Win extreme sport’s vouchers in New Year Quiz

Monday, January 24th, 2011No Comments

Imagine the fun you could have in the New Year if you win some extreme sports vouchers. Zorbing with friends? A weekend of extreme sports in Scotland? Or a blast round a karting track with work colleagues?

You can only win it if you’re in it. So, get your thinking caps on and answer the following question. Which new Channel 4 television programme starring Chris Evans features extreme sports and celebrities?
Is it: A) Famous and Fearless  B) What’s hot? C) 101 Challenges. Send your correct answer – either A, B or C to: Closing date for entries is February 28, 2011, midnight GMT.

Keeping Your New Year’s health and exercise resolutions

Monday, January 24th, 2011No Comments

How many people will be making the pledge to do more exercise in 2011? A lot. And, how many will be keeping that New Year’s resolution? A lot fewer.

British Heart Foundation (BHF) statistics show that seven out of ten adults don’t do enough exercise. No doubt a proportion of that 70 per cent will be full of good intentions to get the heart pumping in the New Year. Trouble is, the intentions often don’t turn into action. So, what makes the difference between those who stumble at the first January fence and those who head forward to health and fitness all year? Here’s some tips gathered from health experts on how to keep the faith with New Year’s resolutions.

1. Choose an activity you enjoy. There’s a lot of activities out there but don’t be dazzled. Chris Perks from Sport England’s, which has launched the Get Back Into campaign to encourage women in the east of the country to return to sport, said: ‘There are so many activities available but sometimes it’s hard to know what’s on offer. Get Back Into is a great way of finding an activity you enjoy.’ The message is: ‘Don’t be frightened to explore, there’s something out there for everyone.’ It doesn’t have to be the gym. Try something new like snowboarding. Click here for a range of extreme activities.

2. Make it social. It’s easier to do things with friends or family. When the motivation is low on a dark winter’s evening and the sofa and a piece of cake look mighty tempting, you’re more likely to go and say no to the sofa and cake if you’ve committed to meet friends

3. Remember little eyes are watching. If you are a parent, research suggests your children are watching and being influenced by your actions or lack of them, so if you don’t want to exercise for yourself do it for them. (Bit of guilt-laced bribery maybe, but if it works don’t knock it.)

4. Family activities. The BHF recommends that families do regular exercise together. It could be a walk, cycling or a trip to a karting track. The BHF believes this develops a positive attitude towards exercise and activities for children.

5. Look at the facts. A World Health Organisation report says physical inactivity in the developed world is responsible for one in five people suffering from coronary heart disease. And, if you don’t find that motivating, here’s a question: have unfit, out-of-shape, lardy bodies ever been attractive to the opposite sex? Discuss.

6. You’re having a laugh. Have fun. Exercise doesn’t have to be all sweat and heartache. For example, try rolling around in a zorb – you’ll be laughing too much to notice how many calories you’re burning.

7. Gain without pain. The cliché goes: ‘No gain without pain.’ It doesn’t have to be that way. Take water sports such as kayaking. It builds strength, stamina and flexibility, and if it’s your thing, you’re floating on cloud nine. It’s gain, again and again – without any pain insight.

8. Keep a diary. The BHF recommends keeping an activity diary, which notes down any time spent doing 10 minutes or more of continuous activity.  The aim is to achieve 30 minutes of at least moderate to intense physical activity five or more times a week. See how close you get.

9. Benefit focussed. Write down three key benefits you want to achieve from exercise. It focuses the mind and gives you a sense of achievement.

10. Reward yourself. And when you start achieving those results – treat yourself along the way. Here’s a range of activities which offer exercise and treats.

How to lose weight? Weighty research for men

Wednesday, January 19th, 20111 Comment

The big health questions facing a generation of UK men are: How can I lose weight quickly? How can I do more exercise? How can I lose a stone in weight?
tighten your belt

The average man in the year 2000 was a belt busting 7.7kg heavier than he was in 1986. The findings come from the British Heart Foundation (BHF), which funded scientists from Oxford University to analyse changes in food consumption and body weight over the 15-year period.

