Keeping active is important as we get older but often people forget about strength training and building muscle in favour of cardiovascular exercise like running, swimming, rowing and so on.
Ideally, you should aim to focus on both if you can – something that has just been reiterated by the UK chief medical officers and the Department of Health and Social Care, which has just published new physical activity guidelines that emphasise the importance of building strength and balance.
The guidelines haven’t been updated since 2011 and now recommend that adults should do strength-based exercises at least twice a week to help delay the natural decline in bone density and muscle mass that typically starts at around 50 years old. The overall message has stayed the same, however – any activity is better than doing none at all and more activity is even better than that.
It’s thought that a drop in muscle mass and bone density is one of the main reasons why older people lose their ability to do daily tasks with ease, with falls the main reason that people above a certain age are taken to hospital. This could be avoided, however, through the likes of carrying heavy shopping, brisk walking, swimming, gardening and taking the stairs.
Physical activity can also help protect against chronic health conditions like type 2 diabetes (reducing the risk by 40 per cent), coronary heart disease (35 per cent) and depression (30 per cent).
The guidance also includes safe levels of activity for both pregnant women and new mothers, with a moderate amount of exercise for the latter proven to help them ease back pain, regain strength and reduce the chances of developing gestational diabetes.
“Physical activity is an under-appreciated asset in our clinical arsenal. It is cheap and brings a long list of health benefits.
“As we age, our muscles weaken and we can become stiff, leading to falls and difficulty performing everyday activities. Physical activity can prevent fragility and support mobility in old age. By keeping active, both throughout the day and also through hobbies, we can slow muscle and bone decline, ultimately keeping us independent for longer,” Dame Sally Davies, chief medical officer for England, said.
When it comes to strength training, going for Pilates in Waterlooville or your local area could prove particularly beneficial. This practice aims to strengthen the entire body in a balanced way, with emphasis on core strength as a way of improving general health and wellbeing.
It is suitable for people of all ages and levels of ability, so don’t worry if you’re a complete beginner… you’ll soon pick it up. Regular practice can help improve your posture, muscle tone and balance, while also relieving any stress and tension you may be experiencing.
British Cycling, with support from mountain biker and Olympic gold medallist Chris Boardman, has issued a call to reform right of way legislation that currently bans cyclists from over two-thirds of the public footpaths across England and Wales.
According to the Daily Telegraph, those behind the campaign believe that the current laws are confusing and outdated, only allowing people to enjoy beauty spots around the country if they’re on foot – such as the Cotswold Hills.
Unless permitted by the landowner, cycling on footpaths in England and Wales is typically considered trespass but local bylaws or traffic regulation orders relating to specific footpaths can make it a criminal offence.
Commenting on the news, head of campaigns with Cycling UK Duncan Dollimore said: “Conflict sometimes arises because people feel either entitled or annoyed because they perceive someone is using their particular space.
“Cycling UK wants to see England develop a better, more modern system for determining access rights – one based on suitability of use rather than historic use.”
But head of advocacy and policy for The Ramblers Gemma Cantelo made further comments, saying that some of the paths aren’t suited to becoming multi-use routes because of their physical features of their character.
As Cycling UK explains, there are 146,000km of public footpaths in England and more than 26,000km in Wales. If the majority of English footpaths were open to cyclists, it could more than triple the mileage that biking enthusiasts can enjoy, allowing them to see even more of the wonderful countryside we have right on our doorstep.
Looking to find out more about mtb weekends in north Wales? Get in touch with us today.
There are plenty of reasons to head to Scotland for a mountain biking adventure, and now one more has been added to the list.
The Tweed Valley Trails Association (TVTA) has announced a new agreement with Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS), which gives the TVTA permission to officially maintain three mountain biking trails that are currently being used unofficially.
All the new trails are based in Caberston Forest, which is known by local riders as The Golfie. It’s long been a popular spot for mountain bikers.
Commenting on the new agreement, South Scotland region manager with the FLS Sallie Bailey said: “The Tweed Valley is a mecca for mountain biking and has a long history of world-class riding for all abilities. We want to build on this and strengthen the links we already have with the mountain biking community.”
The agreement will be reviewed on an annual basis, and is a pilot for how this kind of collaboration could work elsewhere in the future.
