Exercise and teenagers – how parents can help

Exercise with teenagers

Last week I had the great honour of teaching a group of Farnham Girl Guides a 90 minute Pilates session. It was quite a nerve wracking experience getting up in front of teenage and pre teen girls, but I am never one to shy away from a challenge. I also believe passionately that getting girls into good habits around exercise, mindfulness and taking care of themselves from a young age is really important.

During the session I talked about how important exercise is for confidence, their heart, enjoyment, team playing, meeting friends, the importance of a good bra for exercise (my daughter was mortified about this!) and posture. The class also covered balance, all body strength moves, core strengthening, spine mobility, flexibility of your back forward, back and sides, stretching and relaxation and how to learn to meditate!

I couldn’t have asked for better praise at the end. They ran up after saying it was really cool which for any of you with teenage or pre teen children, you will know this is not said lightly!

“It was fun and informative”

“It’s great learning to meditate or relax so when I get stressed with homework I can do it at home”

You can see that very quickly teens make really positive associations around exercise and the benefits it can have in their every day lives.

The teenage years can be a time when our children start to give up some of the more active things they have always done for themselves. Pressures of school work and exams, social pressures and just changing bodies and hormones can all make it seem easier to just give up physical activities, maybe thinking you will pick them up again later. But it is so hard to get back to activities once you break away and breaking these good, healthy habits at around teenage years can set up a new habit that is harder to break – a cycle of not making time for yourself and your health and wellbeing.

The whole experience got me thinking about how we can encourage our teens to keep active and do something that makes them feel good just for them. My conclusion is that we, parents, are the answer. I know it seems that at times our teens just want to do the opposite of what we are doing, but actually they take on board the positive. So seeing Mum or Dad regularly taking time for themselves, exercising and keeping healthy is a far greater role model for them than any ad campaign. If this is just a normal part of family life then it is more likely that your teen will continue taking care of themselves without even thinking about it.

If you can also build activity into family occasions too then this can be a good positive reinforcement of healthy living. Even just a family dog walk, going bowling or we have become regulars at the roller disco since the New Year, or maybe taking time to do an online exercise video with your teen. These are all small, easy steps that can make a big difference to the ongoing health and wellbeing of your teen.

So do you exercise as a family? And if so what do you do? And does your teen have a favourite activity that they do whatever? I would love to hear what works for your family.

 

5 steps for busy mums to feel, good, fit and healthy

5 steps for busy mums to feel good

 

At the start of any New Year there is so much pressure on us to make sweeping changes, lose weight, eat more healthily, do more exercise. Whilst all this is great and having goals is a great thing to motivate us, if you are busy Mum so much pressure and big targets to achieve can actually have the opposite effect and demotivate us. I propose that actually smaller, more manageable targets are actually going to see greater gains if you are already pushed for time.

Simply tune into your body’s needs to get the power to make positive, lasting changes in 2016. Changes you make affect your childrens choices later on (trust me I nearly have a teenager who makes her own choices now!). So showing that change can happen just by doing small things is a great example to set them. Here are my suggestions.

1. Take 15 mins a day to put yourself first – it’s only 1% of your day, making small daily changes and you’ll find what makes you feel good!  Take a look at our 10 minute relaxation and breathing video here, which can give a you perfect time out solution.

2. Plan your meals – proper family healthy meal planning stops you snacking, plan the family meals around when you are hungry, and have relaxing nights out – say “yes” to healthy and a life!

3. Get to bed early – sleep is major (I’ve been tracking my sleep and it’s a shock!). When you are tired you reach for sugar. Get more energy from exercise or more sleep. It also lowers your risk of disease. Scientists compare those getting less than 6 hours sleep to those getting 8.5hrs and it alters genes involved in metabolism, inflammation and immunity. Also taking magnesium or eating foods like leafy dark greens, fish and avocado gives you deeper sleep.

4. Look slimmer by correcting your posture – slide your shoulders back, lift your chest up and lift through the spine, lift and engage your deep abdominal muscles to pull in your tummy. Encourage good posture in your children as well.

5. In 45 minutes you can increase your metabolism with a good work out! With regular exercise you can increase the part of your brain associated with learning and memory! Get out as a family- cycle, run or swim. They will thank you for the motivation and they look to you how to live their lives!

