Month: February 2019

5 Deskercise ideas for you to try at work

Between conference calls and regular coffee breaks, finding the time to workout at work may seem impossible. For those uninitiated to the notion of deskercise, the idea of keeping fit whilst in the office might sound absurd. Well, we are here to tell you that it’s not only possible, but much easier than you might think. It’s simply a case of picking up some good healthy habits and introducing them to your working routine.

If you try all of the deskercise ideas we provide we can’t promise you won’t get some funny looks, but that’s a small price to pay for the health boost you’ll be getting. If you don’t want to draw too much attention to your deskercise though, there are plenty of work workout strategies that can be done secretly.

deskercise ideasDeskercise ideas:

1. Take the stairs

For our first step on this list of deskercise ideas we’re keeping things simple. It’s also a great example of a way of getting some exercise at work without drawing any attention to yourself. Get into the habit of taking the stairs to and from work every day. While the lift may be tempting, this is a great way of getting a short, sharp burst of physical exercise in before you’ve even reach your desk. If you work on a particularly high floor, try taking the lift halfway up and the stairs the rest of the way.

Attack the stairs with gusto too. Accelerate through stairways and landings, and then take the steps two at a time.

2. Stretch it out

Here’s another one of the deskercise ideas you can employ without turning any heads. Stretching may not particularly feel like exercise, but keeping your muscles stimulated is vital. They won’t make you buff, but regularly breaking out some stretching routines will certainly alleviate some of the adverse effects of life behind a desk.

There are numerous stretches you can do at work, with varying levels of conspicuousness. This means you can just pick what you’re comfortable with. There are stretches for basically every part of your body too, so if you’re feeling aches and pains in certain area then you’ll be able to find a stretch that can help. Take a look at these stretching routines to get you started.

3. Off the wall

There’s more to walls than just keeping floor and ceiling apart. You can actually use a plain old wall to help you get some exercise at work. There are three wall-based routines we regularly use as part our deskercise regime. The first is the wall stretch; simply place your hand against a wall and push, then turn your shoulder away to create some tension. The next step is to try some wall push ups; face the wall, and with your hands shoulder-width apart lean into the wall and the push yourself away again, just as you would with a normal push up. Finally, try the wall sit; with your back pressed against a wall, slide down until your legs are bent at a ninety-degree angle and then hold your squatting pose.

4. Welcome to the chair gym

Much as with walls, your chair can be reimagined as a piece of makeshift gym equipment whilst you’re at work. There are plenty of deskercise ideas that make use of your office chair. Just like with stretches, you can either do all of them, or choose those that are feasible and suit you. Don’t believe us? Check out this full body chair-based exercise routine for inspiration.

5. Get moving

The last of our deskercise ideas is pretty simple: move! Every hour, take a bit of a walk around the office. Try some jogging on the spot. Throw in some star jumps and high knees. Even fidgeting helps. Avoid sitting still for too long by consciously stimulating your body. This will also have the knock-on effect of stimulating your brain and oxygenating your body, increasing your productivity. So, if your boss catches you lunging in the staff room and asks what you’re doing, you can legitimately reply “getting better at my job.”

Introducing these deskercise ideas into your daily life can have a much bigger impact than you might imagine. Studies have indicated that the impact of the daily grind behind a desk and before a screen can be extremely damaging to our health if precautions aren’t taken. These precautions include healthy eating, plenty of fresh air, avoiding eye strain and regular breaks. They also include exercise and movement. Deskercise is no replacement for the gym or any other kind of intense exercise. It is, however, a little, simple something you can do to support your body and help maintain your health.

Disclaimer – Although we always endeavour to deliver accurate and insightful information, if you are seeking specialised fitness advice, please speak to a relevant professional. All opinions within this blog are the writer’s, should you identify content that is incorrect, please get in contact.

Top 3 winter sporting activities

In winter, the weather can really get us down in the dumps. Science shows that sunlight increases Serotonin, the chemical in the brain that’s linked to you being happy, and decreases Melatonin, the one that makes you feel sleepy. If you’re battling a bad case of the winter blues, it might be time to look for a new obsession.

