People often tell me, “I wish I had time to exercise like you do.” My response is, “You don’t need that much time.” I’m a firm believer that more is not always better when it comes to fitness goals. Your goal does not need to be an Ironman triathlon or a marathon, or any form of performance-driven endurance exercise, for that matter
If you are just getting started and overall health and fitness is your goal, then a weekly minimum of 75 minutes of high-intensity cardio or 150 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio, plus 120 minutes of muscle strengthening is optimal.
5 STEPS TO SET YOU UP FOR SUCCESS
- Set an Attainable Goal. Health focus, body composition or performance-driven goals will have a different exercise prescription.
- Plug Into an Accountability Partner. Be accountable to an exercise buddy, family member or a class of fellow exercisers.
- Make an Appointment to Exercise. Make your plan for the week on Sunday, and put it in your calendar each week with an alarm alert.
- Be Patient. You have time to feel younger next year if you are patient and work on gradually increasing your fitness.
- Optimize the Key Components of Fitness. Ensure you are incorporating these areas into your plan: cardiovascular endurance, strength, balance and flexibility.
QUALITY VS. QUANTITY
I teach a variety of exercises classes each week. And what I often see are people taking two, three, or sometimes even four classes a day. Unfortunately, that more-is-better mindset leaves them exhausted, and they eventually burn out and drop out of class.
If you are not training for a long-distance endurance event, you will get very little extra health benefit from over-exercising. For overall health and fitness, choosing quality over quantity always wins.
Research published this year in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology shows that even low volumes of exercise can effectively reduce cardiovascular mortality.
Yes, this is coming from someone who does three to four hours of exercise a day, but I have goals related to endurance racing that require me to train longer hours.
The research revealed that people who got some exercise but not enough to meet the physical activity recommendations were 20 percent less likely to die over a 14-year study period than those who did no physical activity.
People who engaged in the recommended level of physical activity saw even more benefit. They were 31 percent less likely to die during the study period compared with those who did no physical activity.
The maximum benefit was seen among people who did three to five times the recommended levels of physical activity. They were 39 percent less likely to die over the study period than people who did no exercise. Engaging in more exercise than that showed no additional benefits.
HOW MUCH IS ENOUGH?
For overall fitness, two 45-minute classes with intervals will give you a low-impact, high-intensity workout. If you want to exercise at a moderate intensity, aim for four 30-minute sessions.
If your goal is to improve body composition, then plan for three 60-minute sessions with intervals at high intensity AND three 30-minute sessions at moderate intensity.
THE ROLE OF MUSCLE STRENGTHENING
If you haven’t thrown on your gym clothes and headed to the gym by now, here’s a little more motivation.
A recent study published in the American Journal of Medicine reveals the higher your muscle mass index, the more likely you are to live longer.
The findings suggest that muscle mass relative to a person’s height is an independent marker for survival in older adults. So if you’re looking for the fountain of youth, get out there and make some muscle.
The minimum muscle strengthening prescription for health protection is two full-body workouts a week or four workouts splitting muscle groups.
The minimum Muscle strengthening prescription for changing your body composition is two full-body workouts going to muscle failure or four workouts splitting muscle groups.
Don’t be fooled into thinking an easy yoga class takes the place of a 45-minute interval class. If less is not more, it’s important to be accountable. Make your intense class hard enough to facilitate a change.
There are intense yoga classes like Power Yoga, for example, that can take the place of one of your workouts. But not all classes are created equal.
You must sweat! If you breathe heavy and feel a burn in your muscles, you won’t have to be in the gym for hours.
As 2016 comes to a close and we enjoy the holiday season, make your plan for getting your health and fitness game in order and remember more is not necessarily better.
Don’t be concerned with what everyone else is doing. Find an accountability partner, sign up for a class, set realistic goals and keep it simple. Then enjoy the New Year with renewed health.