Turning pensioners into fitness instructors could be just what the doctor ordered – for all of us

I don’t know about you, but I’m looking forward to retirement. Granted, I’ve got about three decades to go (or more if the goalposts keep moving), but by then I’ll be more than ready to put my feet up. Or perhaps not, if the health tsars have anything to do with it. A new campaign from ukactive is encouraging pensioners to consider retraining as fitness instructors to help over-55s feel more comfortable in the gym. I know what you’re thinking – we slog all our lives and then you want us to pra

Plogging: the Scandinavian trend that helps you get fit while doing your bit for the planet

If you’ve ever fancied drawing the ire of thousands of commuters during morning rush hour, I have some tips. Number one, join a pack of runners for an 8.30am city-centre jog. Number two, have each of those runners randomly stop without warning and crouch to pick something up off the street. It seems that trying to save the world won’t win everyone over, especially not on the mean streets of the capital. But as I find myself donning gloves and a bag for a central London plogging expedition, I’m

Brain training: why running could be the best medicine for your mind

If you’re a regular runner, the brain benefits are probably already obvious. Plenty of people use the miles pounded out on the road or trail to decompress, de-stress and re-energise the mind. And it appears that the advantages of clocking up the miles are more than anecdotal. Studies have shown tangible benefits to the brain in runners, with the positive effects lasting long after you have reached your destination. “There is evidence that if you want to learn something new, it’s better to lear

The running app that helps you explore the ocean – on foot

Your lungs are burning now, as you will your legs to keep pumping. All around you, the gloom closes in – it’s hard to see in the half-light. As you approach the 4km mark, you encounter a strangely familiar landmark. Is that… could it be… the Titanic? Being a staunch landlubber, a journey to the depths of the ocean isn’t something I’m likely to do anytime soon. Friends have told me about the joy of meeting silvery shoals of fish on a scuba dive, or the macabre wonder of exploring a decaying ship

At over 100 years old, the YMCA is one of Britain’s oldest gyms. Here’s how it went from strength to strength

The gym floor can be a fairly prosaic place. Imposing machines here, racks of free weights there, rows of treadmills and bikes. It’s a factory for building bodies, after all, so it makes sense that it’s regimented and systematic. Yet a stroll around Central YMCA in London feels a little different. The space is massive, for one: a modest entrance gives way to an open interior, Brutalist architecture allowing you the chance to peer down past open concrete storeys to the courts below, where two e

From bullied schoolboy to running addict: the man who ran 401 marathons

This week, thousands of people are putting the final touches to their London Marathon preparations: easing off on training, having a last-minute sports massage, getting their gorilla suit dry-cleaned. For first-timers, or even those with several races under their belts, it can be a daunting time. Now imagine that you were getting ready for your 50th marathon in a row. Or 100th. Or 300th. For Ben Smith, running a marathon became as routine as brushing his teeth in 2016, when he completed 401 mar

Why you should get your whole family cycling – and six tips to help

The moment your child learns to ride a bike is a landmark event. But as spring finally comes out to play, how many bikes have been gathering dust since Father Christmas lugged them halfway across the world? Come to think of it, how long since the grown-ups took theirs out for a spin? It’s easy to let cycling fall by the wayside, especially if you have concerns about traffic safety and pollution. But studies show that the health benefits far outweigh the risks. A major study published in the Br

The best fitness gear to shop on the high street

The sky’s the limit when it comes to sportswear spend. Designers joined in years ago – adidas by Stella McCartney is now a veteran, having launched in 2005 – and a pair of leggings can now cost anything up to £300. But do you really get the sporting bang for your buck? High-street retailers are hot on the heels of the high-end designers with technical fabrics, performance features and, perhaps most importantly for some, serious fashion credentials. Quality has always been a key concern for spo

Slow Down Your Workout For Fast Results

As the infuriatingly perky pocket-rocket instructor yelled at me to "Smash it!" while cranking my treadmill up a notch, I decided that this really wasn't what I needed right now. Don't get me wrong – I love a tough workout. My time is precious and I want results in the smallest window. I want to go home exhausted and fall into one of those smug sleeps where you know you’ll ache the next day. But after a stressful day at the office, followed by a frantic commute, is being dazzled by disco lights

Leap of faith: inside the cult of group fitness

The queue snaking the length of the auditorium begins to move, as wristbands are checked and eager fans jostle to get closer to the stage. The music is building and there’s a crackle of electricity in the air. A whoop goes up as five beautiful people wearing headset microphones bounce on to the stage. And the workout begins. At Les Mills Live, the global event that visited London’s ExCel Arena this year, more than a few people take their fitness very seriously. The branding is everywhere, on le

