Physical activity is an important factor to maintain both your mental and physical health. Physical activity can boost self esteem, mood, sleep quality and energy as well as reducing your risk of stress.
Health Benefits of Physical Activity
It can reduce your risk of major illnesses, such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer by up to 50% and lower your risk of early death by up to 30%.
Research shows that physical activity can also boost self-esteem, mood, sleep quality and energy, as well as reducing your risk of stress, depression, type 2 diabetes and heart disease and stroke.
Examples of Physical Activity
Physical activity might include simply walking, climbing stairs, playing football, mowing the lawn, or gentle gardening. Strength and conditioning also counts as physical activity and includes activities like Pilates, yoga, or Tai Chi.
It's medically proven that people who do regular physical activity have:
- up to a 35% lower risk of coronary heart disease and stroke
- up to a 50% lower risk of type 2 diabetes
- up to a 50% lower risk of colon cancer
- up to a 20% lower risk of breast cancer
- a 30% lower risk of early death
- up to an 83% lower risk of osteoarthritis
- up to a 68% lower risk of hip fracture
- a 30% lower risk of falls (among older adults)
- up to a 30% lower risk of depression
- up to a 30% lower risk of dementia
Paths for All
Provide walking routes and information in your local area click the links on the page to find out more.
Cycling can be enjoyed by people of all ages and is an easy way to get more active.
For most people, cycling is a safe and effective form of exercise. If you have any health concerns or an existing medical problem, see your GP before you start.
If you have not cycled much before or you're out of the habit of cycling, find yourself a traffic-free area to start off in, such as your local park.
Why not join the cycle to work scheme?
What we eat is very important as it not only affects our physical health, but what we eat may also affect the way we feel.
- Improving your diet may help to:
- improve your mood
- give you more energy
- help you think more clearly.
During the period of lockdown due to COVID- 19 (Coronavirus) there may be greater temptation to reach for high calorie, sugary, comfort foods. The following are some categories of foods to be careful of:
Sugar – chocolate, cakes, desserts and sweets
- Too much sugary foods can cause the blood sugar level to go up and down leading to highs and lows of mood. When the brain requires a quick fix of more sugar, this results in poor concentration and food cravings.
Alcohol and Caffeine – energy drinks, fizzy juice and hot drinks
- These drinks can increase anxiety and lower mood over a period of time.
To keep health risks from alcohol to a low level it is safest for both men and women not to drink more than 14 units a week on a regular basis.
Processed Foods – takeaways and fried foods
- These foods are often used as a comfort food which may result in a initial high then drop in mood.
Eat Better Feel Better
The Eat Better Feel Better web site can help you make changes to how you shop, cook and eat, so you and your family can eat better and feel better. From tips to recipes to advice, you’ find all the help you need.
Healthy Eating – The Eat Well Guide
The Eatwell Guide shows how much of what we eat overall should come from each food group to achieve a healthy, balanced diet. You don't need to achieve this balance with every meal but try to get the balance right over a day or even a week.
- Eat at least five portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables a day
- Base meals on potatoes, bread, rice, pasta or other starchy carbohydrates. Choose wholegrain where possible
- Have some dairy or dairy alternatives (such as soya drinks and yoghurts). Choose lower-fat and lower-sugar options
- Eat some beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat and other protein. Aim for at least two portions of fish every week – one of which should be oily, such as salmon or mackerel
- Choose unsaturated oils and spreads and eat in small amounts
- Eat foods high in fat, salt and sugar less often and in small amounts
- Drink plenty of fluids – the government recommends 6-8 cups/glasses a day
On average, women should have around 2,000 calories a day (8,400 kilojoules) and men should have around 2,500 calories a day (10,500 kilojoules). Most adults are consuming more calories than they need.
Getting enough sleep is essential for helping a person maintain optimal health and well-being. When it comes to their health, sleep is as vital as regular exercise and eating a balanced diet. It’s estimated that 1 in 3 adults don’t get enough sleep, and modern-day living does not always embrace the necessity for adequate sleep. Yet, it is important that you make the effort to get enough sleep regularly.
