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Family fitness? It’s all about finding the right activities

The UK has now been in lockdown for some time and while you may be keeping up with your own fitness routine, keeping your wider family and friendship group active can be difficult.

In order to make exercise part of everyone’s lockdown life, it’s important to choose age appropriate ideas that are fun and accessible. To help, here are a few suggestions of activities by specific age group.

Seniors

Tai Chi

This ancient Chinese martial art combines relaxation and deep breathing with careful flowing movements. It is ideal for seniors as research suggests it improves mobility, decreases stress and also supports a strong posture. Not much room is required meaning anyone can take part anywhere, but it is a lovely excuse to get outside for practise too.

As it is a low impact exercise, it doesn’t put excess strain on joints which makes it the perfect gentle form of fitness for the older generations. Why not send some Tai Chi moves to your older relations and challenge them to give it a go?

Gardening

Getting outside is a great idea if the weather is fine, as exposure to fresh air and a boost in vitamin D is great for all of us. But did you know that going out to do some gentle gardening is also a great form of exercise? In fact, one hour of gardening can burn between 200-400 calories.

Why not order some seeds for older friends or relatives as a gift? As well as showing them you are thinking of them, it also might end up giving their green fingers (and the rest of their body) a workout.

Daily walks

Now is a great time to discover the beauty that’s just beyond your front door. Why not dig out a map and help an older person you know to plan different routes around their neighbourhood? To add a new element of interest, you could even ask them to report back on what nature they spot along the way.

Walks are a great low impact activity and according to Age UK, just 15 minutes a day can help decrease our risk of type 2 diabetes, dementia and cancer while helping to keep bones strong and spirits lifted.

Virtual tours

For seniors shielding and not able to venture outdoors, another option may be to make use of many virtual tours of stately homes, gardens, parks and attractions that are currently being shown online. Walking on the spot while taking a virtual trip around a fascinating spot may be just the ticket for physical and mental stimulation.

Teens

Make it competitive

Many teens love a challenge, especially when it comes to challenging Mum and Dad, so why not use this to your advantage?

Maybe you love to run or lift weights, so challenge your teen to see if they can keep up. Then switch to one of their favourite exercises and see if you can give them a run for their money. You could even make it more interesting by introducing a forfeit for the loser – who knows, they could end up owing you washing-up!

Provide purpose

Some teens struggle to see the point of exercise, so by creating a purpose you can encourage them to move more.

Maybe they could take a walk to post a letter or earn some screen time or pocket money by cleaning windows or pulling up weeds. Once they start to see how much better they feel for moving a little each day, they may even catch the fitness bug themselves and offer to take on more jobs? OK, maybe not – but it’s worth a shot!

Retro gaming favourites

Although many modern games consoles encourage sedentary play, why not dig out some old classics to get your teens moving? Whether it’s Wii Fit or even a retro dance mat, some of these older games provide a bit of nostalgia that can get your teen joining in with fun for all the family.

Kids 

Make learning physical

By setting up a simple grid pattern in pavement chalk, you could create a life size board game for your little ones.

Quiz them on a chosen subject and for every right answer they can take a step forwards. Attribute certain moves to certain squares for example 10 jumping jacks or hopping on one leg for 30 seconds. Not only is this a fun way of learning, it keeps brains and bodies active at the same time. Win, win!

Tournament time

Kids love playing games, so why not root around the garden shed and devise an at-home Olympics for your kids? Even simple toys can make the basis for hours of fun. Who can do the most hula hoops in a row? Who can keep bouncing the ball for the longest time? Introduce small prizes along the way to keep everyone engaged and prepare for some tuckered out tots by the end of the day.

Work them into your work outs

One thing kids love is joining in with Mum and Dad so think creatively about how you can make this happen.

They may not be able to keep up with your cardio workout but could they join you on their bikes for your daily jog? Or perhaps they could boogie along to your Zumba practise? They may not know all the moves but they will love being part of your fitness routine. What a great way to lead by example too!

