Joint pain, belly bloat, fatigue, and frequent illness. What do these symptoms have in common? They all involve some degree of underlying chronic inflammation.
Chronic inflammation is not reserved for diagnosed medical conditions. Instead, many people experience inflammation without a formal diagnosis or condition. Many health practitioners advise eating healthier, getting more rest, exercising, and relieving stress to help. Fitness enthusiasts, however, often find frustration in this advice. They think, “I’m already doing all that, so what now?”
If you are a fitness enthusiast who already practices the basics, use these four tips to refine your health practices and reduce symptoms of inflammation:
Every workout has a repair cost. Workouts break down muscles, which then require relative rest to repair. The body’s inflammatory response is part of the normal repair cycle. You don’t want to stop it. Instead, you want to accelerate your recovery, especially if you work out every day. The faster you activate your parasympathetic nervous system (“rest and digest response”), the faster your body will recover.
While research on the best methods and timing is still young, there are a few promising ones to try. Examples include a warm or cold shower before bed, yoga and stretching after a workout or as part of your evening wind-down routine, and foam rolling. Nutrition and nutritional supplements can help as well. Methods that may actually prolong your recovery include taking an ice bath in the 4-hour period post-workout, consuming caffeine post-workout or in the evening, and performing high-intensity workouts before bed.
Combating inflammation relies just as much on sleep quality as it does quantity. Common distractions that don’t even seem to wake you alter your sleep depth. These subconscious distractions diminish the time your body has to repair and naturally combat inflammation while sleeping. A few simple habit changes can greatly help.
Begin with your cell phone. In your settings menu, go to “focus,” then select “sleep.” Turn the “wind down” feature on. Set your bedtime. In this menu, you can also add key people or Apps that you want to be allowed to disturb your sleep. In addition to changing these settings, move your cell phone away from your bed and put it face down. This helps prevent cell phone light from disturbing your sleep. Find more sleep hacks, here.
Vitamin D is essential to mitigate unwanted inflammation. Vitamin D is naturally found in fatty fish like sardines and salmon, as well as in fortified milk. The body can also synthesize vitamin D from sun exposure. The recommended daily value for the average adult is 800 IU. If you have limited sun exposure, are deficient, or find that regular consumption of these foods doesn’t suit your tastes, vitamin D supplements can help fill the gap.
Since vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, your body will store some of what you take in. That’s why vitamin D labels recommend you get your blood levels tested regularly to ensure you match your supplement dosing to your body’s unique needs.
Omega-3 is vital for body repair functions and has become known in both the media and nutrition research for its anti-inflammatory effects. The national institute of health recommends 1,100 mg/day for females and 1,600 mg/day for males.
Common omega-3 dietary sources include fatty fish, walnuts, flax seeds, chia seeds, and soy. If these sources don’t appeal to you, omega-3 supplements may be your answer. Such supplements come in many forms including fish oils, flax oils, and various combinations.
Unlike vitamin D supplements, omega-3 supplements have calories from grams of fat. If you track meals, calories, or macros as part of your fitness success plan, be sure to log the omega-3 supplements too!
Don’t wait. Add these inflammation-combatting actions to your daily routine now. The key to making them work is daily inclusion. Then, share this article with fitness friends and family who seek fitness and wellness longevity.
About the Author: Dr. Meredith Butulis, creator of the ISSA Fitness Comeback Coach Certification (online), is a Sports Medicine Physical Therapist, NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Coach, ACSM Certified Exercise Physiologist, NASM Certified Personal Trainer, and Precision Nutrition Certified Nutrition Coach in practice since 2002. She consistently walks the talk as a fitness, physique, and OCR world-level competitor and lifestyle transformer since 2006, celebrating many wins along the way. Want more total fitness lifestyle inspiration and interaction? Follow Dr. Meredith on Instagram @Dr.MeredithButulis or join the free “Fitness Focus Fuel” Facebook Group.