Moving!

I have dragged myself kicking and screaming into the 21st century and managed to merge my work website and my blog therefore from now on I will be posting at Whole Life Fitness
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Hopefully if you already subscribe by email the nice people at wordpress will transfer your email addresses so you will continue to receive any posts I write. I also have a new page News and Research for Healthy Ageing
which is a page of  news/articles/research I find interesting which WILL be updated regularly. Don’t forget you can also contact me using contact@wholelifefitness.co.uk or phone me on 01252 313578 if you have any questions.

Hope to see you there🙂

Do you know one of the best forms of exercise for your health is free?

Yes, FREE!!! and who doesn’t love a bargain?

So what’s this secret exercise?

Walking.  It can help transform people’s health according to The “Walking Works” report by the Ramblers and Macmillan Cancer Support.

“Walking works. It makes people happy, keeps everyone healthy and can even save your life.” 

If you have been dithering over whether to start being more physically active then you need to read that report and stop making excuses.

“Being active also slashes the risk of getting these serious diseasesby 20-50%:
• heart disease
• stroke
• type 2 diabetes
• colon and breast cancer
• Alzheimer’s disease.12, 13, 14”   Walking Works summary report (1.2MB, PDF)

Not only could it help improve your health it can also improve your social life. If you would rather not walk alone then Walking for Health offers free, local easy walks tailored to you. It has also been shown that encouragement and support from a group can increase motivation to exercise.  Walking outside can also be a great way of getting your daily dose of vitamin D.

If you fancy walking alone (and sometimes it is lovely to have time by yourselves) then have a read of this blog post  Walking your Way to Fitness

Whether you walk alone, with friends, with grandchildren or with the dog walking counts as part of the 150 minutes a week of physical activity you should be aiming for.

“ If a medication existed which had a similar effect to physical activity, it would be regarded as a wonder drug or a miracle cure.” 

Sir Liam Donaldson, The former Chief Medical Officer of England

Before starting any new exercise program please check with your doctor and clear any exercise changes with them.

I hope you have found this article informative. If you have any questions on this article, or any questions about exercise and the over-50s please post a comment. By subscribing to this blog you will be informed of any new articles. You will not receive any spam email.

For more information on Personal Training in the Farnham area, please go here Whole Life Fitness, Personal Training for the over 50s. This will open a new browser window.

Exercise vs Drugs

A study (the Comparative effectiveness of exercise and drug interventions on mortality outcomes: metaepidemiological study) published recently in the British Medical Journal found that exercise could be as good as drugs for certain conditions. The conditions that were studied were secondary prevention of coronary heart disease, rehabilitation of stroke, treatment of heart failure and prevention of diabetes.

No statistically detectable differences were evident between exercise and drug interventions in the secondary prevention of coronary heart disease and prediabetes.  However physical activity interventions were more effective than drug treatment among patients with stroke in terms of life expectancy. The only condition where drug benefits out weighed the exercise option was with heart failure.

However a recent University of Bristol-led study found 80% of adults failed to meet the government target of taking moderate exercise at least 12 times in a four-week period (the current guidelines are that activity should add up to at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity during the week).

There are of course certain limitations to the BMJ study but what can’t be argued against is it is becoming more evident that exercise can help prevent disease and manage disease and yet it is still not seen as a priority in most people lives.

The question is what can be done to share the message that exercise is not only good for you but that it does not have to mean joining a gym, buying a pair of running shoes and hitting the treadmill, that something as simple as going for a walk counts.  That the more we move the better we will feel.  Part of me wonders if it is any of our business if people don’t want to exercise, grown ups are allowed to make their own decisions, however I feel this is only valid if they have the right support structures in place to make that decision. If people know all the benefits of exercise, knew how to utlize motivational techniques and were able to regularly access health professionals who specialise in exercise maybe at a GP surgery and then decided not to exercise then it would be their choice.

What made you start exercising?

Physical Activity Guidelines for Older Adults (65+)

This article is NOT suggesting you give up your medically prescribed prescription medicine!

Before starting any new exercise program please check with your doctor and clear any exercise changes with them.

I hope you have found this article informative. If you have any questions on this article, or any questions about exercise and the over-50s please post a comment. By subscribing to this blog you will be informed of any new articles. You will not receive any spam email.

For more information on Personal Training in the Farnham area, please go here Whole Life Fitness, Personal Training for the over 50s. This will open a new browser window.

