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I would walk 500 miles and I would walk 500 more

Last month, my husband (Martin) and I were lucky enough to go to the Glastonbury Festival.  You’ll be pleased to hear that we are now fully recovered and managed to survive the hot days (over 90 degrees), the sanitary conditions and the lack of sleep (two hours a night is norm).  The site is vast and in the course of a day it’s not uncommon to walk 20 miles between the stages, with plenty of cider breaks along the way.  When we eventually got to our tent each night, our feet and legs were sore – we’d certainly got a good work-out.

On the Saturday morning, we arrived at the Pyramid stage to watch the Proclaimers and marched along to “500 miles”, that old classic from the 80s.  This got me thinking about the benefits of walking in the great outdoors and how to get involved.  When you walk you carry your own body weight, this is referred to as weight-bearing exercise. If you did a brisk walk for 30 minutes at least five days a week, then you will certainly notice the difference.  Some of the benefits include:

  • Increased cardiovascular and pulmonary (heart/lungs) fitness.
  • Reduced risk of a stroke and heart disease.
  • Improved balance and stronger bones.
  • Increased muscle strength.
  • Reduced body fat.

The NHS recommends that 29 to 64 year olds should do two types of physical activity per week – aerobic and strength exercises.  Walking and cycling are good ways to take care of the aerobic part and then strength exercises on two days a week to work the major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, core, chest, shoulders and arms).  If you go onto the NHS site (www.nhs.uk) and select walking you will find plenty of good advice and research material – all pointing to the benefits of walking in leading a healthy and disease-free life.

Walking outside is really refreshing whatever the weather.  Martin and I have enjoyed many gorgeous walks in Derbyshire, with the chance to visit new places and we even tried an orientation course once.

Nordic walking has been popular for some years and is a great way to make new friends.  This activates 90% of the muscles and burns up an incredible 46% more calories as compared to normal walking.  Poles (similar to ski poles) are used to propel you forward. The good news is that Nordic walking can be done by anyone regardless of age or fitness levels and apparently uses the same muscles as swimming (without getting wet).

There are a number of groups in Bedfordshire, so best to search on the web for the nearest one to you.  The one I’ve seen out and about is Walk2Fitness organised by Elaine – check out www.walk2fitness.co.uk

So there you have it.  What could be better than a brisk walk on a Summer’s evening, who knows there might even be a pub along the way. As always when starting any new form of fitness, please speak to your doctor.  Before you know it you would have walked those ‘500 miles’.

 

How do you Know your Fitness Levels are Improving?

Whatever we’re doing, its human nature that we all want to see progress and ensure that our valuable time and money is being spent doing the right things. The good news is that health and fitness is one of those things, where it’s relatively easy to monitor progress. At the same time thought this can also have the opposite effect if improvements aren’t forthcoming – trust me we’ve all been there and reached a bit of a plateau at times.

As a qualified Personal Trainer, the first assessment with the client covers a range of health and fitness tests including:

  • Blood pressure – this is an indicator of good health. Ideally we should all have a blood pressure below 120 over 80 (120/80). This is the ideal reading for good health and a much lower risk of heart disease or a stroke.Blood pressure is given as two numbers; the top number is the systolic. That’s the pressure inside your arteries when the heart beats. The bottom number, or the diastolic is the pressure insider your arteries between beats.Both of these readings are important, first of all to make sure you are fit enough to exercise in the first place (i.e. a doctor may need to be consulted with first), but secondly highlights any blockages in the arteries which may create a high blood pressure reading.
  • Heart rate – the resting heart rate can be a good indicator as to how fit you are. Normal resting heart rate for adults ranges from 60 to 100 beats per minute. A lower heart rate at rest implies a more efficient heart function and better cardiovascular fitness. For example a well-trained athlete might have a normal resting heart rate of 40 beats per minute.
  • BMI – the Body Mass Index is a bit of a confusing one and at times can be taken with a pinch of salt. This chart compares your height to your weight and determines if you are considered underweight, overweight, obese etc. We are all different, so I don’t consider this a good indicator and would much rather work with waist to hip measurements (see below).
  • Waist to Hip Measurement – this measurement compares the hip to the waist and then via a calculation it’s possible to work out if you are at more likely to develop certain health conditions. The test is based on the theory that people who carry more weight around their waist may be at risk. In my opinion, this is a much more realistic test as compared to BMI.
  • Body Fat – you can buy a set of impedance scales easily enough and fairly accurately (the readings can be out by 10%) the amount of body fat you have. The scales work by sending a very low electrical current through the lower half of your body (don’t worry you won’t feel a thing). Since the electrical current flows more quickly through water and muscle than bone or fat, the scales measure the speed of the current. Using a mathematical formula, the scales are able to estimates your body fat.

