Health: Tech a break from gadgets to become healthy

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Step away from the smartphone to help wellbeing, says Lynsey Charleston.

Lack of time is often cited as one of the biggest barriers for not being as healthy as we’d like.

But top of all that, we also have modern technology zapping our precious minutes, with many checking our phones, emails, and Facebook and Twitter accounts from the moment we wake to the moment we sleep.

This now unavoidable part of life might not be doing us any real harm, but the side-effect of gadget addiction often means we’re losing valuable time that could be spent exercising, relaxing and eating healthily - three things which are vital to our overall health and wellbeing.

“For those willing to get sweaty and breathless and workout at a tougher level, potentially just 15 minutes of exercise four times a week can deliver the same great health protective effects than long sessions,” says Rob Jones, a personal trainer at StrideFit.

Also, according to recent research, late night smartphone, tablet, computer and TV use interferes with our sleep and productivity the following day.

The devices emit a blue light which disturbs the way the brain processes the hormone, melatonin, which induces relaxation and sleep.

So even if you can’t bear to tear yourself away from the screen completely, at least try and free up an hour - or just 15 minutes - a day, and you’ll soon realise the benefits of logging off.

TIME-ZAPPER: Social butterfly – While it’s great to keep in contact with everyone and stay in the loop with those you love, a short break from scrolling through friends’ status feeds and photos won’t damage your social life. It could, however, be a great chance to activate your body and mind with some exercise.

TIME SWAPS: 15 minutes: Try a short bodyweight circuit at home or in the garden. No equipment required – you’re using your weight to build strength, with anything from squats, push-ups and sit-ups. Shorter rest periods between exercises means you’ll burn fat faster.

30 minutes: Go for a run. A brief half-hour jog could boost your fitness in no time. Alternate sprint and jog speeds for bigger benefits.

One hour: Take up a class or team sport, such as touch rugby which is great for all ages and fitness levels.

TIME-ZAPPER: Square eyes – Watching Breaking Bad may have helped get through the winter nights, but now the longer days are here, it’s time to change your habits. There’s nothing wrong with sitting down to enjoy programmes you enjoy, but mindlessly staring at the screen could be doing your relaxation levels no favours.

TIME SWAPS: 15 minutes: Learn to meditate. It may feel odd at first, but even a short amount of time sitting quietly with absolutely no disruptions and focusing on your breathing can benefit your mind no end.

30 minutes: Go for a walk and look at what’s around you, instead of keeping your head glued to your screen. The fresh air, as well as taking in your surroundings, is a simple but failsafe wellbeing booster.

One hour: Take a yoga class or do a session at home in your living room. As well as stretching your limbs and increasing blood flow, you’ll benefit from increased calmness too.

PIC: Simon Hulme

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