The £30 piece of kit that could switch up your fitness game

There are plenty of gym contraptions that mystify me at the best of times. Steel behemoths that look like modern instruments of torture – and probably are. I spend much of my time wondering which end goes up, before deciding not to embarrass myself by trying to fold myself into one of the machines. So a non-threatening piece of equipment that fits in my pocket is right up my street. However, after becoming a recent fan of strength training, I’m sceptical that I can get a decent workout from a t

How the DeRose Method turns yoga on its head

Derived from ancient traditions, the 60-year-old practice offers a different approach to attaining strength and serenity. I love the feeling it gives me – the strength, the calm. I hate the overcrowded studios, where designer-clad yogis glare at you as you try to unfurl your mat too close to them. I love the tiny breakthroughs, the deepening stretches. I hate the feeling of being two beats behind in a power yoga session, cheating and second-guessing postures as I struggle to catch up, sweat sti

How to beat the dad bod, by a former Gladiator

Middle-aged spread may make you a better family man, but after you hit 40, too much of the good life could number your days Don’t believe the hype, gents. Over the past few years we have seen a number of news articles and even academic studies on how the ladies prefer the so-called “dad bod”. From an evolutionary point of view, it might be true – a softer middle indicates lower testosterone, which may mean men are less likely to want to sow any wild oats, and be a better paternal option. There

The benefits of exercising when pregnant

There are a few things that a pregnant woman might do to draw gasps. Downing a succession of shots, perhaps, or sparking up in the smoking area. But how about sprinting toward the finishing line in a race, or loading weights on to a barbell in the gym? When Serena Williams inadvertently revealed a baby bump on social media last month, everyone did their sums and concluded that she was pregnant when she won her 23rd Grand Slam title at January’s Australian Open. The reaction was largely positive

Can you be vegan and an athlete? - The i newspaper online

Where do you get your protein? It’s one of the most common questions vegans are asked. It’s also one that endurance athletes have to consider if they want to give their peak performance. But it’s not just the query that vegans and athletes have in common – a growing number of sportspeople have turned their back on animal protein when it comes to beefing up. The Williams tennis sisters are both vegan, as are boxer David Haye and track star Carl Lewis. “Athletes naturally look for more informati

You're never too old to start running - The i newspaper online

From pros to amateurs, with the odd gorilla thrown in, the London Marathon attracts all sorts. And as it gets going this year, it’s not just competitors who will be lacing up their trainers, but people around the country who’ve been inspired to give running a go for the first time. But how old is too old to start? Forty? Fifty? Nonsense, says Bill Mitchell, who was 63 when he began – and has never looked back. “I went for a three-mile walk one day,” he says, “and there was a long bit at the end

There's no such thing as the right shape to run - The i newspaper online

Getting fit isn’t exactly the easiest thing in the world. It’s tough to find the time, motivation and energy. It’s even tougher, perhaps, if you don’t already look like a Victoria’s Secret model. There is nothing more demotivating than sweating through a fitness class, hair plastered to your face like a baboon’s bottom (no? Is that just me?), while Miss Skinnymalinx next to you beams with pocket-sized radiance. From the telltale crunch of a picture being snapped to outright abuse, running outdo

What a DNA test can teach you about diet and fitness

There are a couple of things I always suspected were written into my DNA. My tendency to leave the house with wet hair. The innate ability to forget my original mission the second I reach the top of the stairs and the "fat knee syndrome" that forever prohibits those trendy rippedknee skinny jeans. But what if DNA held the secrets to your health, sporting ability and even diet success? DNA testing is not a new phenomenon when it comes to health. Angelina Jolie brought the subject to the fore when

Why the time has come to do some heavy lifting

In my local gym the other day, I watched one gym-goer do 10 chin-ups, just like that. In the corner, someone raised a weighted bag above their head, before slamming it hard against the ground. A third squatted low under a huge barbell. It was a run-of-the-mill day at the gym. And they were all women. A lot has changed on the gym floor in the last few years. Where once women would have stuck steadfastly to the cross-trainers, and the free-weights room was a men-only zone, now the tables have tur

Slouching takes its toll, but it's never too late to straighten up

Cycling to work ‘could halve risk of cancer and heart disease’ Commuters who swap their car or bus pass for a bike could cut their risk of developing heart disease and cancer by almost half, new research suggests – but campaigners have warned there is still an “urgent need” to improve road conditions for cyclists. Cycling to work is linked to a lower risk of developing cancer by 45 per cent and cardiovascular disease by 46 per cent, according to a study of a quarter of a million people. Walking
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