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Jurg Widmer Probst

What exercise barriers are there, and how can you overcome them?

Exercise is a vital part of a healthy lifestyle. But it’s not always easy to stay consistent and many people struggle to maintain a regular regimen of physical activity.

Many factors affect our ability to exercise. When life gets busy, or motivation starts dwindling, exercise is often one of the first things to be pushed aside. In addition, our want or ability to stay active can vary from week to week. Most of us have experiences where we get into positive habits and exercise regularly one week, yet everything feels much harder the next.

It’s easy to say you just need to get up and go, but that’s not always helpful. Instead, real, practical, and customisable solutions are required.

As a health, fitness and wellbeing enthusiast, Jurg Widmer has faced his share of difficulties staying consistent with exercise. It’s something that affects most people, so today, we’ll look at some of the most common exercise barriers and give you some handy tips to help you beat them.

What types of barriers prevent people from working out?

Not everyone faces the same barriers to exercise; obstacles may be specific to an individual’s situation. However, when considering what stops most people from exercising, we can divide these hurdles into 3 main categories:

  • Physical barriers (such as injuries or lack of energy).
  • Mental barriers (such as low confidence, self-motivation, or lack of enjoyment).
  • Environmental barriers (such as inadequate exercise spaces, limited time, or cost).

Some challenges may be easier to deal with than others, but there’s usually a way to improve your situation.

Parents, for instance, may not have childcare that allows them to go to the gym for an hour or two. But perhaps there are gyms in your area with childcare facilities, or there’s something you and your kid would like to do together. Sometimes we need to think outside the box to find solutions that work for us.

The 10 most common barriers to exercise and how you can overcome them

We all know that exercise is good for the mind and body, but knowing this doesn’t mean it’s easy all the time. So don’t worry if you’re struggling to keep active. It happens to everyone (even top Olympic athletes).

1. Not enough time

One of the most frequent excuses not to exercise is that people don’t have the time. You may have a big project, a busy season at work, or a lot of events on your social calendar. At times like these, it can be hard to fit workouts on top of everything else.

But there are ways to compromise. For instance, you could find a particular time of the day or week when things are quieter and block out some time. And remember, exercising doesn’t always mean you have to do a super long session at the gym. You could take a walk on your lunch break or start the day with a 10-minute yoga session. You could even build exercise into your routine, for example, by walking or cycling to work.

2. Tiredness

Who wants to get up and go for a run when they’ve had a poor night’s sleep or a hectic week? Not many of us. Ideally, you should get more (and better) rest when you’re tired, but this isn’t always easy.

Ultimately, sleep is essential for us to feel well and energetic. It can help to set a bedtime alarm, which signals when it’s time to wind down and head to bed. And while it might seem counterintuitive, it’s often better for you to get up and exercise even if you’ve slept badly. Many of us get into bad habits, but getting up and exercising despite your tiredness will ensure you’re tired enough to fall asleep at a more reasonable time the next night.

3. Low energy

While low energy is often connected to tiredness, they’re not the same thing. You might lack energy even though you got a full 8 hours of sleep. It’s hard to exercise when you barely have the power to roll out of bed or head to the fridge for a snack.

So if you’ve got no energy, how are you supposed to exercise? Firstly, you can try mixing up your schedule to fit in an activity when you have the most energy. For example, if you’re a night owl, you’ll likely prefer to work out in the evening than in the morning.

It’s also worth switching your diet if you consistently feel lethargic. Food is fuel, and eating right will ensure you have the energy to keep physically active.

It’s also worth acknowledging that many believe exercise increases energy levels in the body. So you could start with some light exercise and push yourself further as your energy increases.

4. Exercise is too hard

There’s no denying that exercise is challenging, especially when you’re pushing yourself. But it’s also true that it’s good for you, even if it’s uncomfortable.

The best trick to overcoming this feeling is to give yourself time to rest and choose activities you like. For example, if you’re not a big fan of jogging or weight lifting, why not try classes at the gym or online? It can also help to join a group exercise. You’ll be less focused on how hard something is if you’re doing it with friends.

5. No enjoyment

When you hate a particular exercise or are bored with your usual routine, you’ll likely find excuses to avoid it. Instead, switch things up and try something new. Again classes, online videos, and working out with friends can be a great way to change things up and rediscover your enjoyment.

6. Lack of confidence

Many worry about doing exercises wrong or being judged by those around them. Worries like this can completely halt your desire to stay active. It can help to find a quiet time to begin your fitness journey. You could also enlist the help of a friend or trainer to help build your confidence. In fact, many gyms offer one or two free sessions with a personal trainer where you can ask questions and try out new exercises or machines you’re nervous about using.

7. Self-motivation

Sometimes it’s hard to find the motivation to work out. It can help to build physical activity into your routine or join a friend or group. Most people are more likely to stick to an exercise regimen if they’ve got the accountability of meeting someone or attending a class.

8. Injury

An injury is a particularly challenging barrier to exercise. First, of course, you don’t want to risk worsening damage. Sometimes you must wait to recover before exercising again, but what if it’s a longer-term injury? In this case, you may want to consult with a doctor or physical therapist. Generally, you should try engaging in gentle workouts or something that doesn’t put pressure on the injured area.

9. Nowhere to exercise

It can be challenging to find space to exercise. You may not have transport to get to a gym, not have well-maintained paths in your area, or live in a busy city where spaces are crowded. You might not be able to solve these issues, but there are usually ways around them. For instance, you could walk rather than run on uneven paths. Or you could try online classes or tutorials at home if you can’t get to a gym.

10. Cost

Gyms and clubs can be expensive. You might not have the disposable income to partake in these exercises, but luckily there are lots of physical activities you can try for free or next to nothing. For example, jogging, jump rope, dancing, yoga, and bodyweight exercises don’t cost anything and can be done outside or at home.

Of course, this is not an unlimited list of barriers or solutions. So many things in daily life can prevent you from exercising as you’d like. But there are even more ways to overcome these barriers, living healthier and happier lives. There’s almost always a way to continue exercising if you’re flexible and willing to take a new approach to life’s challenges.

