Posts Tagged ‘exercise’
December 17, 2012
With Christmas just around the corner and thoughts turning to the New Year and the opportunities it brings, give your friends and family a head start with these resolution friendly, fun and healthy gift ideas.
Instead of reaching for a chocolate bar when those elevenses hunger pangs kick in, why not treat your health conscious friend or relative to a Graze subscription this Christmas?
With a choice of over 100 delicious and healthy snacks, Graze boxes offer the perfect antidote to those of us who aspire to give up sweet treats in the New Year and are a firm favourite within the Life Line Screening team.
For more details, and to take a sneak peek at the food on offer head over to http://www.graze.com/uk/.
It’s no secret that we are fascinated by the emerging digital health and quantified self space and one piece of fitness based technology that has particularly caught our eye this year is the Fitbit.
Affordable, non-imposing and easy to use, the Fitbit is an ideal stocking filler for those looking to take a proactive approach to understanding and improving their health.
For more information on its uses and benefits, check out our review from earlier on in the year.
Running Earphones and Spotify Subscription
When you think about New Year’s resolutions, “getting fit” often springs to mind, and the team at Life Line Screening is no exception. But rather than stumping up the cash for an expensive single or joint membership at the gym for your fitness conscious friend or relative – why not invest in a pair of state-of-the-art shock resistant running earphones and a Spotify membership to aid their fitness focused New Year resolution?
To get things moving, Spotify has collated a number of fantastically up-beat, fitness focused playlists which can be subscribed to here.
Getting out and about is a fantastic way of not only clearing your head and de-stressing, but also integral to maintaining your fitness levels. There are a number of “rugged” camera options, but we are currently rather partial to the GoPro offering. Whether you’re going for a post-Christmas lunch hike, or an off-road cycle, the GoPro camera adds a completely new, fun dimension to getting active outdoors.
For more tips and advice on maintaining a healthy lifestyle in the run up to the New Year, check out our healthy living pages.
July 27, 2012
This week is Love Parks Week in the UK – the UK’s largest celebration of green spaces. Parks across the country will be holding events to get people out and about – from cycle-rides in Liverpool to football tournaments in Kennington, there’s sure to be something for everyone! Get your family together and have a picnic in the sunshine, or just go for a walk. You could count butterflies in Dams to Darnley Country Park or practice Tai Chi in LeechWell Garden. You could go to the Big Family Tree Climb in Stourhead, Wiltshire or discover bats after dusk in Kensington Gardens.
However you get involved, being out in the sun could lower your stress levels, exercise your heart and bring you together with family and friends, all at once! What better way could there be of looking after your heart and your health than at one of Love Parks Week’s great events.
Is there an event in your local area? Are you planning to go along? Tell us all about it.
June 14, 2012
Last week saw a considerable amount of discussion in the health press around a recent research study looking at the relationship between clinical depression and exercise.
The current government recommendation for sufferers, as set out by The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), stands at three sessions of exercise per week. This research has challenged the previously accepted convention that exercise is beneficial for depression. As the aforementioned study, funded by the NHS has published results in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) to the contrary.
Depression is a mental health condition that affects approximately one in ten of the UK population at some point. Those with depression often can experience psychological feelings such as hopelessness and negativity and physical symptoms including fatigue, poor sleep and changes in appetite.
The NHS study tested 361 participants over a period of 8 months and aimed to identify if “depressed patients that were given additional support to encourage exercise proved beneficial”. This study sought to specifically investigate the effectiveness of encouraging patients to do more exercise, on depression. So whether the additional support and advice regarding exercise is of value, over and above the standard treatment for depression.
This is significant as the results found that the group of patients that were advised to exercise more frequently did not experience any additional benefits from those who experienced standard care through traditional treatment, such as medication. It is also important to note that the patients within the group that were advised to exercise did achieve a higher level of physical activity than those who were not supported in this way.
As reported in The Guardian, Exeter University professor John Campbell commented that “This carefully designed research study has shown that exercise does not appear to be effective in treating depression.”
However, not everyone is willing to accept these findings out right. One such person who has referenced their personal experience with depression is Mark Rice-Oxley, who has written a book on the topic. In his article “I believe exercise can help people beat depression” he airs some interesting thoughts on the role of ‘autonomous exercise’, whereby one does physical activity of their own volition rather than being told or made to do it, as an empowering thing that can put those with depression back in control. More simply, he also suggests that the belief that exercise will lead to recovery establishes a virtuous circle.
So does this mean that positive effects of exercise on depression are largely down to the placebo effect? Where people believe that their activity will have help remedy their condition, resulting in increasingly positive feelings, as expected?
What do you think of these new findings? Many have come across depression through family, friends or even personal experience; do you feel that exercise played a part in their recovery?
