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From a stroll in the park to a day-long hike over rough terrain, the right summer walking shoes will help you put your best foot forward. Wh...


February 2023

From a stroll in the park to a day-long hike over rough terrain, the right summer walking shoes will help you put your best foot forward. Whether you’re after reliable shoes to get your 10,000 steps in or want to take to the hills for a full-on adventure, knowing what to look for when buying hiking footwear will help you walk further in comfort and stay injury free. So, what should you consider when choosing walking shoes for summer?


First up, bear in mind the locations you’ll be walking in. Sandy coastal trails need very different footwear to rocky  inclines. Walking footwear is made with a specific environment in mind, so considerations such as sole stiffness or how high up the ankle they go will vary depending on the type of terrain and the conditions you’ll be walking in.

For this reason, it’s worth getting a little geeky about walking shoes. Lugs, the studs on the outsole, vary in depth from 2-3mm to 8mm or more. Generally, the deeper they are, the better the traction on mud or loose  rock, while the greater surface area of wider lugs give better grip on flat rocks. You need to take into account the gap between lugs, too – the narrower the space, the more likely it is that mud and stones will get trapped, making your boots feel heavier.

Even in summer you’ll appreciate a waterproof membrane such as GoreTex, whether for the unpredictable UK weather or making the shoes useful for more than one season, but check they’re breathable too, or your feet will feel uncomfortable and sweaty. The support you need – as well as the  responsiveness, cushioning and energy return – largely comes from the midsole. Essentially, the stiffer the midsole, the more suited it is to tougher terrains.


Shoes that don’t fit well can leave you with sore feet and, potentially, create muscle imbalances higher up in your body. You generally need to go up a half or full size in walking shoes, especially if you’re wearing dedicated walking socks, too, but it’s worth  bearing in mind the following tips:

• Make sure there’s a finger’s-width space between your big toe and the front of the shoe, and your heel should fit snuggly with no slipping as you walk or you’ll end up with blisters on your Achilles heel. To test this out, edge your foot forwards in the boot, then try to slip a finger behind the back of your heel – it should only just fit.

• As your feet expand during walks, try shoes on in the late afternoon, as your feet naturally get wider over the course of the day. This will give you a better comparison with how they’ll feel when out walking.

• Don’t forget to wear walking socks when you’re trying shoes on for size. A thick pair of socks makes a considerable difference to the fit of your shoe or boot.

• You could also try an in-store fitting service. Cotswold Outdoor, for example, will measure your feet with a Brannock device, work out where your foot’s flex point is and what sort of arch you have, then make recommendations for the type of shoe you need. 

Should I drink more when exercising in the heat? ‘It’s extremely important to drink more water when you are exercising in hot weather. When ...


February 2023

Should I drink more when exercising in the heat?

‘It’s extremely important to drink more water when you are exercising in hot weather. When the human body is exposed to hotter than average conditions it challenges the body’s ability to regulate its temperature. This can lead to a multitude of problems, including heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

‘When exercising in the heat, you tend to sweat more, which leads to you losing more bodily fluid than usual. Staying hydrated is vital as it replaces the bodily fluids you have lost and allows the body to regulate its internal temperature, as well as deliver nutrients to cells and keep organs functioning properly.

‘Hydration can come from a variety of drinks and foods, but water is a great calorie- and sugar-free option to ensure you stay hydrated. Mineral water is a great choice when choosing how to stay hydrated, as it contains electrolytes, which are minerals such as calcium, magnesium and sodium.’.

What’s the best way to exercise in hot weather?

‘When it starts to get hot, do a shorter and slower workout, then your body will slowly begin to adapt by increasing its sweating capacity and reducing  the electrolyte concentration of the sweat to boost your ability to maintain a safe core body temperature.

‘Swap your long run for interval training or circuit training. This type of training will allow you more rest, so that your body can cool down and you can take on extra water. If possible, try to work out in shaded areas, which will offer you more protection from the sun.

‘Listen to your body. If you start to feel extremely tired, lightheaded, disorientated or nauseous, you should stop exercising, grab some water and find somewhere cool to sit.’

What should I wear when in the heat?

‘Always opt for sweat-wicking clothing to stay dry and reduce the chance of chafing. Avoid cotton clothing, as it holds onto moisture and won’t make you feel your best.

‘Try to wear light colours that reflect the sunlight instead of absorbing it. If you’re wearing a vest and shorts, make sure you wear sunscreen to avoid damaging your skin, even if you’re working out in the morning or late evening. For more protection, wear a hat or visor to keep the sun off your face. 

