Group Fitness And Healthy Ageing

“Exercise is the miracle cure we have all been waiting for” according to the NHS. People who exercise regularly have a lower risk of chronic diseases, stress, depression, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Physical activity becomes even more important as we get older, improving self-esteem, energy, mood and sleep quality. Recent research has shown that having an exercise companion means you are more likely to exercise and that group fitness classes have benefits that go beyond weight loss and muscle gain. Here are a few popular classes to get you started.

Yoga

Over 5000 years old, yoga is a popular form of exercise which focuses on strength, flexibility, and breathing. Yoga increases joint flexibility, reducing muscle soreness, stiffness, and achiness and increases muscular strength. In turn, this improves balance and reduces the risk of falls as you get older. Yoga can also be effective in preventing or slowing bone density loss. Moreover, yoga has great benefits for the mind and relieves stress and the symptoms of depression.

Aquafit

Aquafit is a high energy aerobics class which takes place in the shallow end of a swimming pool. The movements are the same as in a normal aerobics class but with added benefits due to working out in water. Aquafit is a low impact activity where water supports your body putting less strength on joints and muscles. There is also less strain on the heart by being in the water which in turn moves blood around the body, improving cardio fitness. It builds muscular strength due to the added push of the water and the impact of gravity is reduced by the water allowing a greater range of motion and improving balance.

Zumba

Zumba is a relative newcomer to the fitness class circuit, being created in Columbia in 1990. Zumba combines Latin music with moves from Latin dances such as salsa, mambo, merengue, and samba. Zumba has been described as a workout in disguise as the dance moves mask an intense cardio workout with free flowing movements. It is a great way to alleviate stress, reduce symptoms of depression and improve self confidence. Zumba also improves strength, posture and flexibility as well as benefiting coordination and balance.

These group classes all have one common advantage; they offer the social and motivational benefits of exercising with like-minded people. Exercising in a group reduces stress and increases quality of life at the same time as improving fitness levels.

Written by Jane Sandwood

Want Better Gains? Drink Coffee!

Did you know that coffee can improve your workouts by as much as 33%? Yes, you read that right. According to a 2014 Daily Mail article by Deni Kirkova, the British Coffee Association found that instant coffee taken around an hour before working out can help exercisers perform about a third better. And it’s not just limited to weight training. The performance boost applies to virtually all forms of workouts, so you can do pretty much any type of exercise you want and still reap the benefits.

Better resistance against fatigue

According to a study published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), caffeine can help athletes train longer by delaying the onset of fatigue. In addition, it can also aid in the facilitation of force production by the body’s motor units. What all this means is that coffee gives you the ability to squeeze more out of your workouts and consequently see better gains.

Of course, sugar-free black coffee is the way to go for this purpose because it adds virtually zero extra calories to your diet. Unfortunately, if you are like most people, you are probably not a fan of drinking bitter liquid. But don’t worry, though, because by simply adding a little salt to your coffee, you can not only easily neutralize its bitterness, but also bring out its natural sweetness without having to actually use any sugar.

Increased fat oxidation

The second way coffee helps you crush your workouts is by literally giving you the energy to do so. In another NCBI study, coffee is shown to improve fat oxidation, giving you more readily available fuel for exercising. Of course, the more energy you have, the more work you can do in the gym.

But that’s not all improved fat oxidation gives you. By burning more fat during your workouts, you also increase the visibility of your muscles. This is probably why a lot of bodybuilders and professional fitness trainers swear by their pre-workout cup of coffee.

Just don’t go overboard

Unfortunately, there is such a thing as too much coffee. Experts suggest drinking no more than three cups a day. Any more and you could start experiencing problems like constantly elevated heart rates, sleeplessness and dehydration. In contrast, by keeping your intake within the healthy range, you get to enjoy the performance boost and resulting gains without putting your health at risk.

Jane Sandwood