Our latest feature in Harper's Bazaar magazine.
Replace the damaging shock tactics of gym work-outs with a gentler approach to everyday life, to keep yourself trim and active.
The problem with many extreme modern work-out regimes is that, rather than nourishing your body, they actually deplete energy and can cause adrenalin to surge, so that immunity, sleep, stress levels and even fertility are compromised.
‘To stay strong, mobile and healthy, we need to train optimally not maximally, practising the minimum effective dose of movement. Put simply, we should train to live, not live to train,’ explains Jean-Claude Vacassin, the fitness expert and founder of W10 Performance.
Studies suggest that we would do far better to practise NEAT – non-exercise activity thermogenesis; this is non-structured daily movement outside the confines of the sweaty gym walls or the pressured work-out plan.
Swapping the treadmill for mindful walks, outdoor bike rides and a more dynamic routine is an attractive holistic concept. An active woman can easily, and effortlessly, burn the same amount of calories over this sort of day as she would during a 60-minute work-out, without the danger of that frustrating post-gym phenomenon of overcompensating on calories. If you need proof, say the experts, consider those women who seem to stay slim despite never setting foot on a treadmill.
‘While strength training and cardiovascular fitness are great for lymphatic drainage and posture, they will never trump day-to-day movement,’ says Vacassin. ‘Gym work isn’t a means to an end, but rather the foundation to living life without physical strain, whether that’s being able to pick up your children more easily, succeed in your favourite sport or walk to work more freely.’
The most common reasons for giving up on a fitness regime are a lack of willpower, time and results; simply increasing everyday activity alleviates all three naturally.