May 10, 2013
How much exercise do you really need?

Before we get into exercise, this entire blog is written under the assumption that your nutrition is under control. We all know that you can exercise until the cows come home but if you fuel yourself like a garbage disposal your health won't budge much towards greatness. So, grab a bag of carrots and let’s get going.

To be fit, have toned muscles, and be physically awesome, you must exercise. Weight loss can be achieved through healthy eating alone, but if you want your body to feel and look better, you have to move. Notice I said “move,” and not “exercise.” The body is made to move. We are meant to move around all day at a menial pace, with intermittent bouts of intense movement and also rest. This was the life of our ancestors (thousands to millions of years ago) and we have not changed much in the last 50,000 years. Our culture, however, has changed dramatically. We sit, we eat, and we don’t have to search for sustenance. This move to a sedentary lifestyle crushes our health. So what should we do about it and how does this affect our exercise?

First, the exercise I am referring to is non-specific. I am not referring to cardio or strength, Pilates or yoga. When I use the word exercise, I am simply referring to an activity that elevates your heart rate. From this definition, let’s set a general rule: the less you move during the day, the longer your exercise must be. If you sit at a desk for 12 hours a day you will need to exercise for at least 2 hours to counter that amount of stasis. Take 2 people, sit one in a chair for 13 hours a day, take the other and sit them down for 12 hours a day and also let them exercise for 1 hour. Over time, there will be no difference in their poor health. NO DIFFERENCE! That is how bad sitting is for you.

“But Clark, if I work at a desk for 12 hours a day, you can’t expect me to get in 2 more hours of activity before I go home. There must be a better answer! I mean, this is my job!”

I am glad you thought that, imaginary questioner. So how can you avoid having to perform 2 hours of exercise? Walk. Move. Do pushups in your office. The little things add up. Set a goal to walk at least 5,000 steps per day. This is a minimum. 10,000 would be better. To accomplish this you may have to deliberately choose to get up and walk around. Walk down the hall, walk around your building, walk over to a co-workers office and bust out 10 pushups. Shoot, you can do pushups or squats in your office to keep moving! But the moral of the story, the less you move during the day, the more you need to exercise.

Let’s make another rule as well. The less amount of time you want to dedicate to exercise, the harder you must work during the exercise you perform. If you plan on working out for an hour, but something comes up and you now only have 20 minutes, then do your best to exercise as hard as you can for that 20 minutes. 5 minutes of exercise is better than zero minutes of exercise. If you sit all day, 5 minutes will not do much for your health, but at least it will give you a brain boost, energy boost, and a momentary feeling of control.

To start, plan for an hour of deliberate exercise per day. Then move as much as you can the rest of the day. If you are sitting most of the day, choose to get up and walk around, do squats, or get on some pushups in the office.

Just keep Moving!

Written by Clark Masterson

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