Fitness Advice

Good news... Exericise can extend your life

posted 2 Dec 2016, 08:33 by Debbie Walker   [ updated 2 Dec 2016, 08:33 ]

So we all know that exercise is good for us as it helps to keep our hearts healthy and our bodies healthy, however research has been done that proves that certain types of exercise can actually prolong your life.

Let's face it this is good news.

This article talks about the findings which were published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

So the conclusion is that racket sports, swimming, aerobics and cycling seem to prolong life. Also people participating in these sports have a lower risk of dying from cardiovascular disease.

So if you do any of these sports carry on as you're doing yourself a lot of good. If you don't, why not look into starting a new activity as a New Years resolution.

Vitamin D supplements....

posted 16 Aug 2015, 11:27 by Debbie Walker

Should they be part of our daily diet or do we just need more sun?

So there has been a lot in the press recently on how people aren’t getting enough vitamin D. More than 1 in 5 people have low levels of vitamin D

In an ideal world this could be solved by just increasing the amount of sun we are exposed too as this is the main source of our bodies absorbing vitamin D, but as the weather hasn’t been that sunny recently and the days are starting to get shorter this becomes harder to do. This is when supplements come into there own as this guarantees that you are receiving enough of the vitamin, which is particularly important to pregnant women, and those under 5 or over 65

Vitamin D is important for healthy teeth and bones, and a deficiency can result in brittle bones or rickets

Obesity becoming the norm

posted 29 May 2014, 07:20 by Debbie Walker

So it's official, statistics now show that the UK has the highest number of obese children in Europe and that 2 in 3 Adults in England are overweight (BMI is over 25), and 1 in 4 are obese (BMI is over 30). These are shocking statistics, and means that now more than ever we need to look after ourselves.

There are many health disadvantages to being overweight. For example your increased risk of heart problems, and type-2 diabetes to name but two. Sadly there are no quick fixes to loosing the weight and becoming healthy, but there are many things you can do and there are people to talk to out there to help you.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) have issued guidelines saying that they want overweight people to be sent to slimming classes with the aim to loose 3% of their weight. This small loss, which probably equates to a few pounds, will cut blood pressure and reduce the risk of type-2 diabetes, and some cancers.

So with this in mind, it's time to do something proactive. A change in lifestyle is usually required, which is a combination of change in diet and increasing or incorporating exercise into your routine. This has to become part of normal life and therefore has to be realistically achievable. 

My approach looks into my clients weekly food intake and then I make some suggestions on what needs to change and guidance on how to change the individuals calorie intake, also to develop an exercise regime that fits into the individuals week and lifestyle, that suits their capabilities. 

It can sometimes be a really daunting thing to face, but it's important to get the support from friends and family and find someone you trust to help you and direct you onto the right path

High Intensity Interval Training .. is it good for you?

posted 9 May 2014, 08:33 by Debbie Walker   [ updated 2 Jan 2019, 03:19 ]

You may have heard of High Intensive Interval Training (HIIT), it's been in the press over the last 12 months and many DVDs have been launched with various exercise plans based around this type of training.

Well is this the answer to most  peoples dreams in terms of minimal time taken to achieve great results?
On paper it looks great. 

The positives are very strong. It's a great workout in a short period of time, so it fits easily in to a busy lifestyle. You burn more fat than in a normal gym session, as you continue to burn fat after leaving the gym, due to your metabolism being raised. 

So are there any disadvantages? 
Well yes there are. HIIT puts a lot of pressure on your heart, so if you have any health problems this would be a problem. For those that are unfit, to start with this form of exercise would not be suitable to begin with, and clients who are at a high
 risk of heart disease would need to get medical clearance before training.

In my opinion HIIT should only be attempted once you are sure that you are medically fit, and have a sufficient fitness level. Also for the training to be supervised by a professional so that the times and techniques are monitored.

Milk ... Best form of hydration post exercise?

posted 10 Jul 2013, 02:21 by Debbie Walker

So we are lead to believe that water is the best form of hydration and that energy or electrolyte drinks are best to consume during and after exercise. Well have you ever heard that milk is the best option after exercise?
New studies have shown that milk is the best post workout recovery drink. This can be any form of milk, chocolate milk, skimmed, semi-skimmed or full fat milk.

During exercise water is lost through sweating and therefore rehydration is important for muscle recovery and to replace the fluid lost.

Milk is shown to be better than water and sports drinks as it's rich in sodium and potassium which retain fluid, and it's also rich in protein and fat which are
 slower to digest. As well as being a great product to use for hydration it also reduces the DOMS (delayed onset of muscle soreness). 

So next time you hit the gym think about drinking a glass of the white stuff afterwards and see if you can tell the difference. 

Stretching ...

posted 16 May 2012, 06:59 by Debbie Walker

Love it or loath it everyone will have done some stretching at some point in their life. For example when you're tired you stretch, or if you've been sat for a while, and it usually feels pretty good. 
Stretching is something that most people know they should do before and after exercise but don't, and don't really know when to do them, how and for how long.

