The question is admirable; for those who are career-oriented, intent on supporting their families, or passionate about other areas of life, an hour in the gym five days a week just isn’t in the cards.
Thankfully, the minimum effective dose of exercise to be healthy and well-performing is within reach for most busy professionals.
Exercise vs. Movement
First off, it’s important to distinguish between exercise and movement. We’re designed for lots of simple, daily movement — check out my article on NEAT. Our brains and bodies simply evolved to work at their best when we move often.
During the workday, it doesn’t need to be a whole lot. Just two minutes of light movement can restore blood flow to the brain lost during long periods (60–90 min.) of sitting. The British Journal of Sports Medicine found that light movement breaks during sedentary periods improve cognition and increase levels of BDNF, the miracle protein for brain cells.
Try incorporating a 2-minute “movement snack” for every hour of inactivity and on every work break and build in hobbies that involve movement.
More deliberate exercise brings added benefits to our total health and longevity. At least 20 minutes of daily walking will provide adequate BDNF levels, mitochondrial function, and lymphatic circulation. For more intense exercise, opt for 1–2 strength training and 1–2 cardiovascular training sessions per week to maintain muscle, energy production, heart health, and cognitive abilities that naturally diminish with aging.
The whole health & fitness industry can make exercise seem overly complicated, time-consuming, and expensive. It doesn’t have to be any of those things:
- Move often- aim for at least one movement snack (2 minutes) every hour
- 20-minutes of walking daily
- Lift heavy things (or bodyweight) at least once per week
- Get your heart rate up at least once per week
Focusing on these principles will help you achieve the physical and mental benefits of exercise and leave you feeling renewed and refreshed, not exhausted and depleted at the end of the day or week.
At Regenerate, it is our desire to bring performance science and tools to our clients to enhance wellbeing and sustain high levels of performance in the modern work era. To that end, we do share ideas, strategies, and occasionally, supplements that either have evidence-based efficacy and/or we have personally benefitted from. It is in no way meant to serve as medical advice and you should seek a doctor or clinical practitioner prior to any change in lifestyle or nutrition plan.