Phase 3 – Physical Activity
In this HeartStrong.com video/article, we are going to discuss the phase 3 physical activity plan. Here are the goals of this plan:
1. Introduce a higher level of physical activity than phase 2
2. Educate you on how to progress to higher levels of activity
3. Work up to at least 250 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic exercise AND 2 days of strength training
4. Burn adequate calories and increase your metabolism (basal metabolic rate) to help you achieve your ideal weight
Just like the phase 3 healthy eating plan, all you have to do in the phase 3 physical activity plan is make a few simple tweaks. Yes, phase 3 increases physical activity even further to 250 minutes per week of moderate intensity aerobic exercise, which may sound like a lot, but is still less than 40 minutes per day.
As you progress through phase 3 and 4, the duration of aerobic exercise will of course increase and we must avoid overuse injuries and mental burnout
Extreme Aerobic Exercise and Cardiovascular Health
First of all, doing 250 minutes per week of aerobic exercise is indeed a lot, but not quite considered extreme. Again, the CDC does recommend increasing to as much as 300 minutes per week for added cardiovascular health which as you guessed is going to be the goal of phase 4.
Having said that one might ask…what is extreme? What are the cardiovascular effects of extreme aerobic exercise such as those crazy individuals doing an ultra-Ironman triathlon which is usually 4.7 miles of swimming, 220 miles of biking and 52.4 miles of running back to back in 1 event?
This topic has been controversial. There really is no good research. While most studies have shown that people exercising well beyond the ACC/AHA and CDC exercise recommendations are less likely to die in general, there have been some others showing no benefit. One small study showed increase coronary calcium if you ran at least one marathon per year (26.2 miles). Also, there have been plenty of case examples of marathon runners (even elite runners) who have had severe coronary artery disease or suffered heart attacks while running. Thus extreme aerobic exercise does not make you “immune” to heart disease despite its benefits. Having said that, there are many many more who have been healthy and even ran marathons into their 90’s.
In general, the overwhelming consensus is that you are better off doing aerobic exercise that not and that up to 300 minutes per week of moderate intensity is very beneficial to heart health. Beyond 300 minutes per week remains unclear as there is no good research.
HeartStrong.com believes that if you put extreme aerobic exercise together with a whole foods plant based diet and other healthy habits like avoiding tobacco products, you should be completely fine if you choose to run that marathon.