‘It is also important to stay hydrated. You can use a normal water bottle but, if you’re running, you might consider freeing your hands up by using a hydration pack.’

What sunscreen is best for outdoor exercise?

‘It’s important to wear sunscreen during your outdoor workouts to protect your skin. Sunburn not only increases your skin cancer risk, but it can also affect your body’s ability to cool down. Apply a high-factor SPF sunscreen liberally 20 to 30 minutes before exercising in the heat. Make sure you choose a sunscreen that has both UVA and UVB protection.’

How will the hot weather affect my performance?

‘When exercising in a hot climate your body has to work a lot harder, so you will instantly feel that exercise is a lot tougher – this isn’t a time when you’re likely to clock a personal best.

‘Your heart has to beat faster as it sends more blood to your skin. Your body temperature will raise much faster, which is why feeling dizzy and faint can occur. In short, it will feel far more difficult to exercise in the heat, especially if you are a beginner. The key is to do sessions at a more manageable pace, and do drink plenty of water.’

How should I approach exercising in the heat?

‘When it’s really hot, exercise in the morning or evening to avoid the midday heat. If possible, choose shady areas and take time to rest, hydrate and cool down.

‘The heat will affect your workout, so it’s important to listen to your body. It may take a few weeks for your body to acclimatise to the heat, so start slowly with shorter and less intense workouts. As you get used to the heat, you may respond better to it – your body may start sweating earlier to help you cool down and, over time, your heart rate may not rise quite as high.’

Most people head to the sauna for a dose of calm, or maybe to ease a few aches and pains, but if you knew the full extent of their benefits,...


February 2023

Most people head to the sauna for a dose of calm, or maybe to ease a few aches and pains, but if you knew the full extent of their benefits, you’d probably move in.

Dry heat rooms, used for centuries in Finnish and Swedish communities, have some serious health credentials, including a reduced risk of high blood pressure, improved lung function and proven benefits for cognitive health.

The science-based evidence for heart health has long been established. Indeed, a review of 40 studies involving 3,855 participants in the journal Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine reports that regular sauna use reduced the enlarged heart size of people with congestive heart failure, improved arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat) and cut the risk of sudden death from heart attack by 63 per cent. Research shows they’re good for cognitive health, too, with one study reporting a 66 per cent reduction in dementia risk.

When it comes to fitness, saunas are good news – improving oxygen saturation during exercise and increasing workout time post heat session, even boosting the function of your powerhouse cells, the  mitochondria, by 28 per cent. Add to this proven benefits for pain relief and their undoubted usefulness for post-workout recovery and you can see visiting the sauna is a valuable addition to your training plan.


Often housed in small wood-panelled cabins, saunas provide dry heat at between 65°C to 90°C. The intense heat exposure raises your skin and core body temperature, and your sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight response) kicks in along with other mechanisms, increasing heart rate, blood flow and sweating in an attempt to regulate your temperature. Your muscles relax, you feel more alert and less sensitive to pain. On a cellular level, the effects include reduced oxidative stress and inflammation. It’s also believed the heat stress your body experiences in a sauna improves its functionality and/or tolerance to more severe challenges in a similar way to exercising. Finally, adding essential oils into the air brings additional benefits – eucalyptus, for example, can help clear the airways, while pine can leave you feeling refreshed and energised.

Are ultra-processed foods secretly sabotaging your diet goals? It’s time to study the labels on your favourite health-food brands. Oat milk....


February 2023

Are ultra-processed foods secretly sabotaging your diet goals? It’s time to study the labels on your favourite health-food brands. Oat milk. Cereal. Hummus. Plant-based burgers… Hands up whose weekly groceries list goes something like this? Yup, ours too. But did you know these wholesome-sounding staples are often ultra-processed foods (UPFs), linked to weight gain, diabetes and heart disease? According to latest figures, even if you avoid eating junk food such as sugary drinks and snacks, your diet is likely to be shockingly high in UPFs – including cleverly-marketed ‘health’ foods many of us eat daily.

We’re now consuming more than 50 per cent of our energy from UPFs. While their convenience and palatability is tempting, research shows this is having a potentially devastating impact on our health. UPFs tend to produce peaks and dips in blood sugar which are bad for cardiovascular health and conditions such as type-2 diabetes.

Want to protect your health or lose a few pounds? Stop counting calories and start checking the ingredients in your favourite products, say a growing number of nutrition experts. Here’s what you need to know. 


