The science is in - getting in better shape doesn’t have to be hardcore. Harness the latest research to make your training both more effective and more relaxing
These 15 simple tweaks will improve every aspect of your life. Best of all, they’re not even hard. You're welcome
1 CRANK UP THE MUSIC
The longer you listen to music during a training session, the more enjoyable the whole experience becomes, says research from Medicine & Science In Sports & Exercise. The sweet spot is 125-140bpm, so turn up Daft Punk’s ‘Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger’ and have at it.
2 WORK AT A TREADMILL DESK
Previously, research has suggested that treadmill desks might hamper workflow. But the largest study of its kind, published in the journal Computers In Human Behaviour, now suggests that they’re linked to an increase in cognitive performance – both neurophysiological and behavioural. Tell your boss it’s worth the investment.
3 TIME YOUR EATING FOR MORE MUSCLE
No carbs after 6pm? No cake after midday? The exact rule might not matter: according to the journal Cell Metabolism, having any time-restrictions on eating may improve cholesterol levels and help add lean muscle.
4 BENCH FASTER FOR A NEW PB
What do you bench? According to the European Journal Of Applied Physiology, speeding up your pushing phase will improve the answer. Load a mere 60% of your current max on the bar and lower the bar under control, then press explosively up. You’ll recruit – and build – more muscle.
5 TRAIN WITH PEOPLE BETTER THAN YOU
Picking a partner who can beat you, according to a study published in Psychology Of Sport And Exercise, will spur you on to better your performance by up to 20%.
6 PICK A TARGET WHEN YOU RUN
Focusing on an object in the distance will get you there faster and with less perceived effort, according to a study in Motivation And Emotion.
7 TAKE YOUR OTHER HALF TRAINING
According to recent research from University College London, you’ll do 70% more physical activity if you take up the habit alongside your significant other – and be 15% more likely to lose weight.
8 PROTECT YOUR NECK FROM TEXTING
Your head weighs about the same as a bowling ball, and tipping it forward for hours at a time is ruining your neck, according to research from leading US spinal expert Dr Kenneth Hansraj. The NHS suggests ‘gently lengthening your neck upwards while tucking in your chin’ to compensate for lengthy texting or Clash Of Clans sessions.
9 COMPRESS TO PROGRESS
The verdict on compression gear is that wearing it during the 24-hour window after your workout
can speed recovery and reduce muscle soreness, according to the American College Of Sports Medicine. Probably not one for bedtime, though.
10 RUN ON A (SMALL) INCLINE
No need for the Matterhorn-style sprint. Intervals on a moderate hill – or a treadmill set to 10% – increase VO2 max and jumping ability in half the time of flat-terrain training, according to the Journal Of Strength And Conditioning Research.
11 TRAIN IN THE SUN TO LOSE FAT FASTER
Exercising in the hot sun is marginally less pleasant than in the freezing cold. But there’s evidence – published in the journal Diabetes – that moderate UV exposure can help prevent obesity and lower diabetes risk. You still need sunscreen, obviously.
12 RECLAIM YOUR LUNCH BREAK
It’s time to bid the internet cat videos farewell. According to Scandinavian research published in January, going for a gentle walk during your lunch hour can instantly improve both your mood and your ability to handle stress at work.
13 STICK WITH THE DIET
It gets easier – yes, really. According to MRI research by professor of nutrition and psychiatry Susan Roberts at Tufts University in the US, eating healthy foods can ‘retrain’ your brain to crave them, in a process known as ‘cognitive restructuring’.
14 DO MORE YOGA
It’ll enhance your other efforts, according to the Journal Of Applied Physiology. Follow the acronym Prise – eat Protein daily and do a weekly four-hour mix of Intervals, Stretching and Endurance – and you could burn up to 2kg more over 16 weeks than people who do only one type of exercise.
15 READ POETRY… AND BREATHE
According to research from Carnegie Mellon University, 25 minutes of mindfulness – including poetry critique and deep-breathing - reduced the build-up of fat-storing hormone cortisol during stressful tasks. Think Wordsworth, not Eliot.