Exotic travel has taken the toll on me once again. Delhi belly is not amongst my favourite souvenirs from India. What with jet-lag and general fatigue, the last few days have passed in a haze.
Posts Tagged ‘health
As it’s the first of the month today, it was supposed to be my monthly explanation of the Finnish name for October. Unfortunately, it’s a weather-related name, and today’s weather conditions just weren’t right for it. So while waiting for the right day, I will post another picture today.
It was the last day at the outdoor swimming pool before they close for the winter. The children’s pool was all quiet – the colourful snake slide looked lonely and deserted. Many adults were making the most of the last chance, though, and in gorgeous sunshine.
I spent a full hour aquajogging, chatting with a friend and enjoying the free light therapy from the sun. It’s simple things in life that often bring the most joy and happiness.
I seem to be taking a lot of food pictures these days. It must be because the back-to-school routine has also reminded me of other routines – in particular, forgetting the many indulgences of summer holiday.
Daily Shoot made me think of the five fruit and veg a day.
Today’s number is 5. Make a photo that illustrates the number in some way, either literally or abstractly.
My rule of thumb is to aim at having all the five colours of fruit and veg a day – the obvious red, green and yellow/orange, as well as the rarer blue/purple and white. This will ensure a healthy intake of the vitamins, minerals, fibers, flavonoids and antioxidants my body needs. Not only is it healthy, but seeing all the colours also works as a mood booster.
A dreary dreary day. No proper light outside for interesting photo opportunities. I just counted that it’s 8 days since we last saw even a glimpse of the sun! Winter blues is hitting us hard, let alone a need for extra vitamins in our diet. That’s why, we prepared this scrumptious fruit salad for desert today. How we envy all of you who live in climates that offer fresh produce all year round! Well, at least we have the imported fruit and vegetables, although there is the downside of the long transports being an extra burden for the environment. We do have our freezer stacked with Finnish berries from last summer, but it is a far cry from the lovely, fresh ones that our market place abounds with in the summer months.
Interestingly, last week I read about some new Finnish research, in which they have found clear evidence that a long exposure to the cold and darkness lowers not only our mood, but also our intellectual and mental capacities. It’s to do with the combined effects on two hormones – melatonin, the so-called darkness hormone, and the thyroid hormone. The levels of melatonin in our body rise when there is no sunlight to prevent it. At the same time, thyroid hormone levels fall, and in the end our body gets tired of fighting this disorder, which leads to diminished mental agility. No wonder, I have started to feel really sluggish as of late. Some days I find it almost impossible to get up to go to work. Most of my colleagues complain about the same, and even students seem to be more apathetic than usual.
I have often suggested that we should have a different school schedule for the dark period. Start school at 9 or 10, instead of the customary 8 am. According to our administration this would be impossible, though, because of so many others factors involved, eg. working hours of kitchen and cleaning staff. I think it’s just excuses and not really being brave enough to change an age-old custom. In the meantime, both going to work and coming home in darkness for months continues to be a real pain.
Tonight I started my winter swimming season. I should have started back in November, but at the time there was no snow or ice, and the water in the sea was so horribly brown that it didn’t invite me at all.
I really feel it cleared my head after a hectic week. Other people must have the same routine for unwinding for the weekend, since the sauna was absolutely packed. There is a winter swimmers’ club who owns the big sauna by the sea, and takes care of the pump in the water that keeps the water around the jetty open all winter, despite the thick elsewhere.
We only wear ordinary swimsuits, but I find neoprene shoes indispensable. When it’s really cold it’s good to wear a woolly hat, since it’s through your head that you lose most of your body heat. You are never to put your head under water in winter.
I usually go to the sea 3-4 times in between getting warm and sweating in the sauna. Tonight the outside temperature was around minus 3, and inside the sauna plus 70. It sure is quite a difference, but it makes your skin tingle wonderfully. I wouldn’t actually call it winter swimming as such, since all I do is either dip quickly, or swim some 3 meters at the most. Some people manage to stay in the water a little bit longer.
We Finns are not crazy to do this! This activity has a lot of health benefits. It stimulates your blood circulation, enabling you to bear cold weather better. If you do it regularly (2-3 times a weeks), it also effectively builds resistance and prevents colds. For me, the most important benefit, though, is that it boost my moods in the dark season. I have read that regular winter swimming builds a layer of grey fat under your skin, just like what seals have, and this grey fat is much better for your health than ordinary body fat.
No wonder, winter swimming is getting more and more popular in Finland, especially amongst middle-aged or older people, who suffer from SAD the most. But you do see some young people there, too. For example, tonight I met an ex-student, who is only in his early 20s, and who started this as part of his training for the wrestling championships.
I feel refreshed and totally relaxed now, and will sleep like a log tonight. What luxury that I won’t even have to set the alarm, as it’s Saturday tomorrow.