There’s nothing more motivating than seeing results when you’ve set yourself fitness or weight loss goals so it’s important to monitor and record your progress. Body fat monitors are great for those trying to lose weight, heart rate monitors and GPS watches allow cyclists and runners to capture pace, distance, calories burned, metres climbed and route travelled.
Addressing both sides of the energy equation is the best way to maintain a healthy weight and stay in shape. It' s a lot easier to eat healthy meals if you plan what to eat and shop accordingly. Even a simple change such as taking your own healthy soup or salad to work instead of buying a sandwich for lunch can make all the difference.
Research shows that even a single run can lift your mood, boost brain power, curb appetite and fortify your immune system. It can also help you find some valuable ‘me time’ in a busy schedule. Here are 5 of the best apps to help you along the way…
Perfect for newbies, the 'Couch to SK' programme will gently but progressively get you from sofa to 30 minutes of running within 8 weeks.
Tracks your distance, pace, time and calories burned. Data can be uploaded to the website for you to review, share and compare.
Uses GPS to track your time, distance, elevation, speed and calories. You can then save your workouts to Runtastic.com.
This app goes one step further than recording distance and time, revealing your mile splits, best pace, elevation and calorie expenditure.
Categorises the music on your phone or iPod by beats per minute, enabling you to match your desired running pace with the right tempo.
With a home workout there’s no danger of bad weather, limited opening hours or overcrowded facilities to put you off. If you are short on space, your home gym can simply consist of a cupboard with compact yet versatile pieces of equipment such as Swiss balls, kettlebells and skipping ropes. Don't forget you can use your TV to work out using these gadgets...
DVDs remain a popular way to work out at home, and there's a huge choice available. Most are designed for a range of levels from beginner to more experienced, and offer targeted sessions of between 10 and 30 minutes. There are also some great online services such as gymcube.com offering live and archived workouts led by some ofthe UK's best instructors for a small subscription fee.
Nintendo's Wii Fit software can help you and your family add more activity to your daily life in a fun way, though research suggests that on its own, it's unlikely to raise your heart rate high enough or for long enough to work as a standalone exercise programme.
If you have an Xbox One console, the newly launched Xbox Fitness promises to help you work up a sweat in the company of celebrity trainers in your own living room. Making use of Microsoft's Kinect depth-sensing camera system, Xbox Fitness will be able to monitor heart rate, form, tempo and balance to ensure you're getting a worthwhile workout that will bring results.
Always have a target - when exercising pick a distance, a movement or an amount of repetitions and see how quickly you can complete your goal. That way you always have a target to aim for. How fast can you run a mile? How quickly can you complete 50 lunges?
Music can do more than take your mind off exercise! Research has proved that music can boost mood, delay fatigue, increase work output and reduce perception of effort. The ideal tempo for running is 170-190 BPM. It’s important to be safety aware so don’t let the music block out all the outside noise. Even in the gym, keep it at a safe volume under 100 decibels.
1. Marry the music with the activity you're undertaking. For example, fast, loud, rhythmical, percussive, bass-driven music is good for psyching yourself up before a weights session.
2. Consider how hard you'll be working. You'll need faster music if you're training at a higher intensity (music of 130-140bpm is ideal for very vigorous exercise such as rowing).
3. To increase the intensity of your effort, raise the tempo by one or two bpm beyond your comfort zone. This will increase you work rate, but the difference in effort will be barely noticeable.
4. Find songs with lyrics that contain positive affirmations of exercise, such as 'work your body', 'push it' or 'run to the beat'. Positive statements such as 'I believe' can also bolster your motivation.
5. The music should create imagery in your mind that is motivational or inspiring; this could be through associations within popular culture, or through personal memories.
84% of the UK population live within 2 miles of a pool. Breaststroke is great for lower body toning and strengthening the legs while front crawl offers more of an upper body workout. Backstroke strikes a balance between the two and helps unravel upper body tension from sitting at a desk or driving all day.
'We hope you've enjoyed your 12 days of fitness. My advice to you is to start small and slow. 1 or 2 sessions a week for 3 weeks, commit to little changes and try to make those changes part of your life. The more you exercise, the more you'll enjoy it and the more you'll get out of it. You have to learn to enjoy the process and the journey, not just the destination.' - Jessica Ennis-Hill, adidas ambassador