Sugar - why you should cut down

SUGAR – Why you should avoid it

This week sugar and the negative effect it has on our bodies has featured in several news articles so here are the facts that you need to bear in mind when reviewing your sugar intake:

Firstly, in really simple terms: Sugar can play havoc with your weight, hormones, energy, and give you tooth decay. Eating sugar offers you ’empty’ calories – i.e. no benefit and lots of potential for harm. Therefore you should be looking to reduce your sugar intake.

When you shop, look at the labels of everything you buy. Sugar can be found in a surprising array of foods. Be especially careful when buying breakfast cereal and processed food such as ready prepared meals, including soups or cooking sauces since these often contain unexpectedly high levels of sugar.

Run through the list of negative effects below to remind yourself of why you should be avoiding sugar:
- Consuming sugar makes your blood sugar levels rise quickly. The pancreas is stimulated, it produces insulin to stabilise the blood sugar levels. Insulin is known to promote the storage of fat so more sugar = more insulin = more fat stored.
- The high level of insulin production not only encourages the body to store fat, but is the main risk factor in diabetes.
- High blood sugar levels damage artery walls, making it easier for cholesterol and fat to build up. This causes heart disease and high blood pressure.
- A raised insulin level affects the immune system lowering resistance to disease.
- Sugar puts stress on the kidneys and can interfere with absorption of some essential minerals. This can contribute to osteoporosis.
- Sugar can cause free radical formation in the blood, this causes damage to each cell in your body. It speeds up the ageing process which you’ll see as wrinkles. Some studies have suggested that it also speeds the deterioration of brain cells and contributes to dementia.
- Sugar can increase fermentation during the digestion process causing bloating.
- Since insulin is a hormone it is an intrinsic part of the body’s hormonal balance. Abnormal variations in that balance are known to cause fatigue, depression, weight gain, fluid retention, and so on.

For all these reasons cut down your sugar intake and enjoy better health!
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The Studio News 02/01/14

  • This weeks newsletter with up to date availability for classes and massage. Information about Myofascial Release Technique, a subtle yet effective treatment for tightness in muscles and fascia which causes pain. Plus, Manual lymphatic drainage to help with swelling and boost your immune system. Help with making and keeping new years resolutions and easy tips to follow to help keep healthy through the winter.
  • Read the full newsletter...
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Exercise for all ages and conditions

This article was written for the REPS blog to encourage other fitness instructors to consider moving into this specialist area but is may be useful for anyone who would like to get fitter but is unsure where to start. I am happy to meet anybody keen to start an exercise programme on an informal basis to chat over the best way to get started, I am also happy to advise other exercise professionals on working in this area.

REPs member
Anne Mercer shares her story on how she has succeeded on a prosperous career in the fitness industry.
I have been a full time fitness instructor for just over 30 years now. I started in aerobics, moved through ‘Bums, Legs and Tums’, callanetics and even line dancing to an altogether more interesting and rewarding area of fitness best described as "Exercise for all ages and conditions".

I struggle to find a name to cover all that I do but I think that this pretty much does it. It’s a rewarding area requiring experience and specialist knowledge. I never simply go through the motions of a class. There is no standard class format. Every movement is thought through to consider what it does in terms of the potential benefit as well as the potential risk. This specific approach enables almost anyone to take part in my class. Some may need to lie on a massage couch rather than the floor, the class size is very small and I have a selection of pillows for added support and cushioning.

I base my class on the focus, control and concentration of Pilates. Clients learn to control every movement their body makes and to be aware of exactly which muscle is causing the movement or stabilising the body while it moves. Added to this I use the fundamental back care exercises as recommended by Williams and McKenzie. I consider the spinal load through each movement. I never teach roll downs, sit ups and rarely use seated positions.   The recommended range of movement required by life is my goal with clients aiming for this, not the extreme range some exercise regimes use.

Bio Mechanic principles of pelvic stability and nerve mobility play a large part in ensuring mobilisation and the prevention of dysfunctional muscle tissue. I work on the abdominal stability muscles along with the gluteals, teaching the principle that our muscles provide the scaffolding to our bone structure. Balance is another important area with simple exercises to improve balance and to reduce the risk of falling in the future.

To complete this I work on postural muscles of the upper body to ward off the hunched neck position so often seen in the older generation.

