I’m a minimalist when it comes to exercise. A really small, really intense dose is all that is needed for the vast majority of people to manifest all of the health benefits that exercise can provide. This does not mean that you can then get away with bed rest in the face of this concentrated dose of exercise, I’m not saying that at all. I’m saying that if a person is living a fairly “normal” life with a decent amount of non-exercise activity built into their day, not a lot of “exercise” is needed above that to maximize health markers.
Tag Archives: Skyler Tanner
Before beginning or modifying a fitness program, it’s helpful to take some baseline physical measurements. Re-measure periodically. That way you’ll know whether you’re making progress, holding steady, or regressing. Improving your numbers also helps to maintain motivation.
Not taking measurements would be like starting a weight loss plan without a baseline and subsequent weights.
Eighteen months ago, I finished a home-based, 15-week, six-days-a-week fitness program called Core Performance, designed by Mark Verstegen. I was pleased with the results. The only problem is that it’s very time-consuming, 45-60 minutes a day. Perhaps fitness just has to be that way.
I regret that I didn’t take any fitness measurements before and after starting Core Performance.
For much of the last year, I modified Core Performance to a thrice weekly, then twice weekly program, until a couple months ago when I pretty much abandoned it. I miss the benefits now, but just didn’t want to put in the time to achieve them. In other words, I lost my motivation.Intellectually, I know that regular exercise is important. I’ve read that you can be fairly fit with as little as 30 minutes of exercise a week. I’m not entirely convinced yet. I’ll be test-driving some of these time-efficient programs over the next 12 months. One I’ve done already is Hillfit.
What to Measure
- Blood pressure
- Resting heart rate (first thing in the AM before getting out of bed)
- Waist circumference (upright and supine)
- Body mass index
- Mid-arm circumference, both arms, hanging relaxed at your sides
- Maximal calf circumference, both calves, while standing at ease
- Maximum number of consecutive pull-ups
- Maximum number of consecutive push-ups
- Run/walk one mile as fast as you can
- Maximum vertical jump (stand by a tall wall then jump and reach up as high as you can with one arm, noting the highest point above ground your fingers can reach)
- Can you touch your toes? Stand up straight, locking knees in extension, then bend over at your waist and touch your toes with your fingertips. If you can touch toes, can you flatten your palms against the floor? If you can’t reach your toes, measure the distance from your fingertips to the floor.
- Optional blood work for special situations: fasting blood sugar, hemoglobin A1c, triglycerides, cholesterols (total, HDL, LDL, sub-fractions)
The particular aspects of fitness these measure are strength and endurance in major muscle groups, cardiovascular and pulmonary endurance, a little flexibility, and a hint of body composition.
You may appreciate an assistant to help you measure some of these.
It’a long list. If too long, just do what you think is important. Record your numbers. Re-test some or all of these periodically, such as every six weeks after making a change.
If you’re in fairly poor condition at the outset, you’ll see some improved numbers after a couple or three weeks of a good exercise program. It takes months to build significant muscle mass; you’ll see improved strength and endurance before mass.
Am I missing anything?
- Your genetics largely determines your response to an exercise program
- Physical activity isn’t a great way to lose weight
- School-based or other programs to increase childhood physical activity probably won’t reverse childhood obesity statistics
- Disregarding weight loss, exercise has other worthwhile metabolic advantages
- Highly advanced societies shouldn’t blame our overweight problem on decreased levels of physical activity
Skyler Tanner slaughters some sacred cows in his blog post June 4, 2012. I pulled these bullet points from his post. Click on his embedded links for details.
Exercise is not supposed to be fun. If it is, then you should suspect that something is wrong.
When I was a young man in my 30s, I was jogging 20 miles a week and ran a couple marathons (26.2 miles). I enjoyed it and didn’t do much else for exercise or overall fitness. I thought I was in pretty good shape. You can get away with that when you’re 35, but not when you’re 50. At 57 now, I can’t think of any single recreational activity that can help me maintain the overall strength, functionality, and injury resistance I want and need as I age.
I’ve come to view exercise as a chore, like flossing/brushing teeth, changing the oil in my car, and sleeping when I’d rather not. I’ve got my current exercise chore whittled down to an hour three times a week. OK, sometimes just twice a week.
Skyler Tanner takes a thoughtful and in-depth look at the exercise versus recreation dichotomy at his blog. If you have comments, more people will see them at his site than here.
Steve Parker, M.D.
Exercise is not supposed to be fun. If it is fun, then you should suspect that something is wrong.
The quote above is from an essay entitled “Exercise vs Recreation” by Ken Hutchins, posted at the Efficient Exercise website. Skyler Tanner works at Efficient Exercise and his blog is one that I follow. We have a strange connection. Skyler grew up in Fountain Hills, AZ; I live about 20 miles from there. He lives in Austin, TX, now; I lived there for eight years.
Here’s another quote from that essay:
One pound of human fat can support the energy demands of running 35-45 miles, probably more. This would require the average man to run for 6-8 hours. He would burn the calories he could easily ingest in as many minutes.
Hutchins’ essay is thought-provoking. It may change the way you think about exercise.