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The days are getting shorter, the temperature is getting cooler, and for many of us, our motivation to stay healthy and active throughout the fall and winter may slowly be starting to wane.
Just because you’re spending more time inside, that doesn’t mean that you can let your wellness routines fall by the wayside. As we all know, physical and mental health are two sides of the same coin, and staying on top of both aspects is the key to maintaining your best health this season.
To get the lowdown on staying active whatever the weather, we chatted with celebrity trainer and nutrition expert Harley Pasternak. Ahead, he shares some of his top tips to get moving without sacrificing your mental health this season.
Start slow and build your tolerance
If you’re looking to increase the amount of physical activity you’re getting, particularly if you’re finding yourself at home more than ever before, it can be tempting to dive headfirst into a new fitness regime. Instead of making drastic changes all at once though, Pasternak recommends making incremental changes to your daily routine that will allow your body to adjust slowly.
“If you’re doing 4,000 steps a day, telling someone to do 12,000 steps a day is just too big of a change too quickly,” he told Yahoo Lifestyle Canada.
“Pick one body part a day, each day of the week and [perform] one exercise for that body part. Let’s say Monday is lunges and Tuesday is plank, and so on. I think something as simple as that, then building on that by finding two exercises a day is fantastic.”
Stay in touch with your stress levels
Living in times of uncertainty as many of us are right now can wreak havoc on your mental health and stress levels, but Pasternak recommends focusing your attention on the things that you can control in order to regain a sense of balance.
“More than ever it’s important to focus on what you do have control over,” he explained. “Being in touch with your stress score, understanding what stress you feel, owning it. I think it’s really important to be in touch with it.”
Like getting active, tracking your mental health can benefit by adding small moments of mindfulness to your day. Studies have shown that a mindfulness meditation practice not only helps reduce stress levels, but also correlated with decreased gray-matter density in the amygdala, which plays an important role in anxiety and stress.
Don’t forget about diet, exercise and sleep
Pasternak is a firm advocate of the importance of daily habits in our overall health and wellness, particularly when it comes to diet, exercise, and sleep.
“It’s interesting to see how exercise, food and sleep can all have an impact on our stress levels,” he noted. “We know that being physically active is tied to a better overall mental health state, both as a form of catharsis stress release but also the neurotransmitters that are created from moving your body.”
Incorporating some of Pasternak’s favourite healthy habits, like avoiding refined sugar in our diets, not drinking caffeine and alcohol before bed, and unplugging from our devices not only helps improve the quality of our sleep, but can also help improve our overall feeling of wellbeing.
Set specific and measurable goals
New technology like the Fitbit Sense Smartwatch can help you stay on top of your wellness goals too, whether that’s losing weight, decreasing your stress levels, or getting more sleep. Its built-in sleep, stress and activity tracking goes above and beyond outdated step-counters, and provides you with the data you need in order to make changes.
Pasternak is a fan of the Fitbit Sense Smartwatch when working with clients and monitoring their progress over time.
“If I see a client is sleeping poorly or has a lot of restlessness throughout the night, or is not getting enough deep sleep, we can take a look back,” he added. “The data is so helpful for us to understand if the client is experiencing stress or poor sleep. If so, [we] take a look at their actions or inactions the day prior to see what might have contributed to that, and how we can change that moving forward.”
Available now in two shades, you can shop the new Fitbit Sense for $429.