Are You at Risk of Heart Disease? Know the Risk Factors

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Written by Komalpreet Kaur

Americans and Canadians are more likely to die from heart disease than any other disease. Fortunately, most deaths from heart disease can be prevented by recognizing symptoms early enough and seeking medical attention. And no matter what your perceived risks are, it’s extremely important to know the signs and symptoms of a heart attack, as there have been cases where people with no known risk factors still experience them.

This article will give you the insight you need to understand signs and symptoms, risk factors and common myths associated with heart disease.

Warning signs: 

Here are a few warning signs of heart disease as stated in the Mayo Clinic’s book Healthy Heart for Life. If you ever experience any of the symptoms below, please have them checked out by a medical professional:

  • Chest pain or discomfort often noticed with physical activity or emotional stress, which goes away when you rest
  • Unusual tiredness
  • Shortness of breath during normal physical activities

If you have any of these symptoms, contact emergency services immediately:

  • Unexpected chest pain or discomfort that doesn’t go away after a few minutes or occurs when you are resting 
  • Discomfort in other areas of your upper body such as your arms, shoulders, back, neck,  jaw or stomach
  • Shortness of breath that doesn’t go away
  • Severe weakness, lightheadedness, cold sweat or fainting
  • Severe indigestion or heartburn that lasts more than a few minutes, feeling sick to your stomach, vomiting or abdominal discomfort

These symptoms can be more subtle especially in women, so don’t delay and get yourself checked out. Remember, the delay can be deadly!

Common myths about heart diseases

    1. ‘There is nothing I can do about it’: If you have a strong family history of heart disease,  that doesn’t mean you are destined to get heart disease and you cannot do anything about it. There are effective ways to prevent it.
    2. ‘I don’t have to worry. Heart disease doesn’t run in my family’: Assuming that you won’t get heart disease because you don’t have a family history doesn’t mean you are immune to heart disease. Most of the risks of heart disease are associated with choices you make in your daily life such as eating habits, level of physical activity.
    3. Only old people get heart disease’: The chances of getting heart disease increases as a person gets older. Most people fail to understand that lifestyle habits formed during childhood or early adulthood can be a threat to heart health. Even in children, plaques start to build up in arteries. People should start forming healthy habits early, as what they do in their youth affects their lives later.
    4. ‘I’ll know if I have a heart problem because I’ll have symptoms’: Sometimes a heart attack is the first sign of a heart problem. 50% of men and 64% of women who’ve had heart attacks showed no symptoms of heart disease before the attack. People with heart valve problems also may not experience symptoms.
    5. ‘Heart disease is more of a man’s issue than a woman’s issue’: Heart disease is a leading cause of death and disability in women. Women are hesitant to seek help with heart-related symptoms and also less likely to make lifestyle changes to help prevent heart disease.
    6. ‘I’ll change my lifestyle if I get in trouble’: It’s never too early to start. We often don’t feel the need to change our lifestyles if nothing is wrong, instead of waiting until after something happens to make meaningful changes. Unfortunately, you can’t prevent heart disease once you have a heart attack or heart problem—only the quality of life can be improved later. 
    7. But I’m already living a healthy lifestyle’: A lot of us think we’re healthier than we really are. There is often a difference between what we think we know about healthy behaviours and what we do. The four primary behaviours recommended for heart health are not smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, eating a diet rich in vegetables and fruits and exercising regularly.

It’s important to be aware of potential risk factors. Plus, when you reduce your risk factors for heart disease, you also reduce your risk factors for various other diseases such as dementia, cancer, diabetes, kidney disease, erectile dysfunction and blindness.

Risk factors:

Dr. Beth Abramson in her book says “Heart disease is due to bad luck, bad living and bad genes”. This pretty much sums up the major risk factors of heart diseases.

Personal and Family History:

It’s important to build your medical history. It begins with consulting a doctor and understanding your health status. Your doctor can also help you understand how health issues like sleep apnea, being overweight, anemia, and kidney disease can be risks for heart disease. You should also be aware of your family history, specifically how many of your first-degree relatives (parents, siblings or children) have heart disease. Any man or woman with a parent with heart disease has a two times greater risk than a peer with no family history.

