WHY WOMEN SHOULD DO WEIGHTS

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Osteoporosis is a condition that makes bones more brittle and prone to fracture. Although osteoporosis can affect men and younger people, post-menopausal women are most at risk. One of the best ways to help maintain healthy bones is to exercise regularly – which encourages the bones to absorb calcium and other mineral salts that keep bones strong.

Weight-bearing exercises and weight resisted exercises are best for strengthening bones and muscles and as well as helping to keep bones in good health may also reduce the likelihood of falls as you age. Weight-bearing exercises are those where your body is supporting its own weight, such as walking or housework or carrying groceries. Weight resisted exercise involves pushing or pulling against an additional weight, like a dumbbell or barbell or resistance equipment in a gym.

The younger you start, the better

Anyone can benefit from weight training but it has been demonstrated that younger women who trained using weights have stronger bones later in life, this essentially means that you can bank bone when you’re younger to help prevent fractures later in life – a kind of insurance scheme for your body. A lifetime of active living not only protects your bones but also keeps your heart healthy and may protect you from other diseases such as cancer and type two diabetes.

But starting at any age will help

Everyone can benefit from increasing their activity levels. Studies have shown that people who have already been diagnosed with osteoporosis can improve their bone health significantly through weight bearing exercising, the key is getting good advice on how to move well and how to self-manage.

Some more benefits

Strong muscles burn more calories, so if you need to control your bodyweight, lifting weights can help. It also helps with balance and can help you to regulate your sleep patterns.

‘I don’t want to look muscled’

It takes women a lot of heavy weight lifting, and sometimes the use of controlled substances like steroids and hormones, to achieve the physique of the heavily muscled power lifter. Women don’t normally have enough testosterone in their bodies to develop bulging muscles, but can, with regular, moderate training achieve lean, toned and strong muscles.

‘I hate gyms’

No problem. There are plenty of other exercises you can do that don’t involve a visit to the gym. Dancing, yoga, tennis, Pilates, walking, running, gardening and even housework count – all you are aiming to do is increase your heart rate and make yourself feel a little warmer. You can do it in several short blocks of 15 minute or more but aim for at least a total of 150 minutes per week over at least 5 days per week for the best results. If you’re unused to exercise, start slowly and build up to this target.

I don’t know where to start

This is where your friendly local osteopath can help. They can screen you for any health concerns that might affect your ability to exercise, help to resolve any injuries or pain that might be holding you back and advise you on what exercises might suit your goals best. Many can teach you how to exercise correctly, avoiding injuries and how to gradually build up as your ability and fitness levels improve.

We, at Calmer Clinics, have a great team of osteopaths who would love to help you on your exercise and bone health journey. For more details, check the profiles of David, Laura, Alexia, and Owen.

 


HOW TO GET MOST OUT OF YOUR NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS

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We all tend to over indulge a little at Christmas and doing a little more exercise is a common New Year’s resolution. But how do you get the most out of your gym routine and how much exercise should you do to stay healthy?

There is no denying that exercise is good for you. We know that those who perform a moderate amount of exercise on a regular basis are considerably less likely to suffer from diseases such as diabetes, stroke and heart attack or experience insomnia.

Exercise helps older people maintain their independence and is one of the most effective methods of weight management, a growing problem in western societies. It is also very important for our psychological health, as it stimulates the release of endorphins, natural pain-killing chemicals that can also improve our mood.

However, some people become a little disenchanted when the exercise they do doesn’t have the desired effect.

“Most of the time, it’s because people are not clear on the type of exercises that are most likely to achieve their goals”, says, Matthew Rogers. “Different types of exercise will be more appropriate, depending on what you’re hoping to accomplish.”

“As a general rule”, she continues “if you are trying to build larger muscles, the most effective method is to use a weight which you can manage to lift 8-10 times before the muscles fatigue, in order to get the desired effect. If you are looking for stronger, leaner muscles, a weight programme based upon 20 repetitions would be more appropriate.

If you are trying to lose weight, cardiovascular exercise (anything that gets your heart rate up such as running, swimming, dancing or football) is the way to go. In order to be most effective, this should be performed at 60 – 80% of your maximum heart rate, which is a lot less strenuous than you might think (Subtracting your age from 220 will give you your advised maximum heart rate. You can buy a heart rate monitors from most good sports shops or online to monitor this).

It’s also important not to train every day. The body needs time to respond to the strain of the training, and it’s during the recovery period that the gain takes place.”

