HEALTH&FITNESS: App fits right in to life

HEALTHY OPTION: The summer parkrun season is coming, so it’s time to start getting serious about training.WHEN I caught up with a friend last week, she was spruiking the benefits of a Fitbit she was given as a gift.

I had not heard of the wireless wristband she was wearing that tracked her daily activities and monitored her sleep patterns.

According to fitbit杭州龙凤论坛m, there are several wireless devices you can wear to help track different daily functions, such as how many calories you have burnt, how many steps you have taken or how many stairs you have climbed.

It also syncs to other devices, such as smartphones and computers, and there is an app which you can use to log your food and calorie intake.

The sleep tracker has been a real eye-opener for my friend, who says she is sleeping better since using the Fitbit and has found herself being more accountable about what she eats and how much she exercises each day.

I am pretty old-school and still prefer to write down daily activities in a log book, but I can definitely see the attraction of the Fitbit, and with Christmas not too far off it might be a gift idea for a friend or family member or even yourself.

And what a great time to be thinking about improving your health – during the last month of spring.

If you have used the first two months of spring to start getting yourself in better health for summer, then hopefully you are seeing some positive results by now.

If you set yourself the goal of participating in Run Newcastle at the end of this month, hopefully you are edging ever closer to your personal goal.

And just a few days ago I heard a rumour there was a new parkrun for our region – we already have parkruns at Carrington (Newy parkrun), Blackbutt, Speers Point (Lake Mac parkrun), Singleton, Fingal Bay, Maitland and Belmont – and now apparently there will be a Beaches parkrun. It looks as though it will run from Bar Beach on Saturdays at 8am and will be a 5-kilometre timed event on the sand. It is expected to be launched on November 29 – two days out from summer.

Sounds pretty good to me – soft sand run on Saturday mornings followed by a dip in the ocean. You can’t start your weekends any better than that!

Here are a couple of sessions if you want to get started on some summer fitness:

On the sand (or at the oval):

Session 1

10 squats, 10 push-ups, 1-2 minutes of sand running/walking, repeat 1-3 times; 10 lunges, 10 rows/pull-ups with dumbbells, 1-2 minutes of sand running/walking, repeat 1-3 times;

20 mountain climbers/burpees/shuffles, 10-20 ab curls/ab rotation with dumbbell, 1-2 minutes of sand running/walking, repeat 1-3 times.

Session 2

20 minutes continuous (adjust time depending on your level of fitness) x 20 seconds walking, 20 seconds easy jogging, 20 seconds hard running.

Renee Valentine is a qualifiedpersonal trainer and mother of two

[email protected]杭州龙凤论坛m

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Nasser Al-Shamrani spits at Western Sydney Wanderers’ Matthew Spiranovic

It is a shame that on the greatest night in Australian club football history, a pathetic serving of sour grapes will distort many of the headlines. The sight of Al-Hilal’s Nasser Al-Shamrani head-butting Western Sydney Wanderers’ defender Matthew Spiranovic as the match wound to a close was already bad enough. Little did we know worse was to come.

Spiranovic, a substitute, held his peace until the final whistle, only wanting to get the job done for his side.

When the match did eventually finish, drawn out for what felt like a small eternity, the Wanderers burst into celebration at the miracle duck-egg scoreboard. As is their right, as you would expect. As Al-Hilal would have done if the situation was reversed.

Still, Spiranovic wanted Al-Shamrani – nicknamed “The Earthquake” for his ability to shock the opposition – to know what he’d done was wrong; that he’d broken the unspoken rules of conduct that exist between fellow professionals.

The timing, perhaps, wasn’t ideal, but the striker’s response was beyond disgusting.

Not bothering to reply to Spiranovic with words, Al-Shamrani spat straight at the defender. Truly, an abominable act of sportsmanship. Unacceptable on every level, and no wonder a brawl nearly ensued.

The Asian Football Confederation should be moved to act against Al-Shamrani but in their swirling political waters it is hard – perhaps impossible – to predict what sanction he may receive.

In short, the Gulf giants are a big wheel, politically. It was the head of their football association, Hafez Al Medlej, who backed away from the AFC presidential election in 2013 to give Bahrain’s Sheikh Salman a smooth ride to the top. These things get remembered

As much as Al-Shamrani deserves a ban or a fine from Kuala Lumpur, it’s just as likely he’ll be on the receiving end of a keenly-worded press release. Asian football tends to be like that.

In some ways, the Saudi Arabian subterfuge only added to the greatness of the aggregate victory.

