Higher Tone

Variety is the spice of life and the fuel for fitness


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Top 10 fitness trends for 2013

My exercise predictions for 2013:

1) Crossfit

This is a hardcore strength and conditioning programme used to train the armed forces and athletes.  You can burn up to 15 calories a minute with this intense workout which involves timed challenges with squats, push-ups, gymnastic rings, intense runs and weightlifting.

http://www.crossfit.com/

2) ViPR: Whole-body movement

vipr

ViPR stands for “vitality, performance and reconditioning.”  You use a one metre high rubber tube that comes in seven weights, from four to 20 kg in a range of movements.

3) Outdoor gyms

make sport fun
Image courtesy of: Makesportfun.com
Hundreds of public parks throughout the UK now have exercise machines which are completely FREE to use.  This is one way to beat the crowds in your local gym.

4) Suspension training 

suspension
The is a type of strength training which uses a system of ropes and webbing called a “suspension trainer” to allow the user to work against their own body weight.

5) Rebound exercise

jumping
Rebound exercise is a great way to tone up and get in shape, FAST.  It can help to increase agility, reduce body fat and provide a fun aerobic workout.

6) Kettlebell workout

kettlebells

Kettlebell exercises build strength and endurance, particularly in the lower back, legs, and shoulders and the basic movements engage the entire body at once.  Kettlebell classes often involve large numbers of repetitions and you will really see the results.

7) Small group training 

SmallGroup_main
The idea of having one instructor to a group of between 4 to 10 is exploding in gyms all over the country.  It gives you the personalised attention of personal training (for much less money), plus the motivation and camaraderie of a group session.

8) Tabata training

Want to get fit fast but think you don’t have the time?  Try the exercise craze sweeping the nation, tabata.  The high-intensity workout, typically involves 20 seconds exercise followed by 10 seconds of rest, repeated continuously for 4 minutes or 8 cycles.  This fat burning miracle will burn calories fast, but it is not for the faint-hearted.

9) Fusion classes

aerial yoga

Fusion classes will be perfect for you if you’re feeling frustrated with your usual exercise routine.  Classes such as piloxing (pilates and boxing), water aerobics and aerial yoga sound hilarious.  They will also help you to train and tone a wider range of muscles.

10) Women and weights

This is one fitness trend that is here to stay.  More and more women are starting to introduce weights into their workout.  Lifting weights also helps to burn stored fat, increases muscle tone, bone density, and self-confidence.


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New Year, New You

How to make your New Year’s fitness resolution count this January.

fitness

Queues for the showers, zero mat space and a line for the treadmills which will take longer than the time you’re allowed to spend on it?  It must be January at the gym.  Every year this predictable phenomenon occurs due to thousands of individuals signing up to yearly gym memberships, full of good intentions for the New Year.  You can already start to see the numbers diminish in late January and by mid-February, things are back to normal.

I’m here to try and help you keep on track of your New Year fitness and health goals with a number of hints and suggestions:

1) Set a REALISTIC goal

Start by having an honest conversation with yourself and decide on a resolution which is achievable within a certain deadline.  It’s no good pretending you will have the time to run 10 miles everyday if you have a demanding job or schedule.  The number one killer for a New Year’s resolution is placing too much pressure on yourself.

Set a realistic deadline, for example: I would like to work my way up to a half marathon within 4 months.  The deadline can easily be changed along the way depending on your level of commitment and progress.

Take the next few days to set out your game plan.

dream

One of the easiest ways to stay on target over the next few months is to sign up to an event.  This will introduce a competitive element and added incentive to your training.  I’ve always been tempted by the gruelling Tough Guy competition, but this would involve an exhausting training programme and I’m not sure how well I would cope with burning obstacles and pools of freezing water.

If you think you’re up for a challenge, check it out:

http://www.toughguy.co.uk/    

Don’t go it alone

It can be really helpful to enlist the help of a training partner to keep you motivated and positive.  The alternative is to join a running/ cycling/ exercise group to make your workout more enjoyable and sociable.

Choose something you actually enjoy

This is probably the most obvious, but the most important piece of advice.  It’s best to focus on an activity, sport or form of exercise which you know you can really throw yourself into and have fun at the same time.

2) Track and reward your progress

My goal this year is to keep a workout log to make sure I meet my targets.

There are a few different ways to keep track of your progress such as the Nike Plus iPod Sports Kit.  This incredible device transforms your iPod into a personal trainer by providing real-time, spoken feedback that alerts you to workout milestones.  It fits inside your trainer and you can then track time, distance, pace, and calories burned by transmitting the information wirelessly to your device for instant feedback.  You can see it here on my Christmas gift wish list:

https://highertone.wordpress.com/2012/11/24/top-10-fitness-inspired-christmas-gift-ideas/

Another option is the Nike + Sports Watch which is easy to use and gives you great running data.

watch

Reward yourself with a little treat- a new gadget, running accessory or new music each time you pass a milestone.

