Running health expert and award-winning author, Dr. Juliet McGrattan, answers these questions for runners and more

Essential Health Questions For Runners

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Is it better to run on a treadmill or outside? Can I run with bad knees?  Running health expert and award-winning author, Dr. Juliet McGrattan, answers these questions for runners and more including some surprising research about running you may have never heard of!

Don’t miss this episode to hear Juliet’s expert advice on running to live well.

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  • How Juliet went from a primary care doctor to a runner’s health pro.
  • How to overcome physical limitations to exercise.
  • Significant considerations when making a career switch.
  • The KEY to goal setting and crushing
  • The relationship between running and dementia
  • The surprising relationship between mental health and physical surroundings.
  • The difference between productive running and mindful running
  • Healthy running tips for runners



Juliet worked as an NHS GP for 16 years before deciding to focus on using her medical expertise to help people get and stay active. She has a deep love and respect for the transformative power of running after 13 years of running and multiple marathons. Her first book, Sorted: The Active Woman’s Guide to Health, was named the British Medical Association’s Popular Medicine Book of the Year.

She is an international speaker, podcaster, Master Coach, and Women’s Health Lead for the 261 Fearless global women’s running network, and the Founder and Director of 261 Fearless Club UK, a Community Interest Company dedicated to female empowerment through running.

Running health expert and award-winning author, Dr. Juliet McGrattan, answers these questions for runners and more


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If you’re really all about making a difference and trying to help people, you shouldn’t see this move as something which is negative or giving anything up. It’s simply widening the number of people that you could make a difference to welcome the imperfectly empowered podcast with leading DIY lifestyle blogger on.
We’re women are inspired with authentic stories and practical strategies to reclaim their hearts and homes by empowering transformation, one imperfect data. Hi, and welcome back to another episode of the imperfectly empowered podcast. I’m your host on a former today on the show we have Dr. Juliet. Dr.
Mike Groton spent 16 years working as a national health services, general practitioner, and now uses her medical knowledge and love of running to help and inspire others to lead active. Welcome resident health expert for women’s running magazine and award-winning author Dr. Juliet. . Hello? Hello. Hello.
Well, Dr. Juliet McGrath and welcome to the imperfectly empowered podcast. It’s an honor to have you thank you so much from black to me, I’m really excited to you are across the pond. Remind me the time difference. I always forget. I don’t know it’s called a parcel one here. It, because we’re on the east coast.
So it’s a quarter past nine. So it’s four hours. It’s usually five. So our clocks go back at a different time or go forward. We’d have to jump ahead and we don’t go till the weekend. I think so. I’m glad we both turned up at the right time. Yeah, that’s true. That’s a good point. Where in the UK. Remind me. So I live in the Northwest.
So in the lake district where the bottom of the lake district, north of Manchester in a little village, in the middle of nowhere, Okay, well, listen, if nothing else, everyone can enjoy your beautiful accent. I love, I love the English accent. I’m British at heart. I am shimmer. We actually lived in Scotland for four years.
My dad got his doctorate at the university of Aberdeen and. When we moved back to the states, my parents just incorporated so much of British culture, a lot of the entertainment, books, movies. So I feel like I’ve grown up with a very British, they don’t drink coffee. They only drink tea. That’s me. Yeah. I, I trained at the university of Dundee, which isn’t that far from it.
It’s a great place to be wonderful. Yeah, I would love to go back just to Britain in general. So you were a general practitioner in the UK for 16 years. And so all of us listening understand, would that be equivalent to primary care here in the United States? Where you an outpatient primary care provider?
Yes. So GPS here work in the community primary care family doctor, if you’d like, so see a bit of everything and help patients or start their journey in the healthcare system. Yeah. So talk to me a little bit about the journey. What sort of transpired to get you to where you are today? The love of running, combined with your medical experience.
Tell us a little bit about that story. Yeah, sure. So I was working as a GP and I just had my third year. And at that point, I wasn’t really doing very much exercise. I was just sort of doing what I needed to, to get through the day with three preschoolers, but I was just feeling, I just, I don’t know, I just needed something and I knew I needed to get fitter.
Um, I wasn’t really enjoying my body. I didn’t feel very strong. So I decided to start running and, and really, I just chose running because of where I live. It’s a very small rural village. No facilities and their classes or anything at that time nearby. And I could just do it in 20 minutes. I could go outside and be back within 20 minutes.
So I started with a friend. Um, I’ve really just discovered that running did so much for me mentally and physically. It was. I just suddenly thought this is an amazing medicine. I need to share this with my patients. And that’s how I sort of started really just talking to my patients about not running in particular, but just physical activity and movement and how there’s really good evidence for improving your physical health and your mental health.
And I became very evangelical about it and just knew that I needed to share it and I needed to do whatever I could to get that message out. Yeah. So I began writing, I’m writing for a running magazine, bringing in my sort of medical knowledge and my GP hat to problems that runners were facing. And it went from there really more writing, couple of books, a blog, and then eventually.
