Why is exercise so important? There are quite literally thousands of research studies that show the benefits of exercise. Many people think that because they have a certain diagnosis, they shouldn’t exercise. Sorry, but you can’t use that excuse. Whether you have arthritis, heart disease, diabetes, cancer – whatever the diagnosis – exercise will help you to feel better and contribute to your body getting better.
You’re also never too old to exercise. Exercise helps keep your joints moving and your muscles strong. It improves your ability to do daily activities. It increases your energy. And it is an absolutely fundamental part of any attempts to lose weight.
And the benefits of exercise aren’t solely physical. Exercise also has psychological benefits. There are many research studies that have demonstrated improvements in depression and anxiety with regular exercise.
Many people complain that they simply don’t have the time to exercise because their lives are so busy. But, the more things you have going on – essentially, the more stressed you are – the more important it is to exercise. Exercise is fundamental to managing stress.
We recommend an exercise regimen that combines interval training with strength training and stretching. Aerobic exercise simply means that you are exercising in a way that requires oxygen. No, you don’t have to put on spandex and dance around
in a gym to get aerobic exercise. Just buy yourself a good pair of walking shoes and start walking. (Caution; the way in which you walk is important - read on.) Strength training is essentially exercise that is done to strengthen your muscles. Again, you don’t have to join a gym to do strength-training. You can use nothing more than your own body to build strength (as in pushups and squats). Finally, stretching will help keep your muscles flexible and reduce joint stiffness. It will also increase your range of motion (the normal amount your joints can be moved in certain directions).
To summarize, exercise is a vital component of healthy aging. I understand how difficult it can be to make exercise part of your daily routine if it has not been that way for years, and that is why I suggest you make a conscious decision to change your lifestyle and then gradually ease into it until it becomes a way of life.
Types of Exercise
Exercise has traditionally been described as consisting of either slow types of exercise that last a long time such as jogging, cycling and walking (Aerobic Exercise – your body burns fat and uses plenty of oxygen to do so) or alternatively as quick bursts of exercise such as running a 100 meter race, lifting a heavy weight or doing weight training (Anaerobic Exercise – where your muscles are burning glycogen).
For many years fitness has been equated with “Aerobic” exercise; hence the emphasis on aerobic dance classes, jogging or usually with older people walking.
There has been a host of research studies to measure the effect of the different types of exercise to promote health, manage body fat, improve insulin resistance, prevent heart disease, slow down the effects of aging, increase low hormone levels and many more.
The jury is now out. We have the research to state categorically what type of exercise we need to engage in to keep and stay healthy. We need to do anaerobic exercise. Walking, jogging, cycling that requires a constant effort over an extended
period of time has not delivered the health benefits that were expected. Simply put, if we do the same (light) exercise regularly our bodies adapt and we effectively get less and less benefit as we continue. There are studies that even show a decrease in lung volume with standard aerobic exercise.
So what is the answer? The best exercise is exercise where our heart rate is repeatedly elevated followed by a slight decline. This is referred to as Interval Training or Peak Exercise Training. As you become fitter you will need to train harder to achieve the same results or heart rate.
What makes the PEP (Peak Exercise Program) work so well?
It works because it promotes human growth hormone (HGH); this hormone is discussed in one of the other Blogs, with its associated benefits. You lose fat and gain muscle.
"A new study shows that when you work the fast twitch fiber and work your heart muscle anaerobically (short high bursts), your body releases exercise-induced growth hormones (HGH) that actually mimic taking injections of growth hormones.You get as much as a 530 percent increase in growth hormone!
It stays in your body for two hours, and accelerates fat burning. This hormonal effect is so powerful that if you were to do the program today and monitor your
blood, it will look like you injected growth hormone illegally. That's why there is no HGH test for Olympic athletes."
Your body does not produce HGH after long, slow exercise. Only Peak-Style exercises; the short, quick-burst anaerobic type of exercise, for short periods of time, accomplish this.
Another benefit is that the Peak Exercise Program takes just 20 minutes, three times a week!
Peak Exercise Program Instructions
You need a minimum of equipment, in fact a comfortable pair of running shoes
and a heavy leather or rubber skipping rope will do for starters; although most
people who have not done a lot of skipping struggle with coordination in the
beginning. Don’t let that deter you. Your challenge is to set yourself targets to do
50 skips, then 100 until you can change to minutes rather than repetitions.
Alternatively find a steep hill where you can walk up briskly for a minute and
then down again. Keep this up until you can run up for 30 seconds and walk
A heart rate monitor is useful – obtainable at most sport shops. It usually consists
of a band that goes around your chest (just below the breasts) and a monitor that
looks like a wrist watch. This is the only piece of equipment that accurately
informs you how hard you are training.
