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BBC One – How to Stay Young

Of the thousands of people I’ve had the pleasure of teaching, virtually everyone has benefited and improved as a result of the exercise programme we do. For some it’s a measurable improvement in strength, or a reduction in aches and pains, greater mobility, more stamina or better balance. For others it’s less measurable but equally important as they report feeling better, happier, brighter and less lonely. It’s miraculous to see the transformation that can occur – at any age – from participating in group exercise.

So when I was asked to be the fitness expert for the BBC How to Stay Young programme with Angela Rippon and Professor Janet Lord, I knew it would be a challenge, bringing about a positive change in a short period of time. It turned out to be a fantastic experience and the improvements surprised us all.

The challenge was to improve the scores of some of the participants who had not scored so well on the sit to rise exercise. Fortunately each of the chosen four people had the most important ingredients for improvement – determination and a positive attitude.

However it wasn’t going to be easy, the sit to rise is not an exercise we do in everyday life, if we want to get up from the floor we usually use our hands and certainly don’t do this with our legs crossed! It involves strength, power and flexibility along with good balance.

So my four challengers embarked on a programme of exercise to strengthen muscles and improve joint mobility in the ankles, knees and hips along with core strength for stability. It usually takes 12 weeks to see real improvements but we only had eight, so they began a progressive programme of exercising three times a week (although some did more) using resistance bands and body weight.

Our goal was to get better at the sit to rise, but I wanted to show how they could also improve their functional fitness too so we measured how many sit to stands they could do in 30 seconds, the Timed Up and Go (TUG) – get up from a chair, walk 4 metres, turn and come back to sit down and how long they could balance on one leg. The results were amazing…


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