This kind of alternative career that I was building became so big that I decided to leave general practice all together and just move fully into sort of trying to share my, my mission of getting people active and helping them to stay active, particularly women that makes it all sound very quick and easy, but it was a very long drawn out.
Oh, it’s so true. If only it was so quick and easy, I resonate so much with what you’re saying. I don’t know, actually, if you know this about my story, but I worked in emergency medicine as a nurse practitioner and I was there for 10 years and various similar transitioned. I was doing a blog on the side and built the.
Side career and was able to step into something that I found myself even more passionate about than what I was doing at the bedside. So I just left bedside medicine a little over a year ago now, but I resonate very much with what you’re saying and it’s beautiful. You never would have planned it that way, but you enter into this really incredible opportunity to combine past expertise and experience with a current passion and love.
So it’s a beautiful thing. How I’m curious in that time of transition, what were you finding with your patients? Was the number one barrier for them to incorporate. Physical activity into their life. Did you see, um, mindset that was consistent or circumstantial barriers that might’ve been there, whether it be environmental or whatever.
Talk to me a little bit about as a practitioner, I’m sure many people resonate with this. What were some of the barriers that you were seeing to physical health? Yeah, huge activity. Yeah. Huge numbers of barriers. I think probably one of the main ones we’re seeing it as sport. And the minute you mentioned sport to a lot of people, you lose them.
They maybe watch it on television and enjoy spectators. But don’t see themselves as sporty for whatever reason, whether that’s been something through their childhood and at school. So when you talked to them about fiscal activity, they immediately think that you want them to run a marathon or join a sports team, or, and they don’t necessarily think.
That you’re actually just asking them to move more in everyday life, but also to do something that can be enjoyable. They see it as a, as a chore and something that they have to do rather than something that they really want to do. And that’s the key, I think, finding something that you enjoy. So I think that was probably the biggest barrier of actually just realizing that they could do it and it doesn’t necessarily mean sport.
But I think also the barrier of time thinking they haven’t got time to fit it into life because we’re also busy. And once you can explain that you don’t have to do big chunks of it. You can just do five minutes, 10 minutes here, there, and everywhere. And even just getting up and moving more during the day.
All counts. So as soon as you can then kind of have these little, very achievable things, then you can, when somebody around to think, oh, well actually every little bit it does count and I can make a difference if I just am a bit more active in my everyday life. I love that. And I think what you’re speaking to, what I’m hearing is this concept.
I see all the time as a fitness and nutrition coach, this idea of all or nothing. We struggle so much to live with that balance sense of moderation. And we’re so hard on ourselves. I think, well, men and women, both, we approach it differently, but the struggle is consistent. We very much make it all or nothing.
And we feel defeated if we can’t do it all fully, just right. The sport comment is really interesting to me. I’ve never thought about that. I would love to hear from our listeners drop a comment. If you resonate with this, I’m wondering sometimes as whether we’re fitness influencers or we’re practitioners, you know, people listening here who are in medicine, especially in primary care.
I’m wondering if there’s a way that we are presenting the idea of physical activity that is perhaps not quite accurate, that maybe we could change our semantics or the way that we’re presenting something so that a patient or a listener or follower isn’t feeling, we’re asking them to run a marathon or become an athlete.
So that’s a really interesting, did you find that there were certain ways to communicate and encourage that that were more effective to helping break down that barrier? But you don’t have to be an athlete to be fit. Yeah. I, I think very much the key to it is actually asking somebody what they enjoy doing or what they used to enjoy doing when they were younger.
And because if you love doing something, when you were. 12. You’ll probably love doing it now. I mean, my example of that is my personal one and of ballet. I grew up doing ballet. I lived to dance and I stopped it when I went to university and then I became a junior doctor and it just didn’t fit into my life.
And a few years ago, I went back and joined an adult ballet class. The minute I stood there at the bar and did simply A’s, I just felt like I was seven.
Yeah. So I think sometimes. People have the answers. You can’t tell them what to do. You can’t know what things what’s important to them. And if you want someone to change their behavior, you’ve got to understand it from their point of view and you can’t tell them what you think they should do. It got to be what they want to do.
And one tip really is to find out what they used to enjoy. When you were younger, a lot of men in the UK might say, well, they used to love playing football, which is soccer. And they would immediately think if they were 60 and had slightly dodgy knees, that they can play football, but we have what we have walking football leaks.
And you hear these stories of these gentlemen going and joining a walking football club and they’re back in that sort of team environment and, and getting the sort of social benefits as well. And it can be life-changing. I think it’s not instructing and telling people what you think they should do.
It’s exploring with them what would work for them because ultimately they’re the ones that have to take the next step. That’s such an incredible piece of advice. And I think, again, for our listeners, I want to highlight. Again, that she’s just pointing out another opportunity. It’s not all or nothing just because you can’t play soccer or football, the way that you used to find ways to still enjoy it, but modify.
