Weekend Reads: February. Walking, Coffee and Designing Work Spaces

The last day of February is here and I really can’t wait for Spring to arrive.  I’m looking forward to lighter evenings and warmer days!

Read on for my monthly round up of health news.
Benefits of walking

 

1.  Is saturated fat really that bad for you?  “In the 1970s and 80s, there was a big push away from saturated fats in the US and UK as experts cautioned they were bad for the heart.  Scientists writing in the journal Open Heart have now argued this advice lacked the solid scientific trials needed to back it up.”

2. Apparently drinking up to 5 mugs of coffee a day could be good for you!

3.  Exercise could be better for you when you do it outside.  Give the gym a miss and go for a nice walk or run instead

4. I loved this post on designing a good workspace- so much inspiration!

5. What is it like to have arthritis in your 20s?

 

What I’ve Been Up To

February proved to be quite a fun month!  I took part in a world record attempt at Wilton’s Music Hall, went on a nice walk (12 miles!) from Walthamstow to Alexandra Palace, got excited by the Indietracks line up announcement and saw Ryan Adams at Hammersmith Apollo.

 

Listening to: Ryan Adams – Gimme Something Good

What have you done this month?

Healthy App Review: Sleep Bot

Every month I’m testing a health and fitness app so you don’t have to.  This month I’ve been testing SleepBot, a super duper sleep app.  SleepBot is a sleep tracker, movement and sound recorder and smart sleep cycle alarm.

SleepBot App review

App Name: SleepBot

Platform: Android (Google Play), iOS (iTunes)

Cost: Free on Android and iOS

Size: Varies with device

Tested on: Google Nexus 5 running Android 5.0 (Lollipop)

What they say:

“Find out what’s really happening in that missing third of your life…   We’ve spent months developing a beautiful, intuitive sleep cycle tracker and dependable optimal alarm that lets you customize your sleep tracking. Record your movements and sounds during the night and wake up better each morning during light sleep.”


SleepBot App review

What I say:

There are a huge number of features on this app, and you can use as many or as little as you like.  It is certainly a comprehensive package to help you understand and manage your sleep pattern.

I tried the sound and movement tracker for a couple of nights and it didn’t pick up anything interesting.  I suppose that just shows I have uninterrupted sleep!  I don’t really like having my phone in my room at night  so decided I was best of not bothering with that feature.  If you wake up in the night or often feel tired in the morning you should try it!

The sleep tracker is very useful if you update it daily.  You just tell the app when you are going to sleep and when you wake up.  It will count up your sleeping hours and show you how much sleep debt or surplus you’ve accumulated over the week or month.  This sounds blindingly obvious but actually I found it very handy.  It is easy to forget when you’ve lost an hour of sleep a few nights a week and wonder why you are so tired.  Using the app really helped me maintain a regular sleep pattern.

I also enjoyed the smart alarm.  Based on when you go to sleep the app will estimate your deep and light sleep cycles.  It’ll set off your alarm during a light sleep stage, when it should be easier to wake up!

SleepBot App review

 

Pluses:

+ Helps you make sure you get enough sleep.

+ Helps you identify any disturbances to your sleep.

+ Smart alarm may make it easier to wake up.

+ You might record some amusing sleep talking.

 

 Minuses:

– You need to have your phone on your bed to use the sound and movement recorders.

– It has so many features that it can be a bit overwhelming.

– Sound recordings take up space on your phone if you decide to save them.

 

 

The bottom line: 

Free and useful – definitely worth it if you’re feeling tired and struggling to get out of bed in the morning. Download it from Google Play  or iTunes.

4 Essential Features of any Office Chair

Buying an office chair can be a confusing task.  There’s a bewildering range of chairs on the market, each with a variety of different features and at wildly different prices. To make matters worse, everyone seems to have an opinion about what makes a ‘good’ chair.  So where do you begin?

Four Essential features to look for in your Office Chair

I’d always look for these 4 features in an office chair:

 

1. Sturdy padding on the seat

A thin or cheap layer of foam on the seat will quickly wear out, leading to a lot of pressure on your thighs and buttocks.

 

2. An adjustable back

We’re all different shapes and sizes so it is impossible for one chair to fit everyone.  The back rest of your chair should tilt forwards and backwards.  Fix it in a position so it meets the small of your back.  If the back moves up and down, position it so it supports the small of your back.  Many will have special lumbar support padding to do this.

 

3. Adjustable height

Your chair needs to be high enough so your bent elbows are level with your desk.  Most desks in the UK are a standard height so this shouldn’t be a problem, but strangely some chairs are quite low. Folding chairs are usually the worst offenders!  If you have adjusted the height of your chair and your feet don’t touch the ground, you need a foot rest.

 

4. Removable or adjustable arms

Most people don’t need arms on their chair, but they can help you get up if you have low back pain.  Your chair needs to fit under your desk so that your forearms can rest easily on the desk while you’re sitting upright.  If the chair arms get in the way, take them off or find a different chair.

 

The Golden Rule

Never, ever forget that no chair can fix your posture or back pain.  It doesn’t matter how much you spend, how fancy your chair is or how carefully it is set up – only actively working on your posture will really make a difference.  A chair can offer a good base for you to sit on, but if you’re lacking core strength and have poor posture your problems will persist.  Setting up your work station correctly is important, but you should also take breaks throughout the day, and work with an Osteopath or Pilates instructor to strengthen your back.

