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Jul 09 - Looking after your back after the birth.

Jun 09 - Looking after your back during pregnancy.
Your back is vulnerable to strain during your pregnancy and after teh birth - but knowing how to look after it can help keep problems at bay:

During pregnancy your back is placed under great stress. It gets less support from your muscles because you've been affected by pregnancy hormones; and as the weight gained is pregnancy is carried at the front, your posture can suffer, aggravating any back problems you may have.

Your back is also put under pressure by the birth itself. But there are lots of things you can do to help prevent and ease back strain.

Before the birth:

Your centre of gravity is pushed forwards and up.
  • You lean backward to compensate, and the natural curve of your lower back is increased, throwing all your body weight onto your lower back.
  • Your back gets less support from your abdominal muscles because you are also being stretched by your growing baby.
  • There's also less support from your body because the joints are loosened by the pregnancy hormone relaxin, which softens your ligaments, tendons and muscles in preparation for your baby's birth.
  • Even dropped arches in the feet - again caused by relaxin - can alter your balance and lead to postural backache.
What all this means is that your back is less stable and less supported than normal at a time when it's coping with increased weight. This often leads to back pain - up to 50% of women experience some form of back pain during pregnancy - and it can leave you with problems after the birth. The thied trimester (from week 29) is a particularly vulnerable time, as the baby is at its heaviest and you're more likely to injure yourself simply because pregnancy can make you clumsier.

Your back pain prevention plan:

Always be aware of your posture during pregnancy, and keep your pelvis tucked in (known as pelvic tilt). Follow these simple steps:
  • As the weight of your baby pulls you forward, try to resist the urge to lean back and insttead practise lifting yourself up through your spine.
  • Then pull in your abdomen and tilt your hips up and in towards you, to take the strain off your spine.
Try to perform this exercise whenever you have a minute and practise it when you're standing for long periods

Mar 09 - Fit for Retirement
Exercise is the best form of preventive medicine. It keeps your joints mobile and helps with balance and co-ordination as you get older.

If you have been inactive for a long time, get your doctor to check you over before you start an exercise programme. Then gradually, building up to longer sessions of walking or swimming, for example. Stop and switch to something different if you're in pain - for instance, if you find arthritis is troubling you.

Remember it will take you longer to recover after exercise and you may feel stiff the day after. Concentrate on flat walking until you feel fit; climbing can strain arthritic joints or cause chest pain and severe breathlessness.

Age itself is no barrier to fitness. A 70-year-old who has exercised all her life can have the heart and lung capacity of a 30-year-old couch potato! And research shows exercise can increase muscle mass and strength in older people.

Feb 09 - Fit for Life 50s
The children have either left home or are self sufficent, so you have time for new interests. The menopause ma have left you feeling a need to rethink your role in life.

How do you feel about exercise?
You know it's important but you don't really know how or where to start!

What's your body doing? You're burning calories more slowly so you need to eat less in order to stay the same weight. You're losing weight from you face/upper chest but putting it on your stomach. Bone mass is lost rapidly, with a real risk of osteoporosis - weight bearing exercise will help. Joints have stiffened and are less flexible.

Which exercise is best?

Stamina: Three 25-minute cardio-vascular workouts per week.

Strength: A few small press-ups each day, plus 25-30 minutes with 1.5-3kg dumbbells twice a week.

Suppleness: Gentle stretching for 5-10 minutes twice a week. Concentrate on stomach, thighs and waist.

Try......... Swimming, brisk walking and pilates.

50s to: It's vital you warm up before you exercise - otherwise you may injure yourself.

Jan 09 - Fit for Life 40s
Job and family life have settled into a routine. Children can probably look after themselves and you have more time to yourself and you may feel the need for a new direction.

How do you feel about exercise?
Possibley you'd feel out of place in an aerobics class. You may be carrying some extra weight and feel slow and breathless. But don't despair - it's not too late to change. Starting an exercise regime now can improve your fitness later and even reverse some of the effects of ageing.

What's your body doing? Ares and breasts start to sag; specific exercises for these areas can help. Lung capacity declines. Fat cells are stored on stomach, bottom and thighs. Dramatic reduction in muscle protein means you'll lose a lot of strength and speed during this decade. Osteoarthritis may develop. You may be seeing the first signs of the menopause.

Which exercise is best?

Stamina: Build up to three 25-minute cardio-vascular workouts per week.

Strength: Use 3kg dumbbells for 30-45 minutes three times a week.

Suppleness: Gentle stretches for 5-10 minutes twice a week. Hold for 15 seconds and don't bounce or push. Concentrate on the chest, upper arms and waist.

Try......... Swimming, pilates exercises using a DVD, yoga, tennis and walking.

40s to: Don't rush it! You'll benefit more from exercise if you ease in gradually.

Oct 2008 - Fit for Life 30s
Too much is going on! Many of you are married, may have children and a job. There never seems to be enough time.

How do you feel about exercise?
Guilty, unless you've kept it going since your 20s. You'd like to work out, but when you have the time you're too tired. You view exercise as a weapon to fight that "getting old" feeling.

What's your body doing? Your aerobic capacity is on the decline. You burn calories more slowly and may be putting on weight. Joints are stiffening. You reach your peak muscle mass - then start to lose it unless you exercise. If you've had kids, your abdominal muscles may be slacker and you may suffer from persistent backache. Muscle is less elastic and more prone to injury.

Which exercise is best?

Stamina: Three 30 minute cardio-vascular workouts a week.

Strength: Use 3-5kg dumbbells or a gym machine for up to an hour three times a week.

Suppleness: 10 minutes of stretching each day, including specific stretches for stiff bits. Hold for 20-30 seconds and push yourself further. Concentrate on stomach, back and legs.

Try......... Exercise you enjoyed when you were younger, e.g, tennis or skipping. Or choose something you can learn gradually, such as cycling, aerobics or step exercises.

30s tip: Exercise gives you energy and will help with your busy lifestyle, so make time!

Sept 2008 - Fit for Life 20s
We have recently been asked by a client if there are specific exercises for different age groups. The lady who asked this is in her 30s but it is never to soon to start an exercise programme and start the pattern of a lifetime. So today we are going to write about exercise for 20 year olds:

Exercise in your 20s:
You're probably single and enjoying the freedom from studies and parents. You may have a big group of friends and, if your're working, money for the first time. However, you may also be sitting at work for long hours and nibbling.

How do you feel about exercise?
Good, hopefully! Exercise is fun in your 20s. Gone are the PE at school days - exercise for you is a social event. It's also about burning calories and toning muscles - excellent ways of losing weight and looking good. If you make it part of your life now, you won't have to work so hard in the future.

What's your body doing? Heart and lung capacity (used in aerobic exercise) start to decline once you hit 25 - unless you work out regulary . Your bones reach their peak mass during your early 20s. You can maximise the density with weight-bearing exercise, making bones stronger and helping to prevent osteoporosis. You still burn calories at a good rate. So make the most of that to reach your target weight by 30.

Which exercise is best?

Stamina: 3-5, 30-60 minute cardio-vascular workouts a week.

Strength: Use 3-5kg dumbells or a gym machine for up to an hour 2-4 times a week. Plus press-ups and sit-ups.

Suppleness: Stretch for 5-10 minutes 3 times a week. Hold for 8 -10 seconds. If you want to develop your stretches hold for 20-30 seconds and stretch further as muscle is released.

Try anything! Jogging, fast walking, aerobic, step, tennis, body combat, kick boxing, cross-country skiing - the world is your oyster.

20s tip: Make sure good posture is the habit of a lifetime - you'll be glad you did later on.
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