TIME Exercise/Fitness

How Men Can Protect Against Cancer

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Being fit is linked to a 68% lower risk of cardiovascular disease death

It’s no surprise that being physically fit helps protect against heart disease, but a person’s level of fitness might also have a profound effect on cancer outcomes long before a diagnosis. According to a new study in JAMA Oncology, men who were very fit in middle age were 32% less likely to die from cancer after being diagnosed after age 65 than men who weren’t fit in midlife.

“It’s pretty remarkable that a fitness estimate 10-15 years before your actual cancer diagnosis can predict how long you’re going to live after you develop cancer,” says Dr. Susan Lakoski, one of the study’s authors and assistant professor of medicine at the University of Vermont, Burlington.

In the study, which was part of the Cooper Center Longitudinal Study based out of the Cooper Clinic in Dallas, Texas, Lakoski and her colleagues looked at fitness data, measured by a treadmill test, and cancer data—specifically prostate, lung and colorectal cancer—from about 14,000 men for 6.5 years. Men who were very fit at age 50 had a 55% lower risk of lung cancer and a 44% reduced risk of colorectal cancer compared to men who weren’t fit at 50.

MORE: You Asked: Is Running On A Treadmill As Good As Running Outside?

(The researchers did not see this association with prostate cancer. Though more research is need to figure out why, they hypothesize that it’s because men who are very physically fit tend to have better health behaviors like going to the doctor, which makes them more likely to be diagnosed than someone who doesn’t get screened as frequently as something like prostate cancer, which is common but often does not require treatment.)

The protective benefits of exercise didn’t stop there. Of the men who eventually were diagnosed with lung, prostate and colorectal cancer by age 65 or older, being very fit in midlife was associated with a 32% reduced risk of cancer-related death and a 68% lower risk of cardiovascular death compared to men who had low fitness in midlife.

Here’s the best part: it doesn’t take a lot of exercise to have a big health impact, Lakoski found. “Just a small improvement in fitness made a difference in survival of those that developed cancer,” she says. Compared to men who could run 12-minute miles on the treadmill at age 50, men who ran slightly faster 11.5-minute miles had an additional 10% decrease in cancer death and an extra 25% decrease in cardiovascular death among those who developed cancer in the study.

Lakoski hopes that clinicians will start using fitness measurements in their practices to help make preventive exercise plans for their patients. “We talk about personalized medicine a lot now in medicine when we think about genetics, but we don’t think about it in terms of healthy behaviors,” she says. Objective fitness measures are great ways to develop personalized exercise training regimens, she says, with real implications for lifespan. “It is a very robust marker of survival,” she says, “and we’re not using it enough in practice.”

TIME Exercise/Fitness

5 Fitness Trends That Are Having a Moment

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These workout options won't bore you

These days, fitness trends seem to be popping up faster than you can say Fitbit. Working out has never been more scientific or sophisticated thanks to innovative class-style studios. Paying hundreds of dollars a month for luxury gyms where you typically pay extra for all the amenities you don’t use is a thing of the past.

Group classes keep your wallet fiscally fit, keep you accountable to yourself and your peers, and ensure enough variety within each workout that you never get bored repeating the same workout over and over again. Whether you’re into a large or small class, cardio or weight training, here are 5 trends that are having a moment right now.

The competitive class

If you’re a former athlete or just someone with a competitive drive, a little friendly competition could be exactly what you need to achieve your best workout. Nothing gets people motivated like knowing they’re being monitored in some way, shape, or form. People are not only encouraged by their trainers or peers during a workout, but now there are classes that offer a more detailed look at your progress in real time. Flywheel is a cycling studio that keeps you accountable with a Torqboard, a scoreboard at the front of the class that the instructor will occasionally light up during the ride allowing you to see your own metrics as well as compete with others in the class.

Orangetheory Fitness has a similar vibe in the form of treadmill/indoor rowing machines and weight training rolled into one class, where you’re hooked up to a heart-rate monitor and you can track how high or low your heart rate is on a screen at the front of the room. And, yes, trainers will call you out by name if you’re slacking. Whether you’re competing with a friend or just your own previous score, you’ll be pleasantly surprised how fast the time goes when you’re focused on getting the most out of yourself.

