Beetroot helps brain become more youthful, reveals new study

A new scientific study reveals that drinking beetroot juice prior to working out enables the aging brain to perform more efficiently and appear younger.

Previous studies have shown that beetroot juice increases blood flow to the skeletal muscles during exercise by 38%. Now, researchers at Wake Forest University have found that drinking beetroot juice ahead of a workout improves the brains of older adults. The beetroot juice supplement provides the brains of this demographic function with improved efficiency, mirroring the functionality of younger brains. Though it was known that exercise alone makes a positive impact on the brain, it comes as a bit of a surprise that beetroot juice supplements also bolster mental processing power. The results of the study were recently made available to the public in peer-reviewed Journals of Gerontology: Medical Sciences.

About the Study

The brief training study keyed in on hypertensive older individuals. The effort was led by W. Jack Rejeski, the Director of the Behavioral Medicine Laboratory in the Department of Health & Exercise Science. The study’s lead author was Meredith Petrie, one of Rejeski’s former undergraduate students. The study served as the first test to gauge the combined impact of exercise and beetroot juice supplements on the brain’s functional networks in the motor cortex along with the secondary connections between the insula and cortex that ameliorate mobility.

The study analysed 26 men and women over the age of 55. These individuals performed no exercise, were saddled by high blood pressure and received no more than two medications to treat the malady. Half the study participants were provided with Beet-It Sport Shot with 560 mg of nitrate, a beetroot juice supplement, three times per week for six weeks. They consumed the supplement an hour before embarking on a 50-minute walking session on a treadmill. The other half received a placebo Beet-It with minimal nitrate.

A Word on Beets

Beets are loaded with dietary nitrate. This nitrate is converted to nitrite and subsequently converted to nitric oxide after consumption. Nitric oxide stimulates blood flow through the body. Several studies have shown nitric oxide boosts exercise performance in individuals across numerous age groups. It is revered as a powerful molecule that travels to portions of the body that are hypoxic or in need of oxygen.

The brain is one of the primary suppliers of oxygen to the body. As one exercises, the brain’s somatomotor cortex sorts cues stemming from the body. Exercise serves to strengthen the somatomotor cortex. The combination of beetroot juice and exercise provides an abundance of oxygen to the brain, creating a fantastic environment for boosting the strength of the somatomotor cortex.

The Findings

Post-exercise analysis makes it clear that the group that consumed beetroot juice enjoyed heightened levels of nitrate and nitrite compared to those who consumed the placebo before exercising. It is important to note that participants in both groups had nearly the same levels of nitrate and nitrite in their blood before consuming the beetroot juice and placebo. Though additional studies must be performed, the study’s findings suggest that the foods and drinks consumed during the aging process make a monumental impact on the maintenance of the brain’s health and functionality.

How to keep fit all year round

Inspired by the fact that most give up on their new year’s resolutions on February, Simply Gym has created a guide to keeping to your health and fitness resolutions all year long, including some motivation tips and monthly goals to aim for.

The infographic gives you a little tip for each month of the year – combine them all to keep up your momentum and celebrate reaching your goals in December!

Nordic Walking

Nordic walking is sports walking with special walking sticks, which brings effective movement and an increase in physical fitness.

During a walk, up to 600 muscles are working – around 90% of the body’s muscles. The consumption of calories increases by up to 40% and the average consumption of around 400 calories per hour.

nordic walking im grünen
It increases aerobic endurance, has a positive effect on muscle imbalances, strengthens muscles in the upper part of the body, improves heart activity and blood circulation. It is also low impact on hip and knee joints.

Everything you need, including poles and equipment, click here Nordic Walking

Tai Chi

Tai Chi, as it is practised today, is a combination of a moving form of yoga and meditation. In Tai Chi there are a number of so-called ‘forms’ or ‘sets’ which consist of a humber of movements.

Many of these movements were originally derived from martial arts and from the natural movements of animals and birds. These movements are performed slowly and gracefully, with smooth, even, transitions between them.

Thai-chi in the dunes

In Chinese philosophy and medicine there exists the concept of ‘chi’, a vital force that animates the body. The aim of Tai Chi is to foster the circulation of this ‘chi’ within the body to enhance health and vitality. Another aim is to develop a calm and tranquil mind focused through the precise execution of Tai Chi exercises.

Lots of useful books here tai chi


Jospeh Pilates developed his concept in England whilst interred during the First World War, basing his principles on yoga and Tai Chi.

Whilst working at a hospital he began devising equipment to rehabilitate his patients, taking springs from beds and rigging them to create resistance.

Pilates is mainly taught on a mat, sometimes using specialist equipment that has changed little from the original hospital bedsprings.

Practiced faithfully Pilates yields numerous benefits, including increased lung capacity, strength, flexibility, posture and balance.
women in the gym doing yoga exercise for fitness

The balance and control taught in Pilates helps in all areas of ones life. His methods are so successful that all types of people now use them from ballet dancers to rugby players.

Top Pilates products pilates

Read the bestseller – Pilates for Life by Darcy Bussell

A change is as good as a rest – especially where exercise is concerned!

In pursuit of the body beautiful I go to visit fitness guru Melissa Crosby at the Kinesis Studios just off Ladbrooke Grove in London

In her light airy studio she has all kinds of interesting fitness devices which are used to combine Pilates, Gyrotonic, Yoga and general fitness for an ‘inter-displinary’ approach to keeping in shape.


The lovely Melissa (pictured above) believes that movement should feel good. So I take her at her word and sample a Gyrotonic class.I seem to recall reading that Madonna does this – but she probably has the whole kit at home.

Now Gyrotonic uses high-quality solid wooden benches and other paraphernalia, equipped with pulleys to support movement. It’s all about specific and smooth movements to stretch and unknot muscles and joints. I can see the rationale for this kind of exercise and the next day I feel it too particularly in my buttocks.

Melissa takes our class – there are only three of us since the instructors pay great attention to ensuring that everyone gets it right and that you don’t hurt yourself doing it!

Gyrotonic teaches movement that stretches and elongates the body- above

The way Melissa encourages you to work is entirely different from most forms of exercise I have experienced which are usually about cardio and calorie burning.

At Kinesis its more about taking a combined approach so you get to do a variety of things that target the problem areas (tums and bums) of the body such as Pilates.

And its not so easy even though you don’t work up a sweat when you are trying to turn both arms in a circle without moving the rest of your body.

