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Forms of physical fitness

Physical fitness is divided into the following 5 parts.31-12-2009

 Cardio-vascular fitness
 Muscular strength
 Muscular endurance
 Flexibility
 Motor fitness
Let’s take a look at how all of these can affect our health.
First cardio-vascular fitness, which provides us with our stamina.   Good stamina enables us to sustain free bodily movement for the length of time we need it to, without leaving us feeling puffed, exhausted or faint.   To achieve good stamina we must aim to do enough regular activity in order to boost the efficiency of our heart and lungs and improve our circulation and digestion.   We can work on our cardio-vascular fitness by doing aerobic exercises.   (Aerobic exercises simply mean exercising with air).   Examples of these types of exercise are exercises to music, line dancing, ballroom dancing, or jogging and brisk walking.   After a time they make us puff and breathe deeply.   Whichever aerobic exercise or activity we choose to do, we need to sustain it for a length of time in order to gain benefit.   30 minutes is an ideal time, but we must take age and ability into account.   All of these aerobic activities will make the heart (which itself is a muscle) pump just that little bit harder, and this has the effect of making our lungs work more efficiently, utilising the oxygen we breathe in and improving our circulation.   It’s important to breathe deeply in order to encourage greater oxygen intake and lung elasticity.   Aerobic exercises will make us feel warm and puff a bit, but we should still be able to talk whilst we’re doing them!   

The second component of physical fitness is muscular strength.    This is the ability of a muscle to exert maximum force to overcome a resistance.   Which simply means being able to do things like twisting the stubborn top off a jar of marmalade, or being able to pick up a particularly heavy object.   Our bodies also need strong muscles in order for us to maintain good posture and improve our shape.  As the years advance it’s paramount for us to do all we can in order to keep the muscles, particularly in our legs strong.    |We must concentrate on the front thigh muscles (quadriceps) and make them strong, in order to maintain our physical mobility.   Simple regular brisk walking involves the rhythmic movement of both muscles and joints, and will stop the muscles atrophying.   Walking can be both sociable as well as beneficial, if you have a partner to walk with.

To be physically fit we also need muscular endurance.   This is the ability of a muscle (or group of muscles) to exert force, in order to overcome a resistance, for an extended period of time.    In other words we need strong muscles to make light work of everyday chores.   Those occasions when we have to push ourselves just that little bit harder, or exert a little more strength for longer periods than we want, in order to achieve.   How many times have I wanted to drop my heavy shopping bags in the supermarket car park just because I have stupidly forgotten where I parked the car!   Situations like this call for muscular endurance, and one has to keep on walking and looking!   What a relief to finally find the car and be able to put the bags down.  If we have well toned, strong muscles, we reduce the risk of tearing ligaments or damaging ourselves when we are pushed to the limits or have a fall.
The next component of physical fitness is flexibility, which enables us to put our muscles and joints through their full range of movements with ease.   We take this flexibility or suppleness foregranted when we are young, but we need to work at it as we get older.   It’s a great feeling to be able to use our bodies efficiently, to bend down to do up shoe laces, to stretch up to high shelves, and to use our bodies to their full potential.   Stretching exercises should be performed before and after an exercise session or physical activity, such as gardening or playing tennis, in order to prevent injury.   When we finish being active and our muscles are warm, it is an ideal and safe time, to stretch them out just that little bit more, in order to increase our flexibility and suppleness.    Why don’t you try it at the end of your brisk walk, gardening or game of tennis?   You may surprise yourself to find you are more supple and able to reach further than you could, an hour or two before.

 Last but certainly not least is motor fitness, which governs our skill, and ability to control our movements, balance, speed, co-ordination and agility.   It also gives us the capacity to re-act quickly, and the confidence to move about without fear of falling over.   With skill and the natural co-ordination of mind and body working together we can make our movements graceful, effective and efficient.    

If we work hard on all 5 components of our physical fitness, there is a good chance of maintaining our physical independence long into later life.   The benefits to our general health and well being are enormous, and there is every opportunity to live a full life.    We need to make exercise a natural part of our every day.  We should try to be generally more active, by walking more often, by climbing stairs, cycling, dancing, swimming and gardening as much as possible, in order to maintain our physical fitness.  Hopefully you’ll find an activity, which is just for you.

