Dietary Guidelines for Americans

Every few years the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the U.S. Departments of Agriculture (USDA) work together to publish the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. This 144-page document is full of medically and scientifically sound information discussing how you can keep yourself and your family healthy. To keep it simple, this document is broken down into 5 main guidelines that anyone can follow:

  1. Follow a healthy eating pattern across the lifespan. All food and beverage choices matter. Choose a healthy eating pattern at an appropriate calorie level to help achieve and maintain a healthy body weight, support nutrient adequacy, and reduce the risk of chronic disease.
  2. Focus on variety, nutrient density, and amount. To meet nutrient needs within calorie limits, choose a variety of nutrient-dense foods across and within all food groups in recommended amounts.
  3. Limit calories from added sugars and saturated fats and reduce sodium intake. Consume an eating pattern low in added sugars, saturated fats, and sodium. Cut back on foods and beverages higher in these components to amounts that fit within healthy eating patterns.
  4. Shift to healthier food and beverage choices. Choose nutrient-dense foods and beverages across and within all food groups in place of less healthy choices. Consider cultural and personal preferences to make these shifts easier to accomplish and maintain.
  5. Support healthy eating patterns for all. Everyone has a role in helping to create and support healthy eating patterns in multiple settings nationwide, from home to school to work to communities.

The Dietary Guideline also gives some key recommendations to kick-start your healthy eating pattern.

A healthy eating pattern includes:

  • A variety of vegetables from all of the subgroups—dark green, red and orange, legumes (beans and peas), starchy, and other
  • Fruits, especially whole fruits
  • Grains, at least half of which are whole grains
  • Fat-free or low-fat dairy, including milk, yogurt, cheese, and/or fortified soy beverages
  • A variety of protein foods, including seafood, lean meats and poultry, eggs, legumes (beans and peas), and nuts, seeds, and soy products
  • Oils

A healthy eating pattern limits:

  • Saturated fats and trans fats, added sugars, and sodium

Key Recommendations that are quantitative are provided for several components of the diet that should be limited. These components are of particular public health concern in the United States, and the specified limits can help individuals achieve healthy eating patterns within calorie limits:

  • Consume less than 10 percent of calories per day from added sugars
  • Consume less than 10 percent of calories per day from saturated fats
  • Consume less than 2,300 milligrams (mg) per day of sodium
  • If alcohol is consumed, it should be consumed in moderation—up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men—and only by adults of legal drinking age.

In tandem with the recommendations above, Americans of all ages should meet the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans to help promote health and reduce the risk of chronic disease. Americans should aim to achieve and maintain a healthy body weight. The relationship between diet and physical activity contributes to calorie balance and managing body weight.

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Plogging – An Environmentally Friendly Way to Stay in Shape

I recently stumbled upon a workout called plogging, or simply picking up trash while jogging. While this idea may sound ridiculous, it is an excellent environmentally friendly way to reach your health goals. If you ever notice one of your favorite run routes has litter around it, take a trash bag with you next time you go for a run. Every time you notice a piece of trash, squat down to pick it up. The more trash you pick up, the more squats you complete. Not only will your legs and glutes be more toned than if you completed a normal jog, but the Earth will be a cleaner more beautiful place because of your plog.

Here are some tips to having a better plog:

  1. Instead of carrying around a trash bag, line a small backpack with a trash bag and throw all of your trash in the backpack.
  2. Meet with a group and run in different directions around a park. Give a time frame to meet back at the starting point. Whoever has the most trash collected at the end wins. The more miles run usually will mean the more trash you will aquire.
  3. Switch up your plogging location. While a nature trail may need some trash picked up every few weeks, running there every day will be unlikely to provide the trash you would need to get your daily dose of squats.
  4. Conduct a different type of exercise for each type of trash you pick up. Cigarette butts are worth 5 squats, water bottles are worth 5 push ups, and fast food containers are worth 10 sit-ups. Feel free to make your own roster of what trash equals what type of exercise. Be careful of traffic when stopping to conduct an exercise during your plog.

What other ways can you think of that can make plogging or other types of exercise fun and environmentally friendly? Comment below!

2 Weeks to Health 1st Ed – Day 12: Creating a Detailed Workout Plan

This is day 12 of the first edition of the book 2 Weeks to Health, a 2-week course designed to kick start a healthier life. The expanded and reworked second edition is set to be released in the summer of 2018.

