Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Just for women.... CRUK's Race for Life

Of course the DPH Challenge is for everyone but today we’re focussing on an event for women.  One of the ways you could meet the DPH challenge is to do the Race For Life (#raceforlife).  I’ve asked Julie Braithwaite, the local area Event’s Manager for Cancer Research UK to tell us about it.

Julie says
“ So what is Race for Life?  It’s  a 5k women only event where women of all shapes and sizes can walk, jog or run the course to raise much needed funds for cancer research.  Let’s face it. Nobody likes cancer, it has no friends and zero followers. Cancer’s a loser basically. And every single pound we raise will help make sure it keeps on losing. That’s why we Race for Life. We take absolute delight in telling cancer that we’re coming to get it.  It’s also great fun – especially if you do it as a team.  Each year we see teams of amazing women donning their matching T-shirts and giving it a go. 
There are three events local to Harrow or Barnet. 
n  Watford Race for Life  takes place on 15th June in Cassiobury Park;
n  Enfield Race for Life takes place on 15th June at Trent Park; and
n  Hillingdon Race for Life takes place at Hillingdon Sports and Leisure Complex on 8th June

Sign up for Race for Life today;  www.raceforlife.org

If you’re not ready to do the 5k yet, remember you still have time to train.  We have tips and a training plan that you can download as well as an app for your phone and a blog.

We’re also on the look out for volunteers.  They are an essential part of Race for Life. Without them our events simply couldn’t take place. Our events are the biggest success when we have a collective force of volunteers helping out on the day, so we need every one of you to come along and lend a hand. By volunteering, you can get:
n  Hands-on experience with people from all walks of life, while contributing to a worthwhile cause.
n  Personal satisfaction of knowing you’re helping to make a real difference in the fight against cancer.
n  The opportunity to meet new people, and help out in your local community.

Let’s bring cancer to its knees. Sign up to volunteer at Race for Life today; www.raceforlife.org/volunteer

Thanks Julie – I know that the public health team always have a great time taking part in Race for Life.  They tell me that as well as a personal challenge, it’s also an opportunity to celebrate the lives of their friends and family who have fought or are still fighting cancer.

 Remember, if this is your challenge, let us know about it by commenting on this post or on your own blog or facebook page using the hashtags #DPHchallengeHarrow or #DPHchallengeBarnet.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Give it a Go - free adult kayaking

We’ve had a message from Mark at the Phoenix Outdoor Centre at the Welsh Harp.  If you’ve ever fancied trying your hand a kayaking, now’s your chance to give it a go!

Mark says
The Phoenix Outdoor Centre is running a FREE “Give it a Go!” Adult Kayaking course over three sessions from their base on the Welsh Harp Reservoir. The sessions are being run on Tuesdays 22nd, 29th April and 6th May 2014 from 11am to 1pm. We will have coaches to provide training and some fun activities to help lock in your skills. Kayaking is a great sport for some gentle cardio exercise and getting you out on the water with other people. We hope to establish these sessions as a regular adult activity available at a nominal cost after the initial course is completed. There is no award at the end of the course.
You need to be able to swim 10m and bring a complete change of clothes with you – you will get damp, if not very wet! Please note that you should attend all 3 sessions. To book onto the FREE course, go to our website at http://www.phoenixcanoeclub.co.uk/activities/kayaking/  and click on the blue button “Give it a Go!” Adult Kayaking> which takes you to our WebCollect booking page. Book onto the course and complete the short form – there is nothing to pay! There are limited spaces on the course – the quicker you book, the better.
We will be in contact with you to give you more detailed information about where to meet, what to bring etc. If you need more information, please contact me, Mark Underwood – Centre Activities Manager on 07854 655968 or email me mark@phoenixoutdoorcentre.co.uk

Thanks for letting us know Mark.
If you have a free taster activity in Barnet or Harrow, let us know on publichealth@harrow.gov.uk and we'll try to publicise it for you.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Setting Goals for Exercise

