A new study led by the University of Leicester, in association with colleagues at Loughborough University, has discovered that sitting for long periods increases your risk of diabetes, heart disease and death regardless of physical activity.

The study, which combined the results of 18 studies and included a total of 794,577 participants, was led by Dr. Emma Wilmot, a research fellow in the Diabetes Research Group at the University of Leicester. It was done in collaboration with colleagues from the newly established National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Leicester-Loughborough Diet, Lifestyle and Physical Activity Biomedical Research Unit and was published in Diabetologia, the journal of the European Association of the Study of Diabetes.

Put simply, the danger in prolonged sitting is that it “stalls the metabolic machinery,” as Dr. Levine put it. “The body has an exquisitely designed system for trafficking fuels such as carbohydrates and fats. Serious consequences result when the muscular engine sits on ‘idle.’ “

According to Dr. Levine, this “physiology of inactivity” results in a variety of immediate, undesirable effects. For instance, inactivity impedes the ability to metabolize fat and sugar and it also elevates triglycerides, potentially raising the risk for cardiovascular disease. Prolonged sitting weakens muscles, which can lead to back pain, arthritis and joint problems. Previous research has demonstrated that sitting for long periods suppresses lipase, an enzyme involved in fat metabolism that is produced only when leg muscles flex — low levels are associated with heart disease and other illnesses. Sex hormones, including estrogen and testosterone metabolism, also are affected, Dr. Levine noted, adding that “these impact all aspects of physical and emotional states.”

According to the study, those who sit for long periods have a two fold increase in their risk of diabetes, heart disease and death. Importantly, associations were independent of the amount of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity undertaken, suggesting that even if an individual meets typical physical activity guidelines, their health may still be compromised if they sit for long periods of time throughout the day.

Dr Wilmot, a Clinical Research Fellow in Diabetes and Endocrinology based at the Leicester Diabetes Centre, Leicester General Hospital, said: “The average adult spends 50-70% of their time sitting so the findings of this study have far reaching implications. By simply limiting the time that we spend sitting, we may be able to reduce our risk of diabetes, heart disease and death”.

“Our study also showed that the most consistent associations were between sitting and diabetes. This is an important message because people with risk factors for diabetes, such as the obese, those of South Asian ethnic origin, or those with a family history of diabetes, may be able to help reduce their future risk of diabetes by limiting the time spent sitting. “

Professor Stuart Biddle, of Loughborough University, and a co-investigator on the study, said: “There are many ways we can reduce our sitting time, such as breaking up long periods at the computer at work by placing our laptop on a filing cabinet. We can have standing meetings, we can walk during the lunch break, and we can look to reduce TV viewing in the evenings by seeking out less sedentary behaviours.”

Professor Melanie Davies, Professor of Diabetes Medicine at the University of Leicester and honorary consultant at University Hospitals of Leicester is a co-investigator and Director of the NIHR Leicester-Loughborough Diet, Lifestyle and Physical Activity Biomedical Research Unit. She said:

“This paper has a very important message for the public but also for health care professionals – namely that being sedentary is common and dangerous for our long term health, particularly for diabetes and cardiovascular disease, and that this link appears to be over and above other lifestyle factors such as our diet and physical activity.”

This article first appeared in Prevent Disease 


Picture 4Turn your stressing into blessings.

The festive season is often a challenging time.

Do you want to feel blessed or stressed?

What can you do when you feel yourself pulled and stretched emotionally, mentally,  physically and financially?

We often feel many obligations and expectations which can leave us feeling all sorts of emotions.

We can feel there is very little time for ourselves, or maybe too much time to ourselves.

Christmas is a time for giving, sharing, caring and all sorts of other traditions.

The Alexander Technique can help you manage many of the various demands.

Here are a few things I find helpful to remember and practice in order to maintain some poise, balance, ease, peace and good will.

You can’t give what you haven’t got, so the more calm, content and present you are, the more you will have to give.

I often say to my pupils the best present you can give your loved ones is your presence.

We are often very generous to others at this time of year, but not so generous to ourselves.

We give thanks and gratitude for everything and everyone at Christmas and often forget to acknowledge ourselves.

We need to make sure we are taken care of emotionally, physically, mentally and spiritually, then we are much more able to give and share ourselves.

The Alexander Technique is ideal for taking care of yourself –  you learn how  to “give to  yourself” – quality – nourishing – healing – time.

