Three ‘Teammates’ Work Together for Peak Fitness

by glenn on May 13, 2011

Great players have the ability to make average players better. The same can be said for one’s body and fitness goals. The high hopes of achieving a championship season in any sport can come crashing down when a star player is lost for an extended period of time.

When it comes to our bodies, our “teammates” are exercise, diet, and sleep. Their relationship to our body’s optimal performance are so intertwined and interconnected. It is important to know how each one affects the other.

How Can Sleep Help Diet and Exercise Habits? Adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep per night. The boundless benefits of sleep influence how well we do so many things daily. Sleep helps people make sharper decisions, be more focused, more organized, and more productive.

If you get a good night’s sleep, you’ll wake up rested and refreshed. However, doing so just once in a while is not going to give you the full benefit. Develop a consistent sleep pattern, including a regular bedtime. Turn off all electronics at least an hour before bed. Pick up a book to help clear your head of the day’s stresses.

For instance, if you get more sleep, you’ll have more energy for things like exercise. When the body is rested, it wants to be more active and wants to take more action. We’re not talking about running a marathon, but you may be more apt to take the stairs up a few floors instead of the elevator, encourage a walk with a colleague, or spend a little extra time in the gym trying some new exercises.

Plus, better sleep can help you make better decisions at mealtime. There is no meal more important than breakfast. After a night of not eating, your body craves a nutritious breakfast. If you’ve had a good night’s sleep, the decision to have a nutritious breakfast is made easier because you are not exhausted and reaching for what is most convenient.

Eggs are a great source of protein. Throw some vegetables in them and have a nice omelet with a piece of whole-wheat toast. Your body will say thank you!

How Can Exercise Help Sleep and Diet? Exercise is often the scariest part for many and often the greatest laggard of the three “mates.” For some reason, people don’t want to do it. People have to sleep and have to eat, yet most people don’t do them as well as needed. Exercise could help.

If you are tired at work and don’t want to fall asleep at your desk, take a five minute walk. That’s simple exercise, and it wakes you up. The American Heart Association recommends 30 minutes of cardiovascular activity per day. If you’re not there yet, slowly work up to this as your goal.

Exercise helps get your heart rate up; it gets the blood flowing. It increases the oxygen circulating throughout the body. Transition that idea to exercising consistently several times a week.

Exercise is about strengthening the body so that it can safely react to the ever-increasing stimuli around us. During exercise, we break down muscle fibers. At night, those fibers must be repaired and grow. Your body will let you know it’s time to go to sleep, to recover. Be sure to listen to your body so that you can come back and have another effective workout the next day.

After an intense workout, your body craves a good source of protein. Knowing this, you are less likely to choose a fat-laden, greasy cheese steak but opt for a leaner source of protein. There is a level of dietary awareness that comes with achieving fitness goals, enabling you to make the right decisions for your body. Plus, burning more calories daily will help you maintain a healthy weight.

How Can Diet Improve Sleep and Exercise Habits? Food is fuel for the body. Follow the same concept as selecting fuel for your car. The higher the quality of the gas you put in, the better your car’s fuel efficiency should be.

Fill your stomach with nutrient-dense foods. These foods are high in vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that our bodies need, and they are generally lower in calories.

Nutrient-dense foods include fresh fruits and vegetables and lean meats and fish. Try to limit the amount of calorie-dense foods. These include fatty meats, fried foods, sugary snacks, and desserts. They provide less of what your body needs at the expense of higher calories.

Adults should average between 1,500–2,500 calories per day, with less-active people on the low end and more-active people on the high end. Of course, there are some populations that require amounts outside this range.

When it comes to exercise, eating well will put more pep in your step. If you want to have more energy for exercise, eat more of the nutrient-dense foods. Grab a piece of fruit for a snack instead of a candy bar. You’ll help sustain your energy for a longer period of time to get through a workout.

The candy bar may give you a short boost from the sugar rush, but not the sustained energy release provided by something like an apple. Avoid eating a meal that will sit in your stomach like a lead weight, making you more anxious for a nap than a workout.

As for sleep, if you’ve eaten well and expended your energy throughout the day, you’ll sleep better. You’ll have more energy throughout the day to go for an extra walk outside or have a more-effective workout at the gym.

When you sleep, your body is recovering from the activity of the day. Lots of things go on at night while you sleep. There is no “off” switch on the body.

It’s important to give your body those nutrients throughout the day, so when you go to sleep, those nutrient supplies are being used to help rebuild and repair muscle fibers and other tissues to get you ready for another day. A good night’s sleep will get you ready for whatever tomorrow will bring.

Don’t eat just before bed. When your body has the extra task of trying to digest that last meal, it can make for a very restless night of sleep and lead to weight gain.

 

Finally, there are the intangibles that come from good overall teamwork. If your trio of teammates is exercise, diet, and sleep, they have to have good chemistry to operate as a cohesive unit. Eating well, sleeping well, and exercising regularly will produce other benefits, such as managing stress, eliminating toxins from the body, preventing disease (having lower risk factors), and preventing injury.

There are so many other benefits, but the message is clear. Sleeping well helps you eat better and improves your activity level. Good eating habits can improve your sleep and exercise regimens. Exercise is beneficial for sleep and good eating habits.

For help achieving your healthy goals, you may want to seek the advice of a personal trainer, nutritionist, or health coach.

Go out and play like a champion today!

 

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