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Maintaining fitness and wellbeing

All Areas > Health & Beauty > Looking Good, Feeling Great

Author: Will Mbanga, Posted: Thursday, 25th January 2024, 09:00

At this time of year, many of us will be in the midst of overhauling our exercise, nutrition and wellness regimes in line with our New Year’s resolutions, with the intention of more consistent exercise, making better food choices and engaging in healthier wellness habits.

We can do this by taking different approaches; through trial and error/experimenting ourselves by using evidence-based research, or by engaging a professional for guidance and advice. I always share what I find to be interesting or challenging ideas around the fitness and wellness space, and my understanding of the science behind them. The key is finding what works for your unique lifestyle and bioenergetic needs.

I have previously mentioned how adding more – exercises, training methods, sets and repetitions – to your training isn’t always the best way to improve your results. Measurable increases in fitness and performance can be made from focusing on fundamental movement patterns that were once crucial to adaptability and survival as a species.

The combination of our coordinated strength, speed, power, agility, muscular and cardiovascular endurance gives us a huge advantage when it comes to slowing down or reversing a modern lifestyle, diet and the effects of ageing. These movements can be incorporated into your training schedule and in their most basic form entail squatting, lunging, pushing, pulling, rotating, quadruped (bear walk) and locomotion (running, swimming, climbing).

The foundation on which success is built

The next area to address in our quest for optimal health and wellness is nutrition – “we are what we eat” after all, and the direct result of getting this right is healthy weight maintenance, increased lean muscle, higher energy and greater endurance capacity. The three major macronutrients required for human health are: carbohydrates, protein and fats. They are needed in large quantities (relative to the individual’s needs) and are crucial for optimal metabolic function and sustaining life.

In general dietetics terms, carbohydrates are regarded as “essential” because our bodies either cannot make them, or cannot make them in the required amounts. More recent research, however, suggests that the phrase “essential” is misleading when it comes to carbohydrates as dietary glucose (in the form of carbs) is not “essential” due to the ability of the liver to produce glucose from fat through a process called gluconeogenesis.

Modern western diets can have a lot of processed foods – high in additives and refined carbohydrates, low in nutritional value, and carrying a lot of sugar, resulting in raised blood sugar levels and causing unhealthy insulin spikes. Bearing in mind food sensitivities, allergies and intolerances, having a balanced diet through minimising processed foods and eating a broad variety of whole foods – nuts, seeds, dairy, grains, beans, pulses, leafy greens and fruit – will provide sufficient unrefined carbs, combined with adequate fibre, ‘good’ dietary fat and other important micronutrients. Getting the balance right between appropriate exercise, optimum nutrition and taking care of your mental health will give you the resilience to cope with challenges, achieve your goals and thrive in an ever-changing world.

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