To find out more about healthy living and to book a health screening, visit the Life Line Screening website at www.lifelinescreening.co.uk. Alternatively, check out our blog for more on relevant health news and to share your view.
May 18, 2012
We all know that walking is good for us, there’s no two ways about it. The Government recommendation is that we should be aiming for at least half an hour a day of physical exercise to remain healthy. For those with a busy lifestyle – a demanding job, a family, a retirement of social plans – it’s important to make and keep good habits in order to remain fit and healthy.
Walk to Work Week has been taking place during the 14-18th of May. It is a week dedicated to raising awareness of the health and environmental benefits of walking, as well as encouraging people to experience and value the quality of the streets around them. Walk to Work Week is organised by Living Streets, the national charity that stands up for pedestrians and work to create safe, attractive streets for the public.
“When we have streets we want to walk in, lives are transformed – we are healthier, happier and more sociable.”
- Living Streets
On Tuesday Transport Minister Norman Baker stepped out in support of Walk to Work Week in a bid to raise awareness and join the many people across the country that have been taking to their streets and work places on foot. As this week draws to a close we have a great opportunity to reflect of how much walking we’ve done throughout the week and a chance for a final push.
In conjunction with Walk to Work Week, Living Streets have organised The Great British Walking Challenge. Whereby people can simply sign up and start counting their walking miles towards the nation’s totals, measured by total miles, calories burned and CO2 emissions saved by walking instead of using forms of transport with a negative environmental impact. If you haven’t had a chance to join in yet Life Line Screening would urge to add the walking that you’ve clocked up for the week – which currently stands at an impressive 7,274,216 Calories (or 13,946 muffins burned), 75,617 miles (or 3.04 times around the world) and 13,089 kg CO2 saved! You might also want to check out the mobile application designed for the government initiative Walk4Life, for walks in your area and the ability track how long you usually walk for.
Walking is an excellent activity for a number of reasons, not least because it doubles up as a mode of transport. It raises the heart rate and improves circulation, as oxygenated blood travels around the body to supply cells in need, invigorating both the muscular and respiratory systems. There has long been a debate surrounding the benefits of walking in comparison to running. So, to compare, the average person who weighs 73 kilograms (160 lbs) will burn approximately 530 calories running for an hour, or just over 300 calories walking during the same time. However, two key factors that walking has going for it is that it has a much lower risk of injury and it is typically to keep walking over longer distances than it is to run, especially without training.
Walking is also good for the mind and can provide time to clear your head, have a good think about a problem that you’ve being trying to solve, or simply take in the scenery.
So, these are some our favourite suggestions to get walking more here at Life Line Screening:
- A classic, always take the stairs instead of the lift.
- Make it a new habit to walk to work. Have a think about your route and how long you will need and plan out your journey.
- Make the most of lunch. Why not split your lunch instead of one longer break so you can pop out for some fresh air and a short walk twice. Or, how about trying to eat somewhere a bit further away than usual and explore your local area.
- Be sociable. Walking with others, you’ll find that time flies.
- Similarly, listen to music. It’s a great way to let your mind wander and a nice way to enjoy music or the radio.
- Walk on the phone. You’ll be surprised how much you move about while you’re thinking about something else.
What do you enjoy most about walking? Do you have a favourite walk? We’d love to know. To read more on healthy living and to book your next health screening with Life Line Screening visit www.lifelinescreening.co.uk.
Today is the final day of Walk to Work Week – make it count!
May 1, 2012
Very good news was published Wednesday 18th April in the journal Neurology, which has many people literally up and walking, running and jumping. Turns out that higher levels of activity of all kinds – from washing dishes, cleaning the house and gardening to playing cards, walking around the block and dancing – is linked to a reduced risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, even in individuals over 80 years of age.
Dr Anne Corbett, Research Manager of the Alzheimer’s Society* highlighted that people who scored in the bottom 10% of physical activity were more than twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s as people in the top 10 per cent.
Alzheimer’s Society Comment:
“It is well established that regular physical exercise is an important way to reduce your risk of developing dementia. It can reduce the risk by up to 45 per cent. This study adds to this evidence and suggests that simple things like cooking and cleaning can also make a difference.
‘One in three people over 65 will die with dementia, but as this shows, there are things you can do to help reduce your risk. It is important to maintain a healthy weight and stop smoking. Eating a Mediterranean diet high in antioxidants and oily fish and even the odd glass of red wine can also help.”
In short, wherever you are in life, putting some motion and movement into your daily routine can make a real difference to all aspects of your long term health.
* Alzheimer’s Society: Study suggests exercise may reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease at any age
**Neurology: Being physically active may protect the brain from Alzheimer disease
March 23, 2012
When it comes to the NHS Health Reform, whichever side of the fence you sit, it’s impossible to ignore the fact that the UK is firstly, an ageing population and secondly, experiencing a huge surge in premature deaths due to a range of behavioural factors including smoking, alcohol abuse, poor diet and a lack of exercise. Therefore with this in mind, surely it makes sense for a system that focuses its attention on empowering individuals within the UK to take charge of their own health?