The following are some of the many benefits associated with getting a good night’s rest:
- Better productivity and concentration - sleep patterns can have a direct impact behaviour and performance
- Lower weight gain risk - a lack of sleep may affect desire or ability to maintain a healthful lifestyle
- Better calorie regulation - getting a good night’s sleep can help you consume fewer calories during the day. When you don’t sleep long enough, it can interfere with your body’s ability to regulate food intake correctly
- Lower risk of heart disease, cancer and diabetes - getting adequate rest each night allows the body’s blood pressure and blood sugars to regulate itself.
- Preventing depression and improving mental health - people with sleep disorders such as insomnia are likely to show signs of depression. The more sleep you get, the better your mental health
- Lower inflammation - There is a link between getting adequate sleep and reducing inflammation in the body
- Stronger immune system - Sleep helps the body repair, regenerate, and recover. Better sleep quality can help the body fight off infection.
Most adults require between seven and nine hours. Sleep is a vital, often neglected, component of every person’s overall health and well-being. Sleep is important because it enables the body to repair and be fit and ready for another day. Getting adequate rest may also help prevent excess weight gain, heart disease, and increased illness duration.
Why do we need to know about the menopause?
- There are 3.5 million women over 50 in the workplace in the UK.
- In the UK, the average age for a person to go through menopause is 51.
- Symptoms of the menopause can last up to 10 years.
- Symptoms range from cognitive, physical and psychological symptoms (for example hot flushes, muscular aches, poor concentration, anxiety and headaches).
- Around one in 100 women experience menopause before age 40.
- Three out of four women experience symptoms, one in four can experience severe symptoms, which impact on their day-today life.
What is the Menopause?
Menopause is when you stop having periods, which usually happens between the ages of 45 and 55. For a small number of women menopause occurs earlier. If it happens before you are 40 it's called premature menopause (or premature ovarian insufficiency).
Menopause happens when your ovaries stop producing a hormone called oestrogen and no longer release eggs. For some time before this – it could be for a few months or for several years – your periods may become less regular as your oestrogen levels fall. This is called perimenopause.
Do all women experience the same menopause?
No. Menopause is not one-size-fits-all. Different women experience different symptoms, at different times, in different ways, for different lengths of time,
During perimenopause you might have symptoms such as hot flushes, night sweats, joint and muscle pain, vaginal dryness, mood changes and a lack of interest in sex.
Menopause affects every woman differently. You may have no symptoms at all, or they might be brief and short‑lived. For some women they are severe and distressing.
You can still get menopause symptoms if you have had a hysterectomy (an operation to remove your womb).
Other natural changes as you age can be intensified by menopause. For example, you may lose some muscle strength and have a higher risk of conditions such as osteoporosis and heart disease.
Information on Bone Health
Menopause is an important moment in a woman’s bone health. This is because the oestrogen hormone that's important for keeping bone density stable and maintaining bone strength, decreases. As a result, bone density starts to go down too. With this loss of bone density comes reduced bone strength and a greater risk of breaking bones.
Food for Healthy Bones
Women lose bone more rapidly for a number of years after the menopause when their ovaries almost stop producing oestrogen, which has a protective effect on bones.
There are no specific calcium or vitamin D recommendations for the menopause, however a healthy balanced diet, including calcium, summer sunlight and vitamin D supplements, will help slow down the rate of bone loss.
You should be able to get all the nutrients you need for healthy bones by eating a balanced diet.
A good diet is only one of the building blocks for healthy bones, which also includes exercise and avoiding certain risk factors for osteoporosis.
Stopping smoking is one of the best things you will ever do for your health, it will also save you money.
When you stop, you give your lungs the chance to repair and you will be able to breathe easier. There are lots of other benefits too – and they start almost immediately. It's never too late to quit. Let's do this!
