Our Health and Fitness Manager answers some of your fitness questions:
I’m heading off for some winter sun with a pool-and-beach holiday. How can I incorporate regular exercise without spending half my stay in the hotel gym?
It makes sense to keep up with your exercise plan while you are on holiday, but you don’t have to do it the gym.The beach is a ready-made gym – but with a much better view.Walking on sand is great for your core strength and for your thighs, calves and glutes. Head out for an early morning beach walk before the sun gets too strong.
Swimming is great for cardio and for strengthening your arms, shoulders and legs, and it is no hardship to spend time in the sea when you are on holiday.Why not pack a resistance band? This neat tool is very light weight and takes up little space, but it will enable you to do a decent resistance workout whenever you have a bit of downtime.
Remember to stick to a healthy diet too. This tends to be easier in a hot country, where fresh vegetables and seafood are such key staples. But watch your alcohol intake and keep up your water consumption. Have a great trip.
My 11-year-old daughter and I have made real efforts to get healthier during the school holidays – swimming, power walking and careful meal planning. How do we stay on the wagon when she goes back to school?
Well done for making those positive changes in your lifestyle. The longer you can keep up the good work the more ingrained those good habits will become and the easier they will become too.
Be organised. Write a diary of all of the healthy things you have done so far and find a way to fit them into your daily routine now. Ask your daughter to write a plan of simple healthy breakfasts for the week and healthy packed lunches.
Similarly, write a plan together of fun exercises you can do three times a week and stick to it. Can you fit in a swim one evening a power walk another evening and a cycle as a family at the weekend? Organisation is the key to achieving any goal but you are half way there because you have the desire to maintain your fitness.
I do a 40 minute cardio workout in the gym three times a week to keep my weight under control. I know I need to incorporate some weights work, but I have little muscle power. How can I get started?
Incorporating weights into your routine, particularly if you want to boost weight loss, is vital. Adding muscle to your body will help you burn more energy, even when you are resting. It will enhance your shape and it will boost your strength. Start slowly, using resistance machines set to the lowest weight session. Do three lots of twelve repetitins,resting for 10 seconds in between.
If you are a runner you will probably find the machines which work the thigh and calves don’t give you too much trouble. You might struggle with the shoulder, core and arm muscles, but, with perseverance you will improve.
What kind of food, and how much of it, should I at before a workout?
It is important to eat something before you head off to the gym for a workout.
You don’t need to opt for a full meal – otherwise your body will be focussed on digesting a stomach full of food rather than being focussed on keeping your muscles moving. Instead, eat a healthy carb-based snack, with some sugar for easy fuel and eat it about 20 minutes before you start your routine.Try a banana, avocado or apple with some nut butter. This is a healthy choice, packed with nutrients, protein and good carbs and it will give you the perfect fuel for your workout.
If you workout lasts for less than an hour you shouldn’t need to eat during the routine, but remember to drink plain water often to keep hydrated. If you used weights then our body will continue to burn calories for around 20 to 60 minutes after your workout, so you might want to use this time to eat a healthy, high protein meal, to aid muscle growth.
How important is stretching after a workout and should I be stretching on days when I can’t get to the gym?
Novak Djokovic includes an intensive stretching routine in his fitness regime and we all saw at the weekend how useful that has proved to be for him! Stretching won't turn you into a Wimbledon champion but it is a very important stage of any routine, though many people see it as an afterthought.
A warm-up stretch helps so to prepare the muscles for intensive activity. This should stop you getting any injuries during your workout, and it is a great way to prepare yourself mentally too. A good warm-up stretch should include five to ten minutes of jogging and ten to fifteen minutes of dynamic stretching – exercises which will loosen up tight muscles.
It is a very good idea to follow a complete stretching routine on those days when you can’t fit in a gym session. Daily stretching pays dividends when it comes to life-long good posture, as any dancer will tell you. And stretching can help strengthen your tendons and muscles and unlock any ingrained tension, helping you to get the best out of your body. Using a foam roll can make your stretching routine more effective – drop by at the LC and ask one of the fitness instructors to take you through some key stretches using the foam roller.
My two boys eat crazy amounts of sugar. I feel guilty about giving in to them on fizzy drinks and sweets, but sugar has always been a big part of their diet and it is a very hard habit to break. What can I do?
We all learned as children that sweets, chocolate and cakes were rewards, so we learned to value them highly. And everyone, young or old, knows how hard it is to cut down on sugar, even if we are aware of its dangers. But you can help the family eat more healthily by introducing gradual changes and by setting a good example.
Make tweaks to your shopping list and stick to it. Can you swap fizzy pop for flavoured water? Can you opt for juice and use is as if it were squash, topping it up with fizzy water? Swap sugary cereals with unsweetened ones and add a handful of berries, half a banana or some raisins. Get the children involved in the food you serve at home. Find healthy recipes, for instance a simple tomato-based pasta sauce recipe with olive oil and herbs, and make it together. Ask them to find other low-sugar recipes they would like to make.