Modifying is not failure. Modifying is not lesser. It’s enabling you to do something that you love to do. Football actually is a great example here in the United States, that what we would traditionally call football. A great example to what you just said is flag football. Instead of tackle football. If you absolutely love football, but you’re not going to go play tackle football anywhere.
Find a flag football league. Those are all over the place at rec centers. So if you’re listening and you had a past love, I think that’s a beautiful piece of advice, ballet dance. There’s a lot of adult dance centers all over the place. Just Google. I think that’s an incredible piece of advice. A lot of it, I think, as well as it’s having the confidence, isn’t it to go.
Yeah, because you might think I’m going to look stupid. I’m not going to flip it. I haven’t got the right clothes, so sometimes I’m not fit enough. I’m not good enough to do it. I already feel unsecure cause I have extra weight and I think great. Yeah, and there’s lots of ways to overcome that and you’re taking somebody with you, but ultimately if you go, you’ll find that everybody’s just the same as you and feels, it feels exactly the same when they first go along.
That’s a great, also find someone to go with you. I have several bucket lists things. We’re entering sort of a new season over here that will give me a little bit more time. And I’ve already been thinking through bucket list items, things that maybe I haven’t done that I think would bring me joy that I want to try or things that I used to do that I would like to do again.
I’m an active person, almost all of it involves activity of some sort. I want to take a hip hop class. Fantastic. I wouldn’t pick a hip hop class. I won’t be able to break it down in my living room. I dance like a nut anyway, here might as well look good doing it. I would love to say chorus back riding lessons, and I would love to do jujitsu.
Do you guys have that? Do you have classes like martial arts and yes, lots of them around. Yeah. Yeah, I think that would be fun to do. Do you have any bucket list items you did ballet, are there other fun things that you think if I had the time I used to really enjoy dressmaking and I haven’t done it for, it’s not really active, but it’s one of those things that I think, oh, I’ve still got the same grade.
Yeah. Well, I don’t think I was ever terribly talented, but you could always learn. Absolutely. I’ve lots of activity goals, and I really, I want to try fast. Um, so I really would love to go to Nepal. I have a lot of links with young people in Nepal and fast packing is a bit like an endurance running, but you carry all your kit.
So you have a big issue. So it’s a kind of a cross between ultra. Hiking, but you take it slowly. Yeah. You take it slowly and you travel round in Nepal. You traveled around to the different tea houses and, and stop on the way and see the beautiful senior when you have a guide. And I’d love to go there, but I’d love to try and explore it on foot and they call it fast packing.
So I haven’t heard of it until recently, but I’m like, yes, that’s what I want to do. Okay. Next time you come on here. We’ll come you come on here after you’ve done your fast packing. Yeah. That’ll be our accountability now. That’s right. That’s exactly right. That’s what we love. We’re all about goals here.
What, how long is it? I’m curious. You can do as long as you want, you could go for a week or you could go for longer, I think. Yeah. Depending on how much time you want to be away and how far up or how much.
My family hiked all through the Appalachian for an entire summer, and I don’t have the patience for it. I love running. I’ve been a runner for 23 years, but hiking. I just, I don’t think I could do any one thing for quite that long. So that’s the season being a runner has put you off hiking because you’d rather get from a, to be more quickly.
Oh, what a great question. I think part of it’s just my personality. I just don’t. I can’t think of hardly anything even like vacationing. I love vacationing, but I don’t think I could go on vacation for two months. You know what I mean? Like I need to do something. I need to have end goals that are kind of varied.
That’s why I loved emergency medicine because you know, you never really knew what was going to work. I did ICU for a little bit, and that was. The suit was too predictable, too controlled. I loved the chaos of the ER, but I think that’s maybe more of it. I think I just like variety, but I do enjoy short stints of hiking.
It is being out in nature and just, yeah, it’s fresh and it is so open. I do enjoy hiking, just not for. Not for a couple months at a time. No. Fair enough. Fair enough. I think, yeah, you can’t beat it for the Headspace because yeah. You’ve got time to think and gaze and dream and, and be with nature. I think so important.
Isn’t it for good mentor. Yeah, in this transition. I also want to give you the opportunity to speak to this medicine is, has always been hard as you and I both know. Medicine has been stressful way before COVID. Many of us were overworked, undervalued and underpaid even before COVID. But for so many people in the medical field, I can’t tell you how many times I have heard this even before COVID.
If I could think of something else to do and make money, I will. Which is an unfortunate reality. Obviously things need to change. But that being said, if somebody, whether they’re in medicine or in another job where they’re feeling that pool, that I think my heart is in something else, but I’m not sure that I can make that transition.
I’m not sure that I have what it takes. To make that transition between the security of that nine to four job or whatever it is into my passion. What word of advice would you give to them? Share one of the challenges in that moment. Did you have thoughts where I just don’t know if I can swing this leaving, you know, bedside medicine.
