more information on neuroscience at UCT and to contact Samantha, see www.drsamanthabrooks.com.