Total Fitness

What 5 components make up total fitness?

Before we jump into the 5 components of total fitness, it’s good to consider what fitness means.

Jurg Widmer describes total fitness as a condition of being physically fit and healthy. The term fitness also often involves being suitably able to complete a particular task or role. These could be things you must do daily or a more extreme one-off target task, like running a marathon.

 

What is total fitness?

Total fitness is essentially an overview of fitness and is defined by how well the body performs in 5 core components.

The 5 components of total fitness include:

  1. Cardiovascular endurance
  2. Muscular endurance
  3. Muscular strength
  4. Flexibility
  5. Body composition

In Jurg Widmer’s experience, many people find they excel in one area of fitness more than others. For instance, some bodybuilders are far beyond the average muscular strength level yet may struggle with cardiovascular endurance or flexibility. If you measure just one of these components, you may get an overinflated or deflated sense of your fitness level. Total fitness gives a more comprehensive impression of your fitness levels.

Our total fitness, and each component that makes it up, are affected by exercise. But that is not the only vital factor. Sleep and nutrition are essential for building a healthy mind and body.

To help you fully understand total fitness, including what it means, involves, and benefits, we’ll dive into each component in more detail below.

 

What is cardiovascular endurance?

Cardiovascular endurance relies on our hearts, lungs, and blood vessels. Each of these must work together to perform aerobic exercises such as running for extended periods.

Aerobic exercise is one of the most critical elements of fitness and health. Unfortunately, a lack of cardiovascular endurance is a large part of why many people give up when initially exercising.

 

What are the benefits of cardiovascular endurance?

Cardiovascular exercise can specifically improve heart and lung function, as well as provide more general health benefits.

The benefits of cardiovascular endurance:

  • Increased lung capacity
  • Stronger heart muscles
  • Better-regulated blood pressure
  • Lower cholesterol
  • Higher metabolism and reduced risk of obesity
  • Better sleep
  • Lowered stress levels
  • Enhanced mood

The more cardiovascular workouts you do, the more benefits you will see.

 

How can you test your cardiovascular endurance?

There are various ways to test your cardiovascular endurance. One popular and easy test is the Cooper test.

The Cooper test involves running as far as possible within a 12-minute timeframe. Then, you simply need to record your distance and use it to see how you performed for your age and gender.

 

How can you improve your cardiovascular endurance?

You can improve your cardiovascular endurance with little to no equipment. Some of the best activities for this include aerobic exercises like jogging, cycling, swimming, or sports like football, hockey, or kayaking. You may want to choose different cardio activities based on your body goals.

 

What is muscular endurance?

Muscular endurance refers to our ability to lift a lighter weight for a high number of repetitions (usually at least 12-15 reps) before fatiguing the muscles.

When working out, many people overlook the importance of this component.

 

What are the benefits of muscular endurance?

Muscular endurance is closely linked to other aspects of total fitness. You should see improvements in your cardiovascular and muscular strength by working on your muscular endurance.

Additional benefits:

  • Reduced risk of injury
  • Strengthened bones and muscles
  • Decreases fat stores and prevents obesity
  • Improves mood

 

How can you test your muscular endurance?

One of the simplest ways to test endurance is to see how many push-ups or sit-ups you can do, usually within a minute or two timeframes. Then, you can compare your number to averages for your age and gender.

 

How can you improve your muscular strength?

Repetitive activities like push-ups, sit-ups, squats, planks, or lunges are also excellent ways to improve muscular endurance.

 

What is muscular strength?

Muscular strength refers to how much force you can exert, for instance, how heavy a weight you can lift.

 

What are the benefits of muscular strength?

Stronger muscles usually lead to a higher and more easily maintained muscle mass. It is also generally beneficial to other components of fitness.

Improving your muscular strength can help:

  • Boosts bone health
  • Heighten metabolic rate, meaning you burn more calories
  • Reduces fat stores
  • Enhances energy levels and mood

How can you test your muscular strength?

Tests will depend on which muscle group you want to test. So first, pick the muscle group, then select a corresponding exercise. You’ll want to choose a relatively heavy weight you think you’ll be able to lift between 7 and 10 times. Keep going until you can’t repeat the action, and record how many reps you completed with what weight.

You can use this information to calculate your one rep max.

 

How can you improve your muscular strength?

You can use similar exercises as you would for improving endurance, but you want to aim for a higher intensity over the number of reps. You can add weight to specifically target muscle strength if using bodyweight exercises like pull-ups or squats.

Other practical exercises include:

  • Deadlifts
  • Bicep curls
  • Barbell squats
  • Triceps dips

 

What is flexibility?

Flexibility speaks to how close you are to having a full range of motion through each of your joints.

 

What are the benefits of flexibility?

In the long term, flexibility can:

  • Reduce the risk of injury
  • Improve blood flow, leading to shorter recovery times
  • Improve posture and balance
  • Ease muscle aches and cramps

 

How can you test your flexibility?

One of the most common methods of testing flexibility is the sit-and-reach test, which involves a solid box with a ruler attached with the 26cm mark hitting the box. You’ll sit with your feet flat on the box and see how far along the ruler you can reach. You’re about average if you can touch the 26cm mark above your feet.

 

How can you improve your flexibility?

To improve your flexibility, you can stretch, or many people find activities like yoga or dancing particularly helpful.

 

What is body composition?

When we talk about body composition, we are talking about the amount of body fat compared to organs, bones, and muscles. A lower fat mass is generally better for our health.

 

What are the benefits of improving your body composition?

Good body composition can have benefits that reach far beyond just looks. These advantages include the following:

  • Better bodily functional capabilities
  • Improved metabolic rate
  • Lower risk of heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure

 

How can you test your body composition?

The most accurate way to measure body composition is with hydrostatic weighing. However, this isn’t easy to perform.

Calipers are a low-cost and easy way to measure body fat and are more accurate than BMI.

 

How can you improve your body composition?

