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How to reduce your risk of getting diabetes by up to 80%

28th November 2014
New hope for those with Diabetes

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at

A team of doctors has discovered that weight loss surgery can decrease your chances of developing type 2 diabetes by an astounding 80%. In the study, published by The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology journal on 3 November, only 1.7% of obese patients developed diabetes within seven years of their bariatric surgery (such surgery typically includes gastric banding, gastric bypass, and sleeve gastrectomy), compared with 8.2% from the control group.

In the UK alone, 3.2 million people are living with the knowledge that they have diabetes, while it is estimated that 630,000 more are living with the disease without knowing it. Diabetes is one of the leading 10 causes of death in the world, with the number of sufferers on the rise. According to the International Diabetes Federation, as many as 592 million people around the globe will have diabetes by 2035, which makes prevention just as important as finding new ways to manage the disease.

While a promising finding, weight loss surgery is still a very drastic step, and, therefore, it is considered a last resort when someone is dangerously obese but hasn’t been able to successfully lose weight using other methods and treatments. It is an unfortunate fact that the risks can sometimes outweigh the benefits because bariatric surgery is prone to the same complications as many other surgical procedures. The most common problems include gallstones, stomal stenosis (when food blocks the hole connecting the stomach pouch to the small intestine), having the gastric band slip out of place, or even an unexplainable intolerance to certain types of food.

Simon O’Neill, the Director of Health Intelligence at Diabetes UK, agrees that such intrusive surgical procedures should be reserved only for when there is no other way. Instead, as he told BBC News: “Looking at the bigger picture, as a society we also need to focus more on stopping people becoming overweight.”

Outdoor fitness funThe easiest and safest way to maintain a good weight and minimise your risk of diabetes is a regular dose of exercise and a good diet. These not only circumvent the need for expensive invasive surgery later on in life, but enhance your quality of life. Gyms and playgrounds all across the UK are giving people a healthier dimension to a day out, whether it is with our children or friends. Especially with the chill of winter settling in, getting an outdoor workout with friends can feel invigorating – all while getting ahead of a life-limiting disease.

Preventing diabetes can really be as simple as stopping by the local park once in a while for a workout!

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Can you get fit doing housework?

25th November 2014

Get fit doing houseworkIt sounds like the answer to every woman’s (or stay-at-home dad’s) prayers – evidence to suggest that mopping the floors or cleaning the dishes can have a fitness effect equivalent to slogging it out down the gym or at the running track. But can performing regular housework really help you get – and stay – fit?

Experts recommend that we try to engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity – or 75 minutes of vigorous activity – every week. And while there will always be those who can’t stay away from the gym and those that wake every day at the crack of dawn to squeeze in a run before work, the majority of us struggle to fit that much exercise into our schedules. So can everyday housework really count towards your physical workout goal?

According to researchers from the BBC’s ‘Trust Me, I’m a Doctor’, a variety of household chores including vacuuming, mopping, washing windows, planting flowers, washing the car and mowing the lawn all score a 3 or above on the ‘MET’ scale – a measure of energy consumed by hour. Anything above 3 is considered to be within the scope of moderately intense physical activity, so when performed for long periods of time these chores could well contribute to overall good health and fitness.

Regular exerciseHowever, most experts agree that household chores are no substitute for a dedicated workout regime. While a spot of housework could help you achieve the levels of exercise required to maintain your current level of fitness, anyone looking to improve their general health and stamina needs to look beyond the scope of everyday tasks and towards an established regime of regular exercise. Whether it’s twice-weekly visits to the gym or a quick run around the park every other morning, there are plenty of easy and time-efficient ways of working exercise into your weekly routine.

If you’re looking for more ‘stealth’ ways of keeping fit, there are certain everyday tasks with MET scores that classify them as intense physical activity – why not try giving your floors and bathtub a good scrub (an MET of 6.5), digging deep in the garden (7.8) or taking up disco, folk or Irish dancing (7.8)? Even brisk walking, if sustained for long enough, can help to contribute towards a decent weekly workout.

While exercising in the garden or the local park has obvious financial benefits, there’s another reason to choose simple, everyday training over a session in the gym. As winter draws nearer and dark nights close in, outdoor exercise is also a fantastic source of important Vitamin D from the sun that will help keep you healthier throughout the colder months. So, put a little extra effort into your housework, but don’t forget to get down to your local outdoor gym at the weekend for a good workout and a bathe in the sun’s rays (even if they’re not particularly warm this time of year).

