#6) P.A.C.E. The 12-Minute Fitness Revolution for Every Body

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by: Yaakov Levine, NTP

The information provided in this article is intended to give a general overview of the topic and is not intended as medical advice. For information specific to your situation, or health concerns, please consult with your medical doctor.  

Nutritionally Speaking: Article #6, P.A.C.E. The 12-Minute Fitness Revolution for Every Body

As a Nutritional Therapist, I am drawn to dietary principles which date back to our Paleolithic roots. I strongly support eating foods made from scratch, less processed and suggest we limit intake of grains and the sweeter fruits that make up our standard modern diet (SAD). According to the research, we have not necessarily changed genetically from the Paleolithic days to be able to thrive on our “modern” diet. In his book P.A.C.E. The 12-Minute Fitness Revolution, Al Sears, MD describes how “modern” exercise has failed us as much as our food has. This book is for anyone at any age, with options for everyone.

Dr. Al Sears MD is a board-certified medical doctor specializing in alternative and preventative medicine, and anti-aging. According to David Brownstein, MD,  “PACE The 12- Minute Fitness Revolution is a much needed book. Dr. Sears presents compelling evidence that ‘cardio’ and aerobic exercising are counter productive to the body”.

In his forward, noted physician, Dr. Jonathan Wright, MD cites that studies back up the Sears’ premise that “running a marathon creates an inflammatory storm indistinguishable from the early signs of heart disease”. Dr Wright sums up his forward message his support for Dr. Sears’ program by stating that, “For me it’s a “no-brainer”. Significantly more muscle, significantly less body fat…not to mention lower cardiovascular risk, increased lung capacity…and in a fraction of the time. I know which one I’ll choose. I’ll copy Nature! What about you?”

In the introduction Dr. Sears reminds us that two out of three Americans is overweight, Diabetes is nine times more likely than it was 30 years ago, and that heart disease kills over a million people a year in the U.S. alone. The World Health Organization has recently announced that for the first time in history modern “chronic diseases” have surpassed other causes of death worldwide.

In this book, Sears finds a correlating connection with modern exercise and our prevalent chronic diseases.  The author describes the natural health we experienced before our modern diet as native fitness. We used our muscles to work instead of weight lifting. We sprinted to catch our food, and to avoid being another animals’ dinner.

Dr. Sears reports that in the Harvard Health Professionals Study the researchers found that the key to exercise is not the length or endurance, but the intensity of the exertion. They found the more intense the exertion, the lower the risk of heart disease. They studied the survival mode we enter with long-duration exercise and the increased risk of heart disease resulting from aerobic exercise, jogging, and marathon running.

Sears describes how as we exercise for long periods of time at a low intensity we train our heart and lungs to shrink in order to conserve energy and increase efficiency. When he provided emergency care at marathon races years ago he saw the negative effects of the long duration low intensity exercise as racers collapsed and experienced lack of oxygen and irregular heartbeats.

In his research Dr. Sears found that when we follow the Paleolithic or native fitness model, from pre-agricultural times, with short bursts of exertion alternately followed by rest and recovery we achieve:

. Expanded lung volume

. High-speed fat loss

. Reserve capaicty in your hearts

. A higher metabolic rate with increased insulin sensitivity

. New muscle growth and stronger bones

. Better sexual performance

In his book he describes in detail the benefits of short-term high intensity exercise sighting studies and results he has seen during his many years teaching these methods. PACE stands for:  Progressively Accelerating Cardiopulmonary Exertion. The progressive component is the effectiveness of increasing the intensity of the exercise not the duration. The acceleration component describes the bodies’ ability to respond faster and recover faster with the increased intensity of the exercise. We can all benefit from this exercise model, whether we can run, bicycle, use an elliptical machine or if we can only walk. This exercise modality is adaptable to any individual’s ability.

PACE differs from interval training. In interval training we follow an intense period of exercise with a less intense interval. Sears describes the down side of interval training being that you have to be in great shape to do accomplish it. A famous elite athlete that used interval training was Roger banister, who in 1954 became the first man in history to run a mile in less than four minutes. Not everyone can sprint 100 yards for six sets, he suggests and notes that many of his patients can hardly walk. He also notes that while interval training is a great form of exercise used by famous athletes such as Olympic medal winner Carl Lewis, the repetitive nature of this training is a negative. With PACE the interval time and intensity is varied, and you can run, bicycle or use exercise machinery.

 A sample PACE program would look like this:

For the first week it is recommended that you exercise at a low intensity for 20 minutes on alternate days. Increase slightly the intensity each session. Only push yourself according to your level of conditioning. During the second week you will do intervals of exertion and recovery totaling 20 minutes. When your first 8 minutes of exertion is done rest for 2 minutes, but don’t stop moving just adjust your pace to an easy one which will let your heart rate recover. Then do another 8 minutes, but at a higher intensity, followed by a two-minute rest period. During your third week do three intense periods of exercise getting progressively more intense divided by two minutes of lower intensity rest periods.

The progressive component that differs PACE from interval training helps us avoid plateaus that result in slower progress towards our fitness goals.

I am excited to find an exercise program that will help my heart, lung, and muscles grow stronger, and an exercise model that is “doable”.

At Natural Grocers in Eugene, where I am the stores’ Nutritional Health Coach, we offer free classes that include plenty of information about healthy fat choices, and free one-on-one health coaching sessions (541) 345-3300. Please “like” our Natural Grocers-Eugene Facebook page.  Here is the link to our store’s website and (free!) class schedule: https://www.naturalgrocers.com/store-location/eugene/ .We now offer at least three opportunities most weeks to catch a (free) class at the store, Sunday’s at 1pm, Monday’s at 1pm, and Wednesdays @ 6pm. See you then!

Yaakov Levine, NTP