Being sporty is hard, man. Unless you’re one of those girls whose ponytail does the perfect swish while running a 5k without breaking a single bead of sweat. Stomach cramps, sweaty fringes, big boobs and chafing thighs do not work in our favour. But even the world’s biggest female champions face the same hardships.

If you ever feel blue about having to go to PE while you’re on your period, or you constantly battle with a bloated tum while working out – take a look at these awesome sporty girls and prepare to be inspired.

1. Fu Yuanhui’s period-power statement

Fu Yuanhui might just be the coolest girl in sports RN. The 21-year-old Chinese swimmer was interviewed on live television after coming fourth in the 4x100m relay at Rio 2016.

Fu told the interviewer: ‘I don’t think I performed very well today. I feel I let my teammates down…It’s because my period came yesterday, so I felt particularly tired – but this isn’t an excuse, I still didn’t swim well enough.’

She instantly became the star of Rio, breaking the taboo of openly talking about menstrual cycles to an international audience. Because – shocker! – top athletes have periods too.

And why on earth shouldn’t Fu vocalise her experience? One can only imagine the tears of pain and frustration a boy would cry if he had to race with menstrual cramps.

Oh, and Fu went on to win a bronze medal in Rio *high five*

2. Paula Radcliffe’s roadside poo

Ever found yourself half way through a cross-country run at school and felt a sudden urge to use the loo? We’ve all been there – the panic, discomfort and embarrassment are all too real. But the chances are that you probably make it to the ground-floor bathroom just in time to do your business.

But not three-time London Marathon champion Paula Radcliffe MBE. The English long-distance running hero is testament to the saying ‘when you’ve gotta go, you’ve gotta go’.

With just five miles left to run in the London Marathon, Paula had stomach cramps and knew there was only one way to relieve them. She crouched down at the side of the road and did what she had to do. Paula ran on to win the marathon then endure some very awkward interviews.

We salute her for feeling the fear and doing it anyway, all in the name of ensuring a triple-champion title.

3. Serena Williams’s bare-naked bump

Must read article. Link in bio

A post shared by Serena Williams (@serenawilliams) on

Serena Williams has been ranked ‘world’s number one tennis player’ eight times by the Women’s Tennis Association. EIGHT TIMES – and there’s me struggling to finish a lap limping around my local park on a Saturday morning.

She’s also a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and heads up the Serena Williams Fund, which creates equality through education and assists victims of violence.

So Serena Williams is basically Wonder Woman but with a racket instead of a lasso and shield, OK?

And here she is heavily pregnant, butt-naked on the front cover of Vanity Fair earlier this year, absolutely slaying it. This shot screams ‘LOOK HOW AWESOME ME AND MY BUMP ARE’. The whole shoot is beautiful and celebrates her fearlessness as a sports star, tenderness as a mum-to-be and pride in being a woman.

4. Sarah Attar runs for Saudi Arabia

Sarah Attar was one of the first two women to represent Saudi Arabia in the 2012 Olympics. Up until then, the Saudi Arabia Olympics Committee did not let women take part and represent their state in the world’s most famous sports competition.

Sarah was only 16 at the time and wasn’t asked to take part until the International Olympics Committee insisted on female participation at short notice.

Despite coming last in her heat (it’s not like she had a proper chance to train!), she went on to run the marathon in the Rio 2016 Olympics. Sarah made a huge step for female sports in Saudi Arabia and her story makes us feel a teeny bit guilty about using a tummy ache as an excuse not to go for a jog.

She also has a really arty travelling Instagram, which is worth checking out.

5. Jessica Ennis-Hill’s post-pregnancy comeback

Jessica Ennis-Hill is the British three-time world champion heptathlon hero who took gold in the London Olympics 2012 and became a national treasure.

Just to clarify what a heptathlon involves, it is a series of seven events that take place over two or three days. These events include high jump, javelin and various short running distances. Basically, you have to be a pretty well-rounded, incredible athlete to do it.

After London, Jess took some time out for the birth of her baby, Reggie. She returned to the Rio Olympics 2016 with a lot of expectations to defend her gold status, but walked away with silver.

Pregnancy does a lot of crazy but wonderful things to a woman’s body, and anyone who even attempts a heptathlon just over a year after giving birth and juggling motherhood with training, is a gold winner in our eyes. The whole nation probably agrees with that.

Image: Getty/Katie Edmunds

 

Sure, some people LOVE exercising at school. Whether it’s team games, athletics, gymnastics, absolutely bossing the bleep test – a little sporting activity during the school day can be a lot of fun.

But, whether it’s because you don’t get on with other people in your class (but now have to shower with them, hello), you’re made to do really long cross country runs in the dead of winter like something out of an Enid Blyton book, or you get all hot and sweaty before maths class when you have that crush sat right behind you… sometimes PE can suck.

Really suck.

The thing is, moving about is (breaking news!) really good for you. Working out gets your heart pumping, can improve your skin and does wonders for your mood. This means it’s important for your health – inside and out – to exercise, but not that it has to be boring or happen in school hours to make a difference.

Here are seven ways to work out that are about eleventy times more fun than anything that happens in PE lessons.

(NB: must also pay attention in maths)

Rihanna work work gif

1. Walk, walk, walk, walk, walk

We know, it sounds obvious. It sounds boring. It sounds like something you do every day anyway, doesn’t it? But adding just a few more steps here and there can actually make you feel a lot better – and there’s nothing nicer than getting fresh air after double physics. Luckily what last year we called ‘walking’, this year we call ‘playing Pokemon Go’. Have you caught them all yet?