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Green spaces essential to our children’s wellbeing

20th November 2014

Green spaces essential to children's healthAs new studies reveal that fewer than 1 in 10 children enjoy regular access to green spaces, experts have spoken out about the importance of outdoor play in raising happy and healthy young people.

Access to nature and open spaces, campaigners believe, is key to encouraging children to develop creative play as well as keeping them fit, encouraging exercise and reducing mental stress. Whether it’s a day out spent exploring some of the UK’s beautiful countryside or just a few hours down the local park, experts believe that adults should take every possible opportunity to introduce their children to the wonders of the great outdoors.

These comments come among concerns that families within some of the country’s most deprived communities are among those least likely to enjoy access to green spaces, raising health concerns for children growing up in these environments. Experts want to see action taken to preserve outdoor spaces for all members of society, with new laws to restore wildlife and increase access to nature.

For children of all ages, the opportunity to indulge in outdoor play in the natural environment is essential to their wellbeing, increasing brain function and helping them to develop a positive relationship with nature. But that’s not all – many experts believe that by improving young people’s access to green spaces we can make big changes to our children’s health.

By encouraging children to engage in active play in outdoor spaces, we make keeping fit a fun and attractive idea – a concept which could help tackle the problem of childhood obesity by establishing a healthy exercise regime early on in life. Indeed, experts believe that if every household in England had good access to quality green spaces, it could save an estimated £2.1 billion in healthcare costs. With physical unfitness and rising obesity costing the economy around £20 billion a year, can we really afford to let our green spaces go?

The message to parents and legislators is simple: if we want healthy children with fewer mental and physical problems, the answer lies in our countryside. Let’s take the steps needed to protect our green spaces and improve access to nature’s playground for communities everywhere, and we’ll soon reap the financial and social benefits of the great outdoors.

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Celebrations cost Chinese table tennis champion his entire winnings

20th November 2014

Celebrations cost Chinese table tennis champion his entire winningsThe ITTF (International Table Tennis Federation) got more than it bargained for in the dramatic conclusion to a riveting 2014 Liebherr Men’s World Cup final. Chinese compatriots Zhang Jike and Ma Long battled hard in an extremely tense match, until Zhang took control and defeated the top-seeded Ma in the seventh game.

To show just how ecstatic he was with his victory, Zhang then ran over to the crowd and smashed through a pair of advertisement boards that marked out the area of play in a kick of excitement. This was then followed by him ripping off his shirt and throwing it to the eager fans. For Zhang, winning the World Cup was purely cathartic, after a spate of disappointing tournament results and mounting pressure back home. His outburst looked as much like a release of tension as a victory celebration.

Unfortunately, the ITTF didn’t see it that way, and responded to Zhang’s Hulk Hogan-esque bit of showmanship by ordering him to forfeit his prize money – all $45,000 of it.

Many have rightly panned this surprisingly harsh punishment of one of table tennis’s more exuberant personalities by the sport’s governing body. German coach Jorg Rosskopf didn’t mince words, saying: “To be honest, I find [it] relatively stupid to fine Zhang Jike 45,000 US dollars.” He felt a fine to the tune of $1,000 would be more appropriate. Others have voiced similar opinions saying that, while Zhang deserved to be reprimanded, sacrificing all of his winnings is excessive.

The move also appears hypocritical when the ITTF still publicised the incident by uploading a video of it. And even the sponsors on the demolished boards have benefited from Zhang’s emotional celebration going viral on social networks.

With the backlash it has received in mind, the ITTF has announced a plan to use the forfeited winnings to create a Fair Play award that will “reward players for their goodwill on and off the table tennis court”.

Zhang Jike immediately apologised after the incident, and approved of the ITTF’s plan for his winnings. “I am happy that the money will be offered to a Fair Play award. This will give a good example to the younger players,” he said.

But how would you enjoy your victory? Luckily, outdoor table tennis tables can withstand a significant amount of celebratory revelry, so you can rejoice in your winning status to your heart’s content – within the boundaries of good sportsmanship, of course!

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A disappointing end to a golden year for Drinkhall

28th October 2014

A disappointing end to a golden year for UK table tennis

In the last year, British table tennis ambassador Paul Drinkhall has enjoyed huge success.

The dramatic final of the May World Team Championships in Tokyo saw Drinkhall beat Thomas Keinath 3-0 in the deciding game. The stakes were high, but the cool-headed player’s win secured the team’s promotion to the first division – a feat unmatched in the last 17 years.