Setting goals for exercise
When you have a target, you sometimes hit it and sometimes miss.  But if you don’t have a target, then you are guaranteed to miss it.  Setting a target for your exercise makes a lot of sense.
But be careful.  Targets are tricky.  It is helpful to remember that your goals need to be SMART: Specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, timebound
Specific and measurable: there is no point in setting a goal that is vague or cannot be measured.  “Exercise more” or “eat better” will just not work.  But “exercise for 30 mins at least twice a week” or “eat two pieces of fruit for breakfast every day” will.  You know what you’re expected to do and you can congratulate yourself when you’ve done it.
Achievable and relevant:  Don’t expect to run a marathon in less than 3 hours if you haven’t run for ten years!  Don’t enter a triathlon if you haven’t sorted front crawl yet!  All that happens is you feel let down and give up.  So, be reasonable and realistic, and pick targets that are relevant to what you want to do.  If you want to lose weight, then set targets that combine more exercise with healthy eating.  If you want to build muscle, then pick goals that support this.  But be sensible, it is better to be slightly less ambitious to start, then push yourself later.  Success breeds success.
Timebound.  Odd word, but makes sense.  How long will you exercise for?  When will you review things and measure how you’re doing?  What is the aim in 3, 6, 9 months?  You need to have an end in sight.
There is no shame in failure when it comes to getting healthy.  We have all experienced it.  Exercise and healthy eating are tough in today’s society.  But you are letting yourself and your family and friends down if you don’t at least try. 
Sort yourself some smart goals today – and in a few months you will feel very SMART.

Monday, 7 April 2014

An update from Veronica

A few weeks ago Veronica did a guest spot on the blog.  Here's some great news from her.

Hello again

I would like to let you know that I ran my first marathon on Sunday 6 April 2014 – the Paris marathon.

I received the go ahead from my GP, after almost a month and a half of waiting for a medical certificate, as this is a requirement in France. He was trying to convince me that at my age and with a slight irregular heartbeat, I should find a gentler challenge. Difficult to persuade him that I have run already 3 half marathons and many 10K races and been training for almost 3 years. I was very excited and nervous about this very big challenge.

Literally, I wouldn’t say I’m in the best shape of my life but I  wouldn’t say I’m in the worst, either, so making this commitment was an instant motivator to work  harder. Now, I feel more focused and I even though it was going to be fun. Before the race, I thought "There will definitely be sweat, there will probably be tears and there may be some blood but who cares? I can’t think of a better reason to put my body through its paces and raise as much money as possible in the process. "

The charity I am supporting and fundraising for is Get Kids Going! This is a national charity which gives disabled children and young people – up to the age of 26 yrs – the wonderful opportunity  to participate in sport. There are hundred of talented, disabled, youngsters who have the potential to take part in events all over the world, but receive either none or very little funding and are desperate to achieve their life-long dream. With our help, together we can turn their dreams into reality and help make them into sporting heroes!

The timing was longer than I expected…a very slow and painful 6:13 hrs. This however was not very bad for me, considering that I run 42.5 Km (26.3 miles) with a chest infection, coughing all the way to the finishing line.

Getting started is hard but here's a few tips

There is no point denying it; exercise can be hard.  We all know it is a good idea, we all want to do it, but actually putting on the trainers and getting into the kit is tough.  Once we start we tend to enjoy it, and certainly enjoy the benefits it brings.  But getting started is the tricky bit.
So, what do you do?  How can you start something that you really don’t want to do?
Here are a few tips:
Small steps work
Be reasonable with yourself.  Don’t try to climb mountains when it fact hills scare you.  The key thing is to make sure that at the end of your first training session, you want to do more.  So, don’t try to run a mile; run for 5 minutes. If that goes well, run for 6 minutes tomorrow, and work up to ten minutes over a few weeks.  You’ll be surprised how your body gets used to it.  In a month, ten minutes will be easy!

