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
DR DANRUTHERFORD WRITES:
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
ROGER MUGFORD WRITES:
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?
SARA STANNER WRITES:
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.