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jurg widmer probst - fitness and health

Fitness Trends for Summer 2021

The fitness industry has had to evolve in the last few months due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the restrictions imposed in different countries worldwide. But, when it comes to the fitness and health industry, they don’t just lay down their dumbbells and give up; they evolve and create new fitness trends to help people stay fit and healthy whether on a lockdown at home or embracing a whole new way of working out.

Being restricted seems to have positively impacted many people who perhaps hadn’t ever felt good about the gym environment and took to exercising more at home and outdoors. With gym and exercise studios closed for so long and restricting numbers when they did reopen, those already into their fitness and health had to find alternative ways to exercise.

The pandemic was a golden opportunity for industry leaders to pivot and capture new customers attention with online offerings and gave those businesses new to the fitness industry the opportunity to capitalise on the growing need for online and digital exercise platforms and APPs.

Jürg Widmer Probst takes a look at the fitness trends for summer 2021 to see which ones are likely to be here to stay.

Wearable Fitness Trackers and Tech

Wearable tech has soared in popularity so much that there is now a computer chip shortage for digital products! Wearable tech was gaining in popularity before but more so now, mainly because they help people stay motivated by tracking steps, calories burnt, distance covered, and levels climbed, to name just a few benefits. According to Coach Mag, these are the best fitness trackers of 2021.

Virtual Fitness Challenges

So many in-person events had to change to online virtual events in 2020 and 2021. Even the London Marathon was held as an online virtual event this year. Those who enjoy taking part in these big occasion events will miss the atmosphere of so many people competing and cheering together. But there is another audience who may felt compelled to try an online challenge where they wouldn’t if it was an in-person one.

Fitness enthusiasts and those with a competitive streak can revel in the rewards of virtual fitness challenges because many will send you a medal or t-shirt for completing the challenge. The Strava exercise tracking APP grew from 42 million users in 2019 to 76 million users in 2021, and according to them, their currently having 2 million users download their tech every month. So, it seems clear people are more than up for the virtual fitness challenge, and this fitness trend will remain for summer 2021 and beyond.

Walking Back to Fitness

Speaking of competition. None of us knew we had a competitive streak when it came to walking, but lockdown turned us into walking maniacs keen to outdo the step count on our fitness trackers and outdo the distance covered by our friends. Being asked to remain inside for long periods made us all hungry for the fresh air and nature. Walking can have profound long term health benefits, too, and when coupled with a little more rigorous cardio and some strength training, it’s a great way to stay in shape. Far from a trend now, our love of walking seems likely to continue, especially through the summer months and with APPs like Strata and wearables like Fitbit helping keep us motivated and competitive, there’s no stopping us now.

Online Workouts

Whether you’re into yoga (LISS – low-intensity steady-state), HIIT (high-intensity interval training) or AMRAP (as many reps as possible), there’s something online for you, and while this trend started during the lockdown, it’s set to continue through summer 2021 and beyond. There are several reasons why online workouts have become so popular. It’s convenient not having to go back and forth to a gym and even get changed out of your PJ’s if you don’t want to. You can join in a group or enjoy one to one training, and you need little to no equipment. The workouts can be 5 minutes or an hour. Joe Wicks HIIT sessions and his PE with Joe were a massive hit on YouTube.

The AMRAP is performing as many reps of an exercise within a set timeframe. This exercise is for those who like to get their sweat on and go a bit beast mode. Just like HIIT and Crossfit, these types of movements create an afterburn that helps keep your heart healthy, builds endurance and increases physical strength.

These fitness trends for summer 2021 will help keep everyone physically and mentally fit and healthy this year and for many years to come. The most important thing is to find something that you enjoy enough to do it consistently, and then you guarantee it will be beneficial to body and mind.

Jürg Widmer Probst - tyre workout

Everything You Need to Know About the Instagram Tyre Workout

It’s difficult keeping up with all of the trends that come with social media. This seems to be the case even more recently as thanks to the global pandemic and people been unable to leave their home, the amount of individuals who are taking to social media as a form of entertainment has multiplied ten-fold. That being said, whilst some dances and challenges might just make you roll your eyes, some of these workouts are actually incredibly beneficial.

One in particular is the recent tyre workout that has been taking Instagram by storm. After what seems like an endless amount of walking around parks during lockdowns, as gyms are welcomed back with open arms, people are looking for something to get themselves back into the swing of things.

The tyre workout, which, no prizes for guessing, involves using a car tyre, is actually an incredibly effective full body workout. Gym goers find themselves drenched in sweat, body aching and blood flowing after a stint with the tyre, which is just how they like it.

How Does It Work?