“Most people never run far enough on their first wind to find out they’ve got a second.” – William James

By now you probably have a workout routine somewhat in place whether it’s classes, a trainer, or a home DVD. Today’s lesson is all about giving you the information you need to plan your own workout. My goal is by the time you are done reading this, you can create a good workout plan for yourself without needing anyone’s help. I still recommend you use a trainer and to attend any classes or at home video programs you enjoy using, but you will inevitably have days where it’s up to you to get a good workout in.

The first question to ask yourself is ‘how many days should I exercise?’ Shoot for at least 3 days per week with 5 being the ideal amount to begin. With work, school, kids, dinner with friends, and whatever you have going on, you can choose what days those 3 to 5 days happen, but ensure you are fitting in good workouts no shorter than 30 minutes in length. If you still feel short on time and 3 days a week sounds like too many, then do what you can. If you  are only working out 3 or 4 days per week, keep working on your time management to fit in 5 days per week. If you continue to struggle to find time to work out do not feel discouraged, because even one day per week is better than none.

Now that you have your 5 days set, just remember that on your rest days you have more to do than just sit around (see day 7). But what should you do during those 5 days? That will depend on a lot of factors such as your SMART goals, but there are a few things that everyone, regardless of their goals, can focus on. In any given week you want to make sure you workout each muscle group in your body, and that you get plenty of cardio. The main muscle groups fitness enthusiasts recognize are abs, legs, back, arms, chest, and shoulders.  Each week you want to work out each of these muscle groups, but each muscle group has several muscles in them that need to be worked out individually.

When you are planning what to do during your 5 days, I recommend doing 20-30 minutes of cardio, 20-30 minutes focusing on your muscle group of the day, and then some time to warm up, cool down and stretch. Cardio exercises includes swimming, biking, elliptical, stair climbs, running/jogging, and essentially anything that gets your heart run up for an extended period of time. If you have 5 workouts per week and you lift every muscle group and do some form of cardio each workout day, your weekly schedule might look something like this:

Monday: Legs, stairs

Tuesday: Chest, walk/jog

Wednesday: Rest

Thursday: Back, walk/jog

Friday: Shoulders, arms, bike

Saturday: Abs, walk/jog

If your goal is strictly to lose weight, you should still work each muscle group but your focus should be more toward calisthenics rather than lifting weights. For example, instead of going to the bench press to work your chest, it may benefit you more to do push-ups and burpees to work your chest. Also, classes at gyms often focus on the full body. I still highly recommend you hire a trainer so you can know what is best for you, and then you can branch off and do your own workouts based on your own plans. Even if you do not care about building muscle, resistance training (weight lifting) is still very important for your overall health. It has been proven to increase your metabolism, increase bone density, and slows down muscular degeneration which naturally happens with age. Do not just do cardio and neglect the weights.

Now that you made a plan to know what you are doing each day of the week, the next goal is to go into more detail about what you’re going to do when you show up to your workout location, be it your local gym, your living room, or a local track. Let’s say you are planning your own workout for Friday and Saturday, and the rest is with your trainer, and you decided to do yoga on one of your rest days. Now your week is all scheduled, but you just need to make sure you don’t lose any momentum toward your goals on Friday and Saturday. Friday you are planning on going to the local gym, and Saturday you will stay at home and run around the block.

For Friday you decide you need to work your shoulders and arms, and you plan on doing a stationary bike. First you should ensure you are going to work all of your muscles in your shoulders and arms. Your favorite fitness website or application can break down the different exercises for you. You see what exercises are available to exercise your shoulders, and decide to do the shoulder press, and the side lateral raise. You check arm workouts and decide to do hammer curls for biceps and bench dips for triceps. For abs on Friday you decide to do planks, sit-ups, leg lifts, and Russian twists. On the bike you decide to do a 30 minutes interval workout, and the jog will be a 1 mile jog/walk around the block. Now you know all the exercises you’re going to do, and you’re making sure you do cardio, and that you are working out every muscle group this week. If you can do this much workout planning for yourself, you are on the right path and you will learn much more with time. And by the way, your weekly workout plan now looks something like this:

Monday: Legs and stairs with personal trainer

Tuesday: Chest and walk/jog with personal trainer

Wednesday: Yoga Class

Thursday: Back and walk/jog with personal trainer

Friday: Workout without trainer – shoulder press, side lateral raises, hammer curls, bench dips, 30 minutes on the stationary bike with sprint intervals

Saturday: Workout without trainer – planks, sit-ups, leg lifts, Russian twists, walk/jog around the block

Sunday: Rest, stretch, hydrate, recover, motivation, and goals

If all these exercises sound like a foreign language then don’t become discouraged. There are plenty of websites and videos that show pictures and videos of these different workouts, how to do them, and what muscles they target. It will take some time to learn them, and to learn which ones you enjoy doing the most.

