We’ve become a nation fixated with dieting, endlessly hopping on the ‘obsessive diet’ bandwagon, with many of us swearing off dairy and wheat and going ‘GI’ in a desperate bid to stay young and fit. This is often done with no regard for the long-term effects of extreme dieting on our health. What happened to doing exercise to help you lose weight? It’s seems we’ve become so neurotic about what’s passing between our lips that we’re no longer exercising those hips!
It’s obvious that we would all like to have that super star celeb body, but getting there need not mean surviving on a daily diet of pea soup and celery. By combining a healthy, well-balanced diet with regular exercise, anyone can improve their health and boost their fitness levels.
When it comes to exercise we’re not suggesting that you strap yourself to the nearest treadmill and keep running until you pass out. Why not incorporate some simple and easy exercises to your day to help increase your health and fitness, no matter what your age or ability?
Lucy Wyndham-Read, a leading personal trainer, is on hand to offer her top tips on how to maintain and improve your health. Join Lucy in our studio as she focuses on simple ways to include more physical activity in our daily lives - no matter how short of time we may be!
Presenter - Hello and welcome to today’s healthy fitness show. I’m Katy Pullinger and I’m joined today by Lucy Windam-Reece. Now were going to be talking today about of course health and fitness but largely about obesity as well which is a growing problem at the moment in the UK amongst adults and largely against around children as well and there is a lot in the press. Every time you open a newspaper there’s something about it, so were going to be discussing a lot of those topics today. So Lucy hello there - got all tongue-tied there straightaway, so the Government, they’ve been talking weight watchers and how they going to help use weight watchers to you know combat obesity, what’s going on with that.
Lucy - Well it’s such a big problem now, it’s one of our major health concerns is obesity and you know I think it’s ways of just encouraging and motivating people but by joining some of these you know well recognised fitness and health clubs just to really encourage people on healthy eating and on activity, I think were something like 23% of the adult population in the UK is obese now which is you know pretty scary
Presenter - Pretty scary
LUCY - Absolutely huge and we, we are the fattest nation in Europe as well.
Presenter - That’s not good news which is obviously why the Government are funding free classes with weight watchers cause you know they’ve got to tackle this problem.
LUCY - Well they reckon its 1 in 4 now adults is obese and by 2010 they’re looking at 1 in 3, so it really, it’s important to address it now and just start really re-educating people on how important fitness is you know against tackling obesity, it’s not just about nutrition it is about being active as well.
Presenter - Why do you think it is happening, are people just forgetting that they need to start thinking about eating healthily.
LUCY Yeah, I think, I think, there’s, there’s a lot of things you know people were so time poor now, everyone is so now, were rushing around people don’t have time to shop properly, cook healthy meals people don’t have time to go to the gym, you know we’ve all got deadlines to work by and we’re rushing around in cars everywhere, so I just think it’s, it’s the lifestyle, it’s the age we live in now these days, unfortunately I think only a lot of people address their health issues when they start having problems and you know with obesity, a lot of people when they have got to that point where their obese, it seems such a big obstacle to get back to losing that weight , so it’s also really encouraging people to just start you know being more active now and how important it is to find time for yourself even if it is only ten minutes a day .
Presenter - I mean the great thing is of course is that the Government are funding these free classes as more often or not money is the issue because gyms can be so expensive and it’s actually quite difficult to shop on a budget healthily because there are so many ready meals – 3 for 2 pizzas and things like that when you know actually having the time to maybe go to the market and get fresh produce can for a start time and can also be expensive can’t it
Lucy - Yeah, but it can be, but it’s taking up that time, even if it’s the beginning of the week, work out a really healthy shopping list and just make the time to go to the supermarket kind of you know be prepared and it is – it’s all – a lot of it is preparation as well.
Presenter - Yeah, I mean today of course we are going to be talking about you know a few simple steps that people can do because there are so many conflicting stores in the press as well, I think people don’t realise what it is that they’ve got to do. I mean one of the stories at the moment is that that there is a report that exercise is actually doesn’t prevent children from being obese and you think well how can that be possible
Lucy - Well I mean it’s interesting because there has been so much in the press recently about what children eat and certainly there’s junk food is a major problem because you know it’s advertised to appeal to children, but you know activity is so important as well and they reckon a three year old, if you teach a three year old I don’t mean exercise, but get them being active they are more likely from studies that as an adult that they will continue to be active, so I think it’s a hugely important, you know that children are active – you see so many of them it’s screen time they’re on the internet, they’re watching videos , texting e-mails,
Presenter - Computer games,
Presenter - you know - I think it’s such a big problem, you know when I was a kid computer games were only really just kicking off and you know we didn’t stay in all day, but I think also the sad thing is that parents may be a little bit scared to let their kids out and play.