Smoking: 

Smoking increases the risk of heart diseases, respiratory diseases, and cancer. The amount of risk associated with smoking and having a heart attack or stroke is even higher when people start smoking at a young age. Smoking narrows your blood vessels, raises blood pressure and increases the risk of blood clots. Any type of smoking is a preventable risk factor—second-hand smoke increases the risk of heart disease by 30%.

Cholesterol, Hypertension and Diabetes:

Cholesterol is the fat in your blood. HDL is high-density lipoprotein, which is good and should be high. LDL, on the other hand, is low-density and having high levels of it is bad, as it promotes the buildup of plaque in blood vessels. 

The impact of cholesterol levels on heart disease is significant. Ask your doctor to regularly check your cholesterol levels if you are a man over 40 years, a woman over 50 years, or if you have other risk factors.

Hypertension means high blood pressure. It’s also known as a silent killer as it damages and scars the arteries. If not treated it can cause stroke, heart attack or heart failure. According to Hypertension Canada, reducing your blood pressure by a small amount can reduce your risk of heart failure by 50%.

Diabetes occurs when your blood glucose levels are too high. High blood glucose levels can also contribute to plaque buildup in arteries. Adults with diabetes caused by an unhealthy lifestyle are two or three times more prone to heart disease than adults who do not have diabetes.

Weight:

Nearly 1/4 of Canadians and more than 2/3 American adults are overweight or obese and it has a staggering effect on their health, increasing the risk of heart disease or conditions leading to heart diseases such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes or pre-diabetes, and sleep apnea. Being overweight or obese also reduces your lifespan by 3 years. Body Mass Index can be used as a measure to know if you are overweight or not.

Use the Body Mass Index Table for reference.

It’s important to note that what’s more important is making healthy food choices and staying healthy on the inside, rather than just a lean body achieved through a strict diet as looks can be deceiving.

Sedentary lifestyle: 

An active body = a healthy body

Out of all the other risk factors for heart disease, a sedentary lifestyle is most common. Being inactive can be detrimental to your heart health. Sitting on your couch or your office chair for hours per day makes you more prone to obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels in the blood, and also increases your risk for diabetes. Little or no physical activity level, when paired with unhealthy food choices, is dangerous to your heart health. 

Sleep: 

People who are sleep deprived most of the time or who do not enjoy a good slumber are more likely to be at risk for heart disease, regardless of age, gender, weight, and eating habits. Not getting enough sleep consistently can lead to an increase in blood pressure during the day, which leads to a greater chance for heart disease in the long term. 

Stress can also increase blood pressure and blood sugar levels, increasing the risk of heart disease.

Socio-economic status: 

More money= Easy access to better medical care

People at the lower end of the socioeconomic spectrum are at higher risk for heart disease.

This is due, in part, to not having the financial freedom to buy healthier food choices (junk food is cheaper than fruits and green groceries). People with low economic status are also more inclined to smoking, one of the four major risk factors.

Steps toward a healthy heart

  • Be extra cautious if you have a family history of heart disease
  • Quit smoking
  • Maintain a healthy weight 
  • Switch to healthy food habits such as including more fruits and vegetables, as well as grains in your meals
  • Eat breakfast
  • Be physically active
  • If you have a sedentary working environment or lifestyle, stand for a few minutes, go for a walk, or climb the stairs to take breaks from sitting for long hours
  • Switch to walking or cycling instead of driving
  • Engage in physical activities you enjoy
  • Calm your mind by meditating every day to keep stress levels in check long term
  • Sleep for 8 hours a night
  • Schedule regular visits with your doctor and understand your health status and family history
  • If on any medication, be sure to take it on time

Cancer – We Can Escape It

Cancer Prevention

Written by Komalpreet Kaur

Cancer—just the name itself is enough to scare you. It is estimated that nearly half of all Canadians will be diagnosed with cancer during their lifetime and is also responsible for 30% of all the deaths in Canada. Cancer brings misery of long term illness, treatments and fear of death with its diagnosis. There is no guarantee that cancer can be prevented but the risk of cancer can always be reduced.

Through research, a link has been established between physical and mental state and lifestyle factors that can help individuals avoid and survive cancer. We might attribute its origin to factors beyond our control but most of the time it’s a consequence of lifestyle habits.

“At least 50 percent of cancer deaths could be prevented by making healthy lifestyle changes, and the percentage could be even higher,” says Dr. David Katz. Some basic and sustainable lifestyle choices can help us live a better and full life while avoiding life-threatening diseases.

