Need to exercise but short on time? Let us help you with some top tips!

I used to find exercising really easy as I had a lovely, lively, young Springer Spaniel who had bags of energy and was a struggle to keep up with! But sadly she is now 12 years old and, except on really good days or when she sees a unsuspecting squirrel, she is trailing several feet behind me! I realise that my old workout is no longer the aerobic fix I need….

I wonder if any of you watched the ‘Trust me I’m a doctor‘ programme on BBC 1 on Thursday 13th September? I love watching it when I’m around and that episode was particularly interesting.

The affects of ageing on our muscles

The programme explained how over the age of 50 we start to lose muscle mass at a rate of about 1% per year and muscle power at a rate of about 2% per year. This in part explains why older people become more ‘frail’ and are more susceptible to falls.

1% or 2% per year may not sound much but if you think about it that adds up to 30% loss of power by the time you are 80. This can have a significant effect on your ability to walk distances, climb stairs and even such simple things as getting up out of a chair. Muscle weakness can also affect your balance and increase your chances of having a fall.

So keeping up our exercise when we are over 50 is absolutely essential if we want to maintain our muscle mass and independence.

The shocking statistic is that 40% of middle aged adults take less than 10 minutes continuous brisk walking per month!

So what can you do to reverse this affect?

weight liftingThe programme also explains how important it is to do resistance exercise such as weight lifting at the gym, to combat this effect. They recommend you do this twice a week. They also demonstrated some simple body weight exercises (ones that we frequently prescribe to clients) that can be done without the need to go to the gym.

Common excuses for not exercising!

The most common excuse for not exercising is a lack of time. So some scientists at Bath university carried out an experiment looking at blood sugar levels and blood fat levels at intervals after a block of 30 minutes brisk walking and compared this to 6 x 5 mins of simple exercises and taking no exercise at all. The simple exercises included sitting to standing, going up on your toes in standing, squats and marching on the spot.

They chose blood sugar and blood fat levels as these can be harmful in the extremes. If not kept under control they can lead to Diabetes and heart disease.

The team of doctors were all surprised to find that both exercise groups benefited equally with a 40% drop in both blood sugar and fat levels following the experiment. Not surprisingly the control group who took no exercise had no drop in blood sugar or fat levels at all.

This is a really useful finding as it means that those who are time poor but can squeeze in 5 mins here and there into their daily schedule can still do something really worthwhile for their health!

Top tips for sticking to an exercise regime!

  • Exercise snacking! Remember that 5 mins brisk walking performed 6 times a day is just as good as 30 minutes of continuous brisk walking. So move regularly and take lots of mini breaks of exercise if you don’t have time to take it all in one go.
  • Find a gym buddy! Remember that weight training for the over 50’s has lots of benefits to health including preventing that decline in muscle power and helping bone density. A good way to increase your chances of sticking to it is to find a gym buddy. This extra bit of commitment and the thought you might be letting someone else down is a great way to motivate yourself. My gym buddy (my son, Sam) has been away in New Zealand for the last 5 years so I’m looking forward to his return a week today and his help in motivating me to go to the gym more often!
  • Joining a class can be a really helpful way to stick to exercise. The social aspect helps to make it fun and more than just exercise. We run 34 classes of Pilates, Yoga  and Dance,Tone and Stretch classes each week so there’s something here for everyone!
  • Diarising your exercise – simply popping a regular time in your diary can help to prevent other things taking over that time.
  • Get it done early! Its so easy to put things off as the day progresses so try and get your exercise done early in the day before you get too busy and distracted by other things.
  • Work exercise into your daily life – personally I walk to work (15 minutes) and on the way home I take a circuitous route for 50 minutes. It’s a great opportunity to listen to a book on audible or a podcast and I get home feeling refreshed and no longer thinking about the clinic! I know other people who cycle to work or walk their children to school and work exercise into their day that way.
  • Personal training – some people just like the one to one attention and motivation of a personal trainer to keep them on track. The advantage to this is that the trainer can tailor the exercises specially to you and your physical needs. We have two physios (Richard and Dave) who both have a background of sports science degrees before training as physiotherapists and they offer personal training in our studio at the clinic. Using a doubly qualified Physio for your training means their in depth knowledge of the body will keep you exercising safely!
  • Sign up for a charity event. There’s nothing like a good cause to spur you on! And it’s nice to share the experience with others.
  • Share your exercise resolutions with friends. Telling people your intentions makes it much more likely you will stick to it. They say it can take 21 days of doing something regularly to form a habit so persevere!

