Are We Overthinking Cardio?

The rise of "zone 2" cardio has everyone following detailed plans, but it might be causing you to overthink what matters.

Welcome to the positive corner of the internet. Every weekday, we make sense of the confusing world of wellness by analyzing the headlines, simplifying the latest research, and offering quick tips 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: Living Longer

  • How much do cardio zones matter?

  • Keep your brain young

  • Exercise of the week

  • News and nonsense

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How Much Do The Different Cardio Zones Matter?

Talking about different “zones” of cardio is one of the bigger current health trends (zone 2 is having its 15 minutes). However, research suggests most people don’t need to complicate their cardio. 

If your primary goal is general wellness and longevity, a new study found that total aerobic activity predicts all-cause mortality and cardiovascular disease better than intensity. 

The scientists analyzed the data of nearly 40,000 participants over a 12-year period. While there are benefits to training with intensity, getting enough movement is what matters most when it comes to strengthening your heart.

The study also suggests that more intense cardio does not necessarily make you leaner than steady-state cardio. But this isn’t the first time researchers have come to this conclusion. A previous study found that high-intensity interval cardio and lower-intensity cardio led to similar changes in fat loss.

That’s not to say high-intensity cardio doesn't have benefits (it does!). It's a more time-efficient approach to fitness, and it can help prevent age-related decline. If you have specific athlete goals or sport-specific needs, the intensity of your training can play a big role in maximizing performance and achieving your goals. But stressing about how much time you spend in each cardio zone isn’t as effective as getting the cardio your body needs, regardless of the intensity.

So, if you’re just trying to get healthy and lean, focus on workout volume more than overthinking different intensities. As a rule of thumb, aim for 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercises or 75 minutes of intense exercise, or get 8,000 to 10,000 steps per day. 

How To Keep Your Brain Young 

One of the best ways to protect your brain is to challenge it like you did when you were younger.

Research suggests that forcing your brain to learn something new can improve cognition, memory, and focus and even protect your brain against age-related decline. 

Your brain starts to decline as you age, but new research shows that if you provide the proper mental challenge, your brain will recruit other areas to help perform tasks, which strengthens your brain and helps keep your brain younger.

Research suggests learning a new language is one of the best brain boosters. Studying a second language forces your neural network to reorganize and restructure, which is like fertilizer for brain health. 

One favorite tool for language learning is Babbel, which teaches bite-sized language lessons for real-world use. Their lessons were created by real language experts, so instead of random phrases, Babbel users learn to have real-world conversations. Their method allows you to speak a new language in as little as three weeks. 

Before you think a new language isn't for you, hundreds of people in The Pump app made it their goal and have seen the rapid learning and cognitive benefits. 

As members of the positive corner of the internet, you can take advantage of their best deal of the year. Get up to 60% OFF a Babbel subscription during their special 4th of July sale. Trust us, you'll be surprised by what you do once you commit.

Exercise of the Week

Don’t sleep on the classics. If you’re going to do lunges, make sure you do them correctly. In this video, Arnold leads Ketchell through the proper way to do a lunge. Even if you only use your body weight, this movement will challenge and strengthen your legs, especially when done the way Arnold shows.

News and Nonsense

💪 Newsletter We’re Loving: We see a lot of noise on the internet and not much helpful positive information. That’s why Nice News has been a breath of fresh air. Where else can you learn about “The Scandinavian sleep method” and “How to give constructive criticism more effectively” in the same email? We consider ourselves “the positive corner of the internet” for health, and Nice News is doing its part of breaking down daily stories that will bring more optimism (and worldly information) into your life. Every newsletter is free, and you can find more from them here.

💪 Chart of the Week: The truth about diets and fat loss

💪 Article We’re Thinking About: Would different food labels change our eating habits? 

What do you think? Would adding warning labels to the front make a difference? Tag us on social and let us know your thoughts.

Publisher: Arnold Schwarzenegger

Editors-in-chief: Adam Bornstein and Daniel Ketchell