How Much Should You Exercise?

How Much Should You Exercise?
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Physical fitness authorities seem to have fallen into the same trap as the nutrition authorities—recommending what they think may be achievable, rather than simply informing us what the science says, and letting us make up our own mind.

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Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

Researchers who accept “grants from The Coca-Cola Company” may call physical inactivity “the [greatest] public health problem of the 21st century.” Actually, physical inactivity ranks down at number five in terms of risk factors for death in the United States, and number six in terms of risk factors for disability. And, inactivity barely makes the top ten, globally. As we’ve learned, diet is by far our greatest killer, followed by smoking.

Of course, that doesn’t mean you can just sit on the couch all day. Exercise can help with mental health, cognitive health, sleep quality, cancer prevention, immune function, high blood pressure, and lifespan extension. If the U.S. population collectively exercised enough to shave just one percent off the national body mass index, two million cases of diabetes, one-and-a-half million cases of heart disease and stroke, and a hundred thousand cases of cancer might be prevented.

Ideally, how much should we exercise? The latest official physical activity guidelines recommend adults get at least 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic exercise, which comes out to be a little more than 20 minutes a day. That’s actually down from previous recommendations from the Surgeon General, and the CDC, and the American College of Sports Medicine, which recommended at least 30 minutes each day.

The exercise authorities seem to have fallen into the same trap as the nutrition authorities, recommending what they think may be achievable, rather than simply informing us what the science says, and letting us make up our own mind. They already emphasize that any physical activity is better than none; so, why not stop patronizing the public, and just tell everyone the truth?

It is true that walking 150 minutes a week is better than walking 60 minutes a week. Following the current recommendations for 150 minutes appears to reduce your overall mortality rate by 7 percent, compared to being sedentary. Walking for only 60 minutes a week only drops your mortality rate about 3 percent. But, walking 300 minutes a week drops overall mortality by 14 percent. So, walking twice as long—40 minutes a day, compared to the recommended 20—yields twice the benefit. And, an hour-long walk each day may reduce mortality by 24 percent! (I use walking as an example, because it’s an exercise nearly everyone can do, but the same goes for other moderate-intensity activities, such as gardening or cycling.)

This meta-analysis of physical activity dose and longevity found that the equivalent of about an hour a day of brisk, four-miles-per-hour walking was good, but 90 minutes was even better. What about more than 90 minutes? Unfortunately, so few people exercise that much every day that there weren’t enough studies to compile a higher category.

Okay, but if we know 90 minutes of exercise a day is better than 60 minutes, is better than 30 minutes, why is the recommendation only 20 minutes? I understand that only about half of Americans even make the recommended 20 minutes a day. So, the authorities are just hoping to, you know, nudge people in the right direction. It’s like the dietary guidelines advising us to “eat less candy.” If only they’d just give it to us straight. That’s what I try to do here at NutritionFacts.org.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image credit: Kristina DeMuth. Image has been modified.

Video credit: Tyler McReynolds, Teetotalin LLC.

Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

Researchers who accept “grants from The Coca-Cola Company” may call physical inactivity “the [greatest] public health problem of the 21st century.” Actually, physical inactivity ranks down at number five in terms of risk factors for death in the United States, and number six in terms of risk factors for disability. And, inactivity barely makes the top ten, globally. As we’ve learned, diet is by far our greatest killer, followed by smoking.

Of course, that doesn’t mean you can just sit on the couch all day. Exercise can help with mental health, cognitive health, sleep quality, cancer prevention, immune function, high blood pressure, and lifespan extension. If the U.S. population collectively exercised enough to shave just one percent off the national body mass index, two million cases of diabetes, one-and-a-half million cases of heart disease and stroke, and a hundred thousand cases of cancer might be prevented.

Ideally, how much should we exercise? The latest official physical activity guidelines recommend adults get at least 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic exercise, which comes out to be a little more than 20 minutes a day. That’s actually down from previous recommendations from the Surgeon General, and the CDC, and the American College of Sports Medicine, which recommended at least 30 minutes each day.

The exercise authorities seem to have fallen into the same trap as the nutrition authorities, recommending what they think may be achievable, rather than simply informing us what the science says, and letting us make up our own mind. They already emphasize that any physical activity is better than none; so, why not stop patronizing the public, and just tell everyone the truth?

It is true that walking 150 minutes a week is better than walking 60 minutes a week. Following the current recommendations for 150 minutes appears to reduce your overall mortality rate by 7 percent, compared to being sedentary. Walking for only 60 minutes a week only drops your mortality rate about 3 percent. But, walking 300 minutes a week drops overall mortality by 14 percent. So, walking twice as long—40 minutes a day, compared to the recommended 20—yields twice the benefit. And, an hour-long walk each day may reduce mortality by 24 percent! (I use walking as an example, because it’s an exercise nearly everyone can do, but the same goes for other moderate-intensity activities, such as gardening or cycling.)

This meta-analysis of physical activity dose and longevity found that the equivalent of about an hour a day of brisk, four-miles-per-hour walking was good, but 90 minutes was even better. What about more than 90 minutes? Unfortunately, so few people exercise that much every day that there weren’t enough studies to compile a higher category.

Okay, but if we know 90 minutes of exercise a day is better than 60 minutes, is better than 30 minutes, why is the recommendation only 20 minutes? I understand that only about half of Americans even make the recommended 20 minutes a day. So, the authorities are just hoping to, you know, nudge people in the right direction. It’s like the dietary guidelines advising us to “eat less candy.” If only they’d just give it to us straight. That’s what I try to do here at NutritionFacts.org.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image credit: Kristina DeMuth. Image has been modified.

Video credit: Tyler McReynolds, Teetotalin LLC.

Doctor's Note

If you like our just-give-it-to-me-straight attitude, please consider making a tax-deductible donation to support my work on our donation page. I’m happy to report this year we were designated a Platinum charity by Guidestar for our dedication to transparency and accountability.

