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Health And Beauty: Healthy Living Week four

Healthy Living Week fourPersonal programmes
By following these tailored diet and fitness programmes, which are based on expert advice, you can improve and protect your physical and mental health

Programme one
Follow a six-week healthy living plan, tailored to your fitness level, and reap the benefits from day one

Getting started
Read an explanation of what to expect in programme two of your healthy living plan. Expert, week-by-week advice will help you become more active, burn calories and tone your body.

This week's challenge is to reduce your salt intake. If you're a salt lover and aren't sure you want to start weaning yourself off it - or how - read on.

Health risks
Salt adds flavour to food, but one of its elements - sodium - increases blood pressure. People with high blood pressure are three times more likely to develop heart disease and have a stroke. High-salt diets have also been linked to stomach cancer.

Daily limits
The Government recommends that adults eat no more than 6g of salt a day, that's about a teaspoonful or 2.4g of sodium.

However, every day more than 26 million people in the UK exceed this limit. Most of this salt comes from processed foods such as bread, meat products, snacks, tinned foods and ready meals.

Reducing intake
To reduce the amount of salt in your diet, try the following:

Add salt either when cooking or at the table, not both.
Monitor the amount of salt you add to your food and cut back each day.
Read food labels and choose low-salt options when possible. That's less than 0.25g salt or 0.1g sodium per 100g.
At mealtimes, leave the salt cellar in the kitchen and try other flavourings, such as fresh or dried herbs, pepper and lemon juice. If salt-lovers in your family aren't happy, add a teaspoon of dry rice into the salt cellar - it slows down the flow of the salt.
Steam vegetables or roast them in the oven to retain their flavour, then add herbs and ground black pepper instead of salt.
If you must add salt, use a reduced sodium or 'low' salt.

Salt or sodium
Just to be confusing, food labels often list the sodium content rather than salt. Remember, you want to be aim for no more than 2.4g sodium a day.

A high-salt food is one that contains more than 1.25g salt or 0.5g sodium per 100g.
A low-salt food is one that contains less than 0.25g salt or 0.1g sodium per 100g.

Look for labels that claim 'no added salt' and try to choose these as much as possible.

Sat Sun Mon Tues Wed Thurs Fri
2 x 15-minute walks 2 x 15-minute walks 2 x 15-minute walks 1 x 10-minute walk
and 1 x 15-minute walk
Rest Rest 1 x 20-minute walk


This week, you should add another 15 minutes to your walking routine and include a new exercise to combat pressure on your back, neck and shoulders.

Your week
Your aim this week is to add five minutes to another three 10-minute walks or, if you'd prefer, you can just add another 15-minute walk to your schedule.
If you haven't already combined your two ten-minute walks into one 20-minute session, do so this week.
Your week could look like this:

Healthy Living Week fourThe towel pull exercise
This week's posture exercise helps to relieve muscle tension, focusing on the top half of the body - the neck, shoulders and upper back.
Do it every day alongside your other two exercises: the rolldown (week two) and the cushion squeeze (week three).

Hold a towel or sweatshirt behind you, with your arms by your side and your palms facing forwards. Do the 'pigeon', by drawing your chin towards you without dropping or lifting the head. Take it back as far as you can, creating lots of double chins, then release it slightly to a comfortable position.

Keeping your head in this position, extend your arms behind you, opening your chest and shoulders and working your upper back muscles by imagining you're trying to rip the towel in half. Hold for three to five seconds, breathing freely, then relax. Do five repetitions. You can also do this exercise seated, holding the towel behind your chair.

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