Practice into this other field. I mean, I don’t know about you, but I’ve certainly had moments where I’m like, man, it was just so much easier to swipe into the ER, to swipe out. I’m done. I’m, you know, I’m paid, it’s like guaranteed. I’m not trying to figure out how to make money myself, share a little bit of that journey with us.
Yeah. Wow. If I’m honest, people say, oh, it was very brave to make that change. And it was, but I have to say I made it quite gradually. Yes. I think probably through fear, but possibly just through being sensible, I couldn’t financially just totally lose my income overnight. I also didn’t know whether I could pull it off.
I didn’t know whether books would sell, whether anybody would want to read what I written. So my advice would be, again, it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. You can start doing something a little bit on the side. You never know where those things are going to lead you. So I gradually built up plan B before.
Dive straight from plant a and left it behind for good. But I think I had a lot of mixed emotions. I had an awful of guilt, a lots of guilt leaving my patients, leaving the other doctors in my practice, you know, leaving behind 22 years as a doctor, but all that training, all those other money that, you know, those night shifts, all those sweat and tears, I think.
Do you think, particularly of medicine as a career for life. And I had a lot of guilt and even now, sometimes that does come back to me, but my experience of that was talking to other people with all of them. Just what you said, then look, if I had a plan, I would go for it. You only get one life don’t, you know, to take the chance, take the opportunity.
Don’t feel guilty. We don’t mind from patients and from the other doctors I worked with, they were really incredibly supportive, but I had to have those conversations with them to get that reassurance. But also one thing that a friend said to me, which was really helpful, which is like, well, Helping people and about impact, you know, you went into medicine because when I was 18, you know, I wanted to help people just as you do, she said in a morning clinic, he might see 25 patients.
If you write a really good blog post in the morning, it might get seen by 25,000 people. So if you’re really all about making a difference and trying to help people, you shouldn’t see this move as something which is negative or giving anything up. It’s simply widening the number of people that. Make a difference too.
And that really helped me because it actually made me see, you know, I’m not leaving it all behind. There’s so much that I learnt and experienced that will help me in what I’m doing next. And I think whatever job you’re in, you can have a look at the skills you’ve developed, the experiences that you’ve had and bring them forward with you into your new career.
Even though it might not seem obvious at first, there are always transferable skills and experiences that you can use to make you even better at what you do in your new. I resonate with everything that you just said very much. And I think it’s important to highlight what you said, that concept, that it’s, none of it is wasted.
I don’t believe any of our days are wasted. You can take lessons and stories from all of your experience and that’s what makes everyone’s position. So unique is no one else has, you know, even though all of the things created equal. Between me and somebody else. The fact is nobody has my exact story, my exact experience.
And you just never know how you can use that to make such a significant difference in somebody else’s life. So I appreciate what you highlighted there and the emotions you described. Hit every single one of those exactly. The same 21 years, I think I was in school. If you include grade school and all the money for, you know, two masters and all the years.
And it’s just amazing to see how I’m able to incorporate that now into what I do in a unique way that other people may not be able to. So if you’re listening and you have a dream and you have a passion here, what Dr. Martin just said it was excellent. It’s not all or nothing. Start that side hustle now a little bit at a time.
Build it gradually does not have to be all or nothing. If you could. This is one of my favorite questions to ask. If you could sum up the secret to success or getting results, however you want to term that if you could sum up the secret to success in one word or phrase, what would it be? Hmm. Well, when are you getting one?
Okay. Kai is acceptable. Answer my answer to every cup of tea. There you go. Right? I would say break it down. That will be my phrase, break it down. Because when I think of this first, when I think of the things that I’ve done, whether that be running a marathon for the first time, whether that be writing a book or my current challenge, creating a video course, when I think the end goal I’m overwhelmed.
And I think I can’t get there, but if I could. Break it down and I mean, break it down, like even to the tiniest of steps, then that means that it’s achievable and you can take that tiny step. If that’s not achievable, you need to break it down even more, but it just helps you to keep moving forward because eventually those steps will add up and they will get you to where you want to be.
You need to have that goal, but actually just keep breaking it down, breaking it down, breaking it down until you’ve got a step as simple as go online to look for a new weapon. To record my video course and that I can do that. I can shop. That’s fine. And that to me has been key because I never thought I could run a marathon, but I’d learned to find a plan, break it down.
What do I need to do on this plan day one, I have to go outside and have to run for 20 minutes. I can do that. And I think eventually you’ll get. And that helps you to move forward. It helps you to be consistent because you’ve got things that you can do every day. And consistency is another key, I think.
And it also helps you to be brave because you can see that actually small things will add up eventually and get you to where you want to be. But I’m going to go with yeah. Break it down. That’s helped me massively. It helps me every day now. And I think that’s something I can’t do. Yes. Break it down one day at a time.
