SPRING IS UPON US!
A time of longer days, shorter nights, flowers in bloom, and warmer weather allowing us to spend much more time enjoying the great outdoors.
This year, March 26th marks the start of British Summer Time when the clock springs forward 1 hour, increasing daylight, prolonging our evenings and our transition to Summer begins.
Spring is the time of year when we emerge from our winter hibernation and seek more time in the fresh air, the outdoors, in nature and with friends and family.
There are so many health benefits that Spring has on our physical and mental well-being.
But in what ways specifically is Spring good for our health?
1. Spring makes us feel more energised
There’s nothing quite like the feeling of the warm sunshine on our skin after a long, cold winter.
This small act of nature, in general, makes us feel more upbeat and positive and can quite literally give us a “spring in our step!”. Exposure to natural light is thought to increase the brain’s release of a hormone called serotonin. Serotonin is associated with boosting mood and helping a person feel calm and focused with a more optimistic outlook to life.
With sunlight and sunshine increasing, spring is a natural positive energiser.
2. Spring weather encourages us to be more active
With the weather improving and the temperature rising it encourages us to get outdoors and be more active. That doesn’t mean we’re all inspired to run a marathon, but time outdoors is good for your physical and mental health.
Time in the fresh air can really help you to switch off from your daily stresses, reduce your blood pressure and improve your mood.
Spring encourages us to take up a new sport, go out for walks and spend more time being active.
3. Spring sunshine tops up our vitamin D
Getting enough vitamin D is essential for the typical growth and development of our bones, teeth and muscle health, as well as improving our resistance to certain diseases.
Extra daylight gives you more time to spend outside and soak up the nutrients from the sunshine. In Spring and Summer, most people are able to make all the vitamin D they need from the sunlight on their skin without the need for supplements.
4. Spring encourages us to clean our home
Spring is the perfect time of year to air out our homes, clean out the grime that has built up over the winter and make a fresh, clean start.
There are many health benefits to giving your house a deep spring clean, such as:
- Reducing your risk of allergies and asthma from the accumulation of dust or pet dander.
- By removing germs and bacteria, especially from hard-to-reach places, you are reducing your risk of getting sick in general.
- Visual clutter leads to mental clutter; so, doing a big tidy-up should see improvements in your mental health and even increase your productivity.
Is it time to spring clean your health?
Related services available at Fleet Street Clinic.
Summer is the perfect opportunity to dust off your bike and think about turning that commute into an opportunity to get fitter or shed a few pounds!
Cycling – a low impact sport
Compared to many sports, cycling is one with a relatively low injury rate. Crashes and collisions apart, cycling is impact free – good for your joints and muscles. In addition, if you select the correct gear to match the terrain, it means that you can avoid overloading your muscles and joints, keeping the cranks spinning rather than pushing a big gear.
Also important is that because your feet are fixed in place, spinning the cranks requires very little coordination, which also reduces the risk of injury due to poor technique, which is very common while running. Still, despite all these advantages, cyclists can, and regularly do, suffer overuse injuries.
Fix a good riding position:
One of the main issues is the set up of the bike itself. Here are a few pointers as to how to best achieve a good riding position:
This should be positioned so that when the pedal is at the bottom of the stroke and the ball of your foot is on the pedal, your knee should have a slight bend in it. If you want to get technical, saddle to pedal distance should be 109% of your inside leg measurement. Hips shouldn’t move sideways during crank rotation and you shouldn’t have to stretch at the bottom of the pedal stroke. Don’t be put off by feeling you have to come off the saddle to touch the floor.
This should be in a horizontal position, parallel with the floor when viewed side on (but sometimes a very slight downwards tilt can be helpful for those who experience a lot of pressure in the perineum area. However, don’t do this just because it feels more comfortable, as this can cause lessen support and affect riding position).
POSITION OF THE SADDLE
With the pedals adjusted so that they are at the three o’clock and nine o’clock positions, a vertical line dropped from the kneecap of the forward knee should pass through the axle of the pedal.
This is where opinion varies a little. Racers want the handlebars low to lower wind resistance, climbers want the handlebars low so they don’t feel too high when the bike’s angled up. The rest of us want them higher than this. A good rule of thumb is that you don’t want to be leaning on the handlebars too much, only holding them. If it feels like your upper bodyweight is being supported by the handlebars, try them up a little. Not all bikes are adjustable enough at the front but a stem raise is a cheap efficient way of remedying this. A bit more height in traffic is safer anyway.
