Suddenly, though, the mere thought of taking a self-imposed rest day sends shivers down your spine. Time spent lazing on the couch could be time spent making gains at the gym, you tell yourself. So why wouldn’t you work out every day? As tempting as it might seem, resisting the urge to rest can actually have serious implications on your overall fitness. It can severely increase your risk of injury, stifle your motivation, and even slam the brakes on your progress entirely. Here’s why you shouldn’t be afraid to take a day off and rest up from the rigours of exercise... Avoid aggravating injuries If you’re worried about missing your sixth gym session of the week (sometimes it’s okay to skip leg day), just imagine how many days you could miss if you were sidelined with a serious injury. Every time you workout, your body is put under strain. Whether it’s the impact that running places on your joints, or the micro-tears that occur in your muscle fibers when lifting weights, it’s paramount that you give your body the time it needs to recover and repair itself properly. Failure to do so can cause these common consequences of exercise to develop into something far more painful. Fight off fatigue Want to make massive gains when you’re not at the gym? Hit the hay if you want to see your body really transform. A lack of sleep can lead to fatigue, affect your mood and ultimately stop you from beating your personal best. While you might expect to be completely exhausted from going flat-out at the gym, over-training can actually affect your sleep patterns in a negative way. Your body is more likely to be restless and in a high state of alert, making sleepless nights a more common occurrence. Manage those muscles If you want to maximise your muscle growth, sometimes it pays to put the dumbells down. As we’ve already mentioned above, resistance training causes microscopic tears in your muscle fibers. Your body then generously repairs and strengthens these damaged fibers, which slowly leads to increased strength and - you’ve guessed it - growth. If you’re constantly curling iron without giving your body the time it needs to recuperate, don’t be surprised if your muscles wave the white flag. Time to rest It’s clear, then, that rest days aren’t just a necessity when it comes to a successful exercise regime - they’re downright crucial. If you work hard in the gym and want to push past the plateau, give your body the relaxing reward it deserves with some much-needed rest and recuperation. Your body will thank you. Want to master the art of a healthy lifestyle? Book a free trial with one of our personal trainers. They can help you with everything from your diet to figuring out the perfect exercise plan.
Wave ‘bye bye’ to the Monday blues It’s common knowledge that working out is a dream for your happy hormones. Exercise helps your body to produce serotonin and dopamine, your brain’s feel-good chemicals, along with endorphins, which reduce your perception of pain and make you feel great. Further, exercise’s mood-boosting effects are so powerful, it’s often recommended as an antidote to depression. A study from Harvard shows that those who are depressed have a smaller hippocampus - the part of the brain which helps to regulate mood. Working out specifically supports the nerve cell growth in this area, improving their connections and therefore boosting your happiness levels. Magic, isn’t it? Work-related stresses will be just a blip on your radar If your bad Monday mood stems from the fact that you have a stressful work life, fitting in a quick exercise session before (or after) you head to the office could be really beneficial. Vigorous exercise increases your body’s level of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which is an inhibitory neurotransmitter. This, essentially, quietens down your ‘stressy’ neurons and decreases your levels of anxiousness - making for a much more relaxed day at your desk. Sounds good to us. You’ll be brainier Though most of us feel anything but energetic at the beginning of the week, exercising actually helps to revitalise both your body and mind (though coffee doesn’t hurt, either). It does so by releasing the chemical norepinephrine, which improves your ability to pay attention to and perceive things, making you more productive. It also improves your body’s blood flow, which means that more oxygen and nutrients get to your brain and help it to perform at its Peak. Your metabolism will be given a boost After munching on delicious treats all weekend, a Monday morning workout is the perfect way to put your body back on track. Exercising kick starts your metabolism and keeps it running at an increased rate for hours (due to a process known as excess post-exercise oxygen consumption, or EPOC) long after you’ve finished working out. Therefore, even if you spend your working day sitting at a desk, you’ll be burning more calories than usual. The sense of accomplishment you’ll get will spur you on for the rest of the week By going to the gym first thing, you’ll be setting your day - and your week - off to an excellent start. You’ll feel more confident, more productive, and enjoy a lovely sense of accomplishment that’ll hopefully feed other positive lifestyle decisions (such as making healthier eating choices). How’s that for some Monday Motivation? Ready to start every week like a boss? Find your local EVO club here.
When it comes to fitness, we’re all so focused on waving goodbye to our problem areas that we rarely stop to think about what happens to the fat that’s exiting our bodies. Where does it go once exiled from your hips - and how does it get there in the first place? Up until very recently, health scientists have not been able to provide clear answers. Instead, we’ve functioned on wishy-washy theories and ideas, including the popular myth that fat ‘converts’ itself into energy during exercise or that it’s simply magicked itself into muscle, both of which are impossible. The facts are weirder than fiction. What actually happens, according to a groundbreaking study in the British Medical Journal, is that your fat disappears into thin air. The research shows that about 84% of your fat molecules are exhaled as carbon dioxide, while a further 16% exit your body as water (such as through your sweat and tears). Science makes it clearer. Though the reality may sound even crazier than some of the previously popular fat loss theories, it makes more sense on a closer look, when you consider how your body digests food. Whatever you eat is absorbed into your organs and bloodstream (with the exception of dietary fibre, which heads straight to your colon) - so it stands to reason that once it’s there, travelling through your veins, it’s not going anywhere until it’s been vaporised. So, how can you use this knowledge to your advantage? First of all, breathing alone does not help you to lose fat. Trying to alter how you breathe will only make you dizzy or pass out, which is hardly conducive to a great workout. You have to start moving and raising your metabolic rate. Let’s look at the statistics. According to academic magazine The Conversation, metabolising 100g of fat consumes 290g of oxygen and produces 280g of carbon dioxide along with 110g of water. Simply put, to lose 100g of fat, you need to exhale 280g of carbon dioxide. Therefore, working out and motivating your metabolism are key components of losing weight (which we knew before, but now we have the maths to prove it). For the very best results, go cardio. Activities such as walking, cycling, swimming or jogging are all fantastic for fat loss. Not only do they quicken your metabolism, you’re forced to breathe more deeply - exhaling more of those pesky fat cells in the process. Saying this, all functional physical activities - from intense to basic - lend a helping hand. According to the Compendium of Physical Activities, cycling uphill can increase your metabolism by fourteen times, and jogging by six - but even household chores such vacuuming, washing dishes and making the bed can triple your metabolic rate, too. They key is simple. Just keep moving. Stay active in whatever capacity you can and that metabolism will speed up, your muscles will get pumping and you’ll lose more fat through breathing… as unbelievable as that sounds. Science says so.
