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The Daily Upgrade 04/Oct/2022

Be Slim

5 Easy Prenatal Bodyweight Exercises, for When You Want to Lie on the Couch and Eat Saltines

If you're expecting, then you probably already know pregnancy isn't exactly like the glossy photos you see in magazines or the picture-perfect scenes on TV. Sure, it can be amazing and joyful. But there are also times you're stuck in bed, feel sick to your stomach, or are just plain uncomfortable. During those moments, the last thing on your mind is exercise.

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But hear us out. Studies show moderate exercise during pregnancy can improve sleep; maintain your physical fitness; and reduce your risk of diabetes, excessive weight gain, depression, and an unplanned C-section. Regular exercise also helps prepare your body for labor and can even make it shorter.

If that's not enough, it's good for your babe too. Children of women who exercise during pregnancy have healthier birth weights, are less likely to be obese later on in life, and are smarter to boot.

As long as you are healthy and your pregnancy is normal, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends you get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity every week. That's 5 days of 30-minute workouts, or two to three 10-minute workouts spread throughout each day. Of course, always consult your physician before beginning an exercise program.

Doctors say it's okay to do most of the same activities you did before pregnancy, but listen to your body. "I couldn't even get off the couch!" says Joselynne Boschen, a Nike master trainer who struggled to stay active during her first trimester. "Everyone is different. You might be able to do one of these workouts one day, but the next day, you need to sleep. And that's OK."

We worked with Boschen to create three different workouts that will help you stay active no matter how you're feeling.

For Days You Feel Like Sh*t

Try not to be hard on yourself. "Stretching to help circulation and relieve unwanted stress is a step in the right direction," says Boschen. "Know these feelings are temporary."

How to use this list: Perform each exercise for 1 minute in order. Complete 3 sets for a full 15-minute workout. You can pair this with a 15-minute walk or use these moves as a warm-up for other workouts when you're feeling energetic and strong. All you need is a yoga mat and a wall.

1. Standing Leg Swing

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Stand with feet hip-width apart. Shift weight onto left leg to free up right leg. Swing right leg forward as high as possible (try to get it about parallel to the ground) and then swing it backward behind you. You can use a nearby wall or chair for support if you need. Continue for 1 minute then switch to opposite leg for 1 minute. This move will open up your hips, and having flexible hips during delivery is obviously a good thing!

2. Hip Flexor Stretch

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Start by kneeling then take a big step forward with left foot so that left knee is directly over left ankle and you feel a stretch in right hip. Raise right arm and squeeze right glute to increase the stretch. Hold for 30 seconds then repeat on opposite side. This will help take the pressure off your lower back, especially if you typically sit for long periods (like at work or in the car).

3. Child's Pose

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Start by kneeling on all fours. Touch toes together and open knees just wider than hips (enough room to fit your belly). Exhale then sit back, sending butt to heels and stretching arms out in front of you, palms down. Rest forehead to mat and release shoulders to floor. Stay here for 30 seconds to 1 minute to feel a release in lower back. To come up, inhale and slowly return to all fours for a few seconds before standing up.

4. Legs up the Wall

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*Only perform this move during the first 16 weeks of pregnancy. After 16 weeks, experts suggest staying off your back due to the weight of your uterus. If it isn't comfortable during the first trimester, don't do it.

Lie on back facing a wall. Lift legs up onto wall and scoot forward until butt is as close to the wall as is comfortable. Keep arms at side or spread out, whatever feels right. You should feel a stretch in your hamstrings and lightness in your legs. Hang out here for anywhere from 1 minute to 10 minutes. By reversing the effects of gravity, you'll relieve tired feet and legs, reduce swelling, and regulate circulation.

5. Hip Stretch

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*Only perform this move on your back during the first 16 weeks of pregnancy. After 16 weeks, you can do it standing, using a wall or chair for balance. If neither option feels comfortable, simply use a foam roller to relieve hips, glutes, and legs.

Start by lying faceup with knees bent and feet flat on mat. Cross left ankle over right thigh just above bent knee, keeping left foot flexed. Thread left arm through space created by legs and interlace fingers behind right thigh. Using arms, gently pull right leg closer to chest while keeping hips square. Hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute then repeat on opposite leg.


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For Days You Lack Energy

If you feel like you're dragging, there's a good reason: Your body is working overtime. But a little bit of movement can reenergize you. "Listen to your body and focus on doing things that make you feel good," Boschen says.

How to use this list: Do a short warm-up. Perform each exercise for 1 minute in order. If it is a single-sided movement, do 1 minute on each side. Rest for 1 minute between each set. Complete 3 sets for a 25-minute workout. All you need is an exercise mat. Be sure to cool down afterward and remember that your blood pressure drops during pregnancy, so be careful getting up and down while working out.

1. Squat


Start by standing with feet just wider than shoulder-width apart. Keeping back straight, send hips back and bend knees to lower into a squat while simultaneously bringing arms up in front of chest for balance. Make sure shoulders and chest stay upright. Lift back to standing and repeat for 1 minute. For more details on how to properly squat, check out this article.

2. Dip With Leg Reach


Sit with knees bent, feet on floor. Lean back, place hands behind butt, and lift hips off ground. Wrists should be over shoulders, knees over ankles, fingertips facing butt. Using just arms, bend elbows to dip hips down to mat. As you press back up to starting position, extend right leg straight up while reaching left fingers to right toes. Return to starting position then repeat with other leg. Continue for 1 minute.

3. Windshield Wipers

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Start in a forearm plank with feet hip-width apart. Engage core then step right foot to just outside of right side of mat. Step left foot to meet it. Then step left foot to just outside left side of mat. Step right foot to meet it. Continue alternating for 1 minute.

4. Hip Bridge With Stretch


Lie faceup with knees bent, feet on mat, arms at sides. Cross right ankle over left knee. Exhale as you press heels into floor to lift hips up. Lift just high enough that you don't arch your low back. Inhale as you lower back down to starting position. Repeat for 1 minute then switch to other leg.

5. Side Push-Up


Performing a push-up on your side (rather than in plank position) is more comfortable for your back and belly. Start by lying on right side, left leg bent in a 90-degree angle, right leg resting on top. Place right hand on left side to keep that arm out of the way. Place left hand on mat in front of you between right shoulder and elbow. Engage core and press left hand into mat to lift shoulders and torso off mat. Slowly lower back down to starting position. Continue for 1 minute then repeat on opposite side.

Running

30 Convincing Reasons to Start Running Now

What promises a healthier body, a sunnier outlook, and the perfect opportunity to catch up? This is no infomercial. Running is one of the best butt-kicking, calorie-blasting workouts around. Still not convinced? Here are 30 reasons to hit the ground running.


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1. Do it anywhere.
Run, that is. Whether on the treadmill or in the park, it’s easy to rack up miles. Even better: Lace up your sneakers on your next vacation to explore a new place.

2. Make new friends.
Tired of meeting duds at the bar? Check out local running groups or websites like Meetup and hit the road with other health-minded folks. Twenty questions is just as good during a run (boozy brunches afterward are optional).

3. Save some cash.
Forget fancy equipment or a pricey gym membership. When it comes to running, all you need is the right footwear.

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4. Visit the doctor less.
Apples aren't the only things that keep the doctor away. Active people are less likely to develop colon cancer. And ladies, women who regularly engage in intense workouts like running can reduce their risk of breast cancer by up to 30 percent.

5. Eat more carbs.
Here's an excuse to slurp up more spaghetti: During intense training (like preparing for a race), increasing carb intake can help your performance and boost your mood during harder runs. 

6. Keep it interesting.
Forget boring laps around a track. Interval training helps boost metabolism and rev cardiovascular fitness. Bonus: Research shows people who do intervals have more fun while running (really!) and might be more likely to keep it up. 

7. Live longer.
Not only do runners have fewer disabilities and remain active longer than their sedentary counterparts, but they actually live longer too. And even as weekly running times decrease with age, the healthy benefits keep on ticking. 

