When we think of weight training we often think of bodybuilding, but resistance training is also a form of weight training. It simply means there is a resistance that our bodies must work against. This can improve strength, mobility and more!
You may not call yourself a body builder, but you could be missing out if you’re not including weight training in your routine.
Here are 5 benefits of adding weight training to your exercise routine.
It’s true what they say, if we don’t use it, we lose it!
Many of the common struggles as we grow older are caused by the age-related loss of muscle mass and strength, more technically known as sarcopenia.
For most of us, muscle mass and strength increase from birth and hit their peak around age 30-35. Studies have shown that there is a natural decline in power and performance after this, and then an increased decline after 65-70 years of age.
What’s particularly interesting is this decline can be slowed somewhat by maintaining an active lifestyle and strength training.
Even more interesting is that it’s never too late to start.
Another study found that progressive resistance training at sufficient loads can induce dramatic and substantial increases in muscle strength, size and function in men and women up to 96 years of age!
It makes you stronger
As soon as you start a strength training programme, you’ll notice that everyday chores are much easier.
When we challenge a muscle, tiny tears occur. The body repairs it, and the muscle gets bigger and stronger in response. Don’t worry about weightlifting making you bulky – ask anyone who has consciously tried to bulk – it’s not as easy as we think.
Improved bone health
Strength training is a good way to maintain healthy tendons and ligaments and promote dense bones.
One particular study showed that volunteers who wore a weighted vest as they participated in a weight loss plan slowed down hip bone-density loss compared to the weight-loss-plan-only group. The researchers concluded that finding different ways to load and challenge the skeleton could reduce the risk of hip fractures, a common and often debilitating injury for older adults.
Helps tackle obesity
Muscles are more active than fatty tissue – so the more muscle you have, the more calories you will burn as a baseline.
A year long exercise training intervention known as the Lifestyle Intervention to Improve Bone Quality (LIMB-Q) found that a healthier diet combined with a workout mixing aerobic exercise, resistance training and balance was most effective for helping reversing obesity as opposed to diet alone.
A 2020 study found that adults who engage in aerobic and muscle strengthening activities show a greatly reduced risk of all cause and cause specific mortality.
If you are thinking about adding weight training into your routine, remember that form is key! Lift weights safely and think about the muscles that you are using to control and move the weight.
We have a number of programmes to get you started, so check them out.
We are what we eat. This is true, but if we want to get scientific, we are what we can absorb and use. This means that you can eat the right diet, but if your digestive system isn’t healthy, you won’t be able to use the nutrients in your food as well as you could.
So, let’s take a look at digestion in a little more detail and how we can support it.
What is Digestion?
Digestion is the process of eating and absorbing food. Food gives us energy, but it also makes up every single cell in our bodies. So, breaking it down and using it is a huge part of how we live our lives.
The process of digestion starts in the mind. Before we even take the first bite, our brain tells our gut system to start working.
This is why it’s important to eat slowly and spend time cooking. As we prepare food, our senses are at their best. We can smell the spices and see the olive oil drizzling! This process produces more saliva, which contains enzymes that help your body break down food.
When we take that first bite, we help our stomach in a mechanical way. With each bite and chew, the food gets smaller. We know it’s a lot to ask you to chew each piece of food 50 times, but if your gut health is poor and you often find undigested food in your stool, you may find that going back to the simple art of chewing more helps.
When we’re done chewing, the food goes down the throat and into the stomach. Here, it finds the stomach acid! But if you have ever had acid reflux, you already know that. Even more food is broken down by the acidic climate, especially protein. It also takes vitamins like B12 from ready-to-be-absorbed protein.
Even though we think of the stomach as a pot of acid and a tough guy, this is often where things go wrong, especially if you have too much or too little acid. Most of the time, we end up with low stomach acid because of drugs like stomach acid inhibitors (for people with heartburn) or antihistamines (for people with hay fever). Food can’t be broken down properly if there isn’t enough stomach acid and as we get older, the amount of stomach acid we make naturally goes down as well.
The Small Intestine
From the stomach, food goes to the small intestine, where most of the nutrients are taken into the bloodstream. Here, digestive enzymes from the pancreas attack the food, and bile from the liver also makes its way into the small intestine. Bile is important for breaking down fat, and enzymes made by the liver help break down all macronutrients, including protein, fat, and carbs.
