Is watching Netflix, playing Video Games, or watching anything at all really that relaxing?

The discussion of television and whether or not it’s bad or good for you has been an issue for as long as I can remember. Especially now, when we seem to park ourselves in front of a screen all day, everyday. Whether it be your phone, tablet, computer, laptop, or television. Almost everything we do is mediated in some way by technology. Even though I’m a personal trainer, and I don’t work in an office, I still spend a ton of time on my phone. I don’t think I could live without my phone! I mean, I have, but not intentionally… (I’m the worst when it comes to my phone, either breaking it or losing it… I’m on a hot streak right now so hopefully the cycle has ended for me!) Either way, zoning out on Instagram, or Netflix may not be the best way to relax. Even though binge watching shows on Netflix can feel very relaxing, and it can release endorphins in our brains which make us feel good while we watch these shows, but what happens after we turn off our televisions?

I got the idea for this blog from my Dad. My Dad works a lot and his favorite way to relax is on the couch in front of the television. However, he doesn’t just watch television, sometimes he’s watching Youtube, and the television at the same time! He would spend hours in front of the television watching sports, Netflix, or old movies on TVO, but mostly sports, until he falls asleep which is pretty much every single time. However, a lot of us use Netflix, or some other form of media to watch our favorite series as a way of relaxing after a stressful day, or a long work week, or simply because we’re too hung over to do anything else. I don’t play video games, I’m horrible at them, but some of us choose video games as a way to relax instead of Netflix. Either way, we’re parked on the couch staring at the screen like zombies for a few hours.

Now television can be an effective way to relax because it easily distracts us from our daily worries, and our overworked minds. It doesn’t require any skill or physical labor, no one is bothering you or asking you to do anything. Unless it’s my mom. She gets bored at work I swear and calls the house for no real reason, she calls to ask if we had dinner? And what we’re doing? We’re all adults too, so we can make our own dinner just fine, but I guess that’s what mom’s do? I’m sure she still does this, even though I’m no longer living there to witness it, and every single time my Dad, or anyone who picks up the phone is rushing to get her off the phone so we don’t miss anything that’s going on, on the television. But in any case, television can allow you to get lost in a fictional narrative and forget about your own problems. I think this is why television is such a tempting way to unwind. We can get so caught up in our own lives, that when it all gets too overwhelming we just tend to want to shut down, and television, or social media allows us to do that. It allows us to become very passive. Even though, I don’t think this works real well in resolving any of the issues that are stressing you out, it is a very natural thing to want to do. We just want it to all go away sometimes, and hope that someone comes to save us. But that isn’t reality, and we realize this the second we turn off the television and have to face our lives again.

Television is a momentary escape, which can be a very good thing, but it does not solve the issues in your life that are stressing you out, nor is it very productive or healthy. Sure, there are some benefits to watching television, but in my opinion there are far more productive ways to relieve stress than binge watching Stranger Things (which is a great show by the way). The thing is, even though these shows can be very addictive, and engrossing, which makes them so great to watch, but after three hours or so, you look at the time and think holy shit! Where did all the time go?! Then you may actually feel more stressed out, then when you decided to watch television to relax in the first place! This is because television doesn’t make your financial troubles, boy troubles or girl troubles, or your deadlines go away. They will always be there looming in the background, and even though it’s perfectly healthy to find an escape from your woes from time to time, because television watching is so unproductive, and it can easily eat up so much of your time, it can actually have you feeling worse than when you started. A lot of people find that after watching hours of television, they feel more drained, and more tired, then if they decided to do a hobby, exercise, hang out with friends, or read a book as a form of relaxation.

Lastly, watching television, Instagramming, sending last-minute emails, or using any sort of screen before bed can negatively impact your sleep and your ability to relax properly. If you’re not sleeping properly, you are not as prepared to tackle your daily stresses, which will only stress you out more. The blue light that is emitted from your screens reduce your body’s ability to produce melatonin, which is the hormone that controls your sleep/wake cycle. Reducing melatonin in your body makes it harder for you to fall asleep, and stay asleep. In addition, it may seem harmless to Instagram before bed, or to watch a movie to help you fall asleep, but by keeping your mind engaged, technology can trick your brain into thinking that it needs to stay awake. This will reduce the amount of sleep you’re getting, which will make it harder for you to tackle your day. Also, if you see something negative on Instagram, like your ex posting a photo of a new girlfriend before you’ve had the chance to rebound, ┬áthis can keep you from relaxing and falling asleep. Instead, you may find yourself an hour later creeping every last photo on her personal Instagram account, and maybe even some of her friends… This is not positive, or productive. If anything, it is self-destructive behavior, and it does not help you move on with your life. None of these things listed above will help you be a better person, and it certainly won’t help you with your stress if you’re not allowing yourself a proper night’s sleep. These activities are very distracting, but not necessarily helpful. They do not make you feel better in the long run, because they do not solve your problems. They distract you from your problems, but they don’t necessarily give you energy, or help you learn something.

