fitness, refuel, stress

Is fitness information overload leading to an increase in negative stress levels?

I’ve had an active interest in health and fitness for a very long time now, and having completed my fitness trainer qualification a year or so ago my knowledge is now much greater than it was.

There’s one thought that’s been on my mind for a while now though, and having read the following excellent article yesterday http://www.tombeingtom.com/imperfect-information/, recommended by the talented writer M.P. Baecker, it brought the thought to the forefront once again: Is the vast amount of fitness information on the internet actually contributing to our levels of negative stress?

For example, a quick look at the fitness section of MSN.com leads me to read (titles only): ‘The truth about how much exercise you need to lose weight’, ‘6 smart (and Sneaky) ways to exercise at work’, ‘Running might be the closest thing to the fountain of youth’, ‘Should you do ab exercises every day if you want to see results? ‘What happens to your body when you start exercising regularly’ etc etc.

I’m sure some of these have some very valid information included (I didn’t actually go on to read the articles), but the point is it’s just too much, and I really believe such information puts far too much pressure on us, even if we don’t realise it.

Questions start to crop up: Should I be doing that? Am I doing enough exercise? Am I doing the right exercise? Why don’t I look like that? Why do I find it so hard when they make it sound so easy?

How can I fit this all in when I have so much else going on?

And that’s a huge contributor to the negative stress all of this information causes – time. There are only so many hours in the day, and many dream of a life where each day consists of an early morning run followed by yoga on the beach, a trek in the mountains and dancing in the evening, but the reality is far from this.

So what should we be doing?  Well it would be wrong for me not to say here Refuel’!

But in all honesty we should be enjoying our lives in an active way.  This doesn’t have to mean one particular physical activity or another. It means we should find active activities we enjoy and do them. And what we enjoy could also change on a regular basis. Just because we enjoy Cross Fit or Yoga now, doesn’t mean we have to do that for the rest of our lives. If we can only spare one hour a week then why not mix it up? Alternate weekly or monthly, combine them both somehow. Then try something completely new.

Or if you simply prefer to walk then walk! But add some variety: walk faster, take a steeper route, race a friend, build some squats into your warm up and do some yoga stretches to cool down. Life is about enjoying, and if we enjoy something then we want to do more of it!

And we don’t need to spend hours – it’s common knowledge that exercise stresses the body in a positive way, but if we do too much this can quickly turn to negative stress and have the opposite effect. Everything in moderation, which is perfect when we don’t have much time anyway!

So the point I’d really like to make here is ,when it comes to keeping fit, please just try to have fun. Of course if you’re working towards very specific goals then the very best thing to do is to talk to a professional trainer who will identify what’s right for you. But outside of this, yes please do keep yourself active and fit, but only in a way that you enjoy.

Don’t panic when reading all the information that’s out there. Don’t feel you have to prioritise one type of fitness training over another (unless you have specific needs/goals as mentioned above). Don’t worry about what anyone else is doing. Do find what’s right for you.

It’s about balance, enjoyment and doing the best you can in the time that you have.