Men’s self-care rituals for health and success

The everyday stresses of life can take their toll on your mental and physical wellbeing. Shouldering the burden of expectations from family, friends, coworkers and managers can be draining, leaving you without the time or energy for some vital self-care.

Why Is Self-Care So Important for Men?

Looking after yourself is one of the most important things you can do, but it’s often an area that’s neglected the most. Feelings of dissatisfaction, a lack of fulfilment and poor health can be the result if your innermost needs aren’t tended to.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, downtrodden or exhausted, it’s time to fight back and start reclaiming your life. You can spend a lifetime trying to think your way into acting differently, but it’s actually a lot easier to act your way into thinking differently.

But how can you get things back on track? Where’s the best place to start? It all starts with you, my friend. It’s time to start taking care of business by taking care of yourself.

What Does Self-Care Mean for Men?

Self-care” is a phrase that’s been growing in popularity over the past few years. Our “always-on” culture has meant that we’re always being pulled away from the present moment. Working after hours or endlessly scrolling through social media eventually leaves you feeling pretty empty after the initial dopamine kick has worn off. Take note of the habits that aren’t contributing to a healthy and successful life and retrain your focus towards things that make your life better.

What Are Self-Care Rituals for Men?

While self-care can take many forms, the overarching principle is to do things that reinvigorate your senses and renew your connection with yourself and those around you. You actively engage with these planned activities, consciously undertaking each one with a vision to improve your mental and physical state.

Some practices are more glamorous and enticing than others, but it’s all about doing activities that’ll benefit your mind, body and spirit in the long run.

Take Personal Days (or Annual Leave)

Sometimes you just need a bit of space and time to get your life back together. Taking a personal day or using your holiday is a great way to take stock and complete a few tasks you’ve been putting off. Whether you need to finally fix that squeaky cupboard door or you want to spend some quality time with your friends and family, having some time for yourself can refresh your outlook on life.

Get Some Fresh Air

Getting out in the open is highly beneficial to your wellbeing. Going for a morning walk, stepping out on your lunch break or taking an evening stroll can help put your mind and body at ease. Simply being outside, breathing in the fresh air can do wonders for your mental state and help you stay supple –– especially if you’re spending a lot of time sitting down staring at screens.

Masturbate

As if we needed another excuse to have a go at pleasuring ourselves gents!

In our study on male masturbation habits, we discovered that men choose to masturbate regularly as source to relieve tension and ease anxiety – successfully doing so several times a week. With a stigma around pulling-your-pud for pleasure, we found the vast majority of men partake in the activity alone as a way to enjoy some time reconnecting with themselves.

Our study found that masturbation has some helpful benefits that may:

  • help you relax 
  • release sexual tension
  • reduce stress
  • boost your mood
  • improve sleep
  • help you have better sex
  • help you feel greater pleasure
  • give you a better understanding of what you need and want in a physical relationship

Unwind With a Massage

Massages have numerous physical and health benefits, from relieving muscle tension and improving circulation to cleansing your skin and clearing your mind. If you’re feeling like getting a massage is a bit tame for your liking, why not kick things up a notch? A tantric massage is a perfect way to break free of the mundanity of regular life.

We all have desires, we all have needs. Being able to express those feelings in a safe, judgement-free environment can be incredibly sexually liberating. You’ll be able to connect and engage with a beautiful masseuse –– or two –– who’ve mastered the tantric arts. They’ll leave you reinvigorated, energised and in a new realm of ecstasy. If you’re looking for an escape, take a step outside of your comfort zone for some seriously intense and erotic relaxation.

Do Some Exercise 

You don’t have to start training for a marathon, but even small amounts of exercise will encourage your brain to release endorphins (chemicals that reduce stress). Pushing yourself by lifting weights, running or doing bodyweight exercises –– like push-ups and sit-ups –– can have an immediate, profound and long-lasting effect on your psychological wellbeing. It’ll also help you stay physically strong and lose weight if you’re carrying some extra lockdown luggage, improving your confidence and promoting a positive body image. 

Realign Yourself with Meditation

Juggling your thoughts and managing your emotions when you’re stressed can prove tricky at the best of times. Meditation can help you become more mindful of your inner voice and bring you back to the present moment. It can be difficult to get the hang of it, so yoga or pilates classes make a great introduction to meditation. 

These activities carry all the benefits of exercise while helping you to get into a good headspace by focussing on your posture and body position. This can take a lot of focus, so it can quell any feelings of stress or anxiety that might be floating around your head.

Why You Should Practice Self-Care

Practising self-care won’t only benefit your physical wellbeing, it’ll also boost your confidence, enhance your productivity and make you more resilient in the face of challenges. Undertaking any or all of the above-mentioned activities is a sure-fire way to step up your self-care game, helping you to feel more fulfilled and in tune with your senses.

Taking care of yourself is an investment in your future, allowing you to navigate life without the unnecessary, avoidable stress that comes with a busy lifestyle. Take some time to indulge your feelings, break out of the monotony of normal life and experience incredible feelings. 

SEXERCISE: Positions that burn the most and least calories

Christmas is the time to indulge and not worry about calories! However, finding a balance between indulging and maintaining a healthy lifestyle is important. And what better (and fun) way to do so than by sexercising!