Here at Physio on the River we aim to support you by getting you better and more healthy and keeping you that way through appropriate exercise.

Next steps…..

If you’d like to join one of our classes or arrange for a personal training session with Richard or Dave just:

  • call us on 020 8876 5690 and speak to one of our receptionists
  • email us here
  • or pop in for a chat! We are always happy to talk things through first

If you have a physical health issue that is stopping you from exercising then one of our team of physios may be able to help you back to fitness. Or if you have an elderly relative who is becoming frail and is at risk of falling – find out more about our falls prevention programme.

Find out more about our small group Pilates Classes

Our articles on Pilates

How Pilates is helping the over 50’s achieve a strong and flexible body – without sweating it out in the gym!


As we get older we all lose some of our youthful flexibility, strength and posture through the natural ageing process, unless of course we work to maintain it.


Not everyone enjoys sweating it out in the gym. That’s why Pilates is a great alternative for those who prefer something more sedate but just as effective.

How does Pilates work?

image sourced from

image sourced from

Pilates is a wonderful form of exercise that focuses mainly on strength and flexibility of the trunk muscles – your ‘core’. Your deep stomach muscles, back muscles, diaphragm and pelvic floor make up the walls of the cylinder of your trunk which we refer to as the ‘core’.

We call it the core because it provides the firm centre from which our arm and leg muscles can work. These muscles protect our backs and make our movements in sport and everyday life more efficient and effective.

They are also the muscles that by supporting our back give us a good upright posture – something that often deteriorates as we get older when we perhaps become a bit more sedentary.

Why Pilates is good for the over 50’s

The Pilates exercises incorporate stretches for all parts of the body, helping to keep you supple and prevent stiffness.

As we age we generally lose muscle bulk and strength and Pilates is a great way to build strength back up again.

Time is spent working on a good upright posture – strengthening the muscles to achieve that and building awareness of how to hold yourself correctly.

Maturer people often have problems with their joints – like arthritis. Here at Physio on the River some of our Pilates teachers are also Physiotherapists. This means that we have the knowledge to tailor the exercise to take into account any other conditions or weaknesses you may have.

We run three Rehab Pilates classes which are designed for those with a back or neck problem or after someone has had a joint replacement. The pace is slightly slower and the exercises modified where necessary.

Pilates classes near you in Barnes

4At Physio on the River we have a beautiful, light airy Pilates studio at our clinic in Barnes. Many of our clients describe our studio as a welcome relief in comparison to a sweaty gym, or church hall that may be ‘space’ – but has no ambience for comfortable exercise:


A few welcoming facts!

  • We run around 25 weekly Pilates  classes Monday to Sunday, throughout the day and evening
  • Never more than 8 in the class so lots of individual attention
  • Classes are divided into levels of difficulty– so you are always with people of the same standard and always progressing
  • Where capacity allows we offer catch up classes for any classes missed within a term
  • Classes are run in terms like school terms
  • We also offer individual lessons, duets and trios which can be arranged at a time suited to you

To book a Pilates class:

If you are unsure which class to opt for, Angela Ranger, our class co-ordinator, can help you make the right choice. Why not give us a call on 020 8876 5690 or click here to contact us.

Find out more about our small group Pilates Classes

Our articles on Pilates



How Pilates classes are helping back pain sufferers, who spend hours sitting at a desk

Do you suffer from back pain when sitting at your desk? It’s plain miserable isn’t it? No matter how you try to get comfortable, pain relief rarely lasts for long.

Ironically, we now see as many patients suffering back pain caused by inactivity – as we do those who have sustained an injury whilst moving or carrying something.

Because the reality is for many people, their working lives mean many hours sat in a sedentary position at their desk and  computer with little time to exercise. Sound familiar?

How Pilates can help back pain 

Pilates exercise classes are a brilliant antidote to a sedentary working lifestyle. The exercises are designed to take your back through a full range of movement (within your limits of comfort of course!).