Not ever exercise suits ever body or ever age – what’s great for you might be too demanding or boring for others in your family. But there are so many solutions out there, especially with a bit of imagination. By looking at activity with the rest of your family in mind, you can ensure your whole household is making movement a bigger part of their lockdown life and having fun at the same time.

 

Missing the social aspects of the gym? Exercise in collaboration with these tips

 

It’s not just the endorphins that gym-goers are missing right now – the social side of exercise, the group classes and sense of community can’t be underestimated.

While we’re living through extremely strange circumstances that make socialising more difficult, with a bit of creativity you can bring exercise, fun and collaboration back together.

Get active with the family

In the normal run of life, we’re very often passing ships in our own homes. If there’s one positive to come out of self-isolation – building closer bonds with family could be it. How long have you been trying to reconnect with that teenager!?

  • Schedule sessions – get active, hold each other to account and use this time to encourage everybody in the home to form positive new routines. Exercising together is much more fun and it could be a great way to break down the barriers of normal life.
  • Make it fun – a rummage in the attic or that precariously over-filled cupboard will likely unearth some old rackets, bats, balls and equipment that could make exercise much more fun. Missing out on the gym specifically? Have a competition with the family to see who can find the strangest weight to lift. Embedding fun will definitely make exercise feel sociable.
  • Digital retox – if you don’t have equipment at home, or perhaps digital is more your thing, give that old Nintendo Wii a new lease of life. Games such as tennis, bowling and even ski jumping are fun, interactive and offer a fantastic way to bring some competition to light exercise at home with the family.

Log on for sociable exercise

At this time when we crave personal contact more than ever, why not exercise with the online community? Whether this is something you do to break the monotony, as a way to catch up with friends, or to feel more elementally human – online fitness has never offered up more opportunities.

  • Live virtual classes – yoga, pilates, Zumba, Salsa instructors and personal trainers everywhere are holding online group classes – and not just the famous ones. Why not weave sessions into your routine? And why not sign up with friends so you can be sure there’s another friendly face?
  • Keep your pastimes alive – many of us make friends over hobbies, so why not stay in touch by setting up a weekly video meet or a friendly competition – perhaps the first to complete a virtual cycle, rowing or running challenge. Think of this as the exercise equivalent of the virtual pub quiz.
  • Complete a video workout – often you just don’t know when time will free up – so keep the flexibility by watching online exercise videos and completing sessions in your own time. Some of our favourites from the Life Leisure archive include a full body workout ideal for people keen to push their fitness and this 30 minute home Pilates session.

Hopefully some of these ideas will help you maintain the inspiration, build your fitness and stay connected while you keep up the social distancing.

Work out to work better: healthy body, healthy mind, healthy productivity

We all know that exercise is important for physical and mental health, but did you know that regular work outs can actually improve your productivity and help you to work more efficiently?

While so many of us are working from home, it’s more important than ever before to make sure we’re getting enough physical activity. In fact, this could be the secret weapon you need to supercharge your working day.

The benefits underpinning healthy body, healthy mind

The physical benefits of regular exercise have been well documented, but many people are not aware of the myriad ways it can boost productivity and brain power.

  • Reducing stress and improving stress response – the current pandemic is causing increased anxiety for us all, but trying to manage work stresses on top of this can be particularly tough. Incorporating regular exercise into your daily quarantine routine, is an important tool for lowering stress levels and ensuring you are able to handle whatever work throws at you.
  • Improved memory and concentration – isolation can make us all feel like we’re not firing on all cylinders but getting moving can supercharge your brain to ensure you are getting the most out of your working periods.
  • Getting the creative juices flowing – physical exercise provides an important mental break. This can allow you to take a step back from the detail and come up with some fantastic out-of-the-box ideas when you return to your desk.
  • Mood boosting – getting those endorphins flowing can seriously improve your fire power at work, not to mention the day-to-day benefits of feeling great!
  • Building mental stamina – it’s not just physical stamina that is improved by regular exercise, you will be able to work more productively and for longer periods if you break your day up with well-timed work outs.

