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Get Online Week 2021

Monday 18th October – Sunday 24th October 2021 is Get Online Week. Get Online Week is a digital inclusion campaign organised by Good Things Foundation.  According to research, around 13 million people in the UK lack the digital skills they need for work and a staggering 3.7 billion people worldwide are digitally excluded. A lack of digital skills can have a huge negative impact on a person’s life, leading to poorer health outcomes, increased loneliness, and social isolation. If this past 18 months has taught us anything, it’s the importance of being connected to one another.

Simple steps to staying motivated

We’ve arrived at that time of year when the weather gets colder, days get darker and all we want to do is curl up under a blanket and hibernate until Summer. But that’s not going to happen this year – we’re here to help! We’ve put together a simple 3 step plan to help reignite your motivation and keep yourself active during the gloomy months. After all – Fitness is for life, not just for Summer.

National Fitness Day 2021

Being able to be active and move our bodies is something we often take for granted. National Fitness Day is a chance to celebrate physical activity as well as highlighting the role it plays in helping us lead healthier lifestyles. This year, National Fitness Day will take place on Wednesday 22nd September and we want to take this time to shout about the importance of being active.

Life after lockdown

As life is continuing to take gradual steps back towards the ‘normality’ we have craved for so long, you may be wondering.. “why do I feel so anxious at such positive news?!” Well, you may be comforted to know that you’re not alone and it’s completely normal to feel this way. So, take a deep breath and have a read of the following 5 tips on returning to the gym after a long break.

5 Tips to Improve your Workout!

People can take different approaches when going to the gym. For example, some people would rather to go alone and figure out what each machine does for themselves, whilst others prefer to go online and research everything before they even set foot into the gym or have guidance from a Personal Trainer from the get-go.

Have you ever stopped to think about your workout routine? It’s very easy to fall into poor habits that you pick up over time, even if you have been taught the proper methods before (driving and writing are key examples of this!).


So, here’s some key things to look out for…

01 Skipping your Warm-Up!

A warmup is essential to any good workout. Without properly warming up and raising your pulse, it makes you more likely to feel light headed and dizzy, meaning you’ll have to finish your workout sooner. A light jog on the treadmill, a few minutes on a bike or a cross trainer, or even a quick circuit involving a variety of different exercises (ie star jumps, mountain climbers, burpees, etc) are all good for steadily bringing up the heart rate and preparing your body for exercise. As well as bringing the heart rate up, it’s also important to do some dynamic stretching to ensure the joints are ready for the start of exercise. If you don’t warm up the joints properly, you’re more likely to injure yourself, meaning you’ll have to spend more time out of the gym recovering! Finally, if you’re planning to do some resistance or strength-based training, it’s always important to do warm up reps at a lower weight, to ensure the muscles are prepared for the increase in weight, especially if you’re trying to go up in weight.


02 Cutting your Cool Down!

As annoying as it is for some, staying in the gym for an extra few minutes to cool down once you’ve finished your workout is very important. If you don’t bring your heart rate back down to the level it was pre-exercise, you become at risk of blood pooling in your lower limbs. At the end of your workout, spend 5 – 10 minutes on the treadmill, walking at a slow, rhythmical pace to allow your heart to catch up with what you’re doing. Post-exercise stretching is also an important part of cooling down. When we exercise, our muscles are contracting to support the weight they are lifting, so the muscles gradually get tighter and tighter throughout the workout. Static stretching when you are finished helps to lengthen the muscles again, reducing post-exercise stiffness and also helping to improve your flexibility.


03 Half Repetitions!

You’re part way through your workout, and you’re feeling the burn in your arms as you bring the dumbbells up for your final set of side raises. You bring them up with control, but as soon as your arms reach the top of the workout, you let them drop immediately without controlling it. We’ve all been there, we’ve all felt the exhaustion that comes when you’re getting close to the end of a set, but it is so important to maintain the control in your arms and bring the weights down slowly. By letting them drop without having any tension in your arms, you’re only performing half of the movement. The end of an exercise, or the eccentric contraction of the muscle, is just as important as the contraction phase (the beginning), as they help to develop your muscles differently. Next time you feel like you’re going to drop the weight on that last rep, take a pause, breathe in, and control it on the way back down. Your muscles will thank you!


