I’m getting more and more opportunities to share what I know and think through public speaking, to groups, large and small and it’s something that I really enjoy … after the nerves have settled of course! Last week was no exception and I was thrilled to have been asked by Katie Harper from Cumbrian Girls Can to talk at an evening they were hosting in Workington in West Cumbria. I love West Cumbria, I worked at the West Cumberland Hospital for 18 months as a Junior Doctor, met my husband and got married there too so it’s a special place for me. How fantastic to go back many years later to speak.
Changing your behaviour is a very difficult thing to do. How many times have you set a New Year’s resolution only to break it before the end of January? I’ve done this countless times. You have good intentions and even when you think you’ve set a pretty realistic goal you just don’t seem to be able to sustain it for any length of time. Read More
The ‘family summer holiday’ is a big event in our calendar. We work hard to make sure we have two weeks away because we find this makes all the difference; it really does take nearly a week for us to relax properly. It’s a very special time when all five of us are together, away from the routines and treadmill of school, work, after school activities etc etc. I think this is the same story for many families and it therefore generates a lot of pressure to make sure that it’s a success. Precious time, precious annual leave and very precious family funds. Read More
I decided to have a complete break from social media while we were away on holiday this year. I use my phone and computer A LOT. I run social media (FB, Twitter and Instagram) for three accounts and little and often seems to be the only way I can manage that, so although I do schedule some posts, I’m frequently checking the feeds and interacting with people. I also have numerous email accounts for all my different work roles. Much of the work I do crosses time zones so when most people’s email goes quiet, mine fires up. I absolutely LOVE my jobs and didn’t particularly feel I needed a break from them but I felt I simply had information overload and wasn’t being as productive as I could be. Read More
Knee pain is a common reason for people to stop exercising, particularly running. I recently hosted a Guest Blog by Alexandra Merisoiu who uses natural movement techniques to help people run with a healthy technique and reduce injuries. It was a very popular post and I had lots of feedback about how interesting it was. Helping people to overcome their barriers and keep active is my passion and this Active Women Interview Series has been a brilliant forum to share stories of some of the amazing women who are doing just that. Read More
Data from the Office of National Statistics showed that in 2014 there were 4.2 million people regularly working from home. With studies demonstrating reduced stress, increased happiness and increased productivity, it’s no wonder that this figure is increasing all the time. As you may know, I had a recent change in career direction and I now find myself working from home 90% of the time. I love it. I love my house and enjoy spending time in it, I work well there. I have however found that I have to make an effort to be active during my working day. I don’t have colleagues to walk over to talk to, a coffee room to visit and I don’t need to nip out to get a sandwich at lunch time. I don’t have a commute, there’s no stroll to the bus stop, no crammed train to stand on and no brisk ‘late for work’ walk. So, whilst I’m happier, I’m aware there’s a risk I may not be healthier. Reducing our sedentary time is an important part of looking after our health and reducing our risk of disease.
Here are my top tips for keeping active when you work from home:
- Set a ‘move’ reminder. When you’re engrossed in work, the time can whizz by. Whilst you think you’ll remember to move, it’s amazing how quickly a couple of hours passes and your bottom is still glued to the chair. Use watches, phone apps and screen reminders to prompt you to move. There’s no clear rule as to exactly how long it’s ‘safe’ to sit for but the current advice is to move around for a couple of minutes every 20 to 30 minutes. We know that the body’s metabolism is affected the longer we sit, it effectively switches into storage mode, with our risk of disease, particularly type 2 diabetes, growing with increased sedentary time. You only need to stand and move around for a couple of minutes to help negate this.
- Drink lots. Even a short stand up and move around to get a drink is beneficial. Don’t sit with a jug of water at your desk, use a small glass, that needs frequent refilling. If you prefer hot drinks, then this is the perfect opportunity to visit the kettle but whilst it’s boiling, don’t go and sit back down, use that couple of minutes to do some squats or press-ups against the kitchen counter. This might seem ridiculous but if you have three trips to the kettle in the day and you do 20 squats each time, you’ll have done 60 by the end of the day and 300 by the end of the week! That’s a serious number and will help to strengthen those glutes which weaken as we sit.