One realistic goal at a time. That’s beautiful. We are going to take a quick break, but when we come back, we’re going to chat more with Dr. McGee rotten on her expertise to running well, right? When we come back from this break, you have tried it all. Worried you will never lose the extra weight or reclaim the energy you once enjoyed want to achieve fat loss without spending hours in a gym or eliminating entire food groups from your diet.
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We are back here with Dr. Juliette Juliette. We are going to do a really quick round of this. It is going to be two options. You can pick one, you don’t have to overthink it too much. And we will get started with, I was going to say coffee, and I didn’t even think about the fact that you guys are tea, so, okay.
Tea, black or green. What’s your favorite? I’ll have, I’ll have a little bit of milk in my tea, so black tea, but with a dash of milk. Okay. Do you have a favorite company yet? Yorkshire, Yorkshire tea. It’s in the Northeast of England. So it’s not too far from where I live. Yorkshire tea. Okay. Yorkshire black.
Flats or heels flats because I can’t run in heels,
but Polaris, well, that’s fair. That is a great point. Would you rather be a ninja or a pirate ninja? Would you rather visit Scotland or Ireland? Ooh, gosh. Island cause I’ve seen a lot of Scotland. So I’m going to Ireland. I’ve seen a bit, but not enough. What’s the best thing to see in Scotland. You’ve been there a lot.
You said if we’re going to go to Scotland, what’s the one thing we need to see or visit. I would say Glencoe, it’s beautiful. The Catholics did notice a great big mountainous area with the valleys and beautiful, beautiful scenery. Um, my parents have tons and tons of pictures of hiking to old castle. The beautiful old castles.
I don’t know the names of any of them, but so Glencoe, if you’re going to go to Scotland and what would you recommend in Ireland when you go. Yeah. So my husband’s from Northern Ireland and my family. Um, my in-laws live there and I would say you need to go and see the Giant’s Causeway, which is on the north coast of Antrim on the very north coast of Northern Ireland.
And it’s it’s well, how do I describe it? It’s made of bustle rocks, which are shaped like hexagons. So it’s this amazing rock structure that you are on the beach that you can walk over and explore. And there’s a story about the giant and how the rocks got there, et cetera. So, yeah. The north central coast and goes to the Giant’s Causeway.
Ireland looks beautiful. That’s on my to go list. Just looks so pretty well. And then I have to ask, since most of my listeners are in the U S if someone was going to visit England, where is one place they should go. So where near where I am the late district, you have to come to England, have to go to the lake districts, this beautiful quaint little villages and lakes and big Hills beautiful walks.
And yeah, it’s amazing. My heart’s going, pitter-patter just thinking about it. I just did a podcast with somebody else and they asked what’s one thing you nerd out about. And for me, it’s classic British literature. I love Brit lit Jane Austin is my favorite. And anytime I think of like little villages and quaint, I instantly think of Jane Austen’s books and it makes me very happy.
Okay of mine outside. Sorry. All of my choices are to do with outdoors. I’m not a city girl. I mean, either that’s fair. I will agree with you there. Me neither. Well, that being said, would you rather run in the woods or along the beach? I’m going to say in the woods. I love running in forests. Yeah. Are there a lot of good running trails around you?
Yes, we’re completely spoiled. Yeah. Lots of quiet, little rows and lots of off-road at school. Just, I do love running on the beach as well. Don’t get me wrong, but if I had to pick one, I’ll go with the. Yeah. I’d probably agree with you there. Running on the beach is also very difficult unless you have really packed sand.
Yeah. You’ve got that lovely image of running along the golden sands, but yet it’s quite hard on your calf muscles. Yeah. Baywatch, not so much, not so much. It is. So I ran competitively for eight years and we were always told we were not allowed to run on the beach during summer vacation because we were always told it was not healthy for our muscles.
Fast-twitch or slow Twitch. So we were encouraged not to be running well on vacation. I think it’s something you’ve got to build up gradually because it is a different set of muscles. So if you suddenly go and do a really long run on the sand beach. Yeah. That’s interesting. Well, you have clearly spent years and hours of research.
This is one of Dr. Martin’s books run. Well, I read it. I mentioned before I’ve been a runner for about 23 years now. I ran competitively for eight. And now I do it for fun, which is so freeing, but you are really passionate about correlating running with not just disease prevention, but also helping people be able to sort through common questions and health complaints.
Runners. Let’s talk a little bit about some of the research. I love research. I’m a research nerd. You highlight several really interesting research studies in this book. Um, one of the ones that I found was fascinating is the research study that you talked about in correlation with dementia. Do you want to talk a little bit about some of the research with running and dementia?
Yes, it’s, it’s, it’s interesting because I think, you know, dementia as a disease is becoming more and more common, more frequently diagnosed. It’s a disease, which is harsh. And really, if you have somebody in your family with dementia or you’re caring for somebody with dementia, it can be life changing and really upsetting.
That makes you then want to take steps to see what you can do yourself to reduce your risk of dementia. Other on lots of different types of dementia, but it’s becoming increasingly evidence-based to say that not just running, but by being physically active, you can significantly reduce your risk of many types of dementia, including Alzheimer’s, which is a very common type of dementia.
