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Friday, 28 December 2012

Stay Fit to Stay Safe

Stay Fit to Stay Safe

One of the many benefits that you don’t often hear about is that staying fit can actually help you to stay safe.

This doesn’t mean taking up martial arts or boxing to defend yourself , though these activities can help. But it does mean staying fit to project a positive self image. And, help you run as fast as you can from potential confrontation rather than wading deeper into it.

What may appear cowardice, to run away, where a situation looks like a physical or violent confrontation might develop - can be the wisest course of action to follow.

Accepted wisdom, and proven in practice is that people react differently at a sub conscious level to someone who appears confident, strong and self assured. This is why bullies and thugs tend to prey on elderly people just because they appear weaker and unlikely to fight back.

Staying fit can help make you feel and appear stronger and serve as a form of protection from a potential aggressor.

What sort of exercise routines do you need to follow to appear stronger and more confident?


Just a straight forward walk lasting around 25 to 30 minutes per day to include hills of gradients will be sufficient to exercise your lower limbs and equally important filling your lungs with fresh air.

Fresh air is the key nutrient for your blood which feeds your muscles and brains.

Now on to exercises for self defence.

Barry Davies, a former SAS instructor writing in his book SAS Self Defence, suggests purchasing a punch bag and sparring gloves. He writes, “I can honestly say there is no better way of staying fit, controlling your breathing and practicing self defence skills than punching the hell out of a bag for half n hour.

If you’ve never done boxing before, below are 6 tips from Davies that could start you on the journey to staying fit to stay safe:

1. Warm up with 5 minutes skipping

2. Spend 10 minutes shadow boxing, but take it slowly

3. Spend 5 minutes skipping again

4. Spend 5 minutes fast boxing

5. Lastly, 5 minutes of fast skipping

6. Relax (Any pent up aggression should get released during the 5 minutes spend fast boxing)

Over time, staying fit will help you stay safe.

Monday, 10 December 2012

Get Healthy, Understanding Hip and Thigh Pain

The hip is a ball-and-socket joint, surrounded by large muscles. The ball, the round head of the femur (thigh bone), is set deeply in the acetabulum, a deep socket or cavity in the pelvis. The joint is very stable. The majority of long-term hip problems are associated with aging, disease (such as arthritis) and fractures. But pain in the hip and thigh also can be caused by injury to muscles, tendons or bursas, usually from a fall, a blow or overuse.

Hip pain in athletes involves a wide differential diagnosis. Adolescents and young adults are at particular risk for various apophyseal and epiphyseal injuries due to lack of ossification of these cartilaginous growth plates. Older athletes are more likely to present with tendinitis in these areas because their growth plates have closed. Several bursae in the hip area are prone to inflammation. The trochanteric bursa is the most commonly injured, and the lesion is easily identified by palpation of the area.

Quadricep, hamstring, and Iliotibial band injuries can be quite painful. However, there are several ways to help stablize muscular pulls. Compression braces can help provide stabilization to the torn muscle fibers and improve the ability to walk or help protect from futher injury. Ice packs and cold wraps help reduce pain and inflammation, and pain relief gels can provide temporary relief of painful symptoms. Many athletes use magnetic products to stimulate blood flow and reduce pain.

One of the biggest causes of hip and back pain is the psoas muscle. These problems include but are not limited to lower back pain, sciatica, disc problems, knee pain, pelvic tilting, digestive problems, infertility, and menstruation pain. You could also experience scoliosis, a difference in the length of your legs, kyphosis, sacroiliac pain and accentuated lumbar lordosis.

Bursitis in the hip usually involves the hip socket and causes tenderness, pain, and swelling on the outer part of the hip where some of the large buttock muscles attach. Bursitis in the hip can cause pain that spreads to the buttocks and down as far as the knee. Bursitis in the hip can be caused by activities such as speed-walking, aerobic dance, or carrying a baby on your hip. It also can be caused by conditions that alter the normal tilt of the pelvis, such as having one leg shorter than the other.

As the pain improves, gradually begin to exercise. It is best to work with a physical therapist to learn proper exercises and how to advance your activity. Swimming may be a good option because it stretches the muscles and builds good muscle tone without straining your hip joint. However, swimming does not build bone mass. When you are ready (a physical therapist can help determine that), slowly and carefully resume walking or another activity against the resistance of gravity.

A hip fracture can change the quality of your life significantly. Fewer than 50% of those with a hip fracture return to their former level of activity. In addition, while recovering from a hip fracture, several possible complications can be life-threatening. These include pneumonia and a blood clot in the leg, which can dislodge and travel to cause a clot in the lungs. Both are due to immobility following a hip fracture and hip surgery.

A groin pull can be caused by a quick change in direction while you're moving—often occurring in sports such as hockey, tennis, and basketball. A groin pull can result in pain, tenderness, and stiffness deep in the groin, making activity difficult.

Guest Blog: Corwin Brown Read about Herbal Remedies and Natural Remedies.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Ways to stay fit and get healthy, dispel the myths

Do you find excuses are easy to come up with so you avoid having to visit the gym, or put on your trainers to go for a run?

My excuses or reasons for avoiding a workout are tiredness or lack of time. The rational side of me says, I should make time for exercise as my health should be the number one priority.

The ‘be kind to myself’ side of me says, I need to rest or I’ll be no use to myself, family or employer. I know I’m not the only one that at some time quoted myths to justify why I fail to beat the struggle to find ways to get fit and stay healthy.

I decided to explore some of the myths that have morphed into accepted facts. These ‘facts’ are great excuses or reasons to avoid finding ways to beat the struggle to find ways to get fit and stay healthy.

Here’s one myth that has made in roads into folklore for men – lifting weights will turn my body into the Hulk so, ‘I’ll avoid lifting weights’.

This myth is also circulating amongst some women, who avoid weights because their bodies will end up being bulky and no longer feminine. Fortunately, these are just myths.

Lifting weights as part of a varied fitness programme will not give you unsightly muscles.

Doing nothing else but lift weights for months or even years will develop muscle strength and muscle mass, eventually.

You’d only concentrate on lifting weights if you were entering competitions to show off your pecs (pectoral muscles).

One further myth which can be used as evidence to avoid finding ways to get fit or stay healthy, especially if over or underweight is to believe, ‘my metabolism is higher or lower than everyone elses’.

Again, the truth is less remarkable – your metabolism isn’t.

Excluding rare and serious metabolism conditions, which should be diagnosed by your doctor – your metabolism tends to be plus or minus 200-300 calories of other peoples'. That’s a small slice of cake.

Follow up articles will explore other myths we might rely on to avoid beating the struggle to find ways to get fit or stay healthy.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Presidential Candidates – Are they Superfit Supermen?

The USA election is over and both presidential candidates will continue life more or less just like before they started on the campaign trail.

But have you have ever wondered where does a 65 year old – Mitt Romney and 51 year old Barak Obama get the tremendous amount of energy to maintain a punishing and gruelling schedule to appear fresh faced at their campaign rallies.

Could you travel thousands of miles, get off a plane and deliver rousing speeches to an audience?

