Items on fitness, exercise and ways to improve your wellbeing.
Disclaimer: always consult your doctor or medical practitioner before starting any form of exercise, especially if you have health issues.
Mistakes we can make when exercising in the summer
1. Not drinking until you're thirsty - Don't wait until you're thirsty to drink. During the summer we sweat a lot more and so lose fluids much more quickly.
2. Don't forget the suncream. Even if it looks cloudy out there we need to slap on a sweat proof SPF 30.
3. Check the temperature as it climbs up without you noticing earlier than any other time of the year. Best time to exercise is before 10 and after 4pm.
4. Wear the proper clothing. Polyester blends are not the best things to wear especially as the weather heats up. Cotton fitness outfits are much more beneficial.
5. Although it's great to run with your dog it is not the best thing to do in hot weather. With all that fur, dogs can really feel the heat, so leave them at home.
6. Lastly, don't overdo it. Don't ignore exhaustion. Listen to your body and know when to stop once you've had enough.
Snail Mail - Why It's So Good For Your Wellbeing
It's such a shame we've lost the art of letter writing to loved ones. By taking pen to paper it has been proven to reduce stress, simplify your life and literally calm you down. Many people today do keep a hand written journal and experts agree that to put your feelings down onto paper really does help your mental health. So, why not think about doing it but as a letter. The joy it brings to someone to actually hold a piece of paper with your heart felt words on it gives a real boost to anyone who receives it. Plus, it is a physical thing rather than something that will disappear into cyber space, never to be seen again.
If it is really special, such as a love letter, it can be kept in a secret box ready to be read over and over again for many years to come and for your ancestors to find. What could be more wonderful than that?
Send a hand written letter to a friend or family member, or just someone you really appreciate.People still love receiving letters via Snail mail. Take time, make tea, take a pen, sit somewhere beautiful and write from the heart.
You’ll make someone’s day.
Spring Clean and Get Lean
This week it’s all about new beginnings, sweeping away winter and getting ready for brighter days, so what better way to do that than a good old spring clean.
So don your marigolds and get scrubbing because according to a recent study, a person weighing around 10 stone can burn up to 200 calories PER HOUR just by doing household chores. See below for the various tasks and how many calories you can burn.
- Sweeping x 10 minutes = 37 calories
- Vacuuming x 10 minutes = 37 calories
- Ironing x 20 minutes = 50 calories
- Mopping x 20 minutes = 42 calories
- Making beds x 10 minutes = 23 calories
- Washing dishes x 10minutes = 26 calories
- Picking up the laundry - 5 minutes = 26 calories
Total time: 1hr 10 minutes = 215 calories
Now let’s go through each chore and see what muscles we use whilst doing it.
SWEEPING AND MOPPING - Great for toning arms, shoulders and upper back.
VACUUMING - Works the abdominal muscles, try and keep tummy held in.
IRONING - Good for arm toning, shoulders and upper back.
MAKING BEDS - Stretches your back and works the legs as you squat to tuck bedding in
WASHING DISHES - Do calf raises when washing up
LAUNDRY - Squats - always bend your knees before lifting any heavy up from the floor
So, if you are fancy getting fit, losing a few pounds and having a lovely clean house, GET SCRUBBING.
Could You Be a WWOOFER?
Have you heard of WWOOF - WORLD WIDE OPPORTUNITIES ON ORGANIC FARMS
WorldWide Opportunities on Organic Farms, UK (WWOOF™ UK) is part of a worldwide movement linking visitors with organic farmers, promote a cultural and educational exchange, and build a global community conscious of ecological farming and sustainability practices.
WWOOF’s goal is to provide individuals from all around the world the opportunity to:
gain practical skills in organic farming and gardening
- experience rural living while sharing in the everyday life of your host
- further the organic and sustainability movement
- participate in a cultural exchange
It was started in the early 1970s in the UK, by a woman named Sue Coppard who began the first WWOOF group. She states:
“When I first dreamed up WWOOF, back in 1971, I hadn't the remotest notion it would one day become a thriving, worldwide network with members from so many countries criss-crossing the globe! But WWOOF answers the needs of so many people it had to happen; contact with nature is the psychological equivalent of vitamin C. I feel that WWOOF chose me as its channel - a London secretary with no rural friends or family but pining for the countryside as I watched the autumn leaves blowing along the pavement.”
When you volunteer as a WWOOFer, you live with a host family who can teach you about sustainable farming techniques. You get first hand experience and no money is ever exchanged. You get all your food and accommodation provided in exchange for around 4 hours work per day. It’s a great way to gain gardening and farming skills, share food, gather round a camp fire, meet new people and learn from their different ideas and be part of an organic agricultural movement.
There is a host directory giving you names and various areas that are available to go and stay. All information about the hosts and what you would be required to do is there for you to peruse and decide if it’s right for you.
WWOOFing as it states, gives people a world wide opportunity to go literally anywhere in the world as they have a growing list of over 130 different countries. If you have a vested interest in all things organic, love meeting new people, learning new skills, visiting new places and are prepared to put in a few hours each day, then this might be something to consider. It’s sort of a free holiday in some of the most beautiful places in the world and you are giving something back whilst receiving a back to nature experience.
For more information visit https://wwoof.org.uk/about/what-wwoof
Exercising Away The Pain
For the past 2 months I have been exercising every morning for just half an hour. The reason I started doing this was brought about by
a) seeing myself on a video, dancing in the kitchen with my daughter and being horrified at the size of my belly
b) constantly feeling bloated, sluggish and downright out of shape.
Over the many lockdowns we have all endured and not being able to do my normal job, I feel I have let myself go a bit. I don’t necessarily mean lacking motivation in other areas of my life, I mean fitness wise.
When you don’t have a daily schedule or job to go to, it becomes very easy to sit in bed in the morning with a cup of tea and scroll endlessly through Facebook or Instagram or to read a good book and suddenly it’s 10.30am and you are still in your jim jams.
So why did I change my routine? What inspired me to get off my arse and into my trainers.
Grace. My youngest daughter Grace.
I came downstairs one morning feeling uninspired and lacking motivation to find her jumping around in the lounge to a Youtube video. After asking her what she was doing, she told me she needed to find a way to get fit again. She herself was feeling the same as me, tired, lacking drive, unmotivated and generally unfit. So, I decided to exercise with her and basically have not stopped.
I exercise 6 days a week and have Sunday’s off. I have also cut down on carbs, sugar and only drink alcohol at weekends.
The morning ritual if you will, goes like this.
10 minutes of Yoga
10 minutes Cardio
10 minutes Abs
and sometimes bum and arms (if I’m on a role.)
Within 30 minutes, I am done, set up for the day, in the shower ready, dressed and wham bam. I feel so much better.
And that’s it, that’s all I do and what a difference it has made. By following various Youtube videos that are designed for just 10 minutes at a time I have lost almost one stone in two months. The benefits are enormous. I have more energy during the day, I no longer fall asleep in front of the TV in the evenings, I am more alert and I have more of a sense of wellbeing.
By exercising in the morning it gives me an excuse to get up and get on with my life. Although I still can’t go back to my normal job yet, there is no reason for me to lose hope. Just by moving our bodies in whatever way suits us, makes us feel much more purposeful, more alive and more able to get through whatever we are going through.
Grace is moving out this coming week and although I am so excited for her starting a new life with her boyfriend, I am feeling very sad as she is the baby of the family and the last to leave home. I haven’t seem my darling son for over a year as he works in Hong Kong and has not been able to get back due to Covid. My other daughter lives in Norwich and she is also moving house in April. I miss them all so much. It seems that everything is changing very quickly. I know it’s perfectly normal for children to leave home and that our job as parents is to prepare them to fly the nest but it doesn’t make it any easier. As a 50 something woman, with an elderly mother, a husband with health issues and soon to be no children living at home, I am feeling quite lost and slightly anxious. I will be writing about this in the coming weeks. Exercise helps, exercise calms my mind, exercise gives me strength, boosts endorphins, those happy hormones which in turn, help with what you, or I am going through at any one time.
If you are struggling with life at the moment, for whatever reason, why not don your sweats and get moving, it might just help. Take care.
Have You Heard the One About...?
Let's Talk About Laughter Therapy
Did you know, your body can’t distinguish between real and fake laughter? Neither did I, but a good giggle is sometimes all we need to help our body relax and release endorphins (natural painkillers) into the blood stream. Laughter doesn’t always come easily to everyone but by faking it you still get the same effect.
Research suggests that when people laugh, the stress hormone, cortisol, is reduced quite dramatically and the level of immune cells that attack viruses and tumour cells is increased. It works your cardiovascular system and boosts your oxygen levels in the blood.
There are so many different types of laugh. Which one is yours?
A little giggle
A big belly laugh
A light chuckle
A snorting laugh
Go on, try it and see what comes out. You’ll probably laugh just thinking about it and that’s great. The strange thing is even if you have to start off by faking it, it soon turns into a real laugh, isn’t that great.