The best place to start is at your local garage where you will need to ask to purchase one of their tyres. Chances are they’ll give you one for free but if you have to pay this shouldn’t come too much. Have a feel of them before you pick them as it has to be the perfect weight for you. Most regular car tyres usually weigh around 10kgs but if you get something from a much more heavy-duty vehicle such as a truck or a tractor, these could come to around 80kgs. There isn’t a strict formula to follow when choosing, just have a feel and pick whichever feels right for you.

Once you’ve got the tyre home, you’ll be surprised just how much of an effective home gym it can be as you have the ability to use it to practice lunges, squats and swings presses. Also, if you are walking it outside you can use it to do kettle bell swings, clean press it or even walk with it whilst flipping the tyre.

The Benefits of the Tyre Workout

The good thing about the tyre workout is the fact that by doing it you are targeting your entire body, including your legs, bum, arms and shoulders. It’s great for building muscle as a result but can also be used for weight loss as you will burn around 400 to 1000 calories per session. It’s also less intense than other high calorie burning workouts as you can go at your own pace.

It is not a HIIT workout, which a lot of people if new to exercising can find a bit too intense. Instead, the workout focuses predominantly on strength and conditioning, with results becoming apparent after a few sessions. You will be able to burn fat, tone your body and have an incredibly satisfying workout as a result.

How Will You Feel After a Tyre Workout?

The feeling is pretty universal. After a tyre workout class, people tend to leave incredibly satisfied and cathartic. Not only will you get a good work out in but it also tends to be great for relieving both stress and tension as people walk out the door afterwards with feelings of calmness and relaxation. All in all, you will have taken part in an incredibly effective full body workout that will leave you feeling empowered.

Conclusion

No matter what your level of fitness is, whether you are just starting out, have some practice or are a vet at reps, the tyre workout could be a great addition to your current routine. It is relatively low cost, not too intense and incredibly effective for both building muscle and losing fat.

The trend was initially seen on Instagram and has since been incorporated across the world as an alternative lockdown workout; however, there is nothing to suggest this is a workout that can be forgotten in a post-pandemic world. There have been plenty of new ways to stay fit birthed from lockdown and as such, if you want to stay up to date with these new trends, you should consider following a blog such as our blog for updates on all the key information in the fitness world.

mindful eating - jurg widmer probst

Explaining the differences and similarities between mindful eating and intuitive eating

Both mindful eating and intuitive eating are concepts that have evolved from the idea that the diet culture that advocates restriction and denial is damaging. Many nutritionists and experts say that restricting calories or measuring meals can lead to unhealthy relationships with food, and don’t help to keep weight off in the long-term.

And while both mindful and intuitive eating work together, there are differences between them. Understanding both approaches can be the key to maintaining a healthy weight and repairing your relationship with food. It’s all about balance and being kind to yourself to achieve your true state of health.

What is mindful eating?

According to the Centre for Mindful Eating (TCME), mindful eating is:

  • When you allow yourself to respect your inner wisdom when selecting and preparing food.
  • When you use every sense to choose the food that your body needs for nourishment.
  • When you allow yourself to acknowledge and feel your responses to different foods without judging yourself.
  • Learning about physical hunger and the cues that tell you that your body is satiated so that you can use these to make good food decisions.
  • Being present, aware and non-judgemental throughout the experience of choosing, preparing and eating food.

While older research on the approach of mindful eating assumes that the reason for weight gain must therefore be ‘mindless eating’, this is not the case. We know so much more about people’s bodies and it is widely accepted that there are many factors combining to affect people’s weight.

These vary from chronic illness to hormonal imbalances, and from genetic influencers to gut health. It’s not as simple as ‘calories in, calories out’. Furthermore, the idea that people ‘eat mindlessly’ only propagates the idea that eating is something that must be restricted or controlled.

Mindful eating is about listening to, learning to trust and fully respecting your internal wisdom about eating and food.

What is intuitive eating?

Intuitive eating is a separate concept from mindful eating. Devised by two nutritionists and dieticians Elyse Resch and Evelyn Tribole, intuitive eating stemmed for their research on eating disorders. There are ten principles of intuitive eating as follows:

  1. Reject the whole concept of going on a diet or restricting food.
  2. Honour and listen to your hunger – you need carbs and energy.
  3. Make peace with food and give yourself permission to eat when you need to.
  4. Don’t label foods good or bad – challenge the ‘food police’.
  5. Allow yourself to experience the satisfaction of feeling full.
  6. Listen to your body’s signals to work out when you are no longer truly hungry.
  7. Be kind to yourself and recognise your struggles with food and weight.
  8. Respect yourself and your genetic body.
  9. Learn to enjoy movement and activity rather than punish yourself with strict exercise regimes.
  10. Be gentle with your nutrition rules – you don’t have to be perfect to be healthy. Look for progress not perfection.

As you can see, this framework is about acceptance and achieving health by combining knowledge about foods and nutrition with internal wisdom.