Read more: 24 Fat-Burning Ab Exercises (No Crunches!)

The hybrid workout

The hybrid workout is quickly becoming one of the more beloved types of sweat sessions. Most people know that the combination of weight training and cardio in the same workout can produce considerably more benefits than using either training type on its own. But what about when you throw in a lengthening or toning element like Pilates or yoga? In workouts like Pilates Plus, you get the strengthening benefits of weight training, the non-stop movement of cardio, and the muscle lengthening and postural aspect of Pilates all in a one-hour class.

Buti Yoga is a similar hybrid that fuses power yoga, tribal dance, and plyometric moves for a deep abdominal toning that works your body from the inside out. This workout will accomplish everything you need, from yoga and toning to cardio and fun dance moves. With these hybrid classes, you never get bored because you never take the same class twice. In addition to a heart pumping sweat session, they give a keen sense of community that make all women feel at home, which is something essential to accomplishing a great workout. Classes are offered in 32 states and 15 countries, from top yoga studios to internationally recognized gym chains including Hard Candy and Anytime Fitness. They also have online classes on their website.

Read more: 25 Exercises You Can Do Anywhere

The boutique class

If large class environments with people flinging sweat two inches away from you isn’t your thing, and you’re indifferent to the competition aspect, a smaller boutique class could be more your style. Unlike the mega workout conglomerate chains, these classes may take a little more research on your part. But finding that class or instructor you love will keep you coming back for more as well as give you that in-the-know feeling that makes you think your workout is the best kept secret. Most of these boutique classes are held in smaller studios and offer a more relaxed environment (without skimping on the body benefits!) Many of them incorporate props into the class. Trampoline classes are trending right now, where class goers have individual trampolines to work on. This form of exercise offers a lower impact cardio alternative to running or even cycling.

Surfset is another boutique class that takes inspiration from the real movements of surfing to create a workout that builds balance, core strength, and aerobic conditioning. They literally created a machine out of a surfboard that delivers a 45-minute, surf-inspired workout that has the same benefits of working with a BOSU trainer at the gym. No matter what sport or pastime you’re into, there’s bound to be a corresponding workout for you; you just have to look.

Read more: 3 Ways to Do a Burpee

Aerial fitness

Aerial yoga and fitness classes seem to be popping up everywhere. They are classes practiced using a set of supported fabric slings that are hung from the ceiling, wall, or other foundational apparatus. People are drawn to this form of physical conditioning because it allows them to feel like they can ‘hang’ with the Cirque du Soleil performers. Some people refer to it as the ‘accidental workout,’ because it allows people to have a fun experience while simultaneously using their entire body to keep them suspended in the air for a long period of time. It also takes a lot of mental prowess; if you don’t pay attention to the choreography of each move you might not know how to get down properly.

Read more: 3 Fat-Burning Strength Exercises

Technology

This one may not be a particular style of classes, but if fitness and technology got together, their offspring would be the thousands of fitness apps, trackers, and other online subscriptions and fitness DVDs that have grown in popularity in the last few years. The latest technological fitness trend: ClassPass. ClassPass is an online monthly membership that allows its members to take unlimited classes at the best fitness studios all over their city for $99 a month. What’s the catch? Well, you can only visit any given studio three times per month. But, this gives you the opportunity to try out numerous different studios and keep your body from hitting a plateau because you will never get bored with all the options!

This article originally appeared on Health.com.

TIME Exercise/Fitness

You Asked: Should I Do The Insanity Workout?

Illustration by Peter Oumanski for TIME

Expect results—though maybe not the ones you’d hoped for.

The name alone is a challenge—a dare. You’d have to be insane to attempt this workout. Of course, that’s a big part of the appeal. If the exercise is “extreme” or “crazy,” you assume the body benefits will be dramatic. And they may be—just not in the ways you’d expect from checking out the workout’s promotional materials, which emphasize weight loss.

While it’s continually changing, the latest iteration of “INSANITY” is a 60-day program composed of 30-minute bouts of very high-intensity aerobic and resistance exercise, to be completed six days a week. While research has linked physical fitness gains to Insanity-style interval workouts, the evidence that these programs lead to weight loss is anything but rock solid.