You can try a lesson for free – more here at

Short bursts of exercise as good as full workouts

Short bursts of exercise, such as climbing stairs, is just as beneficial as a regular workout, according to new US research.
Co-author of the report, Professor Brad Cardinal, of Oregon State University, said that some everyday chores can all add up to a 30 minute workout and is a more natural way to exercise.
Included is light exercises, such as simply walking around while talking on the phone, which help decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
The researchers found that 43 per cent of those who did light exercise -including everyday chores that take a minute or two each – met government physical activity guidelines of 30 minutes per day, compared with less than 10 per cent of those who worked out.
Professor Cardinal added: ‘People get it in their minds that if they don’t get 30 minutes they might as well not exercise at all.
“You will always be presented with things that entice you to sit or be less active – such as using a leaf blower instead of a rake.  But making physical activity a way of  life is more cost-effective than an expensive gym membership.You’ll be healthier, more mobile and just feel better all round.”
Prof Cardinal said instead of driving half a mile, people should try biking or walking the same distance, and even doing pushups while watching TV.
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Lifestyle keeps you active in older years

London:  Positive lifestyle choices can pave the way for a healthy old age, new research has discovered.

Fotolia_9734660_XS-2.jpgA study of more than 5,000 people, in Britain and France, aged from 42 to 63, revealed individual behaviours such as staying active, had a small benefit.

Researcher Dr Siverine Sabia, from the University College London, said the study revealed that  the cumulative impact of healthy behaviours on successful ageing – the greater the number of healthy behaviours, the greater the benefit.

Those who were active, ate fruit and vegetables, didn’t smoke and limited their alcohol had the best chance of enjoying n active old age. Participants who engaged in all four behaviours had more than triple the chance of enjoying a healthy old age compared with those who engaged in none.

The study lexamined the records of 5,100 men and women who did not have cancer, heart disease or stroke in the assessment phase during 1991-1994. Those still alive were then re-assessed in 2007-2009.  Of the total participants, 549 had died during follow-up, 953 were classified as successfully ageing while the remaining people aged normally.


    Successful agers were more likely to have a higher education than the normally ageing group – 32 per cent against 24 per cent – and 18 per cent in the deceased group.

    In the study population, five per cent of people did not engage in any of the four healthy behaviours.

    Dr Sabia said: ‘Although individual healthy behaviours are moderately associated with successful ageing, their combined impact is quite substantial.

    ‘Multiple healthy behaviours appear to increase the chance of reaching old age disease-free and fully functional in an additive manner.’

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    Jogging can add years to your life, says new study

    Woman running.jpgCopenhagen: Jogging for as little as an hour a week can put years on your life, new research has shown.

    Regular running increases the average life expectancy of men and women by around six years, a study found.

    The greatest benefit came from jogging at a “slow or average” pace – enough to cause slight breathlessness – rather than pushing to physical limits.

    Danish heart expert Dr Peter Schnohr, who led the study of almost 2,000 male and female joggers, said: “The results of our research allow us to definitively answer the question of whether jogging is good for your health.

    “We can say with certainty that regular jogging increases longevity. The good news is that you don’t actually need to do that much to reap the benefits.”

    The jogging research is part of the Copenhagen City Heart Study which has been monitoring the health of 20,000 Danish men and women aged 20 to 93 since 1976.

    A team led by Dr Schnohr looked at death rates among a sub-group of 1,116 male and 762 female joggers over a period of up to 35 years.

    Participants were asked how much time they spent jogging each week, and whether they ran at a slow, average or fast pace.

    Compared with non-joggers in the main heart study population, the risk of death for both male and female runners was reduced by 44%.

    The data showed that, after taking account of age, jogging increased the lifespan of men by 6.2 years and of women by 5.6 years.

    Further analysis of the association between jogging and death rate revealed a “U-shaped curve”.

    This meant improvements were seen with increasing levels of exercise until an optimum point was reached, after which they reduced.

    Between one hour and two-and-a-half hours of moderately paced jogging a week, undertaken over two to three sessions, was ideal, said the scientists.

    “The relationship appears much like alcohol intakes,” said Dr Schnohr, who presented the findings today at a meeting of heart experts in Dublin. “Mortality is lower in people reporting moderate jogging than in non-joggers or those undertaking extreme levels of exercise.

    “You should aim to feel a little breathless, but not very breathless.”

    He said jogging delivered multiple health benefits, including raised oxygen uptake, increased insulin sensitivity, higher levels of “good” HDL cholesterol, lowered blood pressure, and reduced blood clotting.

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    FREE tickets for The Vitality Show at London’s Earls Court

    The Vitality Show, in association with Activia, is the UK‘s largest health, beauty, fitness and wellbeing event for women and is guaranteed to make you feel revitalised, beautiful, fit and healthy. And this year it is bigger and better before and kicks off on Thursday 22nd March at London’s Earls Court 2.
    Elixir has 4 pairs of free weekend tickets (entry on Saturday 24 and Sunday 25 March) for the show, worth £40 for two,  to give away. 
    If you would like to receive a pair of tickets please send your name and email address to us at – your name will be put into a draw. Winners will be informed on Wednesday 21 March and will be emailed their tickets. Please note that no money equivalent is being offered and the Editor’s decision is final.
    The Vitality Show, is the UK’s largest health, beauty, fitness and wellbeing event for women. With hundreds of top brands and unique products not found on the high street, 100 inspirational speakers, 60 free fitness and yoga classes, free cooking demos, health advice and dozens of ways to get in shape, Vitality Show is guaranteed to make you feel revitalised, beautiful, fit and healthy.
There’s everything you could possibly want to look good and feel great: take part in a free fitness or dance class, pick up secret beauty tips from the experts in the know, pamper yourself from top to toe, find a new way of working out with a yoga class, taste the latest healthy foods, get advice on changing your career, marvel at the top chefs at work in the kitchen, plan an exciting travel adventure, or simply sit back, relax and let our marvellous therapists work their pamper magic. 
    Go on, treat yourself…you deserve to look good and feel great!
    VIP makeover, hair and massage experiences available from just £45
    – Free cooking demos, health advice and dozens of ways to get in shape
    – Over 200 free fitness classes and seminars to experience
    The Vitality Show runs from Thursday until Sunday 25 March.  For more information and opening times look at the show’s website at
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    Athlete Kriss Akabusi motivates coach potatoes

    Many of us often worry whether we are as healthy as we should be, but how many of us actually do anything to find out whether we are, or in fact, even know how to go about checking?

    coachpotato.jpgFrom cholesterol tests, blood pressure monitoring, diabetes checks and even just following a healthy diet and exercise plan, trying to get and stay healthy can seem overwhelming, not to mention time consuming, especially for those of us who lead busy lifestyles and find it hard to fit in the day to day pressures as it is.