My suggestion is to make a quiet space and the time to commit to giving yourself, 20 mins per day/eve which is about 5% of your day –  not much to ask of yourself.

The festive season is a great time to begin to practice, which you can carry over into the new year.

Do this by detaching yourself from all the different roles, routines, relationships and responsibilities and lying in a quiet comfortable place on your back (constructive rest). This allows the body to release all the accumulated stress, tension and compression, also to recharge the nervous/immune systems as well as all the other systems.

Stopping and resting takes a little practice but the more you practice, the easier it becomes; the body remembers, it is accumulative,  it’s like giving  your self a present every day,  showing gratitude for the body/mind/soul. It is like a mini retreat – The power of stillness and silence is very healing, balancing, restoring and rejuvenating.

Also what ever you are doing, see if you can do it with less stress – we put so much effort into  what ever we do – One of the principle tools of the Alexander Technique is efficiency and conserving energy.

Doing less,– this can prove difficult at this time of year.

As soon as we ask the question can I do less? This will reduce the stress.

Wishing you a healthy, happy winter solstice and best wishes for 2014!

All the best.

Nicholas Brandon.





The daily commute to work, being stuck in traffic takes its toll on the body/mind, we can be impatient, irritable, stressed even aggressive. We forget we are human beings behind these machines. We become repetitive in our actions and reactions, resulting in many health problems.

Recent research shows driving causes a number of health issues. According to an independent study in the UK most drivers will suffer one or more of these problems.

81% foot cramp

74% lower back

70% side pain

70% headaches/eye strain

2 million drivers will report these types of symptoms after just 15 minutes of driving.

What is the cause of these problems?

Car seat design, one size fits all; stuck in a sedentary position for long periods, poor posture and driving positions, repetitive movements such as foot pedals; also gear changing, steering wheel manoeuvres and looking through the wind screen (poking the head forward – particularly people who wear glasses.)

Easy tips to avoid the damaging effect of long term driving habits:

Become aware of your driving habits. This is the first step to seeing what maybe the cause of repetitive driving strain.

One of the primary areas which causes problems when driving is the back not being in alignment and balance; this causes wear and tear on the joints and muscles.

Ask yourself the following and see what you notice, sense or feel.

Do you slump in your seat? Are you a little lopsided, or slightly twisted to one side?

Do you tense your neck? This is easily done when reversing?

Do you tighten your jaw tight or hold your breath?

Are your arms locked or shoulders tight when holding the steering wheel?

How tight is the grip on the steering wheel? Could this be causing tension in your shoulders, wrist, hands and fingers?

How hard are you pushing the foot pedals, which part of the leg/foot do you push with.

Think of driving with less effort and a little more ease.  You can make simple shifts and adjustments which can make a big difference.

One of the most important things to consider when driving is your back.

The foundation of your back/spine is the sit bones, which are the bones at the base of the pelvis. If your seated comfortably and your bottom is right back is the seat (you should be able to feel them), and the car seat isn’t too sloped back, you will be in a position of mechanical advantage.

This means that your spine will be aligned, which will then give support to the rest of your body, such as the, neck, head, arms and limbs. You can find your sit bones by gently rocking on your bottom, this will help you establish the contact and support for your back.

Another good tip is to lie in semi supine after a long drive; watch the video link for guidance and instruction on this hugely beneficial practice.

If due care and attention is given to the body as well as driving you can eliminate and avoid many of the driving related problems.

If you find you do have recurring symptoms I recommend a series of lessons which will address many of the driving related issues that are becoming more common.


Could your smart phone, ipad or similar device be the source of your stress, pain or injury? Have you become a “screen slave?” Are you often working while commuting, or after you get home?

This posture tells a story. The position of the back, neck and head tells me this lady has spent many years at a desk.
This posture tells a story. The position of the back, neck and head tells me this lady has spent many years at a desk.

People of all ages are being diagnosed with neck pain associated with looking down at these hand held devices. Symptoms such as nerve pressure, headaches, disk compression, back pain and breathing difficulties have all been reported.

This phenomenon began with the popularity of texting. Everywhere today you will see countless people slumped over their phones with their heads pulled down. This advancement in technology has become very compulsive, addictive and distracting.

Watch 2 minute Video below.

