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Longevity: A Low-Commitment Way to Lengthen Your Life

“Everybody has to die sometime.”

“No one knows the day or the hour of his demise.”

“Well, you can’t control when you’re going to die, so it doesn’t matter what you do in this life.”

I’ve heard people say things like this my whole life. People seem to carry around a morbid sense of inevitability about their death. Since they are going to die at some time that they believe has already been set in the cosmos, nothing they do will change that date.

That’s hogwash. While you can’t control the behaviors of other people, and the world is filled with dangers, you can control how long your body performs its normal functions the way they were designed.

If you made a diet of fatty foods and spent your whole adult life shuffling from the bed to the car to the desk to the couch to bed, you can reasonably expect that your body will develop diseases that shorten your life. So, if your behaviors can cause you to die earlier than you otherwise would have, doesn’t it stand to reason that opposite behaviors can cause you to live longer than you otherwise would have?

You do not have to die of heart disease, diabetes, stroke, or even cancer, no matter what your family tree has experienced. There are things you can do to prevent early death, at least from a physiological standpoint.

I want you to read this fascinating article, because there’s a ton of detail in it about how 30 minutes of moderate exercise every day could extend your life.

Consider this statement from Dr. I-Min Lee of Brigham and Women’s Hospital, a Harvard professor and senior author of that recent paper, “Leisure Time Physical Activity of Moderate to Vigorous Intensity And Mortality: A Large Pooled Cohort Analysis:

Say you start with someone 45 years old who begins to follow the 150-minute-a-week recommendation. Average American life expectancy is 78. So: “If you start exercising at 45 and you die at 78, that means that you exercise for 33 years, at 150 minutes a week. I calculated that over 33 years you would need to spend basically 4,290 hours in exercise, which is 179 days of exercise, which is less than half a year. So that’s half a year, and you gain almost three and a half years, so it is worth exercising. That’s an approximate scenario using reasonable assumptions, and you’re getting a 1-to-7 return.”

The math is interesting, and there are numerous variables that affect outcomes, but the underlying theme is indisputable: even a little bit of exercise can delay your death. Couch potatoes are at greater risk of disease and early death than active people.

Is there a point of diminishing returns? Yes, there does come a point where the benefits of exercise start to taper off, but it’s much higher than anything you have in mind. If you exercise for eight hours every single day, you are likely going to damage your muscles and skeleton in some way. As I’ve long stated, short bursts of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) are much better for you than exercise of extended duration. But don’t take my word for it, Dr. Joseph Mercola has much to say about the benefits of this kind of training.

No matter how you slice it, an active lifestyle will increase the length and improve the quality of your life over a sedentary lifestyle every time. I know it can be daunting to get started – the federal guideline of 150 minutes of active movement every week can seem overwhelming at first – but it’s so worth it to add any amount of movement to your life. I’m not suggesting you join a gym or spend a bunch of money on workout equipment. And I certainly don’t recommend that you try to work out for hours every day. That’s silly. Everything you need to be active and healthy is free, and it only takes a few minutes a day.

You just have to start.

Let’s keep it simple: start with the first “Move Right Monday” video and work your way through them. I recorded them in groups of three or four, so you can start today with the first one, tomorrow add the second one to it, and then add the third and fourth over the next few days. Do each exercise for five minutes. I always recommend that you do each exercise for five minutes 5 to 8 times a day (for example, at the top of every hour set a timer and go for five minutes), but if you start with only one five-minute session a day, you can call that a victory. Make a game out of it. Alternate between the four exercises for 20 minutes.

You can do it! And it will improve the quality of your life.

Don’t forget to read the article. There’s so much good stuff here, you might even want to share it.

I love to hear stories of real results. If you’ve been doing the “Move Right Monday” exercises since we started them in February, share your story in the comments section on Facebook. Your success just might be the impetus someone needs to push them out of their chair and get them moving. And you never know: it might be what saves their life. Literally. This is serious stuff.

“At the end of your feelings is NOTHING. At the end of your principles is a PROMISE.”  — Eric Thomas

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