Body & Fitness

Health update: Stress release, migraines and cravings

Sara Bunny keeps you up-to-date on medical matters and good-living tips.

Take a deep breath…

If you’re feeling stressed in the lead-up to the silly season, try some sama vritti, or ‘equal breathing’. The simple yoga technique involves breathing in for four seconds, then exhaling for four seconds, and can help focus the mind and promote calmness. Once you’ve mastered the four-second method, try moving on to six or eight counts per breath. The ancient technique is particularly effective before bed.

Crazy cravings

Fancy snacking on some soil? Hungering for clay or tempted by the taste of paint chips? Cravings for non-edible items is called ‘pica’, and the bizarre condition can be a sign of iron deficiency. Doctors say pica is more common than you think, as many people do their unusual nibbling in secret.

Sperm science

When it comes to making babies, will men one day be surplus to requirements? French researchers have patented a method to create sperm using stem cells. Although it’s taken 20 years to refine, scientists are still not sure if it will work, and plan to test out the technology on rats.

Stepping out and going the distance

Everyone from hardy athletes to curious novices will be warming up at the start line of the Auckland Marathon on November 1. If the event motivates you to dig out your trainers and enter an endurance race, try these top tips:

  1. Build up slowly: It’s not rocket science that to build endurance you have to run further, but many make the mistake of attempting longer distances at full pace. To increase your running distance, one of your runs each week should be longer than usual, but at a pace where you can still hold

a conversation.

  1. Don’t hold on to worn-out shoes: Ideally you should be getting a new pair every 500-800km. Always go to a dedicated sports shop and get fitted by a pro.

  2. Increase leg strength: One of the best ways to strengthen legs is with a one-leg squat: stand on one leg and squat down as far as you can without your hips tilting or your knees turning in. Do three sets of three-to-six squats on each side.

  3. Tweak your technique: Changing running habits can be difficult, but small alterations to your technique can save you from injury and make a difference to speed and efficiency. Focus on running tall – imagine there is a thread pulling the top of your head upwards, and concentrate on getting your feet to land underneath your body, rather than in front of it, to reduce the load on your joints.

Mind those migraines

If you regularly suffer from the nausea-inducing, head-splitting pain of migraines, experts say it may be due to your ‘hyper excitable’ brain. Specialists at the Migraine Headache Clinic at the University of Chicago have found even small disruptions in routines, such as a bad night’s sleep or missing a meal, can trigger migraines in some people. While it remains unclear why the brain goes into overdrive, scientists say trying to keep a regular schedule of sleeping and eating can help, as well as getting adequate rest and having a short break every 90 minutes while at work.

Words by Sara Bunny

Photos by Getty Images

Get The Australian Woman’s Weekly NZ home delivered!  

Subscribe and save up to 38% on a magazine subscription.

Related stories