Get company
Go to the gym or work out with a friend.  Chat while you are jogging or walking.  Make it a social thing and then you are far more likely to do it and enjoy it.  Or even better join a team, so there are lots of people to encourage you and keep you motivated.
Treat yourself
There is nothing wrong with a reward.  Keep yourself going by promising yourself a long relaxing bath, or the latest episode of Games of Thrones, or a new pair of jeans at the end of the month – whatever works for you.  Then think of the treat you are getting as the workout goes on.  It’ll help you through the tough bits.
Think long term
You are not going to get to Olympic standard in a week.  But little and often will make a difference.  Plan to see how you’re doing in three months, six months, and don’t worry if you don’t see a difference in a few days. 
Be nice to yourself!
Exercise is not a punishment.  It is good for you and will make your live better and longer!  So don’t give yourself a hard time.  Be gentle, take it easy, treat yourself and use your friends.
Before you know it, you will be running, swimming or cycling that mile, and wanting to do more!

Monday, 24 March 2014

Fit and Active Barnet is FAB

Fit and Active Barnet is the name of our new physical activity campaign in Barnet.  My DPH challenge is a good kick start to the campaign.

We have lots of plans for the FAB campaign and in this post I want to tell you about a couple of them. 

Outdoor Gyms are a great way of getting fit – and they’re free!  We currently have 2 outdoor gyms in Barnet parks and have plans for more during the year.  Outdoor gyms have a range of equipment to work on both strength and stamina.  You don’t need to book them, just turn up and try them out.  Remember to wear clothing that will enable you to move easily and wear trainers or other flat shoes with grip on the soles to prevent you slipping.
The second thing I want to mention is the marked and measured routes.  We have a range of routes and markers along the way will tell you how far you’ve come and show you where to go.  Councillor Helena Hart and I took the opportunity to walk one of these routes – a great idea for a lunch time stroll.  To find out more about the outdoor gyms and the marked and measures walking routes, have a look on the Barnet council  website:  www.barnet.gov.uk

Friday, 21 March 2014

A guest blog from Veronica

Today we have a guest blog from one of my team.  Veronica Georgescu is a Health Improvement Officer workign with the team in Barnet.  Her story about how she started running is really inspiring.

How I started running
I came to running from a very dark place. I was very unfit and unhealthy, doing no exercise at all for many years except when commuting to and from work. My blood pressure was high as well as my cholesterol level (the total was a shocking 7mmol/l). Both my parents and my younger sister died of heart disease. For many reasons/excuses, I could not commit myself to go to the gym. I remember, walking up the hills in Harrow or even a small flight of stairs would leave me panting. Then in the summer of 2012, I joined a running club – Metros – because I wanted to change my life. 
Six months later, I run 3 X 10K and 2 X 10 miles races and got a very good performance. It got me hooked. On average I now run 3-4 times per week, about 7 - 8 miles a day, took part in many races and even got a bronze medal in a 10 miles race.
I cannot say that I am a fast runner. In the beginning it was a bit daunting by how much mental energy it took me to finish a race, but I was prepared to be more focused in the future.
Another reason for starting up running was seeing my 2 children taking part in the ‘Iron man’ triathlon in Wales – Pembrokeshire coast (140.9 miles – swimming, cycling and running). While supporting my children on the day, I saw many contestants my own age and even older taking part, so the competitive side of me told me that it would be great if I could do at least a smaller triathlon. So I started polishing my swimming techniques and joined the running club.
Before I joined the club, I imagined a team of young, athletic people running and I felt a bit embarrassed, however, my embarrassment disappeared once I started; all the other runners were so supportive with the beginners. I loved the fact that whatever your background, age and your level of training, you were part of a very supportive team. There is great camaraderie, and many have become good friends.
As I settled into my running routine, I am enjoying more and what is more important, my health is great, and hopefully next year will be able to do a triathlon with my boys. At the moment I just love running in beautiful places and meeting up with friends and fellow runners. Also I am looking forward for my first marathon!
I wish I had known how exhilarating it is to race – I would have done it sooner. Doing also a marathon will tick all the boxes and I will try to do that for as long as I’m able to run.