Differences between these two approaches to food and eating

As you can see, there are definite overlaps between the two approaches to food and eating. There is no prescribed diet plan or rules to follow in either approach. Instead, they talk about nurturing inner wisdom about what is right for you and your body and your nutritional needs.

So, neither intuitive nor mindful eating are about restricting the amount of food you eat or removing entire food groups from your meals. Instead, it’s about focusing on how you interact with food, how it feels to you and what your experiences say about your approach to nutrition.

Crucially, both of these approaches are considered weight neutral. This means that they work for everyone, no matter your size and losing weight is not the overall goal of following them. These are not diets, but the chances are if you are overweight and you begin to eat mindfully or intuitively, you may find that you naturally drop excess weight.

As for differences between the two, there are a number worth mentioning. Mindful eating concerns the present moment of preparing food and ingesting it. It advocates remaining truly present and aware of the process. Intuitive eating, on the other hand, provides a wider framework covering more than just the eating process. It’s about encouraging people to reject damaging diet culture and harmful messages of restriction and denial. It’s about changing their relationship to eating and food in a positive and nurturing way.

Jürg Widmer Probst exercise trends

9 exercise trends to take us through lockdown and beyond

Last year was a time of change and transformation across work, leisure and pretty much every aspect of our lives. And for the health and fitness industry it was no different.

 

With gyms, fitness classes and personal trainer sessions all abruptly cancelled due to lockdown, we all had to get online. Studios began to offer virtual fitness classes, personal trainers became acquainted with Zoom and virtual marathons replaced the likes of the London Marathon.

 

Exercise trends such as running became hugely popular during lockdown

 

With little to do but work at home and exercise, running became very popular. Between March and June 2020, the NHS app ‘Couch to 5k’ was downloaded more than 850,000 times. Joe Wickes became the family favourite with his online PE lessons and home fitness equipment sold out everywhere.

 

In March 2021, we’re still in lockdown in the UK and the virus is still very much with us. And while there is some light at the end of the tunnel thanks to the vaccination rollout and the potential of lockdown easing completely by mid-June, how exactly is this impacting fitness trends?

 

We’ve all tested our resilience throughout 2020 and, whatever happens, we know that we can find new ways to exercise and keep fit regardless of lockdown or the pandemic. Here are some of the fitness trends that I think will become this year’s favourites.

 

9 favourite exercise trends that will only get more popular in 2021

  1. Exercising outside

Whether you’re walking, jogging, running, cycling or swimming, chances are you’ll be doing it outside in nature. Enforced lockdowns with restrictions on outdoor exercise have shown us all just how important it is to our mental and physical health to immerse ourselves in nature regularly.

 

Try new hiking routes or head to the coast for a bit of sea swimming (if it’s in your local vicinity of course), or just head out for a long walk. Even if you only exercise outdoors for half an hour every day, this will help to make you feel less stressed and improve your general wellbeing.

 

  1. Even bigger virtual challenges

Online fitness challenges are perfect to get you motivated. I think more people will hurl themselves into all kinds of virtual races. From running a 5km to a marathon or cycling longer distances. There are also much smaller online challenges you can easily incorporate into your routine, such as those based on sit-ups or pull-ups.

 

If you don’t fancy a formal online challenge, just set your own. Decide that you’re going to beat your personal best at the 10k, for example. Or that you’ll run 50 miles a week. Whatever it is, a challenge can help you focus and keep fit.

 

  1. Flexible fitness classes mixed with virtual training

Working out online is probably very familiar to you by now. So, it’s time to step it up. Plan your own programme using whatever apps, online plans and personal trainers you like. Now we know how it all works, we can craft the ideal fitness plan for our personal needs. Apps like FIIT can help you create personalised workouts, for example. Many of these apps offer all kinds of coaching, training, community support and ways to monitor your growing fitness.

 

  1. One-on-one personal training via Zoom

Personal trainers of all descriptions are now offering comprehensive training over Zoom. They’re all set up to help you either begin your fitness journey or get to the next level. Book a consultation and see how well it can work for you.

 

  1. Practising digital mindfulness

We all live online now. And while working, socialising and even seeing your doctor online has become the norm, we must now take steps to be mindful of our digital life. Create new tech habits and ensure that you take time away from the screen. We must increase our presence in the offline world as much as the virtual world. Incorporate offline time into your daily schedule in a mindful and purposeful way.

 

  1. Virtual therapy sessions for mental fitness

Anxiety and depression levels have soared during the pandemic. And we all know it’s just important to keep mentally heathy as well as physically fit. Counsellors and therapists have moved online, and virtual therapy is now accessible and often more affordable. Talking therapy is hugely beneficial if you are suffering from anxiety, a low mood, are struggling to deal with a specific trauma or for many other reasons.

