A ten minute burst of exercise or an hour in the gym – which would you prefer?

Julia Buckley Fitness Journalist
Julia Buckley Fitness Journalist

A scientific study shows that 10 minute bursts of exercise give you the same health benefits as hours in the gym – so are you wasting time and money on lengthy workouts?
Millions of us could be spending hours of our precious time sticking to lengthy exercise routines when all we need to do is short bursts of activity each day.

A scientific study from Boston University published this month* found doing ten minute bursts of exercise each day was as beneficial as hours in the gym and what’s more, things such as gardening, fishing, shovelling and even taking the stairs instead of the lift may count towards the quota.

And the study is likely to be music to the ears of gym goers, with new research released today showing that close to two thirds of people admit they are wasting money on a gym membership and not getting much out of it.

One in six say that’s because they don’t seem to get any fitter, almost three quarters say they don’t go often enough and a third say they don’t work out long enough.

The survey by Kettler Fitness shows that gym-goers spend two hours exercising in the gym per week; however they admit they only really work out for 70% of that time.

Almost 60% said they don’t really do an extensive workout every time they go to the gym, while close to 30% say they don’t even break into a sweat.

More than a fifth say they spend more time in the hot tub and the sauna than they do in any other part of the gym, while more than half are too embarrassed or too self-conscious to try their hardest at the gym.

More than a third of women wear makeup to the gym and over 40% of them are worried about their make-up smearing while they’re in the gym.

When at the gym 30% of those surveyed say they chat with friends, more than one in ten read magazines while on the treadmill and one in nine chill out around the pool.  When it comes to the gender divide, 13% of women watch music videos and around one in 12 of men go to the gym to watch football matches on the big screen.


Julia Buckley , a noted fitness journalist , spoke to Teekshana Smith, for PatientTalk, about the study!

SMITH Welcome to Patient Talk.  A scientific study shows that a ten minutes burst of exercise gives you the save health benefits as hours in the gym.  So are we wasting time and money on empty work outs?  Joining me today is Julia Buckley, fitness journalist.  Hello and welcome.


SMITH So tell us a bit more about the survey please.

JULIA BUCKLEY  Ok, this survey by Kettler was about how people use gyms and what they are getting out of their gym membership.  I see two thirds say they didn’t feel like they were getting value for money from the gym that they are member of.  One in six didn’t feel like they were getting any fitter by going.  60% admit that they didn’t really do a very extensive workout while they were there and 30% said they didn’t even break a sweat.

SMITH Did you find any of the results differed by either gender or region?

JULIA BUCKLEY  Well yes, things people said differed a little bit by gender.  Regionally it was pretty similar to those figures I just gave you, pretty much across the board but women were a little bit more concerned about the comfort in the gym they are a little bit more self-conscience and 40% of women said they all were worried about the reason they didn’t break into a sweat so they were worried about their make-up smearing or messing their hair up.

SMITH In regards to the ten minute burst of exercise a scientific study was done by Boston University.  What do you can be achieved in that ten minute burst?

JULIA BUCKLEY  Yes, so this survey by Boston University, it backs up something that many of us in the fitness industry have been saying for a long time that you don’t really need big chunks of time to work out and in some ways you can actually get more out of a shorter work out.  What we are talking about here is really pushing yourself for 10 minutes, really going for it and really doing some challenging exercises.  Get your heart pumping and breathing hard verses spending hours plodding away and going at a comfortable pace which is not really going to challenge the body so you’re not going to get many benefits from it really.

SMITH Most of us would maybe feel safer in the gym so is the gym the best place to exercise or are you able to this at home?