Lucy -Definitely, definitely. Yeah it is sad and that is such an issue and you do have to take that into account, but there’s things like just getting into, playing a game of like I don’t know treasure hunt, getting the kid running around trying to find stuff, because so much of it is as you said you know kids are just obsessed with playing these games and that’s that only fitness they get and that’s terrible, and even just get the whole family go out for a little walk or something like that is you know is really important and it just stimulates the child and it means that they sleep better as well., so there’s lots of benefits from getting your child to exercise.
Presenter - And not just for your children of course, for everyone. Actually, that comes into one of these questions here about exercise helping alongside anti-depressants because it’s all endorphins and things like that isn’t it?
Lucy -Definitely, definitely, and especially with this time of year now when we are indoors a lot more and the evenings are getting darker, it’s very important to get outdoors and do some sort of exercise. It’s a really good way to stimulate the mind – I often say to clients, if they came back from a hard day at work feeling a bit stressed, depressed etc, the best thing to do is go out for a walk. And if you can go outdoors – they call it the big green gym, and if you are lucky enough that you live in the countryside, it just does clear the mind and it gives you such an emotional lift as well. So it is really good, as we said, as an anti-depressant.
Presenter - Brilliant. So as I say, we are talking about obesity, which is a huge problem in the United Kingdom right now and it’s something we need to address. We have lots of things to discuss, as there are many questions that people out there want answered. For a start, what is classed as obese?
Lucy: Okay, well obesity, how they do it is called body mass index and basically, it takes into account your body fat measured by your heart rate and your weight. Now, if someone carries over 32 per cent fat, that is classed as obese. The normal range would be from 20 to 25 (per cent), any higher than that is considered overweight but obese is over 32 per cent.
Presenter - Right, okay. And why has obesity become one of the most serious medical problems in the western world – I mean, how has this happened?
Lucy: I think, again, you know, it just goes back to the lifestyle that we have got, the food that’s on offer. Again, we just haven’t got time so people are living on takeaway’s and, you know, it becomes a bit of a problem because when you are not eating correctly, you don’t feel as good about yourself and then you are less likely to exercise. And I think the other thing is, exercise, people assume that they have to do it for a whole hour, but you know you don’t. Just going out and doing a ten-minute walk will reduce cholesterol; it reduces your blood pressure. And, you know, we’ve all got excuses, “we haven’t got time to exercise” but actually, no one should have an excuse because we do all have time and I think that is one of the biggest causes of obesity. People aren’t exercising and we are eating the wrong foods. It’s a well known fact that if you eat more calories than you burn, then you put on weight and if that is the continual pattern, people get fatter and fatter.
Presenter - Yeah, so you keep storing up that fat and it’s as simple as that…
Lucy: …yeah, yep…
Presenter - then you are in that negative spiral which is one of the major problems because like you were saying, if you are feeling low often you go for the comfort foods….
Presenter - especially in the winter, when you go for the bag of crisps and the takeaway, and then you feel lethargic, you can’t be bothered to exercise and then this keeps going down and down and down.
Lucy: Yeah, it goes on and on and then you make it a harder issue to address and it’s literally jumping from that transition, going from one area to thinking “right, when I get back from work, instead of going straight home and sitting on the sofa, eating the wrong foods, I’m just going to put my trainers on and I’m just going to walk out the front door - even if it’s just for ten minutes”. The benefits you get from that – you get the emotional lift, you feel better, you feel re-energised, you are more likely then to go home and drink lots of water. You then have energy for the rest of the evening – you then eat better foods and it becomes a continual positive spiral but it’s so easy for people just to stay eating the wrong foods. Also, if you eat the wrong foods, a lot of them make you feel really tired and they don’t give you the energy you need. And then, if you’re tired, you are less likely to exercise as well.
Presenter - I think it often comes back to that old saying you know, ‘If your insides were on your outside, you’d be a lot more wary of what you were doing to your body’. So what does obesity actually do to your body – what is the damage, obviously the weight but what about your organs and things?
Lucy: It puts pressure on your heart, you know, and it just affects your whole well-being and how active you are in your day to day life. If you are obese, just getting up in the morning is harder work, doing things like exercising your going to, or even going to the local shop, you are going to feel out of breath. But the most important muscle in our body is our heart, so if your obese you are putting pressure on that muscle.
Presenter - And again, that comes back to the whole negative spiral, you know, you’re feeling bad, you’ve got palpitations perhaps, and you just can’t bring yourself to get back up.
Lucy: Yeah, and it’s also that people don’t feel happy when they’re like that and it’s due to self esteem, confidence, you know, you are not getting out of life what you could be if you someone that was, you know, we are not talking about being obsessed by being a certain weight but just being in a healthy weight range as well.
Presenter - But that is the problem with the press. The whole size zero debate. You look in a magazine at Victoria Beckham and you think your never going to look like her. I’m never going to be thin, why should I bother? But it’s not about getting thing and getting in those size 8 jeans. It’s about being healthy, being able to get up and go.
