8 Powerful Fitness Hacks To Help You Stick Your New Year’s Resolutions
8 game-changing health & fitness hacks no one’s told you about (until now).
It’s that time of year, once again, when millions of us are attempting to stick with our New Year’s resolutions to exercise, get fit, and strive toward being healthier. But by the beginning of February (to no one’s surprise), 80% of Americans say they’ve already given up on their goals.
So if you’re feeling the drag of those resolutions, let’s take some steps to make things easier for ourselves.
Below are 8 of the most effective and actionable hacks for health and fitness that can help you reach your new self-improvement goals – without leading to early burnout.
1. Follow the 10-3-2-1 sleep formula
Struggling to get a good night’s sleep? We’ve all been there, and when you’re struggling with insomnia, you’ll try anything to get some quality shut-eye. After all, sleep is your superpower. The 10-3-2-1 sleep formula can help you sleep better, allowing you to wake up feeling refreshed and energized. And it’s dead simple:
- 10 hours before bed: No more caffeine (it takes 10 hours to clear your bloodstream).
- 3 hours before bed: No more food or alcohol (too close to bedtime affects your sleep cycles).
- 2 hours before bed: No more drinking liquids (to avoid peeing at night).
- 1 hour before bed: No more screen time (shut off all phones, TVs and computers to relax your brain).
2. Walk during virtual meetings
Upgrade your virtual meetings by getting up from your desk & taking walking calls. You’ll boost your energy, focus, mood and creativity, and increase the production of a protein in the brain called Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) – which in turns stimulates the growth of new nerves and synapses.
Obviously, if your work requires Zoom meetings to be camera on, you should notify your co-workers ahead of time about your plans for a specific meeting. But most companies understand that if you’re in multiple meetings every day it’s not unreasonable to take some of them on audio-only mode in order to get a break from your screen.
Getting up and walking during time you’d otherwise be strapped to a desk can make a huge difference in minimizing the time you spend sitting every day.
3. Exercise first thing in the morning
Here’s the thing about exercise: we’re all incredibly busy, and there are always other things we could be doing instead of getting a workout in. So unless you make it a priority and pay yourself first – by scheduling workouts on your calendar like a meeting – it won’t happen.
Exercising in the morning helps to kickstart your metabolism and will help you stay more focused and balanced throughout the day.
It’ll even help you sleep better: a recent study showed that working out at 7am was better for your sleep than working out at 7pm, or even at 1pm for that matter.
4. Take your Vitamin D – and more of it
If you’re not taking Vitamin D3, it’s something that needs to be added to your daily supplement stack. Even if it’s in your daily multivitamin, you probably need more than you’re getting.
Vitamin D is the MVP of the micronutrient game, and it’s increasingly becoming recognized as the most important micronutrient for overall health. Vitamin D is more than just a vitamin – it actually acts as a multifunctional prohormone in the body, with huge implications for the immune system, cardiovascular system, endocrine system, and other metabolic pathways.
Getting enough D has also been shown to significantly increase free and total testosterone levels and improve lower body muscular strength in athletes.
Unfortunately, most Americans are lacking in this essential vitamin – especially if you’re in Wisconsin in the middle of winter. In one study of over 12,000 Americans, 72% had sub-optimal serum Vitamin D levels (50 ng/mL).
Deficiency puts you at increased risk of colon, breast and prostate cancers; dementia; osteoarthritis; depression; obesity; autoimmune disorders; type 1 diabetes; and a host of viral and bacterial infections. In fact, a wide-ranging systematic review of observational studies from the journal Nutrients suggests that Vitamin D insufficiency could account for nearly 9 out every 10 deaths due to Covid-19.
So how much do you need to be supplementing to reach optimal levels? Probably more than you’re getting right now. The Endocrine Society recommends supplementing 1000 IU of D3 daily for children under 1 year, 3000 IU for children over 1 year, and around 8000 IU daily for teenagers and adults.
5. Front load protein, back load carbs
When it comes to timing your macronutrients (protein, carbs and fats), try to emphasize protein earlier in the day and save carbohydrate-heavy meals for later. Too many carbs for breakfast puts your body in a catabolic state, increases mid-day hunger and takes a toll on all-day energy levels due to changes in hormone levels.
Studies have shown that saving 70% of your carb intake for dinner significantly increases fat loss and decreases muscle loss when compared to spreading your carb intake throughout the day.
The same rule applies to pre- and post-workout nutrition. Load up on protein and fats in the 3 hours before your workout, then snack on carbs directly after training to replenish glyocogen stores and stimulate the release of insulin to shuttle those nutrients from your blood stream into the muscles you just exercised.
6. Do (at least some) max heart rate cardio every week
At least once per week, do an activity that gets you over 80% of your max heart rate. To calculate your maximum heart rate, subtract your age from 220 – for example, if you’re 30 years old, your maximum heart rate would be 190.
Studies show it doesn’t take much to get the benefits – it could be as little as 60 seconds or as much as 12 minutes at a time. For example, switching between jogging for two minutes and sprinting for one minute during a run. Training at this heart rate zone improves resting heart rate, lung capacity, VO2 max (the amount of oxygen your body can absorb), nitric oxide release & mitochondrial function. Think of it as heavy lifting for your heart & lungs.
7. Breathe through your nose, not your mouth
Breathing is one of those things that we just trust our bodies to automatically get right, probably because, as an autonomic function, it’s literally in the job description. But taking control of it and breathing through your nose instead of your mouth is a simple change that can have some seriously positive effects on your health and fitness.
One of these benefits is increased oxygen absorption and circulation because it produces nitric oxide, which helps the lungs absorb oxygen more efficiently and circulate it throughout the body.
Additionally, nose breathing can help improve lung capacity by providing a bit of resistance that helps maintain the elasticity of the lungs and allow them to take in more oxygen.
Finally, nose breathing can help reduce anxiety by activating the parasympathetic nervous system, which calms the body and helps it cope with stress.
8. Do more resistance band pull aparts
Spending all day slouched over a desk is a shortcut to all kinds of upper back and shoulder issues. But the resistance band pull apart is the one (stupidly simple) exercise everyone can do more of to help reverse the postural problems our desk-bound lifestyles cause.
The beauty of pull aparts is that they can be done anywhere, even hanging out in front of the tv. Performing them on a regular basis will help strengthen the trapezius, rhomboid, rear delt and rotator cuff musculature, as well as reduce the risk of both acute and chronic shoulder problems.
When choosing a resistance band for this exercise, start with a medium-intensity band (red or yellow). Experiment with different bands to find the one that you feel most comfortable with. Aim for 3 sets of 10 reps, focusing on squeezing the muscles in your back and shoulders.
Pain holding you back from keeping your new year’s resolutions? There’s a reason Shepherd Express named us the top Milwaukee chiropractor in their Best of Milwaukee 2022 awards. Ready to get out of pain and crush your goals? To make an appointment at Ascent Chiropractic, call 262-345-4166 or schedule an appointment with our online scheduling app.