If your liver or pancreas don’t work efficiently, you may not be able to digest food particularly well. In addition, too many toxins can make the liver work harder. This can happen when you drink a lot of alcohol, but it can also happen when you are exposed to toxins in the environment. So, limit the number of artificial scents in your home, eat organic food if budget and availability will allow and choose low-toxic cleaning products.
The Large Intestine
The large intestine comes after the small intestine. This oversees four main things: keeping you hydrated, keeping your microbiome healthy, absorbing nutrients, and packing down waste. This last function deserves a little more attention.
The rectum is at the end of the large intestine, it stores and compacts the waste that the body makes. This waste must be excreted, but this depends on how mobile our digestive system is. We can improve our gut motility by eating a diet high in fibre and eating mindfully.
Stress and Digestion
The digestive system can work without help from the brain, which means it doesn’t have to be told what to do. This means that it can lose a lot of its function during times of stress, even if we don’t want it to.
When we face a stressor, which is something that upsets our internal balance, our bodies move our resources to deal with the stressor. In those times, digestion isn’t as important, so blood is taken away from it. This is why you get butterflies in your stomach or, if you’re worried, vomit or have diarrhoea. If the digestive system doesn’t work, the body just wants to get the food out.
When the stressor is gone, digestion needs to start up again, so resources are moved back. This is where the phrase “rest and digest” comes from.
The problem is that stressors are seemingly everywhere in modern life. So, our resources are often taken away from our digestive function.
The way we react to stress has a big effect on how well we digest and use the food we eat and even though we can’t get rid of all our stressors all of the time, there are some things we can do to lessen the effects.
Mindful eating means paying attention to what you eat. When you’re focused on what’s in front of you, it’s hard to think about other things, like those things that are making you stressed out. Mindful eating is a bit like giving your digestive system the time and room it needs to do its job well. It can be as simple as eating at a table with a chair instead of eating whilst answering emails or taking calls.
We can also spend time cooking. Getting lost in the process of making a meal takes our mind off life for a moment.
In an ideal world, we want to be managing our stress well enough that it doesn’t affect our bodies negatively, but this doesn’t always happen. If we have some strategies up our sleeve, we can mitigate its effects as much as possible.
So, if you feel you have a handle on your diet and nutrition but are still not quite where you want to be, consider whether your digestive system is firing on all cylinders.
Top Tips for Digestive Health:
Eat plenty of fibre,
Limit ultra-processed foods where possible,
Practice mindful eating,
Manage stress effectively,
Spend time cooking,
Check out our library of recipes if you’d like to start cooking more and let us know how you get on.
Stress is evolutionary. It wouldn’t still exist if it didn’t have a purpose. Many of use exercise as a way to relieve stress, but is this always sensible? Let’s take a look at stress in a little more detail and the considerations we should make for our exercise routine if we are feeling particularly stressed.
What is Stress?
We’re all well aware of the concept of stress, or rather the feeling. We can feel on edge and overwhelmed which can then often leave us feeling helpless and exhausted. A quick search on google and there are thousands of suggestions on how to manage stress or simply feel less stressed, but given how many of us continue to feel this way, we’re hazarding a guess that those strategies aren’t working out too well.
But the stress response is literally there to save our life. It pulls out the big guns whenever anything threatens normal bodily function. Historically, this would have been to escape any predators that came to chase us, but we’re no longer sprinting through the wilderness. Unfortunately, it’s that looming deadline or our finances that now threaten our normal functions. Our stress response would historically kick us into action to deal with the threat, but oftentimes, short of finding a few extra hours every day to hit that deadline, we can’t see a way out of our stress.
But we must remember that the stress response has two sides.
The fight or flight (which kicks us into action) and the rest and digest (which gets everything back into balance).
Fight or Flight
The fight or flight response starts in the brain.
When someone confronts an oncoming car or other danger, their eyes or ears, or both (and parts of the peripheral nervous system) send this information to the amygdala, which is the area of the brain that deals with emotions. The amygdala interprets the images and sounds and sends a message to the hypothalamus.
The hypothalamus is like the command centre. It communicates with the rest of the body through the autonomic nervous system, which controls involuntary body functions like breathing, blood pressure and heartbeat. It also controls the dilation or constriction of key blood vessels and small airways in the lungs called bronchioles.
