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Q&A: Harrogate health expert answers your fitness questions

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Have you ever wondered about the role of strength training when it comes to your overall health?

Or the importance of sleep in leading a positive and healthy life?

Lucy Sparks, Exercise Specialist at LEAR Health Partners in Harrogate, has been answering some frequently asked questions when it comes to health and fitness…

Q: What age should I really start thinking about strength training and exercise?

LS: Well really it should be throughout your whole life, because if you put in healthy habits when you’re younger – as a child, in your teenage years or even in your 20’s – then it’s less to have to think about as you get older.

If you’re someone aged 30 and over who has never undergone any sort of strength-based training or other exercise, then now is the time to start.

It doesn’t matter how old you are, you can start at any age, that’s the exciting thing. You can still get some great benefits!

We have people come to us in their 70’s who have never done any exercise in their life, they have no idea where to start, they have pre-existing injuries and health conditions, they know they should do it but they’re worried about how to do it.

We have some fantastic results with them – so you’re never too old to start!

Strength training at LEAR Health Partners.

Q: How important is building strength? And how can I do that?

LS: One of the biggest things about building strength is it reduces your risk of injury.

If you’re not a professional sportsperson, just a regular person who wants to go about their day-to-day activities without feeling knee pain for example, you need the strength from your tissues to be able to support you to do that injury-free.

As you get older, even after the age of about 30, the tissues in your body naturally start to decline. Your collagen fibers start to lose their tensile strength so if you don’t stimulate your body with strength training then you’re doing nothing to slow down that decline.

Because we’re living older and older, you want to be functional and pain-free for as long as you can – we don’t want to be living the last 40 years of our lives at less capacity.

Strength training at LEAR Health Partners.

Q: What role does sleep play in your overall health?

LS: Sleep is SO important. People’s lives are generally so stressful that sleep is often the first thing to go.

It’s that old analogy that you wouldn’t expect a car to run optimally if it hasn’t had the right amount of fuel put in.

For us, that fuel is your sleep, recovery, nutrition, training, your mindset – all of these things are going to help the car to run optimally and sleep is a massive one of those.

Q: Why the ‘holistic’ approach to health?

LS: The holistic approach is important because health is such a multi-faceted concept – there’s not only one thing to do for any particular person.

This is one of the reasons we decided to start doing a more in-depth health assessment, because sometimes you can be addressing one thing but you completely missed the other things going on that are holding you back and so you’ll never reach your goal.

So if you wanted, for example, to be able to play tennis without your shoulder playing up, actually we need to look at your sleep, your movement from the rest of your body and your core stability.

All of those things together is going to help that person move forward, but you can’t just pick one thing.

Strength training at LEAR Health Partners.

LEAR Health Partners

LEAR Health Partners have centres in Harrogate and Leamington Spa.

Their team are carefully selected, featuring experienced and highly qualified health and fitness professionals who have been through the LEAR academy.

LEAR’s centres are billed as ‘not just gyms’ and their health professionals are ‘more than personal trainers.’

They offer a range of services as part of the LEAR journey; including Physiotherapy, Pilates, and Fitness Classes.

Listen to the full interview with Lucy Sparks from LEAR Health Partners here:

Read more local stories from Your Harrogate here.

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