My late mother-in-law always said - ‘Never lose the ability to laugh’ and that’s so true.
Laughter therapy was first introduced in the 1970’s by Dr Madan Kataria - who developed laughter yoga in Mumbai. Today it is practised within the healthcare professions or within the workplace. As a music therapist, I have been using it amongst by elderly clients when I visit care homes with my classes (before the pandemic). I was told by their carers after the session, the residents were much more responsive, alert, less anxious and showed a much happier and content demeanour. You get so much joy from making others laugh, laughing together or even laughing to yourself can be a great stress buster. Here’s a fact: Children laugh up to 400 times a day, whereas adults manage a miserable 15. Remember:
Laughter releases endorphins, giving us the ‘feel good factor’
Acts as aerobic exercise and is like ‘internal jogging’
Unleashes inhibitions, breaks down barriers
Great team building tool encourages better communication
Helps boost our immune system which helps us resist disease
Tones muscles, improves respiration and circulation
Encourages positive thinking and creativity
Relaxes the whole body by reducing stress and tension
When we are back to normal I will be running Laughter Therapy sessions in my local area. I will also be offering my services to companies and workplaces encouraging cohesive working relationships, team building and better mental health for all. If you are interested in signing up for a workshop or would like me to visit your place of work then please email me for further details and dates at :email@example.com
During the current lockdown the only thing that is keeping a lot of us sane is walking. Walking once a day, swapping our four walls for open spaces and a change of scenery not only helps our physical health but probably and more importantly at the moment, our mental wellbeing. During these torrid and testing times we deserve a treat and walking is definitely one of them. It varies on where you live as to what type of walk you can have and where you can go but as long as we can get outside in the fresh air, we know it is going to do us the world of good. According to new research, walking after your main meal provides the biggest health boost. Walking for 20 minutes after an evening meal can decrease the "post-meal blood-glucose spike", as well as improve all manner of markers for cardiometabolic disease. Simply put, taking a post-meal stroll can improve digestion, heart health, blood sugar management, and regulate blood pressure. Obviously with the darker evenings at the moment this is not always possible and people don’t particularly want to walk about in the cold winter months. This said, a recent study suggests that walking in a forest, wood or even along city canals during the daylight hours is a “natural wellbeing therapy that utilises the healing power of nature”
David Read, Forest Therapy Guide at Forest Holidays said "Just being in a forest can help to reduce anxiety and boost the immune system, but forest bathing goes even further to become an immersive experience that can have far-reaching benefits."
Forest bathing as it is known, encourages us to leave our phones and cameras behind. To walk slowly and aimlessly letting your body guide you to wherever it wants to take you. Follow your nose. Take time to look around you. Savour the sounds, smells and sights and let the forest in. Connect on a deeper level. If it’s not too wet, take a blanket (waterproof), lie down on it and gaze upwards at the trees. Breathe deeper than usual and you will begin to feel calmer. You are not going anywhere, you don’t have to be anywhere, you don’t have to get anywhere. Walk further, take a pair of binoculars and really immerse yourself in your surroundings. Look at the birds and take note of their appearance. Savour the stillness. Go back to your childhood when you perhaps thought of fairies living in the woods. If you have children with you, make up stories of the different characters who live in the forest. (Remember Enid Blyton’s Faraway Tree stories). Allow yourself time, space and the freedom to explore. You will be surprised at how good, just being in this environment, away from it all, can boost your spirit and also your immune system.
Bounce Yourself to Fitness
Who would have thought it?
According to NASA, they say bouncing is “the most efficient and effective exercise yet devised by man”. Studies by their scientists show that bouncing around on a mini trampoline is 68% more effective than jogging and yet requires less effort! You can also develop both upper and lower body strength just as effectively as weight lifting without the strain or threat of pulled or torn muscles.
Now this is something that really appeals to me as I have fairly weak knees due to years of dancing, (especially tap dancing) so something that can burn fat and tone your body without damaging your knees sounds amazing.
The actual name for this type of exercise is Rebounding. Rebounding may help your body flush out toxins, bacteria, dead cells, and other waste products. It may help improve balance, coordination, and overall motor skills. It supports bone density, bone strength, and bone formation, while decreasing bone resorption , so it may be a good option if you have osteoporosis. It works by putting small amounts of pressure on the bones, which then helps them grow stronger. The other advantage of this form of exercise is that
it helps to support your pelvic floor. According to anecdotal reports, bouncing works the muscles of the deep core that help prevent urinary incontinence and stabilises hip joints.
I was introduced to this by my friend Charity. She bought herself a little trampoline with a handle to hold on to and she has been following a programme called Boogie Bounce.
These trampolines can be bought for use in your home and vary in price from around £45 to over £400. The ideal trampoline should have sturdy, stable legs with a circumference of around 36 to 48 inches. It should be able to hold an adults weight of a minimum 220 to 250 pounds. (Larger trampolines can support more weight)
Another feature to think about is one with quiet performance, meaning the springs don’t make too much noise when you bounce.
Short of space? There are many foldable models that you can easily stow away and they also suggest you buy one with a handlebar especially if you are a beginner.
I was introduced to this by my friend Charity. She bought herself a little trampoline with a handle to hold on to and she has been following a programme called Boogie Bounce. She thoroughly recommends it and encourages others to have a go. Click here to see how much fun it can be:
If you’ve just watched that video, you can see how much fun it looks and made me really want to have a go. The exercises they do include” HiiT, toning, cardio, core stability and much more. I think overall, it would be much more fun in a class but alas, as we all know, at this moment in time that is not possible. Don’t let this put you off though as you can easily follow instructors on Youtube and bounce away to your hearts content. Here’s a beginners video to watch as an introduction to rebounding and this next one is more advanced.
As for where to buy your mini trampolines see below for retailers:
Argos: Good value but no handle
Amazon: Very good value with extras
Boogie Bounce: This offer is from the Boogie Bounce website Only £129.00 + FREE DELIVERY + SOCKS If you use Code BB10 you get 10% off plus free delivery!
LIFE IS BETTER WHEN YOU’RE DANCING
This week it’s all about you. It’s about moving your body the way you prefer, whether it’s dancing, walking, running or another way. So, I’m treating you all to a playlist I’ve made on Spotify. It’s full of feel good music to help us forget what’s going on in the world just now, to be grateful we are all still here and to give hope for the future. If you don’t have Spotify you can either download on iTunes, ask your Alexa to play them or check them out on YouTube. Either way I hope you get to move your bodies in whatever way you want to these banging tunes.
Turn um’ up loud people.
2021: It's time to Park
Now that most of us are almost all locked down AGAIN and the new year is upon us, I have found this amazing FREE TO JOIN website offering hundreds of fitness classes for all ages and abilities, called Ourparks!
Founded in 2014 by fitness coach Born Barikor to harness the legacy of the London Olympics, with the purpose of ensuring that easy, barrier free access to quality exercise is available to everyone, uniting our communities. In 2014 he founded Our Parks Ltd to deliver free, group exercise in parks and outdoor spaces. Our Parks is a unique initiative bringing free, group exercise classes, led by fully qualified instructors, to parks near you in partnership with local authorities. It is Born and his team's aim to ensure that easy access to exercise is available for all in the local community. By partnering with Local Authorities, Our Parks’ aspiration is to create a fitter community through the utilisation of facilities at local parks through a council funded initiative. Our Parks allows Boroughs to provide coached, exercise classes, free of charge for the community within a green surrounding and in 2020, now has over 150,000 Parkers (users).
We aim to ensure that easy access to exercise is available to you and your local community and Our Parks utilises a bespoke technology to enable residents to book and register on classes and communicate with other park users to provide a fitter and socially active community.
We aim to improve the health and wellbeing of our local communities.
We aim to maximise the usage and benefits of amazing parks and open spaces that are present across all our communities.
We aim to maximise the interaction of our communities across our website and mobile phone applications platforms.
The classes offered include everything from Yoga to Pilates, HIIT to Bootcamp, Stretch to Legs bums and tums and loads more!
All you have to do is sign up for free, choose when and what type of exercise you want to take part in and at what level.
All videos are FREE forever and once you join for free and login the videos will be unlocked.
Please note you must be logged in to unlock videos:
3 quick steps:
1. Join for free via this link: https://ourparks.org.uk/user/join
2. You will receive an email to the email address you used to sign up to set your password.
3. Now login with your email and new password to access all videos in the below programmes.
Couch to Fitness: https://ourparks.org.uk/couch-to-fitness
Couch to Bhangra: https://ourparks.org.uk/couch-to-bhangra
Couch to Family Fit: https://ourparks.org.uk/couch-to-family-fit
OUR PARKS HAS BEEN CREATED TO MAKE IT EASY AND FREE FOR YOU TO GET FIT.
