Eight Habits for Long Term Fitness Success–#1 Move Daily
There are thousands of different workout programs and methods to use to become more fit. These range from at home workout videos, to aerobic or yoga classes, to bootcamps and group functional training workouts. Methods, benefits, and risks/drawbacks could be debated until our last breath and often are among fitness professionals. One thing I’ve come to learn in my twenty years in this industry is that dogmatic approaches rarely pan out, and you are better off steering clear of anything or anyone who claims any one method of training is optimal and a cure all for everyone under every circumstance. However, I do believe that there are some universal habits that will vastly improve someone’s fitness. For the sake of this article, I will stick with habits which only involve movement, with an understanding that nutrition, rest, recovery, stress management, and body weight all impact fitness as well.
To know what habits will best improve long term fitness, we must first define the term. There are three definitions of fitness. The first (and newest, brought on by the growth of the fitness industry) is “the condition of being physically fit and healthy.” This definition misses the mark as it uses the root of the word in it, and doesn’t really tell us anything. The second definition is “the quality of being suitable to fulfill a particular role or task.” This definition is a little bit better. We can see here that the fitness required to be an NFL offensive lineman and the fitness required to run the Ironman in Hawaii is much different. This still doesn’t get to what most of us think of when we describe someone as being fit. The third definition, and the one I find to be most relevant to the general population, is “an organism’s ability to survive and reproduce in a particular environment.” Put differently, your ability to reproduce and pass your genes onto the next generation. At first glance, this may seem like a poor definition. If we go back 100-500 years to a time where modern technology and medicine couldn’t “fix” everything, this definition is ideal. If someone is over or underweight, they struggle with fertility. If someone has major health complications, injuries, etc. they would have a hard time attracting a mate, defending themselves/home, or feeding themselves. Certain lifestyle choices will absolutely reduce fertility rates (smoking, drinking, stress) therefore decreasing one’s fitness. Operating with the biological definition of fitness, I find that the following eight habits will set you up for a lifetime of greatness.
Jeff Tirrell, CSCS, CSFC, Pn1
This is so simple, yet like many things in life, the simplicity of this basic habit causes it to get overlooked or ignored. This is by far the most common habit among fit individuals. Don’t over think it or complicate it–just move. It doesn’t have to be strenuous or difficult. When looking at the small number of individuals who are successful with long term weight loss, researchers have seen that doing 4-5+ hours/week of planned exercise/activity is a staple. This comes out to 30-60 minutes per day. Walk, ride a bike, kayak, paddle board, roll, carry, crawl, do a movement flow (as seen in the video) or whatever. Just get off your butt and move around at least 30 minutes each day. It doesn’t have to be all in one shot, but make it happen, and make it intentional. Daily movement helps manage stress, regulate hunger, and has big cognitive benefits as well. The only stipulation I would make is to avoid activities with high risk of injury. After all, if you get substantially injured it makes daily movement a bit more difficult.
See video of some simple movement patterns: here