Question: How can I live a longer and fuller life?
Answer: Approach your fitness and wellness like an Athlete. This includes sitting less, doing interval training, muscle strength training, mobility and flexibility work, as part of a disciplined fitness regime. By increasing both the longer span of your life but also the healthier high quality of your experience of life, you can achieve much more satisfaction. Check out this great article here: https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2017/02/healthspan-vs-lifespan
I know many professional types who really approach this from the wrong end. They want to squeeze in the minimal exercise required to supposed lose weight or block a few brief workout in their calendar like just another meeting which can be missed or continually pushed back. They boast about busyness and stress levels all the time. They never get enough sleep and can’t seem to ever establish a healthy sleep schedule. In their rush and chronic busyness, they’re always too busy to eat well at any point in the day- and that also contributed to chronically too much caffeine and sugar intake, sabotaging any really chance at sustainably boosting energy levels. Then, they seem surprised and frustrated when their whole health and energy breaks down. So, did you “have time” to get sick, burnt-out, or a more serious health scare?
So, let’s assume physical exercise is a given then. How much do you need? The base is 180 minutes per week of aerobic exercise, so you might do three 60-minute workouts or four 45-minute workouts. That amount maintains a healthy enough body and energy levels and staves off various health risks.
Now, what kind of exercise should you do? Aerobic of any type is a good start. Let me talk about different kinds of exercise and how they affect aging (and the above links mentions much of this:
- Consider what you’ll probably commonly call “Cardio Training” (like running, treadmill, eliptical) to be a decent but low-to-mid choice. It’s straight-forward, lends itself to measurement and pacing, and you can do it on your own. But, it doesn’t do much for your upper body or core and might wreck your knees over time. Cardio is okay as a lose weight as a simple means of burning calories, and we know any aerobic exercise is good for our heart and brain somewhat.
- Muscle Strength Training, like power lifting, using free weights or plates, or any kind of resistance, is a really good call for aging for two reasons. First, it takes muscles 2-3 days to repair and they are burning calories that whole time, so anything that engages your muscles more deeply is, calorically, efficient because of it’s “up to 3 days” calorie burn effects. Second, in strengthening your muscles, your musclo-skeletal system is much better off and (beyond saying you have more functional movement in day-to-day living), your risk of physical injuries goes way down. Now, it doesn’t have to get your heartrate going (some lifters I know are barely sweaty after a workout), but it has lots of great effects.
- Interval training (or High Intensity Interval training, AKA HIIT), like sprints, a fighting or dueling sport (ex: Boxing), a tabata workout (ex: 20 seconds on, 10 sec rest), or any brief stint of intense activity is unique a combination of Muscle Endurance training and a special type of Cardio training that I really recommend. First, the type of progressive overload it causes by using many repetitions but at low/no weight conditions your muscles for leanness and better energy recovery (while classic Muscle Strength is about bulky size and sheer power but hardly works recovery/endurance at all). Second, the brief intensity (often 20-90 seconds at a time many times per workout) trains you to use both the brief ATP energy system and mainly the Glycolysis energy system and your heart along with them. This type of conditioning means, over time, you’ll be able to last longer intervals, recovery energy faster, boost your resting metabolic rate (ie. your natural energy levels), and be able to push yourself “from 0 to 60” every faster and on-demand. Your heart and lungs are also both becoming better at efficient processing, so you intake more oxygen and able able to more efficient pump needed blood to the brain- and that has a ton of amazing mental and cognitive benefits. Now, it’s not as much lung/oxygen conditioning as well-done cardio, but has so many other great benefits that it’s the type of exercise I recommend the most.
- Just so we’ve touched on it, Balance and Flexibility are another area to train and also blend into your warmups and cooldowns. There are a number a reason that you SHOULD do these to start and end every workout, and most are pretty obvious in that ti warms up your muscles before really doing the demanding work, gets your heart pumping, sets and cues the upcoming workout (physical exercise you’ll likely see but also mental cuing/priming), gets your joints warmed, etc. Same in reverse for the cool; lowers heart rate, helps drain blood from muscles, etc. As you do more workouts and longer or more intense workouts, these stuff becomes really key because you experience firsthand how easy it is to injury yourself and what complement of supporting stabilizer muscles, core muscles, and lots of other little functional stuff goes into whatever your main workout is. You’ll feel how interconnected your body really is and how you need to work on many areas at once to see performance improvements.
In summary: your life is only as long and your body is only as good quality as make it. These are chosen habits, so give yourself the gift of energy, health, and long-life by really taking your fitness seriously. Especially for managers and business leaders, this stuff is the key to boosting your energy levels and reliably bringing forth your best mental gifts.