Back in 2007, before pressed juiceries had invaded Main St. and kids started moving at the behest of Michelle Obama, journalist Michael Pollan summed up years of reporting on health and food in a seven-word mantra: Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.
To craft a diet credo that’s hard to misinterpret and easy to implement, Pollan had to forge through years of fad diets, dicey claims from Big Food and nutritionism, a health ideology that needlessly prioritizes nutrients over food. And he had to file down complicated but good advice into the simplest truth about eating, as told by public health data and biological analyses of people (and rodents) subsisting on all sorts of diets.
In 2015, let’s apply the Pollan philosophy to the other two lifestyle factors in the trifecta of health: sleep and exercise. We could treat dozing and working out separately, but, when it comes to living well and living long, lots of research assesses them as a pair.
In a study published this week in the journal PLOS Medicine, for example, researchers analyzed data collected from more than 230,000 Australians whose behavior and medical status was tracked between 2006 and 2009. Six unhealthy behaviors (smoking, heavy drinking, poor diet, lack of exercise, sedentariness, poor sleep habits) had synergistic effects on rates of disease and mortality, with some combinations bearing out as more deadly than others.
One effective way to reach the grave? Sitting and sleeping too much, and moving too little. (Because, yes, as we’ve repeated ad nauseum, too much shut-eye isn’t actually advisable.) Other research has linked exercise and sleep habits. When, how much, for how long and in what conditions should we do both activities to benefit each other and our health?
Early to bed, early to rise, early to run? #Hardeight in bed, #hard60 of cardio? Or is it all about your chronotype? Segmented sleep and circuit training? No less than six a night and, for fuck’s sake, stop Seamless-ing food from across the street?
Though we will continue to report on the nitty-gritty of sleeping and sweating, here’s our broad-strokes, Pollan-esque mantra: Sleep eight nightly. Sweat 30 daily. Cancel Seamless.