JULIA BUCKLEY  It can be for some people, some people do great in the gym, other people less so.  As the survey by Kettler shows, two thirds of people felt like they weren’t really making the most of it and I think what these people need to realise is that you don’t need a gym membership, that’s not the only place to get fit, it’s very, very possible to get fit outside of the gym by working out outside or even at home and this is a good point for people who do feel self-conscious in the gym or lack confidence.  You can work out at home people tend to just use one piece of equipment in the gym anyway or mainly, so say a cross trainer machine or treadmill or exercise bike.  Why not, rather than spending money on a gym membership add up what that would cost over a year and they can quite often go up to £2,000 or more.  Invest that in a piece of home equipment.  For example Kettler has just launched their new Racer S bike which is a fantastic, real high end piece of gym quality equipment.  It’s quite expensive it’s £1,499 but if you weight that up against a £2,000 a year gym membership.  It comes with a three year warranty and loads of really cool aspects on it I think, that you don’t actually get in a lot of gym equipment.  For example you can simulate racing the Tour de France and my favourite thing is you can put in a meal that you’ve recently eaten that you maybe regret so, say you’ve eaten a burger you can input that in to the bicycles’ computer and you get a screen showing you a big picture of a burger which you look at while you are working out and it shows you how many calories you’ve burnt verses how many were in the burger.  So you get a progress bar showing how far you are away from burning off that burger, it’s quite motivating.

SMITH Talking of burgers, is diet something we should consider when talking about losing weight?

JULIA BUCKLEY  Absolutely.  It’s a really important component of losing weight and getting fitter.  You need to support your exercise with a good healthy, nutritious diet.  So it is possible to lose weight by exercise alone but in the long term you’re much better off combining the two and for health reasons as well of course.

SMITH Julia, would you give any tip tips of what you could do in ten minutes at home.

JULIA BUCKLEY  Yes, well anything really that takes you to the point of maximum effort but so it doesn’t necessarily have to be a formal exercise.  It could be housework, cleaning, DIY, gardening, you know all of those things, as long as you’re getting your heart pumping and your breathing going and you’re really pushing yourself is fine but for example, just put a pair of trainers on and go outside for a run and run between lampposts.  Really, really fast and hard between say two lampposts and then walk between three while you get your breath back and as soon as you’re ready to go again, that’s it, push it and I really go for it in those ten minutes and you’ll know you’re getting fitter and you’re getting the benefits and it doesn’t take a lot of time.

SMITH With the ten minute exercise burst, does it differ with the sexes?

JULIA BUCKLEY  No, no, equally beneficial for both.

SMITH Fantastic!  Should people have a medical before starting any exercise regime?

JULIA BUCKLEY  Yes, generally, I would advise anyone if you haven’t exercised for a long time or if you have any concerns at all on the medical side definitely see your doctor.  Get advice for as medical professional and work under their advice.

SMITH Well thank you so much for joining us today on Patient Talk.


SMITH Thank you for listening to Patient Talk.


To find out more about Ms Buckley please visit her web site at http://www.juliabuckley.co.uk/about-julia-buckley/


Macmillan Cancer Support urges us all to write a will as figures show majority still don’t have one! Find out more in our latest interview

More than half of adults do not have a will in place which could leave their family and loved ones at serious risk if they pass away

Macmillan Cancer Support is urging adults who do not have a will in place to consider urgently writing one, with the charity concerned that many families could be at risk of significant financial and even custody issues.

Research released today shows that changes in family circumstances are most likely to move people to first prepare their will. Whilst having children is the biggest trigger, an additional quarter (26%) cites the death of a parent or getting married as the reason why they first put pen to paper.

But despite that, 57% of adults in the UK have not put pen to paper and worryingly, the research reveals that almost one third (32%) of people aged 56 and over do not have a will.

The research marks the launch of Macmillan Cancer Support’s new Discounted Will-Writing Service which helps people find a legal professional they can trust to write their will at a discounted cost.

Cohabiting couples with and without children is the fastest growing family type, yet people in this situation are most at risk if they don’t make a will as without one, there is no certainty that a partner will inherit.  Furthermore, if a parent of a minor dies where there is no surviving parent or appointed guardian, this could result in the child being taken into care.

In addition, a legacy to a charity is only guaranteed to be gifted if it is included in a valid will.