Lucy – That’s right. What interesting is people forget that your obese if your body fat is over 32% but they will also have serious medical condition but someone who has around 12%, which is the size zero you are talking about, will have similar bad effects but in the media they are obsessed, you look at all these skinny models and it is just completely unrealistic.
Presenter - If people out there are worried about being obese than they should go to their doctor and get themselves checked out. But if they are actually worried about going to the gym, as they won’t to have to get in to leggings and stand next some perfect size 8on the running machine, what should they do? How can they start?
Lucy – Walking is one of the best exercises you can possibly do. Firstly is the second most calorific burning exercise. Most people think that should run, that walking is cheating but walking is almost better for you. You have less impact on the joints. And obviously it is something we can all do. So I would suggest to someone to, even start with just 5 minutes. Find yourself a little route, round the block and time your self. Then build it up, as you get fitter.
Presenter - – Now the time aspect. That is a big issue. Most people will say they simply don’t have the time. But like you said ten minutes can make that difference. Surely everybody has ten minutes.
Lucy – Everyone has ten minutes. Even if it is in your lunch hour. You don’t have to go out so that you’re dripping in sweet. Recent studies have shown that you can reduce your cholesterol and blood pressure with ten minutes of walking. This can aide in your weight loose. And of course then you are going to feel better. You’re more likely to drink more water, eat healthier food. So as you said we’ve all got ten minutes
Presenter - Other then walking, what else could they do? Especially if you have young kids and cant leave the house.
Lucy – Well you could put on your favourite CD. Start marching up and down the stairs. Run on the spot. Perhaps f you could get out then go to your local swimming bath or cycling. You could do some, what we call toning exercises like squats and sit-ups. Because my background is creating fitness plans for people who simply don’t have time who perhaps have kids and can’t leave the house, there is always something you can do. Like I said marching on the spot for ten minutes will make a difference.
Presenter - Be great if everybody would get up and do that but obviously we have to change a mind set – the whole of the UK. How would you tackle this?
Lucy – That is so true. We all know what to do to get fit but why do we not do it? I think it is simply to teach people once you start to do it you will feel so much better, you will feel fantast, and you will never want to stop. It’s just getting that negative spark and that positive spark and working from that. Just commit! Put in your mind. Write it in your diary that three times a week to do three ten minute walks. And after that first week think how you can increase this.
Presenter - Do you think there is much help from the government to tackle obesity? Perhaps they could put more rulings on advertising? Perhaps not allowing fast food advertisements?
Lucy – Definitely. All this advertising is directed at kids and it is so hard for them. It is all so inviting for kids. But there is definitely more the government can do. They could encourage just how we can exercise, how easy it is to do. Perhaps even different routes you could walk along, even walking clubs. Also the nutrient side of things. We as a nation now are sadly eating a lot of the wrong foods. Obviously if we are eating bad to many bad calories then we will be putting on fat.
Presenter - There’s a nice comment you made there about walking clubs. I like the idea of that, I think it would be fun for people because it would be sociable. You get to meet people perhaps. But mainly you will get people to encourage you to do it, as I’m sure that is the problem for many people. I mean I know making myself go to the gym is hard but if I have someone giving me that extra kick then I will go. So walking clubs sounds like a great idea.
Lucy – The other thing that I think is really good is that now there are so many charities such as the Breast cancer one where people have to do a 3 mile walk for example. They hold them through out the year and that is something I think is a great goal for people. Plus you’re raising money for charity, meeting people and burning off calories.
Presenter - Do you think the message? There is a lot more about it in the press. There are even TV programmes on it now. I mean there is loads on about Obese children in particular which can be quite upsetting and I think the government are taking a bit more of a stand on it now. But do you think as a nation we are taking it in?
Lucy – I think we are now. I think it has all come to a head and is now such a serious problem. I mean in a way it is never to late. Because it is just a case of educating people. You know, you don’t have to do an hour, three times a week. It about people knowing that tiny little bits will make a difference. I think then people are more likely to continue. I think as well as we have said its also a case of time, people are simply running out of time but they need to remember it is only ten minutes here and there.
Presenter - But it is just those ten minutes. You know maybe even get up ten minutes early on a winters morning although many will not be happy with getting up on a cold day.
Lucy – But it is so worth it.
Presenter - It can make such a difference to your life. Healthy hearts, organs and things like that but also to be able to be fitter especially when you’re older.
Lucy – Yeah it is a better quality of life. I mean we only have one life
Presenter - Right it is question time out there. Our first question is from Sharon and she wants to know ‘my doctor is of the opinion that I shouldn’t do jogging as I am 52. I’m very healthy, have always been active and regularly go to the gym so therefore I don’t agree with him. How do you feel about jogging?’
