I’m often asked what I do to stay fit now that I’m no longer training for the Olympics or adventure expeditions. My focus has shifted to growing my business ventures, so that I can serve my growing family.
In truth, compared to my athletic career, I ‘workout’ quite minimally. Instead I aim to incorporate physical activity into my daily routine. I use activity as a tool for supporting my mental and physical health and increasing my energy levels.
I commute on my bike daily to and from my office, and walk or bike to all local meetings. I take the stairs, and take my phone calls standing. I change my chairs, desk height and working locations within my office. I even built a spin-bike desk to break up heavy desk days.
I row a Whitehall Spirit dory on weekends and hike every Sunday with my family. (Sunday is also a screen free day in our household). When traveling, I often carry my carry-on through airports. It’s not called a wheel-on… Finally, I make a point of finding opportunities to walk, run or be outside wherever I find myself in the world.
When I do ‘workout’, I do so efficiently using a workout coined the 7-minute Workout. It’s short, intense and effective. I find this workout also helps keep my core strong and my back pain-free. You can do it anywhere – a hotel room, at home, or best – outside in a park. Sometimes I do it outside near smokers who look give me funny looks. “What?” I’ll laugh jokingly, ” You’re getting your fix. I’m getting mine.”
It’s accessible on multiple and free smartphone apps. I like using the app curated by Johnson and Johnson. The quality is excellent and the link is below. The app is motivating, has variety and it continues to be updated. I now have a qualified trainer with a slight-British accent who lives in my pocket.
I’ve described the 7 minute workout in more depth below. I encourage you to give it a try as a way to incorporate short burst of exercise into your day to sustain your mental and physical health.
7 Minute Workout
I believe that we can simplify our workouts and get maximum results, for minimal time invested. There’s good evidence that high-intensity interval training provides many of the fitness benefits of prolonged endurance training, but in much less time. Work by scientists at McMaster University and other institutions show, for instance, that even a few minutes of training at high intensity has significant impact on your body. As you approach your maximum capacity of exertion, your muscles undergo molecular changes comparable to those after several hours of running or bike riding.
Moreover, the benefits of exercise for your mental health continue to emerge from the research community. I find exercise to be great therapy for the heart, mind and soul.
Chris Jordan, a physiologist from Orlando, Florida designed a practical and science based bodyweight circuit program that he named it the 7-minute Workout. The program is interval based and it works. You can do it anywhere and it takes very little time.
Interval training, however, requires intervals. Extremely intense activity must be intermingled with brief periods of recovery. In the program outlined by Chris Jordan and his colleagues, recovery is provided in part by 5-15 second rest periods between exercises. Your recovery is further accelerated by alternating exercises that emphasizes the large muscles in the upper body with muscles in the lower body. During the rest periods, the unexercised muscles have a moment to, metaphorically, catch their breath, which makes the order of exercises very important.
The exercises should be performed in rapid succession, allowing 30 seconds for each. Your intensity should hover at about an 8 on a discomfort scale of 1 to 10. Those seven minutes should be, in a word, unpleasant. The upside is, after seven minutes, you’re done.
If you are looking for more health related content targeted at men, please check out the Don’t Change Much campaign put together by the Canadian Men’s Health Foundation.