Physical Health and Wellbeing

 
Information here can be found on a number of different topics surrounding Physical health and wellbeing. Click on each topic to see an overview of what each one is and see some useful tips including some links to external sites.   
 
Use the menu bar below to navigate to your chosen area.

6XTRA

6Xtra is our college enrichment programme. We are excited to introduce a new element to our offer; 6Xtra On Demand.

Below you will find a series of health and fitness video links from 6xtra that you can access any time, any place.

The programme also offers the chance to develop an existing skill or learn something new. CLICK HERE to view the full programme.

British Army Fitness Workout (20 minutes)

Freestyle Football Moves/Tricks (10 minutes)

Pilates for beginners with Amy Davis (13 minutes)

Zumba Fitness with Vijaya (7 minutes)

Yoga for Beginners with Adriene (23 minutes)

HIIT Workout for beginners with Joe Wicks (22 minutes)

Bollywood Dancing with Manpreet (13 minutes)

Guided Meditation with Kassandra (15 minutes)

EXERCISE AND FITNESS

Exercise does so much more than keep you in shape. It also keeps you mentally and emotionally healthy.

Keeping fit reduces anxiety, stress and depression.

Industry research suggests that exercise can improve the symptoms of mild depression and even prevent a relapse in depression. Being physically active can help you lead a healthier and happier life. It can boost your self-esteem, improve the quality of your sleep and enhance your mood and energy.

Exercise also has medical benefits and can lower the risk of certain conditions. The risk of type 2 diabetes and colon cancer can be reduced by up to 50%, while depression, dementia and early death can all be reduced by up 30%. Source: NHS Choices.

How much exercise should I be doing to stay fit and healthy?

It is recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and World Health Organisation (WHO) that we do 20 minutes of physical activity every day.

Making exercise part of our daily life is the easiest way to increase your fitness levels, so consider cycling or walking to work. The more active you are, the better you will feel.

There are loads of apps and videos that might help inspire you. YouTube is a great place to find short and easy to follow exercise sessions, the one below is worth a look, but there are lots more available too. There are also lots of apps designed to help people get moving, and many of them are free. The couch to 5k app is a great place to start, and it really works as many people in the college can testify. The college staff running group started using the app, followed the programme and completed a 5k run! You can read more about the nine-week programme by following the link below.

The Bodycoach is a YouTube sensation with over half a million subscribers. His HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) sessions are easy to follow and he has loads of videos to choose from. He also has loads of quick and easy recipes on his YouTube channel you can try. You can find his YouTube channel here.

The mental health benefits of becoming more physically active are becoming more and more prevalent.

In this post, Kieran Alger explores the mental health benefits of exercise.

How do you feel after a workout? Even when you’re purple faced and desperate for a lie-down, you feel pretty pleased with yourself for giving it a go, right? Once the initial breathlessness subsides after a workout, it’s common to feel like you have more energy and those troublesome problems might not seem quite so big as before. While they might seem intangible these benefits are as real as – and arguably more important than – the results you see around your waistline.

“A prescription of exercise can help you have a healthy mind,” says GP Dr Paul Stillman, from Media Medics. “Exercise stimulates positive endorphins, clears your head and lifts your mood. I think we’ll see more and more people prescribed exercise as a mood-booster.”

Healthy body = healthy mind

We’re starting to realise just how vital exercise is for our wellbeing, both mental and physical. New research from the Department of Health published in October 2017, reported 12 per cent of cases of depression could be prevented with an hour of exercise each week. Up your workouts to three a week and you could reduce your risk of depression by 30 per cent.

Can exercise help you handle stress?

Sure thing. A team of neurologists at Stanford Medical School, U.S., studied brain scans and found regular exercisers have more grey matter in the prefrontal cortex, which governs stress-management.

But when we feel down, everything can feel overwhelming. Time to crawl into a hole? In fact, the more stressed out you feel, the more you need to look after yourself – and a workout can be the happiest medicine. Research has shown that exercise is clinically proven to stimulate serotonin, your natural feel-good neurotransmitter.

Does exercise help anxiety?

“Running gives me the headspace to focus on what I’m feeling when my anxiety gets really bad,” says Cardiff student Seren Pritchard-Bland, 21, who ran the London Marathon for the mental health charity Heads Together. “I get panic attacks when I’m stressed out, but I find simply getting out of the house with my trainers on makes me feel like I’ve achieve something positive. Running is therapeutic – it’s so much healthier than being alone at home with thoughts spinning around my head.”

Why is exercise such a mood-booster?

“Exercise is fantastic for releasing tension, reducing stress and giving joy,” says Hayley Jarvis, programme manager for sport at the mental health charity Mind. “Being active is one of the best things you can do to help yourself bounce back in times of adversity. Getting out of your head and into your body can actually improve your ability to think clearly and break up your racing thoughts.”