Let’s start with Barack Obama. Between June 1st and November 2nd this year the president made 214 campaign appearances. He’s trim, he's athletic, which could be due to stress, following a fitness regime or both.

According to, President Obama has never missed a day’s training; he spends 45 mins in the gym on the treadmill and elliptical machine as well as weight training. In addition he plays basket ball, and boxing.

The President also does plyometrics, a series of exercises of that involved fast powerful movement to increase an athlete. For example, jumping in to the air and landing on bended knees, then quickly jumping back up into the air again. Or, leaping in to the air as if you’re doing the long jump.

The President’s family diet apparently have a 90/10 per cent rules which allows them eat 90% healthy food and 10% for indulgencies.

It’s reported that in 2008, while campaigning for president, Mr Obama revealed that his typical breakfast consisted of four to six eggs, wheat toast, potatoes, and occasionally oatmeal, bacon or fruit.

Mitt Romney, in the same period between June 1st and November 2nd also travelled thousands of miles and made 277 campaign appearances.

There has been little mention of Romney's age being a handicap in his failed attempt at capturing the presidency. This is likely because he reflect a near perfect image of health and fitness for a man of his age.So what does he do?

Romney runs three miles a day either on the treadmill or around the grounds of his hotel and eats low-fat diet that's high in protein, with a typical dinner consisting of turkey breast, rice and broccoli.

So both President and ex Presidential candidate get their energy not by being fanatical about following a fitness regime, but doing everything in moderation - eating and exercise.

I guess the key factor is actually doing the exercise and not making excuses for not doing exercises like, I’m too busy. This is a constant refrain for those of us trying to beat the struggle to get fit and stay healthy.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Stay fit, Improve your body with core strength training

One of the most important parts of your workout routine is core strength training. What you are going to find is that these exercises help to improve the muscles that are essential for the transfer of energy in your body. These core muscles in turn are the ones that are most used when you are participating in sporting events and running.
Your muscles in this core region include the abdominal muscles, the muscles in your hip are and the muscles along your spine. This means that no single exercise is going to give you the core strength training that you need and that you will need to incorporate a series of exercises if you want to end up with the best results possible.
The following is a list of 15 exercises that you can do to help boost the strength of these muscles. It is recommended you have a medicine ball, stability ball and a desire for a shredded midsection on hand to ensure that you can successfully do all these exercises.
Improving Your Body With Core Strength Training Exercises
  • Prone Bridge
  • Lateral Bridge
  • Supine Bridge
  • Pelvic Thrusts
  • Russian Twists
  • Lunges
  • Lateral Pull Downs
  • Deadlifts
  • Crunches
  • Bear Crawls
  • Jump Squats
  • Cleans
  • Box Jumps
  • Squatted Dumbell Press
  • Leg Raises
When you have gone through these core strength training exercises, you are going to find that you have quite a few benefits that will come from it. These benefits will include everything from improved balance and control, to moving in a more efficient manner. You'll even find that when you utilize these exercises regularly, you are going to have better athletic performance with fewer injuries experienced.
While you're doing your core strength training, it will be important that you do focus on improving on each workout you do. As you increase the amount of weight you lift and the number of reps you do, you slowly build up your body strength. You might even consider setting a day aside during your lifting routine strictly for core work. Try performing each of the above mentioned exercises for 2 sets a piece and see how you feel.
Above all, you need to ensure that you're including a healthy diet with your exercise routines. By doing that, you can be confident that you are getting the essential nutrients like complex carbohydrates and lean proteins that your body is going to need to remain energized and to ensure that your muscles can continue to rebuild and grow.
Alright insider's, that's it for this one. Your core strength training can consist of any exercises you choose. Just make sure that you don't overwork any area for more than a couple of days in a row and give the different sections of your body a few days of rest to ensure that you don't overwork your muscles as the growth and strength you end up having will occur during your recovery time.
To your fitness success!
David McCready is the founder of Game Strength Insider found at He specializes in helping athletes and average Joes alike, gain long term lean muscle mass, strength and cardiovascular conditioning without gimmicks, supplements or fad dieting. © 2012 Game Strength Insider. All rights in all media reserved

Things to Know about Water Aerobics Classes

In this busy life where we eat fast food and spend most of our day time sitting in the office, the role of excising is becoming more and more significant. People often choose one type of sport to help them keep fit and also relax their mind.

Aerobics is one type of sport which can surely help them to exercise and burn fat which accumulates on their body overtime. Unlike many people think, burning fat is not a very challenging task. What you need is hard work, a your devotion to the task at hand. But, it's real that people who are excessively fat will find it hard to take part in any sport activities. They even have difficulties using the exercising machines - like a treadmill properly. Self-exercising at home can easily make these highly obese people feel discouraged. Therefore, they need to get involved in proper training initially to reduce some of their weight before they can do normal exercises.

A great way to reduce weight without much hard work is to do water aerobics. Aerobics, when performed under water, can definitely reduce a significant amount of weight for these people.

Aerobics is becoming more and more popular these days as people realise how useful it is in helping them to lose weight. This is the reason why there are more and more people signing up for water aerobics class on a daily basis. If you are new to this type of sport, let me tell you some interesting things about it. It is an aerobics class which is taken in the water under the help of an aqua jogger. This jogger helps the participants to stay suspended in the water and easily move about.

Because this type of sport is popular, you can find it being taught at almost every health clubs and also at big swimming pools. If this is the first time you do this sport, remember to choose health clubs with a good reputation and experienced training experts. Do not worry while doing it because you will be instructed by professional experts.

The benefits water aerobics classes bring you are clear and undeniable. You participate in the sport with other people who have the same desire to lose weight like you, so you will not lose your enthusiasm easily. The good thing is that this sport does not require hard work. You can enjoy the fun for an extended period of time without feeling exhausted. Before joining any water aerobics classes, make sure you keep in mind the things listed below. In summary, if you have tried other conventional methods to lose weight but failed, why don't you give water aerobics a chance?

MichelleJGoss Michelle G. Ross is a water aerobics instructor. She loves reading, travelling, sharing her water aerobics routines for those who are interested in this type of sport.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Work out at work, top 10 exercises to do in your office

Beating the struggle to get fit and stay healthy doesn’t mean you always need to visit the gym, run around the park or get on your bike and complete a cross country tour.

You can get fit and stay healthy while you are at work whether in an office, factory or workshop. Here are 10 ideas to get yourself fit and stay healthy while at work:

Exercise in the office, use the stairs

1. Use the stairs rather than the elevator (lift in the UK). I've seen people take the elevator just to go up one floor, you probably have too. Be different, take the stairs.

2. If you’re in the elevator alone and it has railings, view them as parallel bars and lift your self several times (do several repetitions) to strengthen your arm muscles.

3. Get up from your chair, walk over and speak to that colleague you were just about to email.

4. Rather than have lunch at your desk, when the weather is agreeable, take a walk outside and find a bench where you can sit and eat. You’ll also find this can give you a fresh perspective on a problem you might have had trouble with tackling.

