Stay in the moment, take small steps and make minor daily adjustments to exercise and your life, and you can be your fittest you, today – and every day. Fiona Bugler shows you six ways to be a better you…
- Find the right time for your training. For those lifting weights you’ll have more power in the evening, and to burn fat, it’s great to train in the morning. Work out before you eat (i.e. in a fasted state) and there will be a small increase in the amount of fat you burn. That’s because blood sugar, insulin and glycogen levels are all lower than normal after an overnight fast. And when it comes to morning training, it’s just great to get it done!
- Positive self-talk. The ‘psychobiological’ model says that the brain has as big an influence on how hard, and how long you can train, as your physiological state.Scientists at the University of Kent put the theory to the test when they examined a small sample of healthy adults and got them to cycle to exhaustion, repeatedly. They took all the relevant measurements then sent the group away for two weeks, with one half the group being told to talk to themselves in training, with phrases such as ‘You’re doing well’. Two weeks later this group cycled for longer and it felt easier than before, whereas the other group remained the same.
- Smile when you train. Smiling when you run can help to release tension in the neck and shoulders, and relieve stress, and doing this can mean you’ll perform better in training, and subsequently get fitter – and don’t just grin, smile big! A study from 2010 analysed baseball cards from 1952 and found that the players with the biggest, widest smiles, lived longer, happier, more successful lives. Find you’re more likely to grimace than smile? Dance, play, do an obstacle race, train with friends – have fun! Studies show simple things like good music can make a difference to how enjoyable exercise is and are more likely to keep you smiling.
- Train with your friends. It’s much more motivating to train with friends, as well as being more fun, training with others means you’re more accountable and studies have found that group training is associated with adherence. Work together, try something new each month, and mix up your plans so that you can all play on your strengths and develop your weaker areas.
- Get a gadget and record your progress. From heart rate monitors, to lifestyle gadgets that record your steps, your eating, your sleep hours, there’s now no excuse not to keep track of where you’re going and keep your fitness in mind all day long. Research shows that tracking what you do gets results.
- Breathe, stretch, relax… A total body approach to your fitness training will mean you get results quicker. If you’ve trained hard set aside time to release the muscles you’ve worked. As well as stretching, iron out the fascia (a web-like tissue beneath your skin) with a foam roller, a physio ‘stick’ or another ‘myofascial’ release tool. Take 10 minutes at the end of the day to breathe deeply, and meditate so you can tune into your body and ‘listen’ to how it’s responding to the exercise you’re putting it through.