Total Fitness

What 5 components make up total fitness?

Before we jump into the 5 components of total fitness, it’s good to consider what fitness means.

Jurg Widmer describes total fitness as a condition of being physically fit and healthy. The term fitness also often involves being suitably able to complete a particular task or role. These could be things you must do daily or a more extreme one-off target task, like running a marathon.


What is total fitness?

Total fitness is essentially an overview of fitness and is defined by how well the body performs in 5 core components.

The 5 components of total fitness include:

  1. Cardiovascular endurance
  2. Muscular endurance
  3. Muscular strength
  4. Flexibility
  5. Body composition

In Jurg Widmer’s experience, many people find they excel in one area of fitness more than others. For instance, some bodybuilders are far beyond the average muscular strength level yet may struggle with cardiovascular endurance or flexibility. If you measure just one of these components, you may get an overinflated or deflated sense of your fitness level. Total fitness gives a more comprehensive impression of your fitness levels.

Our total fitness, and each component that makes it up, are affected by exercise. But that is not the only vital factor. Sleep and nutrition are essential for building a healthy mind and body.

To help you fully understand total fitness, including what it means, involves, and benefits, we’ll dive into each component in more detail below.


What is cardiovascular endurance?

Cardiovascular endurance relies on our hearts, lungs, and blood vessels. Each of these must work together to perform aerobic exercises such as running for extended periods.

Aerobic exercise is one of the most critical elements of fitness and health. Unfortunately, a lack of cardiovascular endurance is a large part of why many people give up when initially exercising.


What are the benefits of cardiovascular endurance?

Cardiovascular exercise can specifically improve heart and lung function, as well as provide more general health benefits.

The benefits of cardiovascular endurance:

  • Increased lung capacity
  • Stronger heart muscles
  • Better-regulated blood pressure
  • Lower cholesterol
  • Higher metabolism and reduced risk of obesity
  • Better sleep
  • Lowered stress levels
  • Enhanced mood

The more cardiovascular workouts you do, the more benefits you will see.


How can you test your cardiovascular endurance?

There are various ways to test your cardiovascular endurance. One popular and easy test is the Cooper test.

The Cooper test involves running as far as possible within a 12-minute timeframe. Then, you simply need to record your distance and use it to see how you performed for your age and gender.


How can you improve your cardiovascular endurance?

You can improve your cardiovascular endurance with little to no equipment. Some of the best activities for this include aerobic exercises like jogging, cycling, swimming, or sports like football, hockey, or kayaking. You may want to choose different cardio activities based on your body goals.


What is muscular endurance?

Muscular endurance refers to our ability to lift a lighter weight for a high number of repetitions (usually at least 12-15 reps) before fatiguing the muscles.

When working out, many people overlook the importance of this component.


What are the benefits of muscular endurance?

Muscular endurance is closely linked to other aspects of total fitness. You should see improvements in your cardiovascular and muscular strength by working on your muscular endurance.

Additional benefits:

  • Reduced risk of injury
  • Strengthened bones and muscles
  • Decreases fat stores and prevents obesity
  • Improves mood


How can you test your muscular endurance?

One of the simplest ways to test endurance is to see how many push-ups or sit-ups you can do, usually within a minute or two timeframes. Then, you can compare your number to averages for your age and gender.


How can you improve your muscular strength?

Repetitive activities like push-ups, sit-ups, squats, planks, or lunges are also excellent ways to improve muscular endurance.


What is muscular strength?

Muscular strength refers to how much force you can exert, for instance, how heavy a weight you can lift.


What are the benefits of muscular strength?

Stronger muscles usually lead to a higher and more easily maintained muscle mass. It is also generally beneficial to other components of fitness.

Improving your muscular strength can help:

  • Boosts bone health
  • Heighten metabolic rate, meaning you burn more calories
  • Reduces fat stores
  • Enhances energy levels and mood

How can you test your muscular strength?

Tests will depend on which muscle group you want to test. So first, pick the muscle group, then select a corresponding exercise. You’ll want to choose a relatively heavy weight you think you’ll be able to lift between 7 and 10 times. Keep going until you can’t repeat the action, and record how many reps you completed with what weight.

You can use this information to calculate your one rep max.


How can you improve your muscular strength?

You can use similar exercises as you would for improving endurance, but you want to aim for a higher intensity over the number of reps. You can add weight to specifically target muscle strength if using bodyweight exercises like pull-ups or squats.

Other practical exercises include:

  • Deadlifts
  • Bicep curls
  • Barbell squats
  • Triceps dips


What is flexibility?

Flexibility speaks to how close you are to having a full range of motion through each of your joints.


What are the benefits of flexibility?

In the long term, flexibility can:

  • Reduce the risk of injury
  • Improve blood flow, leading to shorter recovery times
  • Improve posture and balance
  • Ease muscle aches and cramps


How can you test your flexibility?

One of the most common methods of testing flexibility is the sit-and-reach test, which involves a solid box with a ruler attached with the 26cm mark hitting the box. You’ll sit with your feet flat on the box and see how far along the ruler you can reach. You’re about average if you can touch the 26cm mark above your feet.


How can you improve your flexibility?

To improve your flexibility, you can stretch, or many people find activities like yoga or dancing particularly helpful.


What is body composition?

When we talk about body composition, we are talking about the amount of body fat compared to organs, bones, and muscles. A lower fat mass is generally better for our health.


What are the benefits of improving your body composition?

Good body composition can have benefits that reach far beyond just looks. These advantages include the following:

  • Better bodily functional capabilities
  • Improved metabolic rate
  • Lower risk of heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure


How can you test your body composition?

