The Hidden Benefits Of Exercise

Episode 86

It’s a secret that is no longer a secret! We often think about exercise to look good, but there are many surprising benefits to a routine exercise program. International fitness superstar Mario Tomic joins the podcast to discuss five hidden benefits of exercise essential to overall mental, physical, and spiritual health. What are those five benefits, you ask? Tune in to find out!

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Lifestyle Medicine With Dr. Harris

Episode Transcript

Dr. Richard Harris: [00:00:00] Hello, and welcome to Strive for Great Health Podcast with your host, Dr. Richard Harris. And today we have another special guest on the podcast, Mario Tomic, who is a YouTube sensation over 200,000 followers on his page. He has helped thousands of people literally achieve their fitness results. But what we’re going to talk about today is the hidden benefits of exercise, specifically our favorite types of exercise, strength, training, and HIIT interval type training.

There’s some things that you may not know why exercise is so beneficial for us, but you are going to know after this episode. So are you ready to boost your health EQ and IQ? Cue the music.

Join me, Dr. Richard Harris, as we strive to unlock the secrets of the human body strive for wellness strive for great health. Follow the show on iTunes, Spotify, Google, and Android.

Real quick before we get started. The Strive for Great Health Podcast is a lifestyle wellness and mindset podcast, but we can’t put everything about health, wellness, and mindset into the podcast, there’s just not enough time. It’s such a complex subject. That’s why we created our lifestyle medicine and health mindset wellness courses.

Now you may be asking, are these courses right for me? If you’re someone who wants to increase their health span, longevity, how long we live without chronic disease. If you’re someone who’s been told you have risk factors. If you’re someone that’s been told, there are some things that you need to watch out for, some things you need to change otherwise you’re heading down a road that leads to disease. Or if you’re someone who has a chronic ailment and you’re wanting a more holistic approach to fix your self, to heal yourself. Then the wellness courses are for you. If you’re not willing to invest in your health. If you’re not someone who is willing to do things in a sustainable manner, if you’re someone who’s looking for a quick fix, then the courses are not for you.

The courses are designed to teach you everything that I have learned reading hundreds of studies, hours of clinical practice, years of devotion to this lifestyle medicine and the health mindset so you can live a life full of joy and purpose. If that sounds good to you, head to theghwellness.com and click courses at the top. Now to this weeks episode.

Welcome to Strive for Great Health Podcast with your host, Dr. Richard Harris. And I have with me on the podcast, Mario, who is an expert in fitness. And we’re going to be talking about something that we’re both very passionate about and that’s fitness and exercise. A lot of people know the main benefits, muscle mass and looking better and all that, but we’re going to talk about some hidden benefits, things that people don’t associate with exercise. So, Mario, how are you doing today?

Mario Tomic: I’m doing great honored to be here.

Dr. Richard Harris: Thank you so much for coming on the show. And how did you get into what you do now, which is helping literally millions of people around the world improve their fitness. Is this something you’ve always been interested in or something that you fell into?

Mario Tomic: I discovered health and fitness as a passion in my later twenties, sort of my mid twenties. I didn’t grow up as a kid that was into sports. I was actually that nerdy kid that it was playing computer games when all the other kids were to chasing girls or playing sports. So for me, it was sort of this thing that I [00:04:00] let myself go during college times. I was studying computer science as an engineer. And I actually graduated, I got a master’s degree in engineering and computing. So eventually I went on to start that career. And in parallel, as I went back home from college, I discovered that well, first figure out my health because I was totally out of shape due to being addicted to video games and just overall my life wasn’t really that sorted out, standard college story. I came back home and I sort of started getting into a bit of training, trying to get myself in shape. The first year I achieved actually a very, very large transformation. I lost about 45 pounds. I fell in love with exercise, actually fell in love in nutrition as well and overall it reminded me a lot about what I used to do as a gamer, which is leveling up these characters and trying to be better.

And there’s always a sense of progression. There’s a sense of confidence. You build up and sense of skill. And I thought health and fitness was pretty similar to that. And in engineering itself was what attracted me was the fact that you’re building something when you’re coding, you’re creating stuff and you’re able to express yourself.

And now this area of my life with fitness it’s essentially me building myself up. And then I got into it as a hobby initially, but that first year was great. Second year I still continue training. I fell deeper, deeper, in love with it started reading more books about getting into more scientific literature. My background in statistics kinda allowed me a little bit of an understanding of what’s going on from the data perspective, which was really nice for me to be able to nerd out.

And I think that’s what contributed to me eventually just started writing about it, starting creating the first blog about it. And then I did a swap of careers at some point where a hobby became my full-time thing. And my full-time thing actually went into the back burner. It became more like a hobby of me creating my own website and doing that work.

So it was a very interesting journey, definitely not the traditional path where kind of grew up, had been into sports and eventually, just became a personal trainer or something. I took a bit of an alternative route to get to where I am today.

Dr. Richard Harris: Well, thank you for sharing your story. And it’s kind of funny because a lot of the people I interview have a similar story where a lot of us didn’t start off, like this is what we wanted to do. Something happened, it’s usually something personal and it drives us and then we want to share our personal story, our journey with other people.

And I’m like you, I was a huge computer nerd. I used to program games in C++ when I was in high school and I played video games all my life. And just like you, I became interested in leveling myself up and trying to be in the best shape I could mentally, physically and spiritually. And for me, it started with exercise.

I was a really weak kid. I remember the first time I ever tried to do a squat, it was like 95 pounds and the weights fell off one side and the weights fell off the other. And then I couldn’t even bench 75 pounds when I first started working out. And then I could progressively level myself up to the point where my personal best is a 450 pound bench, a 550 pound squat and a 600 pounds deadlift.

And this all came from a kid who was the same height, weighed 130 pounds when I started lifting. And I felt very proud of that accomplishment because I invested in myself, but we’re here today to talk about some of these hidden benefits exercise. And I think the first one is something that we all need more of, and that is productivity, better mood and better self image.

Mario Tomic: Absolutely. When I look at the reason why clients they reach out to me, it’s usually because of the productivity factors. I mean, some of it has to do with self-image as well. Obviously we all want to be happy with our bodies and feel good in our bodies. I mean, that was the initial reason why I wanted to transform my own body when I wanted to lose that 45 pounds.

