Knowing my ‘normal’ fitness schedule would take a momentary pause due to current lockdowns. I wanted to make sure I set expectations in line with my reality.
Knowing my ‘normal’ fitness schedule would take a momentary pause due to current lockdowns. I wanted to make sure I set expectations in line with my reality. I wanted to still focus on my CV and strength fitness but also look at the additional steps that can be taken to compliment a healthy active lifestyle.
Here are a few things that I decided to steer my attention to whilst lockdown limited my training options.
When we sleep, we render ourselves totally vulnerable, and in REM sleep the brain paralyses all voluntary muscles. Thinking back to the day of the cavemen, if sleep rendered ourselves so open to predators why did evolution not kick in to protect us? One answer commonly agreed on is that sleep is so vitally important that the risks were worth the benefits.
A couple of interesting facts about sleep…
- 22 hours without sleep, can result in human performance being compared to someone who is legally drunk.
- Insufficient sleep can also hinder the meaningful absorption of food nutrients
- Studies have shown that time to physical exhaustion can drop by 10 to 30 percent due to lack of sleep (especially when this is below 6 hours a night)
Sleep is a super drug, it promotes longer life, enhances memory and creativity, combats anxiety and depression, lowers risks of heart attacks and strokes and protects against cancer and dementia, as well as assisting with weight loss and food cravings. It can also protect against colds and illness and promote physical and mental recovery – I mean that’s a pretty hefty CV.
The recommended amount of sleep is between 7-9 hours a night. Lack of sleep can create poor nutritional choices, higher calorie dense food options and an increase in overall calorie consumption the following day.
Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis is unplanned exercise that will burn calories without you being overly conscious of it, walking to the car, taking the stairs, doing household chores all contribute to this.
There are numerous ways in which the body will burn calories and surprisingly you can do very little and still burn more calories in a day than you would spending an intense hour in the gym.
Basal Metabolic Rate is the calories needed to maintain homeostasis within the body – respiratory function, organ and brain function and daily fidgeting all require calories to use as fuel. Not eaten enough and find it hard to concentrate? You could be falling under your BMR and therefore not providing your body with its daily fuel requirements.
My way of monitoring this and the easiest way in my opinion is monitoring steps. Aiming for 10k steps a day is the recommended guideline so don’t waste those ‘lockdown walk’ opportunities, it’s a great way to keep your NEAT up.
About 80% of our Vitamin D comes from exposing our skin to natural sunlight, however it can also come from fortified milk, egg yolk and salmon to name a few.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin and aids bone development and increases the ability to absorb calcium, magnesium and phosphate.
It’s estimated that millions of people worldwide have a vitamin D deficiency and studies have shown that adults with depression and anxiety generally have lower levels of vitamin D.
Getting out in to natural light is beneficial for a number of reasons and with many now not leaving the house due to working from home it’s essential we all get out into the light, or at least look into vitamin D supplements (always consult your doctor for advice)
FOOD CAN BE OUR MEDICINE
Diet and mental health have been proven to be closely linked, food changes the type of bacteria in our gut microbiome and can influence the chemical signal the gut sends up to our brain via the Vagus nerve.
Being mindful with what we eat as well as how much is equally essential. Leafy greens, good Omega 3 food types such as Salmon and mackerel and choosing the right types of Omega 6 is all essential for a good brain/gut connection. What we eat can really assist with mood, anxiety and even more complex mental issues such as OCD, depression and PTSD.
So even despite lockdown, focusing on physical activity is great, but taking a peripheral view of all the other things that can assist you maintain a healthy lifestyle will benefit you in more ways that you may realise.
So, get out into the sunlight, keep moving, sleep as much as you can and eat yourself happy.
Reference points that may be of interest.
Why we sleep, Matthew Walker
Food Mood Connection – Uma Naidoo, MD