Health Benefits of Walking & Pilates

Both walking and Pilates are low impact activities which reap many health benefits to include improve balance, co-ordination, deep muscular activation, posture and mindfulness.

Walking address the cardiorespiratory fitness and resistance training from Pilates addresses improved muscular strength, studies undertaken by Takeshima, et al (2013) have demonstrated that the combined programs, either undertaking both activities on the same day or alternate dayes, walking one day and strength training the following day has significant improvements in endurance, functional strength, agility, flexibility, serum lipids and blood pressure over a 12 week period.

In regard to coronary heart disease, Maestroni et al (2020) found that progressive resistance training provides an improvement in cardiorespiratory function comparable to aerobic training alone, when combined they offer more substantiated improvements in both fitness and strength as well as systolic and diastolic blood pressure which may be significantly lowered by resistance training.

Those suffering from anxiety also benefit. In Australian studies on women in their 50’s and 60’s, Ripton (2015) state that women with depression who walked 200 miles a week had more energy and those with anxiety may benefit as cortisol, a hormone that provokes a stress response is lower in those who walk compared to those who are sedentary.

Both walking and Pilates can also be challenged by adding nordic poles for walking to increase the instensity of the walk which can burn more calories, poles also encourage you to stand tall, tighten the abdominals, act as an aid for balance, whilst resistance bands, tubing, circles can be incorporated into Pilates programs to increase strength and intensity.

References

Maestroni, L. Read, P. Bishop, C., Papadopoulos, K., Suchomel, T. J. Comfort, P. & Turner, A. (2020). The benefits of strength training on musculoskeletal system health: Practical applications for interdisciplinary care. Sports Medicine, 50(8), 1431-1450. doi:https://doi.org/10.1007/s40279-020-01309-5

Ripton, N. (2015) The surprising health benefits of walking

Takeshima, N, Islam MM, Rogers, ME, Rogers, N.L. Sengoku, N, Koizumi, D, Kitabayashi, Y, Imai, A, Naruse, A. (2013) Effects of nordic walking compared to conventional walking and band-based resistance exercise on fitness in older adults. J Sports Sci Med, Sep 1:12 (3): 422-30.

Breathing Efficiently

Breathing is easy, it’s natural, you just do it don’t you? But wait a minute, a new book by James Nestor entitled “Breath” points out that it’s not quite so simple!

It turns out that there is more to breathing than just letting it happen and the consequences can be damaging. We all know that if someone gets into a panic, they can start what’s called, hyperventilating, where they breathe deeply and rapidly- with the result that they can feel faint.  And sometimes just thinking about a scary or highly stressful incident can induce the same reaction.

In both cases we breathe through our mouths and that we calm down by slowing the breathing down it will reduce the stressful sensations we go back to breathing through our noses-or do we?

Quite often, if the stress is low level and near continuous, we end up mouth breathing more than is healthy. But what’s wrong with breathing through the mouth you ask? Well according to James Nestor, breathing experts point out that nose breathing is the optimum way to breathe, except when undergoing physical exertion.

Why? Because amongst other benefits the nose is our own in-built air filtration and air conditioning system. Catching all the dust, dirt and germs floating around in the atmosphere. Which would otherwise be drawn deeply into the lungs when we breathe with our mouths. Also the air coming in via the nose is warmed and humidified, whereas it isn’t when coming in via the mouth.

Benefits such as these and many others are explained in his book, which whilst fascinating and is highly recommending reading, it doesn’t give any details of practices you can do to alleviate the situation. It appears that nearly all the techniques Nestor mentions are similar to a Yoga teachers handbook of Pranayama together with some of the physical exercises/practices utilised are also taught in a Pilates class. In view of this check out our short and entertaining theory and practical workshop on breathing efficiently for interested people to come and learn more about how the body breathes, how you can improve your breathing via some simple exercises from Yoga and Pilates and understanding what benefits you can gain.

References:

Nestor, J (2021) Breath, The New Science of a Lost Art.

Psychology of Marathon Running

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Participants competing in long endurance events such as the Marathon has steadily risen over the years.  Data taken of both demographic and socio-economic groups from various studies has seen a rise in running becoming a popular sport.

The Marathon runner embarks on this challenge for many reasons and they must adapt their lifestyle and training far beyond the recreational exerciser to include high levels of demanding physiological and psychological adaptations to push beyond their current capabilities.  Furthermore, the rewards and positive benefits of this training will outweigh the negatives of marathon running.

The London Marathon is my third marathon, as a veteran runner I have improved with age, both on personal performance together with a faster post marathon recovery rate.  Training for a Marathon demands a consistent, disciplined, structured routine which will manifest into other areas of the runners life to include; personal goal achievement, better life management, psychological and emotional strategies for coping and better vitality and health.

Camino & Resilience

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The route continued to Palas De Rei. After leaving Portomarin, crossing the River Mino we continued uphill steadily through woodland, the rain continued and got heavier and heavier. Continuing through small hamlets, passing the Hospital de la Cruz. Arriving at Vendas de Naron to get a ‘pilgrim stamp’ the old Romanesque Chapel, then continuing along the paved path, arriving at Sierra de Ligonde which offered fantastic views over the valleys. Particular parts of the route were isolated and quiet, apart from a rather large dog. The fog was dense and we were soaked through.

Approaching A Calzada the weather was so bad, we took shelter under a tree. There were other walkers, one an Australian man, we had met further back in other towns.  After discussing the weather, our blisters, stories of one walker getting frostbite back in the Pyrenees, our conversation compared the weather to life and the Camino, there are good and bad times, but we must press forwards.

The Camino de Santiago builds resilience, both emotionally and physically, it enables us to develop a positive mind and can-do-attitude.  We can integrate resilience into our lives on a daily basis, by being more active, getting more sleep and eating well, forgiving ourselves and resolving conflict. These small steps can help us improve our mental health and to face everyday challenges.

Camino & Mindfulness

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Camino de Santiago is an excellent reason to take time out and integrate some walking mindfulness into your Camino.  Be aware of the sounds of nature, the wind, sun, rain and other people.  How can we become mindful of our experience of walking? Start with a natural relaxed walking rhythm, keep your attention in the soles of your feet, being aware of the alternating patterns of contact with your foot as it makes contact with the ground, then focus on sensations in your muscles and joints, expanding that awareness into your posture and breathing.