Sep 03, 2008

Stay Strong Forever

Okay, well, maybe not forever, since like all the rest of us, you'll die eventually. But for most people, there's no reason not to be in excellent physical condition until -- or almost until -- you part with your body.

To accomplish this requires three broad types of activities, which, if followed diligently, should also keep your weight under control, probably the number one factor in achieving a healthy, active retirement. The time required is about 90 minutes per day, although you can count some day-to-day activities, such as mowing the lawn with a hand mower.
  1. Aerobics. Run, fast walk, bike, or use a machine -- such as a cross-trainer or rower -- for 30 minutes every day. Whatever you choose, you need to work up a light sweat, which means that moderate walking or slowly turning the pedals of an exercise bike won't do it.
  2. Strength training. Lift light weights, use weight training machines, or do push-ups and chin-ups. But whatever you do, make sure you do it vigorously and regularly.
  3. Stretching. Keeping joints, muscles, and tendons loose and supple prevents -- or at least helps cope with -- all sorts of nasty body problems. An hour of yoga, pilates, stretching, or some type of martial arts classes three times a week is just the ticket.
In addition to these structured activities, it pays significant fitness dividends to build a variety of physical activities into your daily routine, such as walking up stairs, gardening with hand tools like a push lawnmower, or parking several blocks or more from your workplace or other destination for a quick walk. Even hanging clothes outside instead of shoving them in the dryer gets you up and about.

But what about the U.S. Surgeon General's recommendation that daily half-hour walks is all the exercise needed to maintain decent health? Stuff and nonsense, as can easily be seen by looking at the rotundity index of C. Everett Coop and his successors.