Do you know one of the best forms of exercise for your health is free?

Yes, FREE!!! and who doesn’t love a bargain?

So what’s this secret exercise?

Walking.  It can help transform people’s health according to The “Walking Works” report by the Ramblers and Macmillan Cancer Support.

“Walking works. It makes people happy, keeps everyone healthy and can even save your life.” 

If you have been dithering over whether to start being more physically active then you need to read that report and stop making excuses.

“Being active also slashes the risk of getting these serious diseasesby 20-50%:
• heart disease
• stroke
• type 2 diabetes
• colon and breast cancer
• Alzheimer’s disease.12, 13, 14”   Walking Works summary report (1.2MB, PDF)

Not only could it help improve your health it can also improve your social life. If you would rather not walk alone then Walking for Health offers free, local easy walks tailored to you. It has also been shown that encouragement and support from a group can increase motivation to exercise.  Walking outside can also be a great way of getting your daily dose of vitamin D.

If you fancy walking alone (and sometimes it is lovely to have time by yourselves) then have a read of this blog post  Walking your Way to Fitness

Whether you walk alone, with friends, with grandchildren or with the dog walking counts as part of the 150 minutes a week of physical activity you should be aiming for.

“ If a medication existed which had a similar effect to physical activity, it would be regarded as a wonder drug or a miracle cure.” 

Sir Liam Donaldson, The former Chief Medical Officer of England

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.

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.

63-Year-Old Woman Powerlifter Takes Home Gold at First Competition

I LOVE this, more proof it’s never to late to change your health, to become a stronger you.

Full article here

Badass 63-Year-Old Woman Powerlifter Takes Home Gold at First Competition

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 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.

Another quadricep exercise if you have arthritis.

The most common search term that lands a person at my blog usually incorporates the words quadricep exercise and arthritis.  I have already covered the topic here  but I thought I would explain another exercise that you can do to strengthen your quadriceps if you have arthritis in your knees.

This is not only for those with arthritis, if you still find wall squats difficult for any reason then this might be a good substitute.  This exercise does need a piece of equipment, a resistance band. Now you can get various different types of resistance bands, if you have any problems with your wrists I recommend you get ones with a handle.

Here are some examples of what you could use (not price checked)  Fitness-MAD studio Pro Safety Resistance Tube  or Perfect Fitess Resistance Band system  or USA Pro Body Bands (no handles).

As this exercise is for a large muscle group I recommend you get one of the heavier resistance bands.

I will be doing some more articles using resistance bands as they really are perfect for throwing in your bag and taking with you for a walk around the park.

Leg Press using resistance band

  1. Sit on a bench/chair, bend your left knee, and lift your foot from the ground. You can lean back slightly during the exercise but be careful that your don’t slump with rounded shoulders.
  2. Wrap the center of the resistance band around your left foot and hold both ends of the band in your hands.  Your hands should be  either side of your body at about waist level. Your toes should be pointed down at a slight angle.
  3.  Pushing out  with your foot straighten your  left leg out in front of your body and stop just before locking your knee.
  4. Bend your knee slowly to return slowly to your starting position.
  5. Do 5 repetitions and change leg.

Remember to do this exercise slowly to get the full benefit, there should always be tension in the band.

Once you are comfortable doing 5 repetitions on each leg then increase the number of repetitions you 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.

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 hours walking a week may cut female stroke risk…

Now if you have been a reader of this blog for a while you know I am a huge advocate for just getting outside and going for a walk. It’s free, it gets you lots of fresh air and it can be sociable. So I am delighted that there is new research just published in Stroke magazine that shows that 3 hours walking a week reduces female stroke risk.  Now to be completely honest there were faults in the study but the conclusion drawn was the following

Conclusions—Recreational PA of moderate intensity was inversely associated with stroke incidence in women, whereas PA showed no effect on CVD risk in men. Increasing time dedicated to activities such as walking would be expected to help to reduce the stroke burden in women. ”

If you are looking for a way to start or even improve your fitness with walking may I suggest you follow the 6K Daily Steps Challenge set up by Over Fifty Fitness. A way to ensure you stay motivated is to rope in friends. Why should a catch up only be done over a cup of coffee and piece of cake instead find a lovely walk (maybe with a coffee shop or pub at the end!) and go, make it a weekly appointment in your diary.