Aside from Al-Shamrani’s spittle, the repeated use of laser-pointers, designed to blaze the pupils of Ante Covic, was appalling. Guangzhou Evergrande fans did it to Covic a few months back, so at least he had experience of knowing what being blinded is like. Referees must surely halt play – perhaps even more – when this happens.

It is impossible to defend the actions of a select few, be they players or fans, not even with a healthy dose of cultural context. But it is possible to tap into the powder keg of pressure that has been building since the moment Al-Hilal arrived home to prepare for the second leg.

Whatever pressure the Wanderers were under, you can double or triple that for the Blue Wave. So much money, so many royal connections, so much history. But, on this occasion, too much pride for their own good.

Although well-behaved in Australia, once they returned to Riyadh, the club – from the vice-president to the coach and players – reflected the same will of Uruguay in November 2005; most memorably through Alvaro Recoba’s infamous “divine right” claim.

The Kingdom believed victory was only a matter of time, and the streets prepared for the inevitable celebration. The players willed it to happen but destiny was, for once, conspiring wildly in favour of an Australian team.

But unlike our club and country teams of yesteryear, at least the Wanderers knew what was coming.

“It’ll be a hostile crowd and they will bring out all the tricks to try and put us off our game,” Spiranovic told Fairfax Media this week. “But I think the boys are aware of that, we know what to expect.”

That they did, and Australia was done proud. The same cannot be said for Al-Shamrani, who did his best to bring infamy to his club and his country.

Should the two nations meet at January’s Asian Cup – a quarter-final meeting is every chance, where Spiranovic would again mark Al-Shamrani – don’t think this country will forget in a hurry, even if the governing body conveniently does.

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LESS IS MORE: Growing organic strawberries

PESTICIDE-FREE: Home-grown organic strawberries are easy to grow, and they taste delicious. Picture: Tricia HogbinMY strawberry patch is bursting with sweet berries. I started last year with only 10 plants. I collected plantlets from those few founders and now have more than 100 plants. Next year I’m aiming for 1000. If you manage your strawberry plants properly, you can enjoy homegrown berries forever, without having to buy new plants every few years.

Strawberry season is especially exciting in our household because I don’t buy strawberries. Conventionally grown strawberries are typically laden with pesticide residues. A 2008 study by CHOICE found pesticide residues in almost all the conventionally grown strawberries they tested. Anyone who has grown their own strawberries will know how susceptible they are to pests and fungal disease. Non-organic growers use a suite of pesticides to control these pests, making strawberries more likely to be contaminated than other fresh fruit. Washing your fruit isn’t the answer. Some pesticides are formulated to resist being washed off by rain and others penetrate right through the fruit.

Thankfully, for those of you who prefer your fruit to be free of pesticides, strawberries are one of the easiest fruits to grow in your backyard.

Here are my tips for growing organic strawberries.

Choose the right location

Choose a sunny spot for your patch to minimise the chance of fungal disease spoiling your fruit.

Build up your soil before planting

Large amounts of organic matter are vital for healthy and resilient strawberry plants. Prepare your soil in autumn, ready for late autumn or early winter plantings. I dug in horse manure, worm castings and compost at a rate of around one bucket per square metre.

Give plants plenty of space

Good air flow around plants will minimise the chance of fruit rotting. Space plants at least 30centimetres apart. Strawberry crowns will rot if buried, so make sure you leave the crown of each plant above the soil surface when planting.

Mulch heavily and fertilise regularly

Mulch your patch heavily to minimise weeds, retain water and keep soil cool. The mulch will also help to keep your fruit clean. Fertilise regularly with worm wee or liquid seaweed fertiliser. Stop fertilising as soon as the plants start fruiting to avoid seaweed-infused fruit.

Find a variety suitable for your area

The taste and resilience of strawberry plants varies between varieties. Trial a few varieties to find what grows best in your garden. Ipurchased two varieties and collected healthy runners from a neighbour’s thriving strawberry patch. The local plants performed far better than the purchased varieties.

Treat them like an annual

Strawberries are short-lived perennials and are most productive and healthy in their first year. I replant a new patch each year. Over summer, strawberry plants send out long horizontal stems called runners. Tiny plantlets form along these runners. I push aside mulch below each plantlet and anchor it in place by placing stones or soil along the runners. I collect these plantlets in late autumn, cutting the runners that connect them to their parent, and move them to the new patch.

Practice crop rotation

Strawberries are highly susceptible to soil-borne diseases. When choosing the location of a new patch, avoid areas that have grown other berries or members of the tomato family (Solanaceae) in previous years.

