FITNESS

For me, this is a bit of a loaded question. It’s not because I think that there is anything wrong or controversial about wanting to get (or stay) fit. But I think asking, generically, “how to stay fit” is misleading because “fitness” is really dictated by individual goals. For example, if your goal is to be able to run a marathon every month, you’re going to need to do something a little bit different than a 70-year-old grandma who wants to keep her ability to walk up the stairs. See where I'm coming from? Despite this, I do think that there are a few steps that the average person (AKA you and me) can take to keep themselves in good shape. “Good shape” in my mind means: having good aerobic fitness, which protects against cardiovascular disease and diabetes (and will coming in handy during the impending zombie apocalypse). having above average muscle mass, which helps protect against diseases like and , and ensures that you maintain your ability to carry out everyday tasks well into your golden years. and consistently eating a well-balanced diet that boosts immune and cognitive function and prevents unwanted weight gain. Luckily, hitting all three of these targets this is absolutely possible. In fact, all it takes is for you to make a handful of smart lifestyle choices (say… six or so!). It’s easier than you think to make sure that you stay fit for the rest of your life! Here are my six simple tips for real, lifelong fitness! 1. Perform Low Intensity Exercise Most Days of the Week Over the last few years, low intensity aerobic activity has received a bit of a bad rap. For the most part, this has pretty much been simply because it’s not as “cool” as high intensity interval training. But it actually offers a heap of benefits. Performing 30 minutes of low intensity activity (whether it be walking, jogging, cycling, or swimming) is the perfect way to increase your daily energy expenditure without placing too much stress on your body. In an immediate sense, this can help promote weight loss and/or healthy weight management. Long term, low intensity exercises can also really improve the function of your cardiovascular system, meaning a healthier heart and better aerobic fitness as well. 2. Perform Weight Training 2-3 Times Per Week Weight training is, in my humble opinion, the closest thing we have to the fountain of youth and the best way to . By building strength and increasing muscle mass, you become more resilient and physically capable. Additionally, higher muscle mass markedly reduces your risk of developing a multitude of age-related diseases and causes reductions in fat mass (which also has associated health benefits). Plus, weight lifting gets you looking jacked. So, that's cool, too. Your best bet here is to perform 2-3 full-body training sessions per week, with around 48 hours between sessions. These should be built around large compound movements such as squats, deadlifts, lunges, presses, and rows because these types of movements recruit the most muscle and carry over to functional activities extremely well. Simple and effective. 3. Sprinkle in a Session of HIIT Each Week High intensity interval training (HIIT) describes short bouts of high intensity aerobic exercise that are separated by short bouts of low intensity aerobic exercise. For example, a HIIT session may look like 30 seconds of running at a fairly rapid pace (e.g. 90% of your top speed) followed by one minute at a very light jog. This cycle might then then be repeated around 13 more times (to create 21ish-minute workout). HIIT offers some unique benefits that lower intensity aerobic activity does not. Because it pushes you into much higher exercise intensity, HIIT places more stress on your cardiovascular system's ability to get oxygen to working muscles. This drives up the rate you see improvement in your fitness and it burns a ton of calories, even up to 48 hours after you’ve finished working out. These fitness and calorie burning benefits mean that HIIT can help you lose weight even faster than low intensity aerobic exercise, offer excellent protection against cardiovascular disease, and allow your body to endure higher exercise intensities in the future. As a bit of a bonus, HIIT can easily be applied to any type of exercise and tailored towards anyone’s individual level of fitness. This means that you can adjust it to suit your needs and preferences easily! 4. Eat Vegetables with Every Meal Let's face it, your grandma knew exactly what she was talking about when she told you to eat your vegetables. So, why don't you listen? Vegetables contain an . These vitamins and minerals are ridiculously important for keeping your body healthy and functioning efficiently. They help maintain your immune system and ensure that your metabolic processes are in tip-top shape. As a result, eating vitamin- and mineral-rich vegetables regularly is a really easy way to keep yourself fit and healthy! Vegetables are also super filling, but contain next to no calories! So, by simply adding vegetables to every meal, you will feel fuller despite actually consuming less energy. This will lead to a reduced calorie intake over the course of your day, seriously facilitating weight loss. How good is that? 5. Drink More Water Most people don’t drink nearly enough water on a daily basis. Humans are approximately 70% water, which means that even the slightest dehydration can have some pretty serious implications for your health and function. And poor health and function of your body can obviously impact your fitness. A really easy way to make sure that you get enough water is to carry around a water bottle with you 24/7. In the grand scheme of things, it’s a pretty easy thing to do, and you will quickly find yourself sipping at it subconsciously throughout the day. Trust me when I say you will feel markedly more energized immediately! 6. Make it All Routine Of course, all of this information is completely useless if you can’t actually stick to it. As a result, it is essential that you make healthy diet and exercise changes part of your normal routine. From the exercise perspective, a little trick I like to use is to treat my exercise sessions like appointments. Far too many people think of exercise as a bit of a luxury – something that isn’t necessary if they don’t feel like it. But by starting to view your workouts as something that cannot be missed (just like a doctor’s appointment or a meeting at work) you are much more likely to stick to them. Organize a routine and do not miss your training sessions. Before you know it, working out will become a habit and you’ll be fitter than ever. With diet, make sure that you have vegetables available at all times and no junk food in the house. Fill your grocery cart with whole foods and tons of vegetables -- nothing processed or full of chemicals should make it to the checkout lane at all. That way, when you want to eat, you’ll have to make something that contains a good portion of healthy vitamins and minerals. Over time, this healthier way of eating will also become the norm, and as soon as it does, you will start seeing massive results! Take Home Message Staying fit really doesn't have to be complicated. All it takes is getting in a few solid exercise sessions every week and getting in an easy jog, walk, or bike ride in every day. Pretty simple right? And when you combine this with a well-balanced diet full to the brim with vegetables and proper hydration, well, that's when the magic really starts to happen. Arguably the hardest thing about all this is making it routine. So, for the first few weeks, stick to it with diligence and it will quickly become part of your normal, everyday life. Then the results will start pouring in!

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