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Extend your lifespan by 5 years!

Elderly men who exercise for 30 minutes a day can extend their lifespan by five years

Research, carried out by the Norwegian School of Sports Sciences in Oslo, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, found that men who exercised regularly at any intensity lived up to five years longer than those who did not.

The study found that:

‘carrying out 30 minutes of exercise six times a week was linked to a 40 per cent lower risk of death in men in their 70s.

Even those who only did light exercise for just an hour a week were less at risk of dying than men who led sedentary lives.

Men who exercised regularly at any intensity lived up to five years longer than those who did not. The more time spent doing vigorous exercise, the lower the risk of death – with the risk falling by around half for those doing more than three hours a week.’

The research suggests that older men who boost their physical activity levels do as much good for their health as giving up smoking.

Although the startling findings show major health benefits for elderly men, they hold out the prospect of younger people making similar gains. What value would you put on living longer…worth a bit of regular exercise?


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Is two minutes of exercise worth it?

What is the minimum amount of exercise that we can do to get any benefit? Well, I read this article and the researchers are saying that 2 minute burst of exercise are enough to benefit your heart. They say:

‘Two-minute bursts of exercise are enough to benefit your heart, scientists have found.
They said that while longer spells of moderate exercise were good, there were ‘strong benefits’ in repeated short bouts of intense activity such as star jumps. ‘The key is to get your heart rate up,’ they said.
The scientists, from Newcastle University, prescribed a regime of brief bouts of exercise to a group of Type 2 diabetes patients. They saw early signs of heart damage being repaired within 12 weeks.

Study leader Professor Michael Trenell said: ‘There is no reason why the benefits should not apply to other people.’
Type 2 diabetes, often associated with obesity, leads to changes in the structure of the heart, increasing the chance of heart attack and strokes.
The researchers studied 12 patients doing short spells on a cycling machine, repeated five times, three times a week for 12 weeks.

Experts said that while longer spells of moderate exercise were good, there were ‘strong benefits’ in repeated short bouts of intense activity such as star jumps

At first, each bout lasted two minutes, but ten seconds were added every week until each spell lasted three minutes and 50 seconds.

Heart scans showed they had far more benefit than a group of 11 who did not do the exercises.

Professor Trenell said: ‘I am not saying short bursts of intense exercise are better than longer spells of moderate exercise – both are good.

‘But it can be daunting for some people to contemplate a long period of exercise, so we have shown that short bouts can be effective.’ 

So if you were to follow the Professor’s routine, you would only be working up to 4 minutes exercise, not much to ask yourself to do given the benefits found. Star jumps or step ups are enough to get your heart rate up so very achievable without the need for any gym equipment and the benefits are well worth the effort. Just remember, it is always advisable to check with your GP before undertaking any exercise programme if you have an existing medical condition.

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Being happy, being healthy after 50

At this festive time of year I was happy to read about a study  reported in the British Medical Journal by researchers at University College London that linked happiness to health in middle age.

Experts from University College London tracked more than 9,000 men and women in their 50s and 60s, living in England.

The report found:

” Over-50s who consistently enjoy life have a 24 percent reduced risk of dying in the next seven years.

The scientists suspect this may be because someone’s general mood alters the levels of harmful and beneficial hormones in their body. Being happy reduces stress and anxiety hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol, which can be a burden on the heart and raise blood pressure.

The authors, writing in the British Medical Journal, said they could not be sure there was a direct biological link between happiness and mortality, as their study was merely observational.

But they said if two main factors could be at play.

‘Firstly, enjoyment of life might exert an influence through associations with healthy lifestyle,’ they wrote.

‘Physical activity, not smoking, and healthy diet have been related to positive wellbeing, while healthcare and self-care behaviours might also be relevant.

‘Secondly … subjective wellbeing has been correlated with low concentrations of cortisol in everyday life, with low levels of inflammatory markers in some studies, and with changes in expression of genes regulating inflammation and antibody synthesis.’

People who are happier may also get more sleep, they said, which has a beneficial impact on their immune and metalobic systems.

While the study could not conclude a direct biological link between happiness and mortality, researchers noted that their observational study could indicate a correlation

‘These processes might contribute to a broad range of health outcomes,’ the UCL team concluded.”