“We’ve shown that when it comes to cardiovascular fitness and function, greater intensity leads to greater adaptations,” says Todd Astorino, PhD, associate professor in the department of kinesiology at California State University, San Marcos.

Astorino has studied the health and fitness effects of very rigorous bouts of interval training, often referred to as high-intensity interval training (HIIT). He says there’s little doubt your athletic condition—the ability of your heart and lungs to handle physical activity—would improve if you completed something along the lines of an Insanity workout. He also says your blood sugar levels would likely drop, a change that could help protect you from metabolic diseases like type-2 diabetes. Throw in the body-resistance component of Insanity workouts, and you’ll certainly grow stronger too.

What about weight loss? “The research is very mixed, especially in the long term,” Astorino says. “I think it would help you avoid weight gain. But that’s not the same as losing weight.”

Hundreds of studies have looked into the effect of regular exercise on body weight. While physical activity is unquestionably good for your health, exercise alone doesn’t have a huge impact on the number you see on your bathroom scale, concludes one recent study appearing in the journal Obesity Reviews.

MORE You Asked: Why Are People Addicted To CrossFit?

Another study, this one from Stephen Boutcher, PhD, associate professor at Australia’s University of New South Wales, specifically examined the effect of Insanity-style HIIT training on body fat. Boutcher’s research found “significant” fat reduction—or a little more than 4 pounds of lost body fat after three months of training. That’s significant in science terms, but probably not what you’re expecting when starting a workout program that highlights happy customers who have lost 40, 50, or even 90 pounds.

Boutcher says there’s some evidence HIIT training may help suppress appetite in ways traditional aerobic exercise doesn’t. But to shed lots of weight—the kind of “total-body” transformation you see in product testimonials—you also have to eat a healthy diet, the research suggests. (Read the fine print on the INSANITY website, and you’ll find analogous disclaimers stating a “proper diet” is necessary to achieve and maintain weight loss.)

But for some people, even regular exercise and an improved diet won’t dramatically change the way their bodies look. “Many people are just naturally bigger,” Astorino says. “For them, trying to look physically lean would probably require some very dramatic diet restrictions.”

Of course, none of this touches on the psychological perks of challenging yourself with a butt-whipping exercise regimen. Talk to someone who has run a marathon or finished an Insanity program, and you can hear the sense of accomplishment and pride they feel when they talk about their achievement.

“If you can get through something like this, you’ll have confidence and a good understanding of what your body can tolerate,” Astorino says. Those benefits, along with improved endurance and metabolic health, are nothing to scoff at. But if you’re expecting to transform your body and drop several sizes with INSANITY, the results might not be as crazy as you’d hoped.

Read next: A Workout You Can Do Anywhere

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TIME health

A Workout You Can Do Anywhere

These 5 metabolism-boosting moves can be completed outside of the gym

Memorize these five moves and you’ll have a metabolism-boosting routine you can do anywhere. All you need is a sturdy waist-high surface, like a kitchen counter, a desk, or the back of a park bench. (Consult your doctor first if you are pregnant or recovering from an injury.) “You can even do these in your street clothes,” says Sadie Lincoln, the founder of Barre3, who created this sequence. Repeat it three or four times throughout the day. “By bedtime you’ll have burned more calories than you would have with one 30-minute trip to the gym,” says Lincoln.

 

  • Sumo Slide

    (A) Standing with feet a little wider than shoulder-width apart and turned slightly outward, bring your hands to your thighs, push your weight into your heels, bend your knees, and sink your rear end down and back behind you. (B) Push your weight into the balls of your feet, tighten your core, and lift up to standing. With the same fluid motion, lift your arms up over your head and slide your right heel to your left heel. Repeat 15 times, sweeping your heels together on alternating sides.

  • Narrow Athletic V

    (A) Stand with your heels together, your palms flat and together, and your toes pointed outward, three to four inches apart. (B) Bend your knees as in a plié, lowering your body about six inches, then hold. Keep your back straight, as if you’re up against an imaginary wall. (C) Lift your heels up one inch, then return to the starting point. Repeat 30 times.