Staying alive burns calories. Even when you think you’re not doing all that much, you’re a breathing, blinking, blood-pumping, cell-growing, muscle-contracting machine. All of these functions that your body needs to sustain itself require energy in the form of calories - and the amount of calories needed for this is known as your basal metabolic rate, or BMR. What is BMR? Put simply, if you were to (hypothetically) rest in bed for the entire day, your BMR would be the amount of calories burned to perform your body’s basic (basal) functions. The higher your BMR, the more calories you burn - simply by being alive. How can I calculate my BMR? There are a few strategies you can use to work out your BMR. For the most accurate results, you’d need to get it measured in a laboratory under restrictive conditions. Experts measure carbon dioxide and oxygen after you’ve fasted for 12 hours and had an eight-hour sleep. But there are other methods. By using a scientific equation, you can achieve a rough estimation of your BMR that’s still just as useful. The best is the Mifflin-St.Jeor method. Find the online BMR calculator here, which uses this equation: For men: BMR = 10 x weight (kg) + 6.25 x height (cm) – 5 x age (years) + 5 For women: BMR = 10 x weight (kg) + 6.25 x height (cm) – 5 x age (years) – 161 Can I use BMR for weight loss? The fact BMR is basically your metabolism means it plays a very important role when it comes to weight loss and weight gain. It’s your most basic calorie burn. Those with higher BMRs are the kind of people who can eat an insane amount of food and never gain weight. Obviously they’re at a genetic advantage, but there are plenty of ways you can work towards a higher metabolism and BMR. How can I increase my BMR? Everyone’s BMR is different. Your age, gender, size, height, weight, mass and even the size of your internal organs (larger organs need more fuel) play a part in determining your number. There’s not much you can do to control your genetics, but you can influence your body composition with a few simple changes: Build muscle The best way to increase your BMR is to build muscle. Lean muscle mass torches more calories than fat and pumps up your metabolism. Functional training will help you build muscle more than regular workouts; the latter can be limited in terms of movements. Don’t cut calories Another way to increase your basal metabolic rate is to eat the right amount of calories. That means no semi-starved states and the low BMR that comes with it. Men need to be eating around 2,500 calories and women need to eat 2,000 calories daily, according to the NHS. Munch on BMR-boosting foods such as hot peppers, green tea, broccoli, spices, citrus fruits and cacao. Minimise stress Stress is another huge contributor to a low metabolism. A heightened rush of cortisol (the stress hormone) will send your body into “fight or flight” mode. As a result, less blood will be sent to the digestive system in order to deal with whatever threat the body is responding to.
When was the last time a workout flew by? Five minutes on a treadmill can feel like forever when you’re bored. The stats speak volumes: less than 5% of adults do the daily minimum of 30 minutes of physical activity, according to the US Department of Health & Human Services. But exercise doesn’t have to be a drag. If it is, you’re doing it wrong. With these three science-backed tactics under your belt, you’ll soon be working out without realising it. Exercise your brain while you workout Physical exercise can help your brain work better, especially memory and thinking skills. But engaging your brain during a workout can also help you keep going for longer. In a study published by the University of Florida, researchers gave male and female participants 12 different cognitive tasks while they were cycling. These included naming colours, saying “go” whenever a blue star appeared on screen, repeating long lists of numbers backwards and solving maths Problems. Apart from the most difficult task (maths) participants actually cycled 25% faster - some even doubled their speed unknowingly. If something is too demanding, it can actually slow you down, so engage in some kind of brain training that’s easy, fast-paced and engaging, such as a fun mobile game or a storytelling podcast (a murder mystery, perhaps?). It shouldn’t be too simple, though - watching your favourite TV show doesn’t Count. Grab a buddy - or lots of buddies Unless you’re the kind of person who can throw yourself out of bed at 5am, lace up your trainers and dash out for a run in the rain, chances are that getting motivated to exercise is tricky. Staying motivated, once you’re exercising, can be even harder. Finding a workout buddy not only means you’re accountable to turn up, they can make sure you don’t throw in the towel prematurely. Friends fully-booked? There are plenty of groups you can join and take advantage of in your local area, from hiking enthusiasts to park runners. Even better, get a professional buddy. Our personal trainers can design a personalised program for you that boosts your physical and mental wellbeing. And with our functional fitness philosophy, you won’t be stuck looking at a blank wall running on a treadmill for 30 minutes. Crank up the tunes Music can be thought of as “a type of legal performance-enhancing drug” according to Costas Karageorghis, a world-leading expert on the psychology of exercise music at Brunel University in London. Pumping out the beats can help runners run further, cyclists ride for longer and swimmers go faster. It’s the perfect distraction - some apps can even be linked to your Spotify account and will play tracks according to your heart rate. But the psychology of effective workout music is more than simply picking out some high-energy tunes and pumping some iron. Choosing songs that evoke memories and emotions - tracks that you actually feel - is crucial for getting into the zone and turning exercise boredom on its head.
Any exerciser will know that sore muscle feeling that sneaks in 24 hours after an intense workout. Sometimes, muscles you didn’t even know you had will ache and even walking down the stairs can be an ordeal. But the fitter you get, the harder it becomes to tell when you’ve really made a difference. Knowing exactly what happens to your muscles after a workout can help support and measure your fitness progress, increase your recovery time and make sure you don’t go too hard and cause injuries. A lot of the physical changes we see from working out - especially strength and functional training - are down to the direct impact that physical activities has on your muscle tissue. To truly understand what happens, you need to know the full scientific process: Muscle change #1: Resistance The moment you start moving, whether you’re climbing, running, swimming, doing yoga or lifting weights, there’s some form of resistance placed on your muscles. It’s when that resistance becomes greater than what your body is usually used to during the day that muscle hypertrophy (growth and increase in the size of muscle cells) is kick-started. Your muscles use glucose to contract and move, but without plentiful oxygen, lactic acid forms instead. Muscle change #2: Microscopic tears The delayed aches and pains you feel after a workout come down to microscopic tears (microtrauma) in your muscles, particularly when you’re trying an exercise for the first time or place a higher level of resistance than normal on a muscle. It’s completely normal and the size of a tear depends on the intensity of the workout (but it does also mean more soreness). Muscle change #3: Healing Ever wondered why your muscles look larger straight after exercise? Following a strenuous workout such as resistance training, excess blood gets pumped into the muscle cells you just disrupted. This brings oxygen and nutrients to wash away toxins and lactic acid and creates a temporary swelling which lasts for around two hours. During this time, your fatigued muscles are super hungry - think of them as keen construction ready to build. But they can’t do it without the right materials, i.e. a fresh supply of glucose from carbs and plenty of protein, they can’t do their job quickly and efficiently. Muscle change #4: Growth This disruption of your muscle cells causes satellite cells from outside the muscle fibres to rush to the area and replicate. They then mature into grown cells and fuse to your muscle fibres, forming new muscle protein strands. As a result, muscles become more resilient, meaning the next time you do that particular exercise you won’t be as sore. Over time your muscle fibres will build up stronger so you can lift more weights or perform more accomplished exercises. Ideally, to truly optimise your muscle growth, you’ll want to strive for a varied and well-rounded functional fitness routine. Mix it up with a wide range of exercises - once an exercise becomes easy to complete, increase the intensity or try something else to keep your muscles growing stronger and more resilient.
