When it comes to fitness, consistency and variety are key.
Regular physical activity has proven to have numerous health benefits, including:
- Increased heart strength
- Increased muscular endurance
- Increased bone density
- Increased stroke volume
- Increased joint and muscle strength
- Reduced risk of osteoporosis
- Increased energy levels
- Stronger ability to cope with stress
- Improved sleep patterns
- Reduced risk of heart disease
- Reduced risk of diabetes
- Normalises blood pressure
- Reduced risk of hypertension
- Reduces cholesterol
- Reduced likelihood of obesity
- Reduced risk of strokes
- Reduced risk of some cancers
- Reduced risk of premature death
- Improved confidence
- Improved well-being
Physical Activity Guidelines
The ‘National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence’(NCE) recommends that “adults should accumulate 30 minutes of moderate intensity activity on 5 or more days of the week”.
Some examples include:
- Walking or cycling to work
- Dog walking
- Taking the stairs rather than the lift
- Getting off the bus stop a couple of stops earlier
Your diet is also a very important factor to be taken into consideration. Essentially what you eat is closely correlated with how effective and beneficial your chosen physical activity/workout will be.
Below is an example of my daily diet and fitness regime. This varies from day to day, however, it’s a good indication of what I would consume on daily basis and the type of physical exercises I am likely to do.
Glass of water, an apple
Activity to follow
30 mins of Morning Yoga (flexibility and stretching)
Bowl of oat bran cereal with natural yoghurt and honey
Fresh fruit juice
Activity to follow
15 mins of jogging outdoors (or 15 mins of aerobic exercise at home)
15 mins of circuit training
Grilled salmon with mixed vegetables
Fruit (e.g peach, handful of grapes, pear)
handful of raw mixed nuts
Late afternoon/ Early evening activity
10 mins of dynamic strength-training
5 mins of static strength-training
15 mins of yoga
Cold whole-grain pasta salad (made with a selection of fresh vegetables such as tomatoes, cucumber, peppers, rocket leaves, beetroot, carrots)
Evening snack/ dessert
Repetition of the same foods and physical activities will eventually lead to boredom. This can decrease your enthusiasm to follow your set goals. This is why I change the activities I perform and the meals I eat on daily basis to keep it interesting. If you are not able to do this every day perhaps add variety on weekly basis.
How do I keep myself motivated?
Of course there are days on which we are not in the mood for exercise. But if you develop a habit it will be much easier to keep up with it. I have changed my perspective on exercise and do not see it as something I MUST do but as something that I simply enjoy. I do not push myself to the limit but take it one step at a time. Reinforcing the benefits and the progress made is another great way to stay motivated. As well as by myself I like to keep active in the company of others, either as part of a class or with a friend.
Now let’s talk about diet. In the western society there is such an abundance of food. As a result we often tend to over-indulge. I’ve learned that my body can functioning well and be perfectly happy without me eating until I am really full. So portion size is key here. Second, choose what you put on your plate wisely. We have all heard of the saying ‘You are what you eat’. Consume plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits, stay hydrated and significantly reduce your intake of processed foods. What helps me to keep track of my food intake is cooking and preparing my own meals. In that way I am really aware of what goes inside my breakfast, lunch and dinner. Of course sometimes I eat out, which is absolutely fine, I do not put strict restriction on myself, but am just mindful of what I choose and how much I eat at a time.
Get SMART Goals
In order to successfully move towards your fitness target and objective be clear and precise with yourself. Your goals should be:
Pre-/ Post-Workout Foods
This is something to consider if you are training actively and are striving to achieve a specific target, such as gaining muscle, toning up, or loosing weight.
In my previous article Pre- and Post-Workout Foods for Runners I have discussed this in more depth with meal examples. It applies for running but also for other types of activities and training programmes.