3) Kick one bad habit

I’ll be giving up sweets for as long as I can bear.  What’s your weakness?

4) Go the distance

There’s always the opportunity to go further and train harder than you anticipated.  Don’t be put off by the January crowds in the gym.  Wait it out and you will be rewarded.  Remember- no one ever regretted a workout.

gym

My local gym at 5pm on 29th January

This really surprised me.  Saturday at 5pm is usually prime time, but clearly people have not decided to kick-start their New Year’s resolutions. Gyms are often really quiet around midday or late in the evening, so try and target the less busy times during January.

6) Change it up

Alongside your main fitness routine, try some additional exercise classes to avoid getting stuck in a fitness rut.  It is very easy to get bored of your usual workout, especially if your are just running alone or going to the gym.  Try a group fitness class, the camaraderie really helps, especially if you are lacking motivation.

What is your New Year’s Resolution?

I’d love to hear from you.  The 3 most inspirational goals will be posted up on Higher Tone on January 1st.  Feel free to send me as many as you like.


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Is Cardiff due a diet?

Cardiff is facing a health epidemic as more than half the population are obese or overweight and a third of people do no sport or exercise each week, according to research from the Cardiff Health Alliance.

These shocking figures may come as a surprise to some, especially after Cardiff became the first Welsh city to be awarded WHO Healthy City status in 2009.  Nevertheless, these factors contributed to Cardiff scoring badly for health in a PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers) Good Growth for Cities report released in November 2012.

burger king

Is Cardiff a healthy city?

The announcement by Welsh Health Minister, Lesley Griffiths on December 3 to launch an £82 million support fund shows that cities in Wales are clearly struggling, with Cardiff as a prime example.

A healthy and active lifestyle incorporates a variety of factors, but I will be focusing specifically on:

  • Nutrition and the issue of obesity
  • Exercise and physical activity
  • The impact of alcohol on health and sports performance

Obesity 

photo

Obesity presents an increasing public health challenge for Cardiff.  The Cardiff Health Alliance reported that 53% of adults in Cardiff are overweight or obese, a statistic expected to dramatically increase unless action is taken.  Obesity can leave people with chronic health problems like type 2 diabetes, cancer and osteoarthritis as well as increasing mortality from heart disease and strokes.  The issue of obesity has been prioritised and Cardiff is trying to tackle the problem by implementing initiatives such as Change for Life and the All Wales Obesity Pathway.

Dr Nadim Haboudi, chair of the National Obesity Forum for Wales, said:

“The problem is huge, massive, worse than England, worse than anywhere in the UK and among the worst in the western world.”

Catherine Evans, the co-ordinator for the Physical Activity Network for Wales highlighted community initiatives that are taking place in Cardiff such as fruit and vegetable co-operatives, local cooking classes and the MEND (mind, exercise, nutrition, do it) childhood obesity programme.

Here’s an interview with Catherine Evans in which she discusses the problems caused by obesity and physical inactivity in Cardiff:

Exercise

One in three people in Cardiff take no exercise at all and only 27% actually meet exercise recommendations according to a survey by the Cardiff Health Alliance.  This figure is shocking and does go some way to explaining the high percentage of obesity in Cardiff.

Former Chief Medical Officer, Dr Tony Jewell, introduced new exercise guidelines in 2011, which advised that all adults should exercise for at least 150 minutes each week rather than 30 minutes on 5 or more days each week.

How much exercise do you think you manage to fit in each week?

There are several exercise initiatives in Cardiff which aim to encourage individuals from a diverse range of backgrounds to become more involved with sport and exercise.  There is a serious issue with health inequality in areas of Cardiff, such as Ely, Splott and Adamsdown.  Programmes such as ‘Communities First’ are essential for improving exercise participation and giving nutritional advice for people in poverty-stricken areas.

Venture Out Cardiff

Picture provided by Venture Out Cardiff

The Venture Out Cardiff programme offers a range of activities such as kayaking, horse riding and sailing for disabled people

The Venture Out project was founded to develop opportunities for disabled people to participate in outdoor exercise in Cardiff.

Jonathan Lee the Venture Out Cardiff Project Officer said:

“We aim to offer weekly activity sessions for disabled people, particularly adults with learning difficulties. Through the sessions we help people develop their confidence, social skills and specific skills related to the activity. We also see huge benefits to their overall fitness and well-being.”

