Our lifestyles can be unhealthier than we think. It’s easy to drink a bit more than we should, skip exercise and choose less than healthy meals. No one has to be perfect all the time but equally you want to avoid ‘treats’ becoming bad habits.
I tried Public Health England’s ‘How Are You’ quiz and was pleasantly surprised by how useful it was.
The quiz only takes about 10 minutes and identifies areas for improvement as well as areas where you’re doing well.
It gives you gentle suggestions to improve your health. The One You website has more detailed advice on smoking, drinking, stress, sleeping and exercise.
I assumed that I had quite a healthy lifestyle but doing the quiz made me realise I could exercise more often and eat more healthily (it’s a shame I like burgers and cheese so much). Given my profession I consider myself pretty well informed when it comes to health so it just shows we all have something to learn.
Take the quiz >
It is sensible to discuss health concerns with your GP. Other health professionals, including Osteopaths, can support a healthy lifestyle. Find out how we could help you with a free consultation – phone 020 8520 5268 to book in.
I’ve been thinking a lot recently about how the seasons affect our health, wellbeing, energy levels and lifestyles.
Most years I find the winter months a real struggle. The short, dark days, grey skies and never ending rain tend to leave me feeling exhausted. It gets harder and harder to keep up with my work and social life and I often find I need loads of sleep. It’s tiring and frustrating all round. I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling this way!
This winter I’ve tried a different approach.
Instead of trying to keep up with business as usual I’ve viewed winter as time to slow down, take it easy and hibernate a bit.
Here are a few things which have helped:
Sleeping more: I love sleeping at the best of times but this winter I’ve allowed myself to sleep for longer when I’ve felt the need. There’s no point in beating yourself up over an extra 30 minutes of snoozing. Listen to your body and give it rest if that’s what you need.
Enjoying my home: I spent quite a lot of time decluttering and tidying our flat. We tried to make everything feel cosy with fairy lights, candles, house plants, burning essential oils and playing with the cats (simple pleasures!).
I enjoyed spending my evenings at home, with a tasty meal and glass of wine. I feel a lot less sociable during winter and embracing that has been really nice.
Taking time to reflect: If you’re going to be at home all the time you might as well do something useful! I’ve used some of that time to make plans for 2017 and to organise myself. My google calendar is like a work of art now and I’m excited about working through my to do list over the coming months.
Vitamin D: I started taking a vitamin D supplement last summer and I really think it has helped my energy levels during the winter. I’ve tried to get some sunlight every day too, although to be honest I could have done better on that front. I also view this as a good excuse to go somewhere sunny every February.
Thankfully it seems that Spring is well on its way. I’m itching to have our first barbecue of the year and start going on nice long Sunday walks again.
How do you cope with Winter? Do you love it or hate it, or does it make no difference to you?
Is sitting slowly killing you? Some research shows it is as dangerous to your health as smoking or being overweight.
Let’s have a closer look at the problem.
Sitting for long periods causes a variety of issues including:
– Reduced venous return from legs.
– Reduced arterial supply to legs.
– Tension in hip flexor muscles and weaker gluteal muscle,which may contribute to low back pain.
– Weakened abdominal muscles, which may contribute to low back pain.
– Forward head posture, rounded shoulders, tension in upper limb, which may lead to neck, shoulder and arm pain.
– Slower digestion leading to constipation
– Reduced concentration
– Increased risk of heart disease
– Increased risk of obesity.
Sitting is not inherently a terrible thing to do. Sitting for long, uninterrupted periods IS bad though and should be avoided where possible. Try these easy tips:
– Sit as well as you can in a suitable chair.
– Move often. Get up every 45 minutes or so, use a standing desk if possible, go for a walk in your lunch break.
– Undo the slouching with some quick stretches: 1, 2, 3
Get Britain Standing
Sit Less, Get Active Free Online Course (MOOC)
If you’re suffering with neck or back pain, Osteopathy could help you. Find out more with a free consultation. Book yours by calling 020 8520 5268.
Have you heard of Vitamin D? Do you have enough of it?
Vitamin D is made by your skin when it comes in to contact with sunlight, and it is super important for general health.
Vitamin D is necessary for:
– Normal bone and tooth development
– Healthy bone density
– Healthy muscle function
– Healthy immune function
Lack of vitamin D can lead to tiredness, generalised aches and pains and increased susceptibility to coughs and colds. Severe vitamin D deficiency can cause rickets in children or osteomalacia (weak bones) in adults and weak muscles.
It can be tricky to get enough vitamin D as many Londoners spend a lot of time indoors and even when we are outside, British sunshine can be hard to find. This is a particular problem in winter when the days are short.
There are various recommendations for the amount of direct sunlight we need or healthy vitamin D levels – ranging from 10 minutes a day outdoors in short sleeves, to all day every day in as little clothing as possible.
It is possible to get vitamin from dietary sources such as oily fish and eggs, but it’s impossible to get sufficient amounts from your diet alone.
Guidance from Public Health England does not recommend a specific amount of ‘sunbathing’ time but does suggest getting as much natural daylight as possible wile avoiding sun burn. It also suggests taking a vitamin D supplement in winter months.
You can learn more about Vitamin D on the Public Health England blog.
If you’re suffering from unexplained aches & pains and tiredness it may be due to low vitamin D levels. Speak to your GP so they can help you work out what’s happening, and in the meantime try to get plenty of sunshine!