04 Get Hydrated!

On average, adults should drink 2000ml-2500ml of water per day. When we are exercising, we should be drinking a minimum of 500ml of water up to two hours before starting, plus an extra litre of water for every hour spent exercising. That’s ¾ of what we’re mean to have in a day! Without appropriate levels of hydration in the body, exercise can be greatly impaired, as it could cause headaches, which can result in a loss of concentration, which can lead to injury. After we have finished exercising, we are meant to have 1 litre of fluid for every kilogram lost during exercise.


05 Technique.

A e you doing the exercises properly to achieve what you want? With resistance and free weights training, something as small as a change in hand position while picking up the barbell can change which muscles the exercise you are doing will activate more. For example, if you are doing a bench press, having your hands closer to the middle of the bar activates the triceps more than a traditional or wider grip will. Don’t be afraid to ask a fitness instructor in the gym if you believe you are not doing things in a way that will help you achieve your goals in the gym.


Now that you know some more some of the bad habits you may have developed in the gym, and how important it is to change them… It’s time to get back into the gym and give yourself the best possible chance to reach that new personal best!

How Stockport Moving Together helped Mary’s COVID recovery

Stockport Moving Together is a joint initiative between Stockport Council, Life Leisure and other key local partners to identify and deliver projects that will support those recovering from COVID-19 and build resilience in the fight against the virus.

Exercise provides a host of medically proven health benefits, so a key goal for Stockport Moving Together is to help Stockport’s most vulnerable residents get fighting fit in the battle against COVID.

One year on from the nation’s first lockdown, Stockport Moving Together has provided one hundred COVID Physical Activity Packs, along with an exercise programme, which are now being delivered to care homes across the town, as well as to individuals who need help recovering from the virus.

These individuals include the likes of 66-year-old Mary, from Stockport, who received a Physical Activity Pack to help her recovery after contracting the virus last October. She has kindly shared her experience on receiving her pack from Stockport Moving Together and how it has helped her recovery from the virus over the past few months.

Mary said “I was excited to receive my COVID pack, which included a pedal exerciser bike, an exercise band set, the PARIS home activity guide and the Otago Strength aMary Smith_COVID Recovery Pack_Mar21nd Balance Programme.

“Owing to my disabilities and health conditions, I have had to shield since March 2020. I had brain stem strokes in 2007 and 2015. These have left me partially sighted and with poor balance and mobility. I fall easily and mobilize with 2 crutches. I’m also aphasic and have memory issues. I must have instructions one at a time and have swallowing problems; I choke easily. I also have severe osteoarthritis. I’ve had both shoulders replaced and my right knee, so pain is a big issue.”

“I contracted COVID in October 2020. To receive the COVID pack was a fantastic affirmation that I can still do somethings, albeit slowly! It helped to raise the mental fog of depression and anxiety, which was beginning to overwhelm me. The layout of the books with text and diagrams is helpful and clear, given that I use a magnifier.”

“The COVID pack itself is really nice. I like the bag keeping everything together. I typically use the bike in the evenings watching Channel 4 news or the latest briefing or bulletin from Boris! I’ve progressed to the medium light resistant band.”

Alongside receiving a recovery pack, recipients benefit from the specialist advice and ongoing support with a Life Leisure PARiS Coach to create a programme of exercises suitable for their personal recovery. Due to restrictions, this has mostly been facilitated through telephone consultations and digital classes and sessions.

Mary added “Dave Lornie has contributed much to my ongoing rehab. He has excellent communication skills and a brilliant sense of humour. He’s incredibly observant. He presents each session in a relaxed manner, adapting the exercises to each members’ need or disability.”