So I would like to wish you all a very merry Christmas and a healthy, happy 2017.

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Physical activity benefits adults, why, what and how.

The UK Medical Officer has published guidelines to illustrate the importance of staying active and how it can improve health and well-being. I though it worth summarising here to encourage you to continue with exercise/activity during the cold winter months when you may not be feeling like being as active as you are during the summer months.

The published figure state that ”with 75 minutes of vigorous intensity, or 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise (or a combination of both) cab reduce the chance of developing:

Type 2 diabetes by 40%

cardiovascular disease by 35%

Falls, depression and dementia by 30%

Joint and back pain by 25%

cancers (colon and breast) by 20%

If you can’t manage 75-150 minutes, something is better than nothing. Start small and build up gradually as just 10 minutes at a time provides benefit”.

If you are after a few easy exercises, then have a look at the exercise sheets on the books and  free downloads page on the website. They are designed for tennis and golf players but are equally good as general fitness exercises. Enjoy!


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Feet are important, so lets look after them!

I read this article published in our physiotherapy news bulletin and thought it well worth sharing. Looking after your feet is so important but often overlooked. I have extracted the key points for you…

Along with swimming, walking is a hero in the low-impact exercise stakes – meaning it can be a great option when injuries or health problems are an issue – and there’s tons of research highlighting its effectiveness, from helping ward off major illnesses like heart disease and Type 2 diabetes, to reducing depression.

It’s important to remember walking, like any other form of exercise, can potentially put the body under strain.

So all the usual rules about suitable footwear, warming up and not ignoring those niggling aches and pains apply. “Suitable footwear is certainly an important consideration but largely depends on the terrain you are covering,” said Phil Morel of Wimbledon Physiotherapy Clinic

Strenuous walking will load the body heavily, particularly the lower back and lower limbs.

“Loading the body’s tissues will in the main lead to positive adaptation and we become fitter and stronger – but overloading our tissues can lead to injury and pain.

“Factors influencing overload may be walking speed, duration and frequency, as well as body weight, biomechanics and terrain. It’s important to build up gradually to strenuous work, which allows time to adapt and protect against injury.”

“When you think about it, every step you take starts with your feet, as the ground reaction forces that go through your body when you walk start underfoot,” said James Naylor, national sales manager for orthopaedic footwear specialists SOLE UK.

“Most people suffering from pain just accept these niggles but if the pain’s bad enough, they’ll generally seek out a chiropractor or book a massage.

Foot pain is a problem

“Those can be helpful solutions but having proper support in your footwear can help prevent many of these conditions from developing.”

Overuse injury, and beginning a new activity without proper preparation, can contribute to common problems like plantar fasciitis (heel pain), heel spurs and shin splints.

Footbeds can help improve posture, which often plays a key role in keeping you in good condition and pain-free from head to toe.

I have always recommended suitable ‘footbeds’, also known as supportive insoles, for sports and all walking activities.

You can buy them from good sports shops and can get them custom made. The ‘useful links page on this website gives contact details for the Podiatrist and Orthotists’ websites that can direct you to local professionals that make insoles.

A good foundation is the key to building good posture and movement in whatever tasks you do, plus they make footwear comfortable and supportive…so why not give them a try!

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Back pain, truth or myth?

Almost all of us will suffer some form of back pain at some point in our lives.

The Chartered Society of Physiotherapists (CSP) have published a series of ‘Myth Busters’ to help people understand  back pain which I would like to share with you.

Myth 1, ‘Moving will make my back pain worse’. The CSP advises, ‘people fear twisting and bending but it is essential to keep moving. Gradually increase how much you are doing, and stay on the go.’

Myth 2, ‘I should avoid exercise, especially weight training’. The CSP advises, ‘back pain shouldn’t stop you enjoying exercise or regular activities. In fact, studies found that continuing with these can help you get better sooner – including using weights where appropriate’.

Myth 3, ‘A scan will show me exactly what is wrong’. The CSP advises, ‘sometimes it will but most often it won’t. Also, people without back pain have changes to their spine so scans can cause fear that influences behaviour, making the problem worse.’

