It is no secret the majority of us are struggling with our weight. According to a 2018 report by the American Institute of Stress, 75.8% of Americans reported being uncomfortable in their own skin and 71.3% of us experienced low self-esteem because of our weight. Now, more than ever before, there is a solution: CrossFit.
What Is CrossFit?
CrossFit is a group physical activity sport that takes its name from its founder and creator, Gregor “Whitey” White. According to White, CrossFit is a mixture between yoga, martial arts, and ice hockey. Although it sounds like the perfect mix of activities, CrossFit is more accurately described as an interval training workout routine.
Instead of doing sets of activities for longer periods of time, CrossFit participants do short and intense workouts. Typically, Crossfit workouts are between one and three hours long and are divided into alternating rounds of high-intensity exercises (such as sprints, burpees, or push-ups) and weightlifting or strength training workouts.
Participants do these intervals on a bike, run, or even while swimming. The aim is to work as hard and as fast as you can throughout the workout, never taking a break, as this disrupts the flow of the workout and makes you perform less efficiently. After a brutal 30-minute workout, you will feel exhausted yet exhilarated at the same time. This is the essence of CrossFit.
How Does CrossFit Work?
To understand how CrossFit works, let’s briefly discuss the three major problems that the majority of us face when trying to lose weight: insufficient willpower, social discomfort, and lack of time. Most of us lack the willpower necessary to avoid foods that we know are bad for us (like sugar and processed foods) and to instead choose healthier options when eating out. Because of this, many of us turn to diets that limit our social life (like the popular ‘food preacher’ or ‘cleanse’) or that require us to spend a lot of time cooking healthy meals. Alternatively, many of us simply give up and turn to diet shakes or bars because the process of preparing healthy food is too time-consuming.
With CrossFit, none of this is necessary. Instead of a lengthy diet and a rigorous routine of exercise, you will learn short, sharp bursts of energy that will allow you to eat healthily and avoid dieting.
The Many Health Benefits of CrossFit
CrossFit has been proven to improve overall health and well-being. Below, we discuss how this interval training workout routine can help with several health issues.
Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is one of the most common health issues in the world today, and the statistics don’t look good. According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), an estimated 474 million people worldwide have diabetes and the number is on the rise. Type 2 diabetes can be greatly mitigated by regular exercise, so it’s no surprise that participating in CrossFit can help to lower your diabetes risk factors. According to a study published in The Journal of Physiology & Behavior, participating in 3–8 weeks of CrossFit a week increased insulin sensitivity by 23% and decreased hemoglobin A1c levels by 0.5–0.9% (a measure of long-term blood sugar control). In conclusion, the researchers noted that the “data suggest that regular participation in a CrossFit-like program could be a practical approach to mitigate [sic] the risks of developing type 2 diabetes.”
Heart disease is another major issue in the United States and around the world. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), about 86.2 million people in America (and 345.2 million people worldwide) have some form of cardiovascular disease. As if this wasn’t enough, the AHA also notes that one in three deaths globally can be attributed to cardiovascular disease. Having heart disease is definitely not something to be ashamed of, but it’s important to note that most cases can be greatly mitigated by making changes to your daily routine.
If you’re looking for a way to get in shape and lose weight without risking your health, participating in CrossFit is an ideal choice. According to a study in The Journal of Strength & Conditioning, after completing an interval training program using a weight sled, participants experienced significant improvement in maximal oxygen consumption (a measure of cardiovascular fitness). In addition, their cholesterol levels and blood pressure decreased and their body fat percentage also decreased.
Osteoporosis is the gradual loss of bone density that leads to bones becoming porous and thus more susceptible to breakage. This disease is especially prevalent among postmenopausal women and can greatly affect the quality of your life. As many as 44 million Americans (and 150 million people worldwide) suffer from osteoporosis.
While there is no cure for osteoporosis, it is highly manageable, and having a healthy diet and a lot of exercise can help to mitigate your risk factors for this disease. According to a study in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, after 12 weeks of participating in an interval training program using a weight sled, participants’ bone mineral density significantly increased by 9.2%, and their vitamin D levels also increased by 57.7%. In addition, their strength levels increased by 19.8% and their mortality rate due to cardiovascular disease decreased by 40%.
Similar to heart disease, osteoporosis is a disease that can be greatly improved by exercise and a well-balanced diet. Many individuals with osteoporosis or at risk of developing it participate in CrossFit because it requires little to no effort while offering many health benefits.
The takeaway from all of this is simple: if you’re looking for a way to get in shape and lose weight without overly complicating things, CrossFit is the perfect choice. In addition to helping with diabetes, heart disease, and osteoporosis, participating in CrossFit can also:
- increase your energy levels
- better your mood
- make you more efficient
- improve your social life
- reduce your stress levels
- increase your fitness level
CrossFit isn’t for everyone, of course, but for those of you who are looking for a quick and easy way to get in shape, it’s the perfect choice.