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The body beautiful: in search of freeze-dried blueberries, Mr Universe and a twerk-out

May 2nd, 2017 by

Sydney’s Fitness Show offers a peek at the latest, greatest and most bizarre new trends in the $8.5bn fitness industry

The steady stream of trim people kitted out in fluoro and black Lycra navigating the vast underground car park is the giveaway.

Despite the fact that it’s a gloriously sunny Saturday morning – dare I say perfect for running in the park – the fit and the wannabe fit are headed to Sydney’s newly reopened International Convention Centre, this year’s home for the Fitness Show for a peek at the latest, greatest and most bizarre new trends in the $8.5bn fitness industry.

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Don’t feed seagulls or pick blackberries: how to go for a walk and not get arrested

May 2nd, 2017 by

It used to be one of life’s simple pleasures, but now park rules and regulations mean going for a stroll could cost you an arm and a leg

Walking – sorry, taking the 10,000 steps a day required to keep you from having a heart attack/getting cancer/becoming crippled by anxiety caused by failing to walk 10,000 steps a day – is supposed to be an innocent activity. It’s free, good for you, and you get to avoid following the latest election/Brexit horrors and watch some blossom drifting down a drain instead. Unfortunately, walking can be as fraught with disillusionment as scrolling through your Twitter feed. New rules imposed in Hampshire, which could be rolled out to other councils, stipulate that dog owners who walk more than four animals at a time could face a fine of up to £100. And there are plenty more metaphorical (and actual) poops to avoid on your daily perilous stroll. Here’s how to go for a walk and not get arrested.

Related: Pecking order: East Devon district council to fine seagull feeders

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How was your weekend running?

May 2nd, 2017 by

Lets talk recovery, cakes and weekend racing. Not necessarily in that order. Come and share your recipes and running below the line as always

You guys. Last week’s comments below the line were just overwhelming. I can’t thank you enough (or bake enough cake for all of you) but thank you from the bottom of my now-about-73%-chocolate-and-cake heart. I have wallowed in self-pity and now come out the other side, ready to begin again. Or at least get back into training at some point before I actually just have melted butter running around my veins.

But enough about me. There were plenty of races on this weekend, from yesterday’s Hackney Half, to fell races, to Milton Keynes marathon – about to start as I write this. Who has PBs, PWs or cake recipes to share?

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Are frozen fruit and vegetables as good for you as fresh?

May 2nd, 2017 by

Fresh is best – right? In fact, studies on the relative benefits of fresh and frozen show no consistent differences

When you are shopping for juicy strawberries or fresh greens, you may not stop at the frozen food aisle. Frozen fruit and vegetables often don’t look the part once defrosted, and you may think that the freezing process depletes them of some nutritious value. Nothing is as good for you as fresh – right? On the other hand, frozen is often cheaper and is there all year round. And fresh is a relative term; fruit and vegetables can be in transit, sit in stores or wait in your fridge for some weeks. But can you get the same nutritional benefit from your frozen five a day?

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Steroid injections, physio and fish oils: what really works for painful knees?

May 2nd, 2017 by

It’s not until your knees start hurting that you realise how much work they do. So, which problems should you worry about, and which treatments should you try?

Our knees are a marvel of engineering. They take quite a battering over the course of a lifetime, especially an active one; knees bear our full weight when we’re standing, with extra force when we run, jump, twist, go up and down stairs, kick a ball or cavort around a tennis court or down a ski slope. Little wonder knees are susceptible to short-term (acute) injuries and long-term (chronic) problems such as osteoarthritis (“wear and tear”). Most acute knee problems get better without specific treatment, and the best initial treatment for chronic knee pain is exercise and weight loss. Other options include simple painkillers, physiotherapy, steroid injections, cartilage and ligament repair, and total knee replacement. Claims are made for dietary supplements and spices such as fish oils, turmeric and glucosamine. Newer therapies being investigated include injecting the knee with hyaluronic acid, stem cells or platelet-rich plasma.

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How to let grief work for you | Julia Samuel

May 2nd, 2017 by

The death of a loved one creates an inner wound that can’t be ignored. Healing it requires work

Grief is profoundly misunderstood. We seem happy to talk about sex or our sense of failure, or to expose our deepest vulnerabilities. But on death and loss we are silent. Which is why Prince Harry and the Duke of Cambridge were so courageous in talking openly about the mental health taboo their grief following their mother’s death – having a greater impact in a week, than I’ve managed in 20 years. Most of the time we prefer it when the bereaved don’t show their distress, and we say how “amazing” they are for being “so strong”. But, despite the language we use to try to deny death – euphemisms such as “passed over”, “lost”, “gone to a better place” – the harsh truth is that, as a society, we are ill-equipped to deal with it. The lack of control and powerlessness that we are forced to contend with goes against our 21st-century belief that medical technology can fix us; or if it can’t, that sufficient quantities of determination can.

