Monday, 30 December 2013

Interval Training

What is it?

Interval training alternates between bursts of intense exercise followed by slower recovery phases. You use both your aerobic and anaerobic systems by varying either the resistance or speed you work at for different periods of time. Interval training can be done for almost any type of exercise, from cycling to bodyweight exercises to kettlebells, and there are so many benefits in making interval training your new workout...

1. It's efficient- it takes as little as 15 minutes a session depending on the length and number of intervals you do.

2. It burns sooooo many more calories than your standard steady-paced endurance workout because the intense exertion kicks your body into overdrive and kicks starts you metabolism.

3. It increases your cardio efficiency.

4. It improves performance- you will be able to train harder for longer ad your body uses its anaerobic system and adapts by becoming m ore efficient at removing lactic acid build-up. 

5. It mixes speed and intensity so there's less chance you'll get bored.

6.  There's variety- You can play round with the duration of your intervals or recovery periods, the speed you work at, the resistance and the number of repetitions you do of each interval. E.g. One popular type of interval training called Tabata involves working at 9/10 of your maximum effort for 10 seconds, with 20 seconds of complete rest. 

Interval training is great for people who are short on time, who get bored doing cardio or those who want to get the most out of their workouts. Here are the main benefits in summary:

  • Short and sweet- can be done in as little as 15 minutes
  • Bang for your buck- burns a lot of calories in little time
  • Quick but effective- improves both aerobic and anaerobic systems
  • Less chance of boredom
  • You put in more effort because each interval is fairly short (usually about 30-60 seconds)
  • There's variety because you can play around with variables like speed and resistance

Friday, 6 December 2013

Boost your Immunity

Hi guys! Everybody knows it's easy to get ill during Winter as bugs are in full swing and you're maybe not looking after yourself as well as over the warmer months. This doesn't make sense, although we all end up doing it! It's easier and feels natural to whip up a fresh, cool salad in the middle of July and to get a big pot of stew on the stove during January.

What we should be doing is taking better care of ourselves before we're more likely to start feeling "run down". Ramping up the vitamin intake, eating lots of fresh fruit and veg and making sure we don't skip the gym just because, baby, it's cold outside.

I've put together some easy steps you can take towards better protecting yourself from infection this Winter...

1. Exercise- during and after exercise your body makes more germ-fighting cells called T-Cells and studies show these get to work faster in peeps who exercise regularly. Here's an interesting post I read from on how regular moderate exercise can increase immunity.

2. Probiotics- Those who regularly take a Probiotic supplement are 42% less likely to get the sniffles. Either take them in supplement form or eat natural, live yoghurt which is a great source of protein too.

3. Boost your Vitamin D intake, either by getting 20 minutes of sunlight a day or by taking a vitamin D supplement (look for vitamin D3). Examples of food sources are milk, oliy fish e.e. Salmon, Mackerel and Sardines) and fortified cereals.

4. Cruciferous veg like Broccoli, Kale, Spinach, Cabbage and Lettuce all boost your immune system by increasing the liver's ability to flush out toxins.

5. Ginger- add it to teas and stir fries to cleanse your airways and lymph system.

6. Get 7-9 hours of sleep a night. Researchers aren't 100% sure why yet but studies show getting this amount seriously reduces risk of infection.

7. What your Granny said is true! Wrap up warm!! Your immune system works better in a warm environment so turn up the heat.

8. Get eating garlic. Your friends might not thank you but your immune system will It's anti-viral, anti-fungal and anti-bacterial.

9. Get plenty of fresh fruit and veg which are high in vitamins A, C, E and Zinc. Aim to eat a variety of colours as these represent a different nutritional profile. Some good examples are berries, sweet potato, broccoli, tomatoes and carrots.

Basically, the bugs are always there, it's how well you look after yourself which will determine whether you catch a cold!

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Friday, 29 November 2013

Tips on beginning to exercise

Accepting that there are changes you want to make in your life and taking the first step towards change is often the hardest. Well, it shouldn't be! When I began eating better and exercising regularly I... just did it. You sometimes need to dive right in at the deep end with both feet and see how it goes. The hardest part, I've found is the habit-forming part of change and keeping it up, but that's another post for another time, so today I want to share with you a few ways I found the motivation to start working out regularly, so here goes...

1. Be open minded. Be patient. Realise most benefits won't appear overnight after your first session, but things will improve for you, for sure. Remember, even if you can't visibly see the positive ways in which your body adapts to exercise, they will definitely be happening.

2. Plan it into your current routine. You don't have to spend hours exercising at a time, especially if you're starting out- begin small and build on it. Even 20 or 30 mins at a light-moderate intensity will bring about improvements. Write down times for exercising in your diary and stick to them.

3. Know why you're doing it. What is it you want to achieve? How will it make you feel when you get there? What is your motivation? Think of a few realistic goals to achieve (and preferably specific and measurable, e.g. to lose an inch of your waist). By having something in mind to work towards you can see how much progress you make and find motivation from getting closer to reaching your goals. 

4. Write them down. I mean, I'm a stationary and notebook obsessive geek anyway, but writing goals down and reminding yourself of them regularly will ingrain them in your brain and hopefully give you an extra burst of motivation at times when you need reminding of why you're getting sweaty bouncing around on a swiss ball in the first place. 

5. Don't compare yourself or your progress and goals to others. Everybody is different. Our bodies and how they work are all slightly different, so the rate you lose fat or put on muscle will be different to the next person. Try not to get caught up in whether or not you are doing better or worse than someone else. Do it for YOU. 

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Bit nippy out.


It's been a while! Happy 2013!

January is always a month of mixed feelings for me- a new year brings with it the urge for a fresh start and an opportunity to gather some perspective on life. It also brings more cold, grey, miserable weather which doesn't seem quite so festive post-Christmas.

I secretly revel in the chilly weather thought because I love making my surroundings super cosy with candles, blankets, fluffy socks and hot baths. So, I thought I'd do a quick post on how to warm up this winter...

• Munch on some garlic as it boosts circulation. If you don't like the taste (or smell!) then you can buy odourless garlic capsules from health food stores such as Holland & Barrett. Nature's Best do a good version which contains 2mg of Allicin per capsule- the property which gives garlic its amazing anti-bacterial and heart healthy properties. You can buy it here .

• Run the taps until the water is as hot as you can stand it and wash or rinse your hands, switch the water to as cold as you can handle, and then back to hot, then back to cold etc etc. This is more effective than simply holding your hands under the hot water for a few minutes because it causes blood to flow towards the hands and away again which, if done a few times, means that blood flow is increased without loosing too much heat to the surroundings.

• Take a nice hot bath. Although, body heat will be lost through the skin once you get out the bath or the water cools down, so wrap up after to minimise this.

• Brew up! A hot drink warms you from the inside-out but will cool you down in the long run because it raises your body's internal temperature which signals to the brain that you must need cooling down, which is what the body does.

• Eat. Eating revs your metabolism which warms you up when it is working hard. Although it's obvious enough to suggest that no one plops down on the sofa and scoffs down ten bags of Maltesers to warm up!

• Exercise! Exercise boosts your metabolism and gets your heart working harder as it tries to deliver oxygen to your lungs and muscles.

• Tensing the muscles in your hands and feet can increase blood flow to the area. Really tighten the muscles and hold for 5 seconds before relaxing them again. Stretching also directs warm blood to the area and so both stretching and tensing muscles will warm up your extremities! Repeat tensing/stretching and relaxing until you notice a difference.

So there's a few simple ideas to get you warm and hopefully keep you warm on this snowy January afternoon. Hope you find something useful here!

Until next time,