Why be physically active?
“Physical Activity is the single most useful thing that individuals can do to maintain their health and function and quality of life.” (World Health Organisation, 1997)
Chair based exercise classes focus on aiding the muscles used in everyday activity and is performed at a pace that suits participants, but EXTEND classes with Tracy go that bit further including work that challenges balance, knee and hip mobility, transfer of weight and working with hoops, clubs and balls adds a giggle as well as music you can sing to (so you are not holding your breath!).
What will being physically active for an hour do for you?
So, what have you go to lose? Try a class and see if you can feel the benefits.
As Company Secretary for Margaret Morris Movement International (MMMI) I attended their AGM at Chichester University where I led an evening Medau Movement session, Doris Dowsett-Muench, a highly respected MMM teacher who also danced with Medau Movement was watching and she sent me a very special parcel.
Thank you Doris, your words of encouragement mean a huge amount to me.
A stroll, some gentle gardening and many other light activities that lessen the time spent sitting, will benefit elderly people, says a new study.
Exercise can be very off putting and a gentle exercise class can sometimes be just what the doctor didn't order - not everyone likes pulling on thera-bands, knee lifts, shoulder rolls or going on a pre planned 'health walk' to the post box and back.
Everyone needs to be in control, and for many just a small increase in activity, like
re-arranging the dust, walking from room to room, marching the feet when watching the TV or dancing to a song on the radio is enough to promote mobility.
We have all been guilty of making life easier for those we love and care for- taking their empty cup to the sink, picking up the post or sweeping the floor - but while we do these small tasks we are not only taking away their independence but reducing their daily activity. When I was training someone said to me 'if the heaviest thing anyone ever picks up is a tea cup then that is all they will be able to lift' .
Using a hand held vacuum to pick up the biscuit crumbs on the sofa, deadheading the flowers and leaving the washed dishes to drain might be just what the doctor ordered!
It is the end of term, a time when teachers reflect on the highs and lows of the year.
Was the music good enough?
Did I introduce enough 'new things?
Was I expecting too much?
Were my expectations too low?
Did people smile enough?
Did I engage with everyone?
BUT - mostly I think about my lovely class participants - the new folk who have just slipped in and joined in and become part of the gang and those who are under the weather and unable to get to class.
Over holidays I will be attending 2 Summer Schools - the first will be with Margaret Morris Movement and then I will be away with Medau Movement. Immersing myself into movement is a good way of absorbing new movements that become the centre of new routines or add an extra ‘thing’ to an existing set of movements,. I have learnt that simply copying someone else’s routines never works, you have to be comfortable with movement which is why no two EXTEND or Medau Movement teachers are the same- we all stamp our own personality on what we do.
The Government have made increasing physical activity a priority, encouraging children and adults alike to get more active more often. In reality we all need to do more but finding the time is an issue. Exercise, like your diet has to be varied and EXTEND and Medau can contribute to a health fitness diet.
Over the past few months some class participants have said some very lovely things which I have called ‘Overheard in Class’. They say word of mouth is the best advertising, so if you fancy trying something different and ‘people centred’ then come along in September and see if my classes ‘tick your box’.
Here are the dates for the summer.
Elm Court class will run into August to 'pay back' classes missed during term time.
A wonderful afternoon celebrating 20 years of delivering EXTEND Exercise with my 2 EXTEND classes with a celebration class and lots of cake!
Thank you to Judy for presenting me with my Gold badge and special thanks to Ann, Alison and Marna for making the long journey to be with me - was quite disconcerting having so many physiotherapists in the class!
Big thanks to my mother in law for tea duty and Louise for cake cutting.
It is impossible to think that way back in 2006 I suggested EXTEND presented Gold Badges to teachers of 20 years for long service and I am very proud and feel very privileged to be a Gold Teacher.
An interesting article, we don't run lift weights or cycle, but we all know and feel the benefits of working to music.
We pick the music to suit the exercise, the tempo to get the body moving, songs to encourage breathing and everyone agrees that a 'good tune' makes it easier and gives us the 'umph' to go that bit further.
We potter and dig, we weed and plant....and then we sit back to admire our hard work.
EXTEND and Medau will not give you green fingers but the class will help with the bending of the knees and leg strength for digging as well as mobility in the shoulders and arms to stretch to deadhead the flowers and pull out the weeds.
While we take delight in the flowers, leaves and ever changing colours knowing we have added to the bio-diversity of the world in which we live we are also helping our own mental health. I am not just jumping on the band-waggon, we have known for many many years that going outside and being active is good for you and how many of us fall into the chair with happy muscles, a smile and sense of satisfaction and accomplishment after a good session in the garden?