Turn that working week into a workout week

Juggling life in isolation with home working is certainly a challenge, but as a bonus you do have extra time. Here are a few ideas on how you can find the time to boost your daily exercise regime while working from home:

  • Cash in on the former commute – why not reallocate the time you used to spend commuting at the start and end of our day for regular exercise? It’s time you never had before so why not make the most of it!?
  • Diarise that exercise meeting – just as you would put a meeting into your diary, put some time for a workout into your diary and stick to it. The handy reminder will even serve to hold you to account.
  • Pump up your lunchtime – breaking up your day is important and lunch is a great time to get moving. Getting active at lunchtime can even help you beat the afternoon slump and maintain productivity throughout the day.
  • Get creative with home exercises – we’re all familiar with the office manager’s advice about doing leg exercises at our desks – but there’s far more exercise potential in our own homes. Perhaps you could set yourself a challenge – maybe to clean the kitchen in less than 15 minutes before your next call or meeting? Or could you sneak in some press-ups nobody will ever know about by turning the video off during an online meeting?
  • Fuel for brain and body – dietary choices also have a huge impact on our productivity, not to mention your energy levels for that next work out. Make sure you are providing your body with enough fruit and vegetables to keep your brain sharp and your head clear for a busy workday at home!

While we may all be limited to leaving the house only once a day for exercise at the moment – by making sure your workout regime is creative and less limited, you will provide a serious boost to your physical and mental health as well as your working day.

Keeping Fit at Home: Tips, Tricks & Traps…

So, unless you’ve been living under a rock since December 2019, you’ll know that we’re going through a pretty rough time of it at the moment and with gyms and leisure centres being closed across the country, it’s no wonder why people may be worried about how to stay active while under lockdown. Alternatively, boredom might be kicking in and you’ve decided now would be a good time to dip your toe into fitness.

Well, worry not folks, this is the blog for you! We’ve come up with some useful tips and tricks that will make your time in quarantine a little more interesting, a little healthier and even a little less stressful.

Tip 1 – A time and a place

It can be helpful to your productivity if you designate a specific time and place to carry out your exercise. This adds a little more structure to your day and is easier to plan other activities around.

Tip 2 – Mix it up!

Home exercise is often perceived as boring, but this is only the opinion of people that do the exact same workouts, with the exact same exercises, day in day out. Variety is the spice of life, and also of fitness! Aim to try something different each time you do a workout, there’s plenty of suggestions online, especially on our Facebook page and Youtube channel (check it out if you haven’t already!).

Tip 3 – Consistency is key!

If you’re completely new to exercise, as little as 1-2 workouts per week can give you significant improvements in strength and muscle tone, however if you’re more experienced, as many as 5 workouts per week may be more beneficial, but no more.

Tip 4 – Target the whole body!

This applies especially to beginners, as this will help you to master the technique of important compound movements required for improved fitness. Each of your workouts should involve one of the following:

  • An upper-body vertical pushing exercise (pushing above your head).
  • An upper-body horizontal pushing exercise (e.g. push-ups).
  • An upper-body pulling exercise (e.g. pull-ups).
  • A core-focused exercise, preferably involving trunk rotation.
  • A squat.
  • A lunge.
  • A hip-hinge (e.g. a glute bridge).

Tip 5 – Get friends and family involved!

If you find it easier to exercise alone then by all means do so, however exercising with your friends and/or family can make it so much more fun! Social media comes in very handy here, as you can use FaceTime, WhatsApp, Skype etc., to connect with your friends and work out together in isolation!

Tip 6 – Track your progress!

Beaten your personal best? Write it down, along with the date you beat in on. It becomes much easier to motivate and push yourself when you have your own personal records to beat!

Tip 7 – Stay hydrated

Arguably the most important tip here is keeping on top of your hydration levels. Several studies show that people should be drinking approximately 2 litres of water per day, moving up to 3 litres if you’re exercising that day. Keeping properly hydrated will help to increase your alertness and energy levels, two things very necessary to not just exercise but all your daily activities! Here’s an article about the topic if you’re interested in further reading here.

