Imagine if scientists discovered an activity that required just half an hour a day, but promised to dramatically improve your physical and mental health, enhance your appearance, increase your lifespan, boost your energy, and make you feel happier?
Who wouldn’t sign up for that?
Lots of us, as it turns out.
We all know exercise is a superpower. But four in five U.S adults don’t get the recommended amount of activity each week, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Even when we do commit to a regular fitness routine, exercise is often the first thing we cut from our calendars when we get busy or go on vacation.
How much exercise?
The Mayo Clinic recommends nearly four hours of exercise per week, of which one-third should be vigorous, while the rest can be moderate exercise such as walking. Other fitness experts recommend regular vigorous activity plus 10,000 walking steps each day. Ten thousand steps will take the average person about an hour and a half, so it’s best to find ways to build the steps into your daily routine, rather than scheduling them as a separate activity.
So what’s better for your vigorous exercise: Weights or cardio?
It depends what your objectives are. If you’re trying to shed pounds, cardio provides the best caloric burn per minute. But you want to tone your body, you need a combination of both. You may have read that resistance training allows you to continue to burn calories after your workout is done. This is true, but still doesn’t make up for the additional calories you can burn while doing cardio. Besides, you can get some of the same post-burn effect in cardio by building intense sprints into your runs, swims or bike rides.
Sit less. Move more.
When he unveiled the Apple Watch in 2015, Apple CEO Tim Cook coined the phrase “sitting is the new cancer” because the watch reminds its wearer to get up and move once an hour.
It was a provocative choice of words, but the sentiment is right. Too much sitting really is bad for you. A 2012 study of nearly one million people found that those who spent the most time sitting or lying down were more than twice as likely to die from diabetes and heart attacks. Other studies have linked too much sitting to cancer. And research suggests that even if you get vigorous exercise every day, too much sitting is still bad for you.
So if exercise is a superpower, sitting is kryptonite.
If you’ve got a desk job, getting a standing desk will help some, but the real key is to move regularly. It’s hard to move when you’re typing, but try to move when you’re doing other tasks like taking a phone call or reading.
At home, try to move around for at least half the time you spend watching TV.
Ten-Step Happiness Checklist
I’ve created a ten-step checklist of things you need to do every day to be happy.
Leveraging exercise as a superpower is absolutely on the list. Curious about what else is on the Top 10?
I’d love to send you a PDF copy of the checklist. Just enter your email address below and I’ll send it right away!
So what about you? Do you get enough exercise? What’s your routine? What tips do you have for people trying to make fitness a habit?