So Monday I am declaring Muscle Day!

Each Monday I am going to name, describe the function and then demonstrate an exercise for a muscle or muscle group.

Today we are going to do the biceps (biceps brachii).

The bicep lies in front of the upper arm. You know when men pose with their arm up at 90 degrees, they are (trying) to show off their biceps.

The bicep helps bend your elbow (when taking hand up to shoulder), so for example when you pick up your shopping and also when you turn the hand from palm facing down to palm facing up (such as turning cards on a table). Even more importantly it is used when opening a bottle with a corkscrew (us white wine drinkers are lucky we are more likely to have screw-caps!)

Today I am going to demonstrate a really simple exercise that can be done either sitting or standing. Bicep curls.

To start with try doing this exercise with no weight, but as you get used to the exercise please do add weight, to increase the strength in the muscle you need to challenge yourself. You can hold cans of food, pints of milk or use something like a dynaband which you can usually pick up quite cheaply in the larger supermarkets or sports shops.

Let me apologise for the quality of the video, the background choice of noise was either children playing inside or the wind outside. I chose the wind. I have included the instructions below the video so you can just watch the video for the demonstration of the exercise.

Bicep curls. Try and do 3 sets of 10. Rest 60 seconds between each set.

  • Sit or stand with cans held in hands, palms facing forwards arms by your sides. Shoulders nice and relaxed.
  • Curl your arms up so your hands meet your shoulders. Make sure you keep your elbows and upper arms by your side.
  • Lower your  hands back to your sides, palms still facing forward.

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 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.

Are quadricep exercises a no-no if you have arthritis in the knee?

If you have arthritis in the knee you have probably been told you can’t do squats & lunges, which are traditional exercises to strengthen the quadriceps (muscles on front of thigh). Yet having strong quadricep muscles can help with the arthritis as  stronger muscles provide better support to the joint. So what can you do?

There are several exercises that you can practice in order to strengthen your quadriceps without harming your knees. Here are some in order of difficulty.

Quad Set

  1. Sit or lie on a bed with the leg as straight as possible. Point the toes to the ceiling and then back towards you. Try and keep them in this position.
  2. Tense the front upper leg muscle and attempt to force the back of the knee downward to touch to surface behind it. Tense the muscle for 10 seconds before releasing. If you want you can put a rolled up towel behind the knee.
  3. Repeat this 10 times and then swap legs.

Straight leg Raise whilst sitting

  1. Sit in a chair tall with good posture, your thighs should be together and your knees bent with feet apart
  2. Straighten and raise one leg.
  3. Hold for 10 seconds, then slowly lower your leg.
  4. Repeat this at least 10 times with each leg.

Straight Leg Raise whilst lying

  1. Lie flat on your back either on the bed or the floor with one leg bent and one leg flat
  2. Raise the leg lying flat about 6 inches from the bed/floor making sure the toes stay pointed towards you. When you do this exercise make sure you are engaging (by tensing) the muscle at the front of the leg and keep the leg straight.
  3. Hold for 5 seconds and then slowly lower your leg
  4. Repeat 10-20 times, start at 10 and work up.

Wall slides.

  1.  Stand against a wall with your back touching it. Your feet should be shoulder width apart.
  2. Begin by slowly sliding down the wall, maintaining contact, until you are in seated position.  Your  hips and knees should both  be at 90-degrees, your back flat against the wall, and your heels are on the ground.
  3. Slowly push with the legs and slide up the wall to return to starting position.
  4. Start by doing this 3 times a day, to increase the difficulty of this exercise then when you are in the seated position hold for 5 seconds before sliding back up the wall.

Don’t do this exercise if it is consistently painful or if you are hearing crunching or cracking in your knees

If you can add some aerobic work to your routine. Both biking (stationary or regular) and aqua aerobics will raise your heart rate – just be careful you don’t use to much resistance or go up steep hills (for biking that is!).

Water makes exercise non-weight bearing and low impact and therefore will not cause pain to the knees when exercising. Aqua aerobics is a great choice for those with arthritis and most council leisure centres offer classes without you needing to be a member.

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 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 runs Whole Life Fitness which is a personal training company which caters exclusively for the over 50s. For more information please visit www.wholelifefitness.co.uk or call 01252313578.


Today is World Health Day: Good health adds life to years

Today is World Health Day!

The topic of World Health Day in 2012 is Ageing and health with the theme “Good health adds life to years”. Staying healthy amidst the busy lives we lead these days is becoming a bigger challenge for all of us, whatever our age, however as we age engaging in regular physical exercise will enable us to continue performing everyday tasks with ease. In addition to physical exercise both good food choices and mental wellbeing are important in the quest to remain healthy.

The Department of Health recommendation for physical exercise is to do 150 minutes a week moderate intensity activity which can be broken down into 30 minutes on 5 days of the week. That 30 minutes can be broken down into smaller 10 minute segments and this would still be beneficial. Housework and gardening unfortunately don’t count, thanks to inventions such as hoovers, modern irons, dishwashers and washing machines housework isn’t the heavy work that it used to be. Whilst weeding is better than sitting down in front of the TV, it isn’t enough by itself. Walking is an ideal activity, it’s free and requires no special equipment. For those who are currently sedentary then start off with a walk to the shops or round the park, as a rule for walking, if you can’t have a conversation you are going to fast, if you can sing a song you are going to slow. Other ways of raising the heart rate would be swimming or cycling or even knee raises in a chair. Find something enjoyable to do and you are more likely to continue that activity. If possible add some resistance work as well. The benefits of resistance work include the ability to move weight around such as climbing stairs and a decreased risk of fractures.

Changing diet and eating more healthily is easier to accomplish if it is done in small steps, that way the changes are more likely to be long-term. Add a salad to the meal, drink water instead of soft drinks, change pudding to fruit. Ensure a mixture of five fruit and vegetables a day are eaten, it doesn’t necessarily need to be fresh. Frozen, dried, tinned (try to buy the ones without added sugar), stewed and juiced (but only the first glass) all count towards the 5 a day.

Feelings of wellbeing, positivity and happiness with life contribute to being healthy. Find time for you each day, even if it’s just 10 minutes. Read a magazine, drink a cup of tea in silence, go outside and get some fresh air. Value, accept and like yourself as an individual, no-one is perfect. Finally just smile, it’s hard to be in a bad mood if you are smiling, try it and see!

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 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 runs Whole Life Fitness which is a personal training company which caters exclusively for the over 50s. For more information please visit www.wholelifefitness.co.uk or call 01252313578.

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