Archive for the ‘Mind & Body’ Category

Over 50’s Fitness by Glen Barnett – Benefits of Tai Chi

December 16, 2014

Tai Chi is a low impact, relaxing form of exercise that has been described as the ‘longevity exercise’ for its health benefits. It blends mental, spiritual and physical aspects into 19 movements and one pose.
Tai Chi devotees can be seen in the park, at the beach and in many fitness environments and health care facilities.    Tai Chi is traditionally done standing but can be adjusted for those who need to remain seated. It requires no equipment, nor a special environment. If you can’t get to a class there are many good Tai Chi videos on You Tube to teach you, so you can do Tai Chi in your own home.
Some of its health benefits include:

Relieves mental and physical stress
Promotes deeper breathing
Improves lower body strength and stamina
Reduces arthritis pain
Reduces blood pressure
Requires mind and body integration through mental imagery
Helps release endorphins (our happy hormones) rather than depleting them
Improves concentration and alertness
Improves balance and lower body stability

The structure of Tai Chi helps you stay focused and it becomes a therapeutic series of flowing movements that create peace and harmony throughout your body and mind.   It follows the 70% rule which means you only do 70% of what you can do. This rule of moderation is especially important for some older adults whose bodies aren’t able to recover as quickly from strains or overuse injuries.
If you are recovering from injury and thinking of taking up a form of exercise, Tai Chi may be a good stepping stone for you. By following the 70% rule you will give your body a chance to heal and to regain mobility. From there don’t let your Tai Chi sessions slip away, instead let it become the curative compliment to your more strenuous daily or weekly activities.
Balance can become an issue as we age which can result in a lack of physical confidence.  Tai Chi in conjunction with other forms of strength and weight shifting exercises, will help your balance, coordination and confidence.  Focusing on energy flow to and from your legs will improve your strength and mobility.  This combined with the rhythmic gentle breathing Tai Chi promotes makes it a very restorative form of exercise much needed in today’s rushed and frantic world.   We often assume if we are not huffing and puffing we are not doing much for our bodies. Regular Tai Chi will do a whole lot more for you than you may realise.  As Confucius said “Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated”.
If you’d like to gain more out of your life then call Glen or Jacqui at Coffs Coast Health Club on 66586222 for a free session.

Over 50’s Fitness & Health by Glen Barnett – Cruising Health Tips

October 14, 2014

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Going on a cruise is a great way to fit in some time off and really relax. Unfortunately we tend to come back with little more baggage than we left with, usually around our waist, and hips, and thighs, and… need I go on?
So to combat this I have designed a list of how to NOT get fat on a cruise.
Here’s the plan:
1–Stay out of the lifts. Aim to not set foot in the  lifts. Trust me, if you use the stairs every single time you have to go up five floors because you forgot your sun glasses, you’ll feel it in your legs and burn up those calories.
2–Skip the breakfast buffet.  You can go to the sit-down breakfast, order something sensible, and feel less like you’re eating at a trough. Allow yourself a day at the buffet if you like, but every day is setting yourself up for rapid weight gain?
3–Find the track. There’s usually one deck that has a walking/jogging path marked out. Find out when you can use this and off you go. You can also download an audio book or music on your iPod before you leave home, and you’ll be entertained while getting your daily activity.
4–Make good use of your off-ship time.  Sign on for an active excursion or make your own. Go for a walk to enjoy the scenery or hire a bike and explore on a ride. This could end up being a highlight of your holiday and it will beat heading to another t-shirt and souvenir shop.
5–Share desserts.  You don’t need more than a bite anyway, and if you share, you can try more than one.
6–Stay sober.  We all know some people who think holiday is synonymous with a drunken bender but this is no good for your health at all. Getting drunk means you’re consuming all the calories in the drinks, plus you’re more likely to overeat.  Bad combination.
7–Remember that there will be more food tomorrow.  If you can afford to go on a holiday, you are probably not at risk of starvation.  The food will be there when you get up in the morning, and it’ll be there when you get home, too.  It’s not necessary to eat everything in sight.
Most important, you are on holidays. So ensure you don’t stress about the whole calorie thing. Just don’t over indulge and stay active. Have a great time and enjoy the experience.

For more healthy and fit holiday tips call Glen at Coffs Coast Health Club on 6658 6222.