At this point in your weekly workout planning you have a trainer or instructor taking care of 4 of your days, and you planning the 3 others. Remember, Sunday may be a rest day in this example, but it doesn’t mean it is an off day. The next question is how many repetitions and sets should you do of the exercises you planned? Individual exercises are broken into sets and repetitions. A repetition is the completion of an exercise when you do it one time. One bicep curl is equal to one repetition. If you do multiple repetitions, let’s say 12, then those 12 repetitions (or reps) make up one set. So if you do 4 sets with 10 repetitions per set, that means you did 40 repetitions total. Another way to measure how much of an exercise to do is by time. For example, you can do planks for 30 seconds or as many sit-ups as you can in a minute.

Any exercise will commonly be 3-6 sets, with anywhere from 5-50+ reps per set depending on the exercise. For shoulder press, and most exercises that are considered weight lifting, you should choose a weight that allows you to do about 8-10 reps before your muscles do not allow you to do any more. The number of repetitions will change depending on your goals, but 10 is a good number. Then depending on the length of your workout, you can choose to do that number of repetitions 3-6 times. You may need to reduce the weight after each set, you will get tired, and that is okay. Allow your body to slightly recover after each set by resting 1-3 minutes.

I’m going to add the reps and sets to the workout plan for Friday and Saturday which now looks like this:

Friday: Shoulder Press 6 x 10 (6 sets, 10 reps), Side Lateral Raises 3 x 10, Hammer Curls 4 x 10, Bench Dips 4 x 10, 30 min bike w/ intervals at an average level of 4

Saturday: Core Workout Circuit repeat 5 times: Planks (1 minute), Sit-ups (1 minute), leg lifts (1 minute), Russian twists (1 minute), once the circuit is complete, jog/walk around the block, 3 minutes of walking with 1 minute of jogging for 30 minutes

You can also add the weight you plan on lifting when you go workout. It is always good to add the extra weight goal into your plan, but it is not required.

 All this workout planning can be done in your food/workout journal, and you can make notes on how you felt, whether you should increase or decrease the number of sets or weight, or anything else that could help you during future workouts. It is also good to do a warm up set with lower weight when you start an exercise. If you are planning on doing 6 sets of shoulder press, then actually do 7, but your first set will be a much lower weight so you can warm up your shoulders before doing a heavier weight.

The Friday workout shows how you might structure a workout at the gym when you have machines available to help you. Saturday shows how you might train at home which includes bodyweight workouts and a jog around your neighborhood. So which one is better? In my opinion neither is better, a balance between the two is what will get you in great shape. If you want to build muscle faster or spice up your cardio life, then a gym is needed. But, becoming stronger, thinner, and healthier can easily be done at home through calisthenics and outdoor cardio. Some of my most difficult workouts use no weights or equipment, and I move no more than a couple feet, so there are no excuses for not getting a great workout in when you are confined to your living room.

Planning can be a lot of fun because you know that the plan you are creating will push yourself to be healthier. It might take a little bit of time to learn and get used to, but once you become more knowledgeable about workout planning, you will be able to walk into the gym without writing anything down and know exactly what to do. That might take a few years, but it’s a great feeling when you reach that point. Next time you do a workout on your own, I challenge you to put some additional thought into your workout based on what you learned today, and ensure that even though there is no trainer there to push you, that you create a plan that pushes yourself.

Your daily workouts are extremely important, but so is what you do every other part of your day that will tip the scale and help you become healthier. If you work a desk job and then come home and sit on the couch and watch TV, even if you workout every day your lifestyle is still fairly sedentary. Tomorrow we will briefly discuss the benefits of staying active around the house and at work.

2 Weeks to Health 1st Ed – Day 6: Tracking Your Workouts

This is day 6 of the first edition of the book 2 Weeks to Health, a 2-week course designed to kick start a healthier life. The expanded and reworked second edition is set to be released in the summer of 2018.