These signals get sent to the adrenal glands which start pumping adrenaline into the blood stream, which is actually what’s responsible for the physiological changes noted above. Your heart beats faster than normal, so it can push blood to muscles and other vital organs.
What is particularly cool is that this is all involuntary. So, you have no control over this happening. You don’t tell your heart to start beating faster, it happens and then you notice the thud in your chest.
Your body and brain identify the threat. Which is sometimes where the problem lies.
The Problem with Stress
Whenever you are exposed to something new, your brain forms new connections to establish the experience – whether this is good or bad. These experiences get stored as memories, so when you are exposed again, you know what to do, or how to deal with it. Like driving a car.
The issue is if you’ve had a bad meeting with a manager previously, you’ll dread future meetings, and your stress response will kick in. If you have slept late once, you’ll often not sleep great for fear of not waking up in time again. If you‘ve had difficult interactions with someone, being around them in future will likely kick up your stress response.
All of these potentially small stressors can soon add up.
Your stress response can be likened to a bucket; the more stress you experience in your life, the fuller your bucket becomes. It can soon overflow.
At this point we must also realise that exercise is a form of physical stress on the body. Especially when we are just starting out. Our body doesn’t necessarily know that we’re choosing vigorous activity in our living room, it just thinks we’re mobilising to manage a threat.
The more we exercise, the more our body adapts, but it is still a form of physical stress. This is why we must be mindful of how much exercise we do, and the type we do.
If we are having a particularly stressful week, it may not be wise to choose HIIT, but rather a yoga or pilates class. For many of us, exercise is a form of stress relief, but if you are feeling particularly tired or struggling to get motivated to move, try a gentler form of exercise until you feel you are getting more of a handle on the other stressors in your life. We want to stop our bucket of stress from overflowing.
Why yoga or Pilates you ask? Well, a huge feature of both yoga and Pilates is focussing on breathing.
Of course, you breathe every day, but we rarely focus on it and a key sign that you are stressed is short, shallow, and rapid breaths. This is because your body is demanding more and more oxygen.
A super-quick way to activate the rest and digest side of your stress is to practice mindful breathing.
Box breathing is a great technique. Imagine an outline of a box. Breathe in along one side of the box for 4 seconds, then breathe out for 4 seconds alongside another side of the box. Continue this until you feel your heart rate drop.
This side of the stress response can pop holes in the bottom of your stress bucket, keeping it from overflowing.
Now box breathing, or yoga doesn’t solve your stressor, but it does help you in the moment. It also sends vital nutrients all around your body to help you think more clearly about the stressors in your life.
The stress response is there to save our lives, and we shouldn’t demonise it.
But we must also remember that exercise can ramp up our stress response, and this is more of a concern if we are new to exercise our having a particularly challenging week.
Exercise is so important for our health, both physical and emotional, but sometimes we need to be sensible about the type we choose.
This is exactly why here at InstructorLive we have the range of classes we do.
We want to help you move no matter how your week is going.
If you’d like any guidance on what programme may be best for you, please get in touch. We’re here to help.
The beauty of the internet is that you can find almost anything you want. Whilst Voltaire is usually attributed the quote “don’t let perfect be the enemy of good,” what he actually said was “best is the enemy of good.”
Either way, he was right.
How many of us have fallen off track with our health and fitness because we didn’t perfectly adhere to a diet or fitness regime?
We then start to wonder, what’s the point?
The point is, good enough is good enough.
Just because we raided the biscuit tin in the staff kitchen, doesn’t mean the bean loaded chilli wraps with a green salad for dinner loses its nutritional value.
Just because we didn’t manage our 2km run, the 1km run still got us moving.
But for many of us, we start beating ourselves up for not having more control around the biscuit tin or not hitting that 2km marker.
Us humans can develop this habit of catastrophising. Which in short it makes us believe we’re in a worse situation than we really are.
We’re more likely to think that one biscuit is ruining our health and wellness journey rather than think the dinner containing protein, healthy fats and complex carbs is a great step forwards on our wellness journey.
So how do we turn it around?
We alter the goal posts. We start by just doing better, not being perfect, just doing better.
If in an ideal world, perfect is working out 3 days a week for 40-minutes, start by working out 1 day a week, then 2 days a week, then 3 days a week. If one week life gets busy, rather than 40-minute workouts, are 20-minute workouts more manageable? 20-minute workouts are still good.
