How An Exercise Mindset and A Few Minutes Can Make You Ageless

Meet two ageless, competitive athletes with a rock solid exercise mindset, Jacinto Bonilla and DeEtte Sauer. What they’ve achieved is inspirational.  You, too, will be on your way to exercise nirvana in just a few minutes.

the exercise mindset of Jacinto Bonilla

THE FIRST thing you’ve got to do when you want to change something that’s entrenched, or achieve something difficult or illusive is to get your head on straight.

In either case you need to do two things:

  1. Reset the mindset that enabled the undesired thing you want to change to exist, and
  2. Cultivate the new mindset capable of achieving what you want.

To say that “It’s all in your head” is largely true, because unlike most animals, most of what humans do is not already programmed into our DNA; we have to learn nearly everything.  Our brains are malleable. The “software” in our brain can be programmed by the people, places, things and events in its life to make us the saint, or terrorist.

What’s your mind set to do“?

That’s the pertinent question you must ask before you move to change something for the better, or strike out to grab something new and shiny.

This article aims to inspire.  Specifically, we seek to ramp up the inspiration and apply it to developing a life-enhancing exercise program for a very fundamental reason: assuming you’re healthy enough, there’s probably no other single thing that can revitalize your life more, as you’ll soon see.

In this article, you’ll discover:

  • Your MET sweet spot; meaning, the biggest exercise bang for the buck.
  • How two inspirational senior citizens use the right exercise mindset to excel.
  • How to use one, two, five and seven-minute exercise routines to get fit and improve lifespan.

Let’s dive in…


What’s Your MET Sweet Spot?

To provide you with some incentive to read on and get inspired, consider some bottom-line benefits of exercise that I’ve written about before. In 3 Expert-approved Anti-aging Exercise Routines You Can Do and Why You Should Bother, I wrote about how exercise can help do this:

  • Re-ignite your metabolism and reprogram your body so you can readily start burning fat right away.
  • Reboot your endocrine system, creating a resurgence of youth enhancing hormones so you can get infinitely more energy—and replace flab with lean, strong muscle while boosting your sex drive.
  • Fortify your body by regaining bone density, muscle and building a solid foundation.
  • Boost your brain power, enhancing memory and improving your cognitive function making you as sharp as a tack.
  • Dramatically decelerate your body’s aging process, such that your biological age will age slower than your chronological age—making you look and feel younger each year that passes.

In The Minimum Exercise That Will Add Years To Your Life, I wrote about just what the title suggests —  exercise routines, in this case “micro bursts”, that yield the biggest bang (benefits) for the buck (effort).

Here’s the graph that tells the tale:


Note that the graph indicates the marginal incremental returns from physical activity happens after about 10 MET hours per week, in terms of added years of quality lifespan.

A “MET” is a physiological measure expressing the energy cost of physical activities per hour per week:

  • 5 MET-hr/week yields the greatest longevity gains per effort (MET).
  • From 5 to 10 you’re still increasing longevity but at a slower rate, and so on with more MET-hr/week.

That said, realize that we’re speaking about longevity here, not fitness.  Although the longevity gains from 5 MET-hr/week are due to the physiological benefits derived from that amount of exercise, it’s insufficient to truly make you fit, say like the two people you’re about to meet.

Let’s turn to these two inspirational figures, and use their stories to make ours better.


The Inspirational Jacinto Bonilla and DeEtte Sauer

You may not be as vital, youthful and strong as is Jacinto Bonilla at 77, or DeEtte Sauer at 75, but with the consistent application of enthusiastic exercise, you may soon be.

Jacinto Bonilla, The Mirthful Stud
Jacinto Bonilla, the CrossFit senior citizen who can kick ass

Jacinto Bonilla has an exercise mindset

Jacinto Bonilla is a CrossFit devotee who came to my attention in a CBS News article that gushed:

“For an hour, Bonilla keeps up with the repetitious CrossFit routine — jumping on a 24-inch box, doing handstand push-ups and climbing a 15-foot rope — all alongside gym members more than half his age”.


“Because I like it, I love it,” Bonilla said. “I want to stay out of the nursing home.”

He described his story a few years ago in the following six minute video, touching on this:

  • How he consistently applied himself to exercise until he achieved something noteworthy — a physical condition better than most men half his age.
  • How he came back from prostrate surgery, slowly but surely, and became better than before.