    In reality, finding out what you need to be monitoring and improving when it comes to your health doesn’t need to be hard; it’s all a matter of getting the right advice and making a commitment to a healthier lifestyle.

    Akabusi Headshot resized.png

    Athlete Kriss Akabusi pictured above

    One man who knows all about the benefits of health and fitness is Kriss Akabusi, and he’s encouraging everyone, from those of us who might classify ourselves as couch potatoes, to even those who already engage in a healthy lifestyle to make sure they’re fully informed about the state of their health.Kriss is backing health progamme, All About Health, that provides detailed information and advice on what you should be monitoring and how you can receive further support from your local pharmacy.

    Log on to our live Web TV show which takes place tomorrow (6 October at 14.30 GMT)  by clicking on the link below . Ask questions and  Kriss will give you tips on how to stay fit and healthy with minimum fuss, while All About Health pharmacist, Ajit Malhi, will outline how your local pharmacy can help you assess your health

    Kriss Akabusi and All About Health pharmacist, Ajit Malhi join us live online at   on Thursday 6th October at 2.30pm

    Click here to submit questions before the show   






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    Friendships are as important for your health as exercise

    Good friendsA survey of 300,000 revealed that quality friendships can do as much for your health as quitting smoking or eating a healthy diet.

    We all know that laughter and fun is meant to be very good for our health and stress levels, so maybe this new ‘revelation’ won’t be all that surprising to most.

    Quality, not quantity, is the important word here (we aren’t referring to how many friends you have on social networks!). These are the kind of friends you can confess your darkest secrets to and spend hours with, not those you want to strangle by the end of the day.

    The survey also revealed that not having good friendships is as bad for your health as becoming obese.

    So, take good care of the friends you already have and try to make new ones wherever possible. As we get older and a bit more set in our ways we seem to find it a bit harder to let our guard down and get to know someone new. 

    We get the feeling that this is one healthy living tip we will all find it easy to follow.

    Would a pay-as-you-visit scheme tempt you to the gym?


    ExerciseWould we visit the gym more if we could pay for it visit by visit?


    Heart Research UK’s health tip for the week is to visit the gym and maybe more importantly, find a gym which suits the way we want to exercise and how often.


    Picking the right gym and reducing the amount of pressure on ourselves is key to getting ourselves healthy.


    Whether we all admit it or not, the pressure we put on ourselves to get fit (and lose weight) just creates an extra barrier for us to get through. We spend money on gym memberships and equipment that we won’t really use and then spend the year flagellating ourselves about not using them.

    How many of us have already signed up for a new gym membership this January, a membership that we will probably use once or twice a week until February? A healthy decision, for both you and your wallet, may be to register for ‘payasUgym’.

    The scheme may not be for you if you love your local gym or already have a tried and tested routine for fitting exercise into your daily life but if not, payasUgym may be worth a try.

    Over 100 gyms in London and the southeast have become part of this scheme, in which you register for an ‘ePass’ and no longer have to worry about joining fees, membership or not getting to the gym enough.

    Registering and paying for your gym visits using an ‘ePass’ can even be done by loading an app onto your iPhone.

    The service is fast expanding, with new gyms and health clubs joining all the time, ranging from the practical quick visit gyms to the more luxurious end of the scale.

    The service launches on January 21st, so register for more information by visiting their website (

    If you are a gym owner you can also register for information by visiting their website.

    The real detox

    Yogatastic Don’t spend loads of money on detox packs or string yourself out on a disgusting syrup, juice and pepper concoction – commit to something which actually works…

    Every year we say we will stop eating when we feel full, or have one or two fewer glasses of wine but it never works.Well now the forced excess is all over and it’s time for punishing ourselves with the latest detox and weight loss fad. Or is it?

    Losing that bloated sinking feeling and getting yourself back on track for 2011 could be much simpler than you realise.

    We know the celebrities all endorse various detox/weight loss plans and we understand why. They are under a great amount of pressure to look good and above all, be the slimmest they can be, which prompts drastic measures in even the least neurotic and anxious of people. For those of us living our mundane (cough) everyday lives, such drastic action is not required: a few little tweaks can make all the difference.

    Here are six quick tips to banish that ‘jabba the hutt’ feeling:

    1. Make sure you get enough sleep. When you are tired your body wants the high energy, quick fix food which is very bad news for your blood sugar level and waistline. Tired people are also less likely to have the energy to exercise. Tired people always look older: perhaps the most effective inducement to get enough shut-eye. Need any more reasons?!

    2. As above, high energy/sugar food is very bad news for you (unless you are a super-duper fit athlete who burns a gazillion calories a day). Eating high sugar foods sends you up into the stratosphere for about 20 minutes until you crash back down to earth and into the biscuit cupboard. We don’t need to give it up completely, just reduce portion size and be careful not to eat your treat after dinner as those calories will be going nowhere fast.

    3. Raise your heart rate for at least 15 minutes a day. We all have some lonely exercise equipment or one of the many computer console exercise programs to hand for a quick endorphin boost, so requires no extra spenditure.  It gives you a little extra energy to go about your business and you don’t have to trek to the gym to spend time with other sweaty people. Yuck.

    4. Alcohol. We’re sorry to have to say this but if you want to feel better within a week, any delicious alcohol-based beverage is out. Alcohol is full of sugar. Wine is quite probably the healthiest of all the marketed beverages but still, as above, we know it is hard to restrict ourselves to just the one glass. So we advocate cutting it out for just a little while. Your liver will give thanks and you will very soon notice you are much less sluggish with better skin.

    5. Fruit and veg. You may have heard the news, you may not have done, but here it is; we do not have to eat 5 portions of fruit or veg a day. Of course it is advisable to eat as much as you can without stressing or obsessing if for no other reason that by eating something green, you are not eating a big cake or pork pie. Fruit is nice as well. You may have forgotten how nice it is with all those sugar laden treats out there but if you manage to cut back your sugar intake you will rediscover just how naturally beautiful many fruits are. Try to eat the actual fruits instead of getting juice – the fibre helps slow the flow of sugar into your bloodstream.