6. (OK I said 5 steps but I’m feeling generous!) You must do daily stretches and joint mobility to help you age gracefully – I’m training for the marathon and have to stretch to prevent back pain the next day. See my Facebook page and youtube channel for the right stretches.

At Farnham Pilates we offer videos with mobility, strength, core work, stretching and relaxation! Take a look here for more inspiration or sign up to our newsletter (to the right on a PC or below on a tablet/phone) for up to date tips and news of our upcoming online programmes.

Exercise at Christmas

Exercise at Christmas

Christmas can be a fantastic and exciting time but also full of stresses. Many mums that do regular exercise find it hard as the classes and bootcamps tend to stop the same week as the kids break up from school. There are things you can do at home but it is hard to keep motivated with all the temptations around at this time of year. Also I find it hard as it gets colder to resist the warm, unhealthy drinks and biscuits!

Its also hard for mums to stick to a routine and getting a workout in when there are so many demands on our time leading up to Christmas. Decide what you’d like to fit in and try and follow these 10 simple steps –

1. Move more – don’t stay in one position for too long a time when you are cooking, cleaning or relaxing on the sofa – get everyone one up and moving or out, for example on a walk, treasure hunt, races or competitions.

2. Workout first thing – before anything else happens. “There are just too many activities and commitments that come up,” says Angela Bekkala, clinical exercise specialist, mum of twins and creator of Happy Fit Mama. I run early so “You’re finished before the kids wake up!”

3. Put it as an appointment in your calendar – Hopefully your partner is supportive. If you worry about spending time with them as they are not working, it’s a great way to spend quality time together. Or if they can help with childcare you do the same for them. I have had comments of people saying it’s selfish, but its not – its about your health and sanity. Get grandparents to help, you only need 30 mins to fast walk or run!

4. Plan in what you enjoy and want to do – aim for 3-4 activities a week – DVD, online workouts etc. On Periscope Rachel Homes does a 7am workout, or maybe run, walk to get fresh air, or arrange to meet or pick up a friend then you cant cancel.

Classes available locally to Farnham with children

Bootcamp Tilford with Belinda Andrews 14th and 16th December – 9.30 Tilford Green – back on wed 6th January.

Farnham Pilates – last classes 17th-18th Dec – 8.45 and 9.45am – wear Christmas hats bring a friend or children.

Sweaty Betty does classes inhouse too.

5) Don’t worry about what you wear –  I put the clothes out the night before and dress in the dark and don’t look in the mirror. Then I enjoy the shower or bath later and then do hair and make up and feel much better in myself.

6. Its not always possible to exercise without the kids – so include them or watch online and do it in front of them. I think its just as important for them to see me working out and that I find it important to look after myself.

Ditch the ‘either-or’ attitude. Children instinctively love to move. Resistance bands are great for playing with and balls make fun mini trampolines. Also as your children grow older, workouts can be bonding time. I’d like my oldest daughter to run or cycle with me, if its a one off they wont do it, but if its regular they will understand it’s important and will want to come with you, or simply bribe them for that Saturday night movie and popcorn. I ran a dash for colour for Phillis Tuckwell this September and my daughter and I had great fun throwing powder at each other! Other ideas could include taking the kids to the park and do step ups, tricep dips, running races and they love a circuit or obstacle course. It doesn’t need to be long, just a quick workout – 10-15mins raising your heart rate is better than nothing.

7. Do you get Back pain? – stop what you are doing, think about your posture. Have a look at our 5 days of short stretches and the relevant blogs. I am also running a 6 week programme for you to follow – details here.

8.Walk or cycle to friends for Christmas drinks or the family drive and you walk or run and meet them there. Make the most of any time you have and make time.

9. Analysis your time – Can you not go on Facebook/cooking/ cleaning for 10 mins. Swap activities or plan ahead and do bulk cooking. Get the kids to help and delegate. I find December is the best month as they have to be good and help otherwise Santa may not come! We do a points system for pocket money and points are taken off for not helping. They don’t get tea if they don’t help. I know older ones have homework but when they are hungry they will do anything to get the food quicker!

10. Don’t beat yourself up – if you don’t get time. Don’t set unrealistic expectations. Even 10 mins a day is great but even every other day is a good start!

 

Back care for Mums

Back care for busy mums

back care for mums

 

With Back Care Awareness Week this week, the main focus was to get Britain thinking about their posture, moving more and standing while working, I thought we should also focus on busy mums working from home.