5. Make it your goal to never stay chained to your desk for more than two hours.

6. Perform straight leg lifts from the chair, or knee lifts. Sit in the chair, extend your legs and lift them up to a 45 degree angle (or a little lower.) For knee lifts, bring your butt to the edge of the chair, squeeze your knees together and try to touch them to your chest. This last exercise is probably best done while your colleagues aren't around

7. How about stretch exercises? You can do these, without fear of embarrassment. Stretch the arms in an attempt to touch the ceiling. Stretch your leg out in front while sitting so they are at right angles to your body. While doing this exercise try to stretch your feet too so they are nearly parallel with the floor.

Exercise in the office, take in gym equipment

8. If you have a liberal work environment, why not bring into your office a Floor Pedal Exerciser. These are inexpensive machines you can buy for under US $50. The more sophisticated machines come with a digital display to monitor your progress.

If your bosses don’t mind, you could put the exerciser on the desk and use it to exercise your arm muscles. Who knows, you could be the one that starts an office craze with these machines.

9. One unobtrusive exercise you can do is glutial squeezes or butt muscle squeezes while sitting in your chair. The benefit is that no one will notice. Squeeze your gluteals, otherwise known as the muscles that make up your butt, as tight as you can and hold for 10 seconds.

Release your contraction and rest for five seconds before repeating the sequence for 10 repetitions. The benefits from this exercise can help you with another exercise, climbing stairs. Without strong butt muscles, you may find your body tires easily after climbing a few flights of stairs.

10. If you have your own office, or you are one of the first to arrive or last to leave why not use the isolation to do a few pushups. You can also use your office chair if it has arm rests to push yourself up from the seat. Choose to do it in full view of your colleagues or, discreetly.

Working in a non manual job still gives you plenty of opportunities to beat the struggle to get fit and stay healthy.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

How to measure your body fat

The Olympics rightly put the focus on health and fitness, the Paralympics even more. As well as the competitive elements and the excitement generated watching participants excel and their chosen sports, the Olympics made me conscious of my own state of fitness.

I remember the first time I went to see my doctor for a complete checkup. Out came his callipers and the measurement taken of the single scroll of fat surrounding my mid-section. This meant putting an end to consumption of apple pies and pastries. This of course worked for a while, slowly the bad eating habits crept back and I found myself eating the pies and pastries again.

Over a decade later, the scrolls of fat have multiplied. The solution is of course diet and exercise. I find that exercise or getting into a routine of exercise much easier than keeping to a diet. What is a little demoralising is that despite exercising there appears to be little change to my weight, one of the success measures for exercise and diet.

I try to take comfort from the accepted wisdom that fat is heavier than muscle. But, the key is knowing the difference between fat and muscle and identify if the lack of change is due to fat getting replaced with muscle.

Measuring your body fat

Using callipers to measure fat is now a dated technique as you can easily find the proportion of fat or muscle with specialised domestic scales. One of which is the Withings Wi-fi Body Scales.

These scales display your weight and fat content. Using the scales means you can target your exercise to reduce fat.

The first impression you get with these scales is it’s high tech looks. The whole family can use the scales as it can track up to eight users. It has automatic user recognition, online dashboards and 40 e-health & fitness services such as Runkeeper. In the age of privacy, you can keep your measurement details on a secure website.

Measuring your body fat and skeletal muscle

The Omron BF511 Blue Family Body Composition Monitor goes several steps further, using its sensor technology, the BF511 Body Composition Monitor gives you a painless and accurate total body reading--body weight (in kilograms), body fat percentage, visceral fat, resting metabolism and skeletal muscle percentage. You become as knowledgeable as your doctor, probably more so. The visceral fat, is the fat around your waist. Use the technology in these scales to measure your body fat without a visit to the doctor with his callipers.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

The Olympians, when the limelight fades

This posting is a slight deviation from the regular postings on beating the struggle to get fit and stay healthy. But, I couldn’t resist the temptation to offer my reflections on the Olympics held in London, the place I’ve worked in for the last 20 plus years.

The Olympics held in London was no doubt a massive success for the athletes, volunteers and organisers. Anyone who worked on the Olympics should be congratulated on working on mammoth task demanding great organisation and presentation skills. I offer my congratulations too.

One question that’s always played on my mind whenever the Olympics are held, is whether the sacrifice from the athletes, coaches and families involved is really worth it?

The question probably assuages any guilty feelings I have from not really pushing hard to beat the struggle to get fit.

But, other than the gold and silver medal winners who may get lucrative sponsorship deals during or immediately after the games, what happens to them after when the spotlight of the media goes dim? And, their pictures no longer grab the front pages of newspapers worldwide or beamed into millions of homes. Do they remain household names for the months and years after their spectacular achievements?

I decided to do a little research on what became of a couple of gold medal winners from the Beijing Olympics.

Ryu Seung-Min (born August 5, 1982 in Seoul, South Korea) a Korean table tennis player, won the gold medal at the 2004 Summer Olympics in the men's singles competition.

There are few references to Ryu on the web. Ryu’s fame appears limited to table tennis circles. Earnings for professional table tennis players rarely get to six figures and they don’t become house hold names.

How about weightlifting? The gold medal winner in 2004 for lifting 105 kg was Hossein Rezazadeh from Iran, and nick named¸ The Iranian Hercules". Rezazadeh tried to capitalise on his Olympian achievement by appearing in advertisements to promote real estate in Dubai.

His participation surprised many of his fans and was seen as demeaning to both himself and his country, given the promotion of buying estates in a land deemed as a rival.

Again, Rezazadeh is another example of an athlete who has achieved the ultimate athletic prize, a gold medal, and then quietly slips into anonymity. This begs the question from me why do they do it?

Answers on a post card please or preferably in the comment box below.

Monday, 23 July 2012

Finding the Right Gym, with the Right People

Like a soap opera most gyms have their archetype characters as if specially cast in a role just for the gym. Unfortunately, the roles they play are set to annoy even the most tolerant of us.

At most gyms you get several role types - grunter, smelly, know it all, flirter, talker and care-less

Right Gym, Right People

In this post I'll look at the hogger. The type who are either in love with a piece of gym equipment or they believe they own it.

Despite notices saying something like no more than x minutes on gym equipment, the hogger can't read or, believe they are so special the rules are written for other people to follow.

You have your eye on a piece of gym equipment, say a new running machine with all the latest add-ons. The hogger has been on it since you arrived at the gym.

After an hour you leave the gym, the hogger is still using it. You bite your lip, say nothing and quietly leave the gym - frustrated.

A few days pass you return to the gym, that hogger is still on the same machine. Are they welded to it? You desperately want to use that machine.

What do you do? Shouting expletives won't make them willingly hand it over for you to use. No, the chances are they're so absorbed with what they're doing and haven’t seen you.

Politely ask, at a convenient time such as a pause when they’re changing settings on the gym equipment, how long they'll be or if there's any chance you can use it for a few minutes before you go home. Chances they'll say not long the offer ask again in 10mins. This time they'll either offer to let you use the equipment or stall again with the response not long.

Dealing with Gym Hoggers

If they say not long, ask if you can use it for 15 minutes and if they'll give you some tips on how to get the most from that piece of gym equipment. This way you get to use it, they get to watch over their beloved equipment which they probably view as theirs. Hopefully, you may have begun to build some kind of rapport with them.

