HAPPY WELLBEING WEEK!

Wellbeing and Wellness – A Virtuous Circle

As you can imagine as far as I am concerned there can never be too many references to ‘Wellbeing’ or events and activities promoting ‘Wellness’, but even I have been surprised to find out how much space in the general consumer media and social channels has been taken up by articles, opinions, testimonials and reports around both subjects and the   myriad of gatherings, conferences and activities which are being organised to keep wellbeing and fitness “front of mind” throughout the year:

‘World Health Day’ on 7 April; ‘Global Wellness Day’ (12 June); ‘World Wellbeing Week’ (June 21 -June 30); ‘Festival of Wellbeing’ (28 June – 09 July); ‘Healthy Eating Week’ (28 Sept – 03 Oct); ‘World Mental Health Day’ (10 October); ‘Movember’:  Men’s Health Awareness Month; November : ‘National Stress Awareness Week’; 13 November : ‘World Kindness Day’ – to name just a few!

There was even a ’World Sleep Day’ (19 March) and a ‘Global Hand Hygiene Day’…..I mean…..! (5 May) . Neither of which I am sure you missed! 

With so many health awareness messages being sponsored and endorsed I could hardly ignore the opportunity to add my thoughts.

So how are ‘Wellbeing’ and ‘Wellness’ connected? 

The Oxford English Dictionary defines ‘Wellbeing’ as “the state of being comfortable, healthy or happy”. However this will depend upon each person’s experience of life so it is difficult to pin down how individuals will assess their own personal state of ‘Wellbeing’ i.e. their state of mind.

On the other hand, ‘Wellness’ is a condition enabled by a process of practising habits and performing activities which contribute to a person’s physical health. 

The connection is simply that each influences the other and nurtures a beneficial effect which works both ways. ‘Wellness’ (physical health) encourages a feeling of ‘Wellbeing’ and a sense of ‘Wellbeing’ (mental and emotional health) frequently inspires further habits and activities which enhance ‘Wellness’.

‘World Wellbeing Week’ is particularly enthusiastic about the links between wellbeing and wellness is are keen that people understand that “the 5 Ways to Wellbeing” are “Connect, Get Active, Be Mindful, Keep Learning, Give to Others”. 


Not a bad thought to end on.

x

Get Wobbly!

Pushing ourselves beyond our own personal ‘comfort zones’, even just a small amount each time, is a great way to grow our fitness and flexibility. So, with that in mind, I will be introducing a new ‘slant’ to training over the next few weeks for those of you who are feeling ‘adventurous’.

You might find us doing some of your usual moves (shoulder presses, squats, reverse lunges, press ups etc.), but with an added extra which will enhance your sessions and get you used to a little ‘Balance Training’. It’s low-impact and can help us improve proprioception (positioning and stability of joints) by challenging our balance while exercising. 

Balance deteriorates as we age and muscular neurological pathways decay so balance training can be beneficial for life. A ‘Balance Trainer’ is a rubber dome (like one half of an over-sized basketball) with a rigid platform which you use to balance on while exercising.  It sounds weird but, used properly under supervision, it has been proven to help create balance in your body, enhance neuromuscular coordination (improving neural pathways between the brain and the body) and promote stability through ‘educating’ your core. 

Balance training even helps  improve the brain’s circulation, memory, coordination and balance. Because you are working harder keeping your balance, it also uses more calories to perform even the most basic exercises. And it’s surprising how much balance we need to employ in a day of normal activity, let alone in fitness sessions. Standing up from a sitting position, climbing or descending stairs, carrying shopping bags, turning around, getting into the bath etc. all require stability to avoid toppling over – it may seem like overstating its importance in connection with simple everyday movements, but the older you get, the more you notice the significance of proper balance.

So say “Hello” to balance training as it becomes part of our workouts!

Recover strength lost during Covid

A recent story on BBC News caught my eye. According to a survey for the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy and Sport England, almost one third of people who exercise regularly believe that their general strength has declined during the Covid pandemic. Around 23% of under-34s said it had fallen and the figure for over 35s was higher.

