Research shows that most modern diseases start with an Energy System dysfunction. The Energy System takes nutrients delivered to the cells and turns them into energy to power all the body’s systems. If this System is not producing adequate energy, all the other Systems will sputter.
Without a healthy supply of energy, we can’t make proper decisions. As a result, every facet of our lives is affected—emotional, relational, spiritual, and physical. The proper exercise routine is critical for this System to function optimally. It is also essential to know that your muscle mass increases and body fat decreases as you exercise.
This cause and effect is the reverse of what usually happens as you age. Fitness (muscle mass) is the second most prominent indicator of health in old age. If you have lost it, you must regain it. But what is the optimal routine, and how can you stick with it? Here is what you should do to make exercise more enjoyable and effective.
- Do it long enough: In general, more is better, but the benefits of exercise seem to decrease after about 30 minutes per day. The higher the intensity, the less time you need. The lower the intensity, the more time you need.
- Do something you enjoy: What do you enjoy doing? What could you start doing that you might like? Walk with a friend, join an exercise group, put your treadmill in front of the TV, or listen to music while you exercise (this burns up to 15% more calories). If you can do something fun for you, it will be much easier to continue long-term, but even if you don’t enjoy exercise, you need to do it. Even the great exercise guru Jack LaLanne said that he disliked working out, but he liked what it did to him. You, too, will soon love what it does to you.
- Do focus on how much better you feel: Dopamine is a reward neurotransmitter released in the brain when you experience something enjoyable. Many people have an increase in dopamine secretion during exercise. You may have heard of the “runners high.” If you haven’t experienced this, there is hope. You can “rewire” your brain to make exercise pleasurable and rewarding. Focusing on how much better you feel is a great motivator to continue.
- Do it correctly: Take baby steps. The perfect starter exercise routine should include 5 minutes of stretching, 10 minutes of strength training or weightlifting, and 30 minutes of aerobic exercise at least three times per week. You can make tremendous improvements in your health by doing this simple routine.
As we age, we typically lose range of motion, and our joints become stiff. If you want to stay healthy, recover your flexibility by stretching. Focus on five major areas when you stretch:
This routine should only take you about five minutes. Go to 7systemsplan.com to see how to perform these stretches safely. All you need to do is move the joint to the end of its range of motion and hold it for three seconds. Do not bounce, and do not go too far. If you have lost flexibility, it will take time to get it back.
Weightlifting is the only way to increase muscle mass significantly. To be honest, I don’t enjoy it as much as tennis. However, since I started weightlifting with my son, it’s become something I look forward to. Working out with other people is always more fun, and group weightlifting tends to make us work harder than we would if we were alone. After all, people are watching.
A good weightlifting routine involves several muscle groups, with ten repetitions and three sets of each exercise. Work one muscle group and then go to the next and the next without stopping. In Appendix A, Part Seven of the 7 Systems Plan book, you will learn how to work more than one muscle group simultaneously to shorten your workout.
Sample routines are provided at 7systemsplan.com that work most muscles in the body in an easy 10-minute workout. Few people want to lift weights for an hour, but most can handle 10 minutes. If done correctly, short sessions benefit the body tremendously.
In general, you need to do something that raises your pulse rate for 30 minutes at least three times per week. If you are trying to lose weight, you should do it five times weekly. You need to raise your heart rate into the target zone for maximum benefit. It does not matter what you do if it gets your pulse into your target zone.
You’ll know that your heart is in the target zone if you are slightly breathless. You should not be able to carry on a normal conversation without having to take a breath every few words. See how easy it is to say, “Mary had a little lamb whose fleece was white as snow” while exercising. If you can do it without taking a breath, you are not in the zone. It should be more like this: “Mary had a (breath) little lamb (breath) whose fleece was white (breath) as snow.”
Get good at checking your pulse. Reach around your wrist and put your fingers on your forearm below your thumb. You should feel a pulse. If you prefer another method, reach across your neck and slide to the center to find your carotid artery. Count your pulse for six seconds and then add a zero to get your heartbeats per minute. Work toward keeping your pulse in your target zone for 30 minutes to get the most from the exercise. Exercising below your target zone has limited benefits.
Most people know they burn more calories when they exercise. However, most people don’t know that if you exercise in your aerobic zone for 30 minutes, you increase your metabolism and the calories you burn for many hours after the exercise stops. This effect can result in a significant number of calories burned and greater weight loss.
Studies have shown that some types of exercise create more mitochondria than others. Interval training seems to outdo all others.
Interval training is moderate aerobic exercise with short bursts of intense activity at specific times. This training triggers mitochondrial biogenesis, which is vital for energy and longevity. One review in Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism showed that interval training alters mitochondrial enzyme content and activity, which helps increase energy production. This change also decreases your risk of chronic disease and slows aging.
Consider the following aerobic riddle:
Question: Which is more beneficial — 50 minutes of consistent-intensity biking or 10 minutes, including three 20-second bursts of intense biking?
Answer: They are equally beneficial.
Short, intense bursts of exercise do amazing things to your body! Although you can do many variations of intervals, I suggest a 20-minute aerobic session with a 30-second burst of exercise every two minutes. Some activities like tennis and basketball are naturally interval training.
Here are the three keys to getting maximum results from exercise: intensity, intensity, intensity. Work up to the point where you can incorporate intense bursts into your workout.
A recent study in the Journal of Obesity found that 12 weeks of interval training significantly reduced abdominal, trunk, and visceral fat. It also increased aerobic power (maximal oxygen uptake, or VO2max).
In another study, young overweight males were either assigned to an interval training exercise group or a control exercise group. The results were impressive. Interval training was conducted for 20 minutes three times weekly for three months. Compared to the control group, the interval group had an additional 4.4 pounds of weight loss and a 17% reduction in visceral or abdominal fat.
Benefits of Interval Training:
- 20 minutes of interval training benefits you more than 40 minutes of aerobic exercise.
- Interval training burns 33% more fat than aerobic exercise.
- Each interval training session may increase your growth hormone levels by 771%! Human growth hormone (HGH) is the miracle youth hormone that makes you younger. As we get older, our HGH declines. Interval training is one of the few types of exercise that can boost HGH.
Stay tuned for our next newsletter, when we will dive deeper into interval training, something everyone should be doing.
For your health,
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