Much of our Western diet is processed to some extent. Fish is canned, peas are frozen, milk is  turned into yoghurt, wheat is milled into flour. These processes are harmless and can improve food’s digestibility and nutritional value. For instance, did you know canned tomatoes are richer in antioxidant lycopene than raw ones? Most food undergoes some form of processing which isn’t a cause for concern – think cheese, sourdough bread and tofu. ‘These foods have been partially altered by adding sugar, oil, fat, salt and other culinary ingredients.’.

Problems start when food is engineered to create novel flavours and textures. Chewy chocolate cookies, doughy supermarket bread, tongue-tingling tangy tortilla chips… think of your favourite moreish foods and you can guarantee they’re UPFs. Ultra-processed foods have undergone industrial processing to become hyper-palatable,. ‘They typically contain a lot of added salt, sugar, fat and chemical additives. For instance, bread should only have a few ingredients, but white supermarket bread can have a long list of ingredients to increase shelf-life and taste.’

According to the NOVA classification system, common UPFs include reconstituted meats, sausages, salty and sugary snacks, frozen meals, biscuits, ice cream and chocolate. No surprises there. But other UPFs may come as a shock: the almond milk you pour on your cereal, the baked beans or canned soup and sliced bread you grab for lunch, that post-gym smoothie, the pesto you pop on pasta and the fruit yoghurt you have for dessert. And yes, plant-based ready meals, protein drinks and energy bars, too (see Purely plants, below).


Once inside your body, UPFs behave very differently to the wholefoods they’re made from. Not only are they usually higher in calories, fat and sugar, but their structure (or ‘food matrix’) is also altered during processing, meaning they release these nutrients more quickly into your blood which, in turn, disrupts your metabolism.

One example is oats. ‘You could have two types of oatmeal with identical labels but totally different metabolic and long-term responses. Whole oats produce a blunted blood-sugar level response while finely ground ones [found in instant oatmeal] create a big peak in blood sugar followed by a dip, triggering hunger and inflammation.’

Similarly, fruit juices and smoothies trigger a higher blood-sugar rise and fall than   fibre-packed whole fruit. The processing breaks down the original structure of the fruit. ‘Swapping a glass of orange juice for an orange gives you all the benefits of the orange, rather than just the sugar.’


No time to cook from scratch? The long-term health cost of eating processed foods may make you reconsider. According to a study of 77,000 people published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, those who ate over half their calories from UPFs (meat- or plant-based) were 14 per cent more likely to die over 10 years. A French study of over 100,000 adults, in the British Medical Journal, found people consuming higher levels of UPFs had an increased risk of heart disease. Meanwhile, a second French study found a 10 per cent increase in UPF consumption raised the risk of cancer.

Scientists believe these effects occur because UPFs increase obesity and exposure to potentially carcinogenic chemicals (from additives and processing). But your gut health may also be involved. The ZOE PREDICT study shows a strong link between UPFs and worse long-term health, including detrimental impacts on the gut microbiome. Results revealed a diet rich in processed foods (including baked beans and juices) encouraged bad gut microbes while a minimally processed, plant-based diet led to good microbes, linked to better metabolic health.

Eating processed foods also leaves less room in your diet for protective healthy produce. ‘A diet high in UPFs is more likely to be lower in nutrient-dense foods, fibre and wholefoods,’ she says.


Do you find it hard to shed stubborn pounds despite opting for calorie-controlled meals and snacks? Ironically, they could be the problem. Your body absorbs energy more readily from  low-fibre UPFs than wholefoods. Calories, of course, play a role in weight management but they’re not the be-all and end-all. ‘Very refined ingredients can have a higher caloric availability, meaning the body can access these calories far more easily than the same calories encased in fibre-rich wholefoods.’

UPFs are engineered to hit your ‘bliss spot’ so you eat more of them. Research suggests they may disrupt gut-brain signalling and stimulate appetite. Consumption of UPFs is a real problem for people who want to lose weight. ‘It’s much harder when we’re consuming these energy-dense, tasty foods that are quickly metabolised and impact our hunger and satiety signals, encouraging us to eat more.’

A landmark trial by the US National Institutes of Health compared an ultra-processed diet to a minimally processed one of the same calorie, fat, sugar and micronutrient value. Results showed people on the ultra-processed diet ate 500 more calories a day, leading to an average weight gain of two pounds in two weeks. Blood tests revealed that while on the processed diet, people had lower levels of appetite-suppressing hormones and higher levels of appetite-stimulating hormones.


For anyone wanting to lose weight or improve their diet, I’d encourage them to eat food in its original form. ‘Eat whole apples rather than apple juice, for instance. Minimise UPF consumption and eat a diversity of foods. Thirty plants a week is something we should aim for to improve our gut health.’