- Choose your loo. There’s a downstairs toilet right next to my kitchen where I usually work but by simply opting to use the upstairs one, I’m adding a couple of stair climbs into my day. If you run up rather than walk then that’s an added bonus of increased intensity activity too. Of course, the more you follow tip number 2, the more you’ll need tip number 3 – winning!
- Seek out moving tasks. How many of your daily jobs actually need to be done whilst stationary? If you’re on the phone its easy to walk around the room and chat. I managed to do a whole conference call on my exercise bike – an audio not a video call! Admittedly I had to go fairly slowly so I wasn’t too out of breath when I unmuted my microphone to speak, but it was 45 minutes of gentle cycling which is so much better than nothing. If you’re planning and brainstorming then try doing this whilst out for a walk, you can use the voice recorder on your phone to keep a note of your ideas. I’m actually much more creative when I do this.
- Stand at every opportunity. Perhaps you could get a standing desk, there are lots of reasonably priced ones available now. I put a large shoe box on my kitchen unit (glamorous!) and placing my laptop on top of that puts it at just the right height for me to have a good working posture. It’s taken a bit of time for me to get used to working standing up but I’m getting better at it. I can read journals and documents and do video conference calls from this position too.
- Count your steps and walk briskly. Such a simple thing to do. Whilst the focus is now on taking brisk ten minute walks to optimise health rather than counting steps, I find the step counter on my phone is a good indicator of my behaviour. It’s just a little reminder to me that I need to think about moving more every day. 10 000 steps is a good guide as to what to aim for. Finding time for a long walk isn’t always possible during the working day. Having a dog ensures that I do get out and I tend to start each day with a walk. Simply including three brisk ten minute walks (check out the Active10 app) into your day will set you well on the way to the recommended 150 minute moderate intensity activity target for the week. Short sharp walks like that are also ideal to help you concentrate, boost productivity and free up some headspace. Five minutes out and five minutes back, try it!
The key is to realise that something is better than nothing and that all these little bits of movement add up. Over one day they might not seem like much but over a week, a month, a year, ten years they will most certainly make a difference to your health. Working from home suits me and I feel fortunate to be able to do it but I know I need to work on creating good habits for it to be good for me in the long term.
I’d love to read your tips too so do leave me a comment.
Photo credit: Featured image – Gratisography
I’m delighted to welcome Alexandra Merisoiu to the blog today. Alexandra has a background in Martial Arts (she still competes at international level) and a fascination with how the body moves. She is a Running Coach, specialising in running form and technique. She works with runners of all abilities to help them run faster, further, more efficiently and most importantly, with fewer injuries. I still frequently hear, “Running hurts my knees” so I thought it would be helpful to have Alexandra share some of her wisdom about minimising the impact of running. Head to the Merisoiu Technique Institute to find out more but in the meantime I will hand over to Alexandra to share some of her top tips for healthy running.
On Sunday I ran the Virgin Sport #British10k as part of the #Westminster100 team. It was a very special morning so I wanted to share it in a blog. Read More
Woop woop! I’ve been shortlisted in the Women’s Running Magazine 2018 reader awards in the Influencer of the Year category. Thank you so much to everyone who voted for me and got me through the nominations and into the shortlisted round. I’ve never been shortlisted for an award like this before so this has made me super happy.
I’ve had so many amazing messages from people recently telling me how my work has inspired them. Many of these came after I wrote my blog about following my passion and leaving General Practice. Realising you aren’t happy, working VERY hard to change it and then making the leap takes a whole lot of courage. Women who feel stuck have written to me to tell me that seeing what I do has helped them to reassess their own lives. Women who have also made the leap have sent me messages to congratulate me and share how wonderful it’s been for them. For some reason I expected negativity and worried that making that cut would be harmful to my career but I can honestly say that I am busier, and happier than ever before and am amazed at the opportunities that are dropping into my Inbox!
I’m not after world domination, I just want to share the amazing power that exercise can have on all aspects of your life and help you all to enjoy and benefit from it. I know I can get a bit evangelical at times and sometimes you may get a little fed up of yet another exercise selfie but I’m cracking on! We’re in this together, we have one wonderful life, so let’s make the most of it.
Oh and if you could spare a minute to vote for me you can do so here. But if you don’t want to and promise you’ll go out and have a brisk walk for ten minutes instead, then that is absolutely fine by me!