Provision #527: Wonderful Workouts

Laser Provision

Movement is the secret to life. Only in death do we finally rest in peace. Until such time, the more we move the better off we will be. Our health and wellness, both physical and psychological, are directly related to our activity levels. We’ve made the case for that over the past six months in these Provisions. Today we bring it all together with an exercise and activity schedule that will help you be fit for life. Enjoy!

LifeTrek Provision


Whereas there may be debate as to the relative value of Paleolithic (vs. agricultural) nutrition principles • just see this week’s reader reply — there is no debate as to the relative value of Paleolithic fitness principles. Our bodies were meant to move far more vigorously and frequently than most of us move us our bodies today. The more we move our bodies the better it is not only for individual health but also for the health of our species and, indeed, of our entire planet. Muscle power is the long-lost magic elixir for one and all.

Most people are at least vaguely aware of the connection between movement and health. Virtually everyone has had the following thought cross their minds at different points in time: “I really need to exercise more.” But that doesn’t translate into action. Back in 1996, the U.S. Surgeon General estimated that 60% of U.S. adults did not engage in the recommended amount of activity (at least 30 minutes a day) and that 25% were not active at all. Since that time, the statistics have remained about the same or, in some populations • such as children and youth • have gotten worse.

In 2003, 38 percent of U.S. students in grades 9 to 12 viewed television 3 or more hours per day. That time impacts both fitness and nutrition. As television times goes up, activity levels decrease while the consumption of junk food increases significantly. It’s hard to be fit and glued to the tube.

Unfortunately, as fitness goes down health problems increase dramatically. To mention only a few of the well-documented risks associated with sedentary lifestyles:

  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Overweight and Obesity
  • Osteoporosis and arthritis
  • Falling
  • Dementia
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Mental illness
  • Impaired performance
  • Premature death

Can you imagine not finding time for something that reduces the risk of so many health and wellness problems! We’re not talking minor reductions here, but major risk reductions in every category. Researchers at Duke University, for example, studied people suffering from depression for 4 months. Their findings? 60% of the participants in the study who exercised for 30 minutes three times a week overcame their depression without using antidepressant medication. That’s as good as any medication can boast.

So too when it comes to the other risk factors. Adequate exercise and activity levels both prevent and cure the worst problems of modern civilization. It’s time to recognize the simple fact: how we eat (nutrition) and move (fitness) determines how long and how well we live. The choice and the power are in our hands.

I know it’s made a remarkable difference in my own life. In just six months, back 1998, I experienced the following dramatic changes by losing weight and getting in shape:

  • My blood pressure went down from 140/98 (stage 1 of hypertension) to 118/72 (it should be less than 130/85, optimally less than 120/80).
  • My cholesterol level went down from 217 to 171 (it should be 140 • 220).
  • My HDL cholesterol (the good stuff) went up from 42 to 61 (it should be 30 • 65).
  • My cholesterol/HDL ratio went down from 5.2:1 to 2.8:1 (it should be 4:1 or better; in 1996 my ratio was 6:1).
  • My triglyceride level went down from 266 to 90 (it should be 35 • 140).
  • My body fat went down from 41% to 16% (it should be 14% • 17%).
  • My Body Mass Index went down from 33.3 to 23.8 (it should be 19.0 • 24.9)
  • My benignly enlarged prostate returned to adolescent size and consistency.

Those changes are representative of what happens to anyone whose weight, fitness, and stress levels drop into optimal ranges. We become much more healthy and happy. The key is to start moving in that direction and then to keep yourself in those ranges over time. As Abe Lemmons, a former college basketball coach, once quipped, “One day of practice is like one day of clean living. It doesn’t do you any good.”

So what’s a person to do? As Alan Deutschman writes in his excellent book, Change or Die, it will take more than facts, fear, and force to get people to change. It will take new relationships that inspire and sustain hope, new routines that teach and train behavior, and new perspectives that reframe our thinking.

No wonder coaching is such a powerful methodology for change! It is, itself, a new relationship based upon hope. It continuously generates new S.M.A.R.T. goals that guide behavior. And it offers new perspectives through the intuitive dance of coaching conversations and being together. Let us know if you would like to arrange for a complimentary session.

For those working on health and fitness goals, and often for those working on other goals as well, we move people in the direction not only of the daily recommended minimum (30 minutes of exercise per day in addition to daily activities) but of the more optimal 60-90 minutes per day. Sound impossible? It is for those who think of this as something they should do. But once people fall in love with exercise (a new perspective) and once they find the time for 30 minutes per day (a new routine) they often discover ways to kick it up a notch both on their own and with others (new relationships). It really works.

To get a sense of what this might look like, recalling the various aerobic, strength, flexibility, and balance exercises of the Optimal Wellness Prototype, here is a weekly regimen that can be easily modified based upon your personal preferences and requirements. The key is to maintain variety and activity levels throughout the day. To exercise for an hour in the morning, afternoon, or evening and then to sit or lie around in relatively sedentary pursuits for the next 23 hours is not ideal (although it is better than sitting or lying around in relatively sedentary pursuits for 24 hours day!). No animal can long afford such “luxury.”

