4 surprising ways to get fitter

1 You need a goal

Goals, a naggy word, but proven to be very effective in pushing you forward. They exist to remind you of what it is that you want to achieve. You may have a whole list (lose weight, run a 10k, get a six pack) but setting your sights too high can leave you feeling overwhelmed and ultimately kill your motivation mojo. Rather, break up your big goal into easily achievable steps. Then, as you reach each small goal and conquer it, use the occasion to celebrate in some way that makes you happy. Then buckle up and tackle the next goal… Pretty soon you'll have got where you wanted, and had a little fun on the way.

2 You need support

It is difficult to enter the exercise arena again after not being active for some time, so why not get a little support. A friend or family member that has similar goals to you may be the perfect person to help you wake up, do one more sit-up, or choose avocados over croissants, but don’t dismiss the ever-loyal and all-knowing presence of technology. There are great apps created to be the exact support you need. Take for example the free Johnson & Johnson Official 7 Minute Workout app, which coaches you through each move and can help you squeeze some exercise into your day at an intensity level that's right for you. There is also MyFitnessPal which is a mobile app and website that gives you a wealth of tools for tracking what and how much you eat, and how many calories you burn through activity.


3 You need sleep

Sleep is probably the most quintessential aspect to a healthy lifestyle. It not only gets rid of dark circles and mood swings, but it is also involved in the healing and repairing of your heart and blood vessels, which you need in order to do exercise. What’s more, if you don’t sleep well you increase your risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke and obesity. Sleep helps maintain a healthy balance of the hormones that make you feel hungry (ghrelin) or full (leptin). When you don't get enough sleep, your level of ghrelin goes up and your level of leptin goes down. This makes you feel hungrier than when you're well rested, so you eat more. This can be avoided by taking your sleep seriously. It is basically a warm-down activity that plays a critical role in your regime. Want to improve your sleep habits? Try the SleepCycle app, which is an intelligent alarm clock that analyses your sleep and wakes you in the lightest sleep phase, helping you wake up rested and relaxed – and in the perfect frame of mind to get moving.


4 You need to eat well

Why? Simply put, because your energy levels will be optimised, which makes exercise both more enjoyable and effective. Make sure you have plenty of iron-rich foods such as lentils in your diet, and avoid processed foods, which tend to have all the good stuff leached out of them! Here’s a tip: feeling too bushed before a workout to face it? Keep a tupperware of cooked quinoa in your fridge. When you feel flum, eat three tablespoons of the quinoa (it tastes great with some roasted veg chopped into it and a squeeze of lemon juice over it) and you’ll soon feel fired up and ready to face the sweat session ahead.

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