8. Get primal.
Turns out Bruce Springsteen was right: We were born to run. Running turned us from apes to humans and was used by our ancestors to elude prey.

9. Feel the burn.
For a 160-pound person, running can burn more than 850 calories an hour.


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10. Bring sexy back.
Not only does having a rockin’ runner’s bod boost confidence in bed, but regular exercise can also help flexibility between the sheets—and get you in the mood more often.

11. Boost memory.
Exercise has been shown to help keep the mind sharp. Hitting the track might also reduce symptoms of dementia and protect the brain against Alzheimer’s, even for those with a family history of it.

12. See the sunny side.
Active folks see the glass as half full, even after they're done sweating. 

13. Get a natural glow.
Believe it or not, working up a sweat can rid your pores of the gunk that clogs them and leads to breakouts.  A solid sweat session can also boost natural oils, keeping things fresh and healthy. (Just remember to remove makeup preworkout and wash gently afterward to avoid breakouts.)

14. Improve self-esteem.
Need another excuse to go green? Runners who ran outside and snagged a good view of nature showed increased self-esteem post-workout than those who had only unpleasant scenes to gaze at. Ahem, dreadmill.

15. Stay steady.
Older runners keep their balance better than nonrunners, protecting their knees and tendons in the process. Be careful not to overdo it, though: Too much exercise can lead to stress injuries and bone loss.

16. Turn down the pressure.
Running is a natural way to keep high blood pressure at bay—and fast. Amping up workouts can help lower blood pressure in just a few weeks. 

17. Build stronger bones.
Resistance training is awesome, but word on the street is running might help produce even stronger bones than cranking out reps. Running helps build the muscle that lower-impact workouts ignore, keeping bones healthier even as they age.

18. Get an energy boost.
Feeling sluggish? Try going for a jog instead of lounging on the couch. Just one run can increase energy and decrease fatigue. 

19. Take your furry friends.
Dogs are man’s best friend for a reason, and they can be man’s best workout buddy too. Grab a leash and give your pet a new kind of treat.


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20. Strengthen that core.
A strong core improves posture, strengthens limbs, and helps make everyday activities a breeze. And whether you feel it or not, running engages your midsection, strengthening those all-important muscles. Bonus: A solid core can improve performance. 

21. Sleep better.
Runners tend to adapt to set sleeping routines in order to keep performance high. Even better: Running encourages higher quality sleep, which translates into better zzzs all night long. 

22. Do it year-round.
You can rack up the miles no matter what the weatherman says (just dress appropriately!). Temperatures still not just right? Jazz up the ol’ treadmill run to get the same health benefits indoors.

23. Jam out to speed up.
Pop in headphones when running to increase speed and get a little energy boost. We won’t even judge your playlist.

24. Check off those goals
Studies suggest people who set and meet (or exceed) long-term fitness goals (like signing up for a half-marathon!) are more committed and satisfied with their exercise routines than those who trudge along aimlessly.  Who doesn’t feel good about crossing items off their bucket list?

25. Show your heart some loving.
People who run for just an hour a week can reduce their risk of heart disease by almost half compared to nonrunners.  And for those already hitting the recommended physical activity guidelines (that's 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity each week), an extra spurt of exercise can lower your risk of heart disease even more. (Just be mindful not to overdo it and cause more damage than good.)

26. Run stress away.
Ready to pull your hair out? Instead of tuning in to a brainless reality TV marathon, try running an actual marathon. Not only does running boost the brain’s serotonin levels, regular exercise might actually remodel the brain, making it calmer and more stress resistant. 

27. Be one with nature.
Want to feel the grass tickle your toes? Try minimalist sneakers or nothing at all. Just be sure to ease into this type of running to avoid injuries.

28. Increase stamina.
Running regularly will improve stamina, making workouts more enjoyable and productive. And let’s not forget that lasting longer isn’t restricted to the track—it’s useful in, uh, other areas as well.

29. Get there faster.
Instead of a leisurely evening stroll, try a jog around the neighborhood instead. It’ll burn more calories in the same amount of time.

30. Sound like a pro.
Get in the know with our list of running lingo. Ready, set, run!

News's

Get empowered at Lorna Jane's live panel event

Active-living brand Lorna Jane is putting on a live panel event this month to talk about wellbeing, success and fitness.

The Empowering Women live panel discussions have been organised by leading Australian active-living brand Lorna Jane together with wellbeing campaigner Lizzie Horgan, who was diagnosed with ME/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome at 25 years old. Since her diagnosis, Lizzie has worked with many organisations to raise greater awareness of her condition and to help others who are also suffering to live more sustainable lives.

The panel discussion, led by wellbeing and yoga expert Robyn Silverton, will focus on four main topics:

1. The 'Third Metric' - a concept introducted by Arianna Huffington, which redefines the meaning of     success from acquiring money and power to prioritising your wellbeing

2. Healthy striving - how loving yourself and reframing your thoughts can lead to a happier life

3. Wellness and fitness revolution and what this means for women in particular

4. How to step out of your comfort zones, overcome your insecurities and follow your dreams

Panelists at the Empowering Women discussions will include Robyn Silverton; health, fitness and luxury lifestyle journalist, Poppy Cross; Senior Lifestyle Editor at the Huffington Post, Brogan Driscoll; Editor-in-Chief of Well To Do, Lauren Armes and Founder of Ethos, Jessica Kruger.

After the event, healthy refreshments will be provided for attendees and you'll also have the amazing chance to speak personally to each of the panellists. If you're looking for sound advice on any of these topics, it sounds like the perfect way to spend the morning.

The event will take place at Lorna Jane's brand new UK flagship store in Covent Garden, within its bespoke 'Active Lounge'.

Lorna Jane will be donating 100% of ticket sales to AYME, the charity that supports people who suffer from ME, like Lizzie.

The Empowering Women event will take place on the 17th March from 9.30am - approx. 11.30am.

To purchase tickets, please click here.

@lornajaneuk

#lornajane #liveactive #movenourishbelieve #lornajaneuk 

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Women in sport

Raise the profile of your favourite female athlete or pick up a new sport yourself, there are plenty of ways to get involved!

Men play sport, and they play it well. We know this because both sports-specific channels and mainstream network television channels are saturated with it.

Which is great. After all, who can deny the entertainment value of a nail-biting FA Cup final or an edge-of-your-seat primetime boxing match? 

Plus these men train hard to be the best they can be at their chosen sport, and their efforts and abilities can be truly inspiring. But hang on… what about the women? Most sports you see on TV – including football and boxing – have plenty of female participants – at an elite level, no less. They train just as hard. They turn up and play their hearts out. But while we’ve a long way to go before we get the huge funding, 

Lets hear it for the girls 

In the past few years, we’ve seen some huge positive changes for women in sport. London 2012 saw the introduction of women’s boxing to the Olympic Games. And it couldn’t have gone any better for us with Great Britain’s own Nicola Adams taking home the first ever Olympic gold medal won by a female boxer. It was a proud moment for Team GB, undoubtedly, but it was also a proud moment for women everywhere. Nicola – and female boxers of all weight categories from around the world – proved that women have a place in the ring, and they did so on the biggest sporting stage possible. Team those performances between the ropes with Jessica Ennis’s breathtaking skills in the stadium, Jade Jones’s fighting spirit and the blood, sweat and determination of every female who represented their country that summer, and it’s obvious that sport for women is changing, for the better.

GB’s Victoria Pendleton et al made massive waves in the cycling scene during 2012, and since then, too, popularising the sport among everyday women like us. And these girls, along with the other female cyclists working hard to bring the sport into the spotlight, have been nothing short of successful. This summer – two years after the Games – saw the inaugural women’s race at the world-famous Tour of Britain, the country’s largest professional cycling race. The free-to-watch event brought female cycling into the limelight once again. The Tour’s winner, Holland’s Marianne Vos, added this title to her already impressive list of accolades – Olympic gold medallist and world road-race champion. She’s fast becoming a cycling legend.

