Training for a Half Marathon

Training for a Half Marathon

If you have decided to run a half marathon you are obviously ready for a challenge. This is an accomplishment only a small part of the world’s population has achieved. Congratulations you are about to become one of them.

Motivation is of huge importance, but building stamina and maintaining that motivation is essential. Set yourself goals, how long do you have to train for the event? Your goals need to be realistic and attainable in order to avoid injury and disappointment. Fartlek training is one such of the training styles we use at FitFarms weight loss camp; we do discover that some of our guests are planning to run a half marathon in the future.

Fartlek is a system of difference types of running, from sprinting to jogging. Targets are set with landmarks. Short sprints are used to push the body to gain stamina and endurance. This is an alternated with jogging in order to achieve some recovery time. At each stage of the running set a landmark target. At each training session aim to set the landmarks further apart.

Ok so you’ve set yourself goals. The type of training you undertake will already enabled you to set yourself the goals you need to gain fitness and motivate you to your achievement. How much time do you have before the marathon event? Recovery time is just as important as training time to avoid injury. Balance the training/recovery time, ensure your nutritional levels are adequate for the task, and choose the correct footwear.

Steadily increase the mileage you cover during your training sessions, try and aim for your longest run to exceed the required length of the half marathon. Imagine the mental advantage of being capable of exceeding the marathon length on the big day. Ease off the training in the weeks approaching the run to give your body time to recover. Good luck.


Health and Fitness Advice by FitFarms Editorial Team

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Racket Sport for Fitness

Racket Sport for Fitness

A racket sport has the advantage over team sports as you only need one other player. The sport requires speed, quickness, strength, and is a great cardiovascular workout. Your opponent is another person who is also looking to win, and the strategy you employ to win the game will give your brain a workout too. It can be a lifelong sport for all ages, as you grow older you may slow down yet can bring skill and technique to win the day.

Squash is an ideal sport for whole body activity, and is a high level of aerobic exercise. It is not about running miles in training but about speed, agility, and strength. During the game of squash the body goes through a range of movements, and strength in the legs, arms, back, and abdominal is essential. You may be on court for 40 minutes to an hour, and mental endurance is another skill you may need to acquire.

Choosing a good racket club is like most things, ask your friends for recommendations, visit your local club, or look out for reviews in the appropriate press. When you visit a club for the first time go with an open mind, are the courts in good condition, do the staff appear knowledgeable and approachable, and will the court availability suit your needs.

Squash, tennis, and badminton are probably the most popular racket sports, and can be relatively inexpensive to undertake. In the UK some schools have outdoor tennis courts for hire for a token value.


Health and Fitness Advice by FitFarms Editorial Team

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Tips for Sticking to Exercise

Tips for Sticking to Exercise

The key to sticking to exercise is being realistic with your expectations. Start off with small changes and then expend on them. If you’re a beginner to exercise then aim for 10 minutes each time you exercise for the first week, 15 minutes the following week and so on. Vary the type of exercise you undertake to work the different muscle groups.

What you like to achieve with your exercise programme? Would you like to make improvements to your level of fitness or do you aim to run a half marathon. Whatever you want to achieve staying motivated is the hardest thing. However, set yourself realistic targets and each time you reach that target reward yourself and then set the next target. If you’re training for a half marathon break the training sessions down into groups of weeks such as week 1 to 3 be able to run for specific distance, and weeks 4 to 6 increase the distance run and decrease the recovery period in each session.

It’s important that you enjoy the training or exercise you’ve undertaken, if you’re not why not try something different such as a team sport. You are more likely to stick to an exercise programme if you enjoy it. As a reminder how far you’ve come in improving your fitness level why not keep an exercise diary. In your diary keep a note of the exercise you’ve set out to achieve, did you achieve it and how did you feel at the end of the session. Look back at week 1 and how did you feel after 10 minutes of exercise compared with week 4 and 30 minutes of exercise. What a great way to stay motivated.


Health and Fitness Advice by FitFarms Fitness and Editorial Team

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Agility Training for You

Agility Training for You

Agility is the ability to change direction quickly and keep your balance. This is particularly important in racket sports where strength and body control is as important as speed. Not only is it about speed but also grace and the flow of movement.

