Check out the latest health and fitness blog from Dean (Health and Fitness Manager), where he answers some topical questions:
I need some fast fitness results but I lose concentration in classes. Is there one which would hold my interest and give me speedy results?
Classes are great for making you keep up the pace but I know some people find them repetitive. How about trying Bootcamp?
Bootcamp gives you a tough, intensive workout session which will challenge every muscle – and you get little rest time during the class so you shouldn’t have time to get bored.
Based upon military style fitness training, bootcamp sessions are a very efficient way of getting a good cardio workout and a targeted strength workout, while wasting very little time. You will ache afterwards – so be prepared, but you will see results fast too. If you are looking to burn calories this is a good choice – you can burn up to 600 calories during an hour’s bootcamp workout. The LC offers sessions early in the morning on Tuesdays.
I suffer from Seasonal Affected Disorder and I dread the onset of the autumn and winter months. Would more exercise help me?
Yes, without doubt. Exercise is scientifically proven to boost endorphins in the body which have a positive affect on our mood. I know it can be hard to motivate yourself to get moving when you are feeling low, but regular exercise, daily if possible, would pay dividends.
Try to schedule at least 30 minutes of brisk exercise each day – whether that involves taking an exercise class, walking on the beach, getting on your bike or going for a swim. Exercising with a friend might help you too – if you can make exercise social you are more likely to enjoy your session.
Not only will regular exercise boost your mood, you are likely to feel better about yourself and about life if you look and feel fitter. Take the chance to exercise outside as often as you can too – that way you can absorb as much uplifting daylight as possible.
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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.
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.
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.