Liz Lemon dancing gif

2. Dancing queeeeen

Whether you’re at a party with a big group of friends or just rocking out in front of your mirror, dancing is scientifically-proven to be the most fun form of exercise, ever. (Well, if science is based on us asking all of our friends and them agreeing with us.) The best thing about dancing is: the more you do it and the more of your body you move, the better it is for you.

3. Walk, sprint, jog (then do it all over again)

Walking can be boring. Sprinting can be tiring. What’s the answer? Do a bit of everything! Mixing some walking with a bit of sprinting, then switching back to walking again, then finishing off with jogging gets your body really moving. It adds variety to your workout and it’s a tried-and-tested way to keep very fit. You can make it even more fun by taking a friend with you – or get good pet karma and take your dog.

Foxes on trampoline

4. Trampolining, bouncy castle-ing and general jumping

Trampolining is so much fun, because it makes you feel like a little kid again. Bounce around, do some tricks and make sure you do lots of laughing when anyone falls over – it’s kinda the rules. NB: this tip also works just as well on a bouncy castle.

Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse ice skating

5. It’s time to get your skates on

Roller skating is a great way to have fun with your friends, move about a lot and keep your body working – it actually takes a lot of muscle strength to keep your body balanced. Feeling frosty? Try ice skating instead.

Swimming baby underwater

6. Splash around

If you love to swim and doing length after length doesn’t bore you, go for it you athlete! But for most of us, it’s much more fun to dunk each other’s heads in the water and see if we can totally nail a handstand on the bottom of the pool. If you’re feeling ambitious, get your mates together and dream up your very own synchronised swimming routine. With a little bit of practice you’ll have everyone around you super impressed by your seamless moves – or it’ll just be a great thing to have a giggle about on the way home.

Dog on a bike

7. Get on your bike

That’s right, it’s time to dig your old bike out from your shed and take it for a spin. As long as you have a helmet you can explore your local area on two wheels rather than just two feet. It might be easier than walking (and it’s definitely easier than running), but it gives your legs a good workout.

Or if you’re feeling really adventurous, try a unicycle. You’ll find growing numbers of acrobatic skills classes in most areas – so if the thought of double hockey in the rain really gets too much, you can always run off and join the circus.

@BeccaCaddy

Image: Hailey Hamilton

1. I wonder if these will be the trousers that change my life forever.

2. Why is it always so hot in here? Is it just the body heat generated by changing in and out of clothes, or have I accidentally signed up for, like… Bikram shopping?

3. These are probably not the trousers that will change my life forever.

4. I’ll stand on tiptoes though, just to be sure.

5. Nope.

6. Saved myself £24.99! I am a financial wizard. I’ll probably have a three-bedroom house by the time I’m 20.

7. Could I class changing in and out of clothes I definitely don’t want as ‘exercise’? It feels like cardio.

8. This mirror is probably wrong. I will open the curtain and look at the mirror in the cubicle opposite, just to be sure.

9. Mirrors should be banned.

10. Why can’t I get this thing off? Has it shrunk in the tropical humidity? Why don’t they realise that we’re never going to buy things if we feel like a puddle in a jumpsui– hang on, am I… stuck?

11. It’s fine, I’m not stuck. Deep breaths.

12. Was that a seam ripping? Ok, shallow breaths.

13. I’m stuck.

14. They will have to call firemen to cut me out. It’ll be in the newspaper. ‘LOCAL GIRL STUCK IN JUMPSUIT, LAUGHED AT BY ASSEMBLED CROWDS’.

15. Ok, if I just slightly dislocate my shoulder and do a kind of wiggly dance…

16. Free! I am free! Sweet freedom! I will never take my limbs for granted again.

17. Do I want to buy it though? Did it look sassy before I got stuck? I think it did. Maybe I should put it back on again.

18. This is fantastic lighting for squeezing spots. I should save them all up especially.

19. I wonder if anyone has ever died in here?

20. Tell you what’s still alive and well though – my KILLER sense of personal style.

21. If I just stayed very still and quiet, could I get locked into the shop and spend all night trying on the clothes?

22. But why would I want to do that, when this is such sweaty hell?

23. Films. It is because films make trying on clothes look like fun.

24. BUT WAIT, this isn’t a skirt at all! It’s a top!

25. It’s a nice top too. Imagine how good it would look if I wasn’t wearing it with emoji socks, pants and a hoodie tied round my waist instead of a skirt.

26. I think this might be the top that changes my life forever.

Image: Sisters

Can you remember what your first bike looked like?

Mine was sky blue, a hand-me-down from Melanie, our glamorous neighbour who was leaving Reading for a sunshine-glazed life in America. I kicked those stabilisers off pretty early.

There’s video evidence of that first, giddy two-wheeled ride during a holiday in France, and my father still talks about this achievement more fondly than anything I’ve done since. These days I navigate around buses, motorcycles and dreaded white vans on London’s potholed roads.

The good rides are those through Mayfair or Kensington on a warm summer’s night, under the glowing boughs of Chelsea Bridge, feeling like the leading lady in a rom-com. The bad ones are soggy, knuckle-numbingly cold, around ugly urban roundabouts. But I still feel better when I get there than if I had taken the train.

It wasn’t always this way, though. I’d estimate between the age of 11 and 19, when I got a bike to puff myself around my university city, I rode approximately two miles a year. When I was a teenager I had a fancy bike, and I lived in the countryside, the kind of place which inspires middle-aged men to don lycra and go out on a bike on a weekend, but somehow cycling wasn’t cool or appealing or just done, really. It took effort, there was nowhere to go, and I was, in essence, quite lazy.