To benefit from our movement for health programmes you must be referred by your GP or hospital or individuals can self-refer via the website. Enquiries for the physical activity packs can be emailed to gpreferral@lifeleisure.net.

For more information go to www.lifeleisure.net.

For more information about One Stockport, visit https://www.onestockport.co.uk/

For more information on how to establish healthy habits, visit https://www.healthystockport.co.uk/

Festive Fitness Fun

There’s no doubt that Christmas will be a little different this year. While you may manage to spend it with some loved ones, it’s unlikely there will be any big family get togethers, visits to Christmas markets or the annual office party.

The good news is, you’ll probably save a lot of money. The bad news – being stuck at home certainly won’t get you in the festive spirit and may lead to more indulgences than normal. To help, here are some ideas for you and the family to help you feel Christmassy and enjoy a little bit of healthy exercise along the way!

Christmas trail
After what’s been a pretty miserable year, it’s no surprise that people have put more effort into decorating their homes, with most residential streets lit up already. So why not turn this spectacle into a bit of healthy family fun?

Make a note of some of the more exciting houses around and make a pilgrimage on foot to see them up close with the kids? Or, perhaps challenge your friends and family to get a picture outside the brightest display in your neighbourhood and send pictures to each other? The only rule is, no driving allowed. Walk, jog, run, scooter – whatever you fancy, just no car.

Whatever method you choose, to get the most out of the idea you should walk quickly enough to feel warmer and feel your breath getting a little shorter.

Of course, if you want to up the ante, you could all run around the streets together to see how many decorated houses you can find. Make it more fun by encouraging the kids count how many snowmen, Santas, elves and reindeer they see along the way.

Prepare for reindeer visitors!
Why not give your usual outdoor fun a festive twist by encouraging the kids to create a reindeer den in the garden? Walking or running around to find the right materials and then bending and twisting to arrange the perfect den. It won’t seem like exercise to the little ones, but it is actually giving them a whole-body workout.

Anything that works your muscles harder than usual will increase and develop your muscles, which is important for us no matter what our age. For kids it helps them grow into strong and healthy adults and protect them against injury, and for adults it helps prevent our muscles weakening, reducing the chances of falling and losing our balance as we get older.

An alternative is to get the kids to mark out a reindeer runway. Use anything you can find to build a landing strip and guide Santa and his reindeer into place! Again, this will involve some of that all-important lifting and carrying, as well as enjoying some healthy outdoor fun.

Active advent
Most advent calendars these days include a little bite of chocolate for each day. But instead of chocolate, why not set yourself and the family an active challenge? Of course, we are already a few days into December, but you could run your challenge over the 12 days of Christmas or in the rest of the run up?

One idea is to challenge the family to do a different activity each day – ranging from doing 10 star jumps before you get dressed, doing laps around the garden after school or going for a half an hour bike ride. Perhaps introduce prizes for the best performance.

Rock around the Christmas tree
Social dancing may be off the cards this year, but there’s no reason why you and the kids can’t have a party of your own.

Dancing is a great way to get active and burn some energy. Get into the spirit by turning all the lights off and just leaving the Christmas tree lights and decorations twinkling, or go one step better and get some glow sticks and disco lights!

If the kids need a little more impetus to get involved why not play musical statues or let them choose the music. Bringing the party atmosphere home will lift everyone’s spirits and give you a great full body work out – what’s not to love?

Activate your Christmas spirit!
Overindulging a little at Christmas is inevitable. Let’s face it, we’re all looking forward to the usual roast dinners, advent treats, sweets and well-deserved tipples (for the grown-ups!).

What’s not inevitable though is inactivity. We can all make sure we move a little more during the holidays. So why not incorporate a few of these little ideas into your line-up. As well as getting you all in the Christmas spirit, they will also boost your activity levels without you even noticing, helping us all to stay fitter and healthier over the festive break.