Exercises like strength training, HIIT workouts, and circuit training can also help improve body composition. Ultimately, if you are working on the other 4 components of total fitness, you’ll see your body composition naturally improve along the way.

Health and Fitness - Sleep

Health and Fitness: How important is sleep for you?

Health and fitness and more specifically sleep is one of the most vital cornerstones for living a physically and mentally healthy life.

For those with busy lives, it can be challenging to balance everything that needs to be done. But unfortunately, sleep, exercise, and diet are all essential to our health and well-being, and you cannot reasonably sacrifice one for the other.

The good news is that each tends to play into the other. So, if you exercise more and eat better, you are more likely to sleep more deeply. Likewise, if you sleep more, you are more likely to feel refreshed and maintain a regular exercise and diet plan.

 

Why is sleep important for your health and fitness?

Good sleep can improve your mood, brain performance, and overall health. Did you know that lack of sleep reduces the risk of multiple diseases, including diabetes 2 and heart disease?

Sleeps impact on diet

Individuals who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to eat more than they need. So, as well as being at higher risk of diseases like diabetes and obesity, those who are sleep deprived are more likely to crave higher-calorie foods and overeat.

So, even with the best will in the world, people tend to find sticking to a healthy diet more challenging when they are not getting the sleep they need.

Sleep’s role in Health and fitness

One of the reasons you might not see results from working out is that you aren’t getting enough sleep. Experts have found that our body recovers faster during sleep and that regular sleeping can provide us with the energy needed to complete workouts. Those who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to be less physically active and feel less physically strong.

Add to this the effect that sleep has on our brains, and those who aren’t sleeping well are less likely to be able to focus and, therefore, more prone to injuries while exercising.

 

What makes a good night’s sleep?

Most experts recommend that adults sleep between 7 and 9 hours a night. Those who regularly sleep for less than 7 hours nightly may experience tiredness, an increased risk of various health conditions, lack of motivation, reduced results from exercise, and more cravings.

It’s important to note that the amount of sleep we need changes throughout our lives. For example, babies require more sleep than school-aged children, who need more than teens and adults. However, once you reach adulthood, the amount of sleep needed remains pretty much the same, with a minimum of 7 hours being required for a healthy lifestyle.

The idea that we can make up for lost sleep is also a myth. While you can catch up on it within the next few nights, you cannot make up for a week of little sleep over the weekend. Instead, you should ideally be trying to get at least 7 hours of sleep regularly.

But it’s not just about the number of hours you sleep. Sleep quality is just as important as sleep quantity. Lower quality of sleep usually means that we are not following our body’s natural circadian rhythm and may not be entering the periods of deep sleep required for our body and mind to rest and recover.

Research suggests that humans have an internal body clock. This clock regulates our sleep and controls when we feel tired and alert. Known as the circadian rhythm, the clock operates on a 24-hour cycle and can be affected by things such as light, diet, and exercise. Thus, doing a workout outside could help your brain determine the time of day, allowing it to release melatonin (a hormone found to induce drowsiness) when the natural light draws in during the evening.

 

How can you improve your sleep habits?

It can be frustrating to hear about how important sleep is when you struggle to sleep. Luckily, there are things you can do to improve your sleep.

Sleep and fitness

Sleep in coordination with health and fitness are essential parts of healthy living. Beyond sleep, rest is also important for your body. Both rest and sleep allow our body time to recover and repair, meaning we get better results from workouts.

Interestingly, it also works the other way around. Regular exercise is a crucial component in healthy living and improving sleep. Sleep expert Chalene Gamaldo, M.D., suggests that moderate aerobic exercise can increase the amount of slow wave (deep) sleep we get. This slow-wave sleep is essential and helps us feel alert and refreshed when we wake up the next day.

Engaging in physical activity during the day can help people to sleep. However, you shouldn’t exercise just before bed as these increases stress hormone levels, making sleep more difficult. The ideal time to squeeze in a workout is in the late afternoon or early evening.

Sleep and diet

Just as a lack of sleep can cause our bodies to crave more and unhealthier foods, our diet can also affect our sleep.

Two critical pieces of advice are:

  1. Eat a few hours before bed, as this will give your body time to digest and be in the optimum state for sleeping.
  2. Don’t consume caffeine, particularly in the hours leading up to your bedtime. The less caffeine you drink, the better sleep you are likely to achieve. If you can’t cut caffeine out completely, try limiting consumption to early in the day, preferably before lunch.

Prioritizing sleep for your health and Fitness

Doing everything you should for a healthy and happy life can be challenging. There are also times, for instance, after the birth of a child or during a particularly stressful period at work, when you might find yourself unable to get the amount or quality of sleep you desire. However, it is vital that you prioritize getting at least 7 hours of uninterrupted sleep when possible.

Sleep impacts our health in the short and long term. Short term, you are more likely to have the energy needed for exercise, crave the right foods, and see better overall results from your fitness efforts. Long term, you reduce your risk of many health conditions and diseases.

What type of cardio do you need to do based on your body goals?

People start exercising for lots of different reasons. Whether you want to improve your fitness, tone muscle, or lose weight, cardio can help. You can vary your cardio routine, even including other workouts like strength training, to keep things interesting and to better achieve your goals.

 

What is cardio?

Cardio, or cardiovascular exercise, is a continuous exercise that aims to elevate the heart rate. This type of exercise can improve physical, emotional, and mental health.

Within this type of exercise, various low to high-impact and light to strenuous options exist. This means you should be able to find a cardio workout that suits your lifestyle, body, and health aims.

For instance, not everyone likes or can reasonably run several times a week. Some people dislike running, while others can’t do the exercise without feeling the strain on their knees. A lower-impact cardio workout like swimming or a spin class might be a better fit for someone who can’t or doesn’t like running.

 

Physical benefits of cardio

Many people start cardio aiming to lose weight. However, often their actual goal aligns more closely with wanting to burn fat. Losing weight can mean shedding muscle and water weight, whereas burning fat targets fat and often involves trying to tone up.