Some suggestions on how you maybe able to slow down the progression of arthritis.

In this post I am going to talk specfically about osteoarthritis.  I need to state there is no cure for osteoarthritis and whilst   no single gene found has been found which indicates osteoarthritis there is research which shows a genetic factor.  There is also an occupational factor so if you have a heavy physical work load then that is a risk. Along with the following

  • kneeling
  • regular stair climbing,
  • crawling
  • bending
  • whole body vibration
  • repetitive movements.

Now that list may make you roll your eyes as most of them (apart from crawling!) are part of daily life but there are things that might be able to help slow down the process.

  • Rosehip powder – whilst the evidence is sparse there is some that indicates that a good quality rosehip powder may reduce the pain of OA.
  • Eat your brocolli – now I like this one purely because it urges you to eat a vegetable rich in  vitamins A, C, folic acid, fiber, calcium and pottassium. However it also contains a glucoraphanin compound which our body turns into another compound, called sulforaphane, which appears to protect the joints. Steam don’t boil!
  • Take a glucosamine sulfate supplement.Research has found some glucosamine sulfate may delay the progression of OA
  • Ditch the soda -Soda May Worsen Knee Osteoarthritis in Men
  • Lose a little weight  Just 10% weight loss with a diet and exercise plan may relieve arthritic knee pain
  • Increase muscle strength – a 5 year study to determine whether quadriceps weakness is associated with elevated risk of worsening knee pain   found that quadriceps weakness was associated with an increased risk of worsening of knee pain over 5 years in women, but not in men.

The NHS Choices website page on prevention of osteoarthritis  recommends you avoid weight training if you have osteoarthritis. I don’t think the issue is quite that black and white and would depend on the person.  Whilst I agree that taking up olympic lifting or powerlifting may not be the most sensible options stronger muscles take the stress off the joints and help support unstable joints. There are methods of strength training that will ensure you gain muscle strength without stressing the affected joint.  In fact evidence has shown that incorporating strength training into an exercise programme decreased pain by 43% in osteoarthritic patients.

The current ACSM guidelines for people with arthritis is cardiovascular work 30-60 minutes 5 days per week accompanied by resistance training with major muscle groups twice a week and flexibility activities. However if you are not currently active these are long term goals and you could start out slowly with 2-3 short sessions a day.  This DVD is recommended by the The Centre for Healthy Ageing Research and Arthritis Research UK has several exercise sheets  you may find useful.

Before starting any new exercise program please check with your doctor and clear any exercise changes with them.

I hope you have found this article informative. If you have any questions on this article, or any questions about exercise and the over-50s please post a comment. By subscribing to this blog you will be informed of any new articles. You will not receive any spam email.

For more information on Personal Training in the Farnham area, please go here Whole Life Fitness, Personal Training for the over 50s. This will open a new browser window.

Kettlebell power!

So this week I was very excited to finally go on a Kettlebell Instructor course. I have been using kettlebells in my training on and off for about 4 years but now can include them in my programmes for other people.

What are kettlebells?

3 little Kettlebells all in a row

3 little Kettlebells all in a row

Yes they look like a cannonball with a handle. They come in all different weights, traditionally the weights go up in 4kg increments hence 4kg,8kg,12kg,16kg etc, but now they are becoming more popular you can find them in most weights (and stores such as Sports Direct sell them)

So what do they do? EVERYTHING.

Here is a list of what kettlebells are good for

What are they not good* for?

  • hypertension
  • osteoarthritis/rheumatoid arthritis
  • pregnancy
  • severe osteoporosis
  • making tea

They are an incredible versatile piece of equipment, and great for home use or if you are short of time. However (there is always a however) I would recommend you get taught the exercises first by someone qualified to teach them as technique is key. A lot of commercial gyms now have a set of kettlebells and if it sounds like something you might find fun you should ask an instructor if someone can teach you how to use them.  Some gyms have weekly classes which is great for getting practice in under a watchful eye.

Remember you are never too old to try new things and variety is the spice of life (no eye-rolling at the back please).

Enjoy your weekend.

Before starting any new exercise program please check with your doctor and clear any exercise changes with them.

*everyone is an individual and these are generalisations but please seek professional opinion if you are on this list before using kettlebells.

