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Your Active is here to help you!

We have a wide range of articles about fitness, health and events at Active.

Read one of our many articles below by clicking on the title and after you have finished, let us know what you think by submitting a comment. What fitness techniques have you tried that have worked or failed? Is there a new kind of fitness class that we don't currently provide? What more could we do to help you achieve a healthy lifestyle?

We will be uploading more articles regularly so please keep an eye on this page, and we hope to hear from you soon!

Optimum Hydration

When exercising at any of our Active Gyms in Jersey, it is important to stay hydrated, this article outlines what is required to keep the right balance of hydration throughout the day.

We can survive without food for up to a month but can only go 3 days without fluids. Drinking fluids provides us with the most important nutrients that our body needs. 

How much fluid do we need?

The body loses about 1.5 litres a day through the skin, lungs, digestive tract and via the kidneys as urine.

We make about 1/3rd of a litre per day when glucose is burnt for energy. Therefore the minimum we need per day is 1 litre. Ideal is 2 litres per day.

How can we achieve the correct balance?

Fruit and vegetables consist of around 90% water and provide it in a form easily used by the body.

One kilogram of fruit and vegetables provides approximately 1 litre of water. Therefore if you eat the recommended intake of 4 pieces of fruit and 4 servings of vegetables per day, you are not only providing your body with an abundance of vitamins, minerals and beneficial plant chemicals but you are also providing approximately 1litre of water. This leaves 1 litre to be taken as fluid.

The remaining litre can be taken in the form of:

• Water

• Herb or fruit teas

• Diluted fruit juice (in moderation)

• Freshly squeezed fruit and vegetable juices.

 

Water is not simply H20. A typical spring water provides 100mg of calcium per litre (Therefore 1 litre can provide 1/6th of your daily 600mg calcium requirement).

Carbonated water

• Not all bottled water is spring water (read the label carefully)

• Artificially carbonated water actually depletes our minerals (the carbon molecules in artificially

carbonated drinks are unattached and can bind to minerals in the body, taking them from us)

• People who consume a lot of carbonated drinks tend to have less bone density than those who do not.

Tap water

There are concerns over the anti-nutrients such as nitrates, lead and aluminium, contained in tap water.

Levels of these exceed safety limits in much of Britain and approximately 1/4 of all British tap water contains pesticides at levels above maximum admissible concentrations set by the EC. 

Therefore it is best to drink filtered, bottled or distilled water (although filters also remove naturally occurring minerals from the body).

Caffeine

The stimulants in tea and coffee act as diuretics and rob the body of valuable minerals. Therefore they are not recommended as ideal sources of fluid intake. 

• Caffeine is not good for health or energy levels

• It can cause a rapid heart beat and lead to irritability and anxiety

• Caffeine causes a blood sugar peak (instant 'energy'). The body scrambles to adjust this increase in blood sugar by releasing insulin to bring blood sugar levels back to normal ('slump'). This causes hunger and uneven energy levels.

• Decaffeinated still contains stimulants. Chemicals are used to remove the caffeine.

 

Conclusion

Drink 1 -2 litres of water and herb tea per day (try taking a 2 litre bottle of water to work and drinking it throughout the day)

• Dilute fruit juices with 50% water

• Be well hydrated before exercise and drink an extra litre of fluid per hour of exercise

• Limit tea and coffee

• Drink alcohol in moderation.

Don't use thirst as an indicator of fluid need. you will already be dehydrated by the time your body starts signalling thirst!

 

You can read more about hydration in this article Are you dying of thirst? For a full list of Active classes at our three great centres go to our online timtable.

Written by Active at 11:00

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POWERLUNCH!

At a loss for what to eat at each lunch-time or bored to death with your usual choice of sandwich? Check out some of the following lunch ideas. Choosing a healthy nutrient-packed lunch can go a long way to help you avoid that mid-afternoon slump (along with a good night's sleep!), boost your afternoon brain power and help you avoid the temptation of joining in the daily afternoon biscuit ritual.