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.

Adding weight to your workout – Part 1

I was asked the following question after my (slightly ranty) post about celebrity trainers and weight training.

“I’ve never thought about lifting weights. How does one get started, and how do you work into a cardiovascular work out?”

Some people are put off doing weights as they think it involves equipment they might not posess or because they don’t know how.

The poster makes this slightly easier for me as they already do a cardiovascular workout so the answer to how do you work it into a cardiovascular workout would be to put it after the main cardo session when your muscles are nice and warm before your stretching, or you could alternate cardio for 5 mins, weights for 5 mins. As long as you are warm when you start your resistance exercises it’s fine, so if you don’t already do cardio then I would recommend a 5-10minute warm up first, this could be marching on the spot or marching around the park.

If you already belong to a gym then ask one of the instructors to write you a programme, personally I would request it is based around free weights rather than resistance machines.

If you don’t belong to a gym then my next few posts are going to explore some bodyweight exercises you can do at home with no equipment. They will be multi joint exercises which means you get more bang for your buck. I will also in the near future be talking about some exercises you can do with equipment which requires very little financial outlay – resistances tubes (which are also very friendly for people who have arthritis).

The exercise I am going to talk about in this post is the push up. Now before you stop reading thinking there is no way I can do a push up there are lots of ways to do push ups and I promise there will be a modification to suit you.  The only people who may find push ups difficult are those with wrist problems such as arthritis. For those with arthritis please be very careful when trying this exercise, definitely start with beginners and stop if there is any pain.

The push up will primarily target the following muscles.

  • Pectoralis major (chest)
  • Triceps (back of arms)
  • Deltoids (shoulder)

However due to you needing to keep your body in a straight line there will be other muscles being utilised.

Beginner – Wall push up

  1. Stand facing a wall roughly arm length away. Place hands on the wall at chest height and shoulder width apart with fingers pointing to the ceiling, there should be a slight bend in the elbow. The closer you stand to the wall the easier the push-up will be.
  2. Bend your arms (whilst inhaling) and your body will lean towards the wall, you should be aiming to get a 90 degree bend at the elbow but don’t worry it you can’t do this at first just lower yourself as far as it feels comfortable.
  3. Push off the wall (whilst exhaling) until your arms are back in the starting position with elbows slightly bent.

Intermediate – Back of sofa/bench push up

Instead of using the wall your hands will rest on top of the back of the sofa (or bench).  Again the closer your feet to the sofa/bench the easier the exercise. Lower your chest to the top of the bench/sofa and push up again. Gradually try to lower your elevated hands (i.e. go from back of sofa to seat of sofa).

Advanced – Floor push up

  1. Lie face down on the floor, hands should be slightly wider than shoulder width.
  2. Push off the floor(whilst exhaling), keeping your body straight, until your arms are extended (but do not lock elbows out)
  3. Bend your arms (whilst inhaling) and lower your body to floor.

For all variations try and work up to 10 repetitions but do not work to failure, stop when you think you have one more with good form left in the tank.

Things you need to remember with all variations.

  • Keep back and body in straight line
  • Your elbows should not point out straight out to the side but slightly behind you
  • Dont lock your elbows out
  • Hold your stomach in

You may have seen a modification of the press up where the person is on their knees. Whilst a valid variation I prefer to do it with hands starting high and moving gradually lower, this is because the postion of the body mimics that of a full push up.

In the next post I will talk you thru how to do squats which will target the lower body muscles.

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 specialises in the over 50s. For more information please visit Whole Life Fitness or call 01252313578.

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