Exercises

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This weekend I did my Aqua Instructor course and passed the exam, so good weekend here. I had hoped to post this blog on Sunday night  but  collapsed with exhaustion into bed, sometimes an early night is just needed!

So Aqua Aerobics, why?

There are a multitude of benefits of exercising in water instead of on land.

The stress and strain on the body is reduced because waters density means  that 90% of a body’s weight is supported (if immersed to the neck).The weight bearing stress that gravity puts on the body joints is therefore greatly relieved. There is a decreased likelihood of muscle and joint injuries occurring even with exercises traditionally referred to as high impact such as jumping.

The range of moment in water is usually improved because of the reduced degree of muscle effort required, for example people who might have difficulty raising their knee to hip height on land will be able to perform the move with ease in water due to the helping hand of buoyancy.

Water-based heart rate is approximately 13% lower than during land-based exercise. There are several theories about why this is but it is well documented that similar cardiovascular gains can be achieved from land and water based workouts.

Working out in water is fantastic, it reduces stress and strain on the body joints whilst providing an effective cardiovascular and endurance workout. In other words it's perfect for older adults, pregnant woman and overweight participants.

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.

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Walking is an ideal activity, it's free and requires no special equipment. According to the Physical Activity in Later Life survey done in 1999 half of all older adults walk at least a mile at least once a week. However the survey also reported that only 13% of men and 10% of women aged 50+ walk at an intensity suitable to benefit their health at least once a week. ...continue reading

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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

StretchingI 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.

Image courtesy of Ambro / FreeDigitalPhotos.net".

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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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The ability to stand up from a chair is a key skill to maintain independence and mobility. As you get older you lose strength in the hip and knee extensors which are the muscles that help straighten our legs. In this blog I am first going to discuss how to get out of a chair safely before going on to describe some exercises to strengthen the legs.
...continue reading

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Poor posture can lead to all sorts of problems and increase your risk of falling, however there are exercises that practiced regularly can help you improve your posture and feel more comfortable. 
The Standing Wall Angel has already been documented in Resistance exercises using body weight and is excellent for improving posture,  the second exercise is Brugger's Relief Exercise.

Standing Wall angel

  1. Stand flat up against a wall with your back to the wall and feet about shoulder-width apart.
  2. Press the small of your back into the wall and bend your arms to that the backs of your arms and hands are pressed against the wall at a 90-degree angle to your body. If you can’t get your arms against the wall do not arch your back just take elbows back until you feel a stretch.
  3. Move your arms up the wall, keeping your wrists and elbows pressed against the wall (if you can). You are aiming to get the hands together above the head, but again don’t worry if this isn’t possible yet just do the range of movement you are capable of.
  4. Lower hands to the starting position.

Repeat 10 times.

Brugger's  Relief

      1. Sit on the edge of your chair with your feet flat on the floor and your hands by your sides.
      2. Lift your chest, arch your lower back slightly and point the crown of your head directly up at the ceiling -- think tall.
      3. From this position, turn your palms outward and relax your shoulders down. This will pull your shoulders back and open up your chest.
      4. Look straight forward then try to retract your chin toward the back of your head without tilting your head backward
      5. Hold this position for 10 seconds whilst breathing normally and then relax for 10 seconds.

Repeat five times. Try and do this exercise several times a day, especially if you spend a lot of time at a desk or watching TV.

Good posture while sitting, standing and lifting can help you avoid pain, make your life more comfortable and avoid injury.

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 to Whole Life Fitness, Personal Training for the over-50s This will open a new browser window.

I've had a request for some ideas for a tennis warm up and cool down.

Tennis is excellent all round exercise, and you can play tennis as long as you’re able to walk and move your arm. However as you get older, the warm up becomes even more important to help prevent injury and keep you playing your best. ...continue reading

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In this blog I am going to concentrate on ankle exercises. Ankles provide the base for all movement therefore strong ankles can lead to better balance and reduce the likelihood of injuries and falls. Balance is the ability to maintain control on the base of support to avoid falling and this is important whether you just walk to the door or play tennis every day.

Seated alphabet ankle exercise

  1. Whilst sitting raise your right leg and using the ankle trace the letters of the alphabet from A-Z, imagining your big toe as a writing instrument.
  2. Change legs and repeat.

Seated ankle circles

  1. Slowly move your right foot in a circle moving clockwise. Repeat this movement six times.
  2. Then slowly move the same foot in a circle counter-clockwise. Repeat this movement six times.
  3. Repeat the entire exercise with the left foot.

Standing ankle exercise

  1. If needed use wall or chair for support, rise up onto the toes.
  2. Hold for 8 counts
  3. Lower heels to the floor in a controlled manner
  4. Repeat 4 times

Seated ankle exercise

  1. Sit back into the chair for support
  2. Sit tall with good posture, your thighs should be together and your knees bent with feet apart
  3. Keeping knees together, and with heels on the floor lift your toes towards the knees. This is the starting position
  4. Rotate both feet inwards, lifting toes towards the knees so toes point towards each other – hold for a few seconds
  5. Place feet on floor and gently slide feet along back to start position
  6. Build up repetitions as ankle strength increases.

Advanced ankle exercise

  1. Whilst balancing on one leg, using chair or wall for support if needed, rise up on toes
  2. Hold for 8 counts (work up to this if necessary)
  3. Lower heel to the floor in a controlled manner
  4. Repeat 4 times and then switch feet.

So 5 exercises that require no warm up and take 5 minutes of your day, you could do 3 of them whilst watching TV in the evening. By strengthening the muscles in the ankle you will have you a greater ability to maintain your balance and help avoid that trip to A&E discussed in the previous blog.

If  you have any questions on this article, or any questions about exercise and the over-50s please post a comment.

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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Following on from last weeks blog about the benefits of resistance exercise I thought I would talk about 4 exercises you could do at home 2 lower body and 2 upper body.  All are using your own body weight so no equipment needed - just 15 minutes of your time. ...continue reading