 

  1. Trying natural anxiety remedies

Many people are dealing with higher levels of anxiety right now. Exercising regularly is a good way to keep it under control, but there are also plenty of natural treatments available too. These range from CBD products to nootropics and all kinds of natural remedies.

 

  1. Global exercise classes

For those of us who lived for the gym and enjoyed the social aspect of fitness classes, pandemic isolation is difficult to deal with. Luckily, this year offers even more virtual reality and AI-based ways to join others in your quest for fitness. For example, you can join in online HIIT classes in Australia or use BitGym to transport you to other virtual worlds.

 

  1. Practising micro meditation

Meditation and mindfulness are nothing new, but if you’ve never practiced before they can seem daunting. Micro-meditation is a different way to approach mindfulness. By incorporating mini meditations throughout your day, you will reap the benefits. Start with a 20 minute fully mindful walk in the morning, breathing mindfully while showering and taking regular breaks to check in with yourself throughout the working day.

Jürg Widmer Probst - evolution of home fitness

Looking at the evolution of home fitness from the 19th century to the time of COVID-19

Home fitness has never been more popular than in the time of COVID-19. This is largely due to lockdown changing people’s fitness regimes and moving them inside. The closure of gyms and sporting facilities in the UK means we’re all looking for an alternative.

For example, during the first lockdown in March 2020, celebrity trainer Joe Wicks became a focus for schoolchildren and families with his online daily PE lessons. Meanwhile, hardcore gym goers are finding apps, home equipment and alternatives to their usual regime.

The evolution of home fitness starts in Victorian times

From the explosion of aerobics in the 80s to fitness VHS tapes and DVDs in the 90s and 2000s, the cult of home fitness has always been with us. Depending on your age, your first memory of home fitness may have been something like the Jane Fonda workout, or the Green Goddess on breakfast TV.

Or, for younger people, it could be Davina McCall’s fitness empire or the rowing machine your parents bought for the home. So, while home fitness has taken on a new importance during COVID-19, it has been around for a long time. Here’s a quick look through its evolution over the years.

Exercise in various forms has always been part of human life. Yoga, for example, has been around for thousands of years. But ‘fitness’ in the way we think of it today is a much more recent concept. An early example of this can be seen in this Victorian fitness manual, which was printed in 1861. The concept of a daily exercise regime originated with an orthopedic machinist called Gustav Ernst. He essentially invented the home gym using his equipment.

People, of course, walked a lot more back then and gyms as we know them simply didn’t exist. Not long after World War 2, technological innovation boosted the idea of home fitness.

TV and advertising created the home fitness industry  

In the US, the trend was for new tech and homes equipped with all mod cons. People had more leisure time and the obsession with staying healthy and fit began. Because women usually didn’t work, it was natural that home fitness was initially aimed at them through TV shows. There was also pressure from the fitness industry to maintain a slim figure. Jack LaLanne  was the first presenter on an exercise TV show aimed at housewives in 1951. Advertising quickly followed and it became more mainstream.

All kinds of equipment were quickly on the market, from ‘sauna suits’ to vibrating belts – all sold as weight loss and fitness aids. In 1958, the hula hoop was launched as a fitness device and within six months more than 100 million units were sold. Over the next 20 or so years, personal fitness trends turned towards running and jogging.

Along with this trend, gyms began to open all over the place. Just as this became the norm, fitness changed again due to technology. VHS workout tapes became popular, kickstarted by the likes of Jane Fonda in 1982. By 1992, her first tape sold more than 17 million copies worldwide. This was the start of on-demand fitness in the home environment.

Following celebrity fitness regimes on video, DVD and online

Hundreds of celebrities jumped on this trend, with Mr Motivator becoming mainstream in the UK, while supermodels like Cindy Crawford released their ‘fitness secrets’ to convince women they could look the same by exercising at home. The home gym was next with increasingly expensive machines ranging from rowing machines to treadmills, bikes and ellipticals entering people’s homes.

All of this meant people were taking home fitness much more seriously, and by the time the Internet became popular, it moved online. Fitness influencers on every social media platform you can think of sell their form of home fitness, often including products, diets and supplements as well as physical exercise. This has transformed into what we now call the wellness industry.

Exercise is now inextricably linked with self-help, beauty, self-worth and bettering ourselves. This inevitably led to much more complex home exercise offerings that include everything from yoga to mindfulness in addition to luxury gym chains with swimming pools and creches.

Home fitness trends for COVID-hit households

Finally we get to the age of COVID-19. Gyms are, for the most part, closed and outdoor exercise restricted. As soon as the first lockdown was instigated Zoom and YouTube became ubiquitous. People are ordering more home exercise equipment thane ever before. For example, sales of fitness equipment in the US between January and March 2020 increased by more than 55%.

