How to Get Fit Fast busts myths, uncovers exercise secrets and looks at what might be the right exercise for you. It airs tonight at 8pm on Channel 4.
Getting fit has never been bigger business with gym membership at an all time high in the UK. And with fitness DVDs, books and apps plus thousands of pictures of transformed bodies all over social media to inspire us, how do we decide what's the most effective form of exercise to help us look good, feel great and suit our lifestyle?
Now that January is over I'm sure many of us have fallen back into our less saintly habits, not quite eating as healthily as we were in that first glorious week of the year, where we are our best selves and exercised three times a week and ate our five a day. I have to say I'm feeling quite smug as I'm a fairIy regular, if somewhat average exerciser, I don't have a personal trainer but I run three times a week on a treadmill for about 45 mins, new year or not. Being visually impaired doesn't stop me from running and keeping fit, I can use a treadmill with a few nifty modifications, like using my cane as a bar across the top of the treadmill so that I have a point of reference. Like any average runner my feet hit the ground about 500 times for every kilometre I run - a lot of impact on my joints you might think, but presenting this show with Anna Richardson has been great for busting exercise myths, uncovering exercise secrets and understanding the science behind them. For example, I thought I run 'funny' and that on my lengthy runs, I may over the long term, be damaging my body. I went to The Sports Centre at Leeds Beckett to find out if I was running 'right'. It turned out that the pressure I was putting on my knees was 26 stone, that's an impact that is double my body weight! But it turns out our bodies have evolved to safely handle a lot more than that, in fact our joints can take up to five times our body weight, that means my knobbly knees can take over 65 stone. Counterintuitively, the pressure and force from running compresses your bone which is actually good for keeping them strong and healthy.
As a travel guide I am regularly heading off to hot places, where wandering around without a t-shirt isn't out of place, so I really wouldn't be against achieving the widely desired six pack. In the programme I discover one of the popular ways of achieving this is through 'bulking' and 'shredding'. The 'bulking' stage involves eating 5000 calories (great) but exercising for two hours, twice a day, six days a week! After doing this regularly for several months comes the 'shredding' stage, which helps reveal all the muscle you've built up. This involves eating as low as 1600 calories and low intensity exercise. But this is a lifestyle choice as much as it is a fitness regime, and I'm happy to go travelling without the six pack. Of course presenting a programme about exercise implies that you have to make a concerted effort to get fit but in the course of filming this I was surprised, and very pleased, to find out about NEAT - Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis, which basically means exercise you don't even know you're doing. Everyday tasks that can help you burn up to 350 calories a day, things like walking, ironing and shopping. In the programme we reveal the top ten 'non-exercises' you can do. Even watching TV burns 12 calories every 15mins, so do tune in - that's 48 calories in the course of watching this programme.
How to Get Fit Fast airs tonight at 8pm on Channel 4.