Be more active (Your body will love you for it)
A sample programme of daily exercises will help tone your body – and make you feel happier too. So counteract the force of gravity by following our 10 easy steps to a firmer fitter, more confident you
As the T-shirt slogan goes, 'Gravity sucks'. Because?after 35 (if not before), bodies start to head south. At the same time, our bodies get stiffer and less?flexible. Some people embark on a major blitz to?counteract this – the gym, jogging, Pilates, whatever. But the best strategy to start with is?simply to become more active, all the time – then?you can add your favourite exercise, as we suggest?below. Being more active boosts the rate at which?the body burns calories. It firms you up and (done?properly) stretches you out. And it also produces?feel-good hormones called endorphins so that your?mood, as well as your body, feels less saggy.
So if you're standing disconsolately in front of a long?mirror in your undies and wondering what on earth you?can do to shape up and/or slim down, take heart. Embarking on a simple daily programme of little shifts?will really make a difference to your body (and at the?same time, to how you feel about showing it – on the?beach, to a new lover, or in that Little Black Dress?that used to fit but doesn't now). Best of all, you can?start in your very own bed. (Although probably better?alone, in this instance…)
1 When you wake up, lie straight and flat in your bed, take a few slow, deep breaths (in through your nose and?very slowly out through your mouth), then lift your arms? above your head and point your toes, feeling the stretch?right through your body on both sides. Stretch your?whole body, then each side, and finish with your whole?body again.
2 While the kettle boils, tense your buttock muscles?ten times for ten seconds each time. The more you?practise this, the firmer your bottom will become, so?practise whenever you're standing: waiting at the bus?stop, stirring a pan, queueing to pay in a shop, etc.
3 While you brush your teeth for the recommended?three minutes morning and evening, squat down with?your back against the wall or door. (It feels weird, but it's?a great stretch.)
4 When you're watching TV, hide the remote control?and when you get up to change channels, do ten?squats to tone your upper thighs. As you squat down, with your back straight, push your weight down through?your heels so the front of your thighs work harder.
5 Tone up your arms and bingo wings by pushing?light weights above your head: do ten pushes at a time,?as many times a day as you can. No weights? Use cans?of baked beans. (We love baked beans – to eat! -?especially with a slurp of olive oil and grated Parmesan.)
6 Lose five pounds by improving your posture…
- Stand up straight, as if the crown of your head is suspended from a thread in the ceiling/sky.
- Let your shoulders sink down and back: feel as if your shoulder blades are meeting at the back.
- Do a few shoulder rolls both ways while you are sitting at your desk or on the train.
- Walk like a cat (think model on catwalk). Hips swinging forward with your big toe leading.
7 Walk briskly everywhere you can, swinging your arms (put belongings in a back pack – the kind that fastens across your front is easiest if you carry a lot). Look for hills and climb stairs rather than using the lift. Get in the habit of striding out for at least 15 minutes in the evenings to help you relax. You should aim for 10,000 steps a day – easy to calculate if you hace a pedometer.
8 Every time you get up from a chair, consciously pull your belly button in towards your spine to work your tummy muscles. If you are picking up things from the floor, bend sideways while pulling in your tummy to help smooth your love handles.
9 Finally, do exercise you enjoy. Whether it's walking or swimming, dancing or yoga, riding or fencing, if you look forward to it you are far more likely to stick with it and get a feel-good double whammy. Aim for at least 3 minutes, five days a week.
10 Make all of this a habit. It takes 16 to 21 times of repeating an activity for it to become a habit – so in less than a month, all this can become second nature. And by then you should look very luscious in that Little Black Dress.
Extracted from The Anti-Ageing Beauty Bible by Josephine Fairley and Sarah Stacey, published by Kyle Books, RRP £19.99, ISBN:9781856269452. Order online for £15.99 at www.kylecathie.co.uk