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.

So Monday I am declaring Muscle Day!

Each Monday I am going to name, describe the function and then demonstrate an exercise for a muscle or muscle group.

Today we are going to do the biceps (biceps brachii).

The bicep lies in front of the upper arm. You know when men pose with their arm up at 90 degrees, they are (trying) to show off their biceps.

The bicep helps bend your elbow (when taking hand up to shoulder), so for example when you pick up your shopping and also when you turn the hand from palm facing down to palm facing up (such as turning cards on a table). Even more importantly it is used when opening a bottle with a corkscrew (us white wine drinkers are lucky we are more likely to have screw-caps!)

Today I am going to demonstrate a really simple exercise that can be done either sitting or standing. Bicep curls.

To start with try doing this exercise with no weight, but as you get used to the exercise please do add weight, to increase the strength in the muscle you need to challenge yourself. You can hold cans of food, pints of milk or use something like a dynaband which you can usually pick up quite cheaply in the larger supermarkets or sports shops.

Let me apologise for the quality of the video, the background choice of noise was either children playing inside or the wind outside. I chose the wind. I have included the instructions below the video so you can just watch the video for the demonstration of the exercise.

Bicep curls. Try and do 3 sets of 10. Rest 60 seconds between each set.

  • Sit or stand with cans held in hands, palms facing forwards arms by your sides. Shoulders nice and relaxed.
  • Curl your arms up so your hands meet your shoulders. Make sure you keep your elbows and upper arms by your side.
  • Lower your  hands back to your sides, palms still facing forward.

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.

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.

Simple stretching routine – just 5 minutes!

Time to discuss stretching, which is often overlooked in exercise sessions. Yet it’s a very important aspect of fitness, as a good range of movement is needed for many everyday tasks such as tying shoelaces, gardening or reaching for something on a shelf.
Stretching can have the following benefits:

  • increased range of movement at joints
  • reduced stiffness
  • improved posture and balance

I may have bent the truth a little in the title. The stretching itself should not take more than 5 minutes, however to stretch your muscles they need to be warm and therefore take 5 minutes just to warm up the body. This could be a walk around the garden or a couple of times up and down the stairs.

Stretching shouldn’t hurt – stop at the point of tension and avoid bouncing or jarring movements. Inhale deeply as you begin a stretch, and exhale fully as you move deeper into the stretch. Hold each stretch for 15 seconds.

Quadricep stretch

  1. Stand with your feet hip width apart and knees slightly bent
  2. Bend knee, grab the front of the ankle and pull the foot towards the bottom until a stretch is felt in the front of the thigh.
  3. Hold for 15 seconds, release and change legs.

Hamstring stretch

  1. Stand with your feet hip width apart and knees slightly bent
  2. Place hands on hips and take a small step forward keeping the front leg straight and slightly bending the rear knee.
  3. Lean forwards from the waist, keeping the back straight.
  4. Hold for 15 seconds, release and change legs.

Calf stretch

  1. Stand with your feet hip width apart and knees bent slightly
  2. Take a step backwards – the front knee should be directly in line with the ankle.
  3. With hands on your hips lean your body forward slightly, keeping back foot on floor.
  4. Hold for 15 seconds, release and change legs.

Hip Flexor Stretch

  1. Stand with your feet hip width apart and knees bent slightly
  2. Take a long step forward.
  3. Bend your front knee and ensure your back leg is slightly bent.
  4. Keep your front foot on the floor and your back heel off, make sure your feet are facing forward and slightly apart.
  5. Hold for 15 seconds, release and change legs.

Chest stretch

  1. Stand with your feet hip width apart and knees slightly bent
  2. Place your hands on your hips just above the bottom with palms facing the body and move the elbows backwards until a mild stretch is felt.
  3. Hold for 15 seconds and then release.

Upper back stretch

  1. Stand with your feet hip width apart and knees slightly bent
  2. Clasp your hands together in front of you with palms facing the body
  3. Straighten the arms and gently raise to shoulder height
  4. Make a round back and push your hands away from you, lowering the chin slightly.
  5. Hold for 15 seconds and then release.

Lat Stretch (or back stretch part 2!)

  1. Stand with your feet hip width apart and knees slightly bent
  2. Clasp your hands together in front of you with palms facing the body, do not interlock the fingers.
  3. Reach upwards and, bringing your arms together slowly straighten your arms directly above the head without locking them out.
  4. Hold for 15 seconds and then release.

Shoulder Stretch

  1. Hold your left arm across your body and grab the back of your left elbow with your right hand
  2. Pull the left elbow in as far as you can so that your left fingertips can reach around your right shoulder.
  3. Hold for 15 seconds, release and change arms.
All done!
Flexibility is a “use it or lose it” skill and you can always improve your range of motion and increase your flexibility . It is recommended that you stretch at minimum twice a week but an active individual could include some stretching everyday.

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.

What is “core strength” ?

The core muscles are those that make up the abdomen, lower back and pelvis. If you think of the area that is covered by a corset, that is where those muscles lie. They are essential to having good balance and stability, which helps to prevent falls and lower back pain. They also help to pick up the grandchildren without injuring yourself.  Basically all functional movements (including standing still) are dependent on the core,the only time you aren’t engaging those muscles is when you are lying down on your back!

I am going to describe two exercises which are fantastic for all the muscles in the core.

Bird Dog

  1. Get on your hands and knees (hands directly below your shoulders, knees directly below your hips).
  2. Engage your core and abdominal muscles. Imagine you are tightening a corset around your waist, keep breathing steadily and never hold your breath.
  3. Slowly lift up your right leg backwards (don’t let your hips tilt to one side whilst moving your legs), and your left arm forwards (so they are parallel to the floor).
  4. Hold for 5 seconds and relax.
  5. Repeat with the opposite arm and leg.
  6. Repeat the whole process 5 times.
The Plank
The second exercise is slightly harder and is called The Plank. It has taken over from the crunch/sit up as the stomach exercise of choice, and with good reason. As the plank is an isometric exercise you should seek medical advice if you have a history of high blood pressure or heart disease.

  1. Lie facedown on the mat. Place forearms on mat, elbows under shoulders. Place legs together with forefeet on floor.
  2. Raise body upward by straightening body on elbows and toes. Keep breathing steadily and never hold your breath.Your back, neck and head should be in a straight line.
  3. Hold position for between 10-30 seconds.
If you find this too difficult to start with then balance on your knees and elbows making sure you still keep that straight line between back, neck and head.
So two exercises which can be done at home with no equipment.

As I was writing this article I pondered whether people would find it easier to do the exercise if I provided a video or photos of the exercise. If you think this would help please leave a comment.

If you do an exercise and display any of the following symptoms: headache, dizziness or nausea you should stop immediately and consult your doctor.

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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