Here are a few lifestyle modifications that you can implement in your daily life to reduce the risk of cancer.

  • Avoid smoking
  • Limit alcohol consumption and avoid illicit drugs
  • Switching to a healthy diet
  • Active lifestyle
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Managing stress
  • Proper sleep pattern
  • Regular medical care
  • Avoid toxins

Avoid Smoking 

Smoking is a cause of about 72% of lung cancer cases in Canada. Smoking and vaping are forms of nicotine consumption that kill up to half of its long term users. Tobacco has been associated with not just lung cancer but it is now linked with 14 different cancers.

Our actions matter not just to us but also to the people around us. People exposed to extreme levels of passive smoke or secondhand smoke are at equal risk for developing cancers.

Exposure to secondhand smoke can be reduced by making your home smoke free and supporting smoke free workplace policies. The Canadian government has policies in place that prohibit smoking in indoor public places such as schools, restaurants, bars, casinos, public transit facilities.

consequences-tobacco-second-hand-smoke

(Source: Adapted from The Health Consequences of Smoking – 50 Years of Progress)

Be a non-smoker, it’s never too late!

For help follow the link:

http://www.cancer.ca/en/prevention-and-screening/reduce-cancer-risk/make-healthy-choices/live-smoke-free/?region=on

Or contact Smoker’s helpline: 18775135333.

Limit Alcohol Consumption and Avoid Illicit Drugs

The heavy consumption of liquor every day can increase the risk of cancer. No safe alcohol limits are known for now but it’s for sure that the more alcohol you drink, the higher the risk for developing cancer, especially for women.

Women who have a family history of breast cancer must reduce their alcohol limit to less than one glass a day as drinking alcohol leads to the release of extra estrogen in the body that heightens the risk of breast cancer.

You should also avoid any illicit drug addiction/habit that impairs the quality of life.

Switch to Healthy Eating

“Let food be your medicine”- Hippocrates

Plants and plant-based food items that can be consumed on a daily basis have been known through research to be a good source of nutrients with the ability to interfere with some processes of cancer development, in a manner similar to the action of many drugs that are used today. For example, sulphur compounds in garlic and vegetables from the cabbage family prevent the activation of carcinogenic substances and facilitate their elimination from the body, preventing DNA mutations and cancer development.

As recommended by the World Cancer Research Fund International (WCRFI), you must make whole grains, vegetables, fruits, pulses (legumes) such as beans and lentils as a major part of your daily diet. WCRF suggests that an individual must eat 30g of fibre and 400g of fruit and vegetables every day. It not only protects you against cancer but also helps prevent weight gain and obesity

Fruits and vegetables Cancer they prevent
Cruciferous vegetables Bladder, Lung, Prostate
Green vegetables Breast
Green Tea Colorectal, Stomach
Citrus Fruit Stomach
Blueberries

Berries have anti-inflammatory properties

Breast
Nuts Breast, Colon, Prostate, Pancreas
Garlic and it’s family Esophagus, Stomach, Colon
Soy Breast, Prostate 
Seeds and Grains Breast, Colon
Olive Oil  Colon

(Source: Preventing Cancer, Reducing the risks by Richard Beliveau & Denis Gingras)

As per the research conducted by the International Agency of Research on Cancer(IARC), it is evident that several dietary factors are associated with the risk of breast cancer. The data from the research suggests that alcohol, beer and cider intake in women increases the risk of breast cancer whereas a higher intake of fibre, apple/pear and carbohydrates was associated with a lower risk of breast cancer.

WRCF recommends limiting the consumption of red meat (beef, lamb, pork) to approximately 1 pound (500g) per week, replacing it with meals based on fish, eggs or vegetable proteins. Red meat has a high caloric density and undergoes biochemical changes during cooking or preserving which results in negative impacts on health.

Replacing the red meat with fish, fowl, nuts and legumes can reduce the mortality rate from 20% to 7%.

Limit the intake of sweets, replacing artificial sweets with natural sources like fruit.

