I always look at the open rate of my emails to see which subject lines resonates most with people. Recently I sent out one with the subject line “Shut Your Mouth and Live Longer” and it had a dramatically larger open rate than a lot of them, which either makes me think readers may have been hoping for a solution for that special someone in their life that they wish would stop their incessant chatter, or they liked the idea of living longer… lol. Only they know which is most accurate. 😉 The intention of the newsletter was of course, giving a health tip that would help readers live longer, and more important healthier.
And so, I thought I would continue with that theme, provide you with the time tested tips so you can get more years in your life, and most importantly, get more life in your years.
First and foremost, it’s important to note that the #1 cause of death today is still cardiovascular disease. Interestingly enough, the gap between this #1 killer and the #2 (cancer) is much, much larger in other countries outside the US and Canada…like MUCH larger, but that is a topic for another day.
And so, knowing that, if you are looking to increase your LIFESPAN then you need to take care of your ticker.
Being physically active is a major step towards good heart health. It’s one of the most effective tools for strengthening the heart muscle, keeping your weight under control and warding off the arterial damage from high cholesterol, high blood sugar and high blood pressure that can lead to heart attack and stroke.
According to Johns Hopkins exercise physiologist, Kerry Steward, aerobic and resistance training are the most important for heart health. Mobility and flexibility training don’t contribute directly to heart health, they are nevertheless important as they provide a good foundation for performing aerobic and strength exercises more effectively.
What it does: Aerobic exercise improves circulation, which results in lowered blood pressure and heart rate. It also reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes and help you control blood glucose overall.
How much: Priority #1 is Zone 1, or low intensity cardio, as many days of the week as possible. ie. walking. Then add in up to two days per week of Zone 2 cardio (moderate intensity), 45-90 minutes per session ie. elliptical, hiking, skiing etc And last, but not least, if you can, add up to 20 minutes of Zone 5 (high intensity) cardio, divided into two sessions per week ie. plyometrics like jumping, running, skipping, stairs, etc.
Resistance Training (Strength Work)
What it does: Resistance training has a more specific effect on body composition. For people who are carrying a lot of body fat (including a big belly, which is a risk factor for heart disease), it can help reduce fat and create leaner muscle mass. Research shows that a combination of aerobic exercise and resistance work may help raise HDL (good) cholesterol and lower LDL (bad) cholesterol.
How much: At least two nonconsecutive days per week of resistance training is a good rule of thumb. Just make sure each muscle in the body is worked at least twice. ie. dumbells, TRX, or body weight resistance like pushups or squats.
Stretching, Flexibility and Balance
What they do: Flexibility workouts, such as mobility training, don’t directly contribute to heart health. What they do is benefit musculoskeletal health, which enables you to stay flexible and free from joint pain, cramping and other muscular issues. That flexibility is a critical part of being able to maintain aerobic exercise and resistance training, and generally feel better as you move around life.
As a bonus, flexibility and balance exercises help maintain stability and prevent falls, which can cause injuries that limit other kinds of exercise.
How much: Every day and before and after other exercise. For example, start your resistance training with 5 minutes of dynamic mobility and finish with 5 to 10 minutes of static stretching.
psst. Did you know we offer an incredible mobility class online each week? If you haven’t tried it, you are missing out. Do your body a favour and sign up to try it on Mondays at 4:30 or our Yoga class on Fridays at 8:00 am.
Now all of that is about getting more years out of your life…in other words, improving your life span. But all that exercise and movement training will also get you more life in your years. A stronger more supple body will be able to fully participate in life, enjoying all the joys it has to bring. Rather than sitting on the sidelines, weak and in pain, just watching others enjoy. I know which side of that I’d rather be on!
Now hand me my weights… 🙂