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Body

Fit in 3: 5 ways to get fit in 3 months

If you’re serious about getting fit, choose an exercise you really enjoy and carve out the time for a regular workout.

Stick to it for three months and you’ll reap the rewards, be full of energy and feeling great. Here are five ways to do it.

1. Dive into swimming

 “Start off once or twice a week, and swim for 20 or 25 minutes. You can get a very good workout in a lunch hour,” says Andy McAllister of Turner Swim. Swimming helps you build up muscle groups around the hip, knee and ankle joints without putting pressure on them.

Andy advises face-in-the-water front crawl or back stroke to keep the spine flat and get the heart rate higher. Definitely no head-up breast stroke, which puts strain on your neck. For example, Turner Swim says it can get you doing a good front crawl in just five one-hour lessons.

After three months you'll see the benefits in a well-toned upper body, shoulders and arms, and better cardio fitness. Want something to aim for? Swimathon, the world’s biggest fundraising swim, takes place from 29-31 March 2019.

2. Find your rhythm through dance

Want to exercise without feeling that you're exercising? Dance will challenge your agility, balance, strength and co-ordination. It also improves your mood. This is because dance can boost levels of feel-good endorphins in the brain, and is sociable too.

Go full Strictly and sign up for ballroom, get into street dance or swing. You could try TAPfit, which combines cardio, resistance training and body-sculpting moves.

Even one dance session a week can help tone your bottom and stomach. It can also increase definition in your arms and improve posture, as well as strengthening your lower back. Find a class near you here.

3. HIIT: great for a quick workout

High-intensity interval training is perfect for time-poor people who want a kickstart to transform their body. HIIT alternates 30 seconds of working out as hard as you can with 30 seconds of rest, usually for a total of 20 minutes. Sessions are made up of exercises such as ground touches, walking shoulder presses, power squats and burpees. All exercises that can get you lean and toned.

Take a look at something like Joe Wicks's Body Coach 90-day plan. The plan includes ideas for healthy meals and real-time workouts to follow at home, and access to an online community for support. At the end of the three months you can continue working out for free to the HIIT videos on YouTube.

4. Get back on your bike

You can get better muscle definition in your legs, achieve buns of steel and stronger abs from cycling, and you get a great cardio workout too, whether indoors in a spin class or out on the road.

Now's the perfect time to start training for the British Heart Foundation’s sponsored London to Reading ride on 23 March 2019. The 64km/40-mile, largely flat route is on quiet country roads and starts in Kempton Park. The BHF's downloadable training schedules for beginners guide you to gradually building up your training, with rest and recovery between sessions. Or try the free group rides (women only) with Breeze, a nationwide scheme run by British Cycling.

5. Hi-tech Pilates

In a ‘Dynamic Reformer Pilates’ session, you'll strengthen the key stabilising muscles of the body. You can improve overall fitness and muscle tone with the help of the equipment and circuit-style exercises. Luke Meessmann of Absolute Studios recommends approaching a three-month programme with a clearly defined and honestly achievable goal. 

“The people who notice the biggest changes in their bodies train at least twice a week. Train three to four times a week and you'll experience truly fantastic results,” he says. Age is no barrier. If osteoporosis is a concern, “bones respond well to compression loading. So, things like squats, lunges, leg presses and resisted leg exercises using the straps on the Reformer are particularly good”.