In 2019, there are more fitness choices than ever before, but not all of them will get your stamp of approval. While living an active lifestyle should come down to personal preference, trying every up-and-coming class to find out what works for you seems increasingly impossible. Here, we put the wellness world’s latest takeovers to the test, so that you can focus on getting healthier and stronger, and having fun.
High-intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
Every fitness influencer seems to be promoting high-intensity interval training (HIIT) at the moment, but you don’t need to be advanced to do a ‘hard work, short rests’ workout. According to the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, HIIT burns 25 to 30 percent more calories than resistance training, cycling and treadmill running.
If you’re a beginner, start by exerting maximum effort in a movement for 20 seconds, followed by two minutes of active recovery (walking, marching etc.), once a week. Benefits of this method include burning more fat in less time, heightened metabolism, lowered blood pressure, improved insulin resistance and increased oxygen consumption.
HIIT can also be tailored to suit your fitness level and preferences, and doesn’t require a gym—try downloading an at-home HIIT app. However, it’s often said that HIIT isn’t
or the faint-hearted, and this should be taken literally when considering your health. If you’re feeling worn down or have pain surrounding your joints, HIIT can increase your risk of injury. Regardless of your fitness level, this type of training should not be done every day.
Hot yoga—as the name suggests—involves practicing yoga in heated and humid conditions, typically around 40C. While there are many different types of hot yoga, the practice typically refers to Bikram yoga, where a yogi can expect to flow into a series of 26 demanding poses and breathing exercises for 90 minutes.
Benefits of turning up the heat include increased flexibility, detoxification of the body (you can expect to sweat A LOT), increased circulation, weight loss, heart health and elevated mood.
While we’re definitely there for hot yoga, there are some important things to keep in mind before heading to a class, such as the increased risk of heat exhaustion. As you’ll likely be glistening with sweat before you even begin, drink water throughout the day, before your class, and immediately after your hot yoga session. Don’t be afraid to bring a bottle to your mat and take breaks to refresh, but be mindful that bending your body with a belly full of water is not particularly fun.
Currently one of the world’s most popular health trends, intermittent fasting (IF) focuses on when you should eat. The pattern cycles between periods of fasting and eating, often involving 16-hour fasts followed by an 8-hour time period in which to eat all meals. For example, you might eat between 11am and 7pm, generally eating two or three meals between this period.
Contrary to the often-repeated motto ‘breakfast is the most important meal of the day’, IF often means that you don’t eat your first meal until later in the day. The benefits of this pattern naturally begin with weight loss, but also include insulin resistance, reduced inflammation, improved heart health and cost-effectiveness.
Nevertheless, there is definitely still controversy around IF and little is known about any possible side effects. The NHS advises that you consult a doctor before fasting, and potential dangers have been pointed out regarding certain medications (especially for diabetes). You should not fast if you are underweight, have an eating disorder, are pregnant or breast-feeding or you are under the age of 18.
From Los Angeles and the likes of Lady Gaga, Jennifer Aniston and Gwyneth Paltrow, comes another modern health trend—infrared saunas. Spending 40 minutes sat in a sauna heated with infrared lamps could burn up to 600 calories, say supporters.
The infrared rays are said to penetrate skin tissue and actually heat up the body from the inside out. At around 45C, the rewards for sticking out the sweat are said to include muscle and joint pain relief, increased metabolism, boosted immune system, improved skin, reduced stress and detoxification.
In a study that measured sweat, participants using a normal sauna lost 98 percent water and two percent toxins, whereas the infrared group lost 85 percent water and 15 percent toxins, including heavy metal and cholesterol. Again, remember to keep hydrated!
It’s a technology-led world out there, and our health is no exception. Gone are the days when a watch or ring were just accessories—the latest tech has popularised wearable devices that track calories and sleep, measure heart rate, and remind you to get active. These wearables not only provide many lifestyle functions, but also encourage proactive healthcare.
These devices keep patients engaged in their own health, support medical professionals in making a diagnosis, and can help doctors or caregivers to monitor vulnerable patients. While they are useful, it’s important to remember that features such as heart rate monitors may not always be accurate, and these devices should not be solely relied on for any medical diagnosis.
Try This Trend
You may not need another excuse to surround yourself with furry friends, but owning a pet can actually improve your fitness—just ask social media. Whether you’re mirroring each other’s downward-facing dog or taking your cat to class, exercising with your pet will have health benefits for the both of you, and will be sure to initiate you into the latest trend. Try this workout with your dog:
• Warm up jog—Use a lead to help control your dog’s speed and take the same route often, to help them know what to expect.
• Squat and throw—Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, holding a dog toy in both hands. Hinging at the hips, push back and lower down into a squat (keep the chest lifted). As you rise, jump up, arch your back and throw the dog toy as far back over your head as possible. Let your dog fetch and repeat.
• Reverse lunge with twist and treat—Feet hip-width apart, clasp your hands in front of you, holding a broken-up dog treat. Step one foot back and lower into a lunge, twisting your torso over your front thigh at the bottom of the move and letting your dog run to your side. Repeat on the other side and reward your pup with a treat at the top of every other rep.
• Burpee fetch—While standing, throw a dog toy as far as you can. Next, perform as many burpees as possible until your dog returns with the toy. Repeat.