The most important muscle in your body – How to look after your Heart !

Your heart is the most critical muscle in your body — it’s what keeps you alive. It ticks 24-7 and except for the times when you’re relaxing or sleeping, it rarely gets a break. Here are some fascinating facts about your heart that might inspire you to give it a little more TLC every day.


  • Your heart beats over 100,000 times every day, pumping blood around your body so that your cells get the oxygen and nutrients they need.
  • It pumps around 7,200 litres of blood a day. Enough to fill a bath!
  • It makes your blood travel 19,000 km everyday – the same distance as flying from London to Hong Kong and back.
  • It will beat more than two and a half billion times (2,500,000,000) by the time you reach your 70th birthday.
  • Every day, your heart creates enough energy to drive a medium-sized truck 20 miles.
  • It beats around 70 times a minute in the average adult. A hummingbird’s heart beats about 20 times a second. A blue whale’s heart beats between four and eight times a minute.


You can look after your heart by making sure you give it the care it needs and following a healthy lifestyle. Here are a few simple tips that will help…

Give up smoking

Smoking is one of the main causes of coronary heart disease. A year after giving up, your risk of a heart attack falls to about half that of a smoker.

Be active

Getting active can reduce your risk of developing heart disease. It can also be a great mood booster and stress buster. If you can get outside into green space … even better!

Manage your weight

Being overweight can increase your risk of heart disease. Stick to a healthy, balanced diet low in fat and sugar with plenty of fruit and vegetables.

Eat more fibre

Eat plenty of fibre to help lower your risk of heart disease – aim for at least 30g a day. There are a variety of good sources such as wholemeal bread, bran, oats and wholegrain cereals, potatoes with their skins on, and plenty of fruit and veg.

Cut down on saturated fat

Eating too many foods that are high in saturated fat can raise the level of cholesterol in your blood and increase your risk of heart disease. Choose lean meat and lower-fat dairy products (but look out for any added sugars)

Get your 5 A DAY

Eat at least five portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables a day. They’re a good source of fibre, vitamins and minerals. There are lots of tasty ways to get your 5 A DAY, like adding chopped fruit to cereal or including vegetables in your pasta sauces and curries.

Reduce salt 

To maintain healthy blood pressure try adding less salt to your cooking and your plate, or try to cut it out completely. Watch out for high salt levels in ready-made foods. Most of the salt we eat is already in the foods we buy. Check the food labels – a food is high in salt if it has more than 1.5g salt (or 0.6g sodium) per 100g.

Eat fish

Eat fish at least twice a week, including a portion of oily fish. Mackerel, sardines, tuna and salmon are good sources of omega-3, which helps protect against heart disease.

Drink less alcohol

Regularly drinking more than the NHS recommends can have a noticeable impact on your waistline. Try to limit days that you drink and how much you drink to reduce the risk of serious problems with your health, including risks to your heart health.

Check the food label

Look at the labels on food and drink packaging to see how many calories and how much fat, salt and sugar the product contains. Understanding what is in food and how it fits in with the rest of your diet will help you make healthier choices. A good place to start may be eating less food in packaging – your body will love you for it and so will the environment!



Marathon Training Top Tips!

Its that time of year again when the majority of people are making New Year resolutions to get fit and healthy after the festive season. For a few thousand of us, we will also be starting out on our training for a spring marathon.

Whether you are running your first marathon or aiming for a personal best – getting to the start line is half the challenge!

Here are some top tips to help you on your way…

1. Get the right trainers

I can’t emphasize enough the importance of getting the right shoes! You are going to be pounding the pavements for a few miles until April, so having the right shoes to suit your feet and your running style is crucial. Most good sports shops will test your gait to find you the right level of support. Make sure you have enough time to wear them in properly before your main event to be sure they are the right ones for you.


2. Train with friends or a club

Running solo can be hard work. If you have a group of friends or a local running club, that’s a great way to find new routes for those long runs, motivate each other and share training woes! My local running club has been invaluable for training buddies, support and motivation and welcome people at any level into the club!


3. Get your nutrition right

That means fuelling your training with enough of the right hydration and good food. Running on empty wont get the most out of your sessions, but its also important to fuel yourself with the right stuff that will release energy slowly when you need it. It’s all down to personal preference, from water, energy drinks, gels or energy sweets. Try a few things to see what works for you, but never anything new on race day!