The most accurate way to measure body composition is with hydrostatic weighing. However, this isn’t easy to perform.

Calipers are a low-cost and easy way to measure body fat and are more accurate than BMI.


How can you improve your body composition?

Exercises like strength training, HIIT workouts, and circuit training can also help improve body composition. Ultimately, if you are working on the other 4 components of total fitness, you’ll see your body composition naturally improve along the way.

Health and Fitness - Sleep

Health and Fitness: How important is sleep for you?

Health and fitness and more specifically sleep is one of the most vital cornerstones for living a physically and mentally healthy life.

For those with busy lives, it can be challenging to balance everything that needs to be done. But unfortunately, sleep, exercise, and diet are all essential to our health and well-being, and you cannot reasonably sacrifice one for the other.

The good news is that each tends to play into the other. So, if you exercise more and eat better, you are more likely to sleep more deeply. Likewise, if you sleep more, you are more likely to feel refreshed and maintain a regular exercise and diet plan.


Why is sleep important for your health and fitness?

Good sleep can improve your mood, brain performance, and overall health. Did you know that lack of sleep reduces the risk of multiple diseases, including diabetes 2 and heart disease?

Sleeps impact on diet

Individuals who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to eat more than they need. So, as well as being at higher risk of diseases like diabetes and obesity, those who are sleep deprived are more likely to crave higher-calorie foods and overeat.

So, even with the best will in the world, people tend to find sticking to a healthy diet more challenging when they are not getting the sleep they need.

Sleep’s role in Health and fitness

One of the reasons you might not see results from working out is that you aren’t getting enough sleep. Experts have found that our body recovers faster during sleep and that regular sleeping can provide us with the energy needed to complete workouts. Those who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to be less physically active and feel less physically strong.

Add to this the effect that sleep has on our brains, and those who aren’t sleeping well are less likely to be able to focus and, therefore, more prone to injuries while exercising.


What makes a good night’s sleep?

Most experts recommend that adults sleep between 7 and 9 hours a night. Those who regularly sleep for less than 7 hours nightly may experience tiredness, an increased risk of various health conditions, lack of motivation, reduced results from exercise, and more cravings.

It’s important to note that the amount of sleep we need changes throughout our lives. For example, babies require more sleep than school-aged children, who need more than teens and adults. However, once you reach adulthood, the amount of sleep needed remains pretty much the same, with a minimum of 7 hours being required for a healthy lifestyle.

The idea that we can make up for lost sleep is also a myth. While you can catch up on it within the next few nights, you cannot make up for a week of little sleep over the weekend. Instead, you should ideally be trying to get at least 7 hours of sleep regularly.

But it’s not just about the number of hours you sleep. Sleep quality is just as important as sleep quantity. Lower quality of sleep usually means that we are not following our body’s natural circadian rhythm and may not be entering the periods of deep sleep required for our body and mind to rest and recover.

Research suggests that humans have an internal body clock. This clock regulates our sleep and controls when we feel tired and alert. Known as the circadian rhythm, the clock operates on a 24-hour cycle and can be affected by things such as light, diet, and exercise. Thus, doing a workout outside could help your brain determine the time of day, allowing it to release melatonin (a hormone found to induce drowsiness) when the natural light draws in during the evening.


How can you improve your sleep habits?

It can be frustrating to hear about how important sleep is when you struggle to sleep. Luckily, there are things you can do to improve your sleep.

Sleep and fitness

Sleep in coordination with health and fitness are essential parts of healthy living. Beyond sleep, rest is also important for your body. Both rest and sleep allow our body time to recover and repair, meaning we get better results from workouts.

Interestingly, it also works the other way around. Regular exercise is a crucial component in healthy living and improving sleep. Sleep expert Chalene Gamaldo, M.D., suggests that moderate aerobic exercise can increase the amount of slow wave (deep) sleep we get. This slow-wave sleep is essential and helps us feel alert and refreshed when we wake up the next day.

Engaging in physical activity during the day can help people to sleep. However, you shouldn’t exercise just before bed as these increases stress hormone levels, making sleep more difficult. The ideal time to squeeze in a workout is in the late afternoon or early evening.

Sleep and diet

Just as a lack of sleep can cause our bodies to crave more and unhealthier foods, our diet can also affect our sleep.

Two critical pieces of advice are:

  1. Eat a few hours before bed, as this will give your body time to digest and be in the optimum state for sleeping.
  2. Don’t consume caffeine, particularly in the hours leading up to your bedtime. The less caffeine you drink, the better sleep you are likely to achieve. If you can’t cut caffeine out completely, try limiting consumption to early in the day, preferably before lunch.

Prioritizing sleep for your health and Fitness

Doing everything you should for a healthy and happy life can be challenging. There are also times, for instance, after the birth of a child or during a particularly stressful period at work, when you might find yourself unable to get the amount or quality of sleep you desire. However, it is vital that you prioritize getting at least 7 hours of uninterrupted sleep when possible.

Sleep impacts our health in the short and long term. Short term, you are more likely to have the energy needed for exercise, crave the right foods, and see better overall results from your fitness efforts. Long term, you reduce your risk of many health conditions and diseases.

What type of cardio do you need to do based on your body goals?

People start exercising for lots of different reasons. Whether you want to improve your fitness, tone muscle, or lose weight, cardio can help. You can vary your cardio routine, even including other workouts like strength training, to keep things interesting and to better achieve your goals.


What is cardio?

Cardio, or cardiovascular exercise, is a continuous exercise that aims to elevate the heart rate. This type of exercise can improve physical, emotional, and mental health.

Within this type of exercise, various low to high-impact and light to strenuous options exist. This means you should be able to find a cardio workout that suits your lifestyle, body, and health aims.