According to recent statistics in the UK, the average time spent on a smart phone is 90 minutes per day. Most of this time is spent browsing the internet, playing games and social media. We now spend more time on these mini computers than actually talking to our partners and friends.

One of my clients calls it the Blackberry prayer, people bowing down as if in a deep concentrated religious prayer.

This picture was taken at my local bus stop in Notting Hil London.
My local bus stop in Notting Hill, London.
All the people I photographed here were looking down at there phones.

This pulling down of the head causes excessive amounts of tension, the head weighs 10-12 pounds. Leaning over, pulling down and curving the back takes its toll on the body. Without recognition this can cause life long problems such as disk degeneration, trapped nerves, migraines etc.

What’s the solution? 

 (1) Beginning to notice the habit of pulling down into your device.

 (2) Adapt a more natural position for the spine, neck and head.

In other words making sure you are comfortably seated or standing, and your spine is long. See if you can allow your head and eyes to slightly tilt down, instead of the whole weight of the head, this will take enormous pressure off the delicate bones of the spine.

(3) Modify the position of the device, instead of having the device in you lap or looking down, find ways to hold the device at eye level.

(4) Take breaks and allocate time for the device then switch off.

(5) Don’t get stuck in fixed positions.

(6) Having a strong flexible back will help you deal with such issues.

Watch this two minute video  it really makes you think !

Click the Alexander technique  link to discover and learn how to live a life where you are more present, alive and fully expressed.

The Alexander Technique offers practical lasting solutions to prevent this type of   repetitive strain and improves the coordination and strength of your body.


Travelling lightly, freely and easily is an art.

If you are lucky enough to be going away, what will you be taking?

Passport, money, sun cream… But have you thought about what you don’t need to take?

Make your journey easier, lighter and enjoyable.
Make your journey easier, lighter and enjoyable.

We are often laden with lots of emotional baggage, as well as excess tension in the body. This can result in feeling like we are dragging ourselves around, as well as our luggage.

We allow events and stories from our past to filter into the present, making our journey less colourful, vivid and exciting. The past doesn’t allow for spontaneity, freedom and living on the edge, so there is not a sense of enjoyment, exploration or freshness and space for new possibilities. We prefer to play safe, so we feel comfortable and secure. Stress and tension also make the journey more bumpy and difficult.

If we apply and practice the simple tools of the Alexander technique, we learn to become more present and travel with lightness, ease and freedom. We can leave our problems and fears behind, or at least carry them in such a way as to feel lighter.

This reduces the stress that’s associated with travelling. We learn to give ourselves enough time so we respond with a sense of calm and preparation. There is less hurry and worry. We are more aware of how we carry our luggage, be it emotional, physical or mental.

If I find I am stuck in queues such as airports, traffic jams and seats, I can call upon the Alexander technique tools. I love this because it is like a friend keeping a careful watch on me wherever I go, wherever I am, the tools are always there giving me a reality check, calling me back to the present, back into my body, expanding my awareness. I remember I can exercise choice, even if I feel stuck I don’t have to turn this into a stressful situation. I make a subtle shift in my thinking and being which allows me step back and evaluate the situation, this means I am not automatically reacting, but being responsible. I can choose to move, breathe or smile. Moving myself from feeling stuck, cramped, stressed and compressed. This choice gives me a space to create a new possibility, which usually results in being happier, lighter and present.

One of the principle tools of the Alexander Technique is to maintain an awareness of what is going on with ourselves, particularly the region of the head, neck and back. When we are stressed, one of the first places we tighten and restrict is the breathing, which then tenses the neck, shoulders, and back. I have a simple strategy (that takes practice), to help maintain balance, poise and equilibrium in my body/mind/emotions/spirit. I ask myself, “am I aware?”  This brings me back to the present moment, and back to my body. I then ask myself, “Is my neck free?”  “Is my head releasing upwards?”  “Is my back lengthening and widening?”  “Am I breathing, smiling?” Asking these simple questions is often enough to make a shift to a new place, where I am aware and can exercise my will to move to a place of ease, not dis-ease.

Another valuable tool of the A.T you can practice – is to find a quiet place and take 20 minutes to stop and lie on your back, with the head slightly supported the legs elevated, feet on the floor. This is a very simple yet remarkably effective way to release stress, compression and tension in the body, resulting in being calm, at ease and balanced. Visit my website the “constructive rest” demonstration is on the first page of my website, this will guide you through this very healing therapeutic process.

