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.

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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.

Round up of recent news.

You may have noticed I haven’t posted recently. I have two young children and it has been their summer holidays but all good things come to an end and they have started school and I am itching to get back to work.

However whilst I have been quiet on the blog post front my brain has been churning with new ideas that I want to try out and articles I want to write. The most prominent being a course I want to run. The course would be an hour a week and consist of an exercise class mixed with theory about exercise/healthy eating etc. It would be a 10 week course aimed at beginnners who want to start exercising and healthy eating but aren’t sure where to start! If this would interest you let me know, plus any questions you would like answered on the course.  There will be a discount for the first course.

Until I am able to put fingers to keyboard for a blog post here is some research in the news recently which I thought might be of interest.

Article in the Lancet about physical inactivity is the fourth leading cause of death in the world.  

Age UK Exercise Survey by ICM Research shows 56% of older people say they are doing less than the Government guidelines of the recommended weekly amount of physical exercise and 13% say they are doing none at all. 

Yoga can help stroke patients recover balance

Over 50s open up about size, diet and exercise

Women who exercise moderately may be less likely than their inactive peers to develop breast cancer after menopause

Very elderly and frail can see benefits from exercise after just 3 months

Exercising in midlife protects heart, says research

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

Why you should make exercise a priority.

A question has just been asked of me on Twitter:

“How can I get my parents to ignore Homes Under The Hammer on tv screens at gym & focus on working out?”

I tend to view exercise similarly to giving up smoking, it doesn’t matter what everyone else wants you to do it’s only going to happen if you want to do it.

However the older you get the more the saying “use it or lose it” becomes applicable.  There is  word for it – sarcopenia and it means loss of muscle mass. It starts in our 30s  and as we become older it can make performing the most basic tasks of daily living difficult, and greatly increases the risk of suffering falls and other serious accidents. Whilst there are multiple reasons for sarcopenia lack of exercise is a contributing factor.

Regular exercise, with emphasis on strength training, is essential for preserving and increasing muscle mass. In addition strength training has been found to improve bone density, particularly important for women post-menopause, and lessen the decline of your metabolic rate.

If you are a member of a gym ask an instructor to devise you a programme that includes strength training. The instructors in a gym are there to help you, and if you ask them a question I am sure they would be happy to share their knowledge, but in many gyms you have to ask them first.

For those of you without the benefit of gym membership some simple bodyweight exercises can be done at home. Check out my article Resistence exercises using bodyweight.

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 Whole Life Fitness or call 01252313578.

National Diabetes Week 2012

This week has been National Diabetes Week. There are two forms of diabetes, type I is when the body is not able to produce insulin. Type II is where the body does not produce enough insulin to maintain a normal blood glucose level, or when the body is unable to effectively use the insulin that is being produced. The body needs insulin to move the glucose (a form of sugar) into the cells of your body to be used as energy. If there is no/not enough insulin available then the glucose builds up in your blood which is dangerous.

Type I usually starts in childhood and can not be prevented or cured, however type II can often be  managed and/or prevented from occuring with a healthy diet and exercise*.  There are some risk factors that you can’t control such as being

  • white and over 40 years old

or

  • black, Asian or from a minority ethnic group and over 25 years old
However there are risk factors you can prevent, such as
  • You’re overweight or if your waist is 31.5 inches or over for women; 35 inches or over for Asian men and 37 inches or over for white and black men.

It is estimated that 80% of Type II diabetics are overweight or obese i.e. they have a BMI of over 25. Whilst it is a myth that sugar and sweets cause diabetes they can lead to being overweight.

There is no reason for people with diabetes not to exercise. An exercise programme may have to be adapted around medical requirements/ and or meal times but as long as precautions are taken (proper footwear worn, glucose monitoring and appropriate food and fluid intake) then the following benefits could occur

  • improvements in blood glucose levels (in Type II)
  • maintenance of ideal body weight and reductions in body fat
  • improved insulin sensitivity, which may lead to lower medication requirements
  • prevention of type II diabetes
For more detailed information about both Type I and Type II diabetes please visit Diabetes UK or

*Some people may need medications and/or insulin injections to achieve normal blood glucose levels.
**Association of British Clinical Diabetologists

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

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.

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