As with any form of exercise the basis is balance and core strength, and so it is with agility training. Agility training starts as you warm up, the body can be encouraged to move through a greater range of movements with the use of resistant bands, Swiss balls, and step exercises. Over a number of weeks develop a programme to increase the range of movements, the speed of those movements, and the ease in which you are able to achieve those movements.

One form of exercise footballers use to improve their agility is the snake exercise; it can be achieved in the back garden. Set out items of the same size, i.e. cones, in this case you could use buckets or flower pots, at a meter apart and weave through the items from left to right. Repeat this process, in time your muscles will remember the exercise and you will be able to complete it in a shorter time and with less effort. Another form of exercise to use your flower pots for is the rolling start. Set two flower pots at 10-20 meters apart and jog to the first and sprint to the second. This exercise can also be carried by side stepping in a jogging form to the first flower pot and then sprint in side step to the second point. These exercises form a good basis of programming your muscles into different actions without the use of expensive equipment.

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Is Chocolate Good or Bad for You?

Is Chocolate Good or Bad for You?

Dark Chocolate. Photo credit

Is chocolate bad for you? There are indications that eating chocolate can contribute to reduced levels of bone density. Lower levels of bone density can lead to osteoporosis in later life . Headache triggers has been associated with eating chocolate, particularly for people who suffer with migraines. Milk chocolate is higher in the overall calories, sugar and saturated fats.

Is chocolate good for you? Research suggests that cocoa, in chocolate, contains polyphenols, which has been attributed to oxidation of harmful cholesterol. It is considered eating chocolate is good for relieving stress through valeric acid and the smell. Valeric acid is a known relaxant, and the smell of chocolate has been attributed with the slowing down of brain waves, resulting in a relaxed but alert state.

Is it possible to buy healthy chocolate? Perhaps we should be looking at the additives to chocolate to assess the health properties. Chocolate can contain sugar, dairy, gluten, and in place of sugar artificial sweeteners. Chocolate without these items are more likely to be seen as a healthy alternative, such as dark chocolate.

Research suggests that eating chocolate does not always lead to weight gain. It is a situation where moderation is required to maintain a good balance to the consumption of a healthy diet and a little treat occasionally. A healthy body is achieved through a healthy diet and regular exercise.

Belly Dancing Fitness Exercise

Belly Dancing Fitness Exercise

Belly Dancing and Fitness Exercise. Photo credit

Belly dancing has a long history associated with The Middle East, India, and parts of the Mediterranean. It has rapidly become popular in the West as a form of exercise. Belly dancing is the name given to this type of movement in the West. One description is belly dancing is improvised dancing of a solo artist using the torso as a form of expression.

It appears belly dancing was seen as representing life in a harem of the Ottoman Empire during the 18th and 19th Centuries. Perhaps this was a romantic view of the Middle East at that time.

Some forms of dance tend to push the body into unnatural shapes and positions, however belly dancing works with the body’s natural inclinations. The figure of eight shaping, rolls, hip drops, and pivots use the muscle groups in the pelvis, thighs, abdomen, spine, and up into the neck. The gentle repetitive low impact movements improves flexibility and suppleness. The techniques involved in belly dancing is to look at the body in separate parts. The rib cage and the waist should be isolated from each other. The shoulders become independent of the hands, wrists, and elbows, forming a fluid movement. The abdomen and hips need to be controlled to form the shapes and perform the movements.

Any form of dance makes an excellent form of exercise, but belly dancing can be started at any age. It is fun, creative, and a real confidence builder. With the increase in popularity in the West comes an increase in available tuition. Tuition is available in some areas in the sports centre or even the local village hall.

The 5 Minute Weight Loss Retreat Exercise By Andy And Ian (Video)

Today Andy and Ian from the weight loss camp team in Derbyshire are showing us a complex sequence of fitness moves.

It consist of 6 to 8 reps of controlled movements.

The first exercise move will be the reverse plank, then the V sit up which is extremely demanding, then into the side crunch with a short range of movement making sure to train both sides.