And it’s similar to your story. I grew up as a kind of skinny, skinny, fat. Never really was that the first fake of, for any kind of basketball, football, soccer, whatever you can think of I was always that last kid in the corner, that everybody wanted to get kind of shove and don’t even play because you’re worse playing than if you just stay in the bench.

And now, as we kind of gotten into become busy professional entrepreneurs, which are realizing, well, the output that we have [00:08:00] out there, how much value can we create really does depend a lot on our physical health and exercise being one of the first ways to boost your energy levels through development of new mitochondria and actually producing ATP to a level where you will actually notice a huge difference, even from a couple of weeks of training.

And I see this from a lot of clients who haven’t an exercise for a while, we just get through some small routines training, two, three times per week for about 45 minutes. Suddenly they’re noticing that they’re much snappier when it comes to judgment. They’re much better when it comes to overall communication.

They’re more present to the moment. They’re getting better memory, which is related to the stimulation of development, BDNF brain-derived neurotrophic factor. So we’re really getting sort of this cocktail of neurotransmitters, hormonal benefits. We’re getting a lot of stuff from one simple thing. And we also know looking at data, we know that as we age, cognitive decline is a huge problem. And exercise is a great way to offset that and if we look at sort of comparison studies where we can see that the elderly who engage in even a little bit of exercise and some brisk walking, they have bigger brains and they’re more protected against Alzheimer’s. Are more protected against dementia.

They’re more protected in general, actually in my family, I’ve Alzheimer’s on both sides and I did a DNA test and I figured that I actually have that APOE4 which I don’t have full risk, but I still have a pretty enhanced risk of Alzheimer’s, which was another motivator for me when I did that a couple of years into my journey.

And I do feel like as an entrepreneur, the way I structured my day actually now is to take maximum advantage of exercise. So right now we’re doing this recording. I did a work block in the morning, so I woke up, spent a lot of my creative time, generating new content, helping our clients. Then I went to the gym, I did my exercise routine.

So I went there for about an hour. Came back had a meal and I’m here with you. So I’m using exercise as a way to break up work blocks, because I know that if I’m doing a whole stretch of eight hours, I’m going to be actually running into a wall pretty quickly. And my creativity is going to dip. But if I throw in some exercise in between.

I’m able to leverage that positive effect of exercise being increased blood flow to the brain. I know that in my second work block is going to be way, way more productive. And overall when you mention self-image and I feel like one of the big things that exercise that I took out of it was learning how to endure hard things and momentary discomfort. It teaches you delayed gratification in a very practical way because you go there and you push yourself and it’s difficult in the moment, but then you’re always happy when you come back and you also see the results of your efforts, which develops that self-efficacy because it’s your direct effort.

I mean, nobody can go to the gym and squat for you or bench for you, or do anything for you. It’s you and your effort and the results from your efforts. And the other thing I really like about exercise which I think just a lot of people miss the whole point is that it promotes other habits that will start generating building on exercise, such as eating healthier people, reduce their alcohol intake, just because they’re starting to go to gym. They’re stopping smoking. They’re really thinking more about taking care of themselves because we have this big issue that if you’re not doing any healthy habits, it’s very difficult. You have nothing to build on an exercise, a really easy foundation to do that. And that can be other formal exercise in the gym or some kind of clause, but even just taking a regular daily walk as a part of your routine in the morning or in the evening. I’ve seen with clients I’ve seen with a lot of individuals that I have spoken over the years, that one thing kinda created this cascade of positive behaviors over time. And it showed them that this is even possible for them because obviously if you try to many times over the years and you’ve fallen off, you’ll lose hope. Is the same impossible for me? So I do feel like exercise an easy way, kind of low-hanging fruit to get some really positive gains because you don’t have to wait for six months to see the benefit of a training session.

You just go there immediately feel better. Well, let’s say with dieting you take some time to actually notice some huge changes, especially have a lot of weight to lose. So exercise sort of that to enjoy the process more. that’s why I do believe it does tie well into that self image. And eventually you do also start seeing yourself as a more [00:12:00] athletic and fit person in which ultimately improves decision making processes.

And overall, I think this is sort of this Keystone Habit if you want to call it like Charles calls it in his book, part of habit, sort of stimulates development of all the other positive habits in life as well.

Dr. Richard Harris: Yeah, you touched on a lot of really great points. There. I’m a huge fan of The Power of Habit. I recommend it to everyone and those Keystone Habits are so powerful. And I think exercise and fasting are probably my two favorite Keystone Habits because they work physically, mentally, and spiritually. And so to be healthy, you have to have all three in line.

And exercise is one of those things that brings all three in the point. And you make a really great point about delayed gratification that we’re such an instant now, get it now. I want it now, society, but that’s not how your body works. It takes 25 years for your brain to finish developing. Men can grow into their mid twenties.

You think about that’s a long time that we’re still developing. And we have to be gentle and graceful with our bodies as far as time horizons. And a routine exercise practice. You see that cause you put in the work and slowly but steadily, you accumulate all these benefits and I love how you brought up BDNF.

It’s one of my favorite molecules. Like you mentioned, even a brisk walk will stimulate BDNF. It literally feeds your brain. And we see this when people get older who have sarcopenia, less muscle mass, you do brain scans. They have less brain mass. If you have less brain mass, well guess what? You’re not going to cognitively function well, but people who do exercise, people who do take care of themselves, maintain their brain mass, they maintain those connections.

That’s BDNF job is to literally make sure our brain maintains the connections that it needs to, to function correctly. And exercise is a powerful stimulator of that. And then you also get endorphins. When you work out, you feel good, you feel like you accomplished something. A lot of us holistic practitioners are talking about.

We’re seeing the data, showing that a sense of purpose is one of the strongest things for our overall mental, physical, and spiritual health and a sense of accomplishment. And one of the easiest ways that you can do that is exercise. Even 30 minutes, you accomplished something, you did something, you pushed yourself, you set a plan, made it happen.