Which is a giant shame because cycling is brilliant. It will give you independence and a means of transport. It will allow you the time and space to think and feel and not stare at a screen. You will reach the top of hills, gleefully short of breath, feeling the pure euphoria that comes from making your body do something to get you somewhere.

And, when you grow up and maybe move somewhere different, you will have the confidence to take your bike there – and let me tell you, it is the very best way to discover a new place.

So don’t wait! Here are the five best ways to get involved with cycling now. You’ll be Laura Trott before you know it.

Learn how to ride safely

Do you still cycle on the pavement? Then you need to learn how to get off it. When I encounter idiot boys on bikes on the pavement I tend to shout at them, something along the lines of, “real men cycle on the roads”. You are way cooler than those boys.

Roads can be daunting but they are far less scary when you know how to tackle them. The Highway Code is actually very kind to cyclists – it says we can cycle as slowly as we like down the middle of a road, if we fancy, and cars just have to stick it.

But you don’t need to sit reading books of rules, either. The government offers free cycling safety courses, and there’s a good chance your school can help you find one. Check out the Bikeability website, where you can find a course near you. You’ll be grateful for it when you’re whizzing past those losers on the pavement like a total badass.

Choose an awesome bike

Chances are that you might not be cycling much because you’re between bikes. Maybe you’ve grown out of the one you had when you were younger, or perhaps you want to upgrade to a zippier version.

Start off by heading to your local bike shop; have a chat to them there and get them to measure you for the right size of bike. You can DIY this with a measuring tape, but it’s probably better to get a professional to help. Take a parent or a friend if you’re feeling a bit shy.

Once you know what size bike you need, don’t feel you need to stick to the ones available in the shop. Perhaps you fancy a vintage model, or a second-hand fancier kind of bike if you plan to do lots of long journeys. This fixie bike is £179.99 from Halfords. Set some searches on sites such as eBay and Gumtree, with terms such as “small ladies vintage bike” or “Raleigh working bike frame”, depending on what you want.

Keep an eye on local adverts in newspapers and newsagents, too. I discovered the first bike I fell in love with in the back of a local paper, and it only cost me £35.

Pick some amazing kit

If you just want to do some casual bike rides, you don’t have to join the dad lycra brigade just yet – just some normal leggings, sweat pants or jeans and a light waterproof jacket will do you fine. But you will need a helmet, no arguments.

Don’t get me wrong – helmets are neither cool nor sexy, but you know what’s considerably less cool and sexy? Head injuries. As someone who has ended up in A&E three times from bike accidents, I can tell you that helmet hair is worth every single ounce of well, not being dead.

There are also some really lovely helmets out there, too. Bern pretty much have the monopoly on making chic and safe helmets, but Bobbin makes amazing shiny gold ones and Lazer Armour have a huge range that won’t make you look like a fool. Yes, they cost quite a lot of money, but consider it the cost of your safety. Make sure you fit it properly, and, if you do get a fancy one, take it with you once you lock your bike up.

Don’t forget about lights and locks

More bike admin, but these are the essentials. Locks make sure nobody runs off with your lovely new bike. Different cyclists prefer different combinations of security – some like a cable and a heavy metal D-lock, others just go one or the other. I recommend the dainty but tough Kryptonite Evolution Mini, which can be attached to your bike frame and is relatively lightweight. I’ve trussed up my bike in the most chaotic of ways with that thing and nobody’s pinched it yet.

Lights are a must if you’re cycling at night. You can get them in a huge range, but I’ve always preferred Cateye. A basic front-and-back set will cost you around £20 and they’re reliable. Make sure you keep a couple of spare batteries in your purse.

Go out and have fun!

The trick to really getting on your bike is knowing where to go. Search online for suggested cycle paths nearby and plan an amazing day out with your mates. Take a picnic – it’s always more fun when you know there are snacks in store.

Cycling regularly will help you fall in love with being on a bike, I promise. You’ll quickly realise how speedy you can be on two wheels, so if you wind up learning how to cycle to school in the morning you can guarantee at least an extra 30 minutes in bed. You’ll also find your fitness improves – and your mind, too. It’s incredible the difference even a 10-minute bike ride can make to your levels of happiness.

So what are you waiting for? Get on your bike.

@alice_emily

This is a love story about myself and yoga. If you knew me in my teens, you’d think it an unlikely love story, as I was lazy and regularly tried to get out of PE at school by ‘forgetting’ my kit. But in my mid-20s I did a full 180 on exercise and fell in truly, madly, deeply in love with yoga.

The reason I love yoga is simple: its benefits are both physical and mental. After a few months of practice, I grew not only stronger and more flexible in my body, but also in my mind.

Knowing what I know now, I wish I’d got into it sooner. I’ve long suffered from anxiety, fretting incessantly about exams, homework, friends (you name it, I’ve probably hyperventilated about it). But yoga gives me some headspace. It doesn’t solve my problems or make them disappear, but it pushes my anxiety to the edge of my mind for an hour or so – meaning I leave with fresh perspective.

You may have heard about meditation, which is where you switch off your worries by focusing on the here and now (the present), usually through deep breathing. Well, yoga is basically moving meditation. You’re encouraged by the instructor to think so precisely about different postures (positions) that you put your body in – how your feet are placed on the mat or whether your shoulders are tense – that you can’t help but switch off from your day’s worries.

