Tackling the chronic back pain epidemic through movement

Here is a short but useful blog post discussing some lower back exercises for improved mobility and strength.

When it comes to chronic pain, the most common single type of chronic pain is lower back.

For many, lifestyle factors are important contributors to the exacerbation of the pain. The pain is often worsened by carrying small children, sitting at desks all day, looking down at electronic devices, carrying bags and general bad posture.


Fortunately, exercise can positively impact this chronic pain experienced by many. In particular, we have seen mobility exercises such as the Cat-cow stretch (all fours) and fetal roll (back) which target the lower back aid in pain management.

Strength exercises for the lower back such as superman’s, Supine hyper-extensions and Bird dogs (all fours) can also be very beneficial.


At our FIT Pilates and outdoor Bootcamp sessions we aim to frequently programme these exercises, to promote a stronger and more mobile back!


Please follow the links below for how to perform some of the exercises mentioned above.

 

Bird Dog

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wiFNA3sqjCA

Cat Cow

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y39PrKY_4JM

If you like any more advice or guidance on how to execute exercises safely to build a strong core and reduce back pain then please get in touch or come along to one of our FIT classes. 

3 Fab Family Dinner Ideas

Looking for a few more family dinner ideas or want to try something new this week?

We are all busy, working people with occasionally or often hectic lives. Our aim at Family Inspired Training is to help you not only get and stay FIT but to help you eat real, tasty food in an easy, fast and sustainable way.

Here are five recipes from our FIT Food Cook Books. Delicious, healthy and great for you and the kids.

Potato Egg Bake

 

Chinese Chilli Beef

 

 

Mushroom Bean Burger

Our recipe books are packed full of recipes that are healthy, delicious as well as being simple to make. All the recipes have nutritional information as well as a full ingredient list, method and serving suggestions.

Cooking is a chance to come together as a family or with friends, in the kitchen or around the dinner table, making healthy eating a normal part of life for you and your mini’s.

We now have 3 volumes of our cook book available to purchase all with different breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack and & dessert recipes. Find out more here.

Exercise: How much is too much?

When it comes to exercise, at FIT we advocate exercising 2-5 times a week (around 45-60 minutes each time). This is to be consistent in your routine and to make progress.

Exercise should be enjoyed not endured. The key is finding something you like, getting your heart rate up a couple times a week, moving and working your muscles.

Whilst exercising supports good health too much can suppress a person’s immune function, deplete essential nutrients and disrupt hormonal balance. This is why we always harp on about “Rest and Recovery” at sessions, because the more you exercise, the more recovery you need.

Our hope is that you discover your body’s abilities, make the most of them and feel happier and healthier. Which is why we suggest experimenting with 2-5 exercise sessions a week. This way you can reflect and see if you’ve taken the ‘exercise more’ advice to another level and actually need to scale it back a little to find YOUR happy balance for long-term wellness.

Tips to Improve Sleep

Sleep is as important, if not more important to your health than exercise and nutrition to keep you fit & well.⁠

 

However, for you as parents, this can be one of the most annoying things for people to tell you. You want to sleep well, its just not always possible to have an uninterrupted nights sleep when you have young (or even not so young) children at home.

But there are definitely some things you can do, to help you get as much, or at least much better sleep.

 

Here are some top tips for better sleep:

Reduce screen time 1-2 hours before you go to bed

Exposure to light during the day is beneficial, but night time light exposure has the opposite effect on your sleep, this is due to its impact on your circadian rhythm, tricking your brain into thinking it is still daytime. This reduces hormones like melatonin, which help you relax and get deep sleep.

The worst culprit for this is our electronic devices which emit blue light. Turn on your blue light filter or even better turn off your phone/laptop or tv 1-2 hours before bed.

 

Keep your bedroom cool and dark

Your bedroom set up can be key to your quality of sleep, factors like temperature, noise, external lights and what activities you do in your bedroom can all effect your sleep.

To optimise your bedroom environment, try to minimise external noise, light and artificial lights from devices like alarm clocks. Make sure your bedroom is a quiet, relaxing, clean and enjoyable place. Keep your room cool too, as you will sleep better due to your core body temperature naturally dropping as you drift into sleep. Cooling down your bedroom can jump start the process and make it easier to doze off.

