Training for Health and Fitness at Phoenix Gym
Health and Fitness in Norwich
As we get older our health and fitness become more and more important to us and for very good reason. Our bodies are changing, slowing down, less resilient and we are not able to bounce back from aches, pains and injuries quite like we used to.
When you combine this with sitting down for hours at a time, consuming less than healthy food and drink, enduring high stress levels and a sedentary lifestyle then you are creating an environment inside your body that leads to inflammation, disease, illness, chronic aches and pains or worse.
The psychological impact of any or all of these things can make us feel anxious about our current and future health leading to negative thinking spirals which impacts our physical health in many ways. This can then lead to more unhealthy habits such as drinking excessive alcohol or comfort eating to name but a few.
Here are 10 Tips to Leading a Fitter and Healthier LifeStyle
1. Resistance Training
Resistance Training does so much more for your mind and body than just toning or strengthening your muscles. Although, maintaining a healthy muscle mass is extremely important because from the age of 40 we start to lose around 1% muscle mass EACH YEAR which in turn lowers our metabolism and leads to weight gain and health related issues. Resistance training along with healthy eating is so far the best anti-aging tactic known to man or woman. And you don’t need to be over 40 to worry about losing muscle. Inactivity will do just the same so you gotta ‘use it or you lose it!’
Resistance training includes free weights, plate and pin loaded machines, kettlebells and bodyweight exercises. And it doesn’t have to mean lifting huge cast iron weights until you can’t do anymore either. Progressively getting stronger over time is the key here in a manageable, sustainable way.
Aside from maintaining or improving your muscle mass resistance training releases “feel good” hormones, lowers stress levels and helps you sleep better at night. People who perform a combination of strength and cardio based exercise also tend to have an improved immune system, digestive function, better blood pressure and a lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, obesity, heart disease, osteoporosis, certain cancers and better mobility, flexibility and balance. Wow, now that’s an appealing list for anyone!
There are many ways to structure a programme based on your goals but typically lifting weights (even your body weight) two to three times a week will provide great results for both mind and body. To get the best results (especially for balance and mobility) we recommend you get a postural assessment and a personalised programme designed by an experienced Personal Trainer but anything you do will likely be better than nothing.
It’s very easy to avoid resistance training because the thought of it can feel intimidating until you know what you are doing, the cardio machines are far easier to work and well, ‘at least I am doing something’ I hear you cry. But cardio just doesn’t provide the benefits your body needs from regular resistance training.
If your goal is to change your bodies shape then just doing cardio will help you lose weight but not actually change your bodies shape. In fact if you are excessively dieting to lose weight then you can actually lose muscle without performing resistance training. Where as lifting and pushing some weight around can help improve your bodies actual shape, curves and body confidence.
Some good classes for resistance training at Phoenix Gym are: Sculpt & Burn, Fitter & Stronger and Functional Fitness. All new Phoenix members receive one or two FREE Personal Training sessions to provide you with a personalised programme.
2. Yoga / Pilates
Typically we tend to neglect stretching and mobility exercises in our 20’s and 30’s and then we start to feel the disadvantages that come with age. Gone are the days of not warming up and shaking off an injury in just a few days and fortunately this is where Yoga or Pilates can help you.
Yoga is fantastic for improving your mind-body connection and there are many different styles that provide different benefits. Typically Yoga will improve your flexibility and mobility helping improve your posture and reduce the risk of injury. Most people find stretching boring even though they understand it’s importance so this is where a regular Functional Yoga class can come in very handy!
Similar to Yoga, Pilates practitioners say that regular pilates can improve posture, muscle tone, balance and joint mobility, as well as relieve stress and tension. Pilates can complement a strength training programme by developing whole-body strength and flexibility to help reduce the risk of injury. A lot of gym routines tend to focus on the big muscles but miss out on the small stabilisers and deeper core muscles.
You never really understand the benefits of something until you actually try it for yourself so give yoga and or Pilates classes a try and no doubt you will feel better for it.
3. Mobility Exercises
Now Yoga and Pilates classes are not for everyone (which is absolutely fine) so if you don’t fancy popping along to a regular class or struggle to find the time to commit to an hour or so then you can do your own mobility routines as and when it suits you. As well as moving your body in an assortment of creative ways to get you moving better you can also perform foam rolling with a tool of your choice. This may be a simple tennis ball, lacrosse ball, foam roller, piece of pipe or something more exotic looking like a Thera-Cane.
Whatever works for you, there are four main times to perform mobility exercises so let’s go through each one:
a/ Whenever you like – Yep you got it, it’s as simple as that. If you’re feeling stiff, tight, achy or lethargic then you can self massage, stretch and mobilise the affected areas until your heart is content.
b/ Prevention and Maintenance – If you know that it’s only a matter of time before your body will feel like it’s suffering from premature Rigor Mortis then you may want get into a regular routine of exercises to prevent it setting in in the first place. This may be a series of exercises at the crack of dawn or even an evening thing if you can’t bear setting your alarm that early before work. Whatever works best for you.
c/ Pre Exercise – Performing mobility drills before you lift weights can mean the difference between Life or Death! Not really just kidding, but it’s still really important for most people over the age of 30-40. If your groin, quads, hip flexors, chest or lats (for just a few common examples) are over tight then they will kind of “switch off” the amount of effort that other important muscles like your glutes, core and shoulder stabilisers contribute to the way you move during exercise.
