“My sport is my medicine” / “Mein Sport ist meine Medizin”

A few days ago a colleague said to me, “you always look so happy, keep taking those drugs!”

I know he was trying to make a joke, so I replied “my sport is my medicine!”

Afterwards I thought about this short conversation a bit more.  I have written about the link between mental wellbeing and being physical active.  I also wrote about the link between weightlifing and emotional wellbeing.

I compete in powerlifting and train 4 times a week. On my rest days, I enjoy walking, jogging and a bit of gardening, anything that gets me out into the fresh air.

I think that my competitive sport and being physical active enables me to manage the other aspects of my life – my hectic personal life, my professional as well as my scholarly work, as described in the blog My Powerlifting Journey.  Thanks to my sport I can completely switch off for a few hours a week, always feeling energized afterwards.

I have setbacks in my life, just like everybody else, and with my sport I found a way of dealing with them.

Vor ein paar Tagen sagte ein Kollege zu mir: “Du siehst immer so glücklich aus, nimm weiter diese Drogen!”

Ich weiß, dass er versucht hat, einen Witz zu machen, also antwortete ich “mein Sport ist meine Medizin!”

Danach dachte ich ein wenig über diese kurze Unterhaltung nach. Ich habe über den Zusammenhang zwischen geistigem Wohlbefinden und körperlicher Aktivität geschrieben. Ich habe auch über den Zusammenhang zwischen Gewichtheben und emotionalem Wohlbefinden geschrieben.

Mein Sport is Powerlifting und trainiere 4 Mal pro Woche. An meinen Ruhetagen genieße ich Spaziergänge, Joggen und ein wenig Gartenarbeit, alles, was mich an die frische Luft bringt.

Ich denke, dass mein Sport und meine körperliche Aktivität es mir ermöglichen, die anderen Aspekte meines Lebens zu bewältigen – mein hektisches Privatleben, meine professionelle wie auch meine akademische Arbeit, wie im Blog Meine Powerlifting-Reise beschrieben. Dank meines Sports kann ich für ein paar Stunden in der Woche komplett abschalten und fühle mich danach immer wieder energiegeladen.

Ich habe Rückschläge in meinem Leben, genau wie alle anderen Menschen, und mit meinem Sport habe ich einen Weg gefunden, mit ihnen umzugehen.

 

 

 

Healthy Ireland /Eine gesunde Initiative aus Irland

Press Release from the Department of Health, Ireland,  07 June 2018

An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar TD, with Minister for Health Simon Harris TD and Minister of State for Health Promotion Catherine Byrne TD, launched the Government’s Healthy Ireland Summer 2018 campaign in the Phoenix Park today.

The Healthy Ireland 2018 campaign seeks to encourage people to get out and get active together this summer – whether walking with a group, visiting some of our many parks and heritage sites with family or sharing a salad or summer fruit with friends.

Building on January’s Healthy Ireland 2018 campaign, which encouraged people to make a small, healthy change, the Summer campaign highlights the benefits of making those changes with others – getting out and feeling good together. Research shows that starting a healthy habit with someone, such as a family member, friend or colleague, is more likely to last than if you do it alone.

These positive changes are focused on three key areas: eating more healthily, being more active, and minding our mental wellbeing. With the opportunities that the summer brings – longer days and better weather, along with healthy, seasonal fruit and veg – people are encouraged to ‘pause the box set’ and take the opportunity to be outdoors, to connect with others in our communities and enjoy our natural amenities. Healthy Ireland, along with all of our partners, provides support and information to help people make these healthy choices.

Speaking at the launch of the Healthy Ireland Summer 2018 campaign the Taoiseach said “The message of the Government’s Healthy Ireland Summer 2018 campaign is simple; small steps can make a big difference to your health, you just need to start. And if you start with someone else, you’re more likely to make a lasting change. We’re encouraging everyone to get involved with your neighbours, friends and family or through Healthy Ireland partner organisations to join a group that can help you to take that first step to a healthier lifestyle. Summer is here and it’s an ideal time to plan to get outdoors more often, to enjoy our parks and other amenities, to go for a walk or a run or just take a mental break. These positive and sustainable changes can help us all build a healthy Ireland.”

