This January, rather than focusing on products you can buy or hard-to-upkeep regimes to implement, we want to share simple, free and effective ways to boost your wellbeing throughout these tough winter months. We are kicking off our free wellness incentive with tips, tricks and ways to take care of your body from renowned fitness coach, Sports Science graduate and experienced mum of four, Rachel Hubbard. Here, she shares science behind mindful movement and how varied exercise can help you navigate whichever phase of life you’re in.


We’ve all been there – setting unrealistic, difficult-to-follow diet and fitness goals come January 1st that fall by the wayside once February rolls around. For many, going in too hard and too fast with exercise that does not support your current fitness level, lifestyle, or the phase of life you are in, means reaching your targets feels unattainable. Rachel specialises in coaching techniques and protocols that support your learning in how to get fitter, manage the stresses of a busy mum life and exercise safely. Most recently, Rachel has explored how women can use exercise to improve symptoms of menopause. Her studies and personal experience bring a wealth of knowledge and understanding to what can be a challenging time in women's lives.

The importance of weights
Have you always associated weightlifting with tanned body builders or young things at the gym? Think again! As we age, our bodies go through huge change, from gradual loss of muscle mass and bone density to overall physical health. Weight training targets all these areas, and this versatility means that those who cannot do impact work because of injury, have a disability, or suffer pain in areas can easily adapt weights to feel comfortable.
Using weights is a powerful tool for many reasons. Resistance training has a positive influence on cardiovascular fitness and reduces submaximal training heart rate. Increased muscle mass allows for greater distribution of blood across the muscle, therefore reducing blood pressure. Weight training also improves myokines function (the regulation of your metabolism), supports brain/gut health and can have a significant effect on our mental health. It increases our metabolic potential to reduce fat mass and increase fat free mass, while improving our cholesterol profile.
We understand it can be intimidating for beginners to walk into a gym. Using the right weight, learning how to lift them well, and understanding how to progress is key to building the confidence to invest in some iron. Doing basic lifts in the comfort of your own home and embracing the challenge of movement is a great place to start.
Protecting your lower back
Many of those who work sedentary jobs, are of an older age or carry around young children will understand the misery that is chronic lower back pain. Not only can it make everyday tasks difficult but living with this pain can be debilitating and cause low mood and stress.

A wealth of research proves that exercise can have a positive influence on back pain and implementing regular movement can have a life-changing effect.

Much of the information we know about exercising for lower back pain focuses on the ‘lumbo-pelvic’ area and the ‘rhythm’ of this system. Like dancing, lumbopelvic rhythm looks at moving fluidly and how the balance of the front, back, and sides of the body work together to stabilise the spine and pelvis to relieve pressure on the lower back. This works by reducing tension in the tight areas and increasing strength and mobility in others. Tension felt in these areas can not only affect our posture but can have long term health implications. Consequently, working with the body to introduce balance of muscular endurance and flexibility can address these.

Going to the physio for six weeks and then spending the time after treatment sedentary will not help the back long term or improve the movement of muscles. Pilates helps us to adhere to a routine of regular exercise. One way to help your back long term is by setting aside time for regular, fluid movement to improve your physical health, manage pain, anxiety, and depression.
Exercise and the menopause
Did you know that only 14% of the 13 million menopausal women in the UK receive treatment? Many are unaware of the symptoms and blame other health issues for what they're experiencing or are simply too embarrassed to speak about it. Recognising the changes that happen when oestrogen levels start to decrease can help us make lifestyle choices that make navigating this time easier. Oestrogen is a hormone that offers some pretty amazing anti-inflammatory benefits – from looking after our heart health, brain, cognitive function, reducing joint pain, keeping our bones strong and supporting our pelvic floor.

Remaining physically active and maintaining good nutrition during the menopausal phases can influence how we manage our symptoms and improve our psychological wellbeing. Exercise has a positive effect on our health, but the menopause affects our fat burning potential, and we need to be creative in ways we approach fitness and wellbeing. Mixing up resistance and cardio training helps to protect our bones, improves stress levels and the function of our metabolism. Pilates and stretch exercise have an immediate impact on the reduction of stress and anxiety that allows us to sleep better, deal with fearfulness and improve our resilience. While low level exercise has benefits, incorporating (modified) higher intensity training helps manage belly fat that can so often accumulate during the menopause and be detrimental to our overall health.

Whatever exercise we choose to do, leaning on activity and movement through our menopause journey can give us back the feeling of being in control of our bodies and mental health.