And that makes us feel good, mentally, spiritually, because of the endorphins and just accomplishing. So I always tell people, and we just covered this in a podcast. Look, if you say you don’t have time to exercise, you don’t realize that exercise actually creates time. And we broke that down fully in this podcast.

increase in productivity, literally generates generates years on your life. If you exercise from 18 to 80 and you spend about half a year to gain four almost five years of your life, that’s a no brainer. That’s an easy Spend half a year gain five years. take that bet any day. And that is one of the key hidden benefits of exercise.

Another one that it’s very important our overall health is sexual performance. We haven’t really talked about sex a lot on this podcast, but it is essential part of being human, that connection the people that we love. And it also is very important for our biology, how does exercise with sexual performance.

Mario Tomic: Yeah, that’s a really interesting topic. I don’t think it’s talked about enough because we almost stigmatize this idea of, we have to learn how to almost thinking that it’s just something natively that we know how to do, and we know how to be good at, but the reality is that we’ve never really been thought the importance of exercise and overall health when it comes to not just sexual performance, but also sexual desire.

If you’re not happy with your own body, if you don’t have that confidence, that self-esteem, well, you’re not going to put yourself out there to be present in a moment to actually enjoy. [00:16:00] That time with your loved one or, general part of your life, which is such a huge part of the human experience. Is just something that’s going to be that you’re running away from it.

It’s not even gonna give you any kind of pleasure. It’s more or less creating more stress for you. And I speak to a lot of men who are in forties, fifties, sixties, and this becomes a big problem. You’re dealing with first and foremost, erectile dysfunction, which is a really, really nasty thing. I mean, we all kind of see those ads on TV.

We see them everywhere, but look, the reality is if you exercise, you can avoid a lot of that embarrassing moments and a lot of those issues there, you can just completely eliminate that with just good exercise and cardiovascular health and not even mentioned stamina as you get into your fifties and sixties. You might have partners taking care of themselves, but you’re the one who falls behind and that in itself can lead to a lot of relationship stress, broken relationships, not having that intimacy with your partner, because not necessarily that you don’t like and love your partner, it’s that you don’t like and love yourself.

And then you end up in a problem where that relationship starts to degrade. And we know from longevity research, that human relationships and connection and having someone that you’re deeply bonded with and sharing life experience with is essential for healthy aging and for promoting other behaviors, because it all kind of spirals out of control.

You have a bad experience here, then that leads to negative experiences in another direction. And then you kind of say, well, you know, it doesn’t even matter anymore, so may as well just let myself go. And then eventually before you know it, now you started running into problems with health and all kinds of other issues.

I do really believe that sexual performance in general sexuality and exercise and health needs a lot more attention. Because we were just bearing it through the ground and thinking that it’s going to solve itself. And unfortunately it’s not. And if you’re looking at an easy way to improve this again, we’re coming back that the dose response is really, really good.

You only need a couple of sessions a week for about 30 minutes. We’re not talking about becoming a triathlete. You really only need to go take a couple of walks, maybe go to the gym, do one or two sessions of strength training for about 30 minutes. It doesn’t really take that much to see those benefits because you’re not looking to be the top athlete here.

You’re really looking to get that 80/20 effect where you’re investing in 20% to get the 80% of the benefit. And I always have to remind people of this because it’s easy to fall into the tendency of black and white thinking that I’m all in on that routine and I’m gonna six days of cardio and four days of strength training and taking walks and doing hikes and everything.

I just got to revamp my whole life. You don’t actually have to revamp your whole life. You just have to build and slowly embed a couple of little things in your routine, suddenly going to start reaping these incredible benefits. And in fact, is that isn’t always even better, especially as you start getting into your fifties and sixties, you need to be careful of your recovery your stress levels.

And I do think of the ways that exercise ties into sexual performance and being better overall enjoyment in the moment is by that stress reduction effect that it has. So it reduces your stress and anxiety and improves your mood, which ultimately makes you more relaxed in a moment.

So you having that sexual desire increase your libido is better and you just don’t have that much of that effect where you’re stuck in your head over thinking things you’re just more present. And you can really that moment. Which I do think is something we’re not getting enough of, we’re really getting our brains shut down by consuming social media, by over consuming any kind of digital content.

that removes us from the moment for a great deal of our lives, which is very unfortunate because there’s things in life that we’re just missing out on, which is that connection. I do think that definitely a topic we need to discuss a lot more.

Dr. Richard Harris: Absolutely. And the fact that people don’t realize that there’s a correlation is a failure fundamentally for us as healthcare providers. And I use that term loosely. I think if you’re anyone who’s taking care of people’s health, whether you’re a trainer or a coach or a therapist or whatever, you’re a healthcare provider, because you are helping people with different aspects of their health.

This [00:20:00] is something that we need to be more direct in talking about and remove the taboo of intercourse from our discussions about health. And you bring up some really good points. There is a physical component to intercourse, you need good cardiovascular health. Part of intercourse requires adequate blood flow.

You need blood flow to go to the sex organs for them to work properly. And if you don’t have good cardiovascular health, if you have impairment in blood flow, obviously there’s going to be impairment and sexual function. And making sure that we have that good cardiovascular health. People think they need to do cardio for good cardiovascular health.

You can get the same benefits cardiovascular wise, from strength training as you can from cardio. A lot of people do way too much cardio, not enough strength training. I do a lot more strength training than I do cardio. It’s about a three to one ratio for me of strength training to cardio, but I still do cardio mainly because I play basketball.

And so I need to do cardio do help me with playing basketball, but for health benefits, I mainly stay towards resistance training. And then there’s the mental component. And just like we talked about exercise helps your brain work better. There is a mental component to sexual intercourse.

You need adequate functioning brain hormones. You need dopamine to have that desire to want your partner to want to engage in that intimacy with them. And then you need adequate serotonin and endocannabinoid and endorphin systems to enjoy the here and now. Orgasm depends on those systems working properly, the here and now, serotonin, norepinephrine those types of things.

And so if you have dysregulation in the brain, obviously that’s going to impair both your desire and the ability to achieve an orgasm in sexual intercourse. And this is something that we haven’t discussed before on the podcast but I think it’s something I’m going to dive into more. I’m going to bring on a sexual expert to talk about this, because it is very important for our overall health and wellbeing.

It’s just another reason why that routine exercise is important. And like you mentioned, it really doesn’t take that much. People look at, you know, LeBron, James and Michael Phelps and say, Oh I must exercise like them to get the benefit of exercise. And that’s not the case whatsoever. The CDC is very clear on this 150 minutes of moderate exercise.