If you are unsure about what constitutes a healthy diet, why not join the LC’s Shape-Up Plan? The team will help you with sound advice on nutrition then you can reinforce that message when you are at home. Well done for making the choice to help your children be healthier. It is one of the most important things any parent can do.
I have real trouble getting to sleep at night. What kind of exercise would help me get better quality shut-eye?
There could be any number of reasons why you are struggling to sleep so it makes sense to go to your GP to check for any underlying issues. But you are right – regular exercise does help keep sleeping patterns steady.
If you are one of those people who lies awake mulling over the worries of the day, regular exercise has been shown to cut stress and to boost ‘happy hormones’.
Regular exercise will also help you feel tired and ready for bed. Exercising outdoors is a good choice, as fresh air and nature are good for the mood. Can you make time for a brisk walk or a cycle ride in the early evening?
A fairly demanding workout in the afternoon is effective – I wouldn’t recommend taking on anything too strenuous that will boost your endorphins in the hour immediately before you hit the hay – although a relaxing fitness class like Yoga should help you wind down. Find a routine that works for you and stick to it – with patience you should find your sleeping patterns improve.
When I come back from holiday I am lean and muscled because I walk everywhere – often with a backpack. How can I maintain the look while back ‘in the real world’?
It is interesting how a complete change in your daily routine – even if it is just for a couple of weeks – can have a dramatic effect on your fitness and body shape. Note down the details of your daily holiday routine – did you take on a hilly walk to the beach each day? Did you have a daily swim? How much time did you spend outdoors, sightseeing? What was your daily diet? How much did you drink?
Compare your answers with the details of your usual routine when you are at home you will get a picture of how different your holiday lifestyle is.
Then you need to use your spare time savvily to incorporate as many of those good habits into your daily life as possible. Schedule a lunchtime gyms session with weights, commit to a weekend cycle ride, walk to work once a week with your backpack on, sign up to an evening fitness class.
The bottom line is that on holiday you spent more time outside, you moved much more and you eat a healthier diet.
I’m looking for a fun fitness class I can tempt my sister along to so I can have some company. She loves dancing but she is a fitness class novice – what do you suggest?
It is a great idea to take a buddy along with you to a fitness class – it will help you stay motivated and it will make the session more fun for both of you.
There are a number of dance-inspired fitness classes on offer at the LC, including Just Dance on Thursday evenings and Bokwa on Monday evenings. Our new Bollywood-inspired class, every Wednesday at 7:30pm are likely to draw a crowd too, with its lively rhythms and upbeat atmosphere.
Dance-style classes can be a lot of fun as well as offering a great cardio workout. They are an ideal way for fitness class newbies to find their feet and they can be a real confidence-builder too.
If you aren't a regular dancer classes like these can remind you about muscle groups you forgot you had – so you should start slowly if you are a newcomer.
My wife is struggling to lose her baby weight after having our son late last year. I don't want to put any pressure on her but how can I help?
You are right to approach this one tactfully, but if her weight is having an impact on her health and happiness by all means you should do what you can to support your wife.
Are you able to set aside time when you can take a brisk walk twice a week together? Approach this time as a time for you to catch up as a couple rather than as a strict exercise session, but try to keep the pace up for 15 to 20 minutes, then increase the duration over time.
If she has a friend she would feel comfortable going to a class with why not ask them to getting touch and to invite her along? Perhaps they can enjoy a pampering session together afterward in the LC Spa?
The LC runs a great Pram Jam class on Monday’s at 11:30am for new mums who want to get back to fitness. Healthy eating is essential for new mums to help them build up any lost vitality so try to embark on a healthy eating plan as a couple so your fridge is full of clean, natural foods.
We’re over half way through the 30 Day Clean Eating Challenge at the LC and everyone seems to have found their feet with it. People have now fallen into a routine of organising their food and having set meals which they go to in a hurry. Planning in advance has proved to be a key part of eating clean as prepping foods really cuts down at meal times. The weekends are definitely the hardest time to resist those foods you have to avoid however, having found some clean treats (check the display board outside the spin room) I’m finding them much easier. With a little research, there’s a healthy option for nearly every meal and it’s been really enjoyable cooking them.
I’ve been hearing some really good feedback from those participating. Those who are doing it for weight loss purposes have seen results so far which is amazing! I’m doing it for other reasons, mainly to see what I feel like while avoiding foods lacking in nutrients. While I thought I’d miss dairy, the almond/coconut milk alternative is great and I haven’t really thought about regular milk. Small pieces of dark chocolate have been satisfying my sweet tooth as well. The only part of this challenge I’ve started to really struggle with is breakfast as I’m finding it really time consuming (I need to be more organised!) especially when I need to be in work at 6am. Heading in to the final full week, I’m going to try and prep some yummy breakfasts the night before.
Keep up the positive feedback and keep facebooking and tweeting us your thoughts!!!