REPs welcomes Government’s commitment to dementia research

Dementia

As exercise professionals we most certainly welcome the Government announcing the funding research into dementia doubling.

The Government has already committed to spend £52 million in 2012 to 2013, and up to £66 million by 2015; the ambition is now to double public, commercial and charitable R&D in dementia in the UK by 2025, supporting leading scientists, universities and other institutions in seeking the next breakthrough.

Greg Small, Operations Manager for REPs, says, “While it’s obviously upsetting there are so many dementia and related conditions needing this funding, the investment is a welcome boost that can positively affect the lives of those people suffering from these conditions. Dementia issues already cost the NHS £5 billion each year – yet data shows that physical activity can drastically reduce the risk of major illnesses.”

A study [i] published this week in the journal PLOS One found that people who consistently followed four or five key behaviours experienced a 60% decline in dementia and cognitive decline, with exercise being the strongest mitigating factor. The other four behaviours were low bodyweight, a healthy diet, low alcohol intake, and not smoking.

Greg, who is also a REPs registered instructor, continued to say: “The increased funding should enable health clubs and leisure facilities to ensure people can get bespoke, professional training – enabling those people who need it the most to access appropriate fitness training from qualified professionals. REPs fitness professionals are fully qualified to provide the best possible encouragement and motivation, and ensuring correct exercise habits.”

According to the National Health Services, mental illness accounts for a third of all illnesses and, at any given time, one person in six experiences anxiety or depression. It is estimated that 25% of the UK population will experience at least one mental health condition at some point in their life.

Greg concludes, “Our aim as exercise professionals is to help everyone in the UK to get more active, and fitter. Through the combination of this additional funding, medical intervention and physical activities, we can all work together towards relieving families and society of the awful impact of dementia and its related conditions. If spent well, this investment will ensure patients and clients will receive the best possible treatment from those professionals qualified to do so.”


[i] Published in the PLOS One journal by researchers from Cardiff University, the study is the longest of its kind to probe the influence of environmental factors in chronic disease. http://www.cardiff.ac.uk/news/articles/healthy-habits-reduce-dementia-risk-12191.html

 Image Credit: http://www.nuffieldbioethics.org

Louise Hazel’s Christmas tips

Photographed by John Wright

REPs Ambassador Louise Hazel shares her expert advice as we approach the season of eggnog, work Christmas parties and endless repeats of Home Alone on ITV2 (not that we are opposed to any of this, particularly Home Alone – except the third one).

It can be tempting to over-indulge during the Christmas period, with endless Christmas parties and treats everywhere it can be hard to resist the temptations that are associated with the festive season. Research has shown that weight gained over the Christmas period is rarely lost throughout the year meaning a steady increase of weight gain year upon year. So how can we enjoy ourselves without piling on those extra pounds?

With two weeks to go, I wanted to give you my top tips to not only keeping trim over the festive season but getting a head-start going in to the New Year.

1.       Set yourself a goal (e.g. Drop a dress size by Christmas, Lose 2kg before Christmas)

Goal setting helps you to focus as it provides a reason to exercise.

a)      When you don’t feel like exercising repeat your goal three times in your head and you’ll be more likely to head out of the door.

b)      When it comes to weight loss you should aim to lose weight gradually, 0.5kg every week is steady progress. The quicker you lose weight the easier it is to pile back on. 

2.       Ditch the treadmill

Long, steady exercise is good for general fitness, but you won’t achieve results quickly.

a)      For a quicker result you should opt for HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training), classes are available at most good gyms.

b)      If you want to lift, tone and sculpt those problem areas you should opt for resistance training such as free-weights or power-band training.

c)       If you seriously lacking in motivation, opt for a personal trainer. A fully qualified and professional personal trainer will hold valid qualifications and insurance. Always check they are REPs qualified before you start by visiting the REPs website. 

3.       Stay hydrated

Poor hydration can lead to feelings of fatigue so if you are suffering from the night before it’s important that you rehydrate to assist kidney and liver function.

a)      Try to consume 2 litres of water daily.

b)      To beat a hangover drink 500ml of water and take 1000mg of vitamin C before bed. 

4.       Dessert or alcohol

Sugar is the biggest contributor to weight gain, therefore it is important to moderate your intake if you are trying to lose weight.

a)      Choose between dessert or alcohol, never both

b)      Opt for non-sugary cocktails, try going to a vodka and soda water with a slice of lemon for a low-calorie tipple. 