If this still fails to work speak to the gym manager to get them to enforce their policy on using gym equipment.

If this also fails to work, ask yourself do you really want to continue as a paying member of this gym that favours certain clients over others?

Your only option is to vote with your feet and wallet. Do your research and join a better gym.

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Saturday, 7 July 2012

A GPS Sports Tracker Can Make Fitness Fun

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How do you turn a dull routine, which at a push you can call exercise, into something mildly interesting and evenexciting?
I found that using Endomondo, a little free gps sports tracker application for your Blackberry, iphone or smart phone, it is possible.

Endomondo, GPS Sports Tracker

I started using Endomondo nearly 2 years ago to make my cycle rides more interesting. Endomondo was and is much cheaper than buying a cycle computer to get average speeds, duration, distance travelled and calories burned. Since I first started using Endomondo the user interface has been updated so it’s really easy to use, I guess you could work out all the settings in less than a minute.
Endomondo can track over 30 different exercise activities from Aerobics to Yoga. Included in the activity list are Beach Volley, Martial Arts and Polo. How Endomondo tracks calories burned for Beach Volley or Martial Arts remains a mystery to me. You also risk damaging your phone if it’s in your pocket while playing Beach Volley or Martial Arts.
The main screen settings asks you to enter your name, weight and countdown intervals. You then select your exercise activity, in my case it's cycling. Press start, a couple of seconds later the GPS tracker picks up your location. Press stop when you’ve completed your activity.

GPS Sports Tracker on Your PC

A number of features that make Endomondo worth trying out are:- functionality to share your fitness progress with friends and find out how they’re progressing too in their struggle to become or keep fit. Endomondo uses the contacts on your mobile phone or Facebook account.
- The app keeps a history of all your workouts. Logging into Endomondo via your PC gives you access to detailed graphs of your performance so you can actually measure how well you’re progressing.
For example, if it takes me 45 mins to cycle from the train station to home on day 1, and on day 30 it take 37 minutes I know I’m making progress.
This gives me the boost to persevere so I know my struggles are not in vain.

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Correcting Poor Posture, How to Feel More Confident

Getting fit and staying healthy will help you feel more confident and project a positive image about yourself. Slouching or stooping projects negative signals which might make people perceive you as nervous or lacking in confidence and authority.

Slouching and stooping is a result of bad posture which may have developed from childhood and into adulthood.

How any times were we told as a child by our parents or teachers to stand up straight? The primary reason they said this is so we didn’t look slovenly or dishevelled. Another possible reason is they didn’t want us to develop a bad back and maintain bad posture into adulthood.

Good posture helps you look more confident, self assured and contributes to feelings of self-worth. How many celebrities or successful politicians have you seen walking with bad posture? I'd imagine very few.

As well as being told to stand-up straight there are a number of devices that can help maintain good posture. There is the Magnetic orthopaedic posture corrector for your back and shoulder. It’s essentially a back brace/support strap. This is designed to improve posture and correct stooping. Magnets are strategically positioned to target the spine and lumbar region.

For children there are similar devices like a Child Back Support Band to prevent stooping.

A common theme with all these devices is that they physically change your posture. This means as long as you wear the devices your posture improves. They don’t change behaviour.

Bad Posture Belt

A novel device invented by Ellen Sundh is the Bad Posture Belt. What makes this device different is that it detects when your posture is bad and emits a sound, mildly irritating, to correct your posture. The belt detects the degree of curvature of your spine and when this is beyond a certain threshold emits the sound or voice that says, “bad posture”.

This means you learn to correct your posture rather than physically being ‘forced’ to maintain good posture which some of the posture correctors attempt to enforce.

The look and design will not be to everyone’s taste, but if you’re not comfortable with a brace to enforce good posture, the ‘talking’ Bad Posture Belt could be a good alternative.

Saturday, 16 June 2012

How to Get Flexible, Easy Exercises for You

One of the rewards of getting old, if you can call it that, is getting stiffness in your limbs or losing flexibility in your body.

You really notice this when you try to run up the stairs or if you’ve been asked to bend down and touch your toes. The latter exercise really hurts.

Body flexibility relates to the the range of movement in your joints. The degree of flexibility differs for each individual. But the degree of body flexibility can be improved by doing some simple stretching exercises.

This is one area of exercise I’ve never taken seriously. I’ll go the garage and use the bench press straightaway, or just jump on my bike and pedal of the train station without giving a second thought slow down and perform a few stretching exercise first.

When you think, a few stretching exercises isn’t that onerous if they are the only exercises we do in our struggle to stay or get fit.

Keeping our bodies flexible is important as a lack of flexibility can trigger physical symptoms such as pain syndrome or balance problems.

You can measure how flexible your body is by doing a Sit and Reach test. This will test flexibility of your lower back.

You do the test by sitting on the floor with both legs outstretched and parallel to the floor. Both feet point upwards with the heel on the ground.

With arms outstretched parallel to your legs, the aim is to see how far you can lean forward so that your hands outstretched are at the same point as your toes.

If you can lean forward so your hands are at the same point as your toes, that’s a zero reading. If you can lean forward so your hands go beyond your toes, that’s a positive reading, if you struggle to get anywhere near your toes that’s a negative reading. You want to aim for a zero or positive reading.

While you can do the Sit and Reach test at home, your local gym should have a Sit and Reach box so the measurements will be a little more formal.

get more flexible If you’re like me you’ll be in the negative zone. Try out some simple exercises where you stretch your arms above your head, touch your toes; while standing rotate each arm in big circles, imagine your drawing the biggest circle you can; finally stretch your neck from side to side and forward and backwards several times.

These simple exercises will improve your flexibility and may go some way to delaying onset of symptoms resulting from lack of flexibility in our bodies.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Bike Commuting – Getting Prepared for the Commute

Do you have an old bike in a shed or garage that’s hardly ever used and when ever you see it do you say, ‘one day I’ll get out on this bike’? I’m sure you’ll not be alone. Several of my friends say the same thing.

You could find your self saving money if you took up the challenge to commute to work or to the bus/train station on your bike.

Ok, here are lots of excuses you could list for not getting on a bike; the weather – it’s too cold, it rains too much, it’s too windy; safety - the crazy drivers, pollution from exhaust fumes; security – where to park when you arrive at your destination.

To be fair, these are valid reasons for not commuting by bike. With a few precautions you minimise the risks.

Here are ten ways you can prepare your old bike so it’s fit for commuting:

1. Tyres/Wheels. If the combined weight of accessories and carry on gear is more than 10 pounds change the wheels to 36 spokes and make sure tyres are wider than 700x28c, with a quick release lever.

2. Gears. A 21 speed gear set should see you through most cycle terrains you’re likely to come across. If you need to change the gear set, unless you’ve an aptitude for mechanics then this is best left to your local cycle shop. If the number of gears on the bike you have is less than 21, I’d do a test run on the commute journey to see how much effort is required. This way you don’t have the stress of getting to work or the bus/train station for a certain time.

