Round up of recent news.

You may have noticed I haven’t posted recently. I have two young children and it has been their summer holidays but all good things come to an end and they have started school and I am itching to get back to work.

However whilst I have been quiet on the blog post front my brain has been churning with new ideas that I want to try out and articles I want to write. The most prominent being a course I want to run. The course would be an hour a week and consist of an exercise class mixed with theory about exercise/healthy eating etc. It would be a 10 week course aimed at beginnners who want to start exercising and healthy eating but aren’t sure where to start! If this would interest you let me know, plus any questions you would like answered on the course.  There will be a discount for the first course.

Until I am able to put fingers to keyboard for a blog post here is some research in the news recently which I thought might be of interest.

Article in the Lancet about physical inactivity is the fourth leading cause of death in the world.  

Age UK Exercise Survey by ICM Research shows 56% of older people say they are doing less than the Government guidelines of the recommended weekly amount of physical exercise and 13% say they are doing none at all. 

Yoga can help stroke patients recover balance

Over 50s open up about size, diet and exercise

Women who exercise moderately may be less likely than their inactive peers to develop breast cancer after menopause

Very elderly and frail can see benefits from exercise after just 3 months

Exercising in midlife protects heart, says research

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 specialises in the over 50s. For more information please visit http://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.

Quick tips to help lead a healthy life. Day 5 of Self Care Week.

Exercise: We have covered cardiovascular and stretching, now you need to think about resistance work. The benefits of resistance work include the ability to move weight around such as climbing stairs and a decreased risk of fractures. You don’t have to join a gym or buy expensive equipment  have a look here for some resistance exercises you can do in your home.

Eating: Portion control. With the amount restaurants serve and the size of crisp bags it’s difficult to control portion sizes. When you are serving up lunch or supper try and ensure the vegetables are over half the plate before adding the meat and starch portions.  This is a great article on some portion control methods.

Mental wellbeing:  Accept and like yourself. No-one is perfect, value who you are and the strengths you have.

For more details of NHS Self Care Week 2011 and information to help make healthy lifestyle choices please visit NHS Choices.

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.

Why is vitamin D important for the over 65s

Most people should be able to get all the vitamin D they need by eating a healthy balanced diet and by getting some sun. However if you are over 65 the NHS recommend you take daily vitamin D supplements. Vitamin D deficiency is an established risk factor for osteoporosis, falls and fractures.

So what does Vitamin D do?

Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium.  Without sufficient vitamin D bones can become thin, brittle, or misshapen. Muscles need it to move,  nerves need it to carry messages between the brain and every body part, and the immune system needs vitamin D to fight off invading bacteria and viruses.  Together with calcium, vitamin D also helps protect older adults from osteoporosis.

Why is it recommmended that the over 65s take a daily vitamin D supplement?

The older you get the more you are less likely to particpiate in outdoor activites and if you are outdoors you are more likely to cover up, therefore limiting sun exposure (sun exposure through a window does not count). Of course sun exposure needs to be approached with caution due to the risk of skin cancer.

If you don’t like taking supplements the 5 best food sources of vitamin D are:

  • cod liver oil
  • oily fish
  • margarine
  • beef liver
  • egg yolk

How much vitamin D do I need?

The Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA) for Vitamin D is 600 IU (15 mcg) for both male and female between the ages of 51-70.

There are medications which can interfere with the bodies utilisation of vitamin D therefore if you are on medication it may be worth talking to your GP before taking a supplement.

NHS Choices – Vitamin D

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.

Do you have difficulties getting out of a chair?

The ability to stand up from a chair is a key skill to maintain independence and mobility. As you get older you lose strength in the hip and knee extensors which are the muscles that help straighten our legs. In this blog I am first going to discuss how to get out of a chair safely before going on to describe some exercises to strengthen the legs.

