Plus, why I indulge in this “cocktail” every day
I don’t believe in magic bullets for disease prevention. But when it comes to your overall health, there’s one thing that comes pretty close…
It’s not a pill, potion, or top-secret ingredient. And it doesn’t require you to drain your savings account. In fact, it’s something that’s readily available to everyone… for FREE.
The best part? It lengthens your lifespan, boosts your quality of life, improves your mood, and slashes your risk of countless conditions—like heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, cancer, diabetes, and MORE. All without a single side effect.
There’s even a secret recipe that I indulge in DAILY.
Now, I know you’re thinking this sounds too good to be true. But the truth is, there’s almost nothing with a greater impact on your health than THIS…
Head off heart disease before it starts
In case you haven’t guessed what this “magic” solution is yet, I’m talking about exercise.
But there is a small catch here—and that’s consistency. Because occasional exercise just doesn’t have these same life-changing effects. Regular exercise, on the other hand, offers limitless benefits. (And no, that¡¯s not an exaggeration.)
In fact, as part of a recent study, researchers looked at data from more than 90,000 U.K. Biobank participants—none of whom had a history of heart disease. Subjects all agreed to wear a device to measure their physical activity levels over the course of a week.
Compared to people in the lowest category, moderate-intensity exercisers had less than 75 percent of the risk of a heart disease diagnosis down the line. Moderate-to-vigorous exercisers had only 59 percent of the risk; and vigorous exercisers were less than half as likely to wind up with heart disease.1
Research shows that this protection extends to people with a history of heart disease, too: As part of another recent study, Dutch researchers collected data from the Lifelines Cohort Study, featuring nearly 170,000 subjects.
They looked at links between physical activity and major cardiovascular events (like heart attack and stroke) as well as death by any cause. And they investigated these associations between three groups: healthy subjects, subjects with high heart risk factors, and subjects with heart disease.
As you might expect, increasing exercise cut mortality risk across all groups. But in this study, the benefits leveled off after a certain point among both healthy and high-risk subjects.
Among subjects with heart disease, though, there was no upper threshold to the health benefits of physical activity.2 Meaning that, in these patients especially, more really is better… and, across the board, something is always better than nothing at all.
But that’s not all exercise can do for your health…
After-dinner walks crush diabetes
Exercise also helps reduce your risk of diabetes—and it can even help you manage the condition should you fall prey to it. The best part? Your exercise routine doesn’t even have to be complicated to reap these benefits.
In one recent study, researchers simply looked at when people exercise. And what they found might just be the secret to success when it comes to blood sugar control…
As part of this study, patients with type 2 diabetes either went for three 10-minute walks a day—one after each meal—or for one 30-minute walk a day. (Same number of minutes in total. Same intensity. The only difference was the timing.)
Results showed that when participants walked after meals, blood glucose levels dropped an average of 12 percent compared to walking just once per day.3 (A critical benefit, whether you’re diabetic or not!)
Plus, another study looked at the amount of exercise people need for diabetes prevention. Researchers found that non-diabetics who followed the guidelines of 150 minutes per week of moderate activity had a significantly lower risk of developing diabetes. In fact, their risk was reduced by a dramatic 26 percent.
That number jumped to more than 36 percent with 300 minutes per week of moderate physical activity—and all the way up to 53 percent for the most avid exercisers. In other words, the more you do, the more metabolic health benefits you’ll gain.
And even if you can’t hit that 150-minute weekly goal, you¡¯ll still be doing your body—and your blood sugar—a favor by doing something. The important thing to remember is that, once again, something is better than nothing at all. (And yes, that something still has an effect.)
Stay nimble in more ways than one
Let’s look at yet another benefit of exercise: a decreased risk of falling… especially in patients with Alzheimer’s disease (AD).
Now, falling can be a catastrophe for any aging adult. But having Alzheimer¡¯s doubles one’s risk of suffering a fall. In fact, every year, upwards of 60 percent of dementia patients will take a spill.
But according to a study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, patients who exercised had a dramatically lower risk of falling compared with those who didn¡¯t.4
Among patients who didn’t exercise, lower scores on psychological tests correlated with a higher fall risk—along with symptoms like depression and anxiety. This means that regular physical activity is especially important for Alzheimer’s patients who are in one or both of these categories.
Of course, none of this is especially surprising—exercise increases strength and coordination. It also naturally helps fight depression and anxiety, as I’ve reported many times before. All of which help reduce one’s risk of falling.
But research shows that physical activity plays an independent role in reversing dementia, too. And, once again, it doesn’t take a lot to reap these cognitive benefits… it just takes consistency.
If you’re looking for a magic number though, here it is: One study found that the perfect “dose” of exercise to keep your cognition intact is 52 hours over a minimum of six months.5
Further, this research found that total exercise time was the single most important factor in predicting improvements in processing speed and attention, executive function, or global function. (Training session times, weekly exercise frequency, and the number of weeks of exercise didn¡¯t matter at all.)
In other words, a long-term commitment to regular physical activity is the only way to gain results. And not just for your heart, your blood sugar, and your brain health. It could help you dodge a cancer diagnosis, too…
“Sitting disease” spells death
A recent report found that more than 46,000 cancer cases could be prevented every year in the United States, IF Americans simply got five hours of moderate-intensity exercise per week.6
This latest data, collected between 2013 and 2016, showed that three percent of all cancer cases in Americans aged 30 and older traced back to a sedentary lifestyle. And that proportion was even higher in women.
