In a recent study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, Boston Medical Center researchers found that yoga classes specifically designed for chronic lower back pain (my italics!) helped patients feel better. In light of this those with non-specific Lower Back Pain might also be interested in this podcast which features Stuart McGill (regarded as the God of Lower Back Pain) discussing yoga and lower back pain

Yoga and Lower Back Pain

Don't use the sun as an excuse not to exercise but use these handy tips to ensure you stay healthy.

1)      Keep hydrated – make sure you have a water bottle with you and take sips during your session and drink a tall glass when you have finished your workout.

2)      If you are outside then think about wearing a light, breathable running cap. Also sunscreen is a must (don’t forget the ears!), we’re working on our health, not a tan!

3)      Wear light, loose fitting clothing in a breathable clothing–like cotton or specialty exercise clothing which will allow your body to sweat and for that sweat to be evaporated in the air.  Try to find should also be light-colored clPhoto of sunny beachothing because the lighter the clothing, the less the sun will beat down and trap the heat, adding unnecessary warmth to your already hot workout.

4)      Try and avoid exercising between 10am and 3pm, if you are a lunchtime exerciser then try and find shaded paths and parks to keep out of the sun.

5)      Perform your workout at a lower intensity than usually, It takes time for your body to adjust to changes in temperature, specifically to heat–it needs to lower your heart rate and body temperature when outside, and it takes a week or two to do so (not that we get a week or two of this weather in a row in the UK! )

6)      Most importantly, listen to your body. Stop immediately if you're feeling dizzy, faint or nauseous.  Think about finding an exercise buddy so you can keep an eye on each other.

New research has shown that just an hour a week of resistance exercise can lower the risk of metabolic syndrome (cardiovascular risk factors such as overweight, high blood pressure and elevated blood sugar).

You don't have to leave your house to benefit either,  bodyweight exercises or a resistance band will do the trick. Keep it simple.

Photo of a weight, towel and bottle of water

According to the findings of a study from the University of Dundee, published in the journal Age and Ageing, the most powerful 'deterrent' among the over-65s is a lack of interest, and disbelief that exercise can enhance and/or lengthen life. Yet one study on 90-year-old women in a nursing home found that 12 weeks of strength training took the equivalent of 20 years off their thigh muscle age, resulting in improved walking and mobility.
The message about physical activity isn’t working.

“Regular physical activity is vital for healthy aging. It can help delay, prevent, or manage many costly chronic diseases faced by adults 50 years or older. Physical activity can also reduce the risk of premature death”

People know the message and don't believe it or don't think it applies to them.

Sports England are providing a £10 million pot of funding to help older adults (55+) to get active
"Opened the first phase of our Inactivity Fund, which will focus on projects that help older adults (55+) to get active. We will be making up to £10 million of National Lottery funding available. We’re targeting older adults first because our insight tells us this age group is much more likely to be inactive: 42 per cent of people aged 55+ are inactive compared to 29 per cent of the population as a whole."

They are encouraging innovative ideas, anything ANYTHING to get people moving more.

I have to confess innovative isn't really my area of expertise, I see myself as a sort of middle of the road plodder rather than out of the box thinker but it started me wondering what could get the older demographic moving.

Firstly it's hard to picture yourself doing something if you don't see any representation of yourself out there doing that thing. Most physical activity advertising shows very happy, polished people who are never, ever sweating or actually looking like the are exerting themselves. Every hair in place and lovely clothing. (see images on this very blog!)  There might be a few genetically blessed people who do look like that, but it's not the majority. This is me post exercise.
post exercise
And Womens Health haven't to my knowledge (but would LOVE to be corrected) ever shown a 80 year old lady using a resistance band whilst seated on the front cover...

And it's not just being represented it's also about knowing what is available. Leisure centres are very good at publicising months free membership and the fashionable activities they offer (hot yoga anyone?) but how about the activities they offer for those people with health conditions or impairments? Instead of saying 50+ classes how about calling them beginner, or gentle or slow. Emphasise it will be inclusive to all. 50+ doesn't mean anything, I know 50 yrs olds who can run marathons and 21 yr olds who get out of breath walking up stairs but a lot of non-exercises lack the confidence to start, let them know the class will be tailored for them so taking away the fear.

