If you drop into pretty much any corner of the internet, you're sure to find a new wellness hack or two. Recent years have seen kombucha for gut health, jade eggs as saviours of your vagina, and the keto diet as the solution to just about any health issue - and these are just a few of the countless cleanses, detoxes, diets, workouts, and wellness regimens we've encountered, all of which usually required a steep investment of time or money (or both).
Unsurprisingly, most professionals or longtime athletes say that the simplest hacks are the best ones, and you won't catch many of them deviating too far from the normal practices of eating well, sleeping enough, and moving their bodies regularly. Here's a few of our favourite fitness hacks we believe to be worthwhile modern day practises to consider in addition to the well known essential basics.
Foam Roller Reformer Pilates
Reformer Pilates can help improve and maintain overall physical fitness – leading to greater strength, flexibility and balance, which in turn can improve posture, movement and mental health. Reformer Pilates should form a key component to any person wanting to improve their overall fitness. Unfortunately attending reformer pilates classes can be a hassle, and not to mention expensive! Good news is that we have a hack that allow you to ditch the price tag and studio hassle, enters foam roller reformer... Strengthen, tone, stretch and refresh your mental health with this low impact option using a simple long foam roller at home, and here's an option.
Follow our absolute favourite online class by lovable Brian Spencer from East River Pilates and Good Moves with Well + Good. Brian is extremely knowledgable, you'll glide through this 23 minute class feeling energised and strong.
Hormonal Cycle Workouts
If you exercise regularly, you’ve likely had your period show up right before an important or more intense workout. When it happens, it’s more than just annoying. It can also negatively impact your motivation, energy, and performance.
Despite it seeming like a game of chance, there is a way to start syncing your workouts in order to take advantage of the hormonal shifts in your body, it’s called cycle syncing. When it comes down to it, the menstrual cycle is simply a series of hormonal shifts, and those shifts can be used to your advantage, specifically when it comes to the workouts you do in each phase of your menstrual cycle. In fact, syncing other aspects of your life, like cycle syncing your food and cycle syncing your skin care can also have a positive impact on your health. Long term, it’s an incredible way to balance hormones naturally.
When implemented properly, cycle syncing workouts can make it easier to stick with a fitness plan, decrease recovery time, and as a result—improve how you look, feel, and perform. It also means not fighting your body or working against it, which as a general principle is a way more enjoyable way to live.
Align App by Bailey Brown is an enchanting safe space to conveniently align Your cycle with a 28 day pilates and nutrition programme that will help you start working with your body as a woman and live in alignment with your menstrual cycle. You’ll learn to connect with your body, understand it's natural rhythms and thrive in all seasons of your cycle.
Adaptogens To Enhance Fitness & Recovery
Research has discovered that physical activity adds to a sense of overall wellness, promotes restful sleep, and keeps the body in shape. Plus, exercise garners numerous unseen benefits, such as an increase in lifespan and better digestion. Physical activity also creates a natural breakdown of cells, reduces wear and tear on the body, and the potential of injuries.
Certain herbs in India, now called “adaptogens,” have been used for thousands of years to help restore the body from physical and mental exertion, and now they have found a new application in reducing stress, addressing sports-related injuries and muscle/endurance building to name a few.
Of all the Ayurvedic plants, those that are classified as adaptogens — foods and herbs that tackle stress — hold the most promise for exercise-related situations. Depending on the intensity of your training routine, your body needs more oxygen, nutrients that rebuild damaged muscles, a way to increase lung capacity, and a stronger cardiovascular system. It’s also important to handle inflammation and process the breakdown of cells due to physical exertion.
Ashwagandha - The Rejuvenator
Ashwagandha, sometimes referred to as “the rejuvenator,” is described in ancient texts as being analogous to what we might call a superfood. The Ayurvedic herb offers so many benefits, ranging from stress management to blood sugar balance. Ashwagandha is supposed to significantly increases oxygen supplies throughout the body, this not only helps oxygenate the muscles, heart, and lungs, but it also aids in recovery. And, for regular gym-goers, Ashwagandha has the potential to not only help improve muscular strength, but also size.
