How bad are your bad fitness habits?
Ask the expert o'clock
Whoever devised the concept of exercise didn’t have the average couch-hogging, binge-watching millennial in mind now, did he? Getting yourself to live up to your idealistic fitness regimen can be hard enough, without unintentionally self-sabotaging all that hard work. From exercising on an empty stomach to not stretching adequately, these bad fitness habits could be slyly undoing all your good work.
So how much trouble are you in? Nike trainer Urmi Kothari (who is currently whipping AIB frontman Rohan Joshi into shape) gave us the truth, the whole truth and nothing but:
Running on a treadmill rather than on a road
So you believe in clocking in miles on the treadmill rather than the actual asphalt because you believe it’s less stressful for your knees? Kothari will be having none of that spiel. “When you’re running on the machine, the work of pulling your leg back is automated by the belt, reducing the amount of exercise that the hamstrings are actually put through. Factor in a television running constantly in the background, and your posture is most likely slouched,” she dismisses.
So how do I make it better? Running on the pavement isn’t recommended just for seasoned runners; even beginners can easily clock in decent speed on the Indian tar roads without getting winded. Running in the open ensures that your form is correct and helps you get more tangible returns for the time you’d have otherwise spent on the treadmill belt.
Eating meals immediately before or after a workout
Just because you punched in a few extra hours at the gym doesn’t mean that you can give your mom’s butter chicken your whole and undivided attention immediately after. News flash: Your body cannot digest any solid food for at least 45 minutes after a workout.
So how do I make it better? Stick to protein shakes for the first 20 minutes after exercising to restore your body’s energy levels. Slowly graduate to whole foods like egg whites within the next hour.
Sweating more to ‘burn’ extra calories
Umm, we hate to be the bad guy here but the benefits of sweating differ from person to person. Some bodies handle the loss of fluids well and replenish easily later. There’s a very real chance that only reward you’ll have for going out of your way to sweat extra is a stinky pile of laundry.
So how do I make it better? Have an honest chat with your fitness trainer and find a routine that works for your body type specifically.
Not scheduling rest days in your fitness regimen
Superman called, he’ll be taking over from here, thanks. We get it; you’re a lean, mean killing machine in the gym, but even superheroes need some down time. Depending on the intensity of your workout regimen, your body requires a minimum of 24 hours per week to recuperate.
So how do I make it better? If you’re in it for the long run, ensure that you keep switching exercise routines every three months; your body will thank you for it.
Not stretching adequately before exercising
The whole purpose of stretching is to put your body through 80% of the range of motion that it will be experiencing once you start exercising. Try hitting the machine directly, and joint aches and muscle injuries might just decide to join you for the ride.
So how do I make it better? Stretching is the easiest bit of the whole exercising jazz; give it the same attention you reserve for your gym selfies. Now there’s a good kid.
Working out on an empty stomach
Four out of 5 trainers cringed before we could even complete that sentence. The last one locked herself in a room and is steadily losing faith in humanity. Hitting the gym on an empty stomach leads to a perceived fat loss that only lasts for the duration of your workout, and doesn’t show any lasting benefits later.
So how do I make it better? EAT. And drink. If you aren’t sure what to guzzle before, during and after your workout, here’s a handy expert-approved chart. You’re welcome.
While working out
Shut down your selfie cam and instead, use those stolen breaks in between reps to refuel. Before you head to the gym, boil a pitcher of water with a sprig of lemon grass. Once cooled, add lemon and honey (sorry, no sugar for you) to taste. Finish off with some mint leaves to cool down your heated muscles and flush out toxins.
After working out
Don’t let those hunger pangs undo all the hours you put in at the gym. Blitz together banana cubes, one tablespoon of yoghurt, one teaspoon honey and five almonds in the blender. Bananas are potassium-heavy and almonds pack in a hearty nutrient punch; together, they will power you through the day.
Before working out
Your mind may take some convincing to hit the gym, but prepping your body is thankfully easier. Throw together diced carrot and orange slices in the blender. Add some ginger shavings and honey to satiate your sweet tooth. This little baby will flood your body with beta-carotene—an antioxidant that helps oxygenate the blood and body tissues, thereby increasing your stamina and energy for a long session on the treadmill.