Slowly the days are getting shorter, darker, with the temperatures slowly dropping. The work place and home environment will be fulfilled with more ‘flu-like’ symptoms, but how can we prepare and prevent illnesses through the upcoming months ahead?

I’m a full time athlete and work part time as a Sports PR Consultant for Compete PR. Most recently, I have won the Scottish Olympic Distance Championships, 2nd place at IRONMAN UK 70.3, and most recently crowned British and Scottish Middle distance champion. As an athlete I understand the benefits of exercise and diet, on your health and wellbeing. This blog post will allow you to understand how small changes within your lifestyle can positively affect your health.

Exercise and physical activity:

Exercise is not only important for our physical health and wellbeing, but for our cognitive function and feeling mentally well, happy and healthy. As a busy mum, you are rushing around family, work and life-stressors, and right now you’re probably wondering how you can fit in physical activity within your day?

I have recently written a section within the Yakult Newsletter, which goes in depth about a structured week to include 3-4 small but effective sessions around your lifestyle. Here are some ‘top tips’ and examples of incorporating exercise into your weekly routine:

  1. Plan your week. Sounds simple right? With a structured, or fairly structured plan, you can figure out possible 20-30 minute slots, say three times a week, where you can do some form of exercise
  2. Work out with friends and family: this may include going for a walk with another parent within your neighborhood, or going for a run with the push-chair. Incorporate the family in any way possible. If the kids want to go for a bike ride, why don’t you run alongside them? If you are going for a coffee at a friends house, walk/power-walk/run/bike there?
  3. Make a plan which doesn’t frighten you! If you’re new to running, then start off with small steps towards a goal. So for instance, go for a 20min walk, incorporating 3 x 3 minutes at a slightly faster than walking pace. You can steadily increase this until you feel ready to run. Once you are ready to run, it doesn’t mean you have to run for a whole 20minutes, break it up into sections. Such as 5minutes of steady walking, then 3 x 1 minute at a slow run pace, with a walk between.
  4. Create a goal: Why not enter a race for life event? Park run? There are so many races, and challenges, which no matter what your age or ability is, there will always be people with you at your own pace.
  5. Join a club or group: You will always find like-minded individuals at a group activity such as a yoga class, Pilates, boxercise, body pump or a local running or walking group. It will also motivate you to get out there, and structure your exercise routine

Diet and nutrition:

A well balance diet is essential to stay healthy through the winter months. Nutrition is often neglected, especially when cooking meals to suit the whole family. Do you find yourself snacking through the day, on the move, eating the leftovers from the kids’ plate?

A poor diet will often lead to energy dips through the day, not only having a negative effect on your mood, but your physical energy to deal with the daily demands. Here are some quick nutrition tips and food swaps to ensure you are as energized as possible through the day:

-Plan your meals; why not make an extra portion at dinnertime, to eat the next day at lunch. Or if you know you will be out and about all day, make your lunch the night before.

-Snack on low GI and high protein food sources: Protein keeps you fuller for longer, with low GI food providing a slow carbohydrate release. This allows a sustained level of energy for a longer period of time, rather than a quick sugar hit, which you will feel an energy dip from. Snacks such as 9bars, oatcakes with peanut butter on, avocado and egg on toast, or if you’re super organized, make a smoothie to carry around with you!

As an athlete, we often take quality supplements to support our training and busy lifestyle. I take two key supplements from the Nordic Oil range:

  1. Nordic Oil is a premium quality omega 3 fish oil, which also comes in capsule form. The oil has a subtle lemon flavor, like the capsules; there is no ‘fish-like’ taste or smell. So offering easy intake for those who don’t like fish, and easy for children to take. We need omega 3 to stay healthy and prevent illnesses. The recommended weekly guidelines state that we need two portions of quality fish per week, one of which needs to be an oily form. For myself as an athlete, and like many individuals, it’s hard to take in the right amount of fish in our daily and weekly diet through food. Therefore supplementing is the best way to ensure you are getting in enough omega 3 (an essential fatty acid) within the diet.

Nordic Oil contains natural ingredients, produced using carefully selected fish sources from deep, clear waters, including herring, sardines and anchovies. So you can be sure you’re getting in the very best intake of omega 3.

  1. Vitamin D3; the ‘sunshine’ vitamin, is also important to supplement on through the colder, darker months. A low vitamin D count can lead to suppressed immune function, depression, mood imbalances and weight gain. Vitamin D is needed within the diet to absorb calcium, which is essential for bone growth.

As an athlete, I take daily omega 3 and vitamin D3 from the Nordic Oil range through out the year, but especially in the winter. This allows me to maintain health and wellbeing, but to also make sure my bones, joints and muscles stay healthy. Omega 3 is also essential to for skin and hair health and condition. With taking these supplements, I have stayed clear of illness for over a year now.

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