I hope you have found this article informative. If you have any questions on this article, or any questions about exercise and the over-50s please post a comment. By subscribing to this blog you will be informed of any new articles. You will not receive any spam email.

Helen Witcomb is a personal trainer in the Farnham area, please go here Whole Life Fitness, Personal Training for the over 50s. for more information. This will open a new browser window.

National Fitness Day September 27th

Wow, it’s been a while. Sorry for my silence, life has been very busy, summer holidays, training and then participating in a Strongwoman competition and work.  However something is coming up I wanted to blog about.

On the 27th September it is National Fitness Day.  This day is about getting active, just 30 minutes a day 5 days a week is all that is needed for health benefits but let’s  start with one day and one lot of 30 minutes.

On the last Friday of September of each year, everyone is encouraged to take part in Empower Half Hour at 1pm doing 30 minutes of fun activities and exercise. This could be walking, swimming, cycling, dancing.  Anything that gets YOU moving and a smile on your face.  However you don’t have to do it at 1pm, walk to work in the morning, take the stairs instead of the lift or escalator, go for a walk in your local park, go for a swim in your lunch break.  It doesn’t really matter what you do, it’s about making that first step into a routine that will see health benefits such as better sleep, increased mobility and mood improvement.

If you fancy doing something as a group then Surrey Sports Park in Guildford has a whole day of events you can try such as Zumba and Swimfit for free.  The Yvonne Arnaud Theatre in Guildford has a an empowering 30-minute workout including, stamina moves, stretches and Body combat! The class is free and open to all ages.

More information about National Fitness Day can be found at National Fitness Day, including activities happening around the country. They also have a twitter account @FitnessDayUK

What are you planning to do?

Before starting any new exercise program please check with your doctor and clear any exercise changes with them

I hope you have found this article informative. If you have any questions on this article, or any questions about exercise and the over-50s please post a comment. By subscribing to this blog you will be informed of any new articles. You will not receive any spam email.

Helen Witcomb is a personal trainer in the Farnham area, please go here Whole Life Fitness, Personal Training for the over 50s. for more information. This will open a new browser window.

Park Bench workout.

Summer is coming (at last), we had a wasp in our kitchen the other day and the suncream has been dug out of the bathroom cabinet.

Whilst a walk in the park is always lovely on a sunny day you know how you could make it better?

A park bench workout!

Next time you pass a bench on your walk stop and do this 5 minute work out. If you know you only pass one bench then do it twice at the same bench.

Make sure you have been walking for about 10 minutes first so you are warmed up and then do some tree sprints.  Pick two trees and walk as fast as you can between them, use your arms as well.  If necessary rest for 30 seconds before continuing the walk at your normal pace. Try to do 2-3 tree sprints.

Exercises to do at the park bench

10 sit-to-stands

  1. Stand a few inches away from the bench with your back towards it.
  2. Sit down, then stand up again quickly, using your legs to push yourself up.

Easier modification:If necessary find a bench with an armrest and use one arm to help yourself push up but still try and use your legs as much as possible.

10 push ups using back of bench or seat of bench. (make sure the bench is securely anchored to the ground before attempting this)

  1. Stand with feet hip-width apart, 3 to 4 feet behind a bench
  2. Lean forward to place both hands on top of seat back slightly more than shoulder-width apart. Keeping body in a straight line from head to heels, bend both elbows to lower chest toward bench.
  3. Push back to starting position.

Easier Modification: Do these against a tree instead of a park bench.

Seated alternating knee to chest.

  1. Sit on the edge of the bench and lean back, place your hands behind you resting on the bench fingers pointing forward
  2. Lift your feet from the ground lifting your legs up.
  3. Keeping chest up and shoulders back pull your right knee to your chest, then return it to beside the left leg. Now pull your left leg to your chest, then return it.
  4. Alternate legs like this for 10 reps trying to keep your feet off the ground, you can leave your toes on the ground for balance if neccessary

Easier Modification: Leave your feet on the ground for balance and to take some of the weight off.

At the end of the walk remember to do some stretching
Before starting any new exercise program please check with your doctor and clear any exercise changes with them

I hope you have found this article informative. If you have any questions on this article, or any questions about exercise and the over-50s please post a comment. By subscribing to this blog you will be informed of any new articles. You will not receive any spam email.

Helen Witcomb is a personal trainer in the Farnham area, please go here Whole Life Fitness, Personal Training for the over 50s. for more information. This will open a new browser window.

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