Vlog – ‘Why exercise…?’ : Script and Link

This is the link to the ‘Why exercise..?’ VLOG on my YouTube channel and the following is the script (kinda) that I used and the drawings etc. in the VLOG so you can look at them more closely should you wish to!

Why exercise…?

From the time I could walk I was encouraged to move about a lot. ‘Go play out…!’ And I wanted to. I wanted to race around playing ‘It’ or ‘Wembley’ with my neighbourhood pals. At the risk of sounding like a Monty Python sketch, growing up poor and without the internet (yes, it was still only in being toyed with by the US Ministry of Defence at this time!) there was bog all else to do so we had to make our own amusements. Plus we didn’t have a car so it was only the miracle of the power of our own two feet that got us anywhere. A habit I stick with to this day.

It was a time when the phrase ‘exercise is good for you’ was much used but also the only explanation given. But is it true? Why is it good for us?

A majority of people seem to get involved with exercise for the management of their weight but whilst most experts (and everyone else who writes about these things), agree it is ‘useful’ in the process of achieving an ideal, healthy weight, there are, perhaps surprisingly, many other health benefits that come from exercising which actually supercede the benefits for weight control. Sadly, loads of people give up on the exercise element of their lives after a few months because they don’t see the results they are hoping for – maybe they aren’t realistic but we’ll discuss that at a later date – but if they could only realise in the meantime that there are many, actually more important, reasons to take up some ‘moderate activity’- forget about weight loss and think about these:

First off it’s all round good for your heart. Much research has routinely shown that even moderate exercise helps condition the muscles of your heart and lowers the risk of heart disease by lowering your blood pressure (I.e. putting less strain on your heart). It also increases the levels of the so-called ‘good’ cholesterol and decreases the levels of the so-called ‘bad’ cholesterol which will all help in keeping your arteries clog free. Hoorah.


Incidentally ‘moderate activity’ is generally agreed by the NHS, American Heart Foundation etc. to be ‘activity that will noticeably increase your heart rate, make you breathe faster and feel warmer…but you should still be able to carry on a conversation.’

Hmmm…make of that what you will…

And you must do this for 150 minutes per week  – broken down into five 30 minute stints they all helpfully add…! Recommended activities are brisk walking (or at least in higher intensity interval bursts) low impact total body stuff like swimming, water aerobics, rowing, riding a bike, or even walking with poles apparently (I know…) Also, dancing, pilates, yoga and so on. Any increase in physical activity will benefit your health but adding a few exercises that strengthen your muscles too will be even better. This means training with weights or with resistance bands – even carrying heavy shopping counts! However, housework and shopping for shoes isn’t included…darn it.


So, apart from healing your heart, studies show regular exercise significantly lowers the risk of major illnesses like stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer, right down to helping you stay cold free – reason enough right there, I’d say.

But it doesn’t end there…

Bone and skeletal issues like osteoporosis and arthritis are reduced.

Posture, joint health, flexibility, balance, coordination, stamina…all improved.

Your sex life, your eyesight, your confidence, your overall mood…all improved – those things might all be related actually – which also explains why it is often touted as anti-ageing!

Researchers have been saying that exercise feeds your brain for ages now and it’s even thought to lessen the impact of Alzheimer’s and dementia as it helps fight against brain shrinkage. Also, it increases your cognitive capability, enhances your creativity and improves your memory…it’s a no brainer, right?!

And if all that isn’t enough yet another huge reason to exercise is to de-stress. When you exercise your mood is enhanced as ‘feel good’ hormones and neurotransmitters are released. You’ll know these as endorphins, serotonin and dopamine. These create a natural high which helps with the reduction of stress and helps you relax – this with an overall feeling of achievement, body confidence and healthiness all works towards keeping you feeling happier and more relaxed and stress free – which in turn promotes good sleep – which is so vital!


Studies have shown it can assist in depression – even proving to be more useful in places than anti-depressants. Stress is reduced, frustration vented and time spent on yourself doing something for yourself, building your confidence back up, is all part of the prevention or ability to manage this terrible, debilitating disease.

And finally, yes of course, the right sort of exercise is part of the process to help find and maintain an ideal, healthy weight – mostly because the combination of cardio, resistance training and stretching keeps the muscles toned and calorie-burning efficient – plus you’ll generally have more energy!

But remember if you’re new to exercising, or worried about it in any way, it might be best to go see your doctor first – and always start out slowly and build up to the recommended levels. Make sure you warm up, cool down and stretch!

Before I go – a small spanner I think worth chucking into this mix is that more and more studies are being released showing that exercise alone will not control your weight. Now, I’m sure you, like me, think that’s fairly obvious as surely many other factors are involved in the process especially the food we eat – it is after all ‘Exercise AND Diet’ that are promoted for achieving an ideal, natural weight. Increasingly though experts are saying that exercise is only a small percent (as little as 20%)  and it’s mostly diet that needs to be wrangled. I think it’s worth looking into, don’t you?