I like to divide the day into six segments, for both nutrition and fitness. Six smaller nutrition blocks per day (three snacks, three light meals) are easier to maintain and enjoy than three larger nutrition blocks per day. We reviewed the six-block pattern in Provision #493, Marvelous Menus. We can use the same approach when it comes to fitness. Six smaller fitness blocks per day can generate all the movement our bodies require at the same time as they may save our planet from its own premature demise.

Occasion Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
Wake-up Activities Stretching
Breathwork
Dynamic Warm Up
Stretching
Breathwork
Dynamic Warm Up
Stretching
Breathwork
Dynamic Warm Up
Stretching
Breathwork
Dynamic Warm Up
Stretching
Breathwork
Dynamic Warm Up
Stretching
Breathwork
Dynamic Warm Up
Stretching
Breathwork
Dynamic Warm Up
Morning Workout
(20-120 minutes)
Easy Aerobic Moderate Aerobic
Strength
Vigorous Aerobic Moderate Aerobic
Strength
Easy Aerobic Moderate Aerobic
Strength
Extended Aerobic
Morning Break
(5-10 minutes)
Changing Position
Stretching
Breathwork
Moving Around
Changing Position
Stretching
Breathwork
Moving Around
Changing Position
Stretching
Breathwork
Moving Around
Changing Position
Stretching
Breathwork
Moving Around
Changing Position
Stretching
Breathwork
Moving Around
Changing Position
Stretching
Breathwork
Moving Around
Changing Position
Stretching
Breathwork
Moving Around
Midday Activities
(10-40 minutes)
Changing Position
Stretching
Breathwork
Easy Aerobic
Changing Position
Stretching
Breathwork
Easy Aerobic
Changing Position
Stretching
Breathwork
Easy Aerobic
Changing Position
Stretching
Breathwork
Easy Aerobic
Changing Position
Stretching
Breathwork
Easy Aerobic
Changing Position
Stretching
Breathwork
Easy Aerobic
Changing Position
Stretching
Breathwork
Easy Aerobic
Afternoon Break
(5-10 minutes)
Changing Position
Stretching
Breathwork
Moving Around
Changing Position
Stretching
Breathwork
Moving Around
Changing Position
Stretching
Breathwork
Moving Around
Changing Position
Stretching
Breathwork
Moving Around
Changing Position
Stretching
Breathwork
Moving Around
Changing Position
Stretching
Breathwork
Moving Around
Changing Position
Stretching
Breathwork
Moving Around
Evening Activities
(20-60 minutes)
Changing Position
Stretching
Breathwork
Easy Aerobic
Changing Position
Stretching
Breathwork
Easy Aerobic
Changing Position
Stretching
Breathwork
Easy Aerobic
Changing Position
Stretching
Breathwork
Easy Aerobic
Changing Position
Stretching
Breathwork
Easy Aerobic
Changing Position
Stretching
Breathwork
Easy Aerobic
Changing Position
Stretching
Breathwork
Easy Aerobic

The low side of the time ranges, not including the morning wake-up, total 60 minutes or one hour of exercise and activity per day. That represents the bare minimum; less than that and we increase our risk of activity-deficit disorders. The high side of the time ranges total 240 minutes or four hours of exercise and activity. Although that may appear to be crazy-impossible, it still does not come close to the activity levels of our Paleolithic ancestors. For modern humans, however, it represents more than enough exercise and activity for optimal wellness.

As for the specifics of the above exercises and activities, I would refer you to our series on Optimal Fitness. Over the course of six months I have not only given specific examples and instructions (e.g., aerobic exercises include walking, running, cycling, stair climbing, rope skipping, swimming, and dancing as well as many household projects such as floor sweeping, window washing, lawn mowing, weeding, and snow shoveling) I have also provided many links to other resources on the web (e.g., to Ron Jones’ Dynamic Warm Up and Tasso Spanos’ therapeutic way of Moving Around).

I have also given you the secret of success. Fitness will never be maintained as an obligation, duty, or chore. There is no “should” powerful enough to last a lifetime. Fitness will only be maintained as a pleasure, gift, and opportunity. There is no obstacle too great to thwart desire. This morning I went for a 2-hour bike ride, including a stop at the bank, because I had the time and because yesterday I did not exercise at all. What a joy! The sights and sounds of nature, the discovery of new routes, and the journey to a destination are all things that get me to move and to make my heart sing.

The key to optimal wellness is to stay in motion. Don’t just do it for a day • that will do no good. Do it for all your days • that will keep you healthy and well, for life.

Coaching Inquiries: What are your exercise and activity patterns? How could you get more enjoyment from them? How could you increase both the quantity and quality of your workouts? Who could coach you to increased motivation and success? How could your health and wellness become a source of both satisfaction and performance improvement? What do you want to do to make it so?

To reply to this Provision, use our Feedback Form. To talk with us about coaching or consulting services for yourself or your organization, Email Us or use our Contact Form on the Web for a complimentary coaching session.

