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Healthy Lifestyle Habits

How Working From Home Could Be Saving Your Feet, Back and Posture.

How Working From Home Could Be Saving Your Feet, Back and Posture

A lot of corporate jobs either require or expect women to wear high heels as part of their professional look. Even  other industries women may feel obliged to wear them on a day to day basis, but is this good for our health?

A few hours wearing heels on a night out isn’t likely to contribute to long term niggles, but wearing heels for a  considerable amount of time for normal working hours obviously takes up a good chunk of your week.

So really, work from home life could be benefitting your health more than you think for the simple fact that you can wear what you want, as long as it’s out of shot during your video call anyway.

Let’s look at the research…

How if affects the body

Long term high heel wearing causes major changes in the functionality of the feet, ankle and knee joints as well as the lower back. An increase in height of the heel also forces the foot into an exaggerated pointed position which in turn increases knee flexion and lordosis of the lower back (1).

As well as affecting the lower back and lower limbs, one study also shown significant affects on the shoulders and upper back (2).

It’s also detrimental in adolescents as they’re still growing. It can cause postural disorders, where the head is unusually far forwards as well as lumbar hyperlordosis, pelvic anteversion, and knee valgus (3).

It does depend on heel height

In one study, the majority of females that took part preferred wearing heels that were at least 3 inches high and over half of them suffered with lower back pain and discomfort. From the entire study, a considerable increase in muscular fatigue was noticeable when the heel was higher than just 6 cm (2 inches). Higher heels cause the body to tense to improve balance, causing muscular fatigue and pain in the back, shoulders and neck (4).

In the adolescent study, it was observed that the height and width of the heel are the prime characteristics that were the most influencial in affecting posture and imbalance (3).

Lower, blocky heels are considerably less likely to affect your body. Lucky for us, that’s what’s actually in fashion at the moment! So this style is readily available.

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What about other types of high heels?

Shoes with a high heel that aren’t your typical high heel shoe, (shoes that have a high wedge for example), can actually cause the same amount of damange as a traditional high heel shoe. But, the advantage that this type of shoe offers is that is applies greater stability to the ankle joint (3).

The same is likely to apply to high heel boots as it covers the foot in it’s entirety as well as supports the ankle.

But faltforms are the absolute winner as one study explains that “footwear that has a heel size that is equal or close to the height of the forefoot does not cause horizontal imbalance of the sole and, therefore, will not affect the biomechanical alignment of the ankles, functioning similarly to the shoes without heels” (3).

Excuse me while I invest in loads of flatforms for this summer!

What can you do if you don't want to part with your heels?

Of course, I’m not saying you should just go ahead and throw out your high heels. I’d just suggest wearing them in moderation. 

Also, the use of a full inner sole actually alters the biomechanics and therefore improves the comfort and functionality of high heel shoes (4).

But when you don’t need to be wearing them, i.e. at your desk, swap them out for a flatter supportive shoe and give your feet a rest.

I’d also recommend toe spreaders to correct the restriction that high heels apply to your toes. Any structured smart shoe can affect the toe area of the feet and cause bunions, so toe spreaders should be worn for a few hours to try to counteract bunions from getting worse. (Of course, if they are too far gone, then surgery is the only corrective option!)

Key Takeaways

  • Wear flatter shoes when possible, that preferably have a wider toe box to allow more room for a natural foot shape.
  • Consider just wearing high heels for special occasions or certain work related meetings rather than all the time.
  • Look after your foot health by walking barefoot at home when possible and spread the toes.

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References

1 – Wiedemeijer MM, Otten E. Effects of high heeled shoes on gait. A review. Gait Posture. 2018 Mar

2 – Malick WH, Khalid H, Mehmood Z, Hussain H. Association of musculoskeletal discomfort with the use of high heeled shoes in females. J Pak Med Assoc. 2020 Dec

3 – Silva AM, de Siqueira GR, da Silva GA. Implications of high-heeled shoes on body posture of adolescents. Rev Paul Pediatr. 2013 Jun

4 – Hong WH, Lee YH, Chen HC, Pei YC, Wu CY. Influence of heel height and shoe insert on comfort perception and biomechanical performance of young female adults during walking. Foot Ankle Int. 2005 Dec

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Healthy Lifestyle Habits

Is HIIT the Best Option When It Comes to Workouts for Weight Loss?

