Exercise is one of the daily practices that experts recommend for a long and healthy life. Dr. Peter Attia, a physician who researches longevity, thinks exercise has a greater effect on lifespan than other lifestyle factors like nutrition and sleep.
“Longevity, both through lifespan and health span, is impacted more through exercise than any of the other variables we have,” said Attia on the wellness podcast, “Ten Percent Happier with Dan Harris.”
But how often you should work out each week varies, depending on factors like age and time constraints. “You don’t have to exercise 14 to 16 hours per week,” if doing so isn’t feasible, Attia added.
Still, there is one specific way that people should structure their workouts to achieve optimal health, Attia said, regardless of how much time you have.
The ideal exercise ratio for a long life
Half of the exercises you do weekly should be strength-training, Attia said on the podcast. This means if you’re working out eight hours a week, you should devote four hours to developing your strength and stability.
Strength-training focuses on “increasing muscular strength, endurance, and bone density,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It can also be referred to as resistance training, and the exercises can improve your insulin sensitivity and glucose metabolism, the CDC states.
Strength-training exercises include:
- Bodyweight squats
The other half of your time should prioritize cardio exercises, Attia said in the episode. And for your cardio workouts specifically, 80% of your workout should be low-intensity, and the remaining 20% should be high-intensity, he added.
Low-intensity is when “you can still speak, [but] you just don’t want to,” he explained. If you can’t speak anymore, you’ve officially entered high-intensity mode.
Cardio, or aerobic exercise “gets you breathing harder and your heart beating faster,” which is very beneficial for cardiovascular health, according to the CDC.
Low-intensity cardio exercises that you can do are:
- Riding a bike at a moderate pace
- Mowing your lawn
- Swimming laps in a pool
High-intensity aerobic exercises to try are:
- Jumping jacks
- Riding a bike on a hill
- Jump ropes
Remember not to get too wrapped up in how many hours you’re exercising each week because even a little bit of exercise is better than none at all, Attia noted on the podcast.
“If you take a person who is doing zero exercise, and you just get them to the point where they’re doing three hours a week,” he said, “you will still give them a 50% reduction in all-cause mortality. “
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