We don’t need another batch of research to tell us how being slumped at a desk all day is damaging our health. There are a multitude of studies out there already to show the negative effects: scientists claim sedentary lifestyles are more fatal than smoking and sitting down all the time causes more deaths than obesity. But we also don’t need a study to tell us that being on our back side day after day will have negative repercussions on our health because we can feel it in our bones, our muscles, our mind. We know it when we get that feeling after a brisk walk, or the way we feel after plunging into the sea: we’re supposed to be interacting with our natural environments this way. Yes, we need to stand up and move more. No, it’s not always easy. But here are just a few reasons you should switch up your sitting routine, and exactly how you should do it: The risks of inactivity Slows down your metabolism. From travelling to work on the train to watching TV on the sofa at night, when we’re seated, we slow down our body’s ability to regulate blood sugar and break down fats. Meaning it’s more likely you’ll put on weight and increase your blood pressure. Linked to early death. Excessive sitting has been scientifically linked to type 2 diabetes, some types of cancer, and premature death. If you’re overweight or obese, sitting down too often probably has a lot to do with it. Functional health suffers. The Start Active, Stay Active report details the importance of physical activity for maintaining our ability to carry out day-to-day tasks. Those who sat down less in studies show a 30% reduced risk of falls and role limitations. Lowers psychological well-being. Moving more can reduce the risk of depression, dementia and Alzheimer’s. By sitting less and upping your physical activity, you can boost your mood, self-esteem and sleep quality, while lowering your anxiety levels. Reducing the risks from sitting down Do at least 150 minutes (2½ hours) of exercise a week. This doesn’t all need to be at the gym, but here at EVO - we can help bring around your return to natural movement. This has a hugely positive impact on your physical, metabolic and psychological health. Try doing 30 minutes of big, compound movements - squatting, pulling, stretching, balancing - at least five days a week. Our personal trainers can design a custom program for those wanting to enhance their physical and mental wellbeing with functional fitness. Take an active break at least every 30 minutes. Break up your seated time (especially long periods) by taking a time out every half an hour or so. During your break, go for a quick walk or stretch it out for just one to two minutes. Set a timer on your phone to remind you. Make small changes to your weekday. Making physical activity a part of your everyday life is the easiest way to undo much of the damage caused from sitting down. Jump off the bus before your stop and walk the rest of the way, take the stairs instead of the lift, go and speak to a co-worker rather than email them.
Introduction There's something inherently nice about taking your shoes off and moving around in bare feet. We can move our toes, our posture changes, we move differently - almost with a sense of purpose and play. For most of us, the first 4 years of life were predominantly defined by barefoot movement. We used our hands and feet to explore our environment - a process that literally shaped our movement as older children and adults. When we started school, we started wearing shoes for longer periods of time. The result was a steady decline in our ability to fully sense our environment from the ground up. At the same time, we over-protected our feet with cushioned and/or rigid shoes, further depriving the senses and significantly affecting our ability to move skillfully. To provide more context, there is a growing body of research that suggests that many exercise-related injuries and indeed many other health conditions can be attributed to long term use of inappropriate footwear. This evidence strongly suggests that modern footwear has weakened our feet, and we need to strengthen them (again). Going barefoot There's no doubt that going barefoot is one of the best, and natural ways to strengthen the feet. However, there is a caveat: the vast majority of people will need to transition slowly if they want to enjoy a lifetime of healthy feet. The ugly truth is that if your feet have been imprisoned in padded or inappropriate footwear for many years - it will take time and effort to re-train them for comfortable barefoot movement. EVO environment When we designed EVO, we had natural movement in mind. Our policy clearly states you can train in bare feet. We even created distinct training zones and selected essential equipment that supports barefoot movement. However, we also understand that like any other part of your body, your feet must be physically conditioned and nourished for long term health. With this in mind, here are our top 5 tips for going barefoot in EVO. 5 tips for barefoot movement 1. Walk before you can run If it's your first time training barefoot, you may feel a little conscious, and exposed! This is OK - don't forget, in EVO, it'll feel natural. Start by taking your shoes off at the end of your session when you cool down/stretch. As you feel confident, try walking on the treadmill barefoot. All EVO clubs have a Woodway Treadmill just for this purpose. It's a slatted treadmill that provides comfort and traction for barefoot movement. 2. Get assessed All our clubs have integrated pressure plate technology, which can asses your current foot/ankle health. The results of this give us a clear picture of how functional your feet are, and where to improve strength and mobility. All our personal trainers are qualified to assess your feet using pressure plate analysis. 3. Move your feet Our unique training system incorporates a foot/ankle mobility and strength training program. We call it Toe-ga, or yoga for the toes! A series of toe and ankle exercises will quickly build long-lost strength, mobility and elasticity back into your feet. To learn more, download the EVOmove Workouts App, and select 'Toe-Ga Warm Up' from the workout menu. 4. Try different movements As your feet get used to being bare, start exploring different movements. Try a few jumps, crawl down the sprint track, use TRX, lift weights, throw a slam ball against the wall. Notice how being barefoot affects your ability to move. Notice how it changes your posture. When you have optimal feedback from the ground, you will enjoy optimal movement. 5. Respect your feet Don’t forget to give your feet time to recover. Early in your barefoot journey, you will need adequate rest time. It's normal for the feet to become sore, like any other muscle. If you still want to train, you can wear a padded shoe in between barefoot training sessions. As your feet become stronger, you will enjoy longer periods of barefoot training without discomfort. If you are interested in learning how barefoot movement can improve your movement and reduce risk of injury, please speak to an EVO Personal Trainer - feeling is believing!
