Quality and Quantity(Q2)
An exercise routine should meet 2 major goals. One, improve and maintain the quality of life, and two, extend life expectancy. Life expectancy is obvious to quantify, although our efforts to live longer may prove beneficial, we will not know until we get there. Quantification of quality of life is challenged by the lack of specific measurables. It is a combination of fulfilling relationships, activities, and the happiness, satisfaction, pleasure, or reward of the activities and relationships. The direct link of quality of life to exercise is that regular physical activity is more likely to predict optimal energy, enhance physical stamina, improve mood, enhance stress resilience, and minimize muscle and joint pain when performed correctly. The desired achievement is to be an active participant in life for as long as possible. An active lifestyle in your 50’s will more likely predict an active lifestyle into your 80’s, but will require some planning and effort early in life. Compared to quality of life, physical fitness can be quantified by strength and cardiovascular fitness tools. Individualized goals are easily set based on the research and the available tools.
How much exercise do I need?
The first thing to appreciate is that studies show 150 minutes per week(30 minutes 5 days/week) leads to a 30% reduction in overall mortality. The majority of studies indicate these benefits occur even when exercise habits are adopted later in life. So even if you missed an opportunity in your 30-50’s you still have a chance to benefit from regular physical activity during your 50-80’s.
Cardio or Weights?
The benefits of physical activity can be divided into 2 types. The first is cardiovascular fitness and the second, strength. The goal or desire to be stronger is a worthy goal. Having said that, muscle mass does not always equate to greater longevity, but stronger(sometimes bigger) muscles lead to more strength and ability to exercise efficiently. Respective of all body types, muscle strength, NOT muscle mass, should be the goal.
Cardiovascular fitness, as measured by VO2 max or METS, provides a measurable that predicts longevity more accurately than muscle strength, but a balance of both strength and cardiovascular fitness together is still better. To appreciate the contribution of exercise to longevity consider that the absence of regular exercise has a greater impact on longevity than quitting smoking. In other words smoking, which we judge to be really bad for you, is not nearly as bad as not regularly exercising.
Combat aging with exercise!
Aging results in a rapid increase in morbidity and mortality risk as fitness levels decline with age. In other words physical fitness and activity become absolutely necessary to slow aging and reduce the risk of dying. If you want to be active when you’re 80 years old you can’t afford to be stagnant when you are 50 years old. What is of great interest is when low average activity individuals begin to exercise and become below average in activity, results indicate a 50% reduction in mortality over one decade. For those who progress from low fitness levels to above average, results indicate a 60-70% reduction in mortality. The good news is starting from the bottom produces greater returns. It doesn’t matter where or when you start physical activity, just that you do.