John Higgins health: Snooker champ on being ‘addicted’ to spin class – health benefits

John Higgins reacts to Players Championship Snooker victory

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Fans of the four-time world snooker champion were in shock, as the 46-year-old showcased his slimmed appearance, a stark contrast to his 15- and-a-half stone appearance in early 2021. This comes after Higgins has faced five defeats in finals this season alone, three when he was only a single frame from victory. When the star’s practice partner Anthony McGill commented on his ability for the current championships, he said: “He’s been practising and playing unbelievable… unbelievable. I think John’s in a good space mentally. Quite philosophical about things. That’s the impression I get anyway, so I think he’s happy to be here, same as me.”

Being in a good mental capacity is only one tactic helping Higgins, the other being his three-and-a-half stone weight loss, which he says has been achieved through spin classes, reducing his food, cutting out booze and increasing exercise.

First addressing his weight loss in October 2021, Higgins said: “I’ve lost about three-and-a-half stone. I was 15-and-a-half stone at the Crucible and now I’m down to about 12.

“A lot of people ask if I feel better, I don’t know. I do feel a bit better but I’ll wait and see.

“It isn’t going to be the reason I’ll pot balls better. It is for my whole wellbeing really.”

The snooker player went on to say that he started to do regular sessions on a static bike, something he quickly became “addicted” to.

“It’s not helping me pot balls but it is helping me lose weight. I just seem to be a little bit addicted to them. I go three or four times a week.

“I enjoy getting up in the morning and doing an hour of training.

“It will be tough because when I am starting to travel to tournaments again I will need to find some spin classes there or go on the bikes in the hotels.

“A lot of the boys do running and that is easier. I’ll need to have a scout about different cities to see if there are any spin classes there.”

After losing weight, Higgins admitted that he had not realised that he was getting “steadily bigger”, but now finds the results “amazing”.

The NHS explains that physical exercise is not only a great way to lose weight, but also to reduce an individual’s risk of major illnesses such as:

  • Coronary heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Cancer.

In fact, exercising can help to reduce the risk of early death by up to 30 percent. In addition to physical illness, research shows that physical activity can also boost self-esteem, mood, sleep quality and energy, as well as reducing your risk of stress, clinical depression, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Spin classes, in particular, are a form of high-intensity interval training (HIIT), which helps the lower body in particular. However, some trainers, like Peloton instructor Kendall Toole states that spin classes should be classed as a “full-body workout”.

She said: “Of course your main muscles that are prime movers in the workout are your quadriceps, hamstrings, and hip flexors, plus your glutes. But you’re also working your entire core, and that involves more than your rectus abdominis and transverse abs – it includes your lower back.

“It’s all about supporting the body – the better your form is on the saddle, the more stability is required in order to make sure that you’re finding that power when pedalling through different portions of the class.

“And, most importantly, you’re working your cardiovascular capacity too.”

NHS guidelines state that as a minimum, adults aged 19-64 should try to be active daily and should aim to do at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity such as cycling or fast walking every week, and strength exercises on two or more days a week that work all the major muscles (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms).

Alternatively, individuals could do 75 minutes of vigorous activity such as running or a game of singles tennis every week in order to maintain and improve overall health.

For any type of activity to benefit your health, you need to be moving quick enough to raise your heart rate, breathe faster and to feel warmer. This level of effort is called moderate intensity activity. If you’re working at a moderate intensity you should still be able to talk but you won’t be able to sing the words to a song.

An activity where you have to work even harder is called vigorous intensity activity. Evidence suggests that vigorous activity can bring health benefits over and above that of moderate activity. Vigorous activity should cause individuals to breathe hard and fast, and their heart rate to increase quite a bit. When working at this level, you won’t be able to say more than a few words without pausing for a breath.

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