For instance, not everyone likes or can reasonably run several times a week. Some people dislike running, while others can’t do the exercise without feeling the strain on their knees. A lower-impact cardio workout like swimming or a spin class might be a better fit for someone who can’t or doesn’t like running.


Physical benefits of cardio

Many people start cardio aiming to lose weight. However, often their actual goal aligns more closely with wanting to burn fat. Losing weight can mean shedding muscle and water weight, whereas burning fat targets fat and often involves trying to tone up.

So, as stated above, cardiovascular exercise can:

  • Help you lose weight.
  • Burn fat.
  • Build and strengthen muscles.
  • Strengthen the heart, and reduce the risk of heart disease.
  • Improve lung function.
  • Lower blood pressure.

You should do cardio 3 to 6 times weekly for around 30 to 60 minutes to get the best results.


The non-physical advantages of doing cardio

It’s not just the body that cardiovascular exercise is good for. Frequent cardio exercise is good for the mind, body, and soul. It has been found to positively affect health in both an overall sense and in some precise ways. These include:

  • Improving sleep.
  • Feeling happier.
  • Boosting energy.
  • Enhancing cognitive function and memory.
  • Strengthening the immune system.
  • Cardiovascular exercise can even reduce the risk of developing diseases like Alzheimer’s.

Cardio can do many wonderful things for the mind and body. It can even have long-lasting and life-changing effects if done correctly and regularly.

With all these benefits on offer, it is obvious why you should build cardio into your fitness routine. But also consider things like whether you prefer to work out alone or with people. After all, you’re more likely to continue exercising and to see more benefits if you find ways to enjoy cardio.


Our top cardio routines:

Cardiovascular routines come in all shapes and sizes. Some are higher-impact on joints than others, and most can be scaled to better suit total beginners to cardio pros.


Running is one of the most popular cardio exercises and a great calorie burner. It requires no equipment, apart from a pair of trainers, and runners can go for as long or as fast as they choose. A new runner developed the couch to 5K program for new runners. The free program has helped many start their running journey.


Cycling is another cardio favourite. This exercise is a lower impact than running and is a preferable choice for many. Additionally, while you may need to have or borrow a bike for cycling outdoors, that’s not your only choice. Most gyms have static bikes, and many run spin classes where you can get your heart rate up, strengthen your core and leg muscles, and lose fat.

HIIT workouts

HIIT workouts quickly became one of the best-loved cardio workouts. It involves bouts of high-intensity exercises spaced with lower-intensity ones that keep the heart rate up. This is one of the best cardio workouts for burning fat fast.


Swimming is a non-impact cardio and strength training exercise rolled into one. It’s a great way to work your muscles and burn calories and fat while strengthening the heart.


Walking is another low-impact and lower-intensity exercise that keeps the heart rate up and burns calories and fat. Hiking and stair climbers (or just climbing stairs) can help involve more resistance training and a core muscle workout into a cardio exercise like walking.

Jump rope

Jumping rope is one of the highest intensity and highest impact cardio workouts. Because of this, it’s not necessarily the best to do every day. However, it’s a great way to work arm and leg muscles while quickly burning calories. All you need to get started is a little time and a jump rope.


Working out safely

You should consider monitoring your heart rate if you want to get the most from your cardio workout. Too low, and you won’t see the full benefits of your efforts or too high, putting your heart under unnecessary stress and strain.

There are plenty of heart monitoring tools, including wrist straps and watches like Fitbits. Most gyms also have fitness equipment that can monitor heart rates. 220 minus your age is one of the most common equations used. This sum gives the maximum heart rate you should hit when exercising, so someone 35 years old should have a heart rate of no more than 185 when working out.

By monitoring your heart rate, you can ensure you hit your ideal fitness or fat loss goals without overexerting yourself.


What should you know before you start your cardio journey?

There are a few things you should take note of before you start your cardio journey.

  • It’s crucial you build rest into your workout regime. Your body and mind need downtime to recover and start stronger than before.
  • Listen to your body. The same cardio workouts won’t work well for everyone, and you might need to switch things up. For instance, if you run a lot and start experiencing pain in your knees, you should swap out your run for a lower-impact exercise like swimming or cycling for a few days.
  • Choose exercises that you enjoy. You’re more likely to keep it up if you don’t dread doing it.
  • Remember that it’s okay to make mistakes. You’re bound to miss workouts here and there, and that’s alright. One skipped session isn’t going to ruin what you’ve been working towards, so don’t be too hard on yourself.

Why is resting so important for your body?

Rest is vital for both bodily and mental health. Taking time off from exercise and other daily stresses allows your body to repair and recover. In addition, rest helps prevent injuries and ensures that you can sustain the level of fitness you enjoy for longer.

As with most areas of life, you will find that you can achieve the best results with balance rather than extremes. Our bodies do so much for us and will often tell us what we need if we are willing and know how to listen.

You must know when and how to rest by learning to recognise if you need more downtime and understanding what could happen if you don’t take some time off.


Benefits of regular rest

Slowing down and relaxing can be incredibly beneficial. Of course, it is best to schedule rest days regularly if you want to get the most from them, but remember that you can always rest more if you feel like you need it.

Frequent rest can help with:

  • Soreness and pain

Your muscles are likely going to feel sore and tired after exercise. Taking a break allows the body to recover and stops you from straining your muscles further.

  • Muscle repair and building

Exercise commonly causes microscopic tears in the muscles, and these can grow over time, especially if you are not allowing time for the tears to heal. However, fibroblast cells can repair and build up your muscles when you rest, so you are ready to exercise once again.