Most yoga classes start off slow, building up to a more challenging standing or balancing posture and then winding down again to more relaxing postures, ending in ‘shavasana, where you lay outstretched on the floor with your eyes closed. Sometimes you can lay there for five minutes and it’s so relaxing after all that exertion that I’ve even fallen asleep and, ahem… definitely snored. This part of the class is really important, instructors say, because it allows you some downtime to reflect on the class and face the world with a calmer, more balanced approach.

Spending an hour on the yoga mat focusing on myself has helped me through some really tough days when I’ve felt stressed, lost and inadequate for a multitude of reasons. I wish I’d tried it sooner so I could have used it at school, and coped better with the pressure I was feeling.

Intrigued? Here are five things you need to know about yoga before you get started:

1. You don’t need to be able to get your leg behind your head to do yoga

It’s a common misconception that you need to be super flexible to do yoga. You don’t. Our bodies are all different and we will all have different strengths and weaknesses. Yoga is all about learning about your body and working with what you’ve got. It will help with flexibility – to open your hips and shoulders – but it will also help you to become stronger and develop better balance.

2. Not all yogis are chilled-out hippies.

If you think all yogis are sat under a tree meditating somewhere you’re mistaken –loads of us are sat on the sofa eating pizza. People who practise yoga come from all walks of life: from Premier League footballers to the elderly woman sat next to you on the bus. There’s no ‘right way’ to be a yogi; all types of people practise for different reasons.

3. It doesn’t matter how good you are.

Yoga is a non-competitive practise, so it doesn’t matter if you can’t contort like the yogis on Instagram. All that matters is what you do on the mat. Trust me, you’ll be so preoccupied with whether your feet are in the right place or trying not to topple over completely, that you won’t even notice other people.

4. You don’t have to spend a fortune.

Yes, some yoga classes cost a bomb, but you needn’t splash the cash. Just buy a yoga mat and pair of cheap leggings (look at the activewear range from Primark, Forever 21 or H&M) and watch a video on YouTube for FREE (try Yoga with Adrienne). Note: If you plan to practise yoga in a class rather than at home, yoga mats will usually be provided – but always check ahead.

5. There are lots of different types of yoga.

Do your research and try a few YouTube videos out to find out which is best for you. My advice is start Hatha yoga (good for beginners as it teaches postures) and then try out something like Vinyasa Flow (which is based on fluid movements from one posture to another) or Restorative (which involves staying in very relaxed and nourishing postures for an extended period of time and is great for stress relief).

See – aren’t you feeling more chilled already?

@Brogan_Driscoll

Image: Amber Griffin

Dear 12-year-old Alice,

Hey, how are you?

I know that you’ve just started year 8, so the anxiety you’re feeling about how seating plans will affect your position in the class’s social hierarchy is being slightly eased by the fact that you’re no longer the lamest kids in the school.

What you won’t realise, yet, is that your successors are bolshy little tykes who will continue to challenge your authority until sixth form, when they take over the upper sixth sofas within seconds. Deal with it. By the time you’re my age (27 – I use the word “tykes” now), you’ll be actively hanging out with people three years younger than you and enjoying it, too.

I’m not here to tell you about your future or what homework you can totally get away with not doing (most of it, but you won’t properly take advantage of your nerdy reputation for at least a decade, soz).

Instead, I am travelling through time to tell you that, even though you hate PE, games, physical exertion, the social kudos that come with being good at hockey and the fact you just aren’t very good at sport, you will come to love it in 10 years. I know. Unbelievable, yet true.

This is because when you do exercise properly, your body releases endorphins. They’re a chemical substance released by your pituitary gland (that’s the same one in control of your hormones, which I know are giving you hell right now) that primarily exist to stop pain and induce euphoria – “a state of intense excitement and happiness”. Sounds pretty great right?

We both know that no PE class or hockey game has resulted in an endorphin rush. This is because 25 minutes of half-arsed jogging around with a stick barely raises your heart rate. Add in the fact that the changing rooms remain a hornet’s nest of underwear and boob-growth inspection (this is one of the many weird school things that never happens in adult life, promise), and you’re unlikely to ever experience a ‘runner’s high’.

But there’s a reason why all the cool girls love hockey and netball so much, and it’s not just because they’re really good at it. If you keep active enough for more than 20 minutes, that horrible ‘wall of pain’ your teacher keeps telling you about actually does disappear and instead you’re filled with the gleeful satisfaction of using your body properly.

Do you remember when you were younger and used to cycle around the cul-de-sac we lived on, really fast? Or roller skated to the end of the village? Or made up vigorous dance routines to Hey! Mickey and practiced them every afternoon for a week? They were doubly fun because of endorphins, because you got puffed out enough to encourage your body to release euphoric chemicals.

I know you will struggle to understand this, but I actively pay money to do an hour of exercise twice a week at lunchtime these days. I’ve been doing that for five years. I cycle several miles every day, too, even though there’s a 10-minute train I could take instead.

You know, even when I went on holiday with my friends (one of them is Anna Morris – yeah! From 8S! You become really good mates, hang out with her more) we actively did yoga for fun, in 36 degree heat. This is because exercise makes grown-up me feel happy and strong, rather than pathetic and miserable, which is how you feel after Games.

Please realise that you shouldn’t write off doing exercise because you’re not the best in the class at netball. You’re actually fiendishly competitive so it’s probably for the best that team sports aren’t your thing. Yoga hadn’t really hit the Home Counties by 2001 so you can’t do much with that, but get out on your bike more – I promise you will feel less angry and less scared after cycling properly for an hour.

It will be difficult at first. You’ll get out of breath and your mouth might taste like metal, but don’t give up.

