Exercise for better sleep

I read an article recently that recommends 150 minutes of exercise a week to aid sleep. Since lack of sleep has been shown to be hugely damaging to our health, not just because we can’t function as well, our concentration level drops considerably. It also is shown to cause is to eat more, this piece of advice could help a lot of people get into a healthier routine.

150 minutes is only 30 minutes per day, it doesn’t have to be all at once, so that should be achievable. The slight flaw with this is that people generally overestimate their exercise level, in the same way they underestimate the quantity of food they eat.

Other tips to getting a better sleep routine include, keeping to a schedule – getting up and going to bed at about the same time each day, reduce caffeine – especially in the evening, turning off technology, have your last meal or snack a couple of hours before heading to bed, ensure your bed is comfortable and the room is dark, and where possible sleep when your own internal body clock wants to.

Sometimes this is easier said than done – but perhaps adding in the extra 30 minutes of daily exercise could help. Night!

Compound or isolation?

Two different types of weight training, but which is best? In an ideal session plan, you would have both, the compound as the base with isolation exercises included for more specific training.

Compound uses more than one major muscle group at a time – so anything that includes pulling, pushing movements. Deadlifts, for example, use more than just one major muscle.  A compound exercise is great for building strength and progressing by adding more weight, but technique is key otherwise you could injure yourself, or overtraining may be an issue because you are working so many parts of the body. Another good point, is they save time because you’re training more muscle groups together.

Isolation, is, as it suggests, uses one major muscle group at a time, such as curling, raising or extending, think bicep curl.  Isolation exercises can help develop a particular muscle, but less weight is likely to be used and progress could be slower. It compliments the compound exercises because it allows more specific training in muscles which may not have been used in the compound exercises.

Emotional eating

There have been many articles about how to lose weight, eating right, getting some more exercise, willpower are all highlighted and are obvious factors, However a recent study showed that only 1 in 10 people connected the emotional eating as a key factor.

We eat to sustain life, however, we also use it as reward, comfort and celebration. While that can be a positive experience, it does trigger the brains response to feeling good (dopamine is released), but the brain does that for any positive feeling, unaware of it being food or not. That’s where issues arise, we repeat the behaviour because we felt good after it – we associate it with food, which then takes us into a cycle of eating for comfort and feeling rewarded by it. Without dealing with the emotional issue, you can’t get past the need to keep self soothing with food – which won’t help you achieve your goal, which in turn, will ensure you look for comfort….and so the cycle continues.

Ask yourself if you’re really hungry, don’t restrict yourself (you’ll find out quick enough that you become focused on what you aren’t allowed), keep a food diary, and if you struggle perhaps see a registered professional.

Fitting it all in

I seem to work on the basis I have more hours in my day than anyone else…. I know this because my friends are bemused by my ability to fill a day especially when I am not working, and, because I struggle to fit it all in and if/when I do, I am exhausted. Perhaps that’s a new years resolution….

I don’t have a big family or a demanding job, yet I am struggling to fit in my exercise, proper mealtimes, general house and admin stuff, let alone keeping in touch with everyone.  I can only imagine how crazy life would be if I had to fit all that in too. Which makes me think, we are too hard on ourselves. I love a list, mostly with the things I want to achieve for the day/week ahead, It’s satisfying to cross it all off, but, it’s not possible to do everything all of the time.

For the first time in months I had a sick day – didn’t set foot outside my front door, I watched TV, dozed and ordered Christmas presents online. It was bliss – but true to form the next day I was back to the gym, collecting pre-ordered items and completing my shopping – of course, by the end of it all I was shattered……

To keep on track (as much as possible) with my healthy lifestyle, I am preparing simple meals, for a couple of days at a time, saves so much time and means I can eat well. I have also tweaked my fitness routine – for now, swimming is working for me because I am not restricted by class times, I only need to do 30 minutes and as I go first thing, it means I can be showered and ready for the day bright and early. It helps that it clears my mind – which is a great way to start a busy day. Today I noticed a lot of parents in with their kids – good idea to get away from all the chaos of the frantic shoppers.

Find what works for you, a bit of me-time, if possible, will keep you sane and perhaps will help you rethink the to do list.