  • Energy

When we exercise, our body uses up something called glycogen, and this depletion leads to our muscles feeling fatigued. When you rest, you allow your body to replenish its store of glycogen, which improves your energy levels and metabolism, resulting in a more successful and long-lasting fitness routine.

  • Preventing injury

Repetitive actions, often incurred because of overexercising, are likely to cause injury. The good news is that rest gives your body time to recover from these strains and allows you to continue exercising to your fullest potential. And it is worth noting that failure to rest can result in continued strains, which may eventually lead to irreversible damages.

  • See better results from working out

Many people think that resting will take away from their hard work if they are trying to get fit or improve their health. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. Health is all about balance, and as much as regular exercise matters, so does taking time to rest. Failure to properly rest can be one of the reasons that you do not see results when working out.

  • Mental health

Rest days can also improve mental health. Excessive exercise leads to general tiredness, which impacts our ability to cope with our daily lives and emotions. When you are well-rested, you will find that you feel more positive and can make better decisions regarding your fitness, work, social life, and more.


Learning to recognise when your body needs more rest

Some people find it difficult to get into a regular fitness routine, while others find it difficult to live without it. It can be tricky to factor in frequent rest days if you are worried about getting out of the routine you have worked to build or simply don’t want to take time away from something you enjoy.

In any case, rest is necessary for the health of our bodies and minds. So it can help to be aware of signs that your body is overworked and in need of rest to protect your long-term wellbeing.

Some common signs of your body needing to rest include:

  • Feeling constantly tired and unmotivated, even after events that should energise you (like exercise or eating).
  • Struggling to complete your normal workout may also indicate that your body is exhausted.
  • Seeing decreased results from your exercise regiment. Your body may have become used to your fitness routine, and a break could help kick-start your progress once more.
  • Sore muscles are a fairly normal part of working out, but it could also signal that you need to rest if it is painful or the aching is not going away.
  • Mood swings or changes can also be the result of overtiredness. So take a break if you feel irritable or just generally not yourself.
  • An inability to sleep or sleep well can be brought about by overexercising.
  • If you notice you are craving lots of unhealthy foods or are struggling with binge eating, then it’s time to take a day off.
  • Frequent injuries or illnesses can also signal that your body needs time to rest and recover. It becomes harder for us to avoid strains or fight off sickness when fatigued.


Risks of not resting

Inconsistent or limited rest days can have serious short and long-term health consequences. You will become physically and mentally exhausted if you never rest. When you feel drained, your judgment is impaired, and you are more likely to make mistakes and injure yourself permanently.

Insufficient amounts of rest and sleep have even been found to contribute to long-term health issues such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity.

Rest days are as important for our mind as for our body. Getting into regular exercise can be extremely challenging if you are new to fitness or have stopped exercising and want to start again. Fortunately, you can get your fitness back on track. As you start, remember to take time to rest without criticising yourself if you want to sustain your efforts.


Enjoying your time off

Resting shouldn’t be a chore. There are plenty of fun things to do when you take a day off from exercise.

You could meet friends or family, enjoy a hobby, catch up on work, or even volunteer. That is not to say that you have to do anything in particular when resting; you might want to simply enjoy a day of watching TV or reading. If you feel fidgety, you could have an active recovery day where you engage in light exercise.

Reasons why you are not seeing results from working out?

Have you been working hard had the gym? And yet, you’re not feeling or seeing the results you want.

It can be frustrating to spend hours every week training, only to see no or minimal changes in your strength, endurance, and physical appearance.

Many of us realise that exercise is a long game. Results shouldn’t be expected immediately, but even with patience, some people don’t see the results they deserve. It can be discouraging and block or interrupt our fitness journey.

If this rings true for you, don’t worry. Several common mistakes may be preventing you from seeing your desired results, and there are effective and simple solutions that will help you overcome these difficulties.

Let’s look at what you might be doing wrong and how you can start achieving the results you desire.

You’re taking it too easy.

On average, you want to be hitting a heart rate of about 220 minus your age. So if you are 30, your heart rate should be about 190 when you are doing intense physical exercise.

If you’re putting in a small amount of effort, you can expect your body to show it. Luckily, having a goal can help and measuring your heart rate is easy. You can buy and wear a monitor of your own or use any gym machines fitted with one.

You’re not eating right.

Remember, you can only get so far with your workout goals if you are not feeding your body right.

If you want to lose weight, you should not be eating excessive calories. On the other hand, if you are trying to bulk up, you need to be giving your body the right food to support this growth.

Try eating slow-release energy foods like porridge before exercise, as these will keep you going for longer. You can also try having some caffeine before training. Recent studies have shown that caffeine can allow people to exert more power and train for longer intervals.

One way to keep yourself on track with your overall health pursuits, while still being kind and understanding about natural cravings, is to practice intuitive and mindful eating. These methods allow you to focus on listening to your body. Let it tell you when it is full or when it’s hungry and what types of food it requires.

You’re doing exercises in the wrong order.

Many gym-goers, especially beginners spend their time inefficiently. For example, expending most of their effort on isolation exercises like bicep curls at the start of their session. These activities are actually best left until later so the muscles can go into a state of exhaustion known as hypertrophy that encourages growth.

It is best to begin your workout with compound exercises that target multiple muscle groups. You will need a strong foundation to hit your other fitness aims.

You’re doing reps at the wrong speed.

Generally, doing slow reps helps to fill the muscles with blood and encourages them to grow. Faster repetitions are better for those who want to build their strength.

Make sure you are sticking to your chosen rep speed throughout your session. Otherwise, you end up sending your muscles mixed messages and slow your results even further.

You’re all about cardio.