So, as stated above, cardiovascular exercise can:

  • Help you lose weight.
  • Burn fat.
  • Build and strengthen muscles.
  • Strengthen the heart, and reduce the risk of heart disease.
  • Improve lung function.
  • Lower blood pressure.

You should do cardio 3 to 6 times weekly for around 30 to 60 minutes to get the best results.

 

The non-physical advantages of doing cardio

It’s not just the body that cardiovascular exercise is good for. Frequent cardio exercise is good for the mind, body, and soul. It has been found to positively affect health in both an overall sense and in some precise ways. These include:

  • Improving sleep.
  • Feeling happier.
  • Boosting energy.
  • Enhancing cognitive function and memory.
  • Strengthening the immune system.
  • Cardiovascular exercise can even reduce the risk of developing diseases like Alzheimer’s.

Cardio can do many wonderful things for the mind and body. It can even have long-lasting and life-changing effects if done correctly and regularly.

With all these benefits on offer, it is obvious why you should build cardio into your fitness routine. But also consider things like whether you prefer to work out alone or with people. After all, you’re more likely to continue exercising and to see more benefits if you find ways to enjoy cardio.

 

Our top cardio routines:

Cardiovascular routines come in all shapes and sizes. Some are higher-impact on joints than others, and most can be scaled to better suit total beginners to cardio pros.

Running

Running is one of the most popular cardio exercises and a great calorie burner. It requires no equipment, apart from a pair of trainers, and runners can go for as long or as fast as they choose. A new runner developed the couch to 5K program for new runners. The free program has helped many start their running journey.

Cycling

Cycling is another cardio favourite. This exercise is a lower impact than running and is a preferable choice for many. Additionally, while you may need to have or borrow a bike for cycling outdoors, that’s not your only choice. Most gyms have static bikes, and many run spin classes where you can get your heart rate up, strengthen your core and leg muscles, and lose fat.

HIIT workouts

HIIT workouts quickly became one of the best-loved cardio workouts. It involves bouts of high-intensity exercises spaced with lower-intensity ones that keep the heart rate up. This is one of the best cardio workouts for burning fat fast.

Swimming

Swimming is a non-impact cardio and strength training exercise rolled into one. It’s a great way to work your muscles and burn calories and fat while strengthening the heart.

Walking

Walking is another low-impact and lower-intensity exercise that keeps the heart rate up and burns calories and fat. Hiking and stair climbers (or just climbing stairs) can help involve more resistance training and a core muscle workout into a cardio exercise like walking.

Jump rope

Jumping rope is one of the highest intensity and highest impact cardio workouts. Because of this, it’s not necessarily the best to do every day. However, it’s a great way to work arm and leg muscles while quickly burning calories. All you need to get started is a little time and a jump rope.

 

Working out safely

You should consider monitoring your heart rate if you want to get the most from your cardio workout. Too low, and you won’t see the full benefits of your efforts or too high, putting your heart under unnecessary stress and strain.

There are plenty of heart monitoring tools, including wrist straps and watches like Fitbits. Most gyms also have fitness equipment that can monitor heart rates. 220 minus your age is one of the most common equations used. This sum gives the maximum heart rate you should hit when exercising, so someone 35 years old should have a heart rate of no more than 185 when working out.

By monitoring your heart rate, you can ensure you hit your ideal fitness or fat loss goals without overexerting yourself.

 

What should you know before you start your cardio journey?

There are a few things you should take note of before you start your cardio journey.

  • It’s crucial you build rest into your workout regime. Your body and mind need downtime to recover and start stronger than before.
  • Listen to your body. The same cardio workouts won’t work well for everyone, and you might need to switch things up. For instance, if you run a lot and start experiencing pain in your knees, you should swap out your run for a lower-impact exercise like swimming or cycling for a few days.
  • Choose exercises that you enjoy. You’re more likely to keep it up if you don’t dread doing it.
  • Remember that it’s okay to make mistakes. You’re bound to miss workouts here and there, and that’s alright. One skipped session isn’t going to ruin what you’ve been working towards, so don’t be too hard on yourself.

Alone or in company – What is the best way to work out?

Busy lives and two years of a pandemic left many isolated and unable to work out with others. Now that gyms, swimming pools, and group activities are back open, you might be wondering what is best for you?

Truthfully, working out in company and alone both have their benefits. The most important thing is that you exercise.

Knowing what advantages come with keeping fit alone and with others will help you decide which is the best fit for your lifestyle, needs, and goals.

 

Benefits of working out alone

Working out on your own isn’t for everyone. But for those that do, there are many advantages. These include:

 

Improved mental health

Exercise, in general, is proven to boost our mental health. Specifically, working out alone calms us and reduces stress levels, according to research. So when you feel overwhelmed, try exercising alone and focus on yourself, your activities, and your breathing.

 

Motivation

A partner or class can motivate us to start exercising, but what happens if they fall through? Most people will treat this as an opportunity to rest, but it can quickly become an issue if such cancellations reoccur.

You need to take a break sometimes, and rest is essential for the body, but having a flakey workout buddy can mean you rest too much and move away from your fitness goals. On the other hand, you have fewer excuses when you work out alone as no one else can disrupt your plans.

While working out with others can be a great encouragement, the most effective and long-lasting motivation comes from within. We are most likely to keep up with our fitness goals if we are intrinsically motivated.

 

Convenience

It is easier to fit exercise in if you only have to consider your own schedule. It can save you time and effort, which again reduces the stress. So if you are already struggling to fit in workouts, you may find that doing it alone makes doing so a little easier.

 

Work towards your new personal best

Some people are simply more competitive with themselves than with others. You may find that competing to beat your personal best challenges you to work even harder and keeps you focused on the fitness goals that matter most to you.

 

Avoid distractions

Having others around can easily distract you from your exercise. Lack of concentration during workouts can reduce their effectiveness and even increase the likelihood of injuries.

 

Feel less self-conscious

Many people feel self-conscious when they are around others, which can prevent them from pushing themselves as hard as they can. Working out alone takes this out of the equation and allows you to try your best without worrying about what anyone else thinks.