These imbalances lead to excessive aches and pains in your muscles and joints and can lead to injuries which could be prevented with a little pre exercise TLC. It’s kind of like a mini workout before the main workout, but that’s all it should be just a mini workout. It shouldn’t take over the whole workout and with pre workout mobility exercise there is always time for a quickie.
If you would like a personalised mobility routine then just ask one of our Personal Trainers. Alternatively, you could use your free personal training session for this purpose when signing up as a new member.
d/ Post Exercise – We all know we should stretch after a good workout but most of us really can’t be bothered, especially when tired and feeling like you just want to crash on the sofa. But a nice little warm down with a few stretches and mobility exercises at the end can mean the difference between walking like John Wayne on a bad day and your normal stride. If you really don’t have time then get a few moves in before you go to bed and you will thank yourself for it the next day!
4. Cardio Exercise
Just 30 minutes of exercise per day could help you offset osteoporosis, hold on to some muscle mass, maintain your natural range of motion, avoid back aches and pains, lower your risk of heart problems and maintain a healthier sex life.
There are two main types of cardio activity for becoming fitter and healthier so here goes:
a/ Slow, longer duration Cardio – A slow walk won’t cut it here, you have to be exercising hard enough to feel slightly breathless but still be able to comfortably hold a conversation. This type of cardio get’s your heart rate up without putting too much strain on you. It burns fat as it’s dominant fuel source which is a bonus and keeps your body moving to a minimum standard. You will generally feel better in yourself for doing some of this type of cardio.
b/ H.I.I.T – HIIT stands for High Intensity Interval Training. This is where you increase the intensity of the exercise so that your muscles are working harder, your breathing rate increases to try to cope with the extra demand and your body will then tap into another type of fuel called Glycogen. This is stored carbohydrates in your muscles that can be broken down for fuel during more intense exercise.
The amount of intensity you put in here is different for everyone so an interval for one person may be a fast walk where as another it could be an all out sprint. HIIT training releases higher amounts of feel good hormones than longer slow cardio as well as numerous other benefits such as more improved muscle mass, strength improvements and glycogen depletion. This means that by burning off stored carbohydrates as fuel you can get away with eating more carbs as a result! Bonus…
A lot of the time sporting activities combine both types of cardio. A footballer for example will do a fast walk or slow jog just moving around the pitch to get into position and then sprint to get the ball or move up or down the pitch under pressure. You can combine these yourself by going for a walk and mixing in some intervals of 10-30 seconds to increase the energy used and as a result the physical and hormonal benefits received.
Some good classes for cardio fitness at Phoenix Gym are Spinning, Functional Fitness, Boxing Fitness, Kickboxing Fitness or Fitter and Stronger. Every gym or fitness facility provides different classes so find classes that you both enjoy and provide the benefits you are looking for.
5. A Balanced Diet
Now we could get very complex with this one and go into all the various diets, calorie counting apps and fasting theories that are out there but diet is so specific that we are going keep this one really simple.
Here’s one optional rule that you can use which works particularly well for people who are exercising regularly: Eat around 40% carbs, 30% fats, and 30% proteins for general health. That should ensure you have enough energy for the demands of the day, take in all the building blocks for muscular repair after exercise, and supply the fats needed for optimal hormone, hair and skin health.
Of course, in order to work out the percentage for each macronutrient you need to know what your daily calorie target is, which is depend on your weight or muscle mass, daily energy expenditure and your specific goals. There are many free apps and websites that can work this out for you.
Everyone is different and the macro’s of proteins, carbs and fats will vary from person to person so we recommend that you speak to a Personal Trainer or Nutritionist that is qualified and experienced to recommend advice for people who are exercising.
Life is busy and full of distractions that can easily take our minds off what’s really important. If your health and fitness are important to you then it can most certainly help to find a way to be held accountable. This could through a Personal Trainer, fitness apps like a Fit-Bit, a FIT3D Body Scanner, weight loss group or even stepping on the scales once a week. Although scales are the least effective way.
Whether you are trying to achieve a weight loss goal or just maintain a healthier shape and lifestyle you need to have a score board because without one you will have no traffic light system to stop you getting out of control and making changes.
Generally to maintain a healthy shape you will have a conscious or unconscious buffer zone (of say half a stone) like the thermostat on your houses central heating. It turns on when the house gets too cold and turns off when it gets too warm. The same goes for your weight, shape, energy or bodies feedback with aches and pains. If you put on too much weight, go up a belt buckle or dress size or struggle to walk up the stairs more than normal then your internal thermostat should kick in to do something about it. If it doesn’t kick in then you either don’t have a defined score board to control your thermostat or you are talking to yourself too much and not taking action. Like Nike says – Just do it!