When you’re close to the shore, the surface of the beach tilts - resulting in your body’s mechanics going out of rhythm. This means that during your barefoot beach running workout your hips will be nonparallel and the distance it will take to touch the floor with each leg will differ. When going barefoot, it’s important to warm up properly to avoid injury during your training. Running on flat, wet sand helps to reduce the risk of tendon strains or pulling ligaments, but the best way to prep for a seaside run is to spend time stretching out. Don’t just go straight in for the shoeless cardio - warm up actively with pre-barefoot running exercises. Head to the beach and start your barefoot beach running workout! BAREFOOT BEACH RUNNING WORKOUT 1. ANKLE ROTATION Entwine your fingers and toes, then repeat to the right and the left with both feet for 30 seconds. 2. SKIPPING Get your feet in the sand and skip, knees up high, for two minutes. 3. BACK KICK RUNNING Kick your palms with your heels for two minutes to stretch out those upper leg muscles. 4. MOUNTAIN CLIMBERS Create a groove in the sand with your feet and prep the glutes, thighs and calves by performing this core-activating move for 30 seconds. 5. PLANK SIDE JUMP Prep your legs, core and ankles by exploding into this plank variation for 30 seconds. 6. BAREFOOT RUNNING Time to pound the shores for an exhilarating 20 mins. Suck up the salty air and go for it! Nothing beats diving into the ocean after a barefoot beach run. Not only will the chill of the waves rejuvenate the body, it’ll soothe your hard-worked muscles so you can dry off feeling refreshed and 110% alive. Try also other workouts: Video: Beach Workout Movement Balance Workout Core Bag Workout Kinesis Core Workout HIIT Workout Jumping Workout Cardio Workout
Making sense of movement Our movement is dictated by our ability to sense our environment. When we experience poor feedback via our senses, we exhibit poor movement. Think back to the last time you had to get out of bed in the dark to go to the bathroom. You probably had to feel around with your hands and feet; your movement was slower, hesitant and slightly fearful. When your vision is not impaired, moving is easier. However, what’s interesting is that research shows that vision contributes only 10% of sensory input during movement. A further 20% comes from the vestibular system (part of the inner ear responsible for balance). However, 70% of sensory input comes from the lower leg – and it’s thought that most of this comes via the sole of the foot. Movement sensor Further evidence of the role the foot plays during movement comes from the following fact: the sole of the foot has 250,000 nerve endings. Nature evolved it to be a movement sensor. Up to the age of 4, this sensory apparatus allowed us to be highly competent movers. Then most of us began the lifelong journey of sedentary living and poor footwear, causing us to disconnect from our feet, movement and environment. Movement begins from the ground up - our feet are the only body parts in contact with the ground for most of the day. Yet how many of us look after our feet in the same way as the rest of the body? Feeding the soles of your feet At EVO, we believe that healthy feet = healthy movement. Therefore, every club has invested in the best technology and training to support healthy feet. Your training is important, and we want you to make the most out of every workout, and remain efficient and injury-free. We have installed plantar (pressure) plates in every club – a force platform that takes a ‘live footprint’ of your feet, giving us valuable information about posture, balance, strength and elasticity. With this information, we will teach you the skill of standing, squatting, walking and running – which we consider important foundations of human movement. Alongside this technology, all EVO Personal Trainers are approved to teach you Toe-ga – ‘yoga for the toes’ – a sequence of foot/ankle exercises designed to improve strength, mobility and elasticity. In addition, we fully support training in bare feet, where and when appropriate. And if you prefer to wear shoes, we can also provide expert guidance on choosing suitable barefoot shoes. Reawaken. Reconnect When reawakened and reconnected to the ground, the feet serve as a highly effective platform for force transfer in almost every movement. In a nutshell, this means lower economy of effort and lower risk of injury. Of course, this can take time, and it’s important to pay your feet the same attention as you would any other part of the body. The question is not whether barefoot is best, but whether it’s worth the time and effort in making your feet stronger?
Technology has also led to the development of over-complicated exercise equipment, which has subsequently led to the creation of over-complicated training methods. Therefore, it make sense to change our exercise behaviours – to join a gym, to exercise regularly – in order to reap the benefits of lifelong physical health, function and vitality. But is a change in behaviour all that's needed? CULTURAL SHIFT For any change to be sustainable, a cultural shift needs to take place. Strong cultures form when ideas, behaviours and customs come together. In the world of health and fitness, there are no shortage of ideas, many of which motivate people to exercise – new exercise equipment, the latest training trend, celebrity diets. However for many, this exercise behaviour is sporadic, non-achieving and often short-lived. What is often missing is a deeper understanding of the values and customs around exercise behaviour. Knowing why you are exercising, training or moving helps to clarify what your are doing and how you are going about it. And when this becomes clear, your behaviour becomes habitual. UNDERSTANDING WHY For modern humans, our work and recreational environments often demand skilful use of our body's. The advancement of technology and environmental adaptation has led to a dramatic decline in this use, and a subsequent loss of capacity to adapt to the demands of our environment. What was once natural, skilful and purposeful is now unnatural, inefficient, and meaningless. With this in mind, the ability to move our bodies shouldn’t be thought of as a form of training, but instead an essential part of our development and a platform for optimal physical health and well-being at any age. HUMAN DESIGN We’re built for movement and lots of it. Look at our physiology – we have naturally strong feet and ankles, long limbs, mobile hip and shoulder joints, and a unique upright posture that gives us the capacity and flexibility to fully explore our environment. These explorations draw on the simple skills of pushing, pulling, squatting, stepping, bending, twisting and of course locomotion. In a natural environment, we perform these movements in balanced amounts and at intensities that are task-dependent. In the modern world, we have lost both the balance and regularity of these fundamental human movements. MOVE WELL. MOVE OFTEN Regular movement is more than just going to the gym 4x per week. And your body is designed to perform a few fundamental movements well. Scientific evidence indicates that one exercise session in an otherwise sedentary day does little to positively impact overall health. Of course, it’s still OK to go to the gym or play sport, but the key to long term physical health is also about balancing your workout with good movement, and supplementing your workout with regular, lower intensity activity during the rest of the day. Using a stand-up desk, walking more, taking the stairs, mini workouts during the day, washing the car, playing with the kids – these are simple examples of how we can remain physically active during the day, to boost gym-based training. SUMMARY Lifelong physical health requires a cultural shift in the way we think and feel about exercise. To enjoy the longer term benefits, we must understand the body's needs for regular lower intensity activity, and a balance of simple movements such as squatting, stepping, bending, pushing, pulling, twisting and locomotion. In this way, staying in good physical health will become less of an intervention, and more of a lifestyle behaviour. Don't forget to share your thoughts with us!
So we set some goals, and for many, the focus is getting fitter, healthier or leaner. While this process may seem simple enough, why do many of us fail to achieve our goals? The answer may lie in a missing component: context. Without context, goals have no meaning, and over time can result in loss of motivation and lack of success. Getting fitter, healthier or leaner are common goals when it comes to exercise and training. However, many people tend to prioritize one at the expense of the others, without fully understanding that they are inter-dependent. In this post, we explore why it’s important to consider goals in an integrated way for long term success. PROVIDING CONTEXT Getting leaner is a common goal, falling under the category of body composition/appearance, and may include weight loss, building muscle, as well as getting leaner. While exercise is often viewed as the main strategy for getting leaner or losing body fat, this is misguided. By far, the best strategy for getting or staying lean is proper eating habits and metabolic optimisation. In fact, over-exercising in the pursuit of weight/fat loss can be detrimental to health. In a similar way, we can refine the goal of getting healthy. Being healthy means different things to different people, and should not be confused with fitness goals (although getting fit will drive many aspects of health). In every day terms, health objectives may include improving cardiorespiratory function, lowering stress, increasing energy levels, and pain-free movement. While regular exercise is essential, it’s not the only driver of success – proper eating and recovery is also required. Getting fitter is probably the most common, yet least understood goal. Components of fitness include strength, power, endurance, agility, balance, and flexibility. While many goals are set around individual components of fitness (eg. get stronger) – at EVO we believe in balancing these components through a variety of fundamental movements such as squatting, bending, lifting, pushing, pulling and locomotion. While exercise is the main driver for improving fitness, it’s also important to understand that over-training can negatively affect your other health- and appearance-related goals. COMMON GROUND Having defined these goals, it’s clear to see that they are linked. The pursuit of a singular goal can both affect, and be affected by the other goals, in positive and negative ways. For example, getting fitter will improve your physical capacity, but may not get you leaner if you’re not eating right. On the flip side, over-training may result in fatigue, stress and loss of energy, thereby negatively affecting your health. The bottom line is getting lean, healthy or fit may be limiting if considered individually; but providing context and building strategies around all three goals may in fact produce longer term success and longevity. SUMMARY EVO maintains a strong position that getting lean, healthy and fit should not be viewed as distinctly separate goals. These goals are inextricably linked, and can be achieved easily and simply through balanced eating, movement and recovery. With this in mind, the question is not whether being lean, healthy or fit is best, but rather can you be lean, healthy and fit? The answer is yes! Don't forget to share your thoughts with us via Facebook and Instagram!