Minister for Health Simon Harris said: “Healthy Ireland is about supporting people to improve their own health and wellbeing. This summer provides us all with a new opportunity to take those first steps to a healthy change. Creating a healthier Ireland is a job for us all and means every Government Department and every sector playing their part to achieve that vision. I’d like to thank all of our partners for their hard work and support. If everyone made one small change this summer, it would add up to a big change for the health of the whole population.”

Healthy Ireland is a major Government-led programme to encourage and support everyone living in Ireland to have the best possible physical and mental health and wellbeing.

This campaign looks to build on the work done by Healthy Ireland over the past three years, as well as a first phase of the 2018 Communications Campaign launched in January. The implementation of Healthy Ireland involves significant collaborative, cross-governmental work to develop and implement policies to address our major public health challenges such as obesity, smoking and physical inactivity, and to ensure related policy areas, such as education, planning, transport, rural and community development are aligned to facilitate and prioritise health and wellbeing.

Visit gov.ie/healthyireland and follow #healthyireland and #feelgoodtogether to find out about the changes you can make, and to find resources, tips and ways to get involved.

Implementing Healthy Ireland Summer 2018 campaign with “Team Kitty”

Happy to make these healthy changes with “Team Kitty”: Moving weight training  outdoors 🙂

Kitty the cat outside with stones
Kitty the cat discovers new sporty opportunities.
Kitty and Katrin planning the weightlifting workout
Kitty and Katrin planning the weightlifting workout
Kitty and Katrin outdoors
Weightlifting with Kitty the cat
Weightlifting Training outdoors
Making the best out of the beautiful Irish summer: Weightlifting training outdoors

Pressemitteilung des Gesundheitsministeriums, Irland, 7. Juni 2018

An Taoiseach (Irischer Premierminister) Leo Varadkar TD, mit Gesundheitsminister Simon Harris TD und Ministerin für Gesundheitsförderung Catherine Byrne TD, startete heute die Kampagne “Healthy Ireland Summer 2018” der Regierung im Phoenix Park.

Die Kampagne “Healthy Ireland 2018” möchte Menschen dazu ermutigen, diesen Sommer gemeinsam aktiv zu werden, zum Beispiel  mit einer Gruppe spazieren gehen, mit der Familie einige der vielen Parks und Kulturstätten besuchen oder mit Freunden einen Salat oder Obst essen.

Aufbauend auf die “Healthy Ireland” -Kampagne, die die Menschen zu kleinen, gesunden Veränderungen ermutigt, hebt die Sommerkampagne die Vorteile hervor, diese Aktivitäten gemeinsam mit anderen zu machen. Die Forschung zeigt, daß es wahrscheinlicher ist, eine gesunde Gewohnheit beizubehalten, wenn man sie mit einem Familienmitglied, einem Freund oder Kollegen durchführt.

Diese positiven Veränderungen konzentrieren sich auf drei Bereiche: gesünder essen, aktiver sein und geistiges Wohlbefinden fördern. Mit den Möglichkeiten, die der Sommer bringt – längere Tage und besseres Wetter, zusammen mit gesundem, saisonalem Obst und Gemüse – werden die Menschen ermutigt, die “Box –Sets” zu pausieren und die Gelegenheit zu nutzen, sich mit anderen zu treffen und Natur, Parks und Strände zu genießen. Healthy Ireland bietet zusammen mit all unseren Partnern Unterstützung und Informationen, um Menschen dabei zu helfen, diese gesunden Entscheidungen zu treffen.

Der Taoiseach sagte beim Start der Kampagne “Healthy Ireland Summer 2018”: “Die Botschaft der Kampagne” Healthy Ireland Summer 2018 ” ist einfach; kleine Schritte können einen großen Einfluss auf Ihre Gesundheit haben, Sie müssen nur beginnen. Und wenn Sie mit anderen zusammen beginnen, ist es wahrscheinlicher diese Veränderungen beizubehalten. Wir ermuntern alle dazu, sich mit ihren Nachbarn, Freunden und Familienmitgliedern oder durch gesunde Partnerorganisationen in Irland einer Gruppe anzuschließen, die Ihnen helfen kann, den ersten Schritt zu einem gesünderen Lebensstil zu machen. Der Sommer ist da und es ist eine ideale Zeit, um öfter ins Freie zu gehen, unsere Parks und andere Annehmlichkeiten zu genießen, spazieren zu gehen oder einfach nur eine mentale Pause zu machen. Diese positiven und nachhaltigen Veränderungen können uns allen helfen, ein gesundes Irland aufzubauen. ”

