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Cardio: Run Like You’re on a Mission

Yes, you may think it is about losing weight, some may say you can also lose muscle, which is not great if you’re trying to get bigger. The type of running will play a part in the benefits you’ll get out of it, however.

 

How does running benefit your fitness

To simplify things, long, steady runs will help to improve your endurance, whilst intervals and sprints will make improvements to your cardiovascular fitness and VO2Max (the maximum volume of oxygen your body can utilise), leading to your body being able to use fat as an energy source more efficiently.

 

Running is the most cost effective way to improve your fitness

Running is one of the cheapest ways to improve your fitness. All you need is two feet and a heartbeat! (and a pair of shoes, obvy). For those folks just starting out on their fitness journey, running is a super accessible way to take the first step (pun intended). You can just step out of your front door and go. Head to your local park, run along a beach, along a river…there are plenty of possibilities. Pop in your headphones and crank your favourite tunes and soon enough you’ll be in the zone.

 

Run and enjoy your surroundings

Over the course of the past few years I’ve been pretty lucky with the localities I’ve had as my “local” run. From taking in icons like the London Eye and Houses of Parliament along the Thames to Sydney sights like the Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House as I’ve trotted along the Harbour foreshore and through the Royal Botanic Gardens. If you’re a city dweller, running in a park is a great way to take some time in one of your city’s green lungs and fill your lungs with fresh(er) air.

Running and mental health

But it’s not only just about physical changes to your body; running is also good for your mental health. It’s a great way to clear your mind, release some of that pent-up stress from the week and get some feel-good endorphins pumping!

 

So if you’re not already doing it, pop on those trainers and give it a go! Don’t expect to run a marathon first go. Take it slow to begin with; run a bit, walk a bit, then run a bit more and build up the distance gradually. Listen to your body and stop if you feel pain or dizziness and, especially if it’s hot outside, make sure to stay hydrated. Apart from that, enjoy the great outdoors!

Bonus tip: If you can, try to run on soft(er) surfaces like grass or sand. It may seem more difficult but that’s because it IS more difficult! But why would you want to make it more difficult? The answer is twofold. Firstly, to reduce the impact on your joints (and decrease the risk of injuries like shin splints), and second, (especially in the case of dry sand) because the ground gives with every step, you’re effectively increasing resistance and intensifying your workout (especially on your calves), which will, in turn, lead to improvements in your endurance. Oh, and if you are running on sand, go barefoot! Research suggests that connecting to the Earth, or “grounding”, can have antioxidant, health-beneficial effects on your body. Bonus!

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5 Must Do’s When Joining The Gym To Keep Motivated

Nowadays there is a wide variety of options for you to stay active and exercise. Are you left wondering whether joining a gym is cost effective and worth the money? Well, I can easily say yes! The gym remains an easy option for you to exercise and become part of a community. I decided to join again because the UK winter was too cold to run and workout outdoors. Most equipments and facilities also only tend to be available in a gym. Furthermore, exercising is no longer optional for me, now that I’m close to my mid thirties. 😌

The first gym I registered at in my early twenties was a Virgin Active in Edinburgh. Amazing facilities with a huge gym floor, latest equipment, great pool and plenty more. It was all so good that I felt overwhelmed and quit a month later. I did keep paying my membership for a year though, hoping I would go back by some sort of miracle.
I then moved to London and joined a local gym in Fulham. At that time I had a programme written by one of the personal trainers there and I stuck to it for a few months.

Things got serious when I ended up moving to Sydney in Australia. Everyone was twice my size and I felt I needed to get back into shape. I started training with a gym buddy for a few months and then took a personal trainer. Both were great motivators and helped me get into shape.
Looking back to the beginning of this journey almost 15 years later, I can see why I felt demotivated so many times and how I finally found my own pace to keep active.

 

My 5 Must Do’s When Joining The Gym To Keep Motivated

These five tips would have helped me keep motivated every time I joined a gym:

Location, location, location

When you’re new and you want exercising to be an essential part of your wellbeing, make it as easy and practical as possible. The location is very important as you want it to be easily accessible, and not become an excuse not to go or keep motivated. Make sure that the opening hours match your lifestyle. Are you really going to go if it’s out of your way and doesn’t suit your availability? If you’re a frequent traveller, look for a gym that you can access in several cities or countries.

Don’t skip the gym induction and your free workout programme

I find this stage crucial in joining a gym. Make time for the in-house gym induction, you may meet a good PT or find a workout buddy. Highly motivating, you’ll gain the knowledge you need about the equipment and  will understand what’s available to you. Everytime I joined a gym in the past I focused on the machines and weights, yet there is so much more than that. From your stretching zone to the classes available to you, make time to find out what else is on offer. Having a PT write you a programme may also be your best chance to ask questions and find out what’s best for you.