Most of the content in my book, How Not to Die, came from my video research, but this video actually sprung from the book. I wanted to include exercise into my Daily Dozen list, but needed to do this research to see what was the best “serving size.”

I wish someone would start some kind of FitnessFacts.org website to review the exercise literature. I’ve got my brain full with the nutrition stuff (though there’s so much good stuff I don’t have time for, that there could be ten more sites just covering nutritional science!). But how would one go about starting a site like that? That’s one of the reasons I’m doing my live 4-hour  “How to Research a Health or Nutrition Topic” webinar in a week. But you must register by April 30th (instructions will go out May 1st). If you’re interested, register here.

For more on all that exercise can do for our bodies and minds, see:

Some tips for maximizing the benefits:

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

101 responses to “How Much Should You Exercise?

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    1. I vaguely remember the B 52’s Wade. But I can’t say I remember ever hearing that tune. And even as much as I love butter beans (very, very high fiber), I can’t say I regret it.




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      1. I had this album on vinyl and FORGOT about “Butterbean” as I didn’t replace it with a cassette or digital and just hadn’t heard “Whammy” is maybe two dozen years. Maybe.

        Saw them promoting Whammy in 83 or 84 and it was an absolute blast, one of my favorite concerts ever.




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  1. If one takes into consideration all the factors affecting health, I would think that exercise would be more beneficial for people on a poor SAD diet than those on a Whole-Food-Plant-Based-no added SOS diet. It would be interesting to see these exercise research studies done using only those on a WFPB diet, instead of the general population. Or maybe the correlation I’m looking for can be teased out of the data collected using some sophisticated statistical techniques. What I’m wondering is whether the health benefit curve levels off after only 20 minutes per day of exercise for a person on a WFPB diet?




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    1. My hypothesis would be that a WFPB based diet would enhance the benefits of exercise. Some studies seem to suggest that extreme exercise is bad for one’s health. I am thinking that perhaps this might be because many persons who do extreme exercise might feel a license to be on a very bad meat and processed food based diet that tended to clog their arteries up. Clogged arteries would then make the exercise more counter productive. Extreme exercise would not be harmful for someone on a whole foods plant based diet. But then, it is probably true that someone on a very healthy plant based diet might not require a much exercise to be healthy.




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      1. If you were to poke around in the video pool, you will find studies that make the comparisons you are looking for, i.e. vegans and veggies and SMD with exercise levels.




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      2. First, I appreciate you using “hypothesis” as opposed to theory. Scientific literacy is important . My research and experience have led me to the conclusion that a WFPB diet, along with the optimal amount of aerobic exercise is the dynamic duo for a healthy life. Of course the health of our mind/spirit is the foundation upon which nutrition and exercise are built.




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  2. It might be more efficacious to emphasize the kind of exercise that persons can blend in with their lifestyle. For instance, you Dr. Greger have a treadmill desk, in which you can work while you exercise. I ride a bike for transportation, so if I ride it for 90 minutes as transportation, I can subtract the time I would have been in my car as my time loss. Americans tend to drive their cars everywhere. They should try walking to the store, esp. if it is within walking distance. If a person works in a multi story building, they can take the stairs all day long instead of riding the elevator. The building I work in has 7 floors. I started out on my health journey by making sure I exercise everyday. Shortly thereafter, I started to combine good nutrition with this. I now also make sure I eat a dark green leafy vegetable as well as ground flaxseed everyday. I also eat fruit everyday as well as other nuts and seeds, such as pumpkin seeds and almonds. I have totally eliminated animal flesh and greatly cut down on dairy and eggs. I don’t like drink a glass of milk or eat an egg, it is just that some foods I eat contain these as ingredients. This is esp. the case when I eat out, or eat something someone else prepared.




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    1. In order to put more exercise into my daily routine, when I go shopping at a shopping center (or most any place that has a parking lot), I always park in the far end of the parking lot where the lot is almost empty! Not only does it give me more exercise, but I now get much fewer “dings” in my door panels from inconsiderate people who swing their doors open!!!




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      1. We do this, too. I think in the long run, it’s better for the earth than spewing out gasoline over our lifetimes driving up and down aisles looking for “the closest place” to the door to park. I know it seems inconsequential for one shopping trip, but how about gas saved over a lifetime?




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        1. Yes, Lisa, Hal, Daniel:
          Busy parents need to get two-fers or three-fers. If I ride my bike to work, I get exercise, I help the planet, and I can go by the store to buy more veggies. Three =fer! When we do exercise that is fun, we are much more likely to do it. I play baseball, ride bike, skateboard, hike, windsurf,etc. Incorporate it into your life! Bring your family, you get a however many-fer (how many are in your family?)




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      2. This is an important question for me. I hope someone has an answer:
        Are 2 twenty minute aerobic treadmill sessions as beneficial as 1 forty minute aerobic for a 78 year old who eats WFPB only. This is per day.




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        1. hi Larry, I was advised many times by my physiotherapists that exercise is accumulative throughout the day. Your treadmill sessions, walking up stairs in your home or apartment building, gardening, walking around the store etc all adds up. You can break up the time to whatever works for you.




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          1. Larry – I have seen some more recent recommendations that “sitting is the new smoking”. The recommendations included the suggestion that if one were to perform all their exercise in the morning, let’s say, and then sit the rest of the day, so that they technically got their exercise quotient in for that day, that this situation would be worse than the person who broke up their exercise quotient into various exercise “pods of movement” for that day. The reason being that simply moving just a little bit periodically is more beneficial that a whole lot at once and then no movement. So it may be better for one to exercise in various forms and amounts throughout the day even in small amounts.
            I’m sorry I don’t have the link for a reference.




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  3. After some time off, I made a renewed commitment to my bikes yesterday.

