Health update: Waking up, bottoms up and taking a paws

Bea Taylor reports on ways to stay focused, energised, warm and comfortable.

Wake-up calls
The early bird catches not only the worm, but also some added health benefits. According to research from the American National Sleep Foundation, early risers tend to be happier and more focused than those who stay up late. But night owls should not despair – a 2014 study published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences suggests nocturnal types are greater risk takers and have better memory or brain-based skills.
Bottoms up
If sitting at a desk all day is giving you a numb bum and ‘no exercise guilt’, isolating your glute muscles alternately is a great way to tone and lift your rear. Clenching each cheek one after the other in quick 10–12 repetitions a couple of times a day, increases blood circulation and delivers more oxygen to your working muscles. This gives you a boost in energy levels – as well as a pert bottom.
Even if you are desk bound there are still exercises you can do to avoid the dreaded 'office bottom'.
Cool to be hot
Many of us turn to those invitingly hot drinks to warm us up on a cold day; however it turns out a steaming cuppa can actually have the opposite effect. A recent study from the University of Sydney shows that consuming a hot drink triggers sweating, which subsequently cools the body. In fact, it is cool drinks that cause the body to store more heat. Bring on the iced water!
Apparently, iced water is better for your body temperature in colder weather.
Pretty protection
Incontinence is an issue which affects huge numbers of New Zealanders. If you are one of the million Kiwis who experience this health issue, it doesn’t mean you are consigned to ugly underwear. A New Zealand company has developed fashionable hi-tech styles that look and feel like regular lingerie. ConfiTEX’s elegantly sexy ‘feel good’ range is absorbent, waterproof, pad-free and machine-washable – as well as affordable. They will show the collection at New Zealand Fashion Week this month.
Paws for thought
Looking at videos of cute cats can help tired workers.
Watching cat videos is a guilty pleasure for many, but a study from Indiana University’s media school shows that instead of being dismissed as the king of all procrastination, this furry distraction actually has a positive effect on work attitude. This research suggests watching felines perform can improve energy and promote a positive mind-set. These emotional pay-offs help us tackle more demanding tasks afterwards. But, as with everything, keep it in moderation.
Smart parenting in a digital world
When 63 per cent of five to 10-year-olds in New Zealand have their own internet-enabled devices, and 78 per cent of six-year-olds are using the internet, parents can be forgiven for being daunted by child-rearing in the digital age.
This is why The Parenting Place has collaborated with Vodafone and NetSafe to create Digi-Parenting – a website to help parents guide their kids online.
Parenting expert Dave Atkinson says restricting access could do more harm than good because “you risk isolating your kids”, but he does suggest some positive steps you can take to ensure your children are safe while using the internet.
  • Seize the moment: Leverage kids’ enthusiasm for getting a social media account or device to put rules in place – contracts can be downloaded at
  • Get involved: Set up your own Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat accounts, and get your kids to walk you through what they do online. Use discussions as a springboard for talking about wider issues – language, respect, privacy and vulnerability.
  • Be prepared to confront the uncomfortable: It is not a matter of if, but when, your child will be exposed to explicit content. Put your opinion out there so they are educated by you, rather than their peers and the internet.
  • Technology with limits: Parental controls are free on PCs and Macs. You can set up an account and a password for each child, and restrict what sites they can access. You can also set times of the day and length of time children can access the internet.
  • Filtering: Filters can be placed on devices, routers and some websites to screen inappropriate content. But the most important filtering is the filtering between their ears – you can’t be with your kids all the time, so teach them how to be responsible.
Ponder this
Meditation can help with IBS according to a recent study.
Sufferers of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) may benefit from meditation. A medical study in the United States looked at meditation’s effects on 19 IBS and 29 IBD patients. Improvements in the patients’ symptoms, general anxiety and quality of life were all noted.
4 cups of coffee per day is the healthy limit for adults
Drinking up to 4 cups of coffee per day has no adverse affects on health.
According to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), up to 400mg of caffeine a day from various sources doesn’t impact on your health, but pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers should not exceed 200mg.
Words by: Bea Taylor, additional reporting by Nicola Russell and Sheree Mutton
Photographs by: Getty Images

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