Author Archives: Jonathan Laker

  1. Working from home? Here’s how to look after your body…

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    The current Coronavirus crisis means working from home looks set to become the new norm- at least for the time being.  Now that most of us have swapped our desks and office chairs- which have been specifically designed for work- for the kitchen table, how can we make sure to keep our bodies healthy, fit and comfortable while living this new reality? 

    1. Think ergonomics 

    Optimising your working environment is key to staying productive- and protecting your body If using a computer, you should try to make sure you have a proper workstation, including a desk/ table, proper chair and the right equipment, to maintain the same level of comfort you would in the office.  Similarly, make sure you have enough light and ventilation, and that the temperature is comfortable for you.  

    Even if your set up is less than ideal, there are steps you can take to minimise your risk of discomfort- both now and in the long term. Posture wise, your back should be at a 90-degree angle to your lap, (consider using a cushion to prop you up if your chairs don’t naturally support this stance,) and your screen should be at eye level. If using a laptop, consider balancing it on a stack of books or boxes to achieve the ideal height. 

    If your home working set up isn’t ergonomically sound, it could let to a whole host of problems in the future, including neck, back and/ or shoulder pain, or repetitive strain injury of the hands or wrists.  

    2. Don’t forget your eyes! 

    Staring at a screen can play havoc on your eyes, so it’s important to look after them as much as you would any other area of your body. As well as making sure your screen is correctly positioned at a comfortable eye level, and close enough to your face that you don’t have to strain to see, you should also ensure that you are regularly giving your eyes a break from focussing on your computer. 

    To maintain optimum eye health, the NHS also recommends: 

    • Pausing now and again and look into the distance or stare out of the window 
    • Blinking regularly!  
    • Stretching your head and neck 
    • Making sure your work area has enough natural light 

    You can check out their detailed advice on maintaining eye health here.

    3. Make sure to move 

    Did you know that a sedentary lifestyle can be just as dangerous as being obese?  Research has shown that sitting all day can lead to problems for your weight, mood and brain health- and can even increase your risk of getting certain types of cancers.1 

    To combat this, try to get up and move about every 25 minutes, whether it’s just for a quick stretch, a breath of fresh air, or to make a cup of tea- every move you make can help relieve your body from its sedentary slump! 

    Even better, try to do some exercise in the fresh air, such as going for a walk, jog or cycle, several times a week, to give your body -and mood-a boost.  Don’t forget to massage those muscles before and after the workout. The instant warming effect of Pernaton Gel Forte (red) is beneficial for the warm-up before exercise and the instant cooling effect of Pernation Gel (blue) is perfect for the cool-down. 

  2. Top 6 tips to #watchyourback

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    As we get older, a certain amount of niggling aches and pains are pretty much par for the course. Our knees, our elbows, our necks and, above all, our backs, can all be a source of discomfort.

    There’s a reason why back pain is such a common part of the aging process: as we get older, the discs between our vertebrae begin to wear away and shrink, causing our bones to rub against each other. This friction can be the cause of a considerable amount of pain.

    But while a certain amount of pain is inevitable, there are things you can do to keep your back in better shape and help hold back the years.

    Read on for our roundup of six top tips to help you #watchyourback…

    1. Keep active

    No one’s suggesting you sign up for a marathon (unless you want to, that is!) but it’s really important to do some form of exercise every week if you want to keep your back in decent shape.

    The NHS recommends that walking, swimming and cycling are all excellent, low-impact forms of exercise that can help to strengthen your back.

    It’s also put together a useful roundup of stretches you can do to alleviate back pain should it arise.

    And it’s not just structured exercise you should think about factoring into your day. Sitting for long periods of time – all too common, especially for those with office-based jobs – is never good news for your back. Make sure you remember to get up every so often: experts recommend one to two minutes of moving around for every 30 minutes spent sitting.

    1. Check your posture

    It may sound obvious, but you’d be amazed at how many people are walking around with poor posture.

    Making sure you’re walking and sitting correctly can do wonders for your back. If you spend large amounts of time sitting at a desk, make sure you sit upright, with your shoulders relaxed and your back supported against the chair.

    The NHS cautions that sitting correctly may not feel comfortable at first because most people’s muscles have generally not been conditioned to support them in the correct position.

    1. Maintain a healthy weight

    We promise we’re not nagging! But being a healthy weight – or losing weight if you’re overweight – really can have a positive impact on your back. Being overweight can increase your chances of developing back pain, so do try to eat healthily and exercise regularly if you can.

    Need some help making healthier food choices? The NHS has a great resource available here.

