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Active 10 – 10 Steps To An Active You

Posted on 6th April 2017 by

It’s well known that our nation is struggling to reach the Government targets for physical activity and that this is having pretty severe consequences on 10 Steps to an active you our health and wellbeing.

I think a big part of the problem with the guidelines is that people think doing the recommended 30 minutes of exercise a day is unachievable. That they have to be sweating it in the gym or running marathons and subsequently don’t do anything!

So, it’s great to see Public Health England’s new initiative 10 Steps To An Active You. You may have seen the posters or leaflets cropping up near you!

The message is simple, you don’t have to do an intense workout to get the benefits of exercise, walking briskly counts too. They’ve even launched a free app that takes away the guesswork. It shows how much brisk walking you’re doing and how you can do more. It’s easy to use and helps you set your goals for the day.

Why is walking briskly good for my health?

There is evidence to show that a brisk 10 minute walk each day brings the following health benefits:

  • Increased physical fitness
  • Greater ease in performing everyday physical activities
  • Improved mood
  • Improved quality of life
  • Increased physical leanness and healthier weight

A regular 10 minute brisk walk can make you feel better in so many ways. It can boost your energy, clear your head and lift your mood, as well as lowering your risk of serious illnesses such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

Why brisk walking? Wouldn’t something more intense be better?

Research shows that rather than the number of steps taken or distance walked, it’s the combination of the intensity of the exercise and how long you’re doing it for that leads to the health benefits. That’s why we’re focusing on encouraging people to go for at least one brisk 10 minute walk a day.

More intense exercise can benefit those who are able to make the commitment to this, while brisk walking is for people who find it difficult to find the time to fit exercise into their day.

You can read more about Active 10 and download the free app here.

 


The Decline In Physical Activity In Children

Posted on 14th March 2017 by

It was previously thought that physical activity in young people started to decline during adolescence, however, a new study in The British Journal of Sports Medicine has found that physical activity levels actually begin to decline by 6-7 years of age. This correlates with children starting school.

With overwhelming evidence of the importance of physical activity for children, this is really a frightening thought.

Why the decline? There are many factors that are contributing to this problem. Top of my list would be screen time. The amount of time that young people (and adults for that matter) are now spending on screens is central to much of the inactivity. If you want to read more about this, get hold of Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked Hardcover by Adam Alter. There are some hard hitting and worrying facts and figures in this.

Other factors include our busy lifestyles not allowing time for activity, stretched resources in school and the subsequent impact on PE, working parents meaning that school runs have to be done in the car, fears over safety in letting kids get out and explore independently and also financial pressures.

Physical activity and sport are such a fundamental part of a child’s development for so many reasons. It’s crucial we try and get our children moving! Take a look at a previous blog we wrote with some simple ideas how to achieve this. Childhood is the opportunity for individuals to build habits for a lifetime.

Why is sport important for children?


Top Tips From The Team: Health & Wellbeing Apps

Posted on 7th March 2017 by

Top Tips Health Apps

In the first of our new series of blog posts, we’re sharing some tried and tested Apple apps that we are loving here at goPhysio.

All of these apps have been designed to help support and encourage a healthy, positive lifestyle.

1. ESCAPE-Pain: Enabling management of arthritic pain

ESCAPE-pain is an innovative, award-winning rehabilitation programme for people with long standing knee and hip joint pain. This programme is delivered in the NHS in some areas and approved by NICE – the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence.

This app was developed in conjunction with physiotherapists from the Health Innovation Network in London to bring the ESCAPE-Pain programme to more people.

During 12 sessions, over 6 weeks the app will provide:

  • Engaging animations giving simple advice and information that help you learn what is good and bad for you, so that you can help yourself cope better with the effects of joint pain.
  • Short, quality HD videos show you how to perform simple exercises, removing the guesswork of whether you are doing the exercises correctly, and help you become more active.
  • Plot your progress to see how you are improving.

2. Headspace

This is a really well known app, but definitely deserves a mention. It is well known that meditation can help improve your focus, exercise mindful awareness, relieve anxiety and reduce stress.

The aim of Headspace is ‘Meditation made simple’. It provides guided meditations suitable for all levels.

Whether you just want to take some time out for yourself, if you’re suffering with pain and want to try some alternative coping mechanisms, or want to address issues sleeping – meditation can be very powerful.

3. Blinkist

I’ve mentioned this app before. If you like self improvement or motivational books but don’t always get the time to read, this app is perfect.

Blinkist distills the key insights of 1,500+ bestselling nonfiction books into powerful 15-minute reads or listens. Boost your knowledge and gain new perspectives to become a better, smarter you.