    6. Supplements. The most important are fish oil/omega 3 capsules which come with a side helping of Vitamin D – perfect for sharpening the old brain functions and making us feel less depressed about being mid-winter. There is no Vitamin D RDA and although we probably get enough help from the sun during summer, we need to supplement like crazy in winter. If you are over 50 you should be taking a Vitamin D supplement all year round. Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to all the old life threatening bad pennies of heart disease, diabetes and cancer and more research needs to be done to see exactly what deficient people are missing out on. As far as other vitamins are concerned: if you can manage a small daily dose of vitamin C, this will also help to reduce your chances of getting a bad cold.

    See, not a massive change, but will help you start to feel loads better and you might be inspired to effect a bigger change in your lifestyle. It doesn’t take much to get your body back on track – our organs, especially our main detox organ – the marvellous liver – are very resilient and do their very best job with just a little help from us.


    US older folk are sicker, but they live longer than Brits, new survey finds

    The elderly in the United States are sicker than older people in the UK, but they also live longer, a new study found.

    Americans aged 55 and older suffer from a higher rate of chronic illness, but Brits are more likely to die younger, says research from the US’s RAND Corp.and the Institute for Fiscal Studies in Britain.

    olderrunners.jpgThe findings have stirred up the long-standing debate over which country has the better health care system.

    Study co-author, James Smith, an economist at RAMD said: “If you get sick at older ages, you will die sooner in England than in the United States. It appears that at least in terms of survival at older ages with chronic disease, the medical system in the United States may be better than the system in England.””

    But Americans have to pay fare more than Brits for their healthcare – nearly double, according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

    The most recent data, from 2008. shows that the America spent 16 percent their total expenditure on health, which amounted to $7,538 a person. The average health-care cost per person in OECD member nations is $3,000

    Longevity expert Dr. Walter M. Bortz, author of Road Map to 100,” “Living Longer for Dummies” and a new book about health care called “Next Medicine” said: “Americans love to be sick. America is sicker because we love to go to the doctor, but the doctor loves to see us too,” he said. “We spend twice as much as any other country of the world – and we’re not better for it.That’s prolonging dying.”

    The research also looked at the results from two studies of aged 50+: the Health and Retirement Survey, which examined more than 20,000 people, and the English Longitudinal Survey of Ageing, which covered 12,000 people. They looked at age of death, the ages at which new illnesses developed and the rates of common chronic conditions including heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, cancer, lung disease and diabetes.

    The study published in the journal Demography, found that rates of cancer were more than double for Americans than for the British, 17.9 percent in America compared to 7.8 percent in the UK.  The British had nearly half as many cases of diabetes than the Americans, 10.4 percent compared to 17.2 percent.

    Though the death rates were almost the same among American and English people aged 55 to 64, those aged 70 to 80 died earlier in the UK compared to the US. The reearch team said the results showed that Americans lived longer despite being plagued by more disease.

    “The differences are striking,” another of the article’s authors, James Banks of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, told Reuters. “That’s got to be an important priority for policy in terms of lifestyle or behavioral factors.”

    Health care in the UK is provided by the Government-funded National Health System, which has come under fire and has been used as a bad example of a public health-care system by critics of President Obama’s plan.

    Smith said the US system is better at treating sick people and prolonging their lives than the British one, even though it is not as good in at preventing them from getting ill.

    “We are consecrated to repair in America,” said Bortz. “We should be consecrated to prevention.”

    He believes there is a secret to a longer life.

    “Aging is no longer an unknown. It comes down to fitness,” said Bortz, who just ran the Boston marathon for his 80th birthday. “Fitness is a 30-year age offset.”

    Should we just scrap the autumnal clock change?

    sun.jpgDoes it feel like you are going to work and coming home without seeing any daylight? We know that the reduction in daylight makes us all a tad depressed, but could we solve this by not changing our clocks each autumn?

    Not putting the clocks back in October and still putting them forward in the spring would be a simple and effective way to vastly improve our health and well-being, said an expert in last week’s BMJ.

    Mayer Hillman, Senior Fellow Emeritus at the Policy Studies Institute, argues that the effect of doing so would be to increase the number of ‘accessible’ daylight hours and thus encourage more outdoor activity throughout the year.

    Research shows that people feel happier, more energetic and have lower sickness rates in the longer and brighter days of summer, whereas their mood tends to decline during the shorter and duller days of winter. Two studies published by the Policy Studies Institute also point to a wide range of advantages of the clock change proposal.

    Hillman went on to say how surprising it is that there has been a consistent oversight of the role that increasing the number of ‘accessible’ daylight hours in this way could play in the promotion of physical health and well-being. Taking account of the typical daily patterns of adults and children, the clock change ‘would considerably increase opportunities for outdoor leisure activities – about 300 additional hours of daylight for adults each year and 200 more for children.’

    Hillman says there is considerable public support for this action.

    Tell us what you think

    Should we go along with the clock changes or demand a review?

    Poor core muscle strength linked to premature death



    People who struggle with simple physical acts such as balancing on one leg are at risk of an early death, according to a new study.

    It has long been thought that good balance and core muscle strength indicates a healthy body, and this recent research appears to confirm this.

    People who are better at simple physical acts such as gripping, walking, rising from a chair and balancing on one leg are more likely to live longer.

    Measures of physical capability, such as grip strength, walking speed, chair rising time and standing balance ability, can predict mortality in older people living in the community, UK researchers found.

    These measures are related to a person’s ability to perform everyday tasks. There is growing interest in using such measures as simple screening tools to identify people who might benefit from targeted interventions such as strength training.

    Researchers, including Rachel Cooper, from the MRC Unit for Lifelong Health and Ageing reviewed 57 studies and found 28 that looked at physical capabilities in people of any age and recorded subsequent mortality. They excluded studies of people in institutions such as hospitals and care homes. The results from 5 other studies were eventually included. Within those studies considered, 14 looked at grip strength, 5 with walking speed and 5 with chair rising.

    The team found that, although there was some variation between studies, there was consistent evidence of associations between all four measures of physical capability and mortality – people who performed less well in these tests had a consistently higher risk of death.

    Most of the studies were carried out amongst older people, but the association of grip strength with mortality was also found in younger populations.