Also vascular dementia, vascular dementia. The blood vessels in your brain are usually narrowed in some way, and you get restricted blood flow to areas of the brain and the same way that you do with the blood vessels around your heart causing heart attacks, you can cause areas of your brain not to be so well nourished with blood and can lead to dementia.
So I think what was important for me with this was really just to mention it in the first place, because it’s not the first thing you think of when you take up running, you think of your heart, you think of your lungs, but actually to relate to brain health and to say, yeah, there’s really good evidence.
Being physically active regularly throughout your life will reduce your risk of developing many types of dementia. Well, and it was interesting to note as well that there was still, I want to say it was 35%. I could look it up here, but there was still benefit even with mild activity again, that not avoiding the all or nothing mentality.
It wasn’t just going and running five miles every day. But. Mild to moderate activity. It was still preferable to none in terms of preventing. Dementia. And I think this is what we were saying earlier about having conversations with people, you know, the, the recommended guidelines of the amount of physical activity you should do for good health.
So to start getting those kinds of benefits in your health improvement is not massive. It’s 150 minutes a week of moderate intensity activity. And that just means activity where you feel about out of breath, so that can easily be brisk. And 150 minutes might sound like a lot, but actually if you were to do 15 minutes, twice a day, Monday to Friday, so perhaps you walked to work and you walked back at a brisk pace, you’ve done 150 minutes.
So, and that’s a goal, you know, you can start small and build up to it, but it’s not huge. Of vigorous high intensity exercise that you have to do to actually start getting the benefits and the people who are going to gain the most are the people who are actually already doing nothing. If you can get them to do something, then they’re the ones that have got the most to gain.
Yeah, that’s perfect. So again, encouragement to everyone listening and watching. If it feels overwhelming and you feel like it’s a massive hurdle, it is small bite sized pieces, 15 minutes, twice a day. Maybe it’s just 15 minutes once a day initially, but the general recommendation, the American heart association, and this has been corroborated by many different organizations, 150 minutes or 30 minutes, five days a week of moderate intensity exercise is life-changing literally life-changing and can prevent disease.
Another one that I found was really fascinating is running. Inside versus outside. So we all know that running improves mood, stress, anxiety, I’ve done a whole blog post on the concept of running an exercise as an anti-anxiety and stress reliever, and some of the physiology that goes into that. But tell us a little bit, I found it really interesting to see the research.
I think it was a Scottish study or a Scottish health survey. I think it was the actual research unreported mental benefits of exercising outside versus inside. Yeah, there are quite a few studies that have looked at this. Actually, some of them were literally putting people on a treadmill inside and looking at different outcomes and then putting them outside, looking at the outcomes and sort of comparing the two.
And also some studies also looked at different environments, looking at running an urban environment, as opposed to running in rural or Woodland, congrats, et cetera. Yeah. And not only in actually. Mood benefits, but also in your ability to perform and concentrate and to focus on a task when you get in as well, when you come back from a run as well.
So any exercise helps you to focus better, but those who’ve been in green spaces seem to do better at certain memory, recall tasks than those. We’re in an urban environment. So the key really to this is the outside is definitely better than inside and has bigger effects on reducing depression and reducing anxiety and stress levels than running inside.
Don’t get me wrong. Being running on the treadmill being inside is better than not doing any better than it is. But if you’re particularly looking for mood boosting and stress relieving effects, then there say there is good evidence that actually being outside is more beneficial, particularly in Woodland, in green spaces, particularly in Woodland areas.
So, yeah, it’s really encouraging and fascinating, but you know, if you love your treadmill and that breaks your monotony and boosts your mood and, you know, go for it, carry on. But if you’re struggling or you think maybe you want to get more than even just a few minutes outside can make a difference. I think it’s a great takeaway just for people who are already exercising or are already running.
And you’re like you just said, you’re looking for something a little extra. If you. Have the ability to go on trail runs, maybe incorporating that into your workout regimen, even if it’s just once a week or once every other week. It’s a very fascinating correlation that there is something about being in the green nourishing environment that is improving outcomes.
I thought that was really interesting time. Is one of the biggest barriers you mentioned that. And I think it is true for just about everything. I think everything, if you ask anybody, what is a barrier to XYZ time is one of the most reported barriers. When it comes to exercise specifically, we’re talking here about running, you presented two really interesting concepts to running, and I was thinking through these two.
Types of exercises while running. And I realized that I do this without even realizing it, but you put a name to it, which I thought was awesome. So if you are feeling time crunch in general, I don’t have time to work out. I don’t have time to run. I have XYZ. I need to do, or to figure out you talk about two concepts that you can practice while running.
One is the idea of mindful. And then two is the idea of productive running. Tell us a little bit for all of us busy women and men out there who don’t feel like we have the time, how can we kill two birds with one stone, if you will, or get more bang for our buck as I guess the less violent way of presenting that tell us about mindful running and productive running.
