Vitamin D: should we be worried? Plus summertime reading

This week the papers have been full of the latest Public Health England warnings about vitamin D deficiency and it's recommendations.  Roughly one in five people have low vitamin D levels.  Given that we're an outdoor walking club, I thought I'd look into it from our perspective.  Why is vitamin D so important, do we get enough of it from our walks alone and, if not, what should we be doing?

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Dealing with neck and shoulder tension plus one walker's story

Last Monday Marion Averill of Clifton Physiotherapy and I ran a joint workshop on neck and shoulder tension.  The good news is that this is an area where we really can help ourselves through a combination of exercises, postural awareness and the correct sitting position.  The even better news is that Nordic walking ticks all the boxes as a tool for reducing tension and maintaining neck and shoulder health.  

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The bottom line plus a new piece of kit

The vital glutes
Our glutes are an incredibly important set of muscles.  They stabilise the pelvis and spine, prevent injury, improve performance and help you look good in your jeans.  It’s why we talk about them so much during our Nordic walking classes.  
If you don’t yet know what (or where) your glutes are, they are the group of three muscles in your buttocks.  The biggest of these is the gluteus maximus.  It has the honour of being the largest and most powerful muscle in our bodies.

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Achieving optimum health and arm swing technique refinements

Optimum health

A couple of weeks ago the Times newspaper ran a big spread entitled “How to be healthier and live longer: A guide to midlife”.  The areas it covered were food, exercise, the mind, relationships, sleep and hormones.  Pretty much every day there is some piece of ‘new’ research espousing the benefit/harm caused by imbalance in one of these areas.  

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Quiz anwers revealed - but don't read this sitting down

Last week I set you a short quiz.  It was part Nordic walking, part health.  The answers plus some commentary are below.  I would recommend you stand to read it as my answer to question 4 provides some unsettling information about the dangers of too much sitting.


1. During walking, what percentage of time are you on one foot?
a)  50%
b)  60%
c)  80%

Answer: 80%. 

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Why we should wind our necks in plus test yourself with this Nordic walking quiz

Have you seen yourself sideways-on recently?  If not, get someone to take a photo of you and have a look at how you’re standing.  Where’s your head position?  Are your ears aligned over your shoulders or does your head project forwards?  The reason for my asking is that I recently read that for every inch your head protrudes from its normal position, you add 10 additional pounds of force upon your neck.  This is enough to shift your entire body out of alignment, cause a great deal of neck and shoulder pain and reduce your lung capacity by up to 30%.

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Shoulder focus plus the latest local news

Our shoulder joint is the most complicated joint in our whole body, with the greatest range of motion. You can move it in ten different ways. Ten!  It is no surprise therefore that shoulder injury or impingement is one of the biggest issues for those of you who walk with us (statistically three in ten adults will experience shoulder pain), outstripping even back ache.  

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Shin stretches, tips for walking on tarmac and the latest developments in poles and paws

One of the benefits of the active heel/toe roll in Nordic walking is that it works all the muscles in your lower body, including your calf and shin muscles.  Not only does this give you beautifully toned legs and boost circulation, it also means that you’ll never, ever be a ‘shuffler’. (If you want a re-cap on how to get active with your feet, why not re-visit my blog Technique focus - heel/toe roll.) 

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Health in middle years plus a handy nutrition book for on the go

I want to start with the launch of ‘One You’ * last week by Public Health England.  It’s aim is to raise awareness in the over 40s about the need to prioritise their health now to enjoy a healthy retirement.  Many have criticised its ‘patronising’ tone.  However, whatever people may say about this latest campaign, the statistics are fascinating.  Although overall life expectancy is at record levels, many are spending their retirement living in ill health.  Lead a healthy lifestyle (by drinking less, exercising more, eating better and giving up smoking) in middle years and you can double you

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Weather, wellness and a useful review of fitness trackers

In my six years of running Nordic walking classes, I cannot remember a day like yesterday.  Heavy rain driven virtually horizontally towards us by gusts of close to gale force winds and usually well-drained ground utterly sodden. I was in awe of your determination not to be defeated by the elements and seriously impressed how many of you turned out.  It was a powerfully bonding experience and one that I think we will long remember.  We’ve now coined the phrase #RainWarriers for future ultra wet walks!

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Registered Excercise ProfessionalsInternational Nordic Walking FederationBritish Nordic WalkingBristol Life Awards Winner