With that in mind, GolfSupport.com sought to find out the best sex positions if you want to burn the most calories. To find that out, they gave Fitbits to 112 heterosexual couples, and told them to put them on while doing bits.

The number of calories lost during 30 minutes in each sex position is the average taken for all men and women taking part in the survey. Simultaneously, GolfSupport.com sought to find out more about what position women found to be the most pleasurable in the bedroom.

The results revealed that women burn the most calories during The Squat – more exactly 188 calories. Women who were immersed in this position and were doing it at a faster, more intense pace lost up to 224 calories. We can’t say the same for men, who burn only 50 calories in this position, but gain a lot of fun!

Second on the list for women is a more advanced position – the Butter Churner. If you are brave enough to try it, you can lose approximately 179 in 30 minutes. For men this position burns even more calories, as they are more in control. In fact, a man can burn around 211 calories while churning some butter making it the best sexercise for them!

The Kneeling Wheelbarrow is not only fun, but it also burns loads of calories. Women can lose approximately 149 calories in this position, while men will burn around 167.

Another one that favours the brave is the Standing position. In fact, this is the second most intense position for men, who burn around 198 calories trying to have some fun while not dropping their partner.

Women also need to put some effort into not falling, making them burn approximately 145 calories in this position.

Spooning and The Eagle are the positions burning the least calories for women, while men put the least effort in during Cowgirl and reverse Cowgirl. Although putting more effort into that hip thrusting can raise their calorie burnout to 68!

While Missionary didn’t make the top 12 positions for women, it comes close in number 13, with ladies losing about 47 calories in this position. We can’t say the same for men, who lose almost triple the number of calories during Missionary (144 calories).

What position makes women orgasm the most?

Simultaneously, GolfSupport.com asked the women taking part in the survey what is the best position for orgasming.

Position% of women orgasming in that position
Doggy Style79%
The squat72%
Reverse Cowgirl71%
Cowgirl68%
The eagle66%
Legs Up64%
Missionary63%
Spooning55%
Lotus31%
Kneeling wheelbarrow29%
Butter Churner21%
Standing17%
697%

So make sure you treat her this Christmas, by not gaining too much of a belly!

Give your immune system a boost!

A strong immune system is one heck of an advantage for healthy living and there are many ways to help strengthen your immune systems to help keep you fit, feeling your best and reduce the risk of contracting highly contagious diseases – do we need to mention that little virus that’s changing our lives? *COVID-19 cough*.

However, if you’re someone who struggles to obtain a diverse mix and frequency of vitamins from your food, have you considered supplements?

Staying fit and eating healthy—along with getting plenty of shuteye and washing your hands with surgeon-like precision—are some of the most effective ways to feel better day-to-day and avoid a miserable cold or flu. But if you really want to bolster your chances of feeling your best and keeping illness at bay this winter, a little immune system adjustment is in order.

What vitamins are important for immunity?

Vitamins C, E and zinc assist the physical barriers. Vitamins B6, B12, C, D, E, folic acid, zinc, and selenium all support immunity at a cellular level. Finally, all these micronutrients, with the exceptions of vitamin C and iron, are essential for antibody production.

As we’re into the winter months and a vaccine for ‘rona is imminent —I’ve teamed up with Lumity, to sample and boost my immune system to ensure those pesky snots and splurts stay away, as well as giving myself that extra burst to feel more lively between workouts.

Morning & Night Male Supplements

As mentioned, now more than ever it’s important to boost your immunity. Lumity’s formula includes vitamins A, C and D plus the minerals selenium and zinc, which are a powerhouse combination that contribute to immune health, helping you stay fit, healthy, and strong inside and out.

Lumity’s 2-step morning and night formula has been scientifically engineered to support men perform their best due to enhanced health and wellbeing.

Lumity’s Morning & Night Male Supplements help optimise your mind, body and performance with benefits that include; increased energy levels, improved alertness, focus, endurance and vitality, reduced tiredness, strong bones, joints, teeth and muscles, boosted immunity, reduced oxidative stress, plus healthy skin, hair and nails. Utilizing a unique blend of vitamins, minerals, essential nutrients, and amino acids, they work around the clock so that you can too.

Do the supplements work?

“Supplements won’t counteract poor eating habits, but they can help to make a healthy diet better.” – Amanda Carlson, M.S., R.D., director of performance nutrition at Athletes’ Performance.

The Male Supplements are designed to deliver multiple benefits with a targeted 24/7 nutrient rich support, hence the morning and night dosage.

It didn’t take long for me to start noticing a difference in my ability to push myself further and feel stronger each day, whilst I’ve been doing my home workout. I’ve managed to add on weight to my workout, even though I’m home and walk further every evening with the dog!

Additionally, he speed in which my beard is growing has sped up ridiculously. Before to the Lumity supplements, I would trim my beard every 2 days, but now I should be trimming every day, but maybe not as important during lockdown! (Don’t judge).

Lumity’s supplements contain one of the largest ranges of vitamins available in UK supplements, all specifically sourced from whole foods rather than cheaper alternatives. After all, what’s the point in having a healthy and natural diet if your tablets are synthetic? Lumity uses only organic ingredients to help make their product one of the best supplements for men who are concerned about what they are putting into their bodies.

