Exercise trends: what’s fad and what’s fab?
It seems like every day brings with it a new exercise or diet trend. While it’s great that fitness and health has become so popular, it does pose the problem of differentiating between what’s a load of bull and what’s actually worth incorporating into your regime. To help, I’ve listed some trends and given some information about their merits and downsides.
Probably the most popular thing to come out of the #healthy trend, juicing has both pros and cons. While it’s great to get in some extra nutrition in the form of a highly concentrated (and convenient) juice, it can be detrimental and even dangerous when done incorrectly. A common mistake that people make is adding too much fruit and not enough vegetables. What this does is push up the sugar content and create a calorie bomb. This is not ideal when you’re trying to reduce your sugar intake and watch your weight.
Juicing also removes a very important part of the vegetables/fruit: fibre. Fibre helps our digestive systems to function effectively. This is why it’s important to combine juices with whole foods rich in fibre.
To get the most out of your juice, add as many leafy greens as you can and as little fruit as possible. Also make sure you use it in conjunction with a healthy diet.
First off, let’s be clear: tea is awesome. Normal tea, herbal tea, rooibos tea…they’re all brilliant ways to keep hydrated and warm without consuming a truckload of calories (provided you don’t load them up with sugar). However, believing that you’ll lose an astronomical amount of weight simply by adding a super expensive tea to your diet will lead to disappointment.
While tea has been proven to help lower your risk of stroke and heart disease, lower your blood pressure, increase mood and mental performance and improve energy levels, it is not a miracle weight loss aid. In order to keep a healthy body, you need to clean up your diet, exercise, and top it off with a cup of tea.
This one gets a big YES. High Intensity Interval Training (or HIIT training), is defined by intense bouts of exercise punctuated by short rests. This method of training allows you to rev your metabolism, complete an effective workout in less time, torch calories and keep burning them long after you finish your session.
Long gone are the days women were told to avoid heavy weights for fear of “bulking up”. It has since been proven that strength training with heavy weights is not only NOT going to turn you into she-hulk, but will in fact have a very positive effect on your physique. This is because it effectively overloads your muscles, which has three main advantages:
- Muscle burns energy more effectively than fat does, which means that you’ll burn more calories at rest and store less as fat.
- It improves strength and will aid you in day to day activities.
- Strong muscles look good! Hello definition and tone.
Touted by celebrities such as the Kardashians, waist training has become a positively booming market. The practice (which involves wearing a corset-like brace around your middle for the majority of the day and night) has received much popularity-but very little evidence as to its effectiveness. In fact, there is alarming evidence that this practice is actually dangerous: it compresses your organs, can cause heartburn, restricts your breathing and has been reported to cause deformed spines and ribcages.
While wearing a waist trainer may squeeze your waist into a smaller size while you are wearing it, there is no evidence that it has lasting benefits. You would be better off eating properly, exercising and training your core.
Have a look at your Instagram (or any other social media feed), and you’ll likely be inundated by fitness, health and weight loss posts. A new form of celebrity has been born-the super fit, the trainers and the diet gurus. With social media stars like Kayla Itsines garnering a following of more than 7 million people, it’s easy to imagine the constant “fitspiration” is having a major effect on how people live their lives. This influence can go one of two ways:
- Insecurities can be born. When you’re constantly seeing pictures of svelte, tanned beauties; it’s difficult to keep from comparing yourself to them. With the amount of pressure being put on young women to look perfect, an Instagram page full of toned legs and ripped abs can quickly cause problems such as eating disorders, insecurity, over-exercising, etc. It’s so important to remember that every single body is built differently, and is beautiful in a unique way. It’s also important to remember that you’re seeing the highlight reel-only the best of the best photos make it to Instagram in most cases. This means professional lighting, angles, photography, editing, etc.
- It can up your motivation and inspiration and make you feel like part of a community. You’ll realize that everyone has off days, everyone has to put in work; and surrounding yourself with like-minded people can help you get through dips and tough workouts. There are also a lot of great workouts being posted and even useful tutorials regarding correct technique.
What it boils down to is making sure you follow genuine, knowledgeable, positive role models; and staying away from comparisons and bitterness.
Fitness trends will always come and go. Generally, it’s fine to try things out and see what works for you. Just make sure you do your research and trust the opinions of people that have sound knowledge and/or accreditations.
by Chanel Serfontein