    1. Check your sleeping position

    If you sleep on your back, try placing a pillow underneath your feet – elevating them is really good for your spine. Or if you sleep on your side, put a pillow between your knees to help your muscles relax.

    If you prefer to sleep on your stomach, the bad news is it’s not particularly good for your back. However, putting a pillow under your lower abdomen and pelvis can help to prevent back strain.

    1. Watch how you lift things!

    No matter your age, the way you lift things can have a huge impact on your back health. Before you even start, you should consider how long you intend to hold the item, where you’re going to place it and – crucially – whether it’s too difficult to manage easily. Don’t be a hero: if you’re in any doubt at all about whether it’s safe for you to lift something, don’t risk it! Consider using a trolley or similar aid, or ask someone else to help if possible.

    Bupa has put together a handy list of tips to make sure that whatever you lift, you’re lifting safely.

    1. Try some hot / cold therapy

    For chronic pain, the Arthritis Foundation recommends applying heat to relieve achy muscles, by soaking in warm water or using a heated compress.

    Heat causes blood vessels to get bigger, meaning more oxygen, blood and nutrients can be delivered to tissues. Better circulation means stiff muscles and joints can better relax.

    If your pain’s acute however, you’re better off applying cold treatments for a few days: cold has the opposite effect of heat, reducing blood flow and inflammation.

    If all else fails…

    Sometimes you just can’t help getting aches and pains, which is why we created Pernaton Gel. Specially formulated to aid connective tissue and joint care, simply massage some into the affected area for an instant, cooling effect.

  3. Music to motivate movement

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    Last year, a study published in the journal Psychology of Sport & Exercise, revealed that upbeat music helps give people the motivation needed to tackle high-intensity workouts. In fact, it identified that music enhanced the effect and overall enjoyment of spring interval training, and increased heart rates and peak power output compared with when listening to a podcast or no audio at all.

    Whether your exercise of choice is running, strength training or taking a gym class, one thing is for certain: music makes working out that little bit easier and more enjoyable. But there are other benefits too which include:

    Boosting your mood

    Listening to music naturally boosts our dopamine levels, the neurotransmitter which drives your brain’s reward system and does wonders for your happy hormones. It triggers positive feelings and helps us remember good memories, which results in us feeling a stronger sense of wellbeing. Plus, music allows us to zone out, meaning it helps take our minds off being out of breath and forget about the effort we’re currently putting into the workout.

    headphones

    Reducing stress

    For those who enjoy a regular stretch and yoga class, there is often slow-tempo or soft music playing quietly in the background to help participants unwind.

    Keeping up the pace

    The timing of your chosen workout music or the bass can boost stimulation of the brain, instructing you when to move therefore aiding self-paced exercises such as cycling, weightlifting or running. Being able to sync exercise to the beat makes it much easier to achieve optimal performance, use our energy better and maintain a steady pace.

    Responding to the lyrics

    Some songs stand the test of time for their power to motivate. Look at all the upbeat tempos and motivational lyrics as boxers do their ring walk. There are hundreds, even thousands, of empowering songs containing lyrics to push and make you feel invincible including Eye of the Tiger by Survivor:

    “It’s the eye of the tiger, it’s the thrill of the fight
    Risin’ up to the challenge of our rival
    And the last known survivor stalks his prey in the night
    And he’s watchin’ us all with the eye of the tiger”

    Lyrics

    Time flies by

    Listening to music while exercising relieves boredom and is a welcome distraction, meaning you’re focused and the time spent doing the exercise just flies by.

    Boosts performance

    Numerous reports have identified that music is influential during workouts. In fact, listening to music reduces your perceived exertion, encouraging you to work harder without you even knowing you are.

    Choosing music that you enjoy and that fits your chosen exercise can help you get more from your workout. Next time you’re struggling to get moving, make sure you take a look on Spotify, BBC Sounds and iTunes, where you’ll find a whole host of playlists. We’re positive there’ll be a collection of songs that will tickle your fancy.

    After your workouts we recommend massaging some PERNATON Gel Forte into the skin to increase muscle stimulation and circulation.

  4. The importance of warming up to prevent muscle injury in cold temperatures

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    For those with an interest in keeping fit, winter can be a tough slog in keeping up momentum! Yet with cold weather, warming up before you start a gym session, a class or a run is more important than ever for optimum performance and to remain injury-free.

    Before you exercise, your muscles will be cold and stiff, especially if you rarely stretch, and your heart and breathing rate will be low. Warming up is a great way to gently ease your body into a working state and is key to protecting your body from injury, especially during the colder months. Not only this but a warm-up is a fantastic way of preparing yourself mentally for the workout and help get you into the right frame of mind.

