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.

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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.

Otago Exercise Programme

The Otago exercise programme was developed to help prevent falls in the older adult. It was researched and developed by the Falls Prevention Research Group at the University of Otago Medical School.

The programme reduced the fall rate by 35 percent among program participants (with no gender bias) compared with those who did not take part.  Participants aged 80 years and older who had fallen in the previous year showed the greatest benefit.

The programme consists of strengthening and balance exercises combined with a walking plan. No expensive equipment is needed and it can be done at home.  The programme involves four home visits over the first two months, a home visit at 6 months and a telephone call every month between visits, concluding with a final home visit at 12 months.

More information about the trial, the programme and the exercises can be found here

Otago Exercise Programme to help prevent falls in older adults.

In the UK Later Life provide training to people who wish to teach this programme. Their leaflet can be found here.
http://www.laterlifetraining.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/Otago-Home-Exercise-Programme.pdf

Some qualified Otago Leaders are registered on Later Lifes Falls Directory http://www.laterlifetraining.co.uk/falls-directory/ if you wish to try and get in contact with someone who provides the programme.

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.

Are you standing up correctly?

Do you spend a lot of time hunched over a desk or slumped on the sofa watching TV or reading a book? Even  standing we tend to slouch rather than hold ourselves upright. Yet our posture is so important in preventing back pain and also preventing injury whilst exercising. Bad posture can even be a cause of headaches.

When we are actually standing correctly then the spine is aligned so that the centre of gravity passes down the ears, shoulders, hips, knees and ankles.  This position is called neutral spine.

Here are some quick tips to ensure you are standing  with a neutral spine. Think about your pelvis as a bucket filled with water. If you tip the bucket either forwards or backwards then water will pour out. This is bad.

Firstly let’s find the two positions where water will flow!

  1. Stand sideways in front of a mirror.
  2. Place your hands on top of your pelvis, just below your waist (If you bend to the side, the crease that forms is your natural waistline)
  3. Soften your knees and roll your pelvis forward and towards the floor (your bottom should be sticking out)
  4. Now slowly roll your pelvis backward dropping your tailbone to the floor
  5. These two are the extremes and what you are trying to find is the place in the middle where the bucket (your pelvis) is not tilting in either direction.

Practice finding this position and how it feels, it will probably feel odd at first. Do this several times a day so you get used to it.

Other things to remember

  • Your shoulders don’t belong by your ears! Relax and keep the shoulders back and down and chest up.
  • Look forwards.

The next blog post will discuss how you keep this position!

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.

Adding weight to your workout part 3 – The back.

Very important muscles to exercise as we age are the upper back muscles to prevent that hunched over look where the chest muscles are too tight and the upper back muscles are weak.  Exercises that don’t use any equipment to work the upper back aren’t thick on the ground, however there are a couple.  If you can’t safely get up and down from the floor (which this exercise requires) then please comment and I will post another exercise that you can do.

The (snazzily named) Y-T-I raises target the muscles of your upper back that stabilize your shoulder blades  and strengthen your shoulder muscles.

Y Raise

  1. Lie facedown on the floor with your arms resting on the floor above your head, completely straight and at a 30-degree angle to your body, so your body forms a Y shape.
  2. Your palms should be facing each other so that the thumbs point up (as if you were doing an ok sign!)
  3. Raise your arms as high as you comfortably can, concentrate on your upper back doing this work and not your arms.

 T Raise

  1. Still lying facedown move your arms so that they’re out to your sides—perpendicular to your body.
  2. Your thumbs should be still pointing upwards with palms now facing forwards.
  3. Raise your arms as high as you comfortably can, concentrate on your upper back doing this work and not your arms.

I Raise

  1. Still lying facedown move your arms so that your body forms a straight line from your feet to your fingertips.
  2. Like with the Y your palms should be facing each other  with your thumbs pointing up.
  3. Raise your arms as high as you comfortably can,  concentrate on your upper back doing this work and not your arms.

Do 10 reps of each Y, T and I  (immediately after one another) and then rest for 1 minute before doing another 10 reps of each exercise.

For a no equipment required lower back and core exercise please see the following article I wrote which details both Bird Dog (great name!) and the plank.

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

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.

World COPD Day 2012

COPD is Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease and is a combination of chronic bronchitis and emphysema. People with COPD find it difficult to breath.  It is predicted to become third leading cause of death by 2030 and is not curable.

Both cardiovascular and weight-bearing exercises are to be encouraged for those with COPD with benefits such as

  • increased cardiovascular function
  • decrease in breathlessness
  • increased muscular strength
  • improved posture

The aim of the physical activity undertaken should be to improve the  COPD sufferers quality of life. It has been shown that those with COPD who do participate in regular physical activity have a lower risk of being admitted to hospital with associated problems.

For more information about COPD and exercise

British Lung Foundation

The COPD Foundation – Exercise for someone with COPD

NHS – COPD

World Chronic Pulmonary Disease Day – WHO media centre

Research into Exercise training in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

Before starting any new exercise program please check with your doctor and clear any exercise changes with them. Moderate to severe COPD programmes should be done by a pulmonary rehabilitation team.

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