If you’re striving for super-quick results, you can easily be pressured into painful (and pointless) workouts. So the personal trainers at Third Space have revealed the ways we could benefit from slowing down in the gym, and explain why low intensity steady state (LISS) training is your much-needed antidote for true progress:
1 You’ll actually lose more weight
Ultimately, weight loss comes down to the simple equation of calories consumed versus calories burned. A 20-minute circuit workout will burn around 183 calories. An hour-long jog burns 400. Yes, intervals offer the unquantifiable EPOC effect – the after-burn through an elevated metabolism – but steady-state actually melts more calories during exercise.
Stress is the modern malaise. Slow ’n’ steady is your salve. Jogging or any form of aerobic exercise has, conversely, been proven to lower blood pressure and levels of the stress hormone in the blood – researchers therefore believe it’s a potent antidote to today’s anxiety epidemic.
Longer, slower sessions are also excellent for honing technique – something that’s all too quick to fall by the wayside during a max-out HIIT session. Whether you’re prepping for a triathlon or a 10K, a higher training volume will help you to maintain posture, as well as develop a better foot strike or pedal rhythm – especially when combined with the expert input of a personal trainer – letting you go for longer at a lower energy cost. Better technique means fewer injuries, too.
LISS increases capillary density – the number of blood vessels in your muscle tissues – so that you can better deliver oxygen from your blood to your cells. Research shows that low-intensity therefore also helps you flush out the delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS)-causing metabolites of hardcore workouts. Hit the pool rather than the sofa on your rest day and you’ll be up and walking after intense classes more quickly.
Start playing the long game. A recent study by US scientists found that running just 30 minutes a day could be the most effective exercise to increase life expectancy. On average, runners can add nine years to their lifespan by lacing up on their lunch hour. The treadmill is waiting for you…
You can put LISS into practice with these three cardio workouts designed to be more interesting than an aimless plod.
On the rower
2 x 20 minutes with 2-3 minutes rest; done 21 seconds slower than your 2k split
The chilly autumn temperatures can bring a whole host of new challenges for your hair. Luckily, by following these nine hacks, there is hope of keeping your hair looking sleek and hydrated over the colder months.
Few people realise the damage sun exposure can cause hair, and when autumn creeps around, we tend to see unwanted changes and dehydration. But the experts at hairtrade.com know a thing or two about maintaining soft and luscious locks come the autumn:
1 Say nay to the pony
While they might be a great quick fix on a bad hair day, ponytails can cause breakage and scalp stress. Together with the drying, cold weather, you have yourself a recipe for frizz. Try wearing your hair softly pinned up, or half down instead.
2 Nab yourself a moisturising mask
Just like skin, hair needs a dousing of moisture from time to time. It can be a struggle to maintain moisture during the winter months, so slather on a hair mask at least once a week to repair dry and damaged hair.
The lack of moisture the hair receives during the autumn months can lead to a dry or itchy scalp, resulting in unsightly dandruff. Use an anti-dandruff shampoo to regain lost moisture.
4 Clarify your hair
Over the summer it’s likely that you indulged in hair styling products, salt sprays and SPF lotions. While these products might have been an ally when getting ready for a summer night out, they aren’t great bedfellows of hair in the long run, so invest in a clarifying shampoo. It will wipe the slate clean of all those summer products.
5 Skip the heat styling
It’s good to give your hair a rest from styling products. Ditch the hairdryer and let your hair dry naturally. Apply a serum to ease any frizz and let it do its magic.
6 Invest in nutrition
By drinking more water and eating more protein rich foods, you can improve the quality of your hair. Vitamin D is essential for healthy hair growth. You can increase your intake by eating foods such as Mushrooms, or by taking supplements.
Flu season is well underway, and if you’ve ever had the flu, chances are that some of the advice friends and family gave you about avoiding or dealing with this virus were wrong.
So we spoke with Dr Luke James, Medical Director for Bupa UK, who helped us separate the facts from the fiction and debunk these common myths about the flu virus.