75 minutes of vigorous exercise per week is what benefits. 75 minutes of HIIT training or weight training is not a whole lot of time per week. If you break that down to every day, you can get that with 15 minutes a day and meet that requirement for the health and metabolic and cardiovascular benefits of exercise.

It’s one of those things that doesn’t take that much time to actually reap the benefit. And you touched on this a little bit, this was benefit number five, and that was reduced anxiety and feelings of depression. This is one of the first things I tell people. If they’re feeling anxious, they’re feeling overwhelmed that they’re starting to feel depressed.

Move your body. Our bodies are designed for movement in so many different ways. And like we mentioned, it actually helps regulate those neurochemicals, those brain chemicals that deal with our feeling and our mood. Since we jumped ahead and my listeners are used to this on the strive for great health podcasts.

We kind of snowball into different areas all the time. Let’s talk about this one anxiety, depression what have you seen in your experiences working with your clients and what do you tell them about this benefit of exercise?

Mario Tomic: Yeah I would boil it down to three things. Number one, you’re less likely to experience depression first and foremost and anxiety, whatever form of anxiety that is, or general worry is lowered. You experience it and the symptoms of it are not as strong. So you actually manage the symptoms and [00:24:00] so you don’t get into serious forms of depression or anxiety.

And then number three is you don’t relapse back into those behaviors, if you maintain a good routine. In a nutshell, it would be as powerful and based on some of the data that I’ve seen as powerful in combination with medication to amplify this effect to actually get rid of this problem entirely from your life, if you exercise.

And also obviously depending on the form and what you’re doing. I’m a really big proponent of solving things naturally as much as possible. And I do believe we have this rise of depression correlates really nicely with the drop in physical activity as well, because we are made and wired and hardwired to actually exercise and move around.

If you deprive a human of movement you deprive it of literally its form of like deprive yourself of oxygen. You’re built to move. And if you don’t move, you start immediately seeing degradation of many things because the human body in general is made out of use it or lose it. That’s the type of system.

So if you don’t do something with your body, You slowly started getting into muscle loss. You started getting into more laziness. A lot of people consider, well, I’m going to exercise. I’m expending energy, but the reality is you’re gaining energy from it. And the same thing is with your mood and same thing as what your depression.

It gets you out of your head because you’re stuck in your head at home worrying. You’re not changing your environment as much, not stimulating your brain as much. And that’s a very unnatural environment to be. And there was a huge evolutionary mismatch in the lifestyle of 2021 versus lifestyle of someone who would have been around even just a couple of hundred years ago, especially thousands of years ago or tens of thousands of years ago, you would be forging.

You would be trying to figure things out around you would be exposing yourself to some not chronic stressors, but intermittent stressors that would really get your body hormones and every aspect of your body ready for fight or flight, but then eventually it would calm down and chill out. So there’s that effect of those intermittent stressors, which now we’re actually dealing with these chronic stressors and we don’t have that physical activity.

It’s becoming a mental game. And I don’t know if I read this somewhere or if it just kind of came over the years, I read a lot of books. A problem that originates in your mind, it’s really difficult to solve that with your mind. It’s almost like the fact is that you have to physically go out there and do something with movement.

Get yourself going to go in and solve that mental problem. But if you have a problem that is occurring while you’re training to want to learn how to train better or get better habits from eating perspective or sleep, then you can go to the mental side and try to think about it and do more strategy, but then to go back and take an action.

So it’s almost like this paradox, this yin and yang. Were you can’t think yourself oftentimes into better health. You have to actually move and do something. And this is for a lot of us as entrepreneurs. I can tell you firsthand for me, one part of exercise. I really like is the fact that it’s almost like therapy.

I know I’m going to feel better no matter what the day is, no matter how many things I have going on, no matter what is happening in my life. I know if I do that a workout session, I’m going to be happy. I’m going to be proud. I’m going to be more confident. And I just enjoy that part of my life.

And when I removed that part of my life, that’s when I really noticed the lack of. It’s not necessarily, even while I’m doing it, but just try to go a week without training and you started noticing, wow, I’m going to just not feeling like myself anymore. What’s going on here. I’m not as excited about life. I’m not as eager to do things in my life.

I’m not planning as many things. I’m not as social. It just overall, you feel like you’re shrinking your comfort zone slowly starts coming down. Especially as an introvert myself, I’ve noticed that I had a lot of trouble over the years, socializing, getting myself out there. Social anxiety was a big problem.

And I do really believe exercising, taking care of myself, gave me that confidence to get out there. That’s why I can be in a healthy relationship these days. I can communicate with people. I am creating hundreds of YouTube videos stepping on stage public speaking. And if I would to see my life from a perspective of me when I was 18 or 17, that would be a completely different person.

I wouldn’t even believe that I could do that because I never raised my voice up until like the age of, I don’t know, [00:28:00] 24, like I was just really, really quiet not really trying to engage too much. And a lot of that was anxiety. I didn’t think I had worth I didn’t really feel like I had something to contribute.

And a part of that was realities, I wasn’t working on myself and none of us really know as we grow up, we don’t understand the importance of exercise, movement, physical health, and how it relates to mental health. And again, tying back to self image. It is all connected. If you’re exercising, you’re getting better self-image, you’re getting better physical fitness. You’re getting better social interaction. Now, ultimately you’re less depressed and you have more things going on in your life and you feel like things are moving forward. So I do think that part of depression, anxiety, I’ve read a whole bunch of books on this, it’s hard for people to believe that there’s something out there as powerful as exercise when you actually talk to researchers and they compare the effects of exercise versus medication other interventions. And if you could boil it into a pill, it would be the most effective pill in the world. And by far the none of it can even compare still people are not willing to go out there and go do a 30, 40 minute strength training session in the gym, which is ridiculous.

But it is what it is. We are wired to also to look for shortcuts. So it is something we have to overcome. We have to ultimately build that habit as a part of our lives and it is going to be difficult obviously, but I think the reward is tremendous. And these effects that now, especially last year, we’ve noticed lockdowns and what not.