 

Tailor your workout

When you work out alone, you choose what you do and when. This offers greater flexibility, and many find that, because of this, exercising alone is easier.

 

Benefits of working out together

One 2016 study found that group workouts tended to have greater overall health benefits.

Some of the other benefits of working out with partners or groups include:

 

Starting to exercise

Getting started is often the most challenging part of any fitness journey. Many people find it easier to begin if they are not alone.

 

Continuing to exercise

Working out with others can not only help you to start working out, but it can also motivate you to continue. There is a level of accountability provided when you exercise with others.

For those who are a little too good at coming up with excuses not to exercise, partners or classes mean you affect someone other than yourself if you bail, which means you’re more likely to keep to your workout plans.

 

Challenge yourself

There are several notable reasons why you might not be seeing results. Perhaps you aren’t pushing yourself hard enough or are simply bored with your current routine.

A partner, coach, or class may help you challenge yourself and try something new. This can be a great way to find new workouts that you love and keep you exercising regularly.

 

Mental health benefits

Just like working out alone can be calming, working out with others provides an opportunity to socialise and stay connected. This can be particularly beneficial for people that don’t always enjoy exercising as it adds another layer to the activity.

 

Don’t forget

Whether you choose to exercise alone or in company, know that no fitness journey is complete without healthy eating. You need food that complements your workouts so you have the energy you need and avoid undoing your hard work.

 

Which is better, working out alone or in company?

There are advantages to working out alone, with a partner, or in a group. Ultimately, you need to look at the potential benefits of each and decide which best matches your goals and needs.

Think about how you feel before and after different workout sessions and keep a record of your progress. Your exercise should help you reach your fitness goals but don’t forget that you are more likely to continue with a workout you enjoy. So if you dread working out alone but find it gives you the best results, consider swapping between each to get the best of both worlds.

No one can tell you what will work best for you, and you may find that you prefer to mix things up. For instance, if you have specific goals, you may find that working out alone allows you to meet these better. But you may also want to attend a weekly group workout session to keep things interesting with new exercises and socialising.

 

 

Why is resting so important for your body?

Rest is vital for both bodily and mental health. Taking time off from exercise and other daily stresses allows your body to repair and recover. In addition, rest helps prevent injuries and ensures that you can sustain the level of fitness you enjoy for longer.

As with most areas of life, you will find that you can achieve the best results with balance rather than extremes. Our bodies do so much for us and will often tell us what we need if we are willing and know how to listen.

You must know when and how to rest by learning to recognise if you need more downtime and understanding what could happen if you don’t take some time off.

 

Benefits of regular rest

Slowing down and relaxing can be incredibly beneficial. Of course, it is best to schedule rest days regularly if you want to get the most from them, but remember that you can always rest more if you feel like you need it.

Frequent rest can help with:

  • Soreness and pain

Your muscles are likely going to feel sore and tired after exercise. Taking a break allows the body to recover and stops you from straining your muscles further.

  • Muscle repair and building

Exercise commonly causes microscopic tears in the muscles, and these can grow over time, especially if you are not allowing time for the tears to heal. However, fibroblast cells can repair and build up your muscles when you rest, so you are ready to exercise once again.

  • Energy

When we exercise, our body uses up something called glycogen, and this depletion leads to our muscles feeling fatigued. When you rest, you allow your body to replenish its store of glycogen, which improves your energy levels and metabolism, resulting in a more successful and long-lasting fitness routine.

  • Preventing injury

Repetitive actions, often incurred because of overexercising, are likely to cause injury. The good news is that rest gives your body time to recover from these strains and allows you to continue exercising to your fullest potential. And it is worth noting that failure to rest can result in continued strains, which may eventually lead to irreversible damages.

  • See better results from working out

Many people think that resting will take away from their hard work if they are trying to get fit or improve their health. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. Health is all about balance, and as much as regular exercise matters, so does taking time to rest. Failure to properly rest can be one of the reasons that you do not see results when working out.

  • Mental health

Rest days can also improve mental health. Excessive exercise leads to general tiredness, which impacts our ability to cope with our daily lives and emotions. When you are well-rested, you will find that you feel more positive and can make better decisions regarding your fitness, work, social life, and more.

 

Learning to recognise when your body needs more rest

Some people find it difficult to get into a regular fitness routine, while others find it difficult to live without it. It can be tricky to factor in frequent rest days if you are worried about getting out of the routine you have worked to build or simply don’t want to take time away from something you enjoy.

In any case, rest is necessary for the health of our bodies and minds. So it can help to be aware of signs that your body is overworked and in need of rest to protect your long-term wellbeing.

Some common signs of your body needing to rest include:

  • Feeling constantly tired and unmotivated, even after events that should energise you (like exercise or eating).
  • Struggling to complete your normal workout may also indicate that your body is exhausted.
  • Seeing decreased results from your exercise regiment. Your body may have become used to your fitness routine, and a break could help kick-start your progress once more.
  • Sore muscles are a fairly normal part of working out, but it could also signal that you need to rest if it is painful or the aching is not going away.
  • Mood swings or changes can also be the result of overtiredness. So take a break if you feel irritable or just generally not yourself.
  • An inability to sleep or sleep well can be brought about by overexercising.
  • If you notice you are craving lots of unhealthy foods or are struggling with binge eating, then it’s time to take a day off.
  • Frequent injuries or illnesses can also signal that your body needs time to rest and recover. It becomes harder for us to avoid strains or fight off sickness when fatigued.

 

Risks of not resting

Inconsistent or limited rest days can have serious short and long-term health consequences. You will become physically and mentally exhausted if you never rest. When you feel drained, your judgment is impaired, and you are more likely to make mistakes and injure yourself permanently.

Insufficient amounts of rest and sleep have even been found to contribute to long-term health issues such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity.

Rest days are as important for our mind as for our body. Getting into regular exercise can be extremely challenging if you are new to fitness or have stopped exercising and want to start again. Fortunately, you can get your fitness back on track. As you start, remember to take time to rest without criticising yourself if you want to sustain your efforts.

