We’re still not doing enough – apparently!

Women are 36 per cent less likely than men to be physically active.

MAW
Are we stretching ourselves enough?

That’s according to new research by the British Heart Foundation which claims this lack of physical inactivity in both sexes is likely to cause as many deaths as smoking.

And the study goes on to say a third of British people are at risk of heart disease because of a lack of exercise.

Now if you look at the date my last blog post you’ll see I’m guilty of a lack of blogging activity!

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Feline fine  – I have no exercise statistics for cats

My observations would simply be that if you don’t really like exercise then it’s hardly going to be a regular part of your life (just like the “strict diet” we’ve all announced we’re going on at some stage and which usually lasts the best part of one morning).

We are told two million Brits are apparently not meeting government targets of how physically active we should be.

Government targets? Yes, apparently they do exist for fitness. (Take a look at the NHS-recommended ones here.)

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Nobody LIKES burpees

The idea of the government telling us to get fit and healthy (almost Orwellian!) – once inspired me to write an article for BBC News on how MPs get fit. Do they practice what their employers preach?

Of course I’m going to come back to why it’s women who are taking significantly less exercise.

I don’t see a marked lack of females when I do my Guerrilla training. If anything the men are outnumbered, especially in the morning classes and at weekends.

So what’s happening?

After all, this report has highlighted the fact that even “active” people are at risk if they don’t do vigorous exercise.

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No it’s  the other way round

Now while I’ve yet to meet anyone who actually enjoys doing things like star jumps and burpees – it’s stuff like that that can really make the difference – and, as many women will testify, gives them more body confidence when they hit the town or get into their bikinis!

Of course it goes beyond worrying about your appearance – Thank God – and I’d like to think we’re past the idea of exercise being unladylike or unfeminine.

Women’s sport is getting more coverage – just look at the Oxford/Cambridge boat race coverage at the weekend.

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We know, we know

But then I’m looking more at exercise being a lifestyle thing rather than something competitive.

Adele’s gone on the record saying she hates exercise.

And speaking as somebody who heartily loathed P.E. and sports days at school, I don’t think anybody should be forced into it.

So I’m wondering – could this element of feeling one is being coerced be the reason one GP-referral programme of council-funded fitness classes was recently axed?

South Tyneside Council said only 17% of participants completed it and less than 10% became more active.

But whatever the reason, I’m pretty sure it had nothing to do with gender!

 

 

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Halloween – who’s scared of a PB?

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Don’t you just love an Autumn run?

I can’t say my Hanley Park Run antics today were in any way worthy of the Halloween theme – unless you count the most tenuous of links with the urge to throw up.

Pushing myself running tends to push certain bodily functions into the equation but thankfully that didn’t happen and another Personal Best was achieved!

The nausea kicked in after one zealously-tackled hill and again after finishing (I always feel compelled to redeem my slow self with a sprint at the end).

The Park Run I go to deploys pacers on the last Saturday of every month – so I’d got in the mind-set of following one.

Alas, there were none in my exact target range! (Though that’s a future plan..)

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Pacers are deployed once a month

So I picked a trio of women from Stoke F.I.T. (Friends In Training) who did finish about 45 seconds ahead of me in the end.

Two of them kept up a steady babble of conversation which, when I was close enough to hear it, I tried to use to take my mind off my exertions!

We were overtaken by a family in fancy dress – now being overtaken always feels crap anyway, but when they’re in fancy dress?

A former colleague remembers the humiliation of being overtaken by Batman in the London Marathon and I myself have been bettered by Mr Potato Head in the Robin Hood Half in Nottingham, a race in which Scooby Doo regularly provides an indicator as to when it’s time to dig deep!

Back to Park Run and I watched the receding skeleton wings on the boy, with dad in a cloak – I also knew he was wearing a mask (reminiscent of Edvard Munch’s “Scream”) which made him sound like he was talking through a snorkel when, previously, he loomed behind us en famille

Image courtesy of ajround.com

 

I had some hunch I’d done a good time when one of the organisers at the finish shouted “C’mon Emma?” – and looked a bit surprised to see me.