Yeah. So like you, I think I was doing these without really realizing it. Yeah. But I started realizing what they were and learning more about them. I thought that actually, I can get more out of that than just sort of doing it by accident. So mindful running is really just making sure you get the best boost for your mental health when you’re out running, but you don’t necessarily want to do this on every run that you do, but if you choose one run a week or less or more, depending on how you feel, where you actually.
Just spend the time being really present. But I think being mindful is actually just appreciating where you are at that moment in time. So you’re not looking at your pace. You leave your tech behind, leave your headphones behind and you just go out and you choose an any, any easiest route. You don’t want something.
That’s just really, really heli. Just focusing on how awful you feel just of run. Let’s be honest. The way I presented it in the book is actually just spending time with each of your senses. So what can you see? What can you hear? What can you smell? What can you taste? What can you touch and spend a little bit of time focusing on each of those or literally just choosing one.
So if you, for example, we’re looking at, what can you say. Yes. You’re not just looking at the road and the Bush beside you. You’re actually looking at the colors. You’re looking at the little lady bird that you spotted on a leaf. You’re noticing things in the distance. You’re looking at a view that you wouldn’t have picked up on before, and you’re actually just spending time with that one sense and really just enjoying it.
So the running becomes very a secondary. It’s just a, I think running can be. Meditative is that it’s this constant sort of thought of your feet on the pavement does put you into sort of a meditative state. And if you can combine that with literally just being mindful and being in the present, you can really find it a very, very good way to relax.
So as well as getting your exercise, as well as getting your fresh air and a bit of nature, you’re actually spending a little bit of time being mindful, which we know has benefits for your mental. So that’s mindfulness mindful running. Yeah. Yeah. Well, and I would also add, I’ve written a number of articles on the concept of how.
A mentality of gratitude can actually help you lose weight and live physically healthier. And, you know, I’ve, if anyone’s interested in that, you can go to my There’s a bunch of different articles on mental health and the correlation between that and physical health. But I think that what I’ve talked about there is also perfectly applicable to what you just said, mindful running two, combine them at one time while you’re running.
Start listing five things that you are grateful for and be thinking about all of those different things as you’re running similar concepts, but trying to create a very positive present mentality while you. So talk about then productive running. If I’m being honest, this is probably more what I do than mindful running.
I totally zoned out completely zoned out. I’m not thinking about anything. That’s about the only time I think about nothing is when I’m running and even then it’s, I’m usually thinking about something or I’m doing this productive. So tell us a little bit about productive running. Yeah, and I think when I first started running, it was actually the space for my brain to sort of start thinking and dreaming and being creative.
And I’d kind of lost that, the ability to be creative, I think, through the work that I was doing. And so for me, this was really key and it fits in with the time pressure thing. There’s so much I need to do. I’ve got to, I’ve got to write this letter. I’ve got a. Presentation. I’ve got a, what am I going to say on this podcast, et cetera.
And there’s really good evidence that we are more creative when we’re on the. So productive writing is literally just tapping into that evidence that your brain has an increased level of blood flow. You’ve got your lots of happy hormones flooding around in your body, your brain. And it’s a really, really good time to be creative.
And so you can use that. So if you have say, you’re going to give a presentation, I’ve done this so many times. I’ve got to sit down. And I’ve got to create a PowerPoint for a webinar. I’m going to give, rather than actually just sitting down at the computer with the blank page in front of me, I’ll go for run.
And I’ll think through on that run, what is it I’m trying to say. What’s my overall message. What could be my introduction? And I work through each slide kind of in my head. Now, sometimes it’s helpful to maybe just have your voice recorder on your phone because these things come to you like dreams and then you come back and yet you don’t always want, so it’s quite handy to make a little voice note as you go along, but actually, any problem that you.
And I think you may be experienced this yourself. You’ve had an argument with somebody and you go for a run and you come back feeling much better because you’ve been able to process it and think through it, but you can use it for your work. So if you feel like you don’t have the time to run, that actually combine your work with your running and you’ll find you have some amazing ideas that you can be really creative and how you approach things and solve problems that you could have festered in your brain, sort of for ages.
So this was all really about, yeah. Using time. I love multitasking, you know, being productive, getting the most out of it as you can. And it really works. It really works. Yeah. Well, and to put a number to it, you had mentioned this in your book. There was a study at Stanford university in 2014. They showed six.
Percent more creativity when walking. So they had these test subjects doing brisk walking, and I can’t remember the end points and how they actually determined 60% more creativity. But you know, to Dr. Martin’s point running can be, you can still multitask. These are practical ways for you to be able to multitask while exercising or in this case running.
The other thing I would tap into that. This depends on your history of running. One of the things I had to force myself to do to enjoy it more. As I stopped timing myself, I actually don’t run with a watch anymore. Now, if I’m training for something I will, but day in and day out when I go out for a run, because one I’m competitive by nature and I’m all about, I love to see improvement progress in anything that I’m doing.