This has had a huge effect on mental health. And I do think this is another thing that’s not really talked about as much and I think we’re going to dive in at some point sort of immunity and all that stuff, but yeah, absolutely. I would highly highly recommend exercise If you feel like mood regulation or depression, or any of those other things that are a part of your life. And if you’re currently on medication or whatnot, highly, highly recommend.

Dr. Richard Harris: Yeah, absolutely. Exercise is the most effective intervention for our mental health. And we know that exercise has effects on our metabolism. More muscle, more metabolism, better metabolism. That’s the simplest way to describe it. But you have to remember your brain is highly metabolic. Our brain is about 2% of our body weight and gets 20% of our blood flow.

Tiny tiny organ comparatively for our body mass, there requires a ton of blood. Why does it require a ton of blood? Because it requires a ton of energy. And so if you are metabolically disrupted again, your brain is not going to do what it’s supposed to do, and that’s going to lead to mental health consequences.

And one of the things I tell people is people are a lot of times afraid of the gym or strength training because of judgment and the most inclusive, nicest communities I’ve ever been a part of are people who exercise. Why? Because a lot of them started to literally exercise their demons. A lot of people do it because they were in a place that they wanted to get themselves out of.

And they don’t forget that. And I’m in so many exercise groups and a newcomer comes in post a photo, and you should see the amount of love that is poured into this person because they want them to succeed because a lot of people identify, they were there. Maybe they lost 200 pounds, or maybe they’re going through a divorce or went through a divorce and exercise, helped them deal and regain themselves.

And their sense of self. And this is one of the reasons I always tell people, get in the community. If you want to start exercising, get into an exercise community and you will start to see how these people around you will literally pour into you not judge you. They’ll love you. They’ll help you along.

They know the bumps and ups and downs. Exercise is not a linear trajectory. You’re going to have and mishaps and you might miss a goal or something like that, that’s okay. We’ve all been there. And we’ve all had that when we were going through our wellness journey and especially when it comes to exercise.

And that’s why it is such a profound regulator and contributor to our mental health, because not is it only helping at the [00:32:00] physical level, the social level and the spiritual level as well. Now we touched on this a little bit earlier, we mentioned sleep. Sleep is probably the thing that most people undervalue the most.

And yet it is so important to our overall wellbeing. You talked about your APOE4. I’m also an APOE4 carrier. A lot of my regimen is because of that is to help with or prevent developing Alzheimer’s and dementia.

That’s a really big thing to me because I had grandparents I saw go through that and pain and my family’s pain, and that’s just a horrible situation all around. And probably half is preventable. It’s probably higher than that. Every single like five years or so. The amount that we think is preventable for dementia keeps increasing, was 30% now

It’s going to keep going up because a lot of this is caused by lifestyle stuff. And sleep is one of the most powerful preventors of developing dementia cause when you sleep your brain actually cleans itself. It’s really cool. Your brain like goes into like a washing machine mode where you get the fluid that surrounds the brain.

That shock cushion washes over like waves and removes the metabolic waste toxins and things like that. It’s your brain self-cleaning cycle, but exercise is a powerful regulator of sleep. It’s one of the things that you can do early in the day. And one of two things get sunlight and exercise to improve your sleep later in the.

So, what have you seen with this, with the people that you’ve trained or things that you’ve read about how exercise and sleep are intrinsically linked?

Mario Tomic: I think you bring up a lot of good points there, especially when you’re talking about the APOE4 an Alzheimer’s because it’s a very vicious cycle, as I’ve noticed both of my grandparents, both of my dad’s side of my mom’s side have dealt with it and they had a really, really tough time falling asleep.

When they enter their later sixties and then they started having some really serious issues after 65, then eventually 70 in that range. That’s when things rapidly got worse and their seventies, it was a disaster by the time they were 75, they couldn’t even recognize me anymore. It was really hard to see that.

And they’re still living humans. They’re actually still okay. but their brains just don’t work anymore in the way they used to. And they’re forgetting things. My grandmother actually passed away just this January and she hasn’t been able to recognize me for last it’s probably five, six years.

My mom also, she couldn’t recognize her after awhile. So it was just really terrible to see. And I think this is a lot of that lifestyle factor. You hear these days, people will say, well, look. I just have you know 40 pounds or a weight, but I’m otherwise healthy. That’s not really how it works.

You have to take care of yourself and being overweight and not being inactive is a huge factor in your overall health and then effecting your sleep, which then affects everything else. We know from just basic research, you’ve just sleeping five and a half hours, which is a common thing.

When I talk to clients during our intake forums, someone joins the program. If I pull down my 800 data points that I have personally, and sort of my internal data, most people are sleeping about five to six hours. Most people, the vast majority. It’s very, very rare to see people above their 50, that they’re sleeping about seven and a half, eight hours or, or higher than that.

I personally am to sleep between eight to nine hours. I’ve been trying to get my dad to sleep more and he’s been really happy with it, with some of the results of that. And he’s in his sixties. And I think this is one of those hidden underlying issues that we really don’t think about because there’s a couple of things happening here.

When you are sleep deprived, let’s say five and a half hours vs eight hours. We know for a fact that any weight you gain a higher percentage of that weight will be fat mass. So even if you are exercising, if you’re not exercising, you’re really getting worse, metabolic health. Just the fact that you’re sleep deprived. When you’re trying to lose weight, if you’re sleep deprived, a greater percentage of that lost weight will be muscle compared to fat. So you’re essentially not really losing the [00:36:00] most important part of it, which is visceral fat, subcutaneous fat. That’s what you want to get rid of. You don’t want to get rid of your muscle because that’s going to slow down your metabolism. Puts you in worse metabolic health. From that context, even if you’re trying to improve your health, one of the first things you should be looking at is your sleep.

And there’s not that many things that you have to do to not necessarily improve it. It’s about having a good routine where you’re sleeping at it roughly at the same times, making sure I have good sleep hygiene. You can use earplugs, white noise fans, dark in the room with a couple of things like that and you can ultimately create a really good rhythm there. Now specifically with exercise, I know for a fact that it has a brain calming effect, which is going to help you fall asleep and you don’t have to do a lot of research to test this out. You just go and just take a walk five days in a row. You’ll see you will sleep better.