As a personal trainer it's my biggest bug bear when you see people in the gym not preparing their body for their session in the gym or not looking after their body when they've just battered it.
Often people haven't been shown what to do so see someone else doing some stretching and copy thinking that that will be ok.
It's important to do the stretches correctly to actually stretch the relevant muscle and also stretch it sufficiently. Also it helps to know what stretch stretches which muscle so that after using them you are focusing on the correct muscles, not stretching something you've not used.

A stretch will increase the length of the muscle, increasing flexibility, increase the range of motion of the joint, reduces injury, increases performance.

However stretching if done incorrectly can cause problems, including permanent damage to tendons, ligaments and the muscle fibre.

So there are two types of stretching, dynamic and static. Dynamic is the stretching that should be done before exercise and static are the stretches that need to be done after exercise. If a static stretch is done before exercise it works like a switch and turns the 
stretched muscle off. So, for example, when you're at the start of a race you'll see some people stood there stretching their hamstrings and their quads, DO NOT copy them. They have just turned off the very muscles they now need to use to run. A better way to stretch them is dynamically. So, for example, you could start doing a gentle squat swing your arms above your head, repeating this about 10 times but increasing the depth of squat and the power of arm swing. 

In my training sessions stretching is something that I'm keen my clients understand and adopt as part of their training sessions with me or when going to the gym or out for a run.

Stretching Rules:
  • Never stretch a cold muscle
  • Hold static stretches for 30secs
  • Do not bounce a static stretch
  • If pain is felt reduce the stretch
  • Movements should be controlled
Most people don't have much time when they train, so feel they're getting more out of their training session when they're working flat out for the whole time, and then don't have time for the sedate stretching part. What they don't realise is that by stretching they are then going to get more out of their next training session and so on. 

Overall stretching makes the body feel better after doing it, and it makes exercise more effective and more enjoyable. Try it next time you're at the gym or out for a run. You'll feel the difference.

If any of you have any questions then just let me know. Happy stretching.

Fitness Guidelines

posted 23 Apr 2012, 04:46 by Debbie Walker

What is known to reduce your risk of heart disease, strokes, diabetes and cancer by up to 50%?

It's accessible to everyone and has an instant effect ... 


I'm sure that you all know to keep active and to get a certain amount of exercise per week and to eat a balanced diet, but do you really know what level and for how long you should be exercising per week?

The government guidelines are as follows:

For adults:-

- At least 150minutes of moderate intensity aerobic activity every week. This could be bike rides or a brisk walks. And on 2 or more days per week to do some muscle strengthening activities that work your major muscle groups (legs, core, arms, shoulders, back)
- 75 minutes of vigorous intensity aerobic activity per week i.e running or a game of tennis. And muscle strengthening activity on 2 or more days per week, working on all major muscle groups.
- A good mix of moderate and vigorous intensity aerobic activity per week. And 2 or more days of muscle strengthening activityThe muscle strengthening could be some heavy gardening, some weight training or yoga.

All this can look slightly daunting and confusing, especially if you're not used to exercise, but that's where I step in and can help to find the right mix to suit the individual. I truly believe that exercise is accessible to everyone and that it can also be enjoyed by everyone.

I look at my clients lifestyle and diet and find activities that can easily fit into their schedule, advise on dietary changes and also develop a programme that suits the individuals needs.

For pregnant ladies these guidelines change slightly and focus mainly on maintaining the level of fitness and enjoying a healthy pregnancy.

Again this is where I can help, as long as you have permission from your GP to undergo exercise then we can develop a suitable programme.

Exercise is important and should be part of everyday life. It has a huge impact on more than just physical appearance, it reduces blood pressure, it will boost self esteem, help with sleep and many more benefits


Weight & Shape

posted 20 Mar 2012, 11:18 by Debbie Walker   [ updated 20 Mar 2012, 11:36 ]

How other people see you has a great affect on the lifestyle you choose for yourself.

You have to start by understanding that there is no get slim quick product, and most products that tell you that you can lose ten pounds in a week forget to tell you that you can also gain it again a week later. I'm not interested in this type of program, what I'm seeking for is sustainability. It's better to lose 10kg in a year and keep it off than to lose 2kg in a week and then put it back on again just as rapidly. 

Healthy Weight Loss

Often the easiest ways to lose weight is also the healthiest. Most people agree that they are overweight because they eat more calories than they use each day. Therefore to become slim all you have to do is reverse that calculation. So why doesn't that seem to work for everybody?

Often when we diet we cut out foods we should carry on eating and eat food we should be cutting out. The secret is to know which foods are fat burners and which work in the reverse way. I take a look at my clients diet to see where things can be changed, it's usually something quite obvious, and this along with a good exercise plan help them to achieve their goals 

The first thing people see when they meet you is your weight and shape. You can take control of it without too much effort. 

Fit Body Shape

We all start life with a given shape and there is little we can do, short of expensive surgery, to change this shape. We have different muscle types which distinguish the Paula Radcliffe's of this world from the Mike Tindall's. Long lean shapes are suited to endurance work and broader, stockier shapes are more suited to powerful actions and sprinting. What we can do is make the most of ourselves and look to be the best we can with the restrictions of natural shape. While it is true that clothes and various support garments can help they can't replace how you look when you have a healthy diet with regular exercise.

