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Content Was Refreshed: 26 Mar 2019 | 04:04:52

Health & wellbeing | The Guardian

Latest Health & wellbeing news, comment and analysis from the Guardian, the world's leading liberal voice

The new James Bond movie starts filming soon, so the 51-year-old star has apparently been hitting the gym like never before

Name: The name’s 12-hour routine, Daniel Craig’s 12-hour routine.

Appearance: Sweaty, not stirred.

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Posted: March 25, 2019, 5:54 pm
More and more people are working where they live, attracted by the promise of flexibility, efficiency and no commute. But does this come at a cost to their wellbeing?

When Sean Blanda started working remotely in 2017, the allure of a “digital nomad” lifestyle – working at your laptop on the beach, say – wasn’t lost on him. The ability to work flexibly, be that at home or wherever else life may take you, is the dream for every disgruntled employee who has to fit in school pickups, dentist appointments and long commutes around office hours.

But after two years of working from home, Blanda, an editorial director for a tech company based in Philadelphia, knows only too well the many pitfalls of this way of life, with the greatest being isolation.

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Posted: March 25, 2019, 10:00 am

Shinrin-yoku, an immersion in nature, is regularly ridiculed. But until you’ve tried it, you cannot know just how powerfully restorative time in the woods can be

At this time of year, the sun rises a little after 6am. My alarm goes off half an hour before. Without disturbing my sleeping babies, I smuggle myself downstairs, fix a flask of tea and, booted and scarfed, head out into the dewy darkness for the forest.

Through hazel and holly and ash and yew, over a treadless carpet of moss and wild garlic, only a few feet into the forest is enough to be submerged. Deeper into the green, I look for my sit-spot: a three-trunked ash, perfectly shaped to hold me cross-legged, nature-cradled, in that still, dark world. The sun begins to rise through the trees, revealing everything to be sharper, more definite, yet more unreal. It’s the most immersive show in the world and it happens for free every day. I go back home once the sun has fully risen, wake the house and start the day, privately smiling that I have infiltrated a hidden part of the morning that is mine alone.

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Posted: March 25, 2019, 7:00 am

Keep them short, don’t be afraid to file – and remember to moisturise, says a leading dermatologist

Nails should be kept fairly short. The longer they are, the more easily they are damaged – especially your fingernails, if you work with your hands. If they are fine, you can use a normal clipper; for anything thicker – usually toenails, but sometimes fingernails – you will need a heavy-duty version. Use a nail file for shaping, or if it hurts when you clip your nails. You don’t need to use it in just one direction, but do file gently to avoid damage.

Fingernails should be given a curve, while toenails should be cut straight across, to prevent ingrowth. You can cut a little down the sides of your toenails, especially if you are prone to ingrowing toenails, to take them away from the skin. If you have persistent problems with an ingrowing toenail, you will need to see a doctor.

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Posted: March 24, 2019, 3:00 pm

This unpronounceable LED device claims to help those with insomnia – I give it a whack and prepare to bust some ZZZs

This week we turn our attention to a light metronome, called Dodow, that claims to be able to train your brain to fall asleep. This sounds similar to the fantastical pseudo-science that promised us x-ray specs 30 years ago, but stick with it. The LED device projects a ring of blue light on to the ceiling that shrinks and expands. Synchronising your breathing with it stimulates the baroreflex, a physiological mechanism that slows the metabolism and the secretion of neurotransmitters. Basically, breathe in and chill out.

Dodow is “designed by insomniacs”, which doesn’t sound like something to boast about. Whenever I check my phone after a sleepless night, the Notes app is full of unfathomable fragments that struck me as very important at 3am. Stuff such as “Velcro is immortal” and “Am I making blood all the time?”

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Posted: March 24, 2019, 3:00 pm

A week in Wales with a lifeboat of fellow passengers reaps surprising results

I am stretched out on a mattress in front of a log fire, tears running down my face, crying for my sister, as my mother strokes my hair and whispers into my ear. I have cried many times for my sister – she died when we were children, and I am now 56 – but I’ve never been soothed like this before. It feels amazing.

The woman touching my face and shoulders with such love is not my actual mother, who is hundreds of miles away. I am in the oak-panelled great hall of a Victorian country mansion beside the River Usk in the Brecon Beacons in Wales, and my carer is Turiya Hanover, co-founder of the Path of Love retreats.