A few months later, the champ sealed two more medals at the 2014 Commonwealth Games. He and his wife Joanna Drinkhall claimed gold in the mixed doubles final, beating fellow English pair Liam Pitchford and Tin-Tin Ho. Paul also achieved silver status in the Glasgow team event.

The ping pong legend appeared to be on an unbeatable winning streak, however, he was not so lucky in the most recent Lisbon-based European Games. The team were looking for a repeat performance in Portugal, hoping to move from the Challenge division to the top tier Championship Division and confirm a place in the European Games in Baku. Unfortunately, after making it through the group stages of the event, the men’s team were knocked out in the play-offs.

Drinkhall admitted his frustration; however, he clearly looks to take strength from the experience too. He views the defeat as a learning tool which will fuel the team to press on and advance their game. He said: “It’s a disappointment, especially for me as I don’t think I played near my level except in patches. But we’ll come back. We don’t want to let it affect us, but it’s a warning that we need to stay focused and look to improve and keep moving forward.”

The roaring success of our British table tennis competitors has been a hugely positive influence on the game as a whole. The increased media coverage and high morale inspired by wins has sent the popularity of the sport rocketing to new heights. This enhanced interest is fantastic news for the game. In order to maintain a high standard, the game needs young up and coming players to push through and represent the UK at professional level. Who knows, any one of you rising stars could be the next player to enjoy remarkable Drinkhall-style success!

A great way to add depth to your game is to practise in a range of environments, training yourself to become adept at handling a variety of conditions. A great way to do this is to play outdoors, which brings fresh challenges to the table. Head down to your local outdoor ping pong table – they’re popping up all over the place – to try out new techniques and take your game to the next level!

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Could obesity in children be drug related?

28th October 2014

Could obesity in children be drug related?

A recent study suggests that repeated antibiotic use in young children could potentially lead to dramatic weight gain. US researchers from the University of Pennsylvania and Bloomberg School of Public Health have been investigating a link between these infection fighting drugs and childhood obesity.

The team analysed the health of more than 64,500 American children over a period of 12 years between 2001 and 2013. The study focused on youngsters up to five years old and looked at the amount of antibiotics each child was given.

The findings revealed that nearly 70% of these children were prescribed two courses of antibiotics by the age of two. Some children had received over four courses of the drug before reaching 24 months, and those who fell into this bracket were at least 10% more likely to have a weight problem by the age of five, than those who had ingested fewer drugs.

The researchers also discovered that the type of antibiotic that the children received altered the outcome. Drugs which target specific bacteria were less likely to encourage weight gain in the child, whereas the more general antibiotics which attack a range of microbes were more likely to cause an increase in body mass.

Professor Charles Bailey at the University of Pennsylvania offers an explanation of the findings: “We think after antibiotics some of the normal bacteria in our gut that are more efficient at nudging our weight in the right direction may be killed off and bacteria that nudge the metabolism in the wrong direction may be more active.”

Scientists in Britain have shown support for the study too. Professor Nigel Brown, President of the Society for General Microbiology in the UK, believes that the research “emphasises the importance of rapid diagnostic tests that allow precise targeting of antibiotics, which will kill the disease-causing bacteria and cause minimum disruption to the normal gut flora”.

The study indicates that excessive use of inappropriate antibiotics in early life could potentially cause weight gain; however, there were limitations to the research, as many additional factors, such as diet and exercise, were not addressed. These are aspects that researchers will now begin to look into.

Scientists assert that parents should not be apprehensive about their children using antibiotics. Dr Graham Brudge, at the University of Southampton said: “It would be a concern if parents took from this that they ought to be reluctant to allow antibiotic use in their children. The key risk factors for childhood obesity are over-consumption of high energy, nutrient-poor foods and lack of exercise.”

Indeed, it is true that one of the best ways to ensure that your children remain a healthy weight is to encourage them to exercise regularly. Get out into the stimulating fresh air and keep the kids engaged in outdoor play. Whether it’s a charge around the park with the football, a swing on the monkey bars, or a few laps of the adventure playground trail, make sure the little ones get their essential daily dose of fitness-boosting fun!

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Get fit for Stoptober

15th October 2014

Get fit for StoptoberThe annual NHS campaign to help people to stop smoking is underway – Stoptober is here and tens of thousands of people across the nation are trying to kick the habit! Smokers are taking on the challenge to ditch the tobacco for 28 days, with a view to quitting for good. The NHS asserts that cutting out cigarettes for four weeks gives you a five times better chance of stopping smoking entirely.