But inevitably with an increase in our years there will be some bodily changes.   For example there will be changes to our skeleton with a natural thinning of bones in both men but particularly women.  Changes occur in the joints, and arthritis, rheumatism and backache are painful reminders of the passing years for too many people.   As we age muscles can become weaker, and less able to support us as they used to.   This is particularly true if we don’t keep active.   The muscles begin to atrophy, and posture and one’s self-esteem can be adversely effected by poor muscle tone.    What stronger motivation do we need for taking a daily brisk walk, for at least half an hour, in order to retain strength and tone!  

There may be respiratory problems too for some older people, which are often brought about by insufficient exercise, and from the effects of smoking.   These problems in turn decrease the efficiency of the cardio-vascular system (our heart and lungs), which can then affect breathing and circulation, leaving us feeling fatigued and breathless.   Sadly too, there may be changes to our nervous system as we get older which can result in memory loss, lack of co-ordination and balance.   Of course some bodily decline is inevitable as the years pass by, but much of the decline can be prevented, and some even reversed.   The popular saying “if you don’t use it, you may lose it” applies to both body and mind.    I’m a firm believer in having to exercise the mind as well as the body, in order for it to function efficiently.    Heredity factors also play an important role in determining many of these changes, in just the same way as they can determine individuals look and character.

 Take half an hour of moderate physical activity five times a week
 Make exercise a natural part of everyday life and take the opportunity to be generally more active, anytime, anywhere
 Learn to breathe deeply in order to encourage oxygen intake and lung elasticity
 Take a daily brisk walk for at least half an hour each day
 Stretch out your muscles before and after an exercise session or physical activity
 Remember “if you don’t use it you may lose it” applies to both your body and mind


• Stretch
• Aerobics
• Bone strengthening
• Muscle toning
• Relaxation

Before you start this, or any exercise programme, please check with your doctor if you suffer from heart disease, have high blood pressure, joint problems, back problems, if you are very overweight, have a serious illness, or are convalescing.   Check out location and surfaces before performing any exercises in your home or out in the garden.   Make sure you are warm enough but wear layered loose clothing, which can be discarded as you hot up!   It is essential to make sure that the supports and equipment you use are strong enough to take your weight, and that surfaces are not wet or slippery.   Don’t exercise until at least an hour after meals, and keep drinking water near at hand to avoid becoming dehydrated.

• To prepare your body for exercise
Stand with feet apart, feel nice and easy.   Bend your knees - bend forward from your waist - swing arms down and behind you.   Straightening your knees swing your arms up high above your head-lift up rib cage breathe deeply and stretch out your entire body.
•   If you are chair bound simply bend forward and touch your toes, straighten up and reach for the sky.

Begin your  fitness programme with some gentle stretching.   First check out and correct your posture.

• Posture
Stand with your feet comfortably apart and your shoulders back, down and relaxed.  Pull in your tummy and tuck your tail under tilting your pelvis forward.

• Wrist Circle
To maintain mobility of the wrists sit or stand and tuck your elbows into your waist.   Simply circle your hands working the wrists.   8 times in one direction and 8 times in the other.

• Windmill
To release tension and mobilise the shoulders simply place your fingertips on your shoulders.   Bring your elbows together in front of you, take them up and back pulling your shoulder blades together and drawing imaginary circles with your elbows.   8 times clockwise and 8 times anti-clockwise.

• Head roll
To release tension and mobilise the neck look over your right shoulder with chin parallel to the floor.   Drop your chin to chest and slowly roll it to look over your left shoulder.   Roll chin back to chest and on over to the right side.   Repeat 8 times.   Do not roll your head backwards.

• Ankle circle
Stand with your feet a little apart and hold onto a table or chair back for support.   Lift up the heel of your right foot keeping toes on the floor and circle your ankle.    8 times clockwise and 8 times anti-clockwise.   Repeat with your left foot.   (You can do this exercise sitting down).