 

Get outside in the day, ideally early morning for at least 20 minutes

Your body has a natural time-keeping clock known as your circadian rhythm. It affects your brain, body and hormones, helping you stay awake and telling your body when it’s time to sleep. Getting exposure to natural sunlight or bright light during the day helps keep your circadian rhythm in check. It can improve your energy levels in the day as well as improve the quality and duration of your sleep at night. Research has shown that in people with insomnia, daytime bright light exposure improved sleep quality and duration. It also reduced the time it took to fall asleep by 83%. Try getting daily sunlight exposure for at least 20 minutes, ideally early in the day.

Walking the kids to school or walking to work in the morning or joining an early outdoor exercise class are great ways to get outside for at least 20 minutes in the earlier part of the day.

 

Include daily exercise/movement into your routine

Exercise can promote more sound and restful sleep. Studies show that physical activity increases our time spent in deep sleep, the most physically restorative sleep phase. Deep sleep helps to boost immune function, support cardiac health, and control stress and anxiety. It can also increase the amount we sleep due to the energy you expend when being active.

Regular exercise that is part of a consistent routine will be beneficial for your health and sleep. Why not come along to one of our FIT exercise classes? Whether that’s family FIT or FIT Pilates, both types of exercise can help you feel fitter, stronger and hopefully help you sleep better too!

5 Healthy Habits for the New Year

Eat the rainbow

This may sound silly, but it is a wonderful and fun way for the whole family to eat more veggies and fruits each day, fill out your nutritional needs and avoid the less healthy options. You can challenge the children to track which colours they have eaten and which of the others they still need to try to eat. You could even put a rainbow on the fridge that they can tick off or colour in as they eat them.

Get outside

The benefits of stepping outside everyday are numerous. One of which is Vitamin D (yes even at this time of year) which will improve your general mood, energy levels and increase your immune health.

So get outdoors as a family more this year and reap the positive side effects. All our FIT, Mini and Baby FIT classes take part outside which gives you the added benefit of being outside in nature while you exercise too.

Electronics free night

In the modern world, where we depend on our digital devices for work, socialising and education it can be difficult to switch off and be present in the moment with each other. Why not try one night a week to make the household an electronics free zone, go back to old school methods of reading a book, playing a board game or simply sitting around the table and discussing the peaks and pits of our day.

Have a laugh

Whether simply having a laugh with family and friends or taking time to see a funny show, read a hilarious book, or listen to a funny song, laughter has real health benefits. Every time you giggle, it releases endorphins and creates a sense of well-being. This year remember to see the light-heartedness and find the funniness in all of life’s situations, even the stressful ones!

Start a new activity

New year, New activity. This year add something new and exciting into you and your families’ routine. How about try a class with us at Family Inspired Training or something else in the area. Let us know what fun stuff you get up to!

5 Easy Craft Ideas for Halloween!

 

Next week we are running Half Term Mini FIT Holiday Clubs with fun Halloween themes. The children will take part in a mixture of indoor and outdoor Mini FIT activities, games, arts & crafts and more. For a sneak peak into some of the fun crafts in the camps take a look at this blog post or if you can’t make it to the holiday clubs why not try some of these at home!
Even tiny hands can make these Fun Halloween decorations—with supervision from Mum or Dad, of course.

Paint your own Pumpkin

Carving pumpkins can be a bit of a chore at Halloween so why not try this super fun and simple way to decorate your pumpkin. Using marker pens or paint you can your little ones can design anything they like on their pumpkin without all the faff!

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Happy Halloween Selfie Sticks

This is a fun easy craft to do with your little ones. Print or cut out different Halloween themed images like signs, bats or ghosts. Stick them to wooden kebab sticks or lolly pop sticks and use them for fun Halloween selfies or stick them into cakes or vases as decorations.

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Spooky Cookies

Yummy cookies cut into spooky shapes!

Cookie recipe

  • 225g (8oz) butter, softened
  • 110g (4oz) Caster sugar
  • 275g (10oz) Plain flour

Optional

  • Add one teaspoon of spices (cinnamon, mixed spice, ginger, etc)
  • 75g White or Milk chocolate chips
  • Coloured Icing pens

Method

  • Preheat the oven at 170C or gas mark 3.
  • Cream the butter in a large bowl or in a food mixer until it is soft. Add the sugar and beat until the mixture is light and fluffy.
  • Sift the flour into the mixture and add optional ingredients. Bring the mixture together until it forms a dough.
  • Using a rolling pin on a lightly floured surface roll out the dough and use Halloween Cookie cutters to cut out spooky shapes. (This is especially fun for little hands and also works on their fine motor skills).
  • Bake them in the oven for around 15 mins until they are golden brown and slightly firm on top.
  • Place the cookies onto a cooling rack and leave them there for around 15 mins.
  • Once cool use the optional icing pens to draw fun and colourful Halloween creations on top!

