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Can 3 minutes of exercise a day make children fitter?

Background

In a recent module of study for the ISSN diploma in sports nutrition, I came across some really interesting research into how effective High Intensity Training can be for training adults to improve their aerobic fitness. Basically you sprint really hard for a short period and you rest for a while before repeating the process a number of times. Research has shown that people can get really fit as a result. It is very effective for people short on time and whilst hard, it can be fun to participate in.

It got me thinking; maybe I could do something similar in school. As I am a primary school teacher based in the north inner city of Dublin, l thought why not use the poor children as test guinea pigs! Irish teachers have very busy schedules trying to accommodate the many subject areas into the week but I figured I could manage to fit the experiment into the timetable as it was not very time intensive.

My 5th class boys were delighted to engage in this science project with them as the test subjects.

Our objective was to see if we could improve fitness levels in the space of four weeks by exercising for only three minutes a day, five days a week. This amounted to only 15 minutes a week and 60 minutes in total.

The Test

Initially we needed to get a baseline measure for our aerobic fitness levels. I decided to do a beep test. Children had to run 20m shuttles whilst listening to a beep. The children should have reached the line before the beep. When they pulled out or failed to hit the line before the beep, their score was recorded. I also weighed each student just to see if the daily exercise had any effect on their weight. The children were also asked to give up drinking fizzy drinks as part of the challenge. Parents were encouraged to monitor this and initial a record sheet as they attempted to resist the lure of the sugary beverage. As part of the challenge, they were allowed one day off per week to enjoy an occasional treat and to encourage compliance!

To validate the test, I needed a control group. Another class were summoned to fulfil his role. They were the going to do the pre and post-test but would not do any of the training or dietary measures.

We did the fitness tests on the 7th of January, on the first week after Christmas. The results varied greatly. Some of the scores in the test were scary as they were shockingly low. Many of the kids languished in the lowest category for their own age group and if they were pitted against the norms for 65 year olds or older, amazingly a few were still in the ‘least fit’ for that age group. It was clearly obvious that the children with the most sedentary lives were displaying the dangerous low levels of aerobic fitness. This would obviously potentially pose huge problems to their health as they get older.

The Training

We started the training on Monday the 11th of January

Every morning for four weeks at 10.05 we would go down to the yard. The boys would run up and down for 30 seconds and then take a break for 30 seconds. Six bouts of 30 second running were completed each day. The effort was varied. Some boys loved the challenge whilst others found it very difficult.

After a few days, the boys were saying how they felt better after they ran and ‘felt faster’ and ‘fitter’. They still found it difficult as the mornings were quite cold but they persevered. They were getting a break from the class room and were happy to get their extra exercise on yard.

On the 8th February we did the retest. We did the same protocol as before. The boys did the beep test and we measured their weight. I also did the test on the other class to see how they performed compared to their initial test.

The Results

Training group: improved their aerobic fitness by 19%.

Control group: improved their aerobic fitness by 12%.

Training group: average weight reduced by 0.01 kg

Control group: average weight increased by 0.6 kg

Conclusion

Both groups hugely increased their fitness levels, but the training group improved by a massive 19% due in many respects to the 3 minutes of exercise a day. The 12% increase seen by the control group was also quite a jump with no ‘formal training’. This is probably due to the fact that the initial test was done immediately post-Christmas. Both groups would probably not have done much activity over this period and were naturally going to be more active in the January period (resuming football training, walking to school etc), thus an increase was always likely.

The weight loss seen by the training group was interesting also. It was good to see that the short amounts of exercise and an emphasis on drinking water and milk resulted in slight weight loss. The objective was not to see if we could lose a lot of weight as the children are growing and increasing weight naturally but it was good to see that some of the kids who were a bit overweight for their height managed to lose some all the same.

Overall, the challenge was a great success. We clearly saw that with only three minutes of exercise a day for four weeks, the children’s fitness levels improved by 7% over the control group. Imagine what each child could do in a few months.

The important message is that short bursts of intense exercise can make a massive impact on aerobic fitness and health levels. Never use lack of time as a reason not to exercise. This applies also to adults as well as children.

