If you’re feeling overwhelmed with the daily grind, you might be tempted to lie down on the sofa and rest.But actually, experts agree that exercise is the key to relieving stress. Those who work out regularly reduce their stress levels, improve their mood, and enhance their mental health.In this article, we answer the most common questions on stress and list the best sports to soothe the body and mind.Where does stress come from?Strain at work, in the family, or in your free time – there are plenty of reasons why the body and mind react to stress. Since every person is different, how stressors (things that cause strain or tension) are perceived varies. That’s why some situations might be a threat for some people, while others consider them eustress (positive stress) that pushes them to a higher performance level. Take a look at what happens in the brain.In the prefrontal cortex……information that we take in is sorted, evaluated, and processed. When the brain is confronted with too much information, it is unable to process it. This leads to a sense of being overwhelmed and stress symptoms, which has, in the long run, a negative effect on our health.When stress occurs frequently or constantly, but the body is unable to manage it, it is felt as something negative. Stress hormones such as adrenaline, noradrenaline, and cortisol are released, which make the body more efficient for a short time. It is preparing for fight or flight (just like our predecessors had to flee from wild animals). We want to survive, and this means running away in dangerous situations.Why Can You Relieve Stress With Exercising?The age-old physical reaction – running – still helps our bodies and minds regain balance in today’s world.(1, 2)Physical exertion and sports……are controlled by the motor cortex in our brains. When we move, this area is hard at work and requires much of the resources available to the entire brain. The result is that the prefrontal cortex, which controls our emotional response to stress, lacks resources – it simply cannot maintain the state of being stressed. Its activity level decreases, and the stress level is reduced. What Should You Keep In Mind When You Exercise to Relieve Stress?Exercising is a great way to reduce stress because when you move, your body produces endorphins, which elevate your mood. It’s important……to avoid pushing yourself too hard or trying to reach a new level of performance when you’re stressed out. This can be harmful to your health and even increase your cortisol level and therefore, stress.Keep your workouts shorter and stick with recovery runs or swimming. Low-intensity exercise is effectively lowering cortisol levels.(3) Look for a sport that’s fun for you and makes you feel good. Remember: make sure to take it down a notch on the days when your schedule is packed.What Are the Best Activities to Reduce Stress?There are a lot of ways to relieve stress with sports:Running:Many experts recommend running because it is one of the first skills that we learn. The important thing here is to stay in the aerobic range (your breathing speeds up, but you aren’t out of breath), in order to avoid putting too much strain on your body.Walks:In addition to endurance sports, regular, short walks can help reduce stress hormones.Yoga:Yoga is another effective way to clear your head. By concentrating on your breathing, you enter a meditative state.Team sports:If you spend a lot of time alone, either at work or in your free time, team sports like soccer are a great way to relieve stress. Don’t underestimate the support a social network can provide. In a team, you work together, which builds self-confidence and can reduce stress.Self-defense:Self-defense gives you a heightened awareness of your body, which helps your balance, and improves coordination. You’ll also be more self-confident—low self-esteem can contribute to your stress level.Climbing:Sports you do outside in the fresh air like climbing give you a greater sense of freedom. You learn to focus on the essentials and not get distracted. SummaryIf you want to reduce stress through sports, it’s important that you have a positive association with the activity you choose. In other words, you should enjoy the sport and not overdo it. A short workout that’s not too exhausting helps you feel good and regain a sense of control.There are no advantages to choosing a sport or training plan that just creates more stress because you are overly-competitive or push yourself too hard. The key is to find out how much exercise you need to relax. Your friend might run 10 km to relieve stress, but that doesn’t mean this is what your body needs.Is the stress getting to you? Sports can help! Try the adidas Running and Training apps, and make your workouts more fun.*** More
