(One message of this blog is that, with persistence, you can be healthy, vibrant and highly productive throughout your life. Here is still another scientific study that proves our point.)
According to Norwegian researchers, a 50-year-old who exercises regularly can be as fit as a 20-year-old who doesn’t exercise.
The study showed that:
Youth is not necessarily the most important factor when it comes to being fit.
Activity is far more important than age in determining fitness.
Both the amount and the intensity of the exercise are important.
These researchers found that by increasing the intensity of exercise, people are able to reduce their risk of metabolic syndrome, the cluster of risk factors that increases the chances of developing type 2 diabetes, stroke and cardiovascular diseases.
The least fit people, no matter what their age, have the poorest measures of cardiovascular health, such as higher blood pressure and high cholesterol.
The process of getting healthy and staying healthy is simple . . . but it’s not always easy. To receive the health benefits of exercise, you have to exercise with intensity.
One way to do this is through interval training where you alternate short bursts of high intensity exercise with short periods of lower intensity exercise.
For example, you might run for 1 to 4 minutes followed by 1 to 4 minutes of walking. Then, when you progress, you could alternate hard running with slower, easier running.
Your goal is to work up to 30 minutes of exercise per day.
Of course, especially if you are a couch potato now, you should consult with your physician before beginning an exercise program . . . and always use common sense. The first rule of exercise is: don’t hurt yourself.
This blog exists to put more years in your life and more life in your years.
One of the best things you can do to achieve those twin goals is free and doesn’t take long, although you will get sweaty (and no, I’m not talking about that!).
It’s exercise. There is overwhelming evidence that increasing physical activity leads to improvements in your health, mood and over-all well-being.
But how much exercise do you need to receive the benefits?
The United States’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week, plus two additional strength-training sessions.
The UK government also recommends that adults get 150 minutes of activity a week.
Now, however, there is evidence that even less exercise than that – as little as 15 minutes per day or about 90 minutes a week – will give you significant health benefits.
A recently-published study, done in Taiwan, involved following more than 400,000 people for an average of 8 years. Based on their self-reports of their weekly exercise, the study participants were placed in one of these five categories: inactive, low, medium, high or very high activity.
Those in the inactive group were couch potatoes who did virtually no exercise. The low activity group exercised an average of 92 minutes a week. Each group above that exercised progressively more each week.
Here comes the good part . . .
Compared to those in the inactive group, those in the low-activity group were 14 percent less likely to die from any cause, 10 percent less likely to die of cancer, and had a three-year longer life expectancy, on average.
And there’s even more good news . . .
Each additional 15 minutes of daily exercise (up to 100 minutes a day) reduced the risk of death by an additional 4%, and people who got 30 minutes of activity a day added about four extra years to their life expectancy, when compared with their sedentary peers.
These findings were the same in men and women and in all age groups. They even apply to people with cardiovascular disease risks.
“You can get good gains with relatively small amounts of physical activity. More is always better, but less is a good place to start”
Professor Stuart Biddle, an expert in exercise psychology at Loughborough University
How vigorously do you have to exercise? Well, you don’t have to throw around heavy weights or run until your tongue hangs out. You can do that if you want, but you will get the health benefits from such moderate exercise as biking, walking briskly or dancing.
There is no upper age limit. This applies to everyone. If you don’t believe me, read this post about a study of weight training by seniors.
Convinced? Do you plan to get off the couch for at least 15 minutes a day and get moving to add bounce to your step and years to your life?
If you still don’t “get it,” let me tell you about even more new research.
A study done in Australia on health risks linked to TV viewing suggests that too much time sitting in front of the box can shorten your life expectancy. In fact, the study showed that watching television for 6 hours a day can shorten your life by 5 years!
The scientists who conducted this study do not know why this is the case, and it may simply be because viewers who watch a lot of telly do little or no exercise.
These new studies were summed up by England’s Chief Medical Officer, Sally Davies, who said: “Physical activity offers huge benefits and these studies back what we already know – that doing a little bit of physical activity each day brings health benefits and a sedentary lifestyle carries additional risks.”
