26 Nov 2010

A breath of fresh air!

Hi folks,

Everyone does it, it occurs 24/7, & its essential for staying alive - breathing! Our lungs can hold up to 6 litres of air, up to 500ml of this air is pushed in & out with every breath. However due to postural constraints, low levels of health & fitness or complacency, we fall in to a shallow breathing pattern. This is fine when we're asleep as our brain & muscles don't need much oxygen then, but in our waking hours this can affect alertness, energy levels, & concentration etc. So in other words, if we practice the breathing exercises below as couple of times a day we are not only keeping our lungs healthy but improving our workplace health & performance - right?

 Simple deep breathing:
  1. From a relaxed position (standing, seated or lying) breathe out slowly through your nose counting to 5 seconds. While doing so tense your stomach muscles to draw in your diaphragm which helps your lungs deflate.
  2. As the lungs feel like they have emptied, pause for 2 seconds, then inhale slowly for 5 seconds. Push your stomach out to help this.
  3. Repeat 5 - 10 times, closing your eyes if this helps.
Result: you feel relaxed, you have optimum blood oxygen saturation, & you're ready to carry on working but more productively.

How many times a day do you yawn? A yawn is our body's response to low oxygen saturation levels in the blood (hence the body feeling tired / shallow breathing). By showing the world our tonsils & making a caveman sound, we are taking in a greater amount of oxygen & exchanging it with the existing air in our lungs.

Today it is a cold crisp day so its perfect for giving deep breathing a go. Especially if you're sat in a traffic jam, a stuffy office or walking for your lunch.

Take care today & enjoy the festive weather!

18 Nov 2010

Why not try something new?

Complimentary therapies are hands-on sessions that stimulate & work with the body’s natural healing processes. There are many different disciplines & can be used either as an alternative to conventional medicine, or to assist it. Many such practices originate in the depths of history but have been revised and modified over time for use today.

So why are more & more people choosing complimentary therapies over medication these days & how could they impact your workforce? This is because they can have less severe side effects, are holistic (treat the body as a whole), & you learn more about your body - becoming more ‘body aware.’ 

Types that we are most likely to come across are massage, reflexology, acupuncture, reiki, Indian head massage, Bowen therapy, kinesiology, & osteopathy. Rather than describe each therapy, I'm going to mention the two main ways in which they work.

1) By stimulating the nervous system we can get muscles to 'let go' of undetected tension. This then allows nutrient rich blood in to repair any damaged tissues & we can re-educate the body in its natural movement patterns / reflexes.

2) Many therapies work with the body's own energy balance, or meridian channels. If we become stressed or injured, this blocks or distorts our energy channels. Practitioners work to re-balance these which then help the body to recover to full health again. 

 If any theories of complimentary treatments sound a little 'out-there', then the only way to see if they really work is to try them for yourself! You don't have to be in poor health to be treated, many people go every so often for the relaxation benefits. Lets think about it - if they didn't work, would they still be around after all this time? Ask the local chemist or GP surgery for your closest registered practitioners & treat someone to a Christmas present with a difference this year!

12 Nov 2010

Be fit & healthy - no gym required!

We are all continuously advised to do exercise to stay healthy by the media, our GP, our friends, our partners, & by our own conscience. Gyms are great if you can use them effectively but in my experience only a certain proportion of people get results from gym work. Others don't stick at it, usually because they do not enjoy it or cannot commit the time.

It would be advantageous to us all if we include as much non-gym exercise as possible, living an active lifestyle. I'm not just talking about 'taking the stairs' here but a whole range of other options:

  1. Walking the dog for 20min over varied terrain in the mornings & evenings.
  2. Walking or cycling to work.
  3. Being as active in your tasks at work as possible.
  4. Walking out to buy / eat lunch rather than staying at work.
  5. Involve your children & partner in physical activities on evenings / weekends such as walking around local tourist attractions, parks & riversides.
  6. Grab someone to walk to the local shops with so you can carry your bags home.
  7. Invite friends for social activities like bowling, ice skating, a kick-around, a day out shopping, & of course nights out usually involve a good few hours of dancing!

These are all easy to fit in but how many of these do you currently do? Challenge yourself & plan now to fit them all in next week. They're much more enjoyable than a sedentary lifestyle, can cost very little compared to pricey gym memberships, & often 'kill two birds with one stone'.

So while we still have a few days of nice weather left, lets make the most of them starting this weekend!

5 Nov 2010

5 Great sleeping tips

Hi folks,

Every day we put pressure on ourselves / others to work harder, be more efficient, perform better or be more productive. The one thing that usually ends up suffering is our sleep which in my opinion, a good 7-8hrs of per 24hrs, is the most productive thing we can possibly do! During sleep our bodies go through stages to recover & rebuild both physically & mentally. If they are not getting chance to do this properly then we cannot expect to then be at our best. 

Top sleeping tips:
  1. Make sure your sleep covers 2am - 5am.
  2. Go to bed & get up at the same time each 24hr period if possible (including weekends).
  3. Develop a 'winding down' routine & stick to it. e.g. reading, chill out music, warm bath, chatting etc.
  4. Only use your bedroom for sleep, not working, exercise or watching TV etc. 
  5. Complex carbohydrate rich food can help increase sleep quality, where as protein rich food make us more alert. Use them strategically to help your routine.

Quality sleep has a huge influence on our hours spent awake. Watch this space in the future for tips on effective napping & find out why we were born to do it.

Enjoy your weekend!