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HEALTH & WELLBEING

Benefits of Exercise Classes

By RGrant

In my last post I spoke about the different classes that you can find online at RGU through our RGU SPORT Online Group Exercise Facebook group. In this post I will go over two of these classes and will list some benefits that can be found with regular attendance. 

HIIT/ HIIT Step (20-30 Minutes high intensity interval class)

This is a great class for working the full body, as it covers everything from cardio endurance to muscular endurance and coordination. By taking part in this class you also concentrate on one of the most important muscles in the body, the heart! I’ve learned from being a HIIT instructor that even 20 minutes of high intensity interval training comes with great health benefits. One of the major benefits of HIIT is that your metabolic rate (energy expenditure at rest) increase, which allows you to continue burning calories even after your 20/30-minute workout. So basically, while you’re sitting on the couch recovering your body is still working hard burning calories. This is referred to as the afterburn effect. Your body will continue to burn calories up to 24 hours after exercise. 

Blood Volume Output

Another fantastic benefit of HIIT is that it provides a more efficient blood volume output, which means more oxygen is being pumped to the working muscles. Anyone looking to transfer these fitness gains into the gym will see greater results faster, than just participating in gym workouts alone. 

Calorie Burn

Most of the moves in HIIT will be performed fast to try to ensure the heart rate increases and stays high to help burn calories. One of our instructors, Steph, who teaches HIITSTEP explained why moves such as squats, burpees and lunges are always included in her class. These moves help target one of the biggest muscle groups in the body…the legs. By targeting larger muscle groups, as a participant you will need to put in more effort from the body to keep these muscles working for the duration of the session. This is one of the reasons calorie burn is high in this type of class. Like all of our instructors, Steph helps ensure participants have correct technique and they are performing each exercise safely. You might not like the idea of doing weighted or bodyweight squats, but it’s not only in the gym or exercise classes we find ourselves using squat or deadlift techniques. Everyday tasks such as getting yourself on and off a chair and carrying shopping either home or to the car, require the same muscle recruitment. You must ensure you’re lifting correctly to avoid hurting yourself and even learning that deadlift technique will help. 

Muscular Strength and Muscle Memory

Classes like these help build muscular strength and muscle memory, which will allow you to apply these techniques to so many daily activities. By regularly attending classes, and with help of our instructors, you will build confidence in your own ability and minimise the chances of suffering an injury.

I personally, have always felt this information is overlooked by many gym goers.  I feel education is the key to helping people maximise their efforts in becoming healthier and happier. 

Body Balance (45-minute class)

Is one of our regular online and in facility classes. Taking part in this class will have many benefits, as the main focus of this class is building strength and flexibility, by performing a series of stretching moves. Through observation this class is predominantly joined by females, but this class comes with even greater benefits for people who are looking to take part in weight bearing exercises. 

Warm Up and Stretching

WARM UP and STRETCHING should be involved in everyone’s programme but it’s something that can be missed or skipped due to not enough time or lack of knowledge on what stretches to perform. In the gym I often see males doing football stretches as these are the only ones they really know. Holding static stretches for 5 seconds isn’t very beneficial. Body Balance is a great way to help increase your range of motion (ROM), which has various benefits from improving your standing posture to allowing you to perform a deeper squat, while weight lifting. There was a study that investigated the interaction between strength training and flexibility in sedentary young adults. After a 12-week follow-up, the authors verified that strength training performed alone was not able to increase flexibility. The research suggests that performing a strength only training programme, will only increase muscular output and doesn’t improve other components of fitness. Adding this class once a week will help increase flexibility and make a difference when performing simple daily tasks or different exercises within the gym environment. 

After speaking to Steph who teaches this class, I managed to get an idea of some of the moves included in this class and how they can be taken into the gym and daily life. 

Downward Dog

Downward dog is a great move for stretching out the legs, calves and hamstrings. It helps ease pressure on vertebrae and would be a great stretch for anyone who is sitting hunched over at a desk all day. This stretch has been shown to increase strength in shoulder girdle and improve posture over a long period of time. 

Pigeon Pose

Another great stretch Steph likes to include in her Body Balance class is called pigeon pose (this is one of my favourites), it targets so many muscles and helps relieve a lot of built up tension in the hip/groin area. Pigeon pose elongates the back, opens the hips, groin, hamstrings, and relieves pressure on the lower back and sciatica. Your hips are a keystone to your body and its proper functioning, so open hips will improve your posture, alignment and overall flexibility.

To Sum Up ...

As you can see, both these classes offer great benefits both individually and as part of your training programme, but most importantly they can be done right now with NO equipment and from home with very little space. I recommend that everyone gives it a try as keeping fit and strong is easier then starting from the beginning again. 

John, RGU Sport Assistant

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