A person’s general level of strength is an indication of muscle mass and a lessening of muscle mass could result in long-term issues concerning mobility and balance. This then could initiate other health problems necessitating visits to the doctor or physiotherapist, osteopath or acupuncturist!

Fortunately, most of my clients have largely been able to keep to their well-being and fitness routines during Lockdown by working with me online, in gardens or parks and now, FINALLY, in person. However, for those of you for whom this has not been possible, when you start back again it would be a good idea to get some expert advice on how to reintroduce exercise into your week. A good PT will be mindful of your circumstances and can tailor your ‘build up’ route to attain your previous levels of flexibility and strength in the optimum timescale so you can start to get yourself back on track.

We would begin by trying some fundamental exercises which shouldn’t put too many demands upon your current ‘de conditioned’ musculoskeletal frame. It’s all a question of restarting your strengthening exercises gradually.
Whether you are a seasoned gym-goer or a keep-fit beginner, the universal advice is, “Don’t start a marathon with a sprint”

You don’t need special equipment e.g. weights or resistance bands because, depending on injuries and abilities, we can utilise your body to provide sufficient resistance for your strengthening needs.

Most of us know about press ups, squats, lunges and sit ups etc. and these are all good strengthening exercises that are commonly used and, if you have a PT, they will be able to bring some new ‘moves’ to the routine. What we’re all looking for is to get back to the habit of exercising as regularly as possible, keeping as healthy as possible, for as LONG as possible!

TOTAL BODY MAINTENANCE is KEY, let me show you how 😉

MAY IS FOR MOTIVATION!

May is traditionally a month to celebrate. It’s the beginning of Spring (in the
Northern Hemisphere at least); new growth, flowers appearing and Winter being
left behind.


Which makes it a great time of year for starting a new exercise programme or
giving your mind and body a boost. So here are a few thoughts on ‘changing up’
your ‘Healthstyle’.


“Tomorrow is Today’s most popular labour-saving device”.
Getting motivated to exercise, even if you have regular classes with a PT
assisting and advising you, isn’t always as simple as making the entry in your
diary. Your session is approaching fast but are you “up for it”?


As a PT I have to be fully aware that, even though a client has committed to a
series of workouts, he or she has to juggle their calendar to accommodate work
demands, family issues, other leisure pursuits, illness, caring, school concerns
and emergencies etc. All of which consume time and absorb both mental and
physical energy so that periodically the ‘fitness session’ has to take a back seat.
With all these extra and unforeseen pressures is it any wonder that our
enthusiasm for physical exercise can take a”hit” occasionally. How many of us
let a little thought creep in to our minds that, “It’ll be better if I do it tomorrow.
I’ll have more time”? You have to agree, it is very seductive; there’s always
something more urgent (and less challenging?) that must take precedence.
Even if it’s a workout with a PT, sometimes it’s simpler to ease off a little with
the effort you’re putting in if you don’t feel “prepared”.
We’ve all done it but what’s the antidote?


Motivation
Your motivation takes you from thinking about doing something to actually doing
it
. And motivation can come from within i.e. ‘Intrinsic Motivation’, a combination
of your desires, resolve and passion to attain targets that are personal to you.
When you yourself want to get things done for your own gratification or for
pleasure. Or ‘Extrinsic Motivation’, which is defined as being derived from
external influences such as prizes, peer appreciation or awards etc.


Getting started is the toughest part so with this in mind I thought some tips
might help.


Be clear about your reason or reasons for exercising. Why you want to
do it. When you’re in the middle of a session, with all the discomfort
and challenges that can involve, the last thought you want to occur to
you is, “Why am I doing this?”
Knowing the effort is worth it to achieve your target, whatever it is, is
key to driving you on.

Train for a ‘Good Cause’ e.g. a charity etc.
If it culminates in an event e.g. a race, then the completion date in the
diary will spur you on.