Cardio is great and necessary for those who want to improve their heart, strength, and endurance. It is also useful as part of a weight-loss plan. But alone, it is not enough.

Did you know that muscles burn calories even at rest? If you are hoping to lose weight, you must incorporate weight training exercises into your routine. You can lift weights or do movements that involve using your body weight (such as push-ups).

You’re focusing on the wrong exercises.

It’s easy to assume that focusing on a certain movement or body part will automatically lead to toning or growth in that zone, but this isn’t always the case.

For instance, if you are training for a six-pack, crunches and sit-ups should not be where you focus your energy. In fact, planks are far more effective.

You’re not monitoring your workouts and progress.

While variety is important, it is first essential to have a strong base from which you can build. There are many fitness plans, usually lasting between 8 and 12 weeks, that can help give you a clear idea of what exercises and what muscles you are using every time you workout.

Additionally, you should track numbers associated with your result goals. You’ll need to know your weight or body measurements if you are looking to lose weight or tone up. You will also want to record the weights you’re lifting and the reps you complete if you aspire to continue making progress.

Knowing where we have come from, and seeing how things change, can help us make and keep making progress towards our objectives.

You never change things up.

Not only will you end up bored of your workout if you never change it, but you will also begin to see less effect from your exertions. It is important to vary the exercises you do and to try to increase the intensity if you want to keep progressing.

You’re glued to your phone.

Many people use their phones while they exercise. Often the purpose is simply to listen to music or keep an eye on the time. But, for many, their phone usage doesn’t end there.

If you are using your phone to scroll through social media or reply to messages, it could be a problem. You are likely spending more time resting than you intend. It’s easy to do and often seems like a non-issue. But resting for too long, particularly while using a phone, reduces our heart rate and leads to a less intense workout.

You’re not allowing yourself enough time to rest

On the other side, you may not be allowing yourself enough time to rest and recuperate between sessions.

You’ll end up with fatigued muscles if you never let them recover from the soreness of the last workout. Plus, sore muscles often prevent us from training as hard or for as long as we would otherwise.

It is also critical that we get enough sleep, typically at least 7 hours per night for adults. Sleep is essential for the healthy function of our minds and bodies, and a lack of it can even result in reduced metabolism and increased appetite.

Ten tips to get the most out of your tennis game

Tennis is a multidisciplinary sport that can offer numerous health benefits, including enhanced aerobic and anaerobic fitness, speed, power, flexibility, and muscular strength. The sport also allows players to build up physical and cognitive skills, such as hand-eye coordination, focus, and dedication.

Few sports require whole-body fitness like tennis. Players must demonstrate powerful bursts of energy and enduring strength, as well as substantial levels of overall flexibility and mobility.

Tennis is a demanding sport – training properly is important

For those serious about improving their tennis skills, it is essential to choose exercises that target muscle endurance, strength, and movement. Resistance training, for instance, appears to enhance growth and improve the strength of ligaments, tendons, joint cartilage, and connective tissues inside the muscle.

Sport and motion specific resistance training exercises seem to minimise the occurrence of multiple overuse injuries, such as tennis elbow.

10 exercises to improve your tennis game

1. Lateral lunges

Also known as a side lunge, this exercise focuses on muscles throughout the lower body, including the glutes, quadriceps, abductors, adductors, and hamstrings. Practising this movement improves lateral mobility, which is highly useful for tennis players.

To complete a lateral lunge, step to your left side and squat back and down with your left leg, keeping your right leg straight, to lower your hips. Push up with your left leg to return to the starting position. Repeat the exercise on each side. You’ll feel it exercising your glutes, hamstrings, and quads, as well as a stretch in the straight leg’s inner thigh.

2. Shoulder rotations

The rotator cuff is made up of four muscles and tendons that allow your arm to roll fluidly in the shoulder socket. These muscles are often fully extended in serious tennis matches and can make playing impossible if injured.

Your shoulder is capable of two core movements, internal and external rotations. Internal shoulder rotations involve rotating the upper arm toward the front of your body, while external ones require you to rotate it away from your torso’s front side. These exercises can be performed while standing or lying down.

3. Hand walk

This stretch encompasses the entire body and allows for smoother racquet strokes when done regularly.

Bend over at the waist and place your hands in front of you on the ground. Walk your feet up to your hands while maintaining straight legs until you feel a stretch. Then plant your feet and walk your hands out in front of you to a push-up stance. Make sure you only take small steps using your ankles, not your knees.

4. Knee hug

This exercise enhances lower-body flexibility and mobility, crucial for those looking to up their tennis game.

To get more from this stretch, lift one knee to your chest and hold it below the knee with both hands from a standing position.  While squeezing the glute muscles, pull your lifted knee towards the chest. Step forward, then repeat on the opposite side, completing 10 repetitions for each leg.

5. Cardio

Jump rope and running are two of the best cardiovascular exercises for tennis players. Whole body fitness is essential for those who want to keep up with the sudden energy sprints required when playing tennis.

Aerobic conditioning ensures the heart and lungs work at optimum capacity to pump blood and deliver oxygen to muscles more efficiently. Regular cardio workouts can have significant endurance and speed benefits.

6. Box jump

Tennis games require explosive action to counter fast-flying hits. Box jumps are a relatively low-impact exercise that improves power and speed while allowing you the chance to practice shock absorption.

Swing your arms behind you while bending your knees and pressing your hips back. Explode up into the air from the balls of your feet, swinging your arms up and forward as you completely extend your knees and hips to achieve as much height as possible. Repeat the jumps back-and-forth over the box.

7. Medicine ball toss

This exercise helps increase strength so you can perform more powerful racquet strokes. Medicine ball tosses use the whole body from legs to core and upper body.