Pilates also focuses on the core muscles – deep abdominals and back muscles, diaphragm and pelvic floor. By gaining strength in your core muscles this will help you to improve and sustain a better posture.

Sitting at a desk all day can cause some muscles to become tight – the hamstrings are a perfect example. Tight hamstrings can contribute to back pain. So giving them a good stretch will help maintain better flexibility.

image sourced from

image sourced from

Are you afraid to exercise in case it makes your back worse?

Clinic studioResearch has shown that a back injury that is not rehabilitated properly often leads to persistent weakness in the deep abdominal and back muscles. These muscles stabilise and protect the back from further injury.

Pilates can help to address that. What is important if you have a back problem is that you exercise in the right way.

At Physio on the River some of our physiotherapy team also teach Pilates – plus we have a team of highly trained Pilates teachers. Our Physiotherapy training gives us a depth of knowledge that allows us to modify and tailor exercises to suit clients with an ongoing problem.

Our Pilates teacher and Physio, Fiona Buchanan, takes Rehab Pilates classes which are specially designed to suit those recovering from an injury or operation such back surgery. Fiona can adapt the exercises to suit the issues of the individuals attending.

What concerns people about Pilates classes when they suffer with back pain?

Private Pilates lessons

Physio on the RiverIf you suffer with back pain and are concerned about exercising, we strongly recommend one-on-one Pilates lessons first. This allows your teacher to carefully assess your problem and lets you get to grips with the muscles that you need to be exercising.

Private Pilates lessons will ensure you get the most from a course of Pilates classes.

Small Pilates classes – maximum 7 people:

A maximum of 7 people in a class ensures there is plenty of close supervision. This is vital because the exercises are subtle and precise and it takes time to learn which muscles you are working.

To Book:

Call 020 8876 5690 or click here to contact us. If you are unsure which class would be right for you speak to Angela, our Class Co-ordinator and she will talk you through the options.

Find out more about our small group Pilates Classes

Our articles on Pilates


How Pilates can help new mums get safely back to running – post pregnancy

After having a baby all new mums will know that their stomach muscles have been stretched during pregnancy and lose their muscle strength.

For mums that were regular runners pre-pregnancy, the temptation can be to get back to running at the earliest opportunity, with the hope their strength and tone will regain quite quickly.

This is where I urge caution!

The deep stomach and back muscles, diaphragm and pelvic floor form what we call your ‘core’. They are the muscles that support your lower back and pelvic area.

As a Physiotherapist I regularly see new mums who have tried returning to running but develop back, hip or knee pain. This is often because they start running before they have regained their core muscle strength.

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image sourced from


How Pilates can help you post pregnancy

Many of your leg muscles are attached to your pelvis. A strong core provides a firm platform for these muscles to work from. Without this firm core it is like trying to throw a ball accurately whilst standing on a floating platform! There’s no stability leading to injuries.

Pilates exercises target these all important deep postural muscles of your trunk.

Finding the right Pilates class – post pregnancy

Physio on the River

Post pregnancy when your body needs special care, we strongly recommend having a couple of private Pilates lessons first, before you join a class.

This allows you to get to grips with the exercises, understand your body, progress more quickly once you are in a small class setting and enjoy it!

The Pilates teacher will help you ‘find’ the muscles you are supposed to be working. She will tell you what you are supposed to do (hearing), demonstrate what you need to do (seeing) and may get you to put your hands on your abdominal muscles to get feedback (feeling).

The benefits of Pilates post-pregnancy

  • Get your tummy muscles back into their pre-baby state – or perhaps better!
  • Get back to sport safely
  • Prevent back pain and stress incontinence in the future
  • Regain great posture
  • Meet other new mums and share experiences

Why chose Physio on the River Pilates classes in Barnes?

Pilates classes are a popular form of exercise that can be found in various gyms and church halls.

At Physio on the River our whole ethos is around musculo-skeletal health and well-being. You are in a safe, light and airy, well-equipped environment, with highly trained instructors.

