How Should I exercise to live healthier and longer?
Something is better than nothing and believe it or not, less may be better than too much.
How Should I Exercise?
Approximately ten years ago I wrote about the quick work-out before you got in the morning shower (Meakin 60), now there are books and videos created around this strategy. What we know now is that exercise is not some accounting tool to erase past or future calories we take in to help us with some weight balance, but instead exercise types are a way to activate a hormonal and neurochemical reaction to trigger the desired outcome.
HIT or High- Intensity Training, and Weight Lifting are excellent tools to initiate growth hormone and thus anabolic sex hormones to activate muscle growth and shed fat. The bonus from this physical intervention is that it is the best way to trigger a chemical called BDNF or brain-derived neurotrophic factor to keep our brain healthy. Long aerobic training programs are indeed excellent but are aware they require a more significant amount of recovery and rest to extinguish and remove the reactive oxygen species that get generated. High-performance athletes are increasingly aware of the equal importance of healing in their training programs. Ignoring this pause can lead to a more significant threat of injury or sickness when overdoing it. One of the most cutting edge fitness wearables such as the Oura Ring uses multiple physiologic measures to create the “Readiness Score” to guide people based on their previous day's activities, heart rate variability, sleep score, and more to determine what they can safely take on each day. Pro Sports teams are starting to take this into account with different novel tools based on the same principles.
I strongly encourage my clients to make the healthy choice the easy one and embed exercise into the day, so no decision is required.
Training in the morning or midday is generally preferred as it corresponds with elevated cortisol which enhances some of the anabolic effects and delivers the needed energy to get the job done. Once again it does not have to be elaborate, one could do 5 to 10 minutes before the morning shower of a stretchy band or floor exercises three days a week for the aerobics/weight lifting and then do stretching or yoga floor exercises on the mornings in between. Coupled with these six-day 10-minute commitments, try always to take the steps, walk after meals, and implement standing and walking as much as possible throughout the day. Once again, less is better, keep it simple and comfortable, and remember"you cannot exercise your way out of a bad diet."
Whatever route you choose to make, make it sustainable and fun. I have many friends that have greatly enjoyed aerobic classes, spin classes, yoga classes but they have to be convenient and affordable. I do raise concern about Cross Fit programs unless the instructor is uniquely mindful of the injury risk for the older participants.
Keep in mind, “one can get stronger at any age” as shown in many studies of 70 and 80-year-olds, but take it slowly and always do something to challenge your balance.
I would not assume that one can wait on this fitness commitment, as rarely do I observe patients thrive in their 70s and 80s unless they have a dedicated exercise strategy or a lifestyle where they perform physical work that keeps them active during their younger years. Remember Your First Wealth, Is Your Health!
Disclaimer: This information is not meant as direct medical advice. Readers should always review options with their local medical team. This is the sole opinion of Dr. Meakin based on a literature review at the time of the blog and may change as new evidence evolves.