As we shrug off the dark, cold cloak of winter, longer daylight hours and warmer weather beckons bringing a host of new fitness opportunities in the great outdoors. Not only is it easier on the wallet than a pricey gym membership, but it has been suggested that exercising outside it is actually better for our health than sweating it out on the treadmill. Be it a run, cycle or Pilates session, exercising outdoors can increase feelings of revitalization and positive engagement, decrease tension, confusion, anger and increase energy [i].
TV presenter and Heart FM Radio DJ Jenni Falconer loves to train outside in the natural environment. The running enthusiast and self-confessed fitness fanatic has run The London Marathon 5 times and often feels her best when at peak physical fitness. In our exclusive Q&A Jenni reveals how the warmer weather influences her training regimes and shares her top health and fitness tips:
How do you embrace the warmer weather?
I love the warmer weather and longer days. I start work very early with my alarm going off at 2.30am every morning so the earlier the sun rises, the sooner I feel less like a vampire! In the winter I finish work and get home before the sun’s up which means I don’t get to take advantage of the day. In the lighter months, I run home from work and feel far more energised and generally enthused about the day ahead. I wear brighter clothes, spend more time outdoors and tend to crave less stodgy food!
Do you change your fitness regime as the weather improves?
Because of the sun rising earlier, I run outside a lot more. The mornings are lighter, the weather is warmer and on the whole it’s a better climate to run in. I love the feeling afterwards when I have rosy cheeks and feel energised as a result of so much fresh air. And on warm sunny days, I may even pick up a tan. Tanning and toning! Perfect combo!
What are your top health tips?
Try not to put it off. Delaying going for that run or finding an excuse to do it later, often results in it not happening at all. The hardest part is leaving the house. Once you’re out there, you’ve committed yourself and it’s easy!
Also, try to work out what time of day you’ll be able to commit to exercise. For me it’s after work early in the morning before breakfast and mummy duty starts. It’s a great way to start the day for me and also most days I can commit to this time. And with a routine, I’m more likely to actually do it!
What is the best piece of health advice you have ever received?
Everything in moderation is better rather than eliminating things altogether. The minute you say ‘no chocolate’, chances are all you’ll crave is chocolate.
What is your favourite product?
I’m currently marathon training – it’s the London marathon in April. I’ve run it before and so I’ve tried and tested a fair few things. But one thing I’ve learnt is to do a thorough warm up and cool down. As part of the cool down I massage my legs with Nelsons® arnicare ®Arnica Cooling Gel directly after a run – particularly a long run!!!
Arnica cream is also handy for my daughter when she falls over or bumps her knee. She calls it the ‘magic cream’!
Who is your fitness inspiration and why?
I’m rather in awe of and inspired by Paula Radcliffe. A mum, in her 40’s and still running marathons at a very impressive pace! She’s running London again this year. I know I’ll never win The London Marathon, nor be an elite sportswoman like her but I love the fact that I can participate in the same, iconic event and feel like an athlete for the day!
What is your warm up/cool down routine?
Stretching beforehand, gentle jogging to start and then more stretching and using the foam roller afterwards. Coupled with using Nelsons arnicare Arnica Cooling Gel and a hot shower!
How do you know when you have pushed yourself too far?
If I push myself too far I tend to phone my husband and ask him to come and pick me up! Last year I phoned him one day; it was raining, I’d run 18 miles, I was freezing, aching muscles and desperately wanted to be at home. I said ‘please come and get me’! I was only a mile away. He turned up with a digestive biscuit and a bottle of water. That’s love! Haha!
I also know when I come home I need food… I usually have a Chocolate protein shake immediately and then some scrambled eggs after a shower. I know I’ve pushed myself too far when I fall asleep. There have been times when I’ve been so exhausted after a long training run that I’ve curled up on the bed straight after my shower and woken up a few hours later!
How to you fit your exercise around your family and work commitments?
It’s tricky and there are a lot of us parents who are trying to find the best solution. I train in the mornings after work and do my long runs on the days my little girl is at nursery. My daughter has to put up with me fresh from a run! I never look glam like some of the other mums! Also I try to do my main training Monday – Friday, leaving Saturday as a family day and Sunday if possible. If I haven’t managed to do all my training in the week, then I try to finish it on a Sunday morning.
Do you follow a strict diet?
No strict diet, just everything in moderation. I definitely consume more protein shakes and I cut down on alcohol and sugary things. I also focus on more protein at meals. I don’t overdo the carbs because I don’t want to feel too bulked up on stodge for running – it doesn’t help me and makes me feel lethargic.
What do you do to relax?
Sleep, watch TV and films, hang out with my family and go for lunch with friends! Perfect.
Specially formulated, Nelsons arnicare Arnica Cooling Gel is ideal for massaging into tired and over-worked legs, to help cool and revive them. It is non-greasy and easily absorbed by the skin, combining the natural benefits of arnica with the refreshing sensation of grapefruit oil and menthol to cool and soothe the skin.
Nelsons arnicare Arnica Cooling Gel is priced at £5.15 for 30g and is available from Boots, Holland and Barrett, pharmacies and health food stores nationwide. Visit www.arnicare.co.uk for more information.