1 The flu is just a bad cold
Although flu and the cold are both caused by viruses, they’re completely different ones. They may share some symptoms, like a sore throat, runny nose and a cough, but they’re not the same. Symptoms of the flu can come on suddenly and sometimes severely and you’re also likely to spend two or three days in bed with the flu.
The flu vaccine contains inactivated flu viruses, so it can’t give you the flu. You may get some mild side effects from the vaccine, such as your arm feeling sore, a slight temperature and aching muscles, but this isn’t the flu.
3 Vitamin C prevents the flu
Some people think that taking vitamin C supplements will help them avoid the flu, but there’s no evidence to prove this. You can reduce your risk of catching flu by getting the flu jab each year and washing your hands regularly to prevent the spread of germs. Eating healthily, exercising and getting enough regular sleep can help boost your immune system, which can help prevent it too. While it won’t help you avoid the flu, vitamin C can help lessen the severity and duration of a common cold.
You won’t get ill simply because you’ve gone out with damp hair. You can catch a virus or cold when you’re outside, but this isn’t directly from having wet hair. Cold and flu viruses travel through the air, so you’ll only get sick if you get exposed. Germs can only get into your body through your eyes, nose and mouth. So whilst you may feel chilly, it won’t actually make you sick.
5 Feed a cold, starve a fever
If you have the flu and a fever, you need to drink plenty of fluids to prevent your body from getting dehydrated, as when you’ve got a fever, your body loses fluids when you sweat. And although you might not feel like eating, it’s important to keep your body nourished and hydrated. This will help you fight off the illness and recover.
Unfortunately, chicken soup has no specific qualities that can help fight the flu, apart from soothing a sore throat and providing much-needed fluids for your body. There’s no quick fix for the flu – the best remedy is to rest at home, keep warm and drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration. Taking paracetamol or ibuprofen may relieve any aches and lower a high temperature.
This delicious veggie buddha bowl combines some of our favourite foods here at healthy: wholesome, seasonal veg, nutritious quinoa and, of course, peanut butter.
Sweet potatoes are packed with beta-carotene, an antioxidant which converts to vitamin A once consumed and is linked to improved cognitive function and good skin health. Cauliflower is rich in immune-boosting vitamin C, while carrots contain vitamin K, essential for healthy blood. Avocado is a great source of healthy fats, as is protein-rich peanut butter, and the whole bowl boasts high fibre content. Basically, eat this and you can’t go wrong.
1 small sweet potato, peeled and chopped into bite size pieces
Handful of cauliflower florets, approx 150g
1 carrot, peeled and sliced into 2cm disks
4 brussel sprouts
1tbsp pumpkin seeds
1 Heat the oven to 200C/180C fan. Put the sweet potato, cauliflower and carrot in a large roasting tray, drizzle with the oil and season well. Roast in the hot oven for 30 minutes, shaking the tray halfway through to shuffle the veg.
2 While the veg is cooking put the quinoa in a saucepan with double the depth of water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes. When the quinoa is cooked drain any remaining water.
3 Make the dressing by mixing together all of the ingredients with 3tbsp hot water until smooth.
4 Slice the avocado, finely shred the sprouts and toast the pumpkin seeds in a dry frying pan.
5 In two large deep bowls, build the dish in sections, piling the roast veg in one side then add a mound of quinoa, some slices of avocado and pile of sprouts. Scatter over the toasted seeds and drizzle with dressing.
Notes: To cut down on the activity time, use a pack of microwave quinoa instead of cooking it from raw. It will take 1 minute rather than 15.
Winter isn’t all rain, sleet, and biting wind. Last year was, in fact, the second sunniest winter for the UK since records began in 1929, according to the Met Office. With just a little forward planning and the right kit, you can be a winter cycling warrior and use your bike all year-round.
1 See and be seen
This is rule number one of winter cycling. The more lit up you and your bike are the better. Lights with 100-200 lumens is plenty; you don’t want to dazzle other road users with more powerful beams.
Attach red flashing ‘be seen’ lights to your rucksack and the back of your helmet. These can be found on most online cycling stores or in any bike shop for a few pounds.
If you plan to cycle to work, USB charging lights are great. You plug these into your computer at the office and they are fully charged by the time you go home.
