Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Add Self-Care to your Fitness for Optimal Rest

Add Self-Care to your Fitness for Optimal Rest and Total Balance

In the quest for fitness, weight loss and muscle building often take center stage, while diet, rest, relaxation, and emotional care are given little attention. These all comprise our total body health, and they work in symbiosis. Rest is crucial to exercise, because muscle grows during rest, not while we work out. For healthy weight loss, diet requires more than blind calorie restriction. Through self-care, a holistic view of your body comes into focus and fitness goals become easier to reach and sustain. Here’s how to include self-care in your healthy life.

Self-care’s role in fitness

Self-care encompasses any action we take to give ourselves comfort. To some, this may seem antithetical to working out. Grueling exercise equals greater returns, while a nap burns few calories. But rest and relaxation allows us to recharge our batteries, repair damaged muscle tissue, and mentally remain in a fitness routine longer. With self-care, people are more able to see sustained positive results from exercise. There are many self-care routines that bolster fitness, including:
-       Warming up and cooling down. Walking prior to a run, for example, prepares your body for cardio. And, unless you like having your internal furnace blasting after your post-workout shower, a cool-down session helps your body acclimate to rest.
-       Breathing exercises. For some, being aware of breathing can reduce stress and help bring them into the present moment in a manner similar to meditation. Taking measured breaths is a good way to start and conclude every exercise session.
-       Organization. A well-planned exercise schedule helps people stay on track, but organizational skills in general lead to reduced stress. Use a fitness routine as a springboard for an overall healthier life. Declutter, make lists, stay on top of medical appointments, set goals beyond fitness and monitor your progress.
-       Eating right. Healthy balance requires an appreciation for the food you eat. Healthy eating, of course, contributes to weight loss, but reducing processed foods, alcohol and added sugars can keep you well, too. A good diet supports healthy sleep, improves the body’s ability to regenerate cells, and can make you feel better emotionally.

Create a relaxation regimen

To ensure that you get sufficient rest, make it a non-negotiable part of your daily routine. Although most of us ideally already have a rest regimen at bedtime, sleep is often a luxury in our busy modern lives. We sleep when we can and often undercut the recommended eight hours of sleep each night. Rest, however, is broader than nightly sleep. Our minds need a break from daily distraction, and for an increasing number of people, sleep starts and ends by staring at a phone screen, which can actually be counterproductive to quality sleep. Attain quality sleep by winding down each night. Treat yourself to an at-home spa session with a homemade mask and DIY hot stone massage, set aside an hour to read your favorite book, or kick back with a mug of decaffeinated tea on your front porch and watch the stars to help yourself settle in for a good night’s sleep.

Your bedroom also contributes to sleep quality. You can create an ideal environment for healthy rest by using a white-noise machine, choosing a comfortable and sleep-style appropriate pillow, and ensuring that your room is as dark as possible. Melatonin - a natural hormone your body produces to help you sleep - doesn’t like bright lights, so when you try to sleep in a less-than-dark room, you are fighting with your natural system for sleep. Light comes from more than just reading lamps and nightlights, though, and can creep into a room from the outside. Try blackout shades to create a sleep sanctuary.

Self-care with a focus on rest amplifies fitness. When our bodies are given opportunities to recharge, our focus is sharpened and our efforts become more impactful. Keep rest in mind when planning your fitness routine so you can build a sustainably healthy life.

Sheila Olson

Photo Credit: Pixabay