“We use green spaces within the city to deliver most of our activities.  We have found that our outdoor activities help to reduce challenging behaviour and help people to sleep better, so the beneficial effects last beyond the duration of the session.”

Volunteers with learning disabilities also take part in an environmental group to conserve and manage local parks

Volunteers with learning disabilities also take part in an environmental group to conserve and manage local parks

There are a number of other campaigns in Cardiff, including:

The Cardiff Max Active card also helps to promote physical activity as if gives people the chance to take part in a wide range of discounted activities suited to all ages and abilities at leisure centres around Cardiff.

This map shows the locations of all the Cardiff Council leisure centres as well as community sports facilities:

Alcohol

Alcohol and exercise do not mix.  In the short term, drinking alcohol will seriously affect sports performance in terms of poor co-ordination and concentration.  Long term effects of heavy drinking include heart disease, some cancers, liver disease and there are also links to obesity.

A study commissioned by the Welsh Assembly Government has found the NHS in Wales spends over a £1 million a week on treating health problems caused by alcohol misuse and a further £1 million each week on treating obesity.
A graph showing hospital admissions due to alcohol in Cardiff and Wales
graph

Cardiff has a significantly higher hospital admission rate due to alcohol compared to Wales.  These figures were provided by the Cardiff Health Alliance.

This graph shows that Cardiff has a significantly higher hospital admission rate due to alcohol misuse than the average for Wales.  The Cardiff Health Alliance reported  2024 male hospital admissions in Cardiff, this is much higher than the average value for Wales which is 1140.

Following Alcohol Awareness Week which ended on November 23, Alcohol Concern Cymru has launched a Dry January campaign to encourage people to stop drinking for a month.

Here is an interview with Andrew Misell from Alcohol Concern Cymru about the relationship between sport and alcohol and the Dry January campaign.

Find out more about the Dry January campaign on the Alcohol Concern website:

http://www.alcoholconcern.org.uk/projects/alcohol-concern-cymru

Does Cardiff deserve the title of a WHO (World Health Organisation) healthy city?

Cardiff was granted this accolade in 2009 joining 13 other cities in the UK.  Since then it has sought to advance the public health agenda through nutrition and physical activity initiatives and promoting healthy urban design, but has it worked?

bute

Two ramblers in Bute Park, one of Cardiff’s ‘green lungs’.

Councillor Luke Holland, Cabinet Member for Social Care, Health and Wellbeing discusses key aspects of the WHO Cardiff Healthy City Programme.

This video explains the Cardiff Healthy City Model and the complex issues which affect people’s health and wellbeing.

Screen shot 2012-12-06 at 21.09.24

 

If you have been inspired to make a change relating to exercise, nutrition, alcohol or health this December, then please post your pledge as a comment below.

My Health Pledge: To try a different exercise class every week for the next 2 months.

What’s Yours?


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Welcome to the world of Higher Tone

Lacking motivation? Ever felt bored during your normal gym workout? Do you find yourself wanting to spice up your everyday exercise routine and try something completely NEW and FUN.

This blog is all about changing people’s attitude and approach to fitness.  You should want to make time for exercise because it makes you feel and look good, rather than feeling guilty because you have opted for the Ben and Jerry’s combo rather than that new kick-boxing class.

My aim is to try as many of the different exercise classes and unique workouts that the gyms in Cardiff have to offer.  This means that I will be changing from doing spinning, circuits and aerobics one week to body-pump, yoga, belly-dancing and zumba the next.

I will rate all the classes I try based on 5 different criteria:

1) Atmosphere and Fun

2) Sweat and Pain

3) Calorie Burn

4) Toning Potential

5) Morning-After Muscle Ache

I will be attempting the majority of these classes as a complete novice, so hopefully that will give everyone an honest insight into the class from a beginner’s point of view.  You should never be scared to try new things and new types of exercise, you might be missing out on the best workout for your body.  I will be asking for tips, nutritional advice and ideas for new classes when I interview various fitness instructors and personal trainers from around Cardiff.

One of the most important elements of this project is the fact that I want to engage with the Cardiff fitness community as well as the growing online community of those interested in sport, exercise and maintaining a healthy and balanced lifestyle.  The more people who contribute to this blog the better, so if you have tried any of these classes, whether in Cardiff or elsewhere, let me know your thoughts.

My blog will be nothing without your input and feedback, so please get in contact and ask me as many questions as possible.  Either post your comments directly onto my blog, or feel free to email me: ja9046@my.bristol.ac.uk.  If you prefer to tweet, my username is @HigherTone1

Watch the space to hear about all the weird and wonderful classes that I will be trying xxxxxxx