My previous blog discussed admitting to my grief along with finding practical ways to contract skeletal tissue throughout the day. I want to build on from my previous blog, discuss routine and the importance to establish one during these times.
Whether inadvertent or not, you’ll have some form of routine. Routine maintains a strong sense of order and control which is definitely not obsessive or compulsive. More so, having your morning routine structured, along with a neat and organised environment decreases time wasting and increases efficiency.
When my routine was initially disrupted there was a sense of entropy which bought on a feeling of unease. I am now almost three weeks into my new morning routine. I’d like to share with you all what my morning now looks like. This may or may not provide some useful strategies to implement into your day. However, I am being a little bias to suggest that one or two of my morning rituals are very helpful! And of course evidence based!
Here we go:
4:30 am – arise
4:35 am – caffeine
4:40 am – Coronacast on RN (staying iNformed) along with a short stoic meditation podcast to increase my focus and drive for the day.
4:55 am – Twenty minutes of stretching for specific muscle groups that are restricting my mobility. Each stretch is timed with a countdown to enhance efficiency and maintain structure.
5:15 am – Four sets of 40-30 single leg calf raises (my calf’s are weak!) and I have Raynaud’s phenomenon.
5:25 am – Thirty minutes of guided meditation using the Ten Percent Happier app. (My morning meditation is working on good intentions for the day along with prolonged exhaling)
6:00am – Shower, dress, floss and brush my teeth.
6:20 am – Check emails and social media (social media time is restricted, which I’ll elaborate on)
So the above is now my new morning routine. I realise that not everyone is going to have the time that I have to dedicate to this. However, I strongly advocate that by creating calmness and stillness which ultimately is called mindfulness, you will greatly enhance mood, reduce blood pressure, increase creativity and so forth for the day ahead. Lastly, I found great benefit by delaying checking my emails and social media accounts until all of the aforementioned had been completed. I found that I was spending inappropriate amounts of time on social media trying to feel connected. When on reflection I was feeling more disconnected, whilst wasting time and thus not being productive. You may have noticed that I haven’t included any physical activity. I am exercising in the afternoons now. However, a brisk morning walk is highly valuable and a mindfulness activity in its own right!
In conclusion, if your routine has gone awry as mine did? I encourage you to plan and structure a productive routine to start your day. You won’t regret it!
About the Author
So, I’ve finally accepted what psychological researchers are calling the current state of affairs as grief. My routine is methodical. Dealing with change and uncertainty like many is difficult. My life is based on alarms, timers and proclivities. For the last week or so my circadian rhythm has been awry. The gym that I go to has temporarily closed. My time-restricted fasting has been more of a challenge, and I’ve had to meditate and journal my way out of regular unease. As you can see my routine has been disrupted by this change. This is not great for a creature of habit, introvert and perfectionist! However, finding routine can manage change.
So now that I’ve accepted the grief. I need to be proactive moving ahead. I require a new routine. Now that I am sitting more, and self-isolating at home I need to move regularly. As I write this blog, my one-hour timer on my iPhone goes-off to remind me to get up and do fifteen pushups with a resisted powerband. This neat little ‘timely’ reminder is what I’ll discuss with you’ll now.
Tuesday’s for me used to be a little like the following. High intensity intervals on the bike for twenty minutes before work in the morning followed by upper body resistance training and high intensity intervals on the rowing machine in the afternoon following work.
To do my best to mimic the aforementioned, this is what i do now. I know that I have a very large hill to climb on my road bike this afternoon. I’ll use this opportunity to ride hard up this hill, to get-in my high intensity interval! Secondly, as previously mentioned I have a hourly timer set. This is reminding me to get up and perform fifteen pushups with a resistance band. The resistance band (as the name suggests) is trying to replicate a pushing exercise I’d typically do on Tuesday’s (Bench press). So far I’ve already done sixty pushups. With the goal to hit one hundred by the days end.
By still having a routine, and changing what I can control. Instantly I feel more at ease and grounded.
If the above resonates with you and you’re self isolating at home, there’s a plethora of objects to safely use around the home to still accumulate load as one would at their gym.
