“Work It Hard Then Let It Rest”: Your Future Through Aerobic Exercise

“Those who think they have no time for bodily exercise will sooner or later have to find the time for illness.”  Aerobic exercise is not only important for your muscles, bones, heart and lean muscle mass: it builds a better brain and keeps you blissful at the same time. Thirty minutes a day, that is all!!

In fact, research shows that as little as 20 minutes a day of intense exercise will decrease your chance of early death by 20%. Wow!  That’s a great ROI!

I challenge you to get outside and start your aerobic exercises, whether it is walking, running, or biking. Don’t forget to stretch before you start this challenge. Or go out and buy a pedometer and count your steps daily, I challenge you to get 10,000 steps each day. I know you can do it; stay active throughout your workday.

Begin each workout with a dynamic warm-up. Dynamic warm-ups are stretching and moving at the same time. It gets your heart pumping and your muscles filled with blood. Begin each workout with these dynamic warm-ups!

Here are some of the dynamic warm-up exercises I’m demonstrating:

1. Hip Circles
– 10 times each leg

2. Lunge
– 10 times, progressing forward
– Rotate legs

3. Inchworm
– Start in push-up position. Slowly walk feet towards your hands; stop once the pull in your leg is uncomfortable. Then slowly walk your hands forward to re-enter push-up position.
– Repeat inching five to ten times.

4. Toe and Heel Walks
– 20 meters, walking on your toes. Repeat with toes facing in, and then facing out.  Repeat this while walking on your heels.

5. Skip
– At least 20 meters

4 Ways to Get Moving at the Office

4 ways to get moving at the office
For all you desk jockeys out there, here are some great tips for adding mobility to your day:

  1. Sit on the edge of your chair. Sitting back in a deep comfy slouch is a great way to develop poor posture, weak abs and a loose butt. Scoot forward so that your rear end is merely perched on the edge of your chair, pull in your stomach, roll back your shoulders, and squeeze your shoulder blades together. This “sitting straight and tall” will keep your back from aching and your mind alert.
  2. Take your calls standing up. The guy on the other end of the phone has no idea what you’re doing while you talk — so you might as well fit in a little “me time” next time you are on the phone. Stand up for your calls and benefit your body while you do business. An even better way to have a little “me time” on the phone is to take your calls while doing a wall squat. Nothing like a stronger butt, core, and back while getting work done.
  3. Keep your balance in check. Osteoporosis and fractures are often thought of as only a “women’s problem,” but the truth is that 2 million men in this country have weak bones prone to fracture. When men fall and break their hips, 30% die in the first year! The best way to prevent fracture is not only to build strong bones but practice your balance every day. It is simple. Stand on one leg while you are brushing your teeth, talking on the phone, or washing the dishes. When standing around like a stork becomes easy, try closing your eyes! You need to be able to stand with your eyes closed for 22 seconds to prevent falls!
  4. Take 20 minutes to burn. You may be the busiest guy around, but I know you have 20 minutes to burn! Twenty minutes of mobility a day will decrease your chance of early death by 20%. Wow! Try my 20 minutes to BURN at lunch this week in your office. It will save your life. You have the time.


Men’s Health Through the Ages

June is Men’s Health Month, let’s celebrate the vital, active, swaggering guys in our lives!

Men's health tips and information for your 20s, your 30s, your 40s, and 50s.
In April I joined Esquire Magazine’s Blue-Ribbon Commission on Aging with Strength and ValorOur panel of docs talked about how men can get “stronger, faster, better … even if you have to get older.” We were full of insightful and irreverent ways for men to control their glory days. Here are some excerpts:

Your 20s
At this time in life your brawn may be your strong suit but your brains may not be. You feel amazing and want to push yourself to the limit. I love that. As a sports doc to hundreds of young athletes I love your bravado. My advice is to test your limits but just don’t abuse the luxury of youth. What you do now does affect you in the future so be smart.

Now is the time to build the strongest muscles, bones and endurance as a foundation for your future. Vary your activities so that all your body parts build strength. Get on the road, court, or playing field and bash your bones, build a better brain through aerobic exercise. Remember that what is good for your heart is good for your penis. Your mobility now matters. Enter races, contests, tournaments and prove to yourself that you are strong and courageous. Now is the time.

Your 30s
Don’t get distracted! This is the time in life when you are moving up the corporate ladder, forming lasting social relationships (including kids) and when your usual group of buddies has less time to play sports with you. Now your mobility matters even more! Don’t be that guy who shows up for his 20-year high school reunion looking like his dad!

Kill your gut with high-intensity circuit training and making your valuable time count in the gym. Three high-intensity workouts a week go a long way in keeping your waistline in check. Grab your tape measure and measure your waist. If you are creeping up towards 40 inches you are seriously damaging your long-term health and setting yourself up for future diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure.