5.       Don’t miss breakfast

Skipping breakfast will inevitably lead to a drop in blood sugar levels during the day, which will often lead to cravings for sugary and fatty foods. Avoid the temptation by making breakfast a priority.

a)      Opt for a high protein low carbohydrate start to the day such as scrambled egg with smoked salmon on a slice of wholegrain/rye toast

b)      Alternatively, check out recipe ideas at www.pinterest.com/thepodiumeffect for an awesome Bircher muesli recipe.

c)       If you are in a hurry, opt for an apple, Greek/soy yoghurt with a handful of mixed nuts and dried fruit. 

Good luck and remember a diet is a lifestyle; it’s not just for Christmas! If you have any Christmas diet or fitness tips I’d love to hear from you @louisehazel on Twitter!

No time to get fit?

not-enough-time

Do you ever feel like you could do with an extra hour in the day just to fit everything in? Finding time for ordinary tasks such as washing your hair can feel like a luxury for which you have to set aside time. People are living increasingly busy lives, any free time is considered sacred. With time so precious, putting a large chunk of it aside for exercise is an indulgence many feel they cannot afford.

The average Brit spends 43 hours in full-time work each week, without taking into account all the other duties required of them. Many industries are rethinking the way they provide their services due to the increased demands on time. An open-all-hours culture is already rife in the beauty industry, a trend set in cities that don’t sleep such as New York. On demand services are also popular, where people can get express treatments without having to book a long way in advance, every moment of spare time needs to be taken advantage of.

To exercise professionals, the benefits of making time for workouts is obvious, not least for the extra energy it can give for the day ahead. It is easy for exercise to be lingering at the bottom of the list of priorities in a hectic schedule; fitting in gym classes or personal training sessions is just not a realistic possibility for some. Short of becoming nocturnal, it is hard to fit it all in. Kim Kardashian might be a fan of 3am workouts, but realistically this is not feasible for making long-term changes. Incorporating exercise into the lives of busy people may seem like a daunting prospect, but it is imperative that exercise is an important focus. Showing how this can be achieved through changes to the daily routine, without sacrificing too much precious time. Being busy should not be an excuse for not staying fit!

Make it part of the commute

Commuting is a fact of life for most people, an ordeal to be endured every day. An office-based job encourages a sedentary lifestyle, so having an active commute can help counteract that. Brainwaves such as Home Run, a series of guided runs home from Central London, help achieve that. Following popular commuter routes such as Waterloo to Clapham Junction, covering distances between 2 and 6 miles, Home Run takes the tedium out of one of life’s necessities. They even carry your bag!

If running is not for you, or your commute still requires more traditional means, there are still plenty of ways to make it more active. Fitting in as much walking as possible is a step in the right direction; walking to the station, taking the steps rather than the escalator and getting off a stop early will get the daily miles clocking up. Apps such as Moves calculate all movement throughout the day, a great way to quantify how much you are actually doing, and a great incentive to keep on improving that figure.

Be organised

Being aware of any moments in the day that could be used for activity will allow for these times to be used most productively. Finding the perfect time to go for a run, but lacking the kit to do so is useless, forward planning will make the most of these opportunities. Keeping a gym kit in the car or office will allow for spontaneous activity, or make a priority of following through with a pre-planned activity without wasting time going home first.

Get Creative

No time to go to the gym, but still got twenty minutes to fit in some activity? Making the most of what is available to hand can provide a makeshift gym. Stairs can be run up, chairs used for triceps dips, press ups and sit ups can just require a flat surface. Gym equipment for the home is readily available, and comes in a variety of price ranges and sizes to suit every need. There are also a great selection of fitness DVDs and interactive games that are perfect for instructor-led exercise, but without the time constraints of committing to gym classes.

Multi-Task

Multi-tasking is an absolutely necessary skill to keep up with the frenetic pace of life, and is second nature to this overworked generation. This can extend into exercise, menial tasks such as cooking or cleaning can be turned into workouts with movement to increase the heart rate. Throw in some squats, a plank or some star jumps will make waiting around far more productive. A sacred night in front of the TV needn’t be sacrificed either, but introducing an exercise bike into the mix will ensure a good workout at the same time. Watching sport while doing this is one of the best incentives to carry on going; getting engrossed in the action will make it easy to forget you are even exercising.