Cycling and boxing, in particular, are thought of as men’s sports, with athletes like Bradley Wiggins and Ricky Hatton household names in Britain. But perhaps the most popular sport among men? It’s got to be football. From chants in the stands to glugging a beer down the pub while the game’s on, football has long been seen as a man’s sport. But, more recently, women have been moving in on the action on the football pitch, too. According to stats from the Football Association, a whopping 1 million viewers tuned into the FA Women’s Cup Final last year, and a staggering 70,000 watched Team GB beat Brazil at Wembley Stadium during the 2012 Games. If spectator numbers are reaching such soaring figures, it’s undeniable that people want to see it. ‘The closer and more competitive our matches are, the more of a spectator sport it becomes,’ says former England player and assistant head coach of the England Women’s team, Marieanne Spacey. ‘More FA Women’s Super League teams are training full time and more players are turning professional. So standards will continue to rise and the quality of matches will improve even further.’

The FA’s stats also prove that we want to get involved, too. Some 42.9% of those attending FA skills programme sessions are girls, and 11,025 of us attended national FA girls’ football festivals and fan zones last year. Football is no longer just for the boys.

While some sports are traditionally male dominated, that’s not the case for all sports. Martial arts like taekwondo, for example, have a high number of female participants. ‘Unlike many sports, taekwondo has just as many female as male competitors,’ says Jade Jones, GB’s first taekwondo gold medallist. ‘Girls often start wanting to learn self-defence, but then realise the sport is much more than that. It’s technical, improves flexibility and is great for keeping fit. Our governing body also recently launched a campaign called KickSister, which encourages women to get involved by focusing more on fitness and self-defence.’

Get a slice of the pie    

Women’s SportsNet (WSNet), which is a useful hub for women to get information on sport, recently launched the ACTIVEMapX (wsnet.co.uk/activemapx) to help women find sports classes near them. Almost all of us have enjoyed playing sport at some point, even if it was just through school PE classes, so it’s often a case of simply finding a way to get back into it. With almost 20,000 locations nationwide offering hockey, netball and volunteer-led classes, ACTIVEMapX proves that it really is becoming easier and easier for women to get fit through sport, and that it’s slowly but steadily becoming the norm. ‘Local classes found on the ACTIVEMapX help you engage with friends and neighbours, and build confidence,’ says WSNet’s Paul Reynolds. ‘You can find fencing, rollerderby or powerhoop around the corner!’

If you want to start with something more familiar, cycling is perfect. And following the success of golden girl Victoria Pendleton and her team mates in 2012, it’s no wonder that there have been so many initiatives to get more women into the sport. The FA have even joined forces with British Cycling to launch Kick Start Your Ride – a joint effort from two of the UK’s biggest governing bodies to get women to cycle to football matches. ‘This is about two sports coming together to inspire women to try something new,’ explains Natalie Justice, women’s network project manager at British Cycling. ‘The opportunity to go on a group bike ride with the prize of getting to watch some exciting football at the end of it has all the ingredients of a fun day out and we hope to see hundreds of women getting involved.’

Raising the profile           

It’s time to start evening the playing field, but it takes determination and courage. Something GB’s own gold-medal-winning cyclist Nicole Cooke has by the bucket. ‘When I first started competing in cycling, there were no British Championships for women in road or track,’ she says. ‘I wrote to the British Cycling Federation to ask for championships, and after an initial refusal, they changed their mind and I competed in the inaugural U16 British Track Championships for girls in 1998, and there are now championships for all age categories for girls on road and track – a huge step forward.’ Nicole also wrote to the Union Cycliste International (the world governing body for sports cycling) about the heavy bias towards men in the Olympics, which in 2004 offered eight medals for men and only four for women. In London 2012, five medals were offered to both men and women. While it’s shocking to see such inequality in sport, it’s the determination of people like Nicole that makes a real difference. 

Women’s Sport Trust (womenssporttrust.com) aims to raise the profile and visibility of women’s sports through role models, media coverage and funding – the things that get female athletes seen and heard in order to inspire others to give sport a go. ‘Since London 2012, there’s been an increase in coverage and buying of rights to women’s sport from broadcasters such as BT Sport, Sky and BBC,’ says Jo Bostock, co-founder of Women’s Sport Trust. ‘Not to mention the national cricket team becoming professional and the announcement of La Course – a female event alongside the final day of the Tour De France.’

What WST does is important as it’s about encouraging women to realise that, whatever their fitness level, background or history, sport can be for them, too. We need to increase the positive impact not only by participating, but by watching women play sport, getting our companies involved with sponsorship and urging schools to create more sports opportunities. 

Healthy Eating Tips

Nutrition for women of all ages

  • Focus on whole, plant-based foods. Diets such as the Mediterranean diet that emphasize fruits and vegetables, seafood, and healthy fats can help control your weight and reduce your risk for certain diseases. Carotenoid-rich fruits and veggies, such as tomatoes, carrots, sweet potatoes, melons, and peppers, may even reduce your risk for breast cancer. Add leafy green vegetables and a variety of whole grains, beans, and other legumes to give you filling fiber and keep you going throughout the day. Try to find organic, minimally processed, or locally grown foods whenever possible and make these foods the mainstay of your diet.
  • Bone up on calcium. Women are at a greater risk than men of developing osteoporosis, so it’s important to get plenty of calcium to support your bone health. Dairy products are high in calcium and recent evidence suggests that consuming whole-fat dairy can also have beneficial effects on weight control. Consider plant-based sources of calcium like beans, broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts, and collard greens as well.
  • Make sure you get enough iron. Many women don’t get enough iron in their diet. On top of that, women lose a lot of this important mineral during menstruation. Boost your intake by eating iron-rich foods such as red meat, dark poultry, lentils, spinach, almonds, and iron-fortified cereals.
  • Cut back on alcohol and caffeine. Women who have more than two alcoholic drinks a day are at higher risk of osteoporosis and postmenopausal breast cancer. Caffeine consumption interferes with hormone levels and also increases the loss of calcium. Both alcohol and caffeine can also worsen PMS and menopause symptoms and adversely affect fertility. Try to limit alcohol consumption to one glass a day and caffeine to one cup a day.
  • Cut down on sugar. Sugars that are not found naturally in foods contribute zero nutrients but lots of calories to your diet. Naturally occurring sugars are found in products containing milk (lactose) and fruit (fructose), while added sugars can be found in the most unexpected foods, often hidden in the ingredients list as agave nectar, cane crystals, corn sweetener, crystalline fructose, dextrose, evaporated cane juice, high-fructose corn syrup, invert sugar, maltose, malt syrup, and more.

Healthy Eating Tips

10 frugal hacks for foodies

Eat well, but spend less, with our penny pinching tips

If you want to fatten your purse while you whittle your waistline, you need to get creative. Healthy food doesn’t have to mean pricey food. You simply need to employ three key skills: top-notch organisation; super-shrewd shopping and culinary creativity. Check out our great diet-optimising tips to save time and money. Ker-ching!

1. Plan ahead

At the end of each week, scribble down a healthy-eating plan for the week ahead. Figuring out which meals you’re going to make during the week will save you time and won’t stretch your purse strings. ‘Only buy food that can go well with what you already have in your fridge so you are not wasting anything,’ advises Nature’s Plus nutritionist Michela Vagnin (naturesplus.com). ‘Make a weekly menu plan and buy only what you need to prepare it,’ she adds.

2. Cook in bulk

Once you’ve stocked up on key ingredients, make bigger portions for dinner that will cover you for two meals and then take any leftovers to work. When you have extra time on weekends make up batches of your favourite soups, stews and stir-fries. Then divide them into individual portions and freeze until they’re needed. 

