Recent research on increasing health span reveals three key things to focus on if you want to extend your time on this planet and your ability to do the good stuff.
For the masses, exercise remains a calorie-burning-focused activity. They do it to ensure they stay “fit,” or they do it to attempt to lose weight, lose fat, and look good in a bathing suit. All of those things are great. But this focus on what exercise is for is killing what it can do for us.
As little as ten years ago, we didn’t know just how powerful movement was on our health. Only as we began to do less and less of it did the problems associated with not moving enough become glaringly apparent. You can blame the low-fat 90s, but the sit-at-your-desk 2000s are just as much to blame for the current health crisis we are experiencing.
Let’s get to the meat and potatoes.
You need three things in your fitness or movement program.
- Workouts in the Zone 2 Heart rate.
- Vo2 max increasing exercise.
- Real Strength training.
I will touch on each of these very briefly. General advice is never of much value to anyone, but it is better to know a little so you can make good choices when choosing your gym or program.
Zone 2 Heart rate.
Plenty of ways to find your Zone 2 heart rate. The calculators online are usually pretty close. Just walking will do it for the unfit; jogging will not be enough for the very fit. 180 mins a week is the A+ goal. Start by trying to get 45 mins a week.
Vo2 Max workouts.
These are the workouts that hurt. Think intensity—sprinting, Rapid bodyweight movements, jumping.
The safest way to do these is on a stationary bike. You should get 1-2 sessions a week; these do not have to be long. Ten seconds for the unfit to Twenty minutes for the fit.
Real Strength Training.
Your goal initially is to get stronger. This can be accomplished at any age. Anyone who tells you differently has read too many books and has not worked with enough people. There are millions of strength programs out there. The one you actually do is the best one. If you use the same weights every time you go to the gym, you are not getting stronger or doing a strength program.
If you want to hit the easy button, join a class-based gym that covers these three things. CrossFit-type gyms do all of this. Their weakest area is the zone2 pillar, but when I look at Heart rate data from members of these gyms, they get a fair amount at the edges of the VO2 max work for which these gyms are known. Boot Camp gyms are not CrossFit-type gyms.
The BootCamp-style gyms that are everywhere now do not hit these three pillars. They do burn a lot of calories. But they lack significantly in the strength area and the vo2 max area for many people. Another reason these types of gyms are not the best choice is the adaptability of humans. Everyone gets great results when moving for the first time or after long breaks. But the body quickly adapts. Just burning calories eventually stops working.
Something is better than nothing! Is it, though? If you are doing nothing, it is better. However, very quickly, just doing something loses its effectiveness.