    Things just keep getting better,

    especially when you can learn from someone who gives it to us straight. Thanks Dr. G!




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    1. I do high intensity interval training (HIIT) – 20-30 second sprints, either running or on an exercise bike or elliptical machine, or calisthenics (e.g. burpees, fast hill climbers, jumping jacks). HIIT and long distance endurance exercise have been shown to result in increases in mitochondria, which we lose with age. Strength training builds muscle but apparently does not increase mitochondia. So various types of exercise are valuable. Causally walking a few miles will not increase mitochondria not build significant strength. There’s a trade off between time and effort. As mentioned by Wegan, an effective HIIT routine can take as little as 8 minutes or even less, e.g., the original Tabata routine was 20 seconds of all-out sprinting followed by 10 seconds of recovery, repeated 8 times. The main issue with ultra-short routines is that most people cannot really max out their effort. For most people, 20-30 minute routines and sub-maximal effort are likely safer, more achievable, yet highly effective, e.g. 3 minute warm up, 20-30 seconds of real effort (say, 70-90% of max effort, whatever one can muster safely), followed by easy effort until one’s heart rate comes down to near normal, then repeating cycles until one’s muscles feel heavy or burn, or the 20-30 minutes is over. One can evenspread HIIT intervals out over the day. In fact, that is better for diabetics. For those interested in HIIT for non-athletes, I recommend Dr. Mirkin’s article:

      http://www.drmirkin.com/fitness/short-intervals-are-best.html
      For those interested in the science behind HIIT, I recommend The One-Minute Workout: Science Shows a Way to Get Fit That’s Smarter, Faster, Shorter by Gibala and Shulgan. Gibala has done a lot of the science behind it.

      https://www.amazon.com/One-Minute-Workout-Science-Smarter-Shorter/dp/0399183663/ref=sr_1_sc_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1493479463&sr=8-1-spell&keywords=one-minute+workout+bibala

      Dr. Mirkin is in his 80s and still does bike intervals every day his legs feel fresh (“no junk miles” as he says). I find him quite an inspiration. I’m a 70 and I do HIIT once or twice per week, along with strength training once or twice per week and moderate intensity walking, hiking, jogging, qi gong, etc. every day. I did very little exercise before retiring and was never an athlete, so “ordinary people” without athletic backgrounds and who do not have specific medical limitations can do HIIT sessions. HIIT provides both aerobic and anaerobic training. It should do without syaing though that one needs to build up tolerance for this kind of exercise, and one should be aware of personal limitations and not exceed them.




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      1. Yes, I do HIIT sprints and biking. It also makes it more likely that I will be safe stealing second base, which makes me more motivated to exercise.




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  4. WFPB-HAL said ” It would be interesting to see these exercise research studies done using only those on a WFPB diet, instead of the general population”.
    I think, for the most part that was already done. While reading about the Blue Zones around the world, the 7th Day Adventists in Loma Linda Cal. eat a mainly WFPB diet and many exercise quite a bit also. I think the data could be extracted from their studies… just a thought…
    Actually most people with longevity work and exercise a good bit.

    https://bluezones.com/exploration/loma-linda-california/…… not plugging the book just using it as a reference…




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    1. Mitch – good idea.
      I cannot reproduce the reference, but I remember reading a while back about the Okinawans and their diet as relates to their longevity. What was also mentioned was the fact that even very elderly Okinawans were in good physical shape because they routinely sat on the floor. They were forced to exercise their large muscles by getting up and down multiple times per day. Forced them to keep their strength up. The Okinawans don’t have those “Help I’ve fallen and can’t get up!!” rescue devices that we have here in the US. Okinawans in their 90’s routinely got up from the floor by themselves – and of course they weren’t obese.

      We in the US do everything we can to make our lives as soft as possible even while it isn’t good for us. I just recently saw news information where the next set of jobs to go in the US are driving jobs. The piece stated that we have the technology now to create self-driving vehicles (including over-the-road trucks) that require no human beings. Along with our manufacturing jobs here go our driving jobs. I realize this item is somewhat off topic but fits with the idea that machination may not be in our best interest.




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      1. Can’t remember who said it, but something along the lines of…Man is a self indulgent creature who will eventually engineer his own extinction…rings kind of true.




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          1. Nothing wrong with efficiency. I view that as a completely different subject than physical health.

            But basically lazy costs money (time) or health (life), so maybe it’s beneficial to be not wealthy. Don’t hear that much eh?




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  5. Hi Dr. Greger, I absolutely love your intellectual honesty and transparency, and am at page 252 of your book, How Not To Die. I don’t eat meat anymore thanks to gout, but I am always interested in working out, and building an athletic body. If I can’t walk 90 minutes a day, but can only afford a CrossFit body weight workout a day- probably 3 tabatas high intensity interval workouts in a row- will that be enough? I know this isn’t FitnessFacts.org, but for the majority of Plant-based athletes who want to build muscle, we really wanna know what you think about athleticism and muscle aesthetics.




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    1. Hi Ashiq,
      I am one of the volunteer moderators at the site and wanted to congratulate you in taking more control of your diet and exercise and by referring to Dr. Greger as your source of reference. This is another great video by Dr Greger about the benefit of exercise. I wanted to refer you o another of his video regarding muscle building hope this will help with your query.
      Plant-Based Bodybuilding




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    1. When you google occupations , normally the least physical occupations people have longer lifespans . There also might be some contradiction in today’s video , as a video made a few days ago mentioned that people who drank a milkshake had more inflammation after exercise , while those drinking the same milkshake with no exercise had less inflammation .
      There probably is only one way to prevent most diseases and that is through nutrition , not exercise . Exercise or physical hard work is most likely something we are able to do with proper nutrition.




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      1. remember the other video that said that exercise makes inflammation and we need good nutrition with ANTIOXIDANTS in food which vegetables and fruits have most (herbs too), so nutrition is important if you think about exercise!




