Fitness by Laura Williams

By Kay Lockett on February 28, 2011 11:03 AM |

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Get the look: Natalie Portman

Now Natalie Portman is pregnant and no longer training in a crazy way for her role in Black Swan, she has modified her exercise routine. But she still takes her fitness routine seriously...

How she does it: "I have been swimming every day," said the actress backstage at the Golden Globes. "When I am in my womb-like environment, I am hoping the baby is feeling peaceful."

You can too: Whether you're a pregnant mum or a stressed exec, swimming can make a great alternative - or addition - to other more frenzied forms of exercise. Swimming is often overlooked as an alternative to higher impact activities, but done correctly, it can be a highly effective, low impact way to increase your fitness, burn calories and develop great muscle tone. You need to make sure that your swimming stroke is effective, though.
Gliding swiftly up and down the pool with a good crawl will act as a great fat burner, fitness boost and back toner - especially if you're worried about back fat/moobs (delete as appropriate) as spring approaches.

The effects of swimming are maximised if you cross-train. So you could swim on Mondays, run on Wednesdays and cycle at the weekend, or combine swimming and running in one session for an explosive workout.

Q&A

My personal trainer said that BMI isn't an accurate gauge for telling if I'm overweight. Is he right?

As BMI (Body Mass Index - where you use height and weight statistics to determine how overweight/underweight an individual is) doesn't take into account fat mass or muscle mass, it can be an inaccurate way of telling if a person is overweight.

The reading is calculated by dividing your weight in kg by your height in metres squared. It's considered to be inaccurate for athletes or for very muscular individuals, and for pregnant and breastfeeding women. If you want to know how healthy your weight is, you might be better off going by your waist circumference.

Measure around the narrowest point of your waist as you're breathing out, and if you get a reading of 88cm for a woman, or 102cm for a man, you need to look at losing some of this fat as these readings put you at increased risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

Site of the week
swapathon.co.uk
Part of the Government's Change4Life campaign, the Great Swapathon enables you to pool and source ideas for simple, do-able changes to get you and your family slimmer and healthier. Whether you're looking to find a decent alternative to the office biscuit habit, or persuading your youngest to drink more water, you'll find zillions of ideas here.