Holding a medicine ball below your waist with straight arms, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent, and hips back. Lower yourself into a squat while keeping your arms straight. Jump out of the squat and launch the ball as high as possible. Return to your starting location and go again.

8.Bench press

Engage your chest, triceps, and shoulders with the bench press to dramatically enhance your serve during tennis matches. You should start with lighter weights and gradually increase them if you haven’t done this exercise before.

Lie flat on your back on a bench with a shoulder-width, overhand grip on a barbell held above you. Keep your feet on the floor, and steadily lower the bar until it skims the centre of your chest. As you exhale, push the bar back to the starting position fast.

9. Foam rolling

Foam rolling may help with a variety of things, including improving flexibility, decreasing discomfort and removing muscle knots.

Roll over your foam cylinder for compression that relaxes the nerves and muscles, increases blood flow, and aids recovery from exercises and day-to-day activities. Apply the roller to any area of your body that feels stiff and in need of a massage.

10. Trigger point

You can use a tennis ball to quickly target sore or tight areas of muscle in the foot.

To feel the fullest effects of this therapy, stand and place the tennis ball under your bare foot. Roll the ball back and forth under your foot applying pressure to the arch.

Nutrition and diet

Remember, no tennis player who excels in their field relies solely on exercise. You cannot expect your body to perform at its best if you are not feeding it a healthy and nutritious diet.


It’s not always easy to stay motivated, but regular exercise is necessary if you are serious about levelling up your tennis skills.

Try these exercises and nutrition tips to develop your key tennis playing skills and watch how your game improves.

7 steps to getting back into your fitness plan after a break

A common problem with ongoing workouts is a drop in motivation and enthusiasm. It can be seriously difficult to keep going when you’re tired, busy or just not in the mood.

Most people let their fitness plan slip over the Christmas and New Year festivities. And while New Year’s Resolutions are initially easy to keep, by February you may find yourself flagging.

7 ways to revitalise your fitness plan

Exercising regularly is absolutely vital for health – both mental and physical. Despite knowing this, it’s all too easy to skip one workout and fall off the plan altogether. After all, who doesn’t have a busy life with many different elements to balance.

Working out is naturally a lot easier when you’re feeling motivated and enthused, so here are my tips to get you right back into your fitness plan.

  1. Don’t give yourself a hard time

This is a really important point – the more you beat yourself up for slipping from your plan, the less likely you are to be motivated to get back into it. If you’ve had some time off from your training and want to start again, always begin with realistic expectations.

If you set the bar really high straight away, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. The idea is to decrease the pressure and increase the enjoyment. So, when you’re getting started (again), go easy on yourself. Start with targets you know you can achieve and then build up as your confidence and enthusiasm increases.

  1. Set an achievable routine

If you’ve ever tried to get fit without a set routine you’ve probably found yourself giving it up before you get real results. A plan or structure will help you stick with your chosen routine. Set aside specific times for exercise that you know you can do – this could be the morning, after work, last thing at night or first thing in the morning.

Choose the times and days and write them down in a diary or on a chart. This will help you to create the habit of regularly exercising. At some point it will naturally become routine and you won’t have to force yourself.

  1. Set your own personal goals

Don’t get swept away by the plan you read about online that promises a six pack in six weeks. You know your own fitness level, body and ability better than anyone. So start with achievable goals for you.

Think about your final achievement – what will make you feel proud of your accomplishments. It could be completing a 10k, for example, or lifting a certain amount at the gym. Or perhaps it’s just finally becoming consistent with your workout plan. Whatever it is, write it down and keep it in mind as you move towards getting fitter.

  1. Don’t force yourself to do something you don’t like

There is no one way to get fit. You don’t have to become a CrossFit expert or buy a Peloton. Find what you like to do – this could be anything from walking to dancing, team sports to basketball. It doesn’t matter, as long as it gets you moving and motivated.

If you’re not sure what it is you do like, then plan to try a few different forms of exercise. Mix up a yoga class with a HITT workout online, for example. Take the time to find something that you enjoy as this will mean you have far more chance of sticking with it.

  1. Consider partnering up with someone

For some people, a workout buddy can help to keep them accountable and motivated. Others like to pursue their own fitness goals in their own time. If you do feel like working out with a friend would help, make some enquiries. The chances are, you’ll find someone who wants to join you.

This can also help if you’re finding the whole idea of returning to exercise daunting. Doing it with someone can help to make it feel much more fun and less stressful.

  1. Take your rest days and enjoy them

When you restart a fitness plan, it can be tempting to push really hard. But training every day will only mean you burn out and give up. Resting properly is just as important as the actual exercise if you want to become more active for the long term.

If you find that you are feeling low or ill when you have a workout scheduled, give yourself permission to listen to your body and do what serves you best. This might mean an unplanned rest day and getting back on track later on.

  1. Try and change your perspective

If you go into an exercise plan solely to try and shift stubborn weight, for example, this can be very draining mentally. You need to switch it around and consider exercise as a fun thing to do rather than a chore you have to get through.

Making it fun is really important to stick with it, so take your time and get used to your new routine without pressurising yourself too much. Focus on your own improvements and increase in skills rather than what other people in the gym are doing.

Try to focus on what makes you feel good when you’re exercising and take it with you into your rest days. This will help you to look forward to the next workout and get the maximum benefit from it.


guilt free eating jurg widmer probst

Is guilt-free holiday eating possible?

Whether it’s Christmas, Easter or the Summer holidays, the residual guilt of fun, food and indulgence can be the downside. But fear not, there is a way to enjoy any holiday and remain guilt-free.