Just slow down, maybe eat a Kitkat (exercising isn’t about losing weight or getting in shape, by the way – you, like all the girls in your year, look far more wonderful than you realise and don’t need to change, even though you will be made to feel like you should) and take a little break. Keep going. Push your bike up that hill if you fancy, one day you’ll cycle up there (I still push my bike up hills, I’m not trying to prove anything), and then you get to ride down really fast and it’s terrifying and fun all at once.

Dance. You’re not bad at it, and it is so much fun. Find music to dance to – check out David Bowie and those Kiss compilations you think you’re too cool to listen to, and throw your body around until you’re exhausted. It feels amazing. I still do it now.

Learn to listen to your body. I know it sounds as confusing and uncomfortable as progressive jazz music right now, but if you use it to do physical things that you find fun, you will feel it growing stronger. You will understand how to make your body work at a time when it feels like it is doing everything to conspire against you.

Have fun. Don’t be scared. Trust that making yourself properly sweaty feels so good that you won’t care how you look or smell (both fine). Buy some better trainers. Try running, but know that we will probably always hate it. Try team sport but know that Vincents are genetically programmed to not understand them. Do yoga. Breathe.

Don’t worry: you’re going to be just fine.

Love,

Alice

@alice_emily

Image: Laura Callaghan 

By now, you’ve probably got your period routine down. You’ve got pads and tampons stashed away in every conceivable corner so you’re never caught off guard, you have at least a seven day supply of your fave period craving snacks, you’re all over the painkiller situation and your hot water bottle is ready to go at all times. And then summer comes along and totally throws your fine-tuned coping strategy.

So, what are you supposed to do when the temperatures are through the roof and you don’t want to be within ten feet of a hot water bottle? No sweat, we’ve got you covered.

Stay hydrated

Staying hydrated is important all year round but it’s even more important when you’re dealing with a summer/period double threat. It will help to combat that tired, weary feeling we all get, plus it totally helps with bloating. I know; how will drinking more water help matters? But it works by encouraging your body to flush out all that extra water it just loves to hold onto.

Do some (gentle) exercise

We’re not talking heading out for a marathon, because, really, who has the energy when the sun’s blazing? But when you’re ‘hugging a hot water bottle while quietly whimpering’ game plan goes out the window, gentle exercise is your friend. Honestly. It’s the perfect period pain remedy because it gets your blood flowing which cuts down on cramps.

If that’s not enough of a reason, it’s a great excuse to go outside and be with your own kind. After all, there’s only so much PLL a girl can watch. So, do some not-too-strenuous yoga, a few laps in the pool or just grab your mates and head out for a walk in the sunshine. It might take a whole lot of will power to get up and get active but you’ll feel so much better once you have!

Be prepared

A sudden bout of unexpected sunshine is always a green light for spur of the moment adventures, but the thought of getting caught out can definitely put a dampener on your wanderlust. There’s no need to back out of all the fun, though. Sure, being on your period isn’t high on your summer to-do list but your period is going to go ahead and do its thing anyway, so you may as well do yours. A little prep is all you need.

Firstly, stock up on pads and tampons so you’re covered for a full day. Next up, check out the beach/pool/ice cream factory (hopefully) online and scout out any toilets and cafes so you know exactly where to head when you need to change. Lastly, show your period whose boss and live the summer dream.

Take a break

You don’t want your period to cramp (sorry) your style and spoil your summer fun but it’s totally fine to take a break too. If the thought of peeling yourself off the sofa to go and melt under the 30 degree sun makes you want to hide in the nearest freezer, be kind to yourself and do exactly what you feel like doing. Want to sit directly in front of the most powerful fan in your house while binging on Netflix? Do it. Want to online shop and crunch on ice cubes? Go ahead.

Keep cool

Why does being on your period make it feel ten times hotter? You’re already saddled with the unholy trinity that is cramps, bloating, mood swings and now you’re hotter than the sun. Get on top of that situation ASAP and build yourself a keep-cool armoury. You’ll need cooling spray, a mini fan, a bottle of iced water and the breeziest dress you own.

Wear what you want

In winter, a long jumper and unbuttoned jeans is the epitome of period chic; warm, comfy and bloat-friendly. Fast forward to the summer holidays and it’s not quite that easy when wearing literally any clothes at all feels like a trip to the seventh circle of hell. This is where you need to remember the rules: there are no rules. If your stomach feels like it’s trying to escape your waistband and you don’t feel 100% confident about showing skin right now, go for an airy kaftan and pretend you’re at Coachella. But equally, if you’re all about crop tops; don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t wear the hell out of them. There’s no judgement; only cute summer style.

Treat Yourself

If you’re dealing with your period during a heat wave, you’re basically Wonder Woman. Give yourself a round of applause for being a fearless survivor and treat yourself with immediate effect. It doesn’t matter if it’s a fresh nail varnish shade, a giant ice cream, a new book or a lazy afternoon, you’ve earned it.

@SophieBenson

Image: Getty

Ahh ‘running’. It’s a word that might strike fear into the hearts of some of you because it reminds you of cross country, muddy knees and so much sweating. We’ve all been there.

But maybe for others it gives you a short, sharp blast of excitement at the thought of getting outside and getting moving? Maybe?

During school hours, exercise was always the first one for me. A pain in the neck. A way to send my face a shocking shade of tomato red. A necessary evil I had to endure to make it to art class after.

But outside of school, I found my secret exercising superpower: running. It helped me to feel more positive, get my body moving, stay fit and give me some time to think. Just me, the beach or the road, my music, my battered old trainers. And nothing else.