Everyone knows that, since about 1970, Americans have been getting fatter and fatter.
As of 2010, 2 out of 3 Americans are overweight or obese (based on BMI, Body Mass Index). If current trends continue, by 2020, 3 out of 4 Americans will be overweight or obese. And by 2030, the figure will be 86%.
New studies are showing that obesity is not just an American problem. While Americans are leading the way, many of the richest nations are also becoming more obese.
This chart shows past and projected future overweight rates. The trends are both clear and alarming.
The Weight Loss Solution
OK, we’re getting fatter. We all know that. The important question is “What can we do about it?”
No doubt, there are big changes that have to be made to help combat these frightening trends. We need legislative and policy changes that reward healthy habits and discourage unhealthy ones. Generally, the health care system must focus more on preventing illness than simply treating it.
However, at the individual level – the level we can affect most directly and most quickly – the solution is clear and simple.
When you take in more calories than you expend, you gain weight. For every 3600 unburned calories you take in, you gain one pound.
To lose weight, you have to burn more calories by exercising regularly and take in fewer calories by eating better foods and smaller portions. It’s that simple.
Suggestions For Getting Started
Yes, losing weight is simple. It’s just not easy. It requires lifestyle changes.
Don’t be intimidated by the prospect of making those lifestyle changes. Here are two tips that will make it easier:
1. Get started now. Not next month. Not when the kids go back to school. Not after the big report is finished. Not even tomorrow. TAKE ACTION NOW.
2. Don’t expect perfection from yourself, just improvement. Understand that it took a while to gain the weight and it will take time to lose it. If you have a bad day, forget it. Do better the next day. Be patient but persistent. Don’t give up.
I changed my daily routine because my personal, non-business projects – such as writing this blog — were regularly being pushed to the end of the day. Then, too often, I was beat from a hard business day and the personal projects didn’t get done.
I wasn’t giving my personal projects and goals the priority I should have.
By nature, I’m an early person. I go to bed fairly early and I get up early. My mind is clearest in the morning. I’m not as sharp or vigorous at night.
I decided to rearrange my activities to take these realities into consideration.
My New Daily Routine
Here’s what I came up with . . .
5:30 a.m. — Get up.
5:30 a.m.to 6:30 a.m. – Breakfast. Simultaneously, I’m reading newspapers and magazines on my iPad.
6:30 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. — Personal, non-business, projects — including this blog.
9:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. — Regular business work.
12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. — Exercise.
1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. — Lunch. Usually with my wife. This is our main meal of the day.
2:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. — Regular business work.
7:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. — Light meal with my wife.
8:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. — Personal and play time.
10:00 p.m. – Bedtime.
This is the weekday schedule. Believe it or not, on weekends I usually get up at the same time. And I put in some time on my special projects in the early morning. I wrote part of this article early on a Saturday morning.
Friday and Saturday nights are date nights. Sometimes, Sunday night is also a date night. And, occasionally, so is Tuesday. Remember, it’s about priorities.
How’s My New Daily Routine Working?
After 6 months, this routine is working very well for me. I’ll stick with it . . . until I come up with a better plan.
Here are some further thoughts about changing my daily routine . . .
Making the changes was easier than I expected.
I’m accomplishing far more than ever on my personal projects because I’m working on them regularly and when I am the sharpest.
I’m getting more benefit from my exercise because I’m doing it midday when I am physically strongest.
By being the Early Bird, I always feel that I am “ahead.” Before the start of the normal business day, I have several hours of focused work under my belt which gives me a feeling of accomplishment. By the time I break for exercise and lunch, I have put in almost a full day of work.
The long midday break is very relaxing and reinvigorating, and it gives my wife and me more time to spend together.
I usually stick to the schedule, but I’m not crazy compulsive about it. When circumstances require it, I deviate from the routine. For example, a couple times during the week, I do volunteer work so I have to adjust to make the time.
I’m not saying this schedule would work for you. This is a schedule that works for me under my circumstances. And my circumstances are a little unusual. I am self-employed, I work most of the time in a home office and my children are grown and out of the house.