So are you a busy mum, rushing about and you only realise at the end of the day that your back aches and shoulders are tense. Maybe you have aches and pains when you get up or after leaning over the iPad or iPhone for that quick organise of play dates/lifts, maybe you carry children, or are you are worried about your pelvic floor? This is all linked to posture and with the wrong spine position, lack of movement or the wrong moment it can affect your back and pelvic floor.

I am very aware of my tense shoulders and sore neck, upper and lower back after it has just “gone” once a year so I HAVE to do Pilates. My back mobility and strength and pelvic floor are top of my list and I’ve helped so many clients with a simple stretch or strengthen that can change their lives.

I have to keep assessing mine and my clients posture as things change and you should too, so when you are slouching on the sofa or leaning to see the iPhone screen as you quickly type think about how you are sitting. If you don’t sometimes ache you are lucky, but like most I’m afraid we start to ache in the shoulders, lower, upper back or in the hips, because of bad habits and maybe even a trapped nerve causing shooting pain down the leg or pins and needles in leg or arm at night? There could be other reasons for this, but don’t just accept it and live with it you can do something!

You may even go to the gym, Bootcamp, run or walk with friends, but aches still come and go and then when your back goes it’s agony. Especially when you have been sitting in the same position for a long time.

It’s not all doom and gloom as you can change your posture, strengthen your core and back or create that strong base. Our muscles have memories but we can recreate the memories to make the muscles support automatically.

Things I advise to help you

Checking your posture and spinal alignment in the mirror or send me a side and front picture. Look at your bad habits ie tense over the iPad, or stirring cooking – I remind myself to stop and pull my shoulders down.

Regular exercise and the right exercise ie Pilates, It gets your brain to switch on core pelvic floor first then move.

Repetition not just 1 day or 1 course of 5 weeks. The exercises Pilates uses are for LIFE!

Get your breathing right as breathing deeply can feel like a massage in the upper back as it can release your thorax/diaphragm.

Do more “core strength” for tummy and back. Yes Pilates can work your core and tummy muscles to help stabilise your back but if you only do sit ups or suddenly lift a heavy object if you haven’t engaged your core or pulled your shoulders down then this will do no good for you.

Balance the exercise or activity you do in the week (ie not only running or bending over a computer or kneeling playing with a small child) so not always working same muscles. So If you do exercise like Bootcamp or the gym, check your posture and ask the instructor to check for you and bad habits. Common sense can show you where you need to change and just some simple tweaks to how you sit, stand or carry can help you.

Prioritise your healthy mobile spine by moving as much as you can, roll, hip circle, curl your bottom under, stretch to the ceiling, side bend, lengthen yourself out. Pilates is an all over body exercise programme balancing out and toning the muscles, also stretching and mobilising the muscles that are over tight and pulling the body out of “neutral alignment”.

Check an exercise and make sure you are doing it correctly. You may be doing exercises like the plank but letting your back sink because your tummy isn’t strong enough and putting strain on your lower back and shoulders and making the back worse. The picture below is good form.

back care for mums

Good form for Plank

Ok, what does this mean and how do you fit it into your busy life?

How to check your posture – Are the shoulders and chin coming forward. Or maybe you have a very curved lower back that can put tension on certain parts of the back or you push the hips forward and lock the knees all you need is a posture analysis and being aware of this can help you think about correcting it.

So Try this standing posture exercise – pull your shoulders back, rib cage in and bottom tucked under. Imagine a piece of string has stretched you up towards the ceiling this is neutral alignment! Try and copy this pose when you can.

But what does this mean?Find out the right corrective exercise for your individual biomechanics. This diagram is of an overly curved spine caused by various issues including too much sitting, tight hip flexors, or after having children.

 

In a posture analysis a good teacher can check if one leg is longer than the other or one hip is tight, causing pain and affecting how you walk. A simple check of the hips or the right stretch of the hip flexor at the front of the thigh and stretch for your bottom might correct this problem.

5 top tips

1. Get your posture assessed to make sure the moves are right for your body

2. Corrective exercises – Do daily simple strengthening moves like shoulder bridge, superman and the plank

3. Do daily stretches for hip flexors, hamstrings and chest.

4. Stop slouching

5. Be aware of your posture and self correct bad habits

Try this move at home – good for support or strengthen the back

Superman

back care for mums

So the conclusion is to stretch, stretch, stretch and keep moving, I also believe massage, salt baths to relax muscles, using foam rollers to stretch and massage too.