I’m not sharing Bonilla’s story to convince you to do CrossFit, but rather to apply his exercise mindset to whatever you want to achieve. Do this:

  • Routinely place yourself in the company of others who are actively in pursuit of the same or similar objective;
  • Arrange your life so you can consistently apply yourself to specific actions that you’ve determined will achieve your objective;
  • Be able to measure what you do — what can’t be measured can’t be managed; and
  • Have fun along the way.

That’s the Jacinto Bonilla mindset, and the one you can use to get what you want out of your life, just as swimmer DeEtte Sauer does.

DeEtte Sauer, Medal Winner
DeEtte Sauer, swimmer

DeEtte Sauer has an exercise mindset

DeEtte Sauer has more medals than Olympian Michael Phelps —  she has more than 50; he has 28, although to be fair to Mr. Phelps, his were earned on a bit of a larger stage, or should we say, pool.

I learned about of Ms. Sauer through an article entitled, Living Stronger: 75-year old swimmer inspiring others with her drive and passion, which reported that six days a week at 5:30 AM this 75-year-old swims a total of 120 laps at a Houston aquatic center.

Now, if you’re thinking, “Screw that… I could never do it!”, then your mindset needs adjustment.

Yes, perhaps you couldn’t do that now, nor wouldn’t want to given that in this moment the commitment of time and effort overwhelmingly exceeds any expectation of benefit.

The same was true for Sauer, who admits that when she first started swimming, she felt like a fish out of water.

“It was horrible, I quit in the middle of the first lap,” she said. “And I was swimming with my head out of the water so my hair wouldn’t get wet.

But she persevered; in fact, by the time she got her feet wet in the pool, DeEtte Sauer already was on the way to transforming her mindset.

In her 40s, Sauer was obese, tipping the scale at 250 pounds. It took a long time to get that heavy, but just a moment to begin the turnaround journey, which, fittingly, happened on the water.

She was on a family vacation. There was a small boat she was supposed to sit in to join the others for some fun, but she literally could not fit into it.

That was her pivotal moment.

Embarrassed, right there, right then, DeEtte Sauers decided to do something about her health. She changed her diet and started exercising.

Against the overwhelming odds created by entrenched habits formed by an unyielding mindset, she managed to lose 100 pounds in less than a year.

She has competed in the last eight National Senior Games, an Olympic-style competition for more than 10,000 seniors.  At 58 years young, she won a medal.

DeEtte Sauers cultivated a new exercise mindset that made her into a champion swimmer rather late in life. Asked if she thought she would ever give up swimming, she said:

“It will have to be taken away from me. I am not going to give it up.”

Which begs the question relative to whatever is holding you back from what you want:

“Which mindset that sets the course of your life are you unwilling to give up — the one that holds you back, or the one that let’s you soar?”


Got A Minute For Exercise?

Now that you’ve been exposed to two exemplar examples of the right exercise mindset for achieving what you want, what are you willing to do to get that body of yours working better?

The two basic decisions you need to make when choosing an exercise regime are:

  1. How much effort, and
  2. How much time.

I’m going to show you exercise routines of these durations:

  • Seven minutes
  • Five minutes
  • Two minutes
  • One minute

The intensity you bring to them is up to you.

I suggest that if you’re in decent shape and accustomed to sometimes “puttin the petal to the metal”, then attack the following routines with all the muster you can gather. But first become familiar with them by  taking it slow until the movements are ingrained a bit.

If you apply yourself at a steady, but not intense pace, you will be able to do more cycles (aka, sets or rotations) and thereby train your muscles to do the movements appropriately.  Once that’s done, you can ramp up the intensity such that your workload will be substantial even if the exercise time is shorter.

Your Seven Minute Exercise Routine

If you’ve read my article, How To Get Lean and Muscular, you may recall this quote by Chris Jordan, the director of exercise physiology at the Human Performance Institute in Orlando, FL, who said:

“There’s very good evidence” that high-intensity interval training provides “many of the fitness benefits of prolonged endurance training but in much less time.”

These are the 7-minute workout exercises, but feel free to substitute others that cover the same muscle groups:

This video may be helpful:


Your Five Minute Exercise Routine

If seven minutes is too long, how about five?