You laced up your running shoes, were full of motivation, and finished a fantastic run. But suddenly, fatigue sets in, and you feel totally exhausted. Have you ever experienced this? You might have been hit by running fatigue.What is Running Fatigue?Running fatigue is a physical state of exhaustion that occurs when someone runs (too) hard or runs long distances regularly. When constant exhaustion occurs, the body can’t recover fully. Thus, the fatigue is carried over to the next training session. Why? Because it takes time for your body to eliminate waste products from your tissues and muscles and to repair the muscle fibers.These five tips are guaranteed to help you prevent tiredness and recover quickly after a run.5 Tips to Overcome Running Fatigue1. Fuel up Before Your RunHave a snack rich in carbohydrates 30 to 60 minutes before you head out for a run. After all, your body can’t feel good after training if you haven’t given it enough fuel before the run. So, grab a banana, eat a low-fiber granola bar, or a slice of toast with jam.Also, don’t forget to hydrate. Although a glass of water before working out can help get you going, start hydrating long before your run. Drinking too much water right before working out can cause discomfort in your stomach; it takes time to digest water.2. Listen to Your Body (And Do Some Cool-Down Stretches) Do you get side stitches during your run? Are you dizzy? Do your legs feel weak? Listen to what your body is telling you! If you need a break during training, take it. Reduce your pace a bit or even walk for a while.Tip for beginning runners:Make sure you don’t increase your pace and intensity too fast. Overtraining symptoms can develop. Your body needs time to get used to the increased effort. By ramping up your running in a slow and controlled manner, you can improve your performance and avoid being tired after running.The ideal time to cool down and do some stretching is post-run:3. Refuel After a RunTo overcome fatigue after running, you should have a small meal of complex carbohydrates and protein at least an hour after your run. This gives you more energy and also helps your muscles recover. Ideas for your post-workout meal:A smoothie with coconut water, Greek yogurt, fruit, and chia seeds Oats with milk and dried fruit A veggie omelet with a slice of whole grain breadH3: 4. Take Time to RecoverA good night’s sleep is essential for your health and recovery, and it’s just as important as your actual running training. This shouldn’t come as a surprise but certainly doesn’t get enough attention. When you sleep, your body has time to regenerate, repair microscopic damage done by working out, and build muscle.If you need to rest, but also feel like moving your body a bit, you can do a short yoga-inspired session in the adidas Training app, mild stretching, or foam rolling.Good to know:Recovery starts before you go for a run. Plan rest days and stretching sessions as regular elements of your training routine.5. Monitor Your Mental HealthInstead of feeling energized after running, you feel somewhat depressed, tired, or grouchy? You might be mentally exhausted.Sports is a great way to reduce stress, but you should always feel good about the activity you choose – it should not stress you out! If you don’t enjoy the sports type (anymore), take a break from it and try something different: switch running to yoga, walking, or swimming.Always listen to your body and give yourself the time you need to recover and feel great!*** More
- in Food
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Who doesn’t love a good protein bar? Whether you need a quick pick-me-up or just something to tide you over until mealtime, protein bars are a fantastic option that provide nutrients and energy with great taste—and usually very little (or even zero) sugar. But with so many on the market, it’s hard to know which one to pick. So we’ve rounded up some of the best and most popular protein bars for you.
Our Top 3 Picks
No matter if you’re on a low-carb, high protein diet or just trying to lose weight, a protein bar is a great choice. They help keep you full between meals, and have vastly more nutritional value than a candy bar. They’re better for breakfast than cereal and pastries. They work awesome as a between-meal snack. And a lot of people substitute them for meals when altogether.
They’re also great for athletic recovery. After a hard session in the weight room or CrossFit arena, a protein bar can give your muscles and tissues a kickstart to recovery with a jolt of amino acids, to get you back in the game faster while keeping vital nutrients flowing.
Protein bars come in all sorts of shapes, sizes, and flavors. The most popular—LUNA bars, PureProtein, and ONE come to mind—have been around for years. But the new breed of protein bars like GoMacro, PowerCrunch, and thinkThin are taking the protein bar into previously uncharted territories, providing vegan, gluten-free, and kosher options. Even stalwart brands like Gatorade and SlimFast have gotten in on the protein bar action.