Please read our exclusive interview on the subject


Teekshana Smith is the host for PatientTalk.  She interviews Helen Eddlestone who is legacy manager at MacMillan Cancer Support and Liliana Mahon who is a legal advisor

SMITH Welcome to PatientTalk.  More than half of adults do not have a will in place which could leave their family and loved ones at serious risk if they passed away.  MacMillan Cancer Supporters are urging adults who do not have a will in place to consider urgently writing one.    Hello and welcome.

Ms Eddlestone & Ms Mahon: Hello.

SMITH  So what was the study methodology?

MS EDDLESTONE  At MacMillan Cancer Support we’ve carried out some research which found that 56% of people have not yet written a will which we think is really, really shocking and essentially we want to raise the awareness of how important having a legally valid will really is.

SMITH Were there any surprising results?

MS EDDLESTONE  Well, I think the fact that 56% of people haven’t written a will is quite surprising and we were quite shocked by it.  We also found that 44% of older people have essentially just admitted to putting it off and I think the reason for that is there is a perceived high cost and complication when writing a will and people think it can be quite a stressful experience and also to be brutally honest, people don’t really think about their own death and don’t really thing about planning for it when really they should be because it can leave their families in a real tough time when they are having to grieve anyway and having to sort out the financial situation of their loved one.

SMITH Also with the research, did it show any interesting population segments being uncovered?

MS EDDLESTONE  Well as I’ve already just said we know that quite a lot of older people have admitted to putting off writing their will and I think that was a bit of a shock really because yes, we understand that young people are probably further away from thinking about their own death than older people but we’d hoped that people from an older generation might be more inclined to plan for their future a bit more.  So that was quite a shock that quite a large proportion of older people haven’t thought about it.

SMITH What have you seeing as the prime age of people that were writing a will?

MS EDDLESTONE  Well the single biggest trigger to write a will is having children, which certainly makes sense and Lilana can actually explain what might happen to families if they don’t have a will.

MS MAHON Yes, if you don’t have a will and you’ve got children the children will actually inherit your estate at eighteen where as if you have a will you can actually decide at what age they do inherit whether it be eighteen, twenty-one or twenty-five.  It’s the only real way that you can ensure that the people that you care for and want to inherit from your estate actually do.

SMITH What is the impact of diagnoses with a chronic or terminal medical condition of the decision to make a will?

MS EDDLESTONE  We do actually have some feedback from our research which suggests that 20% of people say an illness is the reason they wrote or would write a will and I think again that goes back to that fact that when people start thinking about their own death and their own mortality they think that they should be writing a will sooner rather than later.

SMITH Helen, Macmillan is well known as a cancer charity.  Why has it decided to go down the services of offering wills?

MS EDDLESTONE  Well we believe that everybody should have an updated, professionally written will, particularly our supporters and people who are affected by cancer.  They are the main reasons why we have designed the new service but saying that, anybody can use the service.  You don’t have to have used MacMillan services to be able to access it and the will writing scheme that we’ve launched is really, really easy to use.  People can do it online, face to face or over the phone and it basically allows them to find a legal professional which they can trust and they can get their will written at a discounted rate which is much cheaper than they can find on the high street.

SMITH Lilana, what is actually a valid will?

MS MAHON There are certain elements for a will to be valid and if you go to a professional they will make ensure that those elements are in place so that your will is valid.  A lot of people make the mistake of thinking they can make their own will at home which of course they don’t have to seek professional advice to make a will but I have seen so many times, time and time again where people have written their own wills at home or they’ve used a kit from a shop to make their wills and they are riddled with problems.  Sometimes they are not dated, sometimes they are not signed properly or they’re not witnessed and it’s really not worth making your own will at home.  I would say seek professional advice and if you use a discounted will writing service you’ll get very good value for money as well.

SMITH Talking about charitable donations in wills are there any tax benefits to doing that?