4. Mix up your training

Running at the same steady pace every week wont get you faster. Its good to get some interval training or hill sessions into your training even if you are running a flat race. A strong core and glutes will also help your running, as will other cross training to increase your strength and stamina without putting constant pressure on those legs. You can include spinning, swimming or gym Different training plans work for different people, but its good to mix things up to avoid boredom and injury.


5. Don’t forget to rest!

Give yourself one or two days off running each week to let your legs recover after a long run or hard interval session You could do some core work or strength work on a rest day, but don’t overdo it! It’s important to listen to your body and train accordingly. Most of us get niggles when you start to increase the miles and you will get to know what is normal for you and what may need more attention or a sports massage to loosen things up, but never ignore anything that is painful!


Finally and above all, enjoy it! The training can be tough and a hard slog through the winter months, but with the right approach, marathon training can be fun, social, challenging and rewarding, making the journey to the start line as enjoyable as the event itself!

If you are an individual that is training for a marathon or a company that has a team running for charity, or maybe a charity that has a group or marathon runners running for your cause – we can help!

For training plans, personal training sessions and more info, contact Claire at

Top Tips to achieve YOUR Work Life Balance


If you’re finding it more challenging than ever to juggle the demands of your job and the rest of your life, you’re not alone! Many people are putting in extra hours, with limited time for themselves and using their smartphones to be on call when they’re not physically at work.

Most of us will spend an average of 40 hours a week at work, around 99,117 hours in our working life – that’s a solid 11 and a half years of solid slog!
Interestingly, we also spend ….23,214hrs washing clothes; 6mths queuing; 38,003hrs eating; 26yrs sleeping; 20wks on hold; 136 days women spend getting ready!!!

Long working hours and stress from work can have a hugely detrimental effect on physical health, family, relationships, and our emotional or mental wellbeing. Sick days are costing UK businesses nearly £29 billion a year as UK workers take more than four times as many days off work sick as those in other countries (PwC) The average worker takes 9.1 days off each year due to sickness and work related stress, depression or anxiety. How well we perform when we are at work can also be hugely affected by stress.

A healthy Work Life balance will mean something different for each of us, but we can all take actions to enhancing our lives and spending time on the things that are important to us. Here are some Top Tips to help you reclaim your Work Life Balance, beat burnout and make time for the activities and people that matter to you…

1.Work Smarter

Review how you spend your days and think about what you do and what your own priorities are. From here you can look at where you spend your time and drop the activities that sap your time and energy. Think about what you can delegate. Support a local trades person for jobs at home or try to combine errands so that you are not making multiple trips out to different places. Can you get groceries delivered or online purchases delivered to the office to save a trip to the post office? All of these time consuming chores will add up to create time for something more meaningful to you!

2. Get Offline

Technology is essential for most of us in our day-to-day jobs. It has enhanced the efficiency of business and how, when, where we can operate. However, with that comes an expectation of being constantly available and there is no line between work life and home life. The large majority of have become so wired to technology, that the only time we have a break is when we are asleep. It is often the last thing we do at night and the first thing in the morning, even checking our phones if we wake in the night. Sound familiar?
Is our constant checking of emails and social media that necessary or just adding to our stress levels? Enjoy some quality time with family, partner or friends and turn off the constant notifications, even for a few hours.

3. Schedule some Downtime

Make time in your diary to relax and unwind. Even taking 10 mins a day away from your work and daily chores will help you to recharge and refocus on the tasks in hand with a clear head.
Try practicing some deep breathing exercises, yoga or mindfulness and meditation. Learning to truly relax and quiet the mind can be difficult for some of us and is a skill that takes time to master, so be patient with yourself. Show yourself some compassion and experiment with different things, read a book take a massage or a walk in the park and focus on you for that moment. You will feel better for it and probably achieve far more in the rest of the day.

4. Do something active

Exercise has so many benefits. It helps to support our heart health, metabolism and physical wellbeing to prevent sickness and disease. The feel-good hormones that are generated when you exercise can enhance your mood, increase energy levels and improve cognitive functions, meaning you are more focused and alert during the day, helping you to be more productive at work.
Being active can be social too if you exercise with a friend, attend a sports club or play team sports. Regular exercise should be part of your healthy lifestyle, so make sure you include time in your daily routine to get active!