Stand up straight! Nothing makes you look more like an old man than a slouch! Roll back your shoulders, hold your head up high and engage your core (suck in your gut).

40 is PRIME time!
There is a myth out there that life is all downhill when you hit your 40s. Nothing could be further from the truth! Our 40s can be prime time … our bodies are not failing us … we are failing our bodies. As an orthopedic surgeon and researcher, I have published many studies that prove when we invest every day in staying strong we are capable of so much more than Hallmark and their 40th birthday RIP cards expect of us. In fact, many of the best endurance athletes in running and triathlon are in their late 30s and 40s.

No excuses! Do not accept the myth of slowing down!

The man in his 40s needs to F.A.C.E. his future with well-rounded workouts: F-flexibility daily with dynamic stretching, yoga, pilates, or even taking the time to stretch out before hitting the golf course. A-aerobic exercise of any kind at least 3 times a week. Take a day off between intense exercise to allow for regeneration of our muscles. I always say … be intense and then let it rest. C-carry a load.  I purposefully do not say “lift weights”. I suggest functional resistance training using body weight, free weights, gravity, and the floor pushing back on you for the best total body strength. Finally, we need to practice E-equilibrium and balance every day. Stand on one foot while you brush your teeth or talk on the phone. Falling over is not very manly.

Your 50s
I love swaggering “older men.” A little grey hair, lots of vitality, the wisdom and life acumen that comes with experience … all packaged in a frame that is excellently maintained. Not every 50-year-old guy is like this, but every 50-year-old could be with attention to the details of aging. The fact is that 70% of how we age is determined by the little decisions we make every day … they add up.

For the man in his 50s I have these suggestions: If you have lost control of your aging it is not too late! Measure your waist, get off the couch, roll your shoulders back, stand straight, and make great decisions. If you have not been to the doctor’s office lately, make an appointment now and have your blood pressure, glucose level, cholesterol level, testosterone and PSA checked. Now is the time to have your first colonoscopy and to honestly think about your libido. Your penis is the dipstick of your health and if it is not the same as it was in your younger years, chances are your other plumbing is not either.

There is NEVER an age when you cannot take control of your health, regain your swagger and live the life you’ve envisioned.

Prepare to Achieve – See the Big Picture

THRIVE-ing is about living the life you have envisioned. Are you THRIVE-ing now? If not, what are some of the things in your life that you would like to change? Does your vision reflect the changes you want to make?

In order to THRIVE, you must invest daily in yourself. You have created a vision for where you want to be, and it is important that you remind yourself of that vision! Write it down and post it wherever you will see it — at your desk, in your car, on the refrigerator … Don’t lose sight of where you want to be!

You have also picked some buddies to keep you accountable on your journey to THRIVE. These people will be excited about your THRIVE-ing, and they will want you tosucceed. It is important to remember that it is ok to ask them for help in reaching your goals. Having a bad day? Talk to your buddy! Always make sure to keep your buddy updated on your progress. Instead of just talking, you may want to invite your buddy to join you for a run. The benefits will be twofold: you will be THRIVE-ing together!

Guide to THRIVE focuses on your Body through MOVE-ing and EAT-ing, your Brains through THINK-ing, and your Bliss through FEEL-ing. You will want to set goals for each of these four categories. What are your MOVE-ing, EAT-ing, THINK-ing, and FEEL-ing goals?

When you think about your goals, imagine what THRIVE-ing will look and feel like. What do you think it will feel like for you?

"THRIVE-ing is about living the life you have envisioned." Dr. Vonda Wright


At the Heart of the Matter

The TRUE and FALSE of saving yourself from heart attack:

Something is killing women in this country at an alarming rate. It is not bird flu, e. coli, swine flu, or any of the other diseases you see flashed on the news stands.  The number one killer of women in this country is heart disease.

Our hearts are amazing muscles. They start beating six weeks after conception and continue steadily until we die. But along the way they can be assaulted by disease without us even knowing it.

Heart disease creeps up on us slowly, undetected, un-noticed until, for many of us, we find ourselves in crisis. Although better prevention and management of chronic diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol have made great strides in preventing the ravaging effects of heart disease, the continued epidemics of obesity, low mobility, and diabetes leave us parked behind the eight ball.

The fact is, many of us can control the lifestyle factors that prevent heart disease.  Only 30 percent of how we age is controlled by genetics. This leaves a full 70 percent of how we age, including our hearts, in our direct control.

