There isn’t much more confusing than navigating your fitness journey. The entire fitness industry is a huge contradiction probably by design.
When we set out to “get healthy” or “get in shape,” there seem to be common misconceptions that are accepted as fact, and we often find them all wrong when a new study comes out. So it’s really hard to know where to start or who to trust.
Enter Jordan Siatt, one of our favorite fitness influencers.
Siatt is a personal strength and fitness trainer who has been featured in various publications, such as Mens Health and Fitness magazine. He’s trained big names and celebrities, but we think he really shines in breaking down intimidating and overwhelming fitness tips for the average person.
He recently shared nine things he wishes he’d known before embarking on his fitness journey, and we think it’s the perfect guide for anyone trying to decipher what’s worth worrying about when starting their own journey to better health and fitness.
9 simple habits for people who find all these health and fitness “rules” confusing
1. Raise the steps.
Siatt recommends a simple but effective approach to an exercise goal of 7,500 steps a day.
A 2021 study conducted at the University of Sydney found that reaching 7,000 steps a day improves your physical health and reduces your risk of premature death. And older women may find that their daily step goal may be even lower, with a 2019 study finding that benefits for older women may average as little as 4,400 steps per day.
2. Don’t forget fiber.
Next, diet plays a key role in our overall health, and fiber is a key component.
Yale School of Medicine reported an 8% increase in advanced-stage colorectal cancer. In addition, the diagnosis of individuals under the age of 55 has increased from 11% in 1995 to 20%, which is one in five people. Notably, genetic syndromes often contribute to colon cancer in younger patients, accounting for 10% to 20% of cases.
While these statistics are troubling, it is important to focus on the more manageable aspects. By limiting smoking, alcohol and avoiding processed foods, you can significantly reduce your risk of colon cancer.
According to Sjat, “Fiber also helps with fat loss. But [expletive]it’s not all about fat loss.”
3. Keep your diet simple and enjoyable.
According to Siatt, there is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to dieting.
Some of the healthiest countries in the world, such as Singapore and Switzerland, have very different diets. All this to say, the key to a healthy diet is not a specific food, but a specific diet.
Focus on including whole foods, fruits, vegetables, unsaturated fats, minimal salt and less sugar for an optimally balanced diet.
4. Incorporate strength training, but don’t let it overwhelm you.
Siatt emphasizes the use of strength training for maximum health benefits. He recommends two to four days of training per week, 20-45 minutes per session and three to five exercises with two to three sets each.
“It doesn’t take a lot of strength training to maximize the health benefits you get from it,” Siatt says.
To add to that, the CDC recommends exercising each major muscle group twice a week and using appropriate levels of resistance that fatigue your muscles after 12-15 repetitions.
5. Detox your social circle.
Aside from diet and exercise, the impact of negative people on your mental health is significant.
Negativity is associated with worsening anxiety and depression. In addition, it can affect your physical health by raising your blood pressure and making it harder to recover from illness.
“If you hang out with people who (stress) you, it hurts your health,” Sjat says, while pointing out that people who live the longest have a reduced stress in common.
6. Work on mobility and flexibility.
Incorporating stretching into your daily routine improves your athletic performance and reduces your risk of injury. In addition, stretching helps relieve stress, improve posture, and reduce falls.
The most important part of mobility and flexibility is consistency, with daily stretches that ideally target major muscle groups.
“Living longer is a good goal. But living longer with a higher quality of life is a better goal,” says Siatt. “Don’t neglect stretching.”
7. Do not sleep on a good dream.
The importance of quality sleep cannot be underestimated.
“Consistent, quality sleep is one of those ‘magic pills’ that everyone says they want, but no one actually takes,” Syat says.
Along with numerous health benefits, quality sleep affects your metabolism and is closely related to weight gain or loss. In addition, poor sleep has been linked to cancer, injury, poor brain health and an increased risk of glaucoma.
It is recommended that you get at least seven hours of sleep for people aged 18 to 60.
8. Eat organic if you want, but don’t stress about it.
Siatt challenges the idea that organic food is not that important. That being said, if you can’t afford organic food, don’t sweat it. Do not poison yourself or your children.
There is some truth in this statement. Organic diets lead to less exposure to pesticides and antibiotics, but nutritionally they are about the same.
In addition, there is no concrete study that proves that organic food leads to healthier children.
9. Forgive and apologize.
“Holding on to hatred is poison to your body and mind,” Siat says, emphasizing the importance of forgiveness and apology, stating that both are essential to your health.
Research shows that forgiveness is associated with lower levels of depression, anxiety, hostility, reduced substance abuse; higher self-esteem; and greater life satisfaction. While this is great, saying goodbye is often easier said than done.
If you have difficulty forgiving, Harvard Health recommends using the REACH method of Remembrance, Empathy, Altruistic Gift, Commitment, and Retention to foster forgiveness and reap its many benefits.
Finding out how to get fit or stay in shape shouldn’t be as complicated as it seems. Siatt’s precise advice takes the guesswork out of getting healthier.
Marielisa Reyes is a writer with a degree in psychology who covers self-help, relationship, career, and family topics.
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