Our Parks classes are delivered by fully qualified and registered coaches
Classes are for all ability levels and ages, please view the below colour grading and class descriptions to choose the right classes for you
Classes last 1hour in duration
You must be aged 16 or over to attend a class without an adult
Children aged 3 and over are welcome to attend classes, one child per adult
If you are under 16 but wanting to attend un-accompanied, you must have your legal guardian's permission
Please view Top Tips at the bottom of this page to ensure you are fully prepared to maximise your Our Parks classes
Play the Postman
A short one this week.
PLAY THE POSTMAN
If you want a workout before the Christmas celebrations begin, why not ‘play the postman’ and deliver any local cards or gifts to friends, neighbours or family members on foot. Or you could dress up and hop on your bike and cycle the route. You could even take bunches of flowers or mince pies round to their houses. If you have a trolley you could push or pull that which will work your arm and ab muscles at the same time.
If you don’t fancy that then make sure you get a walk at some point during the celebrations. Fresh air is the cure for so many things, especially now as it has been proven that
the virus does not spread as much out in the open.
Whatever you do, enjoy yourselves and I’ll be back next year with some new and exciting ways to make sure we have a healthy 2021.
COUCH TO 5K
Only a small post today regarding COUCH TO 5K. I took upon this challenge a year ago and have recently decided I needed to go it again. Having been at home for most of this year due to not working and losing my two jobs, I feel I have, shall we say, ‘put on a little weight around the mid section’. In other words, I feel fat!
Anyway, I’ve took the plunge AGAIN, donned my trainers, invested in a pair of Sweaty Betty leggings https://www.sweatybetty.com/ and am now on week 3. I don’t feel like I have lost any weight yet, but every time I run, jump in the shower afterwards and drink a smoothie, I do seem to have a lot more energy which helps me get through the day. Also, don’t laugh, I think my bum has risen up slightly. Running does help to work the glutes (bum muscles) see JIGGLE in Blog 20) so that can only be a good thing right?
As I have got older my bum seems to have drooped, am I the only one who suffers with droopy bum syndrome? I remember when it was much more perty and a pair of jeans actually fitted my properly. Oh youth, where have you gone?
Anyway, I shall try and continue my quest to finish this exercise regime, so if you see me running around anywhere, if I ignore you, please don’t think me rude but I will be listening to Christmas music and Jo Wiley who is my trainer on the app. She is great at encouraging people and she sounds like she really wants us to succeed.
If you are interested, you can download the Couch to 5K app on your phone and find all of the details on there.
I think as long as we either walk, run or dance and move our bodies a little bit every day, then we are on the right track to keeping a healthy mind and body.
7 STRENGTHENING EXERCISES FOR EVERYONE
It is really easy to neglect our fitness, especially at this time of year and in the current climate, we might not feel like doing anything. Morale can be low and our mental and physical health may suffer. But it has been proven that a little exercise a few times a week can help us get through this time. Just recently, I have been researching strengthening exercises that are easy to do and are suitable for beginners and the more advanced. As we get older our muscles obviously get weaker if we don’t exercise and strengthen them and this can lead to all sorts of aches, pains and even injuries.
When you first start training the exercises can feel hard which might have you wondering how you can get stronger so your workouts can go more smoothly. After all, if every move is a struggle, it can be hard to motivate yourself to even start any form of workout routine let alone give it a solid effort.
But as you get stronger and more familiar with the exercises, you’ll likely find it easier to execute each move. Once that happens, you can focus more on the workout in front of you. And that can help you get even stronger.
See below for the 7 best exercises.
The Squat - One of the purest tests of strength, the squat incorporates almost all the muscles in your legs and core
Stand with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart.
Lower your hips into a squat as you bend your knees and keep your back flat.
Continue to lower yourself until your thighs are parallel to the floor.
Push into the floor through your heels to return to start. That’s 1 rep.
Keep your heels flat and knees aligned with your second toe so they don’t cave in.
The Deadlift - Deadlifts are considered hands-down one of the best exercises to train the backside of your body, namely your glutes and hamstrings.
Stand with your feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent, and arms relaxed by the front of your quads, with a dumbbell in each hand. This is the starting position.
Hinge forward at your hips and bend your knees slightly as you push your butt way back. Keeping your back flat, slowly lower the weight along your shins. Your torso should be almost parallel to the floor.
Keeping your core engaged, push through your heels to stand up straight and return to the starting position. Keep the weight close to your shins as you pull.
Pause at the top and squeeze your butt. That’s 1 rep.
The Glute Bridge - Bridges target one of the biggest muscles in the lower half—the glutes. They’re also a major contributor in the development of power from the legs, as well as core stabilisation.
Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor hip-width apart. Hold a dumbbell in each hand and rest them right under your hip bones. This is the starting position.
Squeeze your glutes and abs and push through your heels to lift your hips a few inches off the floor until your body forms a straight line from your shoulders to your knees.
Hold for a second and then slowly lower your hips to return to the starting position. This is 1 rep.
The Push Up - The push-up works all the pressing muscles in the upper body, including your chest, shoulders, and triceps, and can help you get stronger in the dumbbell or barbell chest press.
Start in a high plank with your palms flat on the floor, hands shoulder-width apart, shoulders stacked directly above your wrists, legs extended behind you, and core and glutes engaged.
Bend your elbows and lower your body to the floor. Drop to your knees if needed.
Push through the palms of your hands to straighten your arms. That’s 1 rep.
The Bent Over Row - This exercise uses all the pulling muscles in your upper body, including the back, shoulders, and biceps
Stand with your feet hip-width apart, holding a dumbbell in each hand with your arms at your sides.
With your core engaged, hinge forward at the hips, pushing your butt back. Bend your knees and make sure you don’t round your shoulders. (Your hip mobility and hamstring flexibility will dictate how far you can bend over.)
Gaze at the ground a few inches in front of your feet to keep your neck in a comfortable, neutral position.
Do a row by pulling the weights up toward your chest, keeping your elbows hugged close to your body, and squeezing your shoulder blades for two seconds at the top of the movement. Your elbows should go past your back as you bring the weight toward your chest.
Slowly lower the weights by extending your arms toward the floor. That’s 1 rep.
The Hollow Body Hold - The hollow-body hold is such an amazing exercise to teach you how to create total body tension and really maintain that core stability. If the traditional hollow-body hold is too difficult, you can modify it by bending your knees or keeping your arms forward instead of overhead.
Lie face up on a mat with your legs extended and arms straight over your head, keeping them close to your ears.
Contract your abs to press your low back into the ground.
Point your toes, squeeze your thighs together, squeeze your glutes, and lift your legs off the ground.
Lift your shoulders off the ground and keep your head in a neutral position so that you’re not straining your neck. Your legs and mid-back should both be off the ground, and you should be in the shape of a banana, with just your low back and hips on the ground.
Hold this position for the prescribed amount of time.
7. The Single Leg Move - Single-leg moves also require a ton of core stability, so your abs are getting in some work too.
Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart and engage your core.
Step backward with your right foot, landing on the ball of your right foot and keeping your right heel off the ground.
Bend both knees to 90 degrees as you sink into a lunge. Focus on keeping your core engaged and your hips tucked (don’t stick your butt out). Sometimes it can be helpful to place your hands on your hips so you can make sure your hips aren’t tilting to the side or forward and back.
Push through the heel of your left foot to return to your starting position. You can do all of your reps in a row, or you can alternate sides.
As with all exercise YOU MUST consult your doctor before starting any fitness regime, especially if you have a health condition.
HAVE YOU TRIED PILATES?
I have heard so much about the benefits of Pilates but I have never really practised it on a regular basis. So what actually is it and can anyone do it?
Pilates is a physical fitness system developed in the early 20th century by Joseph Pilates, after whom it was named. Pilates called his method "Contrology". It is practiced worldwide, especially in Western countries such as Australia, Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom.
Pilates aims to strengthen the body in an even way, with particular emphasis on core strength to improve general fitness and wellbeing.
Pilates exercises are done on a mat or using special equipment, such as the Reformer, Cadillac and Wunda Chair. With its system of pulleys and springs, handles and straps, the apparatus can provide either resistance or support, depending on your needs.
What if you don’t have the above equipment, can you still do it?
Yes but you will need an exercise mat and make sure you buy a good one. If you think your Yoga mat will do then you might be in for an uncomfortable surprise. Pilates involves a lot more rolling and digging into the floor compared to Yoga and so your Pilates mat should be much thicker to avoid injury. Comfort and grip are the key and make sure the mat is long enough for your body. There are many on the market but the following two have got the best reviews.
Is it for everyone?
Pilates has something to offer people of all ages and levels of ability and fitness, from beginners to elite athletes. The apparatus can be used to provide support for beginners and people with certain medical conditions, as well as resistance for people looking to challenge their body.
If you have any health concerns, such as a health condition or an injury, seek advice from a GP or a health professional before starting any exercise programme.
How can it benefit me?
There are many reports on the health benefits of pilates. However, few of these have been subjected to rigorous scientific examination, and there's a need for more research in this area.
Practitioners say regular pilates can improve posture, muscle tone, balance and joint mobility, as well as relieve stress and tension. For elite athletes, including dancers, pilates can complement training by developing whole-body strength and flexibility, and help reduce the risk of injury.