Alternative lunch options

Occasionally trying an alternative to a sandwich may help to boost the nutrient levels of your diet. Try some of the following suggestions:

• Hummus with raw vegetable selection (carrots, broccoli, cucumber, chunks of pepper)

• Try Cauldron's Organic vegetable Pates - spread on brown rice crackers from Health Essentials (try roasted parsnip & carrot or Moroccan chickpea - gorgeous!)

• Wholemeal pasta / rice / cous-cous salad with chopped raw veggies and flavoured with herbs, sun dried tomatoes, lemon, chilli. Include a dessertspoon of oil such as Udo's oil blend or Essential Balance Oil in the dressing to boost essential fat levels in the diet (oils available from Health Essentials, Carob or Leaders health food shops)

• Baked potato without butter topped with prawns and chopped carrot; cottage cheese, chives and cucumber; or tuna with chopped olives, spring onions and herbs

Good lunchtime sandwich shop food

• Sushi from M & S, The Potteries or Jersey Sushi at Fort Regent

• Mange-tout do great salad tubs - really healthy and nutritious

• Rice and pasta salads - opt for wholemeal pasta or brown rice. Check they include loads of veggies and not too much oil/mayonnaise

• Wholemeal sandwich with healthy fillings such as prawns/grilled chicken/cottage cheese/avocado and tomato

• Home-made or shop bought natural ingredient soups - if you are vegetarian

check these soups are not made with chicken or beef stock

• Fresh fruit smoothies - made in house. Some smoothies can contain LOADS of sugar. Always check the sugar content.

Beware of these ingredients hidden in your lunch-box!

• Sugar laden yogurts - instead opt for low fat Bio yogurt with chopped fresh fruit

• Pre packaged meats such as bacon or ham - often contains unhealthy preservatives such as nitrates and nitrites

• Flapjacks or muffins (which appear healthy enough) high in sugar and fat

• Low fat 'healthy' snacks - check the ingredient list for unwanted hydrogenated fats, additives or artificial sweeteners

• Mayonnaise coated coleslaw or potato salad

• High fat sandwiches - check the ingredients - not all sandwiches are equal e.g. bacon and brie/ham and cheese/chicken and thick mayonnaise

Written by Mandy Bonhomme at 12:00

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Shake Salt Out Of Your Diet!

Recently there has been much publicity about the high content of salt in many foods and it's effect on our health. Salt has always been an important part of our diet and was once traded pound for pound with gold in Timbuktu as caravans started across the Sahara. But unless you've just run a marathon or you live in the desert, you actually only need a small amount of salt every day!

Salt is a major source of sodium, which is essential for maintaining the water balance of all tissues and fluids in our bodies. The problem is that most people consume more than is required. In fact, we currently eat an average of around 12 grams of salt a day - twice as much as is currently recommended for a healthy diet.  In addition, based on body weight, the average salt intake of children is even higher than that of adults !

Why cut the salt?

A high salt intake increases the amount of fluid retained by the body. This raises blood pressure, which, in turn, contributes to an increased risk of strokes and heart attacks. People with high blood pressure are three times more likely to develop heart disease and stroke, and twice as likely to die from these diseases than people with normal levels. In England alone, high blood pressure contributes to more than 170,000 deaths a year. Salt also has an effect on bone demineralisation (osteoporosis) and kidney disease.

Why do we eat so much?

Surprisingly, most salt in our diet does not come from over use of the 'salt-cellar' at the dining table or during home cooking. The fact is, that about 75% of our intake now comes from the salt found in processed foods. This is not limited to obviously salty foods like crisps and snacks either. Many people do not realise that bread, biscuits, cereals, cakes, soups and ready prepared meals are often high in salt content and may account for nearly 40% of our salt intake ! For example, some cereals provide as much salt as Atlantic sea water (1g sodium/100g).

