Saturday, 5 December 2020

3. The Importance of Water

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The Consumption of Water and the Importance of Hydration 

Your body depends on water to survive. Every cell, tissue and organ depends on water to work properly. For example your body uses water to maintain its temperature, remove waste and lubricate your joints. Water maximises physical performance, helps with nutritional absorption, weight loss and boosts energy. Water is needed for overall good health.

To stay hydrated it is recommended that you consume between 2 and 3 litres of water to remain healthy. This needs to increase if you live in hotter climates or exercise regularly. It is highly advisable to drink before, during and after exercise to boost your energy levels and keep you fully hydrated. Not all of your recommended allowance needs to be plain water, for example some can come from water flavoured with fruit or vegetable (berries, lemon, lime, orange or cucumber slices), or from tea and coffee.

Tips for Staying Hydrated

  • Drink a glass of water as soon as you wake up in the morning. Or take a glass when you are brewing your coffee or tea.
  • Carry a water bottle with you. You are more liking to drink water if you have some with you. You can top up your bottle during the day. You will find that you will sip your water as it is close by and this will be cheaper than buying bottles of water.
  • In these days of technology.....there is an app that will keep you in check with your water consumption and stop you from dehydrating. This will also make you accountable and track your water consumption at the same time.
  • If you don't like plain water, add some sugar free juice or barley water. Or you could try sparkling water.
  • Some fruit and vegetables contain water for example watermelon and spinach are almost 100% water by weight.


Water is essential for optimal health. Water is vital for various bodily functions to work fully and we need to make sure we are hydrated throughout our day. You can combine water with slices of fruit to add flavour to your water or add sugar free juice. Water is also present in many fruit and vegetables which you can add to your water intake. Tea and coffee are a welcome addition too. It is important that we find ways to track our water consumption throughout the day.


4. Relaxation


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Why do we need to relax?

There are so many health benefits when we allow ourselves time to fully relax. One of the biggest well-being factors to relaxation is the increase in blood flow to our muscles and the lowering of fatigue. We live very stressful lives and tend to miss this very import component of optimal health. Without relaxation our stress symptoms and anxiety increase which can lead to ill health inducing high blood pressure, heart and circulatory disease. Relaxation techniques can help with the reduction of stress and also aids in the limiting of muscle tension and chronic pain. Relaxation helps both physical and mental health. Relaxation techniques have also been known to reduce mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety and schizophrenia 

How do we fully relax?

There are many forms and techniques to enable us to relax. When we say we are relaxing.......are we really? The answer to this is probably 'No'! Why do I say this? Often, when we say we are having a relaxing evening, this invariable is not the case! We are generally either, sitting on the sofa scrolling through social media, joining a group of friends for a night of eating and drinking or eating takeaways rather than having to spend valuable time cooking. These activities may feel like a good use of your time but they are not relaxing techniques to enhance your health. 

Relaxation techniques as with most things, will take some time and practice to fully reap the benefits on offer. We often feel we are too short on time to add yet another form of exercise into our already long list of 'things to do'. Relaxation methods can actually take as little as 5 minutes to gain a substantial amount of well being. There are also some very pleasurable ways to relax which will make us willing to put aside some allotted free time to enjoy.

Relaxation Techniques

  • Deep breathing
  • Meditation
  • Music or Art therapy
  • Yoga
  • Mindful walking
  • Light exercise in the fresh air
  • Visualisation
  • Creative hobbies
  • Tai Chi
  • A massage
  • Spa time
  • Aromatherapy
  • Hydrotherapy
There is a very simple and effective relaxation technique that requires very little skill and well worth 5 minutes of your time. Deep breathing will help conquer your usual reactions to stressful situations. One of the physical symptoms of stress is rapid breathing. Once you have practised deep breathing and recognised the calming effect it has on your physical and mental self, you will be able to apply this technique in future moments of stress. Try this.....take deep breaths in sync with the video

Below is a PDF with some simple examples of relaxation techniques.


Relaxation techniques take time to practice, but as you learn each practice you will become aware of muscle tension and the physical sensations of stress. Don't give up if it feels an impossible task and the benefits do not seem apparent initially. Give yourself some time and enjoy the space and 'me' time you give yourself to truly relax. This is a skill and with all skills it takes practice. Try several practices until you find the one that suits you and you are comfortable with. The benefits of relaxation for your physical and mental health are:
  • Slowing heart rate
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Reduction of stress levels
  • Slower and deeper breathing
  • Reduction of muscle tension and chronic pain
  • Lowering fatigue levels
  • Increased blood flow to major muscles
  • Improved digestion
  • Maintaining normal blood sugar levels
  • Improving cognitive skills
  • Improving sleep time
  • Improving mood
  • Reducing anger and frustration
  • Increasing confidence in handling moments of stress.

