I have become increasingly concerned about the appearance of my arms so much so that I never reveal them even on hot summer days. The skin appears mottled, marbled even, and I most certainly have ‘bingo wings’. Is there anything that can be done ?
Valerie Gould, Bucks
Valerie you’re not alone, it happens after the first flush of youth!
Especially if there’s been a dramatic weight loss through dieting. By 35 upper arms are prone to flabbiness, the trick is to fight the flab by toning muscle and skin on the underside. My simple, but effective exercise targets the triceps muscle, at the back of the arm. Make the exercise harder by using hand weights or small plastic drinks bottles filled with water or sand.
Sit or stand, pull in your tummy, maintain a good posture. Arms bent, make a fist (or the use weights) and hold up against your shoulders. Pull shoulder blades back together, and take your upper arms only back up behind you. Hold this position throughout exercise. Straighten out lower arms; push them down and behind, turning fists out at the same time. (Don’t “lock” elbows.) Keep upper arms in position, bend elbows and bring fists or weights, back up to shoulders. Start with five repetitions; build up to ten or more. Feel back of upper arm working!
To improve mottled, marbled looking skin use an exfoliator on whole of the arm, including backs of hands and don’t forget rough, wrinkly elbows. This scrubbing is best done in the bath or shower when the skin is damp. Rinse, then moisturise well both morning and night for maximum effect. Blotches caused by bad circulation respond to anti-cellulite creams (as on legs) to help speed up sluggish circulation.
A slight glow on the arms improves the look of the skin. Apply a small amount of subtle fake tan/moisturising cream (Dove) several times a week, to the length of your arm and across shoulder and chest (avoid elbows). This subtle glow helps disguise sun spots the result of over exposure to the sun.
Hello Diana, about this time every year I promise myself to make simple changes and to take better care of my health. What could my New Year Resolutions be? Molly Squires Edinburgh
Hello Molly, here are some easy ways to help you to better health in 2021
Eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables to help ward off colds and flu. “Juicing” the fruit and vegetables makes a pleasant, palatable alternative, ensuring a high intake of protective vitamins. Drink 6 glasses of water a day, water has a cleansing effect on your body.
Give yourself a break and give up alcohol for a month. Alcohol is fattening and disorders of the eyes, skin, joints, heart, hair, digestion and some cancers, are just a few health problems linked with alcohol abuse. Not only your liver will benefit, but the whole of you will perk up, physically and psychologically. Winter skin is exposed to wind, cold, UV radiation and central heating resulting in skin dehydration – time to replenish and pamper! Massage your body daily with a generous helping of moisturising skin cream, and exfoliate once a week with a body salt scrub
Keep active, even though it is cold outside take a brisk half-hour walk, 3 times a week and swim, cycle, jog, or garden whenever possible. Being active makes your body and complexion glow.
PS. Don’t forget your daily dozen “tummy crunches” if you want to achieve/ maintain that flat stomach.
We sit to take the weight off our feet but sitting for too long can result in slack abdominal muscles and slumped posture encouraging cramp and indigestion. Exercise helps to re-oxygenate your system and improve your circulation and digestion. Reintroducing exercise for the less active and for those getting older or restricted in their movements is key to maintaining a sense of independence and quality of life.
Ex 1. To stretch upper body
Sit upright on chair with your arms by your sides. Keep your shoulders down and arms straight throughout. With palms forwards raise both arms out to the sides and up high as is comfortable, Return to start position. Repeat 5 times breathing out as you raise your arms up, and in as you lower them down.
Ex 2. To stretch out sides
From start position as before raise both arms out and up high AA comfortable and link your hands. Breathe out and take both arms over to your right side bending from your waist only and stretching out your left side. Arms back to centre and breathe in. Breathe out and take arms over to left side, then back to centre. Repeat to alternate sides 5 times
Ex 3. To stretch out upper back and relieve back ache
Sit back comfortably in your chair, feet flat on the floor. Place both hands around your right knee and lift right foot up off the floor. Bend forward from your waist and take head down towards your knee (as far as comfortable). Keep this position, lift elbows up out to the sides and round out your back. Feel the stretch and hold for 10 seconds. Return right foot to floor. Repeat lifting your left foot and knee up and holding the stretch for a further 10 seconds.