Meat and meat products often contribute another 20%. In fact, a recent food survey by the Food Standards Agency revealed that many popular ready-meals are very high in salt, with one meal in the sample containing 98.3% of a whole days salt quota of 6g! 

Be salt savvy!

By far the easiest way to cut you salt intake is not to add it to food, either while cooking or at the table. However, as this only accounts for around a quarter of our salt intake, it is equally important to look at labels when buying processed foods and choose those with less salt content. 

The problems is, that looking at labels for salt content can be very confusing ! Currently most, but not all, processed foods are labelled in terms of sodium in grams per 100 grams of the product. But, in order to calculate how much salt food contains, you must multiply the sodium content by 2.5. For example, if a packet of crisps contain 0.4g of sodium that is equal to 1g of salt. 

However, reducing salt intake is only one aspect of a healthy diet. Studies show that the greatest decreases in high blood pressure is seen when a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and low-fat foods is combined with a low salt diet. Increasing physical activity is also associated with reductions in blood pressure, especially aerobic exercise.

A lifetime of salt

From birth to one year, babies need virtually no salt at all. Regardless of how bland the food tastes to you, there is no benefit in adding salt to their foods. Once your child becomes a toddler, be aware that many ready-prepared food marketed at children and their lunchboxes are high in salt. For example, one portion of some popular 'lunchable' meals, combined with a packet of crisps, can add up to a whopping 4g of salt - more than the entire daily recommended amount for a young child !

Preferences for particular tastes develop early in life so, by keeping salty foods to a minimum, children are encouraged to develop good habits into adulthood. These lessons could prove useful in older life, because as we age our taste buds tend to become less sensitive, tempting us to add more salt to our foods without realising it.

Recently, the government have recommended a reduction in salt intake for adults to 6g per day, roughly equivalent to one level teaspoon. For the first time, they have also set guidelines for children, proportionate to their needs (see chart). With salt in the spotlight, many within the food industry are now making moves to improve the nutritional value of their products. So while there is no way at present to tell who might develop high blood pressure from eating too much sodium, becoming 'salt aware' consumers could be of benefit to us all. 

Helpful tips:

• Wean yourself off the salt-cellar - take it off the table during mealtime

• Try using other flavourings such as fresh, frozen or dried herbs, spices, chilli, garlic, pepper, vinegar etc. instead of salt.

• Be aware that salt substitutes are not always salt free.

• Rock salt and sea salt have no health benefits to table salt.

• Remember that salt taste receptors take time to adjust, so food may initially taste bland. However, within 2-3 weeks the taste receptors become more sensitive and high salt foods often then become unpleasant.

• Choose fresh and fresh-frozen foods over canned and bottled goods. Salt is used widely as a preservative in non-perishable items.

• Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, which are naturally lower in sodium and fats.

• Try to reduce your intake of processed foods and highly salted snacks. Check labels for a similar lower-salt alternative. 

Most people don't realise that they are eating high levels of salt in everyday foods such as bread, breakfast cereals and pastry products, yet up to 75% of their salt intake comes from processed food.

The 'target intakes' of grams of salt per day, which we should all aim to keep below, are as follows:

Age - Grams of Salt

0-12 mths -less than 1g

7-12 mths - 1g

1-3 yrs - 2g

4-6 yrs - 3g

7-10 yrs - 5g 

11yrs and over - 6g

What to watch for on labels

All of the following terms on food labels indicate sodium: brine, baking soda, soda, baking powder, salt, mono-sodium glutamate, sodium chloride, NaCl and any other sodium compound.