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Funky Table Decorations

This one is really simple and fun, especially if you are having a Halloween party. Get some different Halloween themed table toppers like streamers, confetti and some different coloured paper. Green, orange and black and work together with the kids to create a spooky and creative table decoration.

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Autumn Leaf Art

This one is super simple and gives you a fun reason to get outdoors exploring!

Go for a walk as a family and collect lots of Autumn leaves, twigs, acorns etc. Then simply create your own Autumn Leaf art when you get home. Another fun idea is to print off different Halloween or Autumn colouring pages and use the leaves to fill in the images.
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BIG Benefits of Extracurricular Activities for Kids

A new school year is here – and we are a few weeks in already!

Can you believe it? Nope, not us either.

Whether your child is school aged or not, now is a good time to start thinking about which extracurricular activities you’re going to enrol your child in. Extracurricular activities outside of the home and classroom provide children of all ages a multitude of benefits like socialisation, physical activity, and so much more.

Read on to check out 4 of the BIG benefits extracurricular activities can give your child

 

Routine

Consistent, scheduled extracurricular activities help children anticipate what will happen next. This provides a sense of security, control, and confidence. For young children, involvement in extracurricular activities also provides structure to prepare them for nursery, school and beyond.

Socialisation

For younger children, extracurricular activities, like Mini FIT or other sports and clubs, provide an opportunity for children to develop and grow important social and communication skills. For older children, extracurricular activities help to strengthen communication skills and build friendships.

Skill Development

Extracurricular activities allow children to explore new interests and skills which can help them find things that they are passionate about. This could be an affinity for a specific sport, playing an instrument, or even an interest in art. Developing new skills, and discovering those you like, can help build confidence and self-esteem.

Active Play

Many extracurricular activities are movement based, these can include team sports, or classes like Mini FIT. Activities that include physical activity not only help to keep children healthy, they have also been proven to help children achieve better performance in the classroom.

It’s important to let your child explore a wide range of extracurricular activities to help them find which activities they like best. This will help them learn a multitude of skills and will set them up for success later on in life!

Here at Family Inspired Training we offer Family fitness classes where you can get and keep fit and bring the kids for their own Mini FIT class, as well as Mini FIT Holiday clubs (next ones will be this October half term on the 22nd,23rd and 24th October and we will soon be running after school Mini FIT classes too!

 

Get in touch for a FREE intro visit or to book onto our holiday clubs. 07544119467 or email familyinspiredtraining@gmail.com

 

Stress! – How to manage it…

Why we are stressed, how it affects us and how to manage it

Dozens of modern studies have found that stress levels are increasing in modern life. With pressures at work, constant connectivity through smartphones, increasing threats of terrorism or other dangers across the globe, and hundreds of other things just waiting to be worried about, it’s no surprise that more and more of us are feeling anxious and struggling to get a good night’s sleep on a daily basis.

It’s important to reduce stress

Stress (and our body’s physiological response to it) is a complex evolutionary system designed to keep us safe in times of danger. It can be particularly useful when you are in genuine danger or are playing sport, but can cause a range of different health issues if you are experiencing stress consistently over long periods of time – usually as a result of modern-day problems or anxieties. For this reason it is important to properly manage stress and take steps to reduce it in your daily life.

The biological process when you become stressed

Many people are all too familiar with the range of biological effects on your body that occur when we become stressed. Your heart rate will increase and your breathing can become quicker and more shallow. Your muscles may become tense and your joints could start to ache. On top of this, it’s not uncommon to feel anxious and irritable – possibly leading to feelings of depression and difficulty when trying to get to sleep.

The process begins with the central nervous system. Sensing danger, this system stimulates the release of adrenaline and cortisol. In response to this your breathing may become quicker – this is your body trying to distribute more oxygen around your body. If you’re asthmatic or have other respiratory problems, these can become exacerbated at this point.

Stress hormones will also cause your heart to pump faster. Your blood vessels will become constricted and your blood pressure will therefore increase. Your skeletal muscles will also tense up in preparation for physical activity – the expected ‘fight or flight’. In men, testosterone levels may also temporarily spike.

