Let the arrival of spring inspire you to shape up

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Many of us will have made new year resolutions to become healthier by getting more exercise.

But when the weather is cold and the nights draw in early, it can be easy to be discouraged from this fitness drive.

However, with spring upon us bringing warmer and longer days, now could prove the perfect time to get into shape and improve your fitness.

There are many reasons why spring is a great time to work on your fitness.

Perhaps the poor weather over winter led you to use the car or public transport for journeys you may otherwise have walked or cycled.

Or maybe you are thinking forward to a summer holiday and looking to get in shape.

Whatever the reason, there are plenty of ways to get fit and healthy.

Let’s break it down into two sections – exercise and eating right.

· Exercise:

It is recommended that those aged over 18 get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise a week, such as walking quickly, cycling or tennis.

On top of this, muscle-strengthening exercises should be performed on two or more days, such as lifting weights or doing push-ups.

These figures change to 60 minutes of exercise per day and three days of muscle strengthening per week for those aged under 18.

Of course, if you are busy with work or raising a family, it can be hard to find time to fit in this exercise during the week.

However, it is possible to build exercise into your working day.

You could try walking or cycling to work or, if it is too far to do that, you could park further away or get off the bus or train a stop earlier, to enable you to walk part of the way.

If you are looking to get more exercise than this, but have not really done much before, then the NHS’s Couch to 5k programme may help.

This is aimed at getting people of all ages and fitness levels to run five kilometres in nine weeks.

While you may not have wanted to start this programme during winter, the warmer weather and lighter evenings should help make this more appealing.

When at work, you could walk over to talk to someone rather than sending an email or using the phone.

Taking the stairs instead of the lift will also allow you to get more active.

It is also worth investigating if there are any gym or sports facilities, either at work or nearby, which you could use during your lunch break or before or after work.

· Healthy eating:

In addition to exercise, eating healthily is also an important part of getting fit.

A balanced diet, including lots of fruit and vegetables, will provide the nutrition you need.

The arrival of spring brings with it many seasonal vegetables in the UK, which can be incorporated into your diet.

Asparagus, Jersey Royal new potatoes, spinach and spring onions will all be at their best between March and May.

Eating these vegetables, and others, will also help you reach your target of five a day.

The World Health Organisation states that by eating five 80g portions of fruit or vegetables a day, you can lower the risk of serious health problems.

These can include heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and obesity.

They also provide fibre, which helps prevent constipation and other digestion problems.

A diet high in fibre can also reduce your risk of bowel cancer.

For further information on how you can exercise more and eat healthily this spring, visit the NHS Choices website (nhs.uk)