But going to the gym for two weeks before you go on your summer holidays to shed a few pounds is likely to end in frustration. “It takes 4-6 weeks to start noticing the health benefits of exercise. Doing something you enjoy makes it more likely that you will persist, which is important if you don’t want all that hard work to go to waste.”

But how much exercise do you need to do to be healthy? If you are aged between 19 and 64, research suggests that you perform at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity, or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity cardiovascular exercise each week plus muscle strengthening exercises on at least two separate days of that week. The good news is that these exercises do not need to be all in one go, and activities such as walking briskly to work (if your journey is more than 10 minutes) count as part of the total.

If you want to know more about what would class as moderate or vigorous exercises, or if you are outside of this age group, visit the NHS choices website here: http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/fitness/Pages/physical-activity-guidelines-for-adults.aspx

If you are looking for a place with a wide variety of exercise choices, then check the gymnasium at our premises – Dolphin Square Fitness which offers personal training programmes, various classes and swimming.

 


THE MAGIC SPONGE

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We’ve all seen it. One moment a footballer is hurtling down the wing, beating one player, then another, the next he is lying in a crumpled heap on the floor, writhing in agony. Then two things happen.

First, a decidedly brutish looking individual, usually unshaven and with long hair, can be seen feigning astonishment at the telling off received from the referee over the near fatal tackle, despite what appears to be pulpy flesh attached to the under surface of his boot. The second event is far more intriguing. When the referee decides that it is going to take more than a slap on the back and a ‘run it off, there’s a good chap” to stop the bleeding, he signals to the bench and on sprints one of the most enigmatic characters of the sport – the physio. What happens next is pure magic. A few words are exchanged with the injured party, then the physio reaches into the depths of his bag and pulls out a can of miracle ‘cure-all’ spray, sprays it on the ailing part, and up jumps the individual restored to his previous levels of vim and vigour.

In fact, so intriguing were these events that I found myself at university studying for a physiotherapy degree, following which I spent  5 seasons working for Queens Park Rangers football club at various levels. To be serious for a moment, the role of the physio on such occasions is predominantly one of risk assessment. Is this an injury that needs immediate medical attention, a concussion or broken bone for example, or is it one that can be safely shrugged off on the field of play with little future risk to the player concerned? In the majority of instances the injury is of little long-term consequence and the decision is made for the player to carry on. Now comes the magic. What effectively the player needs to overcome is pain, and what the physio has to offer is a series of counter stimulants. In a nutshell, this is the well recognised ability to treat one pain with a different pain. Think pouring vinegar into your eyes to distract yourself from the pain of the latest Tom Cruise film.

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The most commonly used counter stimulant is cold, usually provided by a freeze spray. My particular weapon of choice was a big re-usable drinks dispenser that you filled with crushed ice and water which reached near freezing temperatures. Its effects were two-fold. Not only could you reach near frostbite depths of pain relief by hosing the injured area, but also my habit of liberally dousing both head and neck and sometimes genital areas with the icy cold blast, meant that my arrival on the field was greeted with fear and frequently an additional adrenalin induced analgesia that got  the injured player up and sprinting away from me before the top of my bottle was popped.

Now this treatment might sound a little harsh, but footballers aren’t always the little angels the media would have us believe. Often an injury would occur leading me to sprint on to the pitch, heart in mouth due to the high-pitched wails coming from the prone figure on the floor. When enquiring what the problem was it was not uncommon to be informed that the injured party was tired and needed a breather, or they were thirsty and wanted a sip of the water they knew resided in my bag. So this is what they got; in addition to a liberal hosing of head, neck and genital areas.

Now you might wonder what the point of me telling you all this is ? Well in case you have been distracted by our recent cricketing triumphs, the football season is once again upon us. And this means lots of the best sport in the world but also the frustration of having to watch numerous primadonnas rolling in agony on the ground feigning injury. This is where the FA can make use of my experience.

It is my opinion that the phenomenon of footballers faking injury can effectively be eliminated from the game by upping the ante of the physio. Throw away the cold sprays and heat rubs and instead give us the means to provide massive electrical shocks; tazers for example. Not only is electrical stimulation a particularly effective form of pain relief, but perhaps also the size of the shock administered could be controlled by some FA representatives who are watching video playbacks of the event. Should they suspect ungentlemanly conduct, the shock delivered could be increased as a means of deterring against future play-acting. This type of conditioning has been shown to be very effective on rats and so should easily dissuade your average footballer. Sepp Blatter, if you are reading this, I am looking forward to your call.

Author: Danny Armitage, Physiotherapist at Calmer Clinics Dolphin Square