Sure you might never get into running — some of my best friends much prefer swimming and even skating — but today we’ve collected together five key things to think about to get you started. Who knows, you might find running makes you feel like a superhero too!

So, my little runner bean, here’s how to go from feeling “URGhhhh” to “AHHHH!” about running in no time.

1. Get some decent kit to keep your feet and your boobs happy

Anyone can start running right now. You can run in bare feet (this is a thing), you can run in battered old trainers (sometimes I still do) and some people can even run quite successfully in heels (although we wouldn’t recommend it).

But you’ll feel better if you have some proper kit. We’re not telling you to spend a bomb in the Nike shop or get your parents to shell out a fortune to have you looking like an Olympian. There are just a few key things you actually need. Then you can add to your kit over time.

The first one is running shoes. You can go to a special running store and have shoes fitted professionally. Oo-er, fancy pants! But if you’re just getting started, find some trainers in a sports shop that are created with running in mind. Look out for words like, obviously, ‘running’ and ‘support’ and ‘cushioned’.

If you start to get really good and run all the time, you can upgrade your shoes. But as a starter pair something that ticks at least one of those boxes above will be good. (Just ask the shop assistant if you need help.)

And it’s not just shoes that are important, but a good sports bra too. As your body is developing you want to take good care of the skin around your boobs. And yes, this is just as important if you’re an A cup or an E cup. If not, it’ll feel painful and could cause muscle ache over time.

2. Work to simple goals and challenges

Sometimes it’s easier to do something if you set yourself a goal. But the key when you’re getting started with running is to keep it small.

Some of our favourites are: Run 3 times a week. Run to the end of the street and back. Run for a whole song. Then, as you get better, you can increase these goals. If running to the end of the street and back gets easy, run around your whole neighbourhood once. If you can happily run for a whole song, try running for two. Then three, then even four!

The key to setting good goals and challenges is to keep it simple. You don’t have to be aiming for marathons. You’re not Paula Radcliffe (well, not yet).

There’s a saying, and we have no idea who said it first, that goes like this: “No matter how slow you go, you’re lapping everyone on the couch.” What this means is, even by getting out and trying, you’re doing better than the lazy version of you who didn’t even try and is still watching Netflix. So don’t obsess about being the best, the fastest or the strongest. As Nike always tells us: just do it.

3. Treat yo’self: Warm up, stretch and cool down

Even if you can only run for one minute right now, you need to make sure you treat your body nicely before and after you move it. This means warming it up before you run, so you don’t injure your legs. A warm up can be as simple as 30 star jumps and a few stretches.

Afterwards, you’ll want to do the same thing, but in reverse. Do a few more jumping jacks then have a good ol’ stretch.

Once you get more and more into running, stretching will become your new BFF. It’ll stop your limbs from feeling like jelly or like rocks the next day. It’ll make you feel more nimble and you’ll be able to go faster and further next week if you’ve been good about your stretches all of this week.

If you don’t know where to get started with stretching, there are some great apps that’ll help you out. We love Sworkit’s stretching option. Just tell the app how long you’ve got and the kind of stretch you’re after and it’ll show you exactly what to do, step-by-step.

4. Stay safe – you’re in superhero training but you’re not Supergirl just yet

When you get into running, it can be tempting to go on big, running adventures. We’re not stopping you – exploring new places is one of the best bits about running. But always stay wary about where you are.

Avoid going to really isolated places, like maybe a secluded beach or a forest, on your own. And always tell your friends and family when and where you’re going for a run, just in case.

The same goes for roads. When you’re running along, feeling like Beyonce, it can be easy to slip into a state of excitement or get lost in a world of motivational images. You taking over the world! You running the 800m at the next Olympics! But you need to be careful when it comes to cars, bikes and other pedestrians. Always stay alert and don’t play music too loud, or you’ll never hear anything coming.

5. Have fun

If running stops feeling fun, get some better kit, try a different route, listen to more motivating music, stretch more. Try mixing things up before giving things up.

But if you still don’t like it, don’t sweat it! Literally! Try something else. Skating, trampolining and swimming are some of our firm faves for when running feels like too much hard work.

Bottom line: if it’s not fun, don’t do it. In fact, we could apply that to everything.

@BeccaCaddy

Image: Getty

In every ad for exercise gear, everyone looks so impossibly beautiful. Sure, sometimes they’re ‘sweating’, but somehow that only makes them look even more striking and perfectly put together. There’s not a blotchy red face or camel toe in sight, just slightly damp people wearing loads of lycra. If someone tried to put a camera in my face after I went for a run, I would smash the camera to pieces and eat the shards of it just for good measure.

We all know exercise is good for you. It makes you healthy and fit, it’s great for your brain too, and exercise can even be fun – especially when you reflect on how wonderful it is that exercise gets people dancing, bouncing, skating or actually meeting in parks to play Quidditch, despite the fact that, well, erm… they can’t fly.

But exercise only becomes fun once you get over the fact that it’s also sometimes awkward and embarrassing, and occasionally gross. So in the spirit of sharing, here are some of those lol-worthy times.

“My mum once gave herself concussion by sitting on a stomach cruncher – she had no idea you were supposed to lie down to use it!!”

“Two weeks ago my best friend decided she’d give yoga a go and within minutes of doing a pose she farted. She apologised and we all tried to ignore it, only for her to then fart again within 30 seconds! The session turned into ‘laughter yoga’ at that point.”