 

Enjoying your time off

Resting shouldn’t be a chore. There are plenty of fun things to do when you take a day off from exercise.

You could meet friends or family, enjoy a hobby, catch up on work, or even volunteer. That is not to say that you have to do anything in particular when resting; you might want to simply enjoy a day of watching TV or reading. If you feel fidgety, you could have an active recovery day where you engage in light exercise.

Reasons why you are not seeing results from working out?

Have you been working hard had the gym? And yet, you’re not feeling or seeing the results you want.

It can be frustrating to spend hours every week training, only to see no or minimal changes in your strength, endurance, and physical appearance.

Many of us realise that exercise is a long game. Results shouldn’t be expected immediately, but even with patience, some people don’t see the results they deserve. It can be discouraging and block or interrupt our fitness journey.

If this rings true for you, don’t worry. Several common mistakes may be preventing you from seeing your desired results, and there are effective and simple solutions that will help you overcome these difficulties.

Let’s look at what you might be doing wrong and how you can start achieving the results you desire.

You’re taking it too easy.

On average, you want to be hitting a heart rate of about 220 minus your age. So if you are 30, your heart rate should be about 190 when you are doing intense physical exercise.

If you’re putting in a small amount of effort, you can expect your body to show it. Luckily, having a goal can help and measuring your heart rate is easy. You can buy and wear a monitor of your own or use any gym machines fitted with one.

You’re not eating right.

Remember, you can only get so far with your workout goals if you are not feeding your body right.

If you want to lose weight, you should not be eating excessive calories. On the other hand, if you are trying to bulk up, you need to be giving your body the right food to support this growth.

Try eating slow-release energy foods like porridge before exercise, as these will keep you going for longer. You can also try having some caffeine before training. Recent studies have shown that caffeine can allow people to exert more power and train for longer intervals.

One way to keep yourself on track with your overall health pursuits, while still being kind and understanding about natural cravings, is to practice intuitive and mindful eating. These methods allow you to focus on listening to your body. Let it tell you when it is full or when it’s hungry and what types of food it requires.

You’re doing exercises in the wrong order.

Many gym-goers, especially beginners spend their time inefficiently. For example, expending most of their effort on isolation exercises like bicep curls at the start of their session. These activities are actually best left until later so the muscles can go into a state of exhaustion known as hypertrophy that encourages growth.

It is best to begin your workout with compound exercises that target multiple muscle groups. You will need a strong foundation to hit your other fitness aims.

You’re doing reps at the wrong speed.

Generally, doing slow reps helps to fill the muscles with blood and encourages them to grow. Faster repetitions are better for those who want to build their strength.

Make sure you are sticking to your chosen rep speed throughout your session. Otherwise, you end up sending your muscles mixed messages and slow your results even further.

You’re all about cardio.

Cardio is great and necessary for those who want to improve their heart, strength, and endurance. It is also useful as part of a weight-loss plan. But alone, it is not enough.

Did you know that muscles burn calories even at rest? If you are hoping to lose weight, you must incorporate weight training exercises into your routine. You can lift weights or do movements that involve using your body weight (such as push-ups).

You’re focusing on the wrong exercises.

It’s easy to assume that focusing on a certain movement or body part will automatically lead to toning or growth in that zone, but this isn’t always the case.

For instance, if you are training for a six-pack, crunches and sit-ups should not be where you focus your energy. In fact, planks are far more effective.

You’re not monitoring your workouts and progress.

While variety is important, it is first essential to have a strong base from which you can build. There are many fitness plans, usually lasting between 8 and 12 weeks, that can help give you a clear idea of what exercises and what muscles you are using every time you workout.

Additionally, you should track numbers associated with your result goals. You’ll need to know your weight or body measurements if you are looking to lose weight or tone up. You will also want to record the weights you’re lifting and the reps you complete if you aspire to continue making progress.

Knowing where we have come from, and seeing how things change, can help us make and keep making progress towards our objectives.

You never change things up.

Not only will you end up bored of your workout if you never change it, but you will also begin to see less effect from your exertions. It is important to vary the exercises you do and to try to increase the intensity if you want to keep progressing.

You’re glued to your phone.

Many people use their phones while they exercise. Often the purpose is simply to listen to music or keep an eye on the time. But, for many, their phone usage doesn’t end there.

If you are using your phone to scroll through social media or reply to messages, it could be a problem. You are likely spending more time resting than you intend. It’s easy to do and often seems like a non-issue. But resting for too long, particularly while using a phone, reduces our heart rate and leads to a less intense workout.

You’re not allowing yourself enough time to rest

On the other side, you may not be allowing yourself enough time to rest and recuperate between sessions.

You’ll end up with fatigued muscles if you never let them recover from the soreness of the last workout. Plus, sore muscles often prevent us from training as hard or for as long as we would otherwise.

It is also critical that we get enough sleep, typically at least 7 hours per night for adults. Sleep is essential for the healthy function of our minds and bodies, and a lack of it can even result in reduced metabolism and increased appetite.

Ten tips to get the most out of your tennis game

Tennis is a multidisciplinary sport that can offer numerous health benefits, including enhanced aerobic and anaerobic fitness, speed, power, flexibility, and muscular strength. The sport also allows players to build up physical and cognitive skills, such as hand-eye coordination, focus, and dedication.

Few sports require whole-body fitness like tennis. Players must demonstrate powerful bursts of energy and enduring strength, as well as substantial levels of overall flexibility and mobility.

Tennis is a demanding sport – training properly is important

For those serious about improving their tennis skills, it is essential to choose exercises that target muscle endurance, strength, and movement. Resistance training, for instance, appears to enhance growth and improve the strength of ligaments, tendons, joint cartilage, and connective tissues inside the muscle.

Sport and motion specific resistance training exercises seem to minimise the occurrence of multiple overuse injuries, such as tennis elbow.