Online classes are now live, with instructors across every kind of exercise regime offering regular sessions. If you don’t fancy that, then there are endless fitness apps offering the same. And while many of these classes need basic equipment, there are plenty of home exercise lessons that don’t.

Whether home fitness is booming right now solely because of lockdown remains to be seen. It’s unlikely that people won’t flood back to the gym just as soon as they can, as these are now much more than places to exercise. Gym culture means that these facilities are social connections and offer a community. People are missing social contact and will want to recapture the human connections gyms and outdoor organised exercise offers.

Jürg Widmer Probst - fitness influencers

Be careful how you choose fitness influencers to use as inspiration

Millions of people turn to online fitness influencers to help them get on track with diet and exercise. But on every platform, from Instagram to TikTok, there are many different kinds of fitness influencers.

For every knowledgeable fitness trainer or accomplished athlete, there is someone trying to sell a product. Not every fitness influencer is a professional worth listening to, so for anyone routinely checking out Instagram or YouTube for health and fitness advice, here are a few tips.

How do you find the best fitness influencers online?

The first thing you should look at is whether they are obviously trying to sell a specific range of products. While fitness influencers will rarely spell out that if people buy their product, they will automatically become fit and slim, it is usually heavily implied.

Any fitness expert worth listening to will have been practicing a healthy lifestyle long before they started to be an online influencer. And no-one with a very obviously toned or muscle-bound physique achieved it through buying a product. Fitness and health take discipline, hard work and dedication.

So, while it’s tempting to take a fitness influencer’s impressively lean body on face value and hope that you can get the same by buying their diet shake, deep down you know this isn’t true.

Some fitness experts online are anything but

Just as being bombarded with pictures of someone with the perfect lean physique can leave you hoping for a miracle, the same applies with fitness influencers who show off big muscle gains.

It is worth remembering that steroid use is common among competitive athletes in certain sports. And of course, there are many fitness influencers who are not bound by competition rules as they aren’t competing at all. They can achieve muscles in any way they want and present something else as the truth online.

Perhaps the best advice would be: ‘don’t believe everything you see’. Fitness influencers have a strong vested interest in appearing to show subscribers and fans a beautiful, perfect body. Their next aim is to convince people that they too can look like this if they just sign up for this expensive exercise regime and protein shake.

Photoshop also comes into play here. These days, photo editing is so accessible and easy to do that pretty much everyone has some kind of filter on their pictures. And for those making money from fitness accounts, the added impetus on appearing perfect is clear. Many fitness influencers routinely use FaceTune, Photoshop or any other software to make themselves look leaner, more built or curvier, depending on what they’re selling.

How to choose a worthwhile fitness influencer

 Given the pitfalls of online fitness influencers outlined above, here are some tips to help you choose one that’s worth following. Finding a fitness influencer or expert to follow is a useful way of keeping motivation levels up and can help you reach your goal.

  1. Are they accredited by any official body?

Look beyond their pictures to find out whether they are actually an accredited trainer or nutritionist. Steer away from anyone clearly selling any kind of multi-level marketing (MLM) product and look instead for fitness influencers who are backed with some kind of certification.

Not every professional fitness instructor will come with formal credentials, but you should easily be able to find evidence of past clients or success stories. Google the name of the influencer and find out about their background and experience before you decide to follow their advice.

  1. Are they a nutritionist?

Most fitness influencers include diet in their advice and instruction. Exercise and nutrition are not the same, and they require different levels of expertise. Don’t just follow an influencer who purports to have the answers without finding out whether they are a registered dietician first.

Remember that anyone can say they’re a nutritionist as in many countries there is no legal definition of the term. However, registered dieticians have provable expertise, years of training and something useful to say.

  1. Is their message consistent?

Beware of any influencer who chops and changes their fitness and nutrition advice. If they constantly offer different products or all of their posts are sponsored, then skip them. Like most aspects of health and fitness, there is no easy answer but there is a simple one.

If you want to lose weight you must eat less. If you want to increase muscle, you need to lift weights. If you want to become an athlete or seriously improve your fitness, you must stick at it. This kind of consistent advice and instruction is what you need to make true changes to your health and fitness.

Worthwhile fitness influencers on Instagram or any other platform aren’t afraid to push this message of consistency. They will include it in their instruction, rather than offering a product that promises to be the answer. Look for those who share success stories with before and after pictures, or proof of how they improved over the years.

 

Jürg Widmer Probst - lifestyle overhaul

Reset, recharge, regenerate – how to manage a complete lifestyle overhaul

This year has been profoundly stressful for most of us. Dealing with the existential threat of a global pandemic while also keeping our jobs, children, schooling and health on track has taken its toll.

Whether you’re still in lockdown or not, it could be worth taking some time to consider a lifestyle overhaul.

Do you need a lifestyle overhaul?