5. Writing your Daily Journal


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The simplest ideas can be the most effect. Writing a journal, taking a thought from your mind and writing it down becomes a "visual" can see how you feel. This is our own private space where we can express ourselves. You don't have to be a professional writer and your thoughts might be a few doesn't matter. Start your journal every day with three positive thoughts or three things you are grateful for on that particular day. This can be as simple as "the sun was out today" or "I had more energy today" or even "My favourite song was played on the radio as I was driving to work". The aim here is to make us more positive by looking for the things that make us happier in life and giving less power to the negative emotions that can overwhelm us during our every day lives. There are some great apps out there too (if you prefer this to a paper journal), that can prompt and remind us to write these positive thoughts down daily until it becomes a productive and worthwhile habit. Presently App...Minimal Daily Journal ...... This little app allows you to jot down a few words of gratitude, encouraging you to look for the positive rather than negative thoughts or occasions during your day.

Journaling has some real health benefits too. Writing removes mental blocks and permits you to have a better understanding of yourself and others, manages emotions and feelings and encourages emotional intelligence. Start your journaling journey to reap these benefits:
  • Understanding your thoughts: Do you ever feel confused by how you feel? One minute you seem happy and the next you seem out of balance and unsure why? Jotting your feelings down in your journal regularly will help you to see your emotions clearly and get you in touch with your internal self .
  • Gratitude: Writing daily about all the grateful moments will help you see the positive side to your day. Gratitude is strongly and consistently associated to greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, improve health and relish good experiences. A gratitude journal on reflection, can enhance your mood and brighten a dull day. This can all be accomplished in just a few words a day.
  • Get to know yourself better: By writing daily you will start to understand what makes you happy. You will take a journey of self discovery, grasping what is needed in your life to stabilise your mental health. Anything you deem toxic or unhealthy will help you decide what you need to remove or 'walk away' from to strengthen your emotional well-being.
  • Productive journaling: There are some very useful productive journals to help you look at how you manage your time. If you feel you never accomplish enough or constantly run out of time, then this will be of great help to you. Writing down your days activities will 'shine a light' on the way you work to help you become more productive. The journal will create a record of your progress , allowing you to reflect on your days activities and see where you can improve. Productive Planner from Amazon
  • Mindfulness and Jounaling: Our minds are full of internal chatter and constantly engaged in many thoughts all at the same time. Mindful journaling allows you to have a full conversation with yourself to bring your issues to the forefront instead of brushing them under the rug. Mindful journaling allows you time to confront your thoughts, feelings and concerns head on. Reflection is such an enormous part of your personal growth and when you are writing your daily journal , you leave the internal chatter behind and move to the present moment. 

How to begin journaling

Your journaling will be most effective to you, if you do this daily. Make sure you put a little time aside to complete your daily journal. Depending on your type of journal, this will be as little as a few minutes a day. A gratitude journal can be just a few words that describe the moments of happiness and gratitude in your day. A productive or budget planner may take a little more of your time. However, all journals are your own personal growth programmes. You will reap the benefits whether you spend a couple of minutes or 20 minutes per day? The main ingredient to journaling is reflection and consistency. The time spent on reflection will be the learning process and adjustments that will help bring some peace to your mind and promote your emotional well-being.

I have created a mindful self-care PDF for you so you can practice mindfulness and reflection in as little as 15-20 minutes.


6. Cardio Health


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Cardiovascular Health

Aerobic exercise is any activity that gets your blood pumping, increases your heart rate and gets your large muscle groups working. It is also known as cardiovascular activity. This activity can be achieved in many ways and not just at the gym or by joining exercise groups. Some examples of cardiovascular activity are:
  • Walking
  • Swimming
  • Heavy cleaning
  • Gardening
  • Jogging
  • Runnung
  • Cycling
The UK Government physical activity guidelines for adults : 

"Each week, adults should accumulate at least 150 minutes (2 1/2 hours) of moderate intensity activity (such as brisk walking or cycling); or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity (such as running); or even shorter durations of very vigorous intensity activity (such as sprinting or stair climbing); or a combination of moderate, vigorous and very vigorous intensity activity."

Looking at the above information you can see that by adding just half an hour brisk walk into your day, five times a week you will be on your way to a healthier life style. This activity can be completed at any time of the day. Whether you walk to work or perhaps a brisk walk after your evening meal.  Walking and cycling are just two of the many exercises that will improve your cardiovascular health. It's one of your most effective tools for strengthening the heart muscle, keeping your weight under control and warding off the artery damage from high cholesterol, high blood sugar and high blood pressure that can lead to heart attack or stroke.

