Olympic Oxygen

I think of my obligation to you like this: I have to improve your health.

When I then think about how to do that for you, I come back to this issue: your lungs.

Breath is life. How well and deeply you breathe is related to how well and long you’ll live.

Did you know that lung power is the number-one predictor of how long you’ll live? The better your lungs work, the less likely you are to die of any illness or disease. Increasing lungpower is especially good at healing heart disease.1

It makes me wonder what all those workout “gurus” are thinking with their advice.

First they told you to do “cardio,” which doesn’t give your lungs power… it takes power away from you.

Then they told you to do “extreme” workouts, which seemed different, but they are really just more cardio!

Now they’re telling you to do HIIT … high intensity interval training.

The problem is, you can’t just get out of your chair and do “high intensity intervals.”

I designed my P.A.C.E. program to get people to the point where they could get the benefits of intense workouts. And what I discovered was that the journey was greater than the destination. You get more benefit with incremental increases in intensity than you do from all-out workouts.

That’s why I named it Progressively Accelerating Cardiopulmonary Exertion.

You start slowly, and little by little, you increase the challenge to your lungs until they’re working decades younger.

P.A.C.E. is the world’s only anti-aging fitness program specifically because it can do things like increase your VO2 max, which is a measure of lung power.

VO2 max measures the amount of oxygen your lungs can use while you’re exercising at your maximum capacity. The more oxygen you can get to your body, the younger your body acts.

VO2 max typically declines with age … but here’s something else that’s news to most doctors: you don’t have to let it.

They’ve always said VO2 max is unchangeable. But that’s because they were looking at the wrong thing. The endurance exercises they’ve recommended for 50 years don’t increase power. So of course you can’t improve VO2 max with cardio. You need power, not endurance.

In fact, studies show your risk of death from disease gets lower and lower not for those who exercise for endurance, but for those who exercise with intensity. That’s the key to increasing VO2 max and improving lung power for better health.

You remember those powerfully-built Nordic skiers we saw at the winter Olympics? They have much higher VO2 max than the skinny endurance runners you’ll see at the summer Olympics.

Why? Nordic skiing is much more intense. Skiers expend huge amounts of energy pumping their legs and arms for power. Like sprinters do. This kind of exertion builds real power and increases your lung power.

Meanwhile, if you want to know how powerful your lungs are, you won’t find out from most doctors. They aren’t aware that you can improve lung power, so they don’t bother to measure it during a doctor visit.

Yet it’s easy to do, and I measure it at my clinic. And the prescription I give to improve lung power is P.A.C.E.

I usually recommend body weight exertion for P.A.C.E. because those movements resemble the challenges you face in your everyday life. Lifting, pulling, pushing stepping and things like that..

Here’s something you can do right now that will increase your lung power tremendously… they’re called alternating lunges.

With your hands on your hips, take a step forward with your right leg until your front knee is bent 90 degrees and your back knee almost touches the ground. Push off from your leading foot and return to the starting position. Repeat with your left leg.

Make sure you keep your back straight and hold your head high. Drop with your hips as you step forward. Push up using your thigh muscles. Start by doing ten, five with each leg. As you develop more lower-body strength, add more reps to your routine.

And here’s where P.A.C.E. is different. The recovery time is as important as the exertion. Recover fully between each set. Shorten your recovery time as your lungs get stronger for a true P.A.C.E. workout.

To Your Good Health,
Al Sears, MD
Al Sears, MD

1. Schünemann, Holger J., MD, PhD et al, “Pulmonary Function Is a Long-term Predictor of Mortality in the General Population,” Chest 2000; 118( 3): 656-664