Contrary to popular belief getting fit and healthy doesn't have to be hard work. There's the common misconception that to be fit and healthy you should run lots, cycle lots or generally get lots and lots of exercise. Couple this with the constant pressure to go on diets and restrict calories and being fit and healthy becomes a chore rather than something people like to do. But is there another way?
YES! Yes there is another way. Keep reading today's article to find out how to become fit and healthy without hours and hours pounding the treadmill or cutting your calories to alarmingly low levels.
The first thing to look at is how you exercise. There's increasing evidence out there that chronic long distance exercise completed over years and years could actually be damaging to our bodies. We wouldn't have evolved to run everywhere - it uses much more energy. We would've evolved walking and foraging, saving our energy to run when hunting or being hunted. We need to translate this to our modern exercise routine. How? Basically move around slowly a lot - walk more, sit less, run long distances less. Then we need to act like we're hunting - short, sharp and fast bursts of running / sprinting once or twice a week. No more than 10s at a time and plenty of rest in between. That sounds easier than running a marathon! Interval sprint training has been proven to improve many aspects of health and fitness, along with massively aiding weight management.
We would've also evolved lifting heavy weights on a relatively regular basis. We would've had to carry our hunting spoils back to the cave and move things around with our hands (no machines to help). To replicate this we'd recommend that everyone, yes everyone, lifts relatively heavy (for you) weights once or twice a week. Simple exercises like squats or deadlifts are probably best and a few sets of each will only take half an hour. Easy compared to the hour and a half lots of people feel they need to put into the gym on a regular basis. Again, there's plenty of evidence to show the great impact on health and fitness lifting weights has. (And no, it won't make you look like Arnie!!!)
As well as sprinting and lifting weights it's also key to stay supple and look after your joints. We'd recommend a regular bout of dynamic stretches to keep things healthy here. When you first start you may want to do this a few times a week. But eventually you could get away with half an hour a week working on flexibility, foam rolling and suppleness.
So that's about 1.5 to 2.5 hours of exercise per week, most of which can be done at home / close to home and only the weights will need a gym (unless you buy some and have space for a squat rack). It' also chopped up into bite size chunks of half an hour each time.
As for nutrition we'd advise people to ditch their low fat, calorie controlled diets as there's plenty of evidence that they don't work long term. Around 90% of people that lose weight in this way put it back on, or more, within a few years. Also, who says losing weight that way is healthy? Effectively starving yourself can't be good for you surely. Instead of focusing on the quantity of food one eats we need to focus more on the quality of food. Eat farm fresh vegetables, grass reared meat and ditch processed junk (pretty much all processed food) and you'll feel and see a difference almost immediately. Cut out sugar and grains as much as possible and your weight will start to control itself. By eating quality food your body will stop you eating too much. It really works! Why not chuck in a bit of intermittent fasting too - sounds hard but is easy once you get used to it. This way of eating has also been shown to have massive impacts on health and fitness (not just weight management).
So there you have it. A few tips for exercise routines and nutrition that will make you fit and healthy. Don't change things all at once though, for it to be sustainable you've got to go bit by bit. Remember it's not a race but a journey. It could take a year or two to effectively change everything but during the process you'll feel better everyday and you'll be enjoying yourself!