The only bad workout is the one that didn’t happen.

Right now you are working hard, and I admire that you made it all the way to day 6. You are almost half way done with 2 Weeks to Health, and so far you have hopefully learned a lot, but you still have a lot ahead of you. Today is a short lesson, and tomorrow you get to learn about taking breaks. Yes, even breaks have a method to the madness. I hope your daily exercises and your food log are going well.

Just like you need to monitor what you eat, I want you to get into the habit of keeping a workout log. This log can be as detailed as you want it to be, but I recommend that it at least says what day you exercised, how you exercised (weights, walking, etc.), and for how long or how many sets you completed. For example, you should write down “Tuesday Jan 26 – 30 minutes walking, 3 sets bench press, 3 sets curls, 3 sets bench dips, 15 minutes of stretching.” This at least lets you know when you last worked out certain muscle groups. A more detailed workout log, such as the one included in this book, could have the exercise, sets, weight, and repetitions.

There are a lot of workout logs out there that you can buy that are already set up for you, but nothing is as useful as buying a regular notebook from any office supplies store and using that. There is no need to be too fancy, the goal is to keep yourself accountable for your workouts. Sometimes when you have a couple busy days you may need to skip a workout or two, and a log will make sure you can remember when and what your last workout was. You can also track progress with this log. It is always a great feeling to look back in your log and see how much you have improved over the weeks and years.

You can incorporate your workout log with your food log, and also log your weight if that is a goal. This way a single notebook can track your workouts, diet, weight, and any other health factors you may want to know such as heartrates, blood pressure, steps taken, miles walked/ran, medications taken, protein or vitamin supplements taken, water consumed, and anything else you can think of that related to your health.

2 Weeks to Health 1st Ed – Day 3: Getting into a Workout Routine

This is day 3 of the first edition of the book 2 Weeks to Health, a 2-week course designed to kick start a healthier life. The expanded and reworked second edition is set to be released in the summer of 2018.

You’re never too busy, it’s just a matter of priorities.

Welcome to day 3! Today we are going to discuss your options for how to get into a workout routine. I’m going to go step by step and introduce you to the different tools you can use!

Gym Membership:

While it is not required to have a gym membership to exercise, and actually at least a quarter of my workouts do not take place in a gym, this is by far the most common method people take when they decide to improve their health. I see it every year at New Year. On January 1st people flood to the gym with their New Year’s resolution to lose weight, but they never know the commitment it takes and give up when they are two weeks in with no results. That is why it is important to remain mentally strong and to stay motivated.

If you have the money and the time to commute to the gym, I highly recommend you buy a membership and then take advantage of what the gym has to offer. A busy gym can be intimidating because you are waiting for machines that you maybe do not even know if you want to use. Because of how intimidating it can be, I recommend you work out with a personal trainer for at least the first week to learn the basics. If you can’t afford a trainer, I will give you a few tips to get you started (we will talk about more detailed workout planning on day 12).

When you go to the gym, your workout will depend heavily on the time you have and your current fitness levels. This means it would be impossible for me to write a workout plan for you without meeting you. It will be up to you to decide what exactly to do, but here is a skeleton outline of one possibility:

Monday: 5 minute warm up on an elliptical, 15 minutes of ab exercises, 20 minutes of jogging or walking, 5 minutes of cooling down, 10 minutes of stretching

Tuesday: 5 minutes of stretching, 15 minutes of chest exercises, 15 minutes of arm exercises, 10 minutes of walking, 5 minutes of stretching

Wednesday: 5 minute warm up on an elliptical, 15 minutes of leg exercises, 20 minutes of cardio on a stationary bike, 5 minutes of cooling down, 10 minutes of stretching

Thursday: 5 minutes of stretching, 15 minutes of back exercises, 10 minutes of shoulder exercises, 15 minutes of walking, 5 minutes of stretching

Friday: 5 minute warm up on an elliptical, 15 minutes of walking or jogging, 15 minutes on a stationary bike or elliptical, 5 minutes of cooling down, 15 minutes of stretching

This is a very basic outline and assumes you have about an hour to workout. Adjust it as you need to, but remember, right now I don’t really care what you are doing as long as you are doing something every day. Use these workouts as a guideline for now, and we will talk more about this when we discuss detailed workout planning.