3. Pannier Racks. If you’re like me you always take a bag to work. (I envy my colleagues who arrive to work empty handed). If your bags holds a laptop or work files you need to protect. Make sure the rack you buy will support the intended weight. I have a quick release pannier rack which is attached to the seat post. You can fit these in a couple of minutes.

4. Mudguards. Most bikes are sold without mudguards, but they are a must of you commute in the rain. Without mudguards your bags and clothes will get dirty.

5. Rain Protection. Riding your bike feeling wet and cold will quickly put an end to your commuting by bike. Lookout for the following features when buying cycling rain gear - waterproof, taped seams, pit zips on jackets, tail on the jacket, and adjustable ankle and wrist cuffs. For heavy rain, get a helmet visor to keep the rain away from my eyes.

6. Visual Jacket. This is a must. If you’re seen by drivers you’re less likely to have an accident and one where the driver says, ‘I’m sorry I never saw you’.

7. Cycle Helmet. Wearing a helmet is not to my knowledge a legal requirement but it does offer some protection if you have an accident.

8. Bike Repair Kit. At a minimum your kit should include puncture repair, set of bike spanners, and chain repair took.

9. Water. If your commute is over a mile carry a bottle of water so you feel refreshed at the end of your journey.

10. Cycle Pump. A necessity if you suffer a puncture – provided you’ve got a puncture repair kit.

A little preparation for your commute means your journeys will be free from stress getting snarled up in traffic and you’ll no longer look at envy at cyclists that breeze past you in stationery traffic.

Friday, 8 June 2012

Gym Membership, Should I Join?

After weeks of talking about attending a gym I finally bit the bullet and visited a nearby gym attached to a hotel.

A week’s holiday at home meant no stress from commuting or dealing with the challenges of my job.

There was an opportunity of an introductory offer which I took as there was little to lose.

I think one of the main barriers to joining a gym is commitment - this is both good and bad. Commitment compels you to attend the gym regularly because you’ve paid for it, often a few months in advance. This is good. Commitment compels you to attend the gym regularly and few of us like to be compelled to do something. That’s bad.

The gym I visited was small and didn’t have a vast range of equipment. It wasn’t packed wall to wall with Mr Universe types or pseudo Olympians. I didn’t feel intimidated because of the small size, as many standalone gyms can be the size of aircraft hangers.

I tried out most of the equipment. My favourite being the Spinning cycle, this had all the usual features like time, distance, calories burned, heart rate and ability to simulate the type of terrain which changed the effort needed to turn the pedals.

If you haven’t visited a gym for a while and need that extra push to go, lookout for introductory gym offers like a free gym pass, take advantage of any gym membership trials.

Dealing with the struggle to get or stay fit means dealing with one of our fears and that is commitment. Feeling compelled to go because we’ve spent the money means we just don’t go. However, joining a gym even on a trial basis has made my struggle to get fit a little easier.

Thursday, 31 May 2012

Muscle Builder - Build Ab Muscles Fast

One of the things you get free as you get older is a bigger midsection. It creeps up on you and you only know its existence when your spouse/partner or friend points at it accusingly. 

The bigger midsection is sometimes referred to, amusingly, as pot belly, beer belly or relaxed muscle.

If we’re honest we’d all prefer the flat stomach we had in our youth. There are ways and means to achieve a flatter stomach without spending too much money, if any at all.

All you need is some space. You practice sitting upright without any support. Fold your arms while lying down, with knees bent, and slowly bring yourself to a sitting position with arms still folded and legs still on the round. Painful at first when you’re not use to it, but it gets easier with practice.

Spend a few pounds or dollars and get a gym ball. They take some getting use to because of their tendency to roll, after all they are just an oversized ball.

When you finally get the ball stable, sit on it in so that you can curl your back round the top of the ball  so you face the ceiling. Keep your knees at right angles. Slowly bring yourself upwards, while you keep your arms folded, so you’re sitting at the edge of the ball.  Do several repetitions. In a few weeks you may have lost much of the unwanted midsection.      

You got the extra midsection free, you can also get rid of it for free.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Free Home Gym Equipment - Staircase or Stairwell

Here's an exercise routine that doesn't require any special equipment, special gear to wear or monthly gym fees to pay. You could even says it's using free home gym equipment.

As you can guess from the title I'm referring to stairs. Yes, climbing stairs at home, or at work can help beat the struggle to get or stay fit.

In my office there are eight floors with around 14 steps between each floor. I’ve climbed from the ground floor to the eighth floor on about 10 occasions in the six years I’ve been at that office.

Each time I reached the top, I felt as if I'd done two rounds with mike Tyson and lost.

Like many people I find it hard to make time to exercise. A stair climbing exercise program might be a practical solution.

Here are some tips which would have helped me a few years ago during my painful climb of those eight flights of stairs.

If you usually take the elevator (lift to us Brits) rather than the stairs you may find yourself breathless after a few flights of stairs and/or leg muscles are ‘burning’. This is a sign to take it easy, and pardon the pun – take it one step at a time.

Each day or two or three days, increase the number of stairs so at the end of the month, give yourself a target, you can say climb X flight of stairs without feeling breathless or pain in your leg muscles.

Climb safely. Wear good supportive shoes. Drink water before, during and after the sessions. This is one mistake I made which soon made me give up stair climbing as an exercise strategy.

Take notice of your of how your knees and lower back feel after a few weeks of starting your stair-climbing exercise routine.

Stair climbing might not ignite your flame but it is can be an easy way to get or become fit, as long as it's not the only way.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Disabled and Fit, How?

Some of the fittest people around are in fact disabled

I'm not disabled but I do know people who are and you may too. And, life is full of uncertainties. We just don't know what's around the corner.

How you keep fit while disabled will depend on the extent of the disability.

I've seen disabled people take part in volleyball, basketball and swimming.

At first, watching these athletes I must admit made me feel uncomfortable. Obviously, the problem is with me not them.

As the volleyball and basketball progressed, the athletes were practicing for this year's Olympics, my admiration for them started to grow. These people made their disability work for rather than against them.

Steve Scott is Chair of the UK’s Dwarf Athletics Association quoted in a BBC special report on what disabled people do for exercise he says, “I find swimming and cycling are better exercise than running, although I have run a marathon in the past! Swimming and cycling are good cardio-vascular exercise, less aggressive on my joints, and less damaging on hips and spine”.

Michael Watson was a UK based middleweight boxer. He suffered brain damage during a boxing match with Chris Eubanks in 1991, leaving him in coma for 40 days.

In the same BBC special report Watson says, he starts each morning with a 15-20 minute stretch. This is followed with a 15-20 minute walk and then cycling in the gym.

Exercise Equipment for Disabled People.

We’re all accustomed to gyms and sports equipment shops and what they offer. But what was new to me was the specialist exercise equipment available for disabled people. There is a Chair Gym, not too sophisticated, but allows users to exercise their arms while in a wheel chair.

Then there is something called VitaGlide. A wheelchair user positions their wheelchair between two horizontal arms that meet at the front in the shape of a ‘V’. The arms are pulled and pushed, similar to the movement on a Cross Trainer. While wheelchair users may get exercise simply by manoeuvering their wheel chairs, this adds another dimension to their exercise routines.