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      2. >>When you google occupations , normally the least physical occupations people have longer lifespans

        Yes, but many of the occupations requiring physical labor are associated with other health-destroying aspects e.g. breathing polluted air like the landscapers at my condo do as they run around blowing grass and leaves, or even worse those workers who lay down asphalt. Also, laborers are in lower economic classes and tend to have worse healthcare, perhaps worse diets, etc. I doubt there is evidence that the physical activity itself is what’s shortening their lives. Of course, physical activity without sufficient recovery is bad for one’s health.




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        1. Your on a different topic when you start to throw income into the equation .
          What doctor Greger said this week was a milkshake plus exercise doubled inflammation as compared to same shake and no exercise .
          His conclusion was not to stop exercise but to stop drinking milkshakes . That’s fine , but not really accurate is it?
          Isn’t the lesson really get the nutrition right and then exercise? I’ll ask Bob Harper from biggest loser, he might know.




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            1. Well I knew that , so it is sort of a joke, but he still might know. My wife is related to him , but we have never meet him , she knows a few people in her family who have though. Hopefully he figures out his situation.




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            2. Hi WFPBRunner,

              Dr Gundry gives a short commentary on Vitiligo in his newest book, ‘The Plant Paradox’, that might interest you (I recall you mentioning that you had Vitiligo in an ancient post).

              I recommend the book to anyone interested in nutrition.
              It isn’t primarily a book for vegetarians but he was formerly resident at Loma Linda ( a vegetarian hospital) and he does count vegetarians amongst his patients (he mainly recommends a low protein fish based diet, or low meat consumption, but he does substitute pre-soaked and pressure cooked legumes as the protein source for Vegos).
              His first book, ‘Diet Evolution’, asked as many questions as it answered but in his second book he nails it.

              https://www.amazon.com/Plant-Paradox-Dangers-Healthy-Disease/dp/006242713X

              Please note that he markets his own line of supplements and the marketing is very prominent at his sites and in many of his YouTube videos so if marketing offends don’t go there.

              Rada

              P.S not posting at the moment – busy elsewhere.

              P.P.S You must be a soul sister as my superconscious mind logged your issue and then fetched the answer for you all in the blink of a third eye ;-)




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    1. Ruth that is a good question. As a creature of excess when I got my FitBit and joined some challenges with the fanatic drive for being number one, I was doing 20 plus miles a day, seven days a week, 30 days a month. That turned out to be too much. I could barely crawl out of the car without intense joint paint.

      Since that time I have stopped the challenges and settled in at 20,000 steps (about 10 miles) five days a week and 10,000 steps on weekends. That seems to be something my body is able to do without it falling apart.




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      1. I think the answer is CONSISTENCY. Build your exercise level up to where you handle it on a regular basis…(some days you won’t feel like it…some days you will breeze through)…but results come from continual exercise as a pattern.

        All you need is an exercise mat and a couple of hand weights. And a set of various exercises designed to use ALL muscle groups.

        Much damage is likely done from all the exotic exercise methods usually used to make a few bucks from people? Though some are likely valid if you are at a place where you can take advantage.

        Just read about a recent study where they found they could predict peoples longevity by measuring how “heavy” their thigh muscles were. So I’ve upped the number of squats I do. Thunder thighs?

        I use a Fitbit…as much to monitor sleep as activity.




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    2. Hi Ruth T, Thanks for your question. This is a great topic that is covered by Dr Greger.
      Too much of a good thing such as exercise can become a stressor on the body! I think every individual has different capabilities and one has to listen to their body. If one sees themselves that every day after doing too much exercise their body is suffering in some form or another which usually starts with pain one should listen to their body and take it easier. In scientific term too much stress on the body becomes an oxidative stress. This study goes into detail about your question I hope that is helpful.
      Oxygen Consumption and Usage During Physical Exercise: The Balance Between Oxidative Stress and ROS-Dependent Adaptive Signaling




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    3. Hi Ruth,

      I don’t have the answer, but I would point out that “too much” changes after you start exercising. A marathon a day surely sounds like too much, but one professional runner did 100 marathons in 100 days. A Belgian, I think. A doctor was asked how this was possible and he replied that the man’s body was accustomed to that level of effort. For that man, running a marathon was a moderate exertion.

      So if a study shows that X volume of exercise for Y weeks had negative effects, then it’s possible that if the participants continued for longer they would have adapted and it would have become beneficial.

      Also of note is stand-up comedian Eddie Izzard who ran 6 marathons a week for 7 weeks for charity, and later ran 27 marathons in 27 days. He was 47 years old and had no particular athletic background. Pretty inspirational.

      In general I wouldn’t worry much about “too much exercise”. Most of us will never have time to reach that daily/weekly limit, and I think you’re body will let you know!




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    4. Too much is when you become more susceptible to disease and infection as top-level competitive athletes professional and amateur often do.
      Too much is when you consider using performance enhancing drugs as is rampant in highly competitive types professional and amateur.

      And I say too much is when you force yourself to do the workout when you’d MUCH rather be doing some other LIFE ENHANCING activity. Go do the other thing. Don’t be silly about it.

      Too little is when you miss the feeling/afterglow of a good workout or competition. Get back to it.

      Simple to me, but then I’m competitive/efficient (that’s a new category, don’t look it up 8-P)




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    5. This video is about a specfic type of exercise, walking . There is no limit that I am aware of . In the fall I had a bad knee and the doctor was mentioning about knee replacement and suggested I not walk my 5 miles a day , maybe 1 or 2 would be better. So I looked at all his patients trying to hobble around the waiting room and decided his advice didn’t seem to be working that good . I started to increase mileage , sometimes I had to wear a knee brace, but now I.m up to 10 a day , the swelling in my knee almost completely gone and no pain. I walk everyday but am sure 3 or 4 times a week would be the same result.
      Oh yes I purchased the best no excuses , piece of exercise equipment you can buy. Called a dog.




