While some people may be more genetically predisposed to high cholesterol levels, there is one way that everyone can ensure that their cholesterol remains low: fitness. There are a few links between good fitness and low cholesterol, which include:

1. Understanding how your body works
Cholesterol creates a build-up of plaque in the arteries, which makes it much harder for your heart to circulate blood oxygen through your body. Improving your fitness will improve your cardiovascular strength. Diet is also an important part of supplying your body with the right type of energy for exercise, and if you’re on a good exercise regime, you’re more likely to enjoy a healthy, low-cholesterol diet.

Doctor checking blood

2. Focusing on cardio
A rigorous 30-40 minute cardiovascular workout three to four times per week can work wonders for your circulatory system as well as your cholesterol levels. Not only is your circulating blood carrying blood oxygen and nutrients to all of your major organs, it’s also carrying out waste and toxins, which will be eliminated through your liver and kidneys. Regular exercise can improve your general artery health and not give cholesterol any time to build up.

3. Balance your HDL and LDL cholesterol
HDL is “good cholesterol” that your body actually needs, while LDL is the “bad cholesterol” that your doctor will warn you about. Keeping fit will ensure that your body keeps HDL and LDL levels in balance. Get your cholesterol levels checked before embarking on your fitness regime.

Women jogging together

4. Lose weight and take advantage of fitness
Getting fit means you’re likely to lose any excess weight you’re carrying, which is also good for lowering cholesterol levels. Exercising for fitness will improve your health in general – you’ll sleep better, have more vital energy, and appreciate your body more.

Visual courtesy of: media.onsugar.com and ucdmc.ucdavis.edu

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Childhood obesity is an extensive problem in first-world countries today. The culprits are poor eating habits, too much refined sugar, and a sedentary lifestyle in front of the TV or computer. While it’s important to help your child make the right food choices, it’s even more important to encourage your child to live an active lifestyle. Here’s what you can do to help your child with fitness:

1. Identify the problem areas
It’s not only obese children who need to focus on a fit and active lifestyle – this is important advice for all parents. However, if your child is young and overweight, it’s imperative that you don’t deny that there’s a problem or encourage your child to comfort-eat. Identify why your child is overweight and then tackle the issue of a healthy lifestyle, rather than just insisting that he or she exercises without addressing the problem. A visit to the doctor or paediatrician may help with this.

kids health tips

2. Know your child’s fitness levels
There is a variety of activity your child can engage in to improve his or her fitness. From flexibility to strength, endurance to cardiovascular fitness – your child’s fitness programme can incorporate all of these elements. Before starting your child on an exercise programme, consult with a personal trainer to weigh and take your child’s measurements to provide a starting point for fitness and to measure progress. The personal trainer will also be able to provide advice on what exercises could best benefit your child’s fitness levels.

Boy lifting weight

3. Set an example
If you eat junk food and lead a sedentary, couch-potato lifestyle, you cannot expect your children to take fitness seriously. Focusing on your child’s fitness can be a great motivator to also focus on your own fitness and to start exercising together as a family. Positively influencing your child’s health habits is one of the best things you can do as a parent.

Visual courtesy of: healthveda.com and mobilegymusa.com

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When you find out you’re pregnant, you may be tempted to immediately tell your mom or your best friend – especially if you’ve been excited for a while about getting pregnant, or if it’s a big surprise – but it’s important to first break the news to your partner or spouse, who will share the life of this child for the rest of his life.

How to tell your partner

happy pregnant couple embracing
If you’re a no-frills kind of person, you could just come right out and tell your spouse you’re pregnant, but be sure to do it in an intimate setting where he can express himself freely. There may be tears of joy or loud whoops of excitement, which may not be ideal in a movie theatre, a restaurant, or in the bank, etc. If you’re creative, you can dish the news in a fun way:
• Make him breakfast in bed and cut strips of toast to spell DAD.
• Prepare a dinner at home with baby-themed food: baby marrow, baby carrots, babyback ribs, etc. If your partner doesn’t catch on, a bit of prompting could help him to get the message.
• Insist that you start sleeping more. If he asks why, let him know that you won’t have much time to sleep when the baby arrives… the rest will be history.