By following all these tips you’ll have all the tools you need to keep you fit at home during these trying times, or at the very least you’ll have something to do! It should be noted that if you display any symptoms of illness, no matter how mild, you should rest and follow NHS/Government guidelines until you’re back to 100%, and, until you’re back to 100%, exercise is not recommended.

Regardless of whether you’re ill or not, stay safe and stay at home, and we’ll see a fitter and healthier version of you on the other side!

No gear, no fear! How to make everyday items your home gym heroes

One of the things which has been put into real perspective recently is just how much we all tend to take for granted in daily life. The old adage ‘you don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone’ has new relevance.

Socialising with friends, gathering with family members, having the freedom to go out wherever, and whenever we want. These are, quite rightly, the things most of us are probably thinking of in this way. But while these may be the biggies on our respective ‘things I miss’ lists, the truth is we miss normality, and normality is actually made up of lots of little things. Which is why suddenly not having them can really throw us.

Take gym equipment as an example. In a Coronavirus reality, it seems such an insignificant thing. But if heading down the gym and using all the machines, weights, ropes, and resistance kit is your normality, then feeling a bit down about not having access to those things is perfectly normal.

It’s also something we can…to an extent…do something about. Because the truth is there are actually lots of ways that you can use things around the home to replicate kit in the gym. No, it’s not the same. But if it helps you feel just that little bit more ‘normal’, then I’d say it is worth a go!

With that in mind, here are my top tips for turning everyday items into home gym heroes!

Weight a minute…isn’t that a tin of beans

Ok, so most of you will have heard this one before but it doesn’t make it any less true. Using tins of beans, tomatoes, or any old cans of soup you have laying around, is a perfectly good swap for free weights. What’s more, as most tinned foods carry weight information, you can get an accurate idea of what you are lifting.

Depending on your hands, grip might be an issue. If so, another winner is putting empty plastic bottles to good use by filling them with rice – these can be much easier to keep hold of. Also worth keeping in mind are things like laundry detergent bottles, the built in handles are great for things like rows and curls.

Any kettle bell fans out there? Well, you might want to dig out your bags of flour or sugar. Not very healthy normally but when popped into a bag for life…tote bags work particularly well…they can provide a good kettlebell alternative for lifts and swings. Just be careful you don’t swing to high or things might get messy.

Missing TRX? Then throw in the towel

No, I don’t mean give up. I literally mean use a towel. Two actually. Bear with me. So firstly, you need to find yourself a smooth surface…maybe a tiled bathroom or laminate flooring area. Assume a basic plank position (forearms on floor) but pop two small towels under each foot.

For one exercise, very slowly move your legs apart and then gently back together, keeping your feet on the towels at all times. Nope, it isn’t TRX but I promise your core and legs will feel like it is!

Another option is to assume a full plank position (arms straight) with our feet on the towels (or one larger one for this). Gradually try and pull your bottom up and legs towards you as if doing a pike on the TRX ropes, then return your legs slowly to the starting position and repeat. Again, while not exactly the real thing you will certainly recognise the muscle workout! Fluffy socks can work just as well if you don’t want to get your towels dirty.

Of course, if you happen to have some spare rope hanging around the garage and an obliging tree in the garden or sturdy structure, you can also create your own TRX for movements such as rows or squat jumps. Just make sure whatever you have it tied to is good and strong and that the rope is tightly tied.

A swap you won’t be able to resist…without a bit of muscle

One of the simplest pieces of gym kit, but not necessarily something we all have at home, are resistance bands. Supporting good stretching, arm and leg workouts, the idea is simple…pulling against a resistant force makes the body work harder.

Actually, a towel can work here too – especially for example if lifted overhead, using your arms to pull either side outwards. Same behind the lower back. But another excellent resistance band substitute is a dressing gown tie. Simple but effective and easy (yet gentle) to tie around a leg/arm to provide that force to pull against.

For greater stretchiness, tights are also worth considering. Gentlemen, please ask your other halves first!

