Research has shown that the most important exercise we can do for our health, wellness and longevity is strength training. In fact, done correctly, it can be all we need. It not only strengthens our muscles; it strengthens our tendons and joints. It improves our balance and body-spatial awareness. It improves our sleep. It boosts our metabolism, mood and immune system too.
I recommend resistance training at least 3 times per week. If you want to incorporate some cardio, the ideal is 4 (sample schedule below). It's okay to strength train 6 days per week if you prefer. The point is you get all the cardio you need when you perform functional (compound body movements) metabolic (30-60 second rest between sets and exercises) strength training in a volume-centric (10-12 reps or for a certain time) way.
Apple Fitness+ has really done a terrific job of designing programs and workouts that accomplish all of this and more, integrating all of the science into each workout for you. I highly recommend investing in this service (and an Apple Watch if you don’t already own one), even if you’re a PC or Android person.
Focus on the Apple Fitness+ Strength Training programs. Filter the workouts by time and go with 30 minute workouts. Start with weights you are most comfortable with until you learn the moves and can do them safely, with correct form (key) and confidently. Eventually, your biggest benefit will come from a zone in which you are working hard, yet not so hard you’re losing form and risking injury. Use power on the contraction phase and go slow to resist gravity on the elongation phase. For now, focus on learning the moves, engaging your core, improving your balance and having fun! Then make sure you progress to heavier weights and/or more reps during the allotted time. Your mindset should be, like the Apple Fitness+ trainers say, you are a strong person made to do hard things. When you’re feeling strong, push yourself.
If you enjoy cardio, keep doing the cardio activities you like (walking, jogging, rowing, hiking, bike riding, elliptical, stairs, etc) for sure. You can use that as your cardio. The key is, when you do those activities, format then into intervals of high intensity and low intensity (example when walking, walk faster for a minute then slower for a minute then faster again and so on). Go for 30 minutes in this fashion. Any time more than that should just be relaxing, fun and at a recovery type of pace. The type of cardio we want you to avoid is endurance cardio. It’s too hard on your body and it raises cortisol and other inflammatory markers to unhealthy levels over the long term.
Work on your core every single day. Use the Apple Fitness+ Core workouts. Use the 10-minute routines. Again, form is key. Control your breathing. Don’t strain. Focus on pulling you belly button through to your back as you do each move. Use steady intention on purposeful and mindful connection with your core.
Finally, do a 10-minute mindful cool down after every single workout (Strength and Cardio). This is where you will stretch and learn mindfulness. Get good at that and you will unlock the door to some really great results!
You have many options. Here is just one sample schedule
MON - Core, Strength, Mindful cool down
TUE - Core, Strength, Mindful cool down
WED - Core, Cardio, Mindful cool down
THU - Core, Strength, Mindful cool down
FRI - Core, Strength, Mindful cool down
SAT - Core, Cardio, Mindful cool down
SUN - Core, Recovery (a nice easy walk, hike, yoga, kayak, swim, bike ride, etc), Mindful cool down
Note: It is best to do cardio on an empty stomach and strength training either on an empty stomach or an hour or so after a meal.
Feel free to contact us with any questions and more information.
Next, I will post a series on Nutrition.