  • Horse Pose

    (A) Stand with your feet slightly wider than your shoulders, with your toes pointed out to 2 o’clock and 10 o’clock and your arms stretched out away from your sides. (B) Bend your knees to lower your body one inch while keeping your back straight, as if you’re up against an imaginary wall. Your knees should be pitched forward over your middle toes, so that when you look down at the ground, only your big toes are visible. (C) Lift back to the starting point. Repeat 30 times.

  • Starfish

    (A) Start in horse pose, with a waist-high surface, like a couch back, to your left. (B) Once in the bent-knee position, place your left hand on the surface and reach your right arm out to the other side. (C) Press your left foot into the ground and lift your core up, sweeping your right arm up over you head and lifting your right leg straight out on your right side. (D) Lengthen the right side of your body, stretching out your right arm and leg, so that you end up leaning over the surface. (E) Return back to horse pose. Repeat 30 times on each side.

  • Standing Plank

    (A) With your feet shoulder-width apart, place your hands on a waist-high surface. (B) Take a small step back and lift yourself onto the balls of your feet so that your heels are hovering off the ground and your body is leaning slightly forward. (C) Press into the surface and hold and breathe for one minute.

    This article originally appeared on RealSimple.com.

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TIME Exercise/Fitness

6 Ways a TV Binge Affects Your Body

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And how to fight each one

When a major show releases an entire season at once—we’re looking at you, House of Cards—it’s hard to resist devouring it all over a single weekend. And you probably won’t be alone: According to a 2014 poll by research firm Miner & Co Studio, 70% of U.S. television watchers self-identified as binge-viewers.

But before you settle in, let’s talk about what a TV binge can do to your body. You know that a habit of sitting for prolonged periods has been linked to everything from obesity to early death, but you may wonder: What harm can one or two lazy days really do?

Well, let’s just say there are some good reasons to try to split up your TV or movie binge.

“Even one long television session can certainly cause some immediate side effects,” says John P. Higgins, MD, associate professor of cardiology at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston and a certified personal trainer. “And the more you do it, the more you’ll be at risk for longer-term problems.”

Here are all the ways your body is affected while you binge-watch, plus how to fight each one.

Your appetite

Watching television often goes hand in hand with mindless overeating and unhealthy snacking, Dr. Higgins says, and watching episode after episode can make that worse. “You probably don’t want to stop for an hour to cook yourself a healthy meal, so you order pizza or fast food, or you snack on junk food the whole time.” And if you think that one bad-for-you dinner can’t hurt, think again: A 2012 study from the University of Montreal found that a single meal high in saturated fat can can damage arteries and restrict blood flow in the body. Furthermore, watching high-paced, action-oriented programs also triggers more distracted eating than less stimulating news or talk shows, according to a 2014 study by Cornell University.

Simply seeing characters eat on TV may make you consume more calories, Dr. Higgins adds, just as watching them drink alcohol may trigger you to crave a cocktail, or seeing them smoke (ahem, Frank and Claire) may tempt smokers to light up.

Fight it: Prep healthy food in advance
Make a healthy meal before you indulge in one (or more) episodes, and have pre-portioned healthy snacks (think popcorn or almonds) at the ready.

Read more: 20 Snacks That Burn Fat

Your muscles

It’s unlikely that you’ll gain five pounds or sabotage your fitness goals in one sitting, but spending all day on your butt can have more immediate consequences, including stiffness, back pain, and muscle cramps.

Fight it: Watch on the go
Download the Netflix app, so you can watch from your phone or tablet on the treadmill, stationary bike, or—Frank’s personal favorite—the rowing machine. At the very least, you should take a stand and stretch break between each episode.

Read more: 15-Minute Workout: Get Total-Body Toned

Your mood

A recent study by University of Texas at Austin researchers found that binge-watching is linked with feelings of depression and loneliness. People often try to lose themselves in TV to distract themselves from their negative feelings, the authors say, but often they’re unable to stop—even when they know they are neglecting work and relationships. Spending a whole weekend watching TV may also cause feelings regret and guilt, says psychiatrist Grant Brenner, MD, adjunct assistant clinical professor at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, but those are usually temporary.