Please share anything about your daily routine that would help other readers.
The flimsiest possible justification for maintaining your daily routine without change, year after year, is that you have always done it that way.
So, about 6 months ago, I started thinking about my daily routine and wondering whether I could tweak it to make it more efficient.
Maybe you should look at your routine, too. These are the 2 main questions to ask yourself . . .
1. Are you doing all the things you should every day?
2. Are you doing them at the best time of day?
What Activities Should Be In Your Daily Routine?
Let’s start with the things you do every day.
Sure, most of your schedule is decided for you by work and family commitments. But you must make time for yourself.
Two critical activities are missing from many daily routines. One is exercise. The other is personal time to do important “special projects.” Special projects can be building a side business online, acquiring a new skill, writing a book or whatever else helps to achieve important goals. Writing this blog is one of my special projects.
Regular exercise is a non-negotiable requirement for a healthy and happy life. Just do it. Set it (in your routine) and forget it.
Time to pursue your goals is also essential for a happy life. The emphasis here is on your goals, not your employer’s goals or someone else’s goals. These are the objectives that will make you healthier, wealthier and happier when you achieve them.
When Should You Do Each Activity In Your Daily Routine?
Once you have decided which activities to include in your daily routine, you have to decide the order in which you will do them.
In other words, when will you exercise, when will you work on your special projects and when will you do any other activities that are important to you?
The experts disagree on the best time to exercise. Some swear by a morning workout to rev up your metabolism and clear your head for the day. Others believe that midday workouts break up the day, de-stress you and prepare you for the afternoon. Still others are convinced that late afternoon or evening workouts are best because they de-stresses you from the day and help you sleep better.
The answer is that you should exercise when it fits best into your schedule so you will do it. If you’re concerned that you will find reasons not to exercise if you put it off until later, do it first.
If possible, you should work on your special projects when you are sharpest. Make your projects and goals a priority.
If you are an Early Bird, work on your projects in the early morning, before your other activities. If you are a Night Owl, schedule personal time later at night. If you’re super motivated to achieve your goals, work on them both early and late.
Here’s my suggestion.
Take a look at your schedule and decide whether it includes all the right activities and whether you are doing the activities at the best possible times. This exercise could turn out to be one of the most important things you ever do for yourself.
A study by statistician Nic Marks and his organization, the New Economics Foundation, found that you can increase your happiness by doing these 5 things . . .
1. Connect with your loved ones and build strong social relationships.
2. Be physically active.
3. Be aware of the world around you, locally and globally.
4. Engage your curiosity and keep learning your whole life.
5. Give. Donate money or time to others.
Actually, these findings were part of a presentation Marks made on the need for countries to increase the well-being and happiness of its citizens without doing environmental damage.
Marks’ statistics show that the countries of the world are becoming lessefficient at using the earth’s resources. That is, the use of the earth’s resources is increasing much faster than is our well-being.
The goal of countries, says Marks, should be to increase the well-being and happiness of its citizens in an earth-friendly way.
Right now, one country is doing that better than the others.
Is it the United States? No. Great Britain? No. Another Western country? Nope. How about some super-rich Gulf State? No, again.
The country that is providing the most well-being and happiness with the least environmental cost is . . .
According to a recent Gallup poll, Costa Rica is the happiest country in the world. And they achieved this distinction while using about 1/4 of the earth’s resources that the U.S. and other Western nations use.
Perhaps the key is that environmental friendliness is policy in Costa Rica which has a declared goal of being carbon neutral by 2021. Already, 99% of Costa Rica’s electricity comes from renewable sources.
A positive mental outlook or frame of mind has been shown to have many benefits.
It turns out that, among the benefits, an optimistic disposition is an important factor in job search success.
That’s the conclusion of a Working Paper written by business professors Ron Kaniel, Cade Massey, David T. Robinson (of Duke, Yale and Duke, respectively) with the academic-sounding title “The Importance of Being an Optimist: Evidence from Labor Markets.”
