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

Good Health (Australia) - - Be Energized -

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.

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