Backpacks…the new sandbag

If using a sandbag at the gym – to make squats, lunges etc. harder – is something you miss, look no further than your old backpack. It’s perfect for the job. Simply fill it with clothing or anything to give it the desired bulk, and then weigh it on your bathroom scales so you know exactly what you are dealing with.

Pop it on and complete reps of whatever your preferred exercise may be, perhaps building up gradually, for example if you start off doing squats wearing it, gradually build up to squat jumps or alternatively – keep the exercise the same but increase the weight/number of reps.

Sled push? Keep it clean!

Pushing/pulling a gym ‘sled’ is a pretty popular exercise in our facilities and for good reason – it blends cardio and full body strength training for a really great all-round workout. But how can this be replicated at home?

The humble hoover might provide the answer. Popping additional clothing on top of your vacuum to give it a bit of extra weight and then pushing it around your living room will give you a pretty good sled-style workout. For the pull, tie one end of a rope around the body of a backpack to loop over your shoulders and the other end around the vacuum. Don’t be tempted to pull by the hose…your vacuum cleaner will not thank you for it.

Back to basics…your own body

So as you can see, there are plenty of items you can find around the home that can double up as your favourite piece of gym kit, all of which can help you feel (sorry, no pun intended) ‘at home’ with your new workout regime.

But in all this, don’t forget the absolute best piece of kit at your disposal is your own body. Using your own body weight to squat, jump, stretch, lift and hold is incredibly powerful…whether that’s as part of a cardio workout, Pilates style session or a rep-based strength routine.

Whatever your preference, for more tips on how to put your body to good use, check out our home workout videos right here.

Why Maintaining a Routine is Important…

The month of April is announcing its presence with sunnier skies and daffodils in the shops, but there’s something different about the ringing in of the new month this year. As Government Guidelines have been put into place, we’ve seen a dramatic change in our day to day lives.

At the moment, there’s no certain end in sight to the new measures that we are taking, and with most of us working from home, it can be hard to keep your motivation up. It can be easy to procrastinate our tasks – especially when juggling a busy family life!

How can we get our motivation back?

The disruption we have all had in our daily routines could be a big factor behind where our motivation is going. The term “self-care” is thrown around a lot in our day and age, but it’s more than just bubble baths and a face mask; self-care is about looking after yourself and keeping yourself healthy. One way to do this is by keeping a regular routine which can help give your mind some stability during uncertain times, therefore helping to lower anxiety and stress levels. A typical example might be: wake up at the same time, have breakfast, work from home, have lunch, finish your workday, exercise, have dinner and then spend some time doing something you love before going to bed at a reasonable time.

How can I set myself a routine?

Have you ever noticed how the days when you feel chaotic and disorganised tend to be the ones where you feel the most stressed? By having a set list of things you intend to get done each day, and following your routine, your stress levels (which are already elevated during this time of uncertainty) can be brought back down.

Keep it simple

Starting a new routine can be as simple as picking a wake-up time and a bed time. If we don’t get an adequate amount of sleep, our brains find it difficult to function and get what we need to do done. While the brain only needs 6 hours of sleep to function efficiently, it’s best to give it a full 8 hours to ensure that proper brain function is maintained.

What if I am still working from home?

If you’re working from home, why not wake up at a set time each day, but switch out the time you’d normally spend commuting to work for an energising morning workout instead? This would set you up for the day. After work, treat your day as you normally would when you get home from work; have dinner, spend time with the people in your household, and then go to bed at a reasonable time.

Having a good routine can even have benefits once everything does go back to normal, which it will. Setting a routine now, where you can incorporate eating healthier foods more regularly and exercising, can help to ensure you include these key building blocks to a healthier lifestyle once the gyms reopen.

There’s all kinds of blog posts out there right now about how important it is to be exercising and to get yourself outside in the fresh air (adhering to the government measures), but when you’re lacking in motivation, it can be very easy to do the exact opposite. Sometimes all you need to do is put some routine in your life. Start small, get bigger and watch your mood transform.

Lower Back Pain – But What Is The Cause?

Per the World Health Organisation , approximately 70% of us will experience lower back pain at some point in our lives. That’s a lot of bad backs! But here’s the million-dollar question: Is it really your lower back causing you pain or is there something else at play?

