All posts tagged: Active Health

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 …

Project Allotment – an update

I blogged back in May about how we had taken a space on our village allotment during lockdown. It was a way to get us active, working together as a family and of course, grow some fresh produce to eat! So how did ‘grow your own’ work out? Did we manage to actually grow some vegetables? I’m pretty good at planting things but poor at getting them as far as our dinner plates. I badly wanted this to be a success. Seeing the other flourishing allotments around our little patch was encouraging but also rather intimidating. We’ve wandered round and looked at everyone else’s when it’s been quiet so we can get ideas and tips. So, how has it gone? Well I would say pretty well! We’ve had some successes and some failures. Courgettes – these grew really well at first and we harvested six big ones. We should have had twice as many but they went brown on the ends and just rotted. It had been quite damp and the flowers had gone a …

Quick Question – Can I exercise during my period?

Cramps, heavy bleeding, fatigue. Periods don’t exactly make you want to bound out of the door do they? But, is it actually ok to exercise when you have your period? Is it safe to work out when you’re menstruating? Is one type of exercise better than another when Aunt Flo is in town? There are many myths and misunderstandings when it comes to periods and exercise so let’s start with whether or not you should get fit while you bleed. When I was teaching on the topic of women’s health to new running coaches at a 261 Fearless international training course, I received a very important reminder. Women’s health knowledge is not the same the world over. Some people may have looked at the title to this blog and said, ‘Yeah, of course you can!’ But in many parts of India, women are not even allowed in the kitchen when they have their period, let alone out on the street in their trainers. The African and Albanian women also said that it wasn’t widely known …

Tips for Peri-menopausal Anxiety

My last blog talked about how common anxiety is around the menopause and how women often don’t realise that hormonal changes can be the underlying cause for their anxious symptoms (you can read it here). Let’s move on to what we can do to relieve anxiety. What can you do when you’re feeling anxious? How can you calm your mind and stop anxiety overwhelming you? Here are my top tips for easing anxiety in the peri-menopause: Understand it. Read about it, listen to podcasts, talk to other women. The more you understand what’s going on in your body, the more informed you feel. This can really help you feel in control. Tackle it positively. Anxiety is a horrible feeling but there are things you can do to ease it. Approaching it with a positive mind set and a problem solving head, will help you through. Reduce anxiety-inducing drinks and food. Caffeine is known to produce the same jitteriness and increased heart rate as anxiety. Reducing or cutting out caffeine can help hugely if you’re someone …

Anxiety in the Peri-menopause

Anxiety is very common. In 2013 there were more than 8 million cases of anxiety in the UK and with the Covid-19 pandemic, there are certainly many more this year. Feeling anxious is really horrible and can lead to a lot of self doubt. Sometimes there is a trigger but more often than not, anxiety seems to come out of the blue. Many women find they feel anxious at certain times of their menstrual cycle and many women experience anxiety symptoms in the lead up to the menopause. So what is the link between hormones and anxiety and why is it that anxiety can be the first sign of the menopause? Let’s first remember that anxiety can be a good thing. A state of hyper alertness was designed to help us when we meet an enemy, to either stay and fight or to flee the scene (the fight or flight response). That can certainly help us to perform well when it matters, perhaps in an exam, interview or a tricky conversation. It’s only when that …

Quick Question – Can I run with sciatica?

I’ve been asked whether it’s ok to run with sciatica several times recently, by different people so I thought I’d answer it in my #quickquestion series. Will running with sciatica make it worse? Could exercise make sciatica better? Should you just rest when you have sciatica? What’s on many runner’s minds is how long they will have to take off running with sciatica and whether sciatica means they might never run again. Understanding what sciatica is helps to answer all of these questions and more so let’s start there. What is sciatica? The sciatic nerve is the longest and widest nerve in the body. We have one on each side. It leaves the spinal cord in the lower back and travels through the buttock, down the back of the thigh and calf and underneath the foot. Any damage to or squashing of the nerve causes symptoms of pain, tingling, numbness and sometimes weakness in the area of the nerve below the point that it is compressed. So, if it is squashed behind the knee, the …