You want to become your healthiest self - to live longer, happier and stronger. But it can seem daunting. Well, no more. We have figured out how you can get the most bang for your buck and muscle for your sweat and have a younger body and mind.
Looking at more than 80 observational and several controlled studies, we can say with confidence that exercise - done for enough time and using appropriate moves - can dramatically enhance your wellbeing. In 2012, when researchers looked at The Runners and Community Controls study, which began in 1984, they found disability was postponed by 14 to 16 years in vigorous exercisers compared with the controls, and the runners lived substantially longer. Another 15-year study in the Journal of American Heart Association found that greater muscle mass protects men and women 20 and older from heart woes and death from heart disease.
If you don't get the optimal amount of heart-healthy exercise, more than your heart is at risk: Massachusetts General Hospital researchers found folks who had the highest levels of a marker for heart stress also had a 40% greater risk of developing cancer. So adopting a heart-healthy exercise routine will do far more than keep your ticker ticking. Let's discover the optimal combination of activities - and what they can do for you.
Four weekly activities. Your goal is to do four types of physical activity weekly: 1. any kind, 2. strength building, 3. bone strengthening (jumping) and 4. stamina building. You also want to limit inactivity to 60 minutes at a stretch. That combination gives you the very best results - rolling back your risk for disease and disability and increasing longevity.
To accomplish that, you want to get 10,000 steps a day or a moderate-intensity equivalent; 30 minutes of resistance exercise a week, including some for hand and core strength; 20 jumps a day; and 20 minutes of cardio three times a week, done at a heart rate of 80% or more of your age-adjusted maximum - that's 220 minus your calendar age.
If you follow those recommendations, in addition to a stronger heart, you'll have improved metabolic function and decreased risks of obesity, osteoarthritis, bone fractures, and Type 2 diabetes, increased mental alertness and improved short-term and long-term memory, a stronger immune system and a healthier gut microbiome.
Benefits of each activity. Walking 10,000 steps a day is optimal for improving insulin resistance and reversing what we call the "fat accumulation - inflammation - desire to eat more" cycle. It also increases the size of the brain's memory center, your hippocampus, by up to 2% in a year.
Strength building: Building muscle burns calories and improves insulin resistance as it strengthens balance, protects against arthritis-related disabilities and fights inflammation. Aim to exercise the largest muscle groups, and abdominal, hip and butt muscles. You can use dumbbells, resistance bands, medicine balls, your own body weight (pushups and squats), or even cans of soup. Just don't do it while walking or doing aerobics - the risk of shoulder injury is too great.
If you're out of shape, you want to start with walking and then strength-building for a few weeks before you do cardio in order to have the muscle strength you need for endurance. Then you can embrace the full program.
Jumping: This builds bone strength - especially hip bones and, as we said in a recent tip, that helps strengthen your immune system too. So buy a jump rope!
Building stamina with sweaty fun: Aim for a minimum of 60 minutes a week of aerobic activity - ideally in three 20-minute sessions. Opt for low-impact swimming, cycling or using an elliptical trainer to get your heart rate up without harming joints. Interval training (alternating periods of maximum effort with periods of recovery) will provide the maximum cardiovascular benefit, stress reduction, immune strengthening and respiratory health. Even doing one minute at the end of every 10 minutes with maximum effort can be beneficial.
Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of "The Dr. Oz Show," and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into "The Dr. Oz Show" or visit www.sharecare.com.
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.