Being Responsible For Your Health
However, by introducing a system that focuses its efforts on encouraging people to take control of their own health through adopting a healthy lifestyle, addressing damaging behaviours and attending preventive screenings, we could expect to see some really positive outcomes. For example, the reduction of premature death, illness and costs to society and more specifically, the avoidance of over 30% circulatory diseases, a substantial proportion of cancers and vascular dementias.
A health system based on educating people how best to understand and recognise their own risk factors whilst in turn, encouraging them to make the right choices and taking steps to prevent ill health in future.
Implementing The Change
It’s all very well recognising the behavioural issues at play and placing the responsibility for change at the door of the individual – but how can they best implement these changes?
Change4Life is a great campaign which really focuses on making healthy lifestyles more accessible to the British public both young and old – be it tips on getting more active, cutting down on alcohol or how to make healthy and realistic food swaps.
- DEFRA Fruit and Vegetables task force
Another brilliant campaign from DEFRA – the Fruit and Vegetables taskforce is all about encouraging people to enjoy more fruit and veg by making produce more readily available and affordable without scrimping on quality or standard of taste.
- Charity Runs
Charity runs and walks are a great way of not only getting yourself up and moving, but also doing something for a good cause. In Tipperary, a small (and brave) sub-section of one of our Partner’s, The Lisheen Mine, will be competing in the infamous 4 peaks challenge. We wish them the best of luck and will be keeping an eye on their progress both pre, during and post the challenge!
- Preventive Health Screenings
In addition to improving eating and fitness habits, preventive health screenings are another simple way of staying on top of your health. By identifying and addressing health issues early can prevent a more serious or longer term problem and drastically improve a person’s quality of life. For more information on health screenings and what the process entails, check out the Life Line Screening health services screening page.
It’s a marathon, not a sprint
With an ageing and increasingly unhealthy population, we are fully behind a system which focuses on the protection and prevention of illness, a move which will see a drastic reduction in the number of people living with preventable ill-health such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes. However, it’s important to recognise that these sorts of behavioural changes won’t happen overnight, we are looking at instilling a cultural approach to healthy living and one which will span generations.
We’ll be keeping our eyes peeled on the developments as they unfold, but in the meantime, we’d really love to hear what these changes mean for you and how you plan to take control of your health!
For further tips and advice on how best to transform your lifestyle, check out the Life Line Screening healthy living page.
March 13, 2012
A couple of weeks ago on our Life Line Screening UK blog, we talked about the potential benefits of three minute exercise. However, as we noted, this kind of intense exercise isn’t for everyone – so what are the alternatives?
When it comes to exercising – the thought of going to the gym can sometimes seem like a bit of a burden, particularly after a long day. Therefore, we’ve pulled together 5 quick wins which will help you meet your recommended 30 minutes of exercise per day – simple habits that can be seamlessly incorporated into your day-to-day:
1. Take the stairs
Walking up the stairs instead of getting the lift is a great and simple way of fitting a bit more exercise into your day – whether it’s at work or at the shops. And if you feel like pushing yourself then why not head up them even faster or use every second step?
2. Country walks
Not only a great way of getting a good dose of exercise, but taking a pleasant walk out in the fresh country air can also help to clear your mind and reduce stress levels.
Before you head out, make sure you are familiar with the route and the terrain to prevent any unexpected upward hills! Check out these walks from the National Trust for inspiration: http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/walks/
Low impact activities such as yoga, tai chi and aqua aerobics are a fun and sociable way of keeping fit without overdoing it.
Sharing the experience with other people not only adds a bit more fun to exercise but also an element of friendly competition – a great way of spurring yourself on!
4. Walking instead of taking the bus or relying on your car
Whether you’re popping to the shops or rushing to catch your commuter train, it’s all too easy to fall into your car or jump on the bus at the end of your road. However, by simply allowing yourself ten extra minutes to make the journey on foot, you are doing a world of good to your health and heart.
So next time you’re popping out to the shops to grab some milk, leave the car keys in the drawer!
5. Prune your garden
It’s time to get your fingers green! Gardening is not only a cheap and simple way of incorporating exercise into your daily routine, but it’s also incredibly therapeutic, gives you an opportunity to get out in the fresh air and if you’re interested in growing your own fruit and veg could have a really positive impact on your diet too.
Challenge yourself – try these 5 tips over the next week and see how you feel and don’t forget to let us know how you get on! For more guidance and information visit our section for Healthy Living by clicking on the picture in this post.
March 2, 2012
When it comes to exercising, Government Guidelines recommend that the “average healthy individual” should partake in 30 minutes of moderate cardio vascular activity 3-5 times per week however; it seems that there may be a rather radical alternative.
