How To Become More Flexible
Even When You Are Over 50
Flexibility is a key component of our ability to do the things we really want to do in life. Many women accept getting stiffer and not being able to do the things they want as an inevitable part of being older. Well that old saying “use it or lose it” has never been more true when it comes to this issue.
Despite there being lots of physiological changes occurring as you get older there is something very simple you can do to maintain your flexibility. You simply need to stretch, yes that’s right a simple stretching routine everyday will help you bend and move more easily. What’s more it has been scientifically proven to improve the range of motion in your joints.
There has been much debate and discussion around stretching. When you should do it, how long to hold etc. etc.
So in an effort to make it simple for you here is my advice and my thoughts after distilling all the research I could find, and reflecting on my own experience.
- The latest research is saying that you only need to hold a stretch for 30 seconds and that any longer does not give you any more advantage. Great news for those of us who are a little time poor.
- Warm up first, there is good evidence to suggest that if you are warmed up you will stretch better. Attempting to stretch muscles that are not warm is more likely to result in injury especially for older women. Before you ask yes you should stretch after walking as well. I’m not just talking about high energy activity you should stretch even after gentle exercise.
- Getting into the habit of going through a stretching routine after your workout allows you to check in with specific parts of your body to see if there are any tight or sore spots. You can use this information to adapt your training program, and to make sure you focus your recovery on these areas e.g. Self-massage using rollers or balls.
- If you haven’t just been exercising then 5 minutes of activity to warm up your muscles and joints will do the trick as well. That could be 5 minutes of skipping, jogging on the spot or high knees.
If you are thinking about getting fit and healthy, or would like some dedicated one on one support, you might like to give my 6 Week Program a try. Not only do you get one on one support for developing a plan for being fit and healthy you also have access to a 6 week online stretching and self-care for your body program.
You can also book a free one on one consultation with me to see whether or not this is for you Fit N Fifty Plus Discovery Session.
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3 Easy Ways to Improve Your Brain Power
Have you ever wondered what you can do to help maintain your brain in tip top working order?
We used to think that losing some of your brain function was a normal part of ageing, and to some extent it is, but even though your brain will get smaller there is so much you can do to help keep it healthy.
The good news is that not only will it help your brain you will definitely feel better as well. Your brain is the major control centre for your moods and energy levels. Look after it and it will look after you.
1: Eat well
There has been lots of research to show the benefits of eating well. Particularly around Omega 3 & 6 and the effect of antioxidants. You need to include more of these in your diet.
- Increase your intake of fatty fish, and healthy oils and nuts.
- Go for bright and deeply coloured fruit and vegetables that are full of antioxidants.
- Make sure you eat good quality protein like eggs and grass fed meat
When you sleep your body repairs the damage done during the day. More importantly this is when the brain repairs itself as well. You really do need 8 hours of sleep. If you want some tips on improving your sleep listen in here to Bev Roberts talking about the importance of sleep and some simple tips for improving your sleep.
More and more we are coming to realise that exercise isn’t just good for keeping your muscles moving but it also greatly improves the functioning of your brain.
Interesting new research is showing that strength and resistance exercise is better for your brain function than aerobic exercise alone. So if you haven’t already then you need to add at least 2 days per week of strength and resistance work. You can get some ideas on my Exercise Page.
7 Top Tips for Relieving Muscle Soreness
As we get that little bit older we start to notice a number of things that weren’t there before, or that we didn’t feel before. One of them is a feeling of soreness, stiffness and a general inability to do the things you used to do as easily as before.
Why does this happen? Well believe it or not it is not all in your mind. Both Oestrogen and Collagen production within your body slow down. These are necessary to keep the structure and scaffolding of your body together, and respond to your need and desire to move and do other things. In addition, we don’t produce as much growth hormone, so repairing your body each night is that little bit slower than it used to be.
Don’t despair this is not a story with an unhappy ending because there is so much you can do to help this.
Firstly, the one thing you can’t do as you get older is continue to not look after yourself. Looking after your physical self is the only way to alleviate these feelings and eliminate most of them.
I liken taking care of your body to looking after a very precious and expensive car. Mostly because they both depend on the quality of the fuel you put in them, the servicing of them and the amount of running or working them that is necessary to keep them going.