Wife informs spouse of pregnancy

How to tell your family and close friends
A pregnancy reveal party is a new trend that gives you and your spouse the opportunity to tell your close family and friends at the same time. You get to share your joy with everyone. It’s important to wait until after the first eight weeks of pregnancy, when your risk of miscarriage is reduced, and you can be sure of the news you’re about to deliver.

How to tell everyone else
The modern age of technology means that it’s perfectly acceptable to make your pregnancy public on the social network. When you’ve told all the people closest to you, it’s then time to announce your pregnancy on Facebook, Twitter, and other sites you frequent.

Once you’ve let everyone know you’re pregnant, it’s time to start preparing for your baby’s arrival. Remember to get affordable medical aid to cover your baby’s healthcare needs, and once you find out whether it’s a boy or girl, you can then decide on décor, clothing, toys, and – most importantly – a name!

Visual courtesy of: babymed.com and cdn-ugc.mamaslatinas.com

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All the practical elements of raising children are simple to deal with – painting the nursery, acquiring the crib, the car seat, the toys and baby supplies, and ensuring that your child has medical cover (since medical aids in South Africa are geared towards paediatric cover). However, it’s the emotional elements of being pregnant and raising kids that need some extra preparation. Here are some questions to consider, which can help you to prepare:

Getting pregnant

1. Discuss it extensively with your partner/spouse
It’s fairly easy to nurture maternal feelings based on an abstract concept of what it would be like to be parents, and especially with the idea that bringing a child into the world will bring you closer as a couple. However, the day-to-day reality and responsibility of raising children can put strain on even the most loving relationship. Discussing the long-term hopes and dreams you may have for yourself, your relationship, and your child is a great base from which to talk about your child-rearing intentions – it’s also the first place to identify any divergent ideas you and your partner or spouse may have about child-rearing. It may be useful to speak to other couples (together) who can talk truthfully and openly about their experiences with parenthood.

2. Document your feelings
While you are considering pregnancy, keep a daily journal about your thoughts and feelings on the subject. Go back and identify your ups and downs; analyse your motivation for wanting a child and see if they remain consistent throughout the time you’re journaling. Your journey towards parenthood will also be an interesting read for your child/ren when they are grown up and considering their own children one day.

Pregnant woman standing with mother

3. Keep communication open
Keep talking to your spouse and family members about your intentions to have children. Garner their support for the difficult times during pregnancy and childbirth. You can also start a blog and document the things you are going through – you will soon find other moms and moms-to-be who can relate to your experiences.

Visual courtesy of: pregnancytipsadvice.files.wordpress.com and grandmasdelights.com

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The “baby blues” is a very common condition amongst new moms. It can last from a few days after childbirth up to a few weeks as moms’ hormone levels balance out. The symptoms of this condition include feeling weepy, anxious, and inexplicably sad. For most new moms, the condition lifts and life goes on, but for some, the baby blues can develop into postpartum depression.

Postpartum depression signs

When the baby blues evolve into a much deeper feeling of anger, apathy towards your baby, not taking care of yourself, a loss of pleasure, a lack of energy, and recurring thoughts of suicide and death, these are the more serious symptoms of postpartum depression. There are two courses of action you can take to deal with postpartum depression:

Depressed Mother

Self-help
• Get enough sleep. Sleep-deprivation can make depression worse, so make your partner or other family members aware of your additional need for sleep and enlist their help with your baby and chores around the house until you feel better.
• Get enough food – not only will this be good for you, but also for your baby while you’re breastfeeding. Depression makes it difficult to eat or have the motivation to prepare food, but it’s essential that you maintain a good diet and eating schedule.
• Get some exercise. Not only will exercise give you more energy, but you’ll benefit from the release of serotonin, which is a natural antidepressant.
• Get some sunshine. 15 to 20 minutes of sunshine per day will have a positive effect on your mood and give you some quality time on your own to just relax.
• Rely on others for support – the only way they’ll know you need them is if you tell them what’s going on.