Winter sports are an excellent way to invigorate and excite, and the joy of supporting a new team will bring you a refreshed sense of self, help to forge new friendships not to mention give your mood a marvellous boost. But where on Earth do you find a sport in winter? Truth is, there’s a lot. And we’ll fill you in on a few of the funniest and most fulfilling winter sports to fall in love with. Guaranteed to put those winter blues on ice.

1. Sledding

Sledding is the umbrella term for any kind of treacherous travel down an ice track on a land vehicle with a smooth underside. When you were younger, snow spattering meant two things. No school, and a chance to sled down the very tallest hill. Widely loved by everyone from families to fearless professionals, sledding comes in three main types.

Luge involves lying on your sled face up, as you hurtle down that ice-track feet first. The ice track is designed to increase speed quickly, leading the courageous sledder to career at tip-top speed to the finish line. The one who wins is the one who completes the course in the fastest time, so factors like your weight and how streamlined you can make your body come into play.

Skeleton sledding, then, involves the opposite posture. Instead of lying face-up on the sled, you lie face-down. The race also begins with a riotous running start, for you and the sled, and a death-defying jump into the run. It’s the most dangerous of the bobsled winter sports, and involves steering using just your head and shoulders. The fun side of this forward-facing feat is that you can film the flow of your Skeleton run using a head cam – so if this scary sport seems like it’s for you, head over to YouTube for an ice-eye view.

Bobsled then, is the safer option to these two. It introduces a Bobsled vehicle, usually operated down the dizzying heights by two or four people. It’s the sport championed in the film Cool Runnings, and the popularity of this pure-hearted film lead to the image of sledding many folks have today.

Winter sports

2. Ice Skating

Since there has been ice, people have been trying to slide on it.  The winter sport ice skating began over 3,000 years ago in Finland, when skating concerned a more ski-like contraption that skated on top of the ice rather than cutting into it. Flash forward to today and there’s a reason that Dancing on Ice is one of the world’s highest-viewed television programs. Ice-skating channels raw power and strength into floaty, fabulous forms. Again, it comes in many incarnations.

Figure skates differ from competitive skates. They have spikes on the back that can slow down, start up or spin out your skating. Figure skates have two grooves, and it’s preferred that you skate on one or the other. Lower scores will be given in competitions if you skate on both!

Figure skating routines are similar to cheerleading routines, as they will require you to lift, jump, turn and throw. The more complicated your rave routine gets the more advanced your moves will be, including crowd-pleaser, the death spiral.

Many other sports have moved ice-wards in an attempt to increase how difficult they are. Ice hockey, for example, uses the ice as a propellant for the puck, and is known for being played at a fast pace, and being highly physical. Speed skating seeks to increase the speed of the race via ice, and short-track speed skating will often be referred to as Nascar On Ice due to its speed and skater velocity.

ice skating

3. Yukigassen

Ready. Get set. THROW! One of the joys of winter is, of course, snow; and we couldn’t leave you without letting you in on the ultimate winter sport – competitive snowball throwing. It’s Japanese, and called Yukigassen. Yukigassen will translate directly to snow battle, and is top of the list if you enjoy a bit of cold in your chaos.

Yukigassen takes place in two teams of seven players each. Your aim? To capture the enemy’s flag by speed, strength, or just knocking everyone else out. If you’re hit by a snowball you’re eliminated, and out of the game. It has to be a direct hit though; snowballs ricocheted off of an off-hand object do not tag you out. You can only use pre-rolled snowballs, if you’re caught making a snowball during the game, you’re out. But don’t fear! There’s help when you’re advancing on your enemy in form of pre-made snow boxes to crouch, peer, and throw from.

If it sounds a bit like dodgeball, that’s because it is. But it must be doing something right – Japan is famous for boasting the lowest crime rate in the world, and these stress busting sports contribute to that!

Which winter sports is your favourite? When you’re leaning more toward playing, rather than watching, your new passion; why not download Write Up – the app that lets you read, rate and review everything fitness related.