So if you want a smoother, less creaky body follow these top tips.
- Eat good, "fresh food, mostly plants and not too much" ( Michael Pollan) . Make sure that this food is high in antioxidants, omega3 and as fresh as you can get. If it is fresh it is more likely to contain the nutrients you need such as Magnesium that have a direct effect on your muscles, ligaments and bones.
- Include good healthy fats every day, olive oil, avocadoes and nuts to name a few common ones.
- Drink more water at least a litre every day.
- Move your body and exercise every day. The old adage “use it or lose it” is actually true, particularly in relation to your muscles.
- Make sure you warm up and cool down properly. It is in the cool down stretches that your post exercise muscle soreness can be alleviated.
- Stretch, rock on a massage ball, and roll your body on a foam roller. Every day if possible or at the very least once a week. This is easy to do when you are watching television or listening to some audio.
- Get enough sleep. When you sleep your body produces growth hormone to repair the damage you have done. The better your sleep the more chance you have of repairing yourself.
My Little Extra Tips, or Rather the ones I Know Work for Me!
- Have a hot bath, or if you are lucky enough a spa. Hot water brings a rush of blood through your body, so your body can scavenge away the build-up of toxins and lactic acid you have sitting in there.
- Don’t rest to relieve soreness. Move so your body is stimulated to move blood and oxygen, around and again remove toxins.
- Have a swim, or walk in a pool or the ocean. the water acts as a gentle massage. thats why footballers do it!
- Try some Magnesium spray on the affected area. Spray it on after you exercise and rub it in a little. Because it is absorbed on application the effects are greater at the point of contact.
1 Easy Way to Lose Weight, Get Fit and Look Amazing.
Sleep is probably the most underrated tool in the tool kit of being fit and healthy. Although we know lots about sleep we are still learning the exact mechanisms of what really makes a good sleep.
So what does happen when we sleep and why is it important to makes sure we have enough as a fit and healthy woman.
Firstly, sleep is generally believed to occur in around 90 minute cycles. Starting with 3 stages of NREM, Non Rapid Eye Movement, sleep which starts off just as a doze and gets gradually deeper with the deepest being the 3rd stage.
The fourth stage is one of REM or Rapid Eye Movement where your brain is incredibly active but your muscles are virtually paralysed.
Your brain and body undergo quite a lot of change when you sleep some of which is vital for regenerating your muscles and bones at a cellular level. It is also thought that your brain uses this time to clear waste products accumulated throughout the day.
One of the biggest things that happens is the release of hormones, particularly growth hormones.
These hormones help...
- Repair and rebuild your cells into stronger ones when you have pushed your body physically.
- Plump up your cells and rebuild your collagen fibres, which is why you are advised to use your retinols and retinoid “Anti Wrinkle” creams at night. &
- Modulate your mood and appetite control. There is a correlation between obesity, depression and poor sleep patterns.
You can watch Jessa Gamble talk about natural sleep cycles
There is quite a lot you can do to help you sleep better here are just a few of recommendations.
- Firstly make sure you have regular going to bed and getting up times & try and follow them even on the weekends. Your body and your brain likes nothing better than a regular routine.
- Only use your bedroom for sleep, oh and a little bit of what you fancy!
- Reduce screen time about 60 minutes before you are going to sleep. The light emitted from televisions and electronic devices interfere with your sleep patterns. You can also set your devices to have a time where the screen changes colour which reduces this effect, but this is not a substitute for not using them.
- Make sure where you are sleeping is well ventilated and doesn’t get too hot or too cold.
- Try to reduce stimulation of your brain by meditating or listening to gentle music.
How to Get on Track When You've Been Sick
Being sick is really a fit person’s worst nightmare. Yes, even fit people get sick, although not as frequently as other people.
Inactivity causes tightening or contraction of inactive muscles just like if you sit in one position for a long time. When you are sick in bed for a period of time the connective tissue of your muscles actually shortens which reduces the range of movement of your joints.
Not only will younotice a reduction in your muscle strength and ability, but there will also be a reduction in your aerobic capacity.
