Are You Fit… Or Are You Just Fooling Yourself?
When I go to the gym, I find myself at times wondering about, “sauna guy”. You’ve seen him. He’s the guy you never see doing anything else in the gym but going into and coming out of the sauna. I often think about stopping him to ask what the sauna does for him? I wonder if he thinks this is helping him lose weight or get in shape. I contemplate, does he call this fitness?
If you've ever wondered yourself, I add this deep dive from one of my heroes of the fitness/nutrition space, Rhonda Patrick, Ph.D. FoundMyFitness Science Podcast. Who knew? I chose her website because she has it broken down by topic that you can click to if you don't want to invest the time and want specific information. Enjoy!
Why do You come Here? What is your ultimate Goal?
What benefit are you gaining?
Now before it sounds like I’m picking on “sauna guy”, what about the guy or girl, sitting on the reclining bicycle watching their favorite show on the attached TV screen. They seem to prefer this piece of equipment and it makes me wonder why. Maybe I always catch them just warming up because they never sweat.
Perhaps I just happen to notice them on a light day… every time I see them.
So Many Options, So Many Choices
Here’s my point. With the state of fitness in the United States today, it’s great to even choose to go to the gym. Many do not. However, what I’d like to consider for a moment is what we do once there. It always amazes me that there are so many options in most gyms with the addition of new equipment all the time. Sometimes I like to try the new stuff just to see what they’ll do for me.
Slow, Steady Wins This Race called Life
If you are just starting out, have a medical condition, or are greatly overweight, start slow and increase duration and intensity over time. For the purposes of this post, we’ll confine our discussion to cardiovascular training. The latest recommendation from the joint American Heart Association/American College of Sports Medicine guidelines on physical activity says all healthy adults ages 18-65 should be getting at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity activity five days a week… as a minimum.
If you’re over 65, God Bless you and keep on keepin on. We’re all catching up.
The, “Authorities” Speak
A change in guidelines published in Circulation; the Journal of The American Heart Association 2007 included 10 minute intervals and above adding up to the 30 minute per day recommended previously. However, what are we trying to accomplish here? The update used the words “affecting chronic disease risk factors”. I don’t know about you but I’m trying to do a bit more than “affect” my risk factors. I want to greatly reduce the risks for chronic diseases and disabilities, and prevent unhealthy weight gain. Additionally, above all, keep moving!
Also, remember these are minimum recommendations. As with anything in life, if you want the minimum, you’ll get minimum returns. I want to live this life to the max seizing each day for the opportunities I’m given. The American Heart Association stated that there may be a benefit by exceeding the minimum recommended amounts of physical activity. I can answer this one from personal experience. I’m always rewarded for challenging myself to improve my fitness level.
That being said, you won’t find me doing 100 mile ultra marathons anytime soon. Now, give me a bike… I may go for 100. Kidding, I found that 60 miles hurts the southern bits a wee too much, 40 miles seems to be my sweet spot. I live here in San Antonio Texas and we would ride 20 miles out and 20 miles back from the picturesque Gruene.
What Level of Intensity is Providing Benefit?
So, what is “moderate intensity? We are not going into the weeds on this one here counting MET or metabolic equivalents. Our reclining bicycle person is one example of extremely low intensity. I can achieve moderate intensity doing house chores by trying to get them done faster so that I can move on to something I want to do. Moderate intensity causes your heart rate and breathing to rise significantly such that you can sustain it for a time, 10 minutes according to the updated guidelines. Once more what do you want minimum or maximum results? Please don't hear me saying that full tilt is the way, it is not... always.
Go for 30 minutes ultimately. Work your way up. Listen to your body.
Moderate-intensity activities are those that get you moving fast enough or strenuously enough to burn off three to six times as much energy per minute as you do when you are sitting quietly, or exercises that clock in at 3 to 6 METs.
METs are a useful, convenient, and standardized way to describe the absolute intensity of a variety of physical activities. Light intensity PA is defined as requir- ing 2.0–2.9 METs, moderate as 3.0–5.9 METs, and vigorous as 6.0 METs
American College of Sports Medicine® (ACSM)
You Don’t Need any Special Equipment or a Gym Membership
To sum all this up I ask again, what are your goals for fitness? Do you just want to relax and unwind, Okay fine, but don’t fool yourself into thinking that there are major health benefits in that. You will not greatly affect your risk factors for chronic diseases, disabilities, or prevent unhealthy weight gain. You do not have to get all overly concerned with differing recommendations. You do not need a gym membership. You do not have to have the latest treadmill, elliptical or gadget. Just move! And move with a purpose to increase your heart rate and breathing for 30 minutes a day for five days. Key note here - find an exercise you enjoy!