And I was also nurtured. So by nature, I’m competitive and I was nurtured for eight years to get negative splits. You know, if I do an out and back a four mile run, then my two miles back had better be less than my two miles out. Like I couldn’t get out of that mindset. So it was very freeing for me. To give myself the benefit of not timing it anymore, not measuring the progress and to be able to just run.
I found it less stressful. I found I was more likely to go out and run if I wasn’t measuring something. And I also. I don’t vary my runs a whole lot. Now this is also coming from somebody who is, I am not training for things currently. I haven’t for some time, but I would also throw that out to you. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by running, maybe you need to step back a little bit, give yourself some grace and stop timing it.
Stop trying to hit certain times at mile marks and be able to practice more of what Dr. Martin’s talking here, mindful, running, productive, running, go on a route that you don’t have to think about. So that you can just sort of relax and enjoy it even more. Dr. Julia, where? Oh, go ahead. So I was just going to say, I would, I would add as well that if you’re a new runner be patient, because it does take time before you get to your point, you can forget about the fact you’re running.
Believe me. Thank you for that. You’re just thinking about, am I going to be able to breathe? Um, and, uh, so it’s something. Slowing down for, but being patient and, and you, and you will get there. Yeah. Well, and I think that’s such a great, I’m so glad that you said that because one of the other things with running is you need to establish that several mile baseline.
Like you will get to the place where, you know, again, if we’re trying to hit approximately 30 minutes of exercise a day, Roughly three to four miles, depending on your level of fitness, you will get to that point where, you know, I joke that I feel miserable every time I run. That’s not true. It depends on how long I’m going, but you can get to the place where that three to four miles.
It’s still a workout, but you’re not dying. You don’t feel like what Dr. Martin just said, you don’t feel like you are struggling for air. Your lungs are on fire. Your legs feel like lead. You will get past that and you will be able to coast to a degree, and you’re still getting the benefits.
Cardiovascularly, but it is not as painful. So I, that is such a great point. And I’m really glad that you said that if you’re in that place, hang in there. I will also say this. I feel like I have to start over a little bit through the seasons. It’s just now getting warm and I always joke. Fitness being fit is not the same as being in running shape.
They are, you can be really fit and not be in running shape. They are two different things. So it’s seasons and cycles. I’m in much better running shape at the end of the summer than I am at the beginning of spring. So great point. Give yourself time. And fitness should be enjoyable. And if it isn’t yet, it can become.
So hang in there. I’m Dr. Mike rotten, where can people find you? You are passionate about empowering women, especially I know is kind of your heartbeat with running. Is there anything else that you would want to share with listeners and where can they find you to learn more about the many, many things that you offer?
Oh, thank you. Um, so the best place to go to is my. Which, and my website, which is Dr. Juliet Ima And that’s got all my sort of social handles and you scroll down, there’s a blog, which I post every week with tips and bits and pieces. The other thing that I’d like to direct people to is 2, 2, 6, 1 fearless, which is 2 61, which is a global women’s running network that I’m part of.
And I’m the women’s health lead for and a master coach for which is specifically to help women. To become empowered through running. So if you’ve been, if you’re interested through this 360 1, 2 6, 1, which is especially empowering women. Yes. It’s a charity is a non-profit to empower women all over the.
Three running. I’m working in all sorts of countries. We’ve got clubs around the U S and all over the world, five continents. So that’s something that’s a pretty big part of my life. So if you’re listening and you think you might want to get into running, that might be a good place to start. Well, I have thoroughly enjoyed this.
We can probably come back again and talk about a lot more. We didn’t even really dive into just straight up how to run better, you know, in terms of actual running tips, but the main takeaway here for every. Watching and listening is just for generally understanding health questions in terms of how it relates to running.
Maybe you’re concerned you have bad knees. Well, how do I start running or will running affect fill in the blank? I have this challenge, this medical issue, how will running effect that she addressed? Probably it’s a couple of hundred different issues. If you really added all up stress incontinence, she offers pelvic floor exercises, women.
That’s a big one for so many highly recommend that you find this book. The link will be in the show This is dare I say it. The Bible medical Bible for runners, I would say this is truly an incredible book. Okay. Dr. McCartan. Thank you so much for the way that you are inspiring women.
I have no doubt that you are changing so many lives and inspiring people to live. Well, thank you very much for having me. It’s been really, really lovely to talk to you. Thank you so much for joining us for this episode of the imperfectly empowered podcast. It is my honor to be here with you. I am so grateful for each and every one of you.
If you were watching on YouTube, be sure to click the subscribe button below. So you don’t miss a show and leave a comment with your thoughts from today’s episode before. If you are listening via your preferred podcasting platform, would you help keep us on the air by rating our show and leaving an honest review of your thoughts from today in case you haven’t heard it lately, your story matters and you are loved.
This is your host on a former, and I will see you here next time on the, in perfectly empowered podcast.

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