I know that there is an obesity crisis and things need to be done but this makes me sad, as if exercise is a thing to be avoided.
This news came out the same day as my car broke down. I had to cancel a class and then arrange a lift to my evening classes – I was particularly stressed by the time I got to the church ready to teach!! But a healthy dose of exercise later I felt much better.
Benefits of exercise
From those three classes I:
- reduced stress,
- got stronger,
- worked my cardiovascular system,
- burned calories,
- increased my metabolic rate,
- downtrained my sympathetic nervous system,
- connected with other women,
- felt happy,
- mobilised my joints,
- kept my bones healthy and
- stimulated my brain.
Amongst other things. Will a pill do all that?
I’m not really into New Years resolutions. And I’m definitely not into the the new year new you thing – there’s nothing wrong with the ‘old’ you!
But I am into goal setting.
I’ve just bought myself a shiny new business planner and right at the front is a blank page to fill in hopes and dreams for 2017. Most of mine are tied up with family life as I feel that’s the area that needs the most work done right now!
But there’s also some goals for me and my work too…
Now from the business coaching I’ve done the advice when goal setting is to make a plan and then break it into small manageable chunks. This way you’re less likely to get overwhelmed and more likely to see a result – this in turn will motivate you and keep you going on the next step.
Resolutions tend to be all or nothing.
And from the fitness world, we were taught to make sure we made SMART goals:
- Specific – so not just “I’ll get healthy” but how? Doing what? Break it down
- Measurable – can you track how you’re doing? Put numbers to your goals
- Achievable – is the goal feasible
- Relevant – important to you, not because everyone else is doing the same. The reason you make the goal may be the only motivating factor to keep going when things get hard
- Time based – when will you do it by? Too far away and you’ll not work towards it, too soon and you’ll not get the chance to get it done.
So here’s my 5 top tips if you have made exercise part of your new year resolutions/goals:
- Add new things one at a time – don’t try to change everything at once. Go for somethings easy to start with that will encourage you to continue – eg drink more water, stand up every 20min, walk at lunchtime
- Put your exercise into your daily diary – block it out as your time so that it doesn’t always get left down to whether you have time left or not
- Combine exercise with something else – meet up with friends, walk to shops/school run
- Don’t feel you have to start on a Monday/ January 1st. Start as soon as you can
And don’t worry if things don’t go to plan. You haven’t failed. It’s just another day You’re not having to start from scratch.
Have a great start to 2017! And let me know if there’s any ways I can help you hit your goals
It was my birthday last week and I think my subconscious must have been telling me something – the Facebook posts that had been catching my eye were all of elderly exercisers!
It is one of my fitness aims that I will be able to stay healthy and mobile as I age. So these older women have become my new inspiration! And the great thing is – many of them came to exercise in later life because of their health problems. So it’s never too late to start!
I know a lot of people, myself included, first turned to exercise as a way to lose weight. But there are so many more benefits which is why it should be seen as a lifelong habit and not a quick fix.
Unfortunately a survey by one of the big health chains has found that 44% of people do no exercise at all and 48% of those surveyed didn’t see being fit and healthy as an integral part of their lives. This despite the NHS saying exercise can be seen as a miracle cure! It has been shown to lower the risk of:
- Chronic heart disease and stroke
- Type 2 diabetes
- Colon cancer
- Breast cancer
- Early death
- Hip fracture
- Falls in older people
In addition it can improve:
- Sleep quality
- Stress levels
I think part of this resistance to exercise could be because of people’s perception of gyms. So it’s great that there are now so many options to do classes outside of the gym setting. But of course exercise isn’t limited to classes or the gym. It can include any kind of movement – swimming, sports, dance, outdoor activity, playing with the kids, gardening. And it doesn’t have to hurt for it to be doing good! Get sweaty, have your heart rate go up, pant a bit – but No Pain, No Gain doesn’t have to be your mantra!
The best advice in order to get the health benefits of exercise is to move more, sit less and then find an exercise you love and do it regularly!