Over 50’s Fitness & Health by Glen Barnett – No Sweat in the Brain Gym

September 21, 2014

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Research sourced from the American Academy of Neurology suggests that during later years, people who read books, played games, participated in computer activities and even did craft activities had a 30-50% decrease in their risk of developing memory loss compared to those who did not do those activities.
Here are some ideas for your own Brain Gym.
Explore new horizons, whether that be new environments, new books, new languages, new social groups or even new hobbies.  Get excited about the possibilities of increasing your wisdom and becoming a know all!

Learn a new physical skill.  Staying active will keep your heart pumping and let that oxygen rich blood surge around your body and fill your brain with much needed H20. Try a dance class, aerobics classes, Tai Chi, body boarding, trampolining or even juggling.

Practice doing two or three tasks at once.  (This one is probably a new concept for the men reading this article as women apparently do this their entire lives.)  Multi-tasking is like mental juggling and keeps those neurons firing.  If you’re having trouble with this one be warned you will be looking for trouble if you ask a woman to explain it to you.

Keep your memories alive.  Write your life story.  Open those memory pathways and draw those memories to the forefront of your mind.  Enjoy and relish your past.  Your family will love to read your history and maybe surprised and unaware of just what you got up to.

Sharpen your pencil as you sharpen your mind by regularly doing puzzle’s like Jumbled Words.  These are often regularly seen in magazines and newspapers.  The harder the puzzle the stronger your brain becomes when you solve it or try to solve it.

Switch hands. Make friends with your less dominant hand by doing simple tasks using it.  This will stimulate neural pathways with tasks that may be second nature with your dominant hand but a whole new ball game to your less dominant hand. Try brushing your teeth, switching your knife and fork or even writing.

Laugh. Laughing stimulates five different parts of your brain, so laugh often to help keep your brain from aging. Laughter Yoga workshops and classes are a great fun social way to get this integration happening.

So if you’ve been reading this article and already forgotten what it’s about then you might need to oxygenate your brain with some exercise and start creating your own Brain Gym today!  Call Glen at Coffs Coast Health Club on 66586222 if you need a hand.

Ways Dads Influence Active Kids

September 7, 2014

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It turns out that Dads have a lot of influence in how active their kids are.
Here are 7 great ways that Dads can make a big impact:

1. Be an active role model

A study titled “Influence of parents’ physical activity levels on activity levels of young children” found that children of active fathers are 3.5 times more likely to be active than children of inactive fathers. This is the perfect reason to try something new and to show your kids how committed you are to your own physical activity.

If you aren’t already active, you’ll soon see the impact on your entire family once you get moving yourself.

2. Encourage, encourage, encourage

If the kids know Dad is interested in what they are doing, they are more likely to keep it up. So dads, pay attention to your child’s activities. Notice when your son jumps rope 20 times in a row. Ask your daughter all about her Rally Cap game and what she liked about it. Watching your child, whether in an organized sport or in the backyard, shows that what they’re doing matters.

3. Play with your child

Playing with Dad not only gets kids active, but it helps them to regulate their emotions and develop their emotional intelligence, according to this Civitas article. If a child throws a tantrum while playing, Dad can address the issue with him. Children get on better with other children and become better suited for team environments – and life in general – if they understand their emotions and how to control them.

4. Roughhouse with your kids

Mom is typically the safe, nourishing parent, which allows Dad to be the unpredictable one. Roughhousing is good for kids for a number of reasons, as this Art of Manliness article points out. It improves your child’s resilience and helps them develop grit, rewires the brain for learning, helps build social intelligence, introduces respect for limits and boundaries, builds the father-child bond, and promotes physical activity. It also gives kids confidence to explore their environments and take risks, especially when Dad is by their side.

Don’t think this is just for boys, either – girls who roughhouse with their dads tend to have higher self-esteem and self-confidence, and are more prone to socialize during physical activity.

5. Get away with your child

The father-child – or family – getaway is a great way for children to get involved in a fresh batch of physical activities. My dad used to take me camping when I was a kid. We’d set up the tent. We’d walk down to the water station, fill up our thermoses and walk back. We’d hike through the bush.

Not only did this allow me to explore my surroundings as well as my physical capabilities, but Dad taught me about respecting the wilderness and all that lived within it. Instead of trying to hide the fact that there might be bears in the woods, he taught me what I’d need to do if I ever came across one.

The kind of life knowledge that fathers can impart during outings is invaluable.

