While much of our advice on aerobic and resistance training complements the NHS exercise guideline for adults, we mainly follow a ground-breaking approach to exercise for longevity called Zone1.
Let us start by introducing you to a highly relevant scientific concept: hormesis. It’s a geeky word summarising the saying, ‘A little of what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.’ An example of hormesis would be a vaccination: we are injected with a small dose of the very thing the vaccination is trying to protect against. Stress is another example of hormesis. A small amount of stress is a good thing, while a large amount can kill you. Too much chronic stress is linked to all sorts of horrible diseases, including cardiovascular and cancer. But a small amount of acute stress (as in the type caused by sprinting or by weightlifting) is a good thing. However, it is important to be aware that endurance sports or over-training can sometimes cause unhealthy, damaging levels of stress. Our MARS and Zone1 exercise principles are geared around hormesis.
Now, this may be the first time you have heard about our Zone1 Training, but it is a method that works brilliantly for building your aerobic resilience and is targeted at both longevity and health-span. What fascinates most people is that it works equally well for those who are metabolically unfit, right through to professional athletes. The methodology has been developed by Christian Dailly, who has been coaching it for over a decade and has helped people recover from all sorts of injuries and metabolic conditions. He has also coached people from their sofa to become marathon and national winners in their event!
The principle is to train at approximately 75% of your maximum heart rate for a period of 20 to 30 minutes. This involves first knowing (or estimating) what your maximum heart rate is, and then fast walking, slow running, rowing or cycling at that intensity. This is an intensity that is not too demanding on the body. This is an intensity that promotes good health, longevity and mitochondria biogenesis (creation of new energy organelle within our cells). This is real aerobics. Let’s say you were cycling. At the end of your session, measure the distance you covered (or on some bikes the watts you generated). Then, over the weeks, as you improve your diet, sleep etc., repeat the exercise at the same heart rate and see if your output has increased.
This is an efficient way of measuring your physical metabolic health and accurately tracking your progress. It will also tell you if you are over-training or reveal if you had a heavy night the day before! This is possibly your best outward metabolic performance indicator.
As you continue to train in Zone1, your resting heart rate should become lower (a good thing) and you are more likely to keep your maximum heart rate up (which usually slows down as we age) or even increase it (mine has gone up 3 bpm in the past month). A greater range between your resting and maximum heart rates normally equates to a better level of metabolic fitness.