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1st March..spring clean your health!

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So meteorologically speaking..we are finally into Spring! That’s not to say Winter’s temperatures are not still around though…

Are you still finding that you’re often getting ill, aching and pretty exhausted! Instead of popping pills and vitamins to give yourself a health boost for spring, take a closer look at the habits that are making your health suffer and start feeling better today…

WORK HABITS

Seven in 10 Britons have lived with neck pain or back twinges for more than a decade according to a survey by the British Chiropractic Association, and these have been linked to insomnia, weight gain and depression. Sitting for extended periods could be the culprit. Get a standing desk so that you’re naturally moving around more – you should aim to take 10,000 steps a day. Using a treadmill desk and “walking while working” has been found to improve muscle pain, or just get up and move about as much as possible throughout the day.

EATING HABITS & FRESHER FOOD

Most of us know what we should be eating in order to stay healthy and keep our weight down, but are we kidding ourselves about how healthy our diet is? For example, knowing that oatcakes and nuts are far healthier options than, say, a Mars bar as a snack does not mean you can eat a handful of them whenever you feel peckish. If you can’t seem to lose weight, you’re probably eating more than you need. “Keeping a food diary can double your weight loss,” as it forces you to get real about the frequency of your food intake.

And be more realistic about quantities. According to the British Heart Foundation, our portion sizes have increased by more than 50 per cent in the last 20 years. Try using your hand to measure your portion sizes: A portion the size of the palm of your hand should be your protein, two fist-size portions for your vegetables/salad, one fist or less is your carbohydrates (potato, rice, pasta etc) and one fist for fruit. Follow this rule and you won’t overeat! To improve nutrition and save costs too, aim to buy food seasonly, a great Spring veg now in season in the UK is asparagus and rhubarb too!

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 WELLBEING HABITS

Always feeling overwhelmed by stress? Staying positive and counting your blessings can actually reduce those stressful feelings. Taking time – say, when brushing your teeth – to contemplate all the good in your life has actually been found to reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol by 23 per cent.And give your brain a break by having a tech amnesty – no mobile phone, laptop or tablet – after 9pm in the evening. Many of us check our emails in bed before going to sleep, which makes it difficult to really unwind and get a proper rest.A great technique for finding balance in your life is a “rainbow diary”, advises confidence and presentation expert Emma Stroud (pitchperfectclub.com). Take a box of felt-tip pens and designate a colour for each of the different areas of your life – green for health, blue for family, yellow for fitness, purple for fun etc.“As you ‘rainbow’ your diary, ie write down all your upcoming activities with the designated pens, notice if there’s any colour lacking. Not enough purple? You need to plan something fun. In this way, you maintain a healthy balance that enables you to get a real sense of wellbeing,” says Stroud.Screenshot 2016-03-01 15.27.26

EXERCISE HABITS & MORE DAYLIGHT!

We know that regular exercise boosts energy, improves sleep, combats all manner of health conditions and even protects your bones. Studies show that after your mid-twenties, bone density starts to diminish year on year, but doing exercise helps keep bones healthy and strong and reduces the risk of osteoporosis.

But far too many of us veer between over-committing to a fitness plan that we only manage to stick to for a few weeks and total inactivity, followed by weeks of guilt.

The crucial thing is to find an exercise routine you can actually stick to – and HIIT (high-intensity interval training) might just fit the bill, as you only need do it for a few minutes each session.  Google “HIIT workouts” – anything from seven to 30 minutes, and from full-body to specific areas such as legs, arms and chest.

Or take a particular exercise such as bicep curls and push yourself hard for 20 seconds then have a 10-second rest, repeating this eight times for optimum results. Get a HIIT app for your phone to take all the hard work out of timings. No excuses now, especially when we are getting more and more daylight every day and during Spring we have more hours daylight than darkness YAY!

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 Tag us in your favourite Spring Spots with Giving Tree snacks

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