Sigourney Weaver credits ‘stamina’ as ‘important’ for staying fit – how to increase levels
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The star shot to fame in 1979 after playing Ellen Ripley in sci-fi thriller Alien. She then went on to star in hugely successful franchise Ghostbusters and Avatar, which remained the highest-grossing film of all time for a decade. It was while the star was working on sets with director James Cameron that she first tried following a vegan diet, but did confess that sticking to a plant-based diet can be tricky for her whole family.
When asked in a 2020 interview if she was still vegan, Weaver replied: “We try. [Director] Jim Cameron is also a vegan, so we have vegan caterers on the Avatar films. My husband, daughter and I really try very hard to be at least vegetarian.”
Not giving much away about her diet, the actress was then asked the ultimate question, which fans have been keen to know: “How do you keep healthy?”
Weaver responded: “Working in this business makes me stay fit. Stamina is probably one of the most important things to have.”
Stamina is defined by the Oxford Dictionary as “the ability to sustain prolonged physical or mental effort”. When used in the real world, having good stamina levels can be beneficial for the following:
- Running faster for longer distances
- Lifting heavier weights for more reps
- Taking longer, tougher hikes
- Pushing through perceived pain, discomfort, and fatigue
- Performing daily activities with high-energy levels.
Overall, the better an individual’s stamina levels, the more efficient they can become at just about everything, mentally and physically. This is because at peak stamina levels, the heart, lungs and overall muscles perform at a much higher level of efficiency.
Although stamina is largely connected with sport performance, research has found that mental wellbeing can also be improved, helping individuals to perform general daily tasks.
In one study, a stress management workshop that included the teaching of stamina increasing techniques was found to have a positive effect on both the stamina and stress levels of participants.
While preliminary research has tentatively suggested that positive emotions in elite athletes are linked to peak performance, another study that investigated yoga’s impact on stamina backed this up – meditation helped participants improve levels of fatigue, as well as feelings of peace and focus.
Interestingly, one of the main ways in which individuals can increase stamina is a change in diet, including small amounts of caffeine. Studies show that caffeine acts as a great pre-workout supplement as it increases not only your energy, but an individual’s mood, and physical capacities. However, individuals should be careful not to become reliant on caffeine.
Ginseng and ashwagandha root extract has also been found to help improve stamina, while complex carbohydrates and proteins are often recommended by dieticians to those hoping to boost their endurance.
Holland and Barrett explain that ginseng in particular may give brain power a “nudge” by dilating blood vessels, which could boost blood flow to the brain.
In addition, according to scientists who reviewed ginseng research for Germany’s Commission, ginseng contains dozens of active ingredients which contribute to boosting strength and focus. Most notably, compounds, called ginsenosides, seem to work together to “revitalise the functioning of the (body) as a whole”.
However, due to the compound being a stimulant, individuals should be aware of the levels they intake. Holland and Barrett adds that ginseng root medicines should only be used by adults and taken for no longer than three months.
The following groups should not take ginseng:
- Children under 12 – this has not been proven to be safe
- Pregnant or breastfeeding women – scientists are not certain this is safe
- People with diabetes, as ginseng can interact with blood sugar levels.
For Weaver, stamina is only one part of her health routine. The other being a vegan diet, which has also been proven to have multiple health benefits.
TV dietician Priya Tew explained: “There are definitely so many health benefits to following a plant-based diet. We know that it can help lower blood pressure and reduce your risk of certain cancers and chronic diseases.
“People will also report that they just feel better. We have got this sense of well-being and I think that’s because you tend to stop relying so much on foods that are more packaged and processed.”
The NHS recommends that individuals can get most of the recommended nutrients from eating a varied and balanced vegan diet. Specifically, a healthy vegan diet includes:
- Eating at least five portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables every day
- Basing meals on potatoes, bread, rice, pasta or other starchy carbohydrates (choose wholegrain where possible)
- Having some dairy alternatives, such as soya drinks and yoghurts (choose lower-fat and lower-sugar options)
- Eating some beans, pulses and other proteins
- Choosing unsaturated oils and spreads, and eat in small amounts
- Drinking plenty of fluids (the government recommends six to eight cups or glasses a day).
Some nutrients such as iron – which is essential for the production of red blood cells – and calcium, for healthy bones and teeth, might be hard to get following a vegan diet as they mainly come from dairy products or meat.
However, vegan alternatives that are high in iron and calcium include pulses, wholemeal flour, dried fruits such as prunes, sesame seeds, fortified unsweetened soya, rice and oat drinks. See the Eatwell Guide for more information about a healthy diet.
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