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Exercise – why it’s important and how to fuel your body correctly.

We’ve all heard that exercise is good for us, but do you know why? Exercise isn’t just about getting into physical shape and looking good. From boosting energy levels, improving sleep, lifting mood and reducing the risk of disease, regular exercise is important for a healthy and happy life.

Research has shown that exercising can actually help us sleep better and longer, and can also help to reduce stress and tension, helping us to relax and feel more energised. By reducing our stress hormones and stimulating the release of endorphins, exercise can actually trigger a positive feeling within our brain – aka, a “runner’s high”.

When it comes to your muscles, the saying “use it or lose it” really rings true. With age, people tend to lose muscle mass, function and range of movement. Exercising your muscles regularly is therefore super important if we want to keep up our strength, reduce the loss of muscle and prevent injuries as we get older.

The good news is, you don’t have to be sweating it out in the gym each day or running for hours on end to get the benefits of exercise. Gentle activities like walking, Pilates, swimming, boxing, or going to a dance class with a friend are all ways you can get some movement into your day. It doesn’t matter what you do, but the key is finding something you enjoy doing and making a habit out of it too.

With any form of activity, it’s important to fuel your body appropriately to get the most out of your workouts. Fuelling your body with the right nutrients and staying hydrated is going to give you the energy you need during your sessions, plus help you get the results you’re after.

Up the protein. Protein is essential for building and repairing muscle tissue following a workout. Making sure you get enough protein throughout your day will help your muscles recover and will support the growth of lean muscle mass for a toned appearance. Research has shown that it doesn’t matter if you consume protein before or after your workout, as long as you’re getting enough.

Stay hydrated. When we exercise, we tend to lose a lot of water through our sweat and our breath. As a general rule, aim to drink a full glass of water 20-30 minutes before your workout, and around 200ml every 20 minutes during your session.

Choose the right carbs. Carbs often get a bad rap, but they are a great source of fibre and energy. Focus on complex carbohydrates such as whole grains, fruit, vegetables, legumes, and avoid high sugar and processed foods like chocolate, soft drinks, cookies, white bread, pizza, and ice cream.

Skip the sports drinks. For the average gym goer, sports drinks are likely to do more harm than good. They are extremely in sugar and often have artificial colours, sweeteners and flavours added. Unless you’re an elite athlete, it’s best to stick to plain water. Alternatively, try giving your water a boost with Two Islands Collagen Beauty Powder which provides 9g of protein per serve.