Posted On 10 Jun 2019
What’s the right dose?
Too little physical exercise isn’t good for us. Too much physical exercise isn’t good for us. What’s the right dose?
I have in other recent writings offered my exercise recommendations [see chapter 6 in Introduction to Living Well.] They are for 1 brief, intense strength training session each week [see my Weight Lifting] and for 2 brief, intense fitness exercise sessions weekly [see Sears’s P.A.C.E.].
What about the 6 days when there’s no strength training?
I recommend 4 daily physical exercises and a short relaxing exercise. If you want more, walk briskly for 1 to 4 miles one to three times weekly.
One-minute standing trot
First, a one-minute standing trot at an easy pace. This is not high-intensity exercise. It’s more like a physical wake up to get your blood flowing. If you become hot, it’s not a trot. Gentle and easy does it.
The other three should be done with perfect form:
One-minute of classic crunches
Second, one-minute of classic crunches done slowly. Lie on your back with your knees bent (to take the stress off your lower back) and arms straight next to your body. Use your abdominal muscles to pull your head and shoulders up; pull your abs towards the floor while you peel your backbone off the floor slowly vertebra by vertebra. Feel your abs working. There’s no need to lift all the way up. Lower and repeat. Stop after a minute.
One-minute of a classic plank
Simply hold the top of a push-up position. See the photo above. It’s important to keep your back and arms straight with your hands directly under your shoulders. (Alternatively, you may have your elbows on the floor directly under your shoulders.) Pull your abs in. It’s alright for your butt to be slightly high. When this becomes easy for you, go ahead and do classic push-ups without momentum for that minute. Stop after a minute.
One-minute of body-weight squats
Start by standing with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart; they should either be parallel or have your toes pointing slightly outwards. Inhale and draw in your abs. Slowly bend your knees while keeping your arms out in front of you for balance as you sit back and down with your chest naturally forward and your head up. Use your butt and quads to return to a standing position as you exhale and drop your arms. Stop after a minute.
The usual technique guidelines for doing any kind of squats apply. For example, do not bounce at the bottom. Go as low as possible given your degree of flexibility. Do not lock your knees at the top; instead, keep them slightly bent to maintain tension on your muscles. Keep your knees pointing in the same direction as your feet.
One-minute (or more) of relaxing meditation
[The following can be extended into an “aliveness awareness” session. I’ve elsewhere described how to begin to feel the aliveness in your motionless hands or feet. So it can be done separately as a spiritual and not just as a physical exercise. Working up to and doing 20 minutes twice daily is a great antidote to stress.]
The goal is complete relaxation at least until your breathing returns to normal. Lie back in a recliner or on the floor with a pillow or cushion under your knees (to take the stress of your lower back) and, if you prefer, with a small pillow under the back of your head. Breathe deeply. As you exhale, do a body scan to think about completely relaxing your body; begin with your feet and work up through your legs and back, from your hands up your arms to your shoulders, and then your neck. When distracting thoughts arise, simply return your attention to focusing on relaxing your body. You may stop after a minute. However, there’s no penalty for continuing it for 5 or 10 minutes.
That’s it! When you are finished, you should feel alert, refreshed, and energized.
If time, weather, and your situation permit, it’s also a very good idea regularly to get outside and get moving. Walk your dog, shoot some hoops, work in your garden – whatever you enjoy. Our hunter-gatherer ancestors weren’t sedentary and we shouldn’t be either.
reference: Steven R. Gundry, M.D., The Longevity Paradox