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  6. In the February 2017 edition of Scientific American article “The Exercise Paradox” by Herman Pontzer it states essentially rather irrefutable evidence shows that no matter how much you exercise you burn about the same number of calories. So if you are mountain climbing with 50 lbs on your back or sitting in front of your computer screen all day a male would use around 2,600 calories. A women would burn 1900 calories.

    The implication is of course you are in fact not going to lose any of the extra pounds exercising.

    The article says without reservation that exercise is good for you, but diet is the only way you can stay with in the optimal weight range.

    Does Dr. Greger have any comments on this area of research?




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        1. Bill the article is talking about our metabolism. So does a runner at rest burn the same calories as a rock climber or for that matter a couch potato. So this article surmises that we basically burn the same amount of calories just living.

          Another way to look at this is if we all go out and run 3 miles we will burn about 100 calories per mile. A 200 pound guy will burn more than a 100 pound guy for that same mile.

          But we exercise because our body responds to stress put on it. If we run our ligaments, tendons, bones, muscles (including the heart muscle) become stronger. We build endurance, improve our coordination and balance.

          So the idea that you can eat junk, exercise and have no issues with weight is a misnomer. For example a snickers candy bar has 250 calories. We would need to run 2.5 miles to burn those 250 calories. That being said I could pretty much eat all day anything I wanted when I have trained for marathons in the past.

          No where in the article does it suggest that a runner and a bike rider burn the same calories doing their chosen exercise. That just isn’t true. Various exercises require different efforts. Yes they burn the same just hanging around breathing, digesting and staying warm.

          Maybe I misinterpreted what you were saying.




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          1. Did you read the article? It says not matter what you do you’ll burn the same calories. Running up a mountain with 50 lb on your back or sitting on your couch, the same calories. That may sound odd but that is what the science seems to show.




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              1. What the article says is “We found that daily physical activity, tracked by the accelerometers, was only weakly related to metabolism. On average, couch potatoes tended to spend about 200 fewer calories each day than people who were moderately active: the kind of folks who get some exercise during the week and make a point to take the stairs. But more important, energy expenditure plateaued at higher activity levels: people with the most intensely active daily lives burned the same number of calories each day as those with moderately active lives.”

                I understand it seems impossible that a Navy SEAL in training would burn the same calories as office worker who takes the stairs now and again or the couch potato plus 200 calories. That is however what they are saying.




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    1. I tried to read this article but it requires payment to read. Could you please explain the basic idea of why you wouldn’t burn extra calories from exercise?




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      1. I am just reporting the research. Surprisingly the research says however much you exercise you still use the same calories. The reason why isn’t very clear, but the researchers thing their methodology is without error.




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    2. Though most people argue this study is “counterintuitive”, it has nothing to do with intuition, but what we’ve been taught to believe, and it was wrong, just like meat gave us big brains. Not news to me, being overweight my entire life, the most vigorous exercise never helped weight loss, and in fact just increased appetite, defeating the purpose. In light of this article, it finally makes sense and I can thumb my nose at the naysayers who implied I was making excuses. :) When I started a WFPB diet with no additional exercise, the weight dropped far faster than ever before, so the proof comes full circle…it IS the food! Exercise is absolutely essential for health of course, but NOT much help in weight loss!




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      1. I agree that our body mass is entirely dependent on what we put in our mouths.

        Dr Peter D’Adamo (Naturopath) has been called a quack and a fraud by some but I have read some of his work and find parts of it very interesting.
        He is one of the few health gurus who prescribes different protocols for different types of people. One of the things he says is that people of blood type O thrive on animal protein and exercise whilst grains cause them to put on weight. On the other hand people with blood type A thrive on plant protein and do better with gentle forms of exercise like Yoga or Tai Chi. For them animal protein increases weight gain. I might have written that off as being crazy talk except that it is uncanny how his bloodtype profiles fit myself and my wife like a glove (she is type A and doesn’t like physical exercise or the foods he says A’s should avoid and I am her polar opposite).
        True or not I have noticed that two people can eat the same foods and do similar amounts of exercise and one will put on weight and the other won’t.




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    3. Hi Bill
      Here is the actual research article.
      http://www.cell.com/current-biology/pdf/S0960-9822(15)01577-8.pdf
      Pontzer is working on a theory. He is questioning the linear relationship between activity and energy expenditure. It is interesting but not irrefutable evidence. Without going into a ton of detail it isn’t a great study. His theory is that as a person becomes more active (laborer) they use less energy. Adapting to their increase by moving less when not working. (Theory) or become more efficient. (Theory) there are some issues with methods if you read it. But again interesting.

      But part of this isn’t a new idea. A beginning runner is not as efficient as an advanced runner. The advanced runner uses less energy.




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      1. And also nothing about navy seals or athletes. Just regular people used as subjects. His methods section isn’t great but I think he has laborers wearing the device. Included if only wearing 62% of day. Huge chunk of time missing.

        But I am not arguing that changes in diet isn’t the most important aspect of losing weight. Dr Greger has some great videos on just that topic. Pontzer theory could be accurate his research is not good.




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      2. Great explanation WFPBRunner. The researcherers also used a method to measure energy expenditure by having the people drink water containing two isotopes and then did urinalysis to measure carbon dioxide levels. But as you said, the conclusion wasnt anything new. From my own experience , when I started swimming a mile per day, I couldnt keep weight on. Six months later, the situation was already changing. Now, years later, in spite of being very active I am back to my usual 1400 average calories to prevent weight gain.




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        1. But what would happen if you started a different form of exercise? Probably take you right back to original increase calorie requirement. So there is the argument for mixing up our activities. Spin one day. Walk another. Keep our metabolism guessing.