Professional help
It’s important to combine antidepressants (when the depression is clinical) with hormone therapy (where recommended) as well as relationship counselling so that you don’t endure the postpartum depression on your own. You and your partner can confront the problem together.

Visuals courtesy of: franpitre.com and  70c81.medialib.glogster.com

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The gossip magazines regularly publish double-spreads on celebrities and other well-known public figures who have just had their babies and they’ve either “instantly shed their pregnancy weight” or “it only took four weeks” to return to their “pre-baby” bodies. This is pure sensationalism and it sets very unhealthy expectations for regular moms. This article will cover some practical and long-term methods for losing the extra weight after you’ve had your baby.

First thing’s first
Go easy on yourself. Being a first-time mom is difficult and time-consuming enough without the added pressure of looking fabulous immediately afterwards. Understand that it will take time to lose your pregnancy weight, and even then, your body won’t look the same as before your pregnancy. Commit to a healthy, active lifestyle in the long-term rather than a quick-fix for losing your pregnancy weight.

Lose Weight After Pregnancy

Commit to a healthy diet
Forget the biscuits and sweets for a quick energy boost and rather stock up on healthy fruits and vegetables, and whole-grains. Not only will you get more energy, but you’ll feel fuller for longer. A healthy diet will also mean a more healthy breast-feed for your baby.It will also help to eat smaller portions of food throughout the day to keep those nutrients coming.

Commit to an active lifestyle, not only a gym routine
The key to losing weight is to get moving. Yes, you can go to the gym four times a week, but your baby might not let you keep that routine. Incorporate physical activity into every part of your day: take your baby in the stroller or baby carrier for an upbeat walk; lift your baby instead of free weights; or hold her while doing abdominal toning exercises. The extra resistance will help you to carve off centimetres faster. If you need motivation, arrange an regular meet-up of other moms and babies to be active with you.

Visual courtesy of: pregnancyihub.com 

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Women sleeping on pregnancy pillow

When you discover that you’re pregnant, there’s so much planning to be done that nine months seems like it’s not going to be enough time before your baby arrives. There are many cost considerations, such as updating your affordable medical aid to include your baby as a beneficiary, painting the nursery, and buying a cot, stroller, and all the daily necessities. One of the most useful items for mom’s needs that hardly gets enough attention is the pregnancy pillow.

Here’s the right way to use one:

Remember
There are different pregnancy pillows for different types of discomfort. Not all moms will have shoulder, neck, joint, or belly pain, so the different pregnancy pillows can help to alleviate some or all of the discomfort. For isolated pain areas, you can use smaller, wedge-shaped pillows, whereas a full-body pillow can help to reposition your joints and keep your spine aligned, which should alleviate a lot of pain.

Follow the instructions
A high-quality pregnancy pillow should come with comprehensive instructions, which you should read thoroughly to ensure that you use it properly and don’t increase your pain or harm your posture.

Support your neck
Most pregnancy pillows are made to provide comfortable positioning for sleeping on your side. Make sure that the pillow also allows for head and neck support.

Pillow with neck support

Wedge the pillow under your belly
The pillow is meant to support your belly to prevent any side pulling on your spine, muscles, and other organs.

Put the pillow between your knees
Placing the pillow between your knees can help to keep your spine straight and to prevent joint pain, as well as stimulating circulation.

If at any time during using a pregnancy pillow you feel uncomfortable or not properly supported, stop using it immediately and exchange it for a different one.

Visuals courtesy of: inspiredliving.com and healthyyouweb.com

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The baby and toddler developmental stages go on for years, during which time there are a lot of changes going on. One of those changes will be sleeping patterns. However, since every child is different, you can’t simply brush off baby or toddler insomnia as “just one of those things”, so consider the following possible causes:

He’s hungry
It’s one of the most common reasons for your baby or toddler to wake up at night. For a baby, the solution is to feed him. For a toddler, feeding him if he wakes up a night will result in an energy spurt that you may not want to deal with at 02:00 AM. The solution is to feed him a healthy dinner with a snack about half an hour before bedtime.

