Health links & advice

Useful links

General health advice www.bbc.co.uk/health and www.nhs24.com/
Diet and exercise (Healthier Scotland) www.takelifeon.co.uk/
Healthy eating advice www.nhs.uk/livewell/healthy-eating/
Men’s health advice www.malehealth.co.uk
Women's health advice www.netdoctor.co.uk/womenshealth/
Mental health advice www.seemescotland.org/
Stress management advice http://www.stepsforstress.org/
Stopping smoking advice www.canstopsmoking.com
Alcohol advice www.alcohol-focus-scotland.org.uk
Travel advice www.fitfortravel.scot.nhs.uk
Work-related health advice www.hse.gov.uk
Information on medical conditions www.patient.co.uk/
Infectious diseases http://www.she.stir.ac.uk/infectious-diseases/index.php

 Keeping healthy - Lifestyle advice

Exercise is good for both the body and the mind because it not only keeps the body toned and active but also releases endorphins, or 'feel good hormones' which make us feel good.

Research has consistently shown that physically fit and active people have a better sense of physical and mental wellbeing. Not only are endorphins (‘feel good’ hormones) released when we exercise, exercise also uses up excess levels of adrenaline, produced by the body under stress, and so prevent its potentially damaging effect on the body.

We should all be aiming at doing at least 30 minutes of exercise at least 5 days a week. This can be cumulative and needn't mean going to a Sports Centre, or attending classes, although that's great if it's what you enjoy. So long as what you're doing makes you breath faster than normal. If you are gasping for breath then whatever you're doing is too strenuous.

The old advice of getting off the bus a stop earlier or parking further away still stands, but do it every day. It's very easy to decide to do something and let it lapse. You need to find something to fit into your daily life and routine, and it needs to be something that you enjoy and will therefore be willing to keep doing regularly.

Check with your GP before starting any exercise regime if you are pregnant, haven't done any exercise for a year, or have a back problem or heart condition.

The long term effects of eating junk food are damaging. We all know that the Scottish diet has a reputation for being unhealthy - too many pies and Irn Bru!

A healthy, well balanced diet can reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, osteoporosis and some cancers. Research has shown that people living in Scotland eat too much sugary and fatty food - not a surprise!

A healthy diet:

  • will boost your energy
  • can protect against infection and disease
  • provides your body with the right foods to work efficiently
  • will reduce your long-term risk of diabetes, heart disease and other health problems

A healthy diet should be:

 

Lower in fats - especially saturated fats, found mainly in animal products like full fat milk, cheese and white fat on meat. Diets high in these fats can lead to hardening and narrowing of the arteries, causing the heart to have to work harder, which can lead to high blood pressure, strokes and heart problems. Read labels and look for foods with low saturated fat (and high unsaturated fat) content.

Lower in salt - salt raises blood pressure so reduce the amount you add when cooking and never add to cooked food. Remember convenience foods are high in salt, so try to use them only occasionally.

High in fruit and vegetables - people in Britain eat less fruit and veg than any other European country and have one of the highest rates of some cancers and heart disease. This is almost certainly connected. We should eat at least 1lb or ½ kg a day of different fruits and veg – the ‘five a day’ rule.

 

Higher in fibre - dietary fibre keeps your intestines working properly and seems to keep fat levels in the blood down, probably helping to prevent heart disease and some cancers. Wholemeal bread, porridge and bananas are good sources.

High in carbohydrates - like bread, cereal and potatoes. Carbohydrates provide energy and act as a ‘filler’, producing a sense of fullness, deterring us from keeping on eating.

Drink plenty of fluids - 8-10 mugful’s a day of water, sugar free diluting juice, diluted fruit juice, tea or low fat milk is ideal. This helps the kidneys to function properly removing waste substances from the body.

That means alcohol, smoking, caffeine and it's not news that too much alcohol or caffeine and ANY tobacco is harmful.

Alcohol


A unit is 1 small glass wine, a single measure of spirit, or half a pint of beer.

  • Men and women are advised not to drink more than 14 units a week on a regular basis. It is recommended  that you should spread your drinking over three or more days, if youregularly drink as much as 14 units a week. For more information please visit www.drinkaware.co.uk 

Anybody who is concerned about their alcohol use should see their GP for help and advice.

Alcohol advice www.alcohol-focus-scotland.org.uk

Tobacco Smoking


It is now common knowledge that smoking can cause bronchitis, emphysema, lung cancer and heart disease, but people still do it. It also makes the smoker and their clothes smell, causes early ageing of the skin and discoloration of the teeth, amongst other things. There is also a risk to non-smokers who breathe in other's smoke - passive smoking. Unfortunately tobacco smoking is highly addictive and some people find it very hard to overcome the addiction. If you are interested in stopping smoking we can give you information on ways of doing so and on sources of support.

Stopping smoking advice www.canstopsmoking.com

Learn to relax in ways which work for you. Learning and regularly using effective relaxation measures can:

  • Lower blood pressure
  • Promote sleep and combat fatigue
  • Reduce pain and ease muscle tension
  • Decrease mental worries and stress
  • Increase concentration and clear thinking

This is a simple method of deep breathing and visualisation to help you relax. You can do it at your desk - all you need is a chair and a couple of minutes of time. Try it every hour.

1. Put your feet flat on the floor

2. Your back should be comfortably supported by your chair

3. Have your head in a neutral position

4. Hang your arms down, shrug your shoulders and shake your arms

5. Put your hands in your lap, palms uppermost

6. Shut your eyes

7. Breath in through the nose and blow it out gently through the mouth-In 2,3 -out 2,3, 4

8. As you do this, visualise a sweet smelling cloud being drawn in, and see it blowing out and taking with it all your problems

9. Breath deeply by pushing your abdomen out and taking breath right to the base of your lungs. Think about that feeling. It's hard to know when your minute has passed; it's about nine 5-6 second cycles in the minute. You will get used to the timing the more you practice it.

Learning this technique and others like it takes a little practice, but it is well worth it. Regular use of techniques like this can not only relax you at the time but will also help you to feel more relaxed in general. A healthy varied diet, moderate use of caffeine and alcohol and regular exercise will also help.

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