    The authors say that this review has highlighted the lack of studies in this field in younger populations, and they also call for more research to examine the associations between changes in capability with age and mortality, as a steep decline in physical capability may be a better predictor of mortality than is the absolute level at a single point in time.

    Many low impact exercises such as those included in Pilates and Yoga sessions can help with improving your core muscle strength. Improving your core muscle strength in turn improves your balance. Making sure you exercise using both the left and right sides of your body equally assists in keeping your body balanced while walking and even standing still.

    Get the complete story at

    Can Yoga stop you ageing? by Patricia Ezechie


    London: In a society obsessed with looking young and where youth and beauty are prized above all other attributes, it is not surprising to learn that more than 22% of women in Europe use anti-ageing skin creams every week, spending billions of pounds every year on treatments and preparations in the hope that any signs of ageing can at the very least be halted if not reversed.

    With more and more people also viewing cosmetic surgery and non surgical interventions like botox, fillers, peels and plumpers as essential tools in the battle against the ravages of time, could a practice as simple (and inexpensive) as yoga be the answer? Can yoga halt and maybe even reverse the ageing process?

    Before you start reaching for the phone to cancel that botox appointment while simultaneously hurling your eye wateringly expensive skin preparation into the bin lets agree on what constitutes ageing. Is ageing the fact that your breasts and bottom are not quite as pert as they used to be, or is it that when you smile you have laughter lines? Is it the fact that your waist is not quite as waif like as it once was, or that when you look in the mirror these days it’s seems to be your mother looking back at you?

    I would agree that all of the above are physical manifestations of the ageing process, but only part of the picture with the focus being purely on the external. Is it these physical changes or the number of years you have been around that should define how ‘old’ you are or feel?

    The Eastern view of age is very different. In Yoga it is the age of the spine, not the number of years (or pertness, or evidence of wrinkles) that determines an individual’s age. It is the elasticity and flexibility of the spine, the tone of the tissues, ligaments joints and nerves and the relative smooth functioning and health of the bodies systems that determines age.

    Before you groan and switch off please note that an added benefit of increased mobility and flexibility is increased tone (pertness), increased blood supply to all of the bodies organs (including the skin which is one of the largest organs in the body leading to plumpness and firmness) and improved posture (strengthened and toned abdominals and back). Yes, the regular practice of yoga does provide all these benefits.

    Spinal health is key in the battle against age. The spine, made up of 33 irregularly shaped bones (or vertebrae), intervertebral discs, facet joints, muscles, ligaments, tendons, nerves, cord and canal act as a strong yet flexible column and support for the whole body, providing and enabling the power of movement and bearing the weight of all the organs and appendages attached. When practicing yoga, the joints of the body are moved through their full range of motion, encouraging mobility and easing pressure.

    The gentle stretching during asana practice (this is the physical element of yoga), releases muscle tension, stretches the joints causing the secretion of synovial fluid into the joints keeping them healthy and supple resulting in reduced stiffness preventing conditions such as arthritis and helping to improve the condition if it already exists (by very gentle practice with a qualified and experienced teacher).

    Regular and continued practice of asana encourages strength and endurance, leading to increased tone in all the muscles of the body, improved blood circulation with the added benefit of the focusing on the breath helping to soothe and calm the nervous system.

    The beauty of the practice of yoga is the more continued and sustained the practice the more cumulative the effects, with the long term benefits including reduced stress and anxiety levels and increased feelings of health and well being. As the nerves of the brain and spine go to every tissue in the body and therefore every tissue in the body depending upon the health of the brain and spine, the importance of the spine in the fight against age becomes apparent.

    Healthy and flexible spine, healthy, flexible and youthful body! When we also factor in that during the practice of yoga the skin is continually being stretched causing stimulation of the skin cells and endocrine system resulting in firmer, healthier skin, I think the assertion that yoga can slow and possibly stop the ageing process is no idle boast.

    The miracle of yoga is that it is suitable and can be of benefit to everyone, irrespective of age, size, sex, or ability. It is never too late to begin, does not require loads of costly equipment and the benefits can be felt almost immediately. The practice encourages and engenders balance in all things and an awareness of the mind and body that will enable all those who participate to begin to make positive and healthful changes to their lives.

    In a society so highly focused on the external it is perhaps a timely reminder that the most sustained and maintainable changes and improvements to the ‘visible’ body are as a result of the correct and efficient working of the internal elements of the body. Get the inside working efficiently and the outside will reflect these changes with lustre and youth.

    Getting older is inevitable and no amount of lotions, potions or interventions (surgical or otherwise) can hide the results of age indefinitely. We should be aspiring to embrace the wisdom and freedom that comes with increasing age while maintaining our physical and mental health, fitness and mobility, by practices like Yoga that both nurture and nourish the body and mind.

    Can yoga stop you ageing? If youthfulness is defined as energy and vitality, mobility and strength, suppleness and stamina then yes yoga can!

    Patricia Ezechie, is a BWY, Sivananda and Birthlight trained yoga teacher. She has been practicing yoga for 13 years and is the owner of where full details of all her classes and workshops can be found. have launched a new range of T-shirts, for autumn/winter 09. Perfect for wearing in yoga class or out for a jog in the park, the T-shirts come in an array of brooding autumn colours. To look at the range of colours visit


    Pilates – how to be superfit age 50+


    Though sometimes we may care not to admit it, we all know that regular exercise can help keep us fit and healthy.

    But if you still haven’t joined the gym, started playing a sport or just haven’t had time to build more activity into your daily life, there’s good news. According to experts, it’s not too late to start getting active on a regular basis – even if you’re pushing 50.

    In a paper published in the British Medical Journal (i), researchers from Uppsala University in Sweden report how they quizzed more than 2,000 men aged 50 and over about their activity levels. What they discovered was those who upped their activity levels in their 50s enjoyed similar life-extending benefits as those who were already regular exercisers by the time they reached middle age.

    In fact, those who went from being low to moderate exercisers when they were younger to regular exercisers between the age of 50 to 60 were more likely to live longer than those who were already doing high levels of activity at that age. The effect on lifespan, say the researchers, is the same as giving up smoking.

    “Increased physical activity in middle age is eventually followed by a reduction in mortality to the same level as seen among men with constantly high physical activity,” the report concludes. “This reduction is comparable with that associated with smoking cessation.”