If in an ideal world, perfect is walking 10,000 steps every day, 5 days of 10,000 steps is still better than zero days. 5 days is still good.
If in an ideal world, you want to avoid all processed foods, but the kids want to go to a burger restaurant, the other meals you have that day can still be meals that don’t involve processed foods.
If in an ideal world, you want to limit alcohol because you know it’s compromising your weight loss goals, but you want to join co-workers for a colleague’s leaving do, having one drink is better than having four, and equally, having 6 out of 7 alcohol-free nights is better than no alcohol-free nights.
Moving forwards, think about your next health and wellness goals. What would your ideal routine look like? Aim for that. But don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater if you don’t quite hit it. Any step towards them is a step in the right direction.
We often think that health and wellness is a destination, the perfect destination. But perhaps it should be a journey, a good journey.
What’s next on your health and wellness journey?
We know that exercise is good for us, and we all try to do a little bit as often as we can. But is there a magic number that is most beneficial for our health?
Well, we aren’t the only ones asking this question. It turns out that a group of researchers wanted to find out exactly how much time a week we should be exercising to optimise our health.
And we decided to get the low down.
Moderate and Vigorous Physical Activity
A study in the journal Circulation, funded by the American Heart Association, looked at the exercise habits of over 116,000 adults for over 30 years. Their workouts were split into two categories:
Moderate physical activity (MPA): This refers to exercise like walking, biking, or gentle body movement like yoga.
Vigorous physical activity (VPA): This type of exercise significantly increases heart rate and it includes things like jogging or running and more intense heart-pumping workouts like HIIT.
Current recommendations suggest that we should spend 150 to 300 minutes doing MPA per week and 75 to 150 minutes doing VPA per week, or some equivalent combination of them both.
But the researchers found that these guidelines don’t really hit the mark.
You Probably Need To Move More Than You Think
When reaping the rewards of MPA and VPA, individuals were generally spending their time doubling those guidelines.
Those who spent 300 to 600 minutes per week doing MPA and 150 to 300 minutes per week doing VPA, or an equivalent combination of both, were the ones able to live the longest, healthiest lives.
Now, this may seem like a lot of minutes to spend exercising, and we must take into account what else is going on in our lives. But it gives us something to aim for.
So, what does this look like?
It looks like the optimal amount of exercise for healthier and longer lives is approaching 2.5 to 5 hours of vigorous activity every week or 5 to 10 hours of moderate exercise per week. For optimal fitness, an equivalent combination of both is what we should aim for.
An example breakdown to hit your MPA and VPA:
- Walking 45 minutes every day (all MPA)
- Doing high-intensity classes at home 5 times a week for 40 minutes (all VPA)
If you’re already hitting the mark, consider this one more reason to stay motivated. If not, just think about adding in one extra walk per week, or one extra class. Its important not to make too many big changes too quickly. With an already busy life, we need to give our body time to adjust and adapt.
If you’re looking to increase your MPA, head out for a beautiful walk and don’t forget to add yoga to your routine.
For many of us, gaining weight or keeping weight off can be something that sits at the forefront of our mind. We are bombarded with information that maintaining a lean body mass is better for our overall health and that it significantly reduces our risk of a range of health issues. So, we try to exercise more, and we want to make optimal dietary choices. One website tells us that a low-carb diet is the way to keep those extra pounds off and another tells us that keto is the only way to go.
But do we really need to cut the carbs if we want to maintain a healthy weight? Let’s take a look.
What Are Carbohydrates?
Carbohydrates are one of the macronutrients, along with fat and protein. The main function of a carbohydrate is to provide energy and they are the preferred source of energy for the brain.
When eaten, carbohydrates are broken down into sugar and transported wherever needs energy. So that quick HIIT session, is fuelled by carbs!
When our energy demands have dropped (we’ve stopped our workout) or we ate more carbs than the body needed, they get stored in muscle and liver tissue as glycogen, but they will also get shuttled to fatty tissue. When we have an energy demand again, it is liberated for use at a later stage.
Carbs can be used very efficiently for energy, which is why when we are performing at high intensities, they are the preferred source of fuel. We can use fat for fuel, but this process needs more oxygen, so when we are at our limit, we can’t take enough oxygen in to help the process. Fat is great if we are heading out on a long hike or are running a marathon because we’ve got a steady intake of oxygen.
