Physical activity in any shape or form will help to prevent a great many chronic diseases, like heart disease, stroke and diabetes, as well as promoting cardiovascular and muscular health. It is easier to maintain a healthy bodyweight, with appropriate levels of body fat, if you become, and remain, active. Your risk of injury will fall, you will be happier, more mobile and controlled, and you will be able to maintain a strong physicality with far greater longevity than you would if you led a sedentary lifestyle.
Essentially, if you want to be healthy both now and into older age, you should start putting your fitness first.
This is perhaps easier said than done for many people, however. If you live in the kind of fast-paced life that a modern city like Abu Dhabi can promote, it can be hard to carve out time and energy for exercise, on top of all of your other commitments.
It needn’t be. There are some fantastic mechanisms and habits you can put in place to make your fitness journey more efficient, and to give it the best chance of success.
Here’s how to put your fitness first in Abu Dhabi.
Well, there are five steps that you can take immediately to put your fitness first.
Your Life in Abu Dhabi – Fitness First
Put these five steps into place to make it easier to maintain the habit of an active lifestyle, and to make your fitness journey more effective. It should be easy, simple and very much achievable.
1. Make it regular
You need to exercise regularly. Of course you do – this should be obvious enough. If you want to truly put your fitness first, you need to put in a fair amount of time, often enough.
Sessions don’t need to be too exhaustive. Consistency is key in the long run – intensity can sit in the sidelines. Aim for at least three separate exercise sessions each week. Aim also for a sum total of 150 minutes as a minimum. Obviously, this splits nicely three ways, with each session being just shy of an hour, which is very manageable.
However, you can always split it further. A 30-minute brisk walk every day will bring you above the 150 minutes, whilst being incredibly doable. That’s a lap or two of the local park of an evening, or the last leg of your daily commute.
You will feel more energised from exercising regularly. The endorphins released and the improved oxygen flow to your muscles will wake you up and make you feel happier and more alert overall.
2. Keep it mixed
Mix things up. Unless you’re training for something specific, you can and should try incorporating a few different styles of exercise into your regular routine. You will gain the benefits of several training systems whilst also keeping things fresh and interesting.
Go for the aforementioned brisk walk, but perhaps only do so a couple of days per week. Or do so, but aim to complete more than a minimum amount of activity. Build some muscle and work on mobility and flexibility with some yoga and weightlifting. Push and build your cardiovascular fitness by taking part in more challenging activities like running, swimming or boxing.
Gyms and fitness go together, obviously. They offer a range of different training options. Variation will keep you from getting bored and uninspired, whilst giving you all the benefits to be gained from multiple disciplines. There are plenty of good, affordable gyms in Abu Dhabi, with brands like GymNation and Gold’s Gym leading the charge.
3. Stay hydrated
Obviously, regular exercise will mean that you’re sweating more regularly. This, alongside the recovery process after hard training, will put a great strain on your body. Compound this with the warm, sunny climates found throughout the Emirates and your hydration needs leap considerably.
Becoming dehydrated can lead to energy loss and fatigue even in slighter instances, which is obviously best avoided.
Aim for more water or decaffeinated teas, rather than calorie- and sugar-laden drinks like fizzy sodas and squashes, or diuretic heavy coffee and caffeinated tea. Including more water will help you by:
- Cleansing toxins from your body
- Controlling your caloric intake
- Energizing your muscles
- Balancing your body fluids
Try to drink at least 8 glasses of water per day. Go for more when the weather is warmer, or you are pushing yourself particularly hard during training.
4. Balance your diet
You need plenty of protein to help you recover from hard training. If you’re taking part in weight training or any form of intense exercise, look for around 1.52g per kilogram of bodyweight per day. Take your carbs from slow release, high fibre sources like grains, pulses and vegetables, and eat plenty of healthy fats to help your overall nutrition.
Fruits and vegetables are abundant sources of micronutrients like vitamins and antioxidants, as well as the macronutrient fibre. They are often overlooked when athletic types talk about nutrition, as macronutrients take centre stage. However, they are as important to your fitness levels and long-term health prospects – if not more so. Aim to eat 5-10 portions of different fruits and vegetables per day.
These will all contribute to a healthier body and elevated energy levels, alongside a stronger, more robust immune system.
5. Rest and recover
Getting an adequate amount of sleep each night is one of the most profound ways in which you can keep yourself healthy in both body and mind long-term. No matter your activity levels, you should be aiming for 7-9 hours per night.
Doing more will mean the need to recover more. You don’t build your body up in the gym: you tear it apart. The building, both in terms of hypertrophy (muscle gain) and aerobic adaptation, comes afterwards, as your body recovers. This means eating a healthy, mixed diet, and resting plenty.
Make sure to get your down-time in, when you get to relax. Get your sleep in. Eat your fat and protein. These will help you to recover, ready for the next round.