3. Go meat-free

A study published in JAMA Internal Medicine revealed that vegetarians have lower blood pressure than meat eaters. Further research shows, on the whole, those following a plant-based diet have a lower risk of diseases like cancer and type 2 diabetes. Remember, meat doesn’t have to be the centrepiece. You can bulk up dishes with quinoa or eggs, beans or lentils and they’ll still pack a protein punch. ‘High-fibre food like legumes are good for constipation and weight loss. They’re also nutrient dense, so great for your skin and immune system,’ says Michela. 

4. Be restaurant savvy 

When you’re watching your wallet, dining out is usually a big no-no. But if you’re clever about it, you can still enjoy the luxury of eating out. Skip starters and order a vegetarian meal instead of a meat-based dish, as these usually tend to be cheaper (and often healthier). ‘Also remember that alcohol in restaurants is quite expensive, so stick to water or choose restaurants where you can bring your own (BYO),’ suggests Michela. ‘If you feel like a drink, maybe have an aperitif at home with friends before heading off to the restaurant. Alcohol-free nights will make a big difference to your weekly budget and will also be a good detox,’ she adds. 

5. Eat in season

Sick of splashing out £4 on a punnet of blueberries? If you don’t want to miss out on getting your five-a-day, simply eat fruit and veg in season when it’s cheaper. And if you don’t want to forgo organic food, head to your local farmers’ market at the end of the day to get the best prices on organic produce. Alternatively, you could sign up to an organic veg box scheme where you can order weekly groceries online – pick the cheapest box of the week and you’ll get fresh fruit and veg delivered straight to your doorstep. ‘Cauliflower, celeriac, leeks, parsnips and swede are all in season now. These can all be made into stews or toasted in the oven with herbs or spices to give them an extra kick,’ recommends Michela. 

6. Be inspired

Love browsing the shelves of your local health store, but hate the knock-on effect it has on your bank balance? Make your own versions of foods like smoothies, houmous, granola and ‘fruit and nut’ bars and you’ll save money (and calories) in the long run. ‘Remember, cooking your own food is usually cheaper than buying pre-made pre-packed food,’ says Michela. 

7. Don’t always look at best-before dates

British households end up throwing away a whopping 7 million tonnes of food every year. And, while nobody wants to eat food that’s gone off, best-before dates aren’t always the best indicator of whether food is still safe to eat. There’s a big difference between best-before dates and use-by dates. ‘Best-by dates refer to foods that are best before that date – after that date they might not be as fresh, but will still be edible – whereas use-by dates refer to foods that expire before a specific date. Always choose food with longer expiry dates, especially for weekly shopping,’ advises Michela. 

8. Outsmart your supermarket

Supermarkets are designed to squeeze as much money out of you as they can, so you have to shop smart in order to sidestep the overspending traps. First up, don’t feel the need to fill up your trolley; if you’re not doing a weekly shop, pick up a basket instead. You won’t want to carry a heavy basket!  ‘And buy loose fruit and veg rather than pre-packed, as this will save you the packaging money,’ adds Michela. 

9. Take a multivitamin

A balanced diet is a good place to start if you want to improve your health, but if you really want to give your body a boost, taking a daily multivitamin can be a helpful aid. ‘When you buy supplements, buy them in larger sizes. Although you have to shell out more cash initially, they’ll last you longer and you’ll save more money overall,’ says Michela. 

10. Use your freezer

Fed up of having to toss away veggies week after week? Use your freezer’s ice cube trays to freeze fresh vegetables. Purée greens like spinach and broccoli, spoon into the trays, and then use them whenever you want to make a homemade smoothie or juice. You’ll find it’s much cheaper (and healthier) than buying shop-bought versions. 

Weight Loss Tips

Train and gain! with this dumbbell workout

Here’s how strength training can get you a better bikini body...

More and more women are strength training when they hit the gym, but if you’re still not convinced, then you could be missing out on some serious benefits.

Whether you’re using the TRX, doing a kettlebell class or using a pair of dumbbells in your HIIT circuit – you are strength training! It’s not all about weightlifting belts, clouds of chalk and groaning as loud as you can – though, that’s all welcome, too! It is, however, about using weights that truly challenge you, promoting muscle growth that in turn elevates your fat burn. The result is a leaner you, with a higher metabolic rate throughout the day. 

‘It’s estimated that for every half a kilo of lean muscle you gain, your body will burn 35-50 extra calories each day just to maintain it,’ explains John Shepherd, author of new book Strength Training for Women. ‘Regular cardio exercisers may lose weight but end up with a body that lacks tone and holds fat around key “problem” areas, such as the abdomen and hips.’ But those aren’t the only benefits you’ll experience – that’s just the beginning.

‘Resistance training will also boost your hormones,’ explains John. Basically, the more you pick up the weights, the more your levels of growth hormone are elevated. Why is this desirable? Well, along with playing a vital role in shedding fat, growth hormone also helps to slow the effects of ageing, according to John. Who wouldn’t want that? As we age we also experience a higher risk of osteoporosis, and strength training is an effective way of combating this. Not only do weights build muscle but they strengthen your bones, too, which is ideal for overall health as well as preventing injury.

Strength training also challenges your body in all different planes of motion, boosting its ability to master complex moves – especially ones that’ll help you in everyday life. We’re talking lifting, carrying, picking things up – that’s why it’s considered functional fitness. 

Don’t know where to start? John’s book is a great place, but if you want a taster, check out this workout he put together. It’s suitable for all levels, targeting the whole body using compound exercises. ‘These moves work numerous joints,’ explains John, ‘making them more functional and calorie-burning.’ Always use weights that prove difficult in the final reps of each set without compromising form – but if you’re new to weights, start out light and focus on building strength and technique. Everyone should add weights each month to encourage progress.

HOW TO DO IT

Always warm up before and cool down after this workout. Do each of the two workouts once a week, leaving at least 48 hours between each.

Workout 1: Metabolic and hormonal booster

Perform 3 x 10 reps of each move. Take enough recovery to allow for each set to be completed optimally.

Workout 2: Pyramid with body shaping fast-twitch fibre emphasis

Perform 8 reps using a light weight, 6 using a medium weight, then 2 x 4 reps using a heavy weight.

Workout 1

 Rear foot elevated split squat

Areas trained: glutes, hamstrings, quads, calves

Technique

  1. Holding dumbbells by each side, stand in front of a bench and place the toes of your rear foot on it. Hop your standing leg forward and place your foot flat on the floor. This is your starting position.
  2. Keeping your trunk upright and looking straight ahead, bend your front leg to lower your body to the ground. Lower until your thigh is approximately  parallel to the ground. 
  3. Push back up strongly and repeat. Perform the allotted reps on one side, and then the other to complete a full set.

Seated shoulder press

Areas trained: shoulders, triceps

Technique

  1. Sit on a bench holding dumbbells in front of your shoulders.
  2. Press the dumbbells up to the ceiling, bringing them close together at the top of the movement.
  3. Lower under control and repeat.

Single-arm kettlebell swing

Areas trained: quads, hamstrings, glutes, core, back, shoulders

Technique

  1. Take hold of the kettlebell in one hand with your knuckles facing away from you. Stand with your feet just beyond shoulder-width apart. Let the kettlebell hang down at arm-length in front of your body and let it drop down and through your legs.
  2. Move with the fall of the kettlebell and let your bottom move backwards and torso incline forwards with knees soft. As the momentum of the weight begins to stall and go in the other direction, ‘snap’ your hips to impart more momentum onto the kettlebell to drive it up again.
  3. Let the weight fall back down and repeat. Perform the allotted reps on both sides to complete a set.

Plié squat

Areas trained: glutes, hips, hamstrings, quads, calves

Technique 

  1. Holding the dumbbells with your knuckles facing away from you in front of your hips, stand with your feet wider than shoulder-width and turned out, making sure that your feet and knees are similarly angled.
  2. Bend your legs to plié and then extend them to stand back up and repeat.