Have a great summer with love, light and delight.









One of the best gifts you can give to someone and yourself is your presence and a big genuine smile.

Don't forget to smile
Don’t forget to smile

Ask yourself, are you aware? Are you present? This is usually enough to bring yourself into the present.

It is so simple to smile, but we forget and get caught up in the habit of being busy.

It takes more muscles to frown than to smile.

When we smile we move more lightly and easily.

When we smile this releases stress.

When we smile it sends  a positive ripple out into those around us and beyond.

Smiling is contagious – most people smile back. This spreads the health benefits throughout those around you and it comes back to you several times as well.

When we smile we look more attractive.

Lightness is a real indicator of health.

Smiling is such a simple expression which costs nothing but is often received as a gift, which brings a sense of warmth and ease to most situations.

Charles Garfield, the author of Peak Performance, once coached the Russian Olympic weight-lifting team. Garfield noticed that when team members lifted to exhaustion, they would invariably grimace at the painful effort. In an experiment, he encouraged the athletes to smile when they got to that point of exhaustion. This seemingly minor difference enabled them to add 2-3 more reps to their performance.

No matter what the task, when you grimace or frown while doing it, you are sending your brain the message, “This is really difficult. I should stop.”  The brain then responds by sending stress chemicals into your bloodstream. And this creates a vicious circle: the more stressed you are, the more difficult the task becomes.

When you smile, your brain gets the message, “It’s not so bad. I can do this!”

Remember to smile it’s good for the mind, body, soul and the world.


How Your Body Rebuilds Itself In Under 365 Days

We can really influence how this renewal process take place, by the thoughts we have, the food we eat, the life style we adopt, the environment we live in, our relationships, the exercise we take. Most of these things are about the decisions we make.

FACT: Your entire body totally rebuilds itself in less than 2 years – and 98% in less than a year.

Every cell in your body eventually dies and is replaced with new cells. Everyday is a new opportunity to build a new body!

Your DNA renews itself every 2 months.

Your skin rebuilds itself in 1 month. (especially at night)

Your liver rebuilds itself in 6 weeks.

The lining in your stomach rebuilds itself in 5 days.

Your brain rebuilds itself in 1 year.

Your blood rebuilds itself in 4 months.

Your body builds a whole new skeleton in 3 months.

(Some research says 2 years some say 10 years*)

There is the saying that your only as old as you feel, so that’s your subjective age.

So if you always feel sick& tired as I hear people say in there frustrating moment, guess what your probably become those thoughts.

There is also the biological age. If you have been a smoker all your life, your lungs will have aged prematurely; or if your life style is very sedentary like most modern cultures,  this will have damaging effects on the body resulting in wear and tear.

There is also the belief among many religious/spiritual followers  that we are in our truest essence an eternal soul which is ageless, timeless and dimensionless.

Of course we have our chronological age which we can not change but we can change the our perception, and decisions about the other ways we behave and age.



The Alexander Technique is a unique, evidence-based mind/body practice, developed over 120 years ago. This subtle yet powerful method is established worldwide.

The N.H.S, the National Institute for Clinical Excellence and the British Medical Journal concludes the Alexander Technique is one of the most effective, proven methods for treating chronic back pain conditions.

Sitting for long hours, standing, poor posture, stress, repetitive movements, lack of awareness, are often the cause of back pain and other problems.

Having physiotherapy, massage, osteopathy, seeing a chiropractor, taking anti-inflammatory painkillers or steroids does little to address the underlying causes of back pain – these just offer temporary relief.

The Alexander Technique gets to the root cause of these problems. Working with a teacher you develop skills and strategies to avoid stressful, (unconscious) habits and patterns of posture that cause compression, stress and tension in the body. You develop a toolbox, which you can use and apply any time, any place, any where.

The doctor, the pill, or a therapeutic intervention is a quick fix – not a cure. With the tools of the Alexander Technique you learn to treat yourself and ultimately take responsibility. We all long for that magic wand or golden bullet that will take our pain away. We are often the cause of our pain and we are also the source of our own healing

The Alexander Technique is educational, with healing therapeutic effects. There are no specific exercises, it requires no equipment, and can be practiced wherever you are. It is suitable for people of all ages and levels of physical fitness.

Come and experience this highly effective method for preventing chronic back pain. I am a London based teacher, visit my website to find out more, or to find a teacher near you. Please mention this post to receive a discounted lesson of £30 – normally £50.