Lumity’s Black Friday Offer:

Spend £50 get 20% off | Spend £100 get 30% off | Spend £250 get 40% off

Shop now.

Running routes you need to try in the UK

This time last year, we hated running. Then the pandemic hit, and TWO lockdowns changed outdoor activities into a luxury with many people turning to jogging during the crisis, just to be outside.

In between lockdowns, the UK Government has announced that the UK will be placed into a set of local COVID tier systems. Will this affect your runs? To put it simply, no. The systems still allow us to meet others to run as long as you are not running in a group of more than six.

Why not reignite your passion for running, with a total of more than 250 marked running routes in the UK; there are plenty of trails to choose from. UKCaravans4hire.com have narrowed down their favourite trails to give us the best trail-running spots in the UK.

Hadrians Wall

In the city of Carlisle, England.

Hadrian’s Wall, also known as the Roman Wall, has plenty of gradients to get your blood pumping. The route consists of five miles with impressive views and historical interest, taking you along part of the 73-mile Roman wall. If you’re looking for a little distraction on your route, this is the perfect place to run.

Jurassic Coast and the South West Coast Path

Stretches from Exmouth to Studland Bay, Dorset.

The World Heritage Site, Jurassic Coast is located on the English Channel coast of southern England, stretching from Exmouth in East Devon to Studland Bay in Dorset – a total distance of about 96 miles. Yearly, a festival is held which incorporates an ultra race (50km +), marathon, half marathon, 10km and children’s races.

Gardener’s Trail, Tintern Abbey

Welsh bank of the River Wye, Tintern, Wales

At Tintern Abbey, founded in the early 13th century by Lord of Chepstow, has a few different trails but the Gardener’s course is our favourite. On this six-mile trail, you can cross the Tintern River via the historic stone bridge whilst enjoying the green scenery containing 200-year-old beech trees! Also, halfway through the route, you will discover the Colclough Walled Garden and ruins of the head gardener’s cottage on the return path to the trailhead.

Tarka Trail 

From Croyde to Saunton Sands, Devon

The figure-eight, 180-mile route, travelled by Tarka the Otter (in the famous novel by Henry Williamson) passes through unspoiled countrysides as well as beautiful beaches with dramatic sea cliffs. The southern loop is the longest, continuous off-road cycle path in the UK with spectacular views of Dartmoor and Exmoor and a varied amount of places to visit along the way such as Crow Point, Meeth Quarry and the ‘little white town’ of Bideford.

Regent’s Canal Trail

Limehouse Station, through the heart-and-soul of London.

With a distance of 4.6 miles, this route starts in Regent’s Park following on to Regent’s Canal Towpath. The trail traverses by the world’s oldest scientific zoo, London Zoo, where you can catch a glimpse of the resident tigers, zebras and more. You will also find yourself passing through the once industrial (now hip and alternative) Camden Town, where you can pick up a bite to eat at the market before the run back through Regents Park.

Yr Afron Trail, Coed y Brenin

Based in Snowdonia National Park, North Wales

The forest road trail of Afron provides breathtaking picturesque views of the river Mawddach including the beautiful waterfalls on the river Gain and Mawddach. It’s a relatively low-level seven-mile route on forest roads however it does include a rougher section of private track with short steepish climbs and a steep forest road descent.

Bob Graham Round, Lake District

Forty-two fells, starting and finishing at Keswick Moot Hall.

The Bob Graham Round is a fell running challenge in the Lake District, famously named after Bob Graham, who in June 1932 broke the Lakeland Fell record by traversing 42 fells under 24 hours! The route is a total of 77-miles and is advised to be tackled over five or six days.

High Peak Trail, Peak District

From Dowlow near Buxton to High Peak Junction at Cromford

The 17-mile trail running along the High Peak Railway, first opened in 1831, was bought by the Peak District after many years of minerals and goods travelled between Cromford Canal and the Peak Forest Canal. The beautifully scenic route offers dramatic views of the stunning Derbyshire Dales between Middleton Top and Parsley Hay.

Emery Down Trail, New Forest National Park

Located near Lyndhurst, Hampshire.

The Emery Down trail is well known for its historic church, charming almshouses and as the birthplace of well-known snake-catcher Brusher Mills. A beautiful bridleway, especially in Autumn with the glow of golden leaves, takes you by Northerwood House, Bunkers Hill, Pikes Hill and Swan Green where you can find a picturesque cricket pitch with perfect thatched cottages and ponies.

Thames Path Challenge

Along the River Thames, London.

If you fancy a challenge, then this one is for you. The Thames Path route starts at Putney Bridge, running past Hampton Court to Runnymede of Magna Carta fame at 50km. Following, you will find incredible historical scenery to Henley. With half & quarter distance options – there’s a challenge for everyone.

If you’re looking for accommodation near one of the above trails, you can find static caravans for hire via UKcaravans4hire.com’s online booking platform.

The Ultimate Guide to Cycling for Beginners

A guest post by Catherine Bedford, Dashel.

Have you been bitten by the cycling bug? After all, the increase in take-up of cycling over recent months has been phenomenal! 

No doubt you have seen this and, perhaps, are thinking of following suit. But, if you haven’t ridden a bike since childhood, where on earth would you start in your cycling journey? Here are some things to consider when getting back into the saddle after a long time:

Which bike is best for you?