When’s the right time to get back to the gym?

The leisure industry has been among the hardest hit by the pandemic, with gyms and leisure centres across the country forced into closure to prevent the spread of COVID.
And with Government guidance about who we can mix with and what facilities can open changing almost daily, it’s no wonder people are feeling a little nervous about returning to their leisure facilities.

On the flip side, many of us want to get back to it. For both the physical and mental benefits …just a bit of that ‘feel good’ spirit! Where I work, we’ve actually moved some group exercise classes to larger halls for social distancing because participation numbers have increased!

That’s why I thought it might be useful to provide a run-down of the kinds of practices and measures gyms and leisure centres currently have in place to ensure the safety of all members. Each facility or sports centre will of course be subject to different regulations depending where they are geographically and their size, so these are just some guidelines to give you an idea of what to expect.

Make space
One of the most important regulations when it comes to COVID is for people to keep two metres away from others.

This means that there will be markings on the floor and fewer pieces of equipment available on the gym floor, with items such as bikes, cross trainers and treadmills removed or blocked off in order to allow space between each user.

It also means that classes will be smaller or, as I mentioned earlier, moved to larger studios and halls to accommodate numbers. Generally, you will be required to book in advance.

Clean team
It’s always been important that gyms and leisure centres maintain a high standard of cleanliness. However, due to the highly contagious nature of COVID, increased measures have been brought in to ensure there is no possible cross contamination between users, so if cleanliness is your concern you can be confident these shared spaces are now cleaner than ever.
Throughout the day and between every group session, staff will also carry out touchpoint cleaning, targeting areas such as doors and toilets to ensure high traffic areas are kept thoroughly clean.

Take control
Just as we are now encouraged to wash our hands as often as possible, your local facility will also be asking members to take control of their own cleanliness when using equipment. Cleaning products should be made available to you to clean equipment before AND after use. It’s also likely you will be encouraged to wear masks in communal areas, although this will not be necessary for children or while exercising.

Leisure facilities will also be advising visitors to bring their own equipment where possible, such as water bottles and mats for floor exercises. Most of us do this anyway, but giving your children easily identifiable water bottles will help ensure they don’t risk picking up the wrong ones during an activity!

No ball games
Fortunately, under 18s and those with a disability are not restricted when it comes to indoor activity, so these specific activity sessions can continue. As a parent it’s important to limit social interaction before and after the sessions to avoid any transmission at the school or sports hall gates!

Unfortunately for adults, in many areas indoor activities of more than six continue to be limited, which means indoor ball games such as five-a-side football, basketball and hockey are not permitted. However, many racket sports can continue.

Stay outdoors
If in doubt – and while weather permits – you can of course keep your activity outdoors. And you might be surprised to find out what’s on offer. Many outdoor fitness sessions, running clubs and team sports are operating, so be sure to check out what your local community groups and fitness clubs are doing.

Sink or swim
As there is no evidence that COVID 19 can spread through the use of pools, swimming pools are deemed safe and allowed to reopen.

As well as being kept clean, swimming pool providers will ensure that pools are properly chlorinated and social distancing adhered to in and out of the pool.
If you have a child who attends swimming lessons it is most likely these will go ahead, but parents should again be careful about transmission.

Do keep in mind though, rules regarding changing facilities may vary so make sure you check with your local provider.

Have confidence
While the numbers we can mix in safely is subject to change depending where you live and the facilities available, you can be confident that your gym, club or sporting group, will all be up to speed on specific guidance for their facility or sport. Just be sure to check which classes are running and book in advance.

Of course, returning to any of these activities is a hugely personal decision depending on your own health and personal safety, and if it doesn’t feel right for you, there will continue to be plenty of online and outdoor options to keep you active and stimulated.

But if you’re itching to get back in the saddle and need a little encouragement, be confident that all facilities open right now have yours and your family’s health and safety at the top of their priority list.

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