Can it help back pain?
There's some evidence that pilates can provide pain relief to people with non-specific lower back pain. The use of apparatus enables someone with back pain to perform exercises with support.
For the exercises to be effective, they need to be tailored to the individual and vetted by an appropriately qualified health professional. Pilates teachers are not medically qualified and cannot prescribe, treat or offer therapy.
Can it help me lose weight?
Pilates is classed as a muscle-strengthening activity, which can help you maintain a healthy weight. Classes can vary in intensity: they can be gentle, or dynamic and offer a solid workout.
So, if you fancy trying this very effective form of exercise one of the best beginner workouts can be found on the NHS website here.
Who remembers Jane Fonda and her 1980’s fitness workouts? I used to love them. Whilst donning my purple lycra tights, thong leotard and pink leg warmers, (not forgetting the all important sweat band) I would dance, stretch and tone my muscles around the living room for a whole hour, working up a sweat and loving the tunes. Just recently I found some of her old videos on YouTube and almost screamed with delight as I had lost my original tapes. I though, why not? so placed my laptop on the table and off I went.
It felt good, it felt normal, it felt like ‘coming home’ (bit cheesy I know, sorry) but I really got a lot out of it. I should add here, I was not wearing the thong leotard, that’s long gone, (thank goodness).
I don’t know what it is about her exercises and fitness routines but they just seem to suit me better than an other programmes I have done before.
So much so, that my friend Jane and I were thinking of stating a social Retro Class/evening perhaps once a month next year.
It would be 80’s themed, you would be encouraged to dress up but it would not be obligatory. The class would feature music from the 80’s (with hopefully a disco ball) including, cardio, stretch and tone with a relaxation at the end. After the session people would be encouraged to stay and socialise with a drink and a chat. We think it would be just what everyone needs, some fun, upbeat banging tunes and a get together (when we are allowed obviously).
If you like the sound of the idea, drop us a line and we can start thinking about it for next year.
HIT THE DANCE FLOOR - STRICTLY'S BACK!
It’s that time again folks, when they dust off the glitter ball, don the sequins and we take a front row seat for Strictly Come Dancing. Last Saturday was the first episode of the new series. I watched with anticipation to see how they were going to produce such an amazing show as in previous years with the current Coronavirus constrictions. Well, it was similar but, not really the same, however, I am so glad that the BBC are bringing a little light relief to the Autumn of 2020. Every time I watch Strictly it inspires me, like a lot of people, to get out there and move. After months of not doing enough (me) I really feel I should shift my arse off the sofa and get moving again. The dancers on the show are literally athletes! Their fitness is incredible as well as their bodies and to keep in that shape takes dedication, mindset and bloody hard work. They train around 10 hours 5 or 6 days a week when they are teaching their celebrity dance partners and that takes a hell of a lot of stamina.
So, what can I/we do to up our fitness, if only a little in order to get through the latter part of this year and beyond? Obviously each person is different and has different needs and abilities but for me, dance has always been the best form of fitness and it is what I enjoy the most. When I was a dancer my body was in much better shape and obviously I was a lot younger. As we age, sometimes we can let ourselves go as life takes over and we find we have less time to dedicate to ourselves. Children come along, work gets in the way or we are just to dam tired. But I am determined to start moving again and Keep dancing.
Here’s some facts and ideas to help along the way.
Dancing is a whole-body workout that's actually fun.
It's good for your heart , it makes you stronger, and it can help with balance and coordination.
A 30-minute dance class burns between 130 and 250 calories, about the same as jogging.
Areas It Targets
Core: Depending on the type of dance you choose, some of the steps/moves will engage the core muscles.
Arms: Although most dances focus on your lower body, you're also using your arms.
Legs: The choreography will have you doing moves that work your lower body, including your quads and hamstrings.
Glutes: Hip hop dancing and ballet include moves that engage the glutes.
Back: Dance uses your core muscles, including those in your back.
Flexibility: Most dance-inspired workouts include moves that improve flexibility.
Aerobic: Dancing raises your heart rate. The more up-tempo the dance style, the better it is for your heart.
Strength: You won't be lifting weights but your body weight counts, helping to build muscle strength.
Sport: You can enter dance competitions, but dance can be purely social or artistic.
Low-Impact: Yes. Dancing can be a high-or low-impact workout depending on the style of dancing.
There are so many Youtube videos that feature some of the Strictly dancers showing us various workouts we can try. I really like Oti Mabuse. In the video below she gives us a 45 minute dance/cardio workout for beginners and slightly more advanced people. It’s great fun and can be done on your own or with the whole family (depending on how big your sitting room is obviously).
Karen Hauer also has her own Youtube channel with many different dance/cardio and toning routines on there. Find her here:
Whatever you do it is so important to keep moving, especially this year as we need all the fun and health benefits we can get.
Now, where are those leg warmers?
DANCE AROUND THE BONFIRE
Many people celebrate autumn and the end of summer by dancing around a bonfire that has, perhaps, been built over the summer with various wood, rubbish and other scraps. Others save it for bonfire night and include fireworks, toffee apples and sparklers. But, what actually does a bonfire signify and why would people dance around them.?
What exactly is ‘bon’ about bonfires?
First, the hybrid combination of French bon and the word fire, which comes straight out of Old English, would have been unusual at the time.
Second, considering bonfire’s age, if the bon came from French, we would have expected it to evolve into boonfire instead.
But perhaps the most convincing argument is that the earliest attestation of bonfire in English writing was spelled banefire. Bane is a spelling of bone that persisted in Scotland for centuries. Most likely, then, the original bonfires trace their name back midsummer Celtic rituals in which animal bones were burned to ward off evil spirits.
They were bone fires.
They were so called because people used to gather around and throw bones into the fire to symbolise casting off things that have happened to them in the past that they no longer want to hold on to. Perhaps they were holding a grudge and they wanted to let go of it. Perhaps they needed to share a secret with others, get it out in the open, so to speak, let it go, a sort of cleansing ritual I suppose, or to talk about people they had lost. Another reason was to make it a sort of offering into the fire to ward off evil spirits.
‘Build a pile of old bones and burn away the shadows, because from here on in, shadows get deeper, the nights get longer and winter comes again’
Belithus wrote about a custom known in some churches:
people made fires of bones, so that the smoke might drive away the dragons. This statement was not forgotten in the eighteenth century, as is found out while reading Henry Bourne’s 1725 book Antiquitates Vulgares; or, the Antiquities of the Common People. Bourne served as a curate of the Parochial Chapel of All-Saints in Newcastle upon Tyne. Yet the important thing is not his office but the fact that bones, as he explained, were burned during the Vigil of St. Joan.
But why dance?
We dance for many reasons, wellbeing, socially, physical fitness, emotional stability, for mental clarity, improve relationships and basically to relieve stress and again let ourselves go. We can lose ourself when we dance, we can transport ourselves to another place, not thing too much and most of all, relax.
Why round a bonfire? I suppose it is slightly Pagan. As it is a freeing of the spirit, an offering to the earth, a release.
MAYBE DANCE IS SIMPLY A TRANSLATOR FOR THE HUMAN HEART.
Take a Walk in the Rain
It has not stopped raining for almost two weeks now and quite frankly, I am getting a bit fed up of it. Now, I love the cooler weather but as autumn approached I was hoping for more crisp, bright and invigorating mornings. Instead we have woken up to dark, dreary and to be honest, quite depressing starts to the day.
My dog Buddy, goes out for his morning wee, rolls around on the grass, gets soaked and then plods back in for his breakfast making a lovely muddy pattern on my freshly steamed kitchen floor but I still love him. Then the two cats, Sherlock and Watson, (don’t ask) come charging through the cat flap, drenched, dripping and meowing constantly for food and parading all over said floor until I feed them. So, what to do? There is only one thing to do really, go out and get wet myself by walking in the rain.
Why? Well I need to wake up in the morning and I have recently read how good it is for us to walk in the rain and here’s why:
- Air remains fresh during the rainy season
- The smell of rain refreshes the mind
- Rain is good for hair and skin
- Walking in the rain burns more calories
Air remains fresh during the rainy season
According to studies, when it rains the air remains fresh. Rain washes off the microbes and dust present in the air. Thus, walking in the rain helps us to inhale the fresh air.
The smell of rain refreshes the mind
People like the smell of the fresh rain. This fragrance comes from the good bacteria of the soil, the oil from the plants and the ozone mix. It calms the mind and regulates the mood.
The water from the rain is extremely fresh because it does not contain minerals and harmful particles. It does not come in contact with the dust and stones. This water is good for the skin and the hair. It is alkaline in nature which is great for the skin and scalp. Thus, it helps to maintain the pH level of the skin.
These are some of the benefits of walking in the rain BUT be sure you do not stay in rain for more than 15-20 minutes, then get indoors and have a nice warm drink and possible cuddle the pets, as long as they have dried off by the time you have returned.