I hope to continue and refine this training protocol so I look forward to see how I can improve the training regime and ensure that it is as fun as possible as well as being an effective training tool.

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Christmas Gift Ideas

Christmas is only around the corner, yet some stockings have still to be filled.

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Fear not, there is still time to buy a few presents for the fitness enthusiast in your life. I have compiled a list of health and fitness gifts that will appeal to a wide range of people.

Reebok Ladies Outdoor Training Jacket top

Only 38 euro from Elverys. Made from lightweight, durable and breathable material. Perfect for the fitness girl in your life.

Mens Under Armour runners

General fitness footwear that would be perfect for the active man. 80 euro a good price for these lads from Lifestyle Sports.

Nutri Bullet

An absolute must buy appliance for the kitchen of every health minded person. User friendly, handy, healthy and multi functional. Make smoothies, juices and a myriad of healthy mixtures. Easy to use even for the ‘beans on toast’ chef.

Can be bought in argos and all general electrical stores. Check out here for more details and product types.

Foam Roller

An extremely effective training and recovery tool. That person in your life who plays sport or trains a lot, they are bound to suffers from regular aches and pains. This piece of equipment can enable them to massage their own muscles to help relieve tension and soreness. Get this one in mcsport.ie for 50-65 euro.

Food Meal Voucher

If you know someone who had great ambitions to eat healthy but has a very busy life and cannot seem to prepare meals in advance. Why not treat them with a meal delivery voucher. 75 euro for the week for 3 meals a day.

Take the hassle out of lunch preparation for a week with a voucher for chopped.ie. Freshly prepared lunches can be delivered to your workplace. Tonnes of choice and an extremely user friendly menu process.

The Lean Muscle Diet

A nutrition and fitness book primarily aimed at the male market. The Lean Muscle Diet is a super read for anyone who is interested in shedding some fat and getting stronger and leaner. Written by two highly respected dudes in the fitness world, this would be an excellent purchase for the average male gym goer who wants to get the facts right about how to maximise their efforts in the gym.

Happy Pear Voucher

I’m a big fan of the Happy Pear shop and restaurant. The food is delicious and their message to eat more fruit and vegetables is a great one to embrace. Check out their super range of hampers and gifts online. An beautiful present to fill a hungry family over Christmas.

A Kettlebell

A super multi-functional fitness product. Great for anyone from beginners to more advanced trainees. Super for fat loss, fitness and strength. Whilst there are many kettlebell workouts on the internet, it is a good idea to get some advice from a trainer before starting a new regime.

I have always found these bells from D8 Fitness to be of excellent quality and at a good rate. Women should aim for a 12 kg bell (30 euro) whilst men can target a 16kg (40 euro) as a starting point.

Tough Mudder Challenge

Why not give someone an amazing challenge present. Entry to the Irish Tough Mudder event 2016 be just the thing. There is nothing better than a goal on the horizon to shake someone from their slumber into a meaningful regime. Having participated in this event in 2014, I can testify that it is a tough yet amazing and exciting experience. More details can be found on the main website here.

Whey Protein

Whey protein is a perfectly normal and healthy food. It is a by product made in the production of milk and cheese. Many people use it as a method of ensuring they meet their protein requirements in the day. It has been synonymously linked to men who want to bulk up and who lift heavy weights in the gym. It has gotten a bad rap over the years as people only associate it with muscle bound Arnies grunting weights and slamming drinks after their workout!

In actual fact, whey protein is a product that can be very useful for many people. Most regular people struggle to meet their protein requirements. If you exercise or play sport regularly, you will need to be consuming enough protein to meet your needs. I always encourage everyone to get protein in every meal and for some people this can be difficult.

I am not suggesting you should drink a protein shake every day but if you are struggling to meet protein requirements because you don’t eat much meat or are exercising very hard, it might be a good option for you.

Check out the excellent range of good quality protein powders available here in Fitness Ireland. I recommend Kinetica, an Irish based company that use grass fed cows to produce their product.

