As SMG Technologies’ sports science expert, Naomi Wallis knows all about performing at a peak level in both her job and her personal fitness. But here she talks about how equally important it is to embrace your downtime, eat well and make time for exercise.
Life can be hectic. Especially for those of us whose jobs require constant travel – not only are we working longer, we’re also working harder. With that in mind, for the sake of our health it is essential to remember to incorporate simple daily practices to address both our fitness and personal wellness. I’ll put it like this: in Hollywood, there’s an old adage that says if you are a “triple threat” – that is, if you can act, sing and dance – then you will go far in the business. Now, while we might not all be celebrity actors, believe it or not, this principle is equally applicable to the health and wellness industry. Except you might want to take it one step further – I present to you the “quadruple threat”, one where the right balance of exercise, diet, sleep and hydration is key. Stick with the following formula, and guaranteed your health and wellness goals in any circumstance will be achieved.
The importance of exercise has been well documented. From decreasing the onset of disease and obesity, to improving one’s quality of life. So, if like me you’re obliged to travel a lot for work, making time for exercise is essential regardless of how “inconvenient” it is. For example, it may be as simple as taking a brisk walk after you get off a plane, or discovering if your hotel has a gym (if it doesn’t seek another one nearby or choose a different type of exercise). There is no need to stop your daily exercises routine because of travel or work commitments, so don’t use it as an excuse.
But exercise is not enough – the body functions on fuel. Sports scientists and fitness practitioners will all tell you that healthy nutrition and a good diet is the single most important factor in improving one’s health and general wellbeing. It’ll also decrease risk of injuries and improve your recovery rates. Which means that even if you’re on the road consciously stay away from over-processed foods and seek out good old-fashioned veggies, fruit, pasta and meat. Good healthy food is universal, so no matter where you are in the world you should be able to find a good grocer with some healthy options. Remember the balance bit, though. You don’t want to live your life having never tried a chocolate waffle with ice-cream and topping, so go for it on the odd occasion. Just don’t make it a habit out of it. Everything in moderation, as they say. Including moderation.
What about “slump days”, you ask? Take my case – I eat well and I exercise 3-5 days a week, and yet I still notice occasional troughs in my performance and sense of wellbeing. Why is that? Well, this is where my “third threat” comes in: hydration. You must stay hydrated. Consider, the human body is up to 65% water. Therefore it is essential to put in what you put out as dehydration is known to inhibit recovery, decrease overall performances and increase the risk of disease. When you’re travelling, this is doubly important to remember – for example, plane cabins are kept at a minimum of 12% humidity which means dehydration sets in much quicker than normal. So as a blanket rule when life gets busy, always remember to continue drinking your recommended daily intake of water.
So, we’ve covered exercise, diet and hydration… but the next big one to never neglect is the right amount of sleep. Good sleep provides your body with the recovery it needs in order to function. Research shows that lack of appropriate sleep is linked to obesity and a whole array of diseases, such as diabetes. Aside from sleep deprivation increasing risk of injury (it impacts your co-ordination significantly), it also have other detrimental impacts on your brain’s overall functionality – you retain less, lose attention-to-detail, feel lower in mood and generally don’t operate at your intellectual best. So take your sleep very seriously. Turn off technology well before you go to bed – studies have shown that engaging with smartphones or screens right before bed is a big no-no as it not only interferes with your brain chemistry before sleep but it can also confuse the mind as to what being in bed should mean.
In conclusion, the next time you’re jet-setting around the world (or catching that red-eye to a meeting interstate) and life seems overwhelming, remember to practice your “quadruple threat” so your health and fitness won’t ever miss a beat.