I know plenty of people who feel as though they are doing all of the right things to get fit, yet they aren’t quite seeing the results they were expecting. This could be for a number of reasons. First off, those expectations could just be unrealistic. But assuming that is not the case, there must be some other issue. The single most common factor that I see is that these people burn the candle at both ends.
The human body is a wonderful thing, don’t get me wrong. But it needs time to recover! Think of progressive exercise as a sort of race between the forces that break your body down and those that build it back up. When we work out, we cause a number of physical and physiological stresses that our body must respond to and recover from. Those stresses initially have the upper hand, and the period after a significant workout is when we are more susceptible to injury. Proper nutrition and rest periods for the affected tissues are key to overcoming these stresses (and actually getting stronger). Unfortunately, too many of my friends figure they’ll just skip sleep, load up on coffee and energy drinks and attack their workouts with as much intensity as possible.
This works great… for about a week.
It is a FACT that repeatedly exposing your body to hard exercise without proper rest can lead to overtraining syndrome and injuries. Your mood can take a turn for the worse, your appetite can go haywire, and your overall energy levels tend to plummet. So listen to your body, and get some rest! And just as importantly, you must put decent gas in the tank. Eating cleaner foods will tend to give you more restful sleep. Overloading on sodium, refined sugars, overly greasy foods and preservatives tends to give many people more difficulty with achieving restful sleep in the first place.
Here’s an article highlighting sleep as an important ingredient in longevity. While specific scientific studies aren’t cited in the article, it does illustrate some trends in people who live to see 100. They tend to sleep more than many people today, and they tend to eat a little better (along with staying somewhat active and staying involved with family, etc.). Give it a look-see, and think about your own sleep habits. There are probably areas where we can all improve.