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Healthy hacks

We’re quickly heading into the social – and too often, stressful – season. So, what are some simple seasonal habits we can adopt to keep fighting fit for the festivities?



It’s time to take the work out of working out. Soak up the sun – and a healthy dose of vitamin D – on the tennis court, in the pool or on a hike around Hagley. Known as the happy hormone, vitamin D has been shown to regulate mood and ward off depression, but it also helps support strong bones, muscles and overall health. Combined with fresh air and exercise and you’ve got the ultimate elixir.

There’s a clever way to eat well that means you can have your cake and eat it too – not that we want you thinking of cake! But if you are, why not think of a healthy wholefood one? That’s right, you can make nutrient-dense sweet foods using vegetables! Think rich beetroot mud cake or kumara brownies. It’s a thing! So why not let you fingers do the walking and find some sweet swaps of your own?

The key to heart health is to keep moving and that doesn’t just mean getting an extra kickboxing class in after work. From building a fence to mowing the lawn, all physical movement plays a role in keeping your heart healthy. So why not schedule some time in the garden or get your DIY hat on and paint the kitchen? Or maybe it’s just a matter of parking a couple of blocks away from the office in the mornings.

Packing your lunch – it seems so simple and yet this small change in your daily routine can help control your mood, your calories and your spending! When you’ve got a healthy lunch to hand, you’re much less likely to find your hand in the company snack box when low sugars hit. Stay energised and productive throughout the day with nutritious options such as nuts, dried fruit, roasted chickpeas and bliss balls.

It’s time to vege up, not out, by increasing your vege intake. Aim to have fruits and vegetables make up half of each meal. Why not make half of breakfast fruit and half of lunch and dinner veges? Better yet, throw some green smoothies in the mix and you can have the best of both worlds! For simple summer dinners, combine a marinade with fresh grilled veggies and your favourite low-fat protein for a great-tasting, healthy weeknight meal.


Healthy habits

We’re not here to talk about total body transformations, swearing off carbs or overhauling your fitness routine. We’ve got far better news! In fact, we’re here to fill you in on some simple ways to improve your health and wellbeing.

Walk it off

The process of digestion actually ramps up our metabolisms temporarily; a brief walk does the same. Together, a short walk within 20 minutes of eating is believed to increase the metabolism by 20 percent, leading to an increase in caloric burn. What better motivation do you need to get off the couch?


Just breathe

Ever noticed when you’re stressed, you tend to take shorter, sharper breaths? Diaphragmatic or belly breathing comes with a raft of benefits, like alleviating stress and even lowering your heart rate and blood pressure. Research shows deep breathing through the nose, as opposed to the mouth enhances cognitive function, such as memory!


Something fishy

With its ability to prevent heart disease and stroke, we all need more omega-3 fats in our lives – but humans can’t produce them ourselves. Thankfully there’s a tasty way to get the benefits – eat more fish! Seafood is packed with high-quality protein, vitamin D and calcium, but low in total and saturated fat.


To the pointe: Muscle People

For ballerinas the world over it’s a much longed for moment; after years of watching “the big girls” – the time for learning to dance en pointe finally arrives. However, behind that stunning grace and beauty of a dancer en pointe is an incredible strength and technique.



Because adolescent growth is a time of rapid change, 12-year-olds vary in strength, so age alone does not determine whether a dancer is ready to train en pointe.

Classical ballet training places a force four times body weight through the foot, and this increases to twelve times when dancing en pointe.

Stiff ankles and feet can make it difficult to get onto pointe, putting added strain on muscles and joints. Hyper-mobile knees, ankles or feet mean muscles have to work harder to control the alignment that is required to avoid injury.

Dancing with poor posture, decreased strength or incorrect technique can lead to a higher risk of injury and decrease confidence.

Muscle People are proud to introduce their new Pre-Pointe Assessment: a series of tests and measures of a young dancer’s strength, balance, posture, and alignment.

Conducted by a physiotherapist, the assessment identifies if a dancer is ready to progress to pointe training and can reduce the risk of injury.

The team has developed a checklist of four items, based on the International Association of Dance and Medical Science Guidelines for Initiating Pointe Training.

The ballerina should:
• Be aged 12 years or over
• Be attending at least two ballet classes per week
• Have completed four plus years of ballet training
• Complete a pre-pointe assessment

Muscle People Physiotherapy has been providing world-class physiotherapy in Christchurch for over 20 years.

The extensive range of services includes preventive screenings to identify predisposition to injury for all sports, and provide a programme of techniques and therapy to help you avoid injury.


Pilates at home: Freedom Health Pilates

Have you heard about reformer Pilates but thought the equipment looked too hard or scary? Worried it may not help your specific injuries? Or just can’t find a class time and location that works for you? Freedom Health Physiotherapy and Pilates owner Cath Julius tells Metropol why reformer is good for everybody – and how you can now do it at home!



