Exercise Referral Schemes

This post is going to talk me out of business but it was bought to my attention that not everyone is aware of what their GP can offer them in regards to support to increase physical activity.

The GP Exercise Referral scheme allows doctors and other health professionals to refer people who would benefit from an increased exposure to physical activity to a local leisure centre for a reduced price. The idea behind the scheme is to provide an individual exercise programme for those with medical conditions that could be helped by regular exercise. Your programme will be designed and overseen by qualified fitness professionals. After the initial period (between 10-12 weeks) further discounts might be available to enable you to continue your exercise programme.

To be eligible to take part in an exercise referral scheme, you have to have a medical condition such as:

  • Weight loss (conditions apply)
  • Asthma – not exercise induced and in addition to at least being a smoker and/or sedentary
  • Hypertension
  • Diabetes
  • Osteoporosis
  • Arthritis, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Post Phase IV Cardiac Rehab
  • Joint injury rehabilitation
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome / Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME)
  • Cancer – following treatment and in remission
  • Mental Health
The list of health conditions is subject to change, so check with your GP for a full and up-to-date list. This list was courtesy of Waverley Borough Council  

 

Physical activity has been shown to have the following benefits:

  • Regular physical activity decreases the risk of cardiovascular disease mortality in general and of CHD* mortality in particular. Physically inactive people have about double the risk of CHD.
  • Regular physical activity prevents or delays the development of high blood pressure, and reduces blood pressure in people with hypertension.
  • Physical activity is also important in helping people to control their body weight, and in controlling diabetes.
  • Specific forms of physical activity can help to reduce the risk of falls and accidents,by improving bone health and maintaining strength, co-ordination, cognitive functioning and balance.
  • Physical activity reduces the risk of colon cancer, and evidence is growing to support links with other forms of cancer.
  • Moderate intensity physical activity enhances the immune system.
  • Physical activity reduces the risk of depression, and has positive benefits for mental health including reducing anxiety, and enhancing mood and self-esteem.
  • Physical activity can play a valuable role in the prevention and treatment of non-specific chronic low back pain.

This list was taken from  Exercise Referral System: A National Quality Assurance Framework but is echoed in posts on this blog.

A report in 2004 reported that only 17% of men and 12% of women aged 65-74 are reaching the recommended levels of activity of 30+ minutes of moderate intensity 5+ times a week.  However decline in activity is not inevitable, in asian countries activity is maintained, or even increased when older age is reached.

Looking after your health now is important as it will help prevent further problems as you age and improve your quality of life. If you would like to increase your activity levels and think you qualify under the criteria then please speak to your GP. There is never a better time to start exercising than now!

If you have any questions then please leave a comment below. If you don’t qualify for the exercise referral scheme but would like to start exercising then this post  on walking your way to fitness is a good place to start.

*CHD – Coronary Heart Disease
Exercise – NHS Choices

I hope you have found this article informative. If you have any questions on this article, or any questions about exercise 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 please go here Whole Life Fitness, Personal Training for the over 50s. This will open a new browser window.

 

Advertisements

Why you should step outside.

There is more to health than eating right and exercising. To be truly healthy you should have feelings of wellbeing, positivity and happiness with your life. If you have read my posts you will know how often I exhort getting outside for a walk to get some cardiovascular exercise, well now a research team from Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry has found that most trials that compare outdoor exercise to indoor exercise showed an improvement in mental well-being. In addition to this it states:

“exercising in natural environments was associated with greater feelings of revitalisation, increased energy and positive engagement, together with decreases in tension, confusion, anger and depression. Participants also reported greater enjoyment and satisfaction with outdoor activity and stated that they were more likely to repeat the activity at a later date.”

So getting outside is good for the cardiovascular system, good for mental wellbeing and also good for vitamin D levels (vitamin D deficiency is an established risk factor for osteoporosis and thus fractures.). As we age vitamin D levels decrease but it has been found that older people who get outside daily have the same vitamin D levels as younger people.

This quick post was inspired by an excellent blog I read this morning by Jackie Stewart

5 Ways to Find Happiness in Nature

So why don’t you take a step outside and go for a walk?

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 please go here Whole Life Fitness, Personal Training for the over 50s. This will open a new browser window.

Difficulty tying your shoelace?

I noticed someone found my blog using the search terms “hip flexor, difficulty tieing shoelace” so thought i would write a quick post on how to help with this. It could be tying shoelaces, putting on socks or washing feet.

The tasks listed above are mostly to do with flexibilty which begins to deteriorate with age as connective tissues stiffen, muscles shorten and joints become drier as synovial fluid dries up.

If possible see if there is a yoga class in your area which will help to improve range of movement as well as improve balance. If attending a class, or doing yoga, doesn’t sound like your cup of tea then the following might help.

Exercise your leg muscles by marching in place, raising each knee as high as you can. Start at 30 seconds and try to (gradually) work up to 5 minutes. We are trying to warm up the muscles. You can do the marching standing up, standing up using the back of a chair for balance or whilst sitting.

