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An article in the Independent this week warns that it’s more important than ever to be careful when chomping into junk food. There is a danger that you might just get addicted..
In tests on rats researchers found that the rodents quickly became highly dependant on high calorie snacks made from sausage, bacon and cheesecake (I know, what a mix!!) and rejected healthy foods even when the supply of junk food was turned off. The rats found the junk food so irresistible that they would risk receiving an electric shock to get hold of it. The junk food rats “totally lost control over their eating behaviour, the primary hallmark of addiction” said Professor Paul Kenny of the Scripps Research Institute in Jupiter, Florida where the study was carried out. Moreover brain scans revealed that the rats soon became desensitised to the “high” that they got from the high calorie food in the same way that drug addicts do, with a drop in the number of pleasure processing D-2 receptors in the brain. As a result, they had to consume more and more of the junk food to get the same reward.
So be careful and as we always say to our personal training clients try to do everything in moderation. If you eat sensibly most of the time (we try to encourage a 80/20% ratio of good sensible nutrition combined with the odd fast food or less healthy meal) and do good quality structured exercise (easier to sitck to with a personal trainer of course) then you will be both fit and slim but also be able to sustain your good efforts.
The largest green space in london at over 1000 acres Richmond Park has changed little over the centuries and, although it is surrounded by human habitation, the varied landscape of hills, woodland gardens and grasslands set among ancient trees abounds in wildlife. The Park has been designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest and a National Nature Reserve. The royal connections to this park probably go back further than any of the others, beginning with Edward (1272-1307), when the area was known as the Manor of Sheen. The name was changed to Richmond during Henry VII’s reign.
At weekends and during holiday periods, the Park frequently attracts visitors for informal sports. For many, the extent of sporting activity during their visit is limited to a kickabout with a football or a game of French cricket before or after a picnic. For others, the attraction is the network of roads and designated paths for cycling. In season, the wooded areas and hill climbs in the Park offer unrivalled opportunities this close to Central London for orienteering and cross-country running. How fortunate that our personal trainer Stephen (his profile is on our meet the trainers page) just so happens to be a running expert as well as holding the excellent Dip PT from Premier global. The park makes for a great outdoors personal training session, and a typical hour with a personal trainer might be a warm up for 5-10 minutes consisting of some walking, dynamic stretching and compound bodyweight exercises designed to turn on all your muscle groups, then some running/walking intervals (faster running interspersed with slower running if you are a bit more advanced). You could then do some resistance training in a circuit format, with some kettlebell exercises and some pad boxing. Finish up with some static stretching where your personal trainer stretches you and you get to feel like an A-lister! All is the most scenic, holistic and green surroundings that London has to offer
A fully effective and rounded exercise regime can be done at home or in the garden with minimal equipment, so there really is no need for a gym membership. Of course if you like going to the gym, and find that having to go somewhere specifically to exercise where there are other like minded people exercising is motivational and means that you stick with it, then by all means stick with it! But for most people who want to get fit and lean there are tons of fun options that you can do on your own. Home training has several advantages; there’s no sitting in traffic, it tends to be functional (more on this later), it’s more time effective, there is less risk of being outpaced by either a young hot teenager (embarrassment) or a decrepit pensioner (embarrassment AND shame), you can keep an eye on any young children/babies that need looking after, it’s cheaper and there is less kit needed.
Lots of recent research shows that training for a shorter period of time at a higher intensity more often is much more effective than 2 or 3 epic gym visits a week, and training at home also fits the bill for this. The number one home training exercise that requires no kit at all except a snazzy pair of leggings and a good pair of trainers is running. It works lots of muscle groups, is outdoorsy (good for the mind as well as the body) and burns more calories per minute than almost any other form of exercise. Provided you have stable pain free joints all levels of athlete can run, so if you are a beginner you could try some run/walk intervals and do 10 single minutes of each. The more advanced might be able to do a really fast run for 2 minutes and then a slower jog for 1 minute or even 30 seconds and so on. It’s also weight bearing so will keep those creaky bones strong. For a bit more money you could get a bicycle and do some cycling, although less intense than running it’s much more suited to those with knee problems.
Perhaps the best way to train at home though is to do circuit based training. Many of our home based personal trainer clients are put through these circuit type sessions and will testify that they are challenging, fun and effective. At it’s most simple circuit training is a combination of different exercises that are done in a sequence to save time, keep it varied and keep the heart rate up for the maximum amount of calories burned. A good example of this popular with the A-listers is the 25 minute skipping circuit; skip for 5 minutes, then for 15 minutes do a circuit of 15-20 push ups, 15-20 lunges, 15-20 bent over rows or bent over flys, 15-20 squats with a dumbbell shoulder press. Finish with another 5 minutes skipping. Repeat 4 times a week for 5-6 weeks and hey presto you will be a yummy mummy or toned goddess. All you need is a skip rope and a pair of dumbbells; 5kg will be suitable for most. You could also try a similar circuit with a kettlebell which will elevate your heart rate even further, or combine running with body weight exercises for a real back to basics session. Boxing gloves and a bag are also a great way to get the lungs going while toning the upper body: incorporate 2-4 minutes of this with an exercise circuit like the skipping one above. Resistance bands are great to, as is the TRX suspension trainer http://www.trx-fitness.com. Lots of things in the home can be used too: use 2 litre water bottles instead of free-weights, use stairs as an exercise machine, and likewise with steps. The key as with all exercise s to go beyond your comfort zone, get breathless and sweaty. If in any doubt see your GP or get a personal trainer in to run you through a programme. Even if it’s just for a couple of sessions it’s well worth it to ensure you are dong everything at the right level and the right way.