In the end, television can be a good way to relieve stress, but only if it’s done in moderation. I would personally suggest exercise, yoga, meditation, reading, or a hobby as a better way to relieve stress. Not only are all of these activities productive, but they are also very positive. It is an excellent distraction from your daily life, and it won’t have you feeling like you wasted your time doing nothing! You will most likely feel better, more energized, happier, and better prepared to take on your daily struggles. Also, some of these activities are very social, and don’t require you to be in front of a screen! So please, step away from the screen, meet people, learn new things, and get moving! Even just an hour a day of doing something positive, like reading, or exercise, will still leave plenty of time for you to get in an episode of your favorite show.

 

homer


Day 2 of the Twelve Days of Fitmas: How Proper Rest Between Sets Can Improve Your Performance In The Gym

Merry Fitmas guys! So, I’ve been personal training for a few years now, and one thing that I’ve noticed about my clients is that they will either take full advantage of their rest times and even try to extend them by distracting me with conversation, OR after about 20 seconds of rest they think they’re ready to jump right back into the exercise as if them resting is wasting time when they could be burning more calories. With this article, I plan to explain the importance of resting properly between sets and how it can actually improve your performance in the gym!

When I train on my own, I always time my rest in between my sets. That way, I’m not wasting time, and I’m staying on pace with my workout. It also allows me to have consistent rest in between my sets, so that I can better keep track of how I’m improving. With proper rest, your body should be able to perform the exercise with the correct form to the same degree of strength or better. If not? Then you may need to increase your rest time in between sets, or start to drop down your weights. Either way, by keeping track of not only the weights you use, but the amount of time it takes you to recover in between sets, is a good way to see how much your body’s strength and endurance is improving.

Having proper rest in between sets is even more important when you’re doing a strength based workout. So when you’re doing power lifting, doing heavy olympic lifts, or doing heavy sets of 3-5 reps trying to increase your overall strength. It is important to make sure your body is getting adequate rest so that you can avoid any potential injury. When you are doing a heavy lift, it requires a ton of mental and physical strength to be able to do it, and performing the exercise itself is very taxing on the body. That is why you may often see these big guys or athletic women in the gym, loading the bar with heavy weights, performing the exercises for 3-5 reps and then resting for what seems to be a long time. Now, I’m sure some of these patrons of the gym are taking way too long of a rest time in between sets, but for some of these heavy lifts you may actually need about 2, maybe even 3 minutes of rest depending on the person. Obviously the more athletic the individual, the faster they will be able to recover from the exercise, but if it is a style of training that you have never done before, or haven’t done in a while, it may take you a little longer to regain the strength to perform the exercise again properly.

Rest is also very important when you are training as a beginner, and it’s funny, because it is the beginners that I see either resting too much and not actually training, or they are not resting enough and forcing their body to do movements they don’t quite understand how to perform properly. It is mostly men who do the latter, and women who rest too much, at least in my own personal experience. As a beginner to the gym, it is very important to take the time to learn how to perform the basic movements properly, like a plank, squat, lunge, row, push up and so on. Once you have the basics of these movements, then you can begin to add-on accessory work, and variations to these movements. However, when you are learning these movements, you want to start off with using mostly your own bodyweight, taking the time to slow the exercise down. Let your body understand how it should feel like when you do it properly (have someone help you with this who has more experience in the gym, or professional help). Then have adequate rest in between your sets so that you are not tiring yourself out too much, that you start to forget and loose the proper form you’ve been working so hard on trying to achieve. You need to give yourself enough rest so that 1) you’re not tiring yourself out, loosing form, and therefore setting yourself up for potential injury, and 2) you are giving yourself enough rest so that you are not too tired to focus on the following set, therefore giving you a greater chance of creating muscle memory and learning how to do it on your own properly.

There are styles of training out there that don’t require a lot of rest, or they have “active rest periods.” These are perfectly fine, and are mostly circuit style training, and cardio training. These types of training don’t allow you to lift weights that are super heavy because you are not giving your body enough time to recover to be able to continuously do heavy sets. Instead, these styles of training are meant to keep your heart rate up, and get you nice and sweaty. These are great for people who want to improve their cardiovascular endurance, it’s great to incorporate into a weight loss training routine, or to incorporate into the days where you are on a time crunch. Even with these types of training, you should still time your rest periods, even if they are very short. That way, you are still getting consistent rest in between your sets, and you are not allowing yourself to rest too long, therefore, bringing your heart rate down too much. Obviously, if you are feeling sick, or you can no longer perform the movements properly, you should extend your rests, or modify your exercises. But at the end of the day, you should be using whatever rest time you have effectively. Use it to take a sip of water, to towel off quickly, or even to just regulate your breathing so you don’t tire yourself out too quickly. Rest is very important and it shouldn’t be wasted on social media. Make sure you are taking proper rest between sets, time them so that you are not taking too long of a rest, and record the amount of rest it takes for you to be able to perform the same exercise again properly. Obviously you may start to fail at the exercise but if it takes you about 40 seconds to be able to do the exercise for the majority of the sets you do, even if you fail on the last few reps of the last two sets, eventually you will be able to do it without failing with the same amount of rest. If you keep the rest consistent you will eventually be able to up the weights you’re using, with the same rest times! But you will never actually know this, if you are not resting properly, or timing and recording it as well. Rest, along with tracking the weight you use is a great way to measure your improvements at the gym.

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