So quit snacking between meals, kickstart your recovery, and start enjoying healthy snacks today. There’s a flavor to suit every taste. And most come in a variety of flavors and package sizes, so experimenting until you find the one that’s right for you is a breeze. So try some of these bestselling protein bars, and take our health and fitness into your own hands. More
There are days when you power through a HIIT workout with ease and then those days when you don’t want to get out of your bathrobe. By understanding your cycle, you can stop seeing your period as a burden and be able to take advantage of the physical and emotional benefits. Find out how to schedule your workouts to maximize those hormonal boosts and learn when it’s best to focus on recovery and regeneration. Breakdown of the Menstrual Cycle PhasesMenstrual PhaseWhat’s happening in the body?Your cycle starts on the first day of your period. The lining of the uterus is shed through the vagina, releasing blood, mucus, and tissue. Symptoms like cramps, bloating, headaches and mood swings can add an extra challenge to your fitness motivation. Yoga Poses for Cramp ReliefDo you get cramps? Try easy yoga poses like the child’s pose, cat-cow, and savasana to ease the pain.You might feel tired or lethargic and need more rest than usual. This is a great opportunity to cancel plans, stay home, and write in your mindfulness journal. Set some goals for yourself that you can achieve during the follicular stage. Keep in mind, this is not the time to stress yourself out with setting a new PR (personal record). The goal of working out on your period should be to stay active and listen to your body.What to WearWhether you prefer tampons, pads, menstrual cups, period underwear, adidas Techfit Period Proof Tights, or a combination of these – there are plenty of options to keep you comfortable during menstruation.Your workoutFollicular PhaseWhat’s happening in the body?Your period is over and now your pituitary gland releases the Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH), which stimulates the ovaries to produce eggs. Your estrogen and testosterone levels will begin to increase, which energizes you and might improve your mood. You’ll feel more social, and assertive as testosterone stimulates your libido. Now is the time to take the initiative and focus on achieving goals. An egg will be released from a follicle in your ovary around day 14, at the end of the follicular phase. At this point the estrogen and testosterone peak, which makes you feel more confident. Enjoy it!Your workoutLuteal PhaseWhat’s happening in the body?Your body is starting to wind down after the high of the follicular and ovulatory phase. After the first couple of days, your estrogen and testosterone production will decline and your body will ramp up progesterone levels. Focus on a healthy, balanced diet right now and boost your serotonin levels by staying active. As you enter the second part of this phase, you may notice your skin getting oily or even breaking out, breast tenderness, and mood changes. These are all symptoms of PMS or premenstrual syndrome. Reduce your symptomsCut down on caffeine to reduce breast soreness, reduce your sugar intake, and make sure you stay hydrated. Avoid fatty, processed foods and salt, too, as they increase water retention. Studies show that regular yoga sessions can reduce the common symptoms of PMS.(1)Your workoutTime to build lean muscle. Focus on strength training and challenging yoga sessions. Research shows that this is when strength training really pays off.(2)Gradually shift to lighter workouts as you approach your upcoming menstruation. Try the Strong Before Your Period workout in the adidas Training app.TakeawayThe key to staying active throughout your menstrual cycle phases is understanding what is happening in your body. Everyone’s cycle is different; keep track of yours so you can really get the most out of those powerful follicular and ovulatory phases and use the luteal and menstrual phases for healthy nutrition, recovery, regeneration, and mindfulness. Remember, if you want to keep working out on your period, there’s no reason you can’t. Just pay attention to how you feel and make sure you take a bit more time to rest.*** More
Does your knee hurt after a run or a bodyweight training session? There’s a good chance that you suffer from jumper’s knee (also called patellar tendonitis). What is patellar tendonitis?Patellar tendonitis – also known as jumper’s knee – is a chronic reaction to overuse or an injury to the patellar tendon, which joins the bottom of the kneecap or patella to the shin bone:If you suffer from patellar tendonitis, you feel pain in the front of your knee on what is called the lower pole of the patella.The first symptom is often warm-up pain (i.e. pain upon starting an activity, which then fades), usually after standing up from a sitting position or climbing stairs. It then develops into ongoing pain, swelling of the patella, tenderness, and restricted range of motion.Activities that trigger patellar tendonitis:stop-and-go sports like running, soccer, or tennis over-trainingshoes with poor cushioning on a hard running surfacejumping improperly, e.g. during bodyweight training not enough stretching can lead to tight quadricep muscles, which are responsible for extending the knee Good to knowThere is a difference between jumper’s knee and runner’s knee: the latter involves pain on the outside of your knee and not on the front of your knee at the bottom of your knee cap (like jumper’s knee). First aid for pain If you feel pain in your knee, you should treat it. Try to rest and use cold compresses. You should also temporarily avoid jumping and explosive leg movements (e.g. running or