 

Workout 2

Clean

Areas trained: back, shoulders, glutes, hamstrings, quads, calves

Technique

  1. Take hold of a barbell from the floor with your knuckles facing forwards and hands just further than shoulder-width apart. Keep your heels on the floor, arms extended and head up.
  2. Drive up to lift the bar from the floor, keeping your shoulders over it and your knees bent.
  3. As the bar approaches hip-level, drive your hips forwards and now pull on the bar with your arms. As you do this, switch your grip from overhand to underhand and ‘catch’ the bar in a racked position on the front of your shoulders.
  4. Keeping your back flat, control the bar down to the floor, bending your knees and folding forwards, first to your thighs and then to the floor.

Squat

Areas trained: glutes, quads, hamstrings, back

Technique

  1. Support a barbell across the fleshy rear part of your shoulders (avoiding contact with your top vertebrae). Pull the bar down onto your shoulders to 
  2. fix it in place. Keep your head up and maintain the natural curve of your spine.
  3. Bend your knees to lower the weight as far as your flexibility allows. Keep your knees behind your toes as you go.
  4. Push through your heels to stand up and repeat.

Deadlift

Areas trained: glutes, quads, hamstrings, lower back

Technique

  • Squat down slightly with your feet under the barbell and take hold of it with both hands.
  • Straighten your legs to start to move the bar upwards, keeping your arms long and the bar close to your shins (don’t pull with your arms).
  • Extend your hips to stand upright with the bar across the front of your thighs.
  • Return to the start and repeat.

Bent-over row

Areas trained: upper back, biceps, lower back, glutes, hamstrings

Technique

  • Keeping a bend in your knees, hinge at your hips so your upper body is almost parallel to the floor, holding a barbell with arms extended towards the floor.
  • Squeeze your shoulder blades together as you row the barbell up towards your hips.
  • Slowly lower and repeat.

Weight Loss Tips

Eat to control cravings and boost energy

  • Eat breakfast. Get your metabolism going in the morning by eating a healthy breakfast. Studies show that people who eat breakfast tend to weigh less than those who skip it. A solid breakfast provides energy for the day.
  • Eat regularly. Going too long between meals can make you feel irritable and tired, so aim to eat something at least every three to four hours. Support your body’s natural cycle of energy by eating a substantial breakfast, a nutritious lunch, a snack around 2 pm (to compensate for the body’s natural low point that occurs around 3 each afternoon), and a light early dinner.
  • Cut the junk. The ups and downs that come with eating sugary snacks and simple carbohydrates cause extreme swings in energy level and mood. Cutting out these foods can be tough, but if you can resist for several days, your cravings will subside.
  • Focus on complex carbohydrates. Foods such as baked potatoes, whole-wheat pasta, brown rice, oatmeal, whole grain breads, and bananas boost your “feel-good” serotonin levels without a crash. They also provide plenty of fiber, so you feel full much longer.
  • Boost energy with quality protein. Protein is an essential part of any healthy diet, but it’s important to vary your diet with fish, chicken and turkey, dairy, and plant-based protein sources, such as beans, nuts, seeds, and non-GMO soy products. If you eat red meat, opt for organic, grass-fed rather than processed meats, such as hotdogs, bacon, and salami, which have been linked to an increased risk of cancer.

Health and Wellbeing

Strike a balance with this Inner thigh exercise

Want to boost gym performance? It’s time to balance out your intense workouts with a good old dance-inspired stretch

Blocking out the time to really delve into a stretching session can seem hard to justify if your busy schedule already makes squeezing workouts in difficult.

But if you’ve found yourself hitting a wall when it comes to results, or you’re constantly plagued by niggling injuries, it might just be what the doctor ordered. US-based Lastics has taken inspo from the long, lean and limber bodies of dancers to come up with classes and online videos to help regular gym-goers get the most out of their workouts. ‘Dancers epitomise the balance between strength and flexibility to the extreme,’ says Lastics founder Donna Flagg. ‘Their bodies are graceful, sculpted and powerful.’

Rather than overhauling your entire workout routine to emulate that of a ballerina, Lastics instead allows you to simply take a leaf out of their book, providing stretching-focused classes to help you develop an improved range of motion. This is essential to anyone who’s looking to prevent injuries, boost conditioning and balance out strength training – as well as achieve a slender silhouette. ‘Lastics enhances all other activities, improves posture and circulation and gives you more freedom to move in your body,’ Donna adds. So if you’re intrigued by the slenderness and strength of a dancer but don’t necessarily have any goals to make it as one (bar the occasional tear-up on the dance floor on a Friday night), this is the perfect middle ground.

If you’re interested in subscribing to Lastics, trying out the DVD or even just having a taster of what it might be like, give this workout a go. Donna has devised it especially to supplement WF’s workouts, but it’s a wise and healthy addition to any active woman’s weekly routine. It can even be added to the end of a workout if you don’t want to dedicate an entire session to it.

How to do it

Breathe into the stretch and release when the body starts to resist. Then take a few breaths and release deeper into the stretch on each exhale. Repeat as desired. 

Technique

Sit in a straddle and let your head hang between your legs, rounding your back. Release any tension you may be holding.

After you’ve been hanging there totally relaxed, reach your nose a little closer to the floor. Hold your upper body where it is and press the backs of your knees down into the floor.

Hold your body and knees in place and flex your feet, making sure your knees don’t pop back up.

Finally, hold all of that and lift your chin to flatten your back. Hold for a few seconds.

Health and Wellbeing

What's your financial faux pas?

Get your cashflow back on track in next to no time with our top money-saving tips

Let’s face it – we all want to make life that little bit more affordable. So whether you’re saving to buy a house, have a little one on the way or simply want to boost your pension pot, there’s no better time to start thinking about safeguarding your finances. 

‘People often push finances to the back of their mind, thinking ‘‘I’ll deal with it when I get there’’, says Anita Naik, consumer editor forvouchercodes.co.uk. ‘And then find they can’t get a mortgage, or get married in the way they want, all because they didn’t start saving when they had the opportunity,’ 

Wanting security for the future is one thing, but most of us are guilty of everyday cashflow slip-ups that can have a long-term effect on financial stability. With new research showing that one in seven of us take on an extra job just to keep our heads above water, we’ve put together the most common money mistakes and asked the experts to come up with simple fixes. Break bad habits and beat financial pitfalls with these cash-savvy solutions.

You can’t stick to a budget

Solution: Budgeting may be boring, but if you want to build any sort of financial freedom it’s the first place to start. Begin by keeping a record of your daily expenditure and you’re sure to make some big savings as a result. ‘Carry a notebook or log it into your smartphone. This enables you to see what you’re spending your money on, work out what you have left to spend each day/week and identify your spending triggers (Lunchtime? Online at night? At weekends?),’ recommends Anita. 

It’s important to get realistic about your regular pay-outs, too. ‘You’ll be surprised at how many payments you hadn’t accounted for when figuring out how much you have left in your monthly wage,’ continues Anita. After figuring out your monthly outgoings you’ll be in the perfect place to start making tweaks for the better. ‘You will need to review your plan and be flexible while you get used to what works for you. Too strict a budget is no good as it just means failure; likewise, too big a budget is useless if it doesn’t suit its purpose.’

You don’t plan ahead

Solution: Spring often signals a fresh start, so there’s no better time to re-evaluate your bank balance. The good news is that there are many ways to foolproof your finances for the future and making sure your credit score is good is essential. Your credit rating has a massive impact on what you can do financially – from taking out loans to getting on the property ladder. Build up your score by making sure you’re on the electoral roll, space out applications for credit cards and keep up to date with monthly bill payments. Want to make sure you don’t go into the red? ‘Another way is to keep a spending diary,’ says Anita. ‘It sounds dull but there are apps that will do this for you, like Spendometer (free from iTunes). This app makes day-to-day money management simple. It enables you to set yourself a budget, log all your spending and review your spending reports,’ she adds.