The above tests are only a handful of the ones that are available and many of these can be easily done at home. However, it’s important to know how to interpret the results correctly. That’s why I spend plenty of time with my clients explaining what the readings mean and would certainly recommend speaking with a doctor with any concerns.

Take care, keep healthy and keep fit.

Hydration Made Simple: An Easy Guide to Just How Much is the Right Amount

Without a doubt, the most important part of our daily nutritional intake is….water.

Without water our performance suffers and health deteriorates very quickly to point where the body simply can’t function.  50% to 60% of the human body is made up of water and even a small reduction in water can start to make a big difference to your body, with serious consequences:

  • 3% loss – reduction in exercise performance
  • 4% loss – muscular work reduces by 20% to 30%
  • 5% loss – heat exhaustion requiring medical attention
  • 7% loss – hallucinations
  • 10% loss – heat stroke and potentially death

So just why is water so important to our bodies?

  • Needed for all the chemical processes in our cells
  • Enables the transport of nutrients and gasses around the blood
  • Provides lubrication to our joints and protection for our organs
  • Maintains a consistent body temperature (especially during exercise).

Hydration levels can also be affected by sugar, salt, caffeine, food and alcohol.

So just how much should someone drink to stay healthy?

The NHS recommends drinking around 1.2 litres (six to eight glasses) of fluid every day to prevent dehydration. However, when exercising, the body needs more than this. It’s easy to get into the routine of water – I have a one litre drinking bottle and know how many times a day I need to fill it up.

Without getting too personal, it’s easy enough for you to find out if you’re drinking enough water.  Just take a quick look at your urine and if it’s clear to pale yellow then you are hydrated.  Anything from yellow to dark yellow means that you are dehydrated and need to drink more water.

Some of my lovely clients who work-out with me in Harrold-Odell Park, have asked some interesting questions about hydration and I thought you might be interested in the answers:

I can’t seem to lose my belly fat – is that because I’m drinking too much water?

Keeping your body hydrated is absolutely essential to losing belly fat.  If you are dehydrated your liver doesn’t function correctly and the ability to burn fat is not as effective.  So by drinking lots of water, you will notice your belly reducing in size.

Should I drink water during exercise?

If you want to lose weight and get healthy, then exercise should be part of your programme. You should drink water before, during and after exercise to avoid dehydration.  Water helps the muscles, connective tissues and joints to move correctly – also helps the lungs, heart and other organs to function effectively during exercise

So there you have it, water is important for weight loss, exercise and a healthy lifestyle. If you don’t like water then there are some low sugar/zero calorie squashes out there which you can mix in – be sure to read the label first.

If you’re interested in getting fit and healthy in the great outdoors, then I’d love to see you at one of my one-hour fitness classes in Harrold-Odell Country Park.  We’re a friendly bunch and meet outside the Dragonfly Café every Saturday at 09:20 for a 09:30 start. Everyone is welcome from our youngest “fitbizer” age 13 to our oldest gentleman, mid-70s.

Just click here to find out more or get in touch!

Get Fit in 2019 by Signing Up for one of our Group Fitness Sessions

A happy new year to all our friends and customers! We published this blog a year ago, but don’t see the need to change it this year because all the same advice holds true!

All we would add though, is the fact that you can now join our wonderful Saturday morning group sessions at Harrold-Odell Country Park. The first session is free and you can book a block of ten for the price of 9 if you want to really commit to getting fit this year. So sit back, read on and we look forward to seeing you very soon!

You are probably feeling a little down after all the festive excitement and also a little guilty after indulging in all that food and drink?. Well fear not, so are we!

January is a hard enough month as it is without feeling bad over this stuff. The best way to ease yourself into the new year is to just make small changes each week as you get back to full fitness.

So maybe just have a drink every couple of days or just weekends. Give up the mince pies, but still have a little treat every few days so that you aren’t going completely cold turkey.

In addition to this, if you haven’t visited the gym or had a run for a good few weeks, then again slowly return to your normal routine rather than trying to do it all at once.

A good idea (if you are a runner) might be to sign up for a 10k or half marathon in February and gradually work towards it with some short runs. For gym work, just do 30 minutes rather than your usual 40 or longer.

By the third week of January, you will be feeling so much better and on track to reach your fitness goals for 2019.

Of course, if you need help in getting back to fitness and reaching your goals, then Jules is ready and waiting to make it happen for you!

If you live in Bedfordshire, north Bucks or Northamptonshire, just contact us and we can get cracking!

 

Are You Looking for a New Diet? Then have a Read of this First

As a personal trainer, I’ve often been asked about diets and the best one to do.  We all know that in December we can all be a bit naughty when it comes to eating, but that’s fine as long as it’s not 365 days of the year.  But for the New Year you might want to have a think about a healthy eating plan.