• Side twist
Sit or stand with feet apart.   Bend your arms and with elbows out bring them up to shoulder level with fingertips touching in front of your chest.   Twist your upper body and head around to the right side to mobilise your spine and upper body.  But keep your hips facing forward.   Come back to centre and twist to the left side.   8 times each side.

• Side reach
Sit or stand with feet apart.   With your right hand reach up and over your head (relax left knee if standing).   Bring arm down and reach up and over with left hand (relaxing right knee) as if climbing a rope.   8 times to both sides.

Hold all stretches still for 8 seconds.   Do not bounce.

• Calf stretch
To stretch out the back muscle of the lower leg stand with your feet hip width apart facing a wall for support.  Place your hands up at shoulder level with arms straight.   Keep both feet facing forward but take your right foot back behind you.   Keep your leg straight and press your heel down hard and push against the wall.   Feel the stretch in your right calf.   Hold for 8 seconds.   Repeat with left leg.

• Hamstring stretch
To stretch out the hamstring muscle (back of thigh and bottom) stand with your feet  facing forward as before, but further back from the wall.    Using wall for support take your right foot forward.   With knee straight place it heel down and toes facing upwards.   Bend your left knee, push against the wall and lift up the right side of your bottom.   Feel the stretch in the back of your thigh and bottom.   Hold for 8 seconds.   Repeat with left leg.

• Upper back stretch
Sit or stand to stretch out your upper back.   Bend your elbows and bring arms up to shoulder level.   Place hands on elbows, drop your head forward and round out your back and stretch.    Hold for 8 seconds.

• Tricep stretch
Sit or stand to stretch out the tricep muscle ( back of your upper arm).   Take your right arm up, bend your elbow and place your right hand behind your head on your middle upper back.  Take your left hand across your chest and push back your right upper arm and shoulder as far as possible.   Hold for 8 seconds.   Repeat with the left arm.

• Chest stretch
Sit or stand to stretch out your chest.   Take both arms behind you and place your hands on your bottom.   Pull back your shoulders and elbows.   Lift up your rib cage and feel the stretch across your chest.   Hold for 8 seconds.

Regular aerobic exercise improves heart and lung function and helps to control blood pressure   Blood pressure changes with age and can increase through illness and over-exertion.   Don’t suddenly start to exercise if you already suffer from high blood pressure.   Begin by simple brisk walking – preferably out of doors.

As we get older it is essential to be able to perceive our own physical rate of exertion in order to prevent problems.   This is a simple test.   Jog on the spot for a minute.   Stop and ask yourself how you feel and give yourself ratings.

1 Feel exhausted
2 Feel OK but a bit puffed
3 Feel good and could do more

Be aware of your body – these are your individuals perceived rates of exertion.  During your work out keep asking yourself “which level am I working at?”   If you perceive it to be:

 1 Take it easy, but try to gradually build up over the following days until you feel a comfortable 2 or maybe eventually 3.
 2 Try a bit harder
 3 Challenge yourself a bit more.   Build up the duration and intensity of your work out.   If you feel uncomfortable and breathless, or if you are in pain or lack co-ordination, then decrease the duration and intensity to level 2.

Whatever level you are working at always monitor your progress and don’t overdo it!

“Aerobic” means exercising with air and you should puff and breathe deeply when you exercise in order to achieve.   The increased intake of air enables your muscles to work harder and longer and the result is increased stamina, and improved heart and lung efficiency.   If your stamina is very low, it is important to build up the aerobic section of your exercise programme gradually.   If your posture is poor, breathing will be difficult and the amount of air inhaled will be less.   You see how important it is tot maintain strength, and flexibility of the chest joints as we age in order for them to be able to expand and accommodate deeper breathing.   

Aerobic exercise is weight bearing exercise, (no need for dumb bells - the body is using it’s own weight).   Consequently aerobic exercise helps strengthen the spine, hips and ankles, because they have to support the weight of our bodies during the work out.   But you don’t need to go to the gym to exercise, the following movements can easily be performed at home.   Low impact aerobic exercises have sufficient pull on the muscles to improve bone density (more about that in the section on osteoporosis on page ……) as well as to improve stamina, without exhaustion

• Aerobic march
Clear a space and put on some upbeat music.   Simply march on the spot for a minute.   Lift your feet up, roll through the ball of your foot and keep your weight over your big and second toe.   Now lift your knees higher and pump your arms.   March on around the room and/or garden for several minutes until you begin to puff.

