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Living: HOWZAT FOR FITNESS DARREN'S WARM-UP WORKOUT; But I'm batty about crisps, says Dazzler.


The countdown is on to the summer - but is your body ready to be bared on the beach? Sunday Mercury writer ZANNAH LEWIS has a personal fitness session with England cricket star Darren Gough.

IMUST confess to being rather nervous about meeting England cricketer Darren Gough for a personal fitness session.

How could a top athlete understand how bored I get at the thought of doing exercise?

I couldn't see him scoffing a huge chocolate bar in one sitting or munching through a tin of biscuits while sprawled on the sofa watching EastEnders.

I am overweight and unfit. I go through periods of activity when I walk everywhere but then it just becomes so much easier to take the car - or stay in watching telly rather than going to the gym.

Darren - tall, tanned and muscular - took me to the indoor cricket centre at Headingley where he practises his bowling technique. We started with a few stretches and chatted about the difficulties of fitting exercise into a busy lifestyle.

I asked him about his diet and if he ever found it difficult to motivate himself to exercise.

He chuckled and admitted that often he couldn't be bothered to go to the gym - and he confessed to a big weakness for chocolate, biscuits, crisps and junk food!

'You should see me when I'm heading to the gym,' he said. 'I moan and don't want to go. I stand in the gym with all the machines staring

back at me and think 'why am I here?'.

'But I motivate myself by visualising how I'll feel at the end.

'By the time you've finished exercising and had a shower, you walk out of the door feeling like a million dollars.'

But Darren realises the importance of exercise to all age groups and always spends at least half an hour on sport with his children.

'I have two sons, aged eight and five, and they love playing on the Playstation. I do, too,' he said.

'But I know that if we stay inside we'll just keep playing on the computer. That's why the first thing I do is get them into their trainers and go and kick a ball around the garden.

'For many of us, our views on sport and exercise were shaped during school PE lessons or through our early involvement in youth sports. As a result, we were left with the impression that only strenuous sport and exercise was beneficial for health.

'In fact, there's a wellestablished and growing body of knowledge that shows mild to moderate physical activity is also beneficial.

'When people say that it's just too difficult to fit a 30-minute brisk walk into their exercise regime, they should consider accumulating this length of time with shorter periods of activity.

'To begin with, use the stairs rather than the escalators or lifts at work. Park in the parking bay furthest from the entrance to the supermarket and don't use the remote control to change TV channels.

'You find time to do the things you enjoy so, if you start to do exercise that you enjoy it will get easier to motivate yourself.

'Exercising with my workmates makes it easier to get through a session at the gym. Exercising in a beautiful place, such as a park, helps. Wearing clothes that make you feel good when you exercise also helps.'

He clearly knows what he's talking about - after doing Darren's warm-up workout, I felt muscles I never knew I had!

Darren Gough is one of a number of sports stars involved in the Cadbury's Get Active campaign - a nationwide initiative to get kids doing more exercise.

Along with runner Paula Radcliffe, Darren will be on hand at Birmingham's NEC on Sunday June 8 to put you through your paces FREE.

If you would like to work out with Paula and Darren, ring 0800 818181 or log on to to register for the day.

'A WARM-UP helps your body to prepare itself for exercise both mentally and physically,' says Darren.

'It reduces the chance of injury. Use this time to help to prepare your mind for the exercise that will follow.

'The aim is to increase circulation around the body, in a gradual manner, so as not to put any pressure on to the body.

'During the warm-up any injury or illness you have can often be recognised, and further injury prevented.'

CALF STRETCH Put one foot in front of the other, with your feet comfortably apart and both facing forward.

Your front leg should be bent (with the knee over the ankle joint) while your back leg and back are straight.

Press the heel of your back leg into the floor until a stretch is felt in the calf muscle in the back of your lower leg.

HAMSTRING STRETCH Lie on your back, bending one leg and keeping that foot on the floor to prevent you from lifting your buttocks. Raise your other leg, holding it either side of your knee joint.

Gradually pull the leg towards you, keeping it as straight as possible.

You should feel the hamstring muscle stretching at the back of this leg.

BACK STRETCH Lie on your back, with your legs bent up towards you.

Keeping your upper back firmly on the floor, gently lower your knees to one side. Hold for about 20 seconds, then repeat on the other side.

Allow your lower back to rotate naturally to the side. If any pain is felt, then avoid this stretch.

HIP FLEXORS Facing forward, place one leg forward with your knee above your toe.

The other should be stretched back, with that knee touching the floor.

Your hands can be placed on the front leg or floor to aid balance.

Slowly push your pelvis forward until you feel the stretch in the upper thigh/hip flexor muscle of your rear leg.

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, keeping a slight bend in your legs.

Slowly bend over to one side, until you feel a stretch along your side.

Your arms can be on your hips, or in the air to increase the stretch.

Avoid leaning forward or back, andkeep the movement smooth with no bouncing.

Stand or sit upright and place your hands on the small of your back.

Slowly bring in your elbows until you feel the stretch on your chest muscles. Aim to keep your elbows high during the stretch, and slowly push your chest out.

Remember to breathe comfortably throughout the stretch.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:Jun 1, 2003
Next Article:Living: Dr FORSTER - SWITCH OFF THE TV AND ENERGISE A FLAGGING RELATIONSHIP; Dr George Forster answers your questions.

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