March 7th, 2014

Your Brain on Exercise – Part 1

BrainExerciseCan exercise strengthen and grow your brain? Recent research says yes—that regular endurance exercise, such as running or powerwalking, positively affects the hippocampus, a seahorse-shaped, curved structure of the brain associated with memory and ability to learn.

Using technologies that examine the workings of individual neurons (nerve cells), and the makeup of brain matter itself, researchers have discovered that physical endurance exercise appears to prevent shrinkage of the brain, while enhancing cognitive flexibility. The hippocampus seems to be especially receptive to new neuron growth in response to exercise.

March 1st, 2014

Get fit Faster

FasterCan tracking your fitness activities through mobile apps and PC software increase your motivation to work out? Fitness professionals say yes: that the psychology behind today’s interactive fitness devices is every bit as important as the technology inside them.

Going online to check how well you have done, comparing your performance with previous performances, and knowing how many steps you took and calories you burned while raking leaves or washing the car, can provide the extra spark needed to get you off the sofa and getting physical. Effort takes on the status of fun. Even if you don’t feel like moving, the anticipation of checking your numbers at the end of a workout can be all the motivation needed to get going and keep you on track.

Take Myra, for example. After a long day spent adjusting insurance claims, the last thing she felt like doing was going out for a walk.

“The lure of sitting down with a cup of tea and the paper was just too strong,” she says. “And then I would stay put. But as soon as I started using the pedometer and tracking my progress online, things began to change. I just couldn’t face not seeing I’d made my 10,000 steps for the day.”

For Geoff, a 42-year-old general contractor, an interactive wrist device brought the unexpected surprise of finding out that his sleep pattern was not as healthy as it could be.

“I had good news and bad news, I guess,” he says. “The good news was that I take twice as many steps during the day as I thought I did. The fact that the wristband picked up that I wasn’t sleeping soundly was a concern, but now I know why I felt fatigued all the time.”

Geoff was able to improve his sleep by lowering the temperature in his bedroom and taking a natural sleep supplement.  “As a result, I feel better all round,” he says. “The wristband keeps me on track and steadily losing the 20 pounds

I need to get rid of to get back into the shape I was in when I was younger.”

Many users of interactive fitness devices say they enjoy their devices so much that they go out of their way to add a few steps here and there, or go for an extra walk or run. Even vacuuming or mowing the lawn becomes a fitness activity instead of a chore.

With some devices, you can even check your stats alongside those of friends or family members using social media— something many users find extra motivational.

“At the end of the day,” says Geoff, “being able to track my progress and share it with friends has made me accountable in a fun kind of way. It’s something I wouldn’t have expected.”

Check out the wide variety of health tech products carried by London Drugs, including Fitbit and iHealth.

December 3rd, 2013

The “lifestyle” condition: Type 2 diabetes


I’m old enough to remember when there were only 2 types of diabetes named juvenile onset diabetes (JOD) and adult onset diabetes (AOD).

Why did they have those names?

Because of when they tended to be diagnosed, so that JOD was nearly always diagnosed very early in life while AOD was never diagnosed before the age of 40.

Now, however, it’s quite different.

We now acknowledge that there are other forms of diabetes including one that comes on with pregnancy.

But the most interesting change, I think, is that we now have different names for JOD and AOD, namely Type 1 diabetes (the old JOD) and Type 2 diabetes (the old AOD).

August 5th, 2013

I am getting fit, bit by bit with FitBit


OK. OK. I am not campaigning to be the next poet laureate.

I am getting fitter though and that’s no joke.

I started with a target of losing 20 pounds last year, as I was getting backaches and other overall health issues. The first 5 pounds was easy. It just meant getting rid of some really bad eating habits. The next 5 pounds meant having to eat healthier foods: more veggies and fruit, a balanced diet.

The next ten was tough at first, because of too much data and not enough information. First, let me explain. I am a nerd. I am obsessed with keeping track of things. I need to know the glycemic index of every food I eat. That sort of thing. Reading diet books gave me ideas, but there was nothing to show for it except my bathroom scale. I felt blinded by too much and too little. READ MORE

August 20th, 2012

Regular Exercise? What to do?

All truly great thoughts are conceived while walking
-Friedrich Nietzsche – Author

Well, truth be told, I cringe at the thought of working out. I know, I know, it’s so good for you and makes you look and feel fantastic… but… I just can’t find the time! What to do??!

I recently attended a CDA (Canadian Diabetes Association) Physical Activity Workshop and was encouraged and enlightened by what I learned.

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