• Aerobic stand
Choose an upright chair without arms and sit down (towards the front of it.)   Without using your arms to push off simply stand up and sit down continuously in time to the music.   Aim to stand up, leading with your chest forward, and with hands on your thighs.   If this is difficult, place your hands on a table in front to steady you.   (It’s very important to correct posture and strengthen thighs in order to maintain physical independence into older age)

• Aerobic step
Face a wide, dry step 4-6 inches high (8 if you are very fit)   Hold onto a banister or wall for support.   Leading with your right heel, place your right foot up in the centre of the step.  With your body weight over your knee and foot, step up.  (Don’t let heel or toe hang over the edge of the step).   Remember your posture - balance is improved by working on co-ordination of movement and symmetry of the body.   Step your left foot up to join your right foot, leaning from the ankle joint.   Step back down with your right foot.   Keep close to step and land on the ball of your foot, and lower your heel down to absorb the shock.   Step back down with the left foot.   Continue “stepping” for a few minutes, then change to lead with your left foot for a further 2 minutes.   Aim to eventually step without the support, for maximum effect.

• Aerobic tap
Stand with feet together.   In time to the music step right foot out to the right side - transferring weight onto it.   Bring left foot across and tap it to the side of the right foot.    Step left foot out to the left side.   Transfer weight and bring right foot to tap onto side of left foot.   Repeat and swing your arms to sides and clap to the beat.   Increase the intensity by swinging arms higher and stepping legs higher and wider.   Continue for 2 minutes and enjoy the rhythm.

• Spot walking
Gradually bring the intensity down, by walking on the spot with your hands by your side for 1 minute.  Finally, place your hands on your hips and continue for 1 more minute, simply transferring your weight from one foot to the other.   Only lift your heels and keep both feet in contact with the floor.   Now stop!

• Pelvic tilt
First learn the "pelvic tilt".    This is the correct position to adopt in order to perform abdominal exercises correctly.   
Lie on your back - knees bent, slightly apart - feet flat on the floor.   Breathe in - pull in your tummy muscles and push your lower back (your waist) into the floor.   This action flattens the arch in your back and tilts your pelvis upwards.   Remember to hold this pelvic tilt  throughout all  abdominal exercises.   Breathe out and relax

• Abdominal lift
• Lie back on the floor (rest your head on a small cushion if it's more comfortable).   Bend your knees, and keep your feet flat on the floor.   Reach your arms forward and place your hands on your thighs.   Pull in your tummy, push your back down into the floor, and tilt your pelvis up.   Breathe out, and lift your head and shoulders up, sliding your hands up to your knees.   Breathe in as you slowly relax down.  Control both the up and down movement -don't just flop back!   Begin with 8 repetitions and build up to 24.

• (To increase the intensity of this exercise cross your arms over your chest as you lift up.  To increase the intensity still further, place your fingertips on your temples, keeping your elbows out to the sides.  Tilt your pelvis, breathe out, and lift your head and shoulders up.   Keep your elbows back, head steady, and chin down on chest.)  

• Abdominal twist
Lie in the same position, but place right elbow on the floor with fingers to temples and left hand on thigh.   Tilt pelvis, breathe out and lift your head and shoulders up, reaching over with your left hand to touch the outside of your right knee.   Breathe in, and relax back down.

• To increase the intensity of this exercise, from the same lying position, cross your right knee over your left and take your right arm out to the side, palm down.   Place the fingers of your left hand to your temple, with elbow out.  Breathe out, lifting up your head and shoulders, and try to reach across to touch the outside of your right knee, with your left elbow.   Breathe in, and relax back down.    8 repetitions, building up to 24.   Change legs and repeat to the other side.

