All posts filed under: Active Health

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 …

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 …

Do You Eat Breakfast?

‘Breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper’. It’s impressed upon us from an early age that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Yet around one in five Brits don’t have breakfast at all and one in three don’t eat it regularly. It’s often midday before people eat at all, with many being fulled by coffee in the meantime. There’s plenty of evidence to show that the brain needs energy from food to function well. Alertness, concentration and cognitive performance all improve after eating. Much of that research has been done on school-age children to back-up the need for breakfast clubs. One in four secondary school kids don’t eat breakfast. It’s hard to learn on an empty stomach. Beyond the brain there’s also great debate about the wider health benefits of breakfast. Some studies show that eating breakfast helps people control their body weight by stabilising blood sugars, reducing cravings and setting circadian rhythms. Skipping breakfast has been associated with obesity, increased risk of heart disease and …

Active Women – meet Alison Wren

For many people, the push to exercise comes from a health scare, whether it’s high blood pressure or like today’s guest, breast cancer. The desire to do as much as you can to improve your health can really spur you into action. Alison Wren is the perfect example of even when you can only swim ‘face out of the water’ breaststroke and don’t own a bike, you can begin training for a triathlon! Bringing exercise her life has even led to a redirection in Alison’s career. Read on and be inspired. Tell us a bit about yourself Alison? I’m 58 and live in Manchester with my husband and cat. For most of my adult life I’ve been an enthusiastic watcher of sport but not a participant. I’ve been self-employed since 2002, most recently as a digital marketing consultant specialising in the wedding industry. Running a business can be all consuming and exercise was not usually a priority until I took up triathlon four years ago. I’m now completely hooked! I’m currently studying to become a …

Face Your Fear!

Do ever dream about living a life which is completely different to the one you’re in? Do you wonder how others achieve things that you don’t seem to be able to? Do you get scared about pressing ‘send’ on an email and worry about the consequences? Do you feel up to what you have taken on? Maybe you don’t put yourself forward in the first place for fear of getting it wrong? We’ve all been there! We’re all human. Fear can hold us back from so many things, from creating the future we want and from enjoying the life that we are actually living. But it doesn’t have to. You can face fear, turn around what it means to you and use it to help you succeed. I’ve been working on a new project with 261 Fearless called the 261 Fearless Forward Wom-inar Series. A compilation of webinars designed to help you overcome fear. Alongside three outstanding women, we’ll tell you about our personal journeys and then delve deeper into how simply moving your body …