Self-Help Tips From Dr Sarah Brewer

World Cup Half Time Health Hacks

world cup health hacks

England are absolutely smashing it out of the park this year in the world cup, and there are still a couple more games to go before we find out if it coming home!  This means more time spent on the sofa or in the pub, and less time working out.  Here’s my top tips for staying fit in football world cup 2018!

Watch the alcohol

It is easy to overindulge in booze when the matches are on.  As well as having health risks alcohol also contains lots of calories.  A pint of beer is between 200-250 calories which is as much as a slice of pizza or a donut!  Make sure you are drinking enough water in the hot weather so you are not thirsty.  Have a think about ways you can decrease your alcohol intake.  Not being in rounds, alternating an alcoholic and non-alcoholic drink or having bottles rather than pints are simple ways to cut back.  Many beers also have low alcohol or lower calorie versions which can be better for your waistline.

Watch the snacks

Socialising with friends, beer and sports is a combination that doesn’t always encourage healthy eating. Make sure you have eaten so you aren’t hungry when you arrive.  If you are watching at home with friends put the snacks on the table so they are not in arm’s reach.  Make sure you have a variety of foods & swap in alternatives like baked crisps instead of fries or lower calorie dips.  If want to watch it in the pub try to pick somewhere that you know has healthy options, don’t arrive hungry & bring along some healthy snacks.


Just because you are watching sports doesn’t mean you can’t do any yourself.  Have a look at the players in the side-lines and they will likely be doing some exercise to stay in peak condition! Why not use half-time to do your own workout? High-intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is excellent and easily modified to suit everyone from couch potatoes to triathletes. It’s fast, easy and does not need any special equipment except your mobile phone as a timer. In studies, HIIT has been proven to improve fitness, cardiovascular health, insulin sensitivity (making it easier for your muscles to use glucose as a fuel) and cholesterol. It is also a very efficient way of decreasing abdominal fat and weight while maintaining muscle.  Although HIIT workouts are shorter they are more intense and you continue to burn off calories for up to 2 hours afterwards while your body sets itself back to pre-exercise levels. This means an intense 15 minute HIIT workout can be the equivalent to an hour gym session.

Your Half Time HIIT routine

The principle is simple – short bursts of maximum efforts with varying degrees of rest time in between – for example 30 seconds working flat out followed by rest.  The aim is to get to 80% of your maximum heart rate which is 220 minus your age.  For example, if you are 30 then you should be aiming for a maximum heart rate of 190.  You can easily track this on a wearable device.  Otherwise you should feel like it is hard work & you can use the ‘talk test’ as a guide.  This means that it should be hard to hold a conversation as well as doing the workout.

There are loads of HIIT routine tutorials online & on YouTube so pick one to suit your fitness level or with a trainer you like.  As with any new fitness routine if you have any health conditions or problems with exercise do check with you GP first.

The beauty of a HIIT workouts is that you can change up the exercises based on your preferences to give yourself an intense training session and focus on the specific areas of your body that you want to work on. The best HIIT workouts will exercise your whole body, here are some great exercises that you can work into your personalised HIIT plan:



Push Ups Squats/Jump Squats
Bicep Curls Reverse Lunges
Tricep Dips Walking Lunges
Lateral Raises Side Leg Raises
Shoulder Raises Donkey Kicks
Reverse Fly Dead Lift
Sit Ups/Crunches Burpees
Plank Jumping Jacks
Side Plank High Knee Jogging
V-Ups Mountain Climbers
Bicycle Crunches Skipping
Superman Running Step Ups
Russian Twists Sprint

You can create a workout that suits you best and adjust the number of exercises, sets and reps depending on your fitness level and how much time you have. Whether you have the 15 minute half time break or a longer break between games!

Here’s a great premade HIIT workout you can try at home

Warm up: This is the most important part of any work out as it helps improve your flexibility and can prevent any injuries. Start by jogging on the spot for 20 seconds, follow this with ten low squats then stretch your arms and legs.

Now you are fully warmed up it is time to get to get on with the full work out. Spend 30 seconds on each set and have a 30 second break after each exercise.

-Jog on the spot with high knees


-Power squats

-Mountain climbers

Repeat this four times, extending the rest period if needed.

Cool down with a brief jog and get back to the football!

Dr Ciara Yeates, General Practitioner at London Doctors Clinic.

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