Attaining optimal physical health in the year 2018 is probably a little bit confusing. Do short-cuts exist? Can you hack a boost with a magical coffee and fasting for 3 days? Is there a wonder food? Is there one exercise that’ll do the job and is strength training all you need to lead a wonderful and fulfilling life allowing you to thrive into old age with grace and all your human facets in place?
If anyone tells you ‘just need ____’, they are most likely full of cr@p!
To get a grasp of how and what is means to lead an optimally, healthy life as a human, you need to grasp what it means to be an optimally, healthy human. What is our system designed to do?
Thankfully the impartial and unbiased side of the medical and sports science world has outlined this for us on numerous occasions. We’ll delve into this later on.
For the purposes of physical health, strength, wellbeing and seeing results from training, I like to focus on the following areas:
- Cardiovascular exercise
- Resistance exercise
- Movement practice
Here’s a wee infographic I’m working on. Eventually it will have links to resources for each area.
For a very long time (until recently) people have included the above ‘agenda’ in their lives out of lifestyle necessity.
Until the 1950s and 1960s people had lifestyles that promoted:
- moving more than sitting,
- activities that kept them strong,
- eating mostly unprocessed foods,
- sleeping a good 7 to 8 hours rather than binge watching TV until they fell asleep.
Standards and values of basic human performance have dropped dramatically. Waist inches have climbed and even though we are living longer, we are just delaying death rather than prolonging life. Let’s read that last sentence again.
Waist inches have climbed and even though we are living longer, we are just delaying death rather than prolonging life.
There is no doubt that we will never return to a lifestyle that demands more physical living unless war and famine dictates it!
If you value old fashioned physical standards of health, attaining a good balance of physical living, what do you need to do?
At the start of the blog I mentioned that medical and sport science has informed us what we need to do. Let’s recap on what is promoted:
Sleep: 7 – 8 hours is optimal despite the fact that some people tell you that 5 hours is all they need.
Nutrition: No diets are required. Just aim to gradually reduce processed foods and meals and snacks and instead target fruits and vegetables that are in season NOW. Three to four fist sized portions a day. Eat unprocessed sources of protein, roughly the same size of 2 to 3 palm sizes. Eat unprocessed (read – natural) sources of carbohydrates like rice, potatoes and other root vegetables. Roughly 2 to 3 palm fulls a day. More information from Precision Nutrition.
Cardiovascular: The targets have been made clear. Walk 30 to 90 minutes a day. You do not have to get seriously out breath, just get up and walk for at least 30 accumulated minutes a day. Simple really. Once this standard is met, then an additional 2 higher intensity sessions can be added a week – 30 minutes of effort that take you pulse to 180 – your age. Not flat-out death chasing stuff! Read more here.
Resistance Training: Two to three times a week undertake a strength training program that includes all the essential human movements. These are the most common physical movements we are required to perform and designed to perform frequently. These can be labelled as Squatting, Pushing, Pulling, Bracing (our torso), Hinging / Bending at the hips and Carrying weight. A well structured plan can be simple and undertaken in as little as 20 to 30 minutes. Need a hand, just ask.
Movement Practice: This is probably one area that should increase compared to strength training as we age. As a goal now, if you spend 30 minutes strength training, you should spend up to an hour on a movement practice. What do I mean movement practice? Yoga, Animal Flow, Original Strength, whatever flexibility techniques you like but in any case, you gotta get looser. As we age our hips, biceps, chest, hamstrings and other areas develop and hold onto more tension due to fatigue, posture, lifestyle. Stretch, move – get all loosey-goosey.
Building this into a week as a beginner
- Walk every day for 30 minutes (3.5 hours a week)
- Strength Train twice a week for 30 minutes (1 hour a week)
- Stretch / Get Mobile 4 times a week for 30 minutes (2 hours a week)
- Start a habit of eating mostly natural foods
- Sleep every day for 7 to 8 hours
Yes, you read that right. Exercising for 6 ½ hours is essential for a beginner. Any less and you really are leaving a lot on the table. Any less and your lifestyle will be underpowered to assist you into old age.
It’s a serious matter but think of it this way. Do you want to spend the final years of your life in assisted aged care, unable to clean your own bum or do you want to thrive until your dying day.
To quote Steve “Coach Fury” Holiner, ‘Live Long, Be Strong, Die Mighty’!
I know I’ve laid out a handful of information here. If you want to start to thrive now and you’re not sure where to start, get in touch and I will happily steer you in the right direction. Not a sales pitch, I just want to help.