Lastly, there’s the HUR Chest Press. Again catering to people bound to their wheelchair. This offers a range of exercise routines for:


-Deltoids (shoulder muscle)

-Chest press;


-Lateral pull.

With life’s uncertainties, you don’t know what’s round the corner. And, like the paralympic atheletes should we ever suffer a disability we should make it work for rather than against us.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

How to Stay or Get fit with a Cross Trainer

The cross trainer, aka elliptical trainer, is my favourite item in the gym, to the extent I bought one for the home.

The appeal of the cross trainer is that it simulates walking (exercise your legs)and pulling (exercise your arms). It’s easy to use and there’s no impact on your joints. Knee sufferers will find the cross trainer a great piece of equipment.

Don’t get a cross trainer to build muscle strength, although it can help. If you are going forward, it will work out the thighs and quads. If you reverse the direction, it will give you a really good glut workout.

The aim of the cross trainer is to give you a good cardio workout, strengthening your heart and improving blood circulation.

Here’s a calculator to estimate the calories you’re likely to lose exercising with a cross trainer:

The belt driven cross trainers should be the cheapest as the engineering behind them is less complicated. Belt driven cross trainers are used for basic exercise routines.

Magnetic resistance cross trainers offer more exercise routines or training levels to increase your fitness. And, can be quieter than belt driven versions.

Depending on how varied your training levels need to be e.g. from simulating level walking to mountain climbing will guide your choice of a belt driven or magnetic resistance cross trainer.

Don’t make the mistake I made when selecting a cross trainer and overlook the dimensions. I ordered my cross trainer, new, from Ebay and was surprised or shocked at the size.

I placed it in the dining room where it soon became the dominant feature. A cross trainer is not something you want as part of your dining room furniture.

In the end it was relegated to the garage and that's when its use declined. I stopped using it and had to scrap it because it no longer worked. I could have bought another, though much cheaper cross trainer, for what it would cost to fix. I didn't

The lesson from my experience is - if you buy a cross trainer make sure you put it where you can see it. You then stand a greater chance in beating the struggle to become or stay fit.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Sleep In to Stay Fit?

Sleep in to stay fit? I've got several choices tonight - retire to bed early, scout around for gym gear and head of to the gym, go for a run or cycle a few miles round the neighbourhood?

Let me see. After a long busy and stressful day at work, I admit the option to retire to bed early has the greatest appeal.

I was surprised to find out that there is an academic publication called the - Sleep. The research published in this journal showed that more, rather than less sleep can help you lose weight. So, if one of your goals for getting or staying fit is to lose weight, getting more sleep is worth exploring.

I admit this novel way to lose weight has some appeal for me. Sleep comes naturally at the end of the day, doesn't take any effort and costs nothing. And it's something we all have to do.

The study, based on 1,088 pairs of identical and non identical twins found that heritability of body mass index (BMI) - a measurement relating weight and height - was twice as high for short as for long sleepers. For twins sleeping less than seven hours a night, genetic factors accounted for 70% of differences in BMI. In the case of twins averaging more than nine hours of sleep, only 32% of weight variations could be attributed to genes.

One of the conclusions suggested by the research, according to Dr Nathaniel Watson from the University of Washington, was that shorter sleep provides a more permissive environment for the expression of obesity related genes.

I can’t say I was entirely convinced by the research so did a little more digging and found that University of Michigan researcher, Michael Sivak made some calculations to show that replacing one hour of inactive wakefulness—such as watching television—with sleep can result in a 6 percent reduction in caloric intake.

How does it work? A person who sleeps seven hours a night and consumes 2,500 calories during the remaining 17 hours of the day can cut 147 calories by simply sleeping an extra hour instead of watching TV.

Admittedly, you’re not going to end up with huge drop in weight as Sivak calculated you’re likely to lose 14 pounds over a year.

But, if your goals are realistic and achievable for you, try to sleep off the weight. Weighing a stone (6 .3 Kilos) less at the end of the year is better than weighing a stone more.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Do You Want to be Fit, Just like Me?

I’m not too sure if fitness videos are out of fashion or whether, as I don't watch late night satellite channels that advertise them, they just aren't promoted on TV anymore. In any case, I still maintain my cynical belief that these videos are no more than a promotional tool for some celebrity whose star attraction has gone dim or, they’re generating as much light as a burnt out candle.

Looking through some old video tapes to throw out (do you remember videos?); I found several fitness videos my wife collected over the years. I don’t ever recall seeing her exercising while watching any of these tapes.

Three such celeb video tapes that seemed to excite the media at the time were:

Former Spice Girl’s - Get Totally Fit with Mel B,

LaToya Jackson’s - Step Up Workout, and

Jane Fonda’s -Workout Videos Series

Were their videos and others before and after them any value? Is it worth the effort resurrecting any of these videos from the exercise DVD/video tape graveyard to practice one of the workouts at home?

I did a little unscientific research to find out if these videos, if not life changing, could help in the struggle to get or stay fit. I found as you’d expect opposing views...

“No - I am not saying they don't work but if like me it is just something else to add to my DVD collection that will gather dust. Walking is the best exercise you can get, my doctor said if I walk 30 minutes per day for at least 5 days a week I will get fit and lose weight but like the DVD's I will do it one of these days” or;

“Definitely yes. It's cheaper than a gym, you can do them in private in your own home and they have amazing results. Once I started doing workout videos at home, I got better results than going to a gym and I haven't gone back since. Try Jeri Love's 1000 video, it works amazing … it's hard work but worth it”

There were of course dozens of opinions in between. I guess the right answer is - if you can faithfully and routinely follow the guidance in the video then they work for you.

But, they're not the golden bat to beat our struggle to get or stay fit. I'd use YouTube, it's free and at least you you’re not adding to the exercise DVD/video tape graveyard.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Walking to Stay Alive

Struggling to get or stay fit by walking, cycling, swimming or other type of exercise is mainly a voluntary or in some cases an economic necessity. It’s always cheaper to walk or cycle than get the bus or taxi.

But, we should spare a thought for those who walk not to get fit but do it to stay alive. Around 1.1 billion people live without clean water. And the average distance walked by women and children in Africa and Asia (what do the men do?) to get water for their families is six kilometres per day. Or, put another way, women in countries like Tanzania spend 3 hours a day walking to collect 40 litres of water. In some countries where it is very dry, the women and children can spend the whole day collecting water for their families.

40 litres a day feels like a lot but if this has to be shared amongst one family where there are extended family members living in the same household, there’s very little water to go round.

I was surprised to learn that water consumption per person in the Western world is several times greater than in the developing world. Here are some stats taken from the World Water Council, and these are per person per day:

350 litres - USA and Japan

200 litres – Europe

10-20 litres Sub-Saharan Africa

As well as walking to keep fit there is an awareness and fundraising initiative called Walking for Water. These special walks take place around World Water Day (22 March). School children aged 10-13 are sponsored by friends and family to walk 6 kilometres, while carrying 6 litres of water in a backpack. Pioneered in the Netherlands in 2003 by a Non Governmental Organisation – Aqua for All, 25,000 children from the Netherlands, South Africa, England, Scotland and Malta took part in the walk last year.