There are so many benefits to keeping your heart healthy with cardio exercise. By investing just 30 minutes a day on an activity that you find enjoyable will keep you healthy in may ways.
  • Lowers blood pressure: Cardio helps to manage the symptoms of high blood pressure
  • Helps to regulate blood sugar levels: Regular aerobic exercise helps to regulate insulin levels and helps lower and maintain body weight.
  • Helps sleep patterns: If you struggle with sleeping at nighttime, aerobic exercise will help regulate sleep patterns. Just make sure that your workout finishing a couple of hours before bedtime.
  • Strengthens your immune system: Regular and moderate cardiovascular exercise will increase certain antibodies in your blood called immunoglobulins, that strengthen the immune system
  • Boost moods: Regular exercise increases the release of happy hormones which boosts our moods and decreases symptoms of mild depression.Engaging in exercise, even for a short period of time can have a big impact on mood swings.
  • It's affordable: There is no need to join a gym or buy the latest fitness gadgets. You can simply take a walk or enjoy a bit of gardening to reap the benefits of cardio health.
How about a fun way to walk a mile. Try some aerobic exercise to music with 4 simple basic steps and lots of walking....all to music.


7. Why Strength Training is a Must as we Age


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Lifting for Longevity 

Why is it important to lift weights? Apart from building strong muscles, the benefits include burning body fat, strengthening joints and bones, reducing the risk of injury and improving heart health. To lift safely, it is very important to start slowly, take rest days and make sure that you are lifting with good posture (form).

Two or three 20 to 30 minute strength sessions every week can result in significant health benefits.
  • Increased Muscle mass: Our muscle mass decreases drastically as we age and strength training can help to reverse this natural tendency.
  • Strong Bones: Strength training increases bone density and helps prevent fractures
  • Joint Flexibility: Lifting weights keeps our joints supple and can help prevent the onset of arthritis
  • Weight Control: As we build more muscle, our bodies burn calories a lot easier enabling us to maintain or lose weight.
  • Improves Balance: Strengthening exercises increase flexibility and balance, preventing falls and reducing injuries as we age.

Different types of strength training.

There are several different types of strength training. If you are new to this type of training, a good place to start is exercising with resistance bands. One of the main benefits of bands over weights is that they provide more exercise variety. They also prevent you from using momentum, so you tend to engage the correct muscles to do the work. This will therefore challenge the progression of your muscle endurance further. You can also increase your repetitions faster with less risk of injury.

Using dumbbells can be a great way to workout at home. There are a variety of exercises you can do and the weights can be easily adjusted as you improve. Dumbbells are especially effective as you work the main muscles and additionally the stabilising muscles that take part in the workout. 

Kettlebells improve overall strength, core power, balance, flexibility and coordination whilst burning calories and sculpting healthy and lean muscles. You can also use just a single kettlebell for a full body workout.


Strength training changes everything. Lifting weights slow down and reverse the ageing process at a cellular and genetic level, increases energy, strengthens bones and keeps joints flexible. Strength training improves posture, improves brain function and maintains body weight. This can all be achieved by regular 20 - 30 minutes of strength training 2 to 3 times a week.


8. 5 Day Challenge to a Healthier You


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Challenging yourself to live your best life

Rediscover 'you' by challenging yourself to change. These challenges do not have to take a lifetime. Challenges can take place for just 3 to 5 days to acquire a 'taste', or you could set yourself a 30 day's your personal growth challenge and for you to decide. Setting challenges will help to increase your own self-esteem, create belief in yourself and build upon your knowledge for all that interests you. 

A challenge can be the motivational tool to set you up for a small change or equally a whole lifestyle change. I have prepared a PDF challenge as an introduction to building healthy habits. The challenge is for a short period of time, but with a 'lifetime' change in mind. The challenge is the motivational tool...... the habit changes are aiming for the lifetime goal of improving our health in everyday life. The support of a group is an additional plus if you are taking part in a challenge, you might like to challenge family and friends to join you for support. You may prefer to set yourself a challenge and hold yourself accountable ......but again, the choice is yours because its for your own self growth. Challenges can re-programme our 'negative' thoughts into very 'positive' reflections. How many times do we use these excuses? "I don't have the time", "I am too tired" or "I am too busy"? A short or well planned challenge will be structured to fit into your everyday activities and schedules to help you feel accomplished and satisfied with your results.