Some changes that can be made:

  • Be a greengrocer: Shopping fresh vegetables and fruits
  • Read labels on the back of packed food
  • Limit eating out
  • Limit salt intake in the diet
  • Adherence to the Mediterranean diet

Healthy lifestyle

Physical activity is known to prevent and reduce the risk of various diseases and cancers. Adopt a healthy morning routine by taking a 10 minute morning walk or completing a small morning workout. Aerobic exercise can be incorporated in many forms ranging from a vigorous gym workout, to dance class or a simple stair climbing workout. Don’t forget to count your steps! Setting a step goal will encourage you to walk more.

Be sun safe: Using sunscreen when going out, especially during the middle of the day. You should also avoid using tanning beds and sunlamps.

Maintaining a healthy weight

Obesity is an invitation to diseases like diabetes, cardiac diseases and various carcinomas. Obesity and overweight conditions are assessed by anthropometric measures such as BMI and waist circumference. Excess weight is a result of eating too many calories and not burning enough calories. Eating a healthy diet and maintaining an active lifestyle helps to maintain weight within normal limits.

Managing stress

Stress is a burden on our body, mind and spirit that has the capacity to undermine our physical and mental health. It’s important to effectively cope with the stressors in our lives. If stress isn’t properly managed, it cancels the healthy diet benefits, disrupts sleep and can cause extreme levels of stress projected in the form of body aches. This impairs our health by reducing immunity against diseases and altering hormone levels in the body.

Some solutions to manage stress:

  • Develop daily meditation practices
  • Practice reflective writing
  • Learn to say no and delegate tasks
  • Make yourself a priority, focus on your health and practice self-care
  • Cultivate gratitude
  • Cultivate a positive frame of mind
  • Learn what works for you to effectively manage your stress and anxiety

Proper sleep pattern

Thomas Dekker (dramatist) wrote, “Sleep is the golden chain that ties health and our bodies together.”

Sleep is integral for the human body to function at optimal levels and proper rest is essential for anticancer living. It’s important to be well-rested to feel relaxed and energetic. Physical activity and sleep go hand-in-hand; exercising requires you to use energy which can help you fall asleep at night. 

Some tips for a better night’s sleep:

  • Have a regular sleep routine
  • Avoid stimulating drinks such as caffeine, alcohol, beer, wine, etc. before sleep as these can delay sleep
  • Using the bedroom only for sleep and intimacy and not using the bedroom for work or watching tv, etc..This way the bedroom can trigger/activate the receptors for sleep in our brain and the sole thought of a bedroom will induce sleep
  • Comfortable clothing and a calm relaxing environment promotes sleep

Regular medical care

Make regular appointments with your doctor and ask about risk factors based on your family history. Also, ask about cancer screening.

  • Colorectal Cancer – Men and women 50-74 must go for FOBT every two years
  • Breast Cancer – Women 50-74 should go for a mammogram every two years
  • Women 30-69 are at higher risk for breast cancer and should have a mammogram and MRI every year
  • Cervical Cancer – Women who are or have been sexually active should start having a pap test every year at 21

Remember:

  • Always consult your doctor whenever your health changes
  • Get vaccinated against HPV and Hepatitis B
  • Consider your family history and be more cautious about health risks

Avoid toxins

You should avoid environmental toxins both at home and outside. Learn more about how to replace highly toxic products with less toxic ones. It’s also important to avoid the seven deadly poisons that cause endocrine disruption and also pose a serious risk for cancer development:

  1. Asbestos
  2. Formaldehyde
  3. PFC’s
  4. Fire Retardants
  5. Vinyl Chloride
  6. Bisphenol A (BPA)
  7. Phthalates

These toxins are commonly found in everyday products like body care products, makeup, laundry, car care products, etc.. Read the labels and know what you are buying. Know the products and chemicals you might be exposed to at the workplace. Carcinogenic products must be replaced with safer options.

Change is a journey and an optimum state of health is the destination. You can only reap the benefits of change within each factor if you make changes in more than one factor, considering they are all entwined. Take care of yourself so that you can take care of others.

(Some of the important information to complete this blog post was taken from the book Anticancer Living. To learn more and in-depth about lifestyle modifications to prevent cancer and how to survive cancer you can refer to this book.)

 

Let’s Talk Depression

Mental health image. Various emotion and mind. Waste paper and head silhouette.

Written by Komalpreet Kaur

Mental and emotional health is just as important as physical health and well-being. It is crucial for you to be aware and accept your emotions, feelings and struggles. The everyday struggle to show up with a smile when you are not doing well is devastating and the pain behind that smile is unbearable. You don’t have to wear a mask and pretend to be happy when in reality your depression is choking the life out of you.

