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Balance is the key to health

When it comes to fitness, you can divide people who are active into three major categories. There are the “yoga/Pilates/dance/Zumba” people, the “weight lifters,” and the “cardio” lovers. There is obviously overlap, but generally gym goers have a preference or a predisposition towards one of these activity groups.

Mix it up

What is becoming more and more apparent is the need to mix up the groups a little to avoid overuse and stress injuries. There are many benefits to putting your body under stress, doing tough workouts, running hard paces and lifting heavy weights – and you will tend to do these types of exercise in the activity that you are most knowledgable about and comfortable with. But, these workouts are not right for our lives if they are the only things we do.

We need to challenge ourselves to get stronger and fitter, but there’s a balanced way to achieve that. We also have to remember that, unless we are professional athletes, we are likely to be sedentary for much of the day – in a car, at an office, in front of a computer. Throwing ourselves into a crazy, tough workout every time, will not always have positive benefits.

The dangers of stress

We are a society that lives under a very different stress to previous generations and we have very different ways of dealing with it. We are living in a time when we often drink too much, take too much caffeine, do not get enough sleep and have huge amounts of responsibilities.

Unfortunately, the very thing that should negate some of that stress – exercise – can often lead to another form of pressure. Think about a yoga class, which should be about mindfulness and getting in touch with ourselves – very often a yoga session turns into a power workout.

Clear your head

A run in the country, which should be about clearing the head and taking more oxygen on board, becomes a rushed half hour session at lunchtime, when you must reach a certain distance in a certain time.

The unfortunate side effects are increased, rather than reduced stress and a susceptibility to injury and illness. Think about the people you know who regularly workout but always have a cold, pick up injuries easily or suffer headaches on a regular basis.

Making changes to the approach we take towards our health and our fitness takes a total change in mindset.

Three key factors can spearhead a change:

  • Try to live a more balanced life. For some people it means moving more; for others it means slowing down. In both cases, we need to be smarter about what we do and how we do it. We don’t want to get sick, or inured or old before we realise that much of the cause is the way we are leading our lives.
  • We need to be proud of, listen to and care for our bodies. If our muscles are aching after an activity, give them a break. If we feel the need to stretch and release some tightness, switch from a weights session to a yoga class. If we have been cooped up in an office all day, get the bike out and go for a thrilling, heart-pumping bike ride. Do what feels good for you.
  • Let your state of mind dictate your exercise. Going from a crowded office or lecture hall to a crowded gym is not necessarily always the right thing to do. Sometimes peace and solitude is the way. At other times, the fun and liveliness of a class or training with a buddy is just what you need. Health isn’t just a physical thing, we need to pay equal attention to our psychological health as well.