February “Physically Active Mentally Stronger” TOP TIPS

February “Physically Active Mentally Stronger” TOP TIPS

Physically Active Mentally Stronger Top Tips

  1. What does being mentally strong mean to you
    A person’s mental health is affected by individual factors and experiences, social interaction, societal structures, resources and cultural values. It is influenced by: experiences in everyday life, in families and schools, on streets and at work.
  1. Physical activity improves mental wellbeing
  • Physical activity helps maintain and improve mental wellbeing. It serves to provide both protective and enhancing effects.
  • It causes chemical (increases dopamine and serotonin) changes in the brain that positively change our mood and how we think.
  • Increase self-esteem (competitive sports in particular, even if you lose)
  • Increased self-control and regulation.
  • Increased ability to rise to a challenge.

Also provides protection against:

  • anxiety and helps mild depression
  • Reduces harmful changes in the brain caused by a chronic stress response.
  1. Exercise boosts performance and productivity
    Research in a UK university has found that on the day individuals exercised:
    33% felt more motivated
    72% had better time management
    79% demonstrated improved mental concentration and performance
  1. Too busy is not an excuse!
    What factors are getting in your way?
    Internal: What do you tell yourself?
    External: What pressures do you experience?
    Recognising the obstacles that disrupt our goal intentions can help us devise more effective strategies and actions to achieve our aims.
  2. Managing energy, attention and time
    Fitness is having the energy to meet the demands of the environment.
    Take control and increase focus
    Find your ‘hour of power’
    Develop a flexible attitude
    Slow down- monotask rather than multitasking
  1. Be creative to get the most out of your time
    – Develop a flexible attitude
    – Setting aside time to exercise can be a challenge. Use a little creativity to get the most out of your time. Squeeze in short walks throughout the day. If you don’t have time for a full workout, don’t sweat it. Shorter spurts of exercise, such as 10 minutes of walking spaced throughout the day, offer benefits too.
    – Go to Bed and Get up earlier. If your days are packed and the evening hours are just as hectic, go to bed and get up 30 minutes earlier twice a week to exercise. Once you’ve adjusted to early-morning workouts, add another day or two to the routine.
    – Commute less, walk more. Get off the train a stop early or park in the back row of the parking lot or even a few blocks away and walk to your destination.
    – Revamp your rituals. Your weekly Saturday matinee with the kids or your best friend could be reborn as your weekly Saturday bike ride, rock-climbing lesson or trip to the pool.  Also think about how you can make time for the kids or your friends during the week – by leaving earlier on some days.
  1. Create a more active you at work
    Improve your productivity and work life balance:
    Taking a proper lunch will affect your mood & concentration
    Having regular breaks increases energy
    MOVE: walk, gym, or a lunchtime concert
    Get some fresh air
    Get some sunlight vital for sound sleep
  1. The cycle of managing energy
    Shape your day to do your most important work when you are at your best.
    Ultradian rhythms refer to 90- to 120-minute cycles during which our bodies slowly move from a high-energy state into a physiological trough. Toward the end of each 90 minute cycle, the body begins to crave a period of recovery. The signals include physical restlessness, yawning, hunger, and difficulty concentrating, but many of us ignore them and keep working. The consequence is that our energy reservoir—our remaining capacity—burns down as the day wears on.
  1. Be a movement opportunist
    The body will become better at whatever you do, or don’t do. You don’t move? The body will make you better at NOT moving. If you move, your body will allow more movement. Exercise does not negate the effects of sititng all day! The discs decompress and lose fluid for every hour you sit so you need regular movement breaks throughout the day/every 75-90 minutes.

