I know I am probably preaching to the converted as you are regular tennis players, but I thought you may be interested to read about the latest concerns for the ageing population.
As we get older, it is easier to sit for longer periods. However, increasing research into the negative affects of sitting is producing startling results.
It has been shown that fundamental changes in your human biology occur if you sit for too long.
Swedish scientists have discovered that the more you sit, the greater your risk of a heart attack. German studies revealed that excessive sitting softens the skeleton.
There is also a mass of research that provides a direct link to osteoporosis ( softening of the bones), cancer of the breast and prostate, depression, back pain, hypertension and obesity.
I have read a figure that states: for every hour that you remain rooted in your chair, you can expect to lose two hours of your life.
If you ever needed an excuse to go and play tennis or to exercise, I think that is it!
We all know that exercise is good for cholesterol levels, but a recent study has found that middle-aged people who are physically fit had better protection against ‘bad’ cholesterol. This is the type that blocks the arteries.
Scientists have measured cardio-respiratory fitness, which is the ability of the heart and lungs to supply oxygen to the muscles during exercise and the muscles’ ability to use that oxygen.
Physical activity that gets you out of breath improves cardiovascular fitness, and is proven to reduce the risk of heart disease, strokes and other illnesses.
Great news for us tennis players, so stay fit enough to run around on the court and stay healthy for longer.
In fact the scientists found that exercise can delay an unhealthy rise in bad cholesterol by up to 15 years…more healthy years to continue playing the sport we love. Result!!
Did you know that how well you balance offers an insight into your general health and age?
Last year, the UK’s MRC (Medical Research Council) tested a group of 53 year olds’ balance. They found that those that could stand on one leg for 10 seconds with their eyes closed were most likely to be fit and well in 13 years’ time.
Your balance can be affected by problems with your inner ear, deterioration in your eyesight, and slower input from joints and muscles that tell the brain where you are in space and like all things, if you don’t use it you will start to lose it. However, you can do simple exercises to train your balance and keep yourself healthy…such as practising balancing on one foot…and when that becomes easy try it with your eyes closed.
The Journal of Geriatric Physical Therapy devised a test so that you can determine your biological age depending on how long you can balance on one leg with your eyes closed. Here are some of their predictions:
45 seconds = under 40 years with eyes open…15 seconds with eyes closed
41 seconds = 50-59 years with eyes open…8 seconds with eyes closed
32 seconds = 60-69 years with eyes open…4 seconds with eyes closed
22 seconds = 70-79 years with eyes open…3 seconds with eyes closed
Well worth a bit of practise to get your age down!! I have included balance exercises in my book, Play Tennis Forever,
as not only will they help keep you younger and healthier, they will also help your tennis…a win win!
I have come across a lot of research recently regarding the importance of walking to help prevent arthritis. Many people think that if they have arthritis in their joints then exercise may do more damage. This is unfortunate as research shows that walking 3,000 steps a day can stop arthritic symptoms worsening. Being active keeps the joints lubricated. Not news for physios but always good to spread the word and encourage activity.
I don’t actually know how many steps I take playing a tennis match and so have decided to buy a pedometer to see.
I have also read that taking 6,000 steps a day, or roughly 3 miles, was an ideal amount as it has been found that people who walk this amount are more likely to be mobile two years later. So why not give it a go and see how many steps you take each day…it might just save your knees!
For those of you who take a break from playing tennis through the cold, winter months, you might like to keep an eye on your fitness levels during that time.
One of the easiest ways to do this is to check your resting heart rate. Your resting heart rate is basically how many beats per minute your heart does whilst you are resting. The fitter you are the lower this rate will be. Top athletes can have a resting heart rate as low as 40 beats per minute. Most people have a resting heart of around 70 beats per minute.
From a medical point of view, it is thought that rates that are above 70 can indicate a greater risk of heart disease. The good news is that you can lower your heart rate with exercise. (Before starting an exercise programme always check with your doctor first if you have higher heart beat or if you have any related medical problems).
So keeping an eye on your resting heart rate will help you assess your level of fitness. When taking your heart beat, sit down, relax and try to take it in the morning…or just before you get out of bed.
Stay fit, stay healthy, stay playing!
I hope you had a great Christmas and a fun New Year though I am sure I am not the only one to have eaten a bit too much. So, it is now back to a healthier diet and back to my exercise routine.
The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP), have produced a leaflet that gives guidance on simple exercises and I thought it might help some people get back into a more active lifestyle.
The CSP say:
‘A little a day, the easy way
Taking regular exercise and following a balanced diet can have enormous benefits for your overall health, now and in the future, and being more physically active can be easy and inexpensive.
To encourage people to ‘Move for Health’ the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy has created this leaflet, supported by Aviva, explaining how you can build easy, effective exercise into your daily routine’
To download the leaflet google CSP easy exercise guide.
Wishing you a healthy and happy 2015
Now that the weather has finally turned colder, I wanted to remind everyone to ‘gear-up’ appropriately for the conditions and warm up before play.
We all want to play but as the courts get more slippery it is even more important to wear the correct footwear with decent grip. I know this sounds a bit obvious but it is amazing how many people don’t keep an eye on the tread of their shoes.
Have a read of my warm up article in the ‘services’ section and also remember to cool down after play to prevent aches and pains.
Have fun, keep warm and keep safe!
I was reading an article recently about a physio who worked at the London Olympics and the Commonwealth Games. She had some interesting points about training and fitness that I thought might be interesting to tell you about.
Firstly , in her experience, when it comes to in jury prevention and rehabilitation, there is very little difference in what she tells the recreational and professional athletes. The key for all is to set realistic targets within a realistic time frame. For those who are new to a sport or physical activity, a common mistake is to try to do too much too soon. She says, ‘Balance you training -for example, if you are a runner it’s important to balance strength and flexibility’.
I would say that whatever sport you do, at whatever level, balanced training is very important and if you are about to take on a new physical challenge, however small, it is worth taking the time to plan how you are going to prepare yourself physically. Look after your body and it will look after you!
Just wanted to let everyone know that this weekend I will be putting a ‘fitness for ramblers’ download on the website. This may seem a bit random for an essentially tennis website, but so many of my fellow tennis players go rambling as well that I thought it may be of some use to them.
If you know any ramblers then please free free to tell them about the download…it may help them ‘keep rambling forever’!
I have just read an article published by a physio who works with the LTA regarding racket technology verses the increase in injuries.
He talks about how modern technology has made positive changed to the game but there is increasing evidence that the new rackets may be responsible for an increase in injuries..
It seems that because the new rackets are lighter and more streamlined, they can be twisted and turned more easily to create more spin on the ball.
When the physios analysed the recent injuries seen, the most common injuries were still the thigh injuries due to the stresses that go through them when serving, landing and changing direction during the game. However, wrist injuries were definitely more prevalent than before due to the attempts to create more spin on the ball.
So, what can we take from this…I would say it highlights the importance in keeping your thigh muscles (quadriceps and hamstrings in particular), strong enough to cope with the physical impact of the game, and to ensure that the racket you play with is the best suited for your type of play to help prevent injury. I always recommend talking through your racket needs with your coach and tennis shop expert, it may make the difference between acquiring an injury or staying injury free.