10 exercises to improve your tennis game

1. Lateral lunges

Also known as a side lunge, this exercise focuses on muscles throughout the lower body, including the glutes, quadriceps, abductors, adductors, and hamstrings. Practising this movement improves lateral mobility, which is highly useful for tennis players.

To complete a lateral lunge, step to your left side and squat back and down with your left leg, keeping your right leg straight, to lower your hips. Push up with your left leg to return to the starting position. Repeat the exercise on each side. You’ll feel it exercising your glutes, hamstrings, and quads, as well as a stretch in the straight leg’s inner thigh.

2. Shoulder rotations

The rotator cuff is made up of four muscles and tendons that allow your arm to roll fluidly in the shoulder socket. These muscles are often fully extended in serious tennis matches and can make playing impossible if injured.

Your shoulder is capable of two core movements, internal and external rotations. Internal shoulder rotations involve rotating the upper arm toward the front of your body, while external ones require you to rotate it away from your torso’s front side. These exercises can be performed while standing or lying down.

3. Hand walk

This stretch encompasses the entire body and allows for smoother racquet strokes when done regularly.

Bend over at the waist and place your hands in front of you on the ground. Walk your feet up to your hands while maintaining straight legs until you feel a stretch. Then plant your feet and walk your hands out in front of you to a push-up stance. Make sure you only take small steps using your ankles, not your knees.

4. Knee hug

This exercise enhances lower-body flexibility and mobility, crucial for those looking to up their tennis game.

To get more from this stretch, lift one knee to your chest and hold it below the knee with both hands from a standing position.  While squeezing the glute muscles, pull your lifted knee towards the chest. Step forward, then repeat on the opposite side, completing 10 repetitions for each leg.

5. Cardio

Jump rope and running are two of the best cardiovascular exercises for tennis players. Whole body fitness is essential for those who want to keep up with the sudden energy sprints required when playing tennis.

Aerobic conditioning ensures the heart and lungs work at optimum capacity to pump blood and deliver oxygen to muscles more efficiently. Regular cardio workouts can have significant endurance and speed benefits.

6. Box jump

Tennis games require explosive action to counter fast-flying hits. Box jumps are a relatively low-impact exercise that improves power and speed while allowing you the chance to practice shock absorption.

Swing your arms behind you while bending your knees and pressing your hips back. Explode up into the air from the balls of your feet, swinging your arms up and forward as you completely extend your knees and hips to achieve as much height as possible. Repeat the jumps back-and-forth over the box.

7. Medicine ball toss

This exercise helps increase strength so you can perform more powerful racquet strokes. Medicine ball tosses use the whole body from legs to core and upper body.

Holding a medicine ball below your waist with straight arms, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent, and hips back. Lower yourself into a squat while keeping your arms straight. Jump out of the squat and launch the ball as high as possible. Return to your starting location and go again.

8.Bench press

Engage your chest, triceps, and shoulders with the bench press to dramatically enhance your serve during tennis matches. You should start with lighter weights and gradually increase them if you haven’t done this exercise before.

Lie flat on your back on a bench with a shoulder-width, overhand grip on a barbell held above you. Keep your feet on the floor, and steadily lower the bar until it skims the centre of your chest. As you exhale, push the bar back to the starting position fast.

9. Foam rolling

Foam rolling may help with a variety of things, including improving flexibility, decreasing discomfort and removing muscle knots.

Roll over your foam cylinder for compression that relaxes the nerves and muscles, increases blood flow, and aids recovery from exercises and day-to-day activities. Apply the roller to any area of your body that feels stiff and in need of a massage.

10. Trigger point

You can use a tennis ball to quickly target sore or tight areas of muscle in the foot.

To feel the fullest effects of this therapy, stand and place the tennis ball under your bare foot. Roll the ball back and forth under your foot applying pressure to the arch.

Nutrition and diet

Remember, no tennis player who excels in their field relies solely on exercise. You cannot expect your body to perform at its best if you are not feeding it a healthy and nutritious diet.

Motivation

It’s not always easy to stay motivated, but regular exercise is necessary if you are serious about levelling up your tennis skills.

Try these exercises and nutrition tips to develop your key tennis playing skills and watch how your game improves.

7 steps to getting back into your fitness plan after a break

A common problem with ongoing workouts is a drop in motivation and enthusiasm. It can be seriously difficult to keep going when you’re tired, busy or just not in the mood.

Most people let their fitness plan slip over the Christmas and New Year festivities. And while New Year’s Resolutions are initially easy to keep, by February you may find yourself flagging.

7 ways to revitalise your fitness plan

Exercising regularly is absolutely vital for health – both mental and physical. Despite knowing this, it’s all too easy to skip one workout and fall off the plan altogether. After all, who doesn’t have a busy life with many different elements to balance.

Working out is naturally a lot easier when you’re feeling motivated and enthused, so here are my tips to get you right back into your fitness plan.

  1. Don’t give yourself a hard time

This is a really important point – the more you beat yourself up for slipping from your plan, the less likely you are to be motivated to get back into it. If you’ve had some time off from your training and want to start again, always begin with realistic expectations.

If you set the bar really high straight away, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. The idea is to decrease the pressure and increase the enjoyment. So, when you’re getting started (again), go easy on yourself. Start with targets you know you can achieve and then build up as your confidence and enthusiasm increases.

  1. Set an achievable routine

If you’ve ever tried to get fit without a set routine you’ve probably found yourself giving it up before you get real results. A plan or structure will help you stick with your chosen routine. Set aside specific times for exercise that you know you can do – this could be the morning, after work, last thing at night or first thing in the morning.

Choose the times and days and write them down in a diary or on a chart. This will help you to create the habit of regularly exercising. At some point it will naturally become routine and you won’t have to force yourself.

  1. Set your own personal goals

Don’t get swept away by the plan you read about online that promises a six pack in six weeks. You know your own fitness level, body and ability better than anyone. So start with achievable goals for you.