Is HIIT the Best Option When It Comes to Workouts for Weight Loss

So when people think of doing a workout for weight loss, most turn straight to high intensity interval training (HIIT) as their go-to plan. A lot of people believe that this is indeed the best way to lose weight, but let’s see what the research says.

You might also wonder what does HIIT actually involve? I’ll tell you my experience of what’s it’s not, what I recommend and what researchers use as their method.

Training Frequency

So first off, let’s look at traning frequency. Training frequency is literally how often you do a training session, so let’s say once a week vs. multiple times a week.

Based on overall activity levels it’s likely that an individual would be better results with more training frequency of 3 sessions per week. This would give greater benefits for weight loss and cardiometabolic risk factor improvement than just training once per week (1).

However improvements to your health can be made with less that the recommended 30 minutes a day of vigorous (cardio) activity combined with 2-3 resistance training sessions per week. This has been trialed on women with insulin resistance, both HIIT sessions and resistance training alone were effective in improving glycemic control over a 12 week period (2). Both groups did 3 sessions per week of just one type of training and still benefited from it from a health perspective.

Cardio Workouts for Weight Loss & Health

I’m sure many people are familiar with regular cardio workouts where you would do more of a ‘steady state’ or continuous style cardio session, rather than intervals. But what gives the best result for weight loss?

Well in one study, there was no significant difference in terms of body composition, but due to the style of training, HIIT sessions required around 40% less time (3). HIIT sessions have also been shown to be more enjoyable and easier to adhere to than regular cardio sessions as well as improving health factors, even without a change in body mass (4). 

But HIIT can be a significant impact to recovery ability, particular in overweight individuals, as it’s more stress to the body. I must note that these studies are often done on treadmills (for a total of less than 20 minutes) but running on a treadmill is not the sort of exercise I would ever give a client looking to lose a considerable amount of weight. A low impact alternative such as a bike or crosstrainer is much more ideal for less stress to the knees and hips. 

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What about other types of training?

Given that they’re are general health benefits to every sort of activity, we can’t ignore the mass amount of benefits that you’d get from resistance training.

Resistance training is highly effective in improving many aspects of physical and mental health. Studies have also consistently shown significant increases in lean body mass and increased metabolic rate.

Plus it’s defnitely not lacking benefits when it comes to comparing it with HIIT sessions.

Regluar resistance training sessions have been associated with…

  • reduced low back pain 
  • reduced arthritic discomfort
  • enhanced movement control
  • improved glucose and insulin homeostasis
  • a reduction in resting blood pressure
  • greater impact on bone density than other types of physical activity
  • significant increase in bone mineral density
  • decreased symptoms of depression
  • increased self-esteem and physical self-concept
  • improved cognitive ability

Finally and fundamentally, resistance training has been shown to reverse aging factors in skeletal muscle.” (5) How incredible is that?

 

My take on this

If you’ve ever worked with me, you’d know that I don’t have a personal vendetta against HIIT, I have an issue with classes and training sessions that are classed as HIIT when they’re not. They’re just long exhausting sessions!

If you go to a gym, and they have an hour-long HIIT class, you know that the training style is not HIIT. A proper session should be around 20 minutes or less, and combine a difficult working period following by a very low intensity rest. This is then repeated multiple times. 

I often like to include these at the end of clients sessions as because I go for low impact options, it’s doesn’t require you to be fresh and there’s room for error in case you feel a bit tired.