The opportunity for recovery is always there – from the moment you wake up to when you go to bed. Recovery helps us to adapt to the demands of training, so that we can become fitter and healthier. Without adequate recovery, we run the risk of over-training, injury and poor health. Fortunately, there are a number of strategies you can use to boost recovery after training. Here are our top 5 tips for maximizing your recovery. #1 Be serious about your eating habits Your recovery potential actually begins in the hours (and days) before your workout. Optimal and balanced nutrition throughout the day will affect the quality of recovery in a big way. Adequate carbohydrate, protein and fat consumption from whole, natural foods will not only ensure optimal energy during training – it will also accelerate the necessary tissue repair post-workout. #2 Push the boundaries but not beyond Understand how training intensity and volume affect recovery. In simple terms, intensity and volume should be managed in opposition: If you workout at a high intensity, use a lower volume (load, time, frequency). The bottom line: know your skills, ability and limits - it’s absolutely OK to push the boundaries in your workout, just don’t destroy them. #3 Stay hydrated Proper hydration is more than just drinking enough water during exercise. Optimal cellular hydration is dependent on maintaining an electrolyte balance during and post-workout, to off-set any losses through sweating and other metabolic processes. EVO Tip: Sipping on an isotonic sports drink during and after exercise will ensure electrolytes are quickly replaced, and will dramatically reduce your recovery time. #4 Don't skip the warm up and cool down An intelligent warm up will prepare your body, allowing you to get the most out of your workout without over-training. Be sure to include activity to raise heart rate, as well as mobility and muscle activation exercises. When it comes to the cool down, be sure to lower your heart rate progressively and keep the focus on good range of movement. Flexibility exercises including foam rolling and dynamic stretching will restore circulation and boost psychological health. #5 Get enough physical and mental rest While it’s always important to get enough quality sleep, there are other activities that can promote recovery, which can be practiced during the day. Meditation is one such practice that can support recovery through a combination of physical rest, breathing techniques and mindfulness. Whether it’s a 5 minute meditation post-workout or a 10 minute mediation before sleep, you will notice the recovery benefits very quickly. Don't forget to share your favorite post-workout strategies with us via Facebook and Instagram!
Because body weight training often requires support of one’s body weight – for example, on the floor, or in hanging positions – building a foundation of strength, endurance and mobility in the hands and wrists is essential for injury-free movement and continued success. It’s important to understand that while functional joint strength provides the foundation for injury- and pain-free hands and wrists, skillful practice also plays a key role. Whether you’re a body weight training advocate, or simply wish to build stronger hands and wrists for everyday lifting and carrying, here are our top 5 exercises. These exercises can be performed as part of a warm-up at the gym, or as a standalone corrective exercise program. EXERCISES FOR PAIN-FREE HANDS AND WRISTS 1. Wrist extension In a kneeling position, place hands palms up on the knees. Lean forwards and gently roll the fingers until the palm is on the floor. Spread the fingers and find a comfortable stretch. Gently pulse forwards and backwards 20 times. Then hold the stretch for 30sec. Repeat. 2. Wrist flexion In a kneeling position, place hands palms down on the knees. Lean forwards and gently roll the fingers until the back of the palm is on the floor. Spread the fingers and find a comfortable stretch. Gently turn the elbow crease inwards and outwards 20 times. Then turn the elbow crease out and hold the stretch for 30sec. Repeat. 3. Fingertip bounce In a kneeling position, lean forwards and rest the fingertips lightly on the floor. Gently bounce the fingertips up and down on the floor, as you rock your body forwards and backwards to control the weight. Perform 20 bounces, rest and repeat. 4. Forearm press Assume an all-fours position with the fingers facing forward. Spread the fingers and gently turn the elbow crease out so it’s forward facing. From this position, push the base of the fingers into the floor and raise the palm off floor. Lower the palm under control and repeat 15 times. Aim for fatigue at the last rep; as you become stronger, you can lean further forwards onto the hands. As a progression, perform the exercise with the fingers facing backwards. 5. Forward rocks This final exercise combines the flexibility, strength and endurance gained from the above exercises into a functional movement and will help you further build pain-free hands and wrists. From an all-fours position. Spread the fingers, turn out the elbow creases, and push the fingertips and palms into the floor. As you maintain this position, slowly rock forwards and hold for 2sec. Return and repeat 12 times to fatigue. As you become stronger, you can progressively take the shoulders further forwards over the wrists/hands. Don't forget to share your experiences with us via Facebook and Instagram!
1. Get plenty of sleep Sleep is probably the most important energy booster. For good quality sleep, reduce your exposure to unnatural light (eg. phones, laptops, computers, TV) after 7pm – the high levels of (blue) light can suppress melatonin, the sleep hormone. Don't forget that sleep deprivation is accumulative and may take several days to weeks to re-balance. If you're still feeling with low energy levels during the day, take a 30 minute siesta mid-afternoon. 2. Early morning exercise Early morning exercise is a great way to fire up your metabolism and boost your energy levels for the rest of the day. Be sure to perform light to moderate intensity exercise, with a focus on mobility and whole body movements. Activities like brisk walking, yoga or even light circuit training will enhance circulation, oxygen uptake, and nutrient delivery for the rest of the day. 3. Manage stress While acute stress can increase metabolism (through adrenaline and cortisol release), chronic stress can cause a drop in metabolism and energy levels. If you have stress in your daily lifestyle, look for common signs, including insomnia, fatigue, cold hands/feet, poor recovery, weight gain – and explore ways to manage your stress. Daily meditation, lunchtime walks, and breathing techniques are some of the ways you can immediately reduce stress and boost energy levels. 4. Eat regularly Probably the most obvious yet least adhered way to increase energy levels is to eat regularly during the day. Adequate consumption of carbohydrates will prevent energy drops. Learn to identify when your metabolism is running low, and be sure to eat. Indicators of a low metabolism include cold hands and feet, loss of concentration and general feelings of lethargy – listen out for the signs and eat accordingly. 5. Pimp your coffee While excess caffeine consumption should be avoided, treat yourself to a mid-morning (single shot) coffee as an extra metabolic stimulant. For slow-releasing energy, add coconut oil, cream, and honey to sweeten. Be sure to avoid caffeine after midday.