    The survey defines ‘heavy’ activity as hard physical training, competitive sport, active recreational sports and heavy gardening for at least three hours a week. But if the mere thought of three hours’ heavy sports training leaves you feeling weak at the knees, another way to increase your activity levels – whatever your age – is to practise an exercise method such as Pilates.

    Lengthening and strengthening

    Developed by German-born Joseph Pilates, Pilates is an exercise system that originally attracted performance professionals such as actors, dancers and athletes. Today, however, it is practised by ordinary people in gyms, exercise studios, church halls and living rooms all over the world, thanks to the way it effectively lengthens and strengthens all the body’s muscle groups.

    And since it aims to strengthen core stability as well as improve posture and flexibility, Pilates is ideal for older exercisers with back and joint problems – not to mention those who are want to avoid them in later life too.

    However, so that seasoned and inexperienced exercisers alike can find out exactly what happens in the body during the classic series of Pilates exercises, Paul Massey – a UK-based Pilates instructor and physiotherapist – has written The Anatomy of Pilates (Lotus Publishing, £14.99).

    The Anatomy of Pilates, which contains 150 full-colour anatomical illustrations, is divided in to chapters on the principles of the Pilates Method, posture and movement assessment, and application of the Pilates Method – with a chapter on the classic series of exercises.

    Along with detailed anatomical illustrations, each exercise in the series includes the following:

    • Full description of how the exercise performed
    • Objectives of the exercise
    • Tips on what to concentrate on
    • How the breathing pattern works
    • Checkpoints
    • Pitfalls

    Each exercise also comes with list of which muscles are involved – for instance, Spine Stretch Forward, which is used to stretch the spine and back extensors, involves the lower abdominals, hamstrings, back extensors, psoas and hip flexors.

    And if you don’t have a degree in anatomy, the illustrations show you exactly where each muscle is and how it moves during the exercise.

    “If you’re practising Pilates and you want to know more about it and how it works to lengthen and strengthen your muscles, The Anatomy of Pilates is exactly what you need,” claims the author.

    The Anatomy of Pilates, priced from £14.99 and available from Waterstones and Lotus Publishing –

    About the author

    Paul Massey is a leading physiotherapist in private practice as well as a Pilates instructor. Massey works closely with governing bodies of track and field, swimming, and hockey, both at home and internationally, and has attended numerous Olympic Games and World Championships. He received the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Team Award in 2000. He lectures worldwide on sports injuries and Pilates, and has written or co-written several books on the subject, including Sports Pilates: How to Prevent and Overcome Sports Injuries and The Pilates Prescription for Back Pain.


    (i) Liisa Byberg, Håkan Melhus, Rolf Gedeborg, Johan Sundström, Anders Ahlbom, Björn Zethelius, Lars G Berglund, Alicja Wolk, Karl Michaëlsson. “Total mortality after changes in leisure time physical activity in 50 year old men: 35 year follow-up of population based cohort.” BMJ 2009;338:b688, doi: 10.1136/bmj.b688

    Exercise younger – on your bike!


    Bike Week (13-21 June), the UK’s biggest mass participation cycling event, is this year challenging families to get more out of life by swapping their four wheels for two and exploring new places in their local community. Towns, villages and cities across the UK will host free cycling events with the theme of ‘Get more out of life: live local, get cycling’.

    Thousands of events will inspire people to hop on their bikes and discover the benefits and pleasures of cycling locally. Over half of all car journeys are less than five miles long, so by switching them to an easy thirty minute bike ride, you’ll save money, find new places you didn’t know existed, shrink your carbon footprint and get fit too!

    There’s something for everyone during Bike Week, with events ranging from cycle training and Dr Bike sessions for novices, to commuter challenges and group rides around local cycling routes – all for free! Many are open to the entire family meaning it’s a great way to spend time together and meet other locals whilst rediscovering the fun of riding a bike in a safe and friendly environment.

    Phillip Darnton, Chairman of Cycling England, said: “Many families are looking for easy ways to get more out of life, particularly during these difficult financial times. Cycling brings families together and is a fantastic, free way to explore new places and rides and have a lot of fun. We hope that people will use Bike Week as the perfect opportunity to get back on their bikes and re-connect with their communities.”

    Bike Week has teamed up with Change4Life, the movement that provides families with helpful hints and tips about how to be more active and less sedentary and promotes cycling as a great way for children to achieve 60 minutes of their recommended daily activity.

    To find out what is taking place in your local area, visit and enter your postcode. If you’d like to take part but don’t have a bike, this shouldn’t stop you – you can find your nearest bike rental outlet on the website. All participants get the chance to win a Center Parcs family holiday or one of twenty-four bike carriers in the lead up to Bike Week – another reason to get on your bike!

    For further information, or if you’d like to organise your own event, log on to or phone 0845 612 0661(UK number).

    Five reasons to get on your bike:

    1. Over half of our car journeys are less than 5 miles – swapping them for an easy 30 minute bike ride can save you a small fortune in fuel costs

    2. Cyclists live on average at least two years longer than non-cyclists and their fitness levels are equivalent to being ten years younger – so forget nip and tuck, think pedal and push!

    3. Cycling is the ultimate family activity; it’s free, healthy, fun and encourages children to be independent

    4. Cycling gets you out and about and you’re more likely to find that cute little delicatessen or beautiful park you never knew existed than when you’re cooped up in a car

    5. In a hurry? During rush-hour, a bicycle is twice as fast as a car – good if you hate traffic jams! Even better, you won’t spend a penny on parking

    More information
    1. This year’s Bike Week will run from 13-21 June 2009.

    2. Bike Week is one of the UK’s biggest annual promotions of cycling and provides a national umbrella for locally organised events and activities up and down the UK

    3. Bike Week began as a grass-roots organisation in 1923 and receives funding from the Department for Transport via Cycling England, Transport for London, Northern Ireland Executive, The Welsh Assembly Government and Cycling Scotland with support from the Scottish Government. Bike Week also receives funding from the cycle industry via Bike Hub.

    4. The partners that run Bike Week are drawn from the whole cycling community including the cycle industry, Cycling England and Cycling Scotland, Sustrans, CTC and Cyclenation. More information can be found at

    5. BikeWeek supports the Change4Life movement. In order to maintain a healthy weight we need to eat well and move more. Many families are making changes that will help them live healthier and longer. Visit or call 0300 1234567 for more information

    6. To find out more about Change4Life, visit

    Activity holidays boost mental health, say experts


    Depression Awareness Week
    , which aims to increase the public’s awareness of a very common illness runs from April 20-26.

