Sept. 24, 2021
We’re constantly bombarded with hundreds of health and fitness trends that come and go – many are expensive, hard to stick with or just plain nonsense. So we’ve trawled through them and picked the ones that you should keep – without the need for iron willpower.
Eating plants for a healthier gut
You can’t escape the headlines about gut health, with research showing that our microbiome is linked to everything from regulating our immune system to influencing our mood . Improving the composition of your gut bacteria doesn’t have to mean investing in costly powders, drinks and foods – instead, you can simply focus on the diversity of your diet.
A large international study, involving primarily the US, UK and Australia, found that those who ate more than 30 different plant types a week had gut microbiomes that were more diverse than those who ate 10 or fewer – so 30 is your golden number for wholegrains, fruit, vegetables, seeds, legumes and nuts.
There are plenty of ways to effortlessly add more plant-based foods to your diet. Try slicing a few figs and having them with some manchego for a morning snack, or chop up a melon and a papaya and keep them in the fridge covered in lime juice for when you have a sweet craving, or you could try frozen grapes.
Rack up your veg count in one quick go by chucking all your favourite bits into a stir-fry – sweetcorn, spring onions, pepper, chilli, garlic and onion are just a few tasty options. Make up a bowl of celeriac remoulade for piling on to wholegrain crackers. Bake a sweet potato and load it with feta, beans and watercress. If you’re trying to bring a wider variety of veg into a child’s diet, reach for the age-old trick of whizzing them into a soup.
Embracing virtual and outdoor fitness
With gyms closed and studio classes cancelled during the lockdowns, most of us flocked to parks and outdoor spaces to stay fit. According to the E-Commerce Times, sales of dumbbells on eBay increased by 1,980% during the first lockdown, compared with March and April in 2019.
Though gyms have reopened, the trend for working out at home or outdoors seems to have stuck. According to the Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends for 2021, the most popular form of exercise is now online training, while outdoor activities are more popular than HIIT and personal training. Because outdoor workouts take place in green environments, they have been shown to increase physical activity levels, reduce stress and mental fatigue, and improve mood, self-esteem and perceived health.
Wherever you’re working out, don’t forget to factor in hydration. The benefits of staying well hydrated cannot be overstated. According to the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, it’s crucial for regulating body temperature, keeping joints lubricated, preventing infections, delivering nutrients to cells and keeping organs functioning properly, and it also improves sleep quality, cognition and mood.
BRITA has the perfect solution for turning tap water into great-tasting, filtered water either at home or on the go – from filter jugs that fit in the fridge to bottles that filter when you’re out and about – so you can drink the recommended six to eight glasses of fluid each day while avoiding buying single-use bottles of water.
Become reacquainted with your kitchen
OK, so we’ve been cooking for millennia, but the lockdowns saw us turning our attention to home cooking like never before. The closure of restaurants meant that we were left to tantalise our own tastebuds with new recipes and discover new skills – from nurturing a sourdough starter kit to making jam, chutneys and marmalade.
This curiosity around expanding our recipe repertoire and cooking abilities is certainly a keeper. Learning new skills is key for brain health , and there are many easy trends to tap into for shaking up your food habits to benefit your body (and the planet) – whether growing herbs at home or having meat-free Mondays. For some simple recipe inspiration have a look at Mob Kitchen to get you started.
Spiritual fitness – a fairly new concept – is important when it comes to looking after your mental health and preserving cognitive function. Kirtan Kriya, a simple 12-minute meditative practice in which you repeat four sounds while doing a repetitive finger movement, has been shown to mitigate the effects of chronic stress on cognition, reverse memory loss, and nurture psychological and spiritual wellbeing. There are many meditation apps to help guide your practice, the Mylife app asks how you are feeling before you start then goes on to offer you a personalised activity.
Focusing on mobility
Mobility has become a fitness buzzword – and for good reason. Not to be confused with flexibility (the ability of a muscle to lengthen passively), mobility is working on being able to move your joints actively through a full range of motion, but with control and strength. Being able to touch your toes is all well and good, but without strength and a full range of motion in your joints you can’t control your movements properly and you put yourself at risk of injury.
Good mobility is vital both for sport and everyday life, as it also addresses the tightness and weakness that can occur from spending hours sitting at a desk, especially in the hips, back and shoulders. Instagram is a great source of inspiration for mobility work – check out Dr Jacob, Lindsay Sudell and Luke for useful tips and lessons.