Your old BMX is probably not what you’re thinking of using to restart your cycling journey, so which should you choose? The best way to decide which bike is best for you is to think about what you will be using it for and where you are likely to be cycling. 

If you are looking for speed, perhaps to commute to and from work in the quickest time possible or if you are looking to travel far and fast on your weekend ride, then a road bike, or racer, is probably the right bike for you. They are lightweight and designed for speed. A tourer is similar to a road bike but is slightly sturdier so if you are likely to use your bike for longer journeys where pannier bags might be useful, for example if you are fishing or camping, this is worth exploring.

Alternatively, if you’re considering something a bit more adventurous and fancy taking your bike off-road in your free time, perhaps on forest trails or over hilly paths, then a mountain bike is probably what you need. These have better suspension and thick tyres designed to grip in muddy or loose terrain.

If you can’t decide or fancy a bike that you can commute to work on but ride off-road at weekends, have a look at the hybrid bikes. They are lightweight but also sturdy and comfortable and a good all-rounder.

And there is a lot more choice than these three, too. If you have a long commute but still want to cycle either side of the train ride, a folding bike is lightweight and practical, or for people with back and knee problems, it’s worth considering a recumbent bike, where you sit in a reclining position.

Your bike will be an investment so take the time to research what will suit you best. You can look online but I’d also suggest talking to the staff at your local bike shop to find out what will best suit your needs.

When it comes to cost, like anything you mostly get what you pay for. If you’re on a tight budget, do look at second hand, reconditioned bikes. They save money and are obviously also better for the environment.

Safety measures

Once you have decided on your bike you need to ensure you will be safe. This also does not need to cost the earth but do make sure you have the essentials. Starting at the top, helmets are not actually legally required but I do feel it’s important because, in the unfortunate event of an accident, it will protect you! If you think helmets mean looking silly, think again. There are some really stylish helmets on the market these days which means you can make a fashion statement while keeping safe. You can also buy helmets made of recycled materials, that can themselves be recycled at end of life.

Visibility is also key. You must have lights on your bike and, if you are likely to be riding in traffic, consider one you can wear on your (stylish) helmet too. This will make you even more visible to 4x4s and buses. Even if you’re not planning on riding after dark, it’s wise to carry something reflective with you at all times. Who knows, you might enjoy your ride more than you thought and want to go for a bit longer. You don’t have to be clad head to foot in day-glow; a simple sash that can be easily carried with you is enough to be sure you are seen.

Gloves are also a good idea, not just to keep you warm in cooler months but they will protect your hands in event of coming off your bike – these are generally the first thing you put out to save yourself. Also cycling glasses are not only good for protecting your eyes from glare and UV rays, they also protect your peepers from wind and rain, bugs and dust.

Finally, I’d also recommend you learn a little bike maintenance so you can ensure your bike is fit for purpose on a regular basis. Make sure you know how to check the air pressure in your tyres, test your brakes and ensure you have sufficient lube on your chain. Again, a good bike shop should talk you through the basics when you buy.

Geared up

Firstly, don’t think you need to go and buy loads of Lycra before you can get on your bike. Indeed, you can ride in your everyday clothes, up to a point, although you should avoid heavy shoes or loose laces and baggy skirts or trousers which could get caught up the pedals or chain. Wear light and comfy clothes and avoid things like jeans for long cycle rides as thicker denim can chafe after a while. If you already own leggings for yoga or running they’ll be perfect.

Of course, if you get seriously involved in speed riding you may want to buy clothes and gear that aid with streamlining. On the other hand, if you are commuting, that is probably the last thing you want to do. Instead, look out for cycling gear specifically designed to transition between bike and office. Not only can you get helmets that don’t cause ‘helmet hair’, there are stylish jackets which look great in a meeting but glow at night when you’re riding home. Similarly, there are some amazing shoes out there, perfect for cycling in that really look the part when you are sitting at your desk. There are even pannier bags available that you can take off the bike and hide the clips so you look like you bought from a local designer boutique. Similarly, this gear is great if you are cycling to meet friends for a pub lunch, cream tea or picnic.

Do invest in some rain gear – after all, this is England. A lightweight jacket and over-trousers are good to have to hand and a poncho is great for showery weather too.  

Avoid the aches and pains

Taking up a new physical activity will almost always leave you with some aches and pains, where you are using muscles that haven’t been worked for a while. Unfortunately, cycling has some additional potential discomforts.

You may find that you are saddle sore to start with. Check your saddle is in the right position and, after a while, as your muscles and tendons get accustomed to it, this ‘pain in the bottom’ will abate. In the meantime, you should stand on the pedals at regular intervals to give you some relief. It may also help to invest in underwear with minimal seams or even some specialist shorts. If the discomfort does not improve you might need to think about a different saddle.

You can also find you have discomfort in other parts of your body; neck, lower back, hands, feet and legs. These are almost without fail due to your position on the bike and the handlebars and seat not being in the optimal position. Again, it is worth asking the shop that you buy your bike from to help you get this correct in the first place or ask advice from friends who have cycling experience.