6. Pass on your knowledge

Dads have had a lifetime of learning they can pass on to their children at different times – this is also true when it comes to physical activities. From a young age, my dad was teaching me how to throw a Frisbee, how to paddle the canoe properly (he gave me a kiddie paddle for my fifth birthday), how to fly a kite, and how to cast and reel the fishing rod. These are just a handful of things I learned from my dad when we were outside, playing and being active together, but they’re all things that still keep me active today.

7. Involve yourself

This Family Education article sites a study that followed a group of boys and girls for 26 years and examined the roles of both mothers and fathers in cultivating the child’s emotional health and empathy. The study found that the most influential factor in a child’s emotional health, by far, was how involved the father was in the child’s care. Children who have involved fathers are more likely to be emotionally secure, be confident to explore their physical surroundings, and have better social connections – all of which relate to physical literacy.

This article was sourced from: http://activeforlife.com/7-ways-dads-influence-active-kids/
About the Author: Tyler Laing
Tyler has been coaching and helping coach kids in soccer since he was little more than a kid himself. Now, thanks to Active for Life, he will have a better idea of how to raise a physically literate child when he has children of his own. Tyler provides content for Canadian Sport for Life, and holds a degree in writing with a journalism minor from the University of Victoria.

Start Shaping Up

August 19, 2014

IT’S TIME TO SHAPE UPshapeup

As a nation, our waistlines are growing. Today, over 63% of Australian adults and one in four children are overweight or obese.

Unhealthy eating and not enough physical activity can lead to overweight and obesity, and an increased risk of developing a chronic disease such as some cancers, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

Shape Up Australia is an initiative to help Australians reduce their waist measurements and improve their overall health and wellbeing. There are many everyday changes you can make to help you Shape Up and get on your way to a healthier lifestyle.


GETTING ACTIVE

Life can be busy, and it’s easy to think that there just isn’t enough time to be physically active.  But being physically active doesn’t mean you have to spend hours exercising each day or that you have to push yourself to the point of feeling exhausted.

There are great benefits to getting even a small amount of physical activity each day, both mentally and physically.  Being active gives you more energy, helps you sleep better, reduces the risk of depression and can help to prevent a range of chronic diseases.

You can start with small changes, like increasing the distance you walk by getting off the bus earlier or parking your car further away from the shops.  Gradually increase the amount of physical activity you do – it all adds up.  Aim for 30 minutes (or more) of moderate-intensity activity most days of the week.

If you’re worried you don’t have the time, keep in mind that you don’t have to do your 30 minutes (or more) all at once – combine a few shorter sessions of 10 to 15 minutes each throughout the day.  Those short bursts are just as effective as longer exercise sessions.

To get started, check out these physical activity tips or find activities in your local area using the activity finder.

GETTING PHYSICAL TIPS

Tips for being more physically active every day

  • The saying “no pain, no gain” is a myth.  Some activity is better than none, and more is better than a little.  But you don’t have to exercise to the point of collapse to get a health benefit.  Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity on most, preferably all, days of the week.
  • Set a date for when you will start. Write the date down and stick to it.
  • Make time to be physically active and schedule it as you would an appointment.  The Shape Up activity planner can help you plan and track your activity.
  • Set short-term and long-term goals.  Make your goals specific, measurable and achievable.  Rather than a vague goal like “I will get fit”, try “I will walk every day for 10 minutes after meals” or “I will get off the bus/train two stops earlier than my usual stop”.
  • Build up gradually.  If you are starting a new activity or have been inactive for some time, start at a level that you can manage easily and gradually build up.
  • Choose activities that are right for you.  Do something that you enjoy or go for something different you’ve always wanted to try, such as walking, jogging, joining a team sport, taking a group fitness class, dancing, cycling or swimming.
  • Mix it up.  Consider changing your activities every so often to avoid becoming bored.
  • Plan physical activity with others.  This can help you stick to your plan and achieve your goals.
  • Do not give up before you start to see the benefits.  Be patient and keep at it.
  • HAVE FUN! Physical activity can make you feel good about yourself and it’s a great opportunity to have fun with other people or enjoy some time to yourself.

