Today I’m going to be talking about the Dowager’s hump and showing your some Dowager’s hump exercises to help alleviate the issue and improve your posture at the same time.

The video below would be the best way to see the exercises – but if you prefer to read – I’ve added some description and images underneath.

I really hope this helps.

What is the Dowager’s Hump?

The Dowager’s hump is the fatty deposit that lies on the base of the neck line, C7 and the top of your thoracic spine, T1.

You can see it pointed out below.

We’re ‘forward-moving’ creatures, and so we tend to get a little bit more round shouldered because we’re moving forward … we’re texting, we’re on computers, we’re reading, we’re driving. When you get very tight through your front line and through your chest, you can become a little bit round shouldered.

As we’re moving forward, the head moves forward and so the head is misplaced and it puts lots of stress on the neck and the shoulder line.

If we’re not careful, we end up like this (not attractive, I know 😮):

What sort of exercises do we need to rectify the Dowager’s hump?

We need to strengthen the back line.

We need to realign the neck line and the head.

And we need to open up the front line.

Be aware that there’s so much tension in this area, if we’re just an inch forward through the head line, it can put approximately an extra 10 pounds more force on the neck line. So, we really need to make sure that we are realigned in our posture.

First of all, I’m going to strengthen the backline, namely the rhomboid muscles which are located on your upper back and draw the shoulder blades together …

Exercise #1 – wide postion

We’re going to do a wide position, first of all.

If you have got a doorframe, you can do this with the forearms on the doorframe and you gently just lean into the doorframe:

Tip: Lean the whole body in, so you feel a stretch through the front of the chest – pec, minor and pec major.

Next, extend the arms up into a Y position, draw the navel to the spine, bend the knees slightly to release the lower back and ground into the floor with the feet.

Now – send the arms back -almost kissing the shoulder blades together. Hold it in place for 5 seconds – it’s deceptively strong. The video will explain more.

Exercise #2 – T-position

Next – Let’s go into a T.

Turn the palms to face the screen and bend through the knees, engaging the pelvic floor

Once again, kiss those shoulder blades together. Realign that neck lines. Take the arms back.

Where can you feel this again? Imagine the shoulder blades gently embracing, so the arms are pulled back slightly. Muscles work antagonistically together. As one muscle stretches, the other one is engaging. Hold it for 5-10 seconds and then relax. It’s deceptively strong!

Exercise #3 – W-position

Next – we’re going to do the “W”!

Turn the forearms to face the screen and gently engage the shoulder blades together. I always imagine angel wings – the arms are the wings and the shoulder blades is where the wings insert.

We want that part to be strong, so that when we’re moving the arms, we’re still strong in the body.

Hold for 30 seconds and then relax and repeat.

Next we’re going to work into a dumbwaiter.

Exercise #4 – dumb waiter

The palms should be up and the elbows underneath the shoulders.

Here we’re getting an external rotation at the top of the humeral head, so we’re stretching out the chest muscle that comes across the chest and inserts underneath the bicep.

Stretch the chest and externally rotate. Then hold for 10 seonds. You will feel that underneath your bicep, as you stretch it out where the insertion is.

Don’t hold any tension in the neck line as you release.

Here, we’re getting into the rhomboids and into the back. We’re creating tone into the back.

Do that twice more – externally rotate from the top of that humeral head. Really feel that stretch! Imagine your energy coming out through the crown of the skull.

Go through that same movement once more.

Do know that one arm is going to feel a little bit different. I can open out one arm more than the other. It doesn’t matter. – we’re all different!

If you work with a computer and mouse – you might be a little bit more internally rotated if your workstation isn’t perfectly in front of you.

Exercise #5 – neck retraction

Now we’re going to look at the position of the neck line.

Put your middle finger and your first finger on the nobbily bit, the top or the bottom of the neck. Over time, if the head is still forward, you do get that fatty deposit on the top. In the image below – I’m really exaggerating this.

When you look up – if you’re not careful, your posture doesn’t change. It looks so bad! And then it gets worse – the belly protrudes!

We need to rectify this.