Find your mood-boosting workout

If the thought of hauling yourself out of bed to jump around feels as impossible as climbing Everest, start slow. You can always stop if you’re not feeling it, but all it takes is a few minutes of low-intensity exercise – even just walking – to trigger the release of pain-relieving endorphins. Every stretch releases tension and every movement makes oxygen flow a little faster. Look out for your tipping point, because the more aware you are of the moment your mood warms up, the better it feels.

Which workout will make you happy?

To build friendships… try team sports like football and netball. “Social connectivity is incredibly important,” says Hayley. “When we’re struggling we tend to isolate ourselves, but being with other people can motivate you to get out there. Playing team sports is great if you feel lonely.”

To calm your mind… try yoga, pilates and t’ai chi. Hayley explains: “Exercise that works with your breath is particularly good for improving mindfulness, which can also calm a spinning head and improve your mood.”

To release tension… try boxing or HIIT. “Doing an intense exercise will completely absorb your attention – it’s impossible to think of anything but what your body is doing,” says Hayley. Click here to try one of Joe’s latest HIIT workout.

Ultimately, the key is to find a workout you enjoy, because then you’ll want to keep doing it. After exercise, take a moment to notice how your mood has lifted. The bright, calm satisfaction you get after your workout will keep you coming back for more. You’ll get hooked on the feel-good benefits of exercise, not just the physical results.

Local Gyms

There are a number of gyms local to the college, here are just a few.

Most gyms offer a trial or special offer to new members, from personal experience it is best to find a gym that you feel comfortable in so visit a few and see which feels best before committing to anything!

Start your exercise programme today

There are many useful resources online to locate an exercise or fitness class near to you. Alternatively, you can start your fitness journey at your own pace with simple exercise videos and workout sessions.

CLASS FINDER

Search classes local to you

NHS CHOICES

SLEEP

If you have difficulty falling asleep, a regular bedtime routine will help you wind down and prepare for bed.

Few people manage to stick to strict bedtime routines. This is not much of a problem for most people, but for people with insomnia, irregular sleeping hours are unhelpful.

Your routine depends on what works for you, but the most important thing is working out a routine and sticking to it.

Sleep at regular times

First of all, keep regular sleeping hours. This programmes the brain and internal body clock to get used to a set routine.

Most adults need between 6 and 9 hours of sleep every night. By working out what time you need to wake up, you can set a regular bedtime schedule.

It is also important to try and wake up at the same time every day. While it may seem like a good idea to try to catch up on sleep after a bad night, doing so on a regular basis can also disrupt your sleep routine.

Make sure you wind down

Winding down is a critical stage in preparing for bed. There are lots of ways to relax:

  • a warm bath (not hot) will help your body reach a temperature that’s ideal for rest
  • writing “to do” lists for the next day can organise your thoughts and clear your mind of any distractions
  • relaxation exercises, such as light yoga stretches, help to relax the muscles. Do not exercise vigorously, as it will have the opposite effect
  • relaxation CDs work by using a carefully narrated script, gentle hypnotic music and sound effects to relax you
  • reading a book or listening to the radio relaxes the mind by distracting it
  • there are a number of apps designed to help with sleep. See the NHS Apps Library
  • avoid using smartphones, tablets or other electronic devices for an hour or so before you go to bed as the light from the screen on these devices may have a negative effect on sleep

If you need more ideas, you can get help and advice from a GP.

The sleepstation website also provides a range of useful articles and resources designed to aid sleep.

You should also contact your GP if you have insomnia that lasts for more than 4 weeks.

Make your bedroom sleep-friendly

Your bedroom should be a relaxing environment. Experts claim there’s a strong association in people’s minds between sleep and the bedroom.

However, certain things weaken that association, such as TVs and other electronic gadgets, light, noise, and a bad mattress or bed.

Keep your bedroom just for sleep and sex (or masturbation). Unlike most vigorous physical activity, sex makes us sleepy. This has evolved in humans over thousands of years.

Your bedroom ideally needs to be dark, quiet, tidy and be kept at a temperature of between 18C and 24C.

Fit some thick curtains if you do not have any. If you’re disturbed by noise, consider investing in double glazing or, for a cheaper option, use earplugs.

Keep a sleep diary

It can be a good idea to keep a sleep diary. It may uncover lifestyle habits or daily activities that contribute to your sleeplessness.

If you see your GP or a sleep expert they will probably ask you to keep a sleep diary to help them diagnose your sleep problems.

A sleep diary can also reveal underlying conditions that explain your insomnia, such as stress or medicine.

See 10 tips to beat insomnia and healthy sleep tips for children.

 

Information sourced from www.nhs.uk

The Sleeping Forecast

Soft classical music paired with Radio 4’s Shipping Forecast to soundtrack your slumber

Click the image to listen

Calming Sounds

Listen to the sounds of crashing waves to help you get to sleep.

Click to the image to listen

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Mindful Soundscapes

Curated soundscapes to help you escape to another place

Click to the image to listen

STRETCHING AND YOGA

10 morning stretches to help kick-start your day

by Ashley Oliver – Senior Physiotherapist at Bupa UK
 

Getting yourself up and moving in the morning isn’t always easy. At the moment in particular, many of us are having to stay indoors due to the coronavirus outbreak. You may find that on some days, you wake up feeling sluggish, aching and full of tension, potentially caused by being less physically active during the day or having worked on a laptop for lengthy periods.