Start with small goals. Don’t try to push yourself too hard at the
beginning. A professional PT will always design a routine to suit the
individual client such that the exercises and activities are achievable
and commensurate with the capabilities of the client.


If you’re training on your own and you’re finding it hard to get going or
you’re tight for time, just set your sights on doing, for example, sit
ups, then do ten reps of the exercise twice instead of three times.
Chances are that once you’ve been through the sequence once or
twice, you’ll want to switch it up to your normal levels.


Stay in touch with other like-minded people using Social Media to
compare progress and indulge in some friendly competition.
Elsevier has published a Preventive Medicine Report which showed that,
anonymous social networks significantly increase enrolment in exercise
classes and that social influence is more successful for improving physical
activity.


Make a date in your Diary. A study carried out by in the USA found
that scheduling exercise as a daily activity promotes regular exercise.
Sounds obvious but having it there in writing must help.
If you have regular dates with your PT then this goes without saying.


Set your alarm and place it on the other side of the room so you’re
forced to get out of bed to switch it off. (It works!).


If working out at home, allocate a special place for your workouts. Inside and/or out. It will
automatically assume the identity of your ‘personal gym’. And you’ll
never forget it
.


Change the exercises in your workout and be careful not to over-train. Ensure you get some rest during
your exercise programme. PTs are adept at reading the signs and will
rarely allow a client to overtrain.


A lot of people find that a PT can help them motivate themselves to, in
the first instance, actually start exercising. The PT can set them off on
the right track, designing a bespoke routine, ensuring proper performance techniques and monitoring their progress, fine-tuning
along the way.


Alternatively, an experienced gym-goer can benefit from a PT
providing motivation them by changing their usual fitness programme
to freshen up the challenge.

Check out the videos available on my facebook page
They might help you get in the mood.

With thanks to http://www.healthline.com., Elsevier, http://www.psychologytoday.com

Flexibility is FAB

According to research for the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity (December 2020) the “Worldwide surveillance of self-reported sitting time: a scoping review” found that  the average person sits down for 4.7 hours per day (although it is thought that the real figure is probably more like 6.7 hours per day because the survey participants were ‘self-reporting’!).

A significant proportion of this sedentary activity comprises ‘screen time’ – e.g.  computer, TV and mobile phone use, and the associated health concerns are well-documented e.g. increased BMI, heart issues, diabetes etc. The definition of ‘sedentary’ includes not only sitting but also lying down or reclining and most of us are attracted to taking the comfortable option on a daily basis. This has all been increased recently, particularly during the Covid-19 restrictions.

These health concerns make it all the more important that we maintain our physical flexibility – the capability to use our joints and muscles in a full range of movement without restriction, discomfort or pain. 

Nurturing Flexibility
The frequency and extent of our daily movements impact the development and engagement of our muscles and joints. As time passes the scope of our mobility becomes limited. Using some parts of our body more frequently than others can cause tightness in some areas and slackness in others. This can produce pain and affect balance. Lower back and hamstrings feeling more tight this year? Maybe all that working from home on the computer is to blame!

This is why, in our sessions, we try to seek the ideal level of flexibility which allows your body to determine the optimum posture for smooth movement and strong balance which suits you. You will have noticed that in our sessions, I include joint mobilisation and flexibility work at the beginning and end, in addition to strength and cardiovascular conditioning. Sometimes, your personal needs may require a little more of this as part of your programme!

We’re all growing older and time takes its toll on the elasticity of our muscles and the suppleness of our joints. The exercises we do are designed to help you maintain a level of both strength and flexibility which can help you not only enjoy the activities of daily life, and everything else you want to achieve!

So – don’t skip the stretches!

The Power of Posture!

Those who train with me will undoubtedly be hearing my voice in their heads repeatedly chanting “shoulders back, engage your tummy!“…ie: the importance of good posture when exercising. (And believe me, I have to keep reminding myself about it as well, because it is so easy to fall into bad habits). 


