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Dore Health Blog

26/09/16


There are many misconceptions about Pilates and I often get asked questions about what it is and what it does for you. This list aims to demystify Pilates and its practice and help you to understand why it could be a perfect addition to your exercise routine.

1. Is Pilates like Yoga? While I think the two disciplines are very complimentary to one another they are by no means the same. Yoga is a much older form of exercise, whilst Pilates was developed in the 1920's by Joseph Pilates. Pilates developed his techniques from his experience as a gymnast and circus performer. He set up his studio in 1926, in New York, next to the New York City ballet. Pilates' exercises teach awareness of breath, alignment of the spine, and strengthening of the deep torso and abdominal muscles .

2. Is Pilates just for woman? Anyone can suffer from low back pain and Pilates is often recommended as a course of rehabilitation for men and women. Also, for those men who do a lot of sports such as triathlon, marathon, rowing, golf or team sports such as football or rugby, Pilates can offer the perfect preventative strategy to the strain that is placed on the body. It can help to prepare participants for their sport and protect them from injury.

3. Is Pilates only matwork classes? Although Pilates mat work is the most commonly found form of class and offers a great workout, Joseph Pilates invented a number of pieces of machinery which complement and facilitate a fuller appreciation of the Pilates method. These go by the names of the reformer, cadillac, tower, stability chair and barrels. The machines can help to assist in adding resistance based work to your practice, and offers greater opportunities to modify programmes to suit the specific demands of the client.

4. I find Pilates too easy, why? Pilates is composed of a number of basic principles, learning these takes time and concentration to perfect. Pilates isn't just a bunch of exercises thrown together and as such, if you feel it is too easy you are probably still learning. Give yourself time to develop your technique and it will pay dividends. Before joining a class it is often a good idea to take a few one to one lessons to really focus on the basic principles that run through the whole repertoire of exercises.

5. I find Pilates too hard, why? A good Pilates instructor will be able to breakdown exercises in order to facilitate the movement for your body. Over time as you get stronger the exercise can be progressed to challenge more. Small pieces of equipment, such as fitness circles, flexbands and toning balls can be used to either make a movement easier or harder depending on the individual. In a class, participants can all be doing the same exercise modified to their level.

6. Does Pilates only work your core? While this is a commonly held view and certainly when assisting a client in recovering from injury the focus may be initially on 'core' musculature, Joseph Pilates always emphasised that his exercises were for the whole body.

7. Is Pilates only for young, fit people? Pilates is good for everyone and can be developed and targeted towards the demands of specific populations. Many different types of classes can be found, from prenatal to postnatal, seniors, Pilates for backcare and osteoporosis and also sports specific for horse riders, runners and golfers. It can be modified for all.

8. Why do I find Pilates breathing difficult? I often find clients get very caught up in trying to get the breathing 'right' in Pilates. Breathing in Pilates is diaphragmatic, (different to Yoga), the focus is on breathing into the sides and back of the rib cage. My advice is always to just breath initially ( as opposed to holding it!). Over time as Pilates integrates into your body it will become more natural and you will feel how the breath assists in the performance of the exercises.

9. Is Pilates only for flexible people? This is a misconception. Pilates will help to improve your range of movement around a joint but it is not the only focus. Too much flexibility can also be an issue. Through the development of stability and flexibility, the body develops a balanced, strong body that is able to withstand the demands of daily living.

10. How do I know how to find a good teacher? There are a number of schools of Pilates training that offer a full and comprehensive training of a high quality, look out for teachers who have qualifications from Stott Pilates (my own certification since 2008), Polestar, Body Control, Appi Pilates, Basi Pilates to name a few. A teacher should be happy to tell you their qualifications and level of experience.


04/06/16
In our fast paced, fast living society, the message that is transmitted throughout the media is that we are in the midst of an obesity epidemic. We have rising rates of lifestyle diseases such as type II diabetes, heart disease, and many cancers. This is undoubtedly true, at least in the Western world, more movement rather than less is what is needed. The concept of overtraining is not one that is thought to be a problem for many. In fact, extreme training behaviour is often applauded and held up as goal to be emulated and attained.

​The reason why I have chosen this for my latest blog is that I have just read a great article by John Berardi, Ph.D. How Intense Workouts (and Overtraining) can Ruin your Results ( www.precisionnutrition.com/are-you-overtraining ). This is a topic I feel very strongly about and actually I think that comparisons can be drawn between the training/overtraining paradigm into many aspects of our modern lifestyles both in the workplace and otherwise.......but thats a topic for another blog, back to exercise.

