The Magic Food

The sovereign invigorator of the body is exercise, and of all exercises walking is best. Habituate yourself to walk very far.
Thomas Jefferson

To get back to my youth, I would do anything in the world,
except take exercise, get up early or be respectable.
Oscar Wilde

If there were an incredible food that reduces stress, energizes creative thinking, lowers blood pressure, enhances sleep, promotes longevity and manages weight, would you buy it? Of course!

Unfortunately, there is no such food. But, you can get all of these benefits and more from physical exercise. Numerous studies have demonstrated the clear advantages from 30-60 minutes daily of aerobic, strength and flexibility exercises. By putting exercise into your daily routine, you will feel and perform much better. The key is to make exercise a part of your weekly routine. It is an appointment for yourself, to keep you healthy and at peak performance.

At the Naval Academy, all midshipmen are required to do sports throughout the school year. From that experience, I learned the discipline and value of scheduling workouts into my daily routine. I've tried morning, lunchtime and evening workouts, and I believe the best time is the morning, before work. Otherwise, it becomes too easy to skip due to work requirements or  fatigue.

I'm also an efficiency nut, and it is much more efficient (and better for your skin) to take only one shower per day. I usually work out at home, rather than a gym, to save travel time and also limit my excuses ("Can't go to the gym today because it is raining/snowing/etc."). Others may have a different point of view, and go to a gym for greater accountability by joining a class or meeting a workout partner.

My two biggest challenges with maintaining a workout schedule are early breakfasts and travel. I'm sorry, but if I have a 7 am breakfast, I'm not getting up at 5 to work out. Business travel is tough, with irregular hours and packed days. I have light and compact workout clothes and sneakers for travel and bring them on most trips. With my goal of five workouts/week, I use Saturdays and Sundays as make-up days for any exercise days missed during the week.

Your exercise routine should include at least 30 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise. I typically run three miles around my neighborhood or use a treadmill or elliptical trainer when I’m traveling.

Interval training gives the most efficient workout. With interval training, you vary the speed, going as fast as you can for thirty seconds every three minutes. This enhances your recovery speed, and also helps prepare you for the real world of intense, immediate activity.

Strength and flexibility are other important aspects of your routine. For the past three years, I have trained at Smart Fitness with a personal trainer, Andrew Noble. I do a 20 minute routine twice a week in street clothes. In only 40 minutes a week, I have increased my strength and muscle mass significantly, while reducing my chance of injury. The routine is done on weight machines using heavy weights with 10 seconds up and 10 seconds back for each repetition. Each exercise is 2 to 3 minutes and uses different muscle groups.
You should consider getting a personal trainer to help determine an optimal exercise routine for you. Proper techniques are critical for effective workouts, and a trainer can correct your form. Once you get the workouts and form determined, you can decide whether to keep the trainer or work out on your own.

If you don't currently have an exercise program, this should be one of your first surpassing decisions. Start now, and see the difference in your energy and self-confidence.

Action Points
• Set up your daily schedule to include exercise, preferably first thing in the morning.
• Strive to exercise 5 days per week, using Saturday and Sunday as make-up days for missed workouts during the week.
• Take a lightweight exercise outfit on business trips to maintain your routine.
• Treat exercise time as an appointment with yourself, and use it to clear your mind and solve problems.

More energy, confidence, health and vibrancy!

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