When you’re stressed your liver produces extra glucose – this provides more energy (which can be essential if you are actually in a dangerous situation). If this extra glucose isn’t used by the body – for example through physical exertion – then the body reabsorbs it. Stress temporarily boosts your immune system, but as we will see later it can actually weaken your immune response over a long period of time.

The harmful effects of stress on your body

While these effects will not harm you if you only feel stressed every once in a while, they can cause a range of different health issues if you are chronically stressed.

When you suffer from chronic stress your heart works too hard, which increases the risk of hypertension and other cardiac issues like a heart attack or stroke. The repeated re-absorption of glucose can also encourage the onset of type-2 diabetes.

Chronic stress also increases the likelihood of heartburn and acid reflux. Stress itself doesn’t cause stomach ulcers, but it can irritate any existing ulcers. Other negative effects for your stomach can include vomiting and stomach ache, potentially with diarrhoea or constipation. This is because stress affects how food passes through your body.

When you’re constantly stressed your muscle rarely relax – leading to aches and pains. This can especially cause problems around the shoulders, neck and back. This pain can cause many people to turn to pain medication, which can itself make things worse as you enter a vicious cycle.

Finally, the release of cortisol from chronic stress can weaken your immune system and its inflammatory response. This can make you more vulnerable to illnesses like the common cold, and can increase the amount of time needed to recover from illness or injury.

Techniques to manage stress

There are a number of techniques for managing stress. Regular exercise and enough sleep are both important to make sure you feel refreshed without letting stress get on top of you. Many people also choose to write their feelings down when they’re feeling stressed – seeing the thoughts in black and white often helps people to realise that they are unnecessary worries and most likely won’t happen.

With work pressures it can be easy to ignore those activities or hobbies that bring us enjoyment. But often when you start to feel burnt out from work, it is these nourishing activities that we need to bring us a sense of calm and inner peace. If you’re struggling to overcome stress, set aside some time to enjoy yourself and you’ll be surprised how differently you approach the stresses in your life afterwards.

Mindfulness as a technique to reduce stress

Mindfulness is the practice of living in (and paying attention to) the present moment. This could be through formal meditations or by practicing during everyday activities – like walking to work, having a shower or eating dinner.

The idea is to notice your surroundings, the way your body feels, and most importantly the arising of any thoughts or emotions. By paying close attention to the coming and going of thoughts, you learn to accept that the mind ‘has a mind of its own’ and that just because you are thinking about something (such as causes of stress in your life) it does not mean that this stressor rules your life. By practicing this, you can come to accept that dwelling on problems won’t solve them – giving you a sense of peace that will in time make it easier for you to make good decisions and take affirmative action to actually reduce the stress in your life.

Healthy body, healthy everything – the growing evidence for physical activity

The benefits of physical development for children!

You may not realise it, but the Department for Education has a role to play in your child’s development long before they set foot in a classroom. It’s the DoE that established the statutory framework for the early years foundation stage, a document that sets the standards for learning and development of young children up to and including 5 year olds. It covers a lot of ground – from language and communication to social and emotional development – in its efforts to ensure every child can develop confidence, independence and resilience.
One thing that is important to take away from this document is the importance of physical development in children.

This isn’t physical development in the traditional school setting – we’re not talking about PE. An understanding of good health and physical exercise is a part of it, but the EYFS definition reaches much further: to dressing and using the toilet independently, to basic hygiene and to ensuring that “children show good control and co-ordination in large and small movements. They move confidently in a range of ways, safely negotiating space. They handle equipment and tools effectively, including pencils for writing.”

Learning to play

When you think about it, that makes complete sense. Unless you have an understanding of how your body moves, and develop the coordination of hands, feet and the rest of your body, you aren’t able to draw the picture, score the goal or build the Lego castle that’s in your head.

Play may be an essential part of a child’s development, but even play needs some basic physical building blocks to get started.

Yet the benefits of physical development don’t stop there.

Beyond play

Take this study from the University of Aberdeen, which found a clear link between exercise and a child’s concentration.

Councillor Martin Greig, Vice-Convener of the Education, Culture and Sport Committee, said: “The conclusion of the research confirms what many have long believed about the significance of physical activity for learning. The carefully conducted research gives support to incorporating an appropriate amount of exercise into the school day.”

Or how about this article in The Guardian which discusses several studies that show physical exercise benefits concentration, creativity, memory and mental health. It pulls together “a wave of studies exploring the unexpected links between mental and bodily fitness.”