Press into that C7.

Next, imagine somebody is in front of you and imagine they have got bad breath.

As they come towards you, press into C7 and neck retract.

Then, imagine they go away – and bring the neck back into line.

Repeat this multiple times.

It might help if someone records this for you? So you too can look like me above!  It’s the most unattractive exercise ever. So I apologize. But it works!

Keep finding that alignment and release.

How often should you do these Dowager’s hump exercises?

I would recommend a minimum of 3 times per week.

In an ideal world – you’d do this every day if time allows.

Just take 10 mins out from your day in front of a mirror and you’ll soon see a difference.


As part of our new well being magazine, we’re going to be bringing you a regular meditation, courtesy of Amanda Penalver.

Amanda is a meditation expert and founder of True Rest®. Her work is devoted to challenging, inspiring & motivating her clients to live a more growth-full, rich & deeply fulfilling life.

True Rest® is a unique style of meditation that has evolved from 30 years of practice, study & teaching.

Amanda offers True Rest classes & guided meditations to uplift, restore, replenish & re-energise you to live on purpose, fully awake, fully embodied & deeply connected.

We’re delighted to be able to offer May’s free guided meditation for sleep for you below. It’s something Jo struggles with and has relied on Amanda’s meditations for a number of years to get her back to sleep.


Deep, Peaceful Sleep

Use this meditation at bedtime or anytime your mind & body need a deeply nourishing & nurturing rest.

This deeply highly restorative meditation will also gently guide you back to sleep if you wake up in the middle of the night.

We hope you enjoy it.

Find out more about Amanda’s brilliant work at


Hi! I’m Helen Gambarota and I am delighted to be joining Jo’s Weekly Workout Family to share my love of books with you. I’m a stay at home mum of 8 year old twins. Last year we completed our family when we welcomed our puppy, Roddy, into our home and hearts.

Pre-kids I had a varied career working in banking, legal and magazines before finally ending up as a Celebrity Manager for an animal rescue charity.

I am a total book nerd. An avid reader and a compulsive book buyer, although I do need to slow down on the book buying as there are piles of books all around the house. I started reviewing books on Instagram as @BestBookFoward almost 4 years ago and I love chatting about books and sharing my passion for reading.

Each month I’ll be bringing you my recommendation of a must-read book. I read a variety of genres so it could be anything from fiction, non-fiction, romance, historical fiction or a thriller and I really hope that you’ll enjoy each of them as much as I do.

If you’d like more book inspiration you can find my reviews on my Instagram account which is @BestBookForward, on Facebook or on my website

The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah

My first book recommendation for you is The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah, which is out now in hard back. Let me tell you a bit about the story, don’t worry I never drop spoilers.

The story is set in 1930s Texas, at the time of the Great Depression and the beginning of the Dust Bowl era. It is about a woman named Elsa who is struggling to keep herself and family alive on their farm as they are in the midst of the worst drought in their history.

Elsa is forced to make the impossible decision as to whether she will stay and fight for the land she loves or take her children on a difficult and dangerous journey to California where she hopes she will find a better life. She packs her things and sets off with her children, not knowing if she’ll see her family again and not knowing what lies ahead of them.

This is a really powerful, compelling and emotional read. At the time I read this, Texas were struggling through snow storms and Texans were again without heating and water so it felt like a timely reminder that we need to act now to save our planet.

It is story about love, sacrifice and discovering the best of ourselves at the worst of times.

Kristin started writing this book three years ago, and at that time she could have had no idea that in 2020 the world would be battling the Coronavirus pandemic. She writes:

“Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that the Great Depression would become so relevant in our modern lives, that I would see so many people out of work, in need and frightened for the future.”

History shows us how strong and resilient we are and that in the darkest of times there is always hope and kindness, which you will see shine through in The Four Winds.

I really hope you’ll enjoy reading The Four Winds as much as I did. I’ll be back next month with another recommendation for you.


You can buy your copy from Amazon here, or from all good bookshops.


We’re so excited to announce our brand new resident food contributor – Katie Bishop.