Holidays are a time for letting loose and enjoying a little more of what you fancy; that’s the joy of having more time to indulge and let yourself go a little more than usual with guilt-free eating.

There should be no guilt in that pleasure, but media and peer pressure have brought us to a place where we berate ourselves for taking time out to enjoy these simple pleasures.

Sure, if you eat and drink all the indulgent stuff all year round, that will be detrimental to health and life. But if you do choose to indulge a little on your Christmas holiday or when you’re on your next beach holiday, then why should you feel guilty about that?

Healthy eating and indulging every so often is about balance, and when you include regular exercise, self-care and good hydration, you have that balance.



There’s a handy trick, rather than indulging so much over the holidays and then struggling to lose those few pounds that have been added somehow to your waistline.

Prepare your body in the weeks/days leading up to your holiday event. This doing mean you have to work like crazy to get a six pack, unless you want to, of course. Just make your diet a little leaner and more wholesome, decrease your sugar intake and cut back on alcohol or sugary drinks. Increase your exercise and hydration.

Then when you’re on holiday, be as active as you can, whether that’s playing frisbee on the beach, hiking in the snow or doing a holiday workout: the more energy you use, the more you can consume, guilt-free.

It’s as simple as energy in – energy out.



The smart way to ensure you don’t pile on the pounds or ply your body with more harmful foods and drinks is to make smart choices. You don’t need to opt for low-fat or low-alcohol because they often contain more sugar or chemicals.

Choose foods and drinks which are as nature intended, packed with natural ingredients, including sugars and fats. Focus on including foods with high vegetable and fruit content because they contain fibre and plenty of vitamins and water.

Making smart choices helps to lessen the post-holiday eating guilt.



Managing your stress levels is one of the most important things you can do to help ensure you don’t overeat before or during your holidays. This is especially important during the festive holidays, where more people tend to be involved, and a lot is going on for your mind and sanity to process!

When we’re in a stressed state for a prolonged period, our cortisol levels rise to help us cope with this; the problem is when your cortisol remains elevated, your Ghrelin (hunger hormone) kicks in, looking to refuel your energy stores which become depleted by staying in a stressed, tense and anxious state.

Finding ways to help reduce your ongoing stress levels will help to ensure you don’t overeat during the holidays and is a great way to help combat overeating at all times. There are so many stress busters now available.


Here are some simple ways to reduce stress:

  • Gentle and steady-state exercise
  • Guided mindfulness and meditation
  • Practice breathwork
  • Walk in nature
  • Self-massage
  • Reading
  • Sing
  • Dance
  • Listening to relaxing music



Guilt steals enjoyment. It does not serve you to create positive lasting habits; it keeps you feeling bad, which leads to more detrimental behaviour.

Guilt-free eating allows you to enjoy the moment, savour the foods and drinks in which you’re indulging and take the power out of that eat/drink-berate-repeat cycle.



We’re not talking about weighing scales here. It’s a case of if you have an indulgent day on your holiday, then perhaps the next day you have a lighter eating/drinking day and move a little more. We come back to that energy in – energy out thinking.

That’s the balancing of the scales your focus needs to be on for guilt-free eating.

Guilt-free eating doesn’t work if you give yourself carte blanche to eat whatever you want, whenever you want, like a kid in a candy store.

It’s about enjoying your holiday, letting loose on the foods/drinks you enjoy but don’t have all the time, because you’re stepping out of the confines of daily life and allowing yourself time off, hopefully for good behaviour.

So, guilt-free holiday eating is possible; you just have to ensure you have the balance right and be kind to yourself, in body, mind and spirit.

There is no shame in indulging and enjoying what you eat, the real shame is if you don’t give yourself that joy.

Top tips for eating healthy | Jürg Widmer Probst

Top tips for eating healthy

Healthy eating really is the best way to boost your health; after all, food and water are our life forces; without either, we simply cannot survive.

These tips to help you eat healthily can help you get on a better track and make realistic positive changes that can last.

Eating healthier is good for your body to work at its optimum level, but when combined with greater energy output can lead to a calorie deficit and inevitably weight loss.

When we consume more than our body needs or calorie dense foods and do not move enough, our body holds that energy and stores it in our fat cells. The opposite can be said for those who eat too little and move too much.

Eating a wide variety of natural foods will provide a nutritional balance of fat, carbs, and protein and ensure you’re getting a plethora of vitamins and minerals because only natural foods can provide the right levels of those our bodies need.

Unfortunately, many adults and children in the UK today are eating far more calories than their body needs and exercising far less than their bodies should. Exercise keeps you fit and strong but also aids in weight loss alongside healthy eating.

Here are the top tips for eating healthily…

Eat more high fibre carbohydrates

Fibrous and starchy carbs should make up a good amount of your daily diet. Ensure you include a good mix of both whole grain and minimally processed white carbs. These will include potatoes, bread (not from a packet!), rice, pasta and cereals.

Higher fibre foods lead to a healthier gut and fewer stomach issues. Grains and vegetables naturally brown tend to contain the most fibre.

Your body needs both types of fibre to help it absorb nutrients, eliminate waste and provide some of your bodies energy needs.

Include more vegetables and fruit in your daily diet

The minimum recommended amount that you eat is five portions of fruit and veg every day. This can include fresh, tinned, frozen and dried. It is also meant to include juiced, but that should be kept to a minimum because it has a more concentrated sugar content!

Including fruit with breakfast and as a snack is one way to ensure you get your daily amount.

Including vegetables within lunch and dinner also ensure you get the daily amount of those.

These foods are especially good for on the go and can help fuel your workout, especially foods like bananas which provide a quick energy hit.

