Friday, 20 September 2013

What’s The Best Fitness Discipline To Lose Weight

Over the years I have read so many different news and magazine articles covering the discussion of fitness and weight loss. Let’s face it, fat loss remains one of the main reasons why people choose to exercise. So what type of exercise works best for fat loss? Should we be joining a zumba class, getting to grips with vibrating plates or signing up with a personal trainer?

In this experiment I put 5 popular fitness activities to the test. I followed each activity for 4 weeks and 3 hours a week. I maintained the same diet on each activity. Here is what I discovered:-

Vibration Plates
(Score 5/10)
I first used these whilst I was on holiday in Dubai. The hotel I was staying at had a room full of them. I tried them and it felt very odd. Initially I was not that keen. But when I heard of how effective they can be, I signed up to a course of sessions back home in London. This was a 6 week vibrating plate course consisting of 3 sessions a week.

After 4 weeks I had lost 3 pounds in body weight. Okay this isn’t much but I definitely felt more toned. The cost of the 4 week program was £225.00

Zumba Class
(Score 6/10)
Now this I was really looking forward to. I had heard so much about it that I couldn’t wait to give it a try. I signed up for 4 weeks of zumba consisting of 3 classes a week. I found the sessions difficult to master to begin but by week 2, I was finding my feet (so to speak).
After 4 weeks I had lost 4 pounds in body weight. I felt really fit and my body was definitely more toned. The cost of the 4 week program was £140.00. Definitely the best value for money program out of all those I tried.

Personal Training (Score
This was the one that scared me the most. Would I be laughed at by my trainer, would I be humiliated? All these questions ran through my head. The reality was a lot more pleasant than I suspected. My trainer was lovely and she really impressed me with her knowledge. However, she made me work hard and this was the toughest option of them all. I signed up to 4 weeks of training consisting of 3 sessions a week.
After 4 weeks I had dropped 9 pounds and had really toned my stomach, legs and arms. This was head and shoulders the most successful result out of all the plans I tried. I felt I looked the best out of all the different exercises too.
The 4 week program cost me £550 – the most expensive option, so for that reason I cannot give it full marks, but pretty close!

The Gym
(Score 6/10)
So I joined a gym on a temporary 4 week contract. I attended 2-3 times every week and was given a program (for free) by a fitness instructor. This involved moving through a circuit of machines. I have to say I did find it the most boring of all the programs I followed, but it was good value for money.
I lost 4 pounds in the 4 weeks and the membership cost me £70 which was good value. However, I struggled to keep motivated and by week 2 was finding the program boring.

Running Club (Score 3/10)
I joined a local running club. These have become really popular in the recession. This was the cheapest option but not being a natural runner I was slightly nervous if I would get left behind. Lucky for me I was put in a beginners class – and I found it okay to begin. I attended for 4 weeks, but I did pick up more injuries here then any other exercise I tried. I developed shin splints, excruciating pain in my hip flexors and then excruciating pain on the tops of my feet – so much so that I had to go and get my feet x-rayed as I was sure I had fractured something! Perhaps my running style or footwear was to blame, as not everyone had these problems but it did put me off road running.
I lost just 4 pounds and experienced so much pain that meant it really put me off running! The cost of 4 weeks membership was cheap though at just £60

Overall I achieved the best results through personal training, but this was also the most expensive option. I think however, if you can afford it then the results are really worthwhile. I did my personal training through based in London.

For those on smaller budgets I can really recommend Zumba classes. They helped me to lose weight but just less intensively compared to the personal training. Most gyms provide these classes for free including Fitness First and Virgin Active. However, I did mine through a local drop-in class held in my son's school sports hall.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Can Computer Video Games Actually Get You Fit?

With the popularity of computer consoles such as the Wii Fit many people now use computer games as a way of working out. But are these computer games really able to help us work up a sweat? The Wii Fit has been the forerunner in this style of active gaming and is actually a fairly simple looking step which you perform most exercises upon or next to. You can create a profile by adding your height and weight, but don't get offended by the picture it creates of you - this will correlate to your BMI.

Many of the exercises are based upon balance and focus therefore around developing and strengthening your core muscles. Whilst this is great for balance, coordination etc it does very little to really improve your cardiovascular fitness. Whilst you can use the board for basic step ups, hula hoop and running on the spot, these low level aerobic exercises may do little to enhance your fitness.

However, other activities that involve hand held motion controllers such as tennis can burn about 5 calories a minute making it a reasonably good aerobic activity. The Wii boxing in particular is a far more cardio-intense activity that can really increase the heart rate and improve fitness, especially if practised regularly over time. Increasing the level of difficulty will also help improve your fitness as you can add an element of progression. However, compared to real tennis or real boxing, the calorie burn has shown to be around 30% less when using the games console compared to the real thing.

Evidence shows that using computer video games as a form of fitness can be moderately successful but like most activities, consistency is key. Most owners of the Wii Fit and other exercise based games, actually confess that they use it very rarely. With the basic government guidelines stating we need 30 minutes of moderate to high intensity exercise a day, it seems we may need to all do more than just occasionally playing computer games. Exercise experts recommend fresh air and variety when performing exercise and unfortunaetly most games are very routine and encourage us to stay indoors!. However, as games developers expand their software building capabilities maybe there may be potential for us to all use computer games as part of a rounded fitness routine in the future.