The BBC had pinched me from HTV where I was doing a programme called Here Today. They saw me wearing my green leotard and tights and doing a piece on exercise, which was the first time it had been done on TV.
Before that, I used to do keep-fit in scarlet leotard and tights at Butlins holiday camps in both Minehead and Barry Island. Then someone on BBC Breakfast Time had the bright idea of sending me to Waterloo Station on the first day of transmission to work out with the commuters.
It was 6.30 am, freezing cold and all I wore was the shiny green outfit and I had bare feet. I think the early morning commuting public must have thought I was barking mad!
Hi Diana I have been very busy lately with lots of late nights and I haven’t been getting enough rest. My problem is it shows around my eyes which look puffy and have dark circles under them! What can I do to brighten them up!
Lucy Craig… Glasgow
Well Lucy I have a several homemade remedies to help with your puffy eyes.
Either you can apply cold, damp used tea bags to each eye, or slices of cucumber, or cotton pads soaked in witch hazel, or simply 2 cold teaspoons (all kept in fridge). Give yourself time off, lie back, apply and relax for a soothing 10 mins. All the above can work wonders!
With regard to the dark circles, they may indicate an excess of alcohol, cigarettes or coffee? If that’s the case cut back! In the meantime, try applying thin slices of potato or taking a brisk walk will get the lymphatic drainage system going to clear away the toxin build up, the cause of dark circles. Matt concealer helps disguise dark circles if all else fails! If you have under eye bags you can again kick start the lymphatic drainage by tapping along lower eye socket with your fingertips – working from the inside to outer corner of your eyes.
Lucy you’ll soon be bright eyed and bushy tailed again!
Vast sums of money are being spent on the search for the elixir of life, a drug that would slow the ageing process. But there is no pill or drug that we can recommend. But, there is a fascinating new idea emerging from research and that is that by becoming more active we can reduce the biological change that seems to be one of the main causes of what we call the ageing process –inflammation.
We all know about acute inflammation, the swollen, red tenderness round an infected cut. But now it appears that chronic inflammation is one of the major causes of the changes that we have assumed to be due to the normal ageing process. And which we thought nothing could be done. However, inflammation of key tissues, blood vessels and the brain for example, can be prevented and the main means of prevention is activity.
To understand why getting moving can prevent ageing we need to look at the stress reaction. This is sometimes called the fight or flight reaction. When we were evolving as human being’s life was full of sudden dangers. We would react to an encounter with a sabre tooth tiger or a hostile neighbouring tribe for example. The stress reaction then was very helpful either helping you take flight and run away quickly, or fight.
Nowadays such threats are uncommon but stress is still very common! But stress today is often experienced in a situation when you cannot fight or take flight. And we now know that if you experience stress when you are physically inactive the result is an inflammatory reaction. If for example there is a family quarrel or a complaint from a neighbour and you have to cope with the stress while sitting and inactive the result is inflammation.
Osteoporosis is a bone-thinning condition but it is by no means new. The Romans were referring to non-healing hip fractures and other similar-sounding conditions in the 6th century. By the early 19th century, physicians were concerned about the ‘spongy’ texture of bones in old age, even before they were able to see them on X-ray.
Osteoporosis is a silent insidious disease linked to hormonal changes at the time of the menopause. Inevitably as we age there will be some bodily changes, such as the natural thinning of the bones in both men and women’s skeletons and weaker muscles less able to support the bones. Changes may also occur in the joints with arthritis, rheumatism and backpack being painful reminders of the passing years.
Today osteoporosis is regarded in many cases as a preventable disease although there is still a great deal we don’t know about it. Despite its association with ageing and the menopause, the condition can also affect younger women and men. Although more cases are being diagnosed, it doesn’t necessary follow that osteoporosis is on the increase bu that more of us are living longer, and so the chance of osteoporosis increases with longevity and the condition is more recognisable as osteoporosis by doctors who are fully aware of the effects of bone thinning. Other reasons why many women present with osteoporosis include excessive dieting, poor nutrition, sedentary lifestyles and lack of exercise and young women who miss or have irregular periods or suffer from anorexia. A study of young women suffering from anorexia and missing periods for a year showed 77% has spinal bone loss caused by poor nutrition, weight loss and loss of ovarian function. Young women athletes who train excessively are at risk if they become underweight and their periods stop. They can lose 5% of bone density in a year.