lower body plyometric exercises). Gradually restart your workouts again, reduce the intensity, and focus on cycling or swimming. Make sure you avoid straining the injured knee. 3 great exercises to treat knee pain If you suffer from patellar tendonitis, the following exercises can provide relief:Foam Rolling:Relieve tension in the front side of the thighGet down on all fours. Stretch out the leg, in which you’re experiencing pain. Place the front side of the thigh on the foam roll. Then simply roll the length of the entire thigh. Make sure to keep the rolling very slow. You can repeat this exercise as often as you are able. Foam Rolling directly on the knee cap Get down on all fours. Bring one leg forward (whichever is in pain) and place the lower edge of the knee cap directly on the foam roll, and roll it back and forth very slowly. Note: this exercise can be painful. Make sure to never exceed your pain threshold. Only practice this exercise as often as you feel comfortable. Stretching:Stretching the QuadsLie on your side, with the leg you want to stretch on top. Slightly bend the bottom leg to stabilize the pelvis. Grab the foot of your top leg and gently pull it toward your butt. Make sure you can actually feel a stretching sensation in your quads. It’s also important not to over arch your back. Hold this stretched position for 60 to 90 seconds. Important: If there is no improvement after treating it yourself, you should consult your doctor. Manipulative therapy (fascia), ultrasound, anti-inflammatory medication, shockwave therapy, or infiltration treatment can provide further relief. Plus, other causes of the problems may be identified. *** More
By Pouria Taheri,Head of Medical for adidas Runners and RUNBASE BerlinSpring draws us outdoors and may even spark the start of marathon training, but anyone with hay fever or other seasonal allergies has major limitations to deal with. Spring fever? I don’t think so. Early blooming trees, grasses, and pollen make life hard for those who suffer from allergies. “A training schedule that works can become a real challenge for athletes,” says Pouria Taheri, orthopedic specialist and trauma surgeon, sports physician and adidas Runners medical coach. The body resists any personal ambition. “Even in regular daily activities there is no end to the itchy nose, watery eyes, and sneezing. Breathing becomes harder and the general performance level drops; exercising makes it even worse.” Here are 4 tips on how to work out despite seasonal allergies: 1. Don’t give upThe fun in sports quickly evaporates when allergies prevent you from lacing up your running shoes. Frustration and the exhausting symptoms often make you want to take a break. “It’s understandable, but that’s exactly what I try to avoid as the attending physician. I encourage people to deal with the annoying problem,” says Pouria Taheri. Fortunately there are several approaches to running with allergies. Most people can hardly believe the most important tip: don’t give up! “Often the reason for the complaints is a lack of fresh air and exercise,” explains the sports physician. You have to gradually give your immune system the chance to adapt.2. Strengthen your immune systemDid you know that regular exercise outdoors is almost as effective as allergen immunotherapy? Carefully building up resilience actually stabilizes the immune system. There are a lot of ways to strengthen your immune system, and many of them involve food. Take a look at what you’re eating and see if you can make some healthy changes. 3. Use first aid for acute problemsIn the alternative above, however, a subjective evaluation of your limits is decisive. You should have medical support such as an inhaler within reach so that your drive doesn’t get you into trouble. “Taking allergy medicine like an antihistamine before your workout is advisable to treat constant problems.” Antihistamines prevent the allergies from causing difficulty breathing or serious reactions like shortness of breath. Alternating your workouts between outdoors and indoors is a smart way to gradually strengthen your immune system and create a smooth transition to resilience.4. Allergen immunotherapyYou should seek medical treatment for ongoing afflictions or tough problems that recur over the years. “Many people try to address the problem with allergen immunotherapy, in which regular exposure to allergens teaches your immune system to adapt. However, this requires patience; the therapy usually takes one to two years.”Good to know:This treatment is not right for everyone. Possible interactions with other substances or medications can lead to adverse reactions. It should be noted that medical supervision is critical in this process for recreational athletes as well as competitive athletes with conditions such as reactive airway disease or asthma.TakeawayAt the end of the day, the annoying sneezing and the many little obstacles of seasonal allergies shouldn’t keep you from reaching your goals. The benefits of combining endurance and strength training are immeasurable and can improve your health long term, so that you don’t have to sacrifice quality of life in old age. Perseverance and smart decisions are essential to reach this higher goal. *** More
- in Wellness
For at least a decade, doctors, physiotherapists, and chiropractors have used infrared light therapy to heal injured muscles and treat conditions like Parkinson disease, depression, and even cancer. Now, the benefits are not just for the lettered. You can buy at-home infrared light devices to help manage everything from injuries to blood pressure, hair loss to wrinkles. Question is, while infrared light devices promise to be a medical panacea, they cost thousands of dollars. Are they worth it?