Every single one of those days. It’s one of the main reasons why I started walking a lot more in my life after dinner is because I noticed if I take a walk after dinner. I sleep better that night. My brain is a lot calmer because I have a lot of things going on in my life. And I’m sure everybody listening to this we’re all We got family work, all these other obligations, taking that walk. myself mentally and I’m able to calm myself down and I fall asleep and I stay asleep. And then we also know that exercisers who regularly exercise two, three sessions, at least a week. We regulate body temperature better.

That means that you’re able to fall asleep nicer. And that also means that you’re able to drop your which will enhance your deep sleep cycles, which is better and more restorative. So your sleep quality is going up. as you mentioned with the circadian rhythm, one of the strongest ways to ground yourself into a healthy circadian rhythm, to signal to your body, Hey the day started then you will get that melatonin released 12, 16 hours later, is that sleep. And after you wake and that exercise, that movement raising your body temperature in the morning and getting that light. Those are the two main things, lights and exercise. walk. you do that, ultimately have much better sleep at night, the day before.

So I tell this to clients all the time. If you want to sleep better, it starts with when you wake up, it’s not just what you do a couple of hours before. There’s a lot of things here that if you think about sleep and itself, how it affects your diet, as well, if you’re sleep deprived, you’re going to have way more cravings.

You’re going to stress eat more. You’re going to have more anxiety and depression and lower mood. Life sucks when you’re sleep deprived. I feel like a lot of people have been sleep deprived chronically for so long that they forgot how it feels like to get days in a row of seven, eight hours of sleep. it’s going to take time to establish this. If you’ve been used to five and a half, six hours, you might have naturally started waking up in the middle of the night. might’ve started having some issues. You can’t fall back asleep. You may wake up, go to the toilet, which is a huge problem. We all notice as you age, you have bladder control problems.

Eventually started wake up in the middle of the night that happens. And obviously anything you can stack your favor as an odd to sleep better, you should be taking advantage of that. So really optimizing this as much as possible. I do think this is also one of those low hanging fruits for life happiness, productivity, and overall sleep.

If I had to say one thing, as far as that what I hear from clients all the time is that the sleep component, even without the weight loss, everything else has completely changed their life. Just the fact that they’re sleeping more, they’re just better, happier overall humans that are enjoying life.

More to excited more about the process. They’re just loving the fact that they’re taking care of themselves. And we spoke about it in the productivity thing. We have 168 hours a week and it’s not necessarily always about more hours. And I’ve noticed this very quickly in my journey as an entrepreneur.

It’s about quality of hours and quality of work and how much deep work and focus work can you get, rather than just trying to cram in 12, 14 hours days, which is impossible to sustain at that pace. And I think good sleep kind of gets you in a positive spiral because you get more done in six hours and someone gets in 10 and then leaves more time for family leaves more time for self care and more sleep.

While if you sleep deprived, even though you’re thinking, well, I’m going to get a couple of hours. You’re going to take 10 hours to get something, then that should take half as much time. And now you don’t have any time left for more sleep. And it just ends up again, being a vicious cycle where you can’t get out of that anymore.

Dr. Richard Harris: Yeah, absolutely. It’s like we just talked about an [00:40:00] opportunity cost podcast. Oftentimes people who say they don’t have enough time are doing the things that caused them to not have enough time by not enhancing productivity and as entrepreneurs, we know that whenever you enter something from day one, you start thinking about your exit plan and that’s so important.

It’s just like a wellness plan. You and I both have a wellness plan. We have a comprehensive plan for how to keep ourselves healthy. And part of that is okay. Optimizing my sleep. I know starts from the moment I wake up. And usually when I wake up, it’s walk the dog, get some sunlight, hit the gym. And what that does is increase serotonin levels, light hitting your skin, increases your serotonin levels.

That’s why you feel good when you take a walk in the park, but serotonin is the precursor to melatonin at night, our circadian rhythm flips that serotonin into melatonin to help regulate the sleep wake cycle. So that’s why when you get light early in the morning, you feel like you sleep better because you’ve enhanced your body’s natural circadian rhythm and sleep cycle.

And we talked about this in the sleep science podcast. The other thing is exercise. creates metabolic byproducts. One of them is adenosine and adenosine our brains the sleep homeostatic drive. It’s literally how you go about the day that adenosine builds up and you get more tired throughout the day and eventually your body hits a point where it says, okay, wakefulness we’ve had enough wakefulness.

We need to go to sleep to repair, recover, remove these toxins. And so exercise early in the day helps by helping you jump on that sleep homeostatic drive you’ve built up some metabolic byproducts early in the day. So you’re going to feel like you need to wind down and go to sleep earlier.

And there is no shortcuts to this. There’s no substitutes. You have to have a good sleep hygiene routine, just like you have a routine when you wake up, you need to have a routine before you go to sleep and don’t expect your body just to flip a switch and fall asleep when you want it to, if you’ve done everything to try to keep it wake right before you try to go to sleep. not how this works. You don’t just wake up one day and you’re a millionaire, you have to put in the work and slowly over time, you’ll get there unless you hit the lottery and get lucky, which, you know, that’s probably not going to happen for any of us.

Mario Tomic: You’re going to go back to where you were before very quickly.

Dr. Richard Harris: Exactly. Right. Cause you don’t have the habits. You’ll end up blowing all that money. And this is why it’s so important to have a sleep routine, sleep habit, and plan for this. And think about your routine. If you’re listening to this, I want you to think about what are you actually doing to help your body sleep and what are you doing to hurt your body in regards to sleep and write it down.

And you’ll probably see that if you’re getting poor sleep, you’re doing more things to hurt your body than help your body. And you can check that out in the sleep science podcast. Lastly, and probably the most important thing right now is immune health. And this is something that of us holistic practitioners are extremely upset about because all you hear is vaccine this, isolate that, mask this. We have heard nothing in the mainstream about how your immune system actually works.

And it doesn’t matter about the mask or the vaccine or social distancing, if your immune system is compromised, cause if your immune system is compromised, that vaccine is not going to be as effective. You need a healthy functioning immune system to have the vaccine be efficacious. Cause it’s not like they inject the vaccine and all of a sudden magically, somehow immunized, no, your immune system sees it and then gets to work make a final product.