Gesundheitsminister Simon Harris sagte: “Bei einem gesunden Irland geht es darum, Menschen dabei zu unterstützen, ihre eigene Gesundheit und ihr Wohlbefinden zu verbessern. Dieser Sommer bietet uns allen eine neue Chance, diese ersten Schritte zu machen. Ein gesünderes Irland zu schaffen, ist eine Aufgabe für uns alle und bedeutet, dass jede Regierungsbehörde und jeder Sektor ihren Teil dazu beiträgt, diese Vision zu verwirklichen. Ich möchte allen unseren Partnern für ihre harte Arbeit und Unterstützung danken. Wenn jeder in diesem Sommer eine kleine Veränderung vornehmen würde, würde dies eine große Veränderung für die Gesundheit der gesamten Bevölkerung bedeuten. ”

Healthy Ireland ist ein wichtiges Regierungsprogramm zur Förderung und Unterstützung aller in Irland lebenden Menschen, um die bestmögliche körperliche und geistige Gesundheit und Wohlbefinden zu erreichen. Die „Sommer 2018- Kampagne“ soll auf die Arbeit von Healthy Ireland aufbauen, die vor drei Jahren gestartet wurde. Die Umsetzung von “Healthy Ireland” erfordert eine umfassende Zusammenarbeit zwischen den Regierungsabteilungen Bildung, Verkehr und Landwirtschaft, damit Strategien zur Bewältigung der großen gesundheitlichen Herausforderungen wie zum Beispiel Adipositas, Rauchen und Bewegungsmangel umgesetzt werden können.  Besuchen Sie gov.ie/healthyireland und folgen Sie #healthyireland und #feelgoodtogether um herauszufinden, welche Änderungen Sie vornehmen können und um Ressourcen, Tipps und Möglichkeiten zu finden, sich zu engagieren.

 

Health and Wellbeing: Active Ageing for Older Adults in Ireland

Evidence from The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing

TILDA (The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing)  researches the impact on the health and well-being of Ireland’s adult population aged 54 years and over and maps changes that have occurred since the first wave of TILDA data collection in 2010. Potent factors which influence health and well-being are volunteering, caring, financial transfers, health insurance coverage, health care utilisation, health screening, diet, medication use and prophylaxis such as vaccination uptake.

Key Findings

Older adults in Ireland contribute to and benefit from their extended family and the communities in which they live.

  • Within the last two years, one quarter of adults in Ireland aged 54 years and over with living parents assisted their parent(s) with basic personal care while 43% provided help with other activities such as household chores, errands, shopping, and transportation. Half of older adults also provided financial help to their parent(s).
  • The majority of children remain geographically close to their parents: Two thirds of adults aged 54 years and over have children either living with them or in the same county.
  • Older adults in Ireland who have children are more likely to provide financial assistance to their children (48%) than receive financial help from them (3%).
  •  Half (47%) of adults aged 54 to 64 years and 65 to 74 years (51%) provide regular childcare for their grandchildren for an average of 36 hours per month. Quality of life is higher in those who care regularly for their grandchildren.
  • More than half (53%) of older adults in Ireland volunteered at some time during the previous year with 17% doing so at least once per week. Retired adults and those with higher levels of educational attainment are more likely to do so. Frequent volunteering is associated with better quality of life and fewer depressive  symptoms.
  •  Sixty percent of the older population take part in active and social leisure activities at least once per week, while 47% are involved in formal organisations, such as sports or social clubs. Social participation is associated with better quality of life and fewer depressive symptoms, however levels of participation decrease with age.

 

Weightlifting and the Positive Effects on Emotional Wellbeing

Since I started with powerlifting about two and a half years ago I noticed the positive effect the sport has on my mood. There is this calmness I feel after a good workout as I mentioned in a previous blog (My Powerlifting Journey).