Limit sugar and processed fat intake

Saturated and trans fats are found in processed meats like sausages and bacon, and the latter is found in highly processed foods, including baked goods.

Saturated fats in small quantities will not be harmful if combined with a healthy diet and an active lifestyle.

Sugar and saturated fats are linked to an increase in cholesterol levels, increasing the chances of disease.

Olive oil, sunflower oils, rapeseed oils, oily fish, seeds, avocado, and natural butter are better fat sources.

Avoiding processed meats and choosing leaner meats such as chicken, turkey and vegetable proteins are the healthier options.

Foods and drinks which are processed with high amounts of sugar are the foods to limit the most, and drinks that contain the same are the ones to limit the most. Alcohol is essentially sugar and one that is extremely detrimental to physical and mental health.

Sugar is found in things like fruit, honey and milk, but these are from natural sources and, when enjoyed within a healthy diet, can provide vitamins, minerals and energy.

Drink plenty of water

Water is in every one of our cells. Drink too little, and you dehydrate, drink too much, and you can drown on the inside (extreme, but true), but drink enough every day, and your body can take on so much more because it has the lubrication it needs to work at its optimum level.

On an average day, you need to have around 2 litres of water. If you’re very active or it’s very hot, probably a little more. Water can also come from foods like fruits and vegetables and can be enjoyed in herbal teas.

Certain drinks cause you to lose water much quicker than is healthy; these drinks are known as diuretics, and alcohol is the main one that can lead to health issues.

Ensuring you drink water alongside any alcohol is a good way to avoid dehydration, and drinking in moderation is a good way to remain healthy.

If you struggle to be mindful about eating healthy and drinking water, you can use handy apps to remind you to drink your water or use a fitness tracker smartwatch that can help you stay optimally hydrated.

Final thoughts

These top tips for eating healthy are essential to provide your body with the nourishment it needs to survive and stay well, but regular exercise is essential too; they go hand in hand to live in a fit and healthy body.


Is the Fitbit Charge 5 a Good Fitness Tracker? | Jürg Widmer Probst

Is the Fitbit Charge 5 a Good Fitness Tracker?

If you’re looking for the next best thing in fitness watches, look no further than the Fitbit Charge 5 fitness tracker which went on sale late September 2021.

The performance of this fitness tracker is excellent and is tipped to be a serious rival for all the other wearables which monitor health stats and activity levels. Sleep tracking accuracy has been lacking in many of the other brands, and Fitbit Charge 5 has stepped up its game to ensure the latest tech offering doesn’t disappoint.

This affordable fitness tracker can hold its own against ones that are twice the price with highly accurate heart rate tracking. Some call this the best fitness tracker on the market so far, which is a bold statement considering the number of smart wearables available.

The global fitness tracker market size was valued at USD 34.6 billion in 2020 and is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 18.9% from 2021 to 2028.

The Fitbit Charge 4 stepped up the game by introducing onboard GPS, but the latest model has fine tuned what’s under the sleek interface and taken the accuracy of the tech to a whole new level.

The introduction of the inside GPS turned avid runners onto the Fitbit Charge as a serious contender for other fitness trackers. Those who previously avoided Fitbit because it lacked this capability that other brands had as standard were now interested in this alternative fitness watch. While the Charge 4 was showing promise and reaching new audiences, it wasn’t yet ready to take on the fitness trackers used by serious athletes and fitness fanatics.

Is the Fitbit Charge 5 a Good Fitness Tracker?

One of the areas the Charge 4 was lacking was the monochrome low resolution display. While the watch was functional, it had limited capabilities in terms of the information it could display, making it less impressive.

Thankfully, the Charge 5 looks set to transform all that and impress us all with its bright and punchy colour display more in line with the Fitbit Luxe, which is a significant upgrade from what it was.

The new look fitness tracker comes in Black/Graphite, Steel Blue/Platinum and Lunar White/Gold. The design is very similar to the Luxe model, but the Fitbit Charge 5 has a soft infinity band, and the case sits flush with the band rather than having a strap with a buckle.

An important aspect of a fitness tracker is comfort, and this is where the Charge 4 needed to make improvements, and indeed Fitbit has. The Charge 5 design is more practical and is now an excellent choice for workouts and also wearing every day to monitor steps and stress levels.

The Fitbit Charge release price was $179.95, including a 6 month membership to Fitbit Premium, which helps you get more from your fitness tracker and smartwatch.

The paid for Premium membership provides a service to complement your Fitbit. It holds all of your data to deliver a personalised and actionable coaching service to enhance your fitness and health to achieve your goals. If you want to get a six pack, the coaching could come in very handy.

The Premium membership service provides additional features, such as a Health Metrics dashboard, guided video and audio workouts, and sleep and mindfulness tools.,

The Fitbit Charge 5 is similar to the Sense in that it provides a personalised score called the Daily Readiness, which collates data from your activity level, sleep quality and heart rate variability to understand if your body is primed for a workout or would benefit from a recovery day.

As standard, the Charge 5 has Bluetooth connectivity, in-built GPS, Fitbit Pay and all the usual fitness tracking benefits such as steps and flights.

One of the best features on so many new fitness trackers and the Charge 5 is the stress alert.

We all know that too much stress can increase your cortisol, and too much cortisol can increase hunger and fat storage! The handy stress monitor lets you know when your heart rate is peaking, and your body is in a stress state with the electrodermal activity (EDA) and electrocardiogram (ECG) sensors.

Is the Fitbit Charge the best fitness tracker available in 2021?

I certainly think so. As an avid fitness fan, I think it’s a serious contender and worth a look for a mid-range activity smartwatch.