11 Essential vitamins and minerals needed for a healthy body

When we eat, we convert our food into vital vitamins and minerals essential for a healthy body. These days though, it seems like every little thing is being called a vitamin and mineral master. With so many different letters being thrown about, it’s hard to know which one, if any of them, you need to be looking out for.

vitamins and minerals

At Write Up, we’re always here to help. So, we’ve outlined 11 vitamins and minerals we think are essential to keep your body tip top and healthy. So, you’ll know what your gran means next time she throws your ABCs at you.

Vitamins and minerals:

1. Iron

Iron helps your red blood cells make haemoglobin, which helps carry oxygen through your body. Without it, your body won’t get enough. It’ll be exhausted, which will affect its ability to fight infection, feel awake, and make skin and hair cells. It’s especially important during pregnancy, where it will help your baby to be born strong and the right size.

2. Vitamin C

Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant, which means it helps prevent cell damage. It helps you to repair and rebuild tissue, fights heart disease, and even aids your absorption of our number one, Iron. It also helps boost your immune system, so stick to your habit of taking its effervescent form when you’re sick. Back in the days of swashbuckling buccaneers, a lack of Vitamin C would cause the Pirate’s disease, Scurvy.

3. Calcium

Calcium is an essential vitamin, because it helped build you! It’s responsible for your big strong bones. Our bodies can’t make it ourselves, so it’s important you eat a lot of it. Alongside helping your bones grow, it also helps your blood to clot, and your nerves to send messages. There’s also evidence that it actually reverses nerve damage; an exciting breakthrough, as your brain is made up of a large number of nerves!

4. Zinc

Your body needs zinc to make proteins and DNA. It’s the sidekick of its partner calcium, but where calcium builds your body, the DNA made from Zinc customises it. Again, it’s got many other functions, which include an immune system boost, and to help heal wounds.

5. B Vitamins

There’s a whole family of B Vitamins! B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7 and B12 are the most important ones. They help you produce new cells, be less stressed, manage good cholesterol, improve your skin, sleep better, control blood glucose, and fire up the other members of its family. Not only this, but B12 has also been linked to mood and your coordination.

6. Chromium

Chromium is a subtle beast. You only need it in very small amounts, but rest assured, you do need it. That’s because it helps you perform essential body functions linked with digestion. It’s responsible for the process that regulates your blood sugar, enhancing how your insulin works. If you’re deficient in it, you’re more at risk to develop type 2 diabetes.

7. Vitamin D

You get 90% of your Vitamin D from going out in the sun. Your doctor has known for a long time that it helps calcium absorption and prevents rickets, but recent research has shown pretty much everyone in the UK is Vitamin D deficient. It helps lift your mood, prevent against damage to your DNA, and bring down your blood pressure.

8. Folic Acid

Folic acid is synonymous with pregnancy. It’s well known that when you are pregnant, you need to take a Folic Acid supplement to help your baby grow. It’s especially important if you are a woman, as it will help you regulate your blood pressure and prevent you from having anaemia. There’s also evidence it protects your DNA!

9. Vitamin E

By now, you will probably notice there’s a lot of DNA protection going on. That’s because it makes you uniquely who you are! We’ll fight a lot for the right you have to be an individual; and so too will your body. Vitamin E is also in your DNA protection army. It’s great for skin, nails, hair, and to reduce the signs of ageing on your skin. If your grandma has a habit of putting egg white on her face, she’s learnt to benefit from the Vitamin E in eggs. Older people have great beauty secrets – you should trust them.

10. Vitamin A

Another thing grandma has probably told you is, eat your carrots and you’ll see in the dark, right? It’ll shock you (and her) to know there’s science behind that saying. Carrots are full of Vitamin A, which does support your vision. It does everything to do with the eye – retina health, light absorption, growth, everything!

11. Vitamin K

Last but not least, Vitamin K. It helps heal any wounds you get. The cool thing is, any that’s in your body that you don’t need on an immediate basis, gets stored in your body for future use. Without Vitamin K, you won’t heal on demand. As with our emotions, we all need to heal, and that’s why we need Vitamin K.

Convinced? Why not tell us what vitamins and minerals you love?. Then why not download Write Up – the app that lets you read, rate and review everything fitness related.