The last fitness exercise is the squat thrust which is explosive and great for abs and hip flexors.

Could Peppermint Tea be the Key to Trimming your Waist?

Could Peppermint Tea be the Key to Trimming your Waist?

Many wonder health benefits of Peppermint Tea. Photo credit

There are many wonderfoods that help people lose weight that have been tried and tested such as apples, steaks (yes, surprisingly!), lentils, olive oil, avocado and chillies. Lately, however, experts are talking about how people who want to lose weight should start drinking more tea –the winter-appropriate peppermint tea, to be more exact. But “how could something as simple as peppermint tea help me lose weight?” you may ask.

Suppress Appetite for Eating More
According to experts, peppermint tea helps suppress one’s appetite. The strong scent in this herb helps keep cravings in check so it’s been suggested that sipping a hot cup of the minty tea after meals can keep your hankering for a slice of chocolate cake at bay.

Digestive Aid for Weight Loss
That peppermint tea is a digestive aid helps boost the idea that the tea can assist in weight loss. Rudolph Ballentine, author of “Diet and Nutrition” suggests that having problems in the digestive system leads to poor nutrient absorption. Poor nutrient assimilation wakes up your body’s food cravings while, on the opposite end of the spectrum, a healed digestive system won’t want to eat more than it should. Additionally, peppermint tea can get rid of constipation thereby improving digestion, allowing nutrients to get in your body, and keeping you from succumbing to your food cravings.

Lower Anxiety and Fatigue
It’s also worth knowing that peppermint tea can help you relax. NASA studies have found that the scent of peppermint helps lower anxiety and fatigue levels. It stands to reason, then, that people who tend to eat when they are stressed can be calmed and soothed by some peppermint tea, helping them forget about their frustrations and staving off their desires to “eat their feelings”.

Lower the Cortisol Level
Also, peppermint tea helps lower the cortisol levels which become heightened when a person is stressed out. High cortisol levels can wreak havoc on your metabolism, making it harder to lose the extra weight  you want to get rid of so it may be in your best interest to sip some calming peppermint tea.

Of course, despite all the benefits that peppermint or peppermint tea brings to people who wish to lose weight, nutrition and fitness experts are quick to add that one might only truly reap the weight loss benefits of peppermint by modifying your diet and developing a good fitness regimen.
Peppermint tea cannot spur fat loss on its own but paired up with an improved, healthier lifestyle which includes a nutritious diet and regular physical activity, peppermint tea can support weight loss.


About the Author
Health and Fitness Tips by FitFarms, the award winning Weight Loss Camp in the United Kingdom. Awarded Britain’s Best Weight Loss Camp by The Sunday Times Travel Magazine.

Yoga vs. Pilates: Which one is right for you?

Yoga vs. Pilates: Which one is right for you?

Pilates Workout. Photo Credit FitSugar

If you’re the type who doesn’t like doing all the cardio workout sessions and strength training workout programs but would still like to maintain a healthy fitness regimen, a holistic mind-body workout programs are more appropriate for you. Yoga and Pilates became popular among the health-conscious of us because of its power to make your body long and lean while promoting inner peace, a product of its “mindful movements”.

More often than not, Yoga and Pilates are being described in many comparable ways. True enough, they belong in the same practice but there are a lot of differences between the two. There are various types of Yoga and Pilates as well; as a result, they differ in many ways.

Mind-Body Approach. Both Yoga and Pilates focuses on how the mind and body are connected. They both establish this connection by introducing a calm workout environment, movements that help the practitioner relax and focus on poses and controlled breathing. While both establish the connection between the mind and body, Yoga throws one more feature into the mix – the spirit. Yoga endorses meditation with its proper breathing exercises that relieves stress and allows one to be calm. The mind-body-spirit connection is the foundation of Yoga.

Origin. Yoga originated from India more than 5,000 years ago. The practice evolved over the centuries and branched out into various types such as Ashtanga which involves synchronizing the breath with postures that produces internal heat that detoxifies muscles and organs, Vinyasa which is fast-paced as compared to other forms of yoga, Bikram which is ideally practiced in a heated room of 40°C with a humidity of 40%, and Kripalu which emphasizes “flowing the flow” of prana.