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Posted: March 23, 2019, 1:00 pm

These games are fun as well as being high intensity and improving fitness

People tend to have so much fun playing childhood games they forget they’re exercising, and push themselves harder because they want their team to win. Here are three of the best to try.

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Posted: March 23, 2019, 6:59 am

Labour peer Robert Winston has asked about regulating cyclists. An imagined transport minister responds

On Monday, the scientist and Labour peer Robert Winston is to formally ask a question in the House of Lords about what assessments ministers have made “for requiring adults riding bicycles in city centres to have a licence and third-party insurance”.

Below is the entirely imagined response I would like the government to make to him.

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Posted: March 18, 2019, 2:18 pm

To cut greenhouse gas emissions we need to increase cyclist numbers and that means getting more women on their bikes

So much of the world around us is designed for men; from the mundane (public toilets and smartphones) to the potentially deadly (stab vests and crash test dummies). My own research, recently launched at the C40 Women4Climate conference, revealed similar trends in how we design cities and formulate transport policy, with devastating consequences.

Transportation accounts for up to one-third of greenhouse gas emissions from the world’s biggest cities and traffic is the largest source of toxic air pollution. To create sustainable, healthy and liveable cities, we need to increase the number of cyclists on our streets, and that means getting more women on their bikes. In San Francisco, only 29% of cyclists are women; in Barcelona, there are three male cyclists for every female cyclist; in London, 37% of cyclists are female.

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Posted: March 8, 2019, 7:00 am

Sadiq Khan’s claims to have built 140km of cycling infrastructure are simply false

Among the more amusing frauds of the energy company Enron was the time, in 1998, when it decided to create an entire fake trading floor at its Texas HQ – complete with TVs, computers, and shirtsleeved guys shouting down phones – to fool Wall Street analysts visiting for its annual general meeting.

Now, however, the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, appears to be aiming for something even more ambitious – an entire fake cycle network. I am in south-west London, in an alley about six feet wide, wedged between a railway line and the back garden fences of Southdown Road. According to Khan, this is the Wimbledon to Raynes Park Quietway, part of the 140km of cycle infrastructure, which he claims to have built since taking office.

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Posted: February 25, 2019, 7:00 am

National cycle crime strategy set to launch after survey finds 50% of victims feel police don’t take the offence seriously

For many people a bicycle is the only transport they can afford and the only exercise they get. These people are often among society’s most vulnerable, and the impact of the loss of their bike can be devastating. So why is cycle theft so often seen as a minor crime?

According to the police, 96,210 bikes were stolen in 2018, and about one in 50 bicycle-owning households are victims of cycle theft each year, but it’s a crime disproportionately visited on the young and the poor.

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Posted: February 22, 2019, 7:00 am

Trial of once-daily capsule appeared to reduce sperm count with few side-effects

Hopes for a male contraceptive pill have increased after a trial showed a once-daily capsule appeared to work with no significant side-effects.

The drug aims to suppress levels of hormones that drive the production of sperm and testosterone in the testes.

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Posted: March 25, 2019, 3:00 pm

Matt Hancock hails ‘game-changer’ but critics raise racial bias and ‘fatalism’ concerns

The health secretary is calling for predictive genetic tests for common cancers and heart disease to be rolled out on the NHS without delay.

Matt Hancock, speaking at the Royal Society on Wednesday, revealed he recently took a commercial genetic test that showed he was at heightened risk of developing prostate cancer, saying he was shocked by the result. Hancock called for a national debate about the ethical issues around testing for diseases, some of which could not readily be treated.

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Posted: March 20, 2019, 10:09 am

Lesley Regan argues maternity checks ignore lifelong health, letting women fall through the cracks

One of the UK’s top doctors is leading an effort to revolutionise health services for women, from helping them prevent unplanned pregnancies to staving off disease in old age.

Prof Lesley Regan, the president of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, is co-chairing a women’s health task force with the government minister Jackie Doyle-Price, which aims to help the 51% of the population who are women get joined-up care and attention to their needs throughout the lifespan.

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Posted: March 18, 2019, 6:00 am

UK women claim they were not told enough about potential risk of rare breast cancer

A group of more than 200 women are considering legal action over controversial breast implants that have been linked to a rare form of cancer.

