Shock news – going to the gym can make you healthy!

I could hardly believe my eyes – the headline in the news item was ‘Gym could make you ill’. Apparently some so-called health professionals carried out a survey and found out that some people go to the gym when they have a cold, and others don’t always wipe down the equipment after use. These shocking facts COULD make people ill.

What a load of old rubbish. I’d be much more interested if they had carried out a survey and discovered that people HAD actually become ill from going to the gym. I assume that they didn’t because they knew that they wouldn’t find any evidence. Going to the gym is famous for making people fitter, including boosting their immune systems. There are many studies which have shown that those who exercise more get ill less. But that doesn’t make a good headline does it?

This highly scientific study also found that 22% of people avoided going to the gym because of ‘excessive nudity in the changing rooms’. For heavens sake! It just goes to show that some people will come up with any excuse in the book to avoid going to the gym and instead sit on their fat bottoms scoffing the pies which will ultimately kill them.

On the other side I found a ‘shocking revelation’ on the front of one of the newspapers recently. Apparently scientists have discovered that the best way to minimise the risk of contracting type 2 diabetes, and of minimising its impact on your health if you do, is to take up regular exercise. You don’t say, Sherlock! Most other scientists and health professionals have known this and been advocating it for the last 20 years!

I think it’s about time people started understanding risk. Everything you do carries a risk. And so does everything that you don’t do. There is a risk that you’ll be struck by lightning when you open the front door in the morning, but I don’t see headlines warning you about the dangers of getting your pint of milk off the doorstep! More importantly, there is a very high risk that failing to do regular exercise will cause a wide variety of health problems, up to and including diabetes, osteoporosis, dementia, heart problems and premature death.

We all have a choice about how we treat our bodies and our health. We just need to realise that every action and every lack of action will have consequences. Choose the outcome that you want for your life and take the actions known to lead in that direction. If you choose to avoid exercise and continue to eat unhealthily, recognise that you have made a choice. And if that choice makes you ill, accept that it was your choice and live with it.

Conversely, if you do want to change, and will start eating more sensibly and start exercising regularly, I’ll be first in the queue cheering you on and congratulating you on your fantastic, slimming, health enhancing way of life!

I’m just off for a run. What will you do today for your future?

Avoid the winter weight gain nightmare

Now that the evenings are drawing in and the weather is getting even worse I tend to find it a bit more difficult to keep fit and keep my weight under control. I’m not a fair weather runner, you understand. It’s just nicer to be outside when the sun is shining.

After the nightmare of putting on over 14 pounds last winter, I am certainly not going to let that happen again. But one of the problems is that pounds tend to creep up on you. I’ve never woken up one morning, looked in the mirror and said

“Yikes! Where did that 10 pounds come from?”.

Instead the weight creeps on, one molecule at a time. The daily changes are so small it is easy to miss them. Then one day you get a reality check and realise that the months have not been kind to you…

So what’s the solution Well I think now is the time to refocus on what’s important. Even when it’s cold outside I need to remember that the hardest part of a run is getting over the threshold. When I get back I will feel great! And the same applies to the mini-circuits which I sometimes use to try and keep the rest of me in shape. Not to mention the idea of going swimming, which I never seem to have time for in summer, so why not try something different for the winter? The swimming pool is nice and warm, it’s well lit even when it’s dark and gloomy outside, and it never rains indoors!

So now I’m going to focus on doing the exercise – I know I’ll feel good afterwards, and keep an eye on what I’m eating. It’s really just a case of doing what I know works. I found an interesting article about the secrets to long term success with health, fitness and weight management, which really lays out the key points very neatly. In case you are interested, have a look for yourself:

Good luck with maintaining your fitness through the winter. I’ll be in touch soon with more helpful ideas and a special offer for my own book Get Fit, Feel GREAT! Watch this space!

Help! I’ve put on weight over Christmas!

It turns out that I AM human, after all! I’ve been very busy at work for the last few months. And with the dark (and wet!) evenings I often find it difficult to get out and go running as I know I should. Also I couldn’t face wasting another £30 per month on a gym membership which I won’t use (like I did last winter!). Not to mention Christmas (I said don’t mention…oh what’s the use!).

End result? I’ve put on one and a half stone (21 pounds or 10 kg). My extra fat jeans, which my wife lovingly bought for me ages ago, but which I have flatly refused to wear as they are soooo over size, now fit me nicely. I feel like an over-inflated space hopper.

Not what you expected to hear from someone with a fitness and weight control website, huh?

As I said, at least it means that I am human. Unlike certain internet fitness gurus I could mention….

But now the good news. I know that I will shift the extra weight, get fit and generally get back to normal. I know this because:

  1. It was so easy heaping all the fat straight on, so it must be equally easy to burn off.
  2. I’ve done it before.

It turns out that you don’t need the latest New Year diet, or a personal trainer, or a super-slimming pill. What has worked for me, and will work again is really simple. All I will do is:

