Why You Should Take Micro Breaks Every 30 Minutes

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We all know that sitting for too long isn’t good for you. If you haven’t perfected your desk set-up and are hunched over your screen or slouched down in your chair it is even worse for you. However, a new study by Liverpool John Moores University revealed that we should be getting up and moving every half an hour.

The researchers discovered that sitting down for prolonged amounts of time can slow the blood flow around our body and to our brains. The study of a small group of men and women was split into three sessions to determine the best method for keeping the blood flow to the brain on an even keel. The first test was four hours of sitting and working at a computer screen, the second included a two and half minute walk on a treadmill every 30 minutes, the third session was an eight minute walk on a treadmill every two hours.

While taking an eight minute break every two hours did help increase blood flow to your brain, it wasn’t able to sustain it as well as taking a shorter break every half an hour.

The study didn’t look into the impact of low blood flow to your brain or whether it impacted productivity, but it did put more weight behind the theory that spending too much of your day sitting down isn’t good for you.

Previous studies have linked sitting too long with excessive weight gain, type 2 diabetes and other serious diseases. According to the NHS, many adults in the UK spend over seven hours sitting each day and as a result, it recommends we do at least 150 minutes of exercise each week. One study recently revealed that doing an hour of exercise each day could help ward off the effects of prolonged sitting.

If that feels you with dread, making small tweaks such as requesting a standing-desk at work, choose to stand rather than sit on the train et cetera. It goes without saying that swapping watching TV for playing tennis after work will also help improve your health. Whichever tweaks to choose to make, it’s definitely worth setting a reminder to get up more at work.

Why Wild Swimming Is Worth Your Consideration

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There comes a time in every woman’s life where she needs to take her clothes off and get into the water.  I’m not talking about taking a bath, I’m talking about the invigorating thrill of slipping into the cool, dark water of a pond, a river or even, in my case at the moment, the icy grey North Sea.

There’s nothing more freeing than swimming in a place that was meant for ducks, seagulls, fish and in the case of Hampstead ponds where I often swim, the odd Heron. It probably helps that I was brought up in the land of the broads (Norfolk) where I spent a lot of my childhood falling out of boats into the river or off horses into the sea. Both venues had one thing in common: they were bloody cold.  They both also had the desired effect of waking me up and making me look at the world differently, more calmly and with a better perspective. Even aged ten I could see and feel the benefits – albeit that the dingy  had sailed off without me or the horse had cantered back to the stable.

These days I know when I need to get into the water – even if, during the coldest months it’s into my local chlorinated local pool. You’ll be familiar with the warning signs  – the creeping of the shoulders towards the ears, the aching back, the ragged temper and that most precious of human virtues – patience – disappearing down the plughole quicker than the dregs of last night’s wine bottle.

I’ll admit I’m not always in a position to down tools and pick up my swimmers, but sometimes just thinking about being in the water during the summer months, taking long, slow strokes in amongst the lily pads, the weeds and yes, the ducks, can begin to have the desired effect. There’s something almost primeval about returning to the water, especially the sea. To paraphrase John F Kennedy:  ‘When we go back to the sea..we are going back from whence we came’.

There’s also something a bit daring about plunging into an environment you have previously considered off limits. When Roger Deakin the grandfather of Wild Swimming, who lived around the corner from where I currently reside in Suffolk, wrote his bestselling 1999 book Waterlog – an account of swimming the lakes and waterways the breadth of Britain, most people thought he was mad. Well, ok he was a bit mad – he lived in a house with no central heating, swam daily in his moat and allowed swallows to live in his chimneys, but he was also a genius. A man who underlined the human race’s need for space, freedom to roam and appreciation for the natural world, to the extent that he founded the arts and environmental charity, Common Ground.

Deakin talked about the need for freedom from virtual reality long before most of us even knew it existed. “Most of us live in a world where more and more places and things are signposted, labelled, and officially ‘interpreted’. There is something about all this that is turning the reality of things into virtual reality. It is the reason why walking, cycling and swimming will always be subversive activities. They allow us to regain a sense of what is old and wild in these islands, by getting off the beaten track and breaking free of the official version of things.”

Blame the soaring temperatures for this season’s Wild Water craze, but Swim England says that ‘outdoor swimming’ continues to increase year on year.  Websites like Wildswimming.co.uk or Wildswim.com offer advice on your best local swim spots. Caveat: leaping into deep cold water is a bad idea. It can stop that thing called your heart.  Approach with caution.