1g sodium = 2.5g salt

Written by Karen Le Cornu, Jill Fa at 00:00
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Healthy Mind Meets Healthy Body

Firstly, forget about going on a diet and commit yourself to a healthy eating plan. There is no mystery to this: simply avoid too much red meat, cut back on the alcohol, avoid ready-made meals and takeaways, avoid food with a high fat or sugar content and keep an eye on serving sizes. Secondly write down a list of your top priorities and consider what it will take to keep exercise and healthy eating at the top of that list. Thirdly, acknowledge once and for all that diet pills do not work and miracle exercise machines, such as those that you strap to your stomach while watching TV, have no hope of working either. And last but not least, lifting weights is the key to every fitness goal you have ever had.

Sounds difficult? Then consider it this way. You only need to keep one fact in mind - you have to expend more calories than you invest. That's it.

It is a physical impossibility to eat fewer calories than your body requires and never lose weight.

Here's where exercising your mind comes in - intelligence is a powerful weapon in the quest for a great physique. Common sense dictates that a 'virtually fat free' chocolate fudge cake sounds too good to be true. That's' because it is - it's a minefield of calories and hidden fat. OK, so it may not be fat before it hits your stomach, but once its in there, all excess sugar is converted to fat (and believe me, that's a lot of excess!) Even worse, the insulin produced by a high level of sugar promotes fat storage and disrupts your blood sugar so much that, in no time at all, you will be craving sugar again.

The good news is that if you reduce the sugar in your diet, your sugar cravings will immediately decrease. Diet meals are another minefield - often, calories are reduced by reducing portion sizes, leaving you hungry and more likely to continue snaking after dinner - and the salt content in snacks is often artificially high.

Healthy Mind Meets Healthy Body

Another way of exercising your mind is to acquire knowledge. Learn everything you can about the glycaemic index - a table that shows you how fast the energy from each food is released. Why is this important? Because if the food you eat releases energy too quickly, you ingest all the calories in one go and your body is more likely to store some of that energy as fat.

Foods that release energy slowly will keep your hunger at bay and will not promote fat storage. If you know you have a particular weakness, such as eating out, do a little research first - choose chicken tikka instead of a balti, or choose pilau rice instead of a naan.

Diet plays a key part in the quest for a great physique, but exercise is the other vital part of the equation. Exercise videos that advertise 'results in just 15 minutes a day' are not going to get you anywhere near the ideal physique that you aspire to.  Instead, regard the following three principles as the cornerstone of your workout.

Firstly, a great physique requires a great workout. Hit the gym until you find a sport or exercise class that you really enjoy, then log the man hours.  If you can't get to a gym, go jogging or walking instead.

You may want to enlist the help of a personal trainer for at least a couple of sessions to find out exactly what you need to achieve.

Secondly, go for quality, not quantity. Your workouts need to make you sweat and must provide a serious challenge. They must be regular and varied and get the results you are looking for.

Thirdly, you must include weight training in your workout. Especially if you want to lose fat. Why? Because muscle requires more calories than fat, so the more muscle you have in your body, the more calories you will burn, even when you aren't exercising.

So make this the year that works, by exercising your mind before exercising your body. It's a simple mantra, but believe me, it works.

As time goes by, increasing your knowledge of diet and fitness issues will make leading a healthy life easier and more enjoyable.

Written by Elesa Argent at 10:24

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Devoid of Energy...Has your engine run dry?

Having trouble getting your engine started in the morning; feeling stressed and frazzled; tired all the time;having problems concentrating; or feeling de-motivated?If this rings true for you, then read on for tips on how to increase your zest for living and re energize your batteries.

Step 1
Identify what is sapping your body of energy?
• Lack of sleep
• Stress
• Overwork
• Blood sugar imbalance
• Excess alcohol
• Over reliance on stimulants such as tea and coffee
Poor diet

Step 2
Shake up your diet.
Energizing nutrition can have a profound effect on the way you feel. Instead of relying on that chocolate bar or double latte to keep you pepped up; fill your diet with fresh foods and slow releasing carbohydrates to keep your body running in peak condition. The body has to work harder processing low quality nutrient-poor foods and uses some of its own energy reserves in the process - resulting in less energy for you.
Action.
Eat oat porridge for breakfast topped with fresh berries and a desert spoon of ground seeds (mixed ground seeds available from the health food shops).