    Investing in a thorough warm-up will not only help warm your muscles and loosen your joints, it will also help get the blood flowing and increase your heart rate and body temperature. If you’re prone to injury, or have sustained an injury in the past, then it’s vital you pay particular attention to these.

    Whatever your reasons for exercising, you know that once you get past the cold, you’ll be glad you did the workout. Below we answer some popular questions on how to warm up in the cold weather (even if you’re exercising indoors).

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  5. Twelve stretches suitable for the elderly to improve flexibility

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    As we age, our bodies go through several changes, such as loss of muscle mass and bone density, which can lead to tighter muscles, stiffer joints and regular aches and pains, causing discomfort and having a negative impact on our day-to-day life.

    Studies have shown that with age, flexibility decreases by up to 50 per cent in some joints, so it’s fairly common for those experiencing decreased suppleness to limit their physical activity because of the pain or the struggle to perfect the activities they once enjoyed.

    However, one of the things we can do to prevent a loss of flexibility as we mature, is to stay active. In addition, to aid connective tissue and joint care, apply a daily application of Pernaton Gel with added menthol and other essential oils, which is proven to improve joint mobility.

    Stretching is a fantastic way to improve flexibility, promote better balance and reduce pain or stress. Additionally, stretches which focus on posture and mobility can support daily activities and limit risk of falling or causing an injury.

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  6. 5 TOP TIPS TO MANTAIN YOUR BODY TEMPERATURE

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    In Winter, our muscles are tormented by big adjustments in temperature. It is important to remember to maintain your body heat and allow your muscles and joints the opportunity to adjust to their surroundings, to prevent retraction and uncomfortable pain. We have been blessed with little frozen weather this year, but that doesn’t mean the issue isn’t still there.

    We have got 5 top tips to maintain your body temperature, some do’s and don’ts for winter.

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  7. How to prepare for a running event

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    You’ve signed up to your first running event, now what? For many people, the desire to cross over that finishing line is more about the personal challenge than anything else. Whatever your reason, remind yourself of it often during the months of training that follow because your legs will become tired, the weather (especially in the UK) can be nasty and maintaining your motivation will be essential in keeping you on track

    If you are lacing up for the very first time or this is your first-ever running competition, then read on to find out how you can ensure your training goes as smoothly and as painlessly as possible.

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  8. Team red or team blue: Which one are you?

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    Recently we asked on our social media channels whether you were team red or team blue for Pernaton. While several people were confident in their choices, there were several who were unsure so to help, we thought we would give you a helping hand in helping you decide.

    Are you team red or team blue? No, we’re not talking sports. Depending on your particular physical requirements, you may be better suited to our original Pernaton Gel (blue), or Pernaton Gel forte (red).

    So, how do you know which product is right for you?

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  9. 6 top tips to help you keep fit this Christmas

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    6 top tips to help you keep fit this Christmas

    Christmas is just around the corner and with that comes an abundance of temptation to hang up the trainers and fitness gear and wait for the New Year. From the endless supply of chocolates, pastry goods and warming alcohol to the cold, dark nights made bearable by the roaring fire, comfy clothes, traditional Christmas film and a delicious hot chocolate, it’s tough for everyone, let alone those who incorporate a regular fitness regime into their routine.

    To avoid pounds piling on and fitness goals being lost, here are some helpful tips on how you can encourage yourself to keep fit over the Christmas season:

    Keep moving

    The Christmas holidays do not have to be spent in the gym. Instead, make keeping mobile a family affair and plan outdoor activities where everyone including the dog can get involved. Woodland walks, if wrapped up warm, are absolutely lovely this time of year as well as beach walks too.

    walking-person

    Be realistic

    Christmas is renowned for being an extremely sociable time, so do enjoy it. Our advice is simply be realistic and ensure you do what you have the energy for. If you know you have planned three nights on a trot, the likelihood of getting a workout in before your commitments is slim. So how about getting up half an hour earlier on one or two of those days and visiting the gym, going for a run or doing a home workout earlier in the day?

    morning_coffee

    Drink plenty of water

    This is a golden rule and we all know it works! Drinking plenty of water is absolutely key. Not only will it keep you full to avoid unnecessary grazing, but it will keep you hydrated at all times and will prevent a hangover if you overdo it on the alcohol.

    water-glass

    Fill up on the greens

    However tempting it is to pile your plate with delicious carbs, make sure 50% of your plate is full of greens. Not only will this keep you fuller for longer, but it will give you a good dose of vitamins and nutrients too.

    green_vegetables

    Get to bed

    Christmas means you are bound to have the odd late night which can make you make bad choices the following day. Sleep is an important part of staying healthy and fit. It is good for your mind, your stress levels, and will ensure you have adequate energy to fulfil your health and fitness goals. Aim for between 7 and 9 hours sleep per night.

    sleeping_man

    Try working out from home

    Don’t feel like braving the cold, defrosting the car and heading to the gym? Then choose to do a home workout instead. The luxury of these is you can do them at a time to suit you and there is no travel time to consider either. YouTube, for example, offers a whole host of different workouts, suitable for all different fitness levels, from fitness coaches across the globe.

