Ask the expert
FITNESS COACH HEIDI LINDAHL ON BOOSTING BONE DENSITY AND STRENGTH, WHY YOU SHOULD USE A SWISS BALL AND HOW TO GET KILLER CALVES
I enjoy going to aqua aerobics four times a week over summer. Is this enough exercise to keep me fit?
Water aerobics is a fun and social way to increase muscle tone and your cardiovascular system. If you have arthritis or other joint conditions, it’s a great alternative to land-based activity by providing a buoyant low-impact environment to work through specific movements without exacerbating any joint problems too. However, it is this same reason that it is inferior to other activities where you are bearing your own body weight, as moving while bearing your body weight is more challenging for the body, resulting in much faster improvements in strength and bone density. I recommend dropping one aqua class for a resistance activity, a hard bush walk or even yoga classes.
What is the advantage of doing exercises on a Swiss or fit ball as opposed to a normal bench?
‘A fun and social way to increase muscle tone’
‘using a swiss ball stimulates the deeper muscles of the core’
Unlike a bench that is stable, a Swiss or fit ball provides an unstable surface, which requires your body to switch on more stabilising muscles to prevent it from slipping and moving from underneath you. Using a Swiss ball stimulates the deeper muscles of the core (both abdominals and lower back), strengthening them while contributing to improved posture and balance as well.
I started running a few months ago, but my left knee cap has started to hurt when I do this, as well as when I walk down stairs. Should I stop running?
Maybe for a short amount of time. You may be developing patellofemoral pain syndrome (kneecap pain). The main factor contributing to this is usually excessive knee joint pressure from poor alignment of the kneecap, due to muscle imbalances and/or incorrect technique. Treat by resting and icing the inflamed joint along with specific exercises to help correct the muscle imbalances. I also suggest seeing a physio for a correct diagnosis.
How can I get shapely calves?
There are two muscles that make up the calf – the gastrocnemius (big bulgy muscle) and the soleus (smaller deeper muscle), which is why a mix of exercises help with toning. Start with 3 x 30-second rounds of skipping followed by 2 sets of 15 reps of the following exercises before building to 5 x 1-minute rounds and 3 sets of the exercises: »Calf raises. »Hopping on one leg from left to right. »Ankle circles.