Now where did I put my mac?
GO WILD FOR WILD SWIMMING
One of the buzz words this summer has been WILD SWIMMING. Wild swimming has become much more popular this year as more and more people find out just how exhilarating it can be. It can even feel a bit naughty to some people or even scary. Donning just your swim suit and taking the plunge into icy cold water is something that fills certain people with dread, but what can it do for us physically and mentally?
Firstly, as you immerse yourself in the open water, believe it or not, your muscles relax. It helps to lift your mood making it excellent for depression sufferers. It can boost your immune system and sooth aching muscles. The health and psychological benefits of dipping in natural waters have been long known. George Bernard Shaw, Benjamin Britten, Charles Darwin and Florence Nightingale were all advocates of regular cold baths to strengthen the mental constitution and physical state. The vaso dilation in the extremities also pumps out toxins, and the cold water starts a process of cold adaptation, quickly building your tolerance to the cold, making the cold water feel more comfortable, and your body more healthy. As you plunge in it creates intense vasodilation, pumping out muscle lactates, and bringing fresh blood to the extremities. It gives you a powerful endorphin shot giving you an amazing feeling of wellbeing. It can act as a form of mindfulness or meditation for some people focusing their minds on the cold feeling and taking away any worries or concerns they may have. The Turks and Romans understood this process with their hot-cold plunge pools and there are many Spa towns in the UK that are testament to taking a dip in natural waters. Regular swimmers say that it creates a sort of additive urge and a need to ‘jump back in’ as it sets their day off to a fabulous start. But where to swim and is it safe?
Any footpath, ford, footbridge or ‘open-access’ land bordering a river or lake is a good place to start looking for a place to wild swim. Ordnance Survey maps provides much more information and can be viewed online! Asking local people too will help you locate a safe place or go to www.wildswimming.co.uk for further information.
10 Ways to Be Wild and Safe
Never swim in canals, urban rivers, stagnant lakes or reedy shallows
Never swim in flood water and be cautious of water quality during droughts
Keep cuts and wounds covered with waterproof plasters if you are concerned
Avoid contact with blue–green algae
Never swim alone and keep a constant watch on weak swimmers
Never jump into water you have not thoroughly checked for depth and obstructions
Always make sure you know how you will get out before you get in
Don’t get too cold – warm up with exercise and warm clothes before + after a swim
Wear footwear if you can
Watch out for boats on any navigable river. Wear a coloured swim hat so you can be seen.
Here are some first time wild swimming locations
Sharrah Pool, River Dart, Dartmoor
Outney, River Waveney, Suffolk
Kelmscott, River Thames, Oxfordshire
Claverton Weir, River Avon, Bath
Anchor Inn, River Ouse, Sussex
Galleny Force, Stonethwaite, Lake District
Appletreewick, River Wharfe, Yorkshire Dales
Lady Falls, Pontneddfechan, Brecon Beacons, Wales
Blue Pool, Friog, Snowdonia
Glen Etive, Scotland
PLEASE NOTE: There may be risks involved with this past time and Wild swimming can be dangerous, especially for people with health conditions and it is certainly NOT for everyone meaning that all safety precautions must be taken. Always check with your doctor before starting any new activity.
In my very first blog I wrote about Yoga in this section. There is so much information about yoga literally everywhere today, on the internet, Youtube, books, Podcasts and more. It is now so popular with so many people because it can be practised by anyone and everyone. Whatever your age, whether you have done it before or whether you are a complete novice and know absolutely nothing about it.
But where do you start and what type should you practice?
I have done quite a bit of research on this subject and although I don’t Salute to the Sun everyday, I do find it very beneficial once I have finished. I feel stretched, awake, aware and more energised. This is a good thing right? Well yes it is but it does need to be done on a regular basis in order to get the most benefit from it. So I am going to endeavour to try each day to begin with a series of poses to help me become more supple and bendy, like I used to be all those years ago. It is a sad fact that once we stop exercising and stretching (see last week’s post) our bodies will literally seize up. Our muscles get shorter and weaker. Our joints begin to creak and crack because we lose bone mass. As women age our bones get weaker leading to osteoporosis. But do not fret lovely readers as there is so much we can do. Experts suggest resistance training to strengthen muscles, cardio to maintain a healthy heart and lifting weights which increases the number of overall calories you burn during the day.
So why Yoga? Can Yoga be the best form of exercise or a practice to add on to the other forms mentioned?
September is National Yoga Awareness month so it seems fitting to be writing about it this week.
Yoga has a variety of positive benefits for mind, body and soul. Yoga can help to reduce certain chronic health symptoms, can improve balance and flexibility and can also provide a positive form of relief from stress and anxiety. Researchers found that yoga had a “significant effect on both systolic and diastolic blood pressure” reducing a person’s “risk of coronary heart disease and stroke. Yoga that involves gentle twists and stretches can help to prevent osteoporosis and also relieve any pain you may have from prior bone fractures or injuries. For older people it is especially beneficial because exercise often becomes more difficult with age. It can take a physical toll on your body. High impact exercise can often inflame knees, hips and wrists, especially for those who suffer from chronic conditions like arthritis. Studies have shown that yoga can decrease inflammation by lowering stress levels through measured breathing exercises. Which brings me nicely to talk about the breath.
I have written before about how important it is to breath properly. Whilst you are reading this, take a note of how you are breathing, don’t alter your breathing, just see how it is you are doing it. Probably, it will be quite normal, maybe a little shallow as most of us don’t even think about it, it’s just something we do.. It’s something else we all take for granted. Now, take a long deep breath in, for around the count of 8, and then breathe out for 8. Repeat 4 times. How did that feel? Do you feel more relaxed? Calm? It is a well known fact that when we breath more deeply our bodies relax which in turn, relaxes our mind. During a yoga practice we are encouraged to ‘use the breath’ as we flow from one pose into another. It becomes one continuous flow, which in Yoga is called Vinyasa. There are many different types of yoga out there and all can be accessed via the internet but it is always nice to attend a class in person as we can connect with others but also, because of the nature of the practice, get lost in our own world and become more calm and mindful individuals.
A NEW MATTRESS
Just recently the old mattress on our son’s bed had, quite frankly, given up, and needed to be replaced. My husband and I decided to give him our memory foam one and treat ourselves to a new one. Oh my goodness, where to start in Mattress land. There are literally so many to choose from nowadays, memory foam, spring, hybrid, memory foam and spring, different types of springs, roll up ones, the choice is endless. Having trolled through the internet one evening I got really bored and had had enough. I decided in order to get the right one, I needed to go and try one out for myself.
As my husband was at work, I went along to the shop called Dreams. They promise to find the best bed and mattress for you by using something called SLEEPMATCH. ‘Wow, what is that?’ I thought, sounds interesting so in I went. I was met with a very nice man who explained how he was going to help me find my perfect mattress. He took me across the shop floor to something that looked like a double bed but had flashing lights and an overhead screen. He told me this was going to ‘Map my body’ using this high tech machine. After inputting mine and my husbands details on the screen he invited me to hop on the bed. ‘Oh, bit forward’ I thought but I climbed onto this very comfortable bed and he pressed start. It was very relaxing and I felt I could have actually drifted off until suddenly underneath me things started happening. Something pushed against back, my bum and the various lumber areas of my body. PLEASE TURN ON TO YOUR SIDE, said the machine of which I dutifully did.
Again, certain things were going up and down, side to side, steady! TURN BACK ON TO YOUR BACK The voice was gentle but very commanding, WE HAVE NOW FOUND YOUR NEW MATTRESS. The man then asked me to get up off the bed and he would give me my results.
“You are a firm type madam!” he said. “The machine has recommended a firm one!” Well, no, steady, let’s not go there.
I was excited to see what type of firm one I could have and off I went. There were around 4 in our price range and after being given a very comfortable £60 (!!) pillow to try as well, I lay down on all 4 to see what was my preference. After visiting each bed around 10 times and beginning to feel like sleeping beauty I decided on a traditional 1500 spring one which was 15cm deep. Oh, it was sooooo comfortable and I knew it was the one for us. It’s being delivered on Tuesday this week and I can’t wait to go to bed. We got a discounted mattress protector and 4 free pillows too. I would highly recommend Dreams, they were so helpful and the SLEEPMATCH is only available in their stores.
So, why am I writing about this is JIGGLE, isn’t it supposed to be about movement? Well yes it is but we move about so much in our sleep and what we sleep on is so very important. We spend one third of our lives in bed and with so many of us sleeping on the wrong mattress it is more important than ever to get it right. Also, the number of insomniacs is growing due to an increase in mental health, anxiety and depression because of the Corona virus situation. So what type of sleeper are you? A side sleeper?, back sleeper?, front sleeper? They all mean different things. I like sleeping on my side and I am what is commonly known as a Log Roller, (no rude comments please) A Log roller is someone who rests on their side, one leg bent up, the other straight, and arms in place. Apparently, it means I am a happy go lucky person who likes to chat to people and is very trusting, yep that sounds like me. If you are a back sleeper you might look like you are standing to attention. You have a strong and silent demeanour and a love of structure. They take themselves quite seriously and don’t like a fuss. Front sleepers can be pretty to-the-point at times, which can come off as brash. They may seem free spirited (and they can be risk takers), but stomach sleepers can be secretly anxious and crave control of a situation.