You’re a secret spender

Solution: One in 10 people admit money matters have been the cause of a relationship break-up, while a surprising 15 per cent of us confess to lying to our partners about our credit card purchases, according to a study by comparison site moneysupermarket.com. Consider yourself a financial fibber? Splurging on stuff you don’t need and then hiding it from your other half breaks the trust in your relationship, so ask yourself, is any designer handbag really worth that? Sacrifice a couple of guilty pleasures and not only will your bank balance flourish, your relationship will, too. And be aware that secret spending can be a sign of something deeper. ‘Either you have a treat mentality, where you feel you “deserve” something for X, Y and Z in your life, or you spend to feel better emotionally,’ says Anita. ‘Aside from the guilt you feel and the impact of getting found out, if you do end up accumulating secret debt your spending habit could have a serious impact on your partner financially. If your spending is secretly racking up debt, or you are not even using what you buy, then it’s a sign you need to seek advice and help for your habit,’ she advises.

You’re not money savvy

Solution: Get smart! We all want to live a nice lifestyle, but cut a few corners and you can save a huge amount of dough. Thinking of signing up as a member at your local gym? Tread carefully! Before committing to an annual gym membership, use trial vouchers to help make your decision. Think realistically about the facilities on offer and which ones you’ll actually use. Access to things like a swimming pool and fancy sauna and steam room will substantially drive up the monthly cost, so make sure you don’t pay above the odds for facilities you can do without. Pay-as-you-go gyms are a great alternative to annual memberships. Although the facilities are often basic, these gyms are great if you’re on a budget as you don’t have to commit to an annual upfront fee. Want a whole new spring wardrobe? Swap the high street for vintage second-hand stores and trawl car boot sales to get bargains that don’t cost the earth. Debating going for the chop? Forking out for a haircut can be hefty on your wallet, so do your research and take advantage of training days at high-end salons where you can get a new ’do by a trainee stylist at the snip of the usual price.

You’re super-disorganised

Solution: Whether you’re late paying your credit card bill or don’t bother doing your research when it comes to insurance policies, being lazy will cost you big time. Avoid enormous annual premiums by shopping around for quotes on the best policies and sidestep high interest rates by setting monthly reminders on your phone to alert you when bills are due. Another way to streamline your bank balance is to ditch the credit card and shell out cash instead – that way you know exactly what you’re spending. ‘Paying by card doesn’t have the same psychological impact as literally handing over money,’ explains Anita. ‘Dealing in cash gives you a much clearer idea of how much you’re going through daily. Take £20 out for the day and it’s likely you’ll be shocked at how much is left by 6pm. If you know you need flexibility to spend more on some days than others, set a weekly budget and get out cash to that amount,’ she suggests.

Beauty

Eight reasons to run!

From blitzing fat to boosting defences, it ticks all the boxes

As much as we love hardcore gym sessions, the change of seasons provides the chance to challenge ourselves with a whole array of performance goals. There’s nothing like a workout revamp to help rev up fitness levels, and this spring we’re all about stepping up the intensity of our regular workout with an outdoor running routine. 

Getting out on the road to brush up on your running technique offers a completely different experience to pounding the treadmill at the gym – and we guarantee you’ll soon be bitten by the running bug. Read our guide to find out what could be in it for you. 

1 Feel refreshed

A change of scenery and a varied workout – what’s not to get excited about? There are plenty of things to look forward to when you take your runs from the treadmill to the great outdoors, whether you’re running down winding country lanes or sprinting around the city streets.’ Due to the rhythmic nature of the activity, it’s easy to zone out, switch off from the outside world and let your mind wander. It could even turn out to be your most creative time of the day,’ says Energie Fitness Clubs and Ragdale Hall fitness consultant Dean Hodgkin. Now the mornings are becoming lighter, heading out for a run first thing offers the perfect start to your day. 

2 Better your body

There’s no denying that taking your workout to the pavements is more taxing on your body, but thankfully the payoffs are plentiful. Without the natural momentum of the treadmill your muscles have to work harder, and so you naturally will reap some awesome rewards, like a more toned lower body and a slimmer middle. ‘Running is a great way to achieve below-the-belt toning – creating thighs and buttocks you can bounce coins off,’ adds Dean. 

3 Boost levels of vitamin d

What’s running got to do with immunity? Well, quite a lot actually. Because the body can’t manufacture vitamin D (a nutrient that’s essential for fending off illness) on its own, we require exposure to sunshine to keep levels continuously topped up. If you feel like you’re constantly battling the sniffles you may be low in vitamin D, and thankfully, picking up the pace outside can help to restore levels and reduce your risk of getting sick. If you’re worried you may have a deficiency, consult your GP and ask to have your levels checked. 

4 Burn more calories

Running is an effective and efficient way of burning calories, and as you’re working your body harder when pounding the pavements you’ll experience a higher calorie burn. ‘Even just a comfortable pace of around 6mph will burn around 300 calories in just 30 minutes, so it’s incredibly effective in all kinds of weight-loss programmes,’ says Dean. Not bad!

5 Challenge yourself 

Whether you’re new to the running scene or already a running pro, setting yourself a challenge is a fantastic way to make sure you’re constantly making progress. ‘Most weight-loss and fitness programmes fall on stony ground because clearly defined goals were not put in place. Setting yourself a long-term target of running a half or even full marathon can be the ideal stimulus to keep you on track – and don’t forget how awesome you’ll feel when you cross the finish line,’ says Dean. 

6 Improve joint health 

The transition from the treadmill to the outdoors can be harsh on your joints, but if you take your running workout to softer surfaces like grass or a running track, you can help to safeguard your body while making your legs stronger and keeping your bones healthy. 

‘Osteoporosis is a very real health risk for women and a key preventative measure is to increase bone density by doing more bone-loading exercises – running being one of the most beneficial,’ explains Dean. Just don’t forget to warm up your muscles and cool down following your sessions.

7 De-stress the natural way

Need to take a break from everyday life? When you’re feeling wound up and in desperate need of a breather, simply pick a picturesque trail, grab your heart rate monitor and let your mind shift focus
as you get into your stride. ‘There are great mood-lifting, stress-busting gains to be made from exercising outdoors, as your senses will be far more stimulated compared with a gym environment,’ says Dean. 

8 Slash your risk of disease

Running not only helps to improve your physical appearance and make you feel more energised, it could also lower your risk of chronic diseases like diabetes type 2 by reducing levels of blood glucose after eating. Win, win! 

Beauty

Top five foods for skin

Keep your skin healthy and glowing with these must-eat foods.

Salmon - Packed with omega-3 fats and protein, salmon, along with other oily fish such as sardines and mackeral, is on dermatologist Dr Nicholas Perricone's must-eat list of wrinkle-busters. 

Berries - A range of strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and so on will pack a hefty anthocyanin punch, whacking up your antioxidant levels and giving your skin a boost.

Soya - 'The hormone oestrogen helps maintain collagen, and the skin's softness,' explains nutirtionist Amanda Ursell. 'Soya milk, tofu and flazseeds are all rich in oestrogen-like substances, isoflavones. These may help balance falling levels of oestrogen as we age.'

Brazil nuts - 'These are very high in selenium, which helps block the formation of an enzyme involved in ageing, which is produced in response to air pollution,' says Ursell.

Green tea - One small study from the University of Alabama in the US has suggested drinking green tea may help reverse the DNA damage casued by excess sun and linked with both wrinkles and skin cancer. More research is needed, but there's certainly no harm in quaffing a few cuppas of the green stuff. 

Essential Gym

Follow these easy Bum Exercises #GluteGains

Buns of steel aren’t the only benefits of this workout from Insta-star Zanna van Dijk. Expect to radiate confidence, too

Looking at Zanna van Dijk’s Instagram feed, you’d think that she’s lived and breathed fitness her whole life. 