Other powerlifters have also described the relaxation aspect of this sport and the reduction of anger, the emotional wellbeing. I agree with them. When I am preparing for a big lift there is this intense concentration with one single purpose. This is a quiet and meditative moment, nothing else matters but lifting the weight.

Now research finds that resistance training is useful in warding off depression and mental health problems. A study published in the JAMA Psychiatry international journal indicates that strength training or weight lifting has positive effects on mental health.
This large-scale study found that resistance training was comparable in effect to frontline treatments such as antidepressant and behavioural therapies. The review, comprising 1,877 participants in total, also found that strength training or weightlifting “is free from the negative side-effects and high costs of many medications and therapies”, according to Brett R Gordon of the Physical Education and Sport Sciences Department at University of Limerick.
The study found that depressive symptoms among participants taking part in the training fell regardless of whether they were healthy or had an illness, or whether they actually built up their physical strength during the research.
The positive effects of resistance exercise training on participants’ mental health did not increase the more sessions they took part in and researchers noted that further research is needed to “explore the optimal resistance exercise training routine” for dealing with depression.

 

Keeping fit at all ages – yesterday in Malahide/Gestern in Malahide

Yesterday I took a rest from my powerlifting training and went for a morning walk in Malahide, a small town in North County Dublin, Ireland. Within one hour of walking I was able to visit the Malahide Marina, Malahide Castle and the Malahide Village. I also noticed the many people being active, either jogging, running, walking or cycling. There was a park run on, organised by parkrun.ie and sponsored among others by Healthy Ireland.  About a hundred people participated, young and old. Great to see so many people of all ages being active, and all that at 9.30 in the morning!

Meanwhile my son Christian was playing golf in Malahide Golfclub. To his surprise he noticed number of non-golfers – a family of foxes, as shown in his video!

Gestern nahm ich eine Auszeit von meinem Powerlifting-Training und machte stattdessen einen Morgenspaziergang in Malahide, einer kleinen Stadt in North County Dublin, Irland. Innerhalb einer Stunde konnte ich den Malahide Yachthafen, das Malahide Schloss und das Malahide Village besuchen. Ich bemerkte auch, dass viele Leute aktiv waren, entweder Joggen, Laufen oder Radfahren. Es gab einen Park Run, der von parkrun.ie organisiert und unter anderem von Healthy Ireland gesponsert wurde. Ungefähr hundert Leute nahmen teil, jung und alt. Toll, so viele Menschen jeden Alters aktiv zu sehen, und das alles um 9.30 Uhr morgens!

Inzwischen spielte mein Sohn Christian Golf im Malahide Golfclub. Zu seiner Überraschung bemerkte er einige Nicht-Golfer, eine Familie von Füchsen, wie sein Video zeigt!

 

The Yogi masters were right – breathing exercises can sharpen your mind

New research explains link between breath-focused meditation and brain health

It has long been claimed by Yogis and Buddhists that meditation and ancient breath-focused practices, such as pranayama, strengthen our ability to focus on tasks. A new study by researchers at Trinity College Dublin explains for the first time the neurophysiological link between breathing and attention.

Breath-focused meditation and yogic breathing practices have numerous known cognitive benefits, including increased ability to focus, decreased mind wandering, improved arousal levels, more positive emotions, decreased emotional reactivity, along with many others. To date, however, no direct neurophysiological link between respiration and cognition has been suggested.

The research shows for the first time that breathing – a key element of meditation and mindfulness practices – directly affects the levels of a natural chemical messenger in the brain called noradrenaline. This chemical messenger is released when we are challenged, curious, exercised, focused or emotionally aroused, and, if produced at the right levels, helps the brain grow new connections, like a brain fertiliser. The way we breathe, in other words, directly affects the chemistry of our brains in a way that can enhance our attention and improve our brain health.

The study, carried out by researchers at Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience and the Global Brain Health Institute at Trinity, found that participants who focused well while undertaking a task that demanded a lot of attention had greater synchronisation between their breathing patterns and their attention, than those who had poor focus. The authors believe that it may be possible to use breath-control practices to stabilise attention and boost brain health.

