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What If I Have To Choose Between Getting Enough Sleep And Working Out?

There are many fitness sources who will tell you it’s imperative to get up at 4am and get an early morning workout in before the day starts. Others will say that if you can’t get 8 hours of sleep and wake up with sunrise, you’re better off skipping your workout.

So what is a well-meaning yet busy person to do? What if your workday starts early, goes long, and you want to come home and care for your family well in the evenings?

The answer, I think, lies in balance.

The busier you are, the more intelligently, you need to be with your intensity and volume.

Exercise is a stress. It can be a good stress. But in our busy, fast-paced world, this often means exercise pushes us beyond the point of good stress.

Let’s take a look at my very scientific graph below depicting how most people exercise…not at all, or way too much. Very few are doing it just right (which I will describe soon).

Most of the population is sedentary. They don’t move enough.

But there is another group of people who exercise in a way that does more harm than good. Think 5 days a week Orange Theory, Spin Class, Crossfit, etc. These folks are chronically over-trained. Now, don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with inherently with any of those training philosophies.

But for a busy person struggling to get all the sleep they need, spend time with their family, and still stay fit, they don’t make much sense.

High-intensity cardio for someone who doesn’t have impeccable nutrition and recovery is guaranteed to lead to hormonal issues, weight issues, and increased stress. Sadly, these are all the things one is trying to avoid by exercising intensely.

Let’s take a look at the Village movement pyramid…

At the bottom, you have sleep, rest, and recovery. This should be the first thing you think about. Can you get 7-9 hours of sleep.

Then, it’s all about low level movement during the day. Move all day long. Get a standing desk. Walk as you talk on the phone. Go for a hike. Anything you can do to move often will be a good thing.

Then you’ll want to include 2-3 strength sessions each week. These are short, use heavy weights, and should challenge you.

Then, 10-30 minuets each week, you sprint. This is high intensity cardio like our APEX, literal sprints, or interval training.

And that’s it for the busy person. It doesn’t take a ton of time and it won’t stress your body out so much that it does more harm than good.

My hope is that this frees anyone beholden to the notion that in order to be lean and healthy, they have to slog away doing endless amounts of cardio. You don’t!

I hope this helps you on your health journey,

Dr. Matt

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