Fountain of youth – excercise!


Our fountain of youth

By Dr NOR ASHIKIN MOKHTAR

A healthy ageing system encompasses the entire body system so that a person can age well from the inside out.

THERE has been some talk about Malaysia’s ageing population recently, with the 1st World Congress on Healthy Ageing hosted by our country last week.

We are entering an unprecedented era worldwide, where many countries, including Malaysia, have increasing numbers of their population reaching old age and fewer babies being born.

We are all going to live longer, there is no doubt about it.

But wouldn’t you like to reach old age without actually looking or feeling your age? Wouldn’t it be great if you could still perform at your peak, be in good shape and enjoy great health?

If the body and mind do not have the opportunity to rest and restore itself, cells will be more vulnerable to damage, and this will eventually lead to a breakdown. – Reuters

The ageing process affects your entire body, from every cell within to your outward appearance. However, the ageing process can be slowed down or tempered so that we can still enjoy our later years.

It is not just about fighting wrinkles and grey hair, but also about maintaining our organ functions, staying mentally active and physically strong.

The right way to address ageing is not with piecemeal methods – an injection here, a supplement there – but to approach the entire body system, so that you can age well from the inside out.

Starting with nutrition

Nutrition is really the key to longevity – we know that populations have been able to live longer because we have access to better food today than we used to.

But good nutrition also helps us to live well – food does not only provide calories for energy, but also a variety of micronutrients, macronutrients and healthful components that work in unique ways to keep our cells, tissues, nerves, muscles and organs healthy.

The reason people age drastically, fall prey to long-term diseases, get brittle bones and become weak is because nutrition has failed them – or rather, they have failed themselves by eating an unhealthy and inappropriate diet.

A balanced diet, with the right proportion of nutrients from a variety of foods, is only the first step. Be sure you do not overeat foods that are high in fat and sugar. The bulk of your carbohydrates should come from whole-grain sources, not simple, processed carbohydrates.

Eat plenty of foods that are rich in fibre, namely fruits, vegetables and the whole-grain foods that I mentioned earlier. Very few people actually eat enough fruits and vegetables every day, so you will be amazed at the difference it will make in your life.

Cut out foods containing pesticides, antibiotics and hormones from your diet. Eat more fresh and natural foods, rather than processed or instant food that comes in a package!

If you are not getting sufficient vitamins and minerals from your diet, you may need nutrient supplements to fill in the gaps.

Finally, drink enough water every day so that your body can flush out toxins from the system and your cells can stay healthy and nourished.

Restful qualities of sleep

I cannot over-emphasise the importance of sleep in helping you to stay well into your older years. If the body and mind do not have the opportunity to rest and restore itself, your cells will be more vulnerable to damage, and this will eventually lead to a breakdown in the system.

Get at least seven hours of sleep each night. Make sure that you sleep in a comfortable environment to get a restful night’s sleep, not one that is disturbed by light and noise.

Exercise to stay young

Some people may be more enthusiastic about exercise if they believe that it can help them to stay young. While exercise may not have unlocked the secret to immortality, it certainly plays a big role in delaying the effects of ageing.

A regular exercise regime – and being physically active in other ways – from a younger age will help your body to build up reserves so that you do not succumb easily to old age problems like falls and frailty.

Make sure you incorporate three different types of exercise into your “anti-ageing” exercise regime. The first is to stretch all the big and small muscle groups in your body, so that they remain flexible and help carry your body well. When our muscles are tight, they easily become injured when we lift heavy objects or make a certain movement.

Strength-training exercises, which include lunges, squats, partial sit-ups, push-ups and training with weights, are also very important. These exercises help you to maintain lean muscle and bone density, not only avoiding the saggy bits that women are so afraid of, but also ensuring better balance.

Finally, you also need cardiovascular exercise to keep your lungs and heart healthy. Every day, accumulate at least 30 minutes of moderately intense physical activities that get your heart pumping and your body sweating. You can take a brisk walk around the neighbourhood, go cycling, swimming or dancing, or play a sport like badminton, tennis or football.

Hormone balance

Your hormones are another crucial piece of the ageing-well puzzle. Hormonal imbalance is the underlying cause of many diseases and ageing problems, although it is not well recognised.