Disclaimer – Although we always endeavour to deliver accurate and insightful information, if you are seeking specialised fitness advice, please speak to a relevant professional. All opinions within this blog are the writer’s, should you identify content that is incorrect, please get in contact.

CICO Diets

What is CICO?

The CICO Model

After the success of the ‘keto diet’, along came the ‘CICO (Calories in, Calories out)’ diet. It is as controversial and popular as its predecessor, although they have little to do with each other. While the keto diet focuses on the consumption of proteins so that the glycemic index is not high, therefore improving the ketosis of the body, the new goal of CICO is to not exceed a certain number of calories each day. It is all about consuming less than you burn and ensuring that the balance at the end of the day is negative.

This regimen is based on the caloric balance; a form of weight loss that can sometimes be slow but can also be fairly easy to keep a track of. Remember, to lose a kilo of fat you must have a deficit of approximately 7,000 calories. This means, that if you are habitually consuming 2,000 and you begin to cut 500 calories per day, you will lose one kilo of weight in two weeks.

If you want to succeed on this diet you will have to count calories and gain a mild form of obsession over the numbers. For a great calorie counting tool, we recommend MyFitnessPal. You can read a review on MyFitnessPal here:

When we talk about weighing a kilo less on the scale, this can be both muscle and fat. In fact, it is most likely that the first case occurs. According to renowned dietician and nutritionist, Lyndi Cohen, she staes: “With calorie counting you can make many mistakes, because people often stop counting nutrients and just look at the numbers, which can lead to them taking junk food, as long as the numbers fit,”

“It’s ironic, because a diet like the CICO aims to encourage balance, but it really does not. It causes us to be obsessed about numbers, both with the number of calories and with the scale and we run the risk of feeling guilty if we ingest something inappropriate”.

Beware of the rebound effect

With the CICO diet you will lose weight, but for it to be sustainable over time, you must expect the odd blip. Cohen says that those who reduce calories and lose weight sometimes fall into the trap of believing that they can return to eating as they did before once they have hit their weight loss goal and, most likely, they will have the rebound effect.

Scientific evidence typically shows us that not all calories are the same. Different foods, even with the same type of nutrients, act differently in our body and small variations in the diet can (but not will) make us put on weight.

New research shows that counting calories may not be the most effective strategy to maintain an adequate weight over time. This is confirmed by numerous investigations, such as that of Tufts University, directed by Dr. Jessica Smith, who after analyzing the results of three long-term studies on the diet of 120,000 men and women, concluded that it is only necessary to change certain types of food to lose weight or gain weight significantly, because it is the combination of these that determines how much weight we gain and not so much how caloric, fatty or carbohydrate-rich they are.

This study is added to new research that shows that counting calories is not the most effective strategy to maintain an adequate weight over time. “Some foods help prevent weight gain, others make it worse, but the most interesting thing is that the combinations of certain foods seem to make a big difference,” says one of her co-authors, Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian.

“Our findings suggest that in order to prevent weight gain, we should not only emphasize the intake of some protein-rich foods such as fish, nuts or yogurt,” continues Mozaffarian. “We must also avoid refined grains, starches and sugars to maximize the benefits of healthy, protein-rich meals, taking advantage of the additional benefits of other foods such as eggs and cheese and reducing the weight gain associated with meats.”

CICO Diet, yes or no?

So, what should we do to lose weight and not fall into the obsession of calorie counting? Lyndi Cohen recommends consuming “fruits and vegetables and balancing your meals so that they have carbohydrates, proteins and fats.”

Every time we go to the fridge or the vending machine we are eating calories that we could save if we ate these healthy snacks.

“Plan in advance what you are going to eat, so you will ensure you do not have to eat unhealthy foods” adds the expert, who also recommends “take care of your hunger and always having healthy and nutritious snacks by hand, such as fruits, chopped vegetables or nuts.”

The CICO diet, in itself, works, but its biggest problem is that you may struggle to be sustainable in the long term and that it has a high probability of producing a rebound effect.

Only you know what is best for your body and realistically you need to try more than one diet to find out what works best for you.


CICO can work – but is it viable long term?