More so, being guided through this process via Telehealth, and a home based program may bring more ease, a sense of control and routine back in one’s life.
We can help you with this!
About The Author
The following draws upon personal experience that I hope can resonate with one during uncertainty and adversity. You’ll know the premise behind good hygiene and social distancing. Paradoxically, the premise behind your physical and mental health during uncertainty and adversity mustn’t be disinfected. As isolation looms, structuring plans to maintain physical and mental health need to also take precedence. I wish to share with you’ll how I managed my physical and mental health through my fathers ALS (Motor Neuron Disease) which I feel, may add context to what we’re currently facing without trying to overemphasise COVID-19.
Here we go!
June 2016 my father was diagnosed with ALS. My father statistically had three-years to live. I knew, to be able to work full-time, continue studying, exercise regularly, keep my mind somewhat at peace as well as keep my social connections and family obligations, I would need to be at my absolute best. I needed to implement plans (FAST). One could could call this a physical and mental first aid kit.
So what did I do?
Exercise! Especially incorporating aerobic, anaerobic and strength training was my solace to make an abundance of excellent molecules to improve my mood, resilience to stresses and a neat distraction.
Psychotherapy: Organising a mental health care plan. Check-in’s with my psychologist was super helpful to ‘talk it all out’. I had pre-booked appointments. Which made sure that I had helpful resources to utilise. Without allowing chaos and disorder to disrupt my routine which was crucial to maintain.
Meditation (ambiguity): Meditation really grounded me. I could label my emotions. Allow my emotions to be there non-judgmentally. I could control my sympathetic nervous system. This improved my ability to be more present. Lastly, my sleep improved greatly.
Journal writing/Poetry: Just as I was talking it all out, I was also scribbling and dabbling it all out. Writing in my own journal and creating poetry enabled me to release and let go constructively. I could draw onto my creative side. And the process was incredibly therapeutic.
Friends: Being vulnerable with my closest friends enabled me to feel safe and loved. This increases all the feel-good hormones involved with bonding and feeling connected.
My father passed-away August 2019. Drawing on my physical and mental first aid kit enabled me to ride the waves, navigate the give way signs and most importantly, accept what is. This is the main message of my meditation. Accept what’s coming. However, I strongly recommend that you invest in your own physical and mental first aid kit. Myself, and the team here at iNform can still greatly assist you with your physical and mental health. We’re still operating! And also have an online platform to assist you with home-based exercises!
I hope my experience. And how I made plans before things went awry motivate you to do the same.
About the Author
In my previous blog I discussed incidental physical activity and all the interrogatives that one needed to know. This blog is going to further discuss physical activity. In particular, it will look at a consensus on physical activity and aging (Copenhagen Consensus Statement) that leading researchers from around the world have recently developed.
Some empirical data for you
Higher social-economic country’s are more prone to inactivity. This is partly due to the high demands commercialism places on individuals as well as advances in technology. Furthermore, there is poor access to physical activity. Whether this be bike paths/lanes, parkland’s on-route to work, outdoor equipment and so forth, this can lead to more sedentary behaviors.
Easy access to high-processed foods at the touch of a button have an impact on the current obesity epidemic.
You get the point!
Collectively, the aforementioned points increase the risk for any one of the nine known co-morbidities that ‘we’ are currently facing (hypertension, type II diabetes mellitus, chronic pain just to name a few). It is of the utmost importance that the human population ages and flourishes well. With advances in medicine & technology ‘we’ are living longer lives, there is no doubt about it. However, some are aging with co-morbidities which decreases quality of life, whilst burdening our medical system. There is also more evidence that being physically active between the ages of 15-45 decreases the chances of a bony fracture later in life. Also, having a robust plastic cardio-respiratory system decreases the risk of dementia and cardiovascular disease in later life.
I could go on!
The Copenhagen Consensus Statement
The Copenhagen Consensus statement discussed earlier. Has four themes. Which provide evidence for the benefits of physical activity and ageing (1). I will briefly discuss the four, whilst also providing the reference for further reading if you wish.
Theme 1: Functional Capacity and Health.
Adults that are physically active over inactive adults: are less dependent, have fewer musculoskeletal issues, have improved immunity, increased cognitive function and are less likely to have cardiovascular diseases.