This app will help you:

  • Sharpen your professional skills with the best business books in your field.
  • Explore your many-sided self with the most impactful self-improvement titles.
  • Discover new perspectives on the world with bestsellers on economics, science, history & culture.
  • Stay on top of the latest trends and ideas in your professional field.

4. Moment

We use our hand held devices so much nowadays. The full extent on the impact of such heavy device use is still unknown. Besides the obvious neck, shoulder, hand and wrist problems that are developing due to long term device us, there are huge potential social and psychological impacts. (Have a read of this book if you’re interested in finding out more.)

So, do you really know how long you’ve used your device for in a day? What else could you spend that precious time doing? I’m sure the true amount of time spent on devices may shock some people.

Moment is an iOS app that automatically tracks how much you use your iPhone and iPad each day. If you’re using your phone too much, you can set daily limits on yourself and be notified when you go over. You can even force yourself off your device when you’re over your limit.

This is a fantastic app to bring some transparency to device us, particularly great for younger members of the family.

5. Stand Up! The work break timer

We’ve all heard the media and research suggests that sitting for long periods of time isn’t great for us. If you’re a desk based worker or sit for long periods of time, it’s recommended to stand up and move about regularly and vary your working positions. However, it’s not always easy to do this when you’re engrossed in a task.

Stand Up! is a fun, flexible work break timer app. It’s also great for RSI or work related upper limb sufferers, or anyone that needs to take regular breaks.

6. NHS 24 MSK Help

This fairly simplistic app gives advice on common muscle, back & joint problems. Although it only provides simple information, it is a great starting point if you’ve suffered an injury or are in pain and looking for some general advice.

 


Do we need a Dr-Patient ‘culture shift’?

Posted on 22nd September 2016 by

I read with interest this week about a new scheme in Wales where patients are being urged to take more control of decisions about the care and treatments they receive. The scheme, Choosing Wales Wisely, aims for a more equal doctor-patient relationship.

Central to the scheme, are 4 questions that patients should ask when seeing their Dr.

Questions to ask your doctor

Although there are fears that this move may be in an effort to cut costs, I think it’s a great initiative for patients to be inspired to take more responsibility for their own care and also explore alternatives, not just taking a single Doctor’s advice and recommendations as gospel.

The questions that this initiative proposes patients ask are certainly very valid.

If you’re suffering with musculoskeletal (MSK) pain, so issues with joints, muscles and other soft tissues, the all too common advice of take painkillers and rest just isn’t good enough. The majority of our patients at goPhysio are told this when they see their GP. Frustratingly, so many are also told that physio won’t work so don’t recommend it.

Yet, there are so many treatment options that would mean people recover faster and don’t suffer with a repeated cycle of injury. The long term benefits of this is not relying on painkillers, staying in work, being able to keep active and so the consequential health benefits of this…….the list goes on!

So, with patients being inspired to actually ask Dr’s what there options are, it may encourage Dr’s to have a broader and more open view of the valid options.

Another common misconception held by people with MSK problems is that only a scan or X Ray will actually reveal what’s going on and this is often re-enforced in a medical setting. However, research has demonstrated that this isn’t true. Many studies have found there to be changes on X Ray or scans in people with no symptoms at all and visa versa, there to be no symptoms in people with physical changes on imaging.

By patients questioning

Do I really need this?

This could avoid waiting for unnecessary and costly imaging, that actually won’t change the best treatment or management options. More often than not, treatment is the same irrelevant of what a scan or X ray shows.

A very powerful question is

What can I do to help myself?

People who take responsibility for their care are generally more likely to follow a treatment programme. So, rather than be a passive recipient of care or medication and wait for someone to ‘fix’ them, people can be empowered to help themselves.

This is a great move and people really want the right information, to be empowered with some knowledge and be directed to the right sources. There are lot’s of places to look yourself online, but without knowing the validity of the information, you can be afraid that it’s not the right thing to do. So, with a little guidance on this, patients could access relevant resources that may help them manage the problem themselves.

A core part of our management of MSK conditions at goPhysio is enabling and educating patients to help themselves. So tailored advice, an exercise programme and information about their condition. This really is key to a patient’s overall care and recovery.

Read more about the scheme here and there is also a page dedicated to managing back pain, which 8 out of 10 people will suffer with at some point in their lives.


The Doctor Who Gave Up Drugs

Posted on 16th September 2016 by

I love a great documentary that investigates and highlights issues in health & wellbeing. This week, BBC’s Dr Chris van Tulleken challenged GP’s to see if they could reduce the amount of pills they prescribe on The Doctor Who Gave Up Drugs.

The increase in the prescription of drugs to solve common medical complaints is frightening. Dr van Tulleken describes the problem as

“A tsunami of drugs”

The healthy person in a normal lifetime consumes up to 100,000 pills. Yet, much of the science actually says the drugs don’t work. The programme obviously acknowledges that medication is often essential and the progress that has been made in this field saves lives. However, for so many conditions there are alternative approaches that can actually be more effective.

