One common decision people make on a daily basis with their exercise is the amount they will do. The old government recommendation use to say we need 20 minutes three times per week for good health. They have changed that and now suggest 30 minutes per day to ward off chronic disease, 60 minutes for good health, and up to 90 minutes a day for those trying to lose weight. A 90-minute workout for some might be like a climb up Everest, but for others that is just their warmup. A triathlete training for an Ironman will do a 5-hour bike ride on the weekend without blinking. How does that level stack up on the overall health meter? Let me give you the Fit Soul, Fit Body thoughts on all of these levels.
One of the goals for most people who exercise is to either maintain a healthy weight or even lose some unwanted pounds. And to do that, we need to activate the fat burning mechanisms in the body and keep them firing day to day. Research suggests that doing moderate cardiovascular exercise where your heart rate is elevate for a minimum of 20-minutes will keep the fat burning engine set in the “on” position. This is a minimum, however. To really drop weight through exercise, it can mean doing 60-90 minutes of exercise most days of the week to really shed the pounds.
That may be an amount that is out of your realm. If it is, you can employ a simple technique throughout the day to supplement whatever amount of exercise you are able to put in. You ready for it? It’s called “Standing Up”. Yep, it’s that simple. We have an enzyme in our body called lipoprotein lipase. It is an enzyme that helps us burn stored body fat. If a person is inactive for even one day this enzyme’s activity is reduced by a whopping 94%!
Keeping this enzyme activated and burning fat requires standing and moving around. So fidget away those unwanted pounds with a number of short walks throughout the day, by carrying things from one spot to another, by adding in a few trips going up and down stairs or just about anything that breaks up the kind of day many people find themselves in where they have a statue-like gaze at the computer screen for hours on end. Even if you do exercise the minimum governmental recommendation of 30-minutes per day, by adding in lots of little trips around the office, the house, or walking in a park where you engage the large muscles in the legs and gluteus area, you have a much better chance of making positive body composition changes.
For longevity purposes, there is a strong correlation between burning at least 300 calories per day through using those large muscles and living a long life. This equates to about three miles of walking daily. Those who live the longest AND have the best overall health seem to up that amount to at least an hour a day of exercise. But the exercise benefit curve does top out at about three hours per day. Those who engage in lots of endurance athletics and work out more than about three hours per day end up with immune system suppression, which can lead to illness. Then if the exercise is at high intensity, if done for too long of a period of time the person can actually lose lean muscle, have depression, lose motivation, have very low energy levels, and eventually get totally burned out or injured to the point where they cannot exercise.
Bottom line is that using our bodies for movement is an ancient sign that food was available and plentiful and that we were out foraging and gathering. This is when we would lean out and have a good positive attitude because we didn’t need to store up body fat if there was a bounty of food and there was no reason to feel depressed when survival was easier. This is the opposite of what happened in the leaner months when food was scarce. In ancient times that was when people would sit around more to conserve energy which led to reduced fat burning and a lower metabolic rate to spare the body from wasting away and the mood was more depressive and lacking in motivation to help preserve precious body stores of energy.
Fast forward to the modern world. If we engage our ancient times-of-plenty genetics and move around throughout the day every day, our genes trigger the release of the happiness hormones as well as burn body fat faster.