Updated: Jan 28
The often overlooked side of health and fitness, lifestyle refers to what we do outside of exercise and nutrition. Being so overlooked, lifestyle advice often falls short of the mark, leaving the majority of the population leading a dysfunctional lifestyle which can lead to some serious issues. Here are some of the most commonly heard lifestyle myths and how to avoid them:
#1. I can survive on 4 hours sleep
While you may be able to function once in a while on less than 5 hours sleep, optimal health requires approximately 7-9 hours of quality sleep per night. Sleep is when your body performs many of it’s reparative processes; prolonged periods of sleep deprivation - sleep of less than 5 hours - can lead to health problems. The good news is that sleep debt can be repaid at weekends. A 13 year study suggests that sleep debt can be repaid and that those who regularly sleep for 5 hours or less during the week but slept more on weekends had a lower rate of mortality than those who didn’t (1). Interestingly, it also showed that those who regularly sleep for more than 9 hours per night had an increased risk of mortality.
#2. You can get a cold if you go out in the cold
The common cold is a virus, the symptoms of which are the body's natural response to fighting the infection. It is harder to catch a cold than you think; being in a cold environment does not directly lead to you catching the virus. In addition, simply being near someone who has a cold does not necessarily mean you will catch one, however, if you touch contaminated surfaces and then put your hands on your mouth, nose or eyes, you will likely develop a cold. Furthermore, if someone with a cold sneezes or coughs without covering their nose or mouth, there is a chance the germs will come in to contact with your face and you may catch a cold especially if your immune system is weak or suppressed due to stress. There is, however, a link between instances of the common cold increasing in colder months. This could be attributed to a few things:
- In colder months we tend to spend more time indoors in contact with other people, therefore increasing the chances of any infectious virus spreading.
- Also, in colder months people tend to use central heating more which leads to a drier environment. There is some evidence that shows the influenza virus travels easier in low-humidity environments as in more humid environments the virus tends to attach to water molecules and dissipate in the air.
- Some research shows the protective casing on the influenza virus can withstand cold temperatures better than warm temperatures.
- Some research shows a link between breathing cold air and upper respiratory tract infections (2).
Ensure your nose and mouth remain warm when out in the cold, boost your immune system and beware of the increased risk of infection and you might be lucky enough to avoid the common cold. Being outdoors in all weather provides many health benefits and can actively BOOST the immune system.
Want to stay up to date with out latest articles and recipes?
#3. Only athletes need to recover properly
This is true and false. False in the sense that it isn’t just athletes who need to recover properly from workouts. True in the sense that if you are training for anything, then technically you are an athlete and it is a good idea to adopt the mentality of an athlete. This does not necessarily mean that every waking and sleeping hour is dedicated to your chosen discipline. Instead, aim to continuously improve your sports performance and the understand the steps you must take for this to happen in and around your workouts. Adequate recovery includes sleep, hot/cold showers, proper nutrition, stretching, massages, saunas and more. Adequate recovery can reduce the risk of injury, increase sports performance and improve overall health.
#4. A healthy body requires lots of sacrifice
Health shouldn’t be a forced condition. If it is an effort to follow a healthy life, there is something seriously wrong with your lifestyle or your approach. Do your close friends and family support you in your efforts to become healthier? Does your work promote a healthy environment? Is your home environment conducive to a healthy life? After asking yourself these questions, you should work hard to address any areas which are preventing good health. The best approach to a healthier life is one you can manage and maintain. Removing everything you love from life will not allow you to enjoy your experience. Consequently you will not be able to sustain this approach so find ways to include them into a healthy lifestyle, or find healthier alternatives e.g. 85%+ organic dark chocolate is a great substitution for regular chocolate.
Take small, manageable steps towards changing your approach as you are more likely to be able to implement them and cohere to them.
#5. Stress is a normal part of life
Stress is a vital reaction to danger. It is what has enabled humans to survive for this long and it may be what is killing us too. It is often said that stress poses the greatest threat to health nowadays but how can such an important element of survival be damaging us? The answer lies in the differences between chronic and acute stress. Acute stress aka “fight or flight” is the body's reaction to immediate danger. This type of stress is brief and helps us survive dangerous situations. Chronic stress is when the stress response is activated due to emotional stresses and lasts longer than the acute stress response. The effects of chronic stress are extensive and damaging (3). Making lifestyle changes which directly aim to reduce stress levels can have a significant effect to your overall health and emotional wellbeing.
Related Post: 5 Most Common Nutrition Myths
Related Post: 5 Most Common Exercise Myths
Related Post: Lifestyle: The Evolved Way
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
John Maitland is the co-founder of 'The Evolved Way.’ A personal trainer with over 10 years’ experience, he has worked alongside a wide range of leading CEOs, entrepreneurs and medical professionals. John is a keen athlete and holds a black belt in Shaolin Kung fu. A fan of the great outdoors, he can often be found exploring the British countryside and mountains...or breaking pine boards with his fingers.
Co-founder of 'The Evolved Way', and experienced personal trainer, Samson practices what he preaches. His own healthy lifestyle, which informs this site, is based on understanding the right way to eat and exercise, not excluding of course going out and enjoying life knowing you can still feel and look good.