Theme 2: Brain Health and Cognitive Function.
Neurodegeneration (such as Alzheimer’s) can be slowed or delayed in physically active adults; according to longitudinal studies.
Theme 3: Behavior Change, Intention and Habits.
“Physical activity is an individual behavior that is influenced by interpersonal, environmental and policy factors”. (1)
Theme 4: Sociological Perspectives.
Lifelong physical activity habits and experiences, influence participation in later life. “When physical activity is meaningful to them, older adults are more likely to continue participation”. (1)
As you can gauge from the aforementioned. Physical activity is not just about going to the gym. Having access to open environmentally friendly spaces such as parks with safe equipment, bike paths that lead into the CBD, scenic views that increase awe and enjoyment and lastly, promotion and investment from the government are all going to increase adherence to move more, and more frequently.
So whether if you are in your 20’s or 50’s. find ways that resonate with you to move more. The Exercise Physiology team here at iNform Health can safely guide you through your movement. Enabling you to feel safe, adept and confident to tackle any bike path, or hike.
About The Author
Bangsbo J, Blackwell J, Boraxbekk C, et al
Copenhagen Consensus statement 2019: physical activity and ageing
Br J Sports MedPublished Online First: 21 February 2019. doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2018-100451
Who would have thought that an anxiety-provoking sprint after the bus could illicit, and even add to your physical activity?
Some neat new research into Incidental Physical Activity has eluded some unsuspecting findings that I will elaborate on in this blog. First and foremost, I will provide a definition of what incidental physical activity is.
What is incidental physical activity?
Incidental physical activity is any form of activity of one’s daily living that is not associated with the purpose of health nor a sacrifice of one’s time (1). Examples include: walking a short distance to the bus-stop, taking flights of stairs at work (notice the suffix is stairs) and riding to and from work. As mundane as these repetitive tasks may be there is a great opportunity to utilize more energy. For any nerds out there, ATP!
In a editorial published in the reputable journal: British Journal of Sports Medicine, Stamatakis et al, took two sedentary healthy groups. The active group was asked to walk three flights of stairs, every four hours of his/her working day, three days per week for two weeks. The control group remained sedentary for the two weeks of the short study. The independent variable was measuring cardio-respiratory fitness which we have good evidence is a strong predictor for mortality. Findings from the aforementioned found that the active group’s cardio-respiratory fitness had a significant statistical improvement over the control group.
Now there are limitations to this study (age cohort, duration of study). However, to mandate incidental physical activity as a genuine form of physical activity is great. I hope to see incidental physical activity implemented, along with the physical activity guidelines. The guidelines are: 150 minutes of moderate aerobic physical activity a week; along with two resistance sessions per week.
So what is the punch line?
Intensity will also contribute to overall cardio-respiratory fitness. There is continuing evidence that short bursts of high intensity exercise, lasting 5-10 seconds is extremely beneficial to the power-house of the cell: Muscle Mitochondria Biosynthesis (1). Climbing a few flights of stairs with a little vigor will nicely spike the heart rate for a short period. It may even help with an adrenaline release, if one is on their way to an important meeting.
So now that i have given you the gist of incidental physical activity, what would this look like in a typical day?
For example: 5 minutes walk up-hill to the bus stop (am), 1 minute walk up the stairs to work (am), Brisk walk home from the bus stop- 3 minutes (pm), playing with your children/participating in their physical activity 15 minutes + (pm), carrying the shopping into the house 1+ minute (pm). As you can see, there are ample times in the day to increase one’s heart rate, utilize strength, and fast-twitch muscle recruitment.
Have a good think about what resources you have access to. Make a conscious effort to utilize your resources. And have a good go! Of course. Always consult with your GP and Exercise Physiologist when increasing your level of physical activity.
About the Author
- Stamatakis, E., Johnson, N., Powell, L., Hamer, M., Rangul, V. and Holtermann, A. (2019). Short and sporadic bouts in the 2018 US physical activity guidelines: is high-intensity incidental physical activity the new HIIT?. British Journal of Sports Medicine, pp.bjsports-2018-100397.