And that is antibodies and immune cells and things like that. We’ve covered that in the immunity podcast, but if you don’t have a functioning immune system, it’s really all for not, it’s not going to get [00:44:00] the maximum benefit with viruses. And this has been throughout human history, the best defense against viruses, because viruses are weird.

There’s so much, we don’t know about them. They cause all kinds of havoc in the body. The best defense against any virus is the host immune response. How healthy is that host. And we know that exercise helps regulate the immune system. How do you mention this to your clients? How do you talk about this and what have you read on this subject?

Mario Tomic: Yeah, this is a big one. And I’m glad you brought this up. I’m actually a as another again, proponent of living a healthier lifestyle, very upset on what we’re seeing in mass media and what’s being promoted out there. There’s a lot of, sort of equating everybody. We’re all the same we’re all at the same level of risk.

Whether you exercise, eat healthy. You see these like super healthy people dropping that all the time. It’s all panic, anxiety, fear stay home lockup. Vaccinate is the only way to get out of this and it works the same for everybody. Now, unfortunately we’re not all the same, which in regards to your metabolic health and your genetics and how you respond to certain things.

So, we have now at this point enough, very, very conclusive data to see that people who are really, really struggling with the current public health crisis are metabolically unhealthy. And we know that that means if you’re overweight, obese and inactive and you have other co-morbidities or underlying health issues.

You’re at a severe risk of illness, as well as your mortality is gonna be much, much higher. There’s just a recent paper that I was reading that came out of South Korea. This is British journal of sports medicine, just posts that I think came out a couple of weeks ago. What he looked at a hundred thousand people and one interesting outcomes of this study was that it’s not that the activity just prevents you from causing death, but the likelihood of actually being infected is lower if you’re physically active. So it’s one of those things that just makes a lot more sense. It’s a hundred thousand people, South Korea.

They monitor people from 2015 to 2021 lots of data . And I think the amount of exercise where they were talking about it was 150 minutes a week. I mean seriously. So we’re not even talking about for us gym goers. I mean, if you tell me 150, I’m thinking that might be like two workout sessions. If I go there and warm up.

And so it’s not really a ton and we don’t, we’re not also talking about super high intensity sprints downhill. We’re really talking about combinations of walking a little bit of strength training of some activity. So we know that physical activity and the risk of if you’re looking at SARS COVID-2, you’re really going to get incredible protective benefits of this. And again, tying the exercise, being Keystone habit for better health, eating better sleep. Sleep, huge effects on immune system being more protected from that. One of the excuses was we don’t have enough time to get people healthy.

We’ve been doing this for a year and a half. You could drop 60, 70 pounds in a year and a half. You could have built lifelong habits in this amount of time. You could have just completely revamped your entire health. Unfortunately the exact happened. Looking at the data on weight gain and activity, activity just went down a lot because gyms shutdown. People weren’t going outside as much.

I think the average weight gain was like 28 pounds from data in the US which seriously knowing that we already have 2/3rds of people who are overweight and obese and you add another 28 pounds. And now that’s the average mean value, meaning that people gain more, gained less. That’s the average.

You have folks that have gained like 40, 50 pounds. In this last year and very, very disturbing because it’s not even, let’s disregard SARS COVID-2, but let’s look at other issues. What are the primary things that we’re dealing with? Our health that are caused by an activity, cardiovascular health, one of the biggest killers.

It is directly again, linked to a lack of exercise and physical activity and if you look at CDC data and who’s actually being hospitalized, who was seriously ill, who’s on the respirator who is actually struggling and dying. We’ve got millions of [00:48:00] people suffering from this are those with high blood pressure, body weight, not exercising, poor overall lifestyle. It all comes back to lifestyle. I’m glad you mentioned a couple of times throughout this podcast. A lot of this is a lifestyle issue. As you said if you exercise, you havea healthier body the vaccine works

I support that, that’s all fine. And we should obviously do a lot of things that as much as we can from a medical side of things, but the lifestyle itself makes absolutely everything work better. Everything! Everything you can think of from an immune perspective and immune health, you’re going to have a much, much better time if you’re a healthy individual.

And that’s one of the things that I really am you could say upset. And I can rant on this all day because, I haven’t seen a single thing mentioned about taking a walk. A single thing mentioned about eating a salad. A single thing mentioned about doing something. In fact, if you vaccinate, you get a doughnut and a beer, I mean, for Christ’s sakes.

 We can do better than that really, we can do better than that. And then you have podcasts like this. You have content creators, really putting out a message. Hey guys, like let’s not forget training. Let’s not forget eating, right?

Let’s not forget taking care of ourselves Cause one of the interesting things with this study that came out, that I really found fascinating was that anxiety and fear was also correlated with an increased risk of illness and mortality with. COVID too. That’s an interesting factor and that’s all we’ve had over the last year and a half. Instead of empowering people to go out there, move, get healthier, take care of themselves.

We’ve disempowered. we’ve created lot of fear, which I really don’t see how this can end up in any positive place. I can rant on all day on this buddy. I would highly, highly suggest to me if you’re listening to this, it’s time to move. It’s time to do something, and exercise, is a great place to start.

Dr. Richard Harris: Absolutely. We covered the immune system in our immunity podcast. And one of the ways we talked about it was exercise. There’s a fundamental misunderstanding of the immune system even amongst physicians. They talk about boosting the immune system. And that’s not exactly what you want. You want to a regulated immune system, because if I boost your immune system at all times, that’s how you get autoimmune disease.

The immune system attacks itself. What you want is immune system that sees something like a virus, or fungus, or bacteria, activates, goes gangbusters on it, attacks it. And then once that’s done knows to shut off, knows to leave town. You don’t want the standing army around all the time after they’ve already won, that’s a problem, right?

That leads to fights and outbreaks and horrible conditions for the people who live there. No, if you win the battle you move on and that’s what we want for the immune system. want it to win the battle and move on. We don’t want it hanging out there still causing more damage. And the more time has gone, the more we’ve seen that all the different outcomes with SARS COV-2 is really auto-immune and that you can have a massive activation of the immune system to it. If your immune system is dysregulated and it attacks your own body, and that’s why you see there are brain symptoms, there are heart symptoms, there are lung symptoms, there are joint systems, there’s blood clots. Because that’s a massive immune system activation.

