We get the lowdown from resident fitness expert Jess Waters from Wild and Well on the workout advice we should *actually* be listening to.
What is your advice for women you are sitting at a desk for the majority of the day?
As someone who used to work in a desk job before being in the fitness industry, I know how easy it can be to fall into that trap of being too tired from sitting down all day to be able to exercise, but it really is so important not only for the body but for the mind as well.
The effects of prolonged sitting can cause a range of different issues, aches and pains, and can especially be detrimental to posture and hip health. You can expect things like overextended back and shoulder muscles, contracted bicep and chest muscles, shoulders rolling forward causing lower back pain and increased risk of shoulder injury. Tightness in the quadriceps and hip flexors, weak glutes and lower energy levels to name a few.
In an ideal situation, someone who is sitting at a desk most of the day should have a weekly practice of some kind of foam rolling, mobility, yoga and stretching.
Foam rolling will help to release muscle tension, break up knots and helps with blood flow. Mobility will help to improve range of motion in the joints which assists in improving posture and body awareness. Yoga and stretching have so many benefits but mainly they will help to strengthen and promote better flexibility, teach you breath control (which can be very helpful in a stressful work environment), creates more elasticity in the muscles and one of my favourite benefits of yoga are that it helps to build a greater sense of self-love and self-worth.
Anything on top of this is great. There are so many options out there these days with at home workouts, going on big walks, Pilates, group fitness classes as well as other activities like standup paddle boarding and surfing. Just pick one or a few that you really enjoy and make them a part of your weekly routine. Listen to your gut!
Is there a ‘one size fits all’ approach for most women?
There is definitely not a one size fits all method for anyone. I truly believe that you have to love what you are doing and how you are moving your body otherwise you won’t stick to it and you won’t get the benefits. There is absolutely no harm in trying multiple different things to explore what your body likes until you find what works. I do believe that yoga and mobility or at least some kind of stretching, should however, be a non-negotiable in everyones routine, given the benefits they provide.
There is a lot of talk about cortisol being raised in High Intensity workouts and the potential negative effects. Can you explain a bit about this?
First of all, lets look at cortisol. This steroid hormone is produced by our adrenal glands which are sat on top of each kidney. When this hormone is released into our bloodstream, it can help our bodies respond to stress or danger and also increase your bodies ability to metabolise glucose. Cortisol is also a hormone that can make us store more fat.
Cortisol is released into the bloodstream by the adrenal glands under conditions of high mental and physical stress. HIIT may stimulate a localised cortisol response, and extreme high levels of this hormone can increase some health issues like weight gain and fat gain, digestive issues, issues with sleeping and brain fog.
So, should you still do HIIT training? Absolutely, as long as its done in the right way and in moderation it actually has a positive effect on the body for most people. I would say a good balance would be to limit your HIIT training to 2 times a week and spend the other days doing things like weight training, yoga and mobility, walking etc.
Try and look at your lifestyle as a whole and see how you can create a well rounded, balanced schedule from there. For example, if you sit at a desk most of the day, but are highly stressed in your work then going straight from work to a HIIT training session may not be the best option. Maybe opt for a weighted circuit style workout and then yoga.
We all know that too much stress on the body is detrimental to health so where we can control it, we can make sure we keep our wellbeing in check. I say this all the time, but it’s so important to listen to your body. It knows best and will tell you what it needs. Tune in to that as much as possible and you will start to build a routine that works in your favour.
Why is moving your body daily so important?
When you hear the term ‘Move your body daily’, It doesn’t necessarily mean you have to slog it out and do a hard workout everyday. But what it does mean, is that especially if you are sitting at a desk most days, to support your body in the things it is lacking mostly in your day to day life. Some days you may feel like going to a sweaty HIIT training session, other days you may feel like doing a weights session, or maybe just going for a walk or doing some yoga.
Listen to your body and go easy on the days you feel you need it but be active in one way or another and also be honest with yourself. Are you taking too many rest days and using “feeling a bit sore” or “feeling tired” as more of an excuse? Because those things can also be used as motivation. When you feel sore, going for a yoga class or a walk can actually be really good for your body.
If you feel tired, sometimes exercise helps to pick up that energy again making you feel good after. In saying all of that, if you genuinely are tired and even run down then give your body rest. Treat yourself to a massage or a float tank experience. Something that is going to relax you but rejuvenate you at the same time.
Some days my body is ready for a lot of exercise and then others its not. I have a very active lifestyle and job, so some days my active time is work and then a stretch session. Other days I’ll work, do a Crossfit class and then go on a hike up a mountain. Just go with what you feel, within reason and within your own bodies limits because at the end of the day if you are setting yourself unrealistic measures of how you’re moving your body day in and day out, you will end up getting burnt out and sick and then end up not being able to do anything.
Stay balanced, stay aware and stay humble.
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