5 summer fitness tips
If you have a few pounds to lose before you hit the beach, or if you just want to tone up a bit to do that swimwear justice, get started with these top tips
1. Ban the bingo wings
To help tone flabby upper arms, try the following exercise:
Hold a can of beans or a lightweight dumbbell in one fist and raise your arm above your head.
Bring your hand down towards your shoulder blade, moving slowly and stopping when your arm makes an angle of around 90 degrees. Straighten your arm slowly without locking your elbow, then repeat.
Perform 20 repetitions if you can, change to the other arm and do the same.
Do the exercise several times a day. You'll notice a difference in a matter of weeks.
2. Raise your heart rate
Taking the stairs instead of the escalator or lift - or running up your stairs at home - can have quite an impact on your fitness, as one Swiss research study suggested.
Participants were asked to take the stairs exclusively at work instead of the lift, and were found after three months to have better levels of fitness, less body fat, trimmer waistlines and lower blood pressure than before the study began.
This translated to a 15 per cent cut in the risk of dying prematurely from any cause!
3. Bust that belly
If you find sit-ups uncomfortable, try this:
Lie comfortably on the floor with your arms by your sides, knees bent up and feet shoulder width apart.
Press the small of your back flat gradually to the floor, feeling contracting your abdominal muscles. Breathe out as you work.
Hold the position for a slow count of five, breathing freely, then release the muscles and bring your lower back to its starting position, breathing in as you do so.
Repeat 10 times, and perform several times a day.
4. Play your way to fitness
Try to fit in half an hour's exercise a day (an hour if at all possible). Choose from brisk walking, cycling, jogging, climbing, swimming, tennis and any other sporting activity that raises your heart rate.
When the weather's fine, see if you can find some local municipal tennis courts. They're usually free of charge, and it's a great way to exercise while having fun.
If your children have a trampoline designed to take adult weight, or a basketball hoop or Wii Fit, surprise them by having a go yourself. You could even think up challenges for your children and you to compete against each other with.
5. Eat those pounds away
Making a few food swaps in your daily diet can have a great impact on your weight.
Dress salads with lemon or lime juice or balsamic vinegar and herbs instead of mayonnaise.
Opt for a 'light' spread instead of butter or full-fat spread.
Switch to skimmed milk from semi or full-fat.
Choose dark chocolate over milk - it's even been shown to have some health benefits if eaten in small quantities.
Dilute dry white wine with sparkling water and ice cubes for a lower-cal treat.
Enjoy sugar-free jelly and fresh berries for an easy, healthy pudding.
Choose wholemeal, wholegrain foods and fibrous fruit and veg to feel fuller for longer.
Drink a glass of water before eating to help fill you up.