The reason I stress posture so often is that it plays such a major part in our general wellbeing; not just in our fitness classes but also in everyday life. Poor posture can lead to all sorts of problems with muscles under tension, joints out of alignment, and resultant pain.


Medical practitioners, particularly Musculoskeletal specialists, emphasise the part that good posture plays in the basic health of the human body. As far as they are concerned it plays as vital a role in maintaining your health as a nutritious, healthy diet, quality sleep and regular exercise. But how do you ensure that you maintain ‘good posture’ during workouts and throughout the day?

Four things I find help me:

Reduce the anterior pelvic tilt: a large amount of back and hip pain can come from an exaggerated lordotic curve (ie, hips pushing forwards, curving the lumbar spine and sticking the bottom out). Commonly in pregnant women and those with increased abdominal weight, this can be corrected with practicing pelvic tilting, drawing the tummy IN and UP and tucking the bottom UNDER. Lie on the floor and practice your pelvic tilts, and then repeat this same movement standing. See how your spine flattens out and tummy pulls in!

Draw shoulders back and down: Upper back tension and neck pain? Check your shoulders aren’t up round your ears. Think about rolling the shoulder blades together and then SLIDING them down the back. This helps keep your shoulders stacked above your hips and more of a neutral spinal alignment, and helps prevent and even correct a kyphotic posture (hunch back).

Soften the knees: particularly when standing, we can lock out the knees and push the hips forward (think ‘grumpy teenager’). Not only does this put pressure on the lower back (see above) but huge tension on the knee joints, ligaments and tendons from a near ‘hyper extended’ position. When we soften the knees (ie, gentle bend, just short of straightening), we take the body weight in the muscles of the upper leg – away from the joints.

Imagine string pulling at the top of your head: Got neck/shoulder/upper back pain or tension? Have someone take a profile photo of you. Does your chin stick forward beyond your chest? Look at the angle on the back of the neck. Did you know the average adult head weighs 5kg and balances on 7 vertebra. The force exerted on the neck joints and muscles increases massively if you tilt your neck forward (looking down at your phone?!) – in fact, a tilt of just 45 degrees can increase the force as if the head weighs 22kg…! From learning various dance forms when younger, I never forgot this image: Drawing yourself up through the top of the head, as if with a piece of string, elongate the neck and draw the chin BACK to a straight cervical spine.


Here is a link to the NHS UK website with some useful information and helpful tips about how to improve your posture.

Needless to say, I will be happy to chat with you have any questions re posture correction 🙂

B x

5 ways to kick up your calorie burn!

You may feel it’s difficult at the moment (in Lockdown…in winter..) to motivate yourself to exercise, and when you are motivated…what can you do?!

Here I just want to throw at you 5 WAYS YOU CAN BURN AT LEAST 100 EXTRA CALORIES TODAY.

‘100 calories? What will that mean I can eat?‘ – that’s not the focus here folks! Getting moving and increasing your daily activity IN GENERAL is beneficial not only to loss of unwanted weight, but also bone density, muscle and ligament tone and flexibility, strength and heart and lung health. Not to mention the benefit to mental health and taking your eyes off the screen (any one got video-call fatigue?!).

1 – Walking!

For 15-20 mins briskly on the flat or uphill can burn 100+ calories (depending on fitness levels and body weight). As Billy Connolly said ‘Get yourself a sexy little raincoat and go out and have some fun!’

2 – Zumba

If shaking it to a good beat is your thing, just 10 mins of vigorous Zumba (or similar, vigorous dancing) can burn approx 100 cal and get your heart and lungs pumping. There’s plenty of resources on You Tube but sometimes you need that trainer there to push – and I can recommend the infectious energy of Nikki and her virtual zumba classes!

