I have always been a believer that athletics was the best model for life—living life fully from a calm center. Along the way, I have been a big fan of Dan Millman’s books: most famously, The Way of the Peaceful Warrior. He most eloquently links athletics, peak performance, life, and spirituality in his 17 books.
As I was recording our interview, the federal 2018 Physical Activity Guide was released. Join me me as I review these guidelines, my fitness recommendations, and an inspiring interview with bestselling author Dan Millman.
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A shocking 80% of adults and adolescents are not getting enough physical activity. To make matters worse, only one in five teenagers and one in three adults meet the 2018 physical activity guidelines.1
The federal government’s Department of Health and Human Services just released the 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. The report should come as an important wake-up call.1
Published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, it states that failure to meet the recommended levels of aerobic activity leads to nearly $117 billion in annual health care costs and 10% of all premature deaths.
2018 Physical Activity Guidelines1
- Preschool-aged children (3–5 years) should be physically active throughout the day to enhance growth and development.
- Children and adolescents aged 6–17 should do 60 minutes+ of moderate to vigorous physical activity daily.
- Adults should do at least 150–300 minutes a week of moderate intensity, or 75–150 minutes a week of vigorous intensity aerobic physical activity, or an equivalent combination of moderate and vigorous intensity aerobic activity. They should also do muscle-strengthening activities on two or more days a week. Muscle-strengthening activity includes lifting weights, “heavy gardening” (such as shoveling), and yoga.
- Older adults should do multicomponent physical activity that includes balance training as well as aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities.
- Pregnant and postpartum women should do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week.
To read all the health benefits from regular exercise, see the full report here.
A sedentary life was never part of any ancient civilization, unless, of course, you were the king or queen sitting days on end on your throne!
Keep the body moving throughout the day: it may add years to your life.
Start adding regular movement to your day by changing your work breaks into walk breaks. Instead of skipping the break or sitting in the employee lounge, get outside and take a walk. Taking scheduled breaks from work, which are required by law, have been shown to boost employee health, performance, and safety.2
Dr. John’s Ayurvedic Exercise Plan
- Every morning after a shower and an Ayurvedic oil self-massage, do at least 10 minutes of yoga with deep nasal breathing: My first choice for this is the Sun Salute. If you have more time, then a longer yoga session will add to your exercise benefits.
- Optional: Time permitting, follow your yoga practice with 10 minutes of breathing and meditation. Learn how here.
- Make time every morning after the Sun Salute to do my 12-Minute Workout.
• This workout starts with two minutes of gentle exercise with deep nasal breathing. Your 10 minutes of sun salutations covers you here, so we are now down to just a 10 minute workout.
• Next, perform 30–60 seconds of a nose-breathing, high-intensity, quick–fast movement that engages your fast-twitch muscle fibers (vs slow twitch fibers employed in activities like yoga and hiking). The fast twitch minute can be jumping jacks, stepping up and down on a stair, raising tuna fish cans up and down over your head, or a full-out sprint from one telephone pole to another in your neighborhood—just get the body moving fast like you did as a child!
• This is followed by a full one-minute nasal-breathing rest and recovery.
• Repeat the fast twitch exercise minute and the recovery minute four times = eight minutes.
• End with two minutes of sun salute or a deep nasal-breathing walk.
- Stay as active as possible during the day. Some tips:
• Walk during breaks and at lunch
• Stand-up desk
• Under-desk peddler
• Bike to work
• Hike to work or park a five-minute walk away
• Always take the stairs
- After work, I suggest joining a gym or yoga studio where you can finish your cardio, weight training, and flexibility requirements set by the new fitness guidelines. This can also be any other fitness or sports activity you enjoy.
- On the weekends, go into nature and hike, jog, run, or climb.
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Why Nose Breathing Matters
The average adult breathes some 26,000 times a day. Few of us actually breathe into all five lobes of the lungs. This is partly due to the fact that the rib cage is constantly squeezing down on the chest to help empty the lungs—called elastic recoil. The inhale’s job is to force open the rib cage against the pressure of the elastic recoil and fill all five lobes of the lungs.
In the lower lobes, there is a predominance of calming and rejuvenating parasympathetic nerve receptors. In the upper lung lobes, there are more fight-or-flight sympathetic receptors. The elastic recoil keeps most people from breathing deeply into the lower lobes, which forces many to be activating a degenerative fight-or-flight emergency responses with each and every breath: 26,000 times per day.
Exercise is key to restoring the youthful elasticity of the rib cage we were all born with—we just have to close our mouths!
The nose is engineered as a breathing apparatus to drive air through turbines called turbinates that streamline and spin the air in order to drive it all the way to the lower lobes of the lungs.
The lower lobes not only have the calming parasympathetic receptors, but also the majority of the blood-rich alveoli, which transport oxygen in and CO2 and other waste metabolites out.
Getting out of breath when you exercise is due to limited access to the alveoli-rich lower lobes of the lungs for waste removal. In other words, being out of breath during exercise is not dependent on how well you get oxygen into the blood, but, more importantly, how well you get waste out of the blood!
Our studies, which I cite in my book Body, Mind, and Sport, suggest that nose breathing is the body’s natural way to access the full respiratory efficiency of the lungs and reach our full physical potential.
In addition, our studies found that when an athlete is nose breathing, the brain slips into a meditative alpha wave state with significantly greater wave coherence. This is the blueprint of the “runner’s high” or the “zone” experience athletes seek.3
Try it at Home
I encourage you to try the tips in this article, particularly starting your day with my 12-minute nasal-breathing workout, and let me know how it goes in the comments below!
Don’t miss my podcast with Dan Millman: Finding the Way of the Peaceful Warrior, where we dive into his decades of experience teaching world-class athletes how to enter the zone and find peak performance and spirituality through athletics.