    Don’t forget to massage those muscles before and after the workout. The instant warming effect of Pernaton Gel Forte (red)is beneficial for the warm-up before sports and the instant cooling effect of Pernation Gel (blue) for the cool-down.

    We hope you find these simple tips useful. The moral of the story is do what you can, when you can. Being cautious, moderating your food intake and moving often, means that there will be less guilt and you can enjoy these festive celebrations even more.

  10. Low impact exercises to do at home this winter

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    We are all getting older, and as the body ages, so does the wave of increased aches and pains and the tendency to slow down and become more inactive – especially in the winter! It might be related to health issues, weight increase, or the fear of hurting yourself but as we grow older, an active lifestyle is more important than ever to improve your overall health and fitness.

    Research suggests that moderate-intensity, low-impact activity is just as effective as high-impact activity in lowering the risk of illnesses such as heart disease. No matter your age, it is never too late to apply physical activity as part of your daily routine. Many local gyms offer excellent low-impact gym classes such as Body Balance, Zumba and so on but staying fit without impacting your joints can be achieved from the comfort of your own home.

    Here are some popular activities to try (you may wish to consult your doctor before you begin a new exercise regime if you have any concerns about your fitness levels):

    Wall push-ups

    This exercise is brilliant for strengthening the entire upper body with a particular focus on the arms and chest area. To attempt this exercise, the best thing to do is:

    • Stand up straight in front of a wall with your arms stretched out straight, so that your palms are flat, touching the surface. This is the distance you need to stand away.
    • Keeping your body upright, bend your elbows to lean into the wall.
    • When your face is close to the wall, straighten your arms to slowly push your body away.
    • Repeat ten to 15 times. Rest. Repeat again.

    Wall_pushup

    Toe stand lift

    Strengthen your legs, in particular, your calves and ankles, as well as improve your balance with the toe stand lift. All you have to do is:

    • Stand behind a chair, feet shoulder-width apart, holding on to the back for balance.
    • Slowly stand on your tiptoes, as high as you can possibly go.
    • Hold position for approximately five seconds and lower yourself gently to the heels.
    • Repeat ten to 15 times. Rest. Repeat again.

    Chair squats

    Throughout the day, we use the squat movement more than we think which is why chair squats are a great way to keep your legs strong.

    • Stand in front of a chair facing ahead, with your feet hip-width apart.
    • Keeping your shoulders and chest upright, bend your knees to lower yourself on to the chair.
    • Once seated, push yourself back up to return to the standing position.
    • Repeat ten to 15 times. Rest. Repeat again.

    Raise your arms

    Help build muscle mass and upper body strength by raising your arms above your head with a small lightweight resistance added (baked bean tins are good if you have no dumbbells).

    • Sit or stand with your feet firmly flat on the floor.
    • Hold the lightweights at shoulder height with palms facing forwards, then lift the weights above your head so that your arms are now straight.
    • Slowly bring back down the arms to shoulder height.
    • Repeat ten to 15 times. Rest. Repeat again.

    Arms_raised

    Single foot stand

    Accidental falls are a common source of injury for many ageing people, so balance exercises are essential for keeping legs strong.

    • Stand behind a chair, holding on to the back.
    • Pick up one foot and balance on the other for as long as is comfortable.
    • Place your foot down and repeat on the other leg.
    • Aim to stand on one foot for one minute each.

    You can make this more difficult by not holding on to the chair.

    Neck stretch

    Try and get into the habit of stretching every day to improve your range of motion and make every activity more comfortable. The neck stretch is superb for relieving tension in the upper back and neck.

    • Stand with your feet firmly flat on the floor with your hands relaxed at your sides.
    • Keeping your head upright, slowly turn your next to the right to feel a slight stretch. Hold for ten to 30 seconds.
    • Move your next back to the centre, and repeat this slow, steady movement to the left.
    • Repeat five times.

    man_neck_stretch

    Do remember that many of these exercises can be modified to accommodate ongoing aches and pains. There are also a variety of gels such as Pernaton Gel available to support joint mobility.