  • I will try to do some exercise every day. Somedays this will be the running which I (normally) love. I’m fully kitted out with reflective and waterproof running tops, and two head torches – one to illuminate the path in front of me, the other (showing red) facing backwards to make me even more visible to motorists, although I tend to prefer running on paths at this time of year. If I can’t run (e.g. apathy, no time, lazy, etc) I will try to do some simple circuit training each day. Nothing complicated. Just sets of abs, squats, pressups, weights rotated in sequence until I run out of time (and / or puff). Ideally a minimum of 10 minutes. Can’t usually manage 30 minutes as it’s too hard!
    If all else fails, I’ll go for a brisk walk at lunch time. It’ll get me out of the office. It will enable me to walk off the frustrations of work, and hopefully stop me from murdering one of my colleagues in the afternoon. And it will get my metabolism working Not as good as a run. But better that doing nothing!
  • I will only have a cappuccino where they make REALLY good ones. I admit it. I love having a coffee after work. So many coffee shops…but only a handful are worth having a cappuccino in. So why waste the calories? If I go somewhere where they make a great coffee, I’ll have one. One or maybe two a week should do. Everywhere else I’ll save my money and calories by having a mint tea (approx. 1 calorie, compared to 150 for a good cappuccino!). I’ll also forego the snack that often accompanies the coffee. No more toasted teacakes for me. Chocolate twist? No. If I fancy scoffing something it will either be a small (dark) chocolate bar (typically 100 calories) or a packet of crisps (‘potato chips’ if you speak American!). Either will be around 500 calories less than my favourite toasted teacake, heavenly though it might be…
  • I’ll try to drink a bit less – I do love a glass of wine with my dinner, but I don’t need to drink the whole bottle…. I’ll also stop having deserts. NOBODY needs to have a dessert after their meal. They tend to be high calorie / high sugar, and often high fat. Just don’t do it. Simple.
  • Finally, I’ll just try and cut down a bit on certain things. Smaller portions of pasta and potatoes. Low fat cheese instead of the real thing. You get the picture.

That is pretty much the plan. As I mentioned, I know that it works. It may take a bit of time, but I’ll easily be back to fighting weight, full running fitness and with a bit of muscle tone in time for Easter (Sunday 8th April, if you want to check up on me!).

I hope that you had a great Christmas, and will have a fit and healthy New Year. If you need a helping hand to get fit this year, head over to and see if I can help! Alternatively, please feel free to email me any time, and I’ll do my best to help.

Play Tennis for fun and get fit by mistake!

Last weekend I played tennis for the first time in 30 years. My wife and I are lucky enough to live near a tennis court that is very rarely used. So we went to a supermarket, bought two bats and some balls (for £15 total!) and started playing. I know that they should properly be called racquets, but believe me, when they are in untrained hands like ours, they are definitely bats.

To say that we were truly dreadful would be a considerable understatement. Passers-by initially found it fascinating to watch, until they realised that no one was safe from stray tennis balls…

We had a lot of fun. We got well and truly puffed out, mainly running after balls that we had no chance of hitting, but also going outside the court to collect the balls that went over the fence. They don’t make the fences high enough, do they? Or that’s what our spectators thought!

All this made me think. I’ve been reading a lot recently about the benefits of short, high intensity intervals in training. As a runner, you can never convince me to abandon long runs where to buy cialis australia. They are great for endurance and running efficiency, and I really enjoy running through the countryside in a world of my own.

But short bursts of high intensity exercise (running or other forms) are well known for improving performance very rapidly. And that is just what playing tennis is about. A burst of running as fast as you can, followed by a rest.

Even though I do a fair bit of running, this 1 hour of tennis gave me quite a workout, and the next morning I could feel muscles that I didn’t know that I had. It MUST be doing me good! And it really was great fun. It may not have been much to watch – Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams we are NOT – but we enjoyed it, and it gave us a good workout. What a way to take advantage of the summer evenings!

If you want to get fit, but you feel stuck in a rut, try something different and fun. There are many possibilities – tennis, badminton, swimming, squash… And down here in Cornwall there is Pilot gig racing – rowing in the sea in teams of 6 or 8. If you want a workout that will really stretch you, try rowing! Chances are, you’ll enjoy it so much you won’t even realize that you are getting fitter!

Rob Knowles 27 July 2010

Summer of sport inspiration

Now that summer is with us – the sun has actually come out in Cornwall on more than one occasion, and it’s only July! – thoughts turn to sport and holidays. What with Wimbledon, the football World Cup, the Tour de France, the wonderful one day cricket internationals (sorry to any Australians who maybe reading this between bouts of sobbing inconsolably) it would be easy to spend all your spare time watching the Sports Channel. And why not?

However, while you are watching, don’t just be dazzled by the skills of the players, and the euphoria of winning (oops, sorry again to the Australians!). Take a little time to observe the physique of the sports men and women. Even in cricket, which many people consider to be a lazy mans sport, you don’t see any overweight players these days. It may look a bit tame if you don’t like the game, but let me assure you that fielders have to have a pretty good 100m time to be able to run after the ball and stop it reaching the boundary. And they do this many times every day. A recent study showed that an average first class fielder ran 15.5km (9.6miles) per day, with many high intensity bursts of running interspersed. This is not a sport for a couch potato!

Even Motor Racing, which on the face of it seems to be the laziest sport of all, is not immune. I know that the drivers basically just sit there driving for a couple of hours (I do the same myself quite regularly…). But racing drivers are different. They have to be at the peak of fitness. When Formula One driver Mark Webber broke his leg in November 2008 he was competing in a charity 250km challenge involving trekking, kayaking and riding a bike. Not the actions of a lazy car driver.

Obviously genetics must come into this at some stage. We are not all given the basic equipment to enable us to ride 3642km on a bike across France in 23 days, however much training we do. However, everyone can get better. With training we can all get fitter, improve our endurance, build up muscle, and burn off fat. It just takes effort.

So don’t just sit there enjoying the sport on TV. Let it inspire you to reach your challenges. The Tour de France might be a bit of a stretch But what about running your first marathon next year? Or entering a Triathlon for a new challenge?

Elite athletes were not born able to win world records. They trained and trained and trained. Let the great weather and the exciting summer of sport give you the spur you need to improve on your best. You’ll be amazed at what you CAN achieve!

Rob Knowles 6 July 2010