If you are a smoker considering giving up, there’s no better time to give it a go. With the collective support of so many others across the country attempting the fume-free feat, morale is at an all-time high. There is puff-busting power in numbers and all fellow tobacco abdicators will hail your allegiance to the cause.

The motivation from the campaign itself is, of course, inspiring – however, in order to succeed in your mission you are likely to need help in other forms too. Nicotine is a highly addictive drug and smokers everywhere are employing all the medical, psychological and over-the-counter means at their disposal to give them the strength needed to beat this tenacious beast.

Quitting smoking takes determination and discipline too. It is about altering your standard routine, substituting one ritual for another. So why not double up on your health aspirations this Stoptober and as well as striving to quit smoking, aim to improve your overall health and wellbeing at the same time. Rid yourself of the toxic tendencies and replace them with healthy practices.

Keeping active will firstly help you to keep busy, thus steering your attention away from the urge to smoke and focusing instead on a positive pursuit. On top of this, exercising will help you to relax, releasing some of that pent-up stress that you may usually combat by sparking up a cigarette. Getting outdoors and indulging in some alfresco fitness will be a breath of fresh air, in more ways than one!

Here at Caloo, we are in full support of the Stoptober campaign. As one of the UK’s leading outdoor gym and fitness equipment retailers, we are committed to the health of the nation. We install high quality open-air exercise apparatus and are dedicated to providing increased access to fitness equipment for more people across the country.

An open-air workout has a whole range of benefits. You can meet friends and socialise while exercising, as well as soaking up some brain and body enhancing vitamin D, all in a stimulating natural environment. So what are you waiting for? Stamp out the cigarettes and step outside this Stoptober for a dual fitness blast!

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Watch from Apple – just one technology revolutionising the way we stay fit

8th October 2014

Watch from Apple – just one technology revolutionising the way we stay fitLeading technology giant, Apple, has designed its first ever wearable gadget: the Apple Watch. This new intuitive device, introduced to the world last month at the launch of the new iPhone 6 (and 6 Plus), is set to be released in early 2015, and one of the key standout features of the up-and-coming smartwatch is its ability to monitor the health and fitness of its wearer.

This clever timekeeping device has the capacity to track and record information about the owner’s movement, heart rate and activity. The watch can pair up with an iPhone, allowing such data to then be shared and analysed using Apple’s newly developed Health app and HealthKit, which are featured in the brand new iOS 8 operating system.

The leading tech firm are finalising two apps for the Apple Watch – Activity and Workout. These are designed to measure movement and exercise levels. The Activity feature records information about general activity, such as steps per day, and displays advice on calories burned. It also encourages the wearer to move throughout the day.

The Workout app acts as a digital fitness coach, calculating the intensity of exercise sessions, responding to the user’s activity through an inbuilt accelerometer and it also monitors heart rate. Both new apps, along with others will be compatible with iPhone 5, 5C, 5S, 6 and 6 Plus.

As always, Apple has focused on creating an eye-catching and stylish design. Zoom and time functions are controlled by the ‘digital crown’ – a dial on the side of the device, while the smooth curved glass front offers ‘tap and touch’ capability for accessing apps. Hopefully this striking design will help to convince people that this smart fitness-boosting watch has at least an equal aesthetic appeal to the average wristwatch.

As well as developing devices for the consumer market, Apple’s new fitness focused technologies have received interest from the healthcare industry. Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is currently working with the firm, testing out the effectiveness of electronic patient record apps on an iPod touch.

Nurses in the Addenbrooke’s building will be using Apple iPod touch devices to record information on patient health and medication, as well as ordering new stock. A spokesman from the hospital said: “In addition we are using the two Epic apps, Haiku and Canto, which can be downloaded from the Apple store by our clinicians to access patient information.”

So it seems, there is certainly the potential for Apple’s Health related technologies to be used ‘en masse’ to boost efficiency in the NHS, as well as offering individuals the chance to monitor their own wellbeing on a personal scale. Let us hope that the new device will spark up a heightened interest in personal fitness and encourage more people to get out into the open air and get fit!