FINDING TIME TO GET ACTIVE

It can seem hard to find time for physical activity.  One solution is to look for opportunities to build as much physical activity into everyday activities as you can.  Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Rather than spend five minutes circling a car park looking for that “perfect space” right near the entrance, park five minutes away and spend that time walking instead.
  • If you arrive at a bus or tram stop early, why not make use of the time to walk to the next stop?
  • Walk rather than rest on escalators… it’s quicker so you’ll actually save time! (Or better still, use the stairs).
  • Work in the garden – get into some energetic gardening activities like digging, shifting soil and mowing the lawn to raise your heart-rate.
  • Clean the house! Activities like vacuuming, cleaning windows and scrubbing floors that raise your heart rate are all good examples of moderate intensity physical activity.
  • Park further away from work (or get off public transport a few stops early).  If you walk for 10 minutes to and from work, you’ll have done 20 minutes without even noticing.  Add a 10 minute brisk walk (or more!) at lunch time and you’ve met the guidelines for the day.

ACTIVITY INTENSITY

What is moderate intensity activity?

Moderate-intensity activity will cause a slight but noticeable increase in your breathing and heart rate.  A good example of moderate-intensity activity is brisk walking; that is, at a pace where you are able to talk comfortably, but not sing.  Moderate-intensity activity should be carried out for at least 10 minutes at a time.

What is vigorous activity?

Vigorous activity is where you “huff and puff”; where talking in full sentences between breaths is difficult.  Vigorous activity can come from such sports as football, squash, netball, basketball and activities such as aerobics, speed walking, jogging and fast cycling.

Note: If you are pregnant, have been previously inactive, or suffer from any medical conditions, it is recommended that you seek medical advice before commencing vigorous physical activity.

WHAT SHOULD I BE EATING

Eating a diet that includes a variety of nutritious foods every day helps us maintain a healthy weight, feel good and fight off chronic disease.

Best of all, healthy eating doesn’t have to be hard if you follow these seven golden rules:

  1. Drink plenty of water
  2. Eat more vegetables and fruit
  3. Watch how much you eat – even foods that are good for us, when eaten in large portions, can lead to weight gain
  4. Eat less processed food
  5. Eat regular meals – don’t skip meals – and always start the day with a healthy breakfast (e.g. a bowl of hi fibre cereal with sliced banana and low fat milk)
  6. Restrict your alcohol intake
  7. Remember that some foods are high in added fat, salt and sugar and so are best eaten only sometimes or in small amounts.  Examples include lollies, chocolate, biscuits, cakes, pastries, soft drinks, chips, pies, sausage rolls and other takeaways.

To help you eat well every day, check out these healthy recipes and snack suggestions, tips for staying on track when eating out, our guide to healthy eating on a budget, and tips for drinking to health.

Snack suggestions

  • Add fruit and yoghurt to low fat milk and blend them together to make a great tasting smoothie.
  • A slice of wholegrain bread or raisin toast with a healthy spread such as avocado or low-fat cream cheese, makes a filling, healthy snack.
  • A piece of fruit – like a banana or apple – can make a great “on the run” snack.
  • Instead of reaching for a chocolate bar or packet of chips, try vegetable sticks with low-fat hummus.
  • An occasional handful of unsalted nuts or dried fruit makes a nutritious snack.
  • Grab a tub of natural low-fat yoghurt and add your own fruit.
  • Air-popped popcorn with a sprinkling of salt makes a great afternoon snack.
  • When the weather is hot, fruits such as oranges and grapes make delicious frozen snacks.

Other useful links:

Australian Dietary Guidelines www.eatforhealth.gov.au

Stay On Track When Eating Out Fact Sheet

Your Guide To Buying Fruit And Veg In Season Fact Sheet

Information sourced from this Government Website: http://www.shapeup.gov.au/start-shaping-up

Seated Doesn’t Mean Exercise Depleted

August 17, 2014

Article written by Glen Barnett of Coffs Coast Health Club seate

If your mobility is restricted, it doesn’t mean you can’t undertake an exercise regime of some description.  Don’t be limited by what you think you can’t do.  Instead embrace the possibilities of what you can do.   This week let’s take a look at seated exercises and how they can benefit those of you who are restricted to what you can do on your feet.  Check of course with your medical practitioner before starting and always get guidance from a qualified and registered fitness professional on your exercise programs content.

A chair bound exercise routine, like any other, does need some creativity and variety.  For starters make sure you are in an environment where you feel comfortable both physically and mentally. For example, if you are in a community environment does it promote your self confidence, is the area well ventilated and well lit?  Do you have access to water? If you are in a class situation can you hear and see the instructor.  If you are exercising by yourself do you know what you are doing? Would you like some motivating music playing in the background?