Give them plenty of water

Strawberry plants like plenty of water, especially when they are flowering and fruiting. However, leaves and fruit can rot if too wet. I water in the morning and water deeply less often.

Tricia Hogbin shares tips for living better with less at littleecofootprints杭州龙凤论坛m and onInstagram (TriciaEco).

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Labor promises $60m for St Vincent’s Hospital medical technology centre

State election full coverage

Labor has promised one-third of the funding needed to build a $180 million centre for cutting-edge new medical technologies at St Vincent’s Hospital if elected.

Opposition leader Daniel Andrews said the biomedical engineering centre would be the first of its type in Australia and build on work already under way by partners includingthe Bionics Institute and Melbourne, Swinburne and Wollongong universities.

St Vincent’s Hospital director of orthopaedics Peter Choong said the Aikenhead Centre for Medical Discovery would allow experts to work closely with patients on the same site.

Projects included a recent world-first procedure to build a man a new heel bone using 3D printing, preventing him losing part of that leg to cancer.

Research was also under way on an implant to warn epileptic patients of an imminent seizure and deliver medication, he said.

Mr Andrews said a Labor state government would commit $60 million for the centre over four years,  and this would need to be matched by the federal government.

He said if Labor  were elected he would seek to meet Prime Minister Tony Abbott to discuss the project.

“The case is too compelling and I’m certain [the] Prime Minister and his government would be a very keen partner in such a visionary project,” he said.

The remaining $60 million contribution would come from the centre’s 10 partners, which have already raised $30 million.

Mr Andrews said the centre would create more than 1000 construction jobs and support “up to 10,000 jobs created over the next 15 years in this new sector”.

He said the state government was not being asked to provide recurrent funding for the centre, which would receive income from grants and partner institutions.

A spokesman for Health Minister David Davis would not commit to matching Labor’s $60 million promise for the centre.

“A number of significant medical research projects are currently under consideration,” he said.

“The Coalition has increased funding for medical research including a number of key capital projects such as the Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre and the Olivia Newton-John Cancer and Wellness Centre.”

Mr Davis’s spokesman also disputed Labor’s ability to attract federal funding for the project.

“Daniel Andrews has no credibility when it comes to funding agreements with the Commonwealth, given his stated intention to tear up the east-west contract and see Victoria lose $1.5 billion.”

Partners behind the project said the state government had provided more than $600,000 to complete a full business case and preliminary designs, and they were now “poised to take the next step together with state and federal government”.

Professor Choong said the centre would encourage collaboration  among disciplines that had historically been separate, such as engineering, medicine and biological sciences.

Partners in the centre said it would drive the commercialisation of “next-generation, high-value bio-engineering products”, securing a  large share of a burgeoning global market.

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Friends pay respect to boy killed by lightning strike

Jayden Morrissey was killed after being struck by lightning. Photo: Supplied Harry Hofman died suddenly from a ruptured spleen. Photo: Supplied

There’s no rugby league club in Australia doing it tougher than the Thornton Beresfield Bears, after news filtered through on Saturday evening that a second teenage player from the club had died in less than a fortnight.

Days after the death of Harry Hofman, 19, who died suddenly from a ruptured spleen at his Beresfield home near Newcastle on October 21, the club was made aware last night, on the eve of its presentation day, that another one of its own had died in tragic circumstances.

Fifteen-year-old Jayden Morrissey, who attended Francis Greenway High School, was killed after being struck by lightning at One Mile Beach in Port Stephens while hanging out with two school friends.

“It is with a heavy heart that we share the news of the sudden death of Jayden Morrissey,” the Beresfield Bears posted on their Facebook page. “Our thoughts, prayers and sincerest condolences to family, friends and all who are affected.”

Friends and family have paid tribute to the year 9 student, who was an avid footballer and referee who loved the beach. They have remembered him as a polite and cheerful boy

“I really can’t believe it, to think I was just with him on Friday and texting him a few hours before he passed away breaks my heart,” Emmalee O’Brien, a school friend of Jayden’s, told Fairfax Media. “When I heard the news I was absolutely shattered, it still feels like a nightmare and I’m going to go to school on Monday and I’ll walk into class and he will be sitting there waiting for me.

“He had such a beautiful soul and always put people before him. Jayden was always the first kid to stick up for me when I was getting picked on and always was cheering me up when I was down.”

Dozens of people paid their respects on social media to Jayden.

“No one will ever forget you mate such a stand out great guy,” Jack Cunningham wrote on a photo, while Kristy Bashford said: “You will be greatly missed Jayden, you were a great kid xxx,” Kristy Bashford wrote on a friend’s status update.

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