If you want to make a real change to your health, then I would love you to attend one of my regular fitness sessions at Harrold-Odell Park! But I would say that wouldn’t I?! As long as you are doing some regular exercise each week, it doesn’t really matter whether this is in the park or at the gym. To truly make a difference (and to aid your fitness drive) then your nutrition is just as important.

There have been a lot of fad diets over the last 20 to 30 years, from the Atkins to the South Beach diet and hundreds more in-between. Some of these are without doubt very risky and in extreme cases, people have even died from being on them. So I started thinking about what is the best diet for you to retain your shape and fitness, that doesn’t involve you completely giving up on all fun. I’ll even allow you a cheeky glass of wine or two at weekends!

So my research took me back to the mid 1990’s. There used to be something then called the “eatwell Plate” which the government launched to encourage healthy eating. The eatwell plate was a visual representation based on five food groups and showed the proportion that each food group should contribute to a healthy, balanced diet, namely:-

  • Fruit and vegetables
  • Beans, pulses, fish, eggs and milk and other proteins
  • Dairy and alternatives
  • Potatoes, rice, pasta and other carbohydrates
  • Oils and spreads

The eatwell plate was updated to take account of new research in 2014 (less sugars etc) and the main findings are now defined as follows:-

What are the main dietary messages of the new eatwell guide?

  • Eat at least 5 portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables every day.
  • Base meals on potatoes, bread, rice, pasta or other starchy carbohydrates; choosing wholegrain versions where possible.
  • Have some dairy or dairy alternatives (such as soya drinks); choosing lower fat and lower sugar options.
  • Eat some beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat and other proteins (including 2 portions of fish every week, one of which should be oily).
  • Choose unsaturated oils and spreads and eat in small amounts.
  • Drink 6-8 cups/glasses of fluid a day.
  • If consuming foods and drinks high in fat, salt or sugar have these less often and in small amounts.

So, there you have it. The prefect non “faddy” way to lead a longer life and really simple to understand. Happy eating!

Jules

Take a Hike – Why You Don’t Need to Always Go For High Intensity Exercise

Walking in the Derbyshire Peaks and in the USA National Parks recently, I started wondering if this was as good for me as high intensity cardio workouts. Researching this led me to some interesting conclusions.

There are apparently five main reasons why a good long hike can benefit you just as much:-

  • It lowers your risk of heart disease
  • It improves your blood pressure and blood sugar levels
  • It boosts bone density as walking is a weight bearing exercise
  • It builds strength in your glutes, quads, hamstrings and the muscles in your hips
  • Hiking gives your whole body a workout, improving your strength, agility and cardio funstions

So as you can see, hiking is definitely a good way to go, either as an exercise regime in itself or as part of your more high intensity workouts. The added benefit of hiking of course is that you get to take in some of our wonderful scenary especially in this amazing weather we have been enjoying lately.

Hiking gives you all of this and so much more. It can even burn off between 300-600 calories per hour.

Fitbiznow is primarily about keeping fit in the great outdoors and so what better way of achieving this than taking a hike?!

 

Running in Hot Weather – Get Your Hydration Right Every Time

After the hottest London marathon of all time last Sunday, lots of warnings were given out about runners needing to pace themselves and not go for personal bests.

One of the key aspects of staying safe is hydration. This is something that is very hard to get right. Drink too little and you may get ill,  drink too much and the same may happen. So what is the right amount of water?

Well, how much you need to drink on a run, depends on how much you sweat. Most people sweat around 24-32 ounces an hour whilst exercising, so you should aim to replace a least 75% of that.

Of course this is an inexact science. We all sweat at different rates. I found that on the New York Marathon last year, I had a small water bottle and just kept taking constant sips from it during the race. At every water station I topped up with more water or Gatorade and just kept it going steadily. However, it was cold and rainy, so I would have drunk slightly more on a hotter day. Just listen to your body and work out how much you are sweating.

By the way, your urine should be pale yellow or straw coloured before you go on a long run, so practice checking this on your training runs. If you get hydration wrong, you can’t play catch up on the course.

If you have salt marks on your face and clothes during and after the runs, you have sweated too much, so try salt capsules. We took one of these once an hour in New York and it worked a treat.

So, to sum up. There is no right answer, but practice your water intake in training. Try salt tablets and make sure you mix your water with an isotonic drink for electrolytes.

Happy safe running!

That Difficult Second Marathon – Some Tips For Success

Just like that difficult second album or that difficult second book, running your second marathon is not easy. To take the analogy of the difficult second album, let’s use the example of the Jam. Punk/New Wave/Mod leaders of the time, they poured everything they had into “In the City”. Paul Weller had spent 18 years living this stuff, feeling pain and joy like any angst ridden angry young man – hero of a generation. But when it came to that difficult second album, he was spent. No ideas and a lame re-tread of the first album’s vital tunes.

