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.

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.

Adding weight to your workout – Part 2 – The Squat

I am going to nominate the squat as one of the most important exercises you can do whether its the wall slide, body weight squat or squat with added weight. To prove how important it is one of the most oft used phrases when teaching the squat is “pretend you are sitting down in a chair”. Yes being able to squat means you will continue to be able to sit down and stand up safely without using your arms (or the chair arms) for assistance. Stronger legs means better balance, so less likely to fall. They also reduce your risk of lower back and knee pain, improve mobility  and of course who doesn’t want a bottom that fills out their trousers.

Beginner – Walls slide  (also good for those with arthritis in the knee)

  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, your heels  on the ground and your knee joint should be directly above your ankle joint.

Do not worry if you can not get this far down to start with, just slide down the wall to a position comfortable for you.

3.  Slowly push with the legs, weight going thru the heels and slide up the wall to return to starting position.

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.

Intermediate – Body weight squat to chair

When you first try these place a chair behind you, it will help you visualise what you are suppose to be doing. If necessary actually sit in the chair when you lower yourself.

  1. Stand with feet slightly more than shoulder width apart with toes turned out at a slight angle.
  2. Push back your hips as if you were going to sit in the chair, think about reaching back with your bottom attempting to touch the chair . Whilst you are doing this you need to remember
  • Do not round your back
  • Keep chest up
  • Your knees should track over your toes i.e. you should be pushing your knees out, they shouldn’t be collapsing inwards.
  • Keep weight toward the heels, you should be able to wiggle your toes.
  • Eyes looking foward, your chin should be parallel with the floor

3.  The position you are going down to is just below parallel for your thighs, where your bottom drops below your knees BUT this is a position you are working towards, when you start just go down as far as it feels comfortable. At this point your form is more important than your range of movement.

4. Keeping the weight in your heels, slowly push your body back up.

5. Start with 3 repetitions and work up to 10.

So 2 exercises the press up and squat, both movements which use lots of muscles but no equipment! The next post will be covering a back exercise, as we age it’s actually important that we strengthen the back to help prevent the hunching that can occur as we age for now – as you are probably reading this on a PC or laptop –  I will just say sit up straight!

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.

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.

Japan promotes seniors’ healthy living with incentives to exercise

The following is an excerpt from the article Japan promotes seniors’ healthy living with incentives to exercise, interact socially
 

“In Tokyo’s Suginami ward, where Doi lives, authorities award points in the form of stickers to seniors who participate in government-approved activities ranging from picking up litter, to attending health and sporting events, to cultural activities. Each point has a value of 50 yen (64 cents) and can be exchanged for grocery coupons. The Suginami local government has allocated 80 million yen for the project this year, according to its website.”

 

In the current economic climate I can’t see our government offering financial incentives to exercise but I was wondering if you thought this was a good idea or not? Is a financial incentive something that would encourage you to do some/more exercise?
If the government provided a half hour of stretching and breathing exercises broadcast nationally on the radio daily (as Japan does) would this be something you would participate in?

Love to know your thoughts.

Balance and strength training ‘help prevent falls’

A study published recently in the Britsh Medical Journal has shown that integrating balance and strength exercises into daily life can significantly reduce the risk of a repeat fall. The study was conducted on people 70 years or older, living in the community and having two or more falls, or one injurious fall, in the past year.

There were 3 groups, a control group, a group engaged in structured exercise using weighted ankle cuffs and a group assigned a  Lifestyle integrated Functional Exercise (LiFE) programme designed by the University of Sydney. This programme  involved embedding balance and lower limb strength training into daily routines, such as walking, stepping over objects and moving from sitting to standing.

The study, conducted over a year,  found a significant (31%) reduction in the rate of falls for participants in the LiFE programme compared with the control group. The overall incidence of falls in the LiFE programme was 1.66 per person years, compared with 1.90 in the structured programme and 2.28 in the control group.  There was a non-significant reduction in the rate of falls for participants in the structured programme compared to the control group.

In New South Wales a report puts the amount of older adults doing strength training at less than 10%.  I was not able to find a  figure for the UK  but the fact is that only 8% currently go to the gym regularly  and only 17% of men and 12% of women in the 65-74 age bracket are reaching recommended levels of exercise a week (taken from the 204 Chief Medical Offices Report).

The 2011 Chief Medical Officers report, Start Active, Stay Active  gives the following recommendations for strength training:

  • Older adults should also undertake physical activity to improve muscle strength on at least two days a week.
  • Older adults at risk of falls should incorporate physical activity to improve balance and co-ordination on at least two days a week.

The study also suggested that exercise incorporated into every day life resulted to greater adherence to the  programme.

As well as helping reduce the risk of falls there are  many other benefits of strength training for older adults,

For more information about the report please click  here which will take you the the BMJ.

I run a small exercise group in Farnham in the beautiful Farnham Park which combines a brisk walk with strength training. It caters to all levels of fitness and it is always lovely to see new faces.

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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