Find the right route

Whether you are cycling to work or for pleasure, consider sensible routes when starting out. You do not want to begin your new pastime weaving in and out of inner-city traffic. Not only is it dangerous to do so without experience, you are highly likely to put yourself off before you start. Try some rural off-road routes to start with. When riding to work, ask about and find some quieter routes that go through parks, for example, or beside the river. It may take a little longer but it will be safer and far more pleasant. Also consider the difficulty of your route. Novice cyclists are unlikely to enjoy hilly rides initially and would be much more sensible to opt for easy terrains and low gradients. You can always build up as you gain confidence and fitness. Best of all, use your early days cycling to explore local routes and find some you really enjoy.

These are all things to consider when you take up or resume cycling after a long absence. Don’t rush into it or think you need to have the full kit before you start. Ease yourself in, get comfortable and, as your cycling journey continues, you will learn what your mode of cycling is; whether you are a speed freak or an off-road adventurer, someone who loves being closer to nature on rural rides or social cyclist; the list goes on. Wherever your cycling journey takes you, I’m sure you will have a wonderful time!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Catherine Bedford is Founder of Dashel. Dashel offers a range of slim, ventilated, lightweight cycle helmets manufactured in the UK. With a distinctive urban feel Dashel Helmets are made from recyclable materials – ensuring that they are low impact at the point of manufacture and produce very little waste at the end of life. The new Re-Cycle helmet will be ground down into new helmets at the UK factory when it is finished with. The helmets are portable, sold packaged in a handy rucksack that means there is no superfluous packaging. They come in an array of classic colours. Choose from black, blue, sage green and red. Dashel helmets are £79 and available from all good cycle shops and online at Dashel.co.uk.

Instagram | Twitter |Facebook |Pinterest

How to get on your bike and where to begin with cycling

You can’t have missed the bike revival that has taken place over recent months. With massive numbers of people cycling during lockdown for their daily exercise, followed by people rejecting tubes and busses in favour of a bike when commuting to work.

I believe the numbers of cyclists can only increase further as the government is investing heavily in cycling infrastructure, as well as other incentives to encourage people to get back in the saddle, get fitter and avoid public transport. 

So, here’s my guide to starting out if you’re considering taking up cycling to work or for fun, post Coronovirus:

GET YOUR BIKE RIGHT

If you are buying a new bike, first consider the kind of riding you want to do and the typical route. If it’s hilly – make sure you get a bike with enough gears to handle it, if you’re commuting then 3-6 gears should be enough to get you up and down most town and city hills. If you are looking to road or mountain bike you will want to consider more than 10 gears to manage the rougher terrain. 

Next, consider the weight of the bike. Modern road bikes are all designed to be very light so even the heaviest will do you well – but aim to go as light as possible. For commuter bikes, the weight can be an issue. The heavier Dutch-style bikes often look very beautiful but are hard work if you’re peddling uphill, lifting it up canal path stairs or storing it in your flat. So, factor in the weight of the bike if you have a lot of hills to conquer or you need to store it inside. 

If you already have an old bike, dust it off, check the brakes and the gears are working properly and enjoy it. Getting on the bike is the only way to know what kind of cycling you enjoy. 

PLAN YOUR ROUTE

The first thing I’m asked when I mention that I’ve cycled around London for 15 years is; “aren’t you scared of the traffic?” I’m not. But that’s because I always pick my route carefully – even now.  

The route is crucial to an enjoyable journey. The main highways and roads might be the most direct path but they will not be the most pleasant. Always take the backstreets; they are quieter, safer and much more interesting as you get to discover parts of your town/city you would never have seen before. 

Fortunately, picking your route has never been easier. There are lots of cycle routes now across the country and they are definitely worth taking advantage of. Most city and the country routes are in cycle maps that are easy to follow. For your local paths have a look on your council’s website – most of the maps are available there. 

Give yourself an extra 15 minutes to cycle, take the slightly longer, quieter route, get yourself lost and, most importantly of all, enjoy it. 

LOOK AFTER YOUR BACK

Get the bag off your back and onto the bike! Not only does it take the strain off your spine, it also reduces back sweat – something a backpack seems to create in very un-natural quantities. The solution is a pannier rack. They attach over the back wheel of your bike and you can attach pannier bags and baskets on them to carry whatever you need. As the rack is on the back of your bike, not the front, and is low on the bike, it doesn’t affect your steering or stability, so it will help you feel more secure on your bike. 

Hill & Ellis has a range of stylish bike bags that all attach securely to your pannier bike rack. They are also designed to look smart so are the perfect accessory for the work commute. 

JOIN A GROUP

If you still want a bit more Dutch courage (so to speak) before cycling on your own, then you need your own personal peloton (cycling group). Cycling is really friendly, with lots of groups keen to help other cyclists get started with advice, buddies and supported rides. There are groups all over the country, so you’ll definitely find one in your local area. 

The Breeze network offers women’s only rides and commuting training rides to help build confidence for cycling to work, they will even arrange a group to cycle with you to your office for the first couple of rides.

British Cycling also has beginners guide on their website for the A-Z of what you need to know before taking to the saddle.

But most of all don’t rush. Enjoy it. Life from the saddle will always make you smile. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Catherine Ellis is founder of Hill & Ellis, which produces a range of high quality, stylish cycle bags. Each bag, designed in the UK, is created to transition perfectly from home to bike to boardroom to bar. They are functional, fashionable and hard wearing.  There’s plenty of space inside for a laptop and other essentials, and each bag comes with patented pannier clips that fit almost any bike, allowing you to clip the bag on and off quickly and easily. 