Katie won the Young Cook of Britain competition at the tender age of 14!  She travelled the world working as a chef and cemented her dream of becoming a professional food writer.

“It is not uncommon for me to be thinking about what I’m going to eat for supper while I’m still eating my lunch.”

She has now been a freelance food writer, editor, stylist and consultant for 20 years.  She works with magazines and publishers, writing books and editorial features, as well as making food look beautiful for photos. She also works in advertising and film, presents cookery demonstrations and appears on TV and radio.

We’re incredibly fortunate to have her contribute to our lifestyle magazine here at

Today – she introduces us to Banana, apple & honey flapjacks …



Preparation time: 10 minutes
Time to cook: 60 minutes
This recipe makes: 16 flapjacks

If you’re trying to sneak some extra fruit in to your diet (or that of your children) without feeling too hard done by, then this recipe is for you. It’s an extremely easy and quick bake that will satisfy sweet cravings, without any added sugar – just honey. They’re flour-free too!

The banana and apple elements increase your fruit intake, whilst helping to bring the mixture together. The benefit being that you don’t need so much butter or sugar.

Feel free to mix it up a little – use what you can find in the cupboard! Dried apricots, cherries, cranberries, raisins or mixed dried fruit all work well. Poppy seeds are always a good addition to bakes and some chia would taste good too.

Katie says that you can use over-ripe bananas and apples – there’s nothing worse than food waste – this will help keep it down.

It’s good to experiment – try adding some finely grated orange or lemon zest to the mixture, before baking.

You can of course turn this into something slightly less healthy – by drizzling melted chocolate (white, milk or dark) over the top – we’ll let you decide on that.

So – let’s take a look at how to get these done!


50g butter, plus extra for greasing the tin
2 tbsp smooth peanut butter
3 tbsp honey
2 bananas
2 small eating apples
250g porridge oats
100g prunes
75g currants or raisins
75g mixed seeds (eg. pumpkin, sunflower, sesame & linseeds)

Let’s get cooking …

  1. Preheat the oven to 160˚C, gas mark 3 and grease a 20cm square tin.
  2. Melt the butter, peanut butter and honey into a small saucepan over a low heat. Stir the ingredients to combine.
  3. Whilst simmering, mash the banana and coarsely grate the unpeeled apple into a bowl (don’t worry about removing the core in advance, just grate around it).
  4. Mix the fruit into the melted butter mixture. Add 100ml hot water and stir.
  5. Add the oats to a large bowl. Add the prunes – snipping them up using scissors, to make pieces about the size of a plump raisin.
  6. Next, add the currants and seeds.
  7. Finally, mix in the banana mixture until everything is well coated. Simple so far?!
  8. It’s time to get baking next. Tip into the prepared tin and spread out to level the surface. Bake for 55 minutes or until golden brown.
  9. Leave to cool in the tin for at least 2 hours, before turning out and cutting into squares. Enjoy with tea or coffee!

More about Katie

Katie will be back next month with something else delicious to try.

In the meantime, you can find out more about her at or follow her on Instagram at @ktbishopcooks

Each month, we’re going to be featuring one of our amazing Weekly Workout Club members here in our wellness and lifestyle area.

If you’re a member, you’ll know that its really important to Jo that we are all in this together and supporting one another on our fitness journeys.  Hence why Jo always refers to the club as the ‘Weekly Workout Family!’.  So we thought it was time for members to get to know each other a little more and to share some stories and experiences.

Our very first spotlight features Gail …


Introduce yourself …

I am 58 and live in Fleet with my Partner Grant, 3 children Jacinta, Nikita & Cameron and our dog Phoebe.

I have a passion for cooking and love to create dishes from all around the world, during lockdown we took a different place each weekend, cooked fabulous food, drank different wines and enjoyed a cocktail or two!

Tell us about your Workout Club experiences

I have always enjoyed exercise (gives me an excuse to eat more) running, gym, cycling, walking, love it, however over the years from pounding those roads, my knees have taken a beating and a few years ago advised to give up running, aargh! What do I do now?

