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Besides exercise and diet, what else impacts my fitness?

Jun 11, 2014

Importance of sleep

Bruce Kelly
FT Media

"I believe perhaps the most important factor in health and fitness is sleep -- perhaps even more important than nutrition. They are certainly 1A and 1B, in my opinion. Science is now revealing how poor sleep impacts everything from your hormone profile to your reaction time and virtually everything in between. There are few people that can get by on four or five hours of sleep and shift workers pay a particularly high price for their "odd" hours."

Gwen Beckcom
FT Mission Hills

"Stress: We've all felt it. Sometimes stress can be a positive force, motivating you to perform well at your piano recital or job interview. But often, like when you're stuck in traffic, or had an argument with your spouse that was left unresolved, it's a negative force.  When stress starts interfering with your ability to live a normal life for an extended period, it becomes dangerous and starts to affect your health.

"So what can you do to avoid the wear and tear on your body when there's stress in your life? Try boosting your positive affect by making a little time for enjoyable activities every day. Go for a walk to clear your mind and count your blessings. Love. Eat healthy --  food can be your best medicine or your worst poison. Work out, and leave all your stress at the gym. Call a friend. Rest. Try to keep a positive attitude to increase happiness, joy, contentment and enthusiasm in your life. Give your stress wings and let it fly away!"

Malik Stevens
FT Central Georgetown

"While many may think that fitness is solely exercise and diet, there are many other factors affecting a person's overall health and fitness.  These factors include genetics, sleep patterns, stress levels, age and even the social activities that we regularly partake in.

"For example, high levels of stress contribute to high levels of cortisol, which negatively affect muscle growth and overall health.  Similarly, if a person regularly drinks or smokes that person is putting his/her body at higher risk of certain diseases as well as slowly damaging certain organs that are essential for optimum health and fitness.

"Also, with age a person's body naturally becomes less flexible.  They lose strength and their metabolism slows down.

"Although you cannot avoid age, most of the other factors affecting fitness can be controlled.  So while exercise and diet are important, do pay attention to the other factors as they too greatly affect our overall health and fitness."

Billy Beyer
FT Basking Ridge

"Stress is another factor besides exercise and diet that impacts your fitness. Stress can cause headaches, upset stomach, increased blood pressure, chest pain, and problems sleeping."

Billy Pratt
FT Avon

"Sleep! Sleep is when the vast majority of your body's repair process takes place; if you're working out regularly and microtearing muscle fiber but not getting enough sleep you won't only take longer to recover from your workouts but you increase the chances of overtraining.

"Everyone has different sleep needs depending on a variety of factors, but the typical American seems to function best with seven to nine hours of sleep per night. Interestingly, according to traditional Chinese Shiatzu medicine one of the signs which indicates a human is operating at optimal health is that they should only require four to six hours of sleep a night.  This does not mean that you should only strive to sleep that much, but instead that if someone is leading a vigorously healthy life then they naturally could only require that amount."

 

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