And then there’s this piece from The Telegraph, reporting on a study which also looked at the link between physical activity and concentration in children, and which found “those placed on the programme improved their accuracy on some mental capability tests by twice as much as those who were not assigned to do daily exercise.”

Bringing it all together

Here at Family Inspired Training we believe in the holistic benefits of physical activity for the health, well being and performance of children.

Here’s one very simple example. If you can’t sit still you can’t concentrate. If you can’t concentrate you can’t learn or play. And if you can’t learn or play you can’t develop. That’s why some of the fun activities we’ll include within a session are designed to strengthen the body’s core and hip muscles.

Because when your body has developed the strength and muscle memory to keep you sat up straight, it can devote more energy to everything else.

That squarely aligns with the DoE’s requirement for physical development, but it also ensures that our children are ideally placed to benefit from all the other cognitive, concentration and developmental benefits of physical activity.

Want to give your child that sort of boost?

Why not come and give us a try? Your children will benefit from a fun and active outdoor exercise session with an exciting new theme each week whilst you can get fit at the same time! Take a look here for our session schedule.

The Importance of Creative Play for Kids

Creative play is a vital part of childhood and child development. Through creative and imaginative play children can grow emotionally, socially, intellectually, and even physically

Creative experiences help a child develop these skills and enable them to share their thoughts, feelings and ideas. Exposing children to creative opportunities contributes to and furthers their development.

Coming up with ways to play creatively doesn’t have to be stressful or take a lot of time. In fact, over-structuring is the opposite of creative play. Every small step toward developing a child’s skills is a major milestone in their growth and happiness.

 

Here at Family Inspired Training we use creative imagination in every Mini FIT class whilst also giving the children the chance to play & explore in their own way too. If you’ve brought your little one to a class with us you might have seen your child’s instructor pretending to be a monkey, walking slowly on the moon or running around with scarves pretending its a butterfly or magic wand. We create fun and varied stories to keep the children engaged when they are using equipment, to keep structure and flow in class and to help development both physically and in a way that taps into their in-built imaginations. The children learn by seeing and doing but also by using their own imaginations to add new layers to the worlds the instructors have created.

 

What Tools Do I Need?

Ideas for creative and imaginative play are available all around us. Often we overlook the simple things, that to a child aren’t as simple. How often do you see a small child staring at a leaf and turning it over to stare at the details (something we encourage and nurture in all our Mini FIT sessions).

Emotional, cognitive, and fine motor skills develop with the introduction to the simple things. Try using some of these household items to make games, tell stories, or just have fun with them.

·         Sponges

·         Paper

·         Cardboard and boxes

·         Tape

·         Paint

·         Markers, crayons, or pencils

·         Molding materials like clay

 

Emotional Development: Creative play promotes social and emotional development by integrating feelings with tasks. Ask your child to paint, draw, or tell a story, about how they’re feeling. These types of activities help children, who are not able to verbalise, express their feelings. In time, children will learn how to express their feelings safely and creatively, allowing them to integrate into social settings and regulate their behaviour more appropriately.

Why not try these Mindful Monster card games as another great way to help your child’s emotional development.

 

Social Development: Children can grow and increase their social development when given opportunities to play and interact with peers. Singing, dancing, dress-up, and other forms of imaginative play are a few areas where children are able to grow and develop basic communication and social interaction skills. This is something that is integrated in every Mini FIT session.

 

Intellectual Development: Through creative play, children can learn important problem-solving skills. Reading, for example, gives children the opportunity to express their imaginations and explore a world outside of their own, helping to improve both intellectual and cognitive skills. This also forms the basis of reading comprehension and retention and sets the tone for solving more complex problems as they grow and develop.

 

Physical Development: Whether your children are dancing to the rhythm of their own beat, or exploring the great outdoors, creative play helps to grow gross and fine motor skills, coordination, and control. Building fine motor skills requires practice and sets the stage for improving hand eye coordination and muscle memory. You don’t have to be complicated with the movements either, ask your little one to crawl like a bear, jump like a kangaroo or frog, or gallop like a horse. Why not join in to – its never to late to work on our own physical development and you might just have some fun while you’re at it.

Providing children with creative opportunities for play will allow them to develop these important skills as well as provide them with the opportunity to explore and learn about the world around them. Why not come along and try our Mini FIT sessions which are run alongside an adult group exercise classes so you can keep fit, have fun whilst knowing your kids are developing and moving too!

 

Call 07544 119 467 today or email familyinspiredtraining@gmail.com for your FREE trial today!