Ginger & Turmeric
Two more herbs to consider for sports and exercise are turmeric and ginger. Often considered spices or foods, these staples of the Indian pantry address pain and inflammation, which commonly result from most athletic activities. While these two symptoms are inevitable for anyone who exercises on a regular basis, they often restrict range of motion and hamper optimum performance, causing a catch-22: A lack of exercise can cause inflammation, but it’s also true that exercise may lead to pain and inflammation, which keeps you from exercising.
The powerful anti-inflammatory properties of ginger and turmeric are evidenced in studies showing that one to three grams of ginger a day for 6 to 12 weeks decreased levels of C-reactive protein - an inflammatory marker. Another review of studies suggested that supplementing with turmeric could reduce levels of biochemicals that cause inflammation. The takeaway here is that while pain and inflammation are your body’s way of saying, “Slow down!” or “No more for now!” both ginger and turmeric may pave the way for quicker recovery.
Research continues to highlight the health benefits of mushrooms as adaptogens. This fungus has been found to naturally produce adaptogenic chemicals that help the body deal with stress. For example, one clinical study suggests that the beta-glucan polysaccharides in reishi mushrooms may assist in modulating the body’s immune response and provide anti-inflammatory effects associated with overexercising.
Another study performed on long-distance cyclists consuming cordyceps supplements suggests that they witness a low level of oxidative stress from training. These studies give us a sneak peek of how mushrooms may have the potential to work as pre-and post-workout supplements. Let’s walk through the types of mushrooms that can work as pre-and post-workout supplement ingredients.
Pre-workout mushrooms: If you’re going for a pre-workout adaptogenic supplement line, Cordyceps, Lion’s Mane, and Reishi are among many individuals favourites. When these are used as pre-workout supplements, they can help improve respiratory capacity as well as stamina, energy, and blood flow. These mushrooms have also been found to support a healthy inflammation response and metabolism.
Post-workout mushrooms: If post-workout is your next supplement category, Reishi is an ingredient which can help after a good workout by assisting in reducing occasional stress and aiding sleep plus recovery. This ingredient helps improve circulation to aid with muscle recovery by assisting the body get rid of lactic acid.
Knowledge Is Power
When it comes to fitness it's important to know what you are dealing with, and track to correct progress, rather than just your weight. Withings offer intelligent scales, allowing a never-before-seen level of precision for body composition monitoring. Advanced sensors embedded in the handles are able to scan torso, arms, and legs to give a picture of body composition and overall fitness. Powered by behavioral science, their Health+ scales have an enhanced in-app health experience to help anyone create routines that provide a positive feedback loop. They believe that every milestone deserves to be celebrated, from a steady measurement routine, to slowly increased activity, to metric goals achieved, stay motivated by witnessing the little wins in your fitness journey.
Organised Wellness Retreats
Seeking personal renewal in the peaceful rhythms and solace of nature has been a practice of humankind since the early days of civilisation that has long endured throughout the ages. According to research, individuals who attended a week-long retreat offering leisure, educational, recreational and therapeutic events and activities experienced positive, health-enhancing effects.
While leaving hectic daily schedules behind for rest and revitalisation in a natural paradise, enjoying plant-based, organic diets in peaceful, stress-free surroundings can conclude in impressive improvements among weight loss and blood pressure, not to mention a healthy state of mind.
Although this may seem like an obvious outcome that could rapidly dissipate once back to the real world, it's becoming more apparent that people in general who choose to spend time at health-enhancing retreats and holistic resorts are able to maintain more positive moods and happier overall mental, emotional and physical states of wellbeing for significant time periods after returning to their busy, regimented daily lives.
For this reason and because these healthy lifestyle vacations and retreats offer rest, relaxation, educational events, and the opportunity for overall enjoyment, the growing popularity of wellness retreats and holistic travel destinations has made them a new and valuable part of the modern-day travel and leisure industry.
Incense? Check. Meditative music? Check. Feeling ready to manifest my way to health and fitness? Check. First things first though, what is manifestation?
Manifestation is the impact of positive thinking on positive action. The importance of habitual action on our goals through visualisation, journalling, repetitive actions, and other techniques. Essentially, manifestation draws on the principles behind ‘The Law of Attraction’ — when you put positive thoughts out into the universe, you’ll encounter positive experiences in return.
Alas, there is no actual scientific evidence behind manifestation. A growth mindset, on the other hand, is a proven technique to help you rewire your thoughts and habits to achieve your goals (fitness or otherwise) and does share similarities to manifestation.