Surprisingly, many cases of lower back pain can be made worse simply through feeling more stressed/run-down than usual. You can reduce your pain levels by doing things that help you unwind!

Okay, so we’re off to a good start, but what else could be causing your lower back pain? How about your posture?

CHECK YOUR POSTURE

An easy way to check your lower back posture is by having a look at how the waistline of your pants sits on your waist. Is it flat? Or does it tilt forwards? If your waistline tilts forwards, you may have what’s known as a “baboon posture”, which refers to the forwards tilting of your pelvis, which can lead to the natural curve (lordosis) of your lower back becoming exaggerated and putting pressure on the structures in your lower back.

Your Posture
Your Posture

Here’s what you should look out for:
• Waistband of pants tilts downwards.
• Stomach and rear stick out.
• Muscle tightness in hip flexors (front of thighs) and erector spinae (lower back muscles).
• Muscle weakness in the hamstrings (back of thigh) and abdominal region.

 

 

What can you do about it?

1) Build postural awareness – Feel like your belly/bum is sticking out? Tuck them in by lightly contracting your core (think about the feeling of holding a wee in, trust me it works!) and glutes! These cues should help to keep your waistline nice and horizontal.

2)Stretching – in particular your hip flexors and erector spinae (see right). This will loosen up the muscles that are pulling your pelvis into a forwards tilting position.

Lunging Stretch

3) Exercises – strengthening your abdominals, glutes and hamstrings will all help to pull your pelvis back into a neutral position, especially if you do this alongside the stretches. Have a go at the glute bridge (which gives you a 3-in-1 as it strengthens all 3 of the target muscles at the same time) below!

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Wellness When Isolated: looking after your mental health when you are socially distant

This blog is both easy for me to write and difficult at the same time. Easy, due to the fact I am speaking about a topic area I am very familiar with. Difficult however, for the same reason. This is arguably the most important blog I will write in this series, the one that means the most to me and the one I am hoping people take the most from.

In the coming days, weeks and possibly even months we are going to face changes, we are going to face uncertainty and we are going to face challenges. Whatever we face I want everyone to remember and embody the most important word you can utter during this time…Positivity!

Be positive in everything you do, take victories wherever you can and please do not let what is happening in the world get you down.

Routine

It is very easy when working from home and home schooling the kids to fall into the trap of not even getting out of your pyjamas daily. Although this can be “fun” at first, it can soon spiral into a negative behaviour pattern, especially for the young and the elderly who thrive on routine and structure. Getting up every day, showering and getting into clean clothes exerts an element of control that psychologists say is incredibly important to positive mental health.

Women holding babyYou are in control of this day, you make the decisions of how it is going to play out and getting up and ready will put you in a positive mind set from the off.
At the same time, try not to be too rigid, acknowledge the fact you are working from home and you may have to entertain one, two, or a few little ones who don’t really understand why mummy or daddy can’t play with them all the time! Take regular breaks, go out into the garden, take a few deep breaths through your nose, kick a ball, dance, sing, have fun. Then when you are back in a good mind set, have another crack at those timesheets.

Social Media

Aside from LinkedIn (which I use for professional reasons) I do not use social media, which is a decision I made after a period of severe depression and honestly I do not miss it. I do however understand that people use it & overindulge use at times. In my experience this only heightens anxiety as the world can be a negative place and unfortunately negativity spreads quicker than positivity at times. Not only that, it is very easy to fall into a “social media hole”! You know what I mean…one minute you are checking the news, the next you are watching a video of a goat in a tree and you have no idea where the time has gone. social media

Well that lost time is time that you could and probably should have spent being productive and now you are chasing your tail feeling stressed and anxious as a result.

Try restricting your social media “checks” to a few times a day or even go a whole day without looking at your phone. I understand some jobs require social media engagement and is unavoidable at times but being “present” at home, with your family, is crucial to a positive mind set. That new Tik Tok video can wait!

