You might be surprised to hear a gym say that fitness alone isn’t enough for good health. But we ARE saying it. Because it’s true. Exercising for physical fitness is an important part of staying healthy, but it isn’t the whole picture. In the past, gyms have been guilty of pushing exercise as a one-step cure-all. The message was “train hard enough and you can fix anything”. This resulted in a lot of injuries, loss of motivation and unfulfilled dreams. In this two part series, we’ll reveal real secrets to good health…
Holistic Health: Look after your body
Nutrition is easily the most important factor in how your body looks, feels and performs. What you eat is even more important than how much. We advocate a diet rich in a variety of vegetables, fruits, grains, nuts, seeds and good quality proteins (either meat and fish that has been reared well or vegetarian protein sources such as tofu, Quorn and beans). We’re not fans of cutting any food group out entirely, but processed foods rich in sugar or saturated fats with a limited number of vitamins and minerals should be kept for treats.
Quantity and total energy requirements (calories) are harder to advise on as each person’s metabolism is different. This depends on their size, body composition, activity levels and genetics. Also, for the same “calorie payload” you can eat a larger quantity of lower energy foods than you can of energy dense foods. We advise looking at your current body shape and composition and adjusting your portions accordingly. If you struggle to keep weight on, see if you can add a few healthy snacks. If you know you’re overweight, look at cutting the portions on energy dense foods and filling up on more veg or lean protein.
You need to keep moving to stay healthy. But making sure you train right is key to sustainable fitness, avoiding injury and motivation “burn out”. If you can, talk to a trainer about developing a programme that’s right for you. Just because a certain thing suits your friends, doesn’t make it the right choice for you. It’s about training the body you have now for the body you want in future. This means variety, staying challenged without going nuts and not skimping on stuff like stability and mobility training.
Much like eating, your fitness diet should be varied. If you stick to one form of exercise (cardio or weights for example) you’re only going to get the limited set of benefits offered by that form of exercise. Varied exercise programmes deliver better, more sustainable results.
Don’t ignore illness and injury
If you are feeling under the weather for whatever reason, don’t just tough it out. Make sure you see a medical professional or a physio for anything that really hurts or doesn’t seem to be getting better on its own. If your car was making strange noises, you’d take it to the garage before it conked out altogether and you ought to give your body at least the same level of respect and care. We eat well and exercise for health reasons, but everyone faced illness or injury from time to time. You don’t have to make out like a superhero just because you have a healthy lifestyle. It’s ok to take a break and recover properly too.
Make time for rest and relaxation
A healthy body is much more than one that’s fed well and trained hard. You need to give it down time too, otherwise you’ll end up dealing with the previous step far more often than you’d like. We’re not built to move at 300 miles an hour all the time without respite. But unfortunately our lifestyles often conspire to make that look like the only option.
Ensure recovery is built into your training plan, so your body has a chance to regenerate and heal before your next session. Try scheduling in rest and relaxation in the same way you do your other commitments. It may seem strange to book in 5 minutes of quiet contemplation or an hour of doing nothing, but your health will definitely thank you for it!
Look out for part two of our holistic health guide next week when we look at how to look after your mind as well as your body!