Have you thought about stretching as a gentle way to ease yourself into the day? Some studies suggest that, along with other forms of regular exercise, stretching could help you to relax, increase your flexibility, reduce lower back pain, and help to manage some other health conditions.

So start your day right by taking just a few minutes each morning to stretch your major muscle groups. The routine below will take you through 10 simple stretches. They begin lying in your bed, and finish with your feet planted firmly on the floor – so you’re ready to take on the day ahead.

Hold each stretch for 15-20 seconds and repeat each one two to three times, especially if your muscles and joints feel tight.

Stretches in bed

1. Cobra stretch

Lie on your stomach and place your hands flat beneath your shoulders. Tuck your elbows in by your sides and gently raise your head and chest, keeping your hips and groin on the bed. If it feels comfortable, you can go a little deeper by lifting your tummy off the bed too. Remember to relax your neck and shoulders. Hold the stretch for 15-20 seconds and when you’re ready, gently lower back down.

Illustration of a cobra stretch

2. Knees-to-chest

Lying flat on your back, bring one knee to your chest and hold it in position with your arms or hands. You should feel a nice stretch in your lower back. If it feels comfortable, you can also do this stretch by bending both knees at the same time.

Illustration of a knee to chest stretch

3. Spinal twist

Lying on your back, raise one of your knees, and gently roll it over to the opposite side. Make sure both of your shoulders stay in contact with the bed at all times. If it feels comfortable, stretch one arm out to the side, keeping it in line with your shoulders, and slowly turn your head to face your outstretched arm. You should feel the stretch on the sides of your upper body and your lower back. Breathe deeply and repeat on the opposite side.

Illusstration of a spinal twist stretch

Sitting exercises

Once you start to feel more awake, gently move to sit on the edge of your bed and move on to your next set of sitting stretches.

4. Upper back stretch

Sit on the edge of your bed, with your feet flat on the floor. Interlock your fingers and reach forward, bending from your middle back. Stretch with your hands forward at shoulder level. You should feel the stretch between your shoulder blades.

Illustration of an upper back stretch

5. Neck stretch

Relax your shoulders and gently move your left ear towards your left shoulder, using your left arm to help. Only stretch as far as feels comfortable. Hold for 15-20 seconds and slowly repeat on the other side.

Illustration of a neck stretch

6. Shoulder stretch

Relaxing your shoulder blades back and down, reach one arm across your body and gently use your other arm to deepen the stretch. Hold for 15-20 seconds and repeat on the other side.

Illustration of shoulder stretches

Standing exercises

Hopefully by now you’re beginning to feel more awake and your eyelids are slowly starting to open. When you’re ready, stand up and complete your final stretches.

7. Side stretch

Stand with your feet hip-width apart and clasp your hands above your head. Gently lean your body to one side, feeling a deep stretch along the side of your body. Hold for 10-15 seconds and repeat on the other side.

Illustration of a side stretch

8. Standing quad stretch

Stand up straight and hold onto the wall or a chair if you need to. Keep your feet hip-width apart. Reach back and grab your left foot with your left hand. Keep your thighs lined up next to each other and your left leg in line with your hip. Feel the stretch in your left thigh and hips. Repeat with your right leg.

Illustration of quad stretch

9. Hamstring stretch

Stand upright and gently bend one knee as if you’re going into a sitting position. Place the opposite leg outright, pointing your toes towards the ceiling. Bend forward from your hips to feel a nice stretch along the back of your outstretched leg. Hold for 10-15 seconds and then repeat with your other leg.

Illustration of a hamstring stretch

10. Calf stretch

Placing your hands on a wall for support, step back on one leg and gently push your heel towards the ground, feeling a nice stretch along the back of your calf. Hold for 10-15 seconds and repeat on your opposite leg.

Illustration of a calf stretch

Remember to stretch safely

It’s important to listen to your body each day and take these stretches at your own pace.. Don’t be disheartened if you’re not very flexible at first. With regular practice your body should become more relaxed and each day you’ll be able to reach that little bit further.

But only take yourself to a comfortable stretch without any pain. If you notice any sharp or shooting pain, ease off completely.

If you have an injury, speak to your doctor or physiotherapist first so they can recommend a stretching routine that’s tailored to you.

If you have some extra time in the morning and want to take your stretching routine up a notch, why not try our 15-minute morning yoga routine? Or check out our top tips on how to become a morning person.

USEFUL VIDEOS

What Are The Benefits Of Good Posture?

15 Minute Full Body Stretch

Yoga PE: Mind

This Yoga P.E. mental health break offers a fun set of movement, poses, and breathing techniques to improve focus, balance your mood, increase confidence, counter screen fatigue, and decrease anxiety or stress.

Office break yoga

This YouTube video encourages a gentle stretch to counteract sitting for long periods of time.