We are constantly being told to avoid fat by the media and science, but fat does actually have a purpose and it’s dangerous to avoid it totally. Here are some of the types of fat what they do:
So even saturated fat has it’s purpose, and as with all nutritional advice that we give as Diets Don’t Work personal trainers the key is to be moderate in all things, be good for most of the time and have fun with food while exercising to counter balance the treats.
We are actually based in ascot, so I thought today might be as good a time as any to blog about some of the great places that we train our clients in and around Ascot. Of course we do home training, and put our personal training clients through their paces in their gardens, homes and gyms, but we also love getting people outdoors wherever possible. It’s more fun, varied, the fresh air makes you feel good and you burn more calories when it’s colder! One of the first great venues to leap about with your personal trainer in Ascot is the racecourse itself. It was Queen Anne who first saw the potential for a racecourse at Ascot, which in those days was called East Cote. Whilst out riding in 1711, she came upon an area of open heath, not far from Windsor Castle, that looked an ideal place for “horses to gallop at full stretch.”
The first race meeting ever held at Ascot took place on Saturday 11 August 1711. Her Majesty’s Plate, worth 100 guineas and open to any horse, mare or gelding over the age of six, was the inaugural event. Each horse was required to carry a weight of 12st and seven runners took part. The central heathland within the racecourse is public land, and there is an additional tarmac path running around the perimeter. There are also several very long flights of stairs, and all of these are used by our personal trainers for sessions with clients. The stairs are obviously only for those ones who are either very fit or very deserving of punishment! But the track around the outside is great for running, and there’s lots of grassy space in the central bit for resistance training, kettlebells and so on.
Another great area is Swinley forest, closer to Bracknell. This huge area of forest is given over to paths and cycle lanes, as well as having tree top climbing, a cafe and large car park. There are also lots of roman ruins and earthworks, and the three castles path also goes through it. It is also a great place to train, especially if you have a mountain bike; for most clients we have the option of real mountain biking, as opposed to cycling on a machine in the gym while watching “Loose Women”.
Not far from Ascot is Virginia Water Lake, an extension of Windsor great park, which is famous for it’s scenic walks and rhododendrons which flower in spring with stunning effect. Great for a walk, our trainers also use Virginia Water for running and personal trainer/client sessions. It’s great for training for a 10k, as it’s 4.3 miles around the main lake path, there are also lots of hills and paths that lead up and aroud the Guards polo club. By taking these you can increase the distance in the run. There are also lots of private green spaces and hideaways for resistance training and circuit training.
Home training does not have to be outdoors though; lots of our clients in Ascot, Windsor and Maidenhead have their personal trainer sessions indoors. We don’t need lots of space; just this morning I have done a (relatively-you’ll have to ask the victim) fun session with a personal trainer client in his kitchen, as we do every week. With a bit of imagination and the right kit home training can be great too, and there is always the option of getting outdoors into the scenery and fresh air.
Our personal trainer covering the Reading, Tilehurst, Sonning and Winnersh areas is Phil Chalmers. Phil formerly worked for a major utilities company but was offered redundancy and took this as a chance to move into the health and fitness industry, something he had been very keen on. He is a very caring, patient and dilligent personal trainer, who wants his clients do well more than anything else. He also has lots of interesting torture tools and techniques to make personal training sessions fun and varied. Phil has also had the honour of training our oldest client Betty for two years now, and has seen huge improvements in her mobility and wellbeing. Betty is 84!! So if you need to make a positive change in your life and need to get fitter or lighter or both then Phil our personal trainer in Reading and surrounding areas will do his very best to make it happen.
Now that the evenings have become lighter and it’s getting warmer we are getting more and more of our personal training clients outdoors for their sessions. This is great as the scenery is better, it’s super for clearing the mind and the combination of fresh air and exercise makes clients feel even more fab than usual. But for those with allergies this is a pretty horrid time of year. Over the next few blogs we will have a look at allergies, what causes them, and what you can do to improve things.
The term allergy is used to describe a response, within the body, to a substance, which is not necessarily harmful in itself, but results in an immune response and a reaction that causes symptoms and disease in a predisposed person, which in turn can cause inconvenience, or a great deal of misery. An allergy is everything from a runny nose, itchy eyes and palate to skin rash. It aggravates the sense of smell, sight, tastes and touch causing irritation, extreme disability and sometimes fatality. It occurs when the body’s immune system overreacts to normally harmless substances. Allergy is widespread and affects approximately one in four of the population in the UK at some time in their lives. Each year the numbers are increasing by 5% with as many as half of all those affected being children.
Allergic reactions are caused by substances in the environment known as allergens. Almost anything can be an allergen for someone. Allergens contain protein, which is often regarded as a constituent of the food we we eat. In fact it is an organic compound, containing hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen, which form an important part of living organisms. The most common allergens are:
pollen from trees and grasses, house dust mite, moulds, pets such as cats and dogs, insects like wasps and bees, industrial and household chemicals, medicines, and foods such as milk and eggs.Less common allergens include nuts, fruit and latex. There are some non-protein allergens which include drugs such as penicillin. For these to cause an allergic response they need to be bound to a protein once they are in the body. An allergic person’s immune system believes allergens to be damaging and so produces a special type of antibody (IgE) to attack the invading material. This leads other blood cells to release further chemicals (including histamine) which together cause the symptoms of an allergic reaction. The most common symptoms are: sneezing , runny nose, itchy eyes and ears, severe wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath, sinus problems, a sore palate and nettle-like rash.
One thing is for sure is that allergies are on the rise, and in the next few blogs I’ll have a look at why and what you can do to help remedy the problem. Good sites for advice are the BBC and UK allergies