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Walk to Work

We have two events in April aimed at encouraging you to take more exercise. Firstly, April is national Move More Month. Also, this year’s Walk to Work Day is 1 April. So with this perfect storm of influences and with the weather in the northern hemisphere turning to spring and summer, now is the time to think about doing more exercise.

Modern life often requires us to sit in one place, with little movement or exertion. And while modern life has many advantages, this sedentary lifestyle is not good for us. Inactivity can lead to weight gain and many health problems. But in addition to avoiding health problems, exercise has a tremendously beneficial effect on the brain.

In 2017, Dr Wendy Suzuki (Professor of Neuroscience and Psychology at the New York University) gave a very useful Ted Talk about the neurological benefits of exercise. She also discusses the science of how working out boosts your mood and memory and protects your brain against depression and neurodegenerative diseases such as Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Any aerobic exercise (raises the heart rate) will have an immediate effect on your brain. It increases levels of neurotransmitters like dopamine, serotonin and noradrenalin. These improves your mood right away, improve reaction times and allows you to focus your attention better for around two hours.

And these effects are long lasting if exercise is done regularly (30 minutes of exercise, three to four times a week). Other long term benefits of exercise are that it stimulates the creation of brain cells in the hippocampus that improve you long term memory. The same effect happens in the prefrontal cortex which in turn boosts attention span. Both these areas are susceptible to neuro degeneration and cognitive decline. So exercise can really help protect these areas of the brain. As John Adams (US President and Founding Father) put it, “Old minds are like old horses; you must exercise them if you wish to keep them in working order”.

So, I have you convinced, but you don’t have any money to join a gym or take exercise classes. Well, you don’t have to do that. Any exercise that raises the heart rate is good. Ideas include going for a walk, be it with the dog, your family, a friend or on your own. You could also change your routines, take the stairs rather than the lift. And perhaps walk to work, to the shops or to see friends.

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National Heart Month

February is National Heart Month and not just because of Valentine’s Day. It’s an annual UK and US event which is designed to raise awareness of Heat Disease and educate how to look after your heart. Your heart is critically important to our health and wellbeing. It pumps blood around our body and this transports oxygen to our cells and organs.

One way to participate and support others is to take part in the National Wear Red Day on 5 February. Organised by the Children’s Heart Surgery Fund, this day focuses on raising awareness of congenial heart defects and problems. As the name suggests you can wear red and organise events to raise money for this important charity. Their website has an array of resources and ideas for how to take part.

So, how do I look after my heart you might ask? Well as with many things it about a good lifestyle. Specifically, exercise regularly, eat a balanced (varied) diet, monitor your blood pressure and maintain a healthy weight. Also, if you have any concerns then seek the help of a health care professional, such as a GP or Doctor.

High blood pressure normally doesn’t have noticeable symptoms until the pressure is quite high. But if left untreated, it will increase your risk of heart attacks and strokes. It is thought that approximately, a third of adults in the UK have high blood pressure. The only way to find out if your blood pressure is high is to have your blood pressure checked on a regular basis. If you are worried your doctor’s practice can help or you can buy a home blood pressure monitor.

As David Suzuki (Canadian Scientist) said, “The medical literature tells us that the most effective ways to reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and many more problems are through healthy diet and exercise. Our bodies have evolved to move, yet we now use the energy in oil instead of muscles to do our work”.

Making changes to lifestyle, such as exercising more or eating better can be difficult to start and maintain. Hypnotherapy can help you overcome the challenges you face by increasing motivation, improve your confidence and retrain yourself to make good habits part of your life. I recently made a short video about how Hypnotherapy can help with a new exercise routine. If you feel that Hypnotherapy can help you then contact me.