News and views on the latest health issues

Articles


Articles

Expanding our health and fitness horizons

Expanding our health and fitness horizonWhen we think of exercising today we generally think of western sports and games, football and rugby, tennis and swimming or just going to the local gym. We can broaden our exercise horizons so much by looking at different ethnic ways to stay fit and in good health. Have you ever thought about learning a different type of dance for example as a way to tone up?

Dancing is a good way to release stress and express yourself, it can be so liberating, leaving your body feeling alive with energy and your mind relaxed and free.

We have so much choice at our finger tips to try something different and it’s exciting to see what else is out there to try, Flamenco, Belly dancing, Salsa, Tai Chi our choices are endless! 

Yoga for your fitness and mind

The first and probably the most recognised of the ethnic influences has to be yoga. There are many different types of yoga now available, and so many that they accommodate all different types of needs.
 
If to unwind and de-stress are your main objectives, then there are plenty of gentle and meditative types of yoga to choose from.
Sivananda and Hatha yoga for example, they also embrace chanting as part of deepening self awareness, aiding the process to internalise your thoughts.
 
If you prefer more of a physical challenge, strong dynamic yoga's like Ashtanga vinyasa, power yoga or Iyenga yoga are great choices, they are very demanding on the body and give fantastic results both mentally and physically. The nice thing about these teaching's, is that it’s not about how flexible you are and who is better at getting into the lotus position. Working with these types of yoga is seen as a process of undoing, a non ego based method to realise the tightness within, physically, mentally and spiritually.
 
A great way to deeply purify and detox yourself is bikram yoga. It is sometimes called hot yoga as the room is heated to a whopping 40-45 degrees. The heat helps encourage the cleansing process, keeps the muscles warm, whilst helping improve flexibility. A huge amount of calories can be burnt in a one hour class, a massive 630cals on average! Be sure to drink plenty of water before and after classes as it’s not advised to drink during, and really important to keep hydrated.
 
Dynamic yoga's such as, Iyengar or Ashtanga yoga will challenge your cardiovascular system. In Asthanga yoga, Vinyasa's are used which are dynamic sequence of movements linking one posture to the next. These are also known as sun salutations. These vinyasas take both strength and endurance as they push the heart rate up and burn lots of calories, leaving little energy or need for a gym workout! 

Tai Chi

If relaxation through movement sounds inviting, Tai chi is a great way to achieve this. It is said to quickly deliver an amazing feeling of energy, awakening deep peace of the true self!
 
The movements are gentle and slow, never over extending the limbs to lock the joints. It is both fluid and graceful and beautiful to watch! Each movement has a deeper reason behind it from Tai Chi philosophy.
 
Bringing heaven down to earth is the thought behind one move, there are many more inspiring visualisations bring meaning to each movement. If you are looking for some relaxation whilst getting the benefit of moving then Tai Chi could be perfect for you. 

Salsa dancing

Learning salsa for fitness can be really social and exciting, when you first start learning the moves it will work the body in solely an aerobic way. Salsa is low impact on the joints and gives you a nice steady burn in calories.

Time can pass fast and dance routines once learnt can be later paired up with a partner for more fun! As you advance to the movements that are more complex, you will be twirling through the air. The jumps and spins can then become as complex and challenging as you want. 

Flamenco dancing

If your feeling flamboyant and fancy trying something a bit different from the norm, add some heat and steam to your training week with flamenco dancing!
 
Flamenco is a high calorie burning workout and can burn around 296 calories per hour. (Based on someone of 145lb in body weight).
 
It involves fasted paced, coordinated movements that integrate a variety of muscle groups, quite a challenge for the body!
 
There are lots of deep lunges in Flamenco so it’s a great leg workout too!
 
Be mindful of your knees and be sure to back up your training with squats, lunges and dead lifts if you can to make sure you stay injury free.
 
Flamenco involves stretching, fast paced walking and jumping, so have fun and dance your way fit!
Looking outside our normal box of exercise for ideas to inspire and motivate us can be really eye opening. We can learn so much about life and energy balance and healthy eating by being open minded to other philosophies. 

  • Try a 30 minute gym based workout with a friend of partner, notice how much harder you train.
  • Set up your partner training in the park in a circuit style 6-8 different stations, time each exercise for 1 minute, repeat 3 times.
  • Go for a 20 minute run with a friend or partner.
  • Warm up for 5 minutes then work with 1 minute hard efforts 5 times, recovering for 1 minute after each fast pace effort then cool down for 5 minutes.
  • Treat yourself by going for a climbing lesson or an ice climbing lesson (Indoor walls are great fun) with a friend or partner.
  • Get out on the water for a row or kayak with a friend. Spend some time taking it in turns to push one another.
  • Challenge your partner to a game of WI fit.
  • Go for a walk on your lunch break with a friend for 20 minutes at a fast pace.
  • Cycle with your children after work and school, spend at least 30 minutes on the bike.
  • Instead of watching T.V try an abdominal attack in the lounge of an evening, you and your partner can coach and push one another for 15 minutes.
  • Blast the house clean doing everything fast to burn calories, spend at least 30 minutes. 

back to top


Sign up to our monthly newsletter, Better Health, to receive our latest health and wellbeing updates.


Sign up to newsletter

Ask the expert

Got a question about health or wellbeing?
Our team of medical experts are ready to help.