Our panel of ex­perts an­swers your ques­tions on the op­ti­mum time for ex­er­cise, a cat’s chang­ing tem­per and a 10-year-old who has to con­fess

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QI am in my late 40s and have al­ways taken moderate ex­er­cise two to three times a week. I am not over­weight, eat rea­son­ably well, don’t smoke but drink mod­er­ately. I am con­cerned about the colour of my face af­ter ex­er­cise. My body (up to my neck) goes the ex­pected red but my face goes pale for maybe 15-20 min­utes af­ter ex­er­cise. Is it some­thing I need to worry about or is my sys­tem lack­ing some­thing? AThe

skin colour changes you de­scribe re­flect the de­gree of open­ing of the mil­lions of tiny blood ves­sels (cap­il­lar­ies) that go through the skin. Pale­ness is due to con­trac­tion of th­ese blood ves­sels, which re­stricts the flow of blood. Red­ness in­di­cates the ves­sels are open, which is com­mon af­ter ex­er­cise as the body tries to get rid of ex­cess heat. The process is con­trolled by the part of the ner­vous sys­tem that is not un­der our di­rect con­trol, called the au­to­nomic ner­vous sys­tem, which also con­trols our blood pres­sure, di­ges­tion, breath­ing rate and so on. Quite why your face goes pale in­stead of pink is a bit of a mys­tery but it is very un­likely to in­di­cate any un­der­ly­ing trou­ble.

You are used to tak­ing reg­u­lar ex­er­cise and are likely to be very fit, but if it’s a while since you last had any sort of doc­tor’s check-up why not take the time to do so now? Con­di­tions such as high blood pres­sure have no symp­toms in the early stages and we still see too many peo­ple who ought to have had their high blood pres­sure dis­cov­ered years be­fore. If your doc­tor is happy with your con­di­tion then your pale face can be ig­nored.



cat had kit­tens for the first time about five months ago and we de­cided to keep one (a fe­male). Our cat was just over a year old when she had the kit­tens and was very sweet and friendly be­fore hav­ing them, whilst preg­nant and un­til the kit­tens were weaned. How­ever, she is now growl­ing at the kit­ten when it en­ters the room and even tak­ing swipes at her. She has also


started show­ing in­ter­mit­tent ag­gres­sion to us. Some­times she will be sit­ting on my lap quite con­tent then sud­denly start growl­ing at us and jump off. Can you ex­plain this and give us any ad­vice? ACats

usu­ally make very con­sci­en­tious moth­ers, con­tin­u­ing to school and pro­tect kit­tens un­til they are 6-12 months old. The odd fea­ture of your cat’s be­hav­iour is that she is also chang­ing her re­la­tion­ships with peo­ple.

I would ad­vise that you have both mother and kit­ten spayed, be­cause it is quite likely that there is an en­docrine (hor­monal) com­po­nent to this dis­turbed ma­ter­nal care. My ex­pe­ri­ence is that the tem­per­a­ment of both male and fe­male cats is markedly im­proved by neu­ter­ing. Mean­while, my ad­vice is that you al­low mother and daugh­ter to lead rel­a­tively sep­a­rate lives, with dif­fer­ent time and space man­age­ment of meals, toi­let or sleep­ing zones. I con­fi­dently pre­dict that with the on­set of cold weather, they will want to spend more time in­doors and be to­gether.


QI am a 40year-old mother of two small chil­dren. I would re­ally like to lose a few pounds be­fore Christ­mas so I can feel good in my party clothes and bet­ter about my­self. I don’t re­al­is­ti­cally think I’m go­ing to be able to start a new fit­ness regime be­fore then and have never been much of a di­eter. In your ex­pe­ri­ence, what is the best way to lose a bit of weight. Do any “mir­a­cle di­ets” work?



know it is tempt­ing, but don’t starve your­self or re­sort to the lat­est fad diet to lose weight. A healthy weight loss is about 1-2lbs per week and to lose this you will need to cut about 500 calo­ries a day. You can do this by mak­ing small changes to your diet and by be­ing more ac­tive. You don’t have to start a new fit­ness regime; just go­ing for a walk a few times a week, park­ing the car fur­ther way and walk­ing to work or tak­ing the stairs in­stead of lifts or es­ca­la­tors can eas­ily get a bit more ex­er­cise into your day.