This means that you need to take care when returning to exercise. It can take anything from six to twelve weeks to get back to where you were depending on how sick you became.
The good news is that your body has a thing called muscle memory which means that once you have shown your body how to be fit it remembers. It kind of stays in your cells memory. When you start training again it comes back which means your body will respond much more quickly than when you first started out.
So how do you start again?
Depending on your chosen activity the rules are simple
- Cut back intensity, don’t work hard just be gentle and allow your body to remember the rhythm etc.
- Cut back distance or time, don’t go as far or for as long. Maybe start at 20 minutes and work your way back up.
- Cut back frequency, exercise 3 days and then 4 etc.
You may have to go back to a beginner’s program for a few weeks. Walk instead of run, flat riding or walking instead of hills and gentle swimming.
Although I have written these guidelines for the flu or a virus they can be applied to anything that affects you physically. If it is serious, or you have had surgery, then it is always a good idea to check with your treating doctors or health practitioners.
Most Important Tip
Listen to your body. If it says you are tired take note and modify what you were planning. If it hurts slow up. Self Care is the most important thing anytime but especially when you are coming back from illness.
Cooling Down, 3 Good Reasons Why You Should do It
Cooling down has long been thought to reduce the muscle soreness you might get after a hard workout. Current research suggests that it isn’t entirely correct, and that it is the warm up that prevents muscle soreness.
Cooling down is however really important for your body for a few other reasons.
- Firstly, it helps get rid of lactic acid as your circulation continues to keep the blood flowing into your muscles and removing waste products.
- Secondly it reduces pooling of blood in the parts of your body you have just been pushing hard. This will stop you from getting dizzy or fainting. For example, if you go flat out on your bike and then get off quickly that can make you dizzy.
- Last of all it allows your heart to return to its resting rate.
Gradually reducing the intensity of what you are doing for 10 minutes is usually enough particularly if you are walking, cycling or swimming.
For other activities you may want to stop and walk or jog slowly till you can feel that your heart rate is back to normal or you have stopped puffing.
I always find my cooling down period a really good psychological break between my exercise and what might be in store for me for the rest of the day.
It is also good to review, and bask, in the gloriousness of what you have just done or achieved.
6 Good Reasons Why You Should Warm Up
Warming Up is absolutely critical before starting any exercise, even walking, especially as you get a little older. Why I hear you ask?
- It tells your body and your brain that they need to start working.
- Gets your blood swishing around.
- Gets your oxygen pumping.
- Lubricates your joints
- Warms up your muscles and tendons for action.
- Reduces the stress on your heart, gets your metabolism ready to burn your fuel more efficiently, and sets your nerves firing so they can respond when you need them.
5 – 10 minutes of
- Slow walking
- Power walking
- Jogging on the spot
- Low step ups
- Slow rowing
- Slow cycling
- Skipping is all you need to set yourself up.
Warming up decreases the incidence of muscle strain by increasing the efficiency of muscle contraction.
Not only will this help you physiologically but it helps to set a process in place so that your body comes to know what to expect.
You may need to warm up for longer if:
- You are going to do something more strenuous or
- It is quite cold
Research evidence suggests stretching is of little benefit, and may be detrimental in the warm up stage.
Collagen, Helping You Look Good.
You've probably seen it written and heard about it a thousand times but what exactly is collagen and why is it important? Well it's true to say that collagen is the scaffolding that provides the structure and strength for your body. It comes from the Greek word Kolla meaning glue!
Our production of collagen decreases from the age of 40, with significant reductions following menopause. It is secreted primarily by our connective tissue.
Factors that harm your collagen production include:
- Smoking, side stream smoke is particularly damaging
- High Sugar Consumption
Collagen can be used as a dermal filler to reduce the appearance of wrinkles and scarring.
Other medical uses include for non healing wounds, dental procedures, burns, vascular prosthetics and increasingly experimented with for the treatment of osteoarthritis.
Despite what the beauty industry says collagen molecules are too large to be absorbed by the skin. The improvement in your skin when you use these products is thought to be as a result of the moisturisers included in the solutions.
Collagen, elastin and melanin can be stimulated through laser therapies.
