Home   Lifestyle   Article

Subscribe Now

Ollie Thompson: Exercise is good for you… recovery and nourishment is even better

Our fitness expert Ollie Thompson has some advice we can all follow.

My approach to health and fitness centres around what I call my three pillars of human wellbeing: fitness, nourishment and recovery.

Personal trainer Ollie Thompson, of Welltolead. Picture: Keith Heppell
Personal trainer Ollie Thompson, of Welltolead. Picture: Keith Heppell

We all have a solid idea of what fitness entails - going to the gym, running, attending exercise classes, walking the dog and so on. However, I believe nourishment and recovery are less understood and not addressed nearly as much.

So when I say "nourishment," what do I mean? Essentially, I'm talking about nutrition. However, rather than taking the common approach of focusing solely on calories, macronutrients and their impact on body composition, I'm focused on nourishing our bodies with the fuel required for us to flourish, create energy and stay healthy. The focus is on food quality, reducing the consumption of ultra-processed foods, minimising added sugars, drinking adequate water, consuming more protein and fibre, addressing vitamin deficiencies, and, most importantly, building a diet around prioritising a wide array of healthy, gut-friendly whole foods, fruits and vegetables.

Recovery, arguably the most important component of health and wellbeing, I believe, is much more than simply recovering from an intense workout, stretching sore muscles, and using a foam roller. While these things can play an important role in exercise recovery, I believe what’s more crucial is to see recovery from an energy perspective.

It involves the actions we can take and lifestyle choices we can make on a regular basis that put us into a restorative, energy-producing state. A few key components include getting high-quality sleep, spending time in green spaces, exposing oneself to sunlight in the morning, managing stress through breathwork, and creating an evening routine that places you into a calm state, ready for a great night of sleep.

Personal trainer Ollie Thompson, of Welltolead. Picture: Keith Heppell
Personal trainer Ollie Thompson, of Welltolead. Picture: Keith Heppell

With this in mind, I'm going to break down five of the most impactful actions you should focus on outside of the gym to boost your nourishment, improve your energy levels and feel at your healthiest:

Prioritise quality sleep: Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep each night. Creating an evening routine that sets you up for high-quality sleep is essential. This can include dimming the lights before bed, avoiding highly stimulating TV shows close to bedtime, taking a warm shower, engaging in stretching and breathing drills to downregulate your nervous system, and keeping your bedroom at a cool temperature. Maintaining a regular sleep and wake time is also a vital but often overlooked contributor to quality sleep.

Stay hydrated: Drinking plenty of water during the day will play an important role in your energy, cognition and physical performance. Dehydration can lead to fatigue and decreased focus. I typically advise people to consume a minimum of 2.5 litres per day.

Consume nourishing foods: Ultra-processed, calorie-dense foods make up over 50% of the UK’s diet. Reducing your intake is a huge step towards losing weight, feeling energised, and achieving peak health. Following a diet rich in whole foods including a wide variety of plant foods is highly recommended for gut health. The target should be 20-30 different plant foods each week.

Downregulate your autonomic nervous system: Adopt actions that help you to switch off and downregulate your autonomic nervous system, placing you into a more parasympathetic (rest and digest) state. Fatigue has never been so severe and common before in society, primarily due to widespread caffeine dependency, alcohol consumption, crippling work stress, social media, financial stress, ultra-processed foods and modern sedentary lifestyles. The vast majority of people are not necessarily overstimulated, just severely under-recovered. Actions mentioned above, such as sleep hygiene, breathwork, exercise, and time in green spaces, will go a long way in helping you to create better balance, switch off easier, buffer stress and protect your energy.

Personal trainer Ollie Thompson, of Welltolead. Picture: Keith Heppell
Personal trainer Ollie Thompson, of Welltolead. Picture: Keith Heppell

Manage caffeine and alcohol: Caffeine and alcohol are both consumed by many. While I don’t believe you should cut out either of these, being sensible with quantity and when you consume them will play a role in your energy and general recoverability. Caffeine can substantially interrupt your sleep if consumed later in the day; similarly, alcohol before bed can have a similar effect, destroying the architecture and quality of your sleep. I advise clients, in most cases, to finish their final alcoholic drink at least 3 hours before sleeping to minimise damage.

There you have it – 5 easy actions to improve your energy levels and wellbeing. If you’re wanting more clarity on what you’re currently doing for your health and fitness, head to welltolead.com to take my free questionnaire to receive a personalised report with actionable strategies you can implement immediately.

Ollie specialises in helping career-focused professionals get into great shape, build long-term health and perform better in their work. Ollie works across Cambridge and London and offers both in-person and virtual personal training. Visit www.welltolead.com and follow Ollie on Instagram @olliethompsonhealth for more.

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies - Learn More