5. Strive for Progress not Perfection

Some people adopt ‘perfectionist’ tendencies from a young age when the demands on time are minimal. Add a few years and increasing responsibilities like promotions at work, running a home, family life and leisure activities, that constant pursuit of perfection can have a hugely detrimental effect on our health. We can all be guilty of putting pressure on ourselves to achieve more at work, professionally, and at home personally.
Even those of us that practice sporting competitions at a club or semi-professional level can put a huge amount of pressure on ourselves to get continuously faster. If we achieved a personal best at every event we entered, we would all be in the Olympics!
This ‘Perfection’ is often our own perception of what we think we could or should aspire to and once we achieve what we initially set out to do, we don’t always realise or acknowledge it before we set ourselves another target!
By letting go of this ‘ideal’ we will relieve this pressure that can cause constant anxieties and stress and start to realise what we are achieving and actually congratulate ourselves!

6. You set the Rules

Make a point of trying different things with regard to what you do and how you spend your time. There are no rules here, some of us are morning people, some are night owls, and we all have different responsibilities, priorities and passions. If fitting in daily exercise is a problem, try working out at different times of the day or maybe you can run, cycle or walk to work if this is an option. Think about the activities that you pursue and perhaps try something different for pleasure or relaxation. It can be incredibly satisfying to discover a new passion or talent or something creative you enjoy that helps you release your thoughts from the day and escape the daily grind for a moment.

It is never too late to make a change to how you live your life in order to get the most out of it! Start with small changes by setting yourself some goals that are realistic. The last thing you want to do is to put more pressure on yourself to achieve this Work, Life Balance!!!

The Benefits of Exercise

Many people hit the gym or pound the pavement to improve cardiovascular health, build muscle, and of course, get a rockin’ bod, but working out has above-the-neck benefits, too. For the past decade or so, scientists have pondered how exercising can boost brain function. Regardless of age or fitness level (yup, this includes everyone from mall-walkers to marathoners), studies show that making time for exercise provides some serious mental benefits. Get inspired to exercise by reading up on these unexpected ways that working out can benefit mental health, relationships, and lead to a healthier and happier life overall.

1. Reduce stress. Rough day at the office? Take a walk or head to the gym for a quick workout. One of the most common mental benefits of exercise is stress relief. Working up a sweat can help manage physical and mental stress. Exercise also increases concentrations of norepinephrine, a chemical that can moderate the brain’s response to stress. So go ahead and get sweaty — working out can reduce stress and boost the body’s ability to deal with existing mental tension. Win-win!

2. Boost happy chemicals. Slogging through a few miles on the ‘mill can be tough, but it’s worth the effort! Exercise releases endorphins, which create feelings of happiness and euphoria. Studies have shown that exercise can even alleviate symptoms among the clinically depressed. For this reason, docs recommend that people suffering from depression or anxiety (or those who are just feeling blue) pencil in plenty of gym time. In some cases, exercise can be just as effective as antidepressant pills in treating depression. Don’t worry if you’re not a gym bunny — getting a happy buzz from working out for just 30 minutes a few times a week can instantly boost overall mood.

3. Improve self-confidence. Hop on the treadmill to look (and more importantly, feel) like a million bucks. On a very basic level, physical fitness can boost self-esteem and improve positive self-image. Regardless of weight, size, gender, or age, exercise can quickly elevate a person’s perception of his or her attractiveness, that is, self-worth. How’s that for feeling the (self) love?

4. Enjoy the great outdoors. For an extra boost of self-love, take that workout outside. Exercising in the great outdoors can increase self-esteem even more. Find an outdoor workout that fits your style, whether it’s rock-climbing, hiking, renting a canoe, or just taking a jog in the park. Plus, all that Vitamin D acquired from soaking up the sun (while wearing sunscreen, of course!) can lessen the likelihood of experiencing depressive symptoms. Why book a spa day when a little fresh air and sunshine (and exercise) can work wonders for self-confidence and happiness?