Lucy – hmmm, well the difference between jogging and walking is with jogging you have more impact on to your joints. So we are actually better of walking then jogging. But if someone enjoys jogging then it is better to jog then to not exercise. But I would suggest if she is going to jog then to perhaps do a cross country, so she is on softer ground. So it is less of an impact. But don’t be put off by power walking. As I said it is the second most calorific burning exercise. I mean you get to work all your joints and anyway 52 is young, that is really young. One of my fittest customers is in her late sixties, although she hates me telling people her age. She actually only started exercising when she was 50.
Interviewer –So it literally never to late?
Lucy – Exactly it is never to late. Definitely not!
Presenter - I think a lot of people will be thinking that. You know ‘oh its to late for me’. No its not! We’ve got a question from Amanda and she wants to know ‘I like to cycle; I’m 34 and 11 stone. How much and often do I need to train to start loosing weight.
Lucy – Right well she would need to look at her nutrient as well to make sure she is eating the right things. I would say aim for 3 times a week. The cycling is good but make sure you are exercising at the right intensity. For example if I was out cycling on a flat road and I thought I could quite easily hold a conversation then I’m not working at a hard enough level to burn fat. You need to push yourself so you are slightly out of breath. So perhaps you might need to find a place where there are hills so there is intensity. . If we work at a to easy a level then we won’t burn enough fat but if we work at to hard a level then we will burn energy. So I would say to her three times a week, twenty minutes a time. Just make sure she is fairly out of breath. And after three weeks she should notice a real difference.
Presenter - There we go, just in three weeks.
Lucy – See three weeks is nothing
Presenter - No not at all. It would just fly by. That actually does link in to our next question. Emma Dance wanted to know ‘What is the recommended time for cardio’ but as you said it is 3 times a week
Lucy - So I would say to her aim for 3 times a week, train for about 20 minutes cycling, make sure she’s out of breath and after 3 weeks she should notice real difference and 3 weeks is nothing. You can go up to 5 times a week, it is important to have a rest as well so you need a couple of days for recovery, but definitely a minimum of 3 times a week.
Presenter - : That will obviously vary for different people, but speak to your local fitness people at your local gym, or your GP.
Lucy - : your muscles do need time to recover, so three times a week and after that you should notice a difference.
Presenter - I think also that people need to do is explore all the different types of exercise. I know that running and walking are boring, but it’s great if you can go to a park, but what if it’s raining? It’s great if you could go to a class. What sort of classes do you enjoy?
Lucy - There’s such a selection now, you have yoga, kickboxing, spinning, Pilates…I mean there’s such a range of exercises and also some people might like line dancing or something like that or salsa dancing and swimming, swimming is great or even going into the gym if someone’s put off by the weather. They can use a selection of equipment in a gym.
Presenter - I like the fact that there are so many added bonuses about gyms, in a social sense as well, it gets you out and about, you’re meeting people and I like the idea of salasa classes and line dancing because they’re fun and you can have a laugh and feel that you’ve done something without noticing that you’ve been exercising and burning calories.
Lucy - Exactly. When you’re looking at fitness, it wants to be long term and you’ve got to do something you enjoy, so if it is that you like salsa dancing then that’s brilliant; if it is that you like walking and being outdoors you know find an exercise that you like and as we’ve said there’s such a selection out there, and find the one that suits you.
Presenter - : I’ve got a question from Catherine Kelly who wants to know, how do I get fit and toned without losing weight?
Lucy -I would say work on doing a lot of strength exercises and work on doing stretching as well, and then she definitely needs to look at her nutrition and perhaps eat a bit more protein as well so she’s not burning too much body fat. If people are underweight it is really important for them to exercise as well because exercise isn’t just about weight loss, it is about keeping the heart and lungs strong as well. So work towards doing a bit more strength work and perhaps slightly less cardio vascular work:
Presenter - what do you think about fat monitors because people often forget that muscle weighs more than fat and you could be working out all the time and you’re getting on the scales and going, “Hang on a second, what’s going on?”
Lucy -Well that’s such a good point, muscle weighs more than fat and as a personal trainer I cannot stand weighing scales. When you start exercising and toning up you will increase your muscle tissue and you’re burning off fat so your body fat will change. And that’s where it’s really best to gauge it by putting on a pair of jeans or something to see how you feel. There are ways of assessing what your body fat percentage is which is by what we call skin callipilars which they just pinch the skin but it’s quite hard to get an accurate reading on that.
Presenter - : I have a question from Nicola who says she has recently given up smoking which I think is a tough one because people will find that they’re out of breath a lot but that’s also alongside the fact that she has 2 young children, her husband works mornings, she works evenings so she’d like to do something that doesn’t take up too much time, can you help? So she wants to obviously still spend time with the kids, see her husband when she can, do something that’s not going to be too tough because she’s getting over smoking, so what do you think?