“The Pilates reformer was designed by Joseph Pilates and its popularity has grown significantly over the last 10 years – for good reason. The versatility of the reformer is like no other piece of equipment I have found. From 70-year-olds rehabilitating their knees to elite athletes wanting to improve performance, the reformer has amazing capabilities.”

“One of the most common misconceptions about the reformer is that it is a piece of strength equipment. The springs of the reformer are actually designed to support people, making movements that normally feel hard, feel easier. The reformer is more like a good dance partner that leads you well and has you moving like you didn’t think was possible. The freedom and confidence that it brings to movement can be life changing”.

“Having an instructor that truly understands the purpose of the reformer, and how bodies move, is the vital ingredient to success with reformer pilates. The Freedom Health team have had great success with in-clinic solutions for Pilates and are now making it even easier for people to access with the recent release of Freedom@Home solutions. All classes are designed by physiotherapists.”

“Clients can hire or purchase a reformer from us, and then watch our pre-recorded classes online – at any time which suits them. This saves people the commute and gives them the flexibility to do the same workout with a qualified instructor, around their own schedule. The programme can be personalised for each person’s needs to ensure they meet their health and fitness goals.”



Ph (03) 355 6699 or to enquire about reformer memberships, or visit the website


Is there something in your teeth? Dentistry on Merivale

Dentistry is one of the very few medical professions where a foreign material is placed in a patient’s body and then left there permanently for years, if not decades. Add to this the fact that the environment in which this happens is routinely subject to extremes of abrasion, temperature, acidity, bacteria, enzymes and all the other nuances of the oral environment.


Recent evidence has now shown that nearly all composite materials (“white fillings”, as well as many crown cements) contain and potentially release into the body phthalates such as Bisphenol-A (BPA), as well as titanium dioxide, HEMA and TEGDMA. Which some studies have shown may cause toxicity.

At Dentistry on Merivale they search the world for dental materials that are as non-toxic as possible, while still allowing full restoration of the dentition.

Early last year Dr David Walsh was introduced to a holistic composite and bonding system out of Switzerland called Saremco, which is entirely free of HEMA, TEGDMA, BPAs and titanium dioxide.

At the time it was not available in New Zealand, so Dr Walsh imported it himself for a clinical trial. Upon finding it an excellent system, he established Bioholistic New Zealand Ltd to import it as a source for the New Zealand dental profession at large.

Saremco is available for purchase by the profession at Dr Walsh provides this information simply for the awareness of holistically-minded clients who may be facing some dental work and who are looking for the healthiest option.


The vital truth about vitamins and minerals: Unichem Cashel

With common symptoms like fatigue, headaches and muscle pain – it can be easy to live unaware of vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Unichem Cashel Head Pharmacist Annabel Turley tells Metropol how treating these issues can be simple – but greatly improve quality of life.



What is a vitamin and mineral deficiency, and how do they happen?
“It is when you’re not getting enough nutrients like vitamins and minerals from your diet, or you’re taking medications that deplete the vitamins and minerals in your body. There’s a number of common medications which many people in New Zealand take which can prevent vitamins and minerals being absorbed into the body. Our soil also doesn’t have a lot of minerals in it, so we don’t always get enough from our food. A lot of people don’t understand a vitamin and mineral deficiency can affect your overall health – and it can be so simple to fix.”

Can you tell if you are deficient?
“The symptoms are similar to a number of common complaints, like migraines, headaches, muscle pain and cramps, and low energy levels – so it can be hard for the untrained eye to determine what may be behind these common issues. You can get a blood test to see your iron levels or B12, but a lot of vitamin and mineral deficiencies can be treated via the symptoms. Our staff are all trained specifically to spot these symptoms, and to provide appropriate and informed advice.”

How can these issues be treated?
“It can be as simple as taking a multi-vitamin for some people who may be having general signs of vitamin or mineral deficiency – but not all vitamin supplements are created equally. It is best to seek advice from someone who has been trained and upskilled to not only spot symptoms, but to advise on the specific type of supplement.
“For example, not all supplements can easily be absorbed by the body so there are different forms which are better for different conditions and to be used with different medications.”

Find Unichem Pharmacy at 111 Cashel Street from Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm, and Saturday and Sunday 10am to 5pm.



Not just a workout: Bodyfix Gym

Fitness for your body doesn’t stop at your shoulders, and the Bodyfix Gym team understand that going to the gym takes you far beyond the classic lose weight, tone up, and strengthen.

“We believe in exercise to support mental health as well, and we are really popular for that,” says Owner Moana Williams.

“We even have members referred to us by their GP with exercise as part of their prescription.”

Privately owned, the longstanding and tightknit team at Bodyfix are there to support members.

“We get to know everyone and you are always an individual, never a number. While some gyms focus on attracting new clients, we really value our existing members and have been through many personal joys and tragedies with them,” says Moana.

Even more than usual in the current environment, Bodyfix is a place where worries are left at the door and there is a sense of normality for a while.