And if you haven’t bought your bike yet, put a bit of research into what frame/wheel size you need before you do.
Cycling is a great way to get fit and works well with core stability, however, if any injuries do niggle don’t push through and do get them checked out!
Osteopath at Fleet Street Clinic
Andrew Doody is an osteopath at Fleet Street Clinic and is fully registered with the General Osteopathic Council (GOSC).
For more information on our osteopathy services, click here.
Exercise More – Get Outdoors
Today is National Fitness Day. September is a great time to redress the balance after summer holidays and make a new exercise plan. Time to get out and get moving!
Regular exercise has many benefits – a healthier heart, increased well-being, and a better quality of life. Research shows that if you exercise with friends, you are more likely to continue to keep fit, as the social environment encourages positive associations with the activity.
Exercising outdoors can contribute to this feeling of wellbeing. Organised outdoor exercise groups have grown in popularity recently, with a wide range of community-based activities across the country. A few of the more popular outdoor exercise activities are detailed here:
Park Run – Over 1 million Britons have taken part in Park Run – the Saturday morning 5k run in local parks across the country.
Project Awesome – A free community exercise group based in London, Bristol and Edinburgh, Project Awesome is based on high-energy, early morning exercise classes designed to kick-start your day.
Good Gym – For those who’d like to combine voluntary work with exercise, Good Gym enables you to meet like-minded people to run and work together on community projects in your local area.
British Military Fitness – Operating in parks across the UK, British military fitness classes are run by serving or former members of the armed forces with recognised fitness training qualifications. Classes are graded by ability group and are for members of the public. They are designed for all abilities, from those just starting to exercise who want to lose weight, to the already very fit.
Open Air Swimming – If you’re a keen swimmer, have you ever tried swimming outdoors? There are many reported benefits to open-air swimming, which can be enjoyed all year round even in the UK, with or without wetsuits. Check Wild Swim for your nearest open-air swimming site.
Getting Fit with Fleet Street Clinic
Our podiatrists can offer advice on appropriate footwear for exercise and our dietician and osteopath can work with you to support your exercise regime, ensuring a holistic approach to achieving a long-term, healthier you.
So you’re back to work and the tree’s on its way back to the loft. Time to come through on all the New Year’s resolution bravado. Here are a few tips about how to do just that.
Create a plan
Decide what it is you’re wanting to achieve and tailor your program towards it. Do you want to lose weight? Get fitter? Tone up? All three? Don’t just choose the new fitness regime trend, think what you enjoy to do and go with that! You stand much more chance of continuing if you do. Identify times of day when you can exercise and which days you will do it. It’s much harder to stick to a regime that is just squeezed in when and if you have the time (not to mention inclination!)
Determine your readiness
Make sure you are mentally and physically ready to start, and more importantly ready to stick to, a regime. Check with your GP if you have any concerns about your health before you start. A good proportion of my new patients come from people who have caused injuries in the first few weeks, or even days sometimes, of starting a new regime. If you have any niggles, get them treated, and get advice on how to prevent them from recurring.
Set goals that are achievable and realistic. To lose a stone or be able to run 10k by Easter are realistic. To decide you are going to the gym every day before breakfast probably won’t last long. Fitness needs to be built gradually with a good base. Get advice on what exercise you need to do. Just running will help cardiovascular fitness somewhat, but needs to be part of a balanced all-around program if you want to be healthier generally. To maintain it, alone, running will also soon start to cause musculoskeletal problems.
Talk a friend into joining you
There will probably be no shortage of people thinking along the same lines as you. Teaming up hugely increases the chances of you both sticking to a program and makes it much more fun and less painful than trying alone. Even just planning together and talking about what you’re doing, (even if diaries don’t allow actually exercising together), is really encouraging.
Don’t look at this as a quick fix just to drop a few pounds. Take it easy and don’t rush. Tailor your plan around becoming more fit and healthy permanently. If you do it will help with so many other things, from energy levels to less aching joints or back, to stress relief and better sleep.
By Andrew Doody | Osteopath
Andrew is available for pre-exercise assessment, advice on exercise/regime planning, and diagnosis/treatment of outstanding or new issues, as well as advice on injury prevention. You can book an osteopathy appointment online.