You and I have something in common. We want great bodies that are fit, trim, and healthy! And, we are willing to invest time and energy to make it happen.
Being fit gives us the ability to perform fun activities and pursue many adventures. In fact, every day becomes more enjoyable if we are fit. Daily activities, like house chores, shopping, climbing stairs, grocery shopping, or traveling on vacation all become easier, and life, in general, has more options for enjoyment and fun.
Fitness has another advantage. Chances are, if you stay fit, you will live longer. In fact, research from the Cooper Clinic has indicated that, on average, if you…
“Spend just 9 minutes every day on fitness, you will live 6.2 years longer!”
Now that is a good investment! And not only are you likely to live longer, it is a guarantee that if you maintain fitness, your quality of life will improve. 100% of people who maintain cardiovascular fitness feel better! That is exciting… feeling better AND living longer! In addition, the risk of many diseases will plummet!
So, if the benefits are so obvious, why doesn’t everyone invest at least 9 minutes a day pursuing fitness? Most people would give a reason of some sort, but likely it would fall into one of the following categories:
4 Reasons NOT to be Fit:
Excuse #1) “But I’m too busy.”
Are you too busy to shower each day? Too busy for sleep? Too busy to eat? Too busy for TV? Too busy for Facebook? Too busy for _________ (fill in your own blank). We find time for our priorities. Just move 9 minutes of fitness time to a higher priority than your daily shower and it will happen! Just kidding, but you get the idea…
Excuse #2) “But I don’t like to exercise.”
Let’s not think about our fitness time as “exercise”. Let’s think of it as our “play time” for pursuing health and vitality. Explore all options and find activities that are enjoyable and that enhance your fitness. Let this be your special “fun” time each day. Making it pleasurable will guarantee sustainability as a long-term daily routine. Sustainability is key!
Excuse #3) “But it’s hard.”
Actually, fitness should not be so strenuous that is painful or uncomfortable or “hard”. It should be just enough to increase your heart rate and breathing or put some strain on your muscles, but not to the point of pain or discomfort. Make it fun and a bit exhilarating, not painful or hard…
Excuse #4) “But my friends don’t do it.”
You are not your friends. Your metabolism challenges and health goals are unique to you. Be in charge of your personal health destiny and make fitness time a priority regardless of the behaviors of those around you.
Hopefully you have now overcome any personal mental obstacles to fitness time. Problem solve until you can find time for fitness each day, just like you find time for personal hygiene, sleeping, and eating. You can do it!
Remember, fitness time sends your body a clear signal that you are alive and well and that calories need to be burned! When we go through a day or two of just sitting for hours and then sleeping, it becomes very easy for our body to “forget” how to turn fat and calories in to energy. Instead, we become fat storing machines that simply turn every available calorie into MORE unwanted body fat. Ugh! Instead, send your body a message each day that you have every intention of burning a lot of calories today, so it better get all those enzymes and hormones available for fat burning… and pronto!
Now, how do you determine the details of what to do?
The “F.I.T.T.” Plan:
This acronym stands for:
I recommend that fitness become a component of your 24-hour daily routine, just like sleep. It should happen daily, not just on occasion. And, if possible, let fitness time happen earlier in the day rather than later. Remember, this will get your metabolism revved up, so sooner in the day is better. Early fitness time also elevates the “feel good” chemicals in your brain so you will be happier and think more creatively and more clearly, and you will have more available energy for productivity throughout the day.
Also, if you make fitness time a daily routine, you can shorten the duration and get the same benefits. If you skip a day, remember, you need to make up the time from the day you skipped! And 18 minutes is harder to find than 9 minutes, 27 is harder than 18, etc… so stick to a daily routine. 7 days of 9 minutes is 63 minutes. That’s a great place to start!
Moderation is the key. We want to engage in activities that get our heart rates increased and cause slight shortness of breath, but not to the point of discomfort. Do not make it so strenuous that you are in pain or discomfort. Slow down! Enjoy the time…
One easy way to gauge intensity is if you are slightly winded, but can still speak in short sentences. Try to be slightly short of breath throughout your 9+ minutes of fitness time.
You already know the benefits of 9 minutes a day as a minimum (living 6.2 years longer!). Start with 9 minutes. That is very achievable AND it is enough to make a difference. Once you are comfortable with 9 minutes and have achieved consistency, gradually increase the duration. I personally jog 20-25 minutes every day, achieving my target heart rate. If I am busy or running late, I will still seek to achieve the 9 minute minimum every day. Keeping the goal very achievable and not feeling guilty about spending “just 9 minutes” when time is limited is a key to long term success.
Here is where the fun begins. You get to choose the type of fitness activity that is fun for you. Simply walking is the most common activity. Walking can even be inside your home, up and down stairs, or outside, at the mall, anywhere. Others jog, swim, or use some fitness equipment like a treadmill or exercise bike. Calisthenics, push-ups, sit-ups, and weight lifting can be a part of your fitness time. Dance classes are popular, but may not be practical every day.
I personally love my morning jog outside every morning in almost any weather. I find it exhilarating and a pleasure point in my day. It fits into my morning routine and is very enjoyable for me. I currently add 25 push-ups, 25 sit-ups, and 7-8 pull-ups on most days. This fits into my schedule just before my morning shower.
Remember that running marathons or becoming a body builder is probably NOT your goal (but maybe it is)! For most of us, a gentle, but routine, stimulation of the metabolism is all that is required. Be creative, make it enjoyable, and maybe recruit a friend to join you. The options are endless, so put some thought into your daily routine activity.
Caution: Do not set unrealistic expectations that cannot be sustained long term. Start slow, keep it pleasurable and then build duration over time after consistency has been established.
Remember, fitness time is a great investment! So…
“Engage in fitness time 9 minutes each and every day!”
Regardless of the world’s poor example around us, relentlessly pursue being fit, trim and healthy! To achieve Optimum Health (and a great body), and to live an average of 6.2 years longer, embrace at least 9 minutes of fitness time every day! It is a key to your success.
Clicker Electronic Pedometer – To become more active, we need accountability, guidance, encouragements, reminders, and affirmations that will subtly work in the background on a daily basis to help us move more. Clickers accomplish that and more.
And remember, Optimum Health is ALWAYS worth the effort.
For Optimum Health,
Rick Tague, M.D., M.P.H.