Michael Melnychuk, PhD candidate at the Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience, Trinity, and lead author of the study, explained: “Practitioners of yoga have claimed for some 2,500 years, that respiration influences the mind. In our study we looked for a neurophysiological link that could help explain these claims by measuring breathing, reaction time, and brain activity in a small area in the brainstem called the locus coeruleus, where noradrenaline is made. Noradrenaline is an all-purpose action system in the brain. When we are stressed we produce too much noradrenaline and we can’t focus. When we feel sluggish, we produce too little and again, we can’t focus. There is a sweet spot of noradrenaline in which our emotions, thinking and memory are much clearer.”

“This study has shown that as you breathe in locus coeruleus activity is increasing slightly, and as you breathe out it decreases. Put simply this means that our attention is influenced by our breath and that it rises and falls with the cycle of respiration. It is possible that by focusing on and regulating your breathing you can optimise your attention level and likewise, by focusing on your attention level, your breathing becomes more synchronised.”

The research provides deeper scientific understanding of the neurophysiological mechanisms which underlie ancient meditation practices. The findings were recently published in a paper entitled ‘Coupling of respiration and attention via the locus coeruleus: Effects of meditation and pranayama’ in the journal Psychophysiology. Further research could help with the development of non-pharmacological therapies for people with attention compromised conditions such as ADHD and traumatic brain injury and in supporting cognition in older people.

There are traditionally two types of breath-focused practices — those that emphasise focus on breathing (mindfulness), and those that require breathing to be controlled (deep breathing practices such as pranayama). In cases when a person’s attention is compromised, practices which emphasise concentration and focus, such as mindfulness, where the individual focuses on feeling the sensations of respiration but make no effort to control them, could possibly be most beneficial. In cases where a person’s level of arousal is the cause of poor attention, for example drowsiness while driving, a pounding heart during an exam, or during a panic attack, it should be possible to alter the level of arousal in the body by controlling breathing. Both of these techniques have been shown to be effective in both the short and the long term.

Ian Robertson, Co-Director of the Global Brain Health Institute at Trinity and Principal Investigator of the study added: “Yogis and Buddhist practitioners have long considered the breath an especially suitable object for meditation. It is believed that by observing the breath, and regulating it in precise ways—a practice known as pranayama—changes in arousal, attention, and emotional control that can be of great benefit to the meditator are realised. Our research finds that there is evidence to support the view that there is a strong connection between breath-centred practices and a steadiness of mind.”

“Our findings could have particular implications for research into brain ageing. Brains typically lose mass as they age, but less so in the brains of long term meditators. More ‘youthful’ brains have a reduced risk of dementia and mindfulness meditation techniques actually strengthen brain networks. Our research offers one possible reason for this – using our breath to control one of the brain’s natural chemical messengers, noradrenaline, which in the right ‘dose’ helps the brain grow new connections between cells. This study provides one more reason for everyone to boost the health of their brain using a whole range of activities ranging from aerobic exercise to mindfulness meditation.”

Reference:   Melnychuk, M.C., Dockree, P.M, O’Connell, R.G,  Murphy, P.R, Balsters, J.H,  Robertson, I.H. (2018). Coupling of respiration and attention via the locus coeruleus: Effects of meditation and pranayama, Psychophysiology,  https://doi.org/10.1111/psyp.13091

Source: Trinity News

WHO plan to eliminate industrially-produced trans-fatty acids from global food supply

WHO yesterday released REPLACE, a step-by-step guide for the elimination of industrially-produced trans-fatty acids from the global food supply.

Eliminating trans fats is key to protecting health and saving lives: WHO estimates that every year, trans fat intake leads to more than 500,000 deaths of people from cardiovascular disease.

Industrially-produced trans fats are contained in hardened vegetable fats, such as margarine and ghee, and are often present in snack food, baked foods, and fried foods. Manufacturers often use them as they have a longer shelf life than other fats. But healthier alternatives can be used that would not affect taste or cost of food.

“WHO calls on governments to use the REPLACE action package to eliminate industrially-produced trans-fatty acids from the food supply,”said WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “Implementing the six strategic actions in the REPLACE package will help achieve the elimination of trans fat, and represent a major victory in the global fight against cardiovascular disease.”