In the words of a fellow fitness professional and athlete that I used to work with 'Rest is a Weapon'! It is as vital as the fitness training that you do....plan to train or train to fail. I have seen many people, particularly newbies to marathon training, start off at such a pace that you just know that in six weeks time the volume and intensity in the training plan will derail the best laid intentions. As a fitness professional I always encourage and support my clients and it can be very hard to rein in an enthusiastic individual with a goal in their sights.

Overtraining can be a problem but another word that is often missing from a well designed programme is balance.

Training programmes such as HITT(High Intensity Interval Training) and Tabata are the latest buzz words in the fitness industry and it is always attractive to feel that you are getting the absolute max out of a training session. The addictive nature of the endorphin high will keep you coming back for more. I love these forms of training and really enjoy their intense nature, however they are only really appropriate training once or twice a week for the individual. A high intensity workout every day of the week will exact its toll eventually, injury, illness and burnout are often the result, as the article illustrates. Disciplines such as Pilates and Yoga are a great addition to a training regime, as are other mind body disciplines(that isn't to say that Pilates or Yoga can't be extremely tough practice, depending on what you do). Having lighter training days allows the body time to recover and repair and build itself. Ultimately, you achieve your end goal, which lets face it, is what its all about.

Train hard.....but train smart!

02/05/16
We all know that exercise is physically good for us, that we should be taking a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity exercise per week as recommend by the World Health Association http://www.who.int/dietphysicalactivity/factsheet_adults/en/ . This can help prevent modern lifestyle diseases, such as Type II diabetes and cardiovascular disease, which as a result of the growing epidemic of obesity is increasing throughout the modern world.

Research is highlighting and supporting just how beneficial exercise is not only for our bodies, but also for our minds and overall happiness. Psychiatrist, John Ratey in his book, 'Spark! How exercise will improve the performance of you brain'(2008), (https://www.amazon.co.uk/Spark-revolutionary-science-exercise-brain/dp/1849161577) identifies how a group of proteins, specifically one known a 'brain-derived neurotropic factor' (BNDF) is crucial for building and maintaining the infrastructure of our brains. Studies have shown that exercising increases the levels of BDNF in our brains and therefore our potential for learning. Ratey describes it as 'Miracle Gro' for the brain a ' crucial biological link between thought, emotions and movement'.

Studies have consistently shown that children who do more aerobic exercise improve in maths,literacy, problem solving and creativity. At the other end of the age spectrum, it has been consistently found that older adults who are physically active have better cognitive functioning and are less likely to experience cognitive decline, dementia or Alzheimer's. So, taking your early morning walk or run, really does set you up for a more productive day of learning or output at work.

How does this work on a practical level?

High intensity aerobic exercise has been found to be the most beneficial in terms of the laying down of BDNF in our brains and therefore improving our potential for learning. What counts as high intensity exercise will vary for each individual, for some it may be a brisk walk or cycle, for others, it could be a 5km run or hi-intensity aerobic class. It really depends on your initial level of fitness. Using a heart rate monitor as a tool to monitor intensity is a great way of getting the maximum of your workout. It can help you to set your heart rate working range and determine what your high intensity exercise range is . (I'll be covering this in another blog).

Daily exercise conveys the most benefits regarding the laying down of BDNF, however, high intensity exercise on a daily basis is not something that is either sustainable or even desirable initially. It places increased stress on our body's structures, both physiological and biomechanical. These physical adaptations take time for the body to make and must be developed gradually. Mixing high intensity with more moderate exercise , once or twice per week, allows the body to recover from the extra demands placed upon it and adapt accordingly. It will also make it more likely that the exercise habit will be maintained. As with all exercise programmes, it is always best to clear it with your doctor before embarking on a new regime.

Tips for beginning to move more.

Vanessa King in her book '10 Keys for Happier Living' (2016), (https://www.amazon.co.uk/Keys-Happier-Living-Vanessa-King/dp/1472233425 ) lists ten useful pointers for beginning to move more and maintaining the habit.
  1. Start slow and small - walking more is the easiest way to increase your activity level, ditch the car and walk to the local shop, walk up the escalator or stairs to your work etc. Keep it simple, as in my previous blog make the goal specific and attainable. Reset your goal as you achieve.
  2. Keep the end (or middle) in mind - focus on how you will feel when you finish exercising rather than the beginning. Positive thoughts and feelings about exercise will impact on your likelihood of doing it in the future.
  3. Break it Up - dividing the total amount of time you need to exercise daily into more manageable chunks, i.e. 10 minute slots, makes it easier to fit into your busy day. For example two x 15 minute walks to and from the station.
  4. Walk,think,talk - Use the time to do something else as well, listen to a podcast talk, have a walking meeting, call your mum!
  5. Prepare to avoid excuses - put yourself in a situation where you are unable to avoid exercising. For example, leave your work clothes at the office and have your exercise clothes ready to jump into by your bed, make an appointment with a trainer or prepay for a class, money is a great motivator!
  6. Be social - its far more enjoyable to exercise with others. Join a club or regularly meet with friends to provide motivation and make it fun!
  7. Enjoy yourself - find something that you enjoy doing. Not everyone wants to belong to a gym. whether it is a rambling club, outdoor tai chi or zumba there are many ways to increase movement levels.
  8. Do it outside - exercising outside can have added positive effects on our psychological wellbeing by changing our surroundings and getting out into fresh air.
  9. Keeping tabs can keep you going - there are many apps and other forms of technology that allow you to monitor your activity levels. Even if you aren't able to exercise in a group or with friends, apps such as Strava (https://www.strava.com) or Runkeeper (https://runkeeper.com) allow you to join a group and keep the motivation going by checking in with other exercisers.
  10. Sit Less - Sitting for long periods of time can increase risks of lifestyle diseases such as cancer,diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Take a look at my blog below and tips that can help you to reduce this.



