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How do I keep motivated to exercise when its cold and dark outside?
I’m guessing from this question that you either exercise outside, day time when it’s raining or else need to go out after dark to access your exercise class or session.
I have some suggestions and hope they help: -
Remember how much better you feel after your exercise, if we didn’t feel better then we would not be motivated to keep going. Is your exercise programme a supplement to a diet or healthy lifestyle? Keep trying on your clothes for a measurement or a weekly weigh in.
Do you have a goal that you are working towards? We often stay more motivated when we can see the purpose of the goal in sight. It could be to run for 10 minutes more, or further, it could be to perform 2 more of a certain exercise. Whatever your goal is it should be meaningful to you.
Think how amazing you will feel in the Spring, when life will hopefully be getting back to some form of normal.
I hope this has been helpful.
I currently do Pilates once a week and wondered what else I could add to my routine to get the best results?
What a great question, thank you. Pilates is a great form of exercise to do, it improves core strength, increases mobility and flexibility, improves posture and will also improve relaxation and help improve sleep quality. Pilates works on the deep muscles of the body.
To add to this routine, you could consider adding exercise to increase aerobic capacity, fitness and also exercise to improve bone density, like bodyweight or resistance training.
Total Body Tone is a class I run which will not only increase muscle fitness and endurance but also help improve bone density. If you don’t use it you lose it. This is relevant in health terms, if we do not keep up with fitness training, we will lose aerobic capacity, we will tire quicker and have less energy. This class uses body weight exercises for the large muscle groups to increase muscle mass and strengthen and tone the body.
We need to do resistance type exercise, as muscles pull on bones, it helps strengthen them. This is always important, but even more so when we get into our 30s, when we should be aiming to carry out at least 2 resistance training sessions each week.
Weighted Workout is another class to help with bone strength. This class uses weights to strengthen the skeletal muscles, they are above the muscles worked in Pilates classes. It is so important to keep skeletal muscles strong as we get older muscle fibres decrease in numbers and the remaining muscles are les elastic. Therefore we need to work harder to keep muscles strong to carry us into and through the menopause. We also need to ensure that we are stretching every day to ensure we maintain mobility around our joints.
My dad would benefit from Pilates, how do I convince him its not just for women?
Everyone would benefit from improving posture, increasing relaxation and developing a stronger core. Most people need better mobility and flexibility and so many people I speak to need to improve sleep quality. The benefits of Pilates are therefore for everyone to enjoy, not just women. I feel very strongly about this, its a misconception that Pilates is for Women, so much so, I have a Men Only Pilates Zoom class. This class is on Thursday at 8pm and is very popular.
Before introducing this class I spoke to many men who felt uncomfortable accessing a regular Pilates class and found the time of other classes hard to get to. After discussion with a client whose husband expressed an interest in a Men Only class I added Men Only Pilates to my timetable. This was about 4 years ago now and it has proven to be very popular.
The age and ability of the class participants vary greatly, this is what makes Pilates so accessible, everyone can do the same exercise in a variety of ways and levels so the class is inclusive, but also can be adapted to be specific to individual needs and abilities.
Pilates is a great class for relaxation, it takes focus and concentration to be aware of what you are doing and where it should be felt, therefore isn’t any time to think about work, children, families or anything else.
Pilates would work well as a stand alone class or be an excellent compliment other workouts or sports training.
When starting Pilates, the first few classes are hard, not because the class is tough, it doesn’t have to be, but because Pilates is very slow and controlled. The temptation is to whizz up the levels and work as hard as possible, the best way to start however is to start on level 1 for everything, waiting as long as necessary before moving up to other levels. Some exercises will soon feel easy others not so.
Do you think this is the class for you?
What exercise should I do during lockdown?
This is an interesting question, thank you. The simple answer is whatever you like doing, at this time our mental health can be knocked hard as our physical health. Its becomes more important to look after and value ourselves by eating well and looking after our physical and mental wellbeing.
What exercise do you like to do? What can you do safely at the moment? You didn’t say if you are a regular exerciser or if you are new to exercise?
There are several things you could be doing, I will give you a few examples and hope they will be of use.
If you are new to exercise plan to spend time trying out new types to see what you like best, limit your time, do not try everything in one day. If you are still working add it to your diary so you make time, its too easy to get to the end of the day without having tried anything new, then it becomes a goal for the next day. Be realistic, how much time is available, no point in planning to do a new class if you are working when they are running. Search out for times and days to work into your life, you are more likely to stick with it if the time suits you.
Zoom exercise classes, most local instructors, myself included have added classes online, the advantage here is that you will be taught and more importantly corrected to keep you safe. What would you like to do there are many different types available, Pilates, Yoga, Body Conditioning, Weighted Workouts and dance style classes for you to try. If you need help I can signpost you to reliable instructors.
Couch to 5K, if running is your thing you could try this, the App explains what and how to do this. You slowly build up over several weeks until you can run 5K, there are warm ups and cooldowns to keep you safe.
Would you prefer to walk instead of running? Get out and walk, plan a short time period to start with and build up gradually. Start with 5-10 minutes and go from there. Walking is an excellent way to see your local area, get to find different paths and routes, you may even find a better way home.
If you prefer to stay closer to home gardening is an excellent way to keep active. Sweeping leaves at the moment is great exercise. Again build up your time if this is new to you. There is nothing more rewarding than seeing your garden looking lovely. Autumn plants will keep looking wonderful for many months to come.
I do hope this has been helpful.
I am sitting at my desk all day at home, do you have any suggestions to help my back?
