This week the Fit4Free team were introduced to Sandra Waller, Director of the East Anglia Centre for Alexander Technique. Sandra explained how "The Alexander Technique safeguards our future by making us take responsibility for our own health and well-being. The technique improves poise, fitness, body structure and co-ordination leading to more enjoyment of life, which is especially important as we age and become more susceptible to niggling problems i.e. joint and muscle pain, poor digestion and fatigue."
The Fit4Free team were given a lesson on how to sit correctly and learnt that we should never sit with crossed legs nor slumped on our tail bone. Sandra explained "feel beneath your bottom on the seat for the two bony points at the base of your pelvis, these are called sitting bones and sitting on these help to prevent you from slumping and keep your head freely balanced on top of your spine. Sandra emphasised the importance of never bending from the waist as there is no joint in the spine for this - always bend at your hip joints, knees and ankles which work together to move you up and down. "
Interestingly we learnt that our head is the heaviest part of our body weighing between 10 and 16 pounds, and our spine finishes at the point where the middle of our ears are - most people think it finishes at the base of our neck. This is why when balancing it's imperative that the tip of the nose should not be higher than the holes of the ears unless you're looking up to the ceiling. Most people tend to tilt their head back which in turn leads to a totally imbalanced spine thus supressing various joints in the back which then results in pain.
For more details with Sandra contact her on 01245 608268 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Sessions can be booked individually at £35 but with this feature she's offering 6 for the price of 5.
Most of the Fit4Free team were extremely tired this week so Dave Davis, Personal Trainer of D2Fit gave us a lesson on bone density and how weight bearing exercise can help protect our bones.
"Weight bearing exercise, particularly for older adults is extremely important as both weight bearing and resistance training exercises are vital to improving bone density, preventing osteoporosis and strengthening muscles, ligaments and joints. Using your own body weight to provide resistance such as squats, lunges, walking and skipping is the key to fundamentally protecting your joints, whereas swimming and cycling whilst excellent forms of exercise don't provide this resistance. Using free weights can also boost bone strength, try replacing weights with tinned cans to build up gradually or if you're lucky enough to have an outdoor gym park nearby make use of it. Deciding to get fit and starting a new activity can be daunting, but in the words of Mark Twain "The secret of getting ahead is getting started".
As we were short on time Dave also gave us a quick session on Tabata training - this method involves training at a very high intensity for 4 minutes. The session is broken down into 20 seconds of intense training, followed by 10 seconds of rest and then repeated 8 times. Predominately one exercise is chosen such as sprints, squats or press ups but can be mixed up; the intensity also helps burn calories and helps aid recovery time. Please note that due to the high speed repetitions this method may not be suitable for everyone, so check with your GP or fitness professional first.
Natasha Bartell, the Fit4Free Nutrionist gave the following advice to our volunteers this week.
"Molly has no regular eating pattern and meals are regularly missed. The amount of food consumed is not enough to enable the body to recover from the amount of exercise that Molly does and a poor diet has a negative effect on athletic performance. A healthy diet is one of the most important aspects of body composition so I've encouraged Molly to eat 3 regular meals a day.
Debbie's has a stressful job, young children and her main form of hydration comes from caffeine. This makes the body produce the stress hormones adrenalin and cortisol which Debbie didn't realise, so drinking coffee only adds to the stress in your life! I advised Debbie to have a large bottle (1.5litre) bottle of water on her desk as this would remind her to drink.
Sugary snacks are Claire's downfall, and whilst it's important to snack at regular intervals, often her choices sugar laden. I encouraged Claire to either have a protein bar (e.g. Naked, Trek or Bounce Balls), a piece of fruit with a small handful of seeds or a few mixed nuts.
Finally our volunteers gave their verdict on the small changes they've made this week.
Claire says "I've strangely enjoyed upping the exercise and whilst taking it gradually have taken Dave's advice by pushing my heart rate up in bursts. I've focused primarily on swimming and have been alternating between 2 fast and 2 slow lengths.
Debbie says "I've continued with my food diary not as a means of counting calories but to keep my brain focused on what I am eating so I can keep an eye on myself. I've also slowly reduced my coffee intake."
Molly says "I've been trying to reiterate the advice of Sandra Waller to help my back and joint problems, so have been making a mental note to sit in the correct position. I've also been making sure I eat one proper meal a day, be it breakfast or tea.
If you have any queries or tips then get twittering @askmollybeauty #Fit4Free or via email email@example.com.
Editor's Note: - Natasha Bartell's recipe for the week.
Need a sweet fix, try this yummy Banana cake by Natasha.
75gr soft butter plus butter for greasing
4 ripe bananas peeled and mashed up
80gr soft brown sugar
1 egg beaten
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
170gr spelt flour
Preheat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4
Use a little butter to grease a bread tin measuring approximately 23cm x 13cm x 6cm. Pour the mashed bananas into a mixing bowl and combine the rest of the ingredients leaving the flour and bicarbonate of soda until last. Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 50 minutes. Allow to cool before serving in slices.