Some of my clients have back pain, joint replacements, degenerative conditions of the spine, or are recovering from mild strokes. Most simply have the general aches and pains that accompany getting older. They need a class which supports them in their quest to keep fitter and keep active as they age. Many classes (including those that I have taught) are aiming at an altogether higher level of fitness which my clients would feel intimidating and at which they would probably be unable to do many of the exercises. Even clients at perimenopausal age have muscular aches that appear from nowhere and affect their ability to exercise.

Added into this mix are many men who have sustained sporting injuries in their youth (rugby/football/tennis etc...) which then return as early joint degeneration or suspected arthritis by the time they are in their mid 40’s.

Over recent years I have seen huge progression in my clients which I find incredibly satisfying. They show a great tenacity in sticking with the exercises and the results are well worth it. They have smaller waists – no mean feat in post menopausal women, balance (for men and women) so good they could be garden statues and they all stand upright within a few months.

To teach this age group you need to specialise into the Low Back, 50+ and GP referral qualification, and then read as much as you can about the effect of ageing on the body. I have found that a sport massage qualification is invaluable to allow me to be ‘hands on’ in certain situations. Talk to people with these conditions, work on a one-to-one basis with them to see what they can do and how exercise can help them.

If you’d like more information on my techniques do get in touch. I am passionate about enabling this sector of the population to be able to take part in group exercise and happy to help anyone move into this area.

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Common causes of back pain

Why do so many people suffer low back pain?

Every client I see is different but there are recurrent themes that appear time and time again. One of these is the difficulty we have in understanding which muscles engage for which task, and which muscles are stronger and should be used to take on heavier tasks. Our bodies are very good at using the muscles that they perceive are strong rather than the muscles which should be strong. This means that muscle imbalances we have developed over many years are maintained as strong muscles get stronger while weaker ones are left weak.

Frequently clients with back pain have an incorrect pattern of muscle engagement. There is often poor activation in the gluteus (butt) area, the abdominals which provide support (transverse/internal obliques) and the multifidus (muscles linking into each vertebrae). The rectus abdominal (used in situps) and hamstrings are often over working. This pattern of muscle activation alters the loading through the spine, sacrum and pelvis, doesn’t give efficient support and, as a result, will often lead to back pain.

Once you understand how to engage and identify the correct muscles you can practice at home and, in time, see benefit from in day to day life. If the stabilising abdominals are taught to activate along with the gluteus and multifidus there is a good chance of giving the spine and pelvis the support it needs. This is harder than it may sound as the brain has to learn new patterns and retain the knowledge to use in everyday life.

The basic pattern of engagement is this:
Tighten or brace the abdominal area (transverse abdominal) without incurring any movement. Engage the muscles which run in a strip each side of the spine (multifidus), and engage the butt (gluteus) muscle without tilting the pelvis. Once achieved, release and re-engage. With repetition this encourages the brain to understand the pattern of activation which is required. It can be practiced standing, sitting or lying.
Initially every muscle in the body engages, especially the neck and shoulders, but the muscles you want to engage have still not appeared. It often helps to ‘prod’ the area where you want the muscle to engage. This would be on the pocket area of your trousers for gluteus, each side of your spine for multifidus and in a line between your hip and belly button for your abdominals. Once the correct muscles activate without affecting the whole body additional work can be added.

This will strengthen these muscles with the correct activation pattern which is essential for long term benefit. To achieve any of this without professional instruction is difficult.

Try a one to one, consultation session at The Studio to help you achieve the correct muscle activation pattern as well as performing other tests for muscle spasm and imbalance which may contribute to back pain. If you are in a different area do get in touch and I can locate a coach local to you.

Please be aware that the information in this article assumes that there is no disc damage, scoliosis, degeneration, arthritis or nerve pain. It is a general view of the cause of much back pain. Bear in mind that there are other considerations including the angle of tilt of the pelvis, as well as foot and knee positioning. Consult your GP before starting an exercise plan if you have any concerns about your health.
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The Studio News 02.12.13

  • The Studio Weekly News is sent to anyone who has subscribed to the mailing list. This week it has information about Manual Lymphatic Drainage, Myofascial Release Technique and tips for keeping your stress levels down in the busy run up to Christmas. If there is a subject you’d like to see covered do let me know and I will include it in the future.\
  • For more detailed information about Myofascial Release Technique continue reading...
  • For more detailed information about Manual Lymphatic Drainage continue reading...
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