Fitbit

For the techie fitness person in your life. Fitbit can record all your fitness data from steps, distance, active minutes and calories burned. It can keep tally of sleep quality and heart rate information. All your stats can be viewed online and you can monitor your changes in fitness as you continue your quest for health. There are a range of different products in their shop based on your needs. More details and products can be found at www.fitbit.com

Delphi Mountain Resort

A an active weekend away can be a super present for the couple or family who like to experience the wilds of the Irish Western Seaboard. Located in the wilds of Connemara in Galway, Delphi Mountain Resort is the ultimate antidote to the stresses and strains of hectic modern life. With a vast array of adventure activities as well as spa and gourmet options, Delphi can suit a range of interests and will definitely appeal to all the family. Check out their gift voucher options.

Home-made Healthy hamper

Why not make a healthy hamper. A basket with hand picked goods can be a super gift. We are blessed in this country with a myriad of amazing high quality Irish food products. Take some time to pick out some tasty foods and pack together in a presentable fashion. Muesli, green tea, dark chocolate, cheese etc are options but I’m sure you can find plenty of options as you stroll around the isles of your local supermarket or health food shop.

Cooks Academy – Cookery School Dublin

Cookery school in South William Street in Dublin city centre. Vouchers can be purchased online for many different courses ranging in duration from a few hours to many weeks. Courses start at 70 euro for a 3 hour class. Different styles and interests are catered for. An excellent gift for the wannabe Jamie Oliver in your life. http://www.cooksacademy.com/Gift_Vouchers/ to purchase online.

Philip Howard Fitness 4 Week Voucher

4 weeks of classes in Philip Howard Fitness. Based close to Dublin city centre. Kick start 2016 with a new regime. Perfect for anyone looking to lose weight or get back into fitness.

Exercise, nutrition and weight loss advice.

Only 50 euro. Exercise and health is the best gift you could ever give.

Lots of ideas there. Hope some of them provide some inspiration for some Christmas gift ideas!

  

 

 

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Special Offer: Bring a Friend Deal

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Special offer on the 8 Week Fat Loss Camp until Wed 26th of August.

Grab your friend and pay only 120 each.

120 Euro for The 8 Week Fat Loss Project. 16 classes, on-going assessment, nutrition plans, online support and much, much more. A massive 40 euro saving on the original price. You would be mad to miss this amazing deal.

It can be quite daunting when you are starting a new class on your own. You may really want to go but the fear of the unknown may be a barrier in your way.

No excuse now, get a mate, secure the deal and push each other on to new fitness goals.

Email: philiphowardfitness@gmail.com to secure your place.

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8 Station Dumbbell Workout

8 station DB workout

This workout can be done at home or in the gym.

You just need a set of dumbbells. Each circuit only takes 8 minutes to complete so you can have a great workout in 35-40 minutes.

No excuses, just give it a go!

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Habit based Nutrition for Fat Loss

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I constructed this info sheet a few weeks back. I posted it on the Facebook page a while back and I figured it would be good that people can have access to view on the website.

It contains some handy, helpful tips that people can apply in their daily lives.

These actionable tasks can help anyone to navigate the nutrition world and make real, simple changes in their lives.

Print this out and put it on your fridge!

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Super Duper Kidz Project

I just wanted to post on the website the video that we made in school during June. We had been learning about the importance of healthy eating, about going to bed on time and about how exercise can keep up fit.

Learning about these topics are great but we wanted to do something more constructive and maybe help other children learn and understand our message. We came up with the idea of the Super Duper Kidz Project.

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Obesity is a massive problem in Ireland today. 60% of Irish adults are either overweight or obese. This is a massive issue and we must start making changes now to help turn the tide on this problem.

With this in mind, we decided to create a blueprint that all parents and children could follow. We decided to make simple changes and have challenges that the children could follow. They gave up fizzy drinks, they exercised for an hour a day and ate more fruit.

We encourage all parents and children to have a look at the video. Even if you only make one or two simple changes to your diet, sleep, exercise or mindset, you are succeeding.

We hope you enjoy!