How to stand up safely

  1. Move your bottom to the edge of the chair.
  2. Place both feet  flat on the floor.
  3. Place both hands on the arm rests of the chair. If there are no arm rests, then place both hands on the edge of the chair.
  4. Lean forward so that your nose is over your toes.
  5. Push down through your arms as you help unload your weight off the chair.
  6. As you are pushing down through your arms, begin straightening your legs.
  7. Let go of the chair and finish straightening your legs

To be able to stand up from a chair without assistance requires strong leg muscles. The following exercises practiced a few times a week will help impove your ability to stand from your chair. Before doing the exercises march in place in your chair for a couple of minutes, this will help restore mobility to the hip joint and also warm up the leg muscles.

Seated Leg extensions (can aggravate osteoarthritis)

  1. Sit on chair with feet flat infront of you, palms holding chair edge at sides or front. 
  2. Keeping left foot on floor and upper body still, slowly extend the right leg (bending from the knee) until it is parallel with the floor. Hold here for 2 counts 
  3. Bend knee to lower right leg back to floor.
  4. Repeat 10 times and then change legs. 

Standing Gluteal Kick backs

  1. Stand behind a high backed chair holding on the back for balance. Avoid leaning forward during the exercise.
  2. Lift one leg behind you keeping the raised leg straight but have a slight bend in the leg you are standing on. Hold for a count of 5.
  3. Slowly lower leg.
  4. Repeat 10 times and then change legs.

Seated Calf raises

  1. Start by sitting upright in a high backed chair with your back straight and your legs bent so that your feet are flat on the floor.
  2. Press your legs upward so that your heels are off the ground and only your toes and the balls of the top of your foot are still in contact with the floor.
  3. Hold at the top of the movement for two seconds, and slowly lower back down.
  4. Repeat 10 times.

Sit to Stand

  1. Sit in a high backed chair and slide forward as far as possible
  2. Move your feet back so your heels are lined up with the front edge of the chair.
  3. Use your bottom and legs to stand up. Try only to use your hands on the chair for balance if necessary. If this is too difficult then you can put some cushions to raise the level of the seat.
  4. Repeat 5 times. If possible practice this exercise daily.

These exercises will not only help you stand from a chair unassisted but also improve your ability to walk up and down stairs, reach for something on a high shelf and improve your balance.

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.

Osteoporosis. What is it and how you can help prevent it.

Osteoporosis is a loss of bone mineral density that causes bones to become brittle and highly susceptible to fracture – particularly in the hip, spine and wrists. No matter what your age, bone needs physical activity, just like muscle, to retain strength and post-menopausal women can expect to lose around 1% of their bone mineral density each year. Currently 1 in 2 adults over 50 are inactive, that is they participate in fewer than 30 minutes of exercise per week[1].
Other modifiable lifestyle factors that can affect bone density are:

  • smoking
  • excessive alcohol intake
  • poor nutrition
  • low calcium intake

There are no warning signs of osteoporosis. The disease is silent and painless until a fracture has occurred.

Exercise works for osteoporosis prevention because it places stress on bones, which results in increased bone mass. For post-menopausal woman the most effective exercise to strengthen bones is high impact exercise[2]. A well balanced exercise programme including weight-bearing, impact exercises and strength training should be designed for an individual hoping to prevent or minimise the deterioration of osteoporosis.

Weight bearing high impact exercises could include:

  • dancing
  • hiking
  • jogging
  • stair climbing
  • tennis

If you are not able to do high impact exercises then you could consider:

  • elliptical training machines
  • low impact aerobics
  • stair-step machines
  • walking (treadmill/outside)

Strength training should have a whole body approach as adaptations in bone mineral density are site specific. Strength training exercises include activities such as:

  • Functional movements, such as standing and rising up on your toes
  • Lifting weights
  • Using elastic exercise bands/dynabands
  • Using weight machines
  • Lifting your own body weight, such as push-ups.

 If you would like to reduce your risk of osteoporosis, increase your bone density and slow or reverse the normal bone loss associated with ageing, a good place to start would be my blog on  Resistance exercises using body weight.

If you have any questions on this article, or any questions about exercise and the over-50s please post a comment.

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.

[1] Department of Health. (2004). At least 5 a week: evidence on the impact of physical activity and its relationship to health.

[2] Wallace BA and Cumming RG., (2000) Systematic review of randomized trials of the effect of exercise on bone mass in pre- and postmenopausal women. Calcif Tissue Int 67: 10-18.

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