The Five Best Things you can do for your Health, from the perspective of a Physiotherapist.

  1. Move

Just the process of moving your muscles increases blood flow and gets endorphins flowing. There is so much available to read about the “best forms of exercise to lose weight” or the “best form of exercise to cross train” but if we change our attitude from our workout being something that has to be inserted into a weekly timetable towards incorporating incidental movement or exercise into our day, health becomes an overall state of mind rather than something that emotes the image of lugging a gym bag in the dark at 6am. The attitude permeates your overall lifestyle and your body will feel fitter, stronger and lighter.

  1. Get a stand-up desk or make your job involve movement

Many of us sit at a desk for more than 40 hours per week and there has been increasing literature on the detriment of sitting. From a medical perspective research has shown sitting to increase the rate of cancer and other chronic diseases but from a physio perspective, the results are much more instant. Do you know if we see a client who has had a heavy desk-based week, we can often see a noticeable decrease in the range of rotation of their neck and upper back?

Hip flexors are really commonly affected by sitting as you can imagine the shortened position they adopt in sitting can stiffen them up considerably. This then poses a problem if the “sitter” then wants to run or do other upright activity that requires lengthened or loose hip flexors. We can do retraining work with you to teach you how to sit in a good position, using your core muscles, but we wouldn’t expect any muscle in the body to hold a static position for 8 hours per day. So therefore, try not to sit so much!
 

Avoid serious damage to your health and start sitting at your desk better. Download Your Ergonomic Checklist for Work.

 

  1. Cross Train

By this, I don’t mean that everyone has to do 3 runs and 2 Pilates session per week, although that would be a good start. What I mean is that your body will benefit a lot by taking the time to consider the style of exercise you are currently doing and then see if you can come up with other ideas of how you can expose your body to different types of movement.

For example, running every day is a fantastic form of exercise and at Viva we are all big runners. However if that is all you do, your calves, hamstrings and hip flexors may become excessively tight resulting in cumulative injury. Throwing in a stretching session or some yoga will keep your body balanced and prevent niggles from forming. If you like to cycle, consider that it’s a sitting down exercise. If you also sit at a desk at work, you might find your sitting hours exceed your standing hours. Throw in a brisk walk with the dog and you’ll find the opposing (or antagonist) muscles get a workout. Get in touch with us if you would like professional advice on assessing your current exercise regime or creating a plan for cross training.

  1. Eat Well

I’m no Dietician, but I’m a big believer in eating well. Not only does it work for me on a purely scientific basis but I also believe that by making good food choices, it motivates you in other areas of your health. Don’t worry about the fad diets, just stick to the basics by reducing processed food and refined sugar and drink lots of water!

  1. Make Goals

Whether it be to take the stairs three times per day, or stretch your hamstrings twice per week…. We all know the SMART acronym, so just make sure you make the realistic and achievable. If you’re struggling, set yourself a reward for good behaviour.