Whenever I tell you to do a certain type of exercise (like arms or abs), I recommend you do a little bit of research online to figure out what workouts you can do for them. If you google “arm exercises” you will find thousands of websites and applications that want to show you, for free, a large variety of arm exercises. Just a little bit of research will point you in the right direction. I would have provided a comprehensive list of exercises in this book, but there are already so many great websites that are already doing this. Also, do the same searches for stretching. For example, if you have a bad back, Google search “stretches for a bad back”. It is amazing what loosening your body after sitting all day at work can do for your mobility and overall health.

There are a lot of specialized websites and applications you can use to learn more about workout planning, and I encourage you start learning what does and does not work for you. I caution you, many of them will say ‘get [insert word here] quick’. Don’t be tricked by the get fit quick craze, this isn’t about quickness, it’s about long term sustainable results.

Personal Trainer:

I highly recommend you hire a personal trainer for at least the first week or two if you can afford one. A personal trainer will give you workouts that will push you and match your fitness level. Also, by setting an appointment with a personal trainer you will be less likely to miss a workout. Your gym will have personal trainers available for you to hire. Personal trainers will keep your goals in mind, show you new exercises, they are great to talk to, and they are often great to look at.

Classes:

Signing up for classes is another great way to hold yourself accountable and have fun while working up a sweat. Your local gym will have a class list available, and there may be smaller gyms around town that focus on a certain type of class. Some classes to look out for are Yoga, Bodypump, Zumba, Bootcamp, spin classes, CrossFit, and TRX. Talk to a representative at your local gym to see what they have available!

Friends:

Ask your friends what they are doing to stay in shape, and ask if they want to be your workout buddy. Be careful about what friends you ask. If you have a friend who is pretty fit and frequents the gym, they would be a good person to ask to tag along with. This way you knock out two birds with one stone, you catch up with a friend and fit in your workout for the day. You should avoid working out with friends who are less fit than you are, or friends who know less about health and fitness than you. You want to work out with someone who is going to push you, not someone who will hold you back.

At Home:

If you can’t afford a gym membership or you are stuck in the house then don’t worry. In a recent survey, we discovered that only 29% of people who reach their weight loss goals had a gym membership. There are plenty of ways to get fit at home. First, I encourage you to go for walks or jogs outside when the weather is reasonable. From my personal experiences, there is almost nothing that feels better than completing an outdoor run when the weather is beautiful (especially if you are finishing it at sunrise). If you have the money you can also buy home gym equipment such as a stationary bike, a treadmill, or free weights so you never have to leave the house to workout.

Calisthenics are also very easy to do at home. Some of the most difficult full body workouts I’ve ever completed occurred without any weights or equipment. You would be amazed at how much you can improve at home from 30 minutes of calisthenics. If you are struggling to fit in a workout during the day, then if you have 5 minutes a few times per day, spend that down time doing some sit-ups, lunges, or jumping jacks, or just something that gets your heart rate up.

Another at home workout method is to purchase a workout DVD or application. There are hundreds of DVDs and YouTube videos that you can exercise along with at home. With so many it can be hard to decide on which one to buy. I recommend trying out P90X, but other brands are definitely worth trying. You can find recommended workouts in the 2WeekstoHealth.com store.

If money is a significant concern but you want to spice up your workouts, there is very cheap exercise equipment you can buy to use at home. A jump rope only costs a couple dollars and is a great way to get your heartrate up and to exercise your legs. A medicine ball can increase the effectiveness of your core workouts, and add some additional challenge to your upper body workouts such as push-ups. Also, you can exercise almost every one of your muscle groups with a set of cheap resistance bands.  These can also be purchased in the 2WeekstoHealth.com store.

If you have a smartphone then there are several applications that you can exercise with. Go to your app store and search for fitness applications, and you will find they have workouts for almost everything! Also, video websites such as YouTube have thousands of videos posted by personal trainers that take you through full workouts. Definitely take advantage of all the free workout videos online.

Time Management and Prioritization:

Your day is already packed and it can be difficult to make time for working out, which is why it is important to properly manage your time and prioritize your workout. Whatever you currently do to manage your daily schedule, make sure you physically write in a time to exercise. By putting your workout plan in writing you will be more likely to complete it. If you are having trouble finding time to exercise, then this is where it becomes increasingly difficult. The solution to not having enough time is making sacrifices for your health. Think about what you are currently doing and what can be moved or eliminated so that you have the proper time to work on yourself. For example, maybe you don’t need to go out with your friends 4 days per week, watch hours of Netflix, spend time on social media, or even sleep a full 8 hours per night. Some things you will need to sacrifice to improve your health, even if you need to lose an hour of sleep (although don’t go below 7 hours of sleep).