So, if carbs can be stored when they’re not used, surely this means carbs make me fat?
Yes, this is true. Unused carbs do get stored as fat. The body created this mechanism so we could eat in abundance when we had access to food and save some for later when food was scarce.
But any macronutrient in excess of energy needs will contribute to unwanted fatty tissue gain. So, we can’t solely demonise carbs.
Does this mean I should cut the carbs?
The thing to consider around weight gain is energy balance. We tend to gain unwanted weight if our nutrient intake is in excess of our energy needs. In short, we gain unwanted weight when we eat more than we use.
However, weight gain is not in fact this simple, and we also have a caveat to consider with the function of carbs.
Let’s start with the complexity of weight gain.
There are hormonal considerations around obesity and weight gain.
All of the fat found in cells is stored in the form of triglycerides. Fatty acids are converted into triglycerides for storage and then for fat to be used as energy, they are freed back into fatty acids and glycerol. Getting fat is the process where triglycerides are created more quickly than they are broken down.
This flow of fatty acids is regulated by a range of enzymes and hormones. This isn’t surprising when we consider the role of growth hormone, it is what drives the growth of children and adolescents. In addition, consider bodybuilding. Steroid hormones are used to increase bulk. Furthermore, if you take a trip down memory lane, chickens were injected with hormones in the 50’s to increase their size.
It seems that, on a simplistic level, certain hormones cause fat cells to suck up fatty acids more readily than they otherwise would or slow down the rate at which triglycerides are converted back. The hormonal impact on weight gain is incredibly complex and if you are struggling to maintain your preferred weight, pop to see your healthcare provider and discuss hormonal testing.
The other idea gaining momentum is that obesity is related to gut health.
Studies have demonstrated that transplanting the microbes from an overweight mouse to a lean mouse, would subsequently make the lean mouse, fat. The reverse is also true. Now we’re not advocating faecal transplants to the general population, but it highlights an interesting concept that the microbes found in our guts play a role in the energy extracted from the food we eat.
There are several things that can influence the community of microbes found in our gut from the way we were born to how we were brought up. Stress also influences the community in our gut, along with the diet we choose to eat. Those who eat a typically western diet, high in saturated fat and low in fruits and vegetables often have poorer gut health than those who regularly eat their 5-a-day!
This leads us nicely to the other function of carbohydrates that we mentioned early.
Carbohydrates are a source of fibre
Under the umbrella of carbohydrates, you will also find fibre. Fibre is the indigestible part of the food. What this means is that it finds its way through our digestive system relatively untouched until it gets to our large intestine. Here, the microbes in our gut have a feast! Like all things, what gets fed, survives, and so if we want a healthy community of microbes in our gut, we need to feed them!
- Fibre supports our gut health by promoting regular motility – it helps things move through the digestive system as they should.
- Fibre supports balanced blood sugar levels – simple carbs are relatively low in fibre, but complex carbs take longer to be digested and so there is a steadier rise is blood-glucose levels.
- Fibre supports our mental health – those microbes found in our gut also talk to our brain. When we have a certain community of fed and thriving bugs, compounds are released which supports our mood and feelings. When there are low levels of certain microbes (because they haven’t been fed), those compounds are low, and we know that this can contribute to feelings of anxiety and depression.
So, the issue with cutting carbs is that you inadvertently cut fibre too! And fibre is a true friend.
So where does this leave us with our carbs?
The bottom line is that we may want to look at cutting the simple carbs but not the complex carbs.
Simple carbs are those that are generally heavily processed. This means they don’t take much digestion and glucose is released into the bloodstream relatively quickly. We’re not denying that simple carbs can be helpful if you are a competing athlete or have a particularly high-energy exercise routine. But remember if you aren’t using the energy released, then it will get transported and stored for a later date.
Complex carbs on the other hand, take longer to digest, and they provide fibre for your gut.
The general rule of thumb is that 45-65% of your dietary intake can be carbohydrates but opt for complex carbs.
If you think about your plate, load half of it up with veggies, a quarter with starchy veggies like potatoes or rice and the other quarter with a protein source.
For those of us who are active, use complex carbohydrates in your mealtimes and if you are particularly active, simple carbs can be a useful energy source if and when you feel you need it.
If you are worried about weight gain, carbohydrates aren’t the enemy. We just need to be more mindful of the type we are eating. Remove processed foods where possible and be mindful of the total number of calories being eaten in comparison to daily energy expenditure.
