Simple summer changes to help you get in shape

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With luck, the summer will bring warm weather to the UK.

But even if it doesn’t, you may have booked a holiday abroad to somewhere where you might be guaranteed some sun.

It could be that the thought of stepping out in a bikini or swimming shorts triggers feelings of dread.

Or perhaps you just want to look and feel your best during the warmer months.

Whatever your motivation, it is worth considering the hints and tips below so that you’ll be at your best for summer.

n LOSE WEIGHT

If you want to shed some pounds, it is important to do this in a controlled and measured way that is also realistic. You should set yourself some goals and target weights that you would like to achieve and when.

However, make sure these are achievable. If you are unrealistically ambitious, you may quickly get disheartened if you don’t meet the targets.

The best way to lose weight is by eating less (and making sure your diet is healthy and balanced) and being active through lots of exercise.

Fad diets and extreme exercise regimes should be avoided, as they may produce rapid weight loss but are not sustainable or healthy over an extended period of time.

There are several small steps you can take immediately to help you lose weight:

n Swap snacks that consist of chocolate or crisps for something healthier, such as fresh fruit or carrot and cucumber sticks.

n Cut down on high calorie beverages such as fizzy drinks, milky coffees or alcohol, and replace with something low in fat and sugars.

n Drink plenty of water – the best is natural, still, water.

n Breakfast is an extremely important part of the day, so try to swap sugary breakfast cereals with healthier alternatives such as porridge, muesli with fresh fruit, or a boiled egg with wholemeal toast.

n Do not eat late at night. Have your last meal at least three hours before you go to bed.

n Try to do some gentle exercise after dinner. A nice walk in the evening means that your stomach won’t be full and you will sleep better.

n Make sure you are getting your five a day – almost all fruit and vegetables count towards this, even those that are canned, frozen or dried. Fruit juices and smoothies also count, meaning there are lots of varied ways to meet the target.

n GET ACTIVE

As well as eating healthily, another key aspect of losing weight is getting active.

Adults aged between 19 and 64 should get 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic exercise activity per week. This can take a variety of forms so there are many ways in which to incorporate this into your daily routine.

Simple morning stretches for just five minutes are an extremely healthy way to start your day. Waking up your body will give you energy and prevent injuries.

You could consider running, with the NHS’s Couch to 5k Plan – a great way for even novice runners to get up to speed. Walking at a brisk pace also counts, so it is worth considering how you can fit this into your daily routine, perhaps as part of your commute to work or college.

You may also consider cycling, swimming, joining the gym or playing sports such as football or tennis. All of these will help you to hit the 150 minutes target.

As well as helping you look your best and shed some pounds, getting regular exercise can lower your risk of coronary heart disease by up to 35 per cent and lower your risk of Type 2 diabetes by up to 50 per cent.

Over time you will find the activity that works best for you and have much more success if you find an exercise method that you enjoy.

It is also good to find a friend or family member to walk, run or visit the gym with, as this will help with motivation and mutual support.