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

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Why women should lift heavy and celebrity trainers should shut up.

Last week I bought a magazine called Glamour. Now I gave up buying women magazines about a year ago and both my bank balance and my attitude towards my body has thanked me. However this issue had a free nail polish and I do love nail polish. Whilst flicking thru the magazine I came across this bit of advice:

“I prefer to keep the weights low” (the “celebrity” personal trainer advocates 3lbs) which apparently will “create more of a woman’s body – sensual and sexy, but strong”

The above were quotes not journalistic interpretation.

Well I call bullshit. To get strong you need to lift weights, and you need to lift heavy weights, constantly challenging your body so it will change.

Here is what heavy weights for woman can do

  • Actually make you strong.
  • Help keep your bones healthy and decrease the risk of osteoporosis.
  • Increase confidence.
  • Make your shoulders & arms look shapely in sleeveless tops.
  • Enable you to carry either your drunk mate or your sleeping child upstairs to bed (depending on which stage you are in life!)
  • Help you lose or maintain weight. You’ll keep burning calories AFTER you have finished your weight session.

And here is what doing heavy weights as a woman won’t do.

  • Make you bulky
  • Make you a man
  • Make you unsexy, unsensual, weak
  • Frighten men (well it might but that’s their problem not yours)

This goes for whether you are 20 or 80 years of age.

For an awesome post about 6 female Strength Training Myths Busted read Nia Shanks blog, who  can deadlift 330lbs and is neither big nor bulky.

Articles like these are dangerous, women read them and believe that all they need to do is follow the advice and they will be able to replicate their favourite celebrity body.  It is very rare that in such articles nutrition, lifestyle or genes are mentioned, which results in a skewed perspective rather then the full picture.

There are no downsides to doing heavy weights (as long as your form is correct!), how can anyone argue against exercise which actually makes you strong and helps prevent ageing?

Being strong and healthy IS sexy, there are no buts about it.

Walking for a longer, healthier life.

Did you know current research  by researchers at the U.S. National Cancer Institute has shown that participation in  regular exercise  after 40 may raise life expectancy by up to 7 years?

That regular exercise could be as something as simple as a brisk walk.

In addition to living longer regular exercise may also lower risk for memory problems.

I run a small group exercise class in Farnham Park every Friday morning for the over 50s. We combine a brisk walk with resistance exercises using dynabands or body weight.  This is a class for all levels of fitness – each exercise will have an adaptation for you.

So if you fancy living longer and being physically and mentally fit to enjoy those extra years why don’t you come along and join us. If you have any questions then please call Helen on 07785747669.

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

Get active at your local gym for free on Tuesday 10 July!

“Age UK in conjunction with Bannatynes, David Lloyd Leisure Ltd, LA fitness and Nuffield Health Fitness and Wellbeing Centre’s (including Greens Health and Fitness) present Age UK’s Gym Open Day on 10 July 2012.

Go along to your local participating gym to gain free access for the day. Attend a class, take a dip in the pool or take a tour and learn more about the benefits of physical activity.”

For more information please click here – Age UK

50 and older is a great time to start a daily exercise routine. The immediate benefits of exercise include relaxation, stress and anxiety reduction, and enhanced mood.
Long-term benefits include

  • weight loss
  • increased strength
  • balance increases
  • improved mental health
  • motor control benefits

The Chief Medical Officer’s current recommendation is that 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise be taken at least 5 times a week.

Supervised exercise can help people suffering from asthma, osteoporosis, arthritis, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, hypertension and stable angina to name just a few age-related conditions.

For more information why you should exercise have a read of the Importance of exercise as we age and Why it’s never too late to pick up a weight.

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 http://www.wholelifefitness.co.uk or call 01252313578.

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.


Motivation

Someone has tweeted me and asked how they can get back into their exercise routine after being on holiday. This is something I am asked a lot, people use a holiday as a motivational tool to do exercise, therefore when the holiday is over why bother continuing?

I feel people should use whatever method works for them to get themselves moving but as well as short term (1 month) and medium term (1-6 months) goals (such as looking good on holiday) it’s wise to plan long-term ones as well. You can use the fulfilment of short term goals to contribute to the achievement of long term goals and therefore continue to exercise and eat healthily all year long.

A long-term goal is generally set over a course of a year, so this is where the big numbers start to come into play. In my SMART blog post I stated it wasn’t a good idea just to say “I want to lose weight” it needs to be measurable so I suggested

“I want to lose 6 pounds in the next 6 weeks, I will do this by cutting down on portion size and exercising 3 times a week”

This would be your short-term goal. Your long term goal might be to lose 2 stone and as a long-term goal that would be fine. If you just wrote I want to lose 2 stone then it might seem daunting from the outset.

From a fitness point of view I know someone who currently has a long-term goal of the Great South Run which is 10 miles, however her short and medium term goals include finishing the couch potato to 5K training programme and then participating in several 5K and then 10K runs. The short/medium term goals help make the long-term goal achievable.

Ok so that’s the science bit, and most of the time it works. But what about the times you just can’t be bothered whatever the long term goal maybe?

Well here are some ideas that might help those ‘whatever’ days:

  • Put on work-out clothes when you get up
  • Schedule it in diary
  • Ring a friend and get them to join you for a walk/run/swim. You may not exercise as intensely due to chatting but at least you are moving.
  • Write down how it feels AFTER you have exercised and stick it somewhere you can see it
  • Allow yourself a treat after you have exercised. This doesn’t have to be food related!

Thinking positively helps, instead of thinking oh that exercise session is going to make me feel hot, sweaty and may hurt (in a good way!) think about the benefits you will be getting.  When you exercise endorphins are released which are the body’s natural feel good chemicals and therefore boost your mood naturally. So next time you are in a bad mood and can’t be bothered to exercise think about the fact exercise might be the cure!

I would love to hear any motivational tips or tricks that you use.

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.

NHS Self Care Week 2011

The Department of Health described self-care in 2005 as “the actions people take for themselves, their children and their families to stay fit and maintain good physical and mental health; meet social and psychological needs; prevent illness or accidents; care for minor ailments and long-term conditions; and maintain health and wellbeing after an acute illness or discharge from hospital.”

In other words – looking after yourself and your family. It’s important that mental health is mentioned in this definition. Many people when asked to discuss health would mention exercise and good food choices but forget how important our mental wellbeing is to being healthy.

Every day this week I will be posting a short blog with 3 tips for exercise, healthy food choices and mental wellbeing. These will be ideas that are easy to incorporate into your daily life.

Exercise: Instead of taking the lift or escalator take the stairs. Walking up stairs uses multiple muscle groups and increases your heart rate. Don’t forget that the 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise you should aim to do per week can be broken down into 10minute chunks.

Food: Eat less salt. You should not be eating more than 6g of salt a day (if you are over 11, younger children should consume less) and salt is found in most processed foods.  Try to stop cooking with salt, instead add it later if you think it actually needs it. Whilst the body does need some salt an excessive intake of salt is an  important  factor in the development of high blood pressure.

Mental Health: Find time for you each day, even if it’s just 10 minutes, and do something you enjoy. Read a magazine, drink a cup of tea by yourself, go outside and get some fresh air.

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.

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