The professors studied MBA students at an unnamed mid-Atlantic university and this is what they concluded . . . (the emphasis comes from me)
“Dispositional optimism is a personality trait associated with individuals who believe, either rightly or wrongly, that in general good things tend to happen to them more often than bad things. Using a novel longitudinal data set that tracks the job search performance of MBA students, we show that dispositional optimists experience significantly better job search outcomes than pessimists with similar skills. During the job search process, they spend less effort searching and are offered jobs more quickly. They are choosier and are more likely to be promoted than others. Although we find optimists are more charismatic and are perceived by others to be more likely to succeed, these factors alone do not explain away the findings. Most of the effect of optimism on economic outcomes stems from the part that is not readily observed by one’s peers.”
(One of the things I do to have fun and stay positive is write. Therefore, I will from time to time post articles about writing. I hope you enjoy this one.)
I don’t read fiction.
It just doesn’t interest me. With limited time, I prefer non-fiction that can teach me something and make me more productive.
I don’t write fiction either. And I have little interest in technical writing, professional writing or poetry.
The focus here will be on expository writing (where you explain something) and persuasive writing (where you attempt to convince someone to adopt a certain view of take a particular action).
To get us started, here are my top 2 tips for better expository and persuasion writing . . .
A lot. See how the pros do it. Copy them. When you see something special, put it in your “swipe file” so you can use it later as a model for your own work. (Note that I’m not recommending that you re-use the same thing. That’s plagiarism.)
Just as it’s the way to get to Carnegie Hall in the old joke, the best way to become a better writer is to practice, practice, practice.
Now that I’ve demonstrated a mastery of the obvious, here are 10 more tips for sprucing up your persuasive writing. . .
3. Have Something To Say
“Good writing is good thinking expressed clearly.”
This simple definition by copywriter Michael Masterson brilliantly proves his point.
Invariably, when I am having trouble writing something, the problem is with my thinking. At some point, I realize that I just don’t really know what I want to say. As soon as my thinking gets more clear . . . voila! . . . so does my writing.
4. Just Start Writing
Some work better from an outline but most, including me, do better by starting out capturing what is inside us. All of it, the good and the bad. Just let it flow. From there, you can refine, organize and edit your writing.
5. Keep It Simple
Write to express, not to impress. Use the simplest word that will convey your point. Sometimes, “prolix,” “verbose” or even “loquacious” will be the exact word you need, but usually “talkative” or “wordy” will do the trick.
6. Write Short Declarative Sentences In The Active Voice
Active voice means the subject of the sentence does the acting. (The alternative, passive voice, means the subject of the sentence is acted upon.)
Usually, the active “Phil loves Kathie” is much stronger than the passive “Kathie is loved by Phil.”
7. Eliminate All Unnecessary Words
Make every word count.
This is a better sentence than “Make every single word count.” And it is a better sentence than “Always make every word count.”
8. While Writing Simply And Directly, Use Strong, Descriptive Words
“Mary ran home” is not as powerful as “Mary sprinted home” or “Mary sprinted home with an urgency she had never felt before.”
“The sunset was beautiful” is a yawner. “The setting sun set the sky ablaze with a combination of fiery red and flaming orange” is better and paints a picture that the reader can easily see.
One good way to edit is to read your work out loud.
10. Use Correct Spelling, Punctuation And Grammar
I admit that I am one of those people who dismisses, or at least diminishes, what is written with poor spelling, punctuation or grammar. And I’m sure I’m not the only language snob out here. Don’t give us an excuse to diminish your writing. Get the grammar basics right.
11. Organize Your Writing To Help Your Reader
Use headlines, sub-headlines and bullets to made it easy for your reader to see your main points. This is a virtual necessity for writing online where surfers stop briefly and won’t stay unless you quickly show them that you’ve got the goods they’re looking for.
12. Most Of All, Be Yourself
Few of us have anything original to say. If what we write has value it is because we bring our perspective and our experience to a topic. So, be yourself and tell your story. Tell it as if you were writing or speaking to a friend.