The Exercise Prescription: How often?
[My daughter named all our kettlebells with Harry Potter and Marvel character names:)]
The question comes up often…
How often should I exercise?
I have been pondering that question for a decade.
What is optimal regarding exercise frequency?
Answer: Everyday, 7 days a week.
Before I expand on exercise frequency, let’s review why physical activity is important.
For one, strong people die less.
- High midlife grip strength and long-lived mother may indicate resilience to aging, which, combined with a healthy lifestyle, increases the probability of extreme longevity.
- Low muscle strength was independently associated with an elevated risk of all-cause mortality
- In a large powered study (over 120,000 participants) showed respiratory (aerobic) fitness significantly reduced the risk of dying.
- For men after prostate cancer diagnosis, there is a 61% lower risk of dying from the disease and a 57% reduction of recurrence after treatment in men who vigorously exercise at least 3-hours a week
[Men and their partners thriving after prostate cancer at the CaPLESS Retreat]
The other benefit and equally important in my opinion, from physical movement, is mental health.
When looking at over seventeen thousand subjects, researchers noticed both weight resistant exercise and aerobic exercise combined lower depressive symptoms.
How did I come up with the “exercise everyday” idea?
Before I advise my community on lifestyle changes I do it first to assess benefit, side effects, and compliance.
I do that with diets, new dietary supplement formulations I am working on, and exercise.
I’ve been physically training every day for at least one year.
Now, I know this sounds daunting.
“EVERY DAY? Geez, do you have a life?”
I do. Imperfect life still but I do have one.
Here’s how it works;
We all waste time somewhere in our day-to-day, whether in over surfing on the internet, watching too much news or watching a boring baseball game for four hours.
The other thing is that any amount of time exercise counts. In general, you want to hit 4 to 6 hours a week of moderate-intensity physical activity. This morning I felt a bit off, maybe from getting up too early (4 am) too many days in a row, I don’t know. So all I did, literally in my underwear ( TMI, I know) is 46 pushups, cobra to downward dog poses and yoga-like stretches for seven minutes. And that counts as exercise too.
Physical training has to be focused on the movement and activity you are involved in. In other words, be mentally present in the activity. That’s why when New Yorkers tell me they walk every day, going from a to b that doesn’t count. I mean, it is something but we are focused on optimal and not dying prematurely, not the idea that “something is better than nothing.”
For example, I get around the big city on a Citi bike regardless of distance, but I don’t consider that exercise. That’s merely a form of transportation for me.
Create an environment where there are no excuses to not getting it in.
I have the benefit of a garage gym. I wanted to do everything possible to avoid a reason to not exercise.
You may say, “of course its easy for you get it in every day, all you have to do is roll out of bed and go right to your gym.”
True, but before my garage gym we lived in a two-bedroom apartment where I put up a chin-up bar, got four kettlebells and had space to do floor exercises like push-ups.
If your goal is to train first thing in the morning, which I recommend, then sleep in your workout gear. I’m not kidding. I can’t tell you the number of times I hear people say they can’t find their workout shorts or sneaker and that’s the reason why they don’t train. (OK, don’t sleep in your sneakers)
Three Benefits from Exercising Everyday
1. You will live longer. It is the ultimate fountain of youth as highlighted before.
2. You will create a good habit. By exercising every single day, it will become routine, and nothing will get in the way of your workout. In those sluggish days, just put your sneakers on and go for a brisk walk. The hardest part is often getting started.
3. It is terrific for your mental health. I think this is the main reason why I train every day. I have too much going on too many things to figure out. Exercise gets me in the right frame of mind. And its cheaper than a shrink.
Here are the rules to exercise every day:
1. The focus is on only the activity and your breathing. Keep your mind away from your work, family issues or where you are going next. Let’s call it active meditation.
2. While some days your training session need to be at least 30-minutes with a focus on building strength, flexibility or endurance, other times it can be 10 minutes or less as long as you are actively moving and present in the moment.
3. There are no excuses not to exercise every day. Even if there is no chin-up bar or kettlebells around, use the floor for push ups, sit ups, planks and a plethora of other exercises.