And I shall be doing just that in part 2…! See you then.

Vlog – ‘Why Sleep…?’ : Script and Link

This is a link to the VLOG – ‘Why sleep…?’ (it goes live very soon) but I’ve included the rough script here along with the drawings etc. that I use in the vlog. Enjoy…!

I’m talking about sleep because I have been reading recently how it can affect your health and bodily functions. Sleep is shown to be as important as diet and exercise, so, from a nutrition and anti-ageing perspective this is key.

Sleep is defined as ‘the natural periodic suspension of consciousnesses’ or ‘a condition of body and mind such as that which typically recurs for several hours every night, in which the nervous system is relatively inactive, the eyes closed, the postural muscles relaxed, and consciousness practically suspended’. Crikey…

It is a part of our daily routine but why we actually sleep is still largely a mystery. It is generally thought to be the time when the body repairs, rejuvenates and rebuilds all its major systems and it is obvious, to anyone who loses a nights sleep, that we wont last long without it!

The National Sleep Foundation (of America) recently published new guidelines, produced with a team of medical scientists, to try and pin down exactly how much sleep we need.

They defined the ideals, by age group, as follows:

Newborns (0 – 3 months): 14-17 hours per day

Infants (4 – 11 months): 12-15 hours per day

Toddlers (1 – 2 years): 11-14 hours per day

Pre-school children (3 – 5 years) 10-13 hours per day

School age children (6 -13 years) 9-11 hours per day

Teenagers (14 – 17 years) 8-10 hours per day

Younger adults (18 – 25 years) 7-9 hours per day

Adults (26 – 64): 7 – 9 hours per day

Older adults (65 years+) 7-8 hours per day

People claim to need more or less than others but the necessary cycles (i.e. the quality of the sleep) are the key factor rather than specific time-by-the-hour calculations. The ‘sleep scientists’ say that the amount of sleep you need is ‘just whatever it takes to mean you can function through the day’…! (All that education and expertyness and that’s the best they can do…?!?`)

Hell’s teeth don’t tell the teenagers I know – they’ll never get out of bed!

You may think that sleep is a simple case of go to bed, sleep and wake up but actually a complex chain of events and repeating patterns occurs.

Sleep is divided into two main groups. REM and NREM. (Rapid Eye Movement and Non Rapid Eye Movement). The NREM stages (light, true and deep sleep) proceed the REM stage (also when you dream) and the whole cycle takes about 90 minutes.


NREM is comprised of three distinct stages:

1st: where the eyes are closed but you are easily awoken – this usually lasts up to 10 minutes.

2nd: a light sleep as the body prepares for deep sleep by slowing your heart rate and lowering your body temperature.

3rd: deep sleep where the body does its repairing, rebuilding and strengthening – if you are awoken from this you feel distinctly disorientated!

Followed by REM:

REM always follows on directly from NREM and usually lasts a short while – anywhere from 10 minutes to 1 hour – depending on how many cycles of sleep you go through. The REM stage gets longer as the sleep cycles increase. This is when most of our muscles are paralysed, our heart rate increases, our breathing quickens and our mental activity is heightened – no wonder it is the stage when we dream with all that going on!


Studies are showing that people are sleeping increasingly either less, more erratically or, usually, both. Sleep loss in this way is linked to evident things that we’ve all experienced like poor mood, decreased brain function (learning and memory) and even our safety during the day as we attempt things like driving (as the motorway signs say, ‘tiredness kills’). However, it is also linked to key potential health issues:


  1. Metabolism. Lack of sleep is being linked to fluctuations in the hormones that control appetite (or rather fail to do so) and affects the way the body processes carbs which may lead to weight gain.
  1. Hypertension and inflammation. Sleep loss has be shown to increase blood pressure and activate stress hormones. When denied the sleep cycles it needs, the body goes into alert mode which begins a cycle of stress and tension which in turn make it harder to sleep. As the stress hormones in your body also cause inflammation they need to be regulated by activities such as sleep. Inflammation is a major contributor to the deterioration of our bodies, so sleep is a vital part of our healthy living process.
  1. Immune system. During sleep it is thought that the body regulates and mends any problems, focusing energy on this task while the body rests. Disrupting this has obvious consequences.
  1. Longer term sleep deprivation is being linked to major illnesses such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes and Alzheimer’s.

A word about serotonin, melatonin and sleep:

Serotonin controls heaps of things in our bodies such as our gastrointestinal, cardiovascular and immune systems, sexual function, mood and, notably, sleep cycles by powering the synthesis of melatonin in the pineal gland.


Light increases the production of serotonin and darkness encourages the synthesis of melatonin – the two then work in tandem and this is key to maintaining the sleep cycle. Anything that disrupts this pairing and the cycles they go through will result in poor sleep and the subsequent problems such as insomnia, anxiety, stress or depression. Sleep regulates all this and more.