Books are just the same. Debut novels are written from the heart and from experience. Second novels feel contrived and are often more about “my famous new writer friends”  rather than the real people you grew up with,  before you made it big. Take Louis de Berniers and the most amazing debut of all time – “Captain Corelli’s Mandolin”. It had world war, romance, death and redemption. The second one (I even forget the title) was a dull re-tread that I didn’t even finish. Again he put everything he had into the first one and had nothing left to give…..

So that has taken me two paragraphs,  to get around to telling you that I’m hating every minute training for my second marathon! It took me 56 years to summon up the courage to run New York last year. It was very tough, I can’t deny it. But when I lined up on Staten Island I felt the equal of everyone there. I felt I had earned my place by following the brilliant training programme put together by Jules.

And the 26.2 miles? Don’t tell her, but it was my easiest ever run! I was running in the Bronx, in Manhattan and in Central Park! I was being supported every step of the way by New York’s finest. It rained the whole time, it was killing my shins, but it felt good to be alive and the endorphins were out of control! I loved every minute.

So, my difficult second marathon is a pain in the proverbial, but that’s where I know that the training programme needs to be trusted. When I start my runs of 8, 10 and 12 runs I could quite happily quit and forget that I have entered another marathon in June, but something happens to me after 3 or 4 miles. I start to feel happier, my movement becomes better and I look round and imagine my adoring crowd cheering me home again. I even forget about the dreadful British Spring and imagine sunshine on my back and the finish line.

It’s addictive this running lark!

If you want to marathon too, then get in touch with Jules. She will put together a full programme for you including cardio, core and upper body strength.

’cause Tramps Like Us, Baby We Were Born to Run!

I recently wrote a blog about songs with cats in the title for our other business HomeFurYou and it got me to thinking about songs that mention running.

This is interesting in itself, because there is a constant debate in running circles about whether listening to music on headphones is a good or bad idea. Jules and myself never use headphones because we think it puts us off our stride as songs are all at different BPM’s (beats per minute) . We think this makes it hard to concentrate on getting a consistent speed going, especially over long distances. Others swear by their music playlists and see it as an essential component of their training regime (and sometimes even on race days).

To be honest, it’s your choice, What works for one person will be a big “no-no” for another. If you fancy putting together a running compilation, that can be great fun in itself or there are plenty on the market.

So, back to those songs.

Here’s just a few of our favourites that all mention running in the title. “Keep on running” by the Spencer Davis Group is always featuring on the radio phone-ins and usually when someone is just about to take part in a race. For good reason too.  It’s a great driving tune and perfect for psyching yourself up to counteract the nerves.

“Born to run” by Springsteen is a great song of freedom on the open road. More about motorbikes than running, but it will still hit the spot when you need that boost of energy just before you start or when you hit the wall on a long race.

Next up, my own personal favourite,  “Running up that hill” by Kate Bush. Not a good song to run to, but a small piece of creative genius, but then again I’m biased as I said!

How about “Running on empty” by Jackson Browne. A feeling we have all experienced at sometime, but nothing a jelly baby or gel sachet can’t sort?

Finally, a bit of heavy metal – “Run for the hills” by Iron Maiden, although runners hate hills so not sure that would be in their headphones?!

Either way, if you do need some running technique and training, then do give Jules a call as she is a professional running coach. There won’t be any music at the sessions, but it will do you good in the long RUN.

Why Hydration is so Important When Exercising – Some Handy Tips

Running our first 10k of the season yesterday started us thinking about how hydration is so crucial for runs and exercising in general.

Get it right and you can trim seconds off your personal best, get it wrong and you can hit the wall during a race or far more seriously suffer from dehydration or something much worse such as Hyponatremia. (when the level of sodium in your blood is abnormally low).

Then again, there is a lot of conflicting advice out there. Even just going about your average day, some people will tell you need to drink at least two litres of water a day, others will tell you that is nonsense.

The answer really is just to be sensible in everything you do an “listen” to your body.

As around 60% of your body is made up of water,  you need to replenish it during exercise as you can lose a lot of fluid (up to a litre an hour). If you don’t top up you get dehydrated. You feel tired more easily and your temperature becomes harder to control.

Water helps fuel your muscles, so drinking before, during and after exercise will boost your energy levels, and may help to prevent cramp. This will affect your performance and can even lead to heat stroke. Drinking enough will help you get the most out of your exercise session and feel good while you’re doing it.

Drinking little and often rather than a lot less often will give you the best chance of hitting your exercise targets. The amount you need to drink will depend on how much you sweat and how long you exercise for. These factors are all influenced by your genetics, size, fitness, the weather and the intensity of the exercise.

To be honest the best advice we can give you is if you feel thirsty, then drink! Don’t forget to drink after exercise too. This will top up your levels and start repairing the muscles.

If you are planning to run an organised race or just training to get fit, don’t forget we can help you here at Fitbiznow. Just get in touch and we can get cracking on that fitness plan!