Lucky for me, I spotted Philip Schofield’s little video introducing his Pilates instructor Jo Tuffrey and all about Pilates videos for the menopause! Perfect for me 😊 So I thought, I’ll try that and joined Jo Tuffrey online, it is fantastic!

2 and a bit years later, every Monday to Friday I start my day with Jo and together we do an hour of Pilates. Jo is just amazing, she’s not only a superb teacher, she’s also so supportive, encouraging and funny, you feel as if she is in the room with you and is concentrating on you, making sure you are doing each move properly and not forgetting her famous sayings, “be in control”, “be in the move”, “draw the tummy in”, “don’t be a Jackie in the box be a Jackie out of the box”.

I look forward to each morning with Jo and this year I’ve really enjoyed the monthly programs just completed Masterpiece March, can’t wait for Aspirational April!

What are your top three classes you’d recommend?

My top 3 classes would have to be Weighted Wednesday, Ab Attack & ABC #7 (although my Locust is nothing like Jo’s need to keep practising that one!)

Favourite Food

So many but you can’t beat a good steak

Favourite Drink

Wine – a crisp Sancerre or a beefy Malbec

Favourite Book

Lance Armstrong – Its not about the bike – brilliant read

Favourite Film

I’ve got loads but if I had to pick one then would be Love Actually – love is actually all around.



Jo loves coffee – you’ll hear her talking about it during her workouts regularly.

Recently, she was approached by Alex Higham, the founder of Exhale Coffee. Alex is an expert in the chemical composition of coffee and has conducted all kinds of experiments with labs to test the various properties of his coffee blend as well as others.

Imagine a coffee with health benefits in the same league as fresh fruit and vegetables? Well that’s what Alex and his team have been researching and developing for the last 2 years and Jo wanted to find out more.

She spent some time on Zoom with Alex recently and we’ve put together this amazing interview. If you think you know about the properties of coffee and how important it is in our lives – then think again!

As a taster, did you know that 1 cup of exhale coffee has the same antioxidant power as 12 punnets of blueberries, 55 oranges or 1.2kg of kale!

Find out more in this interview between Jo and Alex …

Enjoy the full interview below – or have a read of some of the highlights below …


The health benefits of drinking coffee

Alex Higham: Coffee is a fruit – coffee grows on trees and coffee starts its life as a cherry  So a coffee bean, isn’t a bean at all  It’s a seed. So coffee is a fruit!

Jo Tuffrey:  Actually, I’ve never really thought where coffee comes from!

Alex Higham:  It’s seen as this lifeless brown bean that makes this kind of black coffee, but all I’m trying to say is, look, coffee is a fruit  – coffee comes from fruit!

Jo Tuffrey:  Introduce yourself and say who you are ….!

Alex Higham:  Yes, I’m Alex. The company is called Exhale Coffee and we launched around six months ago in lockdown after a good two or three years of researching, developing and building the idea for the business  It’s been a long journey, but basically over the last few years, I have been reading more and more about the science around coffee.

More and more, the studies are pointing towards coffee as being a superfood with lots of different health benefits. So it’s potentially been associated with the reduced risk of all sorts of different diseases.

Coffee is one of the most drunk beverages in the world. It’s also one of the most studied. In the last 10 years, there has been over 8,000 studies on coffee  and its implications on health alone. Because it’s so wildly drunk, people are really interested in how it affects your health.

Jo Tuffrey:  So what are the benefits then of drinking coffee?

Alex Higham:  There’s been all of these studies over many decades. The studies have moved from observational studies, where they look for associations between drinking coffee and different diseases, and  looking at the kinds of mechanisms of the action of drinking coffee could be having in the body, which could be causing these benefits.

How often should you have a cup of coffee?

Jo Tuffrey: Would you advocate drinking your coffee all through the day or whenever suits the person?

Alex Higham:  I would advocate drinking coffee all day long, right up until bedtime, but to choose a decaf after a certain time of the day. And it depends on your own personal gene …

So you have a gene which dictates how fast you are breaking down the coffee and caffeine and another gene which dictates how fast you are absorbing the caffeine. So it’s your combination of those two genes, which dictates how long the caffeine will have an effect in your body.