You may want to try bursts of 10 seconds on, 20 seconds off and repeat, or you could choose a different time scale to suit you! But you do need adequate recovery time.

weights workout for weight loss

Key Takeaways & Actionable Steps

  • The best method of weightloss is going to be the one you’re going to be most ready and willing to do.
  • Pick a workout routine that’s going to benefit you physically and mentally.
  • Find something you relatively enjoy and that you’re likely to stick to.
  • Don’t worry if you can’t do multiple sessions per week because one session is better than nothing!
  • If you’re going to do HIIT sessions, pick equipment or exercises that you’re confident with.
  • Remember that you can never outtrain a ‘poor’ diet – meaning if you’re eating more than the energy you’re using, you can’t lose weight.
workout for weight loss

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References

1 – Campa F, Maietta Latessa P, Greco G, Mauro M, Mazzuca P, Spiga F, Toselli S. Effects of Different Resistance Training Frequencies on Body Composition, Cardiometabolic Risk Factors, and Handgrip Strength in Overweight and Obese Women: A Randomized Controlled Trial. J Funct Morphol Kinesiol. 2020 Jul

2 – Álvarez C, Ramírez-Campillo R, Ramírez-Vélez R, Izquierdo M. Effects and prevalence of nonresponders after 12 weeks of high-intensity interval or resistance training in women with insulin resistance: a randomized trial. J Appl Physiol (1985)

3 – Wewege M, van den Berg R, Ward RE, Keech A. The effects of high-intensity interval training vs. moderate-intensity continuous training on body composition in overweight and obese adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Obes Rev. 2017 Jun

4 – Vella CA, Taylor K, Drummer D. High-intensity interval and moderate-intensity continuous training elicit similar enjoyment and adherence levels in overweight and obese adults. Eur J Sport Sci. 2017 Oct

5 – Westcott WL. Resistance training is medicine: effects of strength training on health. Curr Sports Med Rep. 2012 Jul-Aug

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Healthy Lifestyle Habits

Answering the Top Fitness and Calorie Related Questions on Google

Answering the Top Fitness and Calorie Related Questions on Google

Wondering how to lose weight? Or what exercises burn fat?

I used Google autocomplete to give me loads of questions to answer in the video. I do have some fun with this because some of the questions are unbelievable!

Watch it and let me know what you think.

A side note...

Like it says at the beginning of the video (after the introduction), I don’t blame the individual for not knowing this stuff. I find it really frustrating when health and fitness professionals spread confusing or plain wrong information. 

Often, we see an overwhelming amount of conflicting information in the media, and it’s confusing for the consumer. I was making this video as a bit of fun but it became more and more worrying regarding the content people are searching for. 

This information should be readily available and it’s not because the internet is full of incorrect information. Despite all this, I’ve tried to keep the video quite lighthearted!

Your task for today...

I’d love to answer some of YOUR questions. So if you have any burning health, fitness or diet related questions. Please head over to my contact page and ask me!

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A Simple Explanation of How Exercise Can Help You Combat Stress

A Simple Explanation of How Exercise Can Help You Combat Stress

How to deal with stress?!

 

It’s Stress Awareness Month and for me one of the best things I can do to combat stress is exercise.

The main thing that got me hooked on training is the feeling after you’ve completed your training session. Along with feeling accomplished and happy with yourself, what else contributes to that feeling? Endorphins.

So I wanted to talk to you about how these happy hormones effectively help you deal with stress.

My history of how I dealt with stress

I am most definitely someone who is susceptible to stress. So I can fully appreciate that sometimes people need to exercise just to get it out of their system, even for an hour. That hour that gives you time to separate yourself from the real world and allows you to switch off and focus on YOU is so important when you’re stressed out.

Before I was a personal trainer, I commonly used the gym as a place to take out my frustrations from my day. Sometimes I’d head in just before the place closed so I could smash a quick 5k run just to do something after a long day at work. I wasn’t even working towards a personal best time, I’d just run as fast as I could because it made me feel better and it was the best thing for me when I only had about half an hour until they kicked me out.

If you want to read more about my story, click here.

Why does exercise make you feel good?

Like I said earlier, you have these things called Endorphins, something I’m sure we’ve all heard of, but what are they?