REPLACE provides six strategic actions to ensure the prompt, complete, and sustained elimination of industrially-produced trans fats from the food supply:

REview dietary sources of industrially-produced trans fats and the landscape for required policy change.

Promote the replacement of industrially-produced trans fats with healthier fats and oils.

Legislate or enact regulatory actions to eliminate industrially-produced trans fats.

Assess and monitor trans fats content in the food supply and changes in trans fat consumption in the population.

Create awareness of the negative health impact of trans fats among policy makers, producers, suppliers, and the public.

Enforce compliance of policies and regulations.

Several high-income countries have virtually eliminated industrially-produced trans fats through legally imposed limits on the amount that can be contained in packaged food. Some governments have implemented nationwide bans on partially hydrogenated oils, the main source of industrially-produced trans fats.

In Denmark, the first country to mandate restrictions on industrially-produced trans fats, the trans fat content of food products declined dramatically and cardiovascular disease deaths declined more quickly than in comparable OECD countries.

“New York City eliminated industrially-produced trans fat a decade ago, following Denmark’s lead,” said Dr. Tom Frieden, President and CEO of Resolve to Save Lives, an initiative of Vital Strategies. “Trans fat is an unnecessary toxic chemical that kills, and there’s no reason people around the world should continue to be exposed.”

Action is needed in low- and middle-income countries, where controls of use of industrially-produced trans fats are often weaker, to ensure that the benefits are felt equally around the world.

WHO Global Ambassador for Noncommunicable Diseases, Michael R. Bloomberg, a three-term mayor of New York city and the founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies, said: “Banning trans fats in New York City helped reduce the number of heart attacks without changing the taste or cost of food, and eliminating their use around the world can save millions of lives. A comprehensive approach to tobacco control allowed us to make more progress globally over the last decade than almost anyone thought possible – now, a similar approach to trans fat can help us make that kind of progress against cardiovascular disease, another of the world’s leading causes of preventable death.”

Elimination of industrially-produced trans fats from the global food supply has been identified as one of the priority targets of WHO’s strategic plan, the draft 13th General Programme of Work (GPW13) which will guide the work of WHO in 2019 – 2023. GPW13 is on the agenda of the 71st World Health Assembly that will be held in Geneva on 21 – 26 May 2018. As part of the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals, the global community has committed to reducing premature death from noncommunicable diseases by one-third by 2030. Global elimination of industrially-produced trans fats can help achieve this goal.

“Why should our children have such an unsafe ingredient in their foods?” asks Dr Tedros. “The world is now embarking on the UN Decade of Action on Nutrition, using it as a driver for improved access to healthy food and nutrition. WHO is also using this milestone to work with governments, the food industry, academia and civil society to make food systems healthier for future generations, including by eliminating industrially-produced trans fats.”

Notes
There are two main sources for trans fats: natural sources (in the dairy products and meat of ruminants such as cows and sheep) and industrially-produced sources (partially hydrogenated oils).

Partially hydrogenated oils were first introduced into the food supply in the early 20th century as a replacement for butter, and became more popular in the 1950s through 1970s with the discovery of the negative health impacts of saturated fatty acids. Partially hydrogenated oils are primarily used for deep frying and as an ingredient in baked goods; they can be replaced in both.

WHO recommends that the total trans fat intake be limited to less than 1% of total energy intake, which translates to less than 2.2 g/day with a 2,000-calorie diet. Trans fats increases levels of LDL-cholesterol, a well-accepted biomarker for cardiovascular disease risk, and decreases levels of HDL-cholesterol, which carry away cholesterol from arteries and transport it to the liver, that secretes it into the bile. Diets high in trans fat increase heart disease risk by 21% and deaths by 28%. Replacing trans fats with unsaturated fatty acids decreases the risk of heart disease, in part, by ameliorating the negative effects of trans fats on blood lipids. In addition, there are indications that trans fat may increase inflammation and endothelial dysfunction.

From 4 May-1 June 2018, WHO is running an online public consultation to review updated draft guidelines on the intake of trans-fatty acids saturated fatty acids for adult and children.

Source: World Health Organization