3. Running

Want more than a walk ? Get pounding the pavements or the local park for just 10 mins of jogging to burn around 100 cal. Be safe, start with the good warm up and ensure you have the right footwear (I love going for a run/jog with clients and the best way to be challenged and achieve more is with me by your side 😉 )

4. Strength training!
If you know me, you know I love this! It doesn’t have to be heavy weights, 25-30 mins of moderate body weight work done correctly can be very challenging and, along with a balanced diet, can transform the body composition. With just a chair, a mat and some simple dumbbells or resistance bands, I can take you through a full-body programme.

5. Gardening

It’s not the most attractive option in the winter, but it’s a great wat to get warm and just about 20 mins of digging, lifting and raking can burn 100 calories (and tidy up the garden in the process – winning!). Not to mention the upper body and core toning.

For these ideas and more, you can check out this article.

B x

Mind DOES Matter

For most of the past 12 months we have been enduring various levels of ‘imprisonment’. If not total Lockdown, then an assortment of restrictions and limitations to the normal enjoyment of our lives

Many have found this state of affairs stressful and pressurising to say the
least.

The good news is that many people have been turning to exercise to help them cope with the stresses and mental strains that every day life piles upon us. And there is evidence that it works. Take a look at this article from the American Psychological Assoc written in March this year.

About Stress

When our balance is upset in some way, our body creates a stress response as a defence, which can make us behave differently (Sound familiar?).

Symptoms of stress can include sleeping problems, inability to concentrate and fatigue (feel sometimes like your dumbbells are heavier than usual?)
Stress also can increase the level of the hormone Cortisol in the body, which can lead to fat deposits building up around the midriff (annoying!).

Surprise surprise – exercise can be very effective in relieving stress.
Research has found that highly active individuals tend to have lower stress rates compared to individuals who are less active.

Here’s a helpful publication about Stress and steps on how to reduce it from The Mental Health Foundation.

Look after YOU, inside and out in 2021

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Be alternative

We all come across aches and pains in life, and sometimes are unfortunate to get a sprain or minor injury just from everyday activity.

Depending on what the injury is, and as long as you have had to ‘OK – go!’ from a medical professional (if necessary), you DON’T have to throw your fitness regime out the window!!

If you find you can’t perform a particular movement, don’t
despair and just “sit it out”.

I have said it time and time again – but there is ALWAYS an adaptation that can be prescribed to achieve the same(or similar) effect. OR a complete alternative to keep you working without aggravating that area. That’s just one benefit of personal supervision over a group fitness class or pre-recorded online video.

For example – knee injury and squats are out of the picture? To still work the Quads, hamstrings, glutes and hips we can sit to stand, perform seated leg raises, use resistance bands or leg weights to work the muscles and tendons without strain on the knee joint.

There is no excuse to sit still, and infact- recovery from injury or aches can be quicker if you continue to work your body in the right way.

See you soon

B

Flip The Script

So as the Second Lockdown is announced, I decided to try to take a positive spin on it. (Don’t get me wrong, I have exhausted my 4-letter words and had a couple more glasses of wine than normal too…) .

In my current reading, I have come across the not-so-radical idea of trying to seek a positive out of a negative. And here I am trying to impart the same idea to you.

So – 4 weeks. We could focus on all the things we’re not allowed to do, or we could use this as an opportunity for a short-term focus.

4 weeks to fat loss:

Reducing your kcal intake by 3500kcal a week (that’s burning off (or eating less) 500kcal a day) can lose 1-2lbs a week. Speak with me for specific guidance.

4 weeks to perfect press ups

Review with me to check form, then we aim for your goal – 10? 20? 60 in a minute? A little work every day for the next 4 weeks could get you there (and get some great core and upper body strength in the process).

4 weeks to a 4 minute plank

Again, check form with me to make sure you get the most out of your plank and don’t do any damage, then you’re away! Try adding 10 seconds to your current time every day or every other day..and 4 mins is in sight!

4 weeks to get 20 burpees in a minute!

Average just under 3 secs per burpee…it all starts with one!

My point is, you can make this period work FOR you and use it to focus, rather than lament what we are missing out on.

We can’t control the situation but we CAN control how we react to it.