Endorphins are a type of hormone, a chemical produced by the body. They’re released from the brain in response to pain and block certain neurotransmitters and in turn, can release a hit of dopamine which makes you feel even better.

This feeling might be why you feel ‘a need’ to exercise because your body remembers how it felt last time. It also might be partially responsible for feeling like you’re addicted to exercise because you just love that feeling so much and maybe even crave it.

The science bit

Endorphins are actually a type of opioid peptide, yes you read that right. Opioids mimic the effects of these peptides. (A peptide is a short-chain amino acid, you might have heard the word peptide from your skincare.)

How do you produce endorphins with exercise in order to reduce stress?

Almost any regular exercise, deep breathing, yoga and meditation.

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America “…conventional wisdom holds that a workout of low to moderate intensity makes you feel energized and healthy”

Why? Because your body doesn’t know the difference between mental and physical stress. So if you’re putting your body through a difficult workout when you feel stressed, it’s not going to bode well for your emotional state.

Believe me, I’ve literally burst into tears after failing heavy lifts because my body was already in a state of stress and I pushed it too hard in that moment.

So if you’re feeling fragile, avoid any high-intensity forms of exercise that day. Save it for another time.

Your Challenge

If you’re wondering how you’re going to deal with stress during the current situation, dedicate at least 20 minutes a day to getting up and moving around or going for a walk and see if it makes you feel better.

If you’re doing that already, I want you to pick 3 days this week where you’re going to do a home workout and if you don’t have any session plans in mind, I’ve got something to help you out. Just taking a few hours of your week to do this will make you feel SO much better!

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20 Tips for Staying Sane During Self-Isolation

How to Stay Sane During Self-Isolation

We’re going through some strange times right now, I know that it must be very hard for people to stay indoors all day during this period of self-isolation. Here are some suggestions that you can do to maintain some normality and keep yourself busy!

I started writing this list because I wasn’t copying well. Throwing myself into work keeps me sane but because I’m not leaving the house I found myself feeling really stressed and anxious. I hope this list can help someone else feel better!

(Obviously most of the things on this list isn’t relevent for parents having to juggle working from home and looking after their kids. I don’t know how you’re doing it all but well done.)

1. Create a morning routine

Now you don’t have your morning commute to deal with, try to take that time to create a morning routine to look forward to. Do proper skincare, use morning affirmations, reflect on how you feel about the day ahead, make a coffee and go sit with the cat. Write it all down, stick to it every day.

2. Shower as normal and get dressed

I’m sure we’re all been guilty of this when you know you’re just going to be sitting around the house all day. Getting a shower can make us feel human again when you feel a bit lost and getting changed into normal clothes makes you feel like it’s just another day.

(Obviously keep it comfy, why would you want to sit in office workwear all day when you don’t have to? That would be terrible.)

3. Schedule your day

Plan out what you’re going to do every day. Whether it’s work related or personal life if you plan it out you’re going to feel like you have more control over your time. Plus, you’ll make sure you can get everything done will time spare for personal things. 

4. Stay hydrated

When you’re at work you’re probably used to taking sips of water all day, or at least you should be! I find I used to drink much more water at work than I did at home so it was a weird transition for me when I realised I was not drinking enough water. Keep filling up that water glass!

5. Eat regularly and have proper meals

Try not to keep working through breaks and lunch. Treat your day as if you were actually at work, set alarms if you have to and make sure you step away from your work space when you’re taking breaks. If you can’t get the foods you normally eat, try to work with what you can get!

6. Experiment with new recipes

Now is the time to try all those mad recipes you’ve seen on pinterest (subject to what you can buy in the shops of course). Or if you go shopping when the shelves are particularly empty, see what you can get and make a meal out of it. I’ve had some pretty amazing homemade turkey burgers on par-baked olive bread this past week for my lunches.