The TRUE and FALSE of saving yourself from heart attack

The American Heart Association (AHA) recently published in the journal Circulation its recommendations for preventing heart disease in women:

  1. Avoid Smoking: First hand, second hand . . . all of it.  Your heart and lungs are not the toxic waste-dump for the tobacco industry
  2. Exercise regularly: 30-60 minutes of intense heart-rate-raising-total-body exercise. You strengthen your heart and get a strong brain and mind as a bonus.
  3. What you eat matters: You have a waistline, not a wasteline! Eat a diet high in fruits, veggies, and whole grains Eat fish twice a week  Limit saturated fats (no fried foods), excess alcohol and excess sugar.
  4. Manage your body composition/manage your weight: It matters how much fat you have hanging around your body, as fat is a toxic metabolic organ that produces chemicals and hormones that damage your body in excess.
  5. Lower your blood pressure: Your heart is a muscle. The harder it has to work to push blood through your vessels the worse it is for its longevity.  Decrease the work your heart has to do by lowering the blood pressure your heart has to pump against. Exercise or medical treatment does the trick.
  6. Keep your cholesterol and LDL in check: High cholesterol not only gums up the vessels your heart must push blood through (like a clogged drain), but cholesterol actually infiltrates your vessel walls and causes damage and increases the risk of heart attack. Exercise or medical treatment does the trick.
  7. Be sweet on the outside; not the inside: High blood sugar also damages your blood vessels and soft tissues while complicating diabetes. Best to keep your blood sugar in check with exercise or medical treatment.

DON’T KNOW what your weight, blood pressure, cholesterol, or blood sugar levels are? The first step in prevention is knowing your numbers. Get to the doctor and get measured!

Finally, the AHA wants you to know three FALSE factors in the fight against heart disease:

  1. Estrogen replacement does NOT prevent heart disease or stroke.
  2. Anti-oxidants (folic acid, Vitamin C) do NOT prevent heart disease or stroke.
  3. B-vitamins (folic acid, B6, B12) do not prevent heart disease or stroke.

You are in control.  Now take hold and make the lifestyle changes that can save your heart and your life!



This is the year you THRIVE!

thriveIt’s resolution time again!  Every January, we think ahead with excitement about all the promise of the New Year.  The beauty of the New Year is that anything can happen.  You have a clean slate to live the life you’ve imagined!

Most of my patients know they want to be healthy, but are surrounded by confusing and contradicting information about their health. What are we to believe?

Living a fabulous life with the best Body/Brain/Bliss doesn’t have to be confusing or out of reach! No matter what stage of life you are in, you can make this year the beginning of your best years. No one wants to just get by or merely survive another day. The reality is, that’s where we can find ourselves if we are not purposeful about how we are living. No matter how great your resolutions are, living healthy, vital, joyful, and THRIVE-ing lives is an active and intentional process!

Over the next 13 weeks I’m going to talk about my four practical steps for THRIVE-ing in 2013. I promise…no lectures! Only stimulating conversations and practical advice for real-life tactics I’ve learned as a surgeon, scientist, sports doc, thinker, businesswoman, athlete, mother and head of a household.

By investing each day in the Guide to Thrive plan, you will:

  • Create A Vision for your future: “What do you really want and where are you going?”
  • Take Action by MOVE-ing through the THRIVE 6-month total body fitness program
  • Take Action by EAT-ing smart and learning simple steps to total body nutrition
  • Learn about the science of the Body/Brain/Bliss connection
  • THINK and FEEL your way to changing your Attitude for a better Brain and more Bliss
  • Become healthy, vital, active, joyful and THRIVE-ing


This is the year you THRIVE!


Sitting is the kiss of death!

Some days you may feel like the long hours you spend chained to your desk are killing you. The fact is, sitting more than 3-4 hours a day takes valuable years off your life. Your desk job just may be killing you!

It’s time to get off your duff!

Here are some frightening numbers on the devastating effects of prolonged sitting:

54%. The increased risk of heart attack.

18%. The increased risk of dying early if you are a man.

37%. The increased risk of dying early if you are a woman.

1/3. The number of calories you burn sitting as compared to walking around.

1/2. The amount of our body weight our backs support while we sit, which can cause low back pain.


All this, PLUS weaker butts, cores, legs, and shoulders . . . OUCH!

If you are reading this and sitting, please stand up NOW! Push your chair back, do a few jumping jacks, and get your blood and brain percolating again!
Next try these body moving, brain building fixes at home and at work:

Fidget. The mobility benefits of getting up from your desk frequently, standing to take and make phone calls, and hand delivering inner-office mail adds up.

Sit on an exercise ball. 30 minutes, 3 times a day to keep your butt, core, and leg muscles from going comatose.

Practice good posture. Every time you finish an email or hang up the phone, check how you are sitting. Roll back your shoulders, squeeze your shoulder .blades together, engage your core, straighten up your back and do a little  tushie tuck.

Give yourself 20 minutes to BURN. Download one of my “20 minute to BURN” circuits and get moving at lunch. No need to go to the gym.

Trade up to a standing desk. Many brands are making it easier than ever to convert your desk to a body moving, brain building productivity space!

Remember, YOU control 70% of your health with the decisions you make everyday! Decide now to push back your chair and MOVE!

Your Mobility Matters!

Dr. V