However you sleep and whatever you sleep on lovely peeps, make sure you invest in the best you can afford, because in these weird and troubled times we need the security and comfort of our beds. https://www.dreams.co.uk/
STREEEEEETCH YOURSELF OUT
I have been told by various people, fitness instructors, doctors, healthcare workers and dance experts, how important it is to stretch our bodies. Stretching keeps our muscles, flexible, strong and healthy. If we don’t stretch regularly, our muscles become shorter and tighter. This is obvious if we try and touch our toes and find that we can’t get as low as we used to. Stretching protects our mobility and our independence but, it has to happen on a regular basis. We can’t just do it once a week and think that’s fine, I’ll do it again next week, it is best done as a daily practice. Obviously, if you do yoga, then you are stretching your muscles with each pose but an actual stretch session will keep your muscles and limbs long and lean. Another benefit of stretching is helping with our balance and if you are elderly then this, in turn, can help prevent falls.
The most important areas to stretch for mobility are in your lower extremities: your calves, your hamstrings, your hip flexors in the pelvis and quadriceps in the front of the thigh.
By also stretching our back, neck and shoulders, helps to ward off round shoulders, back ache and bad posture in general.
Recommended practice is three or four times per week, more if you can.
Interestingly, we have been told to warm our muscles up before exercise, but new research has shown that when everything is cold the fibres aren’t prepared and so therefore do more damage. If you exercise first (a gentle warm up or a brisk walk perhaps before starting a run) it will increase the blood flow to the area making it more pliable and amenable to change.
ALWAYS GO GENTLY FIRST. Hold a stretch for 30 seconds, don’t bounce as this good do more harm than good and cause an injury. You will feel slight tension but no pain. If you do feel pain, stop immediately as there may be injury or damage in the tissue and you should go and see your doctor.
For more information on starting stretching you can visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qULTwquOuT4&ab_channel=MadFit for a beginners session.
LET'S GET MOVING WITH NEW EXERCISE GEAR
As Autumn is approaching we may think about staying in a lot more and perhaps not exercising outdoors quite so much as we did in the summer (or didn’t as in my case) I always think it is harder to motivate yourself when it gets a little colder, especially if you prefer exercising in the morning. So how do we drag ourselves out of bed and get moving as the days grow chillier? How about treating ourselves to a new piece of kit? What about investing in some new trainers, leggings or running top? There is so much out there to suit all budgets but when buying trainers, I would always try and by the best quality you can afford especially if you are running. You need a shoe that will support you and your joints. One of the best running shoe brands is ASICS https://www.asics.com/
They start at around £45 and can go up to £200 but they really are one of the best shoes, in my opinion on the market today. I bought a pair a few years ago and they have really supported my feet and joints when running. TIP - If you have small feet, say up to a size 5 ladies, then you can get into the kids shoes which are virtually half the price of the adults!
Leggings - The best exercise leggings by far are from https://www.sweatybetty.com/shop/bottoms/
They are expensive but they are constructed in bum-sculpting fabric that flatters where it matters they perform for over seven sports. With a high waist with adjustable drawcord for the perfect fit.
A cheaper version would be from https://www.adidas.co.uk/ they do lots of different types of leggings for all different forms of exercise. Worth a look.
Exercise bra/tops - A medium sized budget top is https://www.marksandspencer.com/extra-high-impact-sports-bra-2-pack/p/clp60383122?color=BLACKMIX
They are extra high impact sports bras providing a secure and comfortable fit, so you can concentrate on working out. This particular offer is for two.
For medium support Sweaty Betty do this bra in an array of beautiful colours https://www.sweatybetty.com/shop/underwear/sports-bras
It is made from wicking seamless fabric with compression technology
Has a deep under band adding medium support
With a waffle effect detailing to add breathability
Obviously these are only a few items I have found and there a thousands more out there and I hope you can find the right ones for you.
Whatever you are doing as Autumn approaches, keep well, keep fit and stay strong.
Exercise isn’t a ‘punishment’ for what you ate. It’s a celebration of what your body can do.”
RECONNECTING WITH YOUR BODY
This week in Jiggle I am handing you over to the amazing Alexandra Franzen. I have mentioned her before and in my past blog posts, included some of her very useful work sheets. Some of her work is a little bit ‘American’ if you know what I mean but all in all, she makes a lot of sense and she has helped a lot of people with their day to day life. She is a writer and entrepreneur based in Hawaii. Her writing has been published in places like Time, Forbes, Newsweek, The Huffington Post, and Lifehacker.
This download is all about reconnecting with your body and how we can all start to feel better about it.
GO TAKE A HIKE
Hiking is the new trend of the day according to forecasters.
It's a fact that inactivity is associated with a variety of health issues; some of these issues include but aren't limited to: cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, coronary heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and certain types of cancer. However, the good news is that evidence shows physical activity helps prevent chronic disease.
One great way to improve your health and to reduce chances of developing health concerns is to get outside and TAKE A HIKE!
Not only does hiking oxygenate your heart but it helps keep your mind sharper, your body calmer, your creativity more alive, and your relationships happier. It is something the whole family can do. If you have a baby they can be carried in back packs. Special hiking boots are now available for the whole family. It encourgages children to adopt a healthy lifestyle. Being among nature and trees is not only good for our mental wellbeing but being around trees may provide extra benefits, perhaps because of certain organic compounds that trees exude. Some doctors have even begun prescribing it along side other treatments and medicines.
Hiking also keeps your brain active. You have to sometimes negotiate rough terrain, slippery paths, hidden obstacles or overhanging branches.
It increases our creativity. Just being amongst nature and the beautiful surroundings it offers can spark something off in your mind and encourage you to create something. Maybe by just seeing new colours, shapes or hearing new sounds if perhaps you write songs or similar. It could provoke you into writing a story or a letter to someone you haven’t heard of for a long time.
It helps us develop a positive relationship with the natural world and in turn, help us to care about its fate, making us more committed to conservation efforts.
It creates memories and a close bond with family and friends. When you hike or walk together, you talk together. Deep and meaningful things may be spoken about that may not have been talked about before. When you are walking or hiking together, you don’t necessarily have to look at each other, so you may be more prone to allow your deeper feelings or issues to be aired.
This link will take you to 10 best British walks that end in a pub. What could be better. So, get yourself some boots and Go take a hike.
GET ON YOUR BIKE!
It’s a well known fact that riding a bike, whether it be a leisurely ride or a few miles, is good for you. But did you know it can BOOST YOUR BOWELS! Neither did I apparently this is what Harley Street gastroenterologist Dr Ana Raimundo said
“Physical activity helps decrease the time it takes food to move through the large intestine, limiting the amount of water absorbed back into your body and leaving you with softer stools, which are easier to pass, as well as preventing you from feeling bloated, this helps protect you against bowel cancer,”
In addition, aerobic exercise accelerates your breathing and heart rate, which helps to stimulate the contraction of intestinal muscles.
Cycling can also help BOOST YOUR BRAIN POWER. It helps to boost blood flow and oxygen to the brain firing and regenerating receptors, possibly helping to ward off Alzheimers.
Riding a bike for 30 minutes 5 days a week apparently can BOOST YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM - making your immune cells more active and ready to fight disease.
We can help SAVE THE PLANET by cycling. Obviously cycling produces zero pollution. In one car parking space, you can fill it with 20 bikes taking up less space.
IT IMPROVES YOUR SEX LIFE - Being more physically active improves your vascular health. In a study at Cornell University it was discovered that male athletes had the sexual prowess of men two to five years younger than them and physically fit females can possibly delay the menopause by around the same time.
Regular cycling can HELPS TO KEEP YOUR HEART HEALTHY by cutting your risk of heart disease by 50 per cent.
Cycling can help you LOSE WEIGHT. Regular bike rides stimulate your metabolic rate and encourages weight loss, builds muscle and is kinder to your body as most of the weight is taken by the saddle so your skeleton doesn’t take a battering as it can do say, when you are jogging.
Cycling can help to SAVE YOU MONEY. Once you have bought the bike and helmet, it then costs nothing to use it. No petrol to buy, no insurance, no MOT etc etc.
Riding a bike is also great for FAMILY TIME. It’s an activity you can all do together as a family. There are so many bikes available and ways of carrying little ones around if they are too young to cycle themselves. When ours were really little, we had a wonderful Pashley trike. It was great fun with two seats at the back, me our hubby cycling and when we had our third child, she would go on a special seat at the front between the handle bars. Absolutely loved it and so did the kids.
Holland is the place to go to see the most amazing bikes. Amsterdam is considered to be one of the most famous and important centres of bicycle culture.