Lucy - well. I would say, she’s obviously a busy lady with the two kids, if she could do something perhaps where all three of them go outdoors and go for a little, I don’t know, walk or something it would be good. If she’s at home, and she’s restricted to that it might be worth her getting a fitness DVD or something like that, that she can work along to at home. You know, fantastic that she’s given up smoking, and the more exercise she does she’ll find that her lung capacity, that will come a lot easier. And again just doing stuff like, if she cant get out, if she walks up and down the stairs for like 5 minutes, you know, get the kids to join in, put on some fun music and they can just dance around the room, you know just something as simple as that. Or even if she can get up 5 minutes earlier before her husband leaves to go to work, then she can just go outdoors and do some exercise.
Presenter - Well there you go, I think that would be quite fun actually just putting some music on for the kids and dancing around… I’ve got a question from Mary Jamieson and she says “I’m currently on anti-depressants and my GP has recommended that I start to exercise. Why is this? Will it help and what exercise should I do?”
Lucy - Ok, I think what happens with exercise is that, when we exercise we have a hormone that is released that are called endorphins, which just makes us feel so much better, and that’s where a lot of people can become quite addicted to exercise because of that feeling. And that’s where exercise to combat anti depressants is very good because it gives you that emotional lift. Now again I would say to her to find an exercise that she enjoys, you know if she’s comfortable walking as oppose to running, or comfortable going to the gym, and then the more she does that the more comfortable she’s going to feel and of course the more positive she ll feel, and the better mood your in, and the more likely you are to stick to that.
Presenter - We actually got a question now from a more elderly gentleman; William wants to know “I’m 80 and I suffer from COPD. I do some gardening but I do very little walking as I run out of brief. What exercise do you suggest I should do.”
Lucy - Well, ok I would obviously say that with anyone starting anew exercise routine always check with their GP. But again, I know I keep saying it, that walking is just so important, you know if you think about it, it’s the most natural exercise we do. And just build up to and do it gently and you know, listen to your body. If something doesn’t feel right or you are too out of breath I would say just slow down but every little bit counts, so like I said before – if its just 5, 10 minutes and just build up to it. And I would say definitely walking is better than running…
Presenter - Just keep building it up, and maybe if you can William, just 5 minutes and then maybe the following day just 6 then 7…
Lucy - Exactly, you know just give yourself a days recovery, its really important…
Presenter - Especially when you are suffering from COPD, make sure you are talking to your doctor about it, ‘cause you don’t want to push yourself. Don’t strain yourself of course. So walking, yeah, it seems to be the one that you are loving…
Lucy - yeah as I said to you, it’s the most natural form of exercise. There’s low impact on the joints, its very safe, and people feel more comfortable doing it as well.
Presenter - what do you think about those little ‘pedometer’ thingies?
Lucy - Fantastic, they re really good. Its very interesting as most people on average, the pace they would do, would be 2000 steps a day…
Presenter - Could you just please just explain exactly what a pedometer is?
Lucy - Basically you wear it on your hip and it measures the amount of strides you do, as its got a tiny ball bearing in it that goes backwards and forwards, and its quite a good way to encourage people to walk a bit further, and to wear it. Because if you do 10,000 steps, which sounds like an awful lot, which is 5 miles, but on average, most people, even if they are not exercising will take 2000 strides a day. So you see by wearing that, you can see how many you’ve done, which encourages you to perhaps just round it off to the next hundred steps. So I think they are brilliant and a really good motivator for people.
Presenter - And they re not expensive either, you can pick them up in numerous places…
Lucy - You can pick them up for under £5, and its really interesting as they’ll tell you how many miles you’ve walked, how many calories you’ve worked off. And I find this quite a good thing to do with my clients is because they are so cheap, just get them for the whole family, and get a wall chart on your fridge, and put down how many steps you’ve each done by the end of the day and then maybe have a bit of a challenge as well, its quite a good idea. And that’s good because its getting the whole family involved.
Presenter - talking of families, we’ve got some questions from young mums. We’ve got a question from Naomi. She’s just given birth within the last month and all went well. However I want to get my shape bag, which exercises should I be doing, which are safe, and is there anything she should be avoiding?
Lucy - Definitely, and again here I would say after 6 weeks she should go and see her GP to check that she’s fine to exercise. What a lot of women doing which sis so wrong is that they go straight into doing sit ups and abdominal curls as they think “oh that’s one area that I really need to.” And that’s the area where we really have to concentrate on building up from the deepest abdominal muscles. So what I would say, a rally simple exercise she can do after checking with her GP is to start by pulling your belly button tight into your spine, which is a really good abdominal strength exercise. And what that does is that its draws tight those muscles which have been stretched throughout pregnancy. And again, walking is great as she would not be putting any pressure on her joints, you know it’s a gentle exercise that she can ease back into. There’s some fantastic exercise classes now in London where you exercise with your baby in a pram. But be very aware to start of with the abdominals, pulling the belly button tight into the spine and hold that contraction for 10 seconds and then release, so what we re doing is flattening the deepest abdominal muscles there.