After marching do some leg swings which stretch your hip flexors and increase your range of motion.  Whilst standing and holding onto a stable surface (wall or back of chair) swing your leg from front to back. You need to keep your leg straight and the movement should come from the hips. Start with short swings and increase your range of motion a little with each swing but only do the range of movement that is comfortable for you. Switch legs after 10 swings and repeat on the other side.

Moving on do some side to side leg swings. These go across the body and then out to your side try not to rotate your upper body but again lead with the hips. It’s important the form of these exercises is correct not just the range of motion you achieve.  Switch legs after 10 swings and repeat on the other side.

Standing on one leg (using wall or back of chair to balance if needed) do a mobility exercise by trying to draw a circle with your toes, this will rotate your ankles. Do this both clockwise and counterclockwise to stretch all of your ankle muscles. Wiggle your toes for a few minutes to stimulate circulation and decrease stiffness.

We are going to stretch the hip, the hamstring (muscles in the back of the upper leg) and the calf (muscles in back of lower leg). Only stretch to a point of mild tension and do not stretch until it hurts. Once you have reached a feeling of tension, hold it for 20 seconds and remember to breathe!

Sit sideways on a chair with both feet flat on the floor. Hold the back of the chair with the nearest hand. Bend the opposite leg by dropping it off the chair. Slowly move your leg backwards until your knee is facing the floor. This will help stretch your quadriceps. Hold for 20 seconds then swing round and stretch the other leg.

In a seated position, bend one leg so that the knee forms a 90-degree angle and rest your ankle on the other knee. Gently push down on the knee of the crossed leg so that you feel a stretch in the hip. Hold for 20 seconds, then switch legs. If you would prefer an alternative exercise then whilst standing bring your knee up in front of you, take it out to the side and then down to feet together position. Hold on to wall of chair for balance if necessary. Switch legs after 10 repetitions and repeat on the other side.

Sit on the edge of your chair with your spine straight and chest lifted. Straighten your right leg and point your foot to the ceiling so that your heel is resting on the ground. Keeping your back straight slowly bend forward from the hips. Hold for 20 seconds, then switch legs.

To turn this into a calf stretch put a towel around the sole of your foot and hold an end in each hand. Slowly pull the towel towards you, pulling your toes toward you. This should create a stretch through your calf. Hold for 20 seconds, then switch legs.

That’s it! Doing this little exercise routine 3-4 times a week should help you with those tasks such as putting on your socks.

Before starting any new exercise program please check with your doctor and clear any exercise changes with them. This exercise routine is not recommended for anyone who has had a hip replacement in the last 12 months.

I hope you have found this article informative. If you have any questions on this article, or any questions about exercise 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 please go here Whole Life Fitness, Personal Training for the over 50s. This will open a new browser window.

3 minutes a week

A study highlighted this week by Horizon on BBC2 has become a hot topic. During the programme some research showed that exercise time amounting to only a few minutes a week, can deliver many of the health and fitness benefits of hours of conventional exercise.

What a great headline that makes!

However what exactly is the truth behind that? The news that short bursts of very intense exercise can be good for our fitness is not really new news, a method called Tabata has been around since 1996 and is supposed to improve fitness with just 4 minutes 2-4 times a week.

This new(ish) method is called HIIT, High Intensity Interval Training and one of the studies can be found here: http://www.springerlink.com/content/h774562781l24jq0/

What follows are more thoughts on this as a stand-alone method of exercise rather than a critique of HIIT.

Timing
It’s all very well saying 3 minutes but what about the warm-up? If you are about to perform high intensity exercise you need to ensure the body is warm first to prevent injury.Then you have the low intensity recovery periods. Finally after you have performed the exercise you need to cool down and stretch.

Lifestyle
Some people are very busy and therefore maximum results for minimum time is always going to appeal but I would counter that the time you put aside to exercise isn’t just about exercise. It’s a perfect time to have a think about things, socialise or just get some fresh air. Making exercise part of your lifestyle means you are also more likely to continue doing it.

Doesn’t take into account different levels of fitness
Not everyone will be able to use this method – personally I would only use it on someone used to exercise and as part of a programme with specific goals. This exercise routine could be dangerous to people with certain medical conditions.

Intensity
If you are not enthusiastic about exercise then working at the level required without motivation might be quite difficult.

Boredom!
I know it’s only a minute so theoretically you won’t have time to get bored, even so the same exercise routine everyday?

Last but definitely not least:

Results
The study shows you could see an increase in insulin sensitivity (therefore reduce the risk of diabetes) and aerobic capacity. However these are not the only measures of fitness. What about strength training or flexibility? Reducing the risk of diabetes, whilst important, doesn’t make you ‘fit’.

So you may think that I am not a huge fan of HIIT, but that isn’t so. It has a place but that place is part of an exercise programme which also contains strength training and flexibility. It obviously does work for some people, and as part of a well rounded fitness programme could make a great addition. It’s just not the magic bullet that everyone is looking for.

I hope you have found this article informative. If you have any questions on this article, or any questions about exercise 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 please go here Whole Life Fitness, Personal Training for the over 50s. This will open a new browser window.

%d bloggers like this: