Our resident fitness expert Sarah Gorman explains the biohacking trend and reveals its benefits to ensure your ongoing health and well–being
Who wants to live forever? Not me that’s for sure but as I age I do want my body to function and work for me in a way that keeps me happy, pain free and able to move. So this month I want to discuss the idea of ‘working’ on our bodies for longevity as opposed to a ‘bikini body’, (a phrase of which I dislike immensely) as well as taking a look at the term Biohacking.
Let’s begin with Biohacking – it’s become a bit of a buzz word recently and is definitely having its moment, but what does it actually mean? Biohacking refers to the practice of using science, technology, and experimentation to optimise and enhance human performance and well–being. The term involves making changes to our biology through various means, including lifestyle modifications, dietary changes, supplements, and technology.
Overall, biohacking is about taking control of our own health and well-being by experimenting with different techniques and approaches to optimise our biology and improve our overall quality of life. There is a lot of information out there in terms of what we can physically do to engage these techniques to the point that I find it can be overwhelming to think that we need to be doing all of it, all of the time in order to improve our lives. How do you even know where to start?
I decided to look at what I felt were the most important areas for me personally and what elements were achievable and sustainable to my life. The four areas that I am going to focus on are: Circadian rhythm, Movement, Hydration and Sleep.
Circadian Rhythm – is the physical, mental, and behavioural changes that follow a 24–hour cycle. It can affect our health and can influence important functions in our bodies such as hormonal balance, eating and digestion and body temperature. The idea is that we try to create a routine for ourselves that we can stick to that follows sun up and sun down. Try getting up at the same time each day, including weekends, and getting outside. Maybe that means just taking a few breaths and a stretch, or drinking your coffee outside. Optimally you would do some movement like going for a walk. And then again by late afternoon try to make sure you get outside before the sun goes down and again, if possible add some movement into this time as well.
Hydration – up your water intake (preferably filtered water) and make sure you drink consistently throughout your day. I know it’s easier said than done – but it really does make such a difference to your health and it is an easy and cheap routine/habit that we can form. Even set a reminder to drink water on the hour every hour if, like me, you tend to forget to take those water breaks.
Movement – this idea should try to be continued throughout the day. Finding movement or exercise that you enjoy and can practise as and when you can. The more movement we do the more mobile and strong our bodies become. Movement also releases endorphins and can enhance mood and reduce stress.
Sleep – this is tough to hear if you find it difficult to sleep but studies are now showing that a consistent 7.5 – 9 hours sleep really is optimal in order for our bodies to recover. This loops back to finding a good routine/circadian rhythm and sticking to it. Turn screens off earlier than you normally would and read so that you naturally drop off. Once you have formed a new habit and made it a part of your routine it can become second nature. At this point you can begin to add in new techniques such as cold water therapy and body brushing. By simply splashing the face with cold water first thing in the morning you can trigger the Vagus Nerve which can help to regulate mood and anxiety as well being a direct line from the gut to the brain. You can then build on this technique by taking a cold shower each morning and then even trying an ice bath. Cold water therapy has been shown to have a variety of health benefits, including reduced inflammation and improved immune function. When we start to ‘work’ on our bodies in this way it means that we are looking after ourselves for longevity – future proofing ourselves as much as we are able.
So as the summer approaches and you begin to see the inevitable rubbish about getting your ‘bikini body’ ready, think rather about your ‘old person body’ – the one you are growing into slowly and want to keep as strong and as physically active, healthy and well as you possibly can. With movement you get freedom and with freedom you get life.