Discover superfoods and improve muscle tone and strength
Follow a six-week healthy living plan, tailored to your fitness level, and reap the benefits from day one
This third six-week plan aims to increase the intensity of your physical activities and help you learn more about which foods your body needs as fuel.
Superfoods can boost your health and the way you feel. This week, find out what they are and start adding them to your diet.
Scientists have known for some time that certain types of food or nutrients bring extra health benefits. These 'superfoods' have been shown to help us achieve optimal health.
Superfoods to try
Oily fish and foods fortified with omega-3 DHA
These can help prevent depression and improve mood. Some studies show that children's behaviour improves when they're given oily fish or supplements. Try eating tuna, salmon, mackerel and trout more often. (If you're pregnant, avoid liver and fish oil supplements, as they contain high levels of vitamin A, and marlin and swordfish. Limit your intake of oily fish to twice a week.)
Red peppers, mangoes, carrots and purple grape juice
The antioxidant nutrients in these foods may protect against heart disease and some cancers.
Cranberry juice, oranges, kiwi and broccoli
All these foods are high in vitamin C, which may have some preventative effect on colds, has been linked with a reduced risk of cancer and is important in maximising the absorption of iron from other foods.
Prebiotics and probiotics
These boost the natural 'good' bacteria in your gut, which can reduce tummy upsets and boost your immune system. Probiotics contain live friendly bacteria, while prebiotics supply the non-digestible sugars particularly liked by your natural bacteria.
Food and drinks made from soya may guard against heart disease by lowering blood cholesterol. Try tofu and soya milk.
These can aid relaxation and sleep. If you like to have a snack before bed, have a small portion of one of the following: toast, breakfast cereal, fruit yoghurt or a banana.
Pills and potions
Be sceptical about miracle pills or potions that claim to reduce weight. Many are a waste of your money. Check whether you have to follow a specific diet or exercise programme alongside the product for it to have an effect. If you have existing health problems, check with your GP before buying weight-loss remedies.
This week, you'll be running for five minutes in your interval sessions and increasing your threshold session. Also add a drill before your one hour session and do the lunge on three days.
Your aim this week is to increase the running part of the cycle in your two 40-minute interval sessions.
Here's how to do it:
- Warm up by walking at a comfortable pace for five minutes.
- Run for five minutes, then walk for three. Complete this cycle four times.
- Cool down with a three-minute walk at a comfortable pace.
Also increase your 20-minute threshold session to 25 minutes and really step outside your comfort zone at a rate of perceived exertion of seven.
Continue with your one-hour aerobic session. Make this session walking, cycling or swimming and add one of the drills below between your warm-up and main activity.
Your week could look like this:
|1 x 40-minute interval session
||1 x 25-minute threshold session
||1 x 40-minute interval session
||1 x one-hour aerobic session
Your fitness routine now includes the key ingredients of a balanced, effective fitness programme: interval training, a threshold session and a prolonged endurance workout. Each one contributes to your fitness in different ways.
You should also continue to do the lunge and squat every day and the downward-facing dog after each workout.
Drills are best incorporated after your warm-up but before your activity. They'll improve your technique so you become more proficient at it, reducing the risk of injury and enabling you to maximise the benefits. Pick the most appropriate for your activity.
Backwards walking (for running, walking or sport)
As well as improving coordination, this exercise activates the gluteal muscles, which are important in stabilising the pelvis during walking and running. With each step, take the foot across the midline of the body (in other words, slightly across the front foot). Try four sets of ten steps.
To work on your breast stroke try doing two leg kicks for every one arm pull. This will help develop good timing, streamlining and stroke length. Simply swim one full stroke and keep your hands together in the stretched streamlined position, while you execute the second leg kick. Aim for four sets of 25 metres.
Spin-ups are designed to improve your pedalling economy, so you can get more speed for a given effort level. Over a period of 30 seconds, gradually increase your cadence (the speed at which your legs pedal) until your bottom begins bouncing off the seat (if you have a rev counter, aim for 90rpm). Reduce your speed and recover for a minute, then repeat. Do four to six spin-ups.