“So many friendships are made here, existing friendships are strengthened – we laugh hard, and then of course you’ll work your body like there’s no tomorrow,” says Moana.

With 45 classes on the timetable for all abilities, the team will design a membership to suit you, plus the Personal Training Team is extremely experienced and always ready to help.

There’s also full access after-hours, group challenges, and nutrition advice on the gym’s Facebook group.


Building stronger, Dynamic Spines: Muscle People

Whether back pain strikes after a sports game where you took one for the team, whether it has crept up on you with the passing years, or whether you simply reached for the can opener in your own kitchen and something went pop, you’ll know that back pain is debilitating – casting a cloud over every aspect of daily life.


The team of physiotherapists at Muscle People can help by working with you to create the core strength that is the foundation of fitness without injury, and a pain-free back.

To strengthen the core, which in turn supports the strength and healing of the spine, the team has developed a programme of therapeutic exercise called Dynamic Spines. Neck, upper back, and lower back pain as well as core and postural weaknesses are all addressed within Dynamic Spines.

The length of the Dynamic Spines programme is bespoke to you, specifically tailored to ensure that you reach your back health goals. Before enrolling you will be assessed by one of the physiotherapists to ensure the classes are going to be the best approach for your issues.

Limited numbers mean you receive higher one-on-one attention from the physiotherapist instructors in each class as you work to your individual diagnosis and ability, but you also get to share the challenges and fun within a group setting. As well as the medical and wellbeing benefits, there is an enjoyable social aspect to Dynamic Spines.

Classes can include pilates-focussed exercises and working out on the Oov – a fun, odd looking piece of equipment that activates core stabilising muscles while gently extending the spine.

You’ll also receive exercises to do at home. Because the courses are designed and instructed by physiotherapists, they are available as treatment through the ACC system.

Muscle People receive referrals from back specialists where core strengthening is required, and for post-operative rehabilitation as well as private clients who want to address pain, mobility and reverse a gradual decline in core strength.

The classes are available at Muscle People’s three clinics in the city, at Bishopdale and at Wigram Skies, and they also run at different times throughout the day so there is a location and time to suit.

To find out more about Dynamic Spines, phone Muscle People on 0800 027 194.


Dream big for beauty’s sake

Sleeping Beauty was put under a sleeping spell for 100 years, but it begs the question: was it really a curse or a blessing? Catching those Zs is a science-backed way to achieve an inner and outer glow, and here’s three ways to do just that.

Beauty sleep
“You look tired” are three words no one wants to hear. Dr Shelby Harris, a New York-based behavioural sleep-medicine specialist says sleep helps repair muscle damage and cell regrowth, improves brain function and regulates your mood. The key? Consistently having between seven- and eight-hours (and no, playing catch up at the weekend doesn’t count).

Princess and the pea
We’re recommending against putting your vegetables underneath your mattress, but we do suggest putting them into your body. So does registered dietitian and founder of wellness education studio, Nutritious Life, Keri Glassman. She says a well-balanced diet combined with at least 20-minutes of cardio exercise each day optimises your sleep – and therefore its benefits.

Screen queens
The one-more-episode mentality is a dangerous game to play before bed. Bingeing on streaming services or having one last scroll through social media keeps your brain active – resulting in a greater struggle falling asleep once you put your device down. The solution? Scientific studies suggest avoiding screens one to two hours before bed.


The breast care possible: Pacific Radiology

Breast health is important. At Canterbury Breastcare, women and men’s breast healthcare – from diagnosis to recovery – is taken care of under one very supportive roof by specialist health professionals.



Canterbury Breastcare is kitted out with state-of-the-art equipment to offer full-field digital mammography.
Home of national breast screening programme, Screen South, Breastcare also administers the Canterbury DHB’s diagnostic imaging, as well as providing a private service.

The multi-disciplinary team of radiologists, surgeons, oncologists, pathologists, breast nurse specialists and mammographers can diagnose and provide treatment options like surgery or on-going surveillance and clinical management.
Canterbury Breastcare has four very experienced surgeons who specialise in breast surgery and are available to diagnose and treat a wide range of breast diseases, including breast cancer. Six breast nurse specialists work closely with consultants to offer outstanding patient care, including information regarding treatments, practical advice, psychological support, coordinating care pathways and being a pivotal point of contact for patients and their whānau.

Two yearly mammograms are provided by Screen South free of charge, for women aged between 45- and 69-years-old.
If you have noticed any changes in your breasts see your GP before attending a screening mammogram.
When you turn 45-years-old you should have been invited through your GP to enrol in this programme. You can also enrol by calling 0800 270 200.
If you are younger than 45-years-old or older than 69-years-old, and haven’t observed changes to your breast, you can book a self-funded service.

If you notice any changes in your breasts, or have a family history of breast cancer, see your GP. Your GP can refer you to Canterbury Breastcare for breast imaging and surgical consultation. Some of these services are funded by public health services and private health insurance. Self-funded options are available too.