I’m actually a really slow caffeine metabolizer. So if I have a coffee after about lunchtime, I can’t sleep at night, whereas other people can. The fast metabolizers of caffeine can have a coffee just before bed and they’ll burn off the caffeine and then they’ll sleep.

However, decaf really does have a lot of benefits as well. So  in the afternoon I switched to decaf and then recently have started having a decaf before bed because there’s a whole load of benefits around fasting.

Does coffee help with pilates and fitness?

Jo Tuffrey: Will we be able to do more planks?! Will we be able to do more curl ups? Is it shown to enhance performance?

Alex Higham: Oh, definitely. I mean, caffeine in particular is one of  the few proven ergogenic cases for sport.

Up until the early nineties, coffee was banned by the world anti-doping association, but then it made it legal more recently. The studies show that if you drink quite a lot of coffee, (between three and six milligrams of caffeine per kilo of body weight), which is probably about the equivalent of two double espressos – that’s where you would get the real benefit.

Jo Tuffrey: I don’t think my clients would allow me to have that!

Alex Higham: No, exactly. But if they do there’s two separate meta analyses, which show that caffeine increases exercise performance by 11 to 12% on average.

How do you make the ultimate cup of coffee?

Jo Tuffrey:  Now I’ve heard that you shouldn’t pour boiling water onto coffee. Should you do that or not?

Alex Higham: No! So if you add boiling water to the coffee it can scold the beans and it can over extract some of the bitter flavour compounds in the coffee.

So the advice we give is to boil the kettle …  leave it 30 seconds off the boil and then pour it!

However – you don’t want to let it cool too much because the extraction of all of the compounds and the healthy compounds, the good stuff from coffee is a chemical reaction. Chemical reactions are all sped up by hotter temperatures. It’s standard law of chemistry. The hotter, the temperature during the reaction, the faster it will take place.

If you let the water cool too much, then it’s not going to be hot enough to extract the healthy compounds. So you want to let it cool just off the boil, but not too much.

Find out more about Exhale Coffee

Visit Alex’s business at



Wellness & lifestyle

Thank you for visiting my new Wellness and Lifestyle Magazine. I hope it will be a wonderful addition to the Weekly Workout Club.

As I approach my 50th birthday (where has that time gone?!) I wanted to expand what we offer to the weekly workout family and introduce things that have always been important to me in my life – both for my physical and mental wellbeing.

If you’re a member of the weekly workout family – you’ll know just how much I enjoy my food, wine and life in general and I get dozens and dozens of emails each week asking me for advice on food, outfits, wellness and much much more.  So I thought it was time to create a platform to share some of these answers proactively!

As you all know, life is certainly not always a bed of roses and we can all struggle and have our own battles in life.  Just because someone looks or says they are fine doesn’t always mean they are!

Exercise has always been my saviour through these times but importantly so has enjoying good food, allowing myself to chill with wine, by running a bath, lighting a candle, meditation or reading or in fact, sometimes all 5 at the same time!

Over the coming months and years, expect regular articles on the areas of wellness and lifestyle  …

You’ll be able to watch and read interviews with people I truly rate across the wellness industry and people I really believe in.

We will feature some of our amazing workout club family members.

There will be book recommendations, recipes, meditations, sleep advice and much more.

I will always showcase the people and things I believe in and will always have you The ‘Weekly Workout Family’ member (and those considering joining) in my mind.  I want to share with you what makes me happy and as I always say, at the very least, try to put a smile on your face.

Let’s not forget about pilates!

Pilates is my first love.

I’ll also be showcasing some short exercise videos over the coming months to explain the why and the how of pilates too. These will be great for workout family members, as well as those of you perhaps enjoying my free pilates workouts right now.

I’m so excited about what’s going to be featured this year. Everything I do will have you, the reader in mind.

Stay uptodate

If you don’t want to miss an article – please bookmark the magazine’s homepage or you can follow me on Facebook or Instagram.

Please do tell your friends – and let’s have some fun and put a smile on each other’s faces!