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Dean's Fitness Blog

 

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.