Both aerobic and anaerobic cardio training are necessary for tackling today's daily routine, tomorrow's adventure, and lifelong battle against aging. When a person starts to improve their level of cardio fitness, the following happens:
- Their hearts stroke volume (amount of blood pumped with each contraction) increases as the heart becomes more efficient. Resulting in a lower resting heart rate.
- Their lungs transfer oxygen into the cardiovascular system more efficiently.
- Their muscles transfer oxygen and carbon dioxide to and from the blood stream more efficiently.
- Their bodies become more efficient at burning fat instead of glycogen during exercise.
The benefit is that all of this allows the body at rest to work less hard, shunting energy to other areas of the body that may need it.
- The Guidelines for Cardio-respiratory Training.
Getting Started - Go for a walk. Or even a jog if you are capable. Then advance to running and maybe even trail running. The thing is, you need to get moving, and if all you ever do in your life is go for a walk every day, you are adding years to your life and getting those hips engaged and working. When the hips fail, you are probably past the point of no return.
I will neither confirm nor deny saying this, but - If you can just move consistently and regularly throughout the day, it is probably better for your overall health than if you got in an intense workout once during the day, then were stationary for the other 23 hours.
Often overlooked, especially as we start getting "older", strength training may be the single most important part of your plan for increasing your healthspan. Every physical aspect of your adventurous lifestyle will be enhanced, positively or negatively, by the strength of the muscles in your body, both big and small. One of the key indicators of advanced aging is loss of balance, leading to wider stance to offset this, which results in a slower walking pace. This reinforces a downward spiral that eventually leads to a drastic reduction in cardio-respiratory efficiency and/or the major fall that changes everything.
You can slow this process down dramatically through strength training, especially in the core and trunk areas.
Beyond just aging better, strength training is also beneficial for other things such as:
- Increased bone and muscle density.
- Increased resting metabolism.
- Increased bone strength as well as muscle strength.
Getting Started - Do a push up. Or a squat. Start with anything at first, but eventually you need to graduate to a point where you are pushing a particular muscle group to fatigue, this is where the strength gains are made.
There are enough books on nutrition out there to fill a small college library, so instead of going into detail about my beliefs on nutrition, I would like to touch on just a few things that I think a person needs to know.
Our bodies have changed very little in the last 100,000 years, so eating as close to the way our distant ancestors did seems like a no-brainer. For the bulk of our existence, we ate what we could find laying around, primarily nuts and fruits. Then a few hundred thousand years ago we started killing stuff and eating it. They say this allowed our brains to get bigger and better. It's possible. Then about 12,000 years ago, give or take a millennium, we started growing our own food, especially grains, which we ground down into flour and baked into a power-packed, carbo-dense food we called bread.
Then the Italians made pasta, and eventually pizza, and DIGIORNO® froze it, and we all started gaining weight rapidly. Well, sort of. The point is that our bodies are not designed to have the kind of readily available simple carbs that we have today. Carbs were valuable and hard to come by, so when we had the opportunity to consume them, were designed to store them at all cost. And we did that by converting those potentially toxic sugars into something our bodies could handle - fat. And we still do today via the insulin cycle.
This is why a paleo-type diet works so well. Usually.
The Super Foods (This is a good list to start with)
Weight control - Focus more on adding as many super foods to your diet, and less on the things you need to eliminate. At least at the start. Chances are, you will have a tough time eating the "bad" stuff if you are getting full on the good stuff. Then start eliminating the problem foods, one at a time.
The toughest one of all - "Eat to live, not live to eat."
In order for you to maintain a significant cardio and strength training regimen, ultimately, you must maintain a sufficient level of flexibility. Without proper flexibility, you will start to incur injuries, both small and large. And these injuries/ailments will start a downward spiral that will limit your ability to train and lead to more injuries/ailments. Don't let this be the thing that puts you on the couch.
The guidelines for Flexibility.
There are all kinds of diets and exercise plans and programs designed to get us fit and thin, but in the end most of them fail to give us the long-term results we want. Most of the programs are valid, the problem is that we go into them with a short-term attitude.
If we are doing a thousand crunches or eating kale smoothies for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, odds are that we are not going to continue that regimen for more than a few weeks, let alone the rest of our lives. For any program to work, it must be one that we can do for the rest of our lives.
So, start small, just one or two minor adjustments to your diet or your exercise routine at a time. And after a couple weeks, ask yourself - "Can I do this for the rest of my life?" If the answer is no, then you need to scale it back and repeat. If the answer is yes, perfect, now add a new change and repeat. Every change must be for a lifetime or it is just a waste of time.
One bit of "controversial" wisdom - Getting moving takes priority over everything else. If you are having trouble "finding" the energy to get moving organically, then get it synthetically. Caffeine is an incredible booster of energy. And if you are worried its negative side-effects, they are not even close to the side-effects of a sedentary life. So drink some coffee, or a lot of coffee, begin to develop that organic energy boost, then start cutting out the caffeine. But do whatever it takes to get moving!
- Leisure Time Running Reduces All Causes and Cardiovascular Mortality Risk
- The Cure for Sore Muscles? More Movement.
- The Ten Biggest Fitness Myths
- Age is Irrelevant When It Comes to Fitness
You will find numerous health and fitness posts on this blog as well as videos over on my YouTube Channel. I hope you find them helpful.
Now get out and get moving!