7. Do home workouts

Obviously, if you don’t normally exercise, this one really isn’t going to interest you. But, I would suggest that you at least move around a bit. You might not think so but going from your normal working day to walking downstairs and sitting at your dining room table is going to make a difference to your activity levels. You don’t want to feel sluggish and lethargic.

Check out mine here!

8. Stay in contact with people

Just because we’re social distancing doesn’t mean we can’t be social at all! Pick up the phone, check up on friends, have skype get togethers and use social media for positive interactions.

9. Try not to obsess over the news

Pick one news type and stick to it. I prefer to watch the live conference every day to get the facts from the horse’s mouth. I’ve sometimes watched the news straight after it and they’ve skewed what’s been said. Try to ignore people sharing hearsay on social media.

10. Get some fresh air

Open your windows every day, go out in the garden when you have a cup of tea and go for a walk in a nearby park if possible. We’re still allowed to go outside, just make sure you keep your distance from others and avoid gathering in groups.

11. Practice meditation

This is so beneficial if you’re feeling worried or anxious about everything that’s going on right now. Personally I used headspace and I believe it’s worth the subscription fee, but I know a lot of people use apps like calm which is free.

12. Try journaling

Journalling is an excellent form of self-reflection and finding gratitude in difficult times. I personally used to journal a lot more than I do now and I hope to pick up the habit again. If you’re not sure what to write, I find morning pages the easiest. It’s just a case of writing a set amount of pages and letting it flow. Alternatively, I’ve found these journal prompts really useful.

13. Make time for self-care

I’m talking self-soothing style self-care. Take a long shower, do your hair, do your nails, put on a face mask, moisturise your whole body, go to town with one of those weird ped-egg things on your feet. Pamper yourself! Why not?

14. Have a clear-out

One of the things I’m looking forward to the most is getting rid of loads of stuff I’ve accumulated! Go through the crap in the spare room wardrobe, clear out your loft, get rid of those clothes that you’re never going to wear.

(I know right now charity shops aren’t open, and that’s always my first port of call when I’m getting rid of clothes. I never like to throw them away! It might be worth seeing if you can find a good home for your unwanted clothes rather than adding them to landfill. Or find a local textiles bin)

15. Read more

I’ve got a book list as long as my arm but I always seem to struggle with making time to just sit still and read. I’m obsessed with self-help style fiction books and always get inspired when reading them so I think I need to devote myself to getting through my list.

16. Create a bedtime routine

Just like your morning, have a plan in place for how you’re going to wind down so try not to binge on Netflix too late. Your evening routine could involve things like a cup of chamomile tea, reflecting on your day, spending time with your partner without your phone, reading or planning out the next day.

17. Maintain normal sleeping patterns

Although it’s tempting, particularly if you’re able to get up much later now you don’t have to do your morning commute, try not to steer away from your normal sleeping patterns. The length of a good night’s sleep differs from person to person but I would recommend using a sleep cycle calculator. 

Put in your suggested bed time or wake up time and it will calculate and suggest various blocks of 90 minute sleep cycles plus the average time it takes a person to fall asleep. Try this one out.

18. Separate your work vs home life

If you haven’t got a home office or desk then the liklihood is you’re going to be camped out on your dining room table. What you want to make sure of is that your table is cleared at the end of your working day or you eat your dinner somewhere else. 

Try to work in a space where you’re surroundings won’t distract you because it will hinder productivity. 

If you’re self-employed or (if you can take the odd break from being online and your employer won’t notice) I’d suggest working in pomodoros.

This technique allows you to switch on when it comes to getting to work but also gives you a quick break to get some mental space, I’d highly recommend it.

19. Learn something new

Want to learn a new language or learn how to knit? Well now you can spend your weekends doing just that. 

With the amount of apps, online courses and even free videos available to you, you can teach yourself tonnes of things.

20. Remember that we'll get past this

When all else fails, remember that this is tempoary. We won’t be in this situation forever. The most important thing to consider is following the guidelines of social distancing as to not make this any worse than it already is.

No one alive right now has experienced a world wide illness such as this so no one really knows how to handle it. Just take things one day at a time. 

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