LifeTrek Readers’ Forum (selected feedback from the past week)

Editor’s Note: The LifeTrek Readers’ Forum contains selections from the comments and materials sent in each week by the readers of LifeTrek Provisions. They do not necessarily reflect the perspective of LifeTrek Coaching International. To submit your comment, use our Feedback Form or Email Bob..

 


The Paleolithic diet, if authentic, would include badly spoiled meat from scavenging, gorging intermingled with starvation, and a diet high in parasites. As a medical doctor, I find it hard to believe the evolutionary argument that these now extinct peoples were somehow healthier. The “poster children” are the Neanderthals who had a much higher meat content in their diets than our own predecessors, the “Cro-Magnon”: the more varied and opportunistic diet seems to have provided an edge in survival. 

Of note, modern Europeans have become taller and healthier than Americans, and Asians have a higher velocity of height increase, from past generations (think of Yao Ming). The Japanese, with a penchant for rice, have the planet’s longest lifespan. These peoples are probably the healthiest our species has ever produced. Yet, these urbanized moderns have a higher population density, less physical activity, and more (non-survival-related) stress than those isolated pockets of aboriginals who have survived the onslaught of a superior technology and its subsequent better nutrition. 

The point that species adapt their diet to conditions is key: homo sapiens definitely wrote the book here • and thrived wherever we went. The best and most fascinating source is: Atlas of the Human Journey by National Geographic. Their point is well-made that we adapted as we traveled from a few thousand individuals isolated in East Africa to everywhere on the planet in a geologic heartbeat. As Napoleon commented millennia later, “we march on our stomachs”. And we increased our numbers exponentially after domestic animals (with dairy) and cultivated grains were introduced. There is no factual argument against these changes creating much greater individual health and more robust societies. 

The argument here is not for gorging on carbohydrates and swilling milk, but that a balanced diet in factual evolutionary terms is not Paleolithic. A balanced (and earth-friendly) modern diet resembles the new USDA food pyramid, or the Mediterranean or Okinawa diets. Let’s put aside romance and ideology: Rousseau’s “noble savage” is a fictional character: Hobbs’ comment about primitive life being “nasty, brutish and short” has the advantage of accuracy (remember Otzi’s intestinal parasites and untimely death). 

The comments about locally grown food and industrialized meat production are very perceptive from a health standpoint, but are independent of the Paleo diet. Likewise, the dilemma of the applicability of a hunter-gatherer diet (when the world held about a million individuals) to today’s 6.3+ billion individuals is of the greatest moral importance. The hard fact is that industrial meat production is a hugely more efficient use of land than harvesting a few deer and rabbits per square kilometer. The trick is how to make our diets both sustainable and healthy.

The greatest unsung hero and the last century’s greatest antidote to Hobbs and Malthus antidote is Nobel laureate, Norman Borlaug. Dr. Borlaug developed the high-yield grains that • no exaggeration • have saved a billion people from starvation. In spite of the daily newspapers, we are a much healthier species with much less starvation than even 2 decades ago, thanks to his gift of efficient carbohydrates for us all.

As Bob stated, it is good for us and good for our small planet to use muscle instead of fossil fuels. We marvel at the anti-Paleolithic diet, health and willowy slimness of the French: Paris encourages bikes and feet, and by design discourages cars. Several French McDonald’s have been dumped with loads of manure. Although extreme, their hearts are in the right place. This is the political aspect: how can we advocate for a more efficient planet as well as healthier diets, when our own diet is so energy and resource intensive? That is the same moral error as if a President swore to uphold the Constitution, then tortured and imprisoned people indefinitely without charging them.

If we are active politically in issues of sustainability, can our own dietary habits place an unnecessary strain on the planet? It is possible to eat a healthy but sustainable diet: for the past 10-13,000 years that’s what we do best.

(Ed. Note: I agree that agriculture in general and high-yield grains in particular are essential to keeping 6.3+ billion individual human beings alive. I don’t agree that eating those grains, and many other products of agriculture, is the best diet for most of those individuals. That is the planetary predicament! Of today’s popular diets, the two you mention (Mediterranean and Okinawa) are among the best. To consider whether primitive life was really “nasty, brutish and short,” I would encourage you to read The Paleolithic Prescription by S. Boyd Eaton, M.D., or any of the books and articles by Loren Cordain, Ph.D.. Dr. Cordain’s recent newsletters speak specifically to the subject. Thanks for the thoughtful reply.) 



May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.

Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC

President, LifeTrek Coaching Internationalwww.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformationwww.SchoolTransformation.com
Immediate Past President, International Association of Coachingwww.CertifiedCoach.org
Author, Evocative Coaching: Transforming Schools One Conversation at a TimeOnline Retailers

Address: 121 Will Scarlet Lane, Williamsburg, VA 23185-5043
Phone: (757) 345-3452 • Fax: (772) 382-3258
Skype: LifeTrek • Twitter: @LifeTrekBob
Subscribe/Unsubscribe: Subscriber Services