Her schedule is off
If your child isn’t napping enough during the day, she may be prone to insomnia. Similarly, if she is napping too much during the day, she may be waking up at night because she’s no longer tired. Correcting this may require some trial and error to determine the right awake and sleep schedule for your child.

Boy rubbing eyes

A medical issue
When you have children, it’s important to get medical aid quotes and sign up for a plan that covers their needs for emergencies, paediatric visits, and other out-of-hospital requirements. If your child has trouble sleeping as a result of a medical problem like an ear infection, sleep apnoea, restless leg syndrome, or other sleep disorders, consult with the paediatrician to find out what solutions are available. Check for symptoms like fever, runny nose, or ear-pulling.

The dreaded teething
Fortunately this eventually goes away, but your child could be teething, which could be keeping her awake. Get the best solution for her teething from your doctor or paediatrician, and let us know in the comments what worked for you.

Visual courtesy of: i.telegraph.co.uk

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There are various milestones in a baby’s life that moms anticipate with great excitement – the first time they show awareness, their first smile, the first time they sit up, their first word, and their first steps. Their first teeth? Not so much. Teething is as tough for moms as it is for babies, not just because their children’s cries can keep them up at night, but because there is little that can be done to completely soothe baby’s pain as the teeth make their way through the gums.

The best thing you can do for your baby is to be prepared for the different stages of teething. Here’s what to expect:

Cutting teeth in-utero
Your baby’s teeth start to develop at around month four or five of your pregnancy, when the tooth buds form beneath the gums. These roots will eventually produce the teeth that serve your child for the rest of his life.

Baby teething

Incisor introduction
At about age four to eight months, your baby’s first top and bottom incisor teeth will peek through the gums. This debut might put your mind at ease with regard to teething because the teeth are thin and sharp and will come through the gums quite easily and with minimal fuss.

Molar madness
Don’t breathe a sigh of relief just yet, the real test of your willpower will come when your baby’s molars start to make an appearance at around age one. The molars and canines cause a lot of pain because they have large, broad surface areas that need to pierce the gums in order to set in the mouth. By age two, the second set of molars would have erupted and then teething is all over.

Shortly after your baby’s first birthday, take him to see the dentist and start that relationship early and promote a habit of good dental care in your child.

Image courtesy of: ivinglifeonline.com

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There are many theories about the benefits and downsides of breastfeeding babies beyond a certain age – however, a study published in the JAMA Pediatrics journal indicates that breastfeeding infants up to the age of at least one year old has benefits for their cognitive abilities.

The research on breastfeeding
The study conducted analysed the duration of breastfeeding of 1 312 mothers and children, and the children’s cognitive development was tested at ages three and seven. The study was made up of children who were breastfed milk only, fed breast milk and other sources of nutrition, and those who were not breastfed at all. When the children were tested, they received a vocabulary test at age three, tests for visual motor abilities at ages three and seven, as well as an IQ test, memory test, and learning ability test at age seven.

Mom sleeping with child

The results of the study
A correlation was found between the duration of breastfeeding and the children’s performance on all the tests except for the Wide Range Assessment of Memory and Learning (which was conducted at age seven). Another factor that may also have influenced the results of the study was the mothers’ intake of fish – both breast milk and fish are a source of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which assists with brain development.

Conclusions
The focus on the effects of breast feeding children for as long as is deemed necessary comes in light of the stigma associated with breast feeding babies, especially in public. If women are to breast feed their infants for longer, they need to be given the space and time in which to do it. It’s also important for mothers to not only pay attention to studies of this nature, but to also respond instinctively to their babies: some will want to breastfeed for longer, while others won’t.

Visual courtesy of: womenfirsthc.com

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