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Stay in shape this summer

16 July 2018 

The sun is shining, the mercury is rising. And you’ve worked hard to hone your body for the beach. But a summer of lazy afternoons whiled away in pub gardens and at family barbecues can take their toll on your health and physique. Which is exactly why we've enlisted sport and fitness journalist, Sam Rider, to bring you a five-step guide to staying in shape this summer. You can thank us later.


Veg out

The burger backlash shows no sign of abating. Last year saw the emergence of the flexitarian diet, also known as “casual vegetarianism”, which is becoming increasingly popular thanks to high-profile champions including Sir Richard Branson and Jamie Oliver. The idea is to follow a mostly vegetarian diet, allowing for the occasional meat dish. As well as lessening your impact on the environment – not to mention your wallet – swapping that serving of processed meats such as bacon, sausages and ham for high-protein and high-fibre alternatives including lentils, peas, beans, nuts and seeds has been shown to lower cholesterol levels, improve gut health and reduce the risk of heart disease.


You don’t always have to go hard or go home. Mixing up traditional fat-burning exercises like weight lifting and high-intensity interval training (HIIT) with low-impact sports such as swimming, cycling and brisk walking is the kinder way to maintain a healthy body fat percentage. Low-intensity steady-state (LISS) cardio, where you raise your heart rate to around 50 per cent of your maximum for a minimum of 30 minutes, is an effective way to burn calories while reducing the risk of overtraining or injury.

Get your beauty sleep – but not too much

How much kip is healthy? More than six hours and less than 10. That's according to a new Korean study which found too little or too much sleep can cause metabolic syndrome leading to a higher waist circumference and increased levels of blood sugar due to elevated hormones that control appetite. Always hungry? Perhaps it’s time for bed.  

De-stress the right way

Gong baths, the latest meditation trend to sweep the nation, might sound New Age but they’ve been practised for centuries to aid deep relaxation and they could be just what the doctor ordered. Studies show five out of 10 Britons suffer work-related stress at least once a year, leading to days off work and elevated levels of the stress hormone cortisol that’s responsible for weight gain. Yoga, too, is another great de-stresser. If that sounds familiar, your mind needs a rest.

Dress for the occasion

If you’re lacking the motivation to exercise, investing in new gym kit can help switch on your mind for the task. This concept, known as “enclothed cognition”, was identified in a 2012 study where volunteers were asked to perform attention-related tasks. Those who donned lab coats were significantly more successful than those in normal clothes and the same phenomenon has been reported when it comes to workout clothes and exercise. Simply put, when you invest in new, functional and stylish kit, you’re more likely to perform better.

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