Particularly relevant for people who are suffering from panic attacks or anxiety, whether due to COVID-19 or not, a total reset could be the best thing you ever do. It takes commitment and drive, but the results could change your life.

And while you could go the whole way, ditch your job and material possessions and move countries, this is obviously not practical for most people. We all have responsibilities that are impossible to abandon. Furthermore, most of us don’t want to restart everything from scratch.

Having said that, having a clear out and getting rid of excess possession is a great way to start your lifestyle overhaul. It’s something that everyone can do, and always has a positively cathartic effect on your mindset. Clearing physical space and creating calm surroundings will positively impact on your mental health too. It will create emotional and physical space, which is a great starting point to change your lifestyle.

How happy are you in these areas of your life?

There is no single formula for rebooting your life, but below you’ll find ideas that could help you change your life in a way that will make you feel calmer, more in control and happier.

Think of this list as starting points across different spheres of your life. Of course, you may find that you’re happy with some of these spheres, and only want to change specifics. Or you may feel the need to change pretty much everything. It’s up to you.

  1. Are you happy in your job?

Your career is a huge part of your life, whether you want it to be or not. If you love your job, then this contentment is likely to cross into all parts of your life. And if hate it, the same happens. If you are fulfilled in your career then you will be happier in every way.

Not only does it mean your daily life is happier on a personal basis, but you will be a better partner, friend, colleague and parent. You will be emotionally present and communicate in more meaningful ways. It’s automatically easier to look after people and contribute to your family or friend group. In short, it permeates everything. And this is true if you hate your job. This will end up with you feeling exhausted, out of kilter with your friends and family, disconnected, depressed and generally down. Chances are this will affect your home life, and everything will be more difficult.

It is possible to have a fulfilling career that fulfils you emotionally. It may not be easy to attain, but you are allowed to follow the career path that you really want to do. If you are unhappy with your work, consider whether you can retrain, change path or alter your role to make better use of your talents and natural gifts. If you are feeling depressed or anxious, look to your career first. And change it if you need to.

  1. Are you happy with your friends?

Another piece of the puzzle of your emotional happiness and mental health is who you spend time with. While you can’t necessarily choose your colleagues or boss, you can choose who you surround yourself with.

If you’re a social butterfly but have few deep connections, it could be time to review your social circle and make some changes. Conversely, if you spend too much time alone, you may need to widen your friendships. Either way, choose carefully and look at who you spend time with. Do they lift you up or bring you down? Do they have personality traits you admire and want to emulate?

You always have a choice over who you surround yourself with. It’s better to take time out of the social scene and spend time by yourself than continue to surround yourself with people who make you unhappy. Search for truly meaningful connections, set boundaries and be the caring, attentive friend you want to have.

  1. Are you happy with your partner?

If you have a gut feeling you’re not in the happiest relationship, then it’s time to listen to it. All healthy relationships involve intimacy, of course, and you may be happily single. But if you are in a partnership, whether that’s a spouse, lover, close friend or any other, and it’s not bringing you joy it could be time to move on.

Being in an unaligned intimate relationship is draining. It takes away from your emotional and mental resources and affects your whole life. If you don’t feel supported, seen, nurtured and loved and your gut is warning you that you’re in the wrong partnership, think hard about making a drastic change.

  1. Are you happy with your health?

Every one of these life spheres affects your physical and mental health in some way. But your diet, exercise and general lifestyle may also need an overhaul. If you drink too much caffeine, eat too much refined sugar, take drugs, drink too much alcohol, sleep badly and don’t exercise, you’re going to feel pretty bad.

This gets worse the older you get, and you could very well end up with low energy, depression and anxiety, all curable by changing your diet. Healthy eating habits and regular exercise can improve your life in every way. Drink more water, cut down on caffeine and alcohol, ditch cigarettes and recreational drugs and eat more nutritionally balanced food.

Stay offline for as long as possible every day and resist the temptation to stare at screens in your spare time. Take the time to rest, to read, to just be. Try meditation and mindfulness, and make your bed your favourite, peaceful place to be.

Jürg Widmer Probst - health and wellbeing gadgets 1

5 health and wellbeing gadgets you should try right now

I’ve recently written about some of the best fitness apps available, but in this blog I want to include some more general health and wellbeing gadgets. The best of these are ideal to help people monitor progress, keep on top of their fitness and begin to follow healthy habits.

The most useful aspect of these gadgets is that they keep you accountable. When you set a goal – whatever that is – tracking progress in a way that shows you exactly how far you’ve come is incredibly motivational.

From scales to forks – the best health and wellbeing gadgets on the market

Wellbeing apps and gadgets aren’t just about tracking steps or miles, they can also help you to measure all kinds of other goals.

  1. Smart toothbrushes

The market for electric toothbrushes is huge, with millions of people switching away from manual brushing. But technological advancements mean that the innovation in this sector never stops.