MS EDDLESTONE  There are indeed.  Gifts left to charities in will are actually exempt for inheritance tax and often people choose to leave a gift in their will to a charity that they care about because it might even take them, that gift might take them underneath the inheritance tax threshold which you have to then pay inheritance tax on your estate.  It can be quite complicated so we advise people seek professional finance advice when doing this but the short story is that a gift to a charity in a will is exempt from inheritance tax.  Our discounted will writing service is available for anybody in England, Scotland and Wales.  We are looking to add people in Northern Ireland as well and we are currently looking for a solicitor partner to partner with to allow that to happen.  So if people want further information about how to access the service just visit our website which is www.macmillan.org.uk/willwriting

SMITH Thank you so much for joining me today.


SMITH Thank you for listening to PatientTalk.

Is it just everyday stress or could you be suffering from a more serious form of anxiety?

Dr Cheryl Rezek

Log onto our live and interactive online show where Cheryl Rezek, clinical psychologist, will discuss how to spot the symptoms of anxiety in yourself and others and ways of managing it.


Show date: Monday 28th January

Show time: 1:30pm


We all suffer from stress and the odd sleepless night, but when do these moments of anxiety become regular episodes that develop into an ongoing mental illness?

From worrying about getting old, to heath concerns, financial problems and relationship issues, there are many things in life that can cause us stress.

However, when the odd stress leads to extreme anxiety, it can cause sleepless nights, the inability to concentrate at work, relationship breakdowns and psychological problems.

Anxiety also has very real physical symptoms. High anxiety and stress is a leading cause of heart disease, stroke and mental illness and can be a trigger for many other conditions both minor and major. Health experts are concerned that millions of people could be literally making themselves sick with worry and due to this; benenden health has launched a new campaign to help people put their worries into perspective.

So how exactly do you manage these feelings? How do you work out if you are just a little worried or whether you are suffering from a mental illness? Log onto our live and interactive online show, where Cheryl Rezek, a clinical psychologist will be on hand to answer your questions.


To find our more about Dr Rezek please to to her site at http://www.cherylrezek.com/

Cheryl Rezek joins us live online at http://www.studiotalk.tv/show/is-it-just-everyday-stress-or-could-you-be-suffering-from-a-more-serious-form-of-anxiety   on Monday 28th January at 1:30pm

Click here to submit questions before the show http://www.studiotalk.tv/show/is-it-just-everyday-stress-or-could-you-be-suffering-from-a-more-serious-form-of-anxiety

Desperately seeking sun – Do you get the Winter Blues?

Dr Rob Hicks
Dr Rob Hicks

We may not have had much of our own in recent years, so with summer holiday bookings now going into overdrive, first ever Sunshine Index launched to help Brits escape to warmer climes

In recent years we’ve had some of the worst and most extreme weather events in our recorded history, but while we never expect much from our climate, a recent study shows that many of us are expecting even worse in 2013. Last year was the second wettest on record and the previous year one of our coldest, and the study shows 52% of us believe that British summers are getting worse every year.

With many already dreaming of summer and the chance to escape the UK, holiday companies are expecting a huge surge in bookings this weekend as people start to look ahead to time in the sun.

Over a third (37%) of holidaymakers surveyed by Thomson admit their main reason for travelling abroad is to enjoy sunshine which they can’t be certain of getting in the UK.

More than a quarter of Brits (26%) admit that good weather is the most important factor in contributing to their holiday happiness, so much so, that almost half (45%) go online daily in the lead up to their holiday to get excited about how warm it’ll be on arrival.

To help people maximise their exposure to sunlight during their holidays Thomson has launched a sunshine index of the places people are likely to get the most sunshine hours.

It’s well documented how a lack of sunshine, which gives the body vitamin D, can be damaging to our health and wellbeing, so it’s no wonder so many of us are desperate to leave our wintery shores behind at the moment. As a result, Thomson have teamed up with Dr Rob Hicks to help explain the importance of sunshine on our wellbeing and the best ways to get our much needed dose of vitamin D

The study also saw half of those surveyed admit that bad weather leads to feelings of depression, while more than a quarter say it makes them feel unsociable, and more than one in seven say continued bad weather makes them feel angry.


