The research is clear: All types of movement, from vacuuming to ice hockey, can improve your health. But despite the myriad benefits that physical activity brings, only 23.2% of US adults meet the CDC’s guidelines for both aerobic and muscle-strengthening activity. Ultimately, a lack of exercise can increase the likelihood of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure, among many other conditions.
Committing to your own Activity practice may seem daunting, but the good news is that it doesn’t take much weekly exercise to boost your longevity — and it can even be fun! In conjunction with the Pillars of Nutrition, Sleep, and Restoration, Activity can help you establish a balanced lifestyle and enhance the quality of your life for years to come.
Keep reading to discover the importance of the Activity pillar, get practical tips for building healthy Activity habits, and see how Zero can guide you along the way.
How Activity Supports Your Health Goals
Activity can either be unstructured or structured. The former encompasses household chores (like making your bed) as well as spontaneous bouts of movement (like wrangling pets or kids). The latter can be broken down into endurance, resistance, and intensity-focused workouts, and the ideal movement routine should include a mix of all three.
For endurance, look no further than zone 2 exercise. Zone 2 exercise is something like a “jack-of-all-trades” of movement, capable of increasing mitochondrial density, improving insulin resistance and glucose tolerance, decreasing blood pressure, and lowering resting heart rate.
Lastly, high-intensity exercise (or HIE) involves short bouts of intense activity (think burpees) intercalated with periods of rest. Efficiency is the name of the game for HIE, as it allows you to efficiently burn calories and get a good workout in when you’re short on time, all while enhancing muscle health and sharpening reflexes.
How to Start Building Healthy Activity Habits
When it comes to Activity, you don’t need to be an athlete to reap the rewards. In fact, small steps can really add up — figuratively and literally. The important thing is to be consistent and build habits that fit within your unique schedule and lifestyle.
Here are a few suggestions:
- Get 45 minutes of zone 2 exercise 4–5 times a week. Jogging, swimming, cycling, power walking — whatever gets you to 60–80% of your maximum heart rate and does not prevent you from holding a conversation in full sentences.
- Engage in strength or resistance training 2–3 times a week. Train in the comfort of your own home with bodyweight exercises and resistance bands, or use this as an opportunity to bring a gym buddy along for the ride.
- Do high-intensity exercise at least once a week. This can be a separate workout or you can tack it on at the end of an abbreviated zone 2 session. The goal is to work at near maximum effort, which is about 90% of your maximum heart rate.
- Pick activities you enjoy. One of the easiest ways to fall off the fitness wagon is dreading the 30 minutes you spend on the treadmill or being forced to join your friends for CrossFit. Instead, opt for activities you actually look forward to.
- Find opportunities for movement. Go on a walk while you catch up with your grandma on the phone. Take the stairs to your fourth-floor apartment. Tackle the pesky weeding in your garden when it’s nice out. There’s almost never a bad time to enjoy low-intensity activity.
How Zero Helps You Move Better
The best part about embarking on an Activity journey with Zero is that you’re not alone. In addition to a wealth of articles and videos, Zero has three important features that will help you assess your big-picture progress. Let’s get to know them!
Visualize your journey and celebrate your wins across days, weeks, months, and years. When you log at least 20 minutes of zone 2 exercise, you’ll see the Loop fill up with Activity’s corresponding color, pink. To fill in all four colors and close the Loop for the day, you’ll need to complete the other Pillars of Health — more on them later.
The Habit Tracker
Build actionable, data-driven Activity habits with the Habit Tracker. Simply tap on the “+” icon in the upper right corner of the Today tab, and watch your smart choices tell a compelling story of progress over time. If you’re using your Apple Watch, Fitbit, Oura, or other apps or wearables, you can sync them with Zero to make this a completely automated experience.
The Fasting Timer
Coordinating your workouts with your fasts can maximize your fat-burning potential, promote muscle growth, and improve metabolic flexibility. With Zero’s Fasting Timer, you can track your fasts, receive custom Fasting Tips based on your unique metrics, and access Personalized Fasting Zones, which detail your body’s inner workings throughout a fast.
Pairing Activity with the Other Pillars of Health
When you integrate healthy Activity habits into your daily life, you’ll also eat better, sleep better, and restore better. By linking these healthy habits, you’ll experience lasting, transformative changes to your well-being.
Activity + Healthy Nutrition
To track your healthy Nutrition habits, tap the “+” icon in the upper right corner of the Today tab.
They say you can’t outrun a bad diet — and it’s true! Loading up on minimally-processed whole foods and “eating the rainbow” can lead to all-around gains in workout performance as well as muscle mass and recovery. Additionally, vitamins and nutrients, like vitamin D and calcium, can keep your bones healthy and prevent osteoporosis and other degenerative conditions.
Of course, we can’t forget about protein. Aim for 0.5–1 gram of protein per pound of body weight to support almost all major functions of the body, from building and repairing tissue to regulating hormones to ensuring proper digestion.
Tip: Fuel your body with minimally-processed, nutrient-dense whole foods and a serving of protein with each meal.
Activity + Healthy Sleep
To track your healthy Sleep habits, tap the “+” icon in the upper right corner of the Today tab. Using Apple Watch or another app or wearable? Connect Zero with Apple Health and we’ll automatically sync your daily progress.
Having a hard time catching your nightly Zs? Regular exercise unequivocally improves the quantity and quality of your sleep and is particularly helpful for those who struggle with insomnia. Conversely, getting enough high-quality sleep can help you feel more motivated at the gym, boost consistency, and accelerate results.
Another strategy for leveraging both Activity and Sleep is to prioritize most of your movement during daylight hours, as this will help your body align with its natural circadian rhythm, which in itself is a powerful component of overall longevity.
Tip: Set yourself up for success by hitting the gym during the day and getting 7–9 hours of sleep at night.
Activity + Healthy Restoration
To track your healthy Restoration habits, tap the “+” icon in the upper right corner of the Today tab.
Along with bubble baths and long walks on the beach, exercise is most definitely a form of self-care. Activity dovetails beautifully with the Restoration Pillar, as one will enhance the other. Get a massage after going on a run, take an ice bath after a grueling HIIT workout, or end a pilates session with 15 minutes of foam rolling — the options are endless.
Aside from supporting your athletic recovery, Restoration practices can also improve your mental health and make you feel more refreshed and ready to tackle your next workout.
Tip: Couple your workouts with passive rejuvenation for optimal recovery.
Regular physical activity — which includes an assortment of endurance, strength, and high-intensity exercises — offers incredible benefits that span across nearly every area of your life. When combined with the Nutrition, Sleep, and Restoration Pillars, you’ll be on the right path towards living better, longer.