Let’s talk about depression and how it can make your world look grey and bleak.

Mayo Clinic defines depression as a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest. It affects how an individual feels, thinks and behaves often leading to a variety of emotional and physical problems. Depression manifests in different forms and can be defined differently by people who have experienced depression or are still living with it each day.

To be diagnosed with clinical depression or major depressive disorder, the symptoms must be present for more than two weeks. You can also take the Beck Depression Inventory(BDI), a psychometric test to measure the characteristic attitudes and symptoms of depression. 

The terms Smiling Depression, high functioning depression or perfectly hidden depression (PHD) are not recognized as conditions in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) because the symptoms of these conditions are atypical and in most circumstances, the person himself fails to recognize depression.

The smiling depression or perfectly hidden depression is dangerous because people with these conditions are capable of perfectly hiding their despair, hopelessness and pain. They live perfect lives for the outer world and never communicate their sadness to others and in worse case scenarios this sadness has a tight grip on the person, driving them to end their life.

Dr. Margret Rutherford Robinson describes in her book, perfectly hidden depression is a type of depression that may not fit the criteria or description for minor or major depression but is a depression that lays silently beneath the lifetime of acting as if everything is going perfectly well. The characteristics of perfectly hidden depression enable a person to hide or detach from emotional pain. Just because we cannot see the pain does not mean it’s not there and it is not affecting the individual.

Dr. Margret Rutherford enlists the 10 characteristics of perfectly hidden depression in her book and suggests that an individual is more likely to experience PHD, if…

  1. You are highly perfectionistic and have a constant, critical and shaming inner voice
  2. Demonstrate a heightened or excessive sense of responsibility
  3. Detach from painful emotions by staying in your head and actively shutting them off
  4. Worry or need to control yourself and your environment
  5. Intensely focus on tasks, using accomplishment to feel valuable 
  6. Focus on the well-being of others but don’t allow them into your inner world
  7. Discount personal hurt or sorrow and struggle with self-compassion
  8. May have an accompanying mental health issue, such as an eating disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, or addiction
  9. Believe strongly in counting your blessings as the foundation of well-being
  10. May enjoy success within the professional structure but struggle with emotional intimacy in relationships

Most often the psychiatrists or psychologist fails to identify people with perfectly hidden depression because they ask wrong questions. A person with PHD will never disclose how he feels even when they are the point of self-harm. Talk to your therapist or someone you trust, seek help. How can your therapist know what’s wrong if you don’t tell him?

To know if you are going through perfectly hidden depression click here for a questionnaire created by Dr. Margret Rutherford.

 

Join Life

Some measures for healing:

  • To accept your diagnosis or current emotional state
  • Practice mindfulness, dance in the present moment without being focused on the past or future
  • Recognize that change is a slow process and patience is required
  • Set some realistic goals, try to avoid your perfects inner voice here
  • Work in small steps to achieve these goals
  • Acknowledge success no matter how small it is
  • Connect with your inner self, journal every day
  • Develop a self-care routine
  • Practice self-compassion
  • Ask for help whenever needed

If professional help is needed contact a qualified psychiatrist or therapist.

It is very important to identify and accept your diagnosis and this particularly takes tremendous amounts of courage to confront your emotions. But hiding your feelings is not getting you anywhere but towards misery and despair. The loneliness that you feel is heart-wrenching.

When someone suddenly commits suicide, it often bothers us and we keep thinking of what might have happened, as to us everything was perfectly normal in his or her life.  

Edwin Shneidman defines psychache as the hurt, anguish, soreness, aching, and psychological pain in the mind that can drive a person to suicide.

If you ever feel like driving away from the pressure of your perfect life just know that killing yourself is never going to do any good to you and to people you love. You don’t have to go through psychache alone. It’s never too late to ask for help!

Some help resources are enlisted below.

Crisis services Canada (help available 24/7)

text-us

Call-us

Canadian Mental Health Association

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

Self-help Tools for Mental Wellness

 

Mental Health at Workplaces

As per the data from CAMH, 30% of disability claims in Canada are due to mental illness and 70% of all disability costs are due to mental illness.