Many factors in our lives – including the food we eat, the stress we go through and the environment around us – cause our hormones to become imbalanced.

There is better recognition now of the role that hormones play in our overall health. If you are suffering from problems caused by a disruption in your hormonal milieu, you may want to consider working with an anti-ageing doctor or a compounding pharmacist to optimise your hormonal profile so that you can have better immune health to prevent disease and infections.

Looking at your hormone profile involves minimising the impact of hormones such as cortisol, insulin, and environmental oestrogens, which are the main culprits that cause you to lose muscle, gain fat, and become depressed as age increases.

Then, you can also have bioidentical hormone therapy prescribed to adjust and restore your hormonal balance such as DHEA, cortisol, oestrogen, progesterone, testosterone, thyroid, melatonin, pregnenolone or growth hormone.

Health screening

The final approach in the healthy ageing system is regular health screening. These are simple tests that you should do (following a schedule) to keep tabs on various aspects of your health.

Many of these tests should already be part of your regular screening programme, such as blood chemistry, blood glucose, cancer markers, inflammatory markers (eg homocysteine) and hormone levels. You can do these tests when you go for your annual medical check-ups (which should be part of your personal healthcare routine).

Some simple screening tests can be done at home so that you can quickly identify if something needs attention immediately. Tests for blood pressure, blood glucose and cholesterol can be done with home test kits.

If you have hypertension, diabetes or heart disease, you must measure these levels at home according to your doctor’s advice. This allows you to immediately recognise a problem if your levels suddenly increase or decrease.

You should also weigh yourself at least once a week, otherwise you might find your weight insidiously increasing and putting you at risk of many diseases that are common in older age, such as diabetes and heart disease.

With more advanced research being carried out, there may be even more accurate and personalised health tests available to us in the future. Genomic and DNA testing, metabolic-typing and blood-typing may provide valuable insights into a person’s unique biochemistry and DNA genetics, allowing a holistic health and diet programme to be customised.

You don’t have to wait until you hit old age to start practising a healthy ageing lifestyle. If you want to stay youthful, you have to start taking care of your health when you are young!

Datuk Dr Nor Ashikin Mokhtar is a consultant obstetrician & gynaecologist (FRCOG, UK). For further information, visit http://www.primanora.com. The information provided is for educational and communication purposes only and it should not be construed as personal medical advice. Information published in this article is not intended to replace, supplant or augment a consultation with a health professional regarding the reader’s own medical care. The Star does not give any warranty on accuracy, completeness, functionality, usefulness or other assurances as to the content appearing in this column. The Star disclaims all responsibility for any losses, damage to property or personal injury suffered directly or indirectly from reliance on such information.

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Rental Properties: Cash Cow Or Money Pit?


 Investopedia, Contributor

Your home for independent, unbiased financial education on the web.

Real estate investors must have basic valuation skills to make buy, sell, or hold decisions. Real estate investment companies have developed sophisticated valuation models to aid them in making investment decisions. However, by using spreadsheet tools an individual can produce an adequate valuation on most income-producing real estate. This would include residential real estate purchased as residential rental property.

SEE: 3 Ways To Value Real Estate Investments

Valuing real estate using discounted cash flow or capitalization methods is similar to valuing stocks or bonds. The only difference is that cash flows are derived from leasing space as opposed to selling products and services. Read on to find to out how any investor can create a valuation satisfactory enough to weed through prospective investment opportunities.

Individual Valuations
Some individuals feel that producing a valuation is unnecessary if a certified appraisal has been completed. However, an investor’s valuation may differ from an appraisal for several reasons. The investor may have different opinions about the property’s ability to attract tenants or the lease rates that tenants are willing to pay. As a prospective purchaser or seller, the investor may feel that the property has more or less risk than the appraiser. Appraisers are compelled to conduct separate assessments of value. They include the cost to replace the property, a comparison of recent and comparable transactions and an income approach. Some of these methods commonly lag the market, underestimating value during uptrends, and overvaluing assets in a downtrend.

Finding opportunities in the real estate market involves finding properties that have been incorrectly valued by the market. This often means managing a property to a level that surpasses market expectations. A valuation should provide one’s estimate of the true income-producing potential of a property.