Presenter - I mean that could be something you could organise your own circle of mums doing exercise in the park with buggies, and start with power walking etc.
Lucy - Yeah, because you are bound to meet people through your postnatal classes. And that does help, so if we’ve committed to help train a friend at a certain time, then that is good idea, getting a group of them all off walking, and keeping their abdominals pulled in tight.
Presenter - Which is what Becky could do as she’s pregnant with her second child and shes due in 5 weeks, and she was asking how to get back into shape after… and I guess it all comes back to healthy eating, and exercising once you have spoken to your GP to make sure you’re fit to get back to it…
Lucy - And set yourself a goal, that’s quite a good thing if you’ve got, say in a months time to, to think about walking a mile 2 minutes faster or if you’ve got a wedding coming up, its quite good to use goals as something to work toward as well.
Presenter - This is quite a good one as I think we’ll all recognise this…”Can you help me, im a busy mum who loves pasta, but its not doing my figure any good. What food can we share that won’t impact on my weight.”
Lucy - The pasta’s good, it just depends on which sauce you put with it. If you use a creamy or cheese sauce, so I’d say just have a vegetable based sauce, something like that. And when you are eating drink lots of water also as that of course makes us feel slightly fuller as well along with many other benefits for drinking water. And doing exercise – if you think the calories you consume, you’ve got to burn them off, so if she’s going to treat herself once a week with a pasta with creamy sauce then she’s has to think right, this evening I’m going to put on my favourite record and do some toning exercises so she’s increasing her metabolism and burning off those extra calories.
Presenter - And it is everything in moderation which I think is also a problem for when you decide to go on a diet, all you want is chocolate, and a glass of wine and cake. As soon as you cut it out its all you want…
Lucy - I say to my clients try the 80:20 ratio. 80% of the time be healthy but when it’s the weekend and you want that cake etc have it, because the minute you say you cant do it, then it makes it more of a temptation.
Presenter - Hugh Conway wants to know “ I row about 50 –75 minutes 3 times a week in addition to sailing once a week and tai-chi I would also like to increase my jogging speed. What pulse rate should I not exceed? I am 45 years of age.
Lucy - The way you can work out what your maximum heart rate should be is by taking the figure 220 and minus your age. So this gentleman’s would be 175, so he wouldn’t really want to train any harder than that. And you can use things like heart rate monitors but the only problem with them is that when your adrenalin, when training, increases your heart rate, if you have lots of caffeine… so what I encourage my clients to do is to work on a scale of 1-10 where at 10 you feel physically exhausted and couldn’t do any more, and 1 being like us sitting here. And I encourage them to work around half way between somewhat hard and hard. If he wants ti increase his spend I would definitely say he should work on inclines as that’s a great way to increase your stamina.
Presenter - Now this is really important actually, Lisa wants to know “ is it as important to stretch before exercise as it is afterwards?”
Lucy - Its more important to stretch afterwards, it depends on what exercise you are doing. If someone’s lifting really heavy weights then I would encourage them to stretch before and after exercise. If you are looking at doing fairly gentle exercise session then don’t worry too much about before but definitely stretch afterwards. A good point to make is that if people are stretching for them not to do it while their muscles are cold as you are very likely to cause an injury. Like when you take chewing gum out of the wrapper and you just pull it, it snaps, but when you chew it, you know what its like, it goes on and on…. So your muscles have to be warm so you have to stretch. Again if it’s a gentle workout don’t worry too much about pre stretch but definitely still stretch afterwards.
Presenter - I think sometimes people underestimate stretching. I often get a bad back, and I know that’s down to having tight hamstrings. Stretching different parts of your body can help you in so many different ways.
Lucy - Its all about balance. If you have tight hamstrings then that pulls on your spine and pulls you out of alignment. And when you exercise always stretch afterwards, which will also help your posture. You know, make it fun, you can make it a form of relaxation as well.
Presenter - A nice thing to do at the end of the day to chill out, almost like a meditation in a way. Back to water with the question from George who wants to know “Is it better to drink water before or after training. Or both?”
Lucy - Both really. Id say don’t have too much because it can cause a stitch. So if you are going to have a big training session have a big glass of water say an hour before. And then depending if we’re in the summer, its really important to keep hydrated, even if its tiny sips of water. But whether its summer or winter we have air con, we have central heating, still try to aim for those 8 glasses of water a day. If you are exercising a lot you may need to consume more water as well.
Presenter - And there are special drinks with salts in and stuff, would you recommend those?
Lucy - Yeah, they are really good. There are some great sports drinks out there but you can beat some of the great natural things that come in water.
Presenter - Now we’ve been banging on about walking, but we do have a question from Michelle Scott who says “ I had my angle crushed in a car accident. I can walk but its painful. I’m about 3 stone over weight and all the advice has been to get walking, which isn’t very helpful to her, what else can she do to lose weight?”