Facebook / Instagram / Twitter

5 Benchmarking tests to track your fitness

At points throughout your training regime, you may want to benchmark your fitness to track your progress. This calls for fitness challenges that will push you to the very limit.

Here are some workouts to make you feel the burn.

The fast shuttle to fitness

Shuttle runs are a fast way of attaining fitness through short bursts of sprint running. They help to improve your acceleration and speed, as well as your anaerobic fitness. After placing markers at 10, 20 and 30 metres, you should sprint to the 10m marker first, touch the floor and run back to your starting position. Then repeat this with the 20m and 30m markers. Go back to the 10m marker, and repeat the whole set four times.

You can always time yourself to try to get quicker with every set, and vary the shuttle runs by taking giant strides, jogging with high knees or skipping, instead of sprinting.

At the first bleep…

As with the shuttle runs, you will need a flat, non-stop surface for the bleep test, or the 20m multistage fitness test. You will have to run continuously between two markers 20 metres apart in time to recorded beeps.

At the start, the gap between beeps or bleeps is quite large, and so your running speed is quite slow, but after about a minute, a sound indicates an increase in speed, bringing the beeps closer together.

After each minute, the gap between beeps decreases. If you reach the marker before the beep, you have to wait until it sounds before you turn and continue; if you fail to make the marker before the beep, then you are given a warning and you must continue to the marker and turn and try to catch up with the pace with the sounding of two more beeps. If you fail to reach the marker twice in a row after a warning, the bleep test is stopped.

Any score above 13 is considered excellent. A maximal test requires a good level of fitness, and if you wear a heart-rate monitor, you’ll have a better idea of when you’ve maxed out.

Buckle up, Bronco

The pretty vicious Bronco fitness test has made life hell for many in the past, so this will give you a great benchmark for your fitness. The idea is to run shuttles of 20, 40 and then 60 metres, then repeat the set five times, trying to get under five minutes.

This will test your anaerobic capacity, your motor skills, your running efficiency, and your turning ability – the legendary Kiwi Richie McCaw recently managed a personal best in the Bronco fitness test of four minutes, 56 seconds, so you’re going to have to push yourself right to the very limit to break the five-minute mark.

The great news is that your whole team can do the test and work to maximum effort together, motivating one another. Give each other encouragement and consistent instructions before, during and after this tough benchmark test.

Doing the crab walk

This is a compound exercise that works many muscle groups, as well as working on your cardiovascular fitness, co-ordination and mobility. Balance on your hands and feet, with your front facing the ceiling and your hips forwards, so that you form a bridge.

Take a few crabby steps backwards and forwards to elongate your body – your triceps, shoulders, abs, back muscles, lats and hamstrings will get a thorough workout from this unusual position.

Join up with the resistance runners

Coaches will often swear by resistance running to make simple sprint drills that much harder. Wearing several rugby shirts or one soaked in warm water will teach you to maintain your running style under pressure.

You can also try carrying water bottles filled with sand during the shuttle runs to build upper-body strength, or give a teammate a piggyback or a fireman’s lift – don’t turn too much, though. Stay running in one direction!

The beginners guide to hiking and walking

Exploring the outdoors is for everyone, and if you’re just starting to make walking or hiking a more regular thing then we have some handy facts and tips that can help you enjoy it as much as possible.

Hit the hills, don’t sweat the small stuff!

Why choose walking?

Walking is simple, free, and one of the easiest ways to get more active, lose weight and become healthier.

Sometimes overlooked as a form of exercise, walking briskly can help you build stamina, burn excess calories and make your heart healthier.

You don’t have to walk for hours…even a brisk 10-minute daily walk has lots of health benefits and counts towards your NHS recommended 150 minutes of weekly exercise.

Take yourself off to a local trail in the country and you’ll be presented with so much beautiful, open space, you won’t quite know what to do with it!

Get closer to nature

In the country, you are surrounded by the singing of the birds rather than by the noise from the traffic. The countryside is surrounded by nature which has a soothing effect on both the mind and the body. A good walk can do wonders for your mental wellbeing. But it’s not just about the occasional one-off feel good factor. Being active has a whole range of benefits when it comes to mental wellbeing.

It improves self-perception and self-esteem, mood and sleep quality, and it reduces stress, anxiety and fatigue.

But, what to wear?

The first question everyone will ask themselves before they head out on their first hike is, ‘what should I wear?

If you have little experience with walking or preparing for the outdoors in general, it can be daunting to kit yourself out properly on your own. Working from top to bottom, we have put together a guide to clothing and accessories for walking and hiking, so you know before you go.

Your Upper Half

Your first must-have is a waterproof jacket which will keep you protected, dry and comfortable when zigzagging through forests, hills and lakesides.

We all know how quickly the weather can change, and at higher altitudes, a sudden shift in weather can be dangerous if you aren’t appropriately prepared. Look for a good waterproofness level combined with significant breathable properties, as this will help you stay fresh when you’re on the move – ideal for brisk treks and mountain climbs.

Your mid-layer is just as important as the outer layer, as it insulates heat and can be used as a light cover-up when the weather is fine. A fleece zip-up is a good choice of mid-layer, as it is a multi-use garment and provides protection from icy winds and temperatures.

base layer will complete your gear for your upper half, wicking away moisture when you’re getting hot and sweaty from exerting yourself, yet still insulating your body heat when you’re cooler.

