Bad diets, a lack of exercise and sedentary lifestyles have all contributed to increasing levels of obesity in the UK. While many of us start the year with the best of intentions, the gym often strikes fear into the hearts of those looking to lose weight.
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If the thought of spinning classes and rowing machines has you running for the hills, check out these lazier ways to shift the extra pounds.
Walk it off
Not only is walking good for you both physically and mentally, these days there is a whole range of footwear designed to tone up those wobbly bottoms and flabby thighs. From Fit Flops to Shape Ups, more and more are hitting the market and all aim to work that gluteous maximus. Reebok's EasyTone Trainers, for instance, use 'balance pods' to create instability, forcing the wearer to tone while walking. Shape Ups, on the other hand, mimic the effect of walking barefoot on soft sand - legs, bum and core muscles are all worked and they have the added advantage of improving your posture.
One step at a time
If you don't want to splash out on pricey trainers or expensive gadgets, why not keep it simple with a pedometer. You won't need to think about exercising, just go about your normal day-to-day business and see whether you manage the recommended 10,000 steps each day. If you don't, you've got something to aim for. If you find it hard to get motivated, join up with others wanting to lose weight and walk together (or join one of the many ramblers groups across the country). If you don't want to chat as you walk, do a good deed and offer to walk a neighbour's dog or volunteer at your local dogs home.
Sofa stomach crunches
Can't drag yourself away from the TV? Never fear - your stomach can tone up from the comfort of the sofa thanks to toning gadgets. Using Electronic Muscle Stimulation (EMS) the Slendertone range of toning tech contracts your muscles, mimicking your body's natural muscle movements, and making the firmer and stronger. It takes a little getting used to but you can vary the intensity to suit you.
Strong to the core
Core exercises are about more than slimming down and toning up (though they do a fabulous job of it). By strengthening the core muscles, your posture will improve and you will become less susceptible to back pain and injury. Beginners exercises are simple, don't require any equipment and can be easily fitted around your busy life. Buy a Pilates DVD and get into the habit of doing the postures every day. Combined with regular walking, you'll soon feel fitter and stronger and perhaps ready to join that gym after all...