Not to mention, the call is even more urgent when you break it down by specific types of cancer. This research linked a lack of exercise to roughly:
- 17 percent of stomach cancers
- 12 percent of endometrial cancers
- 11 percent of kidney cancers
- 9 percent of colon cancers
- 8 percent of esophageal cancers
- 6 percent of breast cancers
- 4 percent of urinary bladder cancers
There’s just no other way to say it: Exercise saves lives.
In fact, recently published research shows that a sedentary lifestyle—also known as ¡°sitting disease”—is responsible for eight percent of all chronic disease and death. That¡¯s one in every 14 deaths being attributed to inactivity.7
And even though Americans report an average of five hours of daily free time, they spend less than 24 minutes of that on physical activity.
Of course, we’ve all heard the advice to get at least 30 minutes per day of exercise, five days a week, for decades now. That breaks down to a mere two percent of your day. And now, research shows that what you do during the other 98 percent is every bit as important…
Exercise doesn’t end with workouts
A new study drew data from more than 130,000 adults in the U.K., U.S., and Sweden. The goal was to see how different activity combinations—including moderate-to-vigorous exercise (like brisk walking, running, or biking), light activity (like housework or more casual walking), and sedentary behavior—impact mortality risk.
(Remember—exercise and physical activity aren¡¯t always the same thing. Exercise is just one form of physical activity. But staying active could also mean engaging in housework, gardening, or leisurely strolls around the neighborhood.)
As it turns out, the benefits of your dedicated workouts depend a whole lot on how you happen to spend the rest of your day: Sticking to current physical activity guidelines slashed the odds of early death by as much as 80 percent—but only among people who sat still for fewer than seven hours a day.
Among people who remained sedentary for more than 11 to 12 hours per day, exercising did absolutely nothing. In other words, you can’t just put in your 30 minutes and lie on the couch for the rest of the day.
Now, there’s no “one size fits all” exercise prescription—a truly effective strategy requires a more holistic approach. But these researchers did identify a basic formula for best results.
So, here’s how you can use it to craft your own lifesaving physical activity “cocktail”…
A simple recipe for success
The formula is simple: Get three minutes of moderate-to-vigorous activity—or twelve minutes of light activity—for every hour of sitting.8
According to this study, that’s the exact balance to strike if you want to improve your health and slash your risk of early death. Then, you want to spend the rest of your day moving as much as possible and getting a good night’s sleep.
You can make this “recipe” work for you in various ways. For example:
- 55 minutes of exercise, along with 4 hours of light activity, and 11 hours of sitting, or
- 13 minutes of exercise, along with 5.5 hours of light activity, and 10.3 hours of sitting, or
- 3 minutes of exercise, along with 6 hours of light activity, and 9.2 hours of sitting
Any way you slice it, as long as you hit the three-to-one formula, you’ll be slashing your risk of early death by 30 percent.
Now that’s a cocktail I want to enjoy every day—and I do!
My own physical activity “cocktail”
My absolute favorite workout—and the one I do at least four times a week—is a cycling class called Soul Cycle.
Perhaps you’ve heard of it? Classes take place in a dark room, with music blaring, and a beat that keeps you going the entire class… and yes, even wanting more when it’s done. It’s like going to a nightclub in the middle of the day. And it’s downright addicting.
But that’s just the core ingredient of my own personal physical activity cocktail.
For one, I’m always on my feet when I’m seeing patients at the office. And like most New Yorkers, I walk pretty much everywhere—whether it’s to the bodega, the subway, or a casual stroll with my beagle Remington.
Now don’t get me wrong—I love to binge watch a good TV show just as much as the next person. But for me, constant movement is a way of life. And when you do it every day, you don’t even have to think about it.
Your body, however, will absolutely feel the difference… for years to come.
What are some of your favorite ways to stay active? I’d love to hear from you! Send me a message to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Ramakrishnan R, et al. “Accelerometer measured physical activity and the incidence of cardiovascular disease: Evidence from the UK Biobank cohort study.” PLOS Medicine, Jan. 12, 2021 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1003487
- Bakker EA, et al. “Dose–response association between moderate to vigorous physical activity and incident morbidity and mortality for individuals with a different cardiovascular health status: A cohort study among 142,493 adults from the Netherlands.” PLOS Medicine, 2021; 18 (12): e1003845 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1003845
- Smith AD, et al. “Physical activity and incident type 2 diabetes mellitus: a systematic review and dose–response meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies.” Diabetologia, 2016; DOI: 10.1007/s00125-016-4079-0
- Roitto HM, et al. “Relationship of Neuropsychiatric Symptoms with Falls in Alzheimer’s Disease – Does Exercise Modify the Risk?” Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 2018; DOI: 1111/jgs.15614
- Gomes-Osman J, et al. “Exercise for cognitive brain health in aging: A systematic review for an evaluation of dose.” Neurol Clin Pract. 2018 Jun;8(3):257-265. doi: 10.1212/CPJ.0000000000000460.
- Minihan AK, et al. Proportion of Cancer Cases Attributable to Physical Inactivity by US State, 2013-2016. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 2021; Publish Ahead of Print DOI: 1249/MSS.0000000000002801
- Katzmarzyk PT, et al. “Physical inactivity and non-communicable disease burden in low-income, middle-income and high-income countries.” Br J Sports Med. 2022 Jan;56(2):101-106. doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2020-103640. Epub 2021 Mar 29.
- Chastin S, et al. “Joint association between accelerometry-measured daily combination of time spent in physical activity, sedentary behaviour and sleep and all-cause mortality: a pooled analysis of six prospective cohorts using compositional analysis.” British Journal of Sports Medicine, 2021; bjsports-2020-102345 DOI: 1136/bjsports-2020-102345