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Green Exercise

Green spaces such as parks, forests, hills provide an opportunity for people to take time out from their daily routine and stressful environments and engage in nature, connect with their senses in outdoor activities.  As populations become more urbanised, green spaces will provide a future key role in the promotion of health and well-being.  Outdoor activities and health and well-being has many benefits, such as when visiting green spaces, simply viewing nature may assist in the maintenance of health.  Wolf & Wohlfant (2014) claim as people visit green spaces regularly and engage in physical fitness, they are less likely to be overweight and by integrating regular visits to a park establishes good health and fitness routines which acts as an intervention to a sedentary life. 

Forests are natural environments usually defined as ‘areas covered by trees.  Forest bathing is a term used known as (‘shinrin-yoku’ in Japanese) it is a traditional meditative practice characterized by walking in a forest or other types of exercises which take place combined with awareness and contemplation of the surrounding natural environment (Antonelli et al. 2019). Although forest bathing originated in Japan, it has become popular in western countries to promote relaxation and aid in stress relief.  Current evidence suggests there are additional benefits such as an improved immune system, cardiorespiratory and respiratory system and elevated mood.

Studies undertaken by Firby & Raine (2022) outline in their research there is  increasing evidence to suggest the numerous health benefits from engagement with the outdoors, including enhanced immune functioning, improvement in sleep quality, mental health and well-being outcomes include reduced symptoms of anxiety and depression, stress reduction and increased self-reported happiness.

References:

Antonelli, M,  Donelli, D, Carlone, L, Maggini, V Firenzuoli, F & Bedeschi, E (2022) Effects of forest bathing (shinrin-yoku) on individual well-being: an umbrella review, International Journal of Environmental Health Research, 32:8, 1842-1867, doi: 10.1080/09603123.2021.1919293

Firby H, Raine R. (2022) Engaging with nature and the outdoors: A scoping review of therapeutic applications in contemporary occupational therapy. British Journal of Occupational Therapy. 0(0). doi:10.1177/03080226221126893

Wolf, I. D. & Wohlfant, T. (2014) Walking, hiking and running in parks: A multidisciplinary assessment of health & well-being benefits. 130. Pp.89-103

Prevention of knee injuries in female footballers

Football soccer is the most popular sport worldwide, there are around 265 million players with trends showing a rapid growth in the sport and in particular female players. One of the most common injuries is that of the knee with the anterior cruciate ligament being the most serious in terms of the onset of osteoarthritis and long-term absence from the sport.

Knee injuries in female footballers is higher compared to males with adolescent girls being at risk most.  Studies undertaken by Walden, et al (2012) suggest in their data that a programme consisting of a neuromuscular warm up significantly reduced ACL injuries, these exercises consisted of core stability and knee control activities. 

Performance in football is determined by many factors, physiological, psychological and biomechanical, although the emphasis has been on the main factors of health-related fitness such as cardiorespiratory fitness, flexibility, speed, muscular strength and endurance, Nikolaidis (2010) states a question on the contribution of core stability in injury prevention and health has also been raised.   Core stability may provide several benefits to the musculoskeletal system, ranging from low back health and preventing knee ligament injury by providing a foundation for greater force production by upper and lower extremities in sport performance.

Core stability is the ability to control the position and motion of the trunk over the pelvis to allow optimal output, transfer and control of force. Nikolaidis (2010) argues decreased core stability was reported to be associated with a higher risk of injuries in the knee or lower back.  This is supported by Myklebust & Steffen (2009) who claims prevention programmes should be implemented from the ages of 12-14, focusing on a warm up with good movement patterns, exercises which address and improve the lower extremity, core strength as well as awareness and neuromuscular control during static and dynamic movements.

References:

Myklebust, G & Steffen, K (2009) Prevention of ACL injuries: how, when and who. doi:org/10.1007/500167-009-0826-9

Nikolaidis, P (2010) Core stability of male and female football players. doi: 2478/v10101-010-0007-9

Walden, M, Atroshi, I, Magnusson, H, Wagner, P & Hagglund, M (2012) Prevention of acute knee injuries in adolescent female football players: BMJ 2012:344:e3042

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.

Mindfulness Walking

The Art of Mindfulness Walking

What is Mindfulness Walking?

Mindfulness is the practice of bringing your attention into the present moment where mindfulness walking is the practice of becoming aware of your surroundings and how your body and mind feel whilst moving. There are many benefits to this by focusing on the present moment you can increase self awareness and develop skills to manage your stress and maybe see a different perspective on any stressful situations in your life. Autumn is a great time to be outdoors, by engaging in the local environment and appreciating nature, mindfulness walking helps you to connect to your senses, releasing stress and anxiety and promoting health and wellbeing. Find out more about our mindfulness walking sessions by visiting http://www.fitness-excel.com

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.

International Women’s Day

Choose Challenge

Let’s celebrate all international women across the globe. The history of this event dates back to the early 1900’s and has evolved and grown addressing key issues and themes over the years. It’s purpose is to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women across the world as well as addressing equality. The theme this year 2021 is ‘Choose Challenge’. The focus and aims of the day are to celebrate women’s success and achievements, raise awareness about women’s equality and fundraise for female charities.