With the rise of the yummy mummy and celebrities pinging back into their size 0 figures with seemingly little effort, there is immense pressure on the modern mum to follow suit. Some will take drastic measures with their diet and some will try to fit straight back into their exercise routine. That may have been suitable pre-pregnancy but is it now? When is it ok to return to exercise after having a baby and what type of exercise is most appropriate?
There are a number of issues to consider when deciding which exercise routine is right for you and when:
- Relaxin. The hormone that enables your muscles, ligaments and joints to relax and soften allowing room for your baby to grow and be born. The effects of this hormone can continue for up to 6 months postnatally, affecting all your joints, leaving them unstable and more susceptible to injury.
- Our amazing pelvic floors that did all the carrying and then pushing are severely weakened. This is true even if you had a caesarean. They need to repair and strengthen so they can continue to support the internal organs. Exercising too hard or too soon can increase the likelihood of prolapse and incontinence. According to the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, 25-45% of women suffer from urinary incontinence. The NHS says that up to half of all postnatal women are affected by some degree of pelvic floor prolapse. If you had multiple births, ventouse or forceps, spent over 1 hour in the second stage of labour, severe perineal tearing or had a baby over 4kg you may be more at risk of pelvic floor problems.
- The stomach muscles have stretched massively to allow for the growth of your baby. For up to 60% of us, our stomach muscles will have split. These will need to come back together so that our backs are supported and additional pressure is not put on the pelvic floor. One study reported that 66% of women with diastasis rectus (split in the stomach) had support-related pelvic floor dysfunction as well i.e. incontinence and pelvic floor prolapse (Spitznagle et al, 2007). Any traditional abdominal work and twisting moves done whilst the stomach muscles are separated can cause these muscles to stay apart and can lead to doming of the abdominal muscles, making the mum still look pregnant.
- Any pregnancy-related conditions you experienced can continue postnatally – pelvic girdle pain, carpal tunnel and sciatica. These may also affect your exercise choice.
So given these considerations, when can you get back to exercise? Most health professionals will require you to have had your doctor’s check before you can resume an exercise program – 6-8 week check for vaginal birth, 10-12 weeks for a caesarean. This time is given to allow the uterus to shrink, stomach muscles to heal, ensure bleeding has stopped and the perineum is healing. Stitches may need to be removed and cases of anaemia dealt with. Once you’ve had your check-up, this does not necessarily mean you are ready to start where you left off. Given that every woman’s pregnancy and birth are different, there can be no hard and fast rules, merely guidelines. You need to listen to your own body – it has gone through a lot physically and emotionally. Determine which of the factors listed are still applicable and therefore what is appropriate for your postnatal body – it can be 6-12 months before you’re ready to resume your previous exercise intensity.
You need to avoid the following exercises before your check-up and only gradually add them to your exercise repertoire once your pelvic floor is strengthened and any diastasis is healed:
- Running and impact exercises
- Oblique twists
In the meantime, there are some exercises that you can do soon after having your baby which will help to repair the pelvic floor and abdominal muscles. These can (and should) all be done in a variety of positions – standing, sitting, side-lying and lying on your back. Try to avoid kneeling on all fours to do the exercises in the first 6 weeks:
- PELVIC FLOOR FIRST – working the pelvic floor will also help to flatten the abs. It brings blood supply to the perineum so is good for healing even if you’re still feeling sore.
Pelvic floor lifts – quick pulses and long holds. Working from your back passage to the front, lift and release. Try and maintain a good posture, no tucking the bum under or squeezing it; don’t hold your breath.
- Pelvic tilt – from a neutral position, tuck your bum under, drawing the hip bones towards the ribcage. You should feel your lower back flatten and your stomach muscles start to engage. Try not to squeeze the bum and concentrate on the pelvis only moving.
- Abdominal bracing – keeping your body in a good posture, think of drawing your hip bones towards each other. Don’t tilt the pelvis, don’t suck in or hold your breath. It is a small movement where you should feel your stomach muscles start to tighten, but no change in your back muscles.
You can also target the pelvic floor in the last 2 exercises by breathing out and drawing up the pelvic floor just before you start the movement.
By starting slowly and targeting key muscles first, you should be well on the way back to your regular exercise routine.