What can you do now

Send me a photo to look at your posture and suggest tips.

Come for a free trail next Thursday.

Back care workshop starting after half term in November, Monday 1.30pm and Thursday’s 10.30.

Or Come for a one to one bespoke exercises.

Let me help you relieve your back pain.

For more info on any of the above please drop me a line – hannah@farnhampilates.com

Hannah

National Work Life week – how’s your balance?

National Work Life weekIt is National Work-Life Week starting on Monday 21st September with the aim of highlighting the importance of maintaining a healthy work/life balance. Having a lifestyle mix of work, family and health is an important challenge many of us face today with studies showing that those working 55 hours a week or more have a 35% increased risk of suffering a stroke than those who work 40 hours or less.

Maintaining work and a healthy lifestyle is one of the most challenging aspects my clients face and I even struggle at times especially on children’s holidays. Finding the right balance between family, work and looking after yourself can be very stressful and it’s often difficult to get the mix right. We can end up sacrificing our own wellbeing to work or spending time with the family but in the end if we aren’t looking after our health then everything suffers.

Regular exercise boosts energy levels make you feel more alert and happier. It can really make a huge amount of difference in how you perform at work and helps clear your mind and put everything else in perspective.

Here are five easy tips on how you can make improvements in your work-life balance.

• Work out or walk with your partner and friends.
• If you have young children taking it in turns in the evenings to run or go to classes helps encourage each other.
• Do try and get 10 minutes of exercise done first thing even before children are up, then it’s out the way and you will feel so proud of yourself!
• Exercise with the children encourage them to go exercise i.e a bike ride or log onto you-tube, or buy an online programme like the Yummy Tummy 6 week programme for mums.
• Take up Pilates classes. New classes started in September all around Farnham but the Farnham Pilates new studio has small group reformer classes and an open trial day 24th and 25th September.  For details of our classes click here

This weekend I am speaking at the WIFE conference in Guildford (Wome in Fitness Empowerment) all about youtime and how you can obtain a  better balance. If you would like to join us and see other inspirational speakers such as Anna Kennedy OBE who took part in The People’s Strictly the you can find out more here.

And for more info on National Work Life Week have a look at their website here

 

Take a moment out and just breathe

Life balance for mums

When I’m not so busy, then I’ll take some time out to …”

We’ve all been there. So busy with the daily bustle of our busy lives that we don’t have time to even take a minute to breathe.

Kids. Family. Work. Home. Schedules. Pets. Health. STUFF.

We promise ourselves that once everything is done we’ll treat ourselves, or give our lifestyles an overhaul.

But time gets squeezed or something unexpected and urgent crops up that only we can deal with.  Or you are so busy that when you sit to relax or watch TV or check Facebook, you are too tired to move and time is wasted and suddenly our time is squeezed even more.

Or perhaps it’s a little deeper than scheduling. Maybe we already recognise that we prioritise the stuff because we don’t really believe that we’re worth the time out and attention. We love our kids, our families, our lifestyles so we have to make compromises or sacrifices. It’s a small price to pay. Isn’t it?

Well newsflash lady! It will never all be done! You will never not be busy! There will always be unexpected visitors, meetings or family management crises (AKA children,work or husbands).

And … (now we get to the really deep stuff) the world and its time are never going to slow down to accommodate your busyness. Oh how we wish that sometimes it would. Kids will grow and need you less. You will age (nooooo….) and oh how you will long for your health and your sanity.

Meditation does not mean a daily visit to bluebell meadows with chanting. Mindfulness does not mean giving up life’s pleasures to worship Buddha in thongs. And gratefulness isn’t something you only do at harvest festival or thanksgiving.

We get reminders in life. Funerals. Accidents. Health scares. Global tragedies. They remind us of our need to slow down and give thanks for our blessings.

Mindfulness is important as its awareness of what you are doing while you are doing it, enjoy the moment and don’t let thoughts and emotions hijack you – focus on one moment release the worries, concerns and regrets. As mothers we have so much guilt. Release thoughts – no guilt no judgement.

Is there a way we can fit the time in to do this ? Get that 5 minute break from life and business?

