Why Yoga. Why Not.

How many times have you been told yoga is good for you? Countless I’m sure.

Really though, the benefits of yoga shouldn’t be underestimated. It is a safe and effective way to increase physical activity, especially strength, flexibility and balance.

So why don’t people want to do it (or even try it).

Yoga is for women!

Ok. I can see what you mean. When I think of yoga I think of the likes of Reese Witherspoon and Eva Longoria clad in their yoga pants and armed with their yoga mats. It’s natural to have those images. But what I doubt you have ever thought of is major sportspeople doing yoga as part of their training like the New Zealand All Blacks, who play in arguably the most manly (I say this only for the connotations of the word). And might I add that when Shaquille O’Neal retired from the NBA he took up yoga to keep himself in shape.

Yoga doesn’t build muscle, it just tones.

You can build muscle with yoga, but maybe not at the same rate as you would with weight training. With each yoga pose you are carrying your own body weight, so there is weight involved. The benefit to yoga however is that you build your muscular endurance as each pose is held for a long period of time. It also helps you activate muscles that may otherwise be forgotten, this is important because these muscles help to stabilise you.

Yoga isn’t challenging enough/Yoga is too hard.

It may surprise some but like learning to ride a bike, yoga will be challenging at first, as is learning any new skill. Whether its syncing your breath to your movements or getting your forehead to the floor in Child’s Pose, it won’t all come naturally. Once you master these skills, there are always new ways to challenge yourself by trying harder variations of each pose, allowing yourself into a deeper stretch or holding the pose much longer than you are used to.

If the pace is too slow for you, why not try Vinyasa yoga where you repeat a series of poses at a faster pace with the intention to raise body heat and increase muscle strength.

Yoga is super expensive.

Time to debunk this theory. Yoga is much more accessible than you think. In Leeds, classes are around £6-£9 a session with many offering member rates. The Yoga Space currently offer a trial of 5 classes for £20 which would give you a chance to try yoga practices and find which suits you best. Other places in Leeds that provide yoga are Yoga Kula (Chapel Allerton), Yoga Hero (Leeds Dock) and not forgetting that your gym/leisure centre may offer yoga classes as part of their weekly timetable.

Another way to do yoga inexpensively is online. There are many YouTube accounts such as Yoga With AdrieneYoga With Kassandra,  and Yoga With Tim. Each of these accounts have several videos that take you through different practices, you can pick and choose what suits you best based on how much time you have or how your feeling. The great thing about using YouTube for yoga is that you can do it from the comfort of you own home at a time that suits you and it’s inexpensive. You can grab a yoga mat online or at your local sports retailer for less than a tenner, throw on something comfy and get going. The only negative to doing home yoga would be that you don’t have teacher in the room with you to make corrections but as you get more familiar wit the moves and the practices, you may be able to feel what is right and what isn’t.

Another place to get your yoga fix is the NHS Fitness Studio which has videos for not only yoga, but pilates, and other core workouts.

 


Health Benefits of Yoga

Regular yoga practice has been shown to be beneficial for people with high blood pressure, heart disease, aches and pains. It not only helps with these physical ailments but has been shown to lower stress and depression in some individuals.

Due to it’s role in increasing strength balance and coordination it can decrease the risk of falls in older people.

Yoga and mindfulness based exercise has been proven to be an effective intervention for a number of common conditions that are present in residents living with dementia such as: anxiety, depression, co-ordination and balance problems (McCall, 2007).

To Ice or Not To Ice

That is the question.

Often people ask for advice as to whether they should use ice after injury of not. At schools, pupils are educated on the RICE principle – Rest Ice Compression Elevation – but what should you really be doing.


When to use ice?

Apply ice for 15-20 minutes every 2-3 hours within the first 48-72 hours following the [soft-tissue] injury

– NICE Guidelines 2016

Why use it?

  • Ice can alleviate pain
  • It also reduces swelling

When to be cautious?

If you suffer from a peripheral vascular disease or Raynauds it would be best to seek advice as to whether you should use ice as a treatment for your injury.

You should also take precautions to avoid frostbite, such as wrapping the ice-pack in a tea towel. Also avoid applying ice to an open wound.

Never Too Late

Many adults aged 65 and over spend, on average, 10 hours or more each day sitting or lying down, making them the most sedentary age group (NHS).

As we get older, it becomes much more important to remain active with studies suggesting from 30 years of age, we begin losing 3-5 percent of muscle per year. When our muscles are weak, we are more susceptible to falls and ill-health so to avoid frailty we need to do something.

Guidelines recommend strengthening your bones and muscles at least twice a week but this needn’t be as hard as it seems. Activity can be found in everything that we do, from carrying the shopping to putting out the washing, each movement can help you build strength.

Think about how these activities integrate into your daily life, and when they become easy challenge yourself. Our bodies are terrific instruments and they adapt quickly to what we want them to do. If you begin to find going shopping easier, why not use a basket rather than pushing a trolley for smaller shops : when gardening, once you’re used to kneeling with your bottom on your heels try kneeling on your knees for a while. Every small change you make will help your muscles retain some of their strength and help you avoid injury and illness.


