Monday, 18 June 2012

Staying In Shape On Holiday

Now obviously if you go on an active or adventure type holiday then you will at least stay in shape, if not make improvements. However, when you go on a "lazy" holiday it can be very easy to forget the exercise regime. So here I have a few tips to keep in shape while on holiday.

Now first is your type of accommodation, try to avoid going all inclusive, because the temptation to go over board and eat way too much and drink throughout the day is very hard to resist when it's already paid for (I often just have pizza for every meal when I am all inclusive). Going self catered is best, as you can control your intake much more. This does also lead to another area where you can often slip up, eating out. Now there is nothing wrong with eating out, as long as you eat the right stuff, try to go to as many different places as you can and try the more exotic dishes, this will most likely lead you to eating healthily but it also gives you many new experiences (which is what a holiday is for right?).

As I mentioned in a recent post, your NEAT (Non-Exercising Activity Time) contributes largely to the amount of calories you burn. Now if you sleep in late and sunbathe all day your NEAT is going to be rock bottom. What you should do is go out and explore wherever you're staying, the more time you can spend on your feet, the better. By exploring you can walk for miles without really noticing because your mind is focused on other things, you're effectively tricking yourself into exercising and enjoying it! Many hotels etc often have on site gyms and swimming pools, make sure to take full advantage of them whenever you have some down time.

Theme parks and attractions are another great way to get plenty of NEAT as you spend much of your time on your feet, along with the elevated adrenaline levels if you go on any rides, which will mobilise your energy stores and help to increase your metabolism further.

If you follow these tips you will be able to stay in shape, whilst hopefully having an amazing holiday!

As Always, Good Luck.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Parkour: The Best Sport for Getting In Shape

Now taking part in any sport that involves a lot of cardio will get you in shape fairly quickly, but here I have a fairly new sport that is, in my opinion, the best for getting in shape, Parkour.

Now there is some confusion as to what Parkour is about. Parkour is a sport that was founded in around 2003 and has exploded into the media as one of the fastest growing sports on the planet. This is because it can be what ever you want it to be. If you want it to be competitive, artistic, social, or anything else you want from a sport, Parkour can be that sport for you. It can be either a team or individual sport. By definition, Parkour is the art of movement, which involves moving in an environment in a fluid or explosive way.

So here are the benefits of Parkour over other sports, it improves your balance, agility, co-ordination and overall knowledge of what your body is capable of dramatically. You become more aware of how you are moving through your environment, which translates well over to any other sports that you participate in.

There are many approaches to Parkour, and no single one is the "right" way of doing Parkour. You may want to leap over great gaps, run up walls, show off by flipping from great heights, or merely try to move without stopping.

Parkour, requires great explosive strength as well as a lot of cardio, training consists of fast runs and intense body weight exercises, which will give a six pack in a matter of weeks! You can either train alone or with friends, however you should always remember to never overstep your limits. If there is a move you are not comfortable with, don't do it.

So what do you need to practice parkour? none, all you need is your self, a pair of trainers and a place with plenty of obstacles. Many people hire gymnasiums to make use of the equipment in there, which is fantastic for making obstacles.

So how do you get started? youtube is overflowing with videos of people showing off their skills, as well as many videos that teach you how to do all of the moves, as well as some training exercises, these links should help you get started:

But most importantly, Get out and move!!!!!

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

The 3 Easiest Ways of Getting Healthy

Now getting healthy is not the same as being fit. Being healthy is merely the absence of illness (physical and mental) and a general well-being. In the developed world, we often lead very sedentary lifestyles. Just think of how long you spend a day sat down, and how many things you can do without actually standing up. This IS making us fat. Americans top the scales as 33% are obese, but the rest of the western world is not far behind, with the UK at 26% and the rest of mainland Europe between 20 and 30 %. However, just because you aren't obese doesn't mean that you aren't overweight. In the UK 44% of people are overweight. This is also coupled with the fact that less than a quarter of people get their 5 portions of fruit and veg per day and only 20% take part in any form of exercise for more than 11 days out of a month! This is giving people unnecessary health risks by sky rocketing the likely hood of heart failure, stroke, hypertension etc etc.

The worst thing is that being, or becoming healthy is not actually that hard. These 3 easy changes you can make to your daily routine will make vast improvement to your health. This will not get you in shape, but it will significantly reduce the amount of fat in your blood and can decrease the risk of many weight related illnesses by up to 70%. If you don't do any formal exercise at the moment, I urge you to commit to these changes, it could save your life.