As is common in Dutch cities, Amsterdam has a wide net of traffic-calmed streets and world-class facilities for cyclists. All around are bike paths and bike racks.
To make the UK more bike friendly, especially in cities, we need to take a leaf out of Holland’s book and build better cycle paths and to accommodate cyclists much more. If this was the case, then I think a lot more of us would be much more willing to get ON OUR BIKES AND RIDE.
Clean to get Lean!
Do you hate housework and cleaning? Do you dread the thought of having to clean your bathroom, kitchen, lounge and every other blooming room in the house? Well, if you do, maybe this article will encourage you to don your marigolds and get scrubbing.
According to a recent study, a person weighing around 10 stone can burn up to 200 calories PER HOUR just by doing household chores. See below for the various tasks
and how many calories you can burn.
Sweeping x 10 minutes = 37 calories
Vacuuming x 10 minutes = 37 calories
Ironing x 20 minutes = 50 calories
Mopping x 20 minutes = 42 calories
Making beds x 10 minutes = 23 calories
Washing dishes x 10minutes = 26 calories
Picking up the laundry - 5 minutes = 26 calories
Total time: 1hr 10 minutes = 215 calories
Now let’s go through each chore and see what muscles we use whilst doing it.
SWEEPING AND MOPPING - Great for toning arms, shoulders and upper back.
VACUUMING - Works the abdominal muscles, try and keep tummy held in.
IRONING - Good for arm toning, shoulders and upper back.
MAKING BEDS - Stretches your back and works the legs as you squat to tuck bedding in
WASHING DISHES - Do calf raises when washing up
LAUNDRY - Squats - always bend your knees before lifting any heavy up from the floor
So, if you are fancy getting fit, losing a few pounds and having a lovely clean house, GET SCRUBBING.
Last week I wrote about Figure8, http://figure8.com/the Fitness program that is based on Latin dance style hip actions. It progresses from learning the 3 basic hip moves (Hip Sway, Hip Tuck and Hip Roll) into more rhythmic dance drills.that is based on latin style dance and the figure of 8. Well, I bit the bullet and I bought it and I am so glad I did. If you enjoy dance then this really is a must. You don’t feel like you are exercising and the time goes so quickly you will wish it wasn’t over (normally I get bored half way through but not with this). You work up a real sweat using almost every muscle but especially the core muscles. It is important to watch how to perform each move through in order to make sure you are doing it right. If you are looking for something new then why not give it a go. As Shakira says “the hips don’t lie”
GETTING TO THE CORE OF THE MATTER
Getting older brings many different experiences, some good, some bad but the one thing I am not overly happy about is how, suddenly I have a slightly larger middle! Where and how did that happen? I know since lockdown I have led a more sedentary life, not being able to go to work, go to fitness classes, to different places or do various things that I did before. Some folk, especially those with younger kids, decided that this was an excellent time to get fit and leapt out of bed at 8.55 to do half an hour with Joe Wicks (lovely man) but I didn’t. So now I have paid the price and yes, you guessed it, I have put weight on. I feel it, I know it and I don’t like it!
My weight always goes around my core. It’s so frustrating. I mean I’d rather have a bigger bum, at least that’s more sort after these days. But no, I have what is commonly known as a SPARE TYRE. Ok, so what to do?
I have decided I don’t particularly enjoy jogging, Step hurts my knees, Zumba’s been done to death, Spinning’s ok, HiiT I find makes me feel quite ill.
I think I have found my thing. It’s called FIGURE EIGHT Dynamic CORE Training Through Dance!
After talking to a friend recently, she told me about this new fitness craze that her daughter had been doing online. It is run by a Latin dancer, Jaana Kunitz. Having been bullied for being overweight as a child, Jaana found dancing and then her entire life changed. She not only transformed her body but also won numerous world-class championships. She went on to get certified as a Fitness Trainer and became obsessed with helping others get in shape through dance and had tremendous success helping everyday people to lose weight and get fit through this medium..
So, having been a dancer I really liked the sound of this and dug deeper into how it actually worked.
The following info is all from Jaana's website.
Your core muscles are designed to move in multiple “dimensions"
The core is a complex series of muscles and needs to be trained in three planes, forward and backward, side-to-side, and rotational. When you train your core in multiple planes, it allows you to target muscles from every angle so that you can work toward a tone flexible and pain-free midsection.
Figure 8 focuses on fluid movement patterns that train all the muscles in your core region in every plane.
Figure 8 combines simple steps with intense Core Cardio, allowing both beginners and advanced dancers to experience the body slimming moves of a professional dancer! In one session, the participants get their abs toned by performing hundreds of standing core crunches to a variety of exhilarating rhythms and dynamic tempos!
There are 3 phases. Learn, Burn, Sculpt.
As always there is a ‘Special Offer’ to encourage us to buy but, I have to say I am going to give it a try, I have to start somewhere and this is probably the type of exercise I will enjoy. Watch this space.
Why is dancing is so good for your mind and body?
I used to be a dancer. It was all I had ever wanted to do. I trained hard and this enabled me to work professionally in many theatres all over the country. Then I met the man of my dreams, got married and had 3 children. The natural pattern for ex dancers is to teach. So that is what I did, for many years. The reason I am telling you this is because I think dancing is one of the best therapies around.
I mean dancing for enjoyment. Dancing with friends, on your own, in a large group or with just one special person. Have you ever been to a really good night club or at a party where the music was pumping and everyone was throwing some shapes?
How did you feel at that moment? How did you feel afterwards? Ok, you may of have woken up with a head banging away like a bass drum but as you lie in your bed, you think, that was a really good night. I really enjoyed it.
Well that is what dance does for you. It allows you to release a bigger amount of endorphins, more than any other cardio exercise. Those happy hormones that make you feel alive and upbeat.. But, of all the different types of cardio exercise, for me, it has to be dance. It also connects with the emotional centres in the brain. For many people, dancing prompts an emotional release often that’s uncomplicated happiness, while for some it can make them cry. It’s cathartic – a letting go of pent-up emotions.”
Dancing also improves spatial awareness. Another benefit is that it helps reduce levels of cortisol – a stress hormone. “That’s another reason why it makes you feel happy and more relaxed. Another big draw to dancing is the social element. “It’s scientifically proved that dancing helps with social bonding,”
Dance allows you to express yourself in whatever way you want. The music drives your soul, the beat engages with your heart, you feel excited, you feel ALIVE!
There is no culture on earth that doesn’t possess an urge to dance. You can enjoy dance at any time in your life.
You don’t need to be Beyonce or Fred Astaire, you just need to let yourself go and DANCE.
I recently came across Misty Tripoli. She is the creator of Body Groove. An energetic, dynamic instructor who is so passionate about what she does, she literally jumps off the screen encouraging all to GET YOUR GROOVE ON and HAVE FUN!
She is the founder of a Global dance movement that is inspiring millions to come together to dance, let go and enjoy yourself.
Her mission is
“to help you break free of whatever is keeping you from being truly happy. I want you to live your life on your own rules. Do what you love. Explore. Create. DANCE! And set yourself free”
So as a former dancer, I looked into it and found her really inspiring. The basic premise of her workouts is DANCE TO GET FIT, LOSE WEIGHT AND HAVE A GREAT TIME WHILE DOING IT!
That to me sounded right up my street.
There are literally hundreds of short videos that you can follow online. The idea being, each routine has only a few moves which are really easy to learn. They last from between 4 and 9 minutes. The people in the videos are all different shapes,sizes and ages. (in other words REAL PEOPLE). There is so much variety too. Latin, House, Bootylicious, Young at heart for the more mature person, Groove yoga, Disco, Chill lounge and so much more. If you go to the website below you can watch some of the workouts and get the idea of Misty’s style. You can join BODY GROOVE for a small amount and get Body Groove On-Demand which is the streaming video library, giving you access to all the workout videos and workshops on your computer, tablet, smartphone.
PULL A FUNNY FACE WITH
It’s known to banish wrinkles and give a gorgeous youthful glow.
The latest way to fight the signs of ageing doesn't involve needles or fillers - it's doing yoga on your FACE.
Loved by the likes of Meghan Markle, the technique helps to improve the blood circulation, boosts the production of collagen elastin in the skin and helps give an amazing glow.
For the past month I have been practising face yoga. Eh? I hear you, “I didn’t know there was such a thing”
We have 57 muscles in our face, head and neck including the ears and tongue. Obviously the main function of these is giving us the ability to make facial expressions so that other people can tell how we are feeling. Each muscle has a particular function and needs to be looked after in different ways. Some need to be strengthened and lifted, others need to be released of tension and some need training to stay relaxed. FACE YOGA supports these muscles in all of these ways.
However, we all age and there are a few factors that contribute to this process………….
WEATHER - Sun damage is one of the biggest causes of skin ageing. UV exposure can contribute to visible signs of ageing on the face.It can cause skin to loosen, wrinkle and develop brown spots……….
