Fitness and wellbeing: The vital questions
FITNESS and wellbeing always throw up lots of questions, so here’s the answers to a lot of them. When top London health and wellness coach Mollie Millington – aka @PTMollie – was a guest in our Facebook Slimpod Club she offered loads of great advice on fitness. Here’s some of the topics she covered.
Q. What sort of exercises can I do around two little children that will help tone up and get rid of the pregnancy belly?
Mollie: Great question! Cardio is the easiest as you can go for walks, bike rides, swimming, and run around at the playground. While at the playground, there are plenty of ways to use the equipment yourself for fitness: Pull ups, planks, tricep dips.
You can do an obstacle course with the kids, too. It should tire everyone out. You can also use items at home for toning, such as a water bottle or tins of tomatoes. Here’s my great home fitness workout >>
Q. I spend 30 minutes doing cardio, then I do weights such as biceps, triceps, leg press, the thigh machines, lats, converging chest press, abdominals and ‘the muffin’ top rotator thing…will these make me slim down or just turn the fat into muscle? Am I doing too many weights? I just find fitness addictive.
Mollie: Muscle is more DENSE than fat, not heavier. When you combine cardio with weights, your metabolism will increase (which burns more fat). But then also the weight lifting will help you tone. Be sure you have rest days in between lifting.
Q. I have found it difficult to do planking as I have arthritis in my hip and tennis elbow. Will I still be able to benefit from planking if I can’t do it for very long?
Mollie: Do you do exercises for your tennis elbow? Stretching is very good and will help your mobility in the long run. Do you plank on your elbows or on the palms of your hands? Try your hands (so you will be in a press up position) and see if that helps the pain. My mom has tennis elbow and the physio gave her a bunch of exercises to help. The key is to rest as it is an inflammation. And then you need to continue the fitness exercises EVEN IF the elbow feels better. Ask your GP for some exercises.
Q. I am really keen to jog, but get shin splints within the first couple of days. Is there a way around this please?
Mollie: How old are your trainers? New running shoes are worth it. If your shoes show any wear on the soles or on the inside fabric, it’s time for a new pair! Try running on grass instead of pavement. You can also have your running analysed at a running school or sports store to check your form.
Q. I currently do no exercise and I have no energy as my youngest still wakes up every 2-3 hours each night. I really need to get going and do something but I can never get motivated, not even for a walk. Where do I start with fitness?
Mollie: We’ll get you there! Do you have a support network at home to help with your kids? My website offers 15 minute fitness workouts that require little or no equipment. I would also suggest a new family tradition of going for a walk or bike ride every night after dinner.
Q. I’m going to the gym three times a week – approx 40 min of crosstrainer and cycling x 2 and one hour of yoga. How long do you think it should take before I see my body change?
Mollie: Great job getting to the gym! What kind of changes do you want to see? Yoga is strength training but you might want to try lifting weights twice a week. You can go to a fitness class such as Body Pump if you aren’t sure how to get started. Most gyms offer free inductions to show you how to use the equipment.
Q. Is five days a week exercising ok? I do five in a row then have two days off.
Mollie: It’s essential to have rest days built in, which you do. The important thing is to let your muscles have a day to recover after lifting weights. if you train some muscle groups on one day (such as lats, arms, abs) you can do lower body on the alternating days. Lift more weight and do fewer reps!
Mollie: Do you feel strong enough to live life each day? Do you have energy? If the answer is Yes then what you’re doing is fine.
Q. I’m having a full hysterectomy, probably about three months recovery, I’m pretty unfit now and just want to be able to recover speedily – my last op I was floored with a post op infection and it took me months to get right. What can I do to make sure I’m not there again? Cardio fitness?
Mollie: As that is a pretty major surgery, I would talk to your gym or GP about how to prepare. It’s fantastic that you are planning ahead. Cardio will be important and I think overall strength couldn’t hurt you either. Shoot for 30 min+ cardio 2-3 times a week and lifting weights 2- 3 times a week too if you can fit it in.
Something is better than nothing! Use the post-op as your motivation. The other thing to think about is if you are recovering from surgery, you might ‘lose’ your fitness. Work hard now to keep the recovery to a minimum.
Q. My GP has told me that with my flushes (how lovely to be this age, and I’m refusing to use the M word!!!) I’m also going to see, in her words, “inevitable girth gain.” Lovely! I’m planking daily, but wonder if there’s anything else you can suggest?
Mollie: Unfortunately, the female body works in mysterious ways. I’m not an expert in ageing however I have heard that women in your situation wake up very early in the morning. Take advantage and get in an extra workout!