How do we get Lancashire moving? In the latest part of our series on the county’s battle with the scales, CATHERINE MUSGROVE speak to exercise experts for their views.
WE’VE all heard the statistics but they don’t seem to shock us into getting off our sofas.
More than half of us don’t reach our daily recommended targets for physical activity of around 150 minutes a week, blaming our busy lifestyles or not knowing what we should be doing.
So how do you get started if you don’t know where to begin?
“Just going to the gym and being let loose on the machines isn’t the best way forward”, according to personal trainer Craig Kinsey of Lancashire-based Kinetic Fitness.
“When you’re unfit or of a certain age, you need someone with you who knows what they’re doing. The best way to do this is with a one-to-one personal trainer or in a personal training group of very small numbers.”
He added: “If you’ve not exercised for a long time, then you first need to strengthen your core. That way you’re protecting your back against all the impact that’s coming through your ankles and knees. Resistance work with weights to strengthen your body also keeps your metabolism going.
“Ninety five per cent of people who come to us want to lose weight, and they want to jump straight on the treadmills because it’s what they know, but resistance work with bands or medicine balls is the best way of doing it.
“When you diet or do a lot of cardio work, your body goes into survival mode, so it starts dropping muscle, which in turn slows the metabolism.
“This is why in the first week of a diet you might lose 4lbs, in the second week 3lbs, in the third week 2lbs, and in the fourth week nothing. People then get disheartened and give up.
“Doing resistance work tells your brain that you need the muscle for something, and this will help to burn fat in recovery afterwards, and not just calories from carbohydrates in a short burst. It also keeps the heart rate elevated for up to 48 hours afterwards. Social support, such as working out with a partner, is a massive factor in people’s success. It’s one of the main predictors of whether someone’s going to keep it up long-term. Say you have a husband and two kids who aren’t interested in healthy eating or working out, then it’s much easier to cook the same meal for everyone, rather than a healthy one just for you.
“It’s all about making a change in lifestyle. The main thing is just getting started.
“I always say to people who are new to exercising that they should make their goal just getting to the gym, that’s especially so for people who are busy working.
“Don’t worry if you feel tired, the main thing is making time in your schedule and making that lifestyle change.”
Others find they take to exercise better with group support.
Lancashire Care Trust has seen an increase of more than 24 per cent in people registering for its Fit Squad since last year.
Between April 2012 and March 2013, 489 people over 16 signed up for support on healthy eating, exercise and lifestyle choices, and the current figures for this year are 642.
James Fazackerley, healthy lifestyles practitioner on the Fit Squad, said: “We have a holistic lifestyle approach. Through our programmes Activity for Life and Food For Thought, we provide people with information to help them identify changes in what they’re eating, when they’re eating and the amount of physical activity they’re doing.
“There is no ‘one size fits all’ solution because everyone’s circumstances are different, so we offer one-to-one support.”
He added: “We help people who are in their 80s – there really is no limit to when you can start making lifestyle changes for the better.”
Patients are referred to the Fit Squad by GPs, physios, dieticians and practice nurses if they have a Body Mass Index (BMI) of over 25, or if they have other danger factors, including borderline diabetes.
People can also refer themselves to the service by contacting the Trust if they feel they would like extra help in making the right diet and exercise choices. James and his colleagues also carry out workplace visits, where staff members can have their weight, height, blood pressure and waist measurements checked. Participants are also asked about their intake of alcohol and fitness.
James added: “Our team do a lot of work to get the Fit Squad known, by attending community events, work- places, and having literature in surgeries. That could be a reason why we’re seeing an increase in referrals, but there is always the fact that more people are becoming obese.
“We don’t just concentrate on weight loss, though, some of our biggest successes have been helping people lower their diabetes medication, or help their mobility issues.”
l Call the Fit Squad on 01772 644158.