I do some of my best thinking when I’m out cycling and just the other morning, I was thinking about how little of an amount of time is needed to improve one’s health and fitness. As I was heading into my final minutes of my 60 minute ride along the shore, I started to do a little quick math. As we all know there are 52 weeks in a year, seven days in a week, 24 hours in each day giving us 1,440 minutes per day. Multiply those minutes over seven days and there are 10,080 minutes each week and 524,160 minutes for one full year. Now, if you were to dedicate roughly 100 minutes each week….a mere 1% of your time to performing some form of exercise that stimulates your muscles, heart and lungs then you would certainly be able to see improvement in your health and fitness. Now here’s the cool part, you can spread those 100 minutes of exercise over the week by performing some type of strength and aerobic activities over two, three or more days, mixing and matching strength and cardio or dedicating specific days for each. Hell, you can even break them up and do one activity in the morning and the other in the evening. The choices are unlimited. So, maybe start off with one half of one percent (50 minutes each week) and see how it goes and build up from there.
If you read any of my writings, you will know how important I think daily movement is….particularly when it focuses on aerobic activity. The trendy folks today (and some of those stuck on old credos from the 70’s) don’t think that direct aerobic activity is necessary. Well, I’d like to say that I respectfully disagree. Aerobic exercise is vital to your overall health as explained in this recent researched article . Raising your heart rate is the key component to improving your fitness, but how you do it is also important. Without getting too deep into details here, breathing heavy doesn’t necessarily mean your heart rate is elevated….at least not to the level you may think it is. That panting you may experience after a hard anaerobic (without oxygen) effort is the body trying to supply oxygen to the working muscles. Plus, the left ventricle of the heart improves in strength and efficiency. Now, I’m not implying that strength training under isn’t important. Under the right conditions, proper strength training (and other forms of anaerobic exercise) provides tremendous benefits and is one piece of the puzzle in achieving better health and fitness, but don’t be fooled for one minute that you don’t need to improve your aerobic system through direct activity because you do.
I love to stay active. I find that being active daily makes me feel better than when I do nothing physical so for me, it makes sense to do something as often as I can. As I’ve gotten a bit older and have been physically active well over 40 years now, I’ve gotten a bit smarter (not much, just a bit) and look for activities that are fun, physically stimulating (challenges my heart, lungs, muscles, functionality, balance) and are safe for me to do. Safe in that I limit the downside of injury while I’m performing an activity as well as how it will effect me in the long run (just because something doesn’t bother you while you’re doing it doesn’t mean it won’t later in the short term or long term).
For years now I have been an avid cyclist. I have a few bikes to my name and depending on my mood, desired effect, weather and some other factors, I will opt for a particular bike to use for a particular stimulus. Without getting into too many boring details, suffice it to say that I have a variety of bikes that give me a variety of benefits and so I have utilized these bikes to recreate and enhance my fitness. See, most folks think that improving your cardiovascular system, body composition, mobility, blood pressure, etc. is relegated to the gym. It’s not. You don’t need a special aerobic program to get fit. You don’t need to have a machine tell you when to go faster or to slow down, go up a hill or down a hill because when you are out recreating, you are doing all that inherently.
I could go on here but I’ll just get down to the take home message: get out, expand your options, your mind and your lungs. Go for a walk, bike ride, jog, hike, play volleyball, etc. outside and enjoy the many benefits of recreational activity. I promise you it’s a lot less boring and has many more advantages.