Melatonin is not only a sleep regulator it is also an extremely potent antioxidant and sweeps through the body mopping up disease causing free radicals.

So, even though we don’t really know why we sleep we do see that we need to sleep. The expression beauty sleep is no cliché. It is the opportunity the body has to rejuvenate and it is the time when growth hormones are triggered and go about their rebuilding and beautifications! Very importantly, recent studies have shown that the brain uses sleep as its chance make decisions, cement ‘knowledge’, make sense of the day gone and to chuck out all the stuff it doesn’t really need to keep. Hoorah! Now we just need to make sure that we do sleep…

  • The ‘sleep experts’ agree that a regular sleeping pattern is key. Going to bed at similar times and getting up at a set time, regardless of the day of the week or holidays, sets your body clock to a healthy sleeping attitude. However, if you’re not asleep in say 15 minutes then the advice is to get up and do something  else and return only when you’re tired and feel like sleeping. Trying to ‘catch up’ on sleep doesn’t really work – it’s the consistency and quality that matters.


  • Smoking and caffeinated products before sleep can disrupt a true nights sleep as their effects don’t leave your system for a considerable time. Alcohol may make you feel like sleeping but it too can prevent good sleep and, of course, like any liquids before bedtime, may mean an unscheduled trip to the toilet, again breaking your sleep cycles.


  • Lulling your mind and body and preparing them for rest is a stage before sleep that most people skip, but it is very important. Winding down and relaxing before bed is a great way to tell your body to get ready for sleep. Relaxing things are more of the reading, having a bath kind of ilk rather than the watching TV kind. The bright screen (and this includes reading from a kindle/iPad) is not soothing to the eyes and brain at this time of the day and won’t necessarily have the desired effect. We need to recreate or reintroduce ‘dusk’ into our days! This isn’t as crazy as it sounds I promise! We are increasingly surrounded by short wave ‘blue light’ which our ‘body clock’ interprets as daylight. This blue light emits from TV’s, mobile phones, e-readers etc., so, when we try to go straight to sleep after using this type of equipment our bodies don’t have time to adjust. It’s straight from daytime to night time for our bodies – there’s been no dusk, no wind-down time. It’s like constantly skipping a time zone or two and subsequently subjecting yourself to low level, long term jet lag! Put a blue light filter on your devices at the very least, I’d say…?!


  • Bear in mind that melatonin likes darkness so, as sleep whisperers will tell you, your bedroom should be cool and dark and as quiet as possible – but keep your extremities warm!


  • The actual bed you lie on (and the pillows) are important factors too. You will have a preference to the firmness of your mattress but buy the best you can afford and don’t be shy about throwing yourself down on the beds in the shops to try them out…after all you will be spending a third of your life on it! Osteopaths will tell you that supporting the neck with good pillows is vital. As one of the most vulnerable parts of the body our necks need good loving and attention! I was told recently by the physio that a good gauge for the ‘amount’ of pillow you need is to stand with your shoulder against a wall and your head held straight. The distance between the wall and the side of your head is the pillow(s) you need.

img_3621   img_3620

  • I know it’s nice to snuggle up with a loved one but ask any long time partnered people and they’ll agree that space in a bed is bliss…it is also better for you. So, make sure there’s enough room for you both and if you have pets or kids that muscle in on the bed space then I’m afraid it’s better to limit their access. I know a few dogs that certainly won’t agree!!  Also, consider that we have often learnt terrible sleeping habits so some of these elements might not feel comfortable or be harder to implement at first.


  • Stress and anxiety are major reasons why many people sleep badly. The mind whirring and worrying. Please consider tackling this. There are millions of books and websites etc. to guide and suggest ways to get down to the basics and begin to sort out the issues. Try some of them and give yourself a break! Taking time for yourself to explore and solve these things is the greatest gift you can give yourself.


  • Exercise will help with stress too and generally is a brilliant way to ensure a good nights sleep, although beware of this too close to bed time because you might be too energised to sleep.


A word about napping. A well placed nap is generally accepted to be a good thing as long as you limit it to 10 – 30 minutes and have it mid-afternoon. Anything else is considered to be bad. If you suffer from insomnia then naps can interfere with your possibility of a nighttime sleep even further. BUT our new best friends the sleep scientists are now saying that being awake in the middle of the night for an hour or so was totally normal before the invention of artificial light! AND we are the only mammals that purposefully postpone sleep! Hmmm maybe nature knows best…?

So, it’s evident that we must not undervalue sleep as it is vital to us in so many ways. Of course, you can’t always control all the factors that could prevent you sleeping properly but adopting good habits to encourage good quality sleep has to be the best way forward. Just think of the health benefits as you slip into bed ready to sleep. Those positive and beauteous thoughts about your inner and outer health will be a perfect subject to hold in your mind as you drift into sleep…