Does Shivering Count As Exercise??


It's that time of year when the nights are darker, Jack Frost visits more frequently and we all have that feeling of wanting to wrap up warm and stay in near the fire. 


It's also that time of year when all the Christmas goodies are being sold in the shops - tins of chocolates, boxes of biscuits, selection boxes, nuts and Bucks fizz! 


Now, all that sitting around and munching on the goodies isn't going to help with our joint problems which in turn isn't going to help our mobility! So what can we do?? 


How about trying the following; 


1) Set a timer to go off every 30mins and stand up 5 times from your chair 


2) Draw the alphabet with your feet when the adverts come on during the programme you're watching 


3) Go up and down on your tiptoes 10 times whilst you're waiting for the kettle to boil - how many sets of 10 can you do?? 


4) Try standing on one leg whilst your brushing your teeth - or if your unable to do this, try brushing your teeth without holding onto the sink 


5) Whilst sat in your chair, try reaching down towards your toes 5 times on each side 


These exercises aren't exhausting, but if we can start to incorporate some of these into our daily activities, it will make you feel more energised and hopefully a bit more confident in your movement.

Are You The Next Michael Fish??



We are coming into that time of year when the days get shorter, the nights get longer…. And for some bizarre reason our joints get a little bit more stiffer/painful than usual. 


I don’t know about you, but I can tell before I get out of bed if it has been (or is) raining outside because my middle finger, which I have mild arthritis in, will be stiffer than usual….. and that’s not just because my boyfriend has woken me up with his snoring again! ;)


It has always been one of those things that has fascinated me but whenever someone has asked me why it happens, I've never been able to give them an answer. So i have been doing a bit of reading and this is what i have found:


  • One study in 2014 of 222 participants with hip osteoarthritis found that higher humidity levels were associated with higher pain and a higher barometric pressure (the measure of air pressure in the atmosphere) was associated with worsened function (1) 


  • Another study of 810 participants with either hip or knee osteoarthritis found that there was an association in the average daily humidity and temperature on hip and knee joint pain. The effect of humidity in colder temperatures were also more pronounced in joint pain (2)


  • However, a larger study focusing on participants with spinal osteoarthritis found no association with their levels of pain during adverse weather (3)


So the research out there is a bit inconclusive in the sense of there not being a direct answer as to why some people feel increased joint pain during damper/colder weather!


However, if you feel that you could be the next Michael Fish, have a read of the following tips to help keep that pain at bay:


  • Wear some loose layers when going outdoors - the layer will help to keep your body temperature warm and prevent any cold getting through.
  • Wear a scarf to protect your neck
  • Wear thick socks and/or waterproof boots to stop your feet getting cold and damp
  • Wear gloves to protect your hands
  • Wear Pj’s at night to ease your morning discomfort


And finally, we mostly have a tendency to hibernate in the winter. But arthritis will be exacerbated by reduced activity levels because of the joints becoming stiff due to less movement. However, arthritis pain can be eased by some gentle strengthening and stretching exercises. Contact myself or another health professional for some ideas about which exercises will work best for you. 









The Importance of Balance



Balance is a key factor of leading a healthy active lifestyle as we get older. Having good balance allows us to walk efficiently - being able to stand on one leg as we bring the other leg forwards. It also helps us to not fall over when walking on challenging terrain.

But what is balance??

Balance is about being able to control the body's position whether it is standing still or moving. It allows us to change direction when walking, or turn to look behind us when a friend shouts our name to say hello. It also allows us to reach up to that high cupboard in the kitchen or pick up the post from by the front door. 

Our balance is a result of how well our three main systems in our body are working. Our visual system which gives us the visual input that we use to determine where we are; Our vestibular system (inner ear and semi circular canals) which provides your brain with information about your position; Our Somotosensory system (sensation feedback from our joint) which allows us to feel where we are. 

Therefore, to maintain our balance, our brain needs to react quickly to what these systems are telling it to prevent us from falling. As we get older or we develop certain medical conditions, one or more of these systems can be affected and this will increase our risk of falls. 

Why is my balance not as good as it used to be??

There are many factors that will determine how good your balance is. And actually the most common reason for a reduction in balance currently is due to a reduction in movement. This has been heightened by the recent Covid-19 pandemic. Many people, over the last 18 months, have not been able to get out as much as they once did due to either shielding or the restrictions that we have all had to live with. We were no longer able to visit our loved ones, we were only allowed to go out for "essential" shopping, we couldn't attend our regular classes..... This pandemic has been quite a scare for many people, especially those who are vulnerable. So "just getting out the house and go for a walk" is not as straight forward as it may seem. Peoples confidence has taken a serious knock. 

However, Covid-19 cannot be blamed for your reduced balance on its own. A sedentary lifestyle or certain medical conditions will have a negative impact on your balance. If we do not use our muscles they will get weaker. Muscle mass plays an important role in our strength and movement and is essential for our balance to prevent us from falling.

So how do I improve my balance?? 

Firstly, it is always important that you seek medical/professional advice prior to starting a new exercise programme. 

  • Take some time out of your day to stand up - a good time to do this would be when the adverts come on during the tv show that you are watching. If you are particularly unsteady on your feet then make sure you have the support of either a walking aid, sturdy table, kitchen worktop etc. Try standing with your feet a bit closer together than you usually stand - only if you feel comfortable to do this of course
  • Using support as mentioned above, have a go at standing on one leg and time yourself on each leg. This may give you an indication as to which side is your weaker/stronger side.
  • In a standing position, reach up towards the ceiling, feeling a good stretch in your side - if you're using a walking aid or support, reach upwards with the arm you are not using for support.

These are just a few examples of exercises that I use with my clients when we are working on improving their balance. But please remember, do not try anything that you do not feel comfortable doing on your own, wait for a family member or your physiotherapist until you feel strong enough yourself.