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Hello <<First Name>>  Rosemary Conley CBE

I hope this week’s Newsletter finds you fit and well. This week I am going to talk about the rather less-than-exciting but vitally important subject of fibre. I remember only too well Terry Wogan referring to the F-Plan Diet back in the early ‘80s and having fun with the side effects of such an eating plan but now, with so much processed food around, fibre has reached a whole new level of scientific interest and importance.

We have always known that fibre is important to our digestive system but it wasn’t until Mary Morris and I started working together last year to create The 28-Day Immunity Plan that it became so evident that fibre does a lot more than keep you regular. Fibre is crucial to our gut health which in turn is critical in boosting our immune system.

Found in plant-based foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains and beans, fibre provides roughage in our gut which, because the body cannot break it down or digest it, works its way through the body to keep the digestive system clean and healthy. Fibre passes through the whole digestive system and eases our bowel movements ensuring that it flushes away our waste products and any unwanted elements of our entire gastrointestinal system.

Gut health is emerging as a whole new area of fascinating science. It is now recognised that by eating a healthy diet, we create more good bacteria and less bad bacteria within our gut which helps boost our immune system. In addition, having a healthy gut can enhance our mental health and increase our chances of keeping our weight under control. It really provides a win/win for our general health.

As well as all the other obvious benefits from being active, it is acknowledged that exercise also plays a valuable role in helping food move freely through the digestive system and be usefully absorbed, so when you go for your daily walk you are helping your whole body including food absorption.

Mary's Weekly Challenge

Welcome to the final DIY Fitness Test.
This week we are testing your sense of Balance.

Whenever we fall over - and I believe most of us have at some point - we tend to analyse exactly what happened and then question ‘why?’ Sometimes we trip on an unseen obstacle which is understandable but sometimes, for no apparent reason whatsoever, we just lose our balance – and we can’t understand it.  Unfortunately, the older we become the more likely we are to suffer from falls and sometimes the consequences can be really serious. 

With this in mind, this week I am focussing on improving our ability to balance and reduce your risk of falling and keeping you safe.

Testing our balance is quick and straight-forward but very revealing!  If you find from doing the test that your balance is poor then the really good news is that it can be trained by practising the test regularly.  

Here are a few tips that will help you test your balance in other ways too:

•       You are less likely to fall if you have a good posture.
Try walking several steps with a book on your head.  I know this sounds 'old school' but it is such a great posture test!

•       Do the 'heel-toe-walk'. 
Place one foot directly in front of the other and keep placing the heel to the toe of the other foot.  Not as easy as you might think – but great for training balance skills!

 •       Try the one-foot balance challenge.
Make sure you have a chair or surface close-by to grab if you need to. Start by standing on one leg without holding on. Then slowly take your non-standing leg out to the side and lift for five seconds, then take that leg slightly behind you and hold for another five seconds if you can.  It doesn’t matter if you can only hold for a couple of seconds initially or have to touch the floor or the chair in-between moves. Persevere - you are still training your brain. The enormous benefit is that you are training yourself to change your centre of gravity without falling over.  This exercise is training your brain and will improve your neuromuscular co-ordination enormously. (i.e. your brain talking to your muscles!)

The risk of falling increases dramatically as we become older and falls can result in serious injuries, particularly to the wrists, hips and spine.  Without wishing to be over-dramatic, the consequences of having a serious fall may lead to you losing your independence which may, in turn, have a detrimental effect on your general health.  What we do know is that those who stay strong and flexible through regular exercise reduce the risks of falling enormously. 

In 2013 a study in the British Medical Journal proved that following a regular exercise programme reduces the risk of ‘falls that cause injury’ by 37%, ‘serious injury’ by 43% and ‘falls resulting in broken bones’ by a massive 61%!  Clearly a good reason to regularly keep up those exercise programmes available on our website and elsewhere.


Safety tip:  For this week’s Challenge always stand close to a work top or chair so you have support at hand if you need it.

 1.     Do the Balance Test
Firstly, test your balance by going to the DIY Fitness Test video on the website and click on the fifth marker on the video timer to take you straight to Fitness Test 5 – Balance (p275 of The 28-Day Immunity Plan book). 

The test is to see how many seconds you can balance on a flat surface in bare feet. Record the number of seconds you can balance on each foot.  Bear in mind that all of us have a stronger side to our body so you may find you can balance for longer on one leg than the other.  Check your score with the norms in the chart and see how strong you are at balancing. You can improve your score for each leg by practising your balance skills regularly.

2.     Every day this week practise your one-foot balance whenever you are waiting for a kettle to boil, or brushing your teeth or standing in a queue.

3.     Go for your regular walks and when doing your stretches at the end, try to balance as you do your front of thigh stretch, (quad stretch) only using support if you have to, and on completing each calf stretch bring the back foot up off the floor to practice the one-foot balance.  These stretches can be found in the Post Workout or Walk Stretches video on the Boosting Immunity - Exercises page.

4.     Re-test your balance. Test yourself again at the end of the week and record your results. If you have followed this Challenge to the letter, you will have improved which illustrates how regular practise really does make a big difference.  Success!

Here are the standard norms depending on your age and fitness.

Fitness Test 5 – Balance (No. seconds balance maintained)
Age Group Under 40 Under 60 Under 75 Over 75
Target 45 40 30 20

Fitness Fun

Mary has been teaching fitness classes for almost 50 years and last week she and her members had some fun raising £1000 for charity. As many of Mary’s members subscribe to this Newsletter and enjoy our website, I thought it would be good to include a photograph of them dressed up as fairies in aid of a good cause. Mary organises this fun walk/run every year for her members, (except last year of course), in aid of their local hospice, St Giles in Lichfield.  Well done everyone!
If you ever needed another good reason to do your 10,000 steps a day...

DiabetesUK's One Million Step Challenge started on 1 July - the ultimate summer walking challenge. Take on about 10,000 steps a day for three months - and you'll reach your million! Join the team today by signing up here:
Recipe of the Week

Featured in The 28-Day Immunity Plan these highly nutritious mushrooms make a surprisingly filling lunch. Here, the recipe is for two large mushrooms per person. Alternatively, you could serve just one with a salad for a light, low-calorie lunch.


Serves 2
Per serving 185 calories, 8g fat
Prep time 5 minutes
Cook time 8 minutes

4 very large flat mushrooms, wiped clean
1 slice wholegrain bread, made into breadcrumbs
1 red onion, peeled and very finely chopped
Freshly ground black pepper
40g hard cheese, finely grated
Rapeseed oil spray


  1. Preheat the grill to maximum heat but lower the shelf slightly or place in a hot oven.
  2. Carefully remove the stalks from the mushrooms. Season with freshly ground black pepper.
  3. Place the mushrooms on their backs and fill the mushrooms with the finely chopped red onion and breadcrumbs. Spray with a little rapeseed oil. Top with the finely grated cheese.
  4. Place the mushrooms on a non-stick baking tray and place under the grill but not too close to the elements to avoid burning, or in a hot oven 200C, 400F or Gas Mark 6.
  5. Cook for 7 – 9 minutes to cook through. Serve with a salad.
For more recipes click here to visit the website

Did you know...

We can help our gut health by eating foods that encourage the growth of good bacteria. These include onions, leeks, garlic, asparagus, grains, seeds, beans, pulses and peas as well as live yogurt and live kefir.

Like this Newsletter?

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And Finally,

Have a fabulous week and remember - if somebody pays you a compliment, see it as a ‘valuable gift’ and just say ‘Thank you’. That way both you and the kind person complimenting you, will feel good!

With love and best wishes,

Rosemary Conley CBE DL


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