In conversations about resilience, an area that is commonly undervalued is the importance of keeping our physical body fit and strong. It has long been proven that this has direct, beneficial effects on mental health.
Many people know this at some level, but struggle to find time to exercise. Therefore, I’d like to introduce you to an exercise technique that has enabled me to dramatically improve my training results by magnifying the effectiveness of the time I spend working out, making great results possible in much less time. Dr. Joe Mercola, a leading expert in natural health, says that he has “never seen any fitness method as beneficial for health as this one”; a statement that I an attest to from personal experience.
Known as blood flow restriction (BFR) training, the technique originates from Japan, and is extraordinarily safe, even for people with injuries and the elderly. This is because benefits are achieved using just a fraction of the weight typically needed to benefit from conventional resistance training.
By tricking your brain and body into believing that you are doing high-intensity exercise while actually doing low-intensity exercise, BFR can enable you to:
- Build muscle – it may well be unique in its ability to prevent and treat sarcopenia (age related muscle loss).
- Increase bone density, which reduces the risk of osteoporosis.
- Grow more blood vessels and increase their lining (endothelium)
- Improve aerobic capacity and endurance.
As I said, I’ve found this to be extraordinarily effective, and therefore recommend that you give it a try.
For more detailed explanation on how to do BFR training, Dr. Mercola has some excellent articles on his web site, though you may need to sign up to access them. Note also that, in the video, Dr. Mercola uses inflatable bands – these are the ideal, but are also quite expensive. The elasticated bands that I’ve found to be very effective are cheap and readily available online (I bought these – in two sizes, for legs and arms).