More than a third (34%) can’t be bothered to get up in the morning and, startlingly, almost one in every twenty (4%) doesn’t go into work as they can’t face the journey.

So how important is good weather for our health and if we’re not getting enough of it here, where are the best places to get it?

Listen to our podcast with Dr Rob Hicks to find out you can do today for your health, to overcome the nasty weather outside right now.


Julian Fisher is the host and Dr Rob Hicks is fielding the questions

FISHER It’s well documented how a lack of sunshine which gives the body vitamin D can be damaging to our health and wellbeing so it’s no wonder many of us are desperate to leave our wintery shores behind at the moment. As a result Thomson has teamed up with Dr Rob Hicks to help explain the importance of sunshine on our wellbeing and the best way to get our much needed dose of vitamin D. Now Rob, tell us a bit more about the study first of all. What were the results?

DR HICKS Well the study that was carried out online of 2,000 people across the UK came up with some very interesting results. 50% of British people think that the summers over here in the UK are a washout and they’re getting worse. 37% of people said the main reason they go on holiday is to enjoy the sunshine they can’t guarantee getting here at home in the UK and from a health point of view, what I found interesting was that 48% of people say that bad weather makes them feel sad and depressed which is something which in practice we do see at this time of the year. A number of people with the winter blues and Seasonal Affective Disorder obviously is very high at this time of year. The other interesting thing from the survey by Thomson was that 50% of people say that the bad weather makes them angry and frustrated and of course with the snow that’s going to increase and people who are angry and frustrated tend to get stressed and we all know too well how stress affects the body physically and emotionally in a detrimental fashion.

FISHER Do we know to what extent people here in the UK are actually deficient in vitamin D?

DR HICKS  There are some figures which suggest that up to 50% of the UK population could be deficient. Over the last couple of years I think we’ve increasingly identified that more people than we expected are vitamin D deficient. We’ve seen a reoccurrence of rickets in children, something that we haven’t seen in a long time, the condition that causes pain in the bones, tenderness in limbs, sometimes bone deformity and also muscle weakness. So it’s something that’s really being looked into in depth because a lot of people who might complain of general tiredness increasingly we’re finding are vitamin D deficient, something that can be corrected obviously. Vitamin D as I’m sure you know is made in the skin in response to sunlight and we can also get some vitamin D in our diet, oily fish, eggs, fortified cereals for example. But vitamin D is a very important vitamin. It’s not just for the bones and teeth, it does support the immune system and it helps the heart and circulation function properly. So it’s something that has attracted a lot of interest.

FISHER Is vitamin D deficiency related to other conditions, for example multiple sclerosis?

DR HICKS Yes, vitamin D deficiency is related to diabetes for example, it’s related to multiple sclerosis, people with multiple sclerosis are often found to be vitamin D deficient but they’re unclear what exactly that link is and how they are associated. Vitamin D deficiency is also related to high blood pressure as well so vitamin D deficiency goes beyond rickets in children and the bone condition osteomalacia in adults. So it is an area that’s attracting a great interest and I think we’re going to learn more and more about the importance of this very simple vitamin in time to come.

FISHER And how do you spot the signs of vitamin D deficiency?

DR HICKS Well from a symptom point of view in mild cases it might be somebody feels tired, they may have some aches and pains in their limbs that they really can’t put down to any other reason and of course you have a blood test and you’re found to be deficient in vitamin D. In more severe cases somebody would find that they are suffering with bone pain, bone tenderness, they might even develop the bowing of the legs which is a characteristic of vitamin D deficiency and rickets. So I think nowadays certainly in general practice when somebody comes with those sorts of symptoms, vitamin D deficiency is very much on the radar and it’s something that we’re on the lookout for.