What better way to celebrate this day by joining an International Running Race across the globe, with many female-focused charities to choose from, this is a great way to support and raise awareness in your local community, inspire and challenge yourself, but to encourage other women across the world to participate in running, highlight healthy living as well as ‘firing up’ enthusiasm to women to reach their individual fitness goals.

Integrated Pilates & Yoga, Childrens Performance in Education

Standing Tall

INTEGRATED PILATES & YOGA, CHILDRENS PERFORMANCE IN EDUCATION

Pilates and yoga are mind-body systems which both emphasise breathing, relaxation, posture, muscular strength and endurance and flexibility.  There is much science behind the connection of the mind and body and the link between the release of specific chemicals released when undertaking movements and many have already reaped the many benefits of practising both disciplines regularly. 

CHALLENGES CHILDREN FACE IN LEARNING

Many children can face challenges in their learning which can affect their mental, academic and physical well-being.  Studies were conducted on elementary and middle school children in education and found that yoga had an effect on improved grades, better health through a reduction in obesity and health problems, the research suggests that mindfulness activities such as Pilates and yoga can also assist children in class lessons because they are calmer, find it easier to complete tasks improved concentration as well as having a healthy body image which leads to more confidence in themselves compared to those who have a negative body image, which could result in low self-esteem and become a distraction in the class.   (Eggleson, Brandon, 2015).  Furthermore (Peck & Kehle, 2005) revealed that younger children who took part in 30 minutes of yoga, twice a week for 3 weeks completed tasks on time compared to those who didn’t take part.

YOGA FOR CHILDREN WITH SPECIAL NEEDS

Children with special needs may also benefit from undertaking Pilates or yoga as both mind-body systems focus the mind and attention on the movement, those in particular with conditions such as ASD (autism-spectrum disorder), as the skills learnt in these disciplines enable improved sensory information processing, motor control, communication and improved cognitive processing of information from perception, problem solving, reasoning, thinking and learning are factors linked with yoga participation which can help those lead a more healthy, balanced life. (Etheringer, 2010).  Particular Pilates/yoga exercises which are similar in nature have been associated with an increase in attention and memory as there is an increased blood flow to the brain, (Schaeffer, 2002) claimed “yoga can prevent memory lapses by calming you and enhance concentration.  It can also improve your powers of recall by increasing blood circulation to your brain”.

INCORPORATE PILATES & YOGA INTO LESSONS

Physical activities linked to Pilates and yoga can be part of your curriculum and can be blended into lessons for 5 and 10 minutes by incorporating a story during reading, writing combined with Pilates and Yoga poses and breathing techniques.  Some simple exercises can include:  Standing tall like a Tree, Seal stretch, Bridge and Tortoise.  By introducing some exercises also promotes physical activity and encourages a healthy lifestyle.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

E
ggleston, B & Brandon, J.E (2015) available at: International Journal of Health & Wellness Society, Vol 5, Issue 3, p 1-7

Etheringer, J (2010) Yoga for children on the Autism Spectrum, International Journal of Yoga Therapy, Vol 20, No 1. Pp 131-139

Peck, H.L & Kehle, T.J (2005) Yoga as an intervention for children with attention problems. School Psychology Review, 34 (3) 415-424

Schaeffer, R (2002) Athletic Insight, The Online Journal of Sports Psychology, Vol 9, Issue 2, June 2007

Live on line Fitness Community

Live on line fitness community classes are a superb way of connecting with like minded people who share a common interest in health and well-being. Live on line classes also offer a wider selection of classes. In studio classes you may rush to your class from work, however with live on line there is no need to travel, you will reduce air pollution and save money as live on line is cheaper. Moreover, small group live on line offers a tailored, personalised exercise class which can help with motivation.

Benefits of On-Line Fitness

Sometimes it is not possible to get to our regular class for exercise due to circumstances, however, on-line fitness provides a solution. As long as you have WiFi connection you can log on to your normal class and workout wherever you are. Also, workout for less, it is cheaper for you to book an on-line lesson compared to a studio session. In addition, having a variety of scheduled slots of exercise offer a more convenient approach to training. If you prefer to have an individual session this offers many advantages to time slots, costings and you not having to drive to gyms to meet your instructor, you will still get motivation and instruction, so give it a go.

Psychological Well being and Exercise

There are numerous studies and research on the many physical benefits of exercise to include aerobic exercise, muscular strength and endurance, flexibility and balance, however, there is increasing evidence to list the psychological and cognitive benefits and its relation to physical exercise, some of these include; heightened mood state, less anxiety, stress and depression, improved self esteem and body image. Studies conducted in Finland on participants between the ages of 24-64 explored the association between physical exercise and psychological traits and demonstrated that participants who exercise at least 2-3 times a week experienced less anger, distrust, depression and report a stronger sense of social integration compared to those who lead sedentary lifestyles.