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Health and Wellbeing - April 2016

31 Mar 2016

Healthy Body, Healthy mind

The first step when screening and programing new fitness clients is to establish their specific goals and exercise history. It’s then our responsibility as trainers to educate and recommend the best path to success.

What is often overlooked in the goal-setting process is the positive impacts of exercise to the mind, as the obsession is mostly focused around losing weight, losing body fat, toning up or gaining muscle.

The good news is that a very positive side effect of your physical activity will be an improvement in your general wellbeing. Different types of exercise and activity can have different positive wellbeing outcomes that you might not be aware of, for example:

  • Yoga and stretching – reduction in anxiety, increases calmness and emotional stability;
  • Weight training and power lifting – improves memory, resilience, improves self-esteem and helps tackle depression;
  • High intensity training – Helps control appetite and reduce cravings; and
  • Running – Improves memory, enhances clarity in thoughts.

Importance of warming up and cooling down

A combination of our so called “busy” lives along with the popularity of high-intensity training classes has led to a down grading in the importance of warming up and cooling down. These days it’s all about the 30 minute drill session where you strive for the maximum results from the least time.

Training with a high intensity certainly has its upsides, but what we are seeing too much of lately is completely avoidable, minor injuries that are directly related to not warming up or cooling down properly.

Last week we had a case where a lady injured her calf muscle after missing her regular warm up, and went straight into a high intensity session. This didn’t result in any major injury, extensive treatment or rehabilitation, but did present a minor set-back. For the next two weeks, her workouts needed to be modified, and she felt it was going back to square one after progress had been made in the past month.

The whole purpose of the warm up and cool down is to prepare the body to function under the stress of exercise, and return the body gently to normal function after the workout. The risk of set back and injury is unfortunately more apparent for new and enthusiastic exercisers, or when you are returning from a short break – so be smart.

Don’t overlook the importance of the warm and cool down, especially when exercising with high intensity.  

Escape, and take your workout to the country

The old saying that “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results” definitely applies to the exercise and results equation.

If you are looking at making gains, driving change and achieving your health and wellness goals, you must mix things up. There must be a plan and structure in your workout routine. On the flip side, if you have achieved your goal and are no longer looking for change, you can certainly maintain fitness levels by doing the same thing – so it’s all about your personal context.

What I will challenge you on is that while you might be mixing up your workouts, you may not be mixing up your environments. So while your muscles and energy systems maybe challenged, your mind is still experiencing a sense of repetition as you are always working out at the gym, at lunchtime or before work.

Recently I was up in the high country and I experienced the benefits of exercise in a new environment. There was fresh air, no noise, no colleagues, no stress, no public transport, no traffic and the experience was refreshing and mentally cleansing.

So I challenge you to take what you know about exercise, drive to a peaceful or new environment whether it be the beach or country and see how it feels. If you enjoy the experience like I did, make it a monthly activity and invite your friends too.

 

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