The most important fuel of our body is the breath.  In today’s stressful world, many of us sit, stand,  speak, act, and move and live in ways that undermine our breathing and our physical, emotional, and spiritual health. The breath can be very nourishing, healing and revealing. If we become more conscious of this subtle, vital energetic life force.

Through out the day we carry unnecessary amounts of tension, often unconsciously. This builds up over time resulting in lots of tension, which means we experience, stress, pain, dis-ease.

The Alexander Technique is a very subtle, simple yet powerful tool to help you overcome the daily stresses of life. You learn to take responsibility by helping  yourself become more present and aware of simple everyday acts that affect our posture, breathing and general well-being.   When we move well, we breath well, when be breathe well, we move well. Then we feel more aligned with our mind/body and a deeper part of ourselves. we feel more whole and connected.

Too often, people slip into poor breathing (moving) habits.

Many people believe, that popper breathing is from the diaphragm, or the abdomen and we have to  “take a deep breath,” “breathe into your belly,” “don’t let your chest move,” “hold your ribs out,” “relax and breathe.” Actually, nature regulates our breathing. The respiratory system is reflexive and automatic.

We don’t teach babies or children to breathe. If we interfere with the natural rhythm of the breath it will feel forced and therefore have the effect of producing tension. Breathing happens spontaneously in response to all our thoughts and feelings and environment.

I find it amazing how many singers I work with don’t realise they can breathe from their backs and sides, I have to remind them that they are three dimensional. When the back is neglected (which it nearly always is) the rib moment and muscles become very tight and limited, restricting the flow of air, which means the quality of sound and breath is compromised. If we Include the back and side of the torso when we breath, we awaken the tired often tense part of the back which gives an increased dynamic, energetic flow of the breath. Which improves the overall quality of breathing and of course the  tone and resonance of the voice and we have more energy.

Allow the life force of breath to breathe you, you don’t have to draw, gasp, and suck in the air. Atmospheric air is pressing against you; each square centimeter has a force of 1 kilogram  (14 pounds per square inch). We can allow the breath to flow through us.

“Breath is the life; and breathing capacity (vital capacity) is the measure of life.” – F. M. Alexander  1869 – 1955

Here’s a natural way to promote a full exhalation….  Let a sound out – such as an easy sigh or a whispered ‘ah.’  Remember not to sink down or collapse your chest as the breath leaves the body.  You can think of your exhaled breath as a column of air, fueling the length of your spine.  Then a new breath can return, easily and fully, just the way you like it.

When we  smile me move better and breathe better – Keep it simple breathing is.

Gravity and atmospheric pressure
Gravity and atmospheric pressure keep us glued to the Earth. we can use gravity like a friend or it can work against us. visit my website to find out more




 Famuous Alexander pupils
The 27th March issue of OK! magazine has another article about Alexander Technique, this one focused on the A-list celebrities who use it

The 27th March issue of OK! magazine has another article about Alexander Technique, this one focused on the A-list celebrities who use it. Madonna, Hugh Jackman, Richard Gere, Joanna Lumley, Sir Paul McCartney, William Hurt, Pierce Brosnan, Sting, Jamie Lee Curtis, Jennifer Saunders, Ruby Wax, John Cleese, Robin Williams, Judi Dench,  Keanu Reeves.

The list is much more extensive.

Most of us don’t really think about how we use ourselves. The way we walk, talk, sit, stand etc, communicates a huge amount of information about our character to others. We convey so much information through our body language. This is often unconsciously and automatically perceived by us;  then we make immediate assumptions, opinions and judgements before we even hear people even utter a word based on their body language.

Nearly all celebrities and professionals understand the importance of body language. Actors, singer, and performers realise the tool of their trade is themselves, so they have Alexander Technique lesson to help fine tune themselves, just as a musician would fine tune there instrument so it was ready for peak performance.

All the above celebrities use the simple yet highly effective tools of the Alexander Technique to optimize there health and performance.

Having lessons is like fine tuning yourself, so you excel, you have confidence, your present, you project yourself from a place of ease, balance and integrity.

Why not give it a go and get some poise, balance and a confident spring into you step, I think you may need it after this long winter.

Book in April to receive a 50% discount on an introductory lesson in the month of April- quote Ok magazine to receive your discount.






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