As collagen is a protein, it contains amino acids many of which are essential. That means you have to get them from your food.
Foods that support collagen formation include:
- Egg whites, meat, cheese, soy and cabbage – they contain Proline
- Blueberries, cherries and raspberries – Contain Anthocyanidinis
- Oranges, strawberries, peppers and broccoli – Containing vitamin C
- Shellfish, nuts – Containing copper
- Plant foods containing beta carotene such as carrots
Listen and Learn More from Jules Galloway
Jules Galloway, Naturopath, vibrantly healthy woman and creator of the 12 week Shiny Healthy You, from fatigued to fabulous 12 weeks. Jules, a qualified naturopath, spent her early years doing what most of us do, living life to the absolute limit. She shares with us the simple facts for being well and healthy.
You can alsocheck out Jules on her website
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Everything You Need to Know for the Healthiest, Sexiest Lips in Town
If your eyes are the window to your soul then your lips are definitely the dictionary of your body.
Lips are the gateway to many things we love in life, especially eating. Well maybe that is just me but eating is a big part of life!
They also help keep unwanted things out of your body, and play a role in protecting your teeth and tongue, and I don’t think we pay them enough attention.
You can tell a whole lot about someone's health from their lips. Dry and chapped might mean they have been exposed to a lot of wind and sun, but it could also mean they are not eating properly. Particularly the case when we don’t eat enough fruit and vegetables, and get enough vitamin C in our diets.
If your lips are very pale it could mean that you aren’t getting enough iron. Iron makes our blood nice and red as it carries oxygen around the body.
If they are blue it usually means you are not getting enough oxygen to your body for some reason. It could be that you are very cold. When you are very cold the body shuts down the bits that are not vitally necessary and redirects blood to your vital organs to maintain your life. Or it could be an indication there is an issue with your heart or lungs. You need to get that checked out.
As women the dreaded oestrogen reduction is responsible for most of the issues with our lips, and everything else, as we age. It is the loss of elasticity and moisture than can leave your lips looking less than you want them too, but also leave them open to damage.
Lips are just like the rest of your body and need a bit of extra care and attention as you get older.
The 3 Key things you need to do
- Moisturise and
Want to know more?
Just click on the picture to listen to Janine Hall from Soul Spa Alchemy take us through the do’s and don’ts of caring for your lips.
Here's some links to more information and help no matter where you are in the world.
Go on and change your life for the better. Just think of all the star jumps you will be able to do.
Menopause & Your Hair
Did you know that a massive 40% of women suffer from hair loss after Menopause?
Not only does reducing amounts of oestrogen affect your skin and bones but it also affects your hair. As circulation oestrogen begins to reduce it also starts to slow down the growth and strength of your hair.
There are lots of treatments for drastic hair loss. many of them quite effective. However, the major issue is that most women don't notice until it is too late.
So if you are menopausal it could pay to keep an eye on your hair. If you are worried see your doctor as there are some medical therapies that could help you.
Incontinence, Quality Tips for an Even More Amazing Life
According to the world Health Organisation more than 200 million people worldwide suffer from some form of incontinence. 1 in 2 women will suffer from urinary incontinence at some stage in their life and a quarter of women over 45 will be affected by this.
The most important thing you can do as a woman is to get help. There are things you can do that can drastically improve your incontinence, and as a result drastically improve your life.
If you have incontinence don’t suffer in silence, there is a whole world of amazing people and things out there to help you.
Go and see your GP, Women’s Health Nurse or Health Care team and talk to them about it.
You can also see a physiotherapist, particularly if you have access to a women’s health physiotherapist. They can make sure you are squeezing the right muscles.
Whatever you do don’t ignore it. Don’t let it stop you doing what you want and need to do. It can be improved.
Want to know more listen to the podcast by Dr Samantha Pillay from Continence Matters. Samantha explains what incontinence really is, takes us through new and emerging treatments and explains how to do your pelvic floor exercises properly.
Need a little pep talk well here she is....WOW is all you can say about Victoria Rose. Amazingly vital and full of life and wisdom. Listen as she explains her approach to life as well as the effect of the "Burnt Chop Syndrome" on women's self esteem.