Organic Beauty & Wellbeing Week starts tomorrow until 21st May, with in-store events nationwide, shopping discounts in store and online, plus a pop-up space in Shoreditch, East London, with organic make-up masterclasses and discussions about mind-body health and nutrition. Full details at soilassociation.org.
FITNESS TRICKS THAT FIT INTO YOUR LIFE
As the British Heart Foundation warns that many people, especially women, are still not physically active enough, fitness expert – and self-confessed former couch potato – Laura Williams (laurawilliamsonline.co.uk) suggests a practical solution is to increase our level of incidental exercise. ‘That means squeezing in short bursts of exercise of different kinds as we go about our daily routine. Many people – especially working women and mothers – don’t have the time to spend an hour at the gym. But every little helps, and the cumulative effect benefits your heart and general health as well as your mental wellbeing. The bonus is that it tones and shapes your body, too.’
SIMPLE WAYS TO INTEGRATE EXERCISE INTO YOUR DAILY LIFE
• First thing, while lying in bed, stretch from head to toe like a cat to wake up your body and brain. Then, with legs bent, feet planted on the mattress, lift your hips and back so your body forms a straight line from shoulders to knees.
• While the kettle boils, plant feet hip-width apart, lace your fingers and stretch to the ceiling, palms upwards.
• To help your balance, stand on one leg, then the other, as your tea/coffee brews: repeat when brushing your teeth.
• Use hair styling time to practise squats.
• When you’re standing, clench buttock muscles repeatedly; then point your feet out at 45 degrees and rise on tiptoe.
• Walk throughout the day: watch your steps level whiz upward (most smart phones include a step counter) when you walk to the station or bus stop. Transport for London offers tube maps that show the step distance between tube stations (tfl.gov.uk/walking).
• Walk or stand when you’re on the phone, and schedule walking meetings.
• Walk up escalators and flights of stairs. Recent research from McMaster University in Canada found that short, intense bursts of stair climbing have major benefits for heart health.
• Sitting at your desk, stretch the hamstring muscles on the back of your thighs by sitting on the edge of your chair and extending both legs out in front. Then lean forward from your waist and reach your fingertips towards your toes for 10-20 seconds, keeping your back as flat as you can.
• Also sitting at your desk, strengthen the front of your thighs and abdominal muscles by leaning towards the back of your chair, then lift feet off the ground and thighs a centimetre off your seat and straighten legs out in front. Hold for a count of three, gripping the sides of your seat if you feel your back arching or if you feel insecure.
• Multitask housework and gardening moves: perform a long, low squat as you load the washing machine or dishwasher, or weed the garden, and practise walking lunges as you hoover.
• Tone your arms – and work off stress – by practising five 30-second shadow-boxing moves. Punch fists (1) straight out in front, (2) upwards with arms at right angles, (3) arms straight towards the ceiling; then swing arms (4) straight out from your shoulders and round 90 degrees in front and back, and (5) up from your sides to meet over your head and back down.
A reader writes to say how valuable she found welldoing.org, the independent counselling and psychotherapy directory, which I featured last year. This NHS-recommended site matches people with a psychological problem to a suitable qualified therapist in their area. ‘My family needed to find a therapist who was experienced in alcohol and gambling addiction. We filled in a questionnaire and the postcode and it came up with a list of practitioners with short biographies and photos. The therapist we found was excellent and the family member goes in person and is also able to Skype him.’ Welldoing covers concerns including anxiety, depression, eating disorders, relationship issues, anger and trauma as well as addiction, with a wide range of therapies.