The first change is obvious, diet. Just changing from whole milk to skimmed milk, or having brown bread over whole meal, or even making the same meal from scratch rather than a pre-prepared meal will make vast improvements to your health. For a simple way of improving your diet this might interest you; An Alternative to Calorie Counting

Secondly, is something that has taken off greatly in the last couple of years, NEAT. This is your Non Exercising Activity Time, which basically means how much time your are active for when you aren't in any formal exercise. This is typically very low in the western world, as we spend most of our time at work, class and home sat down. Just being stood up for half an hour out of 24 can give profound health benefits, but you should aim to maximise the amount of time you can stay stood up for. There are a number of ways to increase your NEAT; walk/cycle to wherever you need to go, if it's within a 5 minute drive then you should be walking there. Take calls outside, if you work in an office you should make an effort to stand up at your desk, and whenever you make a call be sure to get up and walk around outside. Even sitting down on an exercise ball instead of a chair can count towards your NEAT as it engages your back and leg muscles in order to stay upright.

Studies have shown that making an effort to maximise your NEAT can increase the calories you burn per day by 500! Studies have also found that people with more active jobs, such as labour or working in a busy bar/cafe etc burn more calories per day than those that work in an office and then do 2 hours of cardio at night, because they are doing absolutely nothing for the remainder of the day. By maximising your NEAT you can actually make vast health gains without doing any formal exercise.

The third way of getting healthy might strike people as being strange, but you can improve your health dramatically by exercising for just 3 minutes a week. Now if you want a six pack then you need to do a lot more than just 3 minutes, but from a pure health perspective 3 minutes is all you need. This is by doing something called High Intensity Interval Training (HIT), which consists of you either running, cycling or swimming for 30 seconds at your very maximum intensity, then resting for 10 seconds, repeat 3 times and do this twice a week. These short bursts of highly intense exercise help to maintain healthy internal organs and can prevent many heart diseases along with many other, yet to be fully tested, benefits. It maintains your body's ability to perform at high intensity and boosts your metabolism throughout your day, by making you more energised and active.

While these will not give you a six pack, just exercising for 3 minutes out of a week, maximising your NEAT and steering clear of  unhealthy food will put you well and truly on the right track and could greatly improve your life expectancy, as well as your quality of life.

Saturday, 2 June 2012

How to Measure Your Progress Properly

If you're training for performance, then the best way of measuring your progress is how your performance improves. However, many of you will be exercising to "get in shape". Now this is quite a subjective term, so this means it is hard to accurately measure how your progress is going.

Many people think that your weight is the most important, or even the only way of measuring your progress. However your weight can be deceptive. This is because, as you burn fat, you also will most likely build muscle. So say you lost 2 lbs since last time you measured, this might seem a little poor but you may well have lost much more than 2 lbs in fat but gained a lot of weight in muscle aswell. So your weight may not have changed much, but the composition of your body has changed for the better. This leads to what is probably the best numerical measure of progress, your body fat percentage. these can be found at most gyms as well as pharmacies etc. Now be warned, body fat measuring machines can lie. It may say that your percentage is higher or lower than it actually is. But do not worry, although these machines may be inaccurate they are very consistent. This means that, as long as you use the same machine, the change in your body fat percentage is very accurate (even though it will always over or underestimate your fat percentage as it is always off by the same amount) which is what you really want to be looking at. If your fat percentage is going down, that's all you need to worry about.

The next methods are somewhat more subjective, but they also give you more more insight and a better sense of achievement when you have made good progress. Firstly is how you feel, if you feel stronger, fitter, happier, more energetic or better in any way, then you're making good progress.

Finally, the most subjective but also the most satisfying way of measuring your progress, how you look. If people start noticing that you're getting thinner, then you're making great progress. When you look at yourself in the mirror, try to work out where you lose fat the fastest, or more importantly, where you start to put on fat first (although you can't control it you do lose/gain fat in different places at different rates). You should look at yourself at the same time of day and in the same mirror, as lighting and different mirrors can change the way you look significantly.

So to summarise; your weight can be deceptive, just focus on the direction your body fat percentage is going, and if you feel and look better/ fitter you're making great progress.

As always, Good Luck.