    The campaign is also aimed at getting us to focus on our lifestyles to make sure we are not only healthy in body but also in mind.

    Spending time outdoors to improve your mental health is known as ‘ecotherapy’ and it’s something that mental health experts believe we should be focusing on more.

    This needn’t be vigorous exercise, beneficial therapeutic activities also include a gentle walk or spending time in the garden. Studies have shown that being outdoors really does have positive effects on your mental health.

    Leading mental health charity ‘Mind’ undertook an experiment where a walk outdoors was compared to a walk indoors. 71% of participants on the ‘Green walk’ said that they felt less tense and reported decreased levels of depression.

    With the unpredictable British weather and work/home commitments it can be hard to find the time and energy to spend time outdoors so activity holidays are being increasingly popular.

    Choosing a holiday where the focus is on exploring new scenery and getting back to nature is an ideal way to ensure you are keeping active. You probably won’t even realise how much exercise you’re doing! An escorted tour is an option you may not have considered before, but it is a great way to constantly explore new surroundings at a gentle pace.

    , who specialise in Florida holidays and Escorted Tours, feature a tour that shows you the ‘Best of the West’, taking you through some of the amazing locations in Western USA and Canada. The tour starts in Vancouver and journeys through stunning landmarks including Yellowstone National Park, Grand Canyon and the Rocky Mountains.

    There’s plenty of opportunities for those who enjoy rambling to visit new locations each day with the chance to spot local wildlife on the way. The tour goes through 8 national parks and you can expect to see buffalo, deer, bobcats and black deer on the way.

    If you want to stay a bit closer to home, a walking holiday to Italy’s Lake Garda (pictured above) is also a great way to stay active while taking in the stunning scenery around you.
    Thomson Lakes
    offer great package deals to countries all across Europe, from the tranquil lakes of Italy to the dramatic mountain & lake scenery of Switzerland all with breathtaking views that are guaranteed to help you unwind.

    Research has also shown that walking outside and especially by water can be an effective way of helping to combat mild depression. So whether it’s a national park and nature that will help you unwind or the serenity of water that will create calm in your life make sure you take stock this Depression Awareness week and look after you.

    Excercise key to staying younger

    New York: Fitness, strength and flexibility do not inevitably fade away with age, and are more often a matter of lifestyle choices, according to a new report.

    Often, the discomforts of middle-age, like lower back pain or stiff joints, are blamed on aging alone. However, a well-rounded exercise routine that includes aerobic activity, strength training and stretching can help people offset the effects of ageing, according to a report from the Mayo Clinic.

    Studies show that regular exercise can lower the risks of chronic ills like diabetes and heart disease, boost immune function, alleviate fatigue and cut the risk of disability in older adults.

    People of any age can start exercising, even if they’ve never been active, the report says. However, sedentary people should always talk with their doctors first, particularly if they have any chronic medical conditions.

    To get the most benefits, exercisers should try to fit in five types of activity, according to the Mayo report. One is aerobic exercise — any type of movement, like walking or riding a bike, that raises the heart rate and gets you breathing harder. A good beginning, the report says, is to exercise aerobically for 30 to 60 minutes three times per week, working toward a five-day-per-week goal.

    Strengthening exercises, such as lifting hand weights or doing push-ups, are important to maintaining muscle mass and strength. Most people will quickly notice improvements after strength training just two or three times per week, for about 20 minutes per session, according to the report.

    It’s also important to fit in stretching to boost flexibility, balance exercises to improve coordination and lower injury risk, and “core stability” training — exercises that focus on the muscles of the trunk.

    All of these activities do require proper technique, the report notes, so it is a good idea to begin by taking an exercise class or getting advice from a professional, such as a doctor, exercise trainer or physical therapist.

    How diet and exercise cut cancer risk – new statistics

    Positive changes to diet, physical activity and body weight can substantially decrease your risk for most types of cancer, according to the latest information from the World Cancer Research Fund.

    Commenting on the research the British Nutrition Foundation says:
    “This research shows the value of focussing on cancer prevention – over a third of cancers can be prevented by improving diet, physical activity and weight management.

    “As so many of us are affected by cancer, we hope that these statistics will motivate people to make changes to their lifestyle to allow them to live free from the burden of cancer. It is notoriously difficult to change people’s diets and activity levels, but these figures show that lifestyle really can make a measurable difference, so improving diet and physical activity habits is certainly worth the effort.”
    Lisa Miles, Senior Nutrition Scientist

    Press release from World Cancer Research Fund:

    Landmark report: many cancers could be prevented across the globe

    Over 40 per cent of bowel and breast cancer cases in the UK are preventable through healthy patterns of diet, physical activity and weight maintenance, according to estimates in a landmark report that has set out recommendations for policies and actions to reduce the global number of cancer cases.

    The report, Policy and Action for Cancer Prevention, published today by World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF), has estimated that about 43 per cent of bowel cancer cases and 42 per cent of breast cancer cases in the UK could be prevented in this way.

    The overall message of the report is that all sections of society from governments to households should make public health, and cancer prevention in particular, a higher priority. And it includes estimates on the proportion of cancer cases that could be prevented through diet, physical activity and weight that demonstrate how important the issue is.

    The estimates for the US are that 45 per cent of bowel cancer cases and 38 per cent of breast cancer cases are preventable by these means. The report has also estimated the preventability of cancer in China and Brazil, which represent low and middle-income countries, respectively.

    The overall estimate is that about a third of the most common cancers in high-income countries and a quarter in lower-income countries could be prevented. These figures do not include smoking, which alone accounts for about a third of cancers.

    As well as breast and colon cancers, across the world many cases of other cancers, such as those of the kidney and stomach, are preventable (see table below).

    As part of the evidence-based report, thought to be the most comprehensive ever published on the subject, two independent teams of scientists systematically looked at the evidence for how policy changes and interventions influence the behaviours that affect cancer risk.