 

If you’re suffering with pain at work, Osteopathy may help.  Call me on 020 8520 5268 to book an appointment at my East London Clinic.

p.s. You may also like this post: How to Set up your Desk in 9 Easy Steps

Chin Tuck Exercise to Reduce Neck Pain

This exercise helps strengthen muscles at the front of your neck, thereby improving your posture and reducing neck pain.  This is particularly good  if you work at a desk and have a tendency to lean forwards at your shoulders.  The exercise is exactly what the name suggests; tucking your chin into your chest.

Neck strengthening exercise, chin tucks

Sit or stand against a wall, with your head, shoulders and back touching the wall. Don’t slouch!

Keeping your head against the wall, pull your chin backwards.  Imagine you are trying to hold a pen under your chin.

Hold in this position for 5 seconds.

Relax and return to the starting position.

Repeat 10 times, once a day.

 

As you get better at doing this exercise, you may not need to lean against a wall  Just make sure your head stays upright.

 

Notes:

Keep breathing normally while you exercise. Do not hold your breath.

Move gently and slowly. Exercises should not hurt.

If an exercise becomes painful, stop immediately and seek advice from your therapist.

Only perform exercisess which have been prescribed or approved by a qualified individual such as your GP, physiotherapist or osteopath.  This information is provided for reference only.

Download a pdf of this stretch ▶

 

If you suffer with neck pain, Osteopathy may help you! Call me on 020 8520 5268 to find out more or to book an appointment at my East London clinic.

Weekend Reads: January. Joint Pain, Baked Bean Work Out and Peanut Butter Cups

I don’t know about you but January seems to have gone very quickly! I can’t quite believe we are 1/12th of the way through the year already.  How has your month been?

It’s time for our monthly round up of health news.  Read on for my favourite links from January, and a bit about my month.

 

Image via Memeblender.com

Image via Memeblender.com

 

1. Could your joint pain be coming from your gut?

2. I’m dying to try this Easy Peanut Butter Cup recipe.

3. Do you feel happier when your home is tidy? I certainly do, so I was fascinated to read about Marie Kondo’s home organisation advice.

4. If you don’t have time for the gym, how about this ‘baked bean work out‘ to do at home.

5. Meditating can change your DNA!

6. Apparently everyone with blue eyes shares a common ancestor from 6-10,000 years ago.

And I just love this photo of a pangolin and her pangopup (via)

pangolin-pangopup

 

What I’ve Been Up To

After a restful Christmas and new year I was dying to get back to work.  I’ve extended my hours at Ashlins so I have been getting used to my new routine and trying to stay organised!

I upcycled a biscuit tin lid and an old tshirt into a magnetic memo board.  Definitely no excuse for forgetting things now!  This was at Make, Thrift London‘s monthly craft club which I highly recommend!

Upcycled magnetic memo board, Make Thrift London

My other half and I celebrated our engagement with a party at The Chequers.  Sadly I didn’t take any photos but we had a lovely time.

We’ve been taking headshots of the therapy team at Ashlins so I spent a couple of Sunday mornings at work for the photoshoot.  I also went to Chislehurst Caves, which was brilliant, and the RAF museum in Colindale.  Not too exciting this month but I think it was just the right balance of work and fun.

What have you done this month?

Health App Review: Twilight – for Healthy Sleep

Every month I’m testing a health and fitness app so you don’t have to.  This time I’ve been testing Twilight, an app designed to stop blue light from your phone screen disturbing your sleep.

Twilight App for Android, for Healthy Sleep

App Name: Twilight

Platform: Android 2.1 and up (Google Play),

Cost: Free on Android

Size: Varies with device

Tested on: Google Nexus 5 running Android 5.0 (Lollipop)

What they say:

“Are you having troubles to fall asleep? Are your kids hyperactive when playing with the tablet before bed time?
Are you using your smart phone or tablet in the late evening? Twilight may be a solution for you!

The Twilight app makes your device screen adapt to the time of the day. It filters the flux of blue light emitted by your phone or tablet after sunset and protects your eyes with a soft and pleasant red filter. The filter intensity is smoothly adjusted to the sun cycle based on your local sunset and sunrise times.”

Twilight App for Android

What I say:

I was a little sceptical about this app but I have to say it seems to work.  I probably spend way too long browsing the internet on my phone, which can disrupt my sleep.  When I used the red filter on this app I felt it was easier to get to sleep.  As the app comes on automatically  at sunset it is a great reminder of the time – I found that was enough to prompt me to do something else with my time.

Twilight seemed to make my phone quite warm, and the app crashed a few times.  I’m not sure if that was just my handset or not, but it did get a bit annoying.

Overall though I’d say it is worth having.  I’ve decided not to keep it on my phone because I’ve changed my habits and don’t use my phone before bed any more. If you really can’t resist a late night look at facebook, give Twilight a go.

Twilight App for Android

Pluses:

+ Helps you get to sleep after using your phone.

+ Automatically matches your local daylight hours.

+ Easy to use.

 

 Minuses:

– Made my phone overheat.

– Makes you realise how short our daylight hours are at this time of year!

– App has a tendency to crash.

 

 

The bottom line: 

Give it a try and see if it helps.  Worth it for a good night’s sleep! Download it from Google Play