The women claim they were not sufficiently informed about the risks of textured Allergan implants, which were pulled from the European market in December. Six of the women developed anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL), a rare blood cancer that has been linked to textured implants.

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Posted: March 10, 2019, 6:29 pm

Bookshop owners say political turmoil has sent customers in search of uplifting titles

Sales of self-help books have reached record levels in the past year, as stressed-out Britons turn to celebrities, psychologists and internet gurus for advice on how to cope with uncertain times.

Three million such books were sold – a rise of 20% – according to figures from Nielsen Book Research, propelling self-improvement or pop psychology into one of the fastest-growing genres of publishing.

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Posted: March 9, 2019, 4:00 pm

There are many diets you can follow if you want to live more healthily, but it’s hard to know which has the best long-term effects? Luckily, a team of experts has done the research

Losing weight is a common new year’s resolution. Even when dressed up as a pledge to eat more healthily, it can be tinged with self-loathing. Those pigs in blankets, mince pies and Baileys. Why, oh why? But at least anyone who wants to improve their diet has a fantastic resource to help them. With perfect timing, a US panel of experts in diet, obesity, diabetes, heart disease and food psychology has scrutinised and ranked 40 diets. Its listings, which are produced annually, show which diets are best for short- and long-term weight loss, which are easiest to follow, which you are most likely to stick with – and which are unsafe because they don’t supply enough nutrients.

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Posted: January 5, 2018, 4:18 pm

A new study suggests canine-lovers could be 23% less likely to die from heart disease – or it could just be that healthier people prefer dogs

Dogs really are our best friends, according to a Swedish study that says canine ownership could reduce heart disease. A study of 3.4 million people between the ages of 40 and 80 found that having a dog was associated with a 23% reduction in death from heart disease and a 20% lower risk of dying from any cause over the 12 years of the study. Previous studies have suggested dogs relieve social isolation and depression – both linked to an increased risk of heart disease and early death.

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Posted: December 4, 2017, 7:00 am
More than a quarter of new fathers in a new study showed significant levels of depression – what are the causes, and what can they do about it?

Men don’t go through pregnancy or childbirth. Their hormone levels don’t nosedive. They don’t get sore nipples. What exactly have they got to be depressed about? Quite a lot, according to research from Sweden showing that, over the past 10 years, a significant number of men have struggled with the transition to fatherhood.

This latest research tries to quantify just how many men get postnatal depression. Previous studies have found between 4% and 10% of men, while, in this smallish sample of 447 Swedish fathers who volunteered (and may therefore not represent your average dad), a surprising 28% of men had symptoms that scored above mild levels of depression. Overall, 4% had moderate depression. Fewer than one in five fathers who were depressed sought help, even though a third of those had thought about harming themselves. While women in the UK are often asked a series of questions that screen for postnatal depression (which affects up to 13% of women), the mental health of fathers is rarely assessed.

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Posted: November 13, 2017, 8:00 am
If you have sensitive skin, doctors recommend moisturisers without fragrance or allergic ingredients, but terms such as ‘hypoallergenic’ and ‘dermatologist-recommended’ are often just marketing tools

What do you look for in a body moisturiser? Is it the smell, how smooth it leaves your skin feeling, or how much it costs? If you are attracted by terms such as “dermatologist recommended” or “hypoallergenic”, you may be disappointed. A study of the top 100 best-selling whole body moisturisers found that not only did prices vary by 9,400% but that 95% of the products claiming to be dermatologist-recommended had at least one ingredient that could cause an allergy. Of the hypoallergenic moisturisers, 83% contained a substance on the allergen list of the North American Contact Dermatitis Group (NACDG). The most common potential allergy-causing ingredients were fragrance mix and paraben mix (a preservative).

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Posted: October 30, 2017, 7:00 am

A new report suggests that young people are aware of their parents’ drinking – and it may well have an impact on their relationship with alcohol. So should you keep booze out of the family home?

When you’re drinking wine at home, don’t look as if you’re enjoying it – at least not if you have kids. How much you drink, how often you say: ‘Ah, that’s nice,’ while imbibing and whether you use alcohol as a reward or coping mechanism can all encourage adolescents to drink, according to a report last week from the Institute of Alcohol Studies.