Whenever we think walking is too much trouble to stay fit so we’d rather take a bus or taxi, spare a thought for millions of people who walk just so they can stay alive. True, sparing a thought takes no effort and costs nothing, but it’ll help us appreciate what we sometimes take for granted – water.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Know Your Limits

In our search to overcome the struggle to become or stay fit, there is a small risk of over doing it. We could set increasingly difficult challenges for ourselves which overstretch our body's limitations.

I'm reminded of a tragic event that unfolded at the London marathon on Sunday 22nd April 2012. A young woman, Claire Squires who was only 30, collapsed and died with only 1 mile left to run of the 26 mile marathon.

Apparently, she was fit and healthy and not a stranger to fitness challenges. Climbing Kilimanjaro and completing other marathons.

This isn't the first time an apparently fit and healthy person died while engaging in some fitness activity. Going back to 490 BC, there is a record of an athlete, just like Claire Squires collapsing and dying after running 26 miles. Phidippides, a young Greek messenger, ran 26.2 miles from Marathon to Athens to deliver the news of the Greek victory over the Persians, he then collapsed and died. This is probably the first recorded incident of sudden death of an athlete.

Can we learn anything from these tragic events? If you're just starting out on the road to a fitter and healthier body and setting ambitious goals for yourself, get checked out by your Doctor.

Ask him/her to do an ECG on your heart, or better still ask for an echocardiogram. None of these tests are invasive and only take a few minutes. The tests will give you and your Doctor a picture on the state of your heart.

I've had both these tests done, not because I planned to run a marathon or climb a mountain, but because I collapsed at work. The echocardiogram found I had an enlarged heart caused by untreated high blood pressure. Until I collapsed, I thought my health was great. But had I started an ambitious programme of exercise and fitness routines the outcome could have been more serious than just collapsing at work.

Getting these tests done is no guarantee against developing heart problems in the future. But, at least you can make an informed decision on just how far to push yourself and your heart in beating the struggle to stay or become fit.

I'm now going on a 4 mile bike ride, uphill, to get home from the train station.

See you next Sunday.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

De-risk Your Chance of a Heart Attack

De-risking the incidence of a heart attack is a subject close to my heart, pardon the pun. Both my father and father in law had major heart attacks in their 50s. Several years later they both had major heart surgery. One thing they both had in common was lack of a regular exercise routine.

It's the blood flow through the coronary arteries that is a key factor in deciding whether you’re at risk of a heart attack. Cardio exercises can help ease the flow of blood through the coronary arteries, and literally save your life. The graphic below shows what a difference a few minutes of exercise can make towards reducing the risk of a heart attack.

The experiences of both my father and father-in-law should drive me to beat the uphill struggle to stay or become fit. Here's some really easy activities to help lower the risk of heart attack. I do 1 and 4, as they’re part of my daily routine.

1) Running is one of the easiest and best exercise activities you can do. When running you can burn 300 calories in 30 minutes and it doesn't require any special equipment except comfortable running shoes.

2) Walking is something that fits into most people's lifestyle.

3) Swimming is ideal for a full body exercise and cardio fitness. Spend 30 minutes swimming to burn 400 calories. There’s also the advantage that swimming doesn’t involve impacting the joints, as running, and to some extent walking does.

4) Cycling builds strength and agility. Depending on how fast you go, you can burn 250-500 calories in 30 minutes.

I cycle to the train station a 4.5 mile journey, say 2-3 times a week and walk 10 miles per week from the train station to my office in London. I should do more. The cycling and the walking, if I’m honest is to save money because the bus journeys are too expensive.

Who knows, the increasing cost of living could help us overcome our struggle to stay or become fit.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Health and Fitness Supplements - A Quick Fix?

If only life's problems were solvable with tablets and medicines. But, climbing our personal mountain to get fit presents us with many obstacles or really one obstacle, ourselves.

I get home from work; yes I walk 2 miles a day to and from the train station to the office. But, when I get home I don't want to go down to the gym before or after dinner. Then there is the weekend, so many jobs to do around the house which still don't get done, I don't have the motivation, or energy to hit the gym.

Is it worth investigating supplements for body building or fitness supplements designed to help you get fit or, will they be a waste of time and money? Heeding the old and useful advice - buyer beware, read reviews from reputable websites.

In the UK you get very cheap slimming pills, celebrity endorsed products and other health and fitness supplements. At the end of the day most people are only interested in results. Few people care whether the answer is a protein shake, a weight loss patch, fat Burners, Green Tea, 5-HTP, a specialist diet, exercise or a combination of these methods. So where does that leave us?

Received wisdom, which makes sense to me, is that all conventional drugs have go to through a rigorous validation process before they are placed on the market. So before we look for a shortcut to overcoming the struggle to keep or stay fit, thoroughly check if the product is licensed by your country’s licensing agency. In the UK it’s MHRA and in the US it’s the FDA.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Staying fit with Your PC or Smartphone

One of the biggest obstacles to keeping or staying fit is lack of motivation.

Do you remember the clockwork toys you had as a child? You turned the key several times, let the toy go and it would burst into action only to splutter to a stop for you to windup the key again until you got bored.

We strugglers can get the first wind that motivates us along the road to a fit and healthy state but then we lose the energy and motivation to continue.

How can we stay motivated? Turn on your PC or smart phone and you'll find dozens of applications to help you stay motivated.

One application that caught my eye is FitnessBliss. This application lets you create, print, track and chart workout routines online. You get access to a huge list of fitness exercises, totalling more than 750, all of which are depicted by animated illustrations. FitnessBliss is accessible from your web browser so there is no software to download and install.

You need to complete a short registration form to access the software. One of the questions you answer are your goals. There are three options - muscle power and size, general muscle strength and muscle endurance or weight loss. There is a section on their privacy policy, this is important as personal details as well as details of your progress is held by FitnessBliss.

The site is uncluttered. Using the free version, the main options are My Routines, My Progress, My settings, Buy Gear and Buy Services. A help option would be useful in addition to the FAQ, but that might be reserved for paid accounts. It's worth taking a look at FitnessBliss. You could even share your feedback.

Another application to watch is Motivation RPG. This Looks like it could lift a little of the burden in our struggle to stay or become fit.

Using an innovative approach to staying or becoming fit, you assume your character at the start of the game. On registration you're asked to enter race - you can't enter black, white Asian or mixed, you select options that include human, elf, dwarf, Troll, Lizardman and Goblin - there are more.

Motivation RPG is a game where your character, both inside and outside of the game, is progressed by you performing small physical activities. You get to choose which activities are presented to you, and how often.

You literally progress in the game as you progress in your life. Like FitnessBliss there is no software to download. You access the application through your web browser and have to create an account.

After registering on the website you’re presented with a couple of options Activities and Style. Visit the activity list and pick out what you like.

Activities are grouped under these headings: Fitness, health, intelligence, mood, posture and voice. Edit your options to suit your style. These are Activity Delay- the number of minutes between each activity, Number of Repetitions, and Statement of Motivation - why are you here? And, Countdown, this displays the minutes until the next activity.