The devices vary in size, shape, and function, but all use infrared LED lights, either invisible near infrared (NIR) or visible red infrared (RI). No one is entirely sure what these lights do in the human body, but scientists believe they penetrate our cells, activating the mitochondria, our cells’ power plant. Energizing these mitochondrion make cells healthier, encouraging repair processes.NASA started studying artificial light therapy in the 1980s and the research has increased in recent years with improvements in LED light technology. Anecdotal and scientifically gathered data links NIR and RI to all kinds of health and healing benefits, but the research is limited in scale, says Brent Bauer, research director for the Integrative Medicine Program at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota.“We’re still waiting for reliable, large-scale studies to validate some of these claims,” he says. “Until we have some good-quality studies that evaluate both the efficacy and safety of these new devices, caution is prudent.”He does acknowledge NIR and RI light are different than the kind of skin-damaging energy used in tanning beds or solar UV rays. Used moderately, there are few side effects or risks associated with infrared light devices.Weighed against the growing list of benefits, it’s worth taking a closer look at some of the options available. Here are the top options to consider. More
The pandemic we are experiencing around the world has challenged us in ways we never could have imagined. When it hit in the winter of 2019/20, many thought that their health, youth, or fitness level might protect them. At this point it has become clear that we are all vulnerable and no one knows how a Covid-19 infection will affect their body. New research is focusing on better understanding the long-term effects of the virus, often called Long Covid or Long-Haul Covid. This often appears with symptoms including fatigue, loss of the sense of smell/taste, dizziness, cognitive impairment, headaches, shortness of breath and can last months. (1) We talked to two of our users about their experience with Coronavirus recovery and they shared their fitness journey with us. Both are healthy women in their 30s, recreational athletes based in Europe, who had mild-to-moderate cases. What was your fitness level before COVID-19?Amélie: I used to run at least twice a week, 5 to 10 km, and also worked out at home with the adidas Training app twice a week. Barbara: I was finally getting back on track with my running after problems with my knee. I wasn’t at my best, but getting there again.What were your preferred sports/types of exercise?Amélie: I really like running. It is always hard for me to get motivated, especially when it’s cold and grey outside but once I manage and run with the right music, it gives me a great sense of freedom and helps me cope with the stress of daily life.Barbara: Running and yoga were my favorites, but I also did strength training & biking.How did you feel physically while you were infected?Amélie: It started with a light headache and serious fatigue for a few days. Then I started to have this strange feeling in my lungs like someone was pressing on my chest. One day I was cooking breakfast for my son and I realized that I couldn’t smell or taste my coffee anymore, then I knew it was Covid.Barbara: My energy level was very low. I had muscle pain, headaches, fever, and lost my sense of smell & taste.How long did you experience symptoms?Amélie: The first 4 days of quarantine were not easy. I was out of breath just from talking on the phone and was very scared it would get worse and I would end up in the hospital. After 5 days the breathing got better but I was very very tired and couldn’t do much.Barbara: I was sick for around 2 weeks, but it took me way longer to get my energy and ability to focus back – for sure a few months. The first days back at work, I worked fewer hours and needed lots of breaks.How long did it take you to start working out again? Amélie: I tried to go running around a month later, I managed to do 5 km but I was completely out of breath during the run and my lungs hurt. I switched to walking and did some short home strength workouts but without cardio.Barbara: I went for a walk again right after quarantine ended, which was roughly a week after my sick leave. I did my first slow & easy yoga session about 2 weeks after my sick leave. My first run after being sick was around 1 month later, and it felt like the first run of my life.How did you restart your exercise program?Amélie: I started running and training again but after 5 months, I still have this strange feeling in my lungs from time to time. I had them checked and the doctor said everything looks