Recognise Your Own Needs

Personally, I like being on my own. I am an introvert by nature and I feel quite comfortable in my own company (maybe that’s why I enjoy blogging!). Now however, I find myself suddenly at home with my partner and my four-year-old in a three-bedroom house- there’s not that many places I can be on my own. My partner is the same.

Family

My daughter however, is completely extroverted, loves to sing and dance and demands attention constantly (like most small children I suppose). Communication in this situation is key before anxieties and stress occur as this can quickly turn to depression and negative feelings. Talk to your loved ones and tell them how you are feeling and what you need to feel good in yourself. If you are a natural extrovert and crave the attention of others then regular phone and video calls,  with other family members, group chats and Facebook groups (just mind the amount of time you spend in them) could be a good solution for you.

At the end of the day, these are unprecedented times, but we are all in this together and to reiterate what I said at the start of this blog, stay positive! We will get through this and we will come back stronger but you must look after yourself. Look after your mental health, talk to someone. I will put my personal email address at the bottom of this blog for anyone feeling alone, please reach out, I can signpost you to help or answer any questions you may have.

Below are some great websites for people feeling anxious or wish for more information.

Look after one another, be kind and remember, even though you are isolated, you are not alone!

Mind.org.uk 

Samaritans.org

Campaign To End Loneliness 

Adam Heywood, BA (hons), MSC
Performance coach
ACH Perform
ACHperform@gmail.com

Pump Up The Jams!

If you’ve ever seen the film Rocky then its famous “Eye Of The Tiger” theme tune will no doubt be whizzing around your head at its mere mention!

And whats-more, if you can sing it out loud, you’ll most likely find your feet and body will move along too. That’s because music is one of our biggest weapons when it comes to energising our bodies and motivating us to get moving!

With that in mind, I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to talk about how you can use music to motivate you and your family to get moving more, give your bodies an energy boost before you’ve even started, and keep going!

And the beat goes on…

Besides entertaining you during your workout, the most obvious advantage of music is that it provides you with a regular tempo to match with your stride or pace. It’s no surprise that runners have a favourite playlist, or that aerobics and spinning instructors tend to play a variety of upbeat tunes throughout classes. It’s human nature- we just can’t help but fall into step with the rhythm of the music, so choosing songs with a fast tempo will not only help you keep momentum, but it will encourage you to keep going when your body begins to slow.

Of course, it isn’t just runners and cyclists who can benefit from the beat, walkers can use music to increase momentum or maintain a good pace too – particularly when battling a hill!

Time warp

Thinking about the song’s length is also a good way of using the music to your advantage. If you are trying to increase your stamina, instead of aiming to run towards a physical target, try to keep running until the end of the song, or set a challenge to run for the length of three songs. The advantage of this is that you’re unlikely to know the exact length of each song, so you could unwittingly be running further and further each time!

Another tip for choosing the perfect playlist is to schedule your most motivational songs towards the end of your workout – giving you that extra energy boost just when you need it! But, don’t end on a high tempo beat you might struggle to keep pace with.

Watch us wreck the mic, psyche

There’s a reason why boxers choose a specific song to play as they head to the ring, or why athletes wear headphones before a big competition – it helps them to prepare psychologically.

As with the Rocky music, songs which you find uplifting will help you prepare mentally before taking on a challenge- and that goes for any form of exercise!

Struggling?

Are you struggling to motivate yourself to walk to the shop instead of drive? Can’t tear the kids away from their screens to get outside? Try blasting some empowering music – you may find you will all have more energy to burn.

Playing a song that you all enjoy will lift everyone’s spirits – it may only last three minutes, but it’s three valuable minutes you can spend together as a family.

Lose yourself

There is an argument that having your favourite song on during an activity or workout will delay fatigue as it distracts you from any discomfort. This is especially useful for those who limit themselves by their own self-doubt. If you haven’t exercised in a while and dread the idea of going for jog or bike ride, choose a song that you love and give it a go! You may find your performance is much better than expected- and if it’s not, just try again tomorrow – keep going until you can manage the distance of your first song!