03/01/16
Many of us begin our New Year with great resolve. We promise ourselves that we are going to take on healthier habits, so that when we get to our annual workplace health screening, we can feel confident the results will mirror our hard work. How many of you set yourselves up to fall short of those goals by failing to structure your efforts accordingly.

Many of you in a business environment will have heard of SMART goals, but it is not only the business environment that they can be applied to. If you are serious about your health then a SMART approach to your goals can really improve your chances of success.

What are SMART goals?

SPECIFIC - There is a difference between saying 'I need to lose weight' or I want to get fit' to 'My goal is to lose 10kgs to relieve back pain ' or ' I will run 5km race in June'. The latter details the goal to be achieved in detail

MEASURABLE - How will you know that those goals are being achieved? For example, ask your friend/ personal trainer to weigh you every two weeks, estimate and record your back pain on a scale of 1-10 or use some of the wearable tech or apps available to record your gym attendance. Adding these small steps to your ultimate goal by measuring your progress creates mini goals and attainments along the way that cements your motivation towards your ultimate objective.

ATTAINABLE - Make sure that the goal you have chosen isn't unrealistic, there is no surer way to set yourself up to fail than choosing an objective that is ultimately impossible. You need to weigh the effort, time and other costs to your goal against other obligations and priorities you have in your life.

RELEVANT - Is reaching your goal relevant to you? What is the larger objective behind it? Why do you want to reach this goal and will it achieve your wider longer term objective? These are questions that you need to ask, be honest with yourself.

TIME BASED - Deadlines are what makes most people switch to action. So, set yourself one! Keep it realistic and flexible within reason. Being too stringent with your deadline can make it a hateful race against time and can lead to extreme behaviour.

Formulate your goals positively, bringing clarity to your plans and enthusiasm to your actions. GOOD LUCK!

If you want a little more detail on setting your SMART goals take a look at http://www.smart-goals-guide.com

12/11/15



Our bodies are designed for regular movement but studies are showing that even if you undertake the recommended 30 minutes of exercise per day, if you spend the rest of your day sitting, it can substantially affect your mortality risk. 65% of an average person’s day is sedentary, thats 9-10 hours per day for adults! (Dr Stacy Clemes, Setting the Scene- How Much Time Do We Sit?)

Studies from the British Medical Journal http://www.bmj.com are showing that illnesses such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease,cancers all have increased risk when comparing those who sit the most, against those who sit the least. Also, mental health risks are higher, with studies showing increased risks of anxiety and depression for those who are more sedentary.

The government is actively behind initiatives to get us all moving more through its Start Active Stay Active https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/start-active-stay-active-a-report-on-physical-activity-from-the-four-home-countries-chief-medical-officers campaign. Below is a nice little PDF summarising health risks and how we can minimise them.

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/469457/Physical_activity_infographic.PDF

So what can you do on a daily basis to mitigate these increased health risks:
  • Set a reminder on your PC so that for every 50 minutes you are sat at your desk you get up do something, just make a cup of tea, pop to the toilet, go and speak to a colleague rather than send a email!
  • Set your printer to one that isn’t so close to your desk
  • Use a pedometer or app on your phone to aim for the 10,000 recommended daily steps. This will help to add some motivation to move.
  • If you can use a sit/stand desk or ergonomic chair
  • Fidget - tap your feet, squeeze a squidgy ball,do mobility exercises at your desk.
  • Use a headset for telephone calls and walk around whilst on the call.
  • Try to schedule walking meetings if at all possible.

Other information on the health risks of extended sitting are available in the British Medical Journal (link below)


http://blogs.bmj.com/bjsm/2015/01/21/sitting-ducks-sedentary-behaviour-and-its-health-risks-part-one-of-a-two-part-series/

09/09/15
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