Your Lower Half

A pair of quality walking boots to your outfit to make sure that your feet are able to tolerate the strains and stresses of walking long distances across diverse terrain. Trainers or slip-on shoes just won’t cut it on the hills and mountains, plus varied trails below. You will need a pair of boots that has a rugged grip sole, good support around the ankle and preferably a waterproof outer layer.

From the daily commute to a day out reaching that elusive peak, our rucksacks will see you through. Each is designed with comfort, durability and performance in mind. Crammed with great details like breathable air mesh and convenient pockets they’re guaranteed to make life a little easier wherever you’re heading.

Make sure you have the best clothing and equipment possible for your walk or hike.

The beginners guide to hiking and walking high street gent

Things to consider as a beginner

First-time hikers can often forget essential things that might not be the end of the world but can maybe make life a little more difficult uphill. So, here is what to do to avoid trouble…

  • Take plenty of water with you
  • Make sure your phone is fully charged (and invest in a portable charger)
  • A traditional paper map will never let you down
  • A packed lunch and/or snacks will provide a much-needed energy boost
  • Pack some plasters, bandages and an emergency blanket (for those longer and steeper walks)
  • Do not wear trainers (more so for hiking than walking)
  • Bring a spare hoodie or fleece in case it gets cold
  • Let someone know where you are hiking before you go
  • Don’t rush it! You can go at your own pace!

Where to go?

Before you head out, ask yourself these questions to help you find the perfect trail and make sure that you’re 100% prepared:

  • How long do you want to be out for?
  • Are you going to take friends, go solo, or hike with the family?
  • Do you know the route?
  • Will you be back before dark?
  • Have you told someone where you’re going?

These questions will help you pick the right trail or route and ensure you stay safe as you go. The last question there is vitally important; before you leave civilisation, make sure that you tell a friend where you’re off to, how long you plan on being away and remember to give them your contact number.

In need of some inspiration of where to walk? Take a look at the Top 15 walks in the UK that you can enjoy with the family.

The beginners guide to hiking and walking high street gent men walking through the hills
The COVID-19 Crisis Survey for Men Reveals 100% of Those Interviewed Are Now Experiencing Mental Health Problems

The COVID-19 Crisis Survey for Men Reveals 100% Are Experiencing Mental Health Problems

A survey into how men’s mental health has been affected by the pandemic reveals that an overwhelming 100% of all men interviewed felt that their mental health had been affected. All of those who took part reported problems including feelings of depression, anger, anxiety, lack of appetite, sleeping problems and lack of sexual interest over the last few months.

The Covid-19 Crisis Survey for Men went onto reveal that over half of all men who took part (60%), have not made time to socialise with their family and friends and this has had a detrimental effect on their mental health. The research also showed that:

  • 85% of men felt that their children had been affected by the pandemic
  • 65% are concerned about their family’s financial future
  • Only 10% felt that their partner hadn’t been affected by the crisis
  • 60% felt that they had made some positive changes since COVID-19

Psychotherapist Noel McDermott explains that “from boyhood men are told to be brave and ambitious, as they grow older, they strive to become good fathers, partners and providers. Throughout the pandemic, the traditional role of man has changed and with this has come new pressures. For many men their whole lives have been turned upside down, the vast haven’t been able to go to work, the gym, play sport with a team or to the pub with pals. Men in general have fewer social and emotional support systems and the places where men used to go and talk about their problems are closed and they’ve found themselves in new, unfamiliar circumstances. For those that are fathers, they have been at home all day with more exposure to the household demands and domestic responsibilities balancing both work and family. This has created even more demands and pressures”.

What Men Fear Most

The biggest fear for many men is that they will not be able to return to full economic productivity and earning capacity and this is still a large part of men’s identity and role in our culture. Men who act as the primary breadwinners in their household feel the financial burden and responsibility within their relationship. For those that are now returning to work, many are reporting anxiety with the loss of family time and others are feeling the pressure to make up for lost earnings and secure an economic future. Numerous studies show men feel financial stresses both as a status issue and as a provider, this can lead to relationship difficulties, drinking and substance misuse and mental health issues. These concerns increase significantly during times of economic downturn and this can be seen during the lifting of lockdown.

Warning signs of mental health problems in men

Stress is a big factor in health and mental health for both men and women and these times of transition are very stressful. Typically, we see men express stress in a number of ways:

  • Sexual performance issues and loss of libido
  • Emotional dysregulation (irritability and anger)
  • Sleep issues, appetite issues
  • Withdrawal and bottling things up
  • Increased drinking
  • Mood shifts and mood swings

Self-help for Men: Stress Management Techniques

As these are stress responses the single biggest thing men can do to help themselves is learn better stress management techniques which are:

Spot it, know your signs that you are experiencing problems and have your ‘fire escape’ plan in place to ensure you manage better such as increased self-care, asking for help from others, getting professional help, talking to your GP.

Ensure general wellbeing hygiene practice to increase resilience: exercise, sleep well, good food, talk to friends and family about your worries, hydrate well, get outside regularly, ensure you do fun things!
Discuss your worries and ask for support, ensure you normalise your experiences of stress and understand everyone is feeling this and it’s not a sign of failure to be feeling overwhelmed.