Lets’ bone up on the facts
Bone consists of the compound calcium phosphate embedded in collagen fibres. The calcium gives strength and hardness, the fibres make for flexibility.
Bone itself is not dead, but a living tissue full of little cavities looking not unlike a honeycomb
Bone changes constantly with new bone repairing and replacing old bone throughout our lifetime
Bone is liable to fracture, however the skeleton does replace itself every 7 –10 years
Bone mass decreases gradually and naturally in both women and men after the age of 35
Genetic inheritance and other factors also contribute to bone loss in some people
Fast bone losers will have lost as much as 30% of bone within ten years of the menopause (average age 51)
A woman who has an early menopause (before 45 years old) can experience bone loss even earlier (she will have been without bone-protective oestrogen for a longer period of her life.)
For the same reason fast bone loss can also be expected after a premature menopause (possibly brought about by hysterectomy).
The likelihood of fast bone loss is even greater if one or both ovaries were removed at the time (oophorectomy).
Your weight a 1 year of age could predict bone strength in adult life. In a study of 230 women whose weight at a year old was traced from old medical records it was found that those underweight infants did not develop as strong skeletons in adulthood as those who were bigger infants.
There are two types of bone: trabecular and cortical.
A woman will lose about 50% of trabecular bone and 35% of cortical bone in her lifetime.
Trabecular bone is most likely to be lost in the 10 years or so around the menopause.
Cortical bone is associated with slower, gradual bone loss later in life.
The forearms and spinal column are made up largely of trabecular bone, and fractures in these areas are a sign of post-menopausal osteoporosis.
Hip and shoulder bones are both cortical and trabecular (fractures here are associated with later ageing.)
Taking the oral contraceptive pill over a long period may protect against bone loss because the hormones they contain may stimulate a substance called calcitonin that inhibits bone breakdown. Bone tissue is continually replacing itself, most rapidly in the young and more moderately in adulthood. Peak bone mass is reached during the early 20s, and after that, if you want to look at it pessimistically, things begin to go downhill. In women, bone loss at around the age of 30 is up to 1% a year, in men the rate is slower. This gradual loss of bone density is common to everyone and part of the ageing process. But in some women, the loss accelerates to between 2% and 3% a year at the onset of the menopause, and by the age of 70, a third of bone mineral mass can have disappeared. You can see the results in the skinny ankles and so-called ‘dowager’s hump’ or stoop of some elderly women. That stoop is the result of what are known as crush fractures in the spine.
Overweight women gain some protection from the disease because greater body weight puts more stress on her bones and after the menopause her excess fat will store more estrogen in the fat cells. Something larger ladies can smile about?
What happens at the time of the menopause?
Menopause is a normal stage in a woman’s life. It isn’t an illness although some women do have very real problems at this time and need help. Other women sail through the mid life changes with ease. It can be divided into three stages:
Signifies the transitional stage, a gradual process
Ovaries produce less and less oestrogen.
Can be 3 to 5 years, until the final cessation of the periods at menopause which for most women is between the ages of 45 and 55
Average age of menopause being 51 years of age. (But recent research indicates that the menopause is occurring at an increasingly younger age.)
Menopause signifies a woman’s last menstrual period
Her ovaries finally cease to function
Her menstrual periods stop
Reproduction comes to an end.
Signifies the many years of a woman’s life left after her last menstrual period and monthly bleed. (Possibly another 1/3rd of her life)
The hormonal fluctuations during the time of the menopause can cause physiological changes which effect metabolism and emotions.
This hormonal imbalance caused by the natural drop in oestrogen levels can result in symptoms such as:
A natural drop in levels of hormone oestrogen at the menopause triggers an accelerated loss of calcium from the bone. One of the mysteries surrounding osteoporosis is that though all women lose oestrogen at the menopause, not all of them suffer bone loss. There are certain risk factors that make some women more vulnerable than others. The increased loss occurs at whatever age the menopause takes place, either naturally around the age of 51,or unnaturally through removal of the womb and ovaries for medical reasons at an earlier age.
The earlier the menopause the earlier the risk of thinning bones. On average women who smoke experience menopause 3 years earlier and if you live with a smoker (even though you don’t smoke) you too are at a disadvantage.