When buying new kit, choose fluorescent colours or reds over black or grey. Better still, get some reflective gear. You can buy whole garments, as well as helmets and rucksack covers, made by brands like Proviz, that make you shine like a beacon on the road.
Reflective socks or waterproof overshoes will obviously move as you pedal, so these can be great for visibility.
Don’t over-inflate your tyres. In winter conditions you need a lower pressure to give you more grip against the icy road. Some hard-core cyclists will buy ice tyres with metal studs for grip, and some people use cable ties wrapped at intervals around their tyres for the same purpose but, if you’re having to do all that, it’s probably safer not to cycle.
Use weather-specific oil to lube your chain. Wet oil is much stickier so it won’t come off in the driving rain. Clean your bike as much as possible during the winter, degreasing and re-oiling the chain whenever possible to remove grit and debris from the road.
3 Real winter warriors stay dry and warm
There is nothing worse than putting on wet clothes and shoes. Unless your employer offers onsite drying facilities (some do!), you’ll need two sets of waterproofs – tops and bottoms – one for the ride into the office, and the other for the ride home. These don’t have to be expensive, they just need to keep you dry.
In wet weather, you can either use overshoes to keep your feet dry or plastic bags. Simply wrap the plastic over your socks before putting your shoes on. Even top of the range waterproof shoes will get wet in heavy rain. Stuff newspaper inside your shoes to draw the water out.
Finally, never cycle without gloves, for warmth and protection if you fall off your bike. Neoprene is best: it gets wet through but still keeps you warm, much like a wetsuit.
4 Switch up how you ride in wet weather
You know the limits of your bike when cornering, so don’t push your bike in harsh weather and ride with more care.
Stay well away from painted road markings and manhole covers. These are going to be very slippery.
Always carry a tool kit, a spare inner tube and a puncture repair kit. Road debris sticks more in wet weather, so punctures are far more likely.
Eyewear is so important, for winter sun glare reflecting off wet roads and to stop grit, mud and rain getting in your eyes. You can buy cycling glasses with several different types of lenses you can swap in for different conditions, year-round.
Winter riding is miles better with a neck roll that you can bring up over your nose and ears to protect them from the wind, a lip balm and some moisturiser. Keep these permanently in your saddle bag.
It’s that time of year again: the clocks have gone back, Christmas is creeping onto shop shelves and you’ll be forced to rummage through your wardrobe for your thickest knit jumper. While you might be looking forward to the frosty mornings and festive season (mulled wine certainly helps), let us let you in on a secret: your skin isn’t. The icy winter air is no treat for your skin, and can leave it dry, chapped and lacking lustre.
But help is at hand. Dr Pamela Benito has years of experience in aesthetic treatments and knows how to create beautiful, naturally glowing skin, no matter the weather. Here, she reveals her top five ways to winterproof your skin:
1 Exfoliate and scrub
Have you ever noticed that sometimes in bleak winter, your skin resembles the colour of the rainclouds above? Don’t let that happen. By using an exfoliator to scrub away the dry layers of skin, you’ll reveal a radiant, soft layer underneath.
We all know how glorious a hot shower feels on a cold day. However, you must resist. Hot water strips the skin of its natural oils and dries it out further. Lukewarm is the way to go, sorry!
3 Lock in moisture
Once you step out the bath or shower, towel off and gently massage a rich lotion all over your body to lock in hydration. During these cold, dry months, a lotion with glycerine will be your guardian angel – it helps form a protective layer, preventing moisture loss.
We all know the cold of winter can do brutal things to our lips. To reinject some life into them, keep a lip serum with you at all times. For night-time, it’s a good idea to use one containing sugar, as it will help soothe throughout the night.
5 Keep hydrated
While many of us sip on hot teas and coffees all day long, it’s a good idea to reach for a glass of water as much as you can. It will balance out the dryness of the weather outside. It’s also a good idea to invest in a humidifier for your home as it will increase the moisture in the air.
This time of year is full of delicious scents, from cinnamon to spiced ginger. But did you know these aromas can also boost your wellbeing? Here’s how to harness their power, whether you’re after a bit of calm or a festive energy boost.