For viewers with pre-existing mental health conditions, however, a binge session may have bigger consequences. “Perhaps they’re in a vulnerable state and the material triggers a negative reaction—such as activating trauma or amplifying irrational beliefs of some sort,” Dr. Brenner says.

Speaking of trauma, House of Cards has some dark subject matter. “Being exposed to any sufficiently intense or resonant emotionally-laden experience can potentially affect a person’s disposition and outlook,” Dr. Brenner adds, at least for a few days.

Fight it: Watch with friends
You need to talk to someone about Frank and Claire, and why that thing that was so crazy was just. So. Crazy!

Read more: 12 Worst Habits For Your Mental Health

Your sleep

And not just the sleep you lose by watching straight through the night (you probably already know you shouldn’t do that); it’s possible that your shut-eye schedule in the days after your binge session could be affected as well, Dr. Higgins says. “If you watch in a dark room with a lack of sunlight it can screw up your circadian rhythm and disrupt sleep-wake cycles.” On top of that, research suggests that the blue light emitted from televisions, computers, and smartphones can impair the production of melatonin, a hormone that helps promote sleep. (Not to mention, it can cause headaches and eye strain.)

Fight it: Avoid a binge that’s too close to bedtime
You need at least an hour away from the blue light to appropriately wind down. Also: watching on a screen that’s close to your face may have the biggest impact, so be sure you really “sit back” and relax.

Read more: 10 Sleep Compatibility Problems, Solved

Your circulation

Staying in one position for too long can contribute to deep vein thrombosis and the formation of potentially fatal blood clots, even in otherwise active individuals. “I’ve seen young healthy people who have been lying around all day surfing the web or watching movies get blood clots,” Dr. Higgins says. “When you’re watching TV, you may be moving your hands a bit but usually your feet are just lying there.”

Fight it: Get up at least every 30 minutes
“It’s another important reason to get up every 30 minutes or so, even if it’s just to stand and pump the calves and keep the blood flowing,” Dr. Higgins says.

Read more: How to Prevent a Blood Clot

Your metabolism

Studies show that spending long periods of time in a chair or on a couch do slow metabolism and cause the body to store more fat, which can lead to a slow, steady weight gain. Plus, you’ve heard it before, but it’s worth repeating: prolonged sitting has been linked to certain cancers, diabetes, disability, and heart disease—and the more time people spend watching TV, the more likely they are to die prematurely. In many cases, these associations hold true even if you’re getting the recommended amount of exercise during the day.

Fight it: Don’t make it a habit
Thankfully, it’s not every week that Netflix releases an addicting show.

Read more: 6 Ways to Sit Less Every Day

The bottom line

There are ways to make the occasional marathon TV session healthier. “If you decide you’re going to watch five episodes in one day rather than one episodes every night of the week—and you use that hour each night to work out when wouldn’t otherwise—you can treat a weekend binge as a reward,” Dr. Higgins says.

Brenner agrees. “For a lot of folks, binge-watching might be a form of relaxing ‘stay-cation,’ especially if it is viewed as a valuable recreational experience and not as an excessive indulgence,” he says. “As with most things, moderation is the key to avoiding problems.”

Read more: 5 Ways To Make Your Netflix Binge A Little Healthier

This article originally appeared on Health.com.

MONEY Health Care

4 Health Moves That Can Make You Richer

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Jesse Strigler Photography—Getty Images

Better physical health can be a boon to your finances. Follow these steps to stay in shape.

Welcome to Day 9 of MONEY’s 10-day Financial Fitness program. By now you’ve learned how to bulk up your savings, cut the fat from your budget, and boost your earnings. Today, taking care of your health.

Your physical health and your financial health go hand in hand, especially as rising deductibles and increased cost sharing leave you on the hook for more expenses when you get sick.

Plus, your pocketbook takes a hit when you’re overweight: The annual cost of carrying extra pounds—including medical expenses, sick leave, and even gas for the car—is $524 for women and $432 for men, according to a 2010 study by the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services. And Fidelity estimates that a couple who retire in good health will spend 20% less on medical care than a couple in poor health will.

You know what helps: exercise, sleep, a healthy weight, and regular checkups. Here’s how to make it easier to do the right thing.