My Guerrilla training has contributed not only to a couple of personal bests in the last few weeks but also knocking a good couple of minutes off my previous time, so it would appear I have discovered the alchemy necessary to produce Personal Best “gold”.

I caught up with the Stoke F.I.T. trio and said I’d used them as pacemakers, hoped they didn’t mind and thanked them.

I felt I’d somehow “gate-crashed” their run  but Laura, the first woman I spoke to, said that was fine – and to be honest, I don’t think they’d been too aware of my presence.

She said the chat, between two of them, had been aimed at taking the silent third one’s mind of her running (I think she had a bit of hip pain or something).

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Stoke F.I.T. members (seen here at a summer event!) have a brilliant club ethos

Laura added something like if you could speak about seven words a sentence without gasping whilst running then that’s a fair indicator your breathing’s okay.

Despite the fact that I normally talk a lot, I couldn’t have uttered one word at that pace!

Another of the trio, Kirsty, emphasised the point was to be helpful and nobody is ever left alone on a Stoke F.I.T. training run – they’ll come back for you if need be.

This generosity of spirit is not just confined to team-mates, it extends to other runners too.

“It’s the club ethos. You can always tell if someone’s a ‘Fitter’ ‘cos that’s what we do”.

Once I’d fuelled up with tea and hot buttered toast at the Park Run Café, I joined another “Fitter” on the walk home, and got more running advice.

Lee advised me to “push from my glutes” (buttock muscles!) when running up hills (“it’s easier to push than pull”).

Isn’t it amazing? Slow or not, I’ve loved running since I was a teenager and I’m still learning!

 

 

 

Cold comfort – an etiquette dilemma

Someone in the office has got “that-nasty-bug-that’s-going-around” – and you don’t want  it.

Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images
Credit: Wellcome Library London

Or you’re in the (inevitable) queue in the Co Op waiting to pay and you’re trying to box clever and avoid the shop assistant who sneezes into her hand (“Att-CHA! ‘Scuse me”) then gives you your change – from the same hand!

Or maybe someone’s turned up at your Guerrillas class coughing away but still acting like a trooper and expecting a pat on the back for toughing it out.

tumblr_ni2zjtzhNx1su40qeo1_500Or maybe a sympathy-seeking friend’s put on FaceBook that they’ve got “a little poorly girl” who’s had to stay off school today. Aw, bless – NOT!

Or is it simply a dilemma of having to shake someone’s hand when they’ve obviously got a cold?

If you do get this bug, it’s going to completely ruin your training plans because if it’s serious enough you simply can’t exercise – and you know it.

It’s not as you actually dislike any of these people!

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Looks like I’ll be spending more time with the pub dog!

But you feel like you have to choose between being polite – or staying healthy.

Solutions regarding the workmate (who by now  is coughing so hard she’s had to terminate a phone conversation) include being the Office Good Samaritan & offering cough mixture, surface wipes, throat sweets etc and/or making sure you use your hand sanitizer religiously.

And if you do shake hands with Mr/Ms “I’m-so-full-of-flu”, just hightail it to the Ladies’ and wash your hands thoroughly ASAP!

I speak as one who’s so far been off exercise for a week with lungs full of phlegm – not good.hand_cleaning

But then I’ve stayed away from Guerrillas so it doesn’t spread there – and in the office I scrupulously wipe down my workstation and the phone with antibacterial wipes when I finish work.

That’s not to say I haven’t been caught out!

So if you don’t want to pass on your germs then good advice includes: the “Dracula” sneeze into your sleeve and, if required to shake hands, telling the person you’d rather not because you don’t want to infect them.

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Do I need a leper’s bell?

(BTW there’s more colds and flu prevention advice for athletes here)

And regarding exercise, I usually deploy the “neck check” when deciding whether or not to go ahead (ie if all of your symptoms are above the neck you’re usually good to go, but still use some common sense).

Unfortunately for me, and as said already, that means I’m off until this chest clears.

The pub it is, then!