Myth 4, ‘Pain equals damage’. The CSP advises, ‘this was the established view but more recent research has changed our thinking. Modern physio takes a holistic approach that helps people understand why they are in pain’.

I hope that helps to dispel some myths to help deal with back pain. For any sports player, if you have back pain it is advisable  to seek advice form your GP or physio to help you avoid further injury and get back to full fitness.


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Look after your knees

There has been an article recently in the physiotherapy press about looking after your knees. It was reporting the results of a research project that looked at the difference between exercise and surgery on your knees.

The researchers in Norway looked at 140 people whose average age was 50. Half of these people had arthroscopic surgery for degenerative meniscal tears (tears of the cartilage that leads to arthritis) and the other half had exercise sessions for three months including a home exercise programme.

After two years they found that knee-related quality of life for both groups was the same. The research team, led by Nina Jullum Kise, an orthopaedic surgeon at Martina Hansens Hospital now prescribe exercise therapy to be given to patients with meniscal tears.

As we age the meniscus in our knees deteriorates and whether knee pain comes from meniscal tears or just general arthritic changes, the outcome is the same.

With the mantra, ‘be nice to your knees, you’ll miss them when they’ve gone’ in mind,  knees can always benefit from exercise. Building the muscles up around your knees will help protect them.

So, be kind to your knees, help then to avoid surgery by giving them the right sort of exercise…it is well worth the effort.

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Exercise helps to eliminate visceral fat

Is exercise a good way to lose weight? it appears not. The reason why exercise may not lead to much weight loss is it can increase muscle – which weighs more than fat.

That’s not to say it doesn’t affect the fat in your body in a positive way, and I’m talking about visceral fat. This is the fat that lies around your organs rather than under your skin.

A recent study by researchers from Liverpool John Moores University and Radboud University in the Netherlands evaluated 117 recent studies, looking at the effects of fitness programmes, calorie reduction or both – and the effects on weight and body composition.

They found that even in the absence of any change in weight, carrying out an exercise programme resulted in a 6 per cent reduction in visceral fat.

This is important as a growing body of evidence shows excess visceral adipose tissue [visceral fat] may result in more detrimental obesity-related health effects than excess body weight.

So, I’m going to carry on with my exercise programme, decreasing my visceral fat being another health benefit of exercise. The list is continually growing and hopefully will be a motivator for some to start and for others not to give up. We can’t always see the benefits but they are there!



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Keeping fit in middle age will help keep you healthy in your senior years

It seems fairly obvious that if you are fit it will help to keep you healthy and I am the first to say it is never too late to start. However, a study reported in the journal Stroke has reported that ‘the fittest 40% in middle age were 37% less likey than the least fit to suffer a stroke in old age’.

It is thought that the increase in blood flow to the brain helps to stave off the natural decay in brain tissue.

Many people don’t exercise and the NHS recommends that adults spend five days a week doing moderate exercise, such as cycling or brisk walking.

Most people reading this are already interested in health and fitness but I always try to encourage the less active to try simple exercise or just increase activity levels. If you know anyone that needs a bit of encouragement, walking the golf course with you or trying out tennis at their local club on a free try day could just do the trick.

I am a firm believer that if people understand why exercise makes a difference then they are more likely to do it so please spread the word and get your friends active, including the young ones! The less they do now, the less they will be able to do later…makes sense.



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Getting fit keeps you healthy and makes you feel good

The Nuffield Health prospects survey  has shown that 55% of over 55s who were looking to join a gym this year where doing so with the intention of improving their current fitness for health reasons.

It is good to know that the message is getting through and as active sports players already it is not news to you. However, it is always  good to reassess what you’re doing and look at whether you can improve your fitness with a few strengthening exercises, remembering that as we age we lose muscle mass if we don’t do some strengthening exercises. Stronger muscles will protect your joints from arthritic changes and so you will be able move faster, play for longer and stay healthier…all of which will keep you feeling good!

If you want a few ideas on suitable exercises for tennis,  then my book Play Tennis Forever will help you. Some simple changes in your daily activities can make a huge change to your fitness and health.

I read once, ‘the less you do today, the less you will be able to do in the future’. So true.

Lets get exercising for the feel good factor!



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