At Phoenix Gym we find that the FIT3D Body Scanner provides the perfect feedback because it gives you full body measurements, body composition comparisons and shows you visually where you are on graphs and charts for your age and height. Most impressively though this scanner gives you a perfect 3D model of yourself which provides 100% accountability to get that internal thermostat of yours kicking in making you actually do the things you know you need to.
7. Stay Hydrated
It’s an interesting fact that almost any ailment in the body is at least slightly alleviated by drinking more water! A hydrated body is optimal and natural for our health, helping to flush out toxins, reduce inflammation, lubricate joints, support our metabolism, improve energy, digestion and mental performance. Often you’ll get a noticeable increase in health and vitality just from upping your water intake alone.
It’s absolutely essential to stay hydrated if you want long and lasting health. Don’t like the taste? Then you will have to get over it or find a way to make it more enjoyable! Water is your life source.
Drinking more water can also help with weight management because some of the signals that your body gives you for hunger are similar to thirst, so if you first settle the craving for water then you may find you don’t eat as much rather than trying to stop a never ending hunger that doesn’t exist.
Whilst alcohol and caffeine can certainly be enjoyed in moderation and tea and coffee provide a source of water and arguably, have significant health benefits at a low rate of consumption (red wine can help heart health and coffee beans are believed to lower dementia risk), it goes without saying that over consumption of either is going to have negative consequences.
For example, as you get older, your liver might struggle to clean your blood of alcohol with the same efficiency of its more youthful days and too much caffeine can prevent regular sleep patterns leading to higher levels or cortisol, excessive hunger and lower energy levels which can then lead to caffeine dependency.
So, don’t stop drinking, but do drink with careful moderation.
Mental wellbeing is just as important as physical wellbeing although really they are one and the same thing. You just use different methods to keep them in psychological shape for overall health. Your mental health effects everything from your blood pressure to hormones and resting heart rate. Chronic stress also leads to inflammation which then effects your joints, muscles and ability to recover from physical activity. When your body is in a fight or flight state for prolonged periods of time then it can lower your immune system which in turn lowers for your mood, motivation and physical state.
Regular exercise can help to alleviate a lot of these symptoms but having mental strategies also will improve the benefits and effectiveness. Some forms of exercise combine mental breathing and focus techniques along with physical movements such as Yoga, Pilates and Tai-Chi. A case could be made also for dancing, martial arts and other disciplines or activities such as playing instruments.
No training plan or diet is going to be completely effective if you are in a bad place mentally and emotionally. A 2015 study found that even a very short regular meditation practice may be an effective strategy for counteracting the cognitive decline associated with ageing. Just five minutes of sitting or lying whilst focusing on breathing and trying to calm your mind will help. Your stress levels will drop, your brain will breathe and you’ll come out the other end more robust and ready to deal with daily challenges.
We are social creatures and whether extroverted or introverted, investing time and effort into our close social ties is crucial to our ongoing mental health.
It’s easy to lose track of old friends as we hit mid life, especially with the time pressures of family and work as the main priorities. But there’s good evidence that our social ties are among the biggest determinant of our long term health. In fact a Harvard Study found that the quality of our close relationships, whether community, social or romantic were often a greater predictor of our health in our older years than certain genetic and life-style factors that would commonly be thought of as the greatest predictors of health.
The study also found that social support helped protect both body and brain, helping to offset cognitive decline in later years.
Having goals to work towards can do you the world of good. It focuses the mind and keeps life interesting. You needn’t be super ambitious – even striving towards a small goal will give you motivation and, eventually, something to appreciate once achieved. This releases dopamine and other feel good hormones and also improves your self image.
Some people don’t like setting goals due to not achieving them in the past but don’t let your past experiences hinder the current and future wellbeing. If this is you then just remember a great saying that “the past does not equal the future” Start by setting smaller achievable goals and work your way up.
Your goals can be for your work or career, your home, travel and holidays, friendships, relationships, family, pets or your own personal development. Whatever they are for the point is to work towards their attainment and feel good about their accomplishment regardless of how small or insignificant they may seem. The little things can actually be the big things in life.
Why not start now by picking just one point from these 10 tips and trying to work it into your daily routine? Once you have ticked that one off the box then work on another at your own pace. And remember there’s no time like the present as quite often tomorrow never comes when we procrastinate!
So What Now?
Exercise is clearly an incredibly important part to staying fit and healthy as we get older so find yourself the Best Gym facility for you that not only has all the equipment or classes that you need but also has a great friendly team of Personal Trainers and a supportive atmosphere from the other members. This way you should be gaining valuable social benefits and accountability along with your resistance, cardio and mobility exercise benefits.
The accountability you receive should include body composition comparisons, dietary, hydration and life-style advice to keep your thermostat on track and you in control of your body, mind and life-style.
Whether it’s Phoenix Gym if you live in Norwich or somewhere more convenient for you elsewhere that ticks all the boxes, don’t let price be your primary driver for a facility or personal trainer because that can be very false economy. What’s the point in getting a cheap service if you’re not motivated to use it or get what you want?
The same goes for convenience, if an extra ten minutes drive means the difference of you actually going on a regular basis then is your health and fitness not worth it?
Good luck and just take it one habit at a time, one day a time.
Keep “Raising your Game!”