Eat every 3 - 4 hours.
To stop your energy levels from falling. Leaving long gaps between meals can cause blood sugar levels to drop resulting in tiredness, reduced concentration and general lethargy.
Action
Take a small tupperware of mixed nuts and seeds to work to snack mid morning and mid afternoon.

Drink plenty of water.
Dehydration can exhaust your body.
Action
Aim to drink between 1 and 2 litres of bottled or filtered water per day.

Avoid eating late at night.
It disrupts digestion and prevents the body from carrying out its essential repair work - this can leave you feeling groggy and low on energy the next day.
Action.
If you get home late at night, try to eat your main meal at lunchtime and have a smaller,
more easily digested meal for dinner.

Eat slow releasing carbs with protein.
Simple carbs release sugar in the body at a faster rate than complex carbs, fats, and protein, and give the body an immediate energy surge. However this boost is short-lived and can leave you constantly fighting a battle for energy during the day. Protein gives your body a boost, and when combined with the right carbohydrates, gives the body long-lasting energy.
Action.
For a super quick protein-rich lunch try tinned sardines in tomato on whole meal toast.

Cut caffeine.
Caffeine is an anti-nutrient and will rob your body of vital vitamins and minerals. It can reduce the absorption of iron and zinc by up to 50%. Sugar and stimulants such as caffeine do provide a quick energy boost but they are usually followed by an even greater low, as blood sugar levels crash back down. These fleeting bursts of artificial energy can leave you feeling whacked out.
Action
Come off the caffeine slowly. Start by reducing the amount of coffee you drink by half. Experiment with alternatives such as Red Bush (Rooibosch) tea, Caro coffee alternative and herbal teas. Don't be put off by your first herbal tea taste, there are loads to choose from!

Useful supplements to help boost energy B vitamins, Coenzyme Q10, Ginseng and spirulina can all help increase energy levels in the body.

Step 3
Try the following to take your energy to new heights
✔ Let the sunshine into your life. Get yourself outdoors and breathe in that fresh air
✔ Get enough sleep. Poor sleep is one of the main contributing factors to low energy. Work out how much you need and stick to it
✔ Get active and exercise at least 3 times a week - exercise helps create vitality, resilience and health
✔ Practice proper breathing - take deep breathes to reduce stress, unwind and re energize - all in one shot!
✔ Stop worrying - stress and anxiety literally drain the body of energy.Worry never helped anyone
✔ Be positive - negativity is draining

High energy eating ideas

Breakfast
✔ Porridge oats soaked overnight with almonds, desiccated coconut, raisins, flax seeds. Add berries in the morning. Glass of diluted unsweetened fruit juice
✔ Fresh fruit smoothie mixed with yogurt or plain tofu and seeds

Snacks
✔ Glass of freshly squeezed carrot juice (homemade, or from the Market juice bar or Cafejacs at the Arts Centre) + a small handful of nuts
✔ One chopped pepper + a small tub of hummus (M & S or Waitrose at Checkers)

Lunch
✔ Wholemeal tortilla wrap with chicken and vegetables
✔ Fresh soup (made without cream) and wholemeal brown roll

Snack
✔ Unsweetened probiotic yogurt with chopped banana
✔ Chopped apple with peanut butter (healthy version)

Dinner
✔ Stir-fried beef with broccoli and spring onions served with brown basmati rice
✔ Baked potato and chilli
✔ Grilled trout or salmon fillet with steamed green vegetables

To sum up -
For good energy eat food that brings goodness to your body. Keep nutrient-poor foods to a minimum - to process these the body has to use its own stores. Avoid stimulating an unnatural high with caffeine and finally sleep well, smile lots, breathe deeply, relax whenever you can and take time to enjoy your life.

Written by Mandy Bonhomme at 15:35

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