• Abductor (outer thigh) muscle
Lie on your side, bend your knees and bring them both slightly forward.   Bend your elbow, and support your head in your hand.   Place your other hand on the floor, in front of your waist for support.   Don't roll forward or backwards.   Pull in your tummy, and tighten your bottom.    Flex your foot, keep your knee bent, and, leading with your heel lift up your top leg (not too high).   Keep your foot lower than your knee, and don't drop your hip back.   Control both the up and down movement.   (A bent leg is called a 1/2 lever)

• To increase the intensity of this exercise, lie as before but place your lower bent leg, back in line with your upper body.   Straighten your upper leg, (full lever) and lift and lower as before, leading with your heel.   Remember to keep the tummy and bum tight throughout the exercise.   Begin with 8 lifts, then roll over and repeat the exercise with the other leg, gradually increasing to 24.

• You can add leg weights to increase the intensity still further.

• Adductor (inner thigh) muscle
Still lying on your side, take your top leg over the bottom one, and place your knee on the floor.   Straighten out your under leg, in line with your upper body.   Flex your foot, and, leading with your heel, lift and lower your leg 8 times, with small controlled movements.   Feel the inner thigh muscles working!   Roll over and repeat exercise with your other leg.   Gradually increase to 24 lifts.

• Bottom lift
• Kneel down, bend your elbows out and place them on the floor.   Bend forward from your hips, and rest your forehead on your crossed hands.   Lift and take, one leg up and back, bending your knee 90%, (1/2 lever), your thigh parallel with the floor.   With small, but controlled movements, lift and lower your leg 8 times.   Pull up your tummy muscles; don't let your back sag.   Keep both hips facing downward, and feel your bottom muscles working.   Change legs, and repeat lifts, gradually increasing to 24

• From the same position and with the leg bent as before, take the raised knee across and down, over to the outside calf of your other leg.   Return knee up, parallel to floor, and repeat 8 times, increasing to 24 as you get stronger.   Change to the other knee, and repeat lifting and crossing.     You should certainly feel your gluteal muscles work during this exercise!

• Stand up
Brisk walking is excellent exercise for maintaining strong leg muscles, so too are simple stand ups.   Sit on the edge of an upright dining chair - hands on thighs - feet flat on the floor (slightly apart and back under the front of the seat).   Simply stand upright and sit back down again - don't use your hands to push off!   Aim to stand up leading with your chest forward.
• If this is difficult due to rounded shoulders or bad posture.   Place hands on table in front of you for support.   Repeat standing and sitting 10 times and build up repetitions according to personal ability.
Further leg and feet exercises may be found in
FOOTCARE section on page ….

The big muscles in the front of your upper arms, the biceps must be kept strong in order to perform everyday upper body activities such as lifting and carrying.

• Biceps
To strengthen and shape simply sit on an upright chair (without arms) with your feet flat on the floor - knees at right angles.   Tuck your elbows tightly into your waist.    Keep position throughout the exercise.    Imagine you are lifting heavy weights, rise up your lower arms, fists to shoulders, and lower back down 10 times.    Make it harder by using hand weights, or small plastic drinks bottles filled with water or sand.

The triceps muscles at the back of the arms work with the biceps muscles in the front of the arms to produce strength and movement.

• .Exercise them by sitting as before, but incline your upper body and head slightly forward.    Pull in your tummy to maintain a good position and make a fist or use weights.      With elbows bent, pull shoulders together and take your upper arms back and up.    Hold them still in this position throughout exercise.    Straighten out and push down your lower arms, turning fists out at the same time.  (Don't "lock" the elbows.)  Keep upper arms in position - bend your elbows and bring your fists or weights, back up to your shoulders 10 times.   Feel the back of your upper arm working!

Most  "activities" require a strong back.    The following exercises strengthen the back, but if your back is weak consult your Doctor before attempting these exercises.

• Back up
Lie face to the floor - take your hands behind you - place your palms on your bottom. -  Pull back your shoulders and breathe in.    As you breathe out lift your shoulders, chest and head up - keep them in a straight line.    Look down and don't arch back.   Relax and repeat

• Bird
To help "round shoulders" lie as before.   Take your arms out to the sides, bend your elbow (90%) - place your hands up on the floor, elbows out at shoulder level.   Breathe out - pull shoulders back - lift arms and hands, raise head, shoulders and back (in a straight line) off the ground like a bird in flight.    Keep looking down.   Relax and repeat both exercises slowly and carefully 4 times, building up as you gain strength.
• (If this position is uncomfortable, keep head down - pull shoulders back and work arms only).