I believe we can but not always through the obvious ‘scheduling’ of time out. It’s in the small, everyday ways, just as you would do your everyday tasks. I need some time on my own and then I’m a better mum, wife and daughter!

Mindfulness is stopping to appreciate baby giggles or a hug from your child. Kissing your husband in front of the kids. Appreciating the seasons by jumping in puddles, building snowmen or picking strawberries. Making a (sugar free) cake to give to a friend. Sharing a cup of tea. Arriving five minutes before school pickup time and just breathing. Walking the dog in all weathers. Finding a class which suits you and agreeing with your family that at this time, every week, you will be OUT and remember it’s your time.

In my classes we don’t meditate but but we take time to listen to our bodies. Relaxation and mindfulness is part of the experience. Being kind to our bodies and self awareness or releasing pain, aches empowering you to make any changes – live your life with more balance without excuses or schedules. Being present and grateful for movement.

Please don’t wait until you aren’t busy. You are busy because you love life. Take a step back and you will appreciate your blessings so much more without any perceptible change to your busy schedule.

Because after all, do something just for you, you are absolutely worth it.

 #timeout #take5mins #pilateslifebalance #pilatesbalancebreathe #metime #withfarnhampilates

Get Involved

If you would like to get more involved with our #metime project at Farnham Pilates then you can tell us more about how you achieve some me time.  Just upload a short video to youtube telling us what you do for metime and we will share it on our playlist and social media.  You can see some already here – YouTube Playlist

Schools Out! Keep exercising while the kids are on holiday

Exercise with kids in the summer holidays
Schools Out for Summer! Whilst that may mean lots of fun with your kids it can also mean that your normal workout routine can take a hammering.  So can you keep up your exercise regime over the summer? Here are my thoughts in a short video on the importance of making some time for yourself, followed by some great tips to help you keep exercising over the holidays.

Short workouts first thing can be great to keep exercising, but always –
Stay cool
Stay moving
Stay motivated
Stay healthy
Do 10 mins every morning
Swim, run, cycle, enjoy the sun for 10 mins get vit d.

 

Here at Farnham Pilates we also have a 15 min exercise video that you can download and do anywhere which can also help give you a focus to the exercise time you have.

 

Keep Calm and Carry on Exercising!
It’s important to stay calm with the kids and regular exercise for you can help with this. Physical activity influences changes in the brain otherwise activated by anti depressants and sport enhances the brains ability to absorb serotonin, which helps keeps moods balanced!

 

Stay motivated
Exercising as a group can be a real motivating factor to keep going. Run as a group, check local running groups or get other mums to meet you when partner home or cycle – wear a technical top to keep sweat away from skin to stop you feeling clammy. Or agree to do a class with a bunch of other mums and stick to it.

 

Get up early before the kids and do – Try this 4 min workout which you could do with your kids and encourage them to be fit and healthy too!
2 mins jog on spot then burpee
2 mins Squat then jump lift left leg then squat and change legs
2 Jumps
2 Air squats
Rocket jump bend knees
Butterfly sit up knees out – use core
Lunge
Crunch side reach for obliques
This will use oxygen so after the 8 mins the body carry on blitzing fat long after the session

 

We also asked Joanne McGowan of Act One Adventures for her top tips to involve kids in exercise and here is what she said.

 

“Try setting up a mini olympics at home, in the garden or park.  You don’t need fancy equipment – Pool noodles make great javelins, tins of beans for weight lifting, running races etc.  If you’re feeling really silly have a closing or opening ceremony too.
We also embrace technology that our son loves and have regular Just Dance evenings on the X Box.  It is a great giggle, good exercise and great family time too.”

 

To get the most out of your workouts in the summer…
Drink drink drink (water) –  it’s easy to be dehydrated do keep topping up.  I know in the summer it’s easy to start early with a glass of Rose but commit to 2-3 nights off a week and on those nights eat or choose healthily  – salads/ all veg meals, no bread.
Post workout Epsom salt baths cleanse your muscles of toxins restore mineral levels and encourage relaxation – soak away aches and pains
Diet – Keep blood sugar levels balanced take magnesium add more spinach, avocados, nuts seeds and dark chocolate. If you are going to drink a good detoxifier is hot water and lemon in morning and parsley tea- helps flush out toxins.

 

So with a bit of planning and a fun outlook you can keep up your exercise over the summer and have fun with the family too.