But what makes the health and fitness blogger, Instagrammer and all-round ‘influencer’ so relatable is that she really is just like the rest of us. ‘I actually hated exercise at school and would find any excuse to avoid PE,’ she reveals to WF in an exclusive interview. ‘I only started getting into it at university. I heard about the benefits of eating well and training and decided to give it a shot.’ And if you thought she took to it like a duck to water, think again. Like the rest of us, Zanna made mistakes along the way. Now? She’s a full-time fitness professional working as a personal trainer – not to mention one of the most popular health and fitness bloggers and Instagrammers out there, with 115,000 followers and counting. She puts her success down to passion, consistency and realness: ‘I have a no-nonsense approach to social media, fitness and life,’ she says. ‘There’s no smoke and mirrors and I’m very honest about my lifestyle.’

For anyone who’s kept their ear to the ground with fitness trends for a while now, it’s impossible not to have noticed the fast pace at which the industry has changed since the rise of social media. Trends come and go – but it seems that bloggers and influencers are definitely having their time. Zanna is riding the wave better than any of them, proven by the launch of #GirlGains – an online community she co-founded with fellow social media influencers Tally Rye and Victoria Spence. ‘It’s for women who are interested in bettering themselves in all areas of their lives, not just fitness,’ explains Zanna. ‘We educate, empower and inspire women to be healthy, happy and confident, to look after themselves and to love themselves.’ And judging by the turnout at their events, the number of followers they have on Instagram and the use of their hashtag #GirlGains, they’re doing just that. For someone as driven as Zanna, though, that’s still not enough. ‘We’d like to see #GirlGains spread across the world, to reach as many women as possible and to be able to have a positive impact on their self-worth, ambition and happiness.’

Having just launched an activewear collection in collaboration with Sports Philosophy as well as preparing to launch her book Strong (set to hit
the shelves in December), it looks as if Zanna is right on track.Inspired? Try Zanna’s workout, which focuses on combining weights to strengthen and tone your legs and butt with HIIT to make you sweat. Just what the doctor ordered.

Goblet squat with pulse

Areas trained: glutes, quads, hamstrings, core

Technique

Holding a weight at your chest, step your feet a little wider than hip-width apart and point your toes ever so slightly outwards.

Sit back and down into a squat and do a small pulse at the bottom of the movement.

Push up through your heels and squeeze your glutes. Repeat.

10 REPS

How to do it

Perform the allotted reps, back to back. Rest for 60 seconds then repeat for the next set. Do three sets in total. Once all sets are complete, Increase weights in accordance with experience level.

Be Slim

5 Easy Prenatal Bodyweight Exercises, for When You Want to Lie on the Couch and Eat Saltines

If you're expecting, then you probably already know pregnancy isn't exactly like the glossy photos you see in magazines or the picture-perfect scenes on TV. Sure, it can be amazing and joyful. But there are also times you're stuck in bed, feel sick to your stomach, or are just plain uncomfortable. During those moments, the last thing on your mind is exercise.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

The Best Yoga Poses for Pregnant Women READ 
But hear us out. Studies show moderate exercise during pregnancy can improve sleep; maintain your physical fitness; and reduce your risk of diabetes, excessive weight gain, depression, and an unplanned C-section. Regular exercise also helps prepare your body for labor and can even make it shorter.

If that's not enough, it's good for your babe too. Children of women who exercise during pregnancy have healthier birth weights, are less likely to be obese later on in life, and are smarter to boot.

As long as you are healthy and your pregnancy is normal, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends you get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity every week. That's 5 days of 30-minute workouts, or two to three 10-minute workouts spread throughout each day. Of course, always consult your physician before beginning an exercise program.

Doctors say it's okay to do most of the same activities you did before pregnancy, but listen to your body. "I couldn't even get off the couch!" says Joselynne Boschen, a Nike master trainer who struggled to stay active during her first trimester. "Everyone is different. You might be able to do one of these workouts one day, but the next day, you need to sleep. And that's OK."

We worked with Boschen to create three different workouts that will help you stay active no matter how you're feeling.

For Days You Feel Like Sh*t

Try not to be hard on yourself. "Stretching to help circulation and relieve unwanted stress is a step in the right direction," says Boschen. "Know these feelings are temporary."

How to use this list: Perform each exercise for 1 minute in order. Complete 3 sets for a full 15-minute workout. You can pair this with a 15-minute walk or use these moves as a warm-up for other workouts when you're feeling energetic and strong. All you need is a yoga mat and a wall.

1. Standing Leg Swing

PIN IT
Stand with feet hip-width apart. Shift weight onto left leg to free up right leg. Swing right leg forward as high as possible (try to get it about parallel to the ground) and then swing it backward behind you. You can use a nearby wall or chair for support if you need. Continue for 1 minute then switch to opposite leg for 1 minute. This move will open up your hips, and having flexible hips during delivery is obviously a good thing!

2. Hip Flexor Stretch

PIN IT
Start by kneeling then take a big step forward with left foot so that left knee is directly over left ankle and you feel a stretch in right hip. Raise right arm and squeeze right glute to increase the stretch. Hold for 30 seconds then repeat on opposite side. This will help take the pressure off your lower back, especially if you typically sit for long periods (like at work or in the car).

3. Child's Pose

PIN IT
Start by kneeling on all fours. Touch toes together and open knees just wider than hips (enough room to fit your belly). Exhale then sit back, sending butt to heels and stretching arms out in front of you, palms down. Rest forehead to mat and release shoulders to floor. Stay here for 30 seconds to 1 minute to feel a release in lower back. To come up, inhale and slowly return to all fours for a few seconds before standing up.

4. Legs up the Wall

PIN IT
*Only perform this move during the first 16 weeks of pregnancy. After 16 weeks, experts suggest staying off your back due to the weight of your uterus. If it isn't comfortable during the first trimester, don't do it.

Lie on back facing a wall. Lift legs up onto wall and scoot forward until butt is as close to the wall as is comfortable. Keep arms at side or spread out, whatever feels right. You should feel a stretch in your hamstrings and lightness in your legs. Hang out here for anywhere from 1 minute to 10 minutes. By reversing the effects of gravity, you'll relieve tired feet and legs, reduce swelling, and regulate circulation.

5. Hip Stretch

PIN IT
*Only perform this move on your back during the first 16 weeks of pregnancy. After 16 weeks, you can do it standing, using a wall or chair for balance. If neither option feels comfortable, simply use a foam roller to relieve hips, glutes, and legs.

Start by lying faceup with knees bent and feet flat on mat. Cross left ankle over right thigh just above bent knee, keeping left foot flexed. Thread left arm through space created by legs and interlace fingers behind right thigh. Using arms, gently pull right leg closer to chest while keeping hips square. Hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute then repeat on opposite leg.


PIN IT
For Days You Lack Energy

If you feel like you're dragging, there's a good reason: Your body is working overtime. But a little bit of movement can reenergize you. "Listen to your body and focus on doing things that make you feel good," Boschen says.

How to use this list: Do a short warm-up. Perform each exercise for 1 minute in order. If it is a single-sided movement, do 1 minute on each side. Rest for 1 minute between each set. Complete 3 sets for a 25-minute workout. All you need is an exercise mat. Be sure to cool down afterward and remember that your blood pressure drops during pregnancy, so be careful getting up and down while working out.

1. Squat


Start by standing with feet just wider than shoulder-width apart. Keeping back straight, send hips back and bend knees to lower into a squat while simultaneously bringing arms up in front of chest for balance. Make sure shoulders and chest stay upright. Lift back to standing and repeat for 1 minute. For more details on how to properly squat, check out this article.

2. Dip With Leg Reach


Sit with knees bent, feet on floor. Lean back, place hands behind butt, and lift hips off ground. Wrists should be over shoulders, knees over ankles, fingertips facing butt. Using just arms, bend elbows to dip hips down to mat. As you press back up to starting position, extend right leg straight up while reaching left fingers to right toes. Return to starting position then repeat with other leg. Continue for 1 minute.

3. Windshield Wipers

PIN IT
Start in a forearm plank with feet hip-width apart. Engage core then step right foot to just outside of right side of mat. Step left foot to meet it. Then step left foot to just outside left side of mat. Step right foot to meet it. Continue alternating for 1 minute.