The research found the average man in 2000 ate enough extra food to make him 4.7kg heavier than his forebear in theory. But the actual difference of 7.7kg was too much to blame on diet alone, says the research, and must also be down to a less active lifestyle.

This research suggests a ticking time bomb for male health. Oxford’s Dr Peter Scarborough, who led the programme, said: ‘There could be a number of reasons for the reduction in exercise. One partial explanation could be men spend more of their working lives sitting at desks now – manual careers are less common than they used to be.

Dr Mike Knapton, BHF medical director, said: ‘This research underlines the importance of both regular exercise and a balanced diet in keeping your weight down and your heart healthy.’

High five tips on getting fitter, not fatter. (Source: The National Institute for Clinical Excellence )

1. Walk whenever you get the chance

2. Get a bicycle and use it as part of your daily life

3. Set limits for sitting in front of the television, at a computer or playing video games.

4. Build physical activity into the working day.

5. Get active after work or at lunchtime

If you want some ideas on sporting activities, click here.

How to be a better clay pigeon shooter

Friday, January 14th, 2011No Comments

Like a lot of top sportsmen Andrew Strauss, captain of the England cricket team, is a big believer in visualisation. His maxim is ‘you should never put your body in a place your mind has not already been’.

Many top clay pigeon competitors argue that the same principles apply to shooting. Few sports so closely rely on the interaction between mind and body as pigeon shooting. Tom, a clay shooting instructor for over 20 years, says: ‘The mind and body are inseparable in shooting, the moment people tense up, their ability to shoot is dramatically reduced.’

He argues that controlling the mind is a big part of shooting. ‘Shooting is not just about where you put your feet but how you approach the target. It is about being instinctive and aware.’ The above video illustrates how visualisation can be used to focus on the target. Like Andrew Strauss, the shooter is putting his mind in the place to fire the trigger before he actually puts his body in that position.

Visualisation may have played a part in helping Andrew Strauss’ team win the Ashes in Australia, and it could well make you a better clay shooter. Why not give the theory the practical test and have a go yourself, click here.

Team building exercises hit Aussies for six

Tuesday, January 11th, 20112 Comments

boot camp germany

Team building was widely regarded as a key part of the England cricket squad’s success in retaining the Ashes in Australia. Before leaving for Australia, England’s cricketers headed to Germany for team building activities that included boxing and commando-style assault courses, hiking and various other activities. Indeed, England head coach Andy Flower faced criticism from the press when James Anderson – spearhead of England’s bowling attack – suffered a rib injury during a boxing session and was omitted from the team’s opening tour game in Australia.

In an irony, not missed down-under, it was the Australian cricket team that first embraced team building exercises in a major way, when their former coach John Buchanan sent the squad off to the bush for a boot camp prior to the 2006/7 Ashes series. The Australians famously won every game in the five-match series.

So what is the value of games for team building?  Do team building ice breakers really work? And can corporate team building activities add value to a business?

Peter Ward, who runs a paintball centre in the Midlands, said: ‘We get corporate team building groups coming to us all the time. Their feedback is that the experience is hugely beneficial because it helps break down barriers and forces people to communicate.’

He added: ‘I can’t speak for the England cricket team but I would have thought that exercises where you learn to understand and trust your team mates must help them enormously when the going gets tough.’

Former Royal Naval Officer Jack Broadley, who runs a consultancy specialising in team building, believes team building activities such as the ones undertaken by the England cricket team ‘force individuals to react quickly to change and learn in challenging environments’.

Broadley’s view is that team building activities help communication because barriers to dialogue are removed. ‘When you put people on a level playing field they can’t just rely on rank or hide behind their desks. It is about developing authentic communication,’ he says. So if Australia wants to win the Ashes back, maybe the team should book a group activity day.