Ooh I wanna dance with somebody

Of course, the most natural way to exercise to music is to dance. Remember, exercise doesn’t have to be an organised sport or specific workout activity – anything that gets your heart pounding and warms you up counts.

Dancing is a great way to exercise with the whole family, and even better – you can do it anywhere! So dance around the kitchen before dinner, put on your favourite song at breakfast or dance around a campfire – whatever works for you and yours.

If the kids need a little more encouragement give them the choice of music. Don’t worry if they choose music that’s hard to dance to or a little slow, instead challenge yourselves to hop up and down until the end of the song, or keep a balloon in the air until the music stops.

To remain fit and healthy, adults should be active for around 30 minutes a day – kids for an hour – so coming up with a family friendly playlist of around eight songs is an easy way to fit in activity without much planning! With all the music technology available to us today – we can listen to music anywhere, anytime. So, next time you’re lacking motivation, pump up the volume and absorb the music – you may just need to find the right beat!

How to keep on top of your weight management when working from home

OK, so there is no getting away from it now, gyms & leisure centres are shut, and there’s no doubt activity levels will waiver as a result.

If you currently exercise regularly,such as taking part in several spin classes a week or joining a BLT class here or there then this advice may be of use to you. The same goes for the people sat at home thinking ‘I need to lose weight’, but now have no access to a gym. Well fear not, I am going to let you into a little secret…. It doesn’t really matter!

Gym closures are not the worst thing for your waistline & neither is working from home or even the dreaded “lockdown” word that we’ve all been hearing recently. What is the worst thing for your waistline? Excess or surplus calories! If you have never calorie counted before or really have no idea how many calories your body needs to maintain its current form then do not worry, I have got your back!

Below is a simple calorie calculator and a more in-depth calorie calculator that will enable you to see exactly how many calories (I know, I have said that word a lot) your body needs. If weight loss is your goal simply remove some from your maintenance total, if you are happy with your current form do not remove any and if you wish to add some size then add some. It is that simple, in theory.

 

BASIC – https://www.calculator.net/calorie-calculator.html

ADVANCED – https://www.iifym.com/iifym-calculator/

 

The reason I say in theory is that there is going to be a lot of enticements whilst at home. especially if you have been shopping recently and are one of these people that could open a small Italian restaurant with the amount of pasta you have bought! If this sounds like you, then you may be tempted to indulge just a tad. Especially when the cupboards are right there, and you could whip up a cheeky lunch time spag bol with lashings of cheese and garlic bread at the same time as you are finishing your invoices.

The same goes for snacks, chocolate, crisps, brews, they are all right there. It is my hope that once you are aware of your maintenance calorie number and how to track it then the temptation voice will be out reasoned by the self-control voice. You can still have the spag bol by the way, but you will simply be aware of how many calories you “have left” for the day after eating it. Lets face it, that boring sandwich or low calorie meal deal you used to eat at your desk every day is probably now unavailable and since the fridge is there you could end up eating many more calories than you ever have done, without even realising it!

 

Weight Maintenance

 

 

Calorie Defecit
Calorie Deficit
Calorie Surplus
Calorie Surplus

 

 

 

 

 

Tracking these calories has been made extremely simple by the advancements in technology! My advice is to use a counting app such as My Fitness Pal (available on android and IOS) as an added Brucey bonus, this app will calculate your calories for you based on your goal! If you would like to do it the “old fashioned way” then the NHS has a handy calorie checker along with some great advice.

Failing that, I am positive there are more apps available that do the same job, however the common variable to all of this is will power! Remember, this will pass. This period of isolation, uncertainty, fear and possible inactivity will leave us, please do not undo all your hard work becoming active and healthy by allowing this to beat you. Look after yourselves and when we come out of the other side of this, we will all be healthy and ready to smash the gym again! The same goes for the people who are yet to make the choice of becoming active and looking after your nutrition, use this period to get ahead of things and go back to work looking and feeling amazing.

Stay positive people, be kind to one another and look after your health  😊

Adam Heywood, MSc, BA (hons)

Strength and Conditioning Coach
ACH Performance Coaching

 

 

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