          Figure 1 in the article pretty much sums up his theory. We don’t know the mechanism for the leveling off of the energy consumption. I found the idea that the person who is more active ends up moving less when not doing their activity interesting. But I would think logically it has to do with efficiency. So 200 calories more used by the more active person. That energy burn is still 1/2 pound per week which would make a difference over 1 year.

          But again we know if your goal is to lose weight you need to eat less calories. If our goal is to have a fit body exercise! Because it is so important!!!! So off I go for my run.




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          1. wow that was an old name ! I deleted that name from disqus long time ago. I just see susan on my screen here. hmm .. and yes, I agree mixing it up to keep our metabolism guessing is not a bad idea.. try a new sport, gain a new skill, stay in shape. I dont struggle to stay thin btw, I just have to stick with whole foods, and be mindful.




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  7. Hi Yves Homsy,
    I am one of the volunteer moderators at the site. I assume this term Osteogenic is driven from bone formation cells called Osteoblasts. The process of building the skeleton and continuously reshaping it to respond to internal and external signals is carried out by specialized cells that can be activated to form or break down bone. Both modeling and remodeling involve the cells that form bone called osteoblasts and the cells that break down bone, called osteoclasts. In the below study they found that 10 s of rest between each load cycle of a low-magnitude loading protocol greatly enhances the osteogenic potential of the regimen. I will enclose references for your information.
    Low-magnitude mechanical loading becomes osteogenic when rest is inserted between each load cycle.
    Rest Intervals Reduce the Number of Loading Bouts Required to Enhance Bone Formation




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    1. Spring03: These are very interesting articles. But after reading them, it’s not clear how to translate their findings into a practical routine for maximizing bone replacement. For example, if one is doing a weight lifting exercise, say a “curl” with a 15 lb weight in each hand, is one supposed to stop between each curl and wait 10 seconds before the next one? Thanks.




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        1. Hi WFPBRunner (Gale): Thanks for the links. I do try to keep active by moderate aerobic type exercise and also weight lifting with moderate weights. (In my younger years, they were much heavier weights :-) For aerobics, I really enjoy walking up really steep hills. But I was just curious about the two articles that Spring03 linked to, in that they indicated a 10 second pause between each load cycle would increase bone mass more than quick repetitions. The first research paper linked to was published in 2002 so I wonder if practitioners are currently recommending this “pause” method of weight-bearing exercise for people who are losing their bone mass with age?

          Thanks again for your reply, Hal




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          1. Hi Hal No we aren’t. I recommend hitting the pavement (or dirt). You are doing exactly what you should be doing–keeping active. We run into trouble when we stop being active. I swear exercise is the fountain of youth.

            I will never forget a patient I had who ran everyday with heavy boats on. He was running his 6 miles when he hit a crack in the sidewalk, fell and fractured his patella (kneecap). He was 75 and looked 55 years old. So 6 weeks into therapy I say go ahead and start walking your morning route. He lets me know he had been running it for 2 weeks already. Truly an inspiration and someone I will always remember.

            So because bone is so dynamic it changes quickly once a force is put on it or taken away for that matter.

            One last thought. Dr. Greger will never have osteoporosis. He walks hours a day.




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  8. The politicians and elitist who run this country do not seem to be aware that the physical and mental health of a nation’s people are a national security issue. However, Putin seems to recognize this and has employed agencies to teach people the importance of eating a lot of fruits and vegetables and to exercise. The millions of people in the USA who are addicted to drugs, alcohol, and who develop serious diseases are a real drain on the economy and indirectly effect national security. Russia has a very popular TV program called Healthy Life and many Russians watch it and are able to get the basic science of eating good foods and getting exercise. Russia has also made GMO foods illegal. They still have much to work for to help the people to live healthy life, but their leaders know that the health of a nation’s people are a national security issue unlike the USA leaders who are more concerned about the profits of Big Pharma, Big Medicine, Big Agriculture, and Big Grocery Store Chains.




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  9. “… informing us what the science says, and letting us make up our own mind.”
    Ahhh, that’s like music to my libertarian ears!




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  10. I have been on WFPB diet for about a year with occasional slip-ups. I am still over-weight at 195 lbs, 5’6″ (female, Indian)

    I have been low potassium (hypokalemia) for about a year now. I was referred to endocrinologist after physical this year with aldosteronism diagnosis from G.P.

    My doctor is currently performing tests. CT scan does show tunor both sides, however my saline supression test was negative. 24 hr urine test was positive.

    IS there anything I could do differently from WFPB diet aspect?

    Thanks in advance for all your help.




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    1. Hi Unicorn
      Have you by chance read The End of Dieting by Joe Furhman? I would highly recommend it if you haven’t. He does a great job discussing nutrient density, calorie density, etc.




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  11. For people who are interested in a solid scientific exercise programme I would suggest they watch YouTube – “Fit in 6 mins” (ABCCatalyst). The 27 minute programme could change your body and your life.




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    1. Ann Lloyd: Watching that video makes me want to get up and SPRINT down to my local grocery store and get some Whole Plant Foods for dinner :-) Thanks for sharing!




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    2. Anne – that was a great video. Thank you for sharing it with us. I’m not going to search out the link (unless someone is hugely interested), but I just read some research recently published regarding High Intensity Interval Training. The question, in this research, was which, if any forms of exercise might actually INCREASE the numbers of mitochondria in the muscle. Or did the mitochondrial numbers increase at all? The forms of exercise were walking, running, HIIT, and a couple of others. The upshot is that the only exercise that actually increased the numbers of mitochondria in the muscle tissue was HIIT (samples were taken from the muscle of all participants). This has profound implications for not only health but also for diabetics who have better blood sugar control the more they can burn off calories (energy). The more mitochondria, the more energy/calories used up.
      Thanks again for this information.




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  12. Is everyone in agreement that 2 twenty minute aerobic sessions per day are as beneficial as 1 forty minute aerobic sessions? I really need to know for certain.