Exercise can make many cringe with fear but exercise can be as simple as a daily walk that takes thirty minutes or as tough as working out in the gym for two hours three times each week. What is important for you is to train with a goal in mind and tailor exercise to help you achieve this. I believe that this should be a lifestyle change not a short fix, so it has to be something that suits the individual and is manageable.  

The truth about 'Horizon - The Truth about Exercise'

posted 29 Feb 2012, 13:45 by Debbie Walker

(c) BBC 2012
Horizon last night reported new research that suggests that only 3 minutes of high intensity exercise a week can improve your fitness. 
It is said to change insulin sensitivity, which removes sugar from the blood and controls fat. It also ‘should’ improve aerobic fitness, increasing the amount of oxygen your lungs can get into your body.
However they showed that genetics also have a role to play in this. There are some people that are going to see improvements from this short sharp shock form of exercise, whereas others won’t see any change at all. This means that through a genetic test it can be predicted who will or won’t respond, but this genetic test is NOT available, and even if it were imagine what your insurance company would say if you had the ‘fat’ gene and not the ‘Exercise’ gene. 

Perhaps the key piece of information in the program is the simple yet obvious fact that so much more can be achieved by simply
increasing everyday activity.  Hard to believe but something I’ve been teaching for a while, is that more is better and hard is now always best! They showed that there is a lot to be seen from just staying off your bottom and keeping moving all day, the key is to move every hour, walk, walk and walk. Just moving can burn loads of calories, just by sitting less and moving more they showed how the presenter used an extra 500 calories, that the same as 90 minutes jogging or almost two hours on the cross trainer! If you have a sedentary life then hit the gym for an hour you’ll burn less calories than someone who keeps on their feet all day and has never seen the inside of a gym or been jogging. Fit healthy people simply don’t say still

What do I think? 

Whilst the show had universities falling over themselves to suggest that very small amounts of High Intensity Training (HIT) and regular movement or Non Exercise Physical Activity (NEPA) can significantly increase your fitness .. there are questions to be asked !

Does explosive ‘Max Effort’ Exercise put you at risk?  if you’re not already very fit, the strain on your cardiovascular system should not be under estimated,  that's why so may people have heart attacks during explosive exercise such as squash. 

Do you have access to the equipment to do the ‘Max Effort’ workout? If so, is it something that people will keep up? Are the benefits short term or can they be sustained? 

Regarding NEPA, we sit for a reason  .. many of us earn our livelyhood thanks to a desk .. it's hard to answer emails or to write a report on the move. 

How many of us could double or triple the amount of movement we do each and every day? We absolutely should walk/cycle/run to work if we can .. or get off the bus 2 stops early. We should avoid lifts and use the stairs where we can and we must get out of the habit of using the car when we can get there using human power .. but it’s a very big ask to deliver the type of increase in movement needed to replace balanced & structured exercise. 

As with most things in life, if something sounds too good to be true, it portably is! Yet, there are some key things we can all draw from this most challenging and stimulating show. 

Watch on iPlayer © BBC 2012 (click here) and post your comments on my Facebook page here 

Diet & Training

posted 25 Feb 2012, 03:24 by Debbie Walker   [ updated 25 Feb 2012, 07:48 ]

Did you know that going on a Diet at the same time as starting exercise can be a Bad Thing for your waistline ! 

More on diets later, but in general they can be counter productive. 

When you start to increase your exercise levels, and you don't have to be running marathons or taking part in my body sculpting sessions, just 20-30 fast walking to raise your pulse up into your target range* three times a week can be a great start for someone just starting out, balanced with some more targeted training, will have an impact on the needs of your body. 

People often combine starting to get into shape with a diet, this can actually cause the body to store more fat ! Your body is very clever and if it sees the amount of calories drying up at the same time as demands increase it will try and store as much of the energy consumed (measured in calories) as it can, and guess what, its stores it as FAT ! 

What you need to do is make a subtle change in Increase the good types of food so you get a boost of proteins to build and rebuild those muscles you're using (and don't worry you're not going to get body builder lumps and bumps where you don't want them if you follow a good plan.. more on that later), and the vitamins,  minerals and hydration your body will need as you improve your fitness. 

We are NOT saying you should hit the fried chicken and chocolate only diet, but we ARE saying that as we work to increase your metabolism (don't let anyone hide behind that word, its something we can control)  your body will burn more calories even at rest. So don't make yourself less happy by dieting, work with your body to steer yourself towards the better choices in what you eat for your health, and the work you will enjoy as you build up your fitness, taking care of getting the excess pounds off.

The good news is it is very simple .. use more energy than you consume and you will lose weight. But it's not all about losing weight see my next post on Weight & Shape.

* Do get advice from your GP before you start exercise. If you're in good shape and looking to get into great shape we can accelerate your activity, but if your starting out you need to take care, know your heart rate targets and stick to what is safe and feels good for you.  More on targets, zones and modes in a later post.  

1-10 of 11