Playing Motivation RPG means you’ll end up engaging in activities such as stretching your tongue out to doing pushups. Just make sure to let everyone nearby know what you're doing, so they're not alarmed at your innovative approach to beating the struggle to stay or become fit.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

A Personal Trainer, an Indulgence?

Personal Trainer sheer indulgence or a necessity if you're struggling to become or stay fit?

My view is a personal trainer can as the motivating force for you to keep fit. I used one many years ago, although I stretch the truth slightly by calling him a personal trainer. What he did was create a fitness program for me. He then checked at periodic intervals my progress and suggested new exercises to help reach my goals quicker. So why did I stop? I attended the gym during my lunch break, the pressure of work meant less time in the gym. I began to feel the gym was a heavy overhead on my working day.

Personal trainers, provided they’re accredited, will look at your overall health and create a training program that is safe and efficient. The efficiency part means you don’t waste time doing exercises that provide little or no value in contributing to your fitness goals.

I can’t say a personal trainer will make going to the gym fun. But, they can breakup a fitness regime you find boring and unimaginative to something you might have a remote possibility of enjoying.

If your goal is to lose x pounds or gain muscle strength to lift x pounds, a personal trainer can help realise that goal. This is how they earn their keep. Look at celebrities who appear in love with how they look. I’d bet £100 or $100 they have a personal trainer, and I don’t bet.

How do you link up with a personal trainer?

Personal Trainer Accreditation

In the UK there is the NRPT - National Association of Personal Trainers ( It's probably better to use a personal trainer with accreditation so you know they know what they're doing.

In the USA there are at least a couple of accredited personal trainer organisations. AFPA Certified Personal Trainers & Certified Fitness Instructors are internationally recognised ( AFPA has provided certification and continuing education to over 65,000 Certified Personal Trainers & Certified Fitness Instructors worldwide.

According to their website, AFAA is the world's largest fitness and Telefitness educator, has issued over 300,000 certifications including personal trainer certification, group exercise instructor certification, kickboxing certification and much more (

How much does a personal trainer cost? In London personal training sessions can cost up to £150 an hour although the average is £50 or £60. Outside London the average price is about £40 to £50.

If you have deep pockets, beat the struggle to stay or become fit and hire a personal trainer.

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Get a Recumbent Cycle, Lie Back and Keep FIt

If only I could stay or become fit while remaining in my comfort zone I’d be happy. Is this possible? Yes it is. The answer is to lie back and ride a bicycle – a Recumbent bicycle.

What's one of those? Below is a picture of a Recumbent here for Recumbent bicycles in action

Recumbent Cycles in the City

I haven't ridden one but have seen riders in London weaving in and out of traffic. They make it look relatively easy.

The possible attraction of these bikes for us struggling to stay or become fit is that you lie back as if you're in a recliner chair.

Recumbents will be more comfortable than conventional bikes, because there is no strain on your neck, back or wrists. You also have more of your body in contact with the bike, so painful pressure points are reduced. And, you don't have far to fall.

Recumbents are also faster - your legs are in front of you instead of below you, so the aerodynamics are better. Recumbents are at least 30% faster than standard bikes, and can be a lot more - the current speed record on the flat is 82mph.

If you can ride a conventional bike it doesn't follow you'll easily ride a Recumbent. It can take 6-8 weeks for your legs to get use to the different riding position. It also takes a while to master riding them. Recumbent bicycles aren’t cheap. In the UK expect to pay around £800 and up to £1,500 for a specialist Recumbent bicycle.

If you're not the show off, look at me type then a Recumbent may not be for you. But, if you're the quirky, don't care too much what others think type - go for it.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

7 Commandments to Observe in the Gym

I can guarantee that at least once a week I will get handed a flyer asking me to join a gym, along my route from the train station at London Cannon Street to my office in Central London. I think I take the leaflets partly in sympathy with those handing them out. I’ve been offered these ‘join our gym’ leaflets for years, but I still haven’t joined, even the subsidised gym run by my employer.

I'll explore why I haven't joined a gym in a future post so fellow strugglers can compare notes.

In this post I'll talk about how you’re supposed to behave should you or I accept the invitation to join a gym.

Until a few days ago I was ignorant of the unspoken rules on how to behave when using the gym. So here are the seven commandments to observe when if you decide to join:

1. Re-rack weights when you're finished, don' just leave them on the floor

2. Wipe down machines when you’ve done, the last thing you want to touch is a piece of equipment dripping with sweat

3. Avoid occupying equipment while you're chatting

4. Don't use more than one piece of equipment at a time unless you are sure nobody else needs them.

5. Don’t stare at others in the gym - it can distract them and make them uncomfortable. If you're watching somebody's form, don't do it for too long

6. Don't offer unsolicited advice, unless somebody is close to hurting themselves

7. Be willing to spot, (Spotting means helping someone lift through a portion of the exercise that they can not manage by themselves). you may want someone to spot for you one day.

Hopefully, these commandments should be pretty easy to keep.

See you on Wednesday 11th April 2012.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Get Fit Quick?

Do you remember back in the days of junk mail, the endless stream of credit card offers or get rich quick money making schemes?  Now, you get bombarded with the same promises of instant wealth or once in a life time offers to buy an ‘amazing’ product or service - except it's through your email account.

Were you ever tempted to explore the get rich quick money making schemes? Deep down you knew hard work and perseverance was the only way to make serious money. But why bust a gut trying to get rich if you don't have to?

For us strugglers trying to become or stay fit there are some smart gadgets that claim to make you feel fit without having to invest much effort. In fact, virtually no effort required except pressing a few buttons or switches.

I'm going to talk about a couple of such gadgets in this article. I admit I haven’t gone out to buy and try but you could and I’d welcome your comments.

First off is the Bodi-Tek Ab-tek Belt, described as a quick and easy way to tone and firm the abs. It has six programmes with adjustable intensity and a LCD display. The belt fits all sizes. Oh, it also comes with a conductive gel. Is it worth it?
Here’s the rationale behind the Bodi-Tek Ab Tek belt. When exercising, small electrical nerve signals stimulate the muscles to contract. “Bodi-Tek toners mimic these signals to simulate exercise, delivering advanced muscle development and performance”.

Here’s another device, the Slendertone System Abs, it uses the same technology as the Bodi-Tek belt. The sales pitch says, “advanced toning for firming and strengthening”. Also thrown in with the price is a handheld rechargeable controller. 

Do these keep fit gadgets have a similar attraction to the get rich quick schemes? Get rich quick without doing the hard work.  Can I really get fit slouching on the couch?

The view from the website on Bodi-Tek Ab Tek is that, “the unit is not suitable for people who are overweight or those wearing a pacemaker. There are no health warnings on the official website to this end. Potential buyers must live in the United Kingdom or Europe to order the product. The lack of product description or information about how the unit works is enough to turn away most potential buyers”.

It’s not all bad though, here’s a contrasting quote from a user in the UK – “well worth the money - can see the improvement already, only had it a few weeks can wear it anywhere even when eating”.

These gadgets sound great, but I’m not convinced I’m really going to get fit slouching on the couch using these gadgets - even though it’s a much more attractive alternative to working out at the gym or going out for a mile run.

See you on Wednesday 4th April 2012.