Framework for Exercise for Longevity

How should one exercise to improve longevity?

To properly answer this it’s helpful to step back and think about this through the lens of a framework. Here is an exercise framework from Peter Attia that explains the four different pillars of exercise that often overlap but create somewhat discrete buckets around how Peter thinks about the physiology.

Any exercise regiment that is geared towards longevity must be addressing these four pillars.

1. Stability

Stability is differentiated here from mobility, flexibility, balance, all of which are important, but from Peter’s experience it is stability that is the most sorely lacking.

This is basically the difference between

  • being able to be in a squatted position on your back which virtually any human can do vs
  • being able to do a proper squat while standing even when loaded with just gravity, let alone a bar

2. Strength

As anybody knows who’s been around people who are significantly older, one of the things that tends to vanish is muscle mass and with it strength and unfortunately so many of the causes of mortality result from that.

A fall that would barely bruise you as 30 year old can be a lethal fall when you are older not just because you’ve lost balance and fallen but because you don’t have the strength to support yourself during that fall.

3. Aerobic Efficiency

This is probably the one that is most confusing to people. Efficiency = what is the maximum amount a person can do, the work they can do – the fastest they can run, the most power they could generate on a bike or a rowing machine – while purely being in a state of aerobic metabolism which generally means keeping lactate < 2mM.

4. Anaerobic Peak

What is that short burst of energy and activity that you can do for not necessarily a sustained period of time but at such a high level of demand that you’re not even using oxygen for it.

For example running up three flights of stairs with 20lbs of groceries in your hand. That’s much more of an anaerobic demand than aerobic demand.

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