What is a muscle cramp? A muscle cramp is a sudden, involuntary and sustained contraction of one or more muscles. There is often a visible and palpable hardening of the muscles. Muscle cramps may last for a few seconds to several minutes, and can recur many times before subsiding. Why does cramping occur? Cramping occurs when the mechanisms that control muscle contraction and relaxation become impaired. For efficient muscle function, there are 3 key physiological requirements that need to be met: optimal cellular environment, well-conditioned muscles, and sufficient recovery. What are the best strategies to reduce the risk of cramping? Firstly, maintaining an optimal cellular environment is the most important strategy, and is dependent on balanced levels of water, glucose and electrolytes inside the cells. When glucose and electrolytes become too low, the cells dump water to rebalance the environment. When too much water is drunk, the cells also dump excess water, along with important electrolytes. This electrolyte and glucose imbalance can result in muscle cramps. The best strategy is to reduce/avoid tea, coffee, dietary drinks (especially before exercise), and consume a purpose designed sports drink, such as Gatorade – which will provide optimal amounts of water, glucose and electrolytes. Secondly, cramp is less likely to occur in muscles that are well-conditioned and supple. When you work out, ensure that you are working through a full range of motion where possible, and be sure to spend time on flexibility at the beginning and end of your workout. For best results, combine foam rolling and dynamic stretching – to boost your circulation and reduce the risk of cramping. The final strategy is to ensure you make time for recovery post-exercise. Muscles need adequate rest between workouts, and during these times, hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol can re-balance. Proper rest and recovery will ensure that your cellular environment remains optimised for the next workout. What is EVO’s position on avoiding muscle cramps? At EVO, our focus is on creating better understanding of the body for optimal physiological and physical health. Strategies to minimize the risk of muscle cramps should begin with a focus on attaining optimal cellular health through adequate consumption of a balanced sports drink before, during and after exercise. Pre- and post-workout strategies should also include proper flexibility training, particularly the use of foam rollers. Finally, optimal rest between bouts of exercise will ensure longer-term avoidance of muscle cramps.
Breathing Techniques While Exercising Strength Training When lifting weights or doing other resistance exercises, exhale during the difficult part of the exercise. For the most part, this will be during the lifting or pushing phase of the movement. When you exhale, your core tightens, giving you more stability and strength to power through the movement and to reduce your risk of injury. Inhale as you slowly release back to start, taking care to keep your core engaged. Cardio When you are performing aerobic exercises, like running, try to time your breathing to the cadence of your movements, in this case, your steps. For example, breathe in for two steps and then out for two. By keeping your breath in rhythm, your bringing a steady flow of oxygen to your muscles to give them the strength to keep going. At an easy pace, you should be able to breathe through your nose, which has the added benefit of filtering and warming the air before it reaches your lungs. However, at more strenuous levels of exertion, it is typically easier to breathe through your mouth to get maximum oxygen intake. Stretching During stretching, your goal is to extend and elongate your muscles, so do the same with your breathing. Focus on breathing in deeply and letting the exhale follow naturally. With this healthy breathing technique, you slow your body down, which helps your muscles to relax. This allows you to get deeper stretches and helps to reduce your risk of strain from overstretching. Keep your breathing slow and steady throughout your stretching routine. Recovery Your body needs to recover in between exercise sets, so practice this healthy breathing technique to get your muscles ready for their next challenge: Instead of breathing into your chest, focus on expanding your belly instead. By using your diaphragm to stretch your lungs, you body is able to take in more oxygen than if you were breathing normally. This helps to bring that oxygen to your muscles so that they can recover faster and you can get back to your workout. Throughout the Day At Your Desk In today's modern world of technology, more people than ever spend the bulk of their days hunched over a keyboard at their desks. On top of that, the fast pace of the business world leaves many workers stressed out throughout the day. Try to take short breaks from working about every hour to practice healthy breathing. If you have a private office or don't mind strange looks from your coworkers, lie on the floor with your legs up the wall and perform the diaphragm breathing technique from the recovery section, above. If lying on the floor isn't an option, you can stay at your desk, but make sure that you sit up straight, pull your shoulders back and elongate your neck. Before Bed If you often have difficulty falling asleep, this healthy breathing technique may help you to relax more quickly. Start by inhaling through your nose as you count to four. Then, hold your breath and count to seven. Finally, exhale through your mouth as you count to eight. Repeat the cycle for four total breaths. Holding your breath gives your body the chance to absorb the maximum amount of oxygen, which contributes to relaxation.
1. To stay healthy get enough sleep Getting enough sleep is one of the best things you can do for your body when your concern is how to get fit and stay healthy. When you are overly tired, both your brain and body cannot function as well as they should. This can result in mistakes at work or injuries while working out. Your body also needs sleep to recover from all of the strain you put on it throughout the day. The amount of sleep required is different for each person, although it is typically in the range of seven to nine hours for adults. If you have to get up early in the morning, start by going to bed 15 minutes earlier each night until you wake up feeling refreshed and rested. 2. Stay hydrated Staying hydrated is an important part of health and performance. Even a small amount of dehydration can significantly impair mood, well being and ability to function. What's important to understand is that optimal hydration is closely linked not only with fluid intake, but also with salt intake. Adequate salt intake ensures that our cells retain fluid and remain hydrated. And in fact, if we drink too much water (as many do) we can end up driving salt out of our cells, and getting rid of it (and the water) through urine. This may contribute to a constant cycle of dehydration. The best advice is to maintain adequate salt intake and listen to your body – drinking water only when thirsty, hot or during/after intense exercise. And don't forget, many foods also have a high water content, which contributes to your overall fluid intake. 3. Have regular movement snacks If you sit at a desk all day for work, it can have a negative impact on your body. Not only are you reducing overall physical activity, but prolonged sitting can also lead to poor posture, movement impairment and pain. Therefore as a minimum measure to stay healthy, aim to stand up once an hour. When you have created this simple habit, add to it a short walk around your office, or do some light stretching. As you get used to these ‘movement snacks’, look for other options to move throughout your day. This may include taking the stairs, parking your car further away and walking to work, or even having a walking meeting with colleagues. The goal is to loosen up your muscles and get the blood flowing. You'll find that your body feels much better throughout the day and that you are better able to focus on your work. 4. Breathe deeply We take breathing for granted, and only take notice of it at times of exertion or stress. With each breath, we take in oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide. This process must remain in fine balance in order to survive. What's important to understand is that it's not how much oxygen we take in that influences our health - it's the level of carbon dioxide in our body that drives oxygen usage by our cells. Therefore it's important to maintain healthy levels of carbon dioxide. We can do this by practicing deeper breathing throughout the day. The focus should not only be on breathing in deeply, but also breathing out slowly. When we are under stress, breathing becomes quick and shallow, and this causes us to release carbon dioxide quickly. If this becomes prolonged, it can lead to high levels of anxiety. Deeper breaths, with a focus on slower out-breath, will maintain adequate levels of carbon dioxide in the body, and can not only reduce stress, but also aid recovery, reduce inflammation and protect cells. 5. Eat whole foods A balanced diet is crucial to stay healthy. Try to eat whole foods as much as possible, that is foods that are not processed and packaged. Fill up on lean proteins and get plenty of fruits and vegetables - the more colours the better. Your body draws most of its nutrients from the foods that you eat, so it is important to eat a wide variety of foods to get the greatest nutritional benefits. If you can't prepare meals for yourself, try to choose restaurants that offer healthy fare.