We often see yoga as a stand-alone exercise class, but did you know that by adding it into your usual aerobic training routine, you could reap even more rewards? Where many think yoga is just a fancy stretch, it is far more beneficial to health. We’re going to share why yoga is superior to stretching in your usual routine.
What is Yoga?
Yoga is an ancient practice that involves movement, meditation, and breathing techniques to promote mental and physical well-being.
What is Stretching?
Stretching is a physical exercise that requires putting a body part in a certain position that’ll serve in the lengthening and elongation of the muscle or muscle group and therefore enhance its flexibility and elasticity.
We can see clear differences between the definitions of yoga and stretching, but researchers also found the same in terms of physical health benefits.
The Benefits of Yoga
A three-month study was conducted on a group of 60 participants with existing hypertension and metabolic syndrome.
The researchers divided the participants into two groups, both of which had to do 30 minutes of aerobic exercise training five times a week.
Then, one group added 15 minutes of structured yoga, while the other group added structured stretching to their routine.
The researchers collected data on the health of the participants and observed markers like blood pressure, body size and shape, a common marker of inflammation, glucose and lipids levels, as well as overall cardiovascular risk.
After three months, the data collected showed that both groups had a decrease in resting systolic and diastolic blood pressure, mean arterial blood pressure, and heart rate.
But of particular interest, systolic blood pressure was reduced by 10 mmHg in the yoga group compared to only 4 mmHg in the stretching group.
The yoga group also experienced a reduced resting heart rate along with a reduced 10-year cardiovascular risk assessed using Reynold’s Risk score, which is a person’s risk of having a heart attack before the age of 60.
The researchers concluded that the benefits of yoga may be due to the focus on breathing and the mind-body connection that doesn’t usually occur with stretching alone.
Finally, they stated that their study shows that structured yoga practices can be a healthier addition to aerobic exercise than simply muscle stretching.
So, if you already participate in other aerobic training, but usually stretch, it may be worth swapping it for a yoga session.
Never done yoga before? We have the perfect place to start!
We all have those days, where we feel a little more sluggish than usual, but if you’re regularly reaching for coffee or dreaming of a mid-afternoon nap then it may be time to take a look at your daily habits to see if they are serving you well.
How is your sleep?
Do you feel refreshed when you wake up? If you don’t, chances are, you aren’t getting enough shut eye.
Along with feeling tired, lack of sleep is associated with poor immune function, impaired memory and thinking skills, along with depressed mood.
There isn’t a magic number of hours of sleep that you need, sleep as much as you need to feel refreshed and ready to function on a daily basis. Women also have a biological need for more sleep than men too.
Try to stick to consistent bed and wake times, even on weekends. If you wake up tired, try to go to bed 15 minutes earlier, then 30 minutes, then 45 minutes. Small changes are easier to achieve.
Are you eating enough protein?
If your breakfast is full of simple carbs, you’ll get your spike in blood sugar followed by a crash. This can leave you feeling low on energy into the afternoon.
Opt for a protein filled breakfast, that also contains complex carbohydrates and fats. Scrambled eggs on sourdough toast with some avocado? Or poached eggs if you’re feeling particularly skilled. Yoghurt with nuts and fruit is another easy to prep breakfast, or grab a protein-smoothie!
Monitor your caffeine and alcohol intake
Caffeine late in the day can affect sleep. This can mean you stay awake longer or have broken sleep once you finally get there.
This also occurs with alcohol. Whilst some report being able to fall asleep easier with alcohol, sleep is often broken, and we can experience frequent wake times.
Poor sleep due to caffeine or alcohol intake can then affect how alert we feel the following day, leading us into a vicious cycle. We use caffeine to perk us up, and then alcohol to chill out again at the end of the day.
Try to have a caffeine cut-off – for some this may be around 1 or 2pm and track how well you sleep after alcohol. Would your sleep improve with limited alcohol intake?
Drink more water!
Dehydration can lead to feeling sleepy and irritable. So, try to keep a bottle of water on your desk as you are working. In addition, having to refill the bottle will encourage you to move more throughout the day and give you a break from your screen!
Not a fan of water? Jazz it up with some slices of fruit!
One study showed that in adults who were sleep-deprived, walking up and down stairs for 10 minutes increased energy levels more than drinking 4oz of coffee. So, whilst it may seem counter-intuitive, exercise can actually help us feel more awake and alert.
