On Physical Well-Being

“Do Your Best and Forget the Rest”

Catch phrases by Tony Horton, creator of the home exercise phenomenon P90X, still ring in my head.  “Do your best and forget the rest.”  “Bring it.”  “Quality over quantity.”  P90X, short for Power 90 Days Extreme, is a series of home exercise videos created in 2003 that have sold 4.2 million copies.  These are intense workouts.

My wife and I got caught up in the P90X phenomenon back in 2010.  We turned our basement into a gym. Strength bands. Pull-up bar.  Some of the workouts nearly killed us, but they positively impacted our moods. We seemed to eat healthier and sleep better, too.

The Basics: Exercise, Food Choices, Sleep

Not everyone is suited for the intensity of P90X.  There is, however, a healthy balance that covers the basics of physical well-being.  Here are three:

Exercising, even briefly, can make a big impact for managing weight, improving mood, boosting energy and improving sleep. It is even helpful in combating disease. In fact, researchers in Cambridge, UK have found that just an hour’s exercise a week can reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s by almost half. The nature of exercise depends on the age and stage of life. For example, lifting weights may be more important as we age. It helps build bone density.  

We are what we eat.  The merits of the Mediterranean Diet are well documented, and grocery stores, restaurants and food delivery services are making it easier to identify and choose healthy options.

Sleep matters, too. One study found that people who get less than seven hours sleep were nearly three times as likely to develop a cold.  Arianna Huffington has raised the issue of sleep deprivation to the national public with her recent book, The Sleep Revolution.

Power of Healthy Defaults

In combination, these healthy choices make a big difference.  As Dr. Laura Carstensen, Director of the Stanford Center on Longevity, notes, “After 70, a mere four factors — exercising, not smoking, consuming alcohol only moderately and following a Mediterranean diet heavy on fruits, vegetables and healthy fats like olive oil — reduce by a whopping 60 percent one’s chance of dying from any cause over a ten-year period.”

Golden Opportunity for the Built Environment to Enhance Physical Well-Being

Your physical environment goes a long way towards making good choices a default choice.  By that, we recognize that most daily choices – upwards of 95 percent – are non-conscious, non-consciously chosen.  They are the product of our physical environment – and we take that into account in promoting well-being.

In the Smart Living 360 model, we invest significantly in a diverse array of physical fitness options for residents, ensuring that each community is embedded with the flexibility for people of all ages and stages to meet their physical fitness goals. We utilize the latest treadmills and StairMasters®, but we also incorporate the Expresso HD cardio bike that allows riders to cover terrain mirrored after real places, such as biking over the Golden Gate Bridge, and compete with other riders.  We have special stretching and strength equipment that are equally helpful for people looking for intensity and others who may be rehabbing from an injury or surgery.  Our lifestyle ambassadors help get people started with our gym.  Then, we bring in fitness instructors to create customized exercise regimens.

We also see an important role to help residents stay connected to physicians and wellness coaches. We have a room outfitted with the capabilities for telehealth. Over time, we expect residents to be able to easily share their key health data real-time with their physicians and other experts to help them stay healthy.

Taking a page out of my experience with P90X, we have also made it easy for people to stream exercise videos on a large TV, such as for yoga, Pilates and cardio workouts and to do so as a group.  In fact, the P90X DVDs my wife and I used have now been augmented by online streaming videos.  Residents can now stream P90X in our fitness gym but they should be warned of a risk.  They might hear Tony Horton talking to them in their sleep!