There are many good reasons to get hyped for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, but being a fitness magazine, we're particularly excited about the health tips that can be gleaned from the host of classic characters. From Yoda's longevity secrets to Darth Maul's martial arts expertise, we'll be revealing the secrets of Star Wars' best all week. First up, Yoda, and his Jedi stress-control powers.
You’ve been told to fear stress but… well, to paraphrase, fear leads to suffering. According to new research, how much stress you’re subjected to isn’t as important as your response to it.
“When you’re under stressful conditions, you’ll experience physical changes like breaking out into a sweat, breathing faster and your heart pounding,” says health psychologist Kelly McGonigal. “Normally we interpret these changes as signs that we aren’t coping well. Instead, look at them as a sign that your body’s preparing itself to perform better.”
This isn’t just self-help babble: in a Harvard study, participants taught to reinterpret the stress-response as helpful to performance were less anxious and more confident in tough situations. Their blood vessels also constricted less, putting less strain on their cardiovascular systems.
And there’s more. “People who spend time caring for others show no stress-related increase in likelihood of dying,” says McGonigal. “When you choose to view your stress response as helpful, you create the biology of courage, and when you choose to connect with others under stress, you can create resilience.” Besides, proud of you the little green chap would be.
Make the most of your stress response (if it happens to occur when you're about to hit the gym) by trying the Force Push Up, as recommended by British Military Fitness.
It's easy for the Jedi, difficult for mere mortals – perform a standard push up, except on the upward motion, push up hard enough so your hands come off the ground. If you’re feeling particularly masterful, try and clap while you’re suspended in the air. No using the Force.
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From 2008 to 2018, Joel worked for Men's Fitness, which predated, and then shared a website with, Coach. Though he spent years running the hills of Bath, he’s since ditched his trainers for a succession of Converse high-tops, since they’re better suited to his love of pulling vans, lifting cars, and hefting logs in a succession of strongman competitions.