5. Prevent cognitive decline. It’s unpleasant, but it’s true — as we get older, our brains get a little… hazy. As ageing and degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s kill off brain cells, the noggin actually shrinks, losing many important brain functions in the process. While exercise and a healthy diet can’t “cure” Alzheimer’s, they can help protect the brain against cognitive decline that begins after age 45. Working out, especially between age 25 and 45, boosts the chemicals in the brain that support and prevent degeneration of the hippocampus, an important part of the brain for memory and learning.

6. Alleviate anxiety. Quick Q&A: Which is better at relieving anxiety — a warm bubble bath or a 20-minute jog? You might be surprised at the answer. The warm and fuzzy chemicals that are released during and after exercise can help people with anxiety disorders calm down. Hopping on the track or treadmill for some moderate-to-high intensity aerobic exercise can reduce anxiety sensitivity! … And we thought intervals were just a good way to burn calories!

7. Boost brainpower. Those buff lab rats might be smarter than we think. Various studies on mice and men have shown that cardiovascular exercise can create new brain cells (aka neurogenesis) and improve overall brain performance. Studies suggest that a tough workout increases levels of a brain-derived protein (known as BDNF) in the body, believed to help with decision making, higher thinking, and learning.

8. Sharpen memory. Regular physical activity boosts memory and ability to learn new things. Getting sweaty increases production of cells in hippocampus responsible for memory and learning. For this reason, research has linked children’s brain development with level of physical fitness (take that, recess haters!). But exercise-based brainpower isn’t just for kids. Even if it’s not as fun as a game of Red Rover, working out can boost memory among grown-ups, too. A study showed that running sprints improved vocabulary retention among healthy adults.

9. Help control addiction. The brain releases dopamine, the “reward chemical” in response to any form of pleasure, be that exercise, sex, drugs, alcohol, or food. Unfortunately, some people become addicted to dopamine and dependent on the substances that produce it, like drugs or alcohol (and more rarely, food and sex). On the bright side, exercise can help in addiction recovery. Short exercise sessions can also effectively distract drug or alcohol addicts, making them de-prioritize cravings (at least in the short term). Working out when on the wagon has other benefits, too. Alcohol abuse disrupts many body processes, including circadian rhythms. As a result, alcoholics find they can’t fall asleep (or stay asleep) without drinking. Exercise can help reboot the body clock, helping people hit the hay at the right time.

10. Increase relaxation. Ever hit the hay after a long run or weight session at the gym? For some, a moderate workout can be the equivalent of a sleeping pill, even for people with insomnia. Moving around five to six hours before bedtime raises the body’s core temperature. When the body temp drops back to normal a few hours later, it signals the body that it’s time to sleep.

11. Get more done. Feeling uninspired? The solution might be just a short walk or jog away. Research shows that workers who take time for exercise on a regular basis are more productive and have more energy than their more sedentary peers. While busy schedules can make it tough to squeeze in a gym session in the middle of the day, some experts believe that midday is the ideal time for a workout due to the body’s circadian rhythms.

12. Tap into creativity. Most people end a tough workout with a hot shower, but maybe we should be breaking out the coloured pencils instead. A heart-pumping gym session can boost creativity for up to two hours afterwards. Supercharge post-workout inspiration by exercising outdoors and interacting with nature (see benefit #4). Next time you need a burst of creative thinking, hit the park for a long walk or run to refresh the body and the brain at the same time.

Working out can have positive effects far beyond the gym (and beach season). Gaining self-confidence, getting out of a rutt, and even thinking smarter are some of the motivations to take time for exercise on a regular basis.

Are you eating too much sugar?

Diabetes Awareness – Cutting back the sweet stuff

Diabetes is a serious life-long health condition that occurs when the amount of glucose (sugar) in the blood is too high because the body can’t use it properly. If left untreated, high blood glucose levels can cause serious health complications.

The World Health Organization estimates that over 382 million people worldwide including 4.05 million people in the UK have diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes is far more common than type 1. In the UK, around 90% of all adults with diabetes have type 2. Excessive sugar intake, together with lack of physical activity has been highlighted as the main cause.
Only yesterday we saw in the news that the UK is now the most overweight nation in Western Europe. An alarming fact and something that clearly needs addressing.