Improves Memory When you exercise, blood flow increases throughout your body, including to your brain. Over time, this increased blood flow leads to the growth of new blood vessels in your brain. These blood vessels can then carry more oxygen where you need it, resulting in improved brain function. Another one of the benefits of exercise, found in a study by the National Cheng Kung University in Taiwan, is that exercise stimulates the release of growth factors into your brain cells to help them replicate and regenerate, which can help to stave off neurodegenerative conditions like dementia and Alzheimer's. Reduces Stress and Improves Moods During exercise, endorphins are released into your brain and nervous system. These feel-good neurotransmitters have a similar effect to opiates or antidepressants, causing you to feel happy and content. They even have "therapeutic and preventative effects on depression," according to a study conducted by the University of California, Irvine. This positive feeling stays with you for hours after you have finished exercising as the endorphins work their way throughout your body. This can help to improve your response to stress as well, leading you to react more calmly to problems, rather than immediately jumping into tense mode. It can also contribute to personal relationships, as you will be less likely to spring to anger and will be a more agreeable person to be around. Increases Sleep Efficiency Another one of the benefits of exercise for your brain is that it helps you sleep better at night. Not only have you utilized more of your body's daily storage of energy, but you also have all those feel-good neurotransmitters flowing through your body and reducing stress, which keeps many people up at night. Getting more and better sleep also helps your brain during the day. When you're fully rested, your brain is able to function at its optimal level, resulting in better concentration and focus while you're working. Improves Coordination Improved coordination is one of the benefits of exercise affecting both your body and brain. As you perform exercises that challenge your body, your brain must contribute to control your movements. This effect is compounded when performing complex, full-body movements in rapid succession, like in a kickboxing class or circuit training, as your brain must constantly make adjustments to move your limbs correctly. You'll notice this effect in your daily life, as you'll feel more comfortable and confident in your movements as you complete activities, which helps to prevent injury as well. Improves Focus According to Wendy A. Suzuki, a neural science and psychology professor at New York University, her research lab demonstrated that regular exercise can improve your ability to focus and to shift that focus between tasks quickly and efficiently. This is one of the benefits of exercise that you can see the effects of right away, even if you only exercise casually. With the increased blood flow to your brain, you'll notice heightened levels of attention and much greater ease in concentrating on the task at hand. So what are you waiting for? With all of these exciting benefits of exercise for your brain, there's no reason for you to delay getting into shape both physically and mentally. Head over to EVO to get a workout in today and start reaping the benefits. Your body and brain will thank you!
Brain Benefits Improves Ability to Focus Meditation is the practice of clearing your brain to focus on a single thought, like your breathing tempo. When other thoughts creep in, the goal of meditation is to push them out to bring your focus back in. With practice, you'll get better at focusing your thoughts, which will carry over into your daily life as well. By focusing better on what you are doing, you'll be better able to reap the benefits of exercise during your workouts, as you perform better overall. Slows Brain Aging Meditation activates a variety of areas in your brain, particularly those associated with memory and learning. As with any muscle in your body, your brain can achieve the benefits of exercise as well. Although your brain is not technically a muscle, it still grows stronger with regular exercise, and that is exactly what you get from meditation. A stronger brain means you'll be better able to stave off degenerative brain diseases, like Alzheimer's and dementia. Reduces Stress Today's world is becoming increasingly fast-paced and stressful, which can be a bit overwhelming at times. Meditation allows you to take a mental step back from the stresses of your daily life, enabling you to maintain calmness, even at your busiest moments. This is one of the key reasons that many people choose to start a meditation practice in the first place. Body Benefits Boosts Immune System This may be related to meditation's ability to lower your stress levels, as stress can wreak havoc on your immune system. Have you ever noticed how you always seem to get sick just when you are the busiest at work? That's right, stress. When you reduce stress through meditation, you'll get the added bonus of staying healthier. When you get sick less often, you can spend more time enjoying activities you love and gaining the health benefits of exercise. Speeds Up Recovery The recovery boost goes hand in hand with the improved immune system. When your immune system is healthy, it is much easier for your body to heal following injuries or illnesses. It's a bit difficult to enjoy the benefits of exercise when you are sidelined by injuries, so it is in your best interest to heal quickly. In meditation, you can also focus on the specific areas that need to heal, which may help them to heal faster by directing your body's healing efforts to where they are needed most. Lowers Blood Pressure When you are calm and relaxed, like you are during meditation, your blood vessels are able to open up more fully. This eases the passage of blood through them, effectively lowering your blood pressure. This benefit does not take place only while you are meditating, but rather carries through to the rest of your day as well. Overall Meditation Health Benefits In addition to the specific benefits outlined above, meditation can make you more likely to make healthier choices in the rest of your life as well. When you start doing one thing that is healthy, it gives you the motivation you need to make other healthy changes in your life, like following a balanced diet or making more of an effort to take advantage of the health benefits of exercise.
Have you ever sat back and watched how babies and small children move their small, healthy feet? They can move, bend and manipulate their toes in ways that adults simply cannot. Why is this necessary? During the first 4 years of life, our feet (and hands) are being calibrated as movement sensors, so we can effectively use them to learn how to move around. Strength, mobility and elasticity in the feet are essential to this learning process, and helps to shape the way we stand, squat, walk, jump and run. Unfortunately, as adults we stop using our feet in this way and we also wear restrictive shoes for long periods of time – both of which result in stiffness, immobility and poor elasticity in our feet. As you know, at EVO we are passionate about healthy feet and how this positively impacts our ability to move. Adding a few simple toe-ga exercises to your daily routine will help to free your toes from years of restriction – and make you feel like a 4 year old again! 3 To-ega exercises for healthy feet: 1. Big toe push Push the big toe down into the ground while lifting the other toes up. Hold for up to 30s and repeat on other foot. 2. Big toe under Tuck the big toe under your foot while keeping the other toes out. Hold for up to 30s and repeat on other foot. 3. Big toe out Keep the big toe out while tucking the other toes under your foot. Hold for up to 30s and repeat on other foot.
