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Sometimes it feels like we are putting all the effort into our exercise, but not seeing the changes we want. Here are 5 possible reasons.
Iron is an essential mineral for health. It is responsible for making red blood cells which carry oxygen around the body – a very important process in exercise! If you are low in iron, not only will you feel tired but your body will struggle to get the vital oxygen it needs, causing you to feel breathless and dizzy.
Good sources of iron are meat, beans, nuts and dark green leafy vegetables like kale.
Hormones affect almost every aspect of our bodily functions, and an imbalance can leave us feeling really run down.
Testosterone acts directly to stimulate muscle growth in men and woman, so low levels can affect muscle mass. It also affects mood and motivation which will make it even harder to keep up your gym routine.
Low oestradiol in women, which occurs during the menopause, can also cause stubborn weight gain that even regular exercise won't shift.
Exercise can be a fantastic de-stressor, but long-term stress can mean your body isn’t going to adapt as easily to exercise. This is because stress puts a constant strain on your body, leaving little energy for anything else. Chronic stress causes raised cortisol levels, leading to weight gain around the middle, lowered immune system and even cravings for unhealthy food – all of which will sabotage your healthy routine.
Whilst exercise is important, it should be enjoyable. Putting too much pressure on yourself to exercise may just add to the stress, rather than take away from it.
We all know a balanced diet is crucial for good health, but it can also impact how we are exercising. Low levels of vitamin B12 can cause fatigue and in severe cases breathlessness and nerve pain. Good sources of vitamin B12 are found in meat, cheese and fortified foods such as cereals, marmite and nutritional yeast.
Vitamin D deficiency is extremely common in the UK and can lead to fatigue and low mood. Vitamin D is also needed for our bones to absorb calcium so low levels can have a negative impact on our bone strength.
Similarly to stress, not getting enough sleep puts your body into survival mode, where most of your energy is taken up by ordinary tasks. This leaves little left over for exercise, and even if you do drag yourself to the gym your body won’t be in the right state to benefit from a workout.
Lack of sleep also alters the levels of leptin and ghrelin, the hormones responsible for the feelings of hunger and fullness, so you may find you are eating more.
Finally, not getting enough sleep can affect your balance and coordination, making exercise even harder.
If you want to progress in your fitness, getting into a regular sleep pattern is crucial. Having a bath before bed, spending time away from electronics and meditating can all help with sleep.