You have reached the end of your free course and I thank you for subscribing to my website. I hope you enjoyed this course and learnt simple ways to enhance your health or how to create new habits. Now is the time to challenge yourself. Have a's just for 5 days

Please let me know if this has helped you and which habits you hope to continue, or new habits you believe will lead you to a healthier version of you. Please comment in the comments box below.

Here are some of my articles that I think may interest you, having completed this mini-course.

I write between 3 to 4 articles a month, all about health and fitness containing lots of advice. You will receive these to your email account as soon as they are published.

I also have a private facebook group which you can join to enjoy daily motivational quotes, small challenges and interactive posts.....the group is a lot of fun with some great members. Healthy Forever Facebook Group


Friday, 4 December 2020

1. Functional Movement

 Why are Functional Movements Important?

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Functional movements will take our joints through their full range of motion, whilst working the stabilising muscles at the same time. This is so important in preventing injury and promoting healthy movement back into our bodies. Staying active as we age is essential for a happy and healthy life. The general movement patterns of our bodies are push, pull, squat, hinge, walk. Looking at each of these movements individually will help us understand their relevance in our every day lives. I will show you how implementing these movements back into our daily routines will help regain any loss of mobility and balance.

  1. Squat - The action of sitting down - From a standing position to a seated position and back to a standing position
  2. Hinge - The action of a hip movement whereby the hip movement is the prime mover rather than the knee. For example a bow, where the legs are straight while maintaining a flat spine.
  3. Push - The action of pushing only, for example pushing a shopping trolley
  4. Pull - The action of pulling only, for example opening a door towards us.
  5. Loaded Carries - Lifting an object/objects with good form and moving for a set distance - for example, two shopping bags or moving large boxes overhead and placing them on a high level.
If we work on these movements daily by using various everyday objects to hand or using weights and resistance bands, we will benefit greatly by developing strength, balance, mobility and thus decreasing our chances of injury or damage to our muscles and joints.

The Squat 

The squat can be performed from a chair with progression to a full squat. Try this for 30 seconds and see how many you can do. You will feel the muscles working in the thighs and bottom (quads and glutes). This exercise is also a good cardio workout so if you feel out of breath, you can rest before your 30 seconds are up. Work on improving the length of time you can perform this exercise.

The Hinge

The glute bridge is a hinge exercise that strengthens the hips and bottom. Squeeze you bottom and tummy muscles as you raise your hips, until your shoulders, hips and knees are in a straight line and hold for 2-3 seconds. As you lower your hips, make sure your movement is controlled and repeat. Continue this move for 15 to 25 repetitions in a controlled movement. Your form and controlled movements are required rather than speed for this exercise.

The Push

The Shoulder press and Tricep Extension are push exercises. These can be performed seated or standing. You can use bottles of water or dumbbells (if you have some at home). Make sure that this exercise is performed with control both on the push and the return to the starting position. 15 to 25 repetitions. Once you feel comfortable and able,  repeat 15 to 25 repetitions, then rest for 30 seconds before trying again. Perform another set of 15-25, for a total of 3 sets of 15-25 repetitions.

The Pull

The bicep curl is a pull exercise. This can be performed seated or standing, with water bottles or dumbbells (if you have some at home). Make sure you perform this exercise with control on the lift and return. Make sure that you squeeze your tummy muscles (abdominal muscles also known as engaging the core muscles) on the lift. Make sure that your elbows are tucked in at the waist and do not move throughout this exercise so that the bicep muscle is used and not the shoulder. 15 to 25 repetitions. Once you feel comfortable and able, repeat 15 to 25 repetitions, then rest for 30 seconds before trying again.Perform another set of 15-25, for a total of 3 sets of 15-25 repetitions.

Loaded Carry

Loaded carries consist of carrying a piece of equipment or pieces of equipment for example, two dumbbells, two bags of potatoes or two shopping bags (of equal weight) and walking for a pre-determined distance with good posture. By simply doing this, you will build muscle, strength, stamina and re-train proper movement patterns. You will also find an improvement in your grip strength and core stability. Remember to use a squat stance (exampled in the above video) and straight back, pushing through your heals when you pick up your weighted pieces. Do not bend your spine and round your shoulders as this may cause injury when lifting weighted equipment from the floor. 


Functional training is definitely something we should be thinking about as we age. Core stability, balance, mobility and good posture have so many health benefits as well as helping to prevent injuries. Each of the 5 exercises above mimic our everyday movements and keep our bodies 'fine tuned' to accomplish our daily tasks. Performing these moves and exercises regularly will keep us on the path of preserving our independence for many years to come. Always remember to warm up before exercise and stretch after exercise to prevent injury and increase flexibility and mobility.


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