What happens when you quit?
The sooner you quit, the sooner you'll notice changes to your body and health. Look at what happens when you quit for good.
- After 20 minutes - Check your pulse rate, it will already be starting to return to normal.
- After 8 hours - Your oxygen levels are recovering, and the harmful carbon monoxide level in your blood will have reduced by half.
- After 48 hours - All carbon monoxide is flushed out. Your lungs are clearing out mucus and your senses of taste and smell are improving.
- After 72 hours - If you notice that breathing feels easier, it's because your bronchial tubes have started to relax. Also your energy will be increasing.
- After 2 to 12 weeks - Blood will be pumping through to your heart and muscles much better because your circulation will have improved.
- After 3 to 9 months - Any coughs, wheezing or breathing problems will be improving as your lung function increases by up to 10%.
- After 1 year - Great news! Your risk of heart attack will have halved compared with a smoker's
- After 10 years - More great news! Your risk of death from lung cancer will have halved compared with a smoker's.
Did you know?
Stopping smoking not only improves your physical health but also is proven to boost your mental health and wellbeing. Quitting can improve mood, and help relieve stress, anxiety and depression.
So come on, what are you waiting for!
For both men and women
- To keep health risks from alcohol to a low level it is safest not to drink more than 14 units a week on a regular basis.
- If you regularly drink as much as 14 units per week, it is best to spread this evenly over three days or more. If you have one or two heavy drinking episodes a week, you increase your risks of death from long-term illnesses and from accidents and injuries.
- The risk of developing a range of health problems (including cancers of the mouth, throat and breast) increases the more you drink on a regular basis.
- If you wish to cut down the amount you’re drinking, a good way to help achieve this is to have several drink-free days each week.
The Impact of Covid
Research shows that many of us have found ourselves drinking more to deal with feelings of loneliness and isolation during the pandemic. As we leave lockdown and return to normal life there will be new pressures too – pressures to drink, and pressures we put on ourselves to get back to ‘normal’ socialising
Realising you have a problem with alcohol is the first big step to getting help.
You may need help if:
- you often feel the need to have a drink
- you get into trouble because of your drinking
- other people warn you about how much you're drinking
- you think your drinking is causing you problems
A good place to start is with a GP. Try to be accurate and honest about how much you drink and any problems it may be causing you.
If you have become dependent on alcohol, you will have found it difficult to fully control your drinking in some way. So you'll probably need some help either to cut down and control your drinking or stop completely, and also some plans to maintain the improvement after that.
You can find lots of useful information and resources through the NHS including how you can get support if you are caring for an alcoholic. Additionally, see resources and links at the side of this page.
Inverclyde Alcohol & Drug Recovery Service
The service provides an integrated service model which focuses on promoting recovery, assessment, treatment and early intervention, and includes providing an enhanced recovery framework within Inverclyde; increasing the resources available and providing more options for support during an individual’s recovery journey.
How to Access Services
The Alcohol and Drug Recovery Service will accept self-referrals and referrals from GP, social worker and other agencies. Access to these services is obtained by having an assessment of need carried out. This assessment of need identifies the appropriate service to be delivered.
If you require any support please contact the Alcohol and Drug Recovery Service at:
30 Regent Street
Tel: 01475 715353
Inverclyde Family Support Service
Offers support to anyone in Inverclyde over the age of 16 who is affected by someone else’s drug or alcohol use. This could be a direct family member, or even a friend or a colleague who is using substances.
Daryl McLeister is the Family Support Development Officer for Inverclyde.
To find out about support available in Inverclyde email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call their National Helpline on 08080 10 10 11
- One-to-One Support
- Group Support
- CRAFT (Community Reinforcement Approach & Family Training)
- Support to access Bereavement Counselling
- Access to Naloxone
If you would like further information on the above topics please check ICON, Inverclyde Council's employee intranet, or if you do not have access please call the OD Team on 01475 712760.