Join a gym that shares the same goal(s) as you

The gym I currently go to in London is by far the best option for me. Nuffield Health is a bit more than just a gym. Like most gyms they provide you with a Personal Training session/taster and a written program for free. As part of your membership with Nuffield you also get a Health assessment which you can repeat every 3 months. This gives you a great idea of where you’re at, health and fitness-wise. It also includes your BMI and blood pressure, your aerobic fitness level, all the way through to fasting blood glucose and total cholesterol! It’s pretty extensive and costs nothing extra, except an hour of your time.
If you have a clear goal for exercising, it’s paramount to equip yourself with the right tools to do so.

Have a go-to activity at the gym that works for you when unmotivated

Gym: Swimming as part of staying active

My go-to at the gym has always been swimming. You can go swim with a friend or you can go by yourself and it’s a great way to clear your head and feel relaxed. Swimming is also a remarkable way to give your full body a workout. On my Facebook feed recently, a post from Vogue Hommes came up about Fabio Mancini and how swimming and running was all he needed to keep in shape. Not that I compare myself to Fabio, but it’s reassuring to think that 2 of the exercises I tend to enjoy the most can keep other people in shape too. For you it may be the cardio machines, or bikes, or lifting heavy stuff!

Find a gym buddy or work with a Personal Trainer

I can remember a couple of instances where training with someone has helped me a great deal. I used to feel very awkward at the gym and having a gym buddy helped me get comfortable. It also made me confident using the equipment on my own and attend classes and so forth. The last PT I had in Sydney would always push me, mention improvements and my strength among other things. In life it’s the little things that make a difference and those encouragements really helped me work harder. A personal trainer is a good option to get familiar in a gym and then start training on your own. The money I spent on a PT was worth every penny.

Nowadays I can’t complain as Daen helps me keep in shape with spin classes, running and HIIT.

Why Swimming Got Me Back To The Gym And Exercising Again!

Vitality+Awesomeness Swimming B&W 1

The days are long gone when the gym was my enemy. Thinking that you have to look fit to go to the gym is passed me. Yet I used to think that I had nothing to do in there for that simple reason. Too skinny, lack of fitness knowledge, inexperienced, uncoordinated, all these reasons really put me off going to the gym and potentially exercising. And aren’t you a bit reluctant to go to the change rooms? Do you find them impractical and not making you feel great about yourself? All that led me to exercise less, on and off and miss out on great and long term health benefits.

Once you realise why you need the gym and fitness in your life and what exercising brings to your health in general, you start thinking of ways you could make it work for you. Although I would love to be bigger with wide shoulders and great muscly legs, I probably won’t get to that. However, by exercising I get to feel much better physically and mentally. And I can still see great results in my overall body and mental health.

Finding your fitness go-to

Summer 2016 really helped me get back to exercising, starting with morning runs. However, I knew I had to exercise more. Both my parents had been professional swimmers when they were in their early twenties. Raised in the south of France, we would spend most of our summer days in the water at the beach. In winter, my mum would take us swimming in the evening, where we would try all the possible swimming styles.
When visiting my dad during school holidays, we would go swimming at least 3 times a week and he would always make a point of correcting our swimming techniques, whether we were swimming breaststroke or freestyle or giving butterfly a go.

What’s your style

In my early years I first got to love breaststroke as it looked easy and didn’t require to have my head under the water. Wanting to learn something else and push the boundaries a bit, my dad taught me the insides and tricks of freestyle. Freestyle does require some knowledge on how your legs should kick, how your hands and arms must go in the water and how you should breathe, which to me is the most important part of this exercise.

Don’t make excuses

So here I am, 33 years old, back in cold London and trying to keep active and healthy. The dilemma for me is that I have to wear contact lenses in order to swim properly, which distracted me from going for a while. As Daen is a PT and Nutritionist at Nuffield Health in Shoreditch, I saw a great opportunity to give that pool a try. There are many great gyms and health centres in London where you can go for a great swim. From Nuffield Health centres to Outdoor London Fields Lido or Crystal Palace National Sports Centre, offering you four different pools in south London, you really are spoilt for choice in London.

My swimming routine

Firstly I tryied to remember what I had been taught as a youngster. I love breaststroke, as it’s a great warm up! I tend to do about 4 laps of breaststroke before I move on to freestyle. Once I start freestyling, I try and swim as many laps of the 25 metre pool as I can. Backstroke is a great alternative, when I start slowing down or need to mix it up a bit. It works well for your back. It’s also a great option if you’re out of breath but don’t want to stop. After swimming frequently, you can really start seeing your endurance build, your muscle strength increase, and your cardiovascular fitness improve.

Swimming will impact on your fitness

The best thing about swimming is that I got to use the actual gym facilities and exercise again. Between fitness programs, circuits and trying other things like squats I feel like swimming reconnected me with exercising, yet gives me that healthy and full alternative workout! A swimming workout will help you clear your head and prepare for the day.

 

Why Stairs Are Our Fav Workout Alternative

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Some days a long, steady run is just what the doctor ordered. Other days you want to add a little bit extra into your run. Read more