The research, carried out in a number of countries including the UK* and highlighted by Dr Michael Mosley on the BBC News site**, found that three minute stints of intense exercise or “high intensity training” was enough to demonstrate significant changes in a number of important health indices.
In order to test the validity of these findings and more specifically, investigate the benefits in relation to two personal health issues, diabetes and heightened aerobic fitness, Dr Mosley embarked on a four week High Intensity Training (HIT) plan, overseen by Jamie Timmons, Professor of Ageing Biology at Birmingham University.
The process itself was very simple:
“It’s actually very simple. You get on an exercise bike, warm up by doing gentle cycling for a couple of minutes, then go flat out for 20 seconds.
A couple of minutes to catch your breath, then another 20 seconds at full throttle. Another couple of minutes gentle cycling, then a final 20 seconds going hell for leather. And that’s it” (via BBC News**)
By doing these short spurts of exercise, it is believed that we are using far more of our muscle tissue than “classic aerobic” exercise – 80% vs. 20-40% for jogging or walking briskly**. However, despite this, the results from Dr Mosley’s investigation were mixed, with a 24% improvement in insulin sensitivity but no improvements to aerobic exercise.
But why was that the case?
Although HIT has a number of proven health benefits, it appears that there is a caveat to the rule – your genetic makeup. Based on a recent international study***, it was found that following four hours of HIT exercise for 20 weeks, a number of individuals showed no real improvement (“ non responders”) whereas 15% of participants made huge strides (“super responders”) – a discrepancy that Dr Mosley highlighted could be traced back to a small number of genes.
Therefore, it’s clear that people respond to exercise differently – and whilst high intensity training may prove beneficial for some, it may not for others. Focusing on activities that you enjoy and make you feel good will be a great place to start, whether it’s walking the dog or running the London marathon.
For understanding the benefits of exercise on your health and advice on how to stay fit, check out Life Line Screening’s tips by clicking on the picture in this post.
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January 27, 2012
With the Christmas holiday a distant memory, your nose firmly back to the grindstone, and the inevitable January blues setting in, the first month of the year can often seem a little overwhelming.
It’s not uncommon to experience stress in your personal or working lives. However, what is important is that the stress is managed appropriately to avoid causing lasting harm to your health. The first step is understanding the cause of your stress, and making sure you don’t turn to unhealthy things to cope.
However, sometimes a little advice doesn’t go astray. Here are Life Line Screening’s 5 top tips for keeping stress levels in check:
Get enough sleep
Not too much, not too little, listen to your body and work out the optimum amount of sleep you need to feel well rested and be conscious of the fact that this might be longer during particularly stressful periods. As an average, 7.5 hours of sleep is what most people need to function on a normal level. Look at the time you need to get up in the morning, count back 7.5 hours and make sure you’re in bed by then.
It’s no new fact that exercise helps relieve stress. Exercise releases endorphins, making you generally happier, as well as improving circulation, which in turn strengthens your heart. Exercise is also a fantastic way to relieve stress with outdoor activities providing the added benefits of fresh air and time to clear the mind.
Research suggests that exercising in the morning is one of the greatest ways to start the day and to minimise stress. Not only does it get your endorphins flowing before you sit down at your computer for the day, but also helps deepen your sleep and allows you to fall asleep quicker, according to the National Sleep Foundation.
Get your 5-a-day
With so many bugs circulating over the winter period eating enough fruit and vegetables is the best way to ensure your body gets the nutrients it needs. As we mentioned in our top tips for fighting heart disease, fruit and veg, and omega 3 fatty foods help lower your risk of heart disease, and generally make you feel a little better than another packet of crisps.
However, specific foods that aid in de-stressing include bananas, which aid in the regulation of blood pressure; Broccoli, which contains folic acid, a great help in lowering stress levels and reducing irritability; Whole Grains, which help the body produce more serotonin; and a good old cup of tea. Apparently drinking 3 cups of Black Tea a day can help reduce Cortisol, a hormone linked with high stress levels.
One thing you need to take control of straight away is your mind. Taking control of the situation is essential in dealing with stress. It allows you to feel empowered, and is important in finding a solution to the problem. On the other side, another very important factor of dealing with stress is knowing when to let go and accepting the things you cannot change. At that point, you need to focus on the things within your control, and let go of the things that aren’t.
It’s no secret that the UK workforce is one of the most stressful, with employees often working much longer than their contracts dictate. However, it is very important to break away from this culture – whether it’s having a soak in the bath, getting stuck into a good novel or spending time with loved ones, make sure you find time to unwind and free up some “me time”.
Discuss your hours with your employer. Sometimes all it takes is a few simple questions, or a frank discussion to let them know that you’re drowning. Most of the time, they’re there to help, not judge, and a happy employee is more efficient and productive than a stressed employee.