Laughter yoga featured on This Morning


Laughter yoga was recently featured on ITV’s This Morning, as hosts Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield took part in a demonstration led by Louise Claire Gates.

Louise introduced them to the therapy, explaining its origins and health benefits, saying that belly laughter can produce similar benefits to running and other exercises. She explained that when pretending to laugh, the body doesn’t really know the difference, so the pretend laughter will very soon become real laughter.

Holly and Phillip were then introduced to a number of exercises that could be practised as part of a yoga therapy session.

Watch the clip here

Read an article about the benefits of laughter by Lotte Mikkelsen (first published in International Therapist issue 124

The importance of touch

Dr Chatterjee1GP, Author and TV presenter, Dr Rangan Chatterjee talks about the importance of human touch in his latest Feel Better, Live More podcast.

Rangan speaks to leading researcher, Professor Francis McGlone, who explains why touch is essential to the healthy brain development of humans and other mammals, and what the consequences are when we don’t receive it.

Francis says that there are now fewer opportunities for children to experience social touch and physical play than there were 30 to 50 years ago. There is less physical activity and more desk-based IT work, where children often spend more time on a smart phone or tablet than interacting with each other. He believes that children who lack social touch could become less resilient in the future.


He also says that nurturing touch in early years from the mother or caregiver is crucial for brain development and a lack of touch can lead to social exclusion. Research has shown that ‘rats whose mothers lick them regularly as they grow up are better able to cope with stress than those whose mothers don’t lick them at all’. The rats who weren’t licked became hypersensitive to stress and anxiety.

Listen to the podcast here

Read an interview with Dr Chatterjee in the Winter 2018 issue of International Therapist

High-fibre diets linked with lower heart disease risk


Eating plenty of fibre reduces the risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and cancer, according to a landmark review commissioned by the World Health Organization (WHO).

As reported in The Guardian, the study will inform forthcoming WHO guidance and was led by a team at the University of Otago in New Zealand, whose last major review paved the way for sugar taxes across the world.

The review based its findings on data from 185 prospective studies and 58 clinical trials, involving more than 4500 participants. People on high fibre diets were found to be between 15-30% less likely to experience heart disease and early death than those who don’t eat much fibre.

The researchers recommend a daily minimum intake of 25g of fibre, which is similar to the 2015 UK Government guidelines of consuming around 30g each day to form part of a healthy diet.

Fibre is found in a variety of foods, such as wholegrain bread and oats, wholewheat pasta, broccoli, carrots, beans and pulses, nuts and seeds, berries, pears, oranges, and potatoes with skin.

Read an abstract of the review, published in the Lancet




Conference to address the integration of yoga within the NHS


Tickets are said to be selling fast for the Yoga In Healthcare Conference, held from 15 to 17 February 2019. The conference will bring together leaders and pioneers in yoga, healthcare, research and government to express yoga’s value in public health.

One of the speakers at the event is Dr Michael Dixon, a leading figure in healthcare and Chair of the College of Medicine. FHT members will be familiar with Dr Dixon, after his exceptional talk at last year’s FHT Conference, where he discussed social prescription and the benefits of integrating complementary therapies within the NHS.

Speaking on behalf of the College of Medicine, Dr Dixon said, ‘We are delighted to be associated with the yoga conference. Therapeutic yoga should be on the menu of every social prescribing service. It is good for your physical and mental health and boosts your resilience.

‘There is also plenty of evidence suggesting that it can be helpful for those with diabetes and musculoskeletal disorders, as well as being effective for those living with injuries or recovering from illness. Therapeutic yoga combines restorative yoga (supported postures), a combination of breath work and hands on therapy, and guided meditation techniques with the aim of reducing stress on the body and improving wellbeing.’

Find out more about the Yoga in Healthcare Conference

Read more about social prescription

Report calls for complementary, traditional and natural medicine to rescue NHS from financial crisis


A new report released by the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Integrated Healthcare (PGIH) warns that the growing number of people suffering from long-term illness poses significant threats to the future sustainability of the NHS.

The report, titled ‘Integrated healthcare: putting the pieces together’, is based on the findings of an extensive consultation carried out by the PGIH in 2017, to which a detailed response was submitted by the FHT. It urges the government to embrace complementary, traditional and natural medicine to ease the mounting burden being placed on the NHS.

The report stresses that the rising costs to the health system require a more person-centred approach to health delivery, which focuses on prevention and tackles the root cause of illness.