Best Apps


  • Nike + Training Club – various different exercise programs to follow
  • Couch to 5K
  • Run keeper – tracks walks, runs, bike rides
  • Fitstich – track progress


  • Podcasts – zen.org – guided meditations
  • Headspace

Feel Good recipes:

Chicken and black bean chowder


  • ½ a bunch of fresh coriander , (15g)
  • olive oil
  • 2 onions
  • 1 cloves of garlic
  • 2 sticks of celery
  • 250 g free-range cooked chicken
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1 x 400 g tin of black beans
  • 750 ml organic chicken stock
  • 1 fresh corn on the cob
  • 1 fresh bay leaf
  • 75 ml single cream
  • 2 corn tortillas
  • 1 lemon


  1. Pick the coriander leaves and set to one side, then finely slice the stalks. Peel and finely chop the onion and garlic, then trim the celery and finely slice.
  2. Place a large saucepan over a medium-low heat and pour in 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the onion, garlic, celery and coriander stalks, then sauté for about 10 minutes, or until the veg is softened but not coloured. Meanwhile, shred the chicken and put to one side.
  3. Once the vegetables have softened, add the cumin and cayenne to the pan and fry for 1 minute. Stir in the black beans, along with their liquid, and the chicken stock. Cut the corn kernels from the cob and add it all to the pan, along with the bay leaf. Gently bring it all to the boil, then reduce the heat to low and let it simmer for 15 minutes.
  4. If you prefer your chowder to be on the smooth side, you could blitz it just a little with a stick blender, otherwise just leave it nice and chunky. Stir in the shredded chicken and cream, season with salt and pepper to taste, then return to the hob for a further 10 minutes.
  5. When the chowder is almost ready, toast the corn tortillas in a hot, dry frying pan until lightly golden. Cut them into large pieces, and serve them wedged into bowls of the soup. Cut the lemon into wedges for squeezing over and finish with a sprinkle of the reserved coriander leaves

Veggie feijoada with sweet potato & kidney beans

  • 160 g brown rice
  • 200 g sweet potato
  • 2 red onions
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 red pepper
  • ½ a courgette
  • olive oil
  • ½ x 200 g tin of kidney beans
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 15 g fresh coriander
  • 4 ripe tomatoes
  • 50 g fat-free natural yoghurt


  1. Place the rice into a medium pan, cover with cold water, then place over a medium heat. Bring to the boil, then simmer gently for 12 to 15 minutes, or until just cooked. Drain in a sieve, then place the sieve over the warm pan. Season with a little sea salt and black pepper, cover with a lid and set aside off the heat.
  2. Meanwhile, fill a small pan with water, place over a medium heat and bring to the boil. Peel and chop the sweet potato into chunks, then add to the pan when the water is boiling. Cook with the lid on for 5 minutes, or until tender. Drain and set aside.
  3. Meanwhile, peel the onions and cut into wedges. Separate each wedge into petals, then peel and finely slice the garlic. Halve, deseed and roughly dice the pepper, then trim and halve the courgette, roughly slicing it at an angle.
  4. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large pan over a medium-high heat. Add the sweet potato, onions, peppers and courgette, cooking for 8 minutes, or until softened but charred and gnarly on the outside.
  5. Drain the beans, but reserve the juice. Add the beans to the hot pan (save the rest for another day) and cook for 1 more minute. Stir through, then add the garlic, ground coriander, and paprika. Season well with salt and pepper and cook for 3 minutes, or until sticky and gnarly.
  6. Meanwhile, finely slice the coriander, stalks and all. Roughly chop the tomatoes. Add to the pan with their juices, along with the coriander stalks, the reserved liquid from the beans and 275ml of water. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 5 to 10 minutes, or until the veg is soft and the sauce has thickened. Add an extra splash of water to loosen if the sauce gets too thick.
  7. Season the veggie feijoada to taste and stir through most of the coriander leaves. Serve with the rice, a dollop of yogurt and the reserved coriander scattered on top.
  • 1 cup Medjool dates, pitted
  • 1 cup dried apricots
  • 2 Tablespoons chia seeds
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup raw pumpkin seeds
  • 2 Tablespoons white chocolate chips (use vegan, if desired)Directions:
  • Line a 8×8 or 9×9 square pan with wax or paper.
  • Place dates, apricots, chia seeds and cinnamon in a food processor, and process until the mixture forms a large mass.
  • Break up slightly with a spatula, add pumpkin seeds to the mixture in the food processor, and pulse until there are small chunks of pepitas.
  • Break up the mixture one more time, add white chocolate chips and pulse a few times to slightly break and distribute the chips.
  • Press the mixture into the prepared pan. You can cover the top with more paper and press an equal sized pan to roll the top with a glass to flatten completely.
  • Refrigerate for 30-45 minutes, then slice into bars or squares.


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