Think about your final achievement – what will make you feel proud of your accomplishments. It could be completing a 10k, for example, or lifting a certain amount at the gym. Or perhaps it’s just finally becoming consistent with your workout plan. Whatever it is, write it down and keep it in mind as you move towards getting fitter.

  1. Don’t force yourself to do something you don’t like

There is no one way to get fit. You don’t have to become a CrossFit expert or buy a Peloton. Find what you like to do – this could be anything from walking to dancing, team sports to basketball. It doesn’t matter, as long as it gets you moving and motivated.

If you’re not sure what it is you do like, then plan to try a few different forms of exercise. Mix up a yoga class with a HITT workout online, for example. Take the time to find something that you enjoy as this will mean you have far more chance of sticking with it.

  1. Consider partnering up with someone

For some people, a workout buddy can help to keep them accountable and motivated. Others like to pursue their own fitness goals in their own time. If you do feel like working out with a friend would help, make some enquiries. The chances are, you’ll find someone who wants to join you.

This can also help if you’re finding the whole idea of returning to exercise daunting. Doing it with someone can help to make it feel much more fun and less stressful.

  1. Take your rest days and enjoy them

When you restart a fitness plan, it can be tempting to push really hard. But training every day will only mean you burn out and give up. Resting properly is just as important as the actual exercise if you want to become more active for the long term.

If you find that you are feeling low or ill when you have a workout scheduled, give yourself permission to listen to your body and do what serves you best. This might mean an unplanned rest day and getting back on track later on.

  1. Try and change your perspective

If you go into an exercise plan solely to try and shift stubborn weight, for example, this can be very draining mentally. You need to switch it around and consider exercise as a fun thing to do rather than a chore you have to get through.

Making it fun is really important to stick with it, so take your time and get used to your new routine without pressurising yourself too much. Focus on your own improvements and increase in skills rather than what other people in the gym are doing.

Try to focus on what makes you feel good when you’re exercising and take it with you into your rest days. This will help you to look forward to the next workout and get the maximum benefit from it.

 

guilt free eating jurg widmer probst

Is guilt-free holiday eating possible?

Whether it’s Christmas, Easter or the Summer holidays, the residual guilt of fun, food and indulgence can be the downside. But fear not, there is a way to enjoy any holiday and remain guilt-free.

Holidays are a time for letting loose and enjoying a little more of what you fancy; that’s the joy of having more time to indulge and let yourself go a little more than usual with guilt-free eating.

There should be no guilt in that pleasure, but media and peer pressure have brought us to a place where we berate ourselves for taking time out to enjoy these simple pleasures.

Sure, if you eat and drink all the indulgent stuff all year round, that will be detrimental to health and life. But if you do choose to indulge a little on your Christmas holiday or when you’re on your next beach holiday, then why should you feel guilty about that?

Healthy eating and indulging every so often is about balance, and when you include regular exercise, self-care and good hydration, you have that balance.

 

TIMING IS EVERYTHING

There’s a handy trick, rather than indulging so much over the holidays and then struggling to lose those few pounds that have been added somehow to your waistline.

Prepare your body in the weeks/days leading up to your holiday event. This doing mean you have to work like crazy to get a six pack, unless you want to, of course. Just make your diet a little leaner and more wholesome, decrease your sugar intake and cut back on alcohol or sugary drinks. Increase your exercise and hydration.

Then when you’re on holiday, be as active as you can, whether that’s playing frisbee on the beach, hiking in the snow or doing a holiday workout: the more energy you use, the more you can consume, guilt-free.

It’s as simple as energy in – energy out.

 

FOOD AND DRINK SWAPS

The smart way to ensure you don’t pile on the pounds or ply your body with more harmful foods and drinks is to make smart choices. You don’t need to opt for low-fat or low-alcohol because they often contain more sugar or chemicals.

Choose foods and drinks which are as nature intended, packed with natural ingredients, including sugars and fats. Focus on including foods with high vegetable and fruit content because they contain fibre and plenty of vitamins and water.

Making smart choices helps to lessen the post-holiday eating guilt.

 

REDUCE STRESS

Managing your stress levels is one of the most important things you can do to help ensure you don’t overeat before or during your holidays. This is especially important during the festive holidays, where more people tend to be involved, and a lot is going on for your mind and sanity to process!

When we’re in a stressed state for a prolonged period, our cortisol levels rise to help us cope with this; the problem is when your cortisol remains elevated, your Ghrelin (hunger hormone) kicks in, looking to refuel your energy stores which become depleted by staying in a stressed, tense and anxious state.

Finding ways to help reduce your ongoing stress levels will help to ensure you don’t overeat during the holidays and is a great way to help combat overeating at all times. There are so many stress busters now available.

 

Here are some simple ways to reduce stress:

  • Gentle and steady-state exercise
  • Guided mindfulness and meditation
  • Practice breathwork
  • Walk in nature
  • Self-massage
  • Reading
  • Sing
  • Dance
  • Listening to relaxing music

 

GUILT-FREE EATING

Guilt steals enjoyment. It does not serve you to create positive lasting habits; it keeps you feeling bad, which leads to more detrimental behaviour.

Guilt-free eating allows you to enjoy the moment, savour the foods and drinks in which you’re indulging and take the power out of that eat/drink-berate-repeat cycle.

 

BALANCE THE SCALES

We’re not talking about weighing scales here. It’s a case of if you have an indulgent day on your holiday, then perhaps the next day you have a lighter eating/drinking day and move a little more. We come back to that energy in – energy out thinking.

That’s the balancing of the scales your focus needs to be on for guilt-free eating.

Guilt-free eating doesn’t work if you give yourself carte blanche to eat whatever you want, whenever you want, like a kid in a candy store.

It’s about enjoying your holiday, letting loose on the foods/drinks you enjoy but don’t have all the time, because you’re stepping out of the confines of daily life and allowing yourself time off, hopefully for good behaviour.

So, guilt-free holiday eating is possible; you just have to ensure you have the balance right and be kind to yourself, in body, mind and spirit.

There is no shame in indulging and enjoying what you eat, the real shame is if you don’t give yourself that joy.