1. Don’t Pass Up Freebies

Under Obamacare, annual physicals and a long list of valuable preventive care, from cholesterol tests to colonoscopies, are fully covered by insurance, with no out-of-pocket costs.

2. Be Your Own Doctor

Not quite, but tech has made staying on top of your health easier—especially important with a chronic condition such as high blood pressure. The Health app that’s part of the new Apple operating system unveiled last fall and the Health Tracker app for Android devices allow you to upload, input, and share health and fitness data.

3. Let Your Scale Motivate You

University of Minnesota researchers found that dieters who weighed themselves daily lost an average of 12 pounds in two years; weekly scale watchers lost only six. The once-a-day group was also less likely to regain the weight. Need help? Our sister publication, CookingLightDiet.com, offers healthy eating customized meal plans.

4. Make Tracking a No-Brainer

People who count their steps are more motivated to work out. But the novelty of fitness trackers like the Fitbit can quickly wear off. More than half of owners stop using them, a recent University of Pennsylvania survey found; a third bail within a month.

If that’s you, add a tracking app such as RunKeeper or Moves to your phone instead. “Many people carry smart-phones everywhere,” says Mitesh S. Patel, an internist and researcher at the Wharton School. “If we really wanted to improve the health of the population, smartphone trackers are an easier place to start.”

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TIME Exercise/Fitness

Here’s the Minimum Exercise You Need for Maximum Results

TIME.com stock photos Weight Loss Health Exercise Yoga Mat
Elizabeth Renstrom for TIME

Finally, some good news for fitness minimalists

It doesn’t take much: women who exercise a few times a week have a lower risk of heart disease, stroke and blood clots compared to women who didn’t exercise at all, finds a new study published in the journal Circulation.

About one million women in England and Scotland, who were an average age of 56, reported their physical activity starting in 1998 and were followed for up to a decade. Researchers from the University of Oxford in the U.K. analyzed how much and how hard the women exercised, along with their incidence of heart disease, stroke and blood clots.

Interestingly, the women who exercised more did not necessarily lower their risk of heart-related problems. There seemed to be a threshold, or magic number after which the benefits started to decline. They found the biggest difference in risk of heart disease between the women who did some activity versus none, which should be a comfort to anyone daunted by the prospect of an intense exercise routine.

But the interesting patterns emerged when they looked more closely at how much exercise was enough to keep the women’s health risks low. Among those opting for moderate exercise, which included activities like walking, gardening and even housework, the benefits seemed to peak at 4-6 sessions a week. For women who did strenuous exercise, the kind that caused sweating and a fast heart beat, 2-3 times a week was best—it reduced their risk by about 20% compared to those who rarely or never exercised.

Exercising strenuously more than three times a week was associated with increased vascular risk, which echoes the findings of another recent report that found pushing your body too hard can undo the benefits of exercise.

MORE This Is How Much Exercise Experts Think You Really Need

The authors stress, however that the average middle-aged woman isn’t in any danger of over-exercising. “Activities may not necessarily need to be sports or exercise at the gym, because even everyday activities such as gardening and walking were associated with significantly lower risks in these women,” says lead study author Miranda Armstrong, a physical activity epidemiologist at the University of Oxford.

In an editorial published in the same journal, Rachel Huxley, professor at the University of Queensland in Australia, points out that about 25% of the women in the study smoked. Though the authors controlled for the effects of smoking on heart disease, they acknowledge that smoking may have contributed to the higher rates of vascular risk they found among heavy exercisers. And only 3% of the sample of women said they engaged in such strenuous exercise, so that data involves far fewer women.

The message for most of us is this: it doesn’t take much physical activity to start reaping its health benefits. “These findings may offer some hope—and even perhaps a dash of inspiration—to the estimated 30% of adults worldwide who struggle to achieve the recommended levels of physical activity,” Huxley writes.

Read next: 7 Reasons Why You’re Working Out and Still Not Losing Weight

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TIME health

How to Get in Shape ‘Without Moving a Muscle’

From the Jan. 31, 1964, issue of TIME From the Jan. 31, 1964, issue of TIME

Exercise tips straight from 1964

Looking for a way to get fit without getting up from your chair? Yeah, so’s everyone else — even folks in the armed forces, and even five decades ago.