And exercise wonderful because it helps regulate the immune system. So we actually have a go, go, go part of the immune system and a suppressor arm of the immune system. And what exercise does it helps the go, go, go system when it needs to go. it helps the suppressor system when it doesn’t. It is a wonderful balancing agent for our immune system.

And like you said, the vaccine exercise actually helps vaccine response there’s data on this. Not with SARS that I’m aware of, but with other vaccines, there is actual data showing that exercise improves immunity from vaccines. We’re talking about, okay, it’s helping with the vaccine.

Ok it’s helping me not only not get COVID, but if I do get [00:52:00] COVID have less severe infection and it’s helping me deal with anxiety and fear and all of that, which is directly correlated to the function of your immune system. If you’re getting cortisol spikes all the time, your immune, system’s not going to work right.

Cortisol, literally dampens the immune system. And I can’t remember if we talked about this in the podcast or not, but what happens initially when you get sick is your cortisol levels drop, because you want that immune system to ramp up and you want it to fight off the infection. And then what happens late in that infection is actually you get a surge in cortisol because that’s a signal to let the immune system calm.

If your stress response is dysregulated your immune system and what it does is completely dysregulated. And this is another key reason why I always, always proclaim exercise as the queen of wellness. Nutrition is the king. Nutrition is the most important thing that we do, but like a good couple, a king and queen you combine them together and you can get a powerful long-lasting effect. And even if you start doing this thing before you have kids, it even affects your kids. It affects their health, their trajectory in life, epigenetics. You’re not only if you’re doing this before you have children. You’re not only impacting your life. You’re impacting your future kids life and then their kids, and then their kids.

And this can be either a beneficial cycle or what we’ve seen recently, every subsequent generation is getting sicker and sicker and sicker, and we have caveman genes. It’s not genetics, it’s lifestyle. Lifestyle is the most important aspect of health. And that’s why practitioners such as yourself have healed and helped more people than most physicians.

And that’s why I’m all about getting other providers on the show with their viewpoint, their experiences, what they’ve done to help people because it matters lifestyle matters. Now, Mario, is there anything that you want to say before we close this episode out?

Mario Tomic: I think there was a lot of good stuff here. And I think a lot of people aren’t thinking about just the pure numbers game here. If we were talking about exercise, eating healthy, you’re literally adding about eight to 10 years of health span on your life, which is incredible. If you think about you want to live I don’t know, 80 years old, the average, let’s say that’s the average. The average American is going to spend last eight to ten years in disease and question you gotta ask yourself is how do you want to spend those last 10 years of your life? Do you want to spend in disease, someone else having to take care of you, not actually being able to play with your grandkids, not being able to provide any value to society.

Or do you want actually to live that life and have some meaning and really the hard things you work so hard to build in your life. Now we can enjoy them for that last and a quarter of your life and make sure that happens there, especially the last 10 years. That’s really why a lot of us are doing this as well.

It’s not just about lifespan, which is slowly going up over time, that’s all fine. But it’s the health span. It’s that last eight to 10 years. And are you gonna depend on everybody else around you to take care of you? Or are you going to be one who still adds value to society and to your family, have a combination of your wisdom that you’ve gained over your life now with ability to actually do something with more time and everything else that comes in. I think from a lot of the clients that I speak to, I work with a lot of entrepreneurs and professionals who are very, very successful financially and with families, they really think long-term, I think people that think very, very long-term a very good mindset when it comes to health and fitness, because no end game here where you reach a point, then he’s just going to go back to living unhealthy. is a lifelong commitment of excellence and embracing a routine that it’s an infinite game, essentially. You’re constantly doing it because it’s like breathing.

It’s like good health nutrition. It’s constantly feeding. It’s constantly working better for you. And the older you are, the more you need. It it’s like that thing would meditation. If you don’t have 20 minutes with a meditation you need to get 40 in.

It’s sort of this necessity, I don’t even see it as optional anymore. And I’m glad that I built to share to my content over the years, the promotional of walking, resistance training. I’m really, really big fan on this, [00:56:00] especially nutrition, as you said, that’s really the number one way of obviously getting leaner, getting healthier, getting rid of the excess weight in combination with exercise, we know these things work.

We know everything else works better if you combine them with these things. I think promoting and living a healthy lifestyle at the end, we have a good movement now it’s talked about, and I just wish that more people were just pushing it out there and we’d all be happier and healthier together. I think that would be an amazing vision, I guess, for decades to come. And I hope were gonna get there.

Dr. Richard Harris: Absolutely with enough push with enough hope and enough prayer we have to because the current path we’re on is just, it’s not sustainable completely. Where do people go to find your content or hire you for your services if they want.

Mario Tomic: The best place would be to just check out my YouTube channel. I do post weekly, and there’s also a huge library of of content on nutrition, diet, training, all that thing. Pretty much everything that’s related to improving your health and fitness and doing it in a sustainable way. How to get the science and boil it down to very practical things. Building habits, cognitive things like human behavior change, psychology.

I do put out a lot of content on this. You just type in my name, Mario Tomic. Mario Tomic on YouTube, you’ll be able to find my channel there. And then from there, you can also check out some of the links that are published on YouTube to find the services, the website, and everything else we do.

 I think it’s the best to kind of pick apart the content to see which one you like. That’s the best way to approach it. and would love to spread the word as much as possible. That’s one of the things for me, YouTube is legacy. I just want to make sure I’m putting out, doing my part to make the world healthier. And, that’s been a pleasure as well, to see so many people and praising the content and getting value out of it

Dr. Richard Harris: Well, thank you so much, Mario, for coming on the podcast and sharing your philosophies. We’re aligned in a lot of areas and it’s all about service, just trying to make the world a better place and leave that legacy of health for the next generations to my listeners. Thank you for listening to Strive for Great Health Podcast. Have a blessed day.

Thank you for listening to the Strive for Great Health Podcast with your host, Dr. Richard Harris. It’s our mission and goal at the podcast to impact as many lives as possible. To empower individuals, to take control of their health and live a life full of joy and purpose. You may help us achieve this mission by leaving a five star rating and review on your preferred podcast platform.

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Thank you for listening and God bless.

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