CAMH suggests the following mental health strategies for workplaces:

  1. Create a long term organization-wide Mental Health Strategy
  2. Institute mandatory mental health training for leadership
  3. Develop tailored Mental Health Supports
  4. Prioritize and optimize your  Return-to-Work process checklist
  5. Track your progress

Be there for your co-workers.

Identify signs of distress → Show you care for them → Connect them to help.

What is Goals-Based Investing?

The hands of women holding watering can sprinkle coins

Written by James Gauthier, Chief Investment Officer at Justwealth

Most individuals are aware of the importance of investing – not everybody does it, but they know that it can be beneficial for their future. For those that are able and engaged in investing, a good percentage will invest their savings through their financial institution, a financial advisor or some will do it on their own. Financial planning helps investors figure out questions such as “How much do I need to save?”, “How much can I spend?” or “What rate of return do I need to make?”.
Before you attempt to answer these questions, you should be asking yourself the question “What is the objective of my investment?” The responses to this question can vary greatly, but might fall into one of the following categories:
• Saving for the short term (such as a down payment for a home in a few years)
• Saving for the long term (such as a retirement nest egg)
• Generating income (either as a primary or secondary source)
• Preserving your capital (looking to keep up with inflation or just very risk averse)

In the absence of having an objective for your investment, it is quite possible that financial planning software could determine that your required rate of return is something like 4% per year. Any asset allocation expert will tell you that there are hundreds of ways to construct a portfolio that can be expected to make a rate of return of 4%: it could be 4% purely in the form of income, it could be 4% through a combination of dividends and capital appreciation across a variety of conservative equity markets or it could be a portfolio that has very limited risk of producing a negative return over short periods of time (i.e. strong downside protection). Until you identify the specific investment objective that you are trying to achieve, there can be a lot of uncertainty in how best to create a portfolio that will satisfy your financial needs.

What goals-based investing attempts to do is to put your investment objective as the starting point in constructing a portfolio that will accomplish what you want it to do. Once that is defined, the variable(s) that need to be optimized are known, and you can place other constraints, limits, or preferences into your quantitative models that collectively produce a portfolio that will be optimal for achieving the investment objective.

As an example, consider a new retiree who is single, has a company pension of $20,000 per year and is entitled to government benefits of $15,000 per year. It is determined that the pensioner will require an additional $10,000 per year from investments to live comfortably, and has a non-registered investment account worth $250,000. If the pensioner were to go to a typical institution or financial representative that does not use goals-based investing, it is most likely that the portfolio recommended would be something along the lines of a “Moderate Growth” portfolio or 40% equity, 60% fixed income. This portfolio would be expected to deliver a return of roughly 4% with the lowest volatility possible. The portfolio would rank as a 2 out of 5 in the risk/return spectrum of the five different portfolio options that the firm offers.

This recommendation is likely the result of using modern portfolio theory (MPT) or optimization to determine the portfolio. Companies who use this approach are quick to point out that a Nobel Prize was awarded for the work done in this area back in the 1950’s by Harry Markowitz. The biggest problem with MPT is that it is 2-dimensional – there is risk (defined as the volatility of investment returns), and there is return; there is nothing else. To many people, risk is not defined as some statistical measure, it is the probability of losing money, making one of the 2 variables used by MPT of questionable value!

Goals-based investing does not restrict the analysis to the same 2 variables. The variables could include theoretically anything: income yield, after-tax total returns, probability of loss in the short term or the long term, etc. Goals-based investing can also use the same principles of MPT, but also add in many other forms of quantitative analysis including simulation, scenario analysis or stress testing to name a few.

Going back to our example, the same pensioner who provides the financial scenario to a company that uses goals-based investing is likely to get a portfolio recommendation that will provide almost all of the 4% required return in the form of income, the income would likely receive more favourable tax treatment, there will be little or no need to regularly realize gains (i.e. sell securities to make up for the shortfall in income) and the probability of losing money should be lower. That would be a win-win-win-win situation!

If done properly, goals-based investing is a more customized approach to building portfolios, and it results in investors having greater choice available to them to have a portfolio that has a greater likelihood of meeting their financial objective. Not using goals-based investing reminds me of a Henry Ford quote: “A customer can have their car painted any colour as long as it’s black.” Don’t settle for a black car, find a company that offers goals-based investing and get any colour that you like!