Thank you for your question. You haven’t said if you have a proper chair, if you are working at a front room table or at a desk. The most important thing is here are you moving during the day? If we sit for long periods of time we get stiff, we need to keep moving to keep mobile.
Before work could you use the time you used to commute, if you did that, to have a walk, or could you go for a walk at lunchtime?
Is your chair at the right height for you? Could you sit on an inflatable ball for periods of time throughout the day, this helps to keep us more mobile as its hard to sit still on a huge inflatable ball.
When on the phone or whilst you are at a meeting could you stand up? Standing regularly helps us to stretch out our muscles, its important to keep moving. Could you encourage walking meetings on the phone instead of conference calls?
Pilates will help with your back by mobilising and strengthening it. During the day could you get down on the floor and lie with your knees bent feet flat on the floor and just roll both knees to one side slowly and back to the other, do this about 10 times. Then hug both knees up on your chest to help stretch your back out.
There are many suggestions here, could you make one change, establish that habit, then make another one. We will be working from home for a good time to come so we owe it to ourselves to make it the best experience we can. Good luck and I hope this will help.
I am walking a lot more since the start of lockdown and find my back is getting really stiff, what could you suggest to help please?
Thank you for your question, I think many people have started to walk more since the start of lockdown which is great, walking is free, you get fresh air, see you local area and you get to see other people. This is good for your mental as well as physical health and wellbeing.
The key here is to mobilise your spine before and engage your abdominals during the walk and to finish with a stretch.
To mobilise your spine you can do *Open Gate, Close Gate, I do have a video on my website explaining how. Lie on your back, bend you knees and roll them to one side, as you breathe in open one leg as far as you can, keeping your feet together and breathe out as you close both legs over the other side. Repeat several time to mobilise your spine.
If you prefer to do this standing, stand with both feet hip width apart, shoulders back and naval pulled to spine, lean to one side as you breathe out keeping you hips still and level. Breathe in as you come back up to standing. Repeat this about 10 times.
During the walk, keep your naval pulled to your spine, your abdominals help to protect your spine so this should happen at all times, rather than just when we can remember.
To stretch after the walk, * lie on your back and bring your knees up to your chest.
*These will also be great to do before and after you are gardening, or clearing leaves.
What is your favourite stretch and why?
This is a brilliant question, I love all types of stretches, they are so important during and after any training sessions. When training of any type, muscles contract under tension causing them to shorten and widen, they still contract as they lengthen, otherwise anything you are holding, a weight, child or a kettle would just drop to the floor.
Muscle fibres stick together when they are contracting which is why they need to be stretched after use to realign the fibres and increase flexibility in certain muscle groups. Everyone has some muscles which need a greater range of movement, depending on your lifestyle, sport or medical history as to which ones. Typically we need to increase flexibility in our hamstrings, the back of the thigh and low back. If we spend lots of time hunched over a desk or seated its likely that chest muscles would also need improved flexibility. I love stretching my hamstrings but my favorite stretch ever is the hip flexor stretch.
Have you ever got out of a chair after sitting for a long time, or out of a car after a long journey and had trouble getting upright as the top of your legs at the hip joint feels uncomfortable? These are the hip flexor group of muscles, made up of the iliacus and psoas major muscles they lift the knee from the hip.
To stretch the hip flexors lie on your back, bend your knees with your feet on the floor. Bring one knee to your chest holding under the back of the knee, then slowly straighten the other leg. You will feel a stretch in the front of the hip on the straight leg, hold for about 20-30 seconds then change leg.
My favoutite way of doing this is to use a Pilates ball under your hips, lie on the ball and slowly straighten the legs out, the stretch is excellent, particularly after weight training or kettlebells workout. It actually feels like I am growing.
During lock down I have been loving your Pilates classes and have been walking everyday. I have lost some weight and feel great. My question is what can I add? I have a stressful job where I sit a lot?
Well done on your weight loss, at the moment every win counts towards making us feel great, that is important to hold on to.
Pilates is great for core conditioning, and creating good posture, your walking will add cardiovascular fitness and bone loading. Great program so far.
I suggest you add some weight training to increase the tone and tension of the muscles over the core muscles. Pilates does not work them. The more muscle
mass we have the more calories we use at rest, that will also help to lose body fat.
Not only that, but as we get older it gets more important to keep muscles strong, we lose muscle fibers after the age of 35. Therefore have to work harder to keep the remaining muscle fibers strong.
Weight training also helps to keep bones strong as muscles pull on bones, helping to prevent the onset of Osteoporosis.
I hope this has been clear. If you or anyone you know would like to start Pilates or Weighted Workout please get in touch for details.
I have gained weight during lockdown and don’t know how to shift it, could you please give me some suggestions?
Thank you for your question, this is a problem for so many people at the moment. You do not say if you are a current exerciser or not?
If you read books about Habits, they all suggest to change just 1 thing at a time. Do not try to change everything otherwise you risk becoming overwhelmed and then change nothing.
Form 1 new habit and when that is established, form another.
My suggestions are:-
If you are a current exerciser, or if your habit has lapsed could you get back to what you were doing?
Our lives have changed greatly during lockdown and we may have reduced income or lost employment therefore may not have the money to go to the gym or classes. Walking is a great way to exercise, see our local area and get fresh air at the same time. Walking is low impact so will not trouble our joints as much as running could and you can extend your time when you feel able. Start with 5 minutes and go from there, building up when you can manage and want more and more. Above all, enjoy what you do.
Good Luck - All the best Allison