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5 tips for reducing sitting

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  1. Stand up at work

If you’re sat in long meetings or on the phone why not get up and stand for a period.

  1. Reduce your usual sedentary time

On days where you know you will be sat for prolonged periods of time try and plan in activities such as walks during your lunch break, evening exercise classes or even cooking a healthy meal.

  1. Limit sedentary periods of time

Download the ENCOURAGE App – a smart app that encourages users to reduce engage in activity and break up bouts of prolonged sitting.

  1. Swap siting for standing

During usual activities such as watching TV. Why not try standing or alternating?

  1. Take a screen break

Take a walk away from screens at work and at home by taking regular walking breaks during long hours spent starring at the box.

 

 

 

How does HIIT change our body?

man in black reebok shoes about to carry barbell
Photo by Victor Freitas on Pexels.com

If you’re new to HIIT training then working out and feeling like you’re going to pass out probably go hand in hand. For those of you that have been training for a while you have probably seen first hand some of the impressive benefits that HIIT training has to offer (see 7 benefits of HIIT training).

HIIT is characterised by repeated sessions of brief, intermittent, maximal effort with periods of rest or low-intensity exercise for recovery. Popularity of HIIT workouts have increased year on year especially among busy professionals with limited time away from the work place

For those of us participating in HIIT classes this article will talk you through and explain the physiological changes that occur during the class.

Ever heard of Phosphocreatine?

Not many people have but it’s the high energy molecule used by your muscles to fire you up for the first 10-20 secs of an explosive HIIT session.

Here comes the burn….

Huge energy demands depletes the source of phosphocreatine at around 20 secs into a HIIT session. As a result the body enters a period of anaerobic glycolysis and lactic acid production. Increasing levels of lactic acid build up and are used as fuel. It’s probably around this time that you can feel your heart thumping and you want to stop and die all changes mainly related to changes in blood pH.

Time to breath and settle into a steady rhythm…

When our bodies are working hard during a HIIT session the demand for oxygen outstrips supply and we enter anaerobic metabolism. During anaerobic metabolism we are unable to get enough oxygen to the muscles that are working maximally so we have to eventually reduce intensity for efficiency. This unique evolutionary process allowed our Neanderthal ancestors to escape sabre tooth tigers and us to hit snooze a few too many times and still make it into the office on time.

Time to recover…

During the rest period the body becomes enters aerobic metabolism again and lactic acid is broken down.

Following an intense HIIT session hormones such as cortisol, growth hormone, testosterone, endorphins, adrenaline, noradrenaline and aldosterone have all been shown to increase. These hormones play a crucial role in stimulating physiological changes that lead to improved health and fitness.

Plastic not so fantastic – Protecting our Blue Planet for the future

Plastic ocean

Thanks to David Attenborough’s latest Blue Planet II documentary we are now re-thinking how we dispose of our plastic waste.

Up to 12 million tonnes of plastics is deposited directly into our oceans which is equivalent to 60,000 giant blue whales (the largest known animal on our planet!).

You probably haven’t come across the ‘Great Pacific Garbage Patch’ which is surprising as it measures 3x times the size of France and 2x the size of Texas. It contains at least 79,000 tons of discarded plastic and covers an area of 617,800 square miles (1.6 million square km)!

Here’s 10 simple tips on reducing our personal plastic footprint to reduce the amount of plastic we use:

  1. The final (plastic) straw – Feel free to ask staff at bars, clubs and restaurants not to put another piece of useless plastic in your drink
  2. Espresso your disgust that all take away cups are not yet recyclable – most cups are lined with a waterproof plastic coating on the inside. Why not invest in a stylish new KeepCup and end coffee cup waste?
  3. Time to send plastic packing – bring your own cardboard box or reusable bags to pack your weekly groceries
  4. Let loose – even our tea bags contain a thin layer of polypropylene plastic which ultimately ends back in our soil. So why not let loose and invest in a simple tea infuser?
  5. Time to stop being clingy – Reducing the use of single use cling film can also have a huge environmental impact. Just think about all the food you probably have in your fridge at home covered in the stuff which is essentially formed from crude oil! Switch to biodegradable bees wax food wraps which are also reusable
  6. Find some new buddies – most people use cotton ear buds just once (you hope). Thank fully nowadays companies have started producing organic biodegradable ear buds so why not make a simple switch and save the planet?
  7. Everything in moderation – Avoid excessive plastic food packaging. So often our fresh food and veg is wrapped in suffocating plastic sheets. Why not opt for the loose fruit and veg plus it has the added bonus of usually being cheaper!
  8. Bead have – microbeads in cosmetics have now been banned in the UK but keep your eye out for products containing polypropylene (PP), polyethylene (PE), polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and even Nylon as these also have harmful environmental effects.
  9. Keep yo’ plastic – Opt for wooden or metal cutlery when dining out or on the go
  10. Last but not least…. Drink up! – as a doctor I’m forever recommending to patients, family and friends to hit their water intake of around 2L a day to maintain a good fluid balance. It’s no wonder we use over 35 million plastic bottles in the UK alone! Invest in a water bottle and help cut plastic bottle waste.