    Following this, a panel of 23 world-renowned experts made 48 recommendations spread across different groups in society to follow. These groups are: multinational bodies; civil society organisations; government; industry; media; schools; workplaces and institutions; health and other professionals; and people. The recommendations include:

    * Schools should actively encourage physical activity and provide healthy food for children.
    * Schools, workplaces and institutions should not have unhealthy foods available in vending machines.
    * Governments should require widespread walking and cycling routes to encourage physical activity.
    * Governments should incorporate UN recommendations on breastfeeding into law.
    * The food and drinks industry should make public health an explicit priority at all stages of production.
    * Industry should give a higher priority for goods and services that encourage people to be active, particularly young people.
    * Health professionals should take a lead in giving the public information about public health, including cancer prevention.
    * People should use independent nutrition guides and food labels to make sure the food they buy for their family is healthy.

    Professor Sir Michael Marmot, Chair of the WCRF Panel, said: “This report shows that by making relatively straightforward changes, we could significantly reduce the number of cancer cases around the world.

    “When people think of policy reports, they often think they are only relevant to governments. But while governments are important in this, the evidence shows that when it comes to cancer prevention, all groups in society have a role to play. This report is relevant to everyone from heads of government to the people who do the weekly food shopping for their family.

    “We have been fairly specific about what different groups need to do. But the Report’s overall message is that everyone needs to make public health in general, and cancer prevention in particular, more of a priority.”

    Professor Martin Wiseman, Project Director of the Report, said: “Making estimates on the proportion of cancer cases that are preventable is complex and challenging.

    “The figures in this report have been agreed by the most eminent of scientists and they are as accurate as they can be with the available data.

    “On a global level every year, there are millions of cancer cases that could have been prevented and this is why we need to act now before the situation gets even worse.

    “We are expecting a substantial increase in cancer rates with the ageing population, obesity rates soaring, and with people becoming less active and increasingly consuming highly processed and energy dense foods and drinks. The good news is that this is not inevitable and we still have the chance to avert a crisis before it is too late.”

    Professor Mike Richards, National Clinical Director for Cancer, has welcomed the report. He said: “The evidence linking diet, physical activity, obesity and cancer has become stronger over the last decade and this report can play a part in people adopting healthier lifestyles.

    “I welcome this report, which has been produced by leading scientists in the field. After not smoking, it is clear that diet, physical activity and weight are the most important things people can do to reduce their cancer risk.”


    US UK Brazil China

    Mouth, pharynx & larynx 63 67 63 44
    Oesophagus 69 75 60 44
    Lung 36 33 36 38
    Stomach 47 45 41 33
    Pancreas 39 41 34 14
    Gallbladder 21 16 10 6
    Bowel 45 43 37 17
    Liver 15 17 6 6
    Breast 38 42 28 20
    Endometrium (womb) 70 56 52 34
    Prostate 11 20 n/a n/a
    Kidney 24 19 13 8
    12 cancers combined 34 39 30 27

    The report is available for download at
    More Information

    The preventability estimates are about a third of the most common cancers in high-income countries and about a quarter in lower income countries.
    Because of the way that different lifestyle factors are inter-linked, it is not possible to simply add the preventability estimates from smoking and other lifestyle factors together to get a total.

    The British Nutrition Foundation is a registered charity. It promotes the wellbeing of society through the impartial interpretation and effective dissemination of scientifically based knowledge and advice on the relationship between diet, physical activity and health. Web:

    Sheraton Salobre Golf Resort & Spa, Gran Canaria


    Sheraton Salobre Golf Resort & Spa
    Aloe Spa
    Urbanizacion Salobre Golf SN
    Maspalomas, Gran Canaria
    Canary Islands 35100, Spain
    T:34 928 943 030
    T:34 928 943 000 Spa
    15% off spa treatments

    Find all the comforts of home and so much more at the Sheraton Salobre Golf Resort & Spa.

    Overlooking the breathtaking greens of the 27-hole Salobre Golf Course, fairways, and splendid surrounding mountains, our resort is the perfect place to catch up with the people who matter.

    Treat yourself to some well-deserved you-time and discover a new world of well-being in a relaxing oasis at our Aloe Spa. After a busy day of sightseeing or business, let us show you how to find your internal beauty and balance with our soothing treatments.

    Spend the day at Maspalomas Beach. Our free shuttle service can drive you directly to our private beach house, offering a bar, changing room, showers, and swimming pool.

    Enticing guest rooms, a wealth of recreational facilities, and a range of exceptional dining venues make the Sheraton Salobre Golf Resort & Spa an unforgettable resort experience.

    Plus, all-day, everyday sun, with an average annual temperature of 23C (73F). So there’s none of that anxious staring-up-at-the-heavens and saying, “Surely in five minutes that cloud will have blown away, sod it, where’s the beer. . .?”

    The spa treatments include Swedish massage and hot-stone therapy and cost from €20 to €120 (£14.40 to £86.50). The aloe vera wrap is the signature dish, but the spa’s age-defying treatment and lymphatic drainage is another productive way to spend your time.

    This spa also uses the high quality Espa products and is the place for fashionable Spanish yummy mummies


    Clínica San Roque, S.A. Gran Canaria

    Clínica San Roque, S.A.
    C/ Dolores de la Rocha, 5.
    CP: 35001, Las Palmas de G. C.
    CIF: A-35064658
    T: +34 928 012 600 –
    10% discount on aesthetic treatments

    • Anti-ageing programme: Complete investigation and treatments to meet the needs of the patient including: diet, exercise training programmes, peeling,
    autohemotherapy-ozonetherapy, facial anti-ageing technques (mesolifting, hyaluronic acid, vitamins, mesoplasty etc), body mesotherapy, lymphatic drainage etc.
    • Chemical peels for acne, acne scars, brown spots (sun and hormonal), facial anti-ageing, psoriasis, warts, solar keratosis, seborrheic dermatitis and stretch marks
    • Wrinkle treatments including Botox and fillers, gold threading etc.
    • Volumising treatments – for lips, cheeks etc
    • Vein treatments including sclerosis and laser
    • Surgery for the removal of benign growths
    • Hair treatments including mesotherapy and hair grafting
    • Cellulite and firming treatments – endermology, vibration therapy, lymphatic drainage and mesotherapy
    • Nutrition and diet for weightloss, fertilty
    • Psoriasis treatments – peeling, light and ozone therapies
    • Skin treatments – dermatitis, eczema, herpes, skin fungus, acne
    •Face and body mesotherapy including use of growth factors (plasma rich in platelets)
    • Radiofrequency, iontophoresis and ultrasound therapies and treatments