Aside from making daily activities harder, there are many other ways you can keep yourself moving.

Other activities with the most benefit to you and your strength:

– Ball Games

Ever heard of walking football? It’s a great alternative to the ordinary game

As we get older, many of us struggle with our balance, strength, stamina, weight and worst of all confidence and self-esteem levels but walking football has the potential to make a significant impact in all these areas, building body strength, improving muscles, core stability and hopefully losing some of the weight usually gained during the ageing process.

The Walking Football Association.  

– Racket Sports

Many parks in Leeds have open tennis courts that you can reserve for free such as Chapel Allerton, Meanwood and Roundhay. Take a friend or family member and have a gentle game.

– Nordic Walking

Nordic walking is a total body version of walking which uses walking poles similar to ski poles to decrease the load and strain on the lower body. It helps tone upper arms, shoulders and back muscles whilst helping you to develop core strength and stability. You can book a taster session here.

– Resistance Training

If this is more your type of exercise why not start with some body weight exercise that you can do in your home or garden.

    • Squats
    • Lunges
    • Push-ups (against the wall, on your knees, or on your toes)
    • Dips
    • Shoulder presses (reaching your hands in the air or with water bottles)
    • Step-ups
    • Bicycle crunches (two to three sets of ten to 15 reps three times a week)

 

Love Activity

You may have seen on our twitter page the new campaign launched by the CSP (Chartered Society of Physiotherapists) this year called Love Activity Hate Exercise? The campaign grew from the knowledge that more than a third of adults in the UK don’t achieve the daily recommended amount of exercise (World Health Organisation) and a suggestion that it comes from a fear of exercise itself.

Within the world of physiotherapy, the title has sparked some debate, with some questioning if it encourages aversion toward exercise. However others who have used this new campaign to inspire their patients have found that the theme resonates well with them as people who have never enjoyed the idea of exercise, which is often portrayed as a chore, in comparison to activity and the enjoyment that this word connotes.

The new campaign highlights that being active is not as boring as the word exercise can be portrayed. It can be fun. It can be enjoyable.

Sitting on the stationary bike in the gym is not fun for anyone, even avid gym-goers couldn’t defend it, so find the activity that suits you. For me, I love running and cycling, commuting to the clinic on my bike and throwing on a pair of trainers and going for a run in the evening. In a world where we are constantly flooded with images of tight fitting clothing and high gym fees, however, it’s no wonder we are getting less and less active.

To keep running fun, I use it as a way to explore my surroundings. If I’m running from home, I’ll choose a different route each time, going down public footpaths and roads I’m unfamiliar with so that each experience is a new one. Occasionally making a trip to somewhere different, most recently Fewston Reservoir. A change of scenery makes a lot of difference.

Another thing that helps me keep myself active is being active with other people. We are lucky being based in a city like Leeds in that there is something for everyone’s taste and fitness levels. Leeds has everything from walking groups, football teams, tennis, dance and more. So if you’re looking for social sport, you’re covered.

– Tia

Tips From The CSP

Look good, feel good
  • You don’t need expensive, special clothes or shoes – wear something light and comfortable. Get running shoes which are comfortable for you – there’s no need for expensive foot assessments!
Eat well, drink well
  • Energy gels are fine, but so are bananas! Eat nutritiously: fruit, malt-loaf, oats 30 minutes before running. Water is necessary, but you don’t need gallons! A glass before and after is fine.
Warm-up nice and gently
  • You don’t need anything special to warm up – just set-off walking until you feel ready to run! Easing into your run will help you feel more comfortable and reduce injuries.
Run for fun
  • Running should be enjoyable! Don’t feel you have to struggle and strain all the time. Run a bit, walk a bit. Listen to your body. Over time you will become fitter and stronger.
Ditch the tech and get off the road!
  • While tech like watches, trackers, headphones can be helpful, try not to let them get in the way of you and running. Try unplugging and use your precious time to connect with and explore open land and countryside.
Buddy up
  • Try running with a partner to help keep you motivated. Many find the community-feel and support of local parkruns Why not look up if there is a parkrun in your area you can join?

Better Posture Better Back

The average UK office worker spends almost 1,700 hours a year in front of their computer screen (The Independent). Poor sitting posture is one of the main factors in the development of neck and shoulder pain as well as symptoms in the arm such as pain, pins and needles and numbness.

By following some of these simple guidelines you can reduce the loading on your body and thereby increase your comfort levels at work.

Sit right back in your chair – Place your bottom right back into the seat, keeping your back in contact with the back of the chair. Relax your trunk and let the chair do the work of sitting.

Keep your elbows just in front of your shoulders – there’s no need to have your arms outstretched to reach the keyboard. Simply move the keyboard closer to you or bring your chair closer in to the desk.

Make sure your shoulders are relaxed – Try to avoid tensing the shoulders when keying

Get a separate monitor – if you are using a laptop for an extended period of time the screen size will be small, hard to read the text and positioned too low. This will tend to draw you forwards, away from the back of the chair. A good solution is a separate monitor that can be placed nearer eye level.

– Sarah