Real Estate Valuation
The income approach to evaluating real estate is similar to the process for valuing stocks, bonds, or any other income-generating investment. Most analysts use the discounted cash flow (DCF) method to determine an asset’s net present value (NPV). NPV is the property value in today’s dollars that will achieve the investor’s risk adjusted return.The NPV is determined by discounting the periodic cash flow available to owners by the investor’s required rate of return (RROR). Since the RROR is an investor’s required rate of return for the risks involved, the value derived is a risk-adjusted value for that individual investor. By comparing this value to market prices, an investor is able to make a buy, hold, or sell decision.

Stock values are derived by discounting dividends, bond values by discounting interest coupon payments. Properties are valued by discounting net cash flow or the cash available to owners after all expenses have been deducted from leasing income. Valuing a property involves estimating all the rental revenues and then deducting all expenses required to execute and maintain those leases. (For tips, check out Golden Opportunity For Real Estate Investors.)

All income estimates come directly from leases. Leases are contractual agreements between tenants and a landlord. All rent and contractual increases in rent (escalations) will be spelled out in the leases, as well as options for space and rent concessions. Owners also recoup part or all of the property expenses from tenants. The manner in which this income is collected is also stated in the lease contract. There are three main types of leases:

In full-service leases, tenants do not pay anything in addition to rent. In net leases, tenants usually pay their portion of the increase in expenses for the period after they move into the property. In triple-net leases, the tenant pays a pro-rata share of all property expenses.

The following are the types of expenses that have to be considered when preparing an income valuation:

Leasing costs refer to the expenses necessary to attract tenants and to execute leases. Management costs refer to property level expenses, such as utilities, cleaning, taxes, etc. as well as any costs to manage the property. Income less operating expenses equals net operating income (NOI). NOI is the cash flow derived from normal operations of the property. Cash flow is then derived by subtracting capital costs from NOI. Capital costs are any periodic capital outlays to maintain the property. These include any capital for leasing commissions, tenant improvements, or capital reserves for future property upgrades. (Check out Closing A Real Estate Deal In A Down Market.)

Valuation Example
Once periodic cash flows are determined, they can be discounted back to determine property value. Figure 1 shows a simple valuation design that can be adjusted to value most properties.

Assumption Value Assumption Value
Growth in Income Yr1-10 (g) 4% Growth in Income Yr11+ (g) 3%
RROR (K) 13% Expenses % of Income 40%
Capital Expenses $10,000 Reversion Cap Rate (K-g) 10%
Figure 1

The valuation assumes a property that creates annual rental income of $100,000 in year one, which grows by 4% annually and 3% after year 10. Expenses are estimated at 40% of income. Capital reserves are modeled at $10,000 per year. The discount rate, or RROR, is set at 13%. The capitalization rate for determining the reversion value of the property in year 10 is estimated at 10%. In financial terminology, this capitalization rate equals K-g, where K is the investor’s RROR (required rate of return) and g is the expected growth in income. K-g is also known as the investor’s required income return, or the amount of the total return that is provided by income.

The value of the property in year 10 is derived by taking the estimated NOI for year 11 and dividing it by the capitalization rate. Assuming the investor’s required rate of return stays at 13% then the capitalization would equal 10%, or K-g (13% -3%). In Figure 2, NOI in year 11 is $88,812. After periodic cash flows are calculated, they are then discounted back by the discount rate (13%) to derive the NPV of $58,333.

Item Yr 1 Yr 2 Yr 3 Yr 4 Yr 5 Yr 6 Yr 7 Yr8 Yr 9 Yr 10 Yr 11
Income 100 104 108.16 112.49 116.99 121.67 126.54 131.60 136.86 142.33 148.02
Expenses -40 -41.60 -43.26 -45 -46.80 -48.67 -50.62 -52.64 -54.74 -56.93 -59.21
Net Operating Income (NOI) 60 62.40 64.896 67.494 70.194 73.002 75.924 78.96 82.116 85.398 88.812
Capital -10 -10 -10 -10 -10 -10 -10 -10 -10 -10 -
Cash Flow (CF) 50 52.40 54.90 57.49 60.19 63 65.92 68.96 72.12 75.40 -
Reversion - - - - - - - - - 888.12 -
Total Cash Flow 50 52.40 54.90 57.49 60.19 63 65.92 68.96 72.12 963.52 -
Dividend Yield 9% 9% 9% 10% 10% 11% 11% 12% 12% 13% -
Figure 2 (in thousands of dollars)

Figure 2 provides a basic format that can be used to value any income-producing or rental property. Investors purchasing residential real estate as rental property should prepare valuations to determine whether rental rates being charged are adequate enough to support the purchase price being paid. Although appraisers will often use a 10-year cash flow by default, investors should produce cash flows that mirror the assumptions on which the property is assumed to be purchased. This format, although simplified, can be adjusted to value any property, regardless of complexity. Even hotels can be valued this way. Just think of nightly room rentals as one-day leases.