It highlights that many more patients now suffer from multi-morbidity (two or more long-term health conditions) than when the NHS was formed 70 years ago, with the number of people in England with one or more long-term condition projected to increase to around 18 million by 2025.

Furthermore, it is estimated that 70% of total health expenditure on health and care in England is associated with treating 30% of the population with one or more long-term condition.

A further consequence of complex health conditions is the growing problem of polypharmacy, where several drugs are used at the same time. The report stresses that this is arguably one of the biggest threats to the future economic viability of the NHS, with increasing costs of pharmaceutical drugs needed to treat patients with multiple illnesses, coupled with largely unknown effects of the long-term use of these drugs in combination.

The PGIH report argues that the government needs to devise a strategy to fully assess the degree of drug interactions, determine the long-term health effects on patients, and arrest the trend of over medicating the population.

A significant part of this strategy would be to treat each patient as a whole person, with individual needs, rather than treating any presenting illnesses separately. As such, the report recommends that the strategy should make greater use of natural, traditional and complementary therapies, which are widely used to support people affected by a variety of conditions. It also highlights the huge under-utilised resource of professional therapists, who could work in collaboration with conventional medicine to improve patient outcomes and ease the burden on the NHS.

Modern medicine has been very effective in tackling many of the health conditions we face today. However, there are areas, often called effectiveness gaps (EGs), where available treatments in modern clinical practice are not fully effective, with the likes of depression, eczema, allergies, chronic pain, and irritable bowel syndrome being frequently cited.

The report urges that for these types of conditions, a different approach is needed, which does not involve giving more and more costly but potentially ineffective drugs.

David Tredinnick MP, Chair of the PGIH, insisted that the current approach being taken by the government is unsustainable for the long-term future of the country.

‘Despite positive signs that ministers are proving open to change, words must translate into reality. For some time our treasured NHS has faced threats to its financial sustainability and to common trust in the system.

‘Multi-morbidity is more apparent now in the UK than at any time in our recent history. As a trend it threatens to swamp a struggling NHS, but the good news is that many self-limiting conditions can be treated at home with the most minimal of expert intervention.

‘Other European governments facing similar challenges have considered the benefits of exploring complementary, traditional and natural medicines. If we are to hand on our most invaluable institution to future generations, so should we.’

FHT members can access a link to the full report by emailing their full name and membership number to writing ‘PGIH report’ in the subject box

Here’s to a happy 2019


Action for Happiness (AFH) suggests we all try to make 2019 as joyful as possible from the start, with its Happy New Year Calendar for January.

AFH publishes monthly calendars, offering daily affirmations on the theme of the respective month. The ‘Happy New Year Calendar’ follows ‘Do Good December’, ‘New Things November’, ‘Optimistic October’, ‘Self-care September’, ‘Altruistic August’, ‘Jump Back July’, ‘Joyful June’, ‘Meaningful May’, ‘Active April’, ‘Mindful March’,  and ‘Friendly February’.’

Suggestions for this month include the following:

  • Find three good things to look forward to this year
  • Say something positive to everyone you meet today
  • Learn something new and share it with others
  • Eat healthy food that really nourishes you today
  • Challenge your negative thoughts and look for the upside.

Download the calendar

Top fitness trends for 2019

Wearable technology.jpg

Wearable technology is expected to be the top fitness trend of 2019, according to a worldwide survey conducted by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM).

Identifying 20 trends that will shape the global fitness industry in the year ahead, the ACSM surveyed more than 2,000 health and fitness experts, who were asked to rank 39 possible trends.

Results from the survey, now in its 13th year, showed that wearable technology climbed two places from 2018, where it was listed as the third most important trend. Other trends that round off the top five for 2019 are group training, high-intensity interval training (HIIT), fitness programmes for adults and bodyweight training.

The full list of 2019 trends:

1. Wearable technology

2. Group training

3. High-intensity interval training (HIIT)

4. Fitness programmes for older adults

5. Bodyweight training

6. Employing certified fitness professionals

7. Yoga

8. Personal training

9. Functional fitness training

10. Exercise is medicine

11. Health/wellness coaching

12. Exercise for weight loss

13. Mobile exercise apps

14. Mobility/myofascial devices

15. Worksite health promotion and workplace wellbeing programmes

16. Outcome measurements

17. Outdoor activities

18. Licensure for fitness professionals

19. Small group personal training

20. Post-rehabilitation classes

Access the full report