Look at covering the key components to any exercise program.  Cardiovascular activity to increase your heart rate. Strength exercises to (including some for the lower body) to obviously keep you strong.  Flexibility and stretching to keep you limber and maintain good range of movement through joints that may become stiffer from being seated.
Some health clubs have arm bicycles that will help you increase your heart rate while working the upper body.  You can also get small portable arm bikes that sit on a table in front of you.  These can also be used for the lower body to keep the circulation flowing through your lower limbs.  Swivel chairs also help with cardiovascular exercise.

Therabands and light hand weights will provide you with your strength training.  There are many exercises that can be done with these types of equipment to improve your strength while you are seated.

Flexibility and stretching is really relaxing while being seated.  You can use the chair as a lever to help you lengthen and rotate your body to get the most out of your flexibility program while focusing on gentle and relaxed breathing.
Next week we will include a seated exercise program.

At Coffs Coast Health Club we run a great seated exercise class on Fridays at 8am utilizing some of the equipment I’ve mentioned.  Don’t be limited by your limitations.  If you would like to try the class for FREE call Glen at the club on 66586222 or his mobile 0411037097.  I would love to help you. 

Sweet Poison – sugar, it never fully satisfies our cravings.

August 12, 2014

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In the last 24 hours, I’ve drunk several cups of coffee, each one sweetened with a sugar cube. I’ve eaten a bowl of porridge sprinkled liberally with brown sugar and I’ve enjoyed on three separate occasions, a piece of my date and apple birthday cake, to which the chef tells me he added one cup of castor sugar.

This is pretty standard fare for me (birthday celebrations notwithstanding) and although occasionally I fret that my sugar intake is perhaps a little high and that I should reign it in or else risk all manner of health problems down the track, I continue to indulge my sweet tooth. Although after listening to David Gillespie present at Happiness & Its Causes 2011, I’m seriously thinking I really do need to wean myself off the white stuff.

Gillespie, a former lawyer, is the author of Sweet Poison: why sugar makes us fat, whose thesis is that sugar, or more specifically fructose (of which folk are consuming, on average, about one kilo a week), actually does much more that pack on the kilos. It also makes us physically ill and exacts a significant toll on our mental health.

What we’ve come to identify as sugar is actually a combination of two molecules: fructose and glucose, the latter an indispensable element to the body’s healthy functioning. As Gillespie explains, “The glucose half is fine. It’s more than just fine; it’s vitally necessary for us. We are machines that run on the fuel of glucose.” Indeed, all the carbohydrates we consume – and which for most of us constitute about 60 per cent of our diet (everything else is proteins and fats) – are converted to glucose.

Fructose, on the other hand, is not metabolised by us for fuel but rather converted directly to fat. As Gillespie says, “By the time we finish a glass of apple juice, the first mouthful is already circulating in our arteries as fat.” But even worse than that, fructose messes with those hormonal signals which tell us we’re full so that we keep on eating sugary, fatty foods.

Two hormones in particular are affected, the first one being insulin “which responds immediately to the presence of all carbs except fructose,” says Gillespie. “When insulin goes up, appetite goes down. So insulin tells us, ‘all right, you’ve had a meal, stop eating’. Fructose does not provoke a response from insulin and in fact, over time, it makes us resistant to the signals we do get from everything else we eat.”

Leptin is produced by our fat cells and works as our “on board fuel gauge” in that the more fat cells we have, the more leptin we produce and the less hungry we are. The problem with fructose is it “makes us resistant to that signal,” says Gillespie.

And yes, this leads to all manner of health problems including Type 2 Diabetes and its associated symptoms including lethargy, blurred vision and skin infections, and what Gillespie says is “significant damage through something called glycation”, the destruction through the excessive production of so-called AGEs (advanced glycation end products) of our skin’s elasticity which causes hardening of our arteries and brittle skin, both unmistakable signs of ageing. Gillespie also cites some biochemistry studies that have found fructose accelerates the growth of pancreatic cancer tumours.

These are just some of the physical effects. The addictive quality of fructose means it’s also a bit of a downer and that’s because of how it interferes with the balance of two feel-good hormones in the brain, dopamine and serotonin. Gillespie explains, “It significantly ramps up our dopamine (released when we anticipate pleasure) at the expense of our serotonin (released when that pleasure is delivered).” In other words, it never fully satisfies our cravings, and as anyone who’s battled an addiction knows, unfulfilled cravings are never much fun.

Article sourced from: http://www.thinkandbehappy.com.au/eating-way-health-happiness/