The programme featured a lady who’d been suffering with shoulder and back pain for the last 20 years. This lady had been taking painkillers for 20 years, increasingly more in the last 2 years. However, despite her cocktail of drugs, she still suffered with ongoing pain. She said she’d tried physio and exercises but admitted she’d given the little commitment. Her husband’s comment was that she’d

“Rather pop a pill than do exercises”

Dr van Tulleken carried out a little test, where he unknowingly and gradually replaced her pain medication with placebo drugs. It made absolutely no difference, so irrelevant of whether she was taking painkillers or not, her pain levels varied.

She was encouraged to do some carefully prescribed exercises under supervision, and ended up not taking any painkillers and more importantly than that had hope that she wouldn’t have to live with pain. What people don’t commonly know is

“Exercise is a painkiller”

Many people just want the easy answer. Both GP’s and patients are choosing the easy option, prescribing and taking drugs. But there are alternatives and physiotherapy is such a great one. The power of exercise, activity and from our view the reassurance we provide is phenomenal. Often people are scared to move, frightened of exercising, thinking that it’ll do more harm. But what we provide is time, education and  support to help people do the right exercises.

No, it’s not the easiest solution. It takes time, it takes some investment and commitment. Things may get a little worse before they get better and it can be a bit of a rollercoaster at times. But alternatives to drugs have to become more recognised and a first point of call instead of reaching for the prescription pad.

goPhysio Twitter Testimonial

Would be interested to hear your thoughts on this programme if you watched it or any experiences of reliance on painkillers you’d like to share.

 


Road Safety Week

Posted on 18th November 2015 by

The message this year is to drive less and live more.

Need to go the shop for a few bits for the tea. Do you really need the car or would it be as quick to walk? You’ll probably spend most of your journey looking for a parking space when you do eventually reach your destination.

Leaving the car at home for a day will only help improve the environment by reducing on toxins released from motor vehicles.

By taking the train or the bus to work, we can all make our roads safer. It would mean less traffic, speeding up the daily commute which I think we would all agree is a major benefit.

Walking and cycling also gives the extra benefit of stretching our legs and getting some regular exercise. Even a short walk from the bus-stop to our place of work is sufficient to raise the heart rate and improve circulation. This way we can build exercise into our daily routine without feeling the need to find more time in our already busy days to undertake formal exercise, like going to the gym.

So let’s try leaving the car at home for short journeys and walking or cycling instead. You might even feel better for it!


Too many medicines, not enough health

Posted on 12th December 2014 by

At goPhysio, we always like to keep our eye on health related news (and always have an opinion of some sort!).

This week I was interested to read a new report on the number of people who regularly take prescription medication. Half of women and 43% of men in England are now regularly taking prescription drugs, according to the comprehensive Health Survey for England. Cholesterol-lowering statins, pain relief and anti-depressants were among the most prescribed medicines.

What’s scary though is that those figures won’t account for medication available over the counter, like painkillers or ant-inflammatories such as paracetamol or ibuprofen. If these numbers were considered too, the number of people taking regular painkillers would be frightening!

The problem is that people nowadays want an easy, quick solutions to their problems. I’m going to say it, we’re lazy! Rather than doing things to promote health – like taking regular exercise, eating well and living a ‘healthy’ lifestyle, we are falling back on our Doctors to pick up the pieces with a magic little pill! How easy is it to just take a tablet?!

Take back pain, why invest in getting fitter and healthier, loosing weight, taking part in some exercise, educating yourself how to look after your back and invest some time in addressing your back problem when you can take a few tablets every day?

In our physio clinic we see it every day. People see their GPs and are advised to take painkillers. The problem doesn’t get better, so what happens eventually – they have an operation, that’s the solution. Our society is over diagnosed and over medicalised, according to a GP that appeared on the BBC and I totally agree.

Obviously there are cases where medical advancements in drugs is amazing and there are times when medication saves and enhances life and there isn’t an alternative. But, our mind set has to change. Particularly in our field of musculoskeletal (MSK) injuries & pain (affecting the bones, joints, muscles & nerves). A positive, pro-active approach to both preventing and managing MSK issues would drastically cut reliance on pain medication, both prescription and over the counter.

Unfortunately, the culture in this country is that we look for someone else to solve our problems. We’re honest with the people we see in the clinic who come and see us for help. We’re there to support and help recovery for an injury, but it has to be an active partnership. People who come and see us have to be prepared to follow our advice, make changes if necessary, do their exercises and play an active part in their recovery. The result is a greater understanding of the problem and how it happened and making positive steps going forwards to stop it happening again. That’s a long term solution!