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  13. Hi

    I have a question .

    How does a male eat a plant based diet and get enough protein but not compromise testosterone levels by eating soy like tempeh and tofu ?

    Kind regards

    Darryl Ufton




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    1. I suggest you read what Dr T Colin Campbell says about protein in his book, Whole, or find one of his many Youtube talks for the information. He is a biochemical nutrition researcher and has been for over 60 years. He started out thinking like everybody else at that time (and most now) that we need lots of animal protein. However, through meticulous research at Cornell and other places, including China, he learned that most Americans are getting more protein than they need, or is healthy, even vegetarians and vegans. Ideally we need around 10% of our calories to be protein, and ALL plant foods have about that level of protein. That means that as long as you eat a wide variety of plant foods, so you’re getting all the required amino acids, you’re getting enough protein. The research shows that only people who are starving are deficient in protein.




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      1. Hi Liverwire

        And thank you for your reply

        Ok, so many authorities with different conclusions from “the research”

        I have for over 10 year been recommending the zone diet to my patients with very good results

        That’s 30% protein

        Then there is the blood type diet, a lot of research behind that also

        So can you tell me what the recent research says about the effects of soy on male testosterone levels?

        Thank you

        Kind Regards,

        Darryl Ufton

        NDA, PGDCHM, CANP, BP, MNZRAI, PGDMS (Waikato)

        German Electro-Acupuncture Diagnosis Specialist

        Member New Zealand Register of Acupuncturists

        ACC Registered Acupuncturist

        P O Box 826

        Gisborne

        New Zealand

        Ph: +64 6 867 9650

        Cell: +64 22 080 0642

        http://www.optimalhealthclinic.co.nz

        IMPORTANT: The information contained in or attached to this Email message may be legally privileged and confidential. The information is intended only for the recipient named in the Email message. If the reader of this Email message is not the intended recipient, any use, copying or distribution of this Email message is prohibited. If you have received this Email message in error, please notify me immediately and delete permanently the Email and any attachments. Thank you.




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        1. Darryl,

          No, I can’t tell you about soy and testosterone. I’m just saying you can skip the soy if you wish. You don’t need it to get enough protein if you eat a varied plant based diet. In other words, protein isn’t an issue. It has been made to seem like an issue by the folks who profit from meat, eggs, and dairy products.

          Again, I would refer you to Colin Campbell, whose research showed that a diet of 20% animal protein stimulated cancer growth in lab rats who had been given liver cancer, while those rats also given liver cancer that were eating only 5% animal protein had no cancer growth at all. Later he discovered he could turn cancer growth on with the higher protein levels and off with lower levels, then back on again by once more increasing animal protein.

          He went on to discover that plant based protein didn’t turn cancer growth on the way animal protein did.

          All that was in the lab, mostly at Cornell University. Later he was able to verify the same thing held true for people eating animal protein at those levels when he did the big study in China that led to the book The China Study. Populations that ate a lot of animal protein had a lot of cancer.
          Those who ate little or no animal protein had little or almost no cancer.

          The problem with a lot of the studies that are quoted, especially by doctors selling books, is that, when looked at carefully they don’t hold up. Sometimes they turn out to simply not show what the author quoting them purports. Other times they turn out to be skewed because they were paid for by someone who will profit from them. The meat, dairy and egg industries do this all the time. Sometimes the research is valid but they only publish the figures that make the point they want to emphasize and leave out the parts that show otherwise, making this simply a form of advertising, not valid science.

          It comes down to finding who you trust. I have come to depend on Dr Greger, Dr Campbell, Dr Esselstyn, Dr Ornish, Dr McDougall and a few others because they have long histories of turning serious disease around, and they have great integrity. Many others are only selling books.

          There is a very telling 2 or 3 minute video on Youtube and Dr McDougall’s site (sorry I can’t go to it quickly) showing pictures of several doctors who sell books recommending Paleo diets or other meat-centric diets and their counterparts who prefer plant based diets. The contrast is incredible. The diet doctors are all fat and unhealthy looking, while the plant based doctors are vibrant, slender, and much healthier looking, even though many of them are probably 20 years older. It’s quite a contrast.

          If you look at Dr Greger’s introductory videos you’ll see the care he takes to make sure the research he quotes is valid and that it was not paid for by some industry that is essentially using it to promote a book or product.
          If he does quote research by, say, the California Walnut Board, he will say so.

          Dr Campbell’s research was all paid for by the US government, not industry.

          Dr Ornish and Dr Esselstyn have both been reversing heart disease and some cancers and publishing their findings in important medical journals for many years. There is research showing that meat eaters don’t live as long as plant eaters.

          I started out like most everyone else, thinking we need lots of animal protein. I studied nutrition informally for 40 years, and more formally in a course that led to being a certified nutritional therapist, in a program that based its’ curriculum on Weston A Price and others who emphasize eating clean sources of meat.

          After two years of eating that way – pastured beef, chicken, eggs, fresh raw milk, making my own cheese and yogurt, eating wild-caught salmon, etc.
          one day I discovered a huge lump in my breast. It was an aggressive stage 3 triple negative breast cancer that had not been detected a year earlier.
          After researching what people did to cure their cancers without the usual chemo, surgery and radiation, I changed to a plant based whole food diet, did some alternative forms of chemo, did have a mastectomy, but declined further chemo and radiation. I’m well and thriving, and depending on my lower protein plant based diet to keep me that way.

          So, I’ve gone on far too long – sorry about that – but I hope you can find something of value in my words. Just eat a variety of plants and don’t worry about getting enough protein.




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          1. Hi Rebecca?