good. Nevertheless, I am still tired, my motivation is low, and I get out of breath very fast. I ran 5 km recently and it felt a bit better.Barbara: Slowly. Super, super slowly. With lots of gratitude that I can move again. Just leaving the apartment and being outdoors was a true highlight. Walking felt like a workout.Did you know?An otherwise healthy patient recovering from Covid-19 without treatment who has been asymptomatic for 7 days may begin resuming physical activity at 50% the intensity and volume. (2) Did your performance change?Amélie: Before having Covid, I could run 10 km without any difficulties. Now, the most I’ve done so far is 5 km. My lungs hurt and I have trouble finding a regular breathing rhythm. I used to run at a pace from 5:40 min/km, now I run 6:45.Barbara: Yes, and that was very hard to accept for me. It felt like starting over at zero.Did your goals change after your Coronavirus recovery?Amélie: Definitely. Now my goal is to manage to find the motivation to go running. I just have to listen to my body and not push it too much.Barbara: Definitely. My goal right now is to stay healthy and support my body and mind with whatever type of exercise it needs at the moment. Do you have any words of advice for other people who are infected with COVID-19?Amélie: Be patient and don’t panic. I try to see the positive side of it: I am most probably immune for a little while and I was lucky to have a relatively mild version of it. (3)Barbara: Talk to someone about how you are feeling and what you’re going through, also emotionally – be it your partner, a friend, a family member, or a therapist.Recovering and Moving OnAs much as we’d like to think we are invincible, there are a lot of things that can knock us down for a while. If you’ve had to deal with Coronavirus, illness, or injuries, it can be hard to get back on track and motivate yourself to continue your fitness journey. It’s important to listen to your body. Make sure you take care of your body by building rest days into your training routine. At times like this, it’s always a good idea to boost your immune system and try to manage your stress with regular exercise. Remember, if you are experiencing any symptoms or are recovering from an illness and are concerned about how long it’s taking, talk to your doctor about it. *** More
- in Wellness
This article was produced in partnership with WHOOP.
We’re hardwired to think getting fitter, faster, and stronger requires high-octane efforts all the time. If you’re not limping around post-leg day, it’s not contributing to your gains. If you’re not gassed by the end of your runs, you won’t hit a personal best. But if there’s one thing you should work toward in 2021, it’s training smarter. With a wearable like WHOOP Strap 3.0, you can monopolize your health and fitness data to see how your daily workout intensity in conjunction with work and life stress impacts your body’s ability to recover. It’s like having a personal trainer on your wrist.
WHOOP Strap 3.0 Courtesy Image
How WHOOP Measures Daily Strain and Recovery
WHOOP scientists pored over a million different days of “Strain” and “Recovery” metrics from users to see exactly how they impacted peoples’ heart rate variability (HRV) the following day. Quick primer: HRV measures fluctuations in time between heartbeats. At rest, it can swing between, say, 55 and 65 beats per minute, since inhaling speeds up your heart rate while exhaling slows it down. A lower HRV means your body is struggling to handle stress and fatigue, while a higher HRV means your body is well-equipped to handle exertion. Since heart rate is the only objective measure of recovery, it’s WHOOP’s main deciding factor in how intensely you should be training on a day-to-day basis. To help users discern data, WHOOP scientists created the Strain metric to quantify overall stress put on your body. Based on your recovery each morning, WHOOP provides a target strain goal based on what your body is signaling it can handle for the day.
Now that’s not to say you always want to be in the green. If you’re training for a triathlon, you’re likely going to have training blocks of intense exercise where you’re overreaching, in which you’re prioritizing fitness gains over full recovery. That’s necessary for your short-term goal. When you near race day, you’ll taper and enter a restoring phase to help your body recuperate before the big event. That’s also necessary for your short-term goal; if it’s a long-term pattern, however, you’ll begin to detrain and lose endurance and/or muscle mass, depending on what you’ve been training for. Likewise, if you’re hitting your max effort every single day, without taking time to fully recover, that can culminate in overtraining, injury, and exhaustion.
