Warm-Up Exercises for Runners

Warm-ups are designed to get your body ready for upcoming activity, whether that’s running, lifting weights, swimming, or anything else that is over-and-above your ‘normal’ activity level. Preparing your body reduces your risk of injury, improves your performance and prepares you both physically, and mentally.

But what does ‘preparation’ mean in practice? A warm-up must gradually increase your heart rate, which in turn increases your blood flow, muscle temperature and oxygen delivery.

Paul Reay and Toby Hodder, our resident Health and Fitness Advisers, have created this step-by-step break-down of a recommended warm-up for runners. You can follow it through at your own pace, using the tips and photos for guidance. This warm-up uses a RAMP structure, and is perfect to accompany your shorter runs – if you’re currently working on your couch-to-5km training plan, this is for you!

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Being Active During Ramadan

With up to 18 hours a day fasted, Ramadan is not the time to be smashing PBs; but aiming to sustain active behaviour is encouraged.  

Maintaining exercise activity is the key. It is certainly not the time to start on a new exercise regime so don’t be looking to up your reps, weights, distances, etc. Intense cardio sessions, plyometrics and heavy weights are not recommended to avoid strain on your body.  Limiting cardio sessions to two per week may also be advisable.  Your fitness levels will likely change and given the lifestyle changes this is understandable so should not be a cause for concern.

With interrupted sleep and dehydration, it can be hard to maintain a normal workout routine but finding the time to work out will help to clear your mind and keep energy levels up. 

When to exercise? 

  • Before suhoor.  If you are an early riser, before suhoor could be a good time for weight training with appropriate refuelling afterwards.
  • Before sunset.  This can be suitable for low-key exercise with resistance training, low reps and weights – plus lots of stretching. Or maybe a light jog. You can refuel at itfar and recover afterwards.
  • After itfar. Soon after eating is not advised though weight training may be more manageable on a fuller stomach.  Later in the evening, especially if you go to bed later, 2-3 hours after itfar, can be the better option, allowing your meal to have gone down a little.

Tips 

  • Ensure a varied diet.
  • Foods high in slow-release energy are advised (oats, wholegrain, high-fibre).
  • On exercise days add a little extra food to fuel your body, and ensure you drink plenty of water to rehydrate.
  • Limit cardio duration due to limited glycogen stores. 
  • Hydrate well during non-fasting hours and especially before and after exercise. 
  • Prioritise load bearing activity to maintain healthy muscle and bone mass.
  • Get a good night’s sleep.
  • Ensure you get rest time during the day, including a nap where possible.
  • If you feel nauseous or dizzy when exercising – stop.

Useful Links: 

Fitness trainer Faisal Abdalla, known as Mr P.M.A. gives some useful advice

GB Rower Moe Sbhi shares experiences of training during a lockdown Ramadan

Hosting a virtual pre-season: Blog Takeover with Women’s Cricket (UBWCC)

Like all student sports at the moment, Women’s Cricket have taken their Club online. However with their season even yet to start, current circumstances added uncertainty if they’ll see any match-time this year. Should they continue training as normal? Undeterred by the distance between them, UBWCC took on the challenge of hosting a full-on virtual pre-season for their members – with huge success!

We asked Anna Biggs, UBWCC Captain, to write about the experience, and give her top tips for hosting socially-distance pre-season training, for any #WeAreBristol clubs that may find themselves in a similar situation come the Autumn term!


Due to the nature of the cricketing season, our training and matches are skewed towards the end of the academic year. Under normal circumstances we hold a preseason during the Easter break, in preparation for the onset of matches in the Summer term.

However, due to the pandemic our original plans for preseason were cancelled, along with our whole summer season. Obviously, we were devastated by this news and truly saddened that we were unable to complete the season in the way we imagined.

As a club, and like the rest of the country, we decided to put a positive spin on a rubbish situation and run a Virtual Preseason for the same dates we would have been our regular pre-season – Wednesday 15th April until Friday 17th April.

Throughout each day, we announced three challenges on the Facebook event and on our Instagram (follow us @UOBWCC):

  • An artistic challenge (announced at 10am)
  • A cricketing challenge (announced at 12pm)
  • A S&C (strength and conditioning) challenge (announced at 2pm)

Everyone who joined in gained one point for completing each challenge and some challenges were ranked, with the top-three awarded extra points.