Heart Rate:

Regardless of how you are exercising, you need to keep your heart rate up. If you are unsure if your heart rate is getting high enough, then I encourage that you buy a sports watch that shows your heart rate. Your target heart rate is a factor of your age, so if you are 30 years old you have a different target than if you are 50 years old. Here is a guide by the American Heart Association that tells you what your target heart rate is when exercising.

Age Target Heart Rate Zone (50-85%) Average Maximum Heart Rate (100%)
20 years 100 – 170 beats per minute 200 beats per minute
30 years 95 – 162 beats per minute 190 beats per minute
35 years 93 – 157 beats per minute 185 beats per minute
40 years 90 – 153 beats per minute 180 beats per minute
45 years 88 – 149 beats per minute 175 beats per minute
50 years 85 – 145 beats per minute 170 beats per minute
55 years 83 – 140 beats per minute 165 beats per minute
60 years 80 – 136 beats per minute 160 beats per minute
65 years 78 – 132 beats per minute 155 beats per minute
70 years 75 – 128 beats per minute 150 beats per minute

Do these sound too difficult?

You may be reading this thinking ‘there is no way I can do any of this’. If this is you, then do what you can, but remember to do something every day. Start by walking up and down the stairs a few times, or walking a couple blocks outside. Slowly increase your intensity, and make sure you are reaching your target heart rate. You will slowly start getting stronger, and you will go back and read this knowing that you are ready for the next step. No matter what your starting point is, you can finish in the best shape of your life.

The 2 Weeks to Health Book 1st Edition Available for Free

The second edition of 2 Weeks to Health is in the works, and there are a lot of changes being made. With the new book about half a year from being completed, I want to share what is new in this upcoming edition, as well as how you can get the old edition for free!

The second edition of 2 Weeks to Health is a complete overhaul from the first. When deciding what changes to make, the key question was ‘will this make an immediate difference’? We used the 80/20 rule to decide what content should be added to the new book. We want to teach you the 20% of fitness and nutrition tips that will make 80% of the difference in your health. That is why this new edition explains how not to ‘major in the minors’ and how to choose what works best for you.

Topics covered in the up and coming edition include how to get started, workout and nutrition tracking, goal setting, overtraining prevention, diet and nutrition, supplementation, exercise and workout planning, lifestyle fitness, and how to bring it all together in a practical way. Be on the lookout for its release later this year.

The first book’s content is similar but different enough than the second edition that I will be releasing the entire book on this site starting on March 1st. Every day starting on the 1st a new chapter will be released. I strongly encourage you to follow along day to day as the chapters are released. Follow us at 2weekstohealth.com to receive updates on the upcoming release of the free 1st edition and the 2nd edition of 2 Weeks to Health!

“The book continues with the basic premise in mind of “Act Now, Learn as You Go, See Results.” I like the actionable tone. The book is set up to make you do, and learn as you go. The education structure is brilliantly laid out in the lessons. One day you learn what you need to know, and the rest of the days build upon the previous day’s lesson. That is how you actually retain information. Day Zero is Preschool, Day Twelve is High School Graduation.” – Approaching Fitness

 

The 3 ‘Rules of 3’ for Exercise

There are three rules of 3 that you should follow when it comes to exercise. They sound very similar, but there are differences between them. They are:

1) Never go three days without exercising

Your body will begin to lose muscular and cardiovascular endurance faster than you may think. To keep up a healthy life make sure you aren’t skipping too many days in between workouts. If you notice the last time you exercised was three days ago, then try to ensure you do not take another day off.

2) Workout at least three days per week

If rule number one is followed, then most likely you will follow number two. However, if you spread out your exercises too much you may realize you are only exercising 2 days per week. To avoid this, always strive for three workouts per week. Don’t jam them all into a three day weekend. Spread them out in order to accomplish both the first and the second rule.

3) Exercise for at least 30 minutes

The last of the three rules is to ensure you are exercising for at least 30 minutes at a time. While it may be enticing to go for a 10-minute jog to fulfill your daily workout, this only hurts your long-term health. The ideal length of a workout is about an hour, but do not let your workouts last less than 30 minutes.

