Can you stand on one leg? How long can you hold that position for?
Believe it or not your ability (or inability) to stand on one leg is an indicator of your overall health and wellbeing. Research found that the inability to stand on one leg for 10 seconds or more is linked to a doubling in risk of death.
Test yourself and see how long you can stand on one leg, try it with your eyes open and then your eyes closed. Take a look at the guide below to see how long you should be aim to hold your balance for:
If you tried the test and found you couldn’t hold your balance for the time in the targets above then don’t panic- you can improve your balance (and lifespan) with practice. Activities such as yoga and pilates etc are a great way to improve your balance but even simply standing on one leg while doing everyday activities such as brushing your teeth will help improve your balance. The NHS has a great set of simple and gentle exercises you can do in the comfort of your home. If you aim to do these a few times a week alongside your regular activities you'll soon see an improvement in your balance and ability to stand on one leg.
Resistance and Strength Training
Strength training is another great way to improve your balance - a strong body is much more able to support itself, reducing the risk of falls in older age. Strength training sessions done 2 to 3 times a week will yield the greatest results and can be done at home with small weights or even tins of beans! Attending a class that incorporates strength training and aerobic exercise is a fantastic way to get fit and healthy while improving balance and strength.
Looking after your body as you age, by keeping fit and healthy, will help ensure you can stay active and independent for as long as possible- reducing the risk of falls, improving cardiovascular health and reducing the risk of dementia.
If you are starting any exercise programme for the first time always speak to a medical professional first.
Contact Amanda for more information on any of the fitness classes at Smart Fitt or for one-to-one and personal training enquiries.
Active Ageing And What It Means
If you’d like to know more about the buzzwords “active ageing” and what it means – read on! It’s the concept of enhancing opportunities to enable people to be active, happy and healthy later in life. Exercising into your latter years has numerous health benefits. In fact, one study found that those who engage in at least three hours of recreational sport a week for 10 years between the ages of fifty and sixty could increase the life expectancy of formerly sedentary individuals.
Julie Robinson, optimal ageing expert and founder of fitness initiative, Move It or Lose it, explains.
“People are living longer than ever before and because of this, attitudes towards ageing are changing. It is no longer expected that you slow down in your later years. And, in fact, the opposite is now being promoted. It’s great to see such a positive shift in messaging and with musculoskeletal conditions being the leading cause of disability in the UK, it’s never been more important for people to prioritise joint health and keep active at any age.”
Although numerous studies have concluded that physical activity is a key contributor to longevity, you should ensure you’re exercising in accordance with your age and ability. A routine which worked in your twenties may no longer be suitable. So what exactly should someone over the age of fifty be doing to keep fit?
Whilst younger adults often go straight into high-intensity workout routines which can run the risk of injuries, older adults have a natural decline in bone health and muscle mass. There’s also hormonal changes for women to contend with.
Unfortunately, many women find their joints suddenly become stiff and painful during perimenopause and menopause, which inevitably deters a natural desire to keep fit. Interestingly, joint pain affects as many as 40% of all menopausal women and joint stiffness is the most common contributor to impairment of quality of life and work in women of a menopausal age.
Julie Robinson comments: “Joint pain may not subside when hormones level out after the menopause. But there are many lifestyle changes that can help ease the pain and prevent it from getting worse. Commonly affected joints include the knees and hips so be sure to implement some specific exercises to support these areas. Walking is a great low-impact exercise which supports both the knees and hips. Walking helps to keep the joints flexible and strengthens the surrounding muscles.”
Julie also recommends tailoring your fitness routine to incorporate both low-impact exercises and strength training.
“If you’re over fifty, try to tailor your exercise regime to accommodate for natural changes in joint health. I’d even recommend adding in gentle strength training to help build up lost strength from an age-related decrease in muscle mass. Weights can often feel intimidating but start off small and go at your own pace. Research suggests that when done regularly, strength training can help preserve bone density, independence and vitality.”
Help Relieve Discomfort
Staying active in your later years is imperative to help prevent physical decline. However, for the 20 million people in the UK suffering with a musculoskeletal condition such as arthritis, keeping up with a substantial exercise routine is not always possible.
Julie says, “Although I’m an advocate for active ageing, conditions such as arthritis can have a great impact on our desire to exercise. Pain and discomfort often accompany chronic health conditions, with many believing that exercise will exacerbate symptoms. In fact, keeping active can actually help relieve discomfort by reducing joint pain whilst increasing strength and flexibility. For those looking for additional support, joint movement may be made easier through the addition of a clinically backed supplement, such as GOPO® Joint Health which in numerous studies has been shown to reduce joint pain and stiffness.”
Credits: Author Yvonne McKenzie and Magazine The People's Friend
No doubt you’ve come across the many videos of so-called influencers setting fitness challenges on the various social media channels. From waist training using uncomfortable corsetry to extreme cardio daily challenges, there are so many trends out there often being promoted by unqualified people. According to a survey carried out by Origym, a third of British people interviewed said ‘picture perfect’ social media images make them want to lose weight.
So this month we are going to take a look at some of the most popular trends and offer some alternatives to help you set realistic goals that you can achieve safely.
Exercise Trends to Avoid
The best way to improve your fitness and body shape is to take part in moderate, regular exercise and eat a healthy balanced diet. Try not to aspire to unrealistic body shape goals and instead aim to have a strong, healthy body. Fitness classes and one to one sessions are a great way to get in shape under the supervision of a qualified instructor. There, you can get help and advice on how to tailor workouts to suit your ability and fitness level and set achievable goals for life-long health and well-being.
Nutrition Trends To Avoid
The NHS Eatwell guide contains great information on how to follow a healthy and sustainable diet for the whole family. Balance is key- don’t deny yourself treats, instead focus on eating well throughout the week.
Social media is a great tool for finding out about fitness and nutrition but should be done with caution. Research any fitness/nutrition advice and always consult your doctor before embarking on a new exercise regime or diet.
Contact Amanda for more information on how you can improve your health and fitness, At Smart Fitt there are lots of classes to cater for all fitness levels and physical abilities as well as personal training sessions and nutrition advice.