SEE: Real Estate Deal-Breakers That Shouldn’t Be

Buy, Sell or Hold
When purchasing a property, if an investor’s assessed value is greater than the seller’s offer or appraised value, then the property can be purchased with a high probability of receiving the RROR. Conversely, when selling a property, if the assessed value is less than a buyer’s offer, the property should be sold. In addition, if the assessed value is in line with the market and the RROR offers an adequate return for the risk involved, the owner may decide to hold the investment until there is a disequilibrium between the valuation and market value.

Value can be defined as the greatest amount that someone would be willing to pay for a property. When purchasing an asset, financing should not affect the ultimate value of the property because each buyer has different financing options available. However this is not the case for investors who already own properties that have been financed. Financing must be considered when deciding on an appropriate time to sell because financing structures, such as prepayment penalties, can rob the investor of his or her sale’s proceeds. This is important in cases where investors have received favorable financing terms that are no longer available in the market. The existing investment with debt may provide better risk-adjusted returns than can be achieved when reinvesting the prospective sales proceeds. Adjust risk RROR to include the additional financial risk of mortgage debt.

The Bottom Line
Whether buying or selling, it is possible to produce a valuation model accurate enough to assist in the decision-making process. The math involved in creating the model is relatively straightforward and within the grasp of most investors. After gaining some rudimentary knowledge about local market standards, lease structures and how income and expenses work in different property types, one should be able to forecast future cash flows.

READ MORE: Homeowners, Beware These Scams!

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Britain universities in crisis


Universities in crisis as student numbers fall

Colleges that have offered most to poorer students will be biggest losers as impact of fees bites

London: More than 30 universities are facing a 10 per cent fall in student numbers this autumn, according to figures released today.

A breakdown of next year’s university budgets shows that middle-ranking universities and former polytechnics will suffer as a result of the new funding system, which will see tuition fees rise to up to £9,000 a year.

Worst hit, according to the Higher Education Funding Council for England, will be the University of East London and the University of Bedfordshire, which are likely to suffer falls of 12 per cent.

In all, 34 universities in England will have their student numbers cut by at least 10 per cent.

HEFCE estimates there will be 10,900 fewer student places across the country. Academics said it was universities who had done the most to open themselves up to disadvantaged groups that appeared to be suffering the worst cuts.

By contrast, most of the members of the Russell Group – which represents most of the country’s leading research institutions – are set to expand student numbers. Michael Driscoll, chairman of the million+ university think tank and vice-chancellor of Middlesex University, said the overwhelming majority of institutions were losing student places.

“These allocations show the true extent of the Coalition’s reform of fees and funding and the cutback in the overall number of university places being funded,” he said.

Sally Hunt, general secretary of the University and College Union, added: “At a time when record numbers of people are out of work, the Government should be making it easier for people to access education.”

Although overall student numbers have been cut, under the new system universities can recruit beyond their fixed target so long as they take in students with at least two As and a B at A-level.

In addition, 20,000 places have been set aside for higher education providers charging less than £7,500 a year.

As a result, elite universities with a higher percentage of AAB students tend to benefit, as do further education colleges charging lower fees. An extra 65 such colleges are receiving funding for higher education degrees for the first time.

According to HEFCE, just over 10,000 of the 20,000 places for low charging universities have gone to further education colleges. The shake-up appears to have created a “squeezed middle” among universities, which are unlikely to recruit large numbers of AAB students but are still charging higher fees.

Sir Alan Langlands, chief executive of HEFCE, said he did not believe the changes would see universities “going into substantial financial problems”. “All of these can cope with this level of reduction,” he added. He said they were all “confident they can ride it out”. – The Independent

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