“The symptoms are turning up everywhere,” TIME wrote, in the Jan. 31, 1964, issue. “A commuter puts down his paper and his eyes glaze as if with some interior rapture; a stenographer stops typing and stiffens in her chair; waiting for the children’s hamburgers to brown, a housewife suddenly presses her hands on the kitchen table until the knuckles show white. These are not the victims of some new virus, nor has the strain of modern living sent them around the bend. Instead, they are practicing the very latest wrinkle in body culture: isometrics.”

Isometric exercise, the article explained, involved creating an immobile muscle contraction using the resistance from an unmoving object. The height of fad exercise at the time, it was credited by the Green Bay Packers with their winning seasons in the early ’60s and was endorsed by the Navy, which originally published the diagram seen here.

“Executives can build up their biceps when their secretaries aren’t looking simply by sitting up straight, sliding their open palms against the underside of their desks, and pushing up for six seconds,” TIME raved. So go ahead and try it — nobody will notice.

Read the full story, here in the TIME Vault: Without Moving a Muscle

Read next: When Exercise Does More Harm than Good

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TIME Exercise/Fitness

This Is How Much Exercise Experts Really Think You Need

People Running Jogging on Treadmill at Health Club Gym
Shane KatoGetty Images

Do your eyes glaze over when you hear how much exercise you should get each week? That looming 150-minute figure is the equivalent of 21 micro workouts a week—and it seems like nobody has time for that. This is the problem with our exercise recommendations, argues a new analysis published in The BMJ: They’re just set far too high to motivate the people who need them the most.

That’s the argument of Philipe de Souto Barreto, a researcher at University Hospital of Toulouse in France and author of the new paper. “Getting inactive people to do a little bit of physical activity, even if they don’t meet the recommendations, might provide greater population health gains,” he writes.

It’s not that the recommendations are off for optimal health. 150 minutes of moderate physical activity each week, which the World Health Organization sets as its target, is a great goal that’s been shown to reduce risk for all kinds of diseases and death, Barreto says. But other data shows that gentler goals can also provide important health benefits.

One study of more than 250,000 older adults found that getting less than an hour of moderate physical activity each week was linked to a 15% drop in death. Barreto also cites a review of 254 articles looking at the link between exercise and disease reduction, which found that the relationship between the two is dose-dependent. In other words, it’s not an all or nothing affair: even minor shifts can help people who don’t get enough exercise. Another analysis of studies found that when people walk just 1-74 minutes a week, they have a 19% reduced risk of death, compared to the most sedentary people.

“Achieving target physical activity recommendations should remain as a goal but not the core public health message surrounding physical activity,” Barreto writes.

Read next: 4 People Who Might Be Making You Fat

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TIME health

Panathenaic Way to Fitness

Ancient Greek Gym
G. Dagli Orti—Getty Images/DeAgostini An ancient Greek cup with a gymnasium scene with two referees and two wrestlers

The Ancient Greek gymnasion was a place to perfect the body for future festivals rather than somewhere to assuage the guilt of excess

History Today

This post is in partnership with History Today. The article below was originally published at HistoryToday.com.

The New Year’s resolution to join a gym is nothing new. The male citizens of classical Athens (sixth to fourth centuries BC) would have thronged the city’s three public gymnasia — the Akademia (Academy), Lykeion (Lyceum) and Kinosarges (Cynosarges) — around the new year. One cannot help but feel, however, that the ancient Greeks had things much better organised than we do. For one, the Athenian New Year began on the first new moon after the summer solstice, during the month of Hekatombaion (June/July), in midsummer, not midwinter. They did not go to the gym after the event to assuage their guilt about the excesses of the preceding festive season but beforehand in order to look their best for the forthcoming celebrations.

Of the three major festivals held during Hekatombaion, the most important was the Panathenaia, marking the birthday of Athena on the 28th with a pompe (procession), in which freeborn Athenians of both sexes progressed from the Dipylon Gate along the Panathenaic Way to the Agora and thence up through the Propylaia to the Altar of Athena on the Acropolis. Freeborn male citizens and their sons would have trained even more assiduously for the quadrennial Greater Panathenaia, which included a full programme of athletic events, with the added edge that they were expected to compete in the Panathenaic Stadium, gymnos, naked.