Super Duper Kidz YouTube Video

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Mindless eating

  
The weekend was busy and you didn’t get a chance to do a proper shop. You get up and look into the press to see what the available options are. Unfortunately they are quite limited. In your mind, you were going to make an omelette but one solitary egg would make a measly omelette. Ah well, you don’t worry, that box of Special K will do the job. A large bowl with a drop of milk and a slice of toast has filled the gap and you are out the door to work. 

In work, you are having a break at 11.00. Jim your workmate is 30 so the boss has ordered in a nice tasty sponge cake. Everyone is having a bit of cake so you dig in, yummy! 

At lunch time, you pop out to the nearest shop to grab something. The nearest shop isn’t the best but will do the job in this situation. You scan the available options and decide to just get a sandwich and a cereal bar. The shop has limited options, but you console yourself with the notion that you did try to be healthy by getting the cereal bar instead of the chocolate option. 

You come home from a tough day at work and are starving, on the table is a box of biscuits. You are so hungry so you start nibbling on a few. You start throwing shape on dinner and before you know it, you’ve eaten three or four biscuits. After a little while you serve up dinner with your regular large plates. To fill the plate you need a relatively large portion and as you’ve put a good effort into making this meal, you leave none to waste. 

You are peckish after dinner and as you scan around the kitchen, you are presented with two options looking back at you. The biscuits (‘oh no I’ve had enough of them’ you think) and the box of cereal. You go for the cereal as you think that is the ‘healthy’ option. 

You can have all the nutrition knowledge you like but if your environment is working against you, you are setting yourself up for failure. 

There are many ways this person could have improved their food environment.

  • Ensure they do a shop with a variety of healthy food.
  • Be aware of portion sizes and use smaller plates and bowls when trying to eat less.
  • Have a bowl of fruit with two or more fruits instead of a bowl with crisps or biscuits.
  • Have healthy snacks available instead of toast and cereal- nuts, yogurt, fruit, unprocessed cheese, carrot stick are good options. 
  • Have lunch prepared for work and don’t run the risk of going to a shop with limited healthy food availability. 
  • Remove unhealthy snacks from view in the kitchen and put them into a cupboard that is awkward to get to and is out of the way. 
  • Work environments can also massively influence eating habits. Is your work place making you fat or fit!?

This blog was inspired by an excellent podcast by Danny Lennon with Brian Wansink. Well worth listening to for anyone interested in understanding how we can use our environment to help eat in a healthy manner. We make so many unconscious decisions about food but thankfully new can change our environment to work in our favour.

http://sigmanutrition.com/episode69/
So good, I listened to it twice, fairly sad I know! 

But I do a lot of driving so that my excuse.

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Afternoon Group Fitness 

You finish work early?

You want to get the exercise out of the way before you get home?

You love to have the whole free evening where you can meet up with your friends without worrying about having to go to the gym?

Fear not, Brunner Bootcamp is here to serve your needs! 

Afternoon classes have started in St. Paul’s CBS. Every Monday and Wednesday at 3.45. 

Come along, check us out. 

If you are a teacher, email philiphowardfitness@gmail.com with your name and school before Friday 15th May. One lucky person will be in with with a chance of winning a month of bootcamp. 

 

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Focus on what you CAN DO 

You’re sitting on the couch chilling out watching the television after a hectic few days. You’ve not had a great week with exercise and food. Work was very busy and you had to work a bit later than usual. When you got home it was a bit late, you felt quite tired and couldn’t face the effort of going to the gym. To make matters worse, you didn’t do a proper shop at the start of the week and ended up eating any sort of rubbish whilst on the run. 

You’re having a flick through the oul Fakebook. 

A quick scan through your feed tells you your mate John has 10 selfie photos up after completing the Boston marathon whilst wearing a clown costume, he looks wrecked but happy out, ‘fair play John’ you think.

Sarah from down the road has just finished the Ballytowntwomilehouse Ultra triathlon, ‘she is always up to something, good woman Sarah’

Your cousin Maggie has 102 likes on the photo of her standing on the top of a windswept mountain. ‘Oh my God I’d never be fit enough to do that’

As you nibble on the last few crumbs of your biscuit, you feel decidedly inadequate. 