Monty Don (Gardeners World) says "By becoming in tune with the seasons of growth and fall, preparation and harvest you make your mind and body happier and healthier. By having a direct stake and involvement with the process of plants growing, of having your hands in the soil and tending it carefully and with love, your world and everyone’s else’s world too, becomes a better place." So, just popping out to see what is growing or if anything needs some tender loving care or to weed, dig or sow seeds these few minutes are enough to reset the mind, reboot the brain and get some fresh air into the lungs.
An hour outside with rolled up sleeves and sun hat is good for us physically and mentally - not forgetting your bones as the NHS website explains that ' for short periods with...forearms, hands or lower legs uncovered and without sunscreen from late March or early April to the end of September, especially from 11am to 3pm is an investment in your bones
So, take some of your housework outside and like Danny Kaye in the Court Jester and get better doing nothing!
Stay off your feet for a few days- is that really sound medical advice? Under normal circumstances we wouldn't think so but a very sore foot has made walking painful. Hence, chair rest.
But, as I teach exercise to the older person I can still remain active - can't I?
Medical science tells us to get up and move, that 'people who were physically inactive and sat for more than eight hours a day, had a 107 percent higher risk of dying from cardiovascular disease. This is compared to those who did at least one hour of physical activity per day and sat for less than four hours per day.'
The trouble is, when you start measuring your active time vs sitting you can be made to feel guilty for sitting watching a TV programme so you find yourself pacing the room, marching on the spot and running unnecessarily up and down the stairs.
The NHS says that 'To reduce our risk of ill health from inactivity, we are advised to exercise regularly – at least 150 minutes a week – and reduce sitting time.' and the original EXTEND Anatomy, Physiology and Kinesiology Book explains that moving is essential for the proper functioning of the internal organs.
While we all want to live longer, healthier lives we mustn't injure ourselves in the process, so walking miles upon miles, doing extra sessions at the gym may not be the answer. These extra minutes can be found pottering about in the garden, doing the housework or going shopping, simple everyday opportunities to get up and get moving.
For the historians, the motto of the Women's League of Health and Beauty, from which EXTEND grew was ‘Movement is Life’. We seem to have come full circle!
Rest, we all need to rest.
I have been told to rest my foot as I managed to over exercise a metatarsal joint! No idea why or how, the podiatrist said it I was doing just too much. I suppose trying to do 10,000 steps a day and having 50% of my time ‘active’ was unrealistic! Thankfully, this happened just as we broke up for the Easter break. My Fitbit is not happy, no green screens saying congratulations you have stepped your steps, but it doesn’t matter as my bones are more important than electronic rewards!
Talking of podiatrists, did you know May was Podiatry Awareness Month so please make an appointment and get your feet bio-mechanically checked!
Rest is just as important as exercise as it gives time for your muscles, nerves, bones, and connective tissue time to rebuild.
Every time you work your muscles, stretch that bit further or put a bit more effort into it you create microscopic tears in your muscles. These are not the same ‘tears’ as when you strain, sprain or pull a muscle but these small tears are part of the muscle building process. The body uses protein to repair the muscle so it is stronger than before. This is why I tell my class members to have some protein after class a tuna or chicken sandwich or an egg.
Rest gives time for inflammation to reduce, for the ligaments and tendons and the cartilage that covers the ends of the bones to recover.
But, it takes about 2 weeks of non-activity before your muscles start to lose strength etc, which is why going out and about, doing the garden, visiting friends or walking round the park is more than enough to keep the muscles in tip top condition and ready for class. I have been digging the garden,
But rest is more than allowing the muscles to build strength and aches and pains to subside, it is a time for the whole body to completely relax for seeing friends as well as dental and doctor appointments. I have squeezed so many meetings and appointments into my 2 weeks I need a holiday!
On Wednesday I visited the Archway and District Carers' Group who offers help, support and information to informal Carers (who are caring for disabled family members, partners or friends), a place to go and rest, where people, who become friends, share thoughts and ideas, laughter and tears with other Carers in a similar situation. The group is run by a volunteer, who organises speakers, exercise sessions, massage, and occasional teatime outings. They are an inclusive group, meaning that no-one is turned away. I did not know who would be there so with my bag of bean bags and assorted music I delivered a session that made everyone forget their worries, aches and pains and at the end everyone commented on how easy it would be to incorporate a few exercises into their day. We had such a giggle as getting it wrong is always part of the class plan.
So, however you are spending your Easter break and bank holiday weekend, have a restful one, recharge your batteries , see friends, get out and about and be ready and invigorated for a new term.
Exercise With Tracy
EXTEND Exercise and Medau Movement teacher. Keeping the muscles working, the joints mobile and having fun!