            Thanks very much for the info and sharing

            Kind Regards,

            Darryl Ufton

            NDA, PGDCHM, CANP, BP, MNZRAI, PGDMS (Waikato)

            German Electro-Acupuncture Diagnosis Specialist

            Member New Zealand Register of Acupuncturists

            ACC Registered Acupuncturist

            P O Box 826

            Gisborne

            New Zealand

            Ph: +64 6 867 9650

            Cell: +64 22 080 0642

            http://www.optimalhealthclinic.co.nz

            IMPORTANT: The information contained in or attached to this Email message may be legally privileged and confidential. The information is intended only for the recipient named in the Email message. If the reader of this Email message is not the intended recipient, any use, copying or distribution of this Email message is prohibited. If you have received this Email message in error, please notify me immediately and delete permanently the Email and any attachments. Thank you.




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  14. Particularly of concern to those in the workforce with sedentary office jobs is the question of how much exercise is necessary to compensate for long periods sitting.

    The Lancet published this study last year which showed that only those achieving about 35 MET’s (Metabolic Equivalent of Task) per week were able to mostly overcome the ill effects of desk jobs or long-term TV watching:

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/behindtheheadlines/news/2016-07-28-an-hour-of-exercise-a-day-may-compensate-for-an-office-lifestyle/

    Pubmed summarized the results:

    For people who did the least physical activity, sitting for more than four hours a day was linked to an increased chance of dying during the study. For these people, sitting for eight hours a day or more increased the chances of death by 27% (hazard ratio (HR) 1.27, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.22 to 1.32), compared to if they’d been sitting four hours a day or less. Compared to people who did the most exercise and sat for less than four hours a day, they had a 59% increased risk of death (HR 1.59, 95% CI 1.52 to 1.66).

    People who were physically active for between half an hour and an hour also had a raised chance of death linked to sitting for eight hours a day compared to four hours a day, of 10% to 12%. But for people who exercised the most, time spent sitting did not increase the risk of death.

    High levels of physical activity were clearly linked to lower chance of death. People who did the most activity but sat for eight hours or more were less likely to die than those who did the least activity but sat for four hours or less.

    Television viewing time showed similar results, but in this case even the highest amount of physical activity did not cancel the raised risk of watching five hours or more of television. The least active people had a 44% higher risk of death if they watched five or more hours of television, compared to less than one hour (HR 1.44, 95% CI 1.34 to 1.56).

    Results were similar when the researchers looked at the chances of dying from cardiovascular disease or cancer.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~
    How much is 35.5 MET’s? Brisk (as opposed to normal) walking is about 5 MET’s, so that would be about an hour a day. Most walking is about 3.3, so you’d need half again as much time (90 min/day).Of course running, jogging, and cycling are higher. The key is, you need to get above 35 MET’s/week to counteract the ill effects of an 8 hour/day desk job or watching TV for five hours. I don’t know if computer viewing would be as bad–presumable not, as it often involves typing or other manual activity. I don’t what it is about television that is so deleterious. Maybe the snack foods that often accompany TV watching?




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    1. Thanks Chris. That’s a very useful article. The only thing I would say is that the reference about not using cyanocobalamin is from 1996 and is only one reference. Hopefully more research will reveal more about the various B12 forms.




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  15. I love the videos,… but the only way to get time to listen to them is when I am walking my dogs. Can you please make all the videos available on the podcast channel for subscribers? THANK YOU!




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    1. This would allow me to listen to all the videos via the podcast app on my phone while I am walking! :) Currently, it seems like only a few videos are uploaded to the podcast.




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  16. Hopefully someone can help me out here. I do a lot of physical activity, some days just for an hour, but several days for several hours. For instance, tomorrow I’m going to do KB swings for 25 minutes and then yoga for 45 minutes in the morning and then, in the evening, 3 hours and 45 minutes of martial arts. I’m going to burn about 5400 calories and need to put a LOT of calories into me.

    BUT, I do high impact martial arts: boxing, kickboxing and grappling, so I can’t have a lot of food sitting in my stomach. Mostly I fill up on high-calorie foods to minimize the amount I have to actually put in me: white rice, peanuts, cashews, olive oil, sunflower seeds, hummus, pita bread, noodles, vegan butter, crackers, etc.

    I’ve been trying to work in the daily dozen on these days, but it’s hard because fresh fruit and vegetables are physically filling. On a good heavy-training day I’ll have grains, nuts and hummus in me, but those days are inconsistant.

    What would you guys recommend as the bare minimum daily dozen ingredients that I NEED to do on these days? I’m thinking my processed foods + antioxidants is doable because green tea, walnuts, oregano, cilantro and cinnamon would be pretty easy to add every time I eat. They don’t take up a lot of space in me and I’m going to be drinking water and eating nuts anyways.

    Is there anything else you guys would say is a must do on my heavy training days when a full daily dozen is impossible? Thanks in advance.




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    1. Don’t eat before training (hydrate with a home made electrolyte drink only). Load up at other times and after training. After training have an energy food drink (a smoothie with a banana is good, add some olive oil or flaxseeds to boost the calories). Dried fruit is good for energy – it has the same calories as the fresh fruit but is a lot denser without the water. Eat plenty of vegetable salads or else the imbalance of all the protein and carbs will outweigh the benefit of the exercise.
      I did a lot of Karate/weightlifting and other sport back in the day. With the benefit of hindsight I would say don’t over do it.




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  17. My wife doesn’t like sport. She’s 69yrs of age now and has been dodging it ever since her school days . She won’t even go walking except when sight seeing on holidays although to be fair she gets home late and walking alone at night is hazardous for ladies. She does a lot of walking miles per week shopping though. Recently she came home with a vibrational platform – it was at a bargain price :-)))))
    Anyway the jokes on me because it works. She gets on it everyday and the pounds are coming off and she looks slimmer and tighter, sleeps better and has more energy – go figure. Apparently there is some supportive science behind it but I haven’t read it myself. Based on my wife’s experience they are worth a look for busy people who don’t like exercising.




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