 

Source: https://www.justwealth.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/What-is-Goals-Based-Investing.pdf?x42623

Stair Climbing as a Workout Routine

Young adult woman walking up the stairs with sun sport background.

Written by Komalpreet Kaur

If you are looking for a workout routine that does not involve a gym membership or equipment and also provides enormous health benefits, then stair climbing is perfect for you! It not only helps overcome most of the real and perceived barriers such as lack of time, money, nearby fitness facilities and poor weather that often result in inactivity but also boosts cardio, bone and brain health.

Stair climbing offers the benefits of aerobic and resistance exercise for enhancing cardiorespiratory fitness, (a vital health marker for longevity and cardiovascular health risks) and leg muscle strength without having to leave the house, workplace or pay a fee. It also saves you from the guilt of not doing anything for your physical wellness.

Benefits of Stair Climbing:

  • Reduces the risk of heart attacks by half 
  • Reduces the risk of diabetes
  • Reduces mortality rate by 33%
  • Protects against high blood pressure, atherosclerosis
  • Helps manage cholesterol levels in the blood
  • Prevents weight gain
  • Exercises our bones and muscles, improving bone density and muscle tone
  • Improves cardiorespiratory fitness, strength and agility 
  • Easy way to burn calories; Burns 500 calories in 30 minutes
  • Tones lower body

People with pre-existing medical conditions such as arthritis, cardiovascular conditions and balance issues must consult a physician before engaging in stair climbing workouts as it can be strenuous and might lead to more damage than benefit.

Beginners must start out the workout slowly and then gradually increase the intensity and number of flights. Consistency is an important element if a person wants to benefit from stair climbing.

Interval training on the stairs can be extremely beneficial in boosting health especially for people with a sedentary lifestyle, and vigorously climbing a few flights of stairs during the day with 3-4 hour intervals can promote physical and mental health. Burning a few calories through a simple workout routine can be extremely satisfactory to people who spend half their waking hours at work. In fact, a workplace on the third or fourth level from the ground can be considered an attractive arena for enhancing physical activity levels.

As per the information provided by the British Journal of Sports Medicine in 2005, a significant improvement in aerobic capacity, as well as an 8% reduction in LDL (bad) cholesterol was observed when healthy women with a sedentary lifestyle, briskly climbed eight flights of stairs five days a week for a period of eight weeks; starting with one ascent a day and working up to five.

Stair climbing workouts through the use of ellipticals or stair climbers are also very prevalent and stair Climbers can be used for cardiac training. 

Climbing Real Stairs vs Stair-Climbing Machines

  • Stair Climbing machines can be beneficial to people with conditions like arthritis and biomechanical problems as these machines tend to be easier on the joints; ankles, knees and hips than the actual stairs. The impact from the stair climbers is lower when compared to real stairs
  • Real stair climbing has greater benefits of bone health, as it allows a fuller range of motion through the joints
  • Leaning and gripping on the side rails of the stair climbers can reduce the quality of the workout
  • Stair climbers can not be used for interval training as these only go one way, that is up

Physical activity in any form has always been known to improve the overall health and well-being of an individual but for most people who spend large portions of their day at their workplaces, it is hard to engage in any type of physical activity. Stair Climbing is an efficient choice for the working population, and engaging in the behaviour of climbing stairs even for 30 minutes every day during lunch or coffee breaks can bring a positive change in their health status. Employers can actively initiate conversations about ‘Why is taking stairs over elevators beneficial for health?’. Apart from this, small stepping up the stairs reward-challenges for employees at the workplace can encourage and increase their participation in stair climbing.

Healthy employees = A better workplace

5 Concepts to Understand Before Taking a Big Loan

Post written by Emma Hughes

When borrowing money, it’s important that you understand some of the key concepts before you choose a lender or a loan. While there are many different loans, the concepts we will go over apply to any loan out there. For instance, loan interest rates are one of the factors to consider when getting a loan, and as Tasneem Panchbhaya discussed it’s also one of the factors to consider when repaying your loan. Interest and other concepts we will cover are important to understand before finalizing any loans and you should avoid the temptation to gloss over them. Here we’ll go over five of the concepts to give you a better idea before taking out a loan.