Sleep improves athletic performance A study at Stanford University challenged American football players to try to sleep for at least 10 hours per night. Over the course of eight weeks, the study found that the players had more energy and stamina and improved their average sprint times. The power of sleep doesn't just affect football players, though. Similar results have also been found with swimmers and tennis players. In addition to improved performance, getting enough sleep also keeps you alert and focused, which can help you avoid injuries while working out. Controls your weight During sleep, your body balances out the hormone, called leptin, that controls your appetite. When you are not getting enough sleep, your appetite for foods that are high in carbohydrates and fats increases. Typically, these foods are also high in calories, which can make it difficult to maintain a healthy weight or shed those last few pounds. In a study at the University of Chicago, researchers tested two groups of people trying to lose weight: those who were sleep-deprived and those who were not. Although both groups lost similar amounts of weight, that weight came mostly from muscle mass in the sleep-deprived group, whereas the group who had enough sleep lost more fat. Boosts emotional stability Getting enough sleep has long been known to boost your mood. Who doesn't know the feeling of being cranky after a night of minimal sleep? Over time, that effect increases and can contribute to anxiety, depression and other long-term emotional issues. Dr. Jodi A. Mindell from St. Joseph's University says, "Not getting enough sleep affects your emotional regulation." Aim for at least 8 hours per night to keep your mood in check. Improves immune function Getting enough sleep goes a long way towards helping to prevent illness. While you sleep, your body is better able to fight off infections, as it can focus on this, rather than on getting you through your daily activities. Being sick can put a hold on your fitness efforts, so be sure to get enough sleep so that you are healthy enough to exercise regularly. A preliminary research study found that people who got less than 7 hours of sleep per night were three times as likely to get sick when exposed to a cold virus than their counterparts who got adequate sleep. Restores your muscles When you work out, the strain creates tiny tears in your muscle fibers. As those tears heal, your muscles become thicker and stronger in an effort to prevent further damage. While you sleep, your body focuses its efforts on healing and cell regeneration, enabling your muscles to build that extra strength. The power of sleep should play a critical role in your fitness routine to give your muscles plenty of time to recover not just from your tough workouts, but from the strain and stresses of your daily activities as well.
The ability to perform a movement well is a simple definition of skill, and skill is an important determinant of physical health. When it comes to movement, nature makes no allowances for your lack of skill. Even in our modern, technology-enabled environment, lack of skill in simple movements has increased our risk of injury, especially when compounded by long-duration and high-intensity training methods. Movement is more than just exercise, and good movement health is more than just exercising regularly each week. At EVO, we understand the importance of optimizing movement health through the development and mastery of simple movement patterns that focus on building balance, strength and coordination. We also know that in order to develop lifelong movement health, you need to practice these movements skillfully, purposefully and playfully on a regular basis. Here are some guidelines for movement health: 1. Move skillfully Awareness of your environment is the foundation of skill. Therefore, while exercising, learn to engage with your surroundings. Take your headphones off, and listen to your body; take your shoes off and go bare foot; pay attention to your posture; follow the rhythm of your movement. 2. Move purposefully Include the building blocks of movement in your workouts, such as balancing, squatting, bending, lifting, pushing, pulling, hanging, climbing, twisting, jumping and running. These are the movements that gave us context and meaning during our early years. These re the movements we are designed to do. 3. Move playfully Take time to explore and discover new movements. During these moments, there is no need for sets and reps – this is the time to be curious, to break the rules, and to have fun. Try the climbing wall, swing from a bar, crawl on the floor, or do a handstand.
We already know that our movement habits and eating habits, can significantly impact our ability to recover; however, optimal recovery is more than just manipulation of movement and nutrition alone. At EVO, we believe that the foundation for recovery health should be built on three main principles, each of which should be practiced alongside good movement and eating habits. These principles are: physical rest, stress management and light exposure. Physical rest – most of us consider sleep as physical rest; while this is true, it’s also important to consider quality of sleep. Deep sleep patterns are associated with better recovery and increased performance. Physical rest doesn’t always mean sitting still, and may also include light activities such as walking. Finally, meditation can also offer a form of physical (and mental/emotional) rest when practiced daily. Stress management – short and long term stress is now widely accepted as having a negative impact on health. Chronic anxiety or depression can lead to poor recovery, despite regular exercise and good eating habits. This is often compounded by the fast culture of modern living, leaving little time to address stress, until it starts to affect our bodies. Simple stress management techniques may include meditation, breath control, and frequent work breaks. Light exposure – one of the biggest factors that affects our physical (and mental) recovery is over-exposure to light. From mobile phones and tablets to laptops and TVs, modern environments are full of light. While there is nothing wrong with light, over-exposure to light beyond later in the day can disrupt sleep patterns and reduce ability to recover optimally. Where possible, look for opportunities to dim lights later at night, and reduce your use of any light-emitting gadgets.
Developing lifelong recovery health takes time, practice and dedication, but the rewards will pay off in terms of deeper sleep, reduced stress and increased performance. To get you started, here are our top tips to boost your recovery: Shorten your workout – reducing your total workout time by 10-15 minutes will significantly boost your recovery. This is easier than you think, if you remain focused on your training and stick to your rest periods. Use this additional time to practice other recovery techniques. Breath control – breathing techniques can not only relax and calm us, they can also improve circulation, which can aid recovery. To begin with, simply pay attention to your breathing – initially you may notice that most of the breath movement takes place in the shoulders and chest. As you begin to relax, the movement will occur lower in the abdomen and the shoulders will start to relax. With practice, you will be able to control your breath in as little as a minute. Minute break – where possible during work time, take a minute break. During this time get up and walk around, look out of a window to relax your eyes, spend some time breathing deeply – in fact do anything that promotes relaxation. If it helps, set a reminder on your phone to take a minute break every 30 minutes. Meditation – whilst meditation is best learned through guided instruction, try the following simple exercise to get you started: allow 5 minutes for this activity, find a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed and sit comfortably with an upright posture. Close your eyes, and focus on your breathing. As your body begs to relax, notice any thoughts that come to mind. Rather than react to these thoughts, simply notice them and let them pass – returning to your breathing each time. With practice and guidance, you will notice better recovery and increased calmness Dim the lights – the sleep hormone, melatonin, naturally increases as it gets dark, promoting deep sleep. Modern lifestyles continue to expose us to unnatural light (phones, laptops, TVs etc) even when it’s dark outside. This causes melatonin levels to decrease, and can disrupt our sleep patterns. To combat this, make an effort to reduce use of laptops, phones and TVs at least 2 hours before bedtime. You can also dim the lights in your house in the evenings. This will help increase your melatonin levels before bed and promote better sleep patterns.