The TVTA was formed specifically to engage with local landowners about unauthorised mountain bike trails. They want to promote a culture of sustainability and responsibility and involve the local biking community as well as landowners in trail management.
Co-chair of the TVTA Neil Carnegie said they were “delighted” that the FLS is embracing the mountain biking community in this way, adding that they “can’t wait to get working on the ground, our tools into the dirt and start making a difference”.
Earlier this year we pointed out how much investment is flowing into mountain biking north of the border, so the announcement that the trails in Caberston Forest are set to be officially maintained is more positive news for the riding community.
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Summer is finally here with much of the UK basking in hot temperatures and enjoying clear blue skies. However, while many of us are relishing in the warm weather and sunny climes, those planning on a mountain bike holiday over the next few days need to take care by packing essentials to protect themselves from the sun.
– Scorching temperatures
Temperatures have soared this week, and weather forecasters predict the mercury could hit 35C in some areas of Britain over the next few days.
Indeed, the BBC reports that temperatures might even beat the all-time record of 38.5C on Thursday, surpassing the reading taken in Faversham, Kent, in August 2003.
Speaking with Sky News, Joanna Robinson said: “There’s now an 80 per cent chance we’ll break the July temperature record on Thursday and a 40 per cent chance of recording the hottest ever day.”
While the sunny weather tempts most of us out of our offices and homes in a bid to make the most of it, it is also important to stay safe when the temperature soars.
– What to wear
While cyclists are restricted with what to wear when the weather is hot, it is important to choose lightweight, breathable materials that do not trap the build-up of sweat.
Cycling Weekly recommends a zip-fronted top so you can open it up more, depending on how hot you are, while a lightweight base layer will help with removing sweat from the skin.
When it comes to sunglasses, choose those with 100 per cent UV filtering lenses, as this will prevent dust and insects flying into your eyes.
As well as the right clothes, it is also important to prepare for your trip by wearing – and packing – suncream. As well as avoiding unflattering cycling tan lines, by putting on a high factor suncream, you will reduce your risk of sunburn, thereby protecting yourself against skin cancer.
Whatever you do, make sure you bring plenty of water on your ride. With the temperature as hot as it is, you can get dehydrated incredibly quickly, particularly if you are sweating a lot.
According to the Institute of Medicine, cyclists need to drink two gallons of water on a hot day to prevent dehydration from setting in.
Bring enough water for the day and stop regularly so you can drink properly. It is a good idea to put some ice cubes in the bottles at the beginning of the day, as this will help keep your water cool, also try using dyrolyte as a way to replenish salts on a long ride
Don’t forget to pack enough food too. While the hot weather might affect your appetite, it is important to continue eating so your energy levels do not plummet during a long ride. Fruit, such as melon, or raw vegetables help to replenish lost fluid, while grains soak up water while cooking, which is then absorbed by the body during digestion, making them an ideal choice too.
If you’re planning an active break on two wheels this summer then you could do a lot worse than heading to Europe for some mountain biking.
There are countless exceptional trails on the continent, and Deutsche Welle recently rounded up some of the top spots to consider if you haven’t picked your mountain biking destination yet.
First up was Lake Garda in Italy. One of the most appealing things about this spot is that it boasts trails to suit every ability. There are downhill, freeride and endurance routes to tackle, not to mention stunning scenery.
Alpe d’Huez in France also draws in mountain bikers each summer. The ascent is best known for its part in the Tour de France, but as any mountain biker knows, the real fun is in the descent.
The Megavalanche trail is what attracts mountain bikers. You’ll need to get a cable car to Pic Blanc some 3,330 metres above sea level and from here you start your descent along steep mountain ridges down to Allemond.
It’s said to be one of the longest mountain bike descents in the world, so it’s easy to see why it’s so popular.
Another destination highlighted by the news provider was Gran Canaria in Spain. The island’s hilly interior is a delight for mountain bikers to explore.
If you’ve got a bit of time before you head off on your holiday, it doesn’t hurt to get in some extra mtb skills coaching before you go, especially if you’ll be tackling long descents.
And you don’t have to head to the continent for great mountain biking this summer though. Scotland has been investing in its mountain bike trails, so there’s a lot to discover north of the border.