What does Christmas smell like to you – fresh pine needles on the tree? Logs gently crackling on an open fire? Or maybe it’s your first gingerbread (soy) latte as you sprinkle on a layer of powdered cinnamon? Whatever it is, that first sniff (it takes 40 nerve endings to be aroused before we smell something, FYI), is powerful – transporting us back to special times and memories in ways other senses can’t do.
But smells aren’t just enjoyable, they’re beneficial, too. A useful tool since time began, smells alert us to both dangers and things of interest – from food to family – and it was only in the early 20th century that their capabilities were properly explored. With essential oils made from plants, nowadays aromatherapy is said to treat anything from stress and anxiety to chronic pain, with devotees waxing lyrical about its ‘miraculous’ effects. A-listers are in on the action, too – Miranda Kerr swore it helped her overcome depression after splitting with Orlando Bloom, and Sienna Miller and Dannii Minogue love aromatherapy products.
We asked aromatherapist Louise Crockart to talk us through four of our favourite festive smells, and how we can harness their power.
Cinnamon to boost your mood
What’s it good for? ‘Cinnamon is known as a euphoric oil – it has great “happy” properties,’ says Crockart. ‘It’s fantastic for digestion and a great immune booster (especially in cold and flu season). It’s excellent at aiding stress-related conditions, too.’
How to use* ‘Be careful not to use too much on skin as it can be quite allergenic,’ she warns. According to Crockart, one or two drops mixed with a carrier oil (try Natural Brand Aromatherapy Sweet Almond Oil Massage Base, £4.39 for 100ml, hollandandbarrett.com) should be plenty. Or try Cinnamon Scentchips (£2.99, hollandbarrett.com) in a burner (Scentchips Logo Burner, £5.95, hollandbarrett.com) to make the house smell more Christmassy than Santa’s grotto.
Black pepper for headaches
What’s it good for? ‘Black pepper is another euphoric oil, and as well as being great for digestion (it stimulates digestive juices), it’s also excellent at treating aches and pains,’ says Crockart. ‘It’s great for ailments such as arthritis or cold weather-induced issues. Mild headaches can be treated with black pepper, but if it’s a hangover, I’d suggest something more soothing such as chamomile or lavender oil.’
How to use ‘If using black pepper for headaches or muscular aches and pains, I’d recommend a massage to enjoy its full benefits,’ says Crockart. Blend the essential oil with a carrier oil like sweet almond oil (around two drops of the essential oil with a palm’s worth of the base oil) for a relaxing full-body or Indian head massage.
Fancy your house smelling of Christmas for the holidays? Crockart recommends adding orange, nutmeg, cinnamon and frankincense essential oils (two drops of each) to an oil burner with some water. Then sit back and feel very festive indeed.
What’s it good for? ‘Ginger is a very warming, stimulating essential oil, great for warming up the joints and general circulation,’ says Crockart. ‘Some gingers can be a bit cloying and sickly, so I’d recommend those made via C02 extraction [a newer way of producing oil] which smell exactly like real ginger rather than the synthetic type. As well as helping with nausea and general aches, it’s also great for period pains and conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, too.’
How to use ‘For nausea (or just to perk up the house) diffuse ginger oil on radiators around the home,’ Crockart recommends. ‘Just put a couple of drops on to a damp flannel and place it on a warm radiator to let the scent circulate. For aches and pains, use it with a base oil for a massage instead.’
What’s it good for? ‘The three types of mint we use in aromatherapy are cornmint, peppermint and spearmint,’ says Crockart. ‘They’re all strong, heady smells to help you feel less “fuzzy” and make you feel refreshed, and more awake, bringing you “into your head”. They’re also good for indigestion.’
How to use ‘Use mint in a burner (either an oil or electric one) for a fresh, invigorating scent around your home. Try cornmint as a starting point – it’s more bitter than peppermint with a higher menthol content, and is great in winter when we’re all full of colds.’