It is not just etymology that links the ancient gymnasion with its modern successor. Like today’s gym members, freeborn Athenian men and boys went to the city’s public gymnasia to perform aesthetic training, that is, exercises that enabled them to achieve or maintain the bodily ideal that was visibly glorified in the city’s public art. And for good reason: male nudity was no mere artistic convention in classical Athens, as it would be in neoclassical London, Paris or Berlin. It was obligatory during local and Pan-Hellenic competitions, such as the Panathenaic and Olympic Games and while training at the gymnasium. It was a common sight, too, during religious festivals. To cite one sculptural example, the western section of the Parthenon frieze (most of which is now in the British Museum) shows athletic young cavalrymen, naked except for a himation rakishly carried over one arm or thrown back over the shoulders, preparing to ride out in the Greater Panathenaic pompe.

Training for sporting competition (which would now be classed as complementary or assistance exercise) and for the narcissistic pursuit of the body beautiful (aesthetic training) are two functions shared by the ancient and modern institutions. To this we can add a third: therapeutic training, because the ancient Greeks, too, understood the value of exercise in maintaining health and curing disease. But there the similarities end. A visitor to a gym built between the closing decades of the 19th century and the present day would expect to walk into an indoor hall filled with equipment. In contrast, the visitor to a Greek gymnasion would have found something more akin to an open-air athletics field set within extensive parklands, devoid of any fixed equipment, though with the addition of altars and shrines.

The only major constructions would have been the palaistra, a large courtyard enclosed by porticos, and the xystoi, the covered running tracks for use in bad weather. Instead of performing on the parallel bars or ‘pumping iron’ on free weights in figure-hugging lycra, the patrons would be seen practising running, long jump, javelin, discus, wrestling and pankration, naked but oiled, covered with a coating of protective dust and with their genitals tied in place by a leather thong know as a kynodesme (literally a ‘dog leash’; a penis was a ‘dog’ in ancient Greek slang).

The rooms housed within the porticos of the palaistra reveal the functions that a gymnasion provided its patrons. Alongside the facilities that one would expect in an athletics facility — changing rooms (apodyterion), oiling, massage and medical room (aleipthrion), bath (loutron), punch-bag room (korykion) and ballgames room (sphairisterion) — there were rooms furnished with seating (exedrai) set aside for the education of boys from the ages of seven to 14; the epheboi, the city’s military cadets, who did two years’ military service from the ages of 18 to 20; and adult men who attended lectures given by sophists and philosophers. During the classical period, in addition to being a facility dedicated to the training of the body, the Akademia served as a primary and secondary school, a military academy and mess hall and an adult education institute. As the site of shrines and altars dedicated to heroes and gods, it would also have played its part in the religious life of the city.

Informally, the gymnasion was where boys had their first sexual experiences with other boys and older men. The erastes-eromenos system of age-graded same-sex relations that was part of the citizenship and military training of Greek boys and adolescents found a natural home within the confines of the all-male gymnasion. However, I would not like to give the reader the impression that the gymnasion was home to a culture of unbridled same-sex hedonism. Although Greek men and boys were accustomed to being naked in the gym, where they freely admired each others’ bodies, they also abided by strict rules of propriety and self-restraint. The gymnasion was where boys attained manhood in the broadest sense of the term and adult men pursued arete: their full physical, intellectual, emotional, social and moral potential. In The Laws, Plato discusses the concept of sophrosyne, the moderation of one’s desires in order to achieve full mastery of the self and true masculinity. He stresses the importance of physical training in the gym in its development and asserts that a man who is agymnastos (untrained physically, intellectually and morally) will not achieve sophrosyne and, by extension, arete. We can see in the New Year’s resolution to join a gym a modern echo of the ancient Greek pursuit of arete, as modern gym-goers strive to achieve their full human potential through the discipline of gym-based exercise.

Eric Chaline is the author of The Temple of Perfection: A History of the Gym, which will be published by Reaktion in March 2015

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