The majority of the excess sugar becomes metabolized into body fat – leading to all the debilitating chronic metabolic diseases many people are struggling with.

Reducing your sugar intake and getting active won’t just help to prevent diseases such as diabetes. Excess sugar can be incredibly harmful to your health and various studies have linked it to a number of other conditions such as: obesity, fatty liver, heart disease, high cholesterol, and Alzheimer’s, not to mention tooth decay and accelerating the ageing process!

It has been suggested that Sugar is as addictive as any drug. Fructose can stimulate the brain’s “hedonic pathway,” creating habituation and dependence, in the same way that alcohol does.

Its not easy to avoid sugar, particularly when sweet snacks and treats are all around us and so readily available. There are also lots of hidden sugars in packages, even those that may at first glance appear to be ‘healthy’ or a ‘good source of energy’.

So it makes sense to reduce your intake wherever you can. Here are a few simple tips to help you cut back on the sweet stuff:

1 – Choose natural sources
Avoid any foods or drinks with added sugar. The majority of your sugar intake should come from natural sources that also have essential vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fibre that can help with digestion. Added sugars include things like honey, agave and high fructose corn syrup.

2 – Eat fresh and whole fruits and veg
Dried fruit and juices can have more sugar and less fibre to aid digestion and support gut health, so it’s usually best to go for fresh where you can. Aim for lower sugar options such as leafy greens, beans, broccoli or fruit such as raspberries, strawberries, citrus fruits or kiwi.
Frozen can be a good source for convenience and to avoid waste, and if you use tinned fruits, opt for juice rather than syrup but drain the juice.

3 – Check the labels
Look out for foods that claim to be low sugar or diet foods as they may contain artificial sweeteners. The low fat options can also have added sugars, so look out for that one and compare brands. It may take a little longer when you shop but you will be able to make the best choices next time. Also if sugar is one of the first things in the list of ingredients then you are pretty much consuming a sugar-based product.

4 – Reduce your sugar gradually
Sugar is addictive. If you are going to reduce something from your diet, always do it gradually so that your body can adjust. Try opting for smaller portions or adding some natural sweetness to breakfasts or snacks where you may have used sugar.

5 – Eat more protein
Protein helps to keep us fuller for longer as it takes longer to digest, so you should reduce those hunger pangs that often lead to us grabbing something unhealthy when we are on the go.

6 – Eat healthy fats
Fats are an essential part of your diet. The good fats that you get from foods like oily fish, avocado, olives, nuts and seeds all help with controlling your blood sugar and help to satisfy hunger.

7 – Keep a food diary
This is a great way to keep a check on what you are eating and when. We can often pick up something quick on the run between meals without thinking about calories or any nutritional value. If this is a regular thing, then you could be adding hundreds of calories or grams of sugar to your body every day without even realising. Tracking is even easier with apps available that have a log of the nutritional values of all the foods you eat.

8 – Limit your consumption of packaged foods
Making from fresh is often best and doesn’t have to take as much time as you might think with meal planning and freezing options. It can also be cheaper than many of the packaged foods too. Many processes food contain added sugars, plus you are reliant on the manufacturer being absolutely spot on with foods that are mass-produced.

9 – Keep hydrated
Soda and sugary juice drinks raise your blood sugar quickly. Substituting these drinks with water, sugar-free tonic water and sparkling water can quickly reduce your sugar intake. Watch out for flavoured waters and fruit juices that can also be high in sugars. Water also helps to digest food, flush out toxins and it may help to curb the need to snack as we often mistake thirst for hunger.

10 – Limit your intake
If you have a sweet tooth, try to limit what you have and when. Depending how much sugar you eat, you may reduce the days that you eat a pudding after a meal during the week or have smaller portions. A small amount of dark chocolate may be all you need for that sugary fix and can also be good for you. The easiest way to cut back is to buy less of the sweet stuff when you shop – if it’s not in the cupboard, you can’t be tempted!

Its not easy cutting back on the things you enjoy. The key is to be aware of what you are consuming so that you can make informed choices. Some foods that are loaded with sugars don’t always taste that sweet and the low fat options can sometimes mean there are added sugars. You can still enjoy the sweet things, just in moderation and balance with some regular exercise!