Giving grants to companies to install showers and changing facilities at work in exchange for them allowing employees time to exercise in the day. (healthy employees means less sick days before anyone starts getting disgruntled by this.)

How about making all changing cubicles actually big enough for a person to change in. Providing shower stalls that have hand rails for those who need assistance (and whilst they are there putting a towel hook in a space which means the towel won't get wet!!)

Physical activity needs to be accessible. I know the argument that you can pull on a pair of shoes and go for a walk or a run by just stepping outside your door but some people don't like running or walking and if they don't like doing something (or don't like doing something alone) they are probably not going to make it a long term habit.

Of course it's not feasible to build leisure centres in every village in the UK (but I do believe we should ensure every leisure centre built in the UK now has a pool) but how about providing transport for those in the rural areas? Or provide grants to village halls to get fitness classes started up for beginners?

More (free) respite care available so adults who are also carers can have the time to do some physical activity knowing that the person they look after is being looked after safely. Free or heavily subsidised creches available for parents who want to exercise but have small children.

I think we need to concentrate our resources on the people who want to exercise. Make it easy for them. If someone doesn’t want to exercise there is little we can do about it. However maybe we can do something about people who do want to but can’t for a reason we can provide a solution to.

Hopefully some one out there is having truly innovative ideas that will get people who don't want to exercise moving but until then how about we start with some basics for the ones who do?

What stops you from moving more? What would you like to see improve?

Core Pilates

Firstly a mild correction, I was slightly misleading on Friday apparently it wasn't a Fitness Pilates class it was Core Pilates. It was stated as Core Pilates on the timetable but there was no accompanying link to the class definition (which there usually is). When I rang up to book the lady said oh you mean Fitness Pilates so I presumed the timetable had an error in it.


The class is held at Westgate Leisure in Chichester and is done in a fitness studio with dimmed lights (is that normal for pilates?) As it was my first class I went and introduced myself to the lady running the class. If you go to a class for the first time always introduce yourself to the teacher and let them know if you have any health issues, she was lovely and asked if I had any health problems (yes, prolapsed disc, semi-mended) and told me there would be progressions for the exercises and just do what I was comfortable with.

The class started with stretching and then moved on to some balance exercises before concentrating on "core" exercises, so some back and abdominal work. The teacher was very clear describing each exercise and giving us guidance on how to assume the correct position and how it should feel. She also gave progressions for most exercises (and I got the feeling that if you said you couldn't do xyz she would have ensured there was a progression you could do).

I liked the fact it included balance exercises as it's not something that classes usually include and yet is very important as poor balance can lead to falls. Around one in three adults over 65 who live at home will have at least one fall a year which can lead to serious injury. If you don't practice the art of balance then you will lose it, it can help you do things such as reach something on a high shelf, navigate an uneven pavement safely and walk up and down stairs.

I enjoyed the class but to be honest I am not sure I am going to add it as a regular feature to my routine just because I don't have a lot of spare time and would like to spend the time I do have on Friday morning doing something that requires a little more exertion on my part. However I do see it as a great addition to an exercise routine if you don't do stretching/balance/core by yourself. If you don't do any physical activity presently then it would be a great class to start with.

I would say the class is suitable for all ages and levels of fitness, just remember to tell the teacher if you do have any health issues.

*Before starting any new exercise program please check with your doctor and clear any exercise changes with them.

Trying new things: Out of my comfort zone

I am an advocate of finding the exercise that works for you, it may be running, lifting, swimming, cycling, circuits, chair based. Whatever gets you moving is what works. If possible throw in some mobility and stretching but if you are moving it's all good.

However sometimes I think it's beneficial to bust out of your comfort zone, to try new things just once. This morning I am going to the following class. ...continue reading