Shocking facts about plastics 

2.5 billion coffee cups are thrown away every year in the UK

Less than 1 in every 400 coffee cups gets recycled

Only 9% of all plastic ever has been recycled

9 billion fewer plastic bags have been used in the UK since the 5p charge

In 2050, it has been predicted there will be more bits of plastic in our oceans than fish

 

Join the movement  

#plasticfreefriday – Friends of the earth campaign

#passonplastic – Sky Ocean Rescue campaign

#plasticpatrol – Fighting plastic pollution in the UK waterways

Take the plastic pledge with @Greenpeace

Call for a plastic deposit scheme – sign up with @Greenpeace

Check out surfers against sewage – plastic pollution is the ‘new sewage’ (www.sas.orh.uk)

 

A bedtime routine to help you beat the daily grind

alarm clock

Good sleep hygiene helps ensures that we are fully alert to tackle whatever the next day has in store for us.

How much sleep our bodies needs varies from person to person and also in accordance with our lifespan. We need the most amount of sleep when were young with newborns requiring 14-17hours a day and adults 7-8 hours according to the National Sleep Foundation.

Getting a good bedtime routine isn’t just for kids and this post will teach you all you need to know about sleeping like a baby…

The Bedroom

Your bed should be for one thing only (generally) and thats sleeping.

Therefore, avoid using your bedroom for anything that doesn’t involve the above activities! Yes, that’s right time to remove your TV and/or computers back into the living room.

Black out blinds

Not only to stop your neighbours from getting a good view but also to stop unwanted light in the morning.

Shut out the noise

Everyone has experienced those noisy neighbours upstairs or 2am drunks outside. Why not invest in a cheap set of ear plugs to help drown them out?

Chillllllll…..

Cool quiet rooms are generally best for sleep so keep your thermostat set for between 18-24C.

Me, myself and I

Focus on yourself and your own bedtime routine for ultimate sleep success.

Getting your routine down like clock work

Consistent nighttime routines are key in ensuring that you get off to sleep. Pick the same time each night to go to bed ensuring you get your 7-8 hours of sleep.

Hot bath/shower

A warm shower helps to initiate that ‘sleepy feeling’. The warmth causes blood vessel dilation improving circulation to the muscles and skin helping you to fall into bed feeling completely relaxed.

Meditate

Let’s face it most of us forget to meditate during our busy working days. Why not use the opportunity before bed to either practice meditation or a gentle yoga flow. It’ll leave your body feeling relaxed and primed for sleep.

‘To-do lists’

If you’re one of those people that stays up all night worrying about jobs or work then try write them down before bed. I would recommend doing this a few hours before bedtime to avoid causing anxiety immediately before sleep.

Sleep diary

If the above steps don’t work then you may consider completing a sleep diary to allow your GP or sleep expert to analyse your sleep patterns.

The dark side of blue light

We need new initiatives to reduce light pollution in our homes if we want to minimize the adverse effects that sleep deprivation can have on our health.

 

tower bridge of london
Photo by Nicole Rathmayr on Pexels.com

For many of us living in trendy metropolitan cities across the world we have
become blinded to the sheer amount of concentrated artificial light not only on
our streets but also in our homes.

Reliance on artificial light has increased as manufacturers produce ever more
convenient light-emitting products deemed by society as ‘essential must haves’.
Furthermore, the time we spend being exposed to artificial light has
exponentially increased, with many families glued to their TVs and their latest
smart phone.

Very few of us understand the negative health effects on our sleep and overall
health that result from exposure to artificial light. Poor sleep can lead to some
serious medical conditions such as obesity, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes,
leading to a shortened life expectancy.

Fluorescent and LED lights most commonly found in our homes cause a two-fold
problem by emitting blue light radiation and artificial light.

The main issue with blue light is that it reduces our melatonin production.
Melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland in the brain and helps us
fall asleep. It is this very hormone that interacts with our sleep wakening cycle
known as the circadian rhythm. Research indicates that blue light over all other
types of light suppresses melatonin production the most.

Stay tunes for more information on how to reduce blue light in your home!

Bullet proof your body

Bone mineralization depends on physical activity during our teens and early 20s. If we fail to achieve peak levels it can put us at risk of dying prematurely.

 

man wearing blue shorts holding vehicle tire facing waterfalls
Photo by Oliver Sjöström on Pexels.com

Find out what you can do to improve your bone health.

Increased bone mineral density protects against fractures during trauma such as falling over. As we age we become more susceptible to falls and the rate of hip fractures dramatically increases.

You may be asking at this point ‘how is this relevant to me’?

There is a huge association between hip fractures and death as we get older. Studies show that between 14-58% of people who sustain a hip fracture up dying within the year.  Therefore, what we do in our early life can strengthen our bones, protect against fractures and even prevent us dying prematurely.

Through puberty the amount of bone in the skeleton known as bone mass increases. By your early 20s bones have reached their maximum strength and density known as ‘peak bone mass’.

  1. So is it all down hill from there doctor?
  2. In short, no not at all!

Ensuring a good healthy diet rich in calcium and vitamin D can reduce the risk of developing osteoporosis in the future. The National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF) does not advocate taking supplementary calcium if your diet meets your daily calcium requirements as this can actually be harmful (you can track your dietrary micronutrients using apps such as Myfitnesspal) . An adequate dietary level of vitamin D is often difficult to achieve and the NHS therefore recommends taking 10mcg of supplemental vitamin D.

Other important changes such as avoiding smoking and reducing alcohol consumption also reduces the risk of osteoporosis.

  1. What about exercise, I hear you say?
  2. Strength work is important for providing the musculoskeletal system with a stimulus to maintain bone strength. The NHS guidelines recommend ensuring that healthy people aged 19-64 years participate in at least 2 strength classes a week alongside 150 minutes of moderate exercise.

 

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