Regular exercise helps us sleep better, reduces stress, and gives us a routine. If we are fueling our exercise, we are more likely to eat well too and all of these factors can help us balance our energy levels, helping us feel more alert.
If you have fallen out of an exercise routine, check out our range of programmes to get back on track.
If your fatigue is worsening or accompanied with other symptoms, pop to see your healthcare provider.
It seems that the type of exercise you choose to do, and how often you do it can be heavily influenced by your personality. In addition, exercise can affect your future personality.
Want to learn more? Read on!
What is Personality?
Personality describes the unique patterns of thoughts, feelings, and behaviours that distinguish a person from others.
Many researchers have concluded that there are 5 main personality traits, known as the Big Five, and we can remember them as OCEAN.
Openness and Exercise
Openness considers traits of having wide interests, being imaginative and insightful. High scorers are creative and seek novelty. Low scorers on the other hand prefer routines and have strong values.
Openness may lend itself to specific activities like hiking or trail running and recreational obstacle races (e.g., Mud Runs, Spartan Race, or Warrior Dash).
Openness traits also are related to the adoption of technology-supported fitness programs. In short, you’re more likely to wear a fitness tracker or use an app!
Those who are more open prefer unsupervised and less structured activities too!
Conscientiousness and Exercise
Conscientiousness considers traits like organisation and being thorough. Those with high scores here tend to be motivated, disciplined and trustworthy. Low scorers are easily distracted.
People with higher levels of conscientiousness are more likely to follow through with physical activity compared with people who score lower on this trait. Individuals who score high on this trait are self-disciplined and diligent in carrying out behaviours that are well-planned.
Conscientiousness is related to a preference for strenuous, high-intensity exercise, whereas those with lower conscientiousness scores are more likely to engage in moderate-intensity aerobic and weight training.
Goal setting is also important for those who score highly on conscientiousness.
Extraversion and Exercise
Extraversion encompasses traits such as being talkative, energetic, and assertive. This trait measures cheerfulness, initiative, and communication. Those who score high on extraversion are sociable, warm, and affectionate. They are more likely to enjoy large crowds of people. Those with low scores are introverted and reserved and prefer a slow and steady pace.
A person that scores high in extraversion may have a preference toward HIIT and group-based workouts. Alternatively, those with lower levels of extraversion prefer lower levels of arousal and will often avoid intense stimuli. Those lower in extraversion will likely feel more comfortable exercising at home or in private settings. Yoga and/or Pilates may be the preferred activity of choice.
Agreeableness and Exercise
Agreeableness includes being sympathetic, kind, and affectionate. High scorers here are generally friendly empathic and warm. Low scorers tend to be shy, suspicious, and egocentric.
It is thought that this personality trait has little impact on physical activity. That said, the easy-going, light-hearted nature of those with high levels of agreeableness might prevent them from reporting negative side-effects of an exercise activity (e.g., soreness, injury, etc.) so they may be more likely to skip recovery days.
Neuroticism and Exercise
Neuroticism covers traits of being moody, tense, and anxious. Individuals with high scores here are generally apprehensive and less self-assured. They generally have poor self-control. Low scorers are calm, confident, and content.
Low neuroticism tends to be related to greater levels of physical activity. High scores for neuroticism are associated with significant perceived barriers to exercise participation. But what’s really interesting is that even high scorers can improve how often they work out by choosing exercise routines that can improve their belief in themselves.
Personality and Motivation
Those with high scores on extraversion, openness, and conscientiousness tend to rely on intrinsic motivation and may be less reliant on external motivation from a trainer or coach.
Alternatively, those of us with higher levels of neuroticism will often look for social norms as motivational cues to behaviour. In short, we’ll see what others are doing and enjoying and consider giving it a go.
Exercise and Personality
Not only does our personality influence the type of exercise we may choose to do, but it seems that regularly engaging in exercise can actually influence our personality in the future too.
Adults who get more physical activity are more likely to show positive personality traits, such as openness, agreeableness, and conscientiousness (wanting to do things well). The more active people are, the more these traits develop positively, into and throughout adulthood.
There are a number of personality tests on available for you to complete, but the big 5 is the most rigorously tested.
Do you think your personality influences your exercise routine? Or do you go against the grain? Let us know!