Lucy - Right, if she has a gym she could join then there is a piece of equipment that is like a bicycle but you use it for your arms, you don’t use your lower body, and a lot of people think its easy to do but it really gets the heart rate up. So that would be quite good.
Presenter - So when the heart rate is going up what exactly is that doing?
Lucy - this means that you are working harder and therefore improving your cardiovascular health – you’re burning fat, you’re reducing cholesterol you’re reducing blood pressure so we’re getting all the health benefits. And its tricky because she obviously doesn’t want to do anything that puts too much pressure on her ankles – a rowing machine may be ideal if she just used the arm part to work on her upper body and perhaps do some resistance exercises to strengthen the muscles around the ankles would be good.
Presenter - What about aqua-aerobics?
Lucy - yes swimming would be good, that would be fine.
Presenter - Our next question is from Angela who says “I’m 18 stone and I need to lose 8 stone by May 2007” is that possible, it’s a bit of a challenge…
Lucy - That’s a real challenge. Realistically we should look at losing one to two pounds a week, anymore and we tend to lose more muscle than body fat. What happens if we lose too much weight our body panics and thinks we are going to starve, so what it does is it retains fats which slows the metabolism down. That’s where a lot of people end up yo-yo dieting and putting on more and more weight, so I say if she can aim to lose about half a stone a month she start to feel fitter, and by doing toning exercises as well she’ll be burning more calories at the same time.
Presenter - I think that’s a problem for a lot of people – the yoyo dieting – which we haven’t really talked about much, so yeah, crash dieting, there’s no point really in the end is there…
Lucy - No, because in the long run you end up just putting on more weight so its far better to aim to just lose one to two pounds a week weight lose.
Presenter - That’s a good fact because I didn’t know that and I’m sure a lot of people out there didn’t know either. Now, Marilyn wants to know how much exercise you start with if you are over 50.
Lucy - Again go and ask your GP, start off by aiming for just 20 minutes if you can. What quite a good think to do – whether you are walking, cycling or running – is if she can find a mile route near where she live, just go out and regularly try to reduce the time it takes. Or perhaps start of by doing just half a mile, 10 or 20 minutes, which is something most people will do a mile in. Just start off slowly and the fitter you get the more you’ll want to do anyway.
Presenter - What about shoes and trainers and stuff like that as that could be something potentially damaging can’t it…?
Lucy - It’s certainly worth investing in the right footwear. Again with walking its not as important but if you are running it is important to buy trainers with a good cushion in the insole and heel so its taking out that impact. But there are so may good sport shops where you can just go in and get some good advice on the right footwear.
Presenter - Do you think these exercise DVDs are good, because some can seem quite fade-y. You seem to get whatever celebrity is hot at the moment and suddenly they’ve got a DVD out and you think do they really know what there are doing, is it any good, what do you think?
Lucy - I think its quite hard to call as some people would find that quite motivational whereas other people want to train more outdoors, so again its finding something that you aspire to. One thing with fitness DVDs is to make sure it has good music as music really motivates you so make sure the music is good. I know people who have enjoyed them and stuck buy them and have had great results doing them in their front from them, so its what works for you really.
Presenter - Cool, s one thing I have is an MP3 player which really does help to get you going. Right we’ve got a message from Dee, and she wants to know “how do you think its best for a person with a groin strain to exercise?”
Lucy - Well I would definitely say to make sure they are stretching properly and maybe do an exercise that doesn’t work on a big range of movements, so I would say definitely check with their GP or perhaps also with a physio as well. Cycling might be quite good as you’re not going to overstretch. Some exercises such as running they may increase their chances of an injury so perhaps something like cycling would be quite good.
Presenter - A lot of these things come down to checking with your GP because if you do have any problems
Lucy - Because exercise is fantastic for us but if you have a medical condition or if you haven’t exercised before it’s always worth checking with your GP.
Presenter - Now a question from Helen. She wants to achieve a health balance, what is the recommended amount of exercise to do per week?
Lucy - Per week? Well as we said before 3 times a week, perhaps aim for 20-40 minutes of exercise, but 20 minutes is fine. And that healthy balance – make sure you are drinking a lot of water, eating healthy food and when you are exercising, make sure you are exercising at an intensity where you feel almost out of breath. As you can see in some of these gyms sitting on a machine reading a paper, and there is no point in doing that because you know that, they’re not doing themselves any harm, they are certainly not exercising at the right intensity. So I would say the recommended amount is 3 times a week, aim for 20 – 40 minutes exercise as well.
Presenter - I think it would come as quite a surprise to some people as most people think “ oh I need to do an hour…” and 20 minutes is all you need and I’m sure a lot more people can be getting out and doing something.
Lucy: I think that you are so right and it does put people off as people think they’ve got to train for a whole hour. I mean that is a big chunk of our time and that goes back to what we were saying earlier on, you know, “Why are we so obese?”, well we don’t have time nowadays and people especially don’t have time if they think that they have to commit for a whole hour. So, just doing 20 minutes, you can achieve amazing results in 20 minutes.
