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Health And Beauty: In Healthy living Week two

Personal programmes
In Healthy living Week twoBy 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.

Week two

This week's challenge is to increase your fruit and vegetable intake to at least five portions a day, with the help of nutritious smoothies.

The benefits
Eating at least five portions of fruit and vegetables every day is important because they:

Protect against chronic diseases, such as cancer and heart disease.
Aid healthy bowel movements.
Are low in calories, but fill you up.
Are full of vitamins and minerals.
Protect your body against free radicals, which contribute to ageing.

There's a huge variety of fruit and vegetables available, with many different tastes, textures and ways you can eat them.

Different fruits and vegetables provide specific benefits to your health. To find out more about what particular ones can do for you, read The basics of fruit and vegetables.

What's a portion?
Each of the following is equivalent to a portion:

2 medium-sized plums
7 strawberries
5cm slice of melon
1 glass of pure fruit juice*
3 dried apricots or prunes
3 heaped tablespoons of tinned fruit
1 handful of grapes
1 apple, orange, banana or pear
1 small bowl of salad
1 medium-sized tomato
1 corn on the cob
3 heaped tablespoons of tinned or fresh carrots
5cm piece of cucumber
4 heaped tablespoons of French beans

*No matter how many glasses you have, it only counts as one portion.

More information about portions can be found on the NHS 5 a Day website.

In Healthy living Week twoEveryday eating
It's simple to increase the amount of fruit and vegetables you eat every day. Here's an example of a day's menu.

Breakfast: a piece of fruit and a glass of fruit juice or a smoothie (two portions).
Snacks: a big slice of cucumber, a piece of fruit or ten to 15 sticks of carrot (one portion).
Lunch: add lettuce and tomato to sandwiches (half a portion).
Dinner: include two types of vegetable (two portions).
Dessert: add chopped fruit to yoghurt (one portion).

Once you get a taste for fruit and vegetables, you'll wonder why you went without them for so long.

Making smoothies
Smoothies are an easy and tasty way to increase your intake of fruit and vegetables.

All you have to do is remove the skin and pips from your chosen fruit and blend until smooth. Experiment with quantities to suit your own tastes.

Here are a few combinations to try:

pear and pineapple, with lime juice
strawberries and kiwi fruit, with plain, low-fat yoghurt
banana, blueberries and apple
mango, apple and coconut
peach, nectarine and apricot, with a dash of orange juice

This week, ten minutes will be added to your walking programme and you'll learn an exercise to strengthen your abdominal and back muscles.

Your week
Your aim this week is to add five minutes to two of your existing ten-minutes walks. An extra ten minutes a week may not seem a lot, but your body is still getting used to being active - pile on too much work at this stage, and you may end up exhausted, sore and disillusioned. The key to long-term success is gradual change.

Your week could look like this:

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

Progress worries
Even if you struggled with the walks in week one, you'll soon start to feel less breathless and your muscles will begin to tone up.

If you're having trouble fitting walks into your daily routine, don't despair. It may take a while to find what works for you. Try combining walking with daily activities as much as possible. For example, when you go somewhere using transport, consider going by foot instead.

Also remember, it's important to schedule exercise as you would the rest of your time. This will help you get used to making it part of your routine.

Rolldown exercise
This exercise, derived from Pilates, is designed to improve your spinal mobility and teach your body to keep the core (abdominal and back) muscles engaged as your body moves.

Do it every day, in place of the standing tall exercise from week one.

  1. In Healthy living Week twoStart in the standing tall pose to achieve good posture, then bend your knees a little.
  2. Take a breath and, as you exhale, draw your belly button towards your spine and bring your chin into your chest. Begin to roll down through the neck vertebrae, the upper back, the middle back and finally the lower back, until your head and arms are hanging down by your shins or feet. 
  3. Pause to take a breath or two. On an exhalation, 'rebuild' the spine by rolling back up to a standing position. Do this three times.

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