If you currently have a sedentary life and you begin to follow these three rules, you will discover that just a few workouts per week will make you feel significantly stronger and mentally more aware.

The 6 by 6 Workout: A Full Body Workout for when the Weather’s Keeping You in

Sometimes it is nearly impossible to get outside for a run or to drive to the gym. With the recent Hurricanes pushing through the lower and eastern states, hurricane parties are all the rage. But for my fitness enthusiasts out there, here is a simple and easy workout you can do anywhere you have an open space that is 6 feet by 6 feet.

The 6 by 6 workouts is a series of 6 exercises that you do 6 times each in an area that takes only 6 feet by 6 feet. No equipment is required so you can complete this workout almost anywhere! Here is the workout:

Complete 1 minute of bicycle kicks.

After completing bicycle kicks, immediately begin alternating lunges and time for 1 minute.

Complete 1 minute of traveling push-ups.

1 minute of body-weight squats.

1 minute of mountain climbers.

Then conclude the circuit with 1 minute of side kicks.

After completing 1 minute’s worth of all three exercises, rest for 1 minute and then repeat this circuit 5 more times. This workout is designed to activate your full body with an emphasis on your hips and core.

“Exercise and temperance can preserve something of our early strength even in old age.” – Marcus Tullius Cicero

“Exercise and temperance can preserve something of our early strength even in old age.” – Marcus Tullius Cicero

 

Cicero was born in 106 BCE. He was a philosopher and a politician in the Roman Empire and was a witness to Caesar’s death.[1] While he nor anyone in the Roman Empire were spreading the vast benefits of exercise to one’s health, this quote from Cicero shows us that attempts to prolong health and life through exercise and nutrition are relatively old concepts that have adapted over time. Before agricultural practices were established, exercise was built into a human’s day considering it was necessary to move around to hunt and gather food. As agriculture became more prominent, daily physical activity decreased. In order to keep militaries strong and populations healthy, civilizations came up with sports, gymnastics, and martial arts to keep their people strong enough to fight.[2] The Spartans are a good example of an early exercise that was specific to combat. Cicero and the Romans were a part of this era, but as the Roman Empire grew, their lavish life often allowed their nonmilitary citizens to live a sedentary life.[3]

“Our very exercises and recreations, running, wrestling, music, dancing, hunting, riding, and fencing will prove to be a good part of our study.” – Michel de Montaigne

As we entered the Renaissance, philosophers such as Michel de Montaigne believed that exercise was an important form of education and emphasized the need for exercise and games.[4] Links between the body and the mind became well known. Exercise, games, and sport continued to be a staple of human culture, but it wasn’t until the 20th century that we saw recreational exercise plans and physical education become common place.[5] Today, not only do our military train for power like the Romans and the Spartans, but we can all exercise to “preserve something of our early strength even in old age”.

[1] http://www.iep.utm.edu/cicero/

[2] https://www.unm.edu/~lkravitz/Article%20folder/history.html

[3] Ibid

[4] http://www.jblearning.com/samples/0763749591/49591_ch03_mclean.pdf

[5] https://www.unm.edu/~lkravitz/Article%20folder/history.html

Nickels and Dimes Workout

Nickels and Dimes is a fun workout you can do almost anywhere. At the top of every minute for 10 minutes you will complete 5 pull-ups (nickels) and 10 push-ups (dimes). By the end of the workout, you will have completed 50 pull-ups and 100 push-ups.

Your first set you may be able to complete the nickels and dimes within the first 20 seconds. As your workout continues, it will take longer to complete each set, thus giving you less and less of a rest period. By the 10th minute, you may not get to rest at all, and you will need to power through to complete the workout! It may sound easy, but it just 10 minutes you can get one heck of a workout.

You can modify this workout as needed. For example, you can do the workout for 15 minutes instead of 10, shorten or lengthen the rest period, or you can do pennies and nickels and complete 1 pull-up and 5 push-ups.

You can also change the exercises from pull-ups and push-ups to exercises that strengthen other muscle groups. You can do 5 tuck-jumps and 10 lunges, 5 leg raises and 10 sit-ups, or even sprint for 5 seconds and jog for 10 seconds. Each one of these will be repeated at the top of the minute.

I enjoy this exercise because at the surface it is very simple, every minute you do 5 pull-ups and 10 push-ups. But to meet your fitness goals, you can modify it to be a simple timed circuit that can be completed almost anywhere.