At the end of each day, we would post the leader board, and on Friday night we announced the overall ranking and winner of pre-season as a whole!

What went well?

  • Releasing events at set points throughout the day gave structure to the pre-season – like a normal timetable of activities.
  • Set times also reduced the chances of members feeling overwhelmed by all of the challenges at the start of the day and enabled a continual trickle in of content over a few hours.
  • Members really enjoyed the ‘arty challenges’ – although we wouldn’t really be doing this in a normal pre-season, it was a really effective way to engage members and create an inclusive and friendly feel to the event.
  • The leader board created a competitive edge and was affective at engaging members in all the different challenge types.
  • Having a social in the middle of few days of virtual pre-season brought back the social side to pre-season that we were all missing.

Advice for planning a virtual pre-season:

  • Give clear outlines, timelines and structures to the virtual pre-season. This will reduce confusion and increase involvement.
  • Advertise pre-season well in advance to increase engagement – such as via social media pages, email, or any direct contact like messages.

What to write a Club Takeover blog for us? Email us your ideas!

Follow University of Bristol Women’s Cricket on Instagram @UOBWCC

Follow Bristol Uni Sport on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter

#StayActive Resources To Keep The Whole Family Moving At Home

Staying active is important for both adults and children alike, and never more so that when we’re spending the large majority of our day indoors and in each other pockets!

Last week a news story from the University of Bristol highlighted the importance of staying physical active during the coronavirus restrictions. The article, written by Dr Charlie Foster from the University’s Centre for Exercise, Nutrition and Health Sciences, gives an overview of the current government guidelines for physical activity, whilst also outlining the benefits of physical activity as a wellbeing tool;

“Not only is physical activity good for our health and protects against a range of chronic conditions, it’s also good for our wellbeing which is vitally important at times like this.”

Dr Charlie Foster, Chair of the UK Chief Medical Officer’s Expert Committee

The work of experts at the Bristol University has contributed to national guidance on how we can best stay active during the Coronavirus pandemic. The article also importantly highlights how this activity can be really simple to achieve, by cooking, running in the garden, playing active games or dancing. Read the full article here.

With so much change and the sudden need to juggle working with caring responsibilities and home-educating any school-age children, it might seem that fitting in a bit of fitness and some planned physical education (P.E.) is too much to ask.   

Before even considering the at-home resources available, remember that we all still permitted one opportunity for exercise outside of the home too. It’s important to take advantage of this, as often as you can – not only for the physical activity benefits, but also for benefits that some fresh air and a change of scenery can have on mental wellbeing too.

For the at-home side of things, is a plethora of PE resource appearing online. Admittedly some are better than others, but they are all designed to help you fit in some active breaks into your everyday, and within the limits of your own home.  We have listed a number of these resources below, as examples of some of the better and more reliable resources on offer!

Ultimately, the key message to simply sit less, and move more is more important now than ever before.  But, there is nothing to say we can’t all achieve this whilst also having fun as a family. 

#StayActive 

Family friendly resources: 

  • Youth Sport Trust – a range of resources and activity ideas to support regular fun physical activity at home and physical education at home.
  • Access Sport adaptive activities – Inclusive actiivites for at home.
  • Early Movers – helping under 5’s be active.   
  • Wheelpower adaptive yoga – British Wheelchair Sport charity, Wheelpower, has guided and adapted yoga sessions online.
  • Circomedia Youth Circus – The Centre for Contemporary Circus and Physical Theatre are providing weekly virtual classes for circus-based activities.
  • Disney dance-alongs – Led my the #ThisgirlCan initiative, Disney dance-along encourages Mum’s and Daughters (and the whole family) to get moving. You can learn their moves or put your own spin on their routines.
  • Joe Wicks (a.k.a. The Body Coach) P.E with Joe and Kids Workouts to do at home – for as little as 5-minutes, get active with the family in your lounge!
  • England Athletics ‘Funetics’ programme – aimed at 4-11 yr olds, sign up and teach them core physical skills and how to run, jump and throw.
  • Active Leaders daily challenges – fill your days with games, investigations, creative ideas and physical challenges which an be done at home, in the garden or house.
  • LTA Tennis at Home – learn the skills of ‘floor tennis’.
  • RFL #Skill to Play – sharing their skills with the next generation – and keeping everyone connected to the sport. 
  • Classroom meditation – Led my Yoga guru, Adrienne, this video is guided yoga for all ages and abilities.
  • Change4Life activities for kids – Easy ways for kids to keep active if you cannot get outdoors.
  • Change4Life accessible activities – lots of ways to keep disabled children and young people active.