Clinic studio

The way our classes are run ensures you get personal attention:

  • Maximum 8 people in a class so there is plenty of close supervision. This is vital because the exercises are subtle and precise and it takes time to learn what muscles you are working.
  • The exercises are carefully graded so you progress through the different levels of difficulty without injuring yourself.
  • Where space allows we offer to help you make up any missed classes.
  • The classes are taught as a course so you are progressing all the time.
  • Our teachers are very experienced and well qualified so really know what they are doing.
  • We run our classes in terms like school terms so they are easy to fit around older children.
  • Some of our teachers are Physios as well so can help if you have an existing back problem or other injury.
  • We all know how hard it is to fit exercise in after a baby – but the classes are just an hour long and the exercises easy to practise at home in between times.

Many people give up on classes at the start because they find it hard to know what they should be doing. This rarely happens at Physio on the River because of the all-round caring environment you will experience and enjoy.

To book a Pilates class

Please call 020 8876 5690 and our Class Co-ordinator, Angela Ranger will be pleased to help you organise a private lesson and find the right class for you. Or you can click here to contact us.

Find out more about our small group Pilates Classes

Our articles on Pilates

How Pilates is helping skiers to achieve fitness in just 6 weeks!


Many families will be looking forward to their half term and Easter skiing holidays. But did you know that there are just 7 weeks from now until Easter?!

That’s not much time to get fit for the slopes and cut down your risk of injury.

Here I explain why skiers are choosing a new 6 week Pilates course that we hold at Physio on the River – tailor-made for skiers to get prepared in time.

What does skiing require?

Most of us sit behind a desk all day and then head for the slopes expecting to ski for a week with no preparation. Unfortunately, that is one sure-fire way to find yourself suffering from muscle soreness and stiffness that inevitably can impact on your confidence skiing – you don’t want to get hurt.

The physical demands of skiing require a fit and healthy body and in particular:

Good posture: being able to hold the correct skiing posture for long periods of time.

Body awareness: knowing how your body is positioned is vital especially in a white out.





Good balance: the ability to keep your balance whilst moving down the slope and at the same time avoiding others!

Good core stability: by this I mean strength in the postural muscles around your pelvis, trunk and shoulder blades so your arms and legs can work efficiently around this stable centre.

Muscle strength: we’ve all felt that soreness at the end of day one and the difficulty getting down the stairs the next day. Sound familiar? Good strength in your arms and legs is a must.

Flexibility: if you are a bit stiff and tight you are not going to move freely on the slopes and you’ll risk injuring yourself.

Cardiovascular endurance: you want to be able to enjoy your holiday to the full without flaking out early on the first day!

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How can Pilates help prepare you for these demands?

Pilates is a mind-body technique that aims to increase your kinaesthetic awareness of moving from a central stable core. If you can keep your centre firm then your legs and arms can work efficiently to power you along.

In a nutshell:

  • Pilates strengthens the postural muscles of your body which will help you to maintain the correct skiing posture
  • By making you aware of your posture and where your centre of gravity falls Pilates increases your body awareness when skiing


What happens at the Pilates for skiers class?

The focus will be on stretching all the essential muscles and joints you’ll be using in skiing- including improving ankle flexibility.

What makes this course different is that you get to balance and perform exercises on half foam rollers designed to mimic the balance demands of skiing.

Learning to maintain the correct and most efficient posture will also be covered.

You will learn leg exercises specifically for strengthening your thigh, buttock, calf and upper arm muscles – those that have to work hardest in skiing.

The class will help increase your cardiovascular fitness.

Preparation is so important if you want to enjoy every day of your skiing holiday and limit your risk of injury.


Our 6 weeks Pilates for Skiers course starts Wednesday  February 25th at 8.15pm.

It could make for an appreciative Valentine present for a family member or friend going skiing. And is a great way to meet with other skiers – enjoying some fun but very worthwhile preparation.

Sign up now by calling reception on 020 8876 5690 or click here to contact us.

Find out more about our small group Pilates Classes

Our articles on Pilates



  • Physio on the River
    The Old Ticket Office
    Barnes Bridge
    The Terrace
    SW13 0NP
  • Opening Hours

    Mon: 7am – 9pm
    Tues: 8am – 9pm
    Wed: 7am – 9pm
    Thurs: 8am – 9pm
    Fri: 7.30am – 7pm
    Sat: 8am – 2.30pm
    Sun: Closed

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Because of our great transport links and free on-street parking we have regular patients and exercise class participants from:
Barnes, Mortlake, East Sheen, Putney and Roehampton