As we draw near to the end of the
first quarter of this year, we’re stepping back to review how some of the
lifestyle habits that we have been cultivating, be they new or chronic, have
been silently killing our fitness levels and preventing us from really reaching
In last week’s article, we
reviewed alcohol and which is most recommended should you be in the mood to
drink, and which you should try your best to keep at a distance!
So let’s take a look at other
fitness killing lifestyle habits…
It’s easy to under-estimate the importance of sleep
because it is something that we can do with less of, without realising how it
affects us. Being sleep deprived can cause noticeable effects and lead to serious
health problems. Sleep affects cognitive skills, ability to handle stress,
relationships with others, and physical and nutritional conditioning. People
who sleep enough have lower BMI indexes than people who don't. The data also
suggests that sleep deprivation can cause weight gain
An interesting link between even though alcohol initially acts as a mild sedative, as alcohol levels
drop in your system, it actually stimulates parts of the brain that cause
arousal, leading to awakenings and sleep problems later in the evening.
Back pain is the most common consequence of poor
posture, due to muscle strain, especially lower back pain. The back muscles,
ligaments & discs are under extra stress when the spine is not in proper
alignment. Strong muscles help keep the spine in proper alignment and prevent
back pain. Strong muscles also prevent the spine from extending beyond its
normal range of motion, which is essential to protecting the ligaments and
disks from injury.
Tension headaches are also
another common symptom of bad posture. Sitting hunched over at your job, most
commonly caused by your hands reaching for the keyboard when typing on your
computer leads to your shoulders and head slumping forward. This posture
muscles in your neck, upper back and shoulders. After
awhile, the tightness causes nerve irritations and muscle spasms which restrict
proper flow of blood to the back of your head. This leads to tension headaches.
Fatigue is also another common cause of bad
posture. When muscles are tired and tight, they are unable to support your
skeleton the way they are supposed to. Because of this, your muscles will have
to work harder in order to support the body structure. Lack of adequate muscle
flexibility and strength, abnormal joint motion in the spine and other body
regions will lead to overall muscle fatigue.
Studies have linked cortisol, a hormone released
during times of stress, to cravings for sugar and fat.
Scientists believe the hormone binds to
receptors in the brain that control food intake. Worse still, you are more
susceptible to it if you have a high body index.
The key is to know your triggers, and be
ready when deadlines loom (or whenever stress is likely). That means, stock up
on healthy snacks if you tend to hit the vending machine at work, or
make sure you don't unhealthy treats on hand for those times when an attack
of emotional eating is likely.
Stress can cause hyper arousal, a biological state in which people just don't
While major stressful events can cause insomnia
that passes once the stress is over, long-term exposure to chronic stress can
also disrupt sleep and contribute to sleep disorders.
What to do? Focus on sleep hygiene (making
your surroundings conducive to a good night's rest) and stress-busting
activity during the day. Essential
oils are very helpful for people with insomnia, anxiety or stress. Many
aromatherapy essential oils have a sedative effect on the body, which is both
relaxing and calming, thus helping you to fall asleep faster and get better
sleep. Vanilla, Jasmine and Lavender are all recommended as sleep aids.
Alcohol and Smoking
These are pretty much self explanatory!
Smoking is one of those things for which you just can’t say that it’s ok if
taken in moderation… it’s not! Alcohol though, in moderation, is fine. However,
when in a social setting, it is often difficult not to smoke once you start
What to do? You could only go
drinking when you know none of your friends from that circle smoke.
Alternatively, you could make alternative arrangements and not go drinking with
your drinking buddies… because doing so makes you vulnerable to smoking!
Lifestyle habit can be tricky to change. Often,
changing it requires an impetus and real discipline. Doing it on your own can
be a long and tedious journey. A Personal Trainer is great to have around to
plan the right lifestyle changes you require.