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.

 

body and mind

Reconnecting body and mind

For several years now ‘fitness’ has largely been concentrated on the body as opposed to the mind, being used as a tool to lose weight, to build muscle or to achieve a physical goal such as running a 10Km. Thank goodness that this is now changing. With the rise in mental health awareness, the link between the body and mind is finally starting to be taken more seriously, and fitness is no longer just about the body but about maintaining a healthy mind too.

What should come first, a healthy mind or healthy body? I believe this is an impossible question, as actually they are so closely connected I feel confident in saying that it’s impossible to have one without the other. Your mind is part of your body, and your body is part of your mind – how many times have you felt euphoric in mind after completing a long run or a hard workout? How often have you suffered a crippling headache when something has been seriously troubling you? There are many examples I could give but the point is we need to be paying attention to, and taking care of, our bodies and minds in synergy.

This isn’t always easy to do, and there’s not one method which is a magic key to achieve optimal physical and mental health, however thankfully the options are starting to increase in terms of methods for improving the fitness of both the body and the mind (Refuel of course being one of these!).

What is vitally important is enjoyment. Because fitness has been so focused on the body this has often led to a lack of enjoyment, as we struggle to meet body goals with limited time, which in turn has led to frustrated and unhappy minds. Meditation can be a great healer of the mind, but what if you’re someone who loves and needs the physical exertion, which sitting quietly, and even yoga on its own, doesn’t provide?

Enjoyment over the long term therefore needs to be considered, not just the short term – you may enjoy pushing yourself to the limit five days a week but at some point, the stress you are putting yourself through may lead to negative consequences on the body and mind. Balance is needed. A balance between exertion and relaxation, a balance between fast and slow pace, a balance between the work the mind and the body are carrying out.

Each Refuel session looks to provide this balance – encouraging mindful exercise, utilising not just one but a number of fitness techniques, and allowing people to experience and discover music – which has been proven to have a number of positive effects on both body and mind – in its purest form.

Let’s no longer think of body and mind as separate, but as interconnecting parts of ourselves which need taking care of together, for us to enjoy our lives and thrive.

Updates

Launch of Weekly Refuel Sessions!

One of the main pieces of feedback I’ve had from the Refuel sessions so far is “I wish the sessions were more often”. Obviously amazing feedback to have and I’m very excited to be able to announce that from November they will be! Weekly Refuel sessions will run throughout November, every Wednesday evening, 18:45-19:45 at Kapelle am Urban in Kreuzberg.

The room at Kapelle am Urban is a former chapel that belonged to the hospital which used to be on the site – the room has so much character, with beautiful architecture; I could see straight away that it would be a great fit for Refuel.

Places for the Refuel sessions can now be purchased on the site, so that not only is it easier to reserve a place, but there’s also no longer a need to remember to bring cash on the day (just an exercise mat).

I’m really looking forward to welcoming so many more people to Refuel and to experience it more often myself – my body and mind most definitely feel clearer, stronger and more connected afterwards. Hope to see you in November!

To reserve a place at Refuel visit our Venues and Booking page.

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Eines der wichtigsten Feedbacks, die ich bisher von den Refuel-Sitzungen hatte, ist “Ich wünschte, die Sitzungen wären öfter”. Unglaubliches Feedback zu haben, und ich freue mich sehr zu verkünden, dass ab November werden es so sein! Wöchentliche Refuel-Sitzungen finden im November, jeden Mittwochabend, 18:45-19:45 in der Kapelle am Urban in Kreuzberg statt.

Der Raum in Kapelle am Urban ist eine ehemalige Kapelle, die zu dem Krankenhaus gehörte, das früher auf dem Gelände war – der Raum hat so viel Charakter, mit schöner Architektur; Ich konnte sofort sehen, dass es gut zu Refuel passen würde.

Plätze für die Refuel-Sitzungen können jetzt auf der Website gekauft werden, so dass nicht nur Plätze einfach reserviert werden können, sondern dass man nicht mehr daran denken muss, Bargeld am Tag mitzubringen (muss nur noch eine Übungsmatte mitbringen).

Ich freue mich sehr darauf, viele mehr Menschen bei Refuel willkommen zu dürfen, und auch Refuel öfter mich selbst zu erleben – mein Körper und Geist fühlen sich auf jeden Fall klarer und stärker nachher. Ich freue mich auf Ihnen im November zu sehen!

Um einen Platz bei Refuel zu reservieren, besuchen Sie unsere Venues and Booking Seite.