On the app, there are two rings that indicate your strain and recovery for the day—a quick overview of your insights. Bigger efforts can be anywhere from a 14-19+ on the Strain scale, and it’s indicated as a blue line that inches closer to being “completed” depending on how close you get to your target strain (again, everything is relative; it’s not necessarily good or bad to hit the max). Your recovery is similarly presented as a circle within your Strain ring, although it’s color-coded to reflect the above Training Zones. Toggle to Strain, Recovery, and Sleep for a deeper dive into your analytics for the day and month (shown below).
WHOOP app insights Courtesy of Brittany Smith
Because WHOOP is combining yesterday’s Strain metrics with the night’s duration and quality of sleep, some athletes can naturally perform at a higher caliber—clocking more workouts at a higher intensity without teetering into the Overreaching zone if they’re also prioritizing optimal recovery. Sleep recharges your body. It regulates growth hormone to help build and repair muscle by healing those microtears caused during exercise; and regulates cortisol, the stress hormone, which can lead to inflammation in the body and inhibit recovery.
WHOOP Strap 3.0 Courtesy Image
Can a Strap Replace a Personal Trainer? It Can—If You Know How to Leverage Your WHOOP Data
1. Do a Deep Dive Into Your Recovery
When most individuals work with personal trainers, they’re not always honest about their diet, stress, sleeping habits, and how much they drink throughout the week. But WHOOP provides a subjective view of how your body is faring internally in ways a personal trainer could never infer. Based on recovery, having a target strain goal makes it easier to understand when you should aim to have a more intense workout or focus on rest and active recovery. The app creates a holistic picture that connects the dots between data and lifestyle behaviors so you can draw parallels and uncover what’s hindering your recovery.
For example, in the monthly performance assessment (you can look over the year too), WHOOP breaks down your quality of sleep over the last 30 days. If your restorative sleep is on a downward trend, make a concerted effort to close the gap between the sleep you’re getting and what your body optimally needs. A coach or trainer would tell you to perfect your sleep hygiene, but won’t know what that means for you. Look at your nightly journal. If alcohol is wrecking your recovery, rethink how and when you drink. Maybe you save the beers for your recovery day, rather than the night before a strenuous workout. (Also check out these science-backed natural sleep aids experts swear by.) Take sleep as seriously as you do your workouts, and you’ll unlock new levels of athletic potential.
2. Use Strain to Measure Stress in and out of Training
Most wearables track calories, steps, distance, and pace. But workouts impact us all differently based on how fit we are and our body’s ability to perform. With the Strain metric, WHOOP helps quantify how strenuous your workout and day is based on your fitness level. For example, running a 5K for an advanced runner might register as a light strain of 7-9, but it might be closer to a 14-17 for someone new to running. The distance is still the same, but the effort required from the body is different in each case. WHOOP is unique in that it helps quantify this type of stress on an individual level. You’ll learn which of those are true for you by clocking different types of workouts at varying intensities and durations.
3. Take Actionable Strides From Journal Findings
The great thing about the app is it gives you the chance to journal. In the morning, you’ll indicate if you consumed caffeine (how much and when), alcohol (how much), took prescription sleep medicine, viewed a screened device before falling asleep (how long), read a book, and shared your bed with a partner. If you find too much coffee late in the day keeps you up, scale back or cut yourself off at noon. If you find your smartphone or laptop is making it harder to fall asleep, nix the electronics an hour before bed. The WHOOP Strap 3.0 and app are less fixated on hitting arbitrary goals like getting in 10,000 steps, and more focused on interpreting empirical data. Make parallels. If you’re able to fall asleep faster when you listen to a meditation before bed, make it a nightly habit.
4. Lean In to Heart Rate Variability
When your HRV increases, indicating you’re more recovered, you can engage in more demanding sessions, which can be longer in duration or higher in intensity. Likewise, when HRV decreases, you can prioritize low-intensity sessions. Studies have shown this type of intuitive programming yields greater fitness gains than following a fixed program that doesn’t factor in your individual needs. This is where WHOOP outshines a personal trainer. Your coach might have a specific order of workouts for the week that might not be the most conducive to your fitness gains. However, WHOOP can help you fine-tune your training programs to prevent burnout via HRV. As gym culture drastically shifts, putting more of the onus into our hands, isn’t it time you take greater autonomy over your health and fitness? WHOOP thinks so—and we agree.
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