No sweat: Celebrity trainer Matt Robert’s guide to getting fit!

Going from sofa surfer to enthusiastic exerciser takes some serious motivation and a fitness plan that’s easy to follow. We collared celebrity fitness guru Matt Roberts – the man behind the bodies of Naomi Campbell and The Saturdays – to get his top tips for working out, without having to turn into a fitness fanatic.

Matt Roberts - How to keep and stay fit

I don’t do any kind of physical activity, but I watch my diet and I’m not overweight. Isn’t that enough?

Although you may follow a healthy eating regime, physical activity still plays a key role in achieving and maintaining good health. Physical activity is required to keep your heart and lungs healthy, which in turn helps to protect from health issues which can lead to heart attack, stroke and heart disease.

Weight bearing physical activity also helps to keep bones strong, - which is important to protect against osteoporosis as we grow older. In addition to this, the more stable and flexible we become through exercising, the less likely we are to suffer from falls as we reach older age.

Physical activity is an investment in your health. As well as contributing to keeping your body healthy, exercise has also been proven to help with preventing depression and anxiety, and helping to reduce stress.

What if I don’t have time to exercise 60 minutes a day?

Exercise can be broken down into smaller, more manageable chunks throughout the day, as long as each bout of activity lasts for a minimum of 15 minutes. An example of this might be 15 minutes jogging, or a 15 minute cycle.

Where do I start if I have never exercised?

Although it may at first seem overwhelming, you can easily begin to work physical activity into your day by taking the stairs instead of the lift, walking to the shops instead of driving, and taking the kids out for a play in the park or swimming.

A good place to start is by finding an activity that you enjoy doing, whether it's a personal training session, a class, or a sport such as cycling, swimming or netball. If it's something you enjoy then you are much more likely to stick with it. Try different things!

Once you have chosen your activity, the next thing to do is to set yourself a goal and a timeframe in which to achieve it. This will give you something to aim towards and also helps you keep track of progression.

What types of food should I eat before exercising? How long before exercising should I eat?

This is dependent on the activity you are undertaking and also your goal. For a beginner, if your goal is fat loss and you are doing a high intensity activity such as running, then it is recommended to eat an hour or two before you exercise in order to keep your energy levels raised.

A carbohydrate based meal will help to fuel an activity such as a long run, however if you are looking to burn fat then I would recommend eating a small protein based meal prior to exercising so that the body burns more fat for energy during your workout, and eating a protein based meal with some carbs added in after exercising, in order to refuel the body with the nutrients it requires.

I'm a woman and I want to start weight training. Will I get big, bulging muscles from doing this?

No. Many women believe that simply looking at a dumbbell will be enough to make them bulky, however this is not the case. Integrating freeweights in your workouts helps to burn fat faster, because of the metabolic effect it has on the body. Muscle also burns more fat as it is a demanding tissue in terms of how much energy it requires to maintain. So even when you are relaxing, if you have slightly more muscle tissue you will be burning more fat. If you use freeweights with high repetition ranges, you will find yourself becoming leaner and more defined, without becoming bulky.

I’ve never exercised before. Now that I’m pregnant, is it a good idea for me to begin an exercise programme?

It is especially important to keep healthy during pregnancy, you just need to be wary of which exercises are appropriate within each trimester.

It is recommended that you do not over-exert by doing higher intensity activity than you did before you became pregnant, and certain exercises will need to be avoided such as lying on the front and overhead pressing, which can increase blood pressure.

Swimming and brisk walking are examples of great exercises for beginners which put minimal stress on the body. Consult with your doctor or a qualified fitness professional for individualised advice regarding exercise during pregnancy.

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