The Central Council of Physical Education
Francis House
Francis Street
London SW1P 1DE
020 7828 3163
E-mail admin@ccpr.org.uk

Health Development Agency
Trevelyan House
30 Great Peter Street
London SW1P 2HW
020 7222 5300

Sport England
16 Upper Woburn Place
London WC1H OQP
020 7273 1500
E-mail www.english.sports.uk

YMCA Fitness Industry Training
112 Great Russell Street
London WC1B 3NQ
020 7343 1850
E-mail  centre@ymca.demon.co.uk

Physical Education Association
Ling House
Building 25
London Road
Reading RG1 5AQ
0118 931 6140
E-mail enquires@pea.uk.com

British Dance Council
Terpischore House
240 Merton Road
London SW19 1EQ
020 8545 0085

British Slimnastics Association
Chiltern Vale
16 Foxtell Way
Chalfont St Peter
Bucks SL9 0PN
01494 873 576

British Wheel of Yoga
1 Hamilton Place
Boston Road
Lincs NG34 7ES
01529 306 851
Website www.bwy.org.uk

Yoga Therapy Centre
Homeopathic Hospital
60 Great Ormond Street
London WC1N 3HR
020 7419 7195

Friends of Yoga Society
4 Weston Crescent
Old Sawley
Long Eaton
NG10 3BS
0115 973 5435

Dolmetsch Historical Dance Society
17 Well Lane
Essex CM4 9LT
01277 840 473

English Amateur Dancesport Association
515 Abbeydale Road
Sheffield S7 1FU
01142 555 236
Website www.eada.org

English Folk Dance and Song Society
Cecil Sharp House
2 Regents Park Road
London NW1 7AY
020 7485 2206
Website www.wfdss.org.co

Extend Exercise Training
22 Maltings Drive
Herts AL4 8OJ
0158 283 2760
E-mail admin@extend.org.uk
Website www.extend.org

Fitness Professionals
113 London Road
London E11 3DG
0990 133434

The Fitness League
52 London Street
Surrey KT16 8AJ
O1932 564 567
E-mail thefitnessleague@cwcom.net
Website www.thefitnessleague.com

Keep Fit Association
Astra House
Arklow Road
New Cross
London SE14 6EB
020 8692 9566
E-mail user@thekfa.doctornet.co.uk
Website www.keepfit.org.uk

Laban Guild for Movement and Dance
PO Box 9
Surrey KT 20 7JU
01737 842 834
Website www.labanguild.org

Language of Dance Centre
17 Holland Park
London W11 3TD
020 7229 3780
E-mail jane@lodc.org
Website www.lodc.org

Margaret Morris Movement
PO Box 1525 Garelochhead
Helensburgh G84 OAF
01959 572 868
Website www.eastdevon.net/mmm

Medau Movement
8b Robson House
East Street
Surrey KT17 1HH
01372 729 056
E-mail medau@nascr.net
Website www.medau.org.uk

National Register of Personal Fitness Trainers
833 Fulham Road
London SW6 5HQ
07971 954 662
E-mail info@nrpt.co.uk

Royal Scottish Country Dance Society
12 Coates Crescent
Edinburgh EH3 7AF
0131 225 3854
E-mail info@rscdshq.freeserve.co.uk
Website www.scottishdance.org

Society for International Folk Dancing
24 The Homefield
London Road
Surrey SM4 5AS
E-mail mail@www.sifd.org
Website www.sifd.org

United Kingdom Alliance
Centenary House
38/40 Station Road
Lancs FL4 1EU
01253 408 828
Website ukadance.co.uk  ukablackpool.co.uk

Welsh Amateur Dancesport Association
49 Maple Drive
Bridgend CF31 2PF
01656 669 338
For more names and addresses of activities see page …………

Copyright and thanks to Diana Moran http://primetimelife.tv

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