Every day thousands of people die, expectedly and unexpectedly – 500,000 deaths a year occur in England alone. On average, every death affects at least five people, which means that, cumulatively, millions will be hit by the shock of the news. They will forever remember where they were when they heard that their parent, or sibling, or friend, or child, was dying or had died. It will impact on every aspect of their world for the rest of their lives and ultimately alter their relationship with themselves. How successfully they manage their grief will, in turn, come to touch the family and friends around them.

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A stitch in time saves stress down the line

May 2nd, 2017 by

Renaissance in needlecraft is fuelled by huge social media interest

With his bald head and tattooed triceps, Jamie Chalmers is an unlikely advocate for the delicate art of cross-stitch, but the 42-year-old is a self-styled kingpin of contemporary embroidery.

Mr X Stitch – as he is known to his many social media followers and those who attend his workshops in London’s East End – is leading a march of young, hip men and women embracing textile crafts. Across Britain, an army of needle-wielding folk are joining sewing and knitting groups, signing up to classes and enjoying the rewards of stitching, knitting and crochet in a renaissance of traditional needle skills.

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My workout: ‘I was freestyle slalom skating before I even knew it was a sport’

May 2nd, 2017 by

Alice Lean, 11, on the thrill of freestyle slalom skating

On my fifth birthday, my dad bought me a pair of inline skates. I loved them. For a few years, all I did was skate around, but after a while that got boring, so he got me some cones. I’d dance through them at the local park. I really enjoyed it, so we looked it up and found YouTube videos of people slalom skating, doing all these different tricks. It was so exciting that this thing I’d been doing actually existed as a sport.

My dad discovered a community of slalom skaters in Hyde Park, London, about an hour and a half from our home in Gravesend, and took me there one summer. I was really nervous. There were all these people in their late teens and mid-20s. They were skating along to music and their style was amazing. Everyone was so nice to me, treating me as an equal and teaching me tricks. They’ve become my friends.

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Do bigots just lack imagination? | Oliver Burkeman

May 2nd, 2017 by

Empathy requires mental gymnastics at the best of times. Empathy for whole categories of people requires Olympic-level skills

It is usually seen as a depressing paradox about human beings that we find it easier to sympathise with one person’s suffering than with that of thousands: Stalin probably never really said “one death is a tragedy, a million deaths is a statistic” – but he was right all the same. It’s not much of a paradox, though. It makes sense: each of us has access to only one set of thoughts and emotions – our own – so we’re obliged to relate to others by analogy, working on the assumption that they feel pain and joy like we do. (As philosophers enjoy pointing out, you can’t truly know that your family and friends aren’t just meaty robots, with no inner life at all.) And it’s obviously easier to draw an analogy between yourself and one other person, as opposed to “the population of Somalia” or “all victims of domestic violence”, let alone those killed in the future by global warming, who aren’t necessarily even born yet. Empathy requires mental gymnastics at the best of times. Empathy for whole categories of people requires Olympic-level skills, and most of us aren’t up to it.

But there’s an intriguingly easy way to induce compassion for groups, according to a new study by the psychologist Kurt Gray and colleagues, published in the Journal Of Experimental Psychology and reported by Vox. It makes a difference, they found, whether you say “a group of 50 refugees” (for example) versus “50 refugees in a group”. The first phrasing focuses on the group, not its members, with the result that we think of those members as less capable of rich inner experience – and less human, if we’re honest – than ourselves. The latter phrasing focuses on the members, rather than the group. That linguistic switch proved sufficient for participants in the study to treat them as fully human, and fully deserving of compassion.

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Experience: I had a free birth

May 2nd, 2017 by

We never extricated ourselves from the system; we just didn’t go for check-ups or scans

A free birth is one without medical assistance. For us, that meant no scans, no doctors and 58 hours of labour in our lounge: just me, my husband, Flynn, and our friend Claire.

I’m 32 and a yoga teacher, so yoga and mindfulness have allowed me to understand and trust my body. I’m also practical. I looked at all the things that could go wrong, then all the things that could go right – and chose positivity. I fell pregnant with our little girl, Fox, in May 2016.

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