We unfortunately tend to see other peoples achievements and judge ourselves based on them. It can sometimes magnify our own disappointments when we realise that the marathon, the long cycle or the fitness goal that seems so easy to other people is currently out of our reach. (Maybe now but not forever) 

We need to stop feeling sorry for ourselves about what we can’t do but instead start focusing on what we can do. 

We are all at different stages in our nutrition and exercise journey. What may seem easy and achievable to one person may be totally impossible for another. We should not set our goals based on what others around us are doing but on where we are at currently. Constantly looking at what others are doing can lead to failure and disappointment. 

Instead of feeling down about our situation compared to others, we need to find something that we can do. Something that is achievable and will make us immediately feel better and set us back on the road.

  • That marathon may be out of the question but a 30 minute walk/run is not (raincoat maybe needed!)
  • Prepare and eat a salad, full of fresh goodness, this will instantly invigorate you.
  • Do a home exercise routine (10 squats, 10 press ups, 10 lunges, 10 jumping jacks, 10 burpees, 10 high knees) Rest and repeat for 20 minutes. Just do it!
  • Dust off the bike and head off on the bike exploring some unchartered territory.
  • Give up fizzy drinks for the week
  • Get to bed early a few nights in a row, just switch off the phone, turn off the television and hit the hay. Aim for 8 hours.

This week, instead of focusing on what you can’t do, concentrate on what you CAN do. When you do it, you will feel great and be ready to tackle the next little challenge that comes your way. 

Stop using other people as a bench mark and focus on being a bit better than you were yesterday! 

Little steps lead to greater things. Just start…

  

 

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Become a Better Version of Yourself in January 2015

6 week Body Transformation is back in January 2015 bigger and better than ever!

Are you looking to become a better version of yourself?

Have you let yourself go in the last while and are looking for a route back to better health, a stronger body and a more toned physique?

Have you tried many diets that haven’t worked for you and need a road map which is tailored personally towards you?

Do you want to shed some pounds and give yourself the present of happier, healthier life?

Health scale

The exercise and nutrition plan in the 6 week block might be just the thing to get you back on track again and move you up that health scale.

The transformation is not based on any fad diet or food restriction but on sound principals which promote nourishment whilst also encouraging a holistic approach to the consumption of food in our daily lives. Too many people harbour a constant destructive attitude towards food, agonising over eating certain foods and using food as a reward. This creates a poor psychological relationship with food and can lead to calorie restriction and possibly subsequent binging. On the 6WT, healthy food choices are obviously encouraged but a healthy outlook to nutrition is also an extremely important consideration.

Too many people are constantly on a ‘diet’ and are falling victim to the next diet marketing fad they are fed every day. If you’re getting your dietary advice from the magazine or from the bulletins on the radio it is possibly time to look for an alternative source.

During the 6 weeks there will be two classes per week of exercise. Each Monday and Wednesday there will be a lot of high intensity intervals, resistance training and a mixture of mobility and dynamic work. Emphasis will be put on improving strength, building muscle through the practice of correct form and technique. People are also encouraged to do exercise outside the class or just to continue to be active.

What can you expect after 6 weeks?

It varies and it is somewhat dependant on how much effort you put in! You must commit to changing your habits. You must believe you will be healthy, fit and strong and you must enjoy the process.  If you do this you will see results.

I guarantee super energy, better immunity to sickness, a more positive outlook on life, less body fat and greater strength can be yours.

People must remember though that 6 weeks is a pretty short time period. Many people have experienced super results in this period, losing a lot of body fat and changing their body shape but to realise true health, this should only be a start. Eating well, exercising and having a positive outlook should be something we strive to do for life. It should be consistent and attainable not something that’s done for just 6 weeks.

Heard enough!?

Email me on philiphowardfitness@gmail.com to reserve your place

The cost for the 6 weeks is 130 euro.

What’s included:

12 exercise classes

Nutrition plan

Ongoing online nutrition advice and assistance

Home exercise plan

3 assessments: before and after photos, skin calliper testing, weight, hip and waist measurements.

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