4. Hip Bridge With Stretch


Lie faceup with knees bent, feet on mat, arms at sides. Cross right ankle over left knee. Exhale as you press heels into floor to lift hips up. Lift just high enough that you don't arch your low back. Inhale as you lower back down to starting position. Repeat for 1 minute then switch to other leg.

5. Side Push-Up


Performing a push-up on your side (rather than in plank position) is more comfortable for your back and belly. Start by lying on right side, left leg bent in a 90-degree angle, right leg resting on top. Place right hand on left side to keep that arm out of the way. Place left hand on mat in front of you between right shoulder and elbow. Engage core and press left hand into mat to lift shoulders and torso off mat. Slowly lower back down to starting position. Continue for 1 minute then repeat on opposite side.

Fitness Tips

HOW TO RUN FASTER

Want to run quicker? Just follow these 5 simple steps

Get stronger

The stronger and more explosive you are, the more force you’ll generate, and the faster you’ll be. Strength training in the gym, coupled with some plyometric exercises, are essential if you want to get faster. Don’t be afraid to lift some heavier weights, in the range of five to eight reps per set, as this is where you’ll see the most strength gains initially.

 

Become leaner

The heavier you are, the more difficult it is to move quickly, so decreasing your body fat is one of the quickest and easiest ways to improve your speed. What you eat will have the biggest impact here, so you need to be sure that you’re eating for your specific requirements. This will be different for us all, so recording what you eat and finding a way to track your body composition on a regular basis can be very useful to keep you on track.

 

Improve your posture

Structural balance and good posture play a big part, not only in keeping you injury free, but also in helping you move and breathe more efficiently. And the more efficient you are in both of these areas, the faster you’ll be. Typical areas of weakness that need attention are the hip flexors, hamstrings, glutes and lower and mid-back, which can be improved through exercises such as lunges, deadlifts and rowing variations. 

 

Work on technique

The more proficient you become in certain movement patterns, the more efficient your body will be and the faster you’ll go. Want to get faster at running? Working on the technical aspects of running mechanics, such as stride length and arm drive, will make a huge difference to your efficiency, and in turn, your speed. To improve stride length for example, think about driving your leg back to push you forward.

 

Do short sprints

Performing short sprint intervals and improving technique are the quickest ways to improve speed. It’s important to get a good base of overall conditioning and get yourself as strong and lean as possible at the outset, but once you have a good level of general fitness, you need to sprint if you want to go faster. Start with shorter distances of, say 10-30m, and make sure you get complete rest between sets.

Celebrity Workouts

Less pain, more gain

Step out of the hurt locker and stay on the safe side with our handy guide to ‘ouch!’ prevention

We know it, and you know it: getting in shape is hard work. Exercise demands a huge amount from your muscles and, occasionally, injury is simply inevitable. 

But, let’s face it, there’s nothing more frustrating than your goals being thrown off track by an annoying stitch during your boxing class or killer back pain during your weights session. 

It doesn’t have to be this way. Figure out the triggers causing you pain – and learn the best way to safeguard your body before, during and after a workout – and you’ll be well equipped to make the most of every single session. 

1. Avoid dizziness

Ever feel light-headed when you’re sweating by the bucket load during your spin class or giving your all on the treadmill? A small study published in the Journal of Nutrition found that being dehydrated during exercise caused dizziness, reduced concentration and fatigue, so fuelling up before your session is really important. ‘Carbohydrate is your body’s primary fuel source for moderate-to-intense exercise,’ explains Reebok Club’s personal trainer and nutrition expert Tim Hart (reeboksportsclublondon.com). ‘If your levels are low then workouts do become harder, as the body has less immediate energy available. If you feel dizzy, rest and recover until the feeling goes before continuing. If dizziness lasts longer than five minutes, end the session or reduce the intensity.’ 

Tackle the problem: Staying properly hydrated is key. ‘For gym training, drink at least one litre of water per hour and an extra litre post exercise,’ Tim tips. ‘For long outdoor runs, sports matches or anywhere in high heat, consume at least one litre of isotonic water during exercise and one to two litres after your workout.’ 

2. Beat lower back pain

If you want to sculpt washboard abs or simply improve your all-over strength, core work is an absolute must. But, when your tummy muscles are weak, your back muscles are likely to take a hit, so it’s vital to work both areas. 

Tackle the problem: Avoid advanced movements if you’ve got a weak back and start with basic core exercises. ‘Lie on your back and bring both legs up into the air, knees bent at a 90-degree angle,’ says Rebecca Gentry, Bodyism performance specialist. ‘Push your lower back into the floor by pulling your bellybutton in towards the spine. As you exhale, slowly lower one leg – keeping it bent – until the heel brushes the floor, then return to the start position. If your lower back lifts up from the floor, or you feel any pain during this movement, stop immediately,’ adds Rebecca. 

3. Tackle muscle cramp

If you’re training for an event and striving to smash your PB or run further than you’ve gone before, muscle cramps are the last thing you need. ‘The primary cause of cramps is sweating during exercise,’ explains Tim. ‘Research indicates that a decreased concentration of electrolyte minerals, such as chloride, magnesium, potassium and calcium, is a big factor in muscle cramps. These minerals are lost through sweat.’ 

Tackle the problem: There’s no cure for sweating, sadly, but you can reduce its effects. ‘An isotonic drink containing sodium and other electrolytes can help to reduce the risk of cramps,’ says Tim. ‘A snack a few hours before exercise – such as some mixed nuts or dried fruit – can also help. However this will not stop the loss of electrolytes once you’ve started exercising. So if you’re exercising for longer than an hour, have some small snacks or an isotonic drink handy while you’re working out.’ 

To ward off cramp before it strikes, eat plenty of leafy green vegetables, such as spinach and kale, for a hit of the muscle-easingmineral magnesium. 

4. Protect your knees

If you’re looking to tone up and boost strength, squats always hit the spot. When performed correctly, squatting sculpts the lower body andsupercharges your fat-burning engine. However, if other areas of your body are tight, such as your hips or hamstrings, pain is likely to be on the menu. 

Tackle the problem: Warming up your knees and butt with some hip extensions will help to take the burden off weak knees. ‘Place a Bodyism Mini Band (bodyism.com) just above your knees to keep your knees in line with your toes, and stop them dropping inwards as you move,’ Rebecca suggests. ‘Only bend to a point where you have no pain, keeping your heels firmly pressed into the floor – then push up through your heels, engaging your bottom, hamstrings and core.’

5. Reduce muscle aches

We’re sure we don’t have to tell you that post-exercise soreness tends to set in a day or so after your workout. Usually the result of overloading muscles, soreness is often necessary to help muscles repair and grow, but that I-can’t-get-off-the-sofa pain stems from an improper warm-up. ‘Foam roller work and stretching can loosen the fascia to allow muscles to work to their full potential,’ explains Rebecca. 

Tackle the problem: What you do before and after a workout is just as important as the session itself. ‘Use a foam roller on the body parts you’re going to work, and on areas of tightness,’ says Rebecca. ‘Follow with dynamic stretches such as arm circles and lunges to activate your muscles.’ If ice baths really aren’t your thing, use good nutrition to help you bounce back. Eat plenty of protein and put watermelon on your shopping list. A study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that watermelon juice can help alleviate muscle soreness thanks to high levels of an amino acid called L-citrulline.

6. Dodge stitches

Stitches are a common complaint when overexerting through exercise. Although rarely serious, they can impair your physical performance and reduce the effectiveness of your workout.

Tackle the problem: It’s thought that beginners suffer more than seasoned gym bunnies, so don’t go too hard if you’re a newbie. And, while it’s important to drink water prior to your workout, too much liquid could do you more harm than good. ‘Drinking water before your workout increases your chances of suffering a stitch,’ says fitness expert Dean Hodgkin (ragdalehall.co.uk). ‘There is also anecdotal evidence to suggest shallow breathing, or panting, can be a trigger, so concentrate on deep inhalations and exhalations during your workout.’