Presenter - Yeah, I do think that that puts a lot of people off, you know, just the driving to the gym or getting a bus to the gym or having to get there and then having to do the class, showering and everything afterwards.
Lucy: But you don’t even have to go to the gym, there is so much that you can do in your lunch hour, you know, just walk around the block, get colleagues to go out with you. And also, it’s great to do something in your lunch-hour, you’re gonna mentally be more alert for work in the afternoon as well.
Presenter - It’s a very good point actually – that’s a good to think about as offices can be quite stifling in terms of, you know, you have your lunch, you get your quick fix lunch which is usually, well, a meal deal with a packet of crisps and a sandwich…
Lucy: …from a vending machine or something….
Presenter - …and that does make you feel pretty lethargic for the afternoon, and that’s not conducive to work. What do you think people should do and what are good snacks to get people through the afternoon?
Lucy: Do you know, just lots of fruit, popcorn is really good actually, and that’s really easy to do….
Presenter - …Really? That’s actually quite a treat!
Lucy: Well, no, there’s no fat in popcorn at all, so you can just kind of make up…
Presenter - …as long as it doesn’t have butter and….
Lucy: …well yeah, that’s it. But then just flavour it – just put a vanilla stick in there or something and some cinnamon sugar on there or you can have it as a savoury one. They are all good snacks. But funnily enough, one of my clients I train, she now power walks in her lunch-hour and she’s got ten other collegues that go out with her and they’ve got this gang that go out. They now enjoy the afternoon so much more now because they are mentally more alert and they’ve got more energy instead of eating all the wrong foods and feeling stuffed and having that low after having too much sugar that can make you feel more tired. So, definitely.
Presenter - I like that, the thought of all these little groups of women power walking and getting out…
Lucy: …yeah it was all one by one and then they all started following and now they keep going and it’s a class that they do. It’s fantastic!
Presenter - Well, perhaps if you are sitting there thinking “I could do that at work” or even if you are not working perhaps, you know, you could find neighbours and friends…
Lucy: Definitely, but you know, in your lunch hour, if you think a lot of us have an hour for lunch – that is a long time – and just take 20 minutes and you’ve still then got 40 minutes and you’ll just feel fantastic.
Presenter - Brilliant, great idea. So Mandy wants to know: ‘I’m six months pregnant, what sort of exercise is safe to do?’ as of course, you don’t want to do anything to strenuous do you?
Lucy: Sure, no definitely not. Obviously, she wants to avoid anything heavy impact, so, swimming is okay. What she needs to be fairly careful of when you are six months into your pregnancy, your body produces a hormone called relaxin, and it basically just means that all your joints are more relaxed, so she just has to be careful that she doesn’t overstretch and so one of the most important things that she could do, like with the point we had earlier on – pre pregnancy and post pregnancy – it’s really important to work those abdominal muscles because they are the ones that come under the most pressure when you are pregnant. So I would say for the time being, do gentle walking but still focus on keeping that belly-button really pulled in tight to the spine because it aids with the actual pregnancy itself. It just makes it less traumatic and it helps to recover those muscles after the baby as well. So, you know, drink lots of water, again! Do the walking and keep the abdominals pulled in tight.
Presenter - I think those are some of the main points for us today – we’ve learnt that, you know walking and water and healthy balanced meals. You just can’t go wrong can you?
Presenter - But if you can’t get out, because you haven’t got time to go for a walk or perhaps it’s raining or it’s icy and you’re at home, cos Julia wants to know “What exercise can you do at home?” but she doesn’t have much room to work with though?
Lucy: Okay, right, well let’s think. I’d say to her, if she can, find herself a really motivating bit of music, put that on and she could just set herself up her own little circuit. She could do things like march on the spot for a minute and she could do squats for a minute, she could do abdominal curls. So there are lots of different exercises, in a routine, that she could do. She could even, lets think, march up and down the stairs for a couple of minutes so she’s increasing her heart rate so she is feeling slightly out of breath and you wouldn’t actually need much room to do that.
Presenter - Okay, brilliant. Well, I think we’ve pretty much covered something for everybody.
Lucy: She can design her own little circuit, she can go to her library, find some books on fitness, some toning ideas. She can do that in the smallest of areas.
Presenter - Great. So today we’ve talked obviously about obesity, how we are going to combat it, water, walking and just getting out there and just doing ten minutes of exercise - maybe getting out in the morning before you go to work if you are working or not. And hopefully, you know, it will make a big difference to us all.
Presenter - Lets hope so. Well thank you so much for talking with us today Lucy and we hope you all found it useful out there as well. And remember, you can ask a question for Lucy, or our experts, via our ask a question section. So it has been very pleasant chatting with you and we shall see you next time. Goodbye!