Annual Percentage Rate (APR)

When shopping for a business or personal loan, one concept to keep in mind is that the total annual cost of borrowing is called the APR. Many confuse this with interest rate; however, interest is just one aspect of APR, which includes other fees like origination fees and monthly maintenance charges. US News reveals that APR is generally a factor in business lines of credit loans, and term loans among others. Unsecured loans will also have higher APRs than secured ones, so do your research first to find the best type of loan suited to you. In their guide to loans, Marcus points out the importance of comparing loaning agents based on their APR. As such, from where and from whom you get a loan is a deciding factor. For instance, loans from online lenders generally cost more than a bank loan and may have other hidden fees.

Loan Repayments

Repaying your loan involves paying the amount you borrowed, as well as the interest rate. As you understand how loans work, you’ll see that each monthly payment is split into two parts, which CFP Justin Pritchard explains are your interest costs and the loan balance. You’ll also understand that through amortization your interest payments will decrease over time as long as you consistently pay the scheduled payment amount. As we mentioned, in the beginning, a good practice is to pay down the loans with the highest interest as in the long run, you’ll be saving on higher interest charges by prioritizing high interest revolving loans, like credit cards.

Non-Bank Loan Options

More and more Americans are turning to alternative options of borrowing, both online and through traditional brick and mortar institutions. Oracle’s Digital Demand in Retail Banking study on 5,200 consumers from 13 countries points out that over 40% of customers think that non-banks can better serve them with personal money management, and loans for their particular needs. These can include payday lenders and check cashing centers. Other non-bank alternatives offer a variety of loan options including mortgages loans and peer-to-peer loans. When compared to banks, however, these might have higher fees, costlier APRs and very high-interest rates.

Loan Collateral

When qualifying for a loan, lenders will look at your credit history. Good credit shows that in the past you’ve paid back loans, which means you’re a low-risk client who will most likely pay back their loan. However, if your credit isn’t good, if you qualify it might mean higher interest rates and you might also be asked for collateral. It can be anything from a vehicle to a house or anything else that is on par or exceeds the loan’s value. Whatever was agreed upon as collateral can be taken by the lender to be sold in the event you aren’t able to repay your loan.

Loan Default

If you fail to make your loan payments on time, your loan can go into default. The amount of time it takes for this to happen will depend on your loan terms, the lender as well as local and federal laws. With loan defaults not an uncommon occurrence in Canada, The Bank of Canada reported that defaults on Canadian consumer loans incur the highest loss rates. Defaulting on a loan can affect your credit score and in many cases, a default may be sent to the lender’s collections department or sold to a third-party debt collection agency. Worse, a default could result in potential garnishing of wages or tax refunds if a judgment is awarded against you.

Health and Wellness Application: Creating Engagement in the Individual Life Insurance Industry

(2 min read)

The Life Insurance industry has a problem with its policyholders. They don’t know them. They know their address so they can send the premium notice, but they don’t know anything about them. They know what their health was at the tie of application and that they needed life insurance, but they don’t know anything else about them. Why is that? 

The main reason why Life Insurance companies do not know their policyholders is that agents control the relationships and life insurance companies have always viewed themselves as product manufacturers supplying products to agents for them to sell. This has led to the agents being able to move clients at will to whatever carrier they like and the insurance carrier to have limited contact with their policyholders (at the time of application).

Insurance carriers recognize the need for engaging policyholders so that they can lower the risk of an agent moving the policy, increase the ability to sell more than one policy, and guard against a declining agent force by having a direct relationship. The difficulty has been in how to approach creating that engagement without jeopardizing the relationship with the agent and that agent’s relationship with the policyholder. Agents guard those relationships closely as they are the source of their livelihood.

Health and Wellness applications can create engagement with policyholders that meet the needs of both carrier and agent. First, the carrier builds engagement by providing an application that is a benefit reward for health behavior. Second, because policyholders using the application will provide data on their health, insurance coverages, investments and life events – the carrier can make offers on products or provide advice in real-time and in the context of the client’s needs. Third, when the client accepts the offer, an appointment is booked with the agent who can then have a contextual discussion with the client with accurate information which builds trust for the agent.

The Health and Wellness application is perceived by the clients as a value add from both the carrier and the agent which creates affinity for both. The process of information gathering allows for the right offers at the right times with an accurate understanding of the client and their needs for a contextual discussion between agent and client that builds lasting trust.