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Having delivered more than 1 million hours of personal training as a company, it is fair to say that we have received a pretty wide range of desires, demands and goals. I have gathered enough requests to understand the trends in wanting to improve fitness, health and wellbeing. Yet the underlying aspiration for most is quite simply to live well, for longer, whilst maintaining a body shape that is lean. There are variances and interchangeable goals around that of course, but this is the mainstay of what people want.
So, what do you need to be doing to give yourself the very greatest chance of achieving this?
How many hours? How many reps? How often? Which exercise is best? High intensity? Low intensity? HIIT training or slow cardio?
On a basic level when looking at longevity, a study in 2015 called “The right dose of exercise for a longer life” set out to define the impact of durations of exercise each week on the expectations of life expectancy. It found that people who exercised a little but not up to the US prescribed 2.5hrs per week decreased their risk of early death by 20%. Those people that fulfilled the target 2.5hrs each week lowered their risk of death by 31%, whilst the individuals who managed an hour each day reduced it by an almighty 39% over those who did nothing at all. Interestingly, those people who did more than the hour each day did not decrease their chances any further, nor did they increase them again, so there is a plateau point at which the extra input becomes unnecessary.
Looking further into the data linked to this study, it was found that people who exercise at a high intensity (vigrously) for 30% of the time spent exercising further reduced their risk of death by 9%, whilst those who spent more time on vigorous exercise within their overall routine reduced their risk by 13% beyond those who did not raise the bar.
So, if you want to live longer, you need to be doing activity daily without fail. Frequency is key, whilst intensity for 30-50% of your activity and exercise is vital.
What does that look like?
Ideally, it is fast walking every day, preferably in a fasted state before breakfast, for a total of 45-60 minutes. If possible, this should be in one or two blocks rather than several smaller spurts, at a pace that has you working moderately but hard enough to know that your heart rate is raised and you are not just ambling.
Then, every other day you should be doing shorter, harder intervals. These can be anything from treadmill runs, stationary cycle, rowing, kettlebell swings, burpees, sled pushes, skipping or anything that takes you up to a feeling of nine out of ten on the intensity scale. You need to do this for 20-40 seconds and rest for 10-20 seconds before repeating 4-6 times. This high intensity blast can be repeated 2-4 times within a workout whilst also including resistance work. It is this approach that will make your body “exercise younger,” testing it as you did in your youth and as a result making the body adapt, adjust and grow in the ways it wants to.
“Younger, fitter and stronger” muscles are also created by using a couple of other techniques regularly too.
You need to:
In addition, there are other activities that assist in making us physically and mentally younger. Long treks over several hours, playing sports such as tennis, that require fitness, coordination and mental agility, or perhaps a long mixed terrain cycle ride, all test us in a variety of ways and contribute to us becoming younger, feel more energised and reach higher highs!
As we previously addressed, when analyzing our findings during lockdown, we know doing nothing makes us go backwards rapidly, doing one thing frequently and at a high intensity makes us stay the same and doing one thing somewhat frequently at a high intensity when combined with many things at a moderate intensity supercharges our fitness gains and physical changes.
So, it is time to set up your diary to make this happen, get younger and look better naked by the day!