Feeling exhausted? You may think it’s down to your busy lifestyle – but the real reason could be a shortage of iron. ‘Iron deficiency anaemia is the UK’s most common vitamin and mineral deficiency,’ says health expert Dr Dawn Harper. Signs include fatigue, pale skin and a racing heart. However, ‘many people don’t realise they’re suffering as symptoms are easy to mistake for everyday issues,’ says Dr Harper.
What is iron?
This essential mineral is a key component of haemoglobin, a protein inside red blood cells that carries oxygen round your body. ‘Iron also produces chemicals that transmit signals between brain cells, and helps to protect nerve fibres,’ says Dr Harper.
Are you getting enough?
Iron requirements vary according to age and gender. Women having monthly periods need 14.8mg daily; males aged 18-plus and women over 50 8.7mg. Those at risk of low iron include pregnant women, people with digestive disorders, and vegetarians and vegans with an unbalanced diet.
You’ll find iron in foods including pumpkin seeds, leafy greens and legumes. But it’s important it’s absorbed it properly. ‘Most people absorb only about 10 per cent of iron from their diet. Dietary components like milk can also hinder absorption,’ says Dr Harper. ‘However, combining iron-rich foods with vitamin C helps absorption.’
Try a supplement
If you’re low in iron, a supplement can help. Benefits associated include having greater energy and strength, a more effective immune system and better mental function, says new research†. All great reasons to try them.
Active Iron & B Complex PlusFor Women can help tackle tiredness and support hormonal balance.* Active Iron & B Complex Plus For Men is designed to boost energy levels and help men stay mentally fit.**
The targeted release system ensures optimum absorption of the vitamins and minerals. It’s formulated to be kind enough to take on an empty stomach and strong on absorption. So try Active Iron, to help you burst with energy again!
Disclaimer: If you are pregnant, breastfeeding or under medical supervision consult your doctor before taking supplements. You should not exceed the recommended daily supplement of iron without consulting your diet or pharmacist.
†Solvotrin Iron Supplement Research in the UK, August 2018. *Iron, folic acid and vitamins B2, B3, B5, B6, B12 contribute to the reduction of tiredness and fatigue. Vitamin B6 contributes to the regulation of hormonal activity. **Iron, vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B12 contribute to normal energy yielding metabolism in the body. Vitamin B5 contributes to normal mental performance.
Want to add more veggies to your winter comfort-food diet? You can’t beat a stir-fry for a quick and healthy dinner, says wok queen Ching-He Huang.
Chinese wok-fried spicy spring onion salsa verde with kale and egg noodles
In Chinese cuisine there’s a ginger and spring onion sauce that’s great for veggie chow mein – it’s simple and just divine.
Preparation and cooking time: 30 minutes
120g curly kale, sliced
200g dried egg noodles
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
2 tbsp rapeseed oil
Pinch of sea salt flakes
Knob of fresh root ginger, peeled and grated
1 red chilli, deseeded and neatly sliced at an angle
Pinch of dried chilli flakes
2 spring onions, neatly chopped
50ml cold vegetable stock
1 tbsp low-sodium light soy sauce
1 Pour 1 litre cold water into a pan and bring to the boil. Add the kale and blanch for 30 seconds, then drain and set aside. Cook the noodles according to the packet instructions, then run them under the cold tap, drain and drizzle with the toasted sesame oil.
2 Heat a wok over a high heat until smoking and add the rapeseed oil. Add the salt and let it dissolve in the hot oil, then add the ginger, fresh chilli, dried chilli and spring onions in quick succession to explode their flavours in the wok.
3 Add the stock; stir-fry on a medium heat for 30 secs. Add the kale and cooked egg noodles and toss all the ingredients together to warm through. Season with soy sauce, give one final toss and serve.
Black Bean Buddha’s stir-fried mixed veg
This is a famous Chinese dish that is served at all important festivals throughout the year. Typically, a dish such as this would contain straw mushrooms and dried lily owners; here I’m using Chinese wood ear mushrooms for extra crunch (buy them in Chinese supermarkets and online).