In case you think it’s OK for teenagers to drink, the Department of Health advises children have an alcohol-free life until the age of 15 and only one drink a week until they are 18. In 2009, Prof Liam Donaldson, the Chief Medical Officer at the time, warned that “exposing children to drink-fuelled events” was one of the root causes of the UK’s drinking problem.

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Posted: October 23, 2017, 6:00 am

If you want to try to mend things, you need to pick your best mode of communication, says Annalisa Barbieri

My younger sister never invites me to her house, but visits me three or four times a year. Without fail, during each visit, she will deliver me one verbal knockout blow. The things she says swim around in my head for weeks after she has visited. Her comments might concern my lifestyle; negative things that have happened that, in her opinion, I was responsible for; telling me that other family members never wanted me around (I returned to the family home after my marriage ended); or cruel observations about how I look. They are always very spiteful, hurtful remarks.

I never respond to these comments. She lives alone and has few, if any, friends. She is narrow-minded, has little interest in the outside world and, most importantly, has had severe depression in the past, during which time we didn’t speak for a few years. I am conscious of her loneliness and I do not want to make her ill.

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Posted: March 22, 2019, 3:00 pm

She was violent and abusive when I was a child so I’ve cut ties. But now that I need a copy of her passport, she refuses to help

I want to register as an Irish citizen. My grandmother was Irish and I have most of the documents I need for the application, but my mother, from whom I am estranged, won’t let me have a copy of her passport. She was violent and abusive when I was a child, and her abusive attitude continued into adulthood. I cut ties because it is damaging to my mental health to be around her. When I got in touch and politely asked if I could have a notarised copy, which I would pay for, she refused. She gets satisfaction in “punishing” me and I know she will draw this out as long as she can. I don’t know what to do. I want to have as little contact with her as possible.

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Posted: March 22, 2019, 12:02 pm

I’m 50, she is 48 and her sex drive has plummeted. The situation is starting to damage our relationship

I am a man with a female partner – I will be 51 in a few months, and she is 48. Until a little over a year ago we had a very healthy sex life, but she was hit hard by menopausal symptoms, and along with many of the typical problems associated with that situation, her sex drive has plummeted. She started taking Chinese herbal medication about six months ago, and is now feeling much better. However, the medication does not address any hormonal issues, and she has utterly lost interest in sex. I have asked her many times to go to a doctor to discuss this. The problem is that she thinks the current situation is completely normal – that it is natural that people lose appetite for sex when they reach our age. She cannot understand why I still want to have sex, and has even told me that I am the one who should undergo counselling for this.

The situation is starting to damage our relationship, as after being rejected countless times I now feel constrained from even touching her in a sensuous way. What should I do?

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Posted: March 19, 2019, 8:00 am

Until you test the boundaries of your desires, you’ll be perpetually dissatisfied, says Mariella Frostrup

The dilemma I am a man in my late 50s. I am youthful and go to concerts, festivals and art exhibitions. I have been married for 34 years. My wife and I get along quite well. We share a sense of humour, talk often and holiday together. But there has been no sex between us for 15 years. I have always been a sensitive and feminine man. I like emotional movies, poetry, women’s clothes and so on. I like being surrounded by women and feel uncomfortable among men. Lately I have secretly been buying women’s clothes from online stores and have started using makeup when I am alone. This happens often, because I live in my employer’s apartment in another city during the week. I am almost always alone when I am not with my wife. I have no friends any more. I closed all my social media accounts years ago during a period of depression. I am confused about who I am. In which direction should I go? What about my marriage situation? I know I am getting older day by day and that time is running out.

Mariella replies You’re hopefully aware that it’s a pretty sad missive you’ve just dispatched to me. You’re at a terrifying but conversely pretty exciting crossroads and it will require a mammoth degree of forbearance if you take one path and enormous courage for the other. I’m no expert on the specifics when it comes to transvestite lifestyles, cross-dressing or issues of gender realignment, but I can tell a life half-lived when I see one. Everything you are describing sounds like an alternative way of living is not just beckoning but building to a reality that you need to explore for your own peace of mind.

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Posted: March 24, 2019, 6:00 am
Content Was Refreshed: 26 Mar 2019 | 04:04:53

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