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How to beat the temptation to avoid exercise

30th September 2014

How to ensure that you keep up your exercise routineThere are 101 excuses for skipping your regular dose of exercise: I don’t have time, I’m meeting a friend, I need to go food shopping, or I must get back for the dog… We all have commitments which are important and increasingly busy lives, therefore, unfortunately, it always seems to be our fitness routine that takes the hit when life gets a bit hectic. It is important, however, to remember that staying active is fundamental to our happiness and health. We need to elevate the way in which we view our workouts in our mind’s eye, and be willing to fight harder to give them a more important spot in our weekly calendar. Rather than being the first thing to strike off the busy schedule, think of your fitness session as an essential energy boost for the mind and body, which will in turn reward you by making all of your other tasks easier.

Of course, after a long day at work, you may need some extra motivation to encourage you to stick to your guns. So here are a few things you can do to boost your inspiration for a good workout.

Never go home first
When you finish up your day at work, head straight out into the fresh air for some hearty outdoor exercise. Try to refrain from going home first, because once you sit down on that soft sofa and switch on the goggle-box, you’ve had it! Whether you go for a run around your local park or test out some of the outdoor training equipment, it will do wonders for your state of mind after being cooped up indoors all day long.

Plan your meals
Think ahead in terms of the food you are eating. Consuming a giant dinner and then attempting vigorous movement is not likely to have a pretty outcome! Make sure you leave at least 2 hours before you exercise after eating a large meal. A good tip can be to have a small snack to keep you going prior to your workout, or alternatively, if you absolutely have to go home first, prepare your evening meal the night before, so you can tuck straight in when you arrive home.

Make it official
Note down your fitness routine in your diary, tell other people you are heading to the outdoor gym, or indeed, make it a social affair by inviting a friend along. Do whatever it takes to ensure that there are no temptations to skip your workouts!

Come prepared
Make sure you have all the right kit with you to enjoy your workout session. Consider appropriate clothing; you may need extra layers if exercising outdoors, certainly for your warm-down and journey home. Also, ensure you are safe and clearly visible if it is dark. Another vital accessory is your water bottle – staying hydrated during exercise is extremely important to prevent cramp and maintain good energy levels.

Reward yourself
Finally, make sure you have an incentive to look forward to after your workout. Whether it is a catch-up meeting with friends, a one-off chocolate treat or indeed a date with a good book, it will certainly feel like you have earned it after your health boosting activities!

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History of the table tennis ball

25th September 2014

The history of the table tennis ball
Now an established world sport, table tennis has a huge following of both amateur and professional players as well as keen supporting fans. So, what are the origins of this highly popular game? Where did it all begin? Let’s take a look at the brief history of the sport and some key developments in apparatus that have helped to form the game we play today.

It is believed that the sport could have been inspired by ‘Royal Tennis’, a game with beginnings dating back to around the 12th century. This is the ancestor of contemporary lawn tennis, which used cork-based balls and wooden racquets with nylon strings.

Different sources give different suggestions about the beginnings of table tennis as a sport in its own right. An early improvised version is said to have been played in the 1880s by British army officers, who used cigar tin lids as paddles and rounded wine corks as balls with a makeshift net of books. Certainly by the 1890s some basic rules of the sport had been established, and at this point, the two main materials used to make the ball were solid rubber and wrapped cork.

It was in 1901, however, that the game really began to take off, after British table tennis enthusiast, James Gibb, discovered celluloid balls during a trip to America. The lightweight material offered increased speed and, therefore, a more exciting game. This is said to have inspired the name ‘Ping Pong’, due to the sound of the ball bouncing off the paddles.

The development of the table tennis ball did not stop there. As enthusiasm for the sport continued to rise, so too did the drive to perfect the paraphernalia that players used. Changes to the ball were introduced as a response to other innovations within the progression of the game. In 1952, thick foam sponge rubber began to be used on paddles, which allowed enhanced speed and spin and in 1970, ‘speed glue’ was discovered: a special type of adhesive which quickened the rate of play. In order to slow the game down again to increase rally time and thus game interest, in 2000, the ITTF (International Table Tennis Federation) increased the size of the ball from 38mm to 40mm.

Another very recent decision by the ITTF, which has only been in effect since 1 July 2014, is that table tennis balls must now only be made from plastic. Concerns about hazardous raw materials used in the production of celluloid balls and the health damage they could cause has brought about this resolution.

Whether you are a budding pro or a fresh-faced amateur, it is exciting to learn how the game has grown into the thriving sport it is today. Beginning as a purely indoor activity, the game has evolved along the way in this sense too, with new materials and processes allowing manufacturers to build robust tables suited to the outdoors. At Caloo we offer high quality, durable outdoor tables, bringing the thrill of the game back out into the open air!

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