In terms of diet, you don’t need to ob­ses­sively calo­rie count but use food la­bels to opt for a lower fat and fewer calo­ries ver­sion of your usual foods. In­crease your fruit and veg­etable in­take, as they are low in calo­ries but will help fill you up — as will other high

fi­bre foods such as whole­grain break­fast ce­re­als, whole­meal and whole­grain breads, brown rice and whole­meal pasta, lentils and nuts. Try to in­clude a por­tion of lean pro­tein with each meal as this will help you feel fuller for longer and make sure you stay well hy­drated as thirst can be mis­taken for hunger.



are con­cerned about our 10-year-old son. Since shortly af­ter his 10th birth­day he has been con­fess­ing to all sorts of “mis­deeds” from his past, such as ring­ing on door bells, throw­ing stones at a swan and even uri­nat­ing in the street. He tells us re­peat­edly how many times and when he did it. Quite a few things are from two to three years ago and he has been telling us th­ese things for sev­eral months now. The first time this occurred we were in a restau­rant on hol­i­day when he told us he had seen porno­graphic im­ages on the in­ter­net. It is like a con­stant con­fes­sional. He says if he doesn’t tell us th­ese things he wor­ries. What can we do? BER­NADETTE TY­NAN WRITES: ABe­fore

reach­ing con­clu­sions you need to find the an­swers to the fol­low­ing ques­tions. If, as your son main­tains, he saw in­ter­net pornog­ra­phy, you need to know how, where, when and with whom (if any­one)? With re­gard to other in­ci­dents: were there any wit­nesses, such as friends? Has he stopped, or are there re­cent ones? As chil­dren be­come more so­cially aware, they may ex­per­i­ment with bound­aries of be­hav­iour to de­ter­mine what is and is not ac­cept­able. Find­ing out whether he was alone or with friends or rel­a­tives may re­veal how things started. Are you the only ones he con­fesses to? Have you had cor­rob­o­rat­ing ob­ser­va­tions from teach­ers? I once en­coun­tered alarmed par­ents whose child ranted with wide eyes: “The Devil lives un­der the floor!” It tran­spired that a class­mate had put out this “truth”, ter­ri­fy­ing all the chil­dren. The psy­chol­ogy of con­fess­ing can be com­plex. Chil­dren can con­fess to things they have not done to pro­tect friends. This hap­pens where a child has been en­cour­aged to be com­plicit in an action they know to be wrong and is ashamed. That your son is re­peat­ing th­ese con­fes­sions, and says it helps him, in­di­cates he is un­easy and wants to tell you about it. Go gen­tly with him. Once you are more fully aware of the facts, you can de­cide if it is some­thing sim­ple or more se­ri­ous that war­rants pro­fes­sional help.



is your opin­ion on the best time of day to ex­er­cise? I am a 36-year-old woman who needs to make the most of the time I have. TONY GALLAGHERWRITES: AIt

is thought that around six in the evening is the op­ti­mum time for ex­er­cis­ing. This is be­cause your lung ca­pac­ity, al­legedly, is at its great­est and your body tem­per­a­ture is higher. Your di­ges­tion, joint mo­bil­ity, cir­cu­la­tion, and me­tab­o­lism are re­garded to be at their most ef­fi­cient at that hour. Ex­er­cis­ing within two to three hours of this time will help you reap the best ben­e­fits.

Cir­ca­dian rhythms reg­u­late our bi­o­log­i­cal cy­cles for sleep, ac­tiv­ity level, me­tab­o­lism, and many other pro­cesses through our body’s ex­po­sure to sun­light and dark­ness. For many of us this seems to peak at around 18:00. In the real world, though, one has to con­sider such fac­tors as how long it takes you to wind down af­ter ex­er­cise, time avail­abil­ity and tired­ness lev­els.

In my ex­pe­ri­ence, con­sis­tency is im­por­tant. Those who ex­er­cise in the morn­ing are prob­a­bly most likely to gain the “stickability” fac­tor and be the most suc­cess­ful in reach­ing their goals. You will have achieved some­thing pos­i­tive early on and should be ready to face the day. A life­style that al­lows con­sis­tency to fit into it is the key. Re­search sug­gests that bodies adapt to ex­er­cis­ing at a con­stant time and equal ben­e­fits can be achieved. Opin­ions ex­pressed on this page should be treated as gen­eral ad­vice. Seek help from your own prac­ti­tioner.

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