Hosting An Online AGM: Blog Takeover with UBWRFC Captain, Frankie

COVID-19 can be seen everywhere in the news today, in fact it’s almost impossible to open up social media without seeing an article about it. However, at UBWRFC (Women’s Rugby), we didn’t let the fact our members are all hundreds of miles apart get in the way of everyone’s highlight of the year – the AGM.

The aim of our AGM was to make the best out of a bad situation and to ensure newly elected committee don’t miss out on the experience of this important event in our club calendar.

I hope to share with you some tips to ensure every club is able to host a successful, fair but most importantly inclusive, virtual, AGM for their whole club.

Our AGM

  • 65+ members voting
  • 70+ people watching along
  • 11 newly elected committee members
  • Accessible to both members and coaches

Our Tips

Choose an appropriate media platform!

As silly as it sounds, the choice of platform you decide to host your AGM on can really detract or enhance everyone’s experience. An application such as house party is in accessible to a lot of members and quite frankly rather messy-especially for a group of rugby girls. Our solution was to use Facebook live stream as we were able to broadcast the event to everyone without having to make a new group, ensuring everyone was included…coaches too!

Keep it as true to a real AGM as possible

Admittedly this years’ AGM aren’t exactly going to be the same as normal, however by making it as realistic as possible makes the night seem as if it is no different. In our AGM we included speech videos to watch together and live facetime calls to record the newly elected committees’ reaction of the best moment of their life. Additional to this, we had a committee stick man drawing in the background, so that as people were elected their paper faces were moved up, gradually forming the committee as the meeting went along-this even made a new committee picture possible. Play about with this, plus it makes the night more memorable.

Keep everyone involved

As well as live facetimes on the night, club members were also able to comment along and express their thoughts and feelings throughout the night making sure everyone was included.

Be prepared

Even on a regular AGM night, there is bound to be an unexpected curve ball that needs to be dealt with. In our case, a vacant committee position was opened up on the night and people put themselves forward for the position. Ensure you have the ability to deal with situations like this, i.e. be able to make a voting medium quickly to cater for these changes.

Let’s just say these alternative, virtual AGM events will be remembered by club members for years to come but remembered as an event that continued to unify the club even during the craziest time of our lives!

Get Active To Reduce Stress (Plus 7 More Top Tips)

Monday 4 – Friday 8 November 2019 is #InternationalStressAwarenessWeek. Stress is something that gets talked about a lot day-to-day but is commonly misunderstood. It’s normal to hear friends, peers and colleagues tell you that they are “feeling a bit stressed, but it’s okay”. Stress has become normalised in society and has both negative and positive impacts on the human experience. It is important for us all to understand the impact of stress in our own lives, and also how we can better manage any negative consequences that may arise.

One step that we can all take to reduce negative stress is to factor daily movement into our everyday lives. It is by far one of the most under-utilised stress-busting tools and we have lots of ways to help you stay active on campus this year! For more information about how Bristol Uni Sport can help, visit our website to see all the opportunities available.


What is stress?

Stress is the feeling we experience when: “Demands exceed the personal and social resources the individual is able to mobilise.” (Stress Management Society)

In other words, when lots of tasks pile up, or we perceive there to be a high level of expectation upon us that we are unable to cope with, we feel stressed.

It can be argued that a small amount of short-term stress can be a good thing. Short-term stress is sometimes referred to as the ‘Fight or Flight’ response which, bad in the day, would have ensured we escaped or fought off predators. However, these ‘predators’ now take the shape of deadlines or exams. Whilst in the short-term a small amount of stress might help you meet that looming deadline, to be in a state of stress for long periods of time can be detrimental to our overall physical and mental health, leading to feelings of anxiety, depression and low self-esteem.


How to tell if you’re stressed

Signs and symptoms of stress can be physical, emotional, psychological, or behavioural. Only you will know how you are truly feeling, but you may find others who are close to you making comments that you seem ‘not yourself’ and these could be indicators that you are suffering from stress.