Making these small changes a habit is a much more sustainable way of ensuring people are routinely active. The way people are living their lives and spending their time is changing, and this applies to the ways in which they exercise. Understanding that some traditional methods may not be as relevant it important, exercise professionals should be at the forefront of realising this and helping to ensure fitness remains a top priority.

Image credit: 7one8design.com

Challenging exercise misconceptions

fitness

Some people love the gym. It can offer some well-deserved time to focus on you, a great stress reliever and releases endorphins that make you happy. Others view it as an experience similar to the dentist; bringing a sense of foreboding, an uncomfortable experience to put off for as long as possible. Just like the dentist, many people have irrational fears about exercise, avoiding it wherever possible rather than realising the benefits it can bring.

Having the right mindset for exercise is so important in allowing it to become a lifestyle. Exercise professionals understand the benefits and pleasure that exercise can bring, and the difference it can make to an individual’s life. Communicating this positive attitude to someone who has negative connotations associated with fitness can be as important as anything else you teach them. You must train the mind as much as the body; it should not be underestimated what a useful tool a positive mindset is when it comes to achieving your goals.

Getting people to realise that exercise is something accessible to them, can provide a moment of awakening in people’s lives.  To do this, the common misconceptions must be challenged.

I have to work hard for hours to see any results

Nothing worth doing is ever going to be easy; not putting the necessary input into exercise will not bring any noteworthy results. Not trying small changes with the belief it won’t make a difference is counterproductive. To someone with a sedentary lifestyle, adding 15 minutes a day will make a difference. Keeping that up will allow for the duration and intensity to be increased.  Making small changes can make a big difference, doing something is far better than doing nothing at all. Every step forward is one step closer to achieving a fitter, healthier lifestyle, and they all count.

15 minutes a day is almost two hours each week, or 104 hours a year; compared to doing nothing before, 104 hours is not to be sniffed at.

I’m too old or unfit to exercise

Exercise professionals have a duty to quash this misconception completely; exercise isn’t just for those who are young and fit, in fact it is arguably more important for those who don’t fit into this category. It is vital for these groups to understand that exercise can be individually tailored for any specific requirement. It is not necessary to compare themselves to anyone else’s standards, other gym users are far too engrossed in their own workouts to worry what anyone else is doing. What’s more, however long exercise has been ignored, it is never too late to start.  It’s not the level that is started at that it is important, just the direction headed.

The gym is boring

Going to the gym may not be for everyone, but it does offer a practical solution to being able to exercise for lots of people. Gym boredom can be kept at bay by switching between gym work and other activities. Running and circuits are great activities that can be done outside, without any specialist equipment necessary.  Thanks to the outdoor gym company, even using traditional gym machines can be done outside, providing a nice change of scenery and fresh air.

If working out in the gym is the only feasible option, there are plenty of ways to ensure it stays stimulating. A programme designed for an individual should work them hard, leaving little time to get bored. Changing or intensifying the programme should help if a client feels like they are stuck in a gym rut.

Many people stick to the same few machines, often as they are familiar with their favourite machines or are too unsure about trying a new one. Ensuring clients are competent in the use of all gym equipment and understand what aspect of their fitness it is aiding will ensure they have the confidence to push themselves hard and try new things.

I don’t have time

Finding the time to fit in anything new is difficult, but exercise is something that should have its place in a daily routine. The benefits that it brings completely outweigh the time it takes.  Feeling tired after work is very different from exhaustion felt from exercise; often a workout is what is needed after a long day in the office and leaves you revitalised and with more energy to face the next day.  It needn’t take a long time, little and often is just as effective as a big workout. Making exercise a habit will increase the chances of carrying it on in the future.

I will never be good at it

What is good is relative; exercising regularly will make anybody better than their previous level. Allowing people to realise what are realistic expectations for themselves, and how to recognise their achievements will encourage them to keep going.

It is important not to judge an individual against the standards of others, and discourage them from doing so themselves. Specific and achievable yet challenging targets are the best way on measuring progress and keep the enthusiasm high. Never expect too much too soon, it deserves enough merit for acknowledging more exercise is needed and taking the first steps to a more active lifestyle.

Allowing someone to discover the benefits of exercise who was previously too nervous to have a go is one of the most rewarding things for an exercise professional. With the countless examples of how exercise has changed people’s lives and health, communicating this important message and challenging misconceptions is fundamental.

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