Pilates, on the other hand, is a much younger practice. It was developed by Joseph Pilates in the 1920s to rehabilitate injured soldiers from World War I. The art of dancing is what made Pilates popular; it uses various movements faster than Yoga’s to develop a graceful, fluid rhythm, similar to dancing. It has quickly gained a following among dancers all over the world.

Target Areas. While Yoga and Pilates use movements that are intertwined with breathing, each has specific target areas. Pilates is focused on the muscles of the abdominal wall and may help build abdominal strength by as much as 20% as its movements are centered on building core muscles. Yoga, on the other hand, is more focused on toning larger areas of the body other than the core. It targets legs, arms and abdomen as well due to its sun salutations and other poses.

So which is better for you? Practice Yoga if your goal is to achieve an overall balance of the mind, body and spirit. If you are aimed at enriching your lives, then Yoga is right for you with its breathing techniques that will help you relax and focus on your inner peace. It will help you manage stress and gain flexibility in one go. Practice Yoga if you want to achieve an overall toned body and if you would like to strengthen the larger sections of your body. It is recommended to those who has had their first heart attack, has high blood pressure or diabetes.

Pilates, however, is good if you’re a dancer or an athlete who wants to elevate your fitness program. If your primary goal is a solid core and a noticeable set of ab muscles, then Pilates is right for you. Pilates is designed for younger and more active practitioners.

Ditching the Elevator and Using the Stairs for Fitness

Ditching the Elevator and Using the Stairs for Fitness

Stairs for Fitness. Photo Credit RedBookMag

I just recently moved into a walk up apartment building. Living on the 10th floor, I always thought that the most convenient way to get up and down my flat was to take the elevator. While waiting for my ride, I noticed the usual signage posted near the lift doors saying “If you’re going up 2-3 floors, we recommend you take the stairs. It’s good for you.”

Seeing that I wasn’t in a hurry and that the lift was taking too long to get to the ground floor, I considered the suggestion and entered the stairwell. The ten floor challenge was on.

A few agonizing steps later, I found myself panting and literally crawling to my apartment door. After hydrating myself and getting some time to catch my breath, I vowed that conquering the ten floor walk up my apartment would be my next fitness challenge. I’d include walking up the stairs into my slowly growing fitness regimen.

Looking for a convenient workout that hardly costs any money and can be done throughout the year? Try stair climbing.

It’s convenient since most multi-storey buildings have elevators: schools, offices and even condominiums. Since the stairs are indoors you can easily climb them most of the year. You won’t have to postpone your workout even if it was raining or snowing outside. You won’t need any special equipment so there are no added costs. A good pair of running shoes and regular workout clothes are all you need.

Imagine all these benefits and I haven’t even begun to expound on the health and fitness part of the equation!

Research into stair climbing have documented its numerous health benefits: weight loss (in fact, studies have shown that you burn twice the fat in half the time than if you run); and muscle toning (not just of your lower body, but also of your arms, particularly if you use hand railings that help you pull your arms up). There is also the added benefit of less impact on your legs, ankles and knees. Other fitness benefits were validated through the two research presented below.

A study published in the journal Preventive Medicine monitored the health of 22 sedentary college-age women who began climbing stairs over the course of seven weeks. At the end of the study, researchers found that these women enjoyed better health outcomes in various categories: reduced heart rates, lower oxygen uptake and blood lactate levels.

Similarly, a Harvard Alumni Study discovered that men who averaged climbing at least eight flights a day enjoyed a 33% lower mortality rate compared to their sedentary counterparts. What is more amazing is that these findings are even better than the 22% lower mortality rate reported for men walking 1.3 miles a day.

Now I’m on my second week since adding stair climbing into my daily regimen. I’m happy to report that my endurance has improved considerably – I don’t pant as heavily as I used to. I’m a convert to this simple lifestyle adjustment and will continue to advocate it for other people interested in a low impact, affordable and all-weather fitness regimen that has proven medical and fitness benefits. I’d definitely advocate stair climbing for fitness!