Of course, some UPFs are worse than others. While the term “ultra-processed foods” includes foods such as confectionery, fried snacks, cakes and sugary drinks we know we should eat less of, the definition also includes foods that can be part of a healthy, balanced diet, such as sliced wholemeal bread, lower-sugar yoghurts, wholegrain breakfast cereals and baked beans.

Wholegrain UPFs, such as wholegrain breads and breakfast cereals, tend to be healthier than non-wholegrain equivalents, due to their fibre content. Wholegrain bread or cereal still has a poor glucose response but it will be better than white bread.

As always, it’s about balance but, ultimately, minimising UPFs is key to good health. When people cut down on ultraprocessed foods and incorporate more wholefoods rich in vitamins, minerals, healthy fats and fibre, they’re likely to see improved gut health, increased energy and mental clarity alongside better sleep and improved wellbeing.

Feeling worse for wear after your workout? Modifying your go-to recovery methods could help to boost your exercise results. Whether you’re n...


February 2023

Feeling worse for wear after your workout? Modifying your go-to recovery methods could help to boost your exercise results. Whether you’re new to fitness, or a seasoned gym-goer, you’re probably familiar with the pumped up feeling you get after you finish a workout. The endorphin rush that floods your body when you get moving helps to keep your mood in gear and your health on track. But if you don’t allow your body to recover fully after an intense workout, you can be left feeling worse for wear.

Without adequate recovery, your workout can leave you feeling fatigued with physical discomfort and exhaustion, brain fog, headaches and nausea. A new study shows that 29 per cent of exercisers felt so bad after a workout they ended up missing work, whilst 55 per cent admitted to feeling forced  to stay indoors due to extreme soreness. Experts have dubbed this phenomenon ‘the fitness hangover’ which is essentially when your workout leaves you feeling worse off than before you exercised.

Recovery is important to side step any hungover feeling. Recovery helps  to prevent injury, reduce muscle soreness, rebuilds energy stores in the body and prevents the build up of toxins. It’s also important to have rest days to prevent overtraining (which can actually increase body fat and cortisol, and prevent restful sleep)


There are lots of reasons that exercise might not be giving you that pumped up feeling that you’re searching for. During exercise, glycogen stores in the muscles get used up, which can leave you feeling light headed. You’re also losing electrolytes through sweat, causing a drop in blood pressure which can bring on dizziness. ‘Hydration varies from person to person, so make sure you know what you body needs, and if you’re sweating, drink to replace the water you’ve lost. Furthermore, when you exercise, blood rushes to muscles and lungs, reducing blood flow to the digestive system. This can cause nausea and stomach pain,’ explains Lee Oakley. Here we show you the best ways to beat unwanted symptoms and make sure you feel your best.


It can be tempting to push through the pain barrier when you’re working out, and whilst getting out of breath during a HIIT class or feeling the burn when you’re lifting weights is pretty much part and parcel of a workout, be aware of pushing your body too far. If you’re overdoing it, you’ll probably get exercise symptoms like cramps, dizziness and physical sickness. 

These are all clues that your body is telling you to stop and rest, so don’t ignore the signs.


Good nutrition is the cornerstone of any fitness routine, as eating well helps aid your recovery by fuelling your body with the nutrients it needs to repair muscle – and macronutrients should be top on your list of postworkout priorities. Carbs are needed for glycogen synthesis and protein is needed for muscle repair. Fats are also needed for hormone production, as an energy source as well as for inflammation reduction. Those doing regular and high-intensity training should get at least 20 per cent of their calories from fat.. Try to eat within 45 minutes of your workout. A peanut butter and banana protein smoothie or an omelette with avocado on wholemeal toast are great options to nourish your body.


Looking after yourself isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity to avoid fitness burnout. Allocating 15 minutes after your gym workout to relax in the sauna, or having a warm bath, can help boost blood flow and muscle relaxation, whilst getting enough sleep will allow your cells to repair and renew properly.

Don’t forget to stretch after a fitness session – it’s as important as the workout itself. Stretching after your workout and on rest days will help to reduce stiffness and help with DOMS (delayed onset of muscle soreness). Child’s pose, kneesto-chest stretch and forward bends aid joint flexibility and keep you mobile.


Recovery doesn’t have to mean lying on the sofa all day. Gentle movement known as active recovery can also aid circulation, muscle recovery and energy levels in between workouts, but you should ensure to listen to your body so that you don’t overdo it. Active recovery can be used during a workout, for example in a HIIT class you could take a light jog in between the highenergy movements. It can also be used immediately after a workout, like stretching in a cool down. Lastly, active recovery can be used on a rest day – exercises like swimming or tai chi are useful as they’re gentle on the body.