Author: Dr Juliet McGrattan

Homeschooling and activity levels – why I’m worried.

Here we go again with the homeschooling. Like everything in this pandemic it’s not easy but it has to be done. I’m a mother. I worry about my children. It’s natural. This particular concern is not so much about their education, their schools have been excellent from the very first school closure. No, this is a concern about their health. Actually, it’s a concern about the health of all school children. I’m worried. Children have become home workers and as someone who has worked at home for a couple of years now, I know how much effort it takes to do it healthily. I have a special interest in physical activity for good health, I’m seeing first hand, the plummeting activity levels of my three homeschooling teens and I know this will impact their health both now and potentially in the future. You might not think this is a big issue and that they’ll soon get their fitness back once lockdown is over. I’m sure they will but the fact that they will have had …

Quick Question – Is strength or cardio exercise best?

I blogged a few weeks ago about how, after years of trying and failing, I have finally found a way to add strength work to my fitness routine. By making strength work fun and convenient I’ve managed to keep it up regularly for three months now and am definitely feeling the benefit. But is it really necessary to specifically work and build muscles? Isn’t aerobic or cardio work enough to keep you fit and healthy? Surely my regular running is enough to give me all the health benefits I need? I’ve just read a really interesting research paper which answers this question perfectly. It was published in the BMJ and you can read the full article here. This was a big study looking at almost half a million people and following them up for around eight and a half years. It was done in America and looked at whether people were meeting the recommended guidelines for physical activity. Specifically whether they were doing 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity every week (or 75 minutes of …

My Top Five Blogs of 2020

It’s my annual blog post review! I love looking back and seeing what my most-read posts were. It helps me to figure out what everyone wants and what I should focus on writing in the coming year. This is my sixth year of blogging and I’m very proud of my blog. I aim for it to be both useful and enjoyable. It’s my little bit of the internet that I’ve created for you. A place where you can get good, sound advice and information on health-related topics. It’s also somewhere that I share what I’m up to and how my life is going, in an open and honest way. I always welcome feedback and ideas so never hesitate to comment or get in touch. The blog had a quiet start to 2020. I was writing my next book and there just wasn’t enough brain power or hours in the day to do much blogging. I picked it up again in April once the book was submitted to the publishers. It’s out in March 2021 and …

Merry Christmas – 2020 Gratitude

I remember being a young girl at Sunday School and winning a prize in a competition to count your blessings. You simply had to write down every blessing you had. I took this very seriously and recall pages and pages of spidery letters spelling out what I was grateful for. I don’t remember the content but I know I went full on with everything I could think of! I guess this was my first experience of the concept of gratitude. Whether it’s a gratitude diary or simply taking time to think about what you are grateful for each day, it’s a powerful way to lift your mood and make you feel positive. A year like no other is coming to a close. It’s been hard in so many ways – for everyone. Staying positive has certainly been a challenge. Rather than blog about the difficulties I’ve faced personally, I’m closing the year with a list of what I’m grateful for in 2020. Focusing on the good stuff really helps. This year I’m grateful for: My …

Running With My Dog

One of my most popular blog posts is ‘Dogs as Running Buddies‘ which I wrote over three years ago. Since then I’ve seen more and more runners getting dogs and enjoying their miles with them. It’s just wonderful to see. I still stand by all those reasons I like to run with my dog Honey and we’ve had lots of adventures running together. Running with a cockerpoo is fun and as a breed we definitely chose well for our family. Here are some of the many things I’ve learnt in over six years running with my dog: Build up distances gradually. There’s been a couple of times when I’ve randomly decided to increase my distance and taken Honey on a long run without any build up to it. I know I shouldn’t do it myself as a runner but sometimes you just need that long run! I’ve realised part way round the route that it was too much for her and she’s started really slowing down. While she hasn’t had any issues with sore paws …

Running in Williamson Park

There are over 27,000 public parks and green spaces across the UK and research done by the Heritage Lottery Fund found that over 57 per cent of people in the UK regularly use a park, that’s over 37 million people! It might be a huge parks with lots of amenities or a small neighbourhood green spaces but as a nation, we love them and use them. Unsurprisingly, people who live in urban areas use parks more than those who live in rural areas. Over 90 per cent of those with children under five use their park at least once a month. This fits with my park use. As an adult, I didn’t really go to parks at all until I had small children to occupy. Parks with play areas, ducks and paths suitable for buggies and trikes became a godsend. It wasn’t until parkrun set up that I really began to use and appreciate my nearest park – Williamson Park. Now I love running there and lead my 261 Fearless Club Lancaster women’s running group …

Pilates with a Stoma

What is a stoma? As stoma is when a small opening is made in the wall of your abdomen and either the bowel or urine tubes are brought to the outside. A colostomy is when the colon is brought out and an ileostomy is when it’s the small bowel. A urostomy is when urine is diverted to the outside but is less common than a colostomy or ileostomy. Faeces or urine is collected in a bag which sits close to the body and can be emptied when needed. Stomas are needed for a variety of reasons including damage to the bowel due to inflammation or cancer. Sometimes they are temporary and are reversed once the bowel has healed and sometimes they are permanent. I know quite a few people who have had a stoma. Many of these people I met through my work as a GP and some are friends and family. While the reasons for having them have varied, one thing has been a constant. Fear. And fear has meant lots of questions. How …

Making Strength Work Fun

I know that doing strength work is important. I know that I need to do it regularly but if I’m completely honest, I’ve failed. I alway struggle to keep myself motivated to do it. I’ve tried various ways of incorporating strength work it into my fitness routines and daily schedules but it’s never lasted more than a few weeks. I think mainly because I find it dull. How do you make strength work fun? I finally seem to have found something that suits me and I wanted to share it with you. I’m 48 now and I’ve been doing so much work around the topic of the menopause. From the research and work I’ve done – writing, being a guest on podcasts and social media posts, I’m feeling really knowledgeable and empowered to cope with my own menopause. I’m pretty sure I have some peri-menopausal symptoms. One of the things I know is essential is strength work. I know my muscle mass will now be decreasing (you can read my blog on this). I know …

Quick Question – How can I get rid of visceral fat?

My last quick question looked at what visceral fat is, why it’s harmful and how you can tell how much visceral fat you have. Do read that first if you need to, you can find it here. Now let’s consider how we can get rid of visceral fat. What can we do to make ourselves healthier on the inside and reduce our risk of major diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer? It’s good to know that there are steps we can take to reduce our visceral fat and significantly improve our future health. Here are some simple, every day things we can all do: Mix up your exercise. Visceral fat is very responsive to exercise so increasing the amount you do will help to reduce its levels. Abdominal exercises like sit ups aren’t going to reduce that central fat though, even if they feel as if they should. You need to do lots of exercise where your heart rate is high and you are out of breath. Running long distances is …

Quick Question – What is visceral fat?

When we think of fat we probably think of subcutaneous fat. That’s the squishy fat that sits just underneath our skin. With many people complaining about their ‘bingo wings’ and ‘muffin tops’, subcutaneous fat is often what makes people feel unhappy about their body shape. There is however a different type of fat that we should be far more focused on – visceral fat. Visceral fat is deeper in our body and is stored in and around our major organs such as our heart, liver and intestines. It’s an unhealthy fat and high levels of it mean we have a bigger risk of many serious diseases including type 2 diabetes, heart disease and some types of cancer. Why is visceral fat harmful? We now know that most major diseases are caused or worsened by a low level of inflammation in the body. Visceral fat is ‘pro-inflammatory’ which means it causes and adds to inflammation. It releases inflammatory agents and messages into the blood stream and decreases the production of some anti-inflammatory agents too. Having lots …