Examples of symptoms include; lack of concentration, excessive worrying, reduced confidence in your abilities, irritability, tearfulness or anger, weight-loss or weight-gain, aches and pains, greater susceptibility to illnesses like colds and the flu, increased intake of alcohol, and insomnia (Stress Management Society).


The Stress Bucket analogy
The Stress Bucket

Sometimes it is difficult to identify what is causing you to feel stressed on any given day, particularly if there you don’t feel there are any ‘big problems’ causing you to feel the way you do. The analogy of the stress bucket can help yo explain these unexpected feeling of stress and being overwhelmed.

Imagine all of the tasks, priorities, commitments and expectations you have to deal with day-to-day are pebbles being put into a bucket. Some are bigger than others and take up more space, for example maintaining healthy relationships with your friends and family whilst you’re busy. Some might be smaller, such as remembering to pack lunch for the next day.

If your stress bucket gets too full, it only takes one of these small pebbles (maybe you burned your toast at breakfast) to make the bucket spill over. This leads to you feeling overwhelmed and stressed, even though on another day you may have handled the same situation perfectly well.


Tips for Managing Stress

Stress management tools are habits or practices that you can implement in your every-day life to help drain your stress bucket, and stop it from getting too full. Our top tips are below, but there are lots more that you can discover for yourself.

  1. Get Active
    Exercise and physical movement released endorphins, or ‘happy hormones’ into your body! But it doesn’t have to be a hard-core gym session or tough sport – a 10 minute walk can be enough to boost your energy, clear your head and lift your mood (Active 10).
  2. Rest and Recovery
    Are you getting enough sleep? The average adult needs 7-9 hours per night to function optimally (Sleep Council). It may mean making some short-term sacrifices to your evening social plans, but concentrating on getting some decent shut-eye will benefit you hugely in the long-run.
  3. Nutrition
    Making sure you are eating a balanced diet can have a hugely positive impact on your overall wellbeing. Small things you can focus on are: getting a minimum of 5 fruits and veggie per day, drinking 2L of water, ensuring a mix of carbs, fats and proteins are included in every meal and cutting back on caffeine in the afternoons.
  4. Work/Life Balance
    Too much time at the pub and not enough time in the library can of course cause us to feel stressed about the amount of work that can pile up. But spending too much time in the library and not enough time with friends can be just as impactful. Find the balance that works for you to make sure you’re giving enough time to both.
  5. Practice Mindfulness
    Mindfulness doesn’t have to mean ‘meditation’ – we know that’s not for everyone. Mindfulness can be an activity that means you’re focused on the ‘here and now’ rather than past, present or future worries. Have a cup of tea, go for a walk or a run, or write a to-do list – it will all help.
  6. Digital Detox
    We’re all guilty of falling into a ‘scroll-hole’ when we should actually be focusing on work. Studies show even having your phone in the same room whilst you work can lower your problem-solving IQ (University of Texas)! Try 30 minutes of phone-free studying to get some focus back.
  7. Build Resilience
    Resilience isn’t just “toughen up and carry on”. Resilience is our ability to ‘bounce back’ from tough times and implement strategies based on past experience. It’s a skill that can be learned and developed – Off The Record have an online ‘Resilience Lab’ that can help you.
  8. Open Up
    Don’t suffer in silence, talk to someone. There are lots of places you can turn for support whilst at University, from friends, family, flatmates and course-mates, to more professional spaces such as Student Wellbeing Services.
Resources

International Stress Management Association: https://isma.org.uk/nsad-free-downloads
Student Wellbeing Service: http://www.bristol.ac.uk/students/wellbeing/
Off The Record Resilience Lab: https://www.otrbristol.org.uk/the-resilience-lab/
Stress Management Society – Understanding Stress: https://www.stress.org.uk/how-stress-affects-your-body/
The Sleep Council: https://sleepcouncil.org.uk/how-much-sleep-do-we-need/
University of Austin, Texas: “The Mere Presence of Your Smartphone Reduces Brain Power”: https://news.utexas.edu/2017/06/26/the-mere-presence-of-your-smartphone-reduces-brain-power/
It’s Time To Log Off: https://www.itstimetologoff.com/