Fitness for beginners

Welcome to the positive corner of wellness. Here’s a daily digest designed to make you healthier in less than 5 minutes. If...

Welcome to the positive corner of wellness. Here’s a daily digest designed to make you healthier in less than 5 minutes. If you were forwarded this message, you can get the free daily email here.

Today’s Health Upgrade

  • Podcast Recommendation: Offline with Jon Favreau

  • The Best Pre-Workout?

  • Instagram Q and A

Podcast Recommendation: Offline

Listen, you don’t have to agree with Jon about politics. But as we’ve seen with this week’s theme of unplugging, no matter how we vote, we can all benefit from spending a little more time offline, in the real world. Big Tech isn’t stealing Republican or a Democrat focus, it’s stealing focus. His podcast focuses on that and so even if you’re really right wing, give it a listen, and he was nice enough to send some of his thoughts about how to get time away from machines.

Here’s Jon:

I started Offline because at the height of the pandemic, I was spending more time staring at my screen than ever before. And it made me feel awful. I didn’t feel connected, I felt lonely. I wasn’t stimulated by the discourse on social media, I was numbed by it. Sometimes angry, sometimes anxious, but mostly numb. The more I scrolled and clicked, the more difficult it was to read – real reading, like books and pieces longer than an op-ed. And forget writing. How could I write when there were so many notifications and emails and texts to distract me? If I had work to do, if I was watching television, if I was on Zoom, if I had a few free seconds with nothing else to do, I was scrolling.

I’d like to say that hosting Offline has cured me of my online addiction. It hasn’t. But I’ve noticed real if gradual improvement. My screen time is down. I tweet less. I put my phone away more, especially when I’m playing with my son, or hanging with friends, or even watching TV. And I feel better. I’m happier. I can focus more. This might sound weird, but I’m thinking fuller, deeper thoughts. Unplugging is not an easy thing to do – I fall back into old habits all the time – but I’m also aware that being too online is not an individual failing. It’s a collective addiction resulting from powerful, deliberate forces, and one we can start to break if we become aware of the decisions and designs that led us here.

The Best Pre-Workout for Short Workouts

Many pre-workout ingredients are a lot more bark than bite. But few can stand behind their claims as confidently as caffeine. Research suggests that caffeine improves strength, endurance, power, focus, and even the perception of fatigue. And new research might mean you can add a new benefit.

Caffeine before a workout might improve the health benefits of exercise itself.

The study looked at what happens when taking caffeine before a 30-minute workout of moderate intensity. The caffeine led to an increase in both lactate and cytokine IL-6. Lactate is a key ingredient in supplying energy to your body during exercise and helps with your aerobic metabolism. And cytokine IL-6 is a pro-inflammatory market that helps with your body's resilience, most notably your immune system.

In other words, while exercise alone can help boost these byproducts, the pre-workout caffeine led to a bigger spike. If you want to enjoy the benefits of caffeine, the sweet spot is anywhere from 100 to 300 mg (about 1 to 3 cups of coffee). You might get a bigger boost with more caffeine, but you’re also more likely to build tolerance faster.

Q and A

In case you all have missed it, check out my reddit r/fitness AMA.

Fitness for beginners

My advice to beginners is really simple: begin. And then don’t stop until it is a routine.

For a lot of people, that first step is the hardest. So find something, anything, you can do. If you have been completely sedentary, go on a 30 minute walk. If you walk all the time and you have never done any strength training, you don’t need equipment: do 5 pushups, then do 5 squats. If your heart’s beating fast, rest for a minute. Now do 4 pushups, and 4 squats. Rest if you need to. Then do 3 pushups and 3 squats. Then 2 and 2, then 1 and 1. You just did 15 pushups and 15 squats. If it was easy, start at 10 next time.

Once you begin, the key is keeping your momentum. That’s why I encourage everyone to set goals they can achieve when they’re just starting out. Train 10 minutes every day for a month. Then make it 15 minutes. Motivation is fleeting, but routine is what carries you on. You need to make this a routine. Do whatever you can do every day for a month, and then build on that.

We will keep sharing weekly workouts that will always take less than 15 minutes. You just have to try them.

Fitness for beginners

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