When we consider, historically, how much exercise our ancestors got just trying to eek out an existence and compare this to our modern day habits of limited mobility, it is not surprising that society at large, like lemmings, is marching towards a cliff of obesity. The rocks below include diabetes, hypertension, cancer, heart disease and a whole host of lesser known maladies.
Five hundred years ago a typical human exercised about 8 hours every day, farming, gardening, raising livestock, cleaning house, cooking, doing laundry and raising children. Did they make a plan? No. Did they schedule their activities? No. Did they have a routine? Yes. Where did they learn the routine? From their parents. When did they start? Somewhere between 6 and 8 years old with some of the lighter chores.
From early childhood, over the centuries, the human body has been conditioned to a substantial amount of exercise. Watching television, surfing the Internet, checking our e-mail, and riding in a car, while all legitimate and necessary activities in today’s society, have grown to consume the majority of most everyone’s day. Do you see the disconnect…with the way things should be?
We all need more exercise…and I don’t mean 30 minutes, 3 times/week like you hear touted by the many attempting to sell you exercise equipment or programs.
Health and Human Services current guidelines recommend 2.5 hours of aerobic exercise/week for adults. This recommendation is getting closer, but in my estimate still falls far short of the minimum required to remain physically and psychologically healthy.
This is what I believe and what I hope that you come to believe.
We need a minimum of 1.5 hours of light exercise every day: This includes walking, folding clothes, ironing, cleaning house, laundry, shopping, etc.. Bending, squatting, twisting, picking up things, putting things down, putting things away, are all good activities to add a variety of a range of motion to an individual’s repertoire. The more variety that is incorporated into your daily routine, the better for strengthening your “core” muscles. These muscles are the ones that help you maintain balance through many physical activities, help you avoid a host of muscle strains and allow you to be available for almost any new adventure. Hey, these 7.5 hours are spent doing maintenance things we all have to do, anyway, to stay semi-organized.
We need a minimum of 1.5 hours of vigorous exercise 3 or 4 times/week. This includes swimming, running, biking, elliptical, treadmill, etc. You want to sustain an aerobic heart rate (look it up). When you have reached a “full state of conditioning”, you will rarely be tired, even right after your vigorous exercise routines. Begin these exercises very slowly, over months and even years, so that you can build the new muscle fiber to support your sports. Winning in life is all about “showing up” and then, very gradually, becoming age-appropriately highly competent. Those who can think and then act in their own long term interests are the ones who have the capacity to build a rich life. This part of your life does not happen by accident; it must be planned and time must be set aside. However, the good news is
A) You sleep better and, therefore, require less sleep
B) You worry less about your health
C) You are sick less often
D) You dissipate most of your negative stress, and
E) You amplify your energy, which is the fuel required to deal with positive stress.
Bottom-line, you save the 6.0 to 7.5 hours/week spent on your exercise program. You break even on time (which is fixed and constant for everyone) and while of little current value, you probably extend your life expectancy by 10 years.
I am 76 years old. I do a 2.5 hour vigorous workout 3 times/week. My resting heart-rate is 48, my diabetes is controlled, my cholesterol is in a healthy range, my heart arrhythmia has disappeared and I have successfully finished 10 triathlons over the past decade. For these reasons, I believe that I am allowed to have my opinion.
Catch me if you can!
Doug Skonord runs the REF Peer Advisory Groups in the region around Milwaukee, WI, and focuses on bringing better health to your business, career, and personal life. You can reach him at 262.893.8007