“Not so long ago I had fallen asleep on a train, and was dreaming I was at the gym doing power presses (I wonder about myself sometimes). I awoke as I pushed both arms into the air in true weightlifting fashion. Everyone was looking at me. God knows what I was doing before I woke up. Then had to sit there sheepishly for the rest of the journey – half an hour has never felt so long…”

“There I was in the gym, many years ago, doing a very unflattering move where I lay on my back and opened and closed my legs repeatedly. I heard someone say hello, looked through the gap in my spread legs and there was the lad I had a monster crush on from school. Grinning at me. Excellent.”

“I regularly swum at my women-only gym, and after a two week holiday, I was keen to get in the water. So I went to the gym, got changed into my cossie and left the changing room. I flung open the door to the pool… and stepped into a weights room filled with muscly men grunting away. They all stopped what they were doing to look at me – I was horrified and hastily retreated back into the changing room. I went to the front desk to demand what had happened to the pool – I’d only been gone for two weeks!!! – only to be told: “It kept leaking so we filled it in and made it a weights room. Oh and by the way the the gym is co-ed now, so you might see some guys wandering around.” Really?? You tell me now??!!”

“I went to an Advanced Step class by mistake when I’m very much a beginner, and couldn’t keep up with the moves as it moved so fast. I did an embarrassed moonwalk out of the studio. It was not a pretty sight, all gangly and uncoordinated. It felt like a scene from Miranda.”

“When I was 12, I took up ballet. This was a terrible idea. I cannot fully emphasise to you the extent to which this was an awful idea. Remember when Lady Gaga wore a dress made of literal meat to the Met Gala? This idea was worse than that. I am clumsy and awkward and I struggle to follow even simple instructions, three things that are quite crucial to ballet. Once we had to do this weird jumpy exercise that everyone aside from me knew, I ended up crashing into three people and falling on the floor. I was always put in the back corner after that…”

“I once went to a Zumba class after eating a pretty huge burrito for lunch. “It’s fine, I’ll work it off!” I thought. Fast forward an hour and I’ve had to run out of the class in front of everybody to throw up. The lesson? Salsa and salsa don’t mix.”

Image: Amber Griffin

Most of us know what we need to do to get fit. Choose a workout, like running or swimming. Do it a lot. Keep up the habit. Try and improve each time. It’s obvious, isn’t it? But the problem is it gets boring. We don’t go as often as we should, we come up with excuses and next thing we know we’re five episodes into a new Netflix show and our gym gear never left the shelf.

So what’s the answer? Well, now we’re well and truly into 2017, it’s time to shake things up. You don’t have to do the same old gym classes or the same dull workout routines. We’ve explored some of the top fitness trends we think will be big this year, as well as how to get into them and start moving – like, right now.

Fitbit: Turn Your Steps Into a Game

Before we start delving into the top new sports and classes you can try out to turn yourself into a sporting superhero, let’s talk about technology. Sure fitness trackers, like the Fitbit, have been around for years now, but this will be the year they step up a level – and anyone who’s anyone will be working out with a device strapped to their wrist. (Or arm! Or ankle!)

Ever said you’d run more or go to the gym all the time if you won a medal for your efforts? Well, that’s the great thing about using tech to get fit. You can use it to make fitness fun. You earn badges for hitting your goals, can compete with friends and get little notifications when you workout too.

Where do you start? With an app like Sworkit for stretching or Nike+ Run Club for running. Or if you like seeing graphs about how you’re doing, invest in a gadget like the Fitbit Flex 2.

Parkour: who run the world?

Gone are the days of parkour only being reserved for boys in baggy trousers and branded t-shirts. The great thing about parkour, which you can also call ‘free running’ if you think it sounds less ridiculous, is you can do it anywhere. The aim is simply to gett from one point to another without any equipment. Think of it like making boring stuff, like steps, benches and parks into a fun obstacle course. Just be careful! You need to feel brave to give this one a shot, but don’t get too cocky about your abilities – follow expert guidance and always take a friend with you or you could end up hurting yourself. Obv.

Where do you start? Grab a friend and get outside. Look for things that you can climb onto and jump up (or down to). A park is a great place to begin. Start with jumping down steps a few at a time and you’ll get the hang of it.

Yoga: take a deep breath

Yoga has had a bit of a makeover in recent years. You don’t have to light incense or be on a hilltop in Thailand in a bikini to feel the benefits. Instead, it’s about becoming fitter, more flexible, super-charging your performance in other sports and most of all, learning to breathe properly. Most people don’t realise breathing is a HUGE part of yoga. We can all breathe already, right? Mm, not necessarily. Not only will yoga make you more bendy, but all the deep breathing will make you feel calmer and lighter when you’re doing everything else in life, too.

Where do you start? There are so many YouTube tutorials that’ll teach you yoga basics. Give a few a go to see how you feel, then find your nearest class. Start with one especially for beginners, it might seem slow at first but it’ll teach you the basics so you can become a head-standing superstar in no time. Or if you’re interested in the big benefits of breathing, try Googling mindfulness meditation and give it a whirl. 

Hiking: get fit with the trees, the breeze and the bees

Ok, ok. We’re not trying to claim walking outside is bang on-trend now. But what will be big this year is talking walking outside seriously; not just strolling around a park. We’re talking hiking, the LA way. Not only does it get you moving and keep you fit, but there are all kinds of happy mind-improving benefits to being around nature that’ll make sure your body AND your mind are happy.

Where do you start? Put on a good pair of trainers with decent grip. Find a forest, a hill or big local park and walk around it, taking in the scenery while keeping your pace up. The key is not be overwhelmed by muddy trails or daunted by little hills – take on the challenges and keep going until you’re good and tired.