Signs that there may be need of professional help are if there are problems in functioning that are persistent over a two-week period. Periodic anxiety or depression lasting a short period of time is to be expected and will generally shift of their own accord if your general mental hygiene/lifestyle is resilient. If it continues for days and weeks, then there is likely to be a problem needing proper diagnosis and treatment and asking your GP for advice is a good idea.

Noel McDermott is a Psychotherapist with over 25 years’ experience in health, social care, and education. He is the founder and CEO of three organisations, Psychotherapy and Consultancy Ltd, Sober Help Ltd and Mental Health Works Ltd. Noel’s company offer at-home mental health care and will source, identify and co-ordinate personalised care teams for the individual.

They have recently launched a range of online therapy resources in order to help clients access help without leaving home.

Beat your meat – Control the virus!

Fake news. Or is it? For us men, masturbating is a big part of our lives, but we feel we can’t talk about it and to be honest, the whole situation is surrounded with shame and uncomfortable willy talk. Why?

Back in 2018, we worked with Men’s Health and ran a survey to address the situation – you can read that survey here – but as lockdown hit, we ran another study to see if ‘pulling the pud’ could beat the virus!

From April – May 2020, we interviewed 152 men to understand their perception of masturbation, how they masturbate, how it affects their relationship, and what’s changed in restricted times.

It’s safe to say we’ve all been ‘at it’ a lot more, and boy have we been thrashing ‘em out! Luckily for you, this masturbation reality check, comes with health benefits too.

Do all men masturbate?

No shocks here, 100% of the guys we spoke to masturbate! It’s certainly deemed a must for all men. And that’s fine!

There’s often a taboo that comes with pleasuring yourself, and a shame that surrounds the act. All you need to remember is that your todger is there to please you. Don’t worry about playing with yourself, after all it’s consensual!

FACTS: Masturbation won’t cause unsightly hair to grow on your palms, but it may help you boost your immune system and beat off at least one type of cancer. That’s according to two studies that examined the effects of masturbation on the immune system and the incidence of prostate cancer. In this time of COVID-19, travel restrictions, and self-quarantines, many people are looking for every opportunity to bolster their immune systems – so get tugging!

You & your mates are all at it!

Men we asked in 2018 masturbate an average of 6 times per week, but during the virus this has grown to 9x a week. It varies massively on sexual appetite, age and relationship status.

That being said, we found men in their late teens and early forties pull their puds on average once a day!

Even men in relationships wank!

Does your relationship status matter when it comes to solo sex? No, we found singles report masturbating 21 times monthly and those in relationships masturbate 10 times per month on average.

In fact, we found men living alone (regardless of relationship status), were bashing the bishop most, clocking up 2 or 3 per day.

Turns out we look forward to doing it!

81% said they look forward to being able to masturbate at an open opportunity, with most of the chaps pre-planning when they can toss their todger and feel good.

A vast majority of men said ‘boredom’ was the main reason for reaching into their pants more times since the pandemic began, but still managed to climax every tine, during alone time whilst wrestling the snake.

How Long For?

Before lockdown, on average, men spent 20 minutes beating themselves off, with some millennials spending over an hour fondling their junk and ‘edging*’ – that statistic in lockdown has decreased to lads spending around 14 mins, but obviously an increased frequency.

When asked how quick you can bring yourself to orgasm, if aroused, our survey found it would take most men around 2-4 minutes.

Why have we been doing it more?

The most common reasons for masturbating? The survey found the top three reasons were: relieving sexual tension, stress and boredom. Sounds about right!

More 30-40 year olds reported masturbating because they enjoy it, with one participant saying “I love doing it.”

51% of over 40s and 46% of over 50s said sexual appetite and stress relief were main factors to lead them to pleasuring themselves.

Hey, we’re all human.

We’re creatures of habit

A whopping 78% percent of the men in the survey have a masturbation routine, which makes sense, because why fix something that isn’t broken?

Most men find morning or evening times in the bathroom, away from family and partners is safer. 87% use porn, 58% use their imagination, 34% think of a past experience, 26% look at pictures, and 19% use sex toys.

Caught out!

57% of chaps in the survey had been caught masturbating by a partner, parent or friend at least once in their lifetime.

3% of those were caught out at the moment of climax. *Insert awkward jizz face here*.

As we reach the climax…

It’s totally normal to masturbate! 100% of males agreed masturbation is a healthy part of their lives and of being a man.

Masturbation is good for your health, both mentally and physically. And it’s pretty much the safest sex out there!

When you have an orgasm, your body releases endorphins, which are hormones that block pain and make you feel good. The good feelings that accompany an orgasm happen whether you’re by yourself or having sex with a partner.

Plenty of research has shown the health benefits of masturbation. Masturbation can:

  • release sexual tension
  • reduce stress
  • help you sleep better
  • improve your self-esteem and body image
  • help treat sexual problems

Besides, the NHS even says that sexual arousal sends the heart rate higher, and the number of beats per minute reaches its peak during orgasm.

So if you are feeling a little under the weather, or simply want your immune system firing the way it should, simply whip out your play mate and enjoy the time indoors.

…so what are you waiting for? Go knock one out now and report back!