Smart toothbrushes are connected to an app and can give you all kinds of data about your brushing technique. It can help you correct errors, ensure that you don’t miss parts of your mouth and much more. For example, Colgate has designed a smart toothbrush that can penetrate the toothpaste to track any plaque build-ups in the mouth. It glows with a white light when teeth are judged clean, and a blue light when more brushing is needed.

Oral-B are also releasing a smart toothbrush in August 2020 – the Oral-B iO. It features 250 new patents that will help the user reach the zenith of tooth brushing. A brand-new brushing technique that tracks and targets plaque in a new way is part of its success. There appears to be no end to the innovative advancements in oral hygiene, and these brushes can transform your teeth and gum health.

  1. Fitness bands and wearables

These aren’t new. Most of us have tried a FitBit or another version of a fitness tracker at one time or another. However, if you’ve not used one in a while it’s worth checking out some of the newer versions. All kinds of tracking tech have improved, from heart rate monitoring to sleep statistics and oxygen saturation. You can find bands that are waterproof, designed to look like jewellery, with GPS tracking and a host of other features.

Many of the fitness bands available on the market today can track different exercises without you needing to reset them. So, if you switch from yoga to running, it will keep pace with your training programme.

  1. Connected running insoles

Runners constantly fight a battler with their gait and technique. Without proper running shoes and insoles, it’s easier to get shin splints and other injuries that can stall training. And now smart insoles are available to runners.

The Nuurv Run insoles slot into the shoe and connect to a unit that is also connected to the wearer’s smartphone. Using 32 sensors all built into the insole, the technology constantly captures data. By analysing cadence, step length, pronation (linked to the height of the arch), balance and footstrike, data is sent to the app. The app presents a post-running summary of data from before, during and after the run.

Designed to specifically work out elements that could cause injury in the future, the insole also keeps the user on track with pace.

  1. Smart weighing scales

Scales in 2020 are about much more than reading your weight. Smart scales calculate BMI and body fat, so that the user knows much more precisely how their training and diet is going. We all know that muscles weigh more than fat. Traditional scales don’t differentiate between weight from fat and weight from muscles. And as people train their muscle density will change.

Smart scales are synced with smartphones, giving the user an easy to understand chart tracking the changes. All of the brands you’d expect offer smart scales, including Garmin. The Garmin Index Scale measures BMI, body mass and weight and comes with Bluetooth, WiFi and connectivity with Android or iOS apps. It also measures the user’s water weight, bone mass and muscle mass and seamlessly integrates with other Garmin trackers and running watches.

  1. Smart forks

Even eating utensils can help you stick to your goals. The HAPIfork connects to an app on your smartphone and tracks the speed with which you eat. If the user is judged to be eating too fast, the fork will vibrate. The idea is to stop overeating or eating too fast and encouraging mindful eating.

These are just a fraction of the tech available on the market to help you track exercise, food and healthy habits. No-one should use only gadgets to monitor health, so be sure to check with your doctor if you need to before using them.

Jürg Widmer Probst - fitness apps

Studies show fitness apps are more popular than ever

Coronavirus and the ensuing measures taken by Governments to contain the virus have changed the way we work, socialise and, of course, exercise. Many of us are changing how and where we exercise. With gyms closed and restrictions for many countries restricting outdoor time, fitness apps and home exercising are getting us through.

Whether we choose to do HIIT in our living room, count our steps while we walk round the house, or are now exercising more often outside as lockdown lifts, there’s no doubt that people are exercising in a different way. Lockdown is not only fundamentally altering our collective attitude to health, exercise and looking after ourselves, but it’s changing the way we do so. And most of our actions are now virtual.

Fitness apps more popular than ever due to coronavirus

Data from mobile phone operator EE shows that people in the UK are now relying on apps more than ever. And many of these are exercise specific apps. In addition to a notable increase in video apps like Zoom and Microsoft Teams, lockdown is also boosting our use of fitness apps.

Between February and May 2020, there has been a huge increase in downloading and use of apps of all kinds. Already popular fitness app Strava now has triple the number of users and data usage compared with figures from before lockdown. The app is used mostly to track cycling, running and walking, although it can also be linked to other devices to track different kinds of exercise too.

MapMyRun is also dealing with higher user numbers. The app’s users and data usage has doubled between February and May as many more people began running outside for their daily exercise.

Interestingly, Fitbit shows considerably lower numbers and data usage on the network compared with pre-lockdown. Of course, this is just one mobile network, but it does show a general trend towards jogging, running and cycling as preferred exercise habits during the pandemic.