Preparation and cooking time: 30 minutes
1 tbsp rapeseed oil Knob of fresh peeled ginger, grated
½ tsp fermented salted black beans, rinsed, then crushed with 1 tbsp Shaohsing rice wine or dry sherry 1 medium carrot, cut into julienne strips 4 fresh shiitake mushrooms, rinsed, dried and sliced Small handful dried wood ear mushrooms, soaked in hot water for 20 mins, drained and sliced into 1cm strips Small handful baby sweetcorn, sliced in half on the diagonal
1 x 225g can bamboo shoots, drained and cut into julienne strips Small handful fresh beansprouts 2 spring onions, neatly sliced, to garnish
For the sauce:
100ml cold vegetable stock 1 tbsp low-sodium light soy sauce
1 tbsp vegetarian mushroom sauce
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
1 tbsp cornflour
1 Whisk together all the ingredients for the sauce in a small jug, then set aside. Heat a wok over a high heat and, as the wok starts to smoke, add the rapeseed oil. Add the ginger and stir-fry for a few secs; add the fermented salted black bean mixture and toss for 2 secs.
2 Add the carrot and cook for 1 min, then the shiitake mushrooms, wood ear mushrooms, baby corn and bamboo shoots and stir-fry together for 1 min.
3 Add the sauce and bring to the boil. When the sauce has thickened, add the beansprouts and cook for 30 secs, then garnish with the spring onions. Serve.
A humble Chinese omelette made using leftovers, and served with soy gravy and rice, egg foo yung is thought to have been invented by Chinese immigrants who came to America during the 19th-century Gold Rush. This is my version.
Preparation and cooking time: 20 minutes
1 tbsp rapeseed oil
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
Small handful shiitake mushrooms, cut into 1cm slices, stalks discarded
1 tbsp Shaohsing rice wine/dry sherry
2 cos leaves, cut into 2.5cm slices
For the sauce:
120ml cold vegetable stock
¼ tsp dark soy sauce
1 tbsp low-sodium light soy sauce
1 tbsp cornflour
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
For the omelette:
1 tbsp rapeseed oil
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
Small handful of beansprouts
1 medium carrot, grated
5 eggs, lightly beaten, seasoned with a pinch each of sea salt flakes and ground white pepper and a dash of toasted sesame oil
1 spring onion, finely sliced on the diagonal
1 Whisk together the ingredients for the sauce in a bowl; set aside. Heat a wok over a high heat until smoking; add 1 tsp rapeseed oil. Add the garlic, stir-fry for a few seconds, then add the shiitake. Toss for a few seconds; add the rice wine or sherry.
2 Pour in the sauce and bring to a simmer, stirring, until sauce thickens. Transfer to a glass jug and cover with foil.
3 Give the wok a quick rinse with water then place over a high heat to make the omelette. Add 1 tbsp rapeseed oil, then the garlic and stir-fry for a few seconds. Add the sprouts and carrot; toss for 1 min; pour in eggs and let settle for a few seconds.
4 Slowly loosen sides of omelette with a flat spatula, and cook for 20 seconds more. Sprinkle with the onion, flip, cook for a few more seconds. Serve with the sauce and the sliced lettuce.
Stir-fry to health The healthiest way to sear food at high heat, stir-frying retains the nutrients in food for maximum flavour with minimum effort.
Rice and grains baby Mix several different kinds of rice for texture, flavour and nutrients. I often combine jasmine, brown rice, wild rice and red rice, and sometimes add lentils and chickpeas for maximum protein.
Berry excitedThe Chinese goji berry contains essential amino acids, as well as the highest concentration of protein of any fruit. Loaded with vitamin C and carotenoids, it has 21 trace minerals and is high in fibre. Throw into a stir-fry or over steamed vegetables for a sweet pop.
Go nuts I love to add cashews, pine nuts, walnuts and Brazils to my stir-fries. Nuts contain healthy fats, are high in protein and a good source of minerals and vitamin E, which promotes healthy skin. A small handful in any dish is enough. You can toast or roast your own for an extra layer of flavour.
Get fruity and saucy I like to mix naturally brewed soy with fruit juice and fresh or dried chillies for a sweet-savoury spicy taste. A great combination is soy sauce, pineapple juice, chilli flakes and honey.
Recipes from Stir Crazy by Ching-He Huang (Kyle Books, £19.99). Photographs Tamin Jones