Middle-Aged Brits Are The Most Miserable People In The UK

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Its been quite a week. What with England failing to make the final of the World Cup after being defeated by Croatia on Wednesday; the unexpected but much appreciated lengthy heatwave beginning to cool off; and the various political tussles that we’re not even going to touch on. It’s not surprising that some of us are feeling a little blue. If you’re aged between 45 and 59 years, this week might have hit you harder than most.

A new survey has revealed that middle-aged Brits are the most miserable, unfulfilled people in the UK. Health is the most common reason for unhappiness among this age group. Those who believe their health is bad are 14 times more likely to be unhappy than those in good health. However, being separated, divorced, unemployed or unhappy in their job and renting rather than owning their home can also play a role.

On the other end of the spectrum, students and those in early retirement are likely to be the most content and if you’re young, educated and married you might just be living your best life.

For the rest of us, here’s a few tips on how to boost your happiness levels…

Move more

Plenty of studies have proved that regular exercise not only improves our health, but also increases our endorphin (happy hormone) levels. This doesn’t mean you have to sign-up to a gruelling, sweaty spin class or hit the gym five times a week, instead find an activity you like and schedule it into your week where you can. Walking, running, swimming, you name it. It could even be a lifestyle change, such as walking to the train station rather than jumping on a bus, or walking up the stairs rather than taking the lift. As long as it raises your heart rate, you’re doing alright.

Look after your gut

Researchers are still exploring the impact our gut has on the rest of our body, but some studies have indicated a link between a healthy functioning gut and our emotional wellbeing. While any good quality probiotic should help promote good bacteria, Florassist Mood by Life Extensions has been specially formulated to help not only rebalance the bacteria in our gut, but also to improve the signalling between our gut and our nervous system.

Make a list

This is particularly useful if you’re feeling unhappy or unfulfilled at work. Making a list of what you like and don’t like, as well as where you’d like to be in the future can help give negative thoughts a constructive twist.

Take time out

For some this might be meditating or partaking in a yoga class, for others it’s binging on trashy TV or reading a book. Taking time for yourself doesn’t have to be virtuous, you just need to switch off from the tensions and dramas of day-to-day life and relax. We recommend investing in Soul Medicine’s Inner Smile Mist to set the tone. Admittedly, this is no mean feat if you have young children, but where possible having a little me-time and checking out can help you relax.

Have a clean-up

There’s the saying ‘tidy home, tidy mind’ and having a good deep clean of your home, desk or car could really help make space in your mind. If you need any more encouragement, it’s also been proven that you sleep better in a tidy bedroom.

Why We’re Not Exercising To Lose Weight Anymore

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Exercising and weight loss have always been intrinsically linked for years, but new research has revealed that more and more women are working out for another reason. According to a recent poll of 2,000 gym goers, we’re hitting the treadmill to lower our blood pressure and cholesterol rather than drop the pounds.

Improving our health has officially become more important than loosening our waistbands. But, it has meant that more of us are being struck down by the next-day aches and pains, and in some cases injuries. The poll showed that women go to the gym around 15 times a month, which works out at three to four times a week. Yet, three fifths of those complained of tiredness and stiff, achy muscles after exercising. Read More…

Why 10 Minutes Of Exercise Is Better Than Walking 10k Steps

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For years, we’ve been told that walking 10,000 steps every day is the fitness benchmark. In fact, the idea dates back to the Tokyo Olympics in 1964.  Yet, a new study questioned this archaic piece of advice and proved it wrong.

Medical journalist, Michael Mosley joined forces with professor Rob Copeland from Sheffield Hallam University to compare the fitness benefits of walking 10k every day to the Active 10. The latter is a newer approach that follows the quality not quantity ethos and recommends that we take a brisk ten minute walk, ideally three times a day rather than a specific amount of steps.

Read More…

Sustainable Exercise

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The exercise routine I follow goes like this: I begin the day thinking I’ll go for a run at lunchtime, and/or a 7 pm yoga class. But as the time draws closer, my mind will resist. The sun is setting, I’ve got to finish some work – a whole list of excuses suddenly comes to mind. It takes an iron will to ignore those resistant voices in my head even though I’ve never regretted going once I’m done. I know that it’s good for me to get moving. A stack of scientific research shows that those who exercise are less susceptible to serious disease. Most importantly, I feel much better when I’m active, so why do I so often choose the easier option – to stay in and watch a box-set instead?

There is an evolutionary explanation for this. Our ‘fight or flight mechanism’ means we are hard wired to do the minimum to survive. Thousands of years ago – when finding food was a life or death situation – we needed to conserve energy in order to fight predators. Now that our lives are sedentary, food is generally on tap, this natural response in our bodies hasn’t changed, therefore we rely on willpower and our minds to stay active. Read More…