The Yin & Yang of exercise

It doesn’t surprise me when students are astonished that I love dance and fitness as much as I love Yin Yoga. It’s not a competition. It’s actually pretty simple. Rather than following a recipe or a strict regime, I just do what I feel like doing.  Some days I need to dance to shake off stress.  Animals do this all the time when you see them bolting or going nuts like my cats do at the same time each night. On other days I need the quiet contemplative practice of Yin Yoga as it’s an easy way to be ‘body aware’ and I, like many others, find it easier than a sitting practice which is also a Yin Yoga posture if you think about it. I love all styles of yoga and the confluence of being able to move freely on my mat and explore whatever I actually feel like doing doesn’t come from my mind, its comes from an unconscious place within. It is ‘body led’. It feels like freedom finally after years of a fairly prescriptive practice thinking if I wasn’t ‘doing the routine’, I wasn’t doing yoga ‘properly’.  I don’t know if you’ve felt this too in your practice or in a class wanting to do something other than what is on offer or what the teacher is cueing, It feels almost rebellious doesn’t it? That’s why a home practice is the most liberating and rewarding way to find that freedom in yourself that I, for one, believe we all crave.

Over the past few weeks I’ve compiled a list of articles on the sort of exercise tips that I’ve found helpful. If I did nothing but Yin, since I am best known as a Yin Yoga teacher, I would be flagellating by now with wobbly knees and SIJ issues. Strengthening and cardiovascular health are imperative as part of an overall healthy exercise program. It’s the Daoism of exercise where both Yin and Yang exercises are of equal importance. Just as the Yin Yang symbol depicts. One cannot exist without the other.

Here are the articles:- Enjoy😃!

The maths of midlife fitness,

Day 1: The real number of steps you should aim for. It’s no secret that in midlife you lose muscle mass and put on weight more easily, but keeping your strength and fitness intact needn’t be too complicated. We’ve crunched the numbers and every day this week we’re going to bring you a midlife fitness equation to show you exactly what you should do, how long you should do it for, and how often you should do it.

Day 1: Aim for 7,500 steps

Walking burns calories, strengthens your heart and lungs, and protects against diabetes and dementia, so dividing up your working day with regular walks, taking the stairs or pottering around your garden is an essential part of your midlife fitness equation.

Many experts still talk about hitting the magic 10,000-step mark, but there is little evidence this figure is necessary. Research by Harvard Medical School found that even 4,400 daily steps are associated with a 41 per cent reduction in mortality. The study found that mortality rates do improve with the more steps you take, but the benefits level off after around 7,500. Any more than that will of course help you stay fit. But it seems a daily target of 7,500 steps (and no fewer than 4,400) is the figure to aim for.

We’ve crunched the numbers and every day this week we’re going to bring you a midlife fitness equation to show you exactly what you should do, how long you should do it for, and how often you should do it. 

Heart-pumping interval sessions are important for midlifers as they strengthen your cardiovascular system and improve lung performance. A growing volume of research suggests that poor cardiorespiratory fitness is as strong a predictor of mortality as other major risk factors such as smoking, high cholesterol, and type 2 diabetes. In other words, your longevity is not just dependent on your weight and diet, but also on the health of your heart and lungs. 

It seems that the best intensity to aim for is 85-95 per cent of your maximum heart rate, which means an exercise that leaves you out of breath. Research suggests that lower-intensity exercise, though beneficial, may not be enough on its own to improve cardiorespiratory fitness in sedentary or obese adults. But a major review in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that high-intensity interval training (HIIT) – short bursts of 30-second or 1-minute efforts at 85-95 per cent of your maximum heart rate – significantly improves maximal oxygen uptake and other key cardiometabolic risk factors such as diastolic blood pressure and blood sugar levels in overweight people. Over time it also improves waist circumference, body fat percentage, resting heart rate and systolic blood pressure. 

So make sure you pump up the intensity of your exercise sessions, with spin classes, five-a-side football or sprint intervals that raise your heart rate. Every little effort helps: a paper in the journal Circulation found even small increases in cardiorespiratory fitness can cut your risk of heart problems by 10-30 per cent. 

Mark Bailey, Health Writer

We’ve crunched the numbers and every day this week we’re going to bring you a midlife fitness equation to show you exactly what you should do, how long you should do it for, and how often you should do it. 

We’ve established that good cardiovascular fitness is an essential component of midlife health, and that you should be aiming for workouts that get you between 85-95 per cent of your maximum heart rate. So how many do you need to do? 

High-intensity workouts can be fun but they are also tough on your body. If slashing your body fat is your primary goal, it seems the answer is three per week. A recent review of 32 studies, published in the International Journal of Obesity, found the most effective dosage of high-intensity exercise for burning visceral fat – the kind of belly fat that increases your risk of diabetes and heart disease – was three sessions per week. But don’t panic, because they don’t need to be long. 

The optimal duration of each session was found to be around 30 minutes. So a quick gym class, a few sprints when you’re out jogging, or a body weight circuit in front of the TV will do the job, making this goal much easier than you think.

Lean muscle mass naturally deteriorates with age (a process known as sarcopenia), so midlifers need to do regular strength exercises to prevent their muscles wasting away. Strength training – whether through lifting dumbbells, gardening or yoga – has been shown to improve muscle mass, burn abdominal fat, boost metabolism, enhance balance and mobility, reduce inflammation and improve bone health. 

It seems the current NHS recommendation to perform strength activities twice a week is about right. A major study by Penn State College of Medicine found that older adults who do strength training twice a week have a 46 per cent lower risk of death from any cause, a 41 per cent lower risk of death by heart disease, and a 19 per cent lower risk of death from cancer. A separate study in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research found that just two resistance training sessions per week is enough to protect your bone density and muscle mass. 

You don’t need to spend hours in the gym either: research in the International Journal of Exercise Science found that simple 11-minute bodyweight workouts increase leg power by 10 per cent.