Who is most at risk of osteoporosis?
According to the National Osteoporosis Society the risk factors are:
Heavy drinking and smoking
Heavy caffeine intake
Slight build, low weight
Early menopause before the age of 45
Family history of osteoporosis, especially in close female relatives, (i.e. mother or grandmother)
Lack of exercise
Prolonged bed rest or immobility
Lack of sufficient calcium in diet throughout life
High protein diet (which increases calcium loss)
Vitamin D deficiency (which reduces body’s ability to utilise calcium)
Long course cortisone or thyroid treatment
Women who have over dieted especially anorexia or bulimia sufferers)
Women who over-exercise such as marathon runners (periods diminish or disappear)
Studies in the US show that black women have stronger, thicker, larger bones than white. Black women also tend to lose bone more slowly and lose less calcium in their urine than white women. Both black and white men lose bone and calcium in similar amounts.
What are the effects of bone loss?
There may be nothing noticeable at first. It’s what happens in the long run that counts. A typical sign is the broken wrist, a Colles fracture (which I experienced when I fell ice-skating – ouch) You know the scenario: the person slips and falls on an outstretched hand. Her average age will be 60, and I use the word ‘she’ advisedly, because it happens much more often to women than to men.
Fracture of the femur, the thighbone is another indicator. It can happen through quite a minor fall. The incidence rises with increased age in both men and women, but again its women who are statistically more prone to these injuries.
And then there are fractures of the vertebrae, or spine that become more frequent from the age of 50, again primarily in women. These can cause loss of height through a concave or wedging effect of the weakened bones, or the spinal column may collapse because the bones are actually crushed. One estimate suggests that about 60% of elderly women will experience wedging of bones in the spine.
Keep your black coffee intake down. An American study shows that drinking more than 2 cups a day reduces bone density, though coffe drinkers who also drank at least one glass of milk a day lost less bone than those who did not.
Hip fractures increase after the age of 70, and are the most serious of the four types of fracture connected with osteoporosis. While the other kinds may cause pain they rarely need much medical care. But hip fractures are associated with hospitalisation, permanent disability and death in old age. In the UK in 2004 we’re talking in terms of 300,000 cases of osteoporosis every year resulting in 70,000 hip fractures, 40,000 Colles fractures, and 40,000 fractures of the spine. And then there’s the financial burden, some £1.7 billion a year cost to the NHS. Not to mention the cost in human misery and pain. Some 14,000 people will die as a result of fractures. And, yet again I say, some osteoporosis is preventable.
All fall down?
Fractures follow falls. Even a minor impact can lead to a fracture when bones reach a certain stage of brittleness. Why do people fall down more as they get older? For a number of reasons, some medical:
They could be on a course of drug treatment that makes them drowsy or lose balance (tranquillisers for instance.)
They may suffer from muscular weakness through illness or lack of exercise.
Vision may not be as keen so there is a danger of tripping over (where lighting is not too good, for instance in a hall or on stairs).
Blackouts or fainting due to a physical condition.
A minimum of 2 or 3 units of alcohol a day (preferably less) will not affect bones directly. But women who drink excessive amounts of alcohol may stumble and fall!
Prevention is better than cure
Not everyone has the opportunity, or the positive determinations to regain full mobility after an accident as I did. But women with fragile bones have a lot to lose; both their physical independence and quality of life are at risk. Many accidents leading to nasty falls occur around the house, so be aware of potential hazards:
Snake like flexes.
I find my visiting grandchildren, and other people’s pets are often the cause of “accidents just waiting to happen!” Objects get moved from their familiar spots, toys get left in unexpected places as their bored little owners abandon treasured possessions in the most inconvenient places! Accidents in my kitchen are best avoided by keeping things in more accessible places, it’s too easy to lose one’s balance and tumble off the kitchen steps. For people suffering from osteoporosis, handrails and non-slip mats in bathrooms can stop nasty falls on slippery surfaces, which could have such devastating consequences.
And cold weather can take it’s toll. One study of elderly women admitted to hospital with fractures showed there was a mid winter peak. But they weren’t slipping on icy pavements, most of the accidents took place indoors. It was noted a large proportion of the women were thin, possibly suffering from poor nutrition which triggered low body temperatures, hypothermia and subsequent lack of coordination.