SUGAR - Now, I do love a sweet now and again but sorry to be the bearer of bad news but this is one of our skin’s largest enemies. Inflammation happens when blood sugar levels spike, this in turn, causes sagging as collagen and elastin are damaged. (tentatively putting down a Quality street, whoops!)
SMOKING - We all know how bad smoking is for our health but did you know how bad it is for our skin? Firstly, the repetitive movements of the pursing of the lips can cause lines around the mouth (think Dot Cotton from Eastenders) and secondly, it restricts the oxygen flow to the skin. Lastly, the chemical destroy the collagen and elastin once again making it lined and saggy. (Glad I gave up twenty odd year ago and yes I used to smoke 20+ everyday!)
CAFFEINE AND ALCOHOL - These can age the skin as they are diuretics, preventing you from holding on to water, meaning the skin becomes dryer and more dehydrated. Caffeine and alcohol are mostly acidic, affecting oil production in the skin. This can potentially contribute to acne and inflammatory skin conditions. (tentatively putting down that gin and tonic)
We are all getting older, we can’t stop it, we can’t change it so let’s accept it. Ageing in our society is seen as a negative thing and this can have a negative effect on our mental health and wellbeing . However, many countries celebrate getting older. Older women especially are seen as beautiful and wise and some are even revered for getting to a certain age. However in the westernised world, the media play a massive part in making people feel insecure and totally inadequte if they don’t look a certain way. Their ‘certain way’ is to be flawless. No wrinkles, no spots, no dark circles, no sagging or bagging, perfect eyebrows shaped to perfection, pouting lips and killer cheekbones. Well see here Mr F….ing media, that just ain’t the case! Most of the images we see on our screens are photoshopped or touched up so much to make the person look like perfection. That is what we see, the result, therefore, we compare ourselves to those images. It’s not good and most of all it’s just not true.
But hey, it’s good to grow old, it’s a gift. It means we are still here, we are still alive. So yes, our face and our bodies change but there is always something we can do to make the best of ourselves. As we exercise our bodies, we can also exercise our face.
The expert on Face Yoga is a lady called DANIELLE COLLINS who I have been following on youtube. She is a very gentle soul who demonstrates exercises for the different areas of the face. She explains how to do it, why we are doing it and how long to do it for. I really like her. So, one of my birthday presents this year was her book.
Below she describes a few of her exercises and how to do them……..
THE EYEBROW LIFT (for reducing and preventing hooded eyes)
Place your two index fingers under the eyebrows. Very slowly close your eyes and hold for 10 seconds. Repeat twice more. You should feel a little shake in the upper part of your eyelids.
THE THINKER - (for preventing and reducing a double chin)
Make a fist and place it under your chin, pushing upward slightly. Open and close your mouth 30 times. Keep pushing upward with your hand slightly.
THE CHEEKBONE LIFTER (strengthens and lifts your cheeks)
Puff your cheeks out full of air. Transfer the air from one cheek to the other for about 30 seconds to a minute. Breathe through your nose as you do this.
‘Not only do these methods have visible benefits, but they are also said to help with stress, headaches and sinus problems, face yoga also focuses on lots of acupressure points that have been used in India and China for thousands of years’
WANT TO LEARN MORE?
The Violet Cottage will be running some Face Yoga courses in the near future (social distancing of course). If you are interested in taking part please email
firstname.lastname@example.org for further details.
THIS WEEK WE LOOK AT THE BENEFITS OF YOGA
I LOVE A DOWNWARD FACING DOG!
I must admit I have become quite lazy over these past few months and I am starting to feel it now. Stiff joints, fatter around the middle and bad posture have become the norm and I really don’t like it, so I have started to practice yoga. Admittedly not on a daily basis (as I know I should) but when I do, my whole body feels so much better, like I’ve been stretched on one of those old fashioned racks they used to torture people with (but in a good way)
See here where to find an accredited yoga teacher in your area https://www.bwy.org.uk/ (always consult a doctor before starting any form of exercise)
1. Improves your flexibility
Feeling stiff? then yoga is one of the best practices to
improve your flexibility it is one of the first and most obvious benefits of yoga. You might think ‘ I can’t even touch my toes’, never mind do a backbend but don’t panic, by sticking at it you'll notice a gradual loosening of your body and eventually, seemingly impossible poses will become possible. Aches and pains will start to disappear. Tight hips can strain the knee joint due to improper alignment of the thigh and shinbones. If your hamstrings are tight it can lead to a flattening of the lumbar spine, which can cause back pain. Inflexibility can cause poor posture.
2. Builds muscle strength
Yoga builds strong muscles. This doesn’t mean however, you will end up looking like Arnold Schwarzenegger. Having strong muscles also protect us from conditions like arthritis and help prevent falls in elderly people. And when you build strength through yoga, you balance it with flexibility. Two for the price of one so to speak.
3. Perfects your posture
Poor posture can cause back, neck, and other muscle and joint problems. So many of us nowadays are crouched over a computer causing us to slump forward. Our heads are as heavy as a bowling ball and when not properly aligned with the spine it can cause all sort of problems. Our bodies may compensate by flattening the normal inward curves in our neck and lower back. This can cause pain and degenerative arthritis of the spine.
4. Prevents cartilage and joint breakdown
Each time you practice yoga, you take your joints through their full range of motion. This can help prevent degenerative arthritis or mitigate disability by "squeezing and soaking" areas of cartilage that normally aren't used. Joint cartilage is like a sponge; it receives fresh nutrients only when its fluid is squeezed out and a new supply can be soaked up.
5. Protects your spine
Spinal disks—the shock absorbers between the vertebrae that can herniate and compress nerves—crave movement. That's the only way they get their nutrients. If you've got a well-balanced asana practice including back bends, twists and forward bends you'll help keep your disks supple.
6.Betters your bone health
It’s a well known fact that weight-bearing exercises strengthen bones and helps ward off osteoporosis. Many postures in yoga require that you lift your own weight. And some, like downward facing dog (my favourite) help strengthen the arm bones, which are particularly vulnerable to fractures.
7. Drains your lymphs and boosts immunity
When you contract and stretch muscles, move organs around, and come in and out of yoga postures, you increase the drainage of lymph (a viscous fluid rich in immune cells). This helps the lymphatic system fight infection, destroy cancerous cells, and dispose of the toxic waste products of cellular functioning.
Feel Good Playlist
I thought I would add a small playlist of feel good music this week.
Hope you enjoy it. xxx
Below are apparently the 6 best exercises we should be doing each day in order to maintain flexibility and all round good health.
I don't know about you but I don't like the look of some of them, especially push-ups! My upper body strength has really gone to pot lately as I have been lazy and not motivated at all. However, I have been trying to get my act together and do most of the rest. Even though I don't really want to do them, I must say that once I have completed even just a few and added a small amount of cardio, I feel so much better. I did the Couch to 5K last year and found it very beneficial but stopped running after I had completed it. I know a lot of folk love running but me, I much prefer dancing. So sometimes it is just as good to put on a banging piece of music and let yourself go. This relieves stress, releases those happy hormones (endorphins) and gets the blood pumping which is what we all need. Finish off with a good stretch or some yoga and you're good to go.
Anyway, if you fancy any of the following here's how you do them......
How to Do the Basic Plank
Get in the pushup position, only put your forearms on the ground instead of your hands. ...
Squeeze your glutes and tighten your abdominals.
Keep a neutral neck and spine.
Create a straight, strong line from head to toes – a plank, if you will.
Hold that position.
How to Do a Push-Up
Get down on all fours, placing your hands slightly wider than your shoulders.
Straighten your arms and legs.
Lower your body until your chest nearly touches the floor.
Pause, then push yourself back up.
How to Squat (Safely!)
Stand straight with your feet a little wider than shoulder-width apart, toes pointing out (45 degrees), shoulders pinched back, and chest forward. ...
Inhale, push your hips out and squat down, and keep your body weight on your heels. ...
Hold this pose for 2 seconds.
Exhale and get back up to the starting position.
Not just standing up straight, but ideal to centre yourself.
Stand with your feet together and your arms at your sides.
Press your big toes together (separate your heels if you need to.)
Draw down through your heels and straighten your legs.
Then, lift your ankles and the arches of your feet.
Draw the top of your thighs up and back, engaging the quadriceps.
How To Do The Glute Bridge
Lie face up on the floor, with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground. Keep your arms at your side with your palms down.
Lift your hips off the ground until your hips, knees and shoulders form a straight line
Hold your bridged position for a couple of seconds before easing back down.
If you don't fancy any of the above or you are just starting out on your fitness programme, then apparently walking, so experts say, is the best exercise and I think they may have a point especially, if like me, you are not overly keen on running.
Below are a few of the main benefits of opening your door and putting one foot in front of the other, breathing fresh air, listening to some music and just enjoying the day.
Easy way to burn calories!
Help lower your blood sugar
Eases joint pain
Boosts immune function
Boost your energy
Improve your mood
Extend your life!