Staying in shape is a priority for most of us, but remaining motivated & implementing action are easier said than done…
Add a busy work schedule and social activities into the mix, and this makes the journey to fitness all the more strenuous. The few lucky individuals among us (especially those who love fitness) manage to ease through this process, discovering a ‘perfect balance’. This can be frustrating for those who find honoring routine and consistency around healthy living more challenging, especially as an active lifestyle makes you 1. Look better & 2. Feel better.
Your body is a machine, and you need to take care of it so it has the ability to work to its full capacity.
The most common reasons for which people keep up their fitness regime tend to be aesthetic i.e. weight loss, muscle definition, etc, but there are so many other mental and physical benefits to staying fit, such improving mood, reducing risk of injury and illness, and increasing lifespan.
Not everyone enjoys a body-packed gym with intimidating equipment - luckily, there are multiple ways to shape up and improve health & fitness. It is all about finding what is right for you. This includes diet.
So what are the benefits of staying in shape and implementing a healthy lifestyle?
1. Mood regulation
It is a common fact that regular exercise & maintaining a healthy shape can improve & boost mood, but there is more to it. Movement releases endorphins and the neurotransmitter ‘dopamine’ which can ease anxiety & depression. Raising your body temperature also has the ability to calm nerves. The more intense the exercise the more long lasting these effects.
2. Weight loss
Perhaps a somewhat obvious one as we all know that exercise helps you burn calories. The best types of exercise for weight loss are aerobic i.e. walking, running, cycling & swimming. Studies show that those who participate in cardio sessions 5 times a week, and manage to burn 400 calories can lose around 4.3% of body weight. Cardio is also the best type of exercise to combat stubborn areas such as stomach fat, and can decrease the risk of type 2 diabetes & heart disease.
3. Muscles & Bones
Movement can help us maintain our muscle mass as well as increase it. As we age, our muscles gradually break down which makes it more difficult to build them. This is why regular exercise is so important and a vital part of aging. Exercise is also one of the best ways to prevent the risk of bone issues such as osteoporosis. Strengthening work-outs such as hiking, running, weight-lifting & dancing are said to be the best.
4. Brain Health
Physical activity is proven to enhance cognitive ability and boost productivity, focus & memory, therefore decreasing the risk of dementia. Exercise that requires learning skills like concentration, such as dance, are especially helpful in this area.
Exercise can increase the time present in the most physically restorative sleep phase - deep sleep. Deep sleep can help control and combat stress & anxiety, as well as improving brain function & memory, and boosting your immune function.
As we know, during physical activity, the brain produces endorphins. These neurochemicals also stimulate the release of sex hormones meaning that exercise can increase your libido! These hormones also have the ability to improve digestion, decrease blood pressure, reduce heart rate, and lower levels of cortisol to relax your body.
Now we know a few more of the benefits of physical activity & keeping fit, how can we make sure we implement daily activities to help us shape up (whilst actually enjoying it)?
1. Outdoors activity
Studies show that spending time in natural environments & green spaces can reduce physical and psychological stress. As people tend to enjoy moving outside in comparison to indoors, it can be one of the best ways to ensure you stick to those goals.
2. Exercise in groups
Most individuals have a competitive streak, however some people find their competitive nature doesn't quite work when competing purely with themselves, hence why exercising with a friend or in a small group is often more appealing. Group exercise also means you are more likely to stick to a plan as other people are relying on you.
Most fit individuals tend to hone in on the benefits of sleep & stick to a routine, and there is good reason. Staying in shape helps sleep, and vice versa. Sleep gives you energy to participate in regular physical activity but it also helps to regulate metabolism and boost muscle repair, accelerating performance. On average, humans need between 7-9 hours of sleep per night to function at an optimal level.
Humans need variety and change to keep motivated, this also keeps things fun. Mix up your exercise regime, making sure you include activities that you actually enjoy, whether that be HIIT classes, sports, dancing, yoga etc. The key is to not engage in too much movement that you find laborious. By including a variety of activities into your schedule, you will also be challenging different muscle groups.
5. Cold Water Therapy
Seems somewhat of a growing insta trend currently, however there is lots of evidence to suggest that frequent exposure to the cold can have huge benefits to your health & physical shape. Jumping in a cold bath or shower for just a few minutes daily can speed up your metabolism and reset your nervous system. Exposure also releases noradrenaline (which awakens and re-energises the body) & dopamine which makes you feel good.
Perhaps the most important of all. We know that nutrition plays a key role in our fitness - we need the correct fuel to sustain our energy - but with the amount of fad diets that circle around the web, it is difficult to grasp what is truly effective, and will work for our body. Including a sufficient amount of high-quality protein in your diet helps to build new muscle fibers and repair tissues that may be damaged during workouts. Vitamins such as iron and vit C are also a key element in maintaining a healthy regime. Every body requires a different diet, however balance is always key for keeping on track.
We know that motivation isn’t always easy - especially in the winter months, however it is vital to keep in shape to maintain a healthy lifestyle, and ultimately help you live happier & longer. We hope that these few tips will give you the tools and drive you need to get off that sofa, put that phone down and start moving!
As always, we wish you the best, and hope that this information will bring you a little closer to an improved, healthier and happier version of yourself.
POW Team x