A stationary exercise bicycle or elliptical trainer is ideal for the Peak Exercise
Program (I do not recommend treadmills for older people because the jarring
movement of running puts unnecessary strain on joints); and since most
gym models have built in heart rate monitors, it saves you from having to buy
Warm up for three to five minutes and then go all out as hard as you can for
30 seconds. In the warm up you typically get your heart rate around 60 to 70%
of its maximum (220-minus your age). So if you are 50 your max heart rate would
be 170 and your warm up heart rate would be 102-119.The first repetition is
usually pretty easy as your starting heart rate is low and you can do the entire
30 seconds without stress.
Since you only recover for 90 seconds your heart rate gradually continues to
climb after every repetition so hopefully by the time you finish your last repetition it
is at or above your maximum heart rate (220 minus your age).
Remember to cool down for a few minutes after your 8th repetition.
Unless you exercise regularly you will likely need to work your way up to 8
cycles. You can start with 2-4 and gradually increase to 8, but ideally, you should
get to the 8th cycle. The magic starts to happen around repetition number 7 and 8.
Here are the Principles
1. Warm up for three to five minutes
2. Then, go all out, as hard as you can for 30 seconds
3. Recover for 90 seconds
4. Repeat 7 more times, for a total of 8 repetitions
5. Cool down for a few minutes afterwards by cutting down your intensity by
If you have a history of heart disease or any concern get clearance from your health care professional to start this. Most people of average fitness will be able to
do this; it is only a matter of how much time it will take you to build up to the full 8 repetitions.
The good thing about this approach is that if you are out of shape you simply will be unable to train very hard as the lactic acid will build up in your muscles quickly and prevent you from stressing your heart very much.
Things to Note
Be mindful of your current fitness level and don't overdo it when you first start
out. If you are not in great shape and just starting this you may want to start with just
two or three repetitions, and work your way up to eight. You may need to start with just
walking and when you do your 30 second bursts your legs would be moving as fast as
possible without running - and your arms would be pumping hard and fast.
Ultimately you want to exercise vigorously enough so you reach your anaerobic threshold as this is where growth hormone release is triggered.
Whatever activity you choose, by the end of your 30 second sprint period
you will want to reach these markers
It will be relatively hard to breathe and talk because you are in oxygen debt.
You will start to sweat profusely. Typically this occurs in the second or third repetition unless you have a thyroid issue and don't sweat much normally.
Your body temperature will rise, lactic acid increases and you will feel a muscle "burn".
If you are using cardio equipment like an elliptical trainer or bicycle, you don't need to reach any "magical" speed. It's highly individual, based on your current level of fitness. But you know you're doing it right when you're exerting yourself to the point of typically gasping for breath, after a short burst of activity.
Do this exercise three to five times a week, and you're virtually guaranteed to drastically improve your HGH production.
The Peak Exercise Program
PEP is a comprehensive training program, designed to optimize your overall health, but it's still important to include a variety of activities to reap all the benefits that
exercise has to offer, from improved mental health and emotional balance to greater strength, vigor and a longer life.
In addition, keep in mind that as you progress – no matter what exercise you're
doing – you must continue to push yourself and work a little harder to keep
challenging your body as you get stronger and faster.
In addition to the PEP what else do I need to do?
On alternate days you should engage in resistance training; yes, I mean with
weights. The research clearly indicates that the best results are obtained by a
combination of PEP and Resistance Training. Rounding out your exercise program with a 1-set strength training routine will ensure that you're optimizing the possible health benefits of a regular exercise program.
Keep in mind that you need enough repetitions to exhaust your muscles. The
weight should be light enough that this can be done in fewer than 12
repetitions, yet heavy enough to do a minimum of four repetitions. It is also
important NOT to exercise the same muscle groups every day. They need at
least two days of rest to recover, repair and rebuild. That is why it is a good idea to rotate your resistance exercise routine, by doing upper body on one day and your lower body (legs, calves, stomach) on the other day.
Your body has 29 core muscles located mostly in your back, abdomen and pelvis. This group of muscles provides the foundation for movement throughout your entire body, and strengthening them can help protect and support your back, make your spine and body less prone to injury and help you gain greater balance and stability.
Exercise programs like Pilates and yoga are great options for strengthening your core muscles, as are specific core exercises you can learn from a yoga class or Pilates mat class.
Special Warning to Over-Achievers
I want to stress this point: perform PEP only three times a week.
If you do more than that your body will shut down. You will lose muscle mass and you will not get the maximum benefit from your training. If someone says me they are doing it more than four times a week, they are not doing it properly as they are not pushing themselves hard enough and getting their heart rate up to their maximum.
Not only do you not NEED to do it more than three times a week, you may actually cause more harm than good if you over-do it.
To get all the benefits from PEP, just focus on gradually increasing intensity,
as opposed to doing it more frequently.
Two Foods You Should Never Eat After Peak Exercises
It would be best to avoid all sugar and fruit juice for two hours after your workout; otherwise you will obliterate the growth hormone response and ruin the major benefit of the workout, which is to increase your growth hormone level.
No matter what your age and current level of fitness, implementing a
comprehensive exercise regimen such as this one can provide enormous
benefits for your health. And don't feel overwhelmed by the variety and intensity. Just start small and slow, and build up gradually until all elements are included. Be patient with yourself.