A way to build a growth mindset, is by setting clear achievable fitness goals. Legend has it, if you write down your goal 55 times a day for five days straight (known as the 55 x 5 method,) you’ll tap into your unconscious mind and create an energetic frequency that can help you attract what you desire.
Growth mindset-ers: Focus on the long term. Developing a growth mindset means avoiding short-term goals like ‘lose 6kg’. Instead, swap your goal out for something that will help you create better long-term habits, like ‘workout for 100 days in a row’. That’s when you’ll see the magic really start to happen and your habits (or the thought process that drives those habits) change for the better.
Practice Affirmations. A study in social, cognitive and affective neuroscience discovered that affirmations can decrease stress, increase wellbeing, improve academic performance and make people more open to behaviour change. Essentially, repeating positive affirmations is a proven way to overcome self-sabotaging thoughts and instil the belief that you can achieve your goals. A quick Google search will uncover so many affirmations you can use as a guide, but here are a few to help you get started:
“I appreciate and love my body”
“Each time I exercise, I feel my body getting stronger”
“I am excited to go to the gym today”
“I am dedicated to building a stronger and healthier body”
Finally, view challenges as opportunities. Practising meditation or working on a growth mindset share a very similar goal, and that is to change our behaviour, to believe we can achieve and to have confidence in ourselves.
Viewing challenges as opportunities is a huge part of this because that’s when it gets really easy to let those negative thoughts take over and they can ultimately lead to giving up. This can be a hard thought process to change, so a good starting point is to take some deep breaths and reconnect with the present moment before defaulting straight into fight or flight mode. Meditation or guided yoga classes are a great way to feel grounded and reset when a difficult challenge pops up.
Avoid Listening To TikTok Myths
TikTok might offer endless entertainment, but the workout tips you’ll find there can potentially include misinformation. It's highly unlikely that the "special fat-burning exercise" or "fat-burning drink" set out to catchy music in an aesthetic format is any more plausible or true than the last "fitness hack" going around. Just bear in mind that some TikTok users may not be as authentic as you think, and be after views offering inaccurate information.
Filler exercises are low intensity movements to be performed in between sets with the purpose of improving mobility, coordination, preventing or aiding injury, correcting imbalances and reinforcing proper techniques. The term “filler” implies a lack of importance, but this isn’t the case! Fillers can improve your ability to recover and perform, while getting more out of your training with less time spent in the gym.
Use Your Playlist As A Timer
If you find yourself constantly checking the clock wondering when it’ll finally be time to leave, then you may want to consider this next hack; or, you may just want to find a form of exercise that you actually enjoy and can sustain. Either way, try adding songs to a playlist that directly correspond with the amount of time you’ll be in the gym, on a certain set or out on a run.
Listen & Be Kind To Your Body
Exercise-related injuries happen for a wide variety of reasons. One of the primary causes of injury is not listening to your body during physical activity. Many people don’t listen to their bodies because they believe a damaging myth about exercise, "no pain, no gain”.
If you believe this, understand that pain is your body’s way of telling you something is wrong. It can be normal to feel sore the day after a workout, but if you are in pain, something may not be right. A good rule of thumb to follow is: if it hurts, have a rest! Even slight pain, sensation or swelling of a joint is an indication that the joint needs rest. Keeping on the lookout for pain during and after a workout is a great way to begin listening to your body and preventing injuries.
Listening to your body during physical activity can be learned by even the most non-body-conscious individual. One of the most effective ways to learn to listen to your body during exercise is to simply tune into your feelings consistently. What are you you feeling right now? Hungry, angry, tired, lonely, happy or overwhelmed? With all the responsibilities we are saddled with each day, it can be easy to be unaware of our feelings.
For the next few days, make it a point to try to identify your feelings and adapt your physical activity to your needs. For example, if you are tired, consider doing a less intense workout. If you are feeling down, a 20-minute brisk walk might help. Once you become more aware of your feelings, start to be mindful of your body sensations during your workouts. If a muscle or muscle group is hurting, take a mental note. If you are stiff, zone in on the stiff area and fully experience the feeling. Then, make changes to your exercise session accordingly.
Remember to be gentle with yourself as you navigate the rewiring of habitual thought processes and embark on your new health and fitness journey!
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