Health, wellbeing and nutrition apps are also popular

Meditation, nutrition and relaxation apps are also experiencing higher numbers of users since lockdown began. There has been an overall increase in online use and the way we’re using mobile networks. According to Marc Allera, CEO of the consumer division of BT: “Lockdown has driven huge changes in the way our mobile network is being used.

Fitness apps in particular are leading to huge spikes in data usage by people on the network. In the initial weeks of the lockdown, supermarket orders using mobile apps also spiked, but have now settled to a new normal. It’s likely that the same pattern will occur for health, wellness and fitness apps too, as we all adjust to the new normal.

3 fitness apps to try right now

Here are three of the best fitness apps to take you through lockdown and out the other side:

  1. Aaptiv – this app’s USP is that it gives you a personal trainer to take with you wherever you go. When you log in and record your personal settings, the app creates a weekly plan. Each day you choose form a number of different workouts that aim for your fitness goal. These include everything from stretching to cardio and strength training. Each workout is led by a different personal instructor and comes with a soundtrack.

The app is audio led rather than video, so while you exercise you hear instructions rather than see then. However, there is an archive of video clips so you can check your form. It’s ideal if you only have a small indoor or outdoor space to exercise in.

  1. Fiit – an app that is easiest to use when you hook it up to your TV, Fiit offers hardcore workouts. You really do need to see the movements and exercises to ensure your form is correct and safe. The workouts on offer are challenging and effective, with trainers that help you stay motivated. It needs more space than Apptiv, so it’s one for people who have a decent sized room in which to exercise.
  2. Nike Training Club – this fitness app is for experienced exercisers who already have a good standard of fitness. I wouldn’t recommend it for beginners or those returning to exercise after a long gap. This is because the workouts are challenging, with plenty of exercises that will push your strength and endurance. Each workout is broken down into clips that show you exactly how to do each movement. It can be a bit repetitive as it concentrates on repetitious movements, but it is effective. And it’s the only free app on this list, so it has that in its favour.

 

 

Jürg Widmer Probst - how much exercise

How much exercise is really necessary to stay well?

Most of us know we need to exercise to maintain our fitness and protect our health. But for those struggling to find the motivation to work out, it’s useful to know how much you really need to do to boost your immune system.

There is evidence to suggest that exercising regularly can improve your immune system, and therefore your chances of fighting off any illness. And in these times of coronavirus, this is something many of us are particularly interested in.

Why how much exercise you take matters

The virus and its consequences mean that more people than ever are searching for ways to relieve their stress and keep well. For many people, regular workout is the ideal solution. Not only does it boost your mood, but regular exercise will also give you more energy and help you deal with stress.

The link between exercise and the immune system is hotly debated by scientists. Researchers have been studying it for years and there are conflicting opinions. For example, some researchers say that exercising intensely without recovering properly can actually increase you’re chances of getting sick. But another study from 2018 says it debunks the idea that too much intense exercise suppresses the immune system.

As with most things, the answer is somewhere in between the two extremes. Recent research shows that regular, moderate exercise is good for our general health and our immune systems.

Which type of workout is best for keeping healthy?

Evidence is also mixed regarding which type of workout is best for the immune system. In scientific terms, exercise has a short-term effect on the white blood cells in the body. These are the body’s defence against infection. When we put our body under stress through exercise, the white blood cells are increased which, in theory, means more protection against illness.

Interestingly, the exercise you do doesn’t necessarily have to be hardcore before this immune system response kicks in. Pretty much any exercise done for at least 15 minutes a day is helpful. Exercise also lowers stress levels, which can help you avoid illness. It’s known that stress levels affect the immune system and can really slow down our body’s fightback against disease.

There is little doubt that doing too much exercise can be bad for you too. Overtraining can weaken your immune system and damage your body. Any exercise programme should include adequate rest and recovery time for you to get the true benefits from it. The best course of action is to regularly exercise and don’t overstrain yourself. While living under the stressors of the pandemic, it’s better to prioritise regular, moderate exercise rather than train for something major.

How often should you working out to stay well?

To keep healthy, you don’t need to set yourself the target of running a marathon. Official advice from the NHS is that everyone should do at least 150 minutes of moderate workout every week as a baseline. That’s just half an hour a day for five days of the week.

People who exercise for around half an hour a day most days appear to get ill less often than those who don’t. If you prefer to exercise vigorously, then the amount of time you need to set aside per week drops to 75 minutes. Ideally, you should spread out your training, so you do a bit every day, rather than rely on completing the whole lot in one day. It’s about exercising without overtaxing your system.

And while there is no guarantee that any kind of lifestyle precautions can stop you catching COVID-19, there is evidence that the leaner and fitter you are the better your chances of dealing with it. Those who have exercised regularly before contracting the virus are more likely to suffer less and recover faster. There also appears to be a link between obesity and mortality for coronavirus sufferers. Regular exercise and eating well are the best forms of defence against the virus during these challenging times.