As a four-times UK Fitness Champion, former international adventure athlete and renowned personal trainer, our columnist JOEY BULL knows a thing or two about keeping fit.
Here’s her latest column, entitled Share and Share Alike:
For two years, a guinea fowl paraded around our home, confident on his patch as a mismatch, waddling and sharing the ground between the cows’ and dog’s legs. We called him Forest Gump for his ability for being the one who got away from local shoots, the fox, the main road and surviving his single life with other beasts.
We have longed to see him with one of his own as a couple, it would satisfy our human longings. Many would agree that, so long as they’re not embarrassing or shameful, most experiences are better shared.
During the wonder of solitude in a recent covid confinement, I spread my stuff out (accounts actually) across the bedroom floor, sure that I’d conquer loads of overdue must dos, in the healing time.
But it wasn’t long before I was eager to hear footsteps approach, only to lose them as they turned off away from my door into another room. What used to be a curt ‘Yes? Who is it?’ became a lonely ‘Hello…?”.
The wallowing didn’t last, as the experience was greatly enhanced when my partner tested positive too. He joined my temporary ward equipped with nebuliser, lap trays and receipts peppering the carpet. Sick and dulled as we were, it was a luxury to have company.
Valentine’s Day is almost upon us, a fact the marketing people have probably made you aware of for weeks, and this is the year’s most celebrated day for love and companionship.
Us humans seek company, build friendships, enjoy social groupings, co regulate and of course even dare to love. “A colourful character” about Shimazaki Akira in last week’s newspaper was a moving read.
There was a man that appeared to exemplify these human qualities. Interacting and engaging is when we are at our best and getting the most out of life. It is the top of the nervous system ladder pertaining to emotional and physical balance. There are some who prefer a solitary existence but this is much more the exception than the rule.
But what if we step it up a notch?
Two years ago, as a new columnist to this newspaper, it felt a bit racey to write about the importance of the kiss for a Valentine’s piece. It covered how saliva enhances hormones, how this ‘prepares’ the female and how that promotes bonding and performance…
Easy! Well, hang on there, while I make the slippery transition from wellness to bedroom talk; sex is good for the brain. There you go, it’s said, written and published. Unfortunately not by me first, but professor James Goodwin.
According to our sensory system the most sensitive parts of our bodies and therefore what the brain prioritises are; lips, hands, feet and genitals. The architecture behind this is illuminating, literally.
Brain imagery shows that during orgasm the brain lights up. The imagery shows a sensory nerve pathway from the head to the pelvis which illustrate the exact location of the genitalia response in the sensory brain. In the prelude to orgasm, this expands to thirty and more areas than its usual position.
So imagine your brain as a plate with a few green peas on it. That’s the starters. But in full climax, two thirds of that dinner plate would be covered in peas. How is that for vast brain activation?
In fitness, working out with another or more has been shown to have numerous benefits; mirroring one another, the coordination of moves, the motivation goes up, people tend to work harder, have more fun and everything is boosted by friendly competition.
Then as a group The Kohler Effect comes into play – this is the principle by which nobody wants to be the weakest link in a group setting or partnership, therefore they strive harder and raise their game.
This brings results, happiness and all good things. Much of what our exercising does, touches on better brain and body communications, faster routing, neurovascular coupling.
It’s interesting, satisfying and effective – to a point. But when it comes to really activating the brain, I’ve always struggled to say to a class “your homework for this week is to err….activate more parts of the brain’. It isn’t a business plan I’ve priced up yet.
There have been all manner of studies into exercise programmes tackled by friends/partners and those taken on by individuals, from the scientifically impenetrable to the easy to digest.
There of course countless stats and figures as a result such as 95% of those exercising in partnership complete their programmes while 76% of individual exercisers do. The International Journal of Stress Management found that people who exercised with a partner for 30-minute sessions felt calmer as a result compared to when training solo.
You can take or leave such facts and figures, but it is safe to say that training with a partner works well, has benefits and leads to great results. And bonding with a partner, even greater. To think that nature has an antidote for a weary brain, as wonderful as that.
While Forest isn’t sharing his space with his chosen one yet, a couple of seagulls have moved in. Some seagull stories are about toddlers being dived bombed for their pasties but this couple demonstrate devotion to one another, away from the flock as a mongamous pair, daily showing up in the same space, doing the same thing.
It is simple harmony amounting in pleasure for them and us. An experience shared is an experience doubled whether that be for birds, brains or getting buff.
Happy Valentines day and do your ‘homework’!