FISHER So it’s mainly diet and exposure to sunlight that are the best ways of curing a deficiency

DR HICKS Well really for somebody with a confirmed deficiency obviously we’ll give them vitamin D supplementation but for somebody to try and avoid deficiency in the first place, about 90% of the vitamin D that we get in the body is from exposure to sunlight and is manufactured in the skin. We can get it in foods but it’s much less that we get from foods. The balance of course has to be against not over doing it in the sun and not getting sun burnt so generally speaking the recommendation is about fifteen minutes on three days of the week throughout the spring and summer should be sufficient to gain the benefit of vitamin D production whist avoiding the risks of too much sun and UV exposure.

FISHER So are the symptoms of Vitamin D deficiently the same symptoms for what we know as SAD or Seasonal Affective Disorder?

DR HICKS Not specifically.  There’s a cross over in that obviously with Seasonal Affected Disorder and vitamin D deficiency people may describe tiredness and fatigue but generally with Seasonal Affective Disorder it’s more emotional symptoms, so people’s mood is low, they feel unhappy and depressed they find themselves over sleeping, over eating, that they are much less active, their concentration is poor, their mood may swing from anger to tearfulness for no apparent reason.  The thing with Seasonal Affective Disorder is that it is a specific type of depression that occurs at the same time of year.  So people will get into a pattern and they say, ‘well, every time that the days start to get short, every time of year, sort of October, November time I start to feel down and then come to January I really feel low’ and that’s one of the key ways of identifying Seasonal Affective Disorder, its’ the annual pattern of these symptoms.

FISHER I know you say exposure to sunlight but many of us that say who maybe commute and work on a working week may never see the sun.  We work in the dark we come home in the dark.  Is it UV lights are they the answer?

DR HICKS Well, one of the answers is simply to get out in the day time as much as you can during the winter.  So even if you are commuting in the dark then at lunch time maybe go out into the daylight.  If you can’t get outside, then sit near a window.  Certainly for those people who have Seasonal Affective Disorder then using light therapy seems to help a lot of people.  I think, obviously one of the things to overcome the winter blues is to have something, is to get outside, keep active, have a healthy diet but also plan things that you’ve got to look forward to.  So events where you can see friends and family and ideally those might be outdoor events.  Think about taking up a new hobby or planning a holiday and certainly Thomson have created the Sunshine Index which is available on their website for listeners to have a look at www.thomson.co.uk/blog/weather where you can actually see the countries where you’re more likely to be guaranteed good weather during the different seasons.  So we need sunshine, obviously we need it in moderation but a dose of sunshine is healthy for us, it helps lift our mood, it helps keep us active and it helps keep on top of stress.  The bottom line is, I think it’s fair to say, that the majority of us, if not all of us feel a lot happier with a little bit of sun.

FISHER I understand in some Scandinavian countries the health providers actually offer holidays to people with SAD.  Do you think that’s something the NHS should be considering?

DR HICKS Wouldn’t it be nice if we could do that at the NHS.  I think with the current financial challenges that the NHS are facing I can’t think that that’s on the immediate agenda but in the meantime that doesn’t mean that people can’t take their own steps to make sure that they either get a holiday or indeed get some sun exposure.  Simple activities like getting outside in the day time, sitting near a window for example but it would be really nice, I’d much rather write a prescription for a holiday than I would for other treatments.

FISHER So finally really, any top, quick tips on just how to make sure that you keep you vitamin D levels at a good level throughout these particularly dark times.

DR HICKS Yes.  Certainly get outside as much as you can.  Make sure your diet is rich in oily fish, eggs and cereals that are fortified with vitamin D.  You may want to consider taking a vitamin D supplement and if you feel that you may be at risk of vitamin D deficiency then have a chat with your doctor and ask about getting tested because if you are deficient then that could be corrected with supplement treatment and in the meantime, look forward to getting some sunshine, think about where you might want to go on holiday and lift spirits that way.

FISHER Dr Rob Hicks that’s great advice thanks very much indeed.

DR HICKS Thank you.