Can’t sleep? Millions are using the Calm app to hear a soothing bedtime story for grown-ups

It’s enough to make you lose your sheep. The clock ticking mercilessly on, while sleep remains elusive. The frustration of knowing that the morning – and the time to face a new day – is drawing closer. It’s no secret that we’ve become a nation of night owls, partly due to the never-ending stream of technology at our fingertips. As many as one in 10 of us could be turning to medication to help us drop off, with sleeping pills costing the NHS £50m a year. The chief executive of Netflix, Reed Has

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

The secrets of living to 100? We've known them all along

I always wonder if the centenarians are pulling our legs when we beg them to reveal the secrets behind their longevity. Raw eggs, they tell us solemnly. Daily plunges into icy ocean waters. A can of Stella and a packet of custard creams (props to you, Eileen Maher of Blackpool). No wonder we’re desperate for some nuggets of wisdom – barely a day goes by where scientists are not locking horns over the best course of action for a long life. High-fat, low-carb, some say, while others wring their

Cycling through history: new London bike tour celebrates women’s achievements

Think of your average historical city tour: chances are, it will comprise a rambling round-up of dead white blokes. Statues of conquering heroes on horseback, plaques for playwrights, those kinds of things. But a new London bike excursion is taking people on a tour marking a few of the city’s females heroes, some of whom you will probably never have heard of. Tour de Force, a joint initiative between Santander and Transport for London, is aiming to put the spotlight on some inspirational women

Don’t write off summer just yet: here are some reasons to be cheerful

Remember how summer used to stretch on for ever? Long, hazy days, barbecues and Mr Whippy ice creams, scorched grass and paddling pools? That’s how this summer was beginning to feel, only with a more grown-up flair: we woke up day after day to blue skies, drank cocktails at sunset (on a Tuesday!), and watched England beat the odds to rise through the World Cup ranks. And then, all at once, summer sort of sputtered to a halt. The clouds rolled in just as England crashed out, just as the English

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

What can we learn from a 16th-century wellness bible? That snake oil has been around for quite a while

The world of wellbeing is undoubtedly a strange one. I must admit I have fallen down the rabbit hole on occasion, spending my hard-earned cash on “superfood” concoctions including outlandish ingredients such as baobab, and spirulina (ugh), and turmeric, and chlorella. Use these ingredients and you could be like us, the wellness goddesses cooed, all glowy skin and shiny hair and flat tummies. So I imbibed, and spiralised, and infused, all with the hope that this was some kind of elixir of youth

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 surgeon who fell in love with broken hearts

As an organ, the heart has been rather unloved in recent years. Column inches and bestselling books are dedicated to the brain and even the hitherto unglamorous gut, while the heart soldiers on unnoticed. Heart surgeon Nikki Stamp, though, is smitten. “Even when the heart is outside the body – if you give it blood with oxygen and nutrients the heart muscle just beats,” she says. “I think that’s amazing.” Stamp has no shortage of interesting facts about the heart – in fact, she’s written an ent

How a photo from my past reminded me of how much I have gained

Ah, the Facebook Memory. Sometimes it taps you on the shoulder with a lovely little reminder of a happy event. Sometimes, like a sneaky little frenemy, it pokes you in the ribs, pointing out how much you’ve aged… or widened. It happened to me recently – a Memory popped up, featuring the “me” of six years ago. A version of me taken by a professional, looking skinny, youthful and, dare I say it, aspirational. It was my one-and-only stint as a cover girl – the editors of a fitness magazine had p

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

What’s the secret to Tom Watson’s six-stone weight-loss? Eating less, exercising more, and dogged determination

Tom Watson gained inches of the column variety earlier this week when he revealed the secret to his six-stone weight loss. The now-svelte Labour MP told Robert Peston that one of the measures that helped him slim down was good old-fashioned butter. “Yippee!” went the newspaper headlines. “Watson’s weight loss secrets”. “Watson reveals eyebrow-raising trick he used to lose six stone”. But hold your horses before you reach for the Lurpak. This isn’t butter smeared lovingly on hot toast, or melt

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

Priority Seating Week: TfL is right to take a stand for people with hidden conditions

I was halfway home from work this time last week when I started to feel unwell. The Tube was fairly busy, with no spare seats, so I clung on to a pole as if it was a long-lost love, gritted my teeth, and counted the seconds until my stop. I made it home unscathed, and crawled into bed to see out the ensuing bout of flu from a less precarious vantage point. Diddums, you might think. But I have form – I’m a bit of a fainter when I’m under the weather, and I have been known to hit the deck in a c

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

Why does spring make us happier, more sociable and more optimistic?

It got off to a sputtering start this year, courtesy of the Beast from the East. But even as parts of the country still battle snow showers, most of us are already hoping that March will go out like a lamb. “The day the Lord created hope was probably the same day he created spring,” suggested the philosopher Bern Williams. In fact, hope is a common theme associated with spring. While there is still debate about when it actually starts (in the northern hemisphere, the meteorological calendar h

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

Celebrity spotting (almost) at Champneys Tring

It’s a great leveller, a white towelling bathrobe. At Champneys Tring, everyone wears one – there are robe-clad guests sitting at reception, strolling to the spa, perusing the lunchtime buffet. It makes it difficult to sort the celebs from the plebs, those who landed at the helicopter pad from those who landed with a two-for-one voucher. Because Champneys welcomes all sorts, of course. Some famous faces have been spotted in the resort over the years – Kylie Minogue, Barbra Streisand, um, Tony a

Fitness blogger Alice Liveing: exercise is about more than weight loss

The personal trainer formerly known as Clean Eating Alice has had a rebrand. She tells Siobhán Norton about her journey from Insta-blogger to bestseller, her PCOS battle, and why fitness is about far more than weight loss. It feels like Britain has had its fill of “fitspo” lately. Every social media channel is saturated with lithe young things adopting a variety of smug fitness poses. There’s the weighted squat, the yoga headstand and, of course, the “belfie” (or bottom selfie, if you’ve been t

Will you walk 1,000 miles this year?

In the fitness world, sharing your progress on social media is almost a given. From MapMyRun to the gym selfie, marathons to Tough Mudder, social media can help create community and healthy competition. But a quieter movement is under way. A Facebook group comprises 25,000 people and counting who are united in the same goal: to walk 1,000 miles in a year. It’s a big, round figure, but a doable one, breaking down to an average of 2.74 miles a day. Some people already cover 1,000 miles in a year
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