Boxing: find your inner warrior

If you don’t fancy the idea of calming yoga or a nice walk to get you fit, then opt for something with a bit more ‘oomph’ instead. Boxing is a great place to start, you’ll be able to vent some of your anger from the day and get all sweaty at the same time. It’s also a fun one to try out with friends and you might even end up going head-to-head. All’s fair in love and sport.

Where do you start? Watch some YouTube tutorials and we bet you’ll be addicted to the energy of boxing in no time. If you’re going to take it seriously, you’ll need to find a local class, or head to a gym near you to find out if they have lessons to try.

Water Workouts: it’s time to make a splash

Rowing! Canoeing! Paddle boarding! There’s so much more to workouts in the water than just the front crawl. A lot of water sports are great because you get a real sense of achievement when you travel from A to B. Row down that river! Canoe across the lake! You’ll feel like a badass action hero and you’re getting fit too.

Where do you start? Google local sports centres or clubs that’ll give you a taster session of paddle boarding and canoeing to see if you’ll like it. From there, you could rent out your own equipment, join a club or get a few friends together and meet up to splash around once every few weeks.

Group Workouts: get fit with your mates

Whether you’re boxing, doing the downward-facing dog or just hitting the treadmill, we all know working out is a tonne more fun if you’re not doing it alone. And 2017 is going to be the year that fitness stops being a boring chore you slog away at on your own.

Where do you start? Create a Facebook group for your mates to suggest group workouts. You could do the same thing every week or nominate someone each week to come up with what you could all do.

@BeccaCaddy

Image: Getty

We caught up with Alexandra Heminsley aka @Hemmo, the author of Running Like A Girl and Leap In, to talk about the benefits of exercise and why you should force yourself to go for a run on your period.

Growing up I used every excuse under the sun to get out of exercise. From worrying about the way my body looked to complaining I wasn’t any good at sport, I wiggled my way out of PE, after school clubs and even walking to the corner shop (“muuuum, can you give me a lift?”).

But now? Now, nothing will stop me trying out new gym classes and pushing myself until I’ve sweat so much I look like I’ve jumped in a swimming pool. Gross. But kind of amazing.

So what’s changed? In short, my attitude. I have the same body, of course, but it’s stronger, fitter and more adventurous – I’ve just changed my mindset. And I’m not the only one. According to recent figures from Sport England, more than 7.2 million women now play sport and do regular physical activity. Female sports participation has never been so high.

Sport England’s ground-breaking ‘This Girl Can’ campaign is partly responsible for that, as the numbers have increased by more than 250,000 since the advert first aired.

The adverts – which showed all different shapes and sizes, huffing and puffing – spoke directly to a nation of women and girls who have been brainwashed into worrying incessantly about what their bodies look like, forgetting that it’s what their bodies can do that really matters.

Too many women and girls associate exercise with burning calories to attain a certain body type. This, I think, is unhealthy. Then exercise becomes a chore or punishment, rather than a way to make yourself feel good both inside and out. In January we’re bombarded with negative messages about weight loss, diets and fitness, when really you should work out because you love your body, not because you hate it.

So, as a once-upon-a-time lazy girl, here are my top tips to help you learn to love exercise…

1. Find the right exercise for you

Whether that’s gym classes, joining a sports team or taking up hobbies you had when you were a child. The key is to enjoy what you’re doing. Remember: everyone is different, so just because your bestie loves being on the hockey team, it doesn’t mean you will. Don’t be afraid to try new things, or revisit old passions. Did you love climbing trees as a kid? Try rock climbing. Always cartwheeling in the playground? Yoga might be for you. Pummelling your little brother until your mum had to separate you? Boxing might be your calling! No but seriously. And if you were amazing at running away from your parents when you got into trouble, a free 5km race with Park Run is the grown-up equivalent…

2. Don’t count calories

Exercise should be part of a healthy, balanced lifestyle, not a diet or workout plan that restricts you or punishes you. Also, not all calories are created equal – a few biscuits and an avocado might have the same amount of calories, but their nutritional value couldn’t be more different. Follow this pro nutritional advice instead and exercise a few times a week, but hey, don’t be too hard on yourself. Eat the pizza and ice cream, but also make sure you don’t forget your greens.

3. Don’t try to run before you can walk

Literally, take baby steps. Set yourself realistic goals and alter them as you go along to keep challenging yourself. There is no point signing up for a 5km race if you haven’t run an inch since that time you you nearly missed the last train home. You’ll get there, you just need to pace yourself. If you’ve got a dog, take it for a brisk walk in the evenings. Don’t have a dog? This is a perfect time to beg your parents for one (which might also work up a sweat, depending how much drama you can muster).

4. Stretch

Make sure you stretch thoroughly after working out to avoid injury or aches and pains. I’d recommend stretching for about 30 seconds with each stretch. It might feel like a long time, but your body will thank you for it. (Top tip: do it in front of the TV as a distraction if you’re bored.)

5. Get to know your body

Get to know what feels good (and what feels bad) for your own body. Shock horror, exercise needn’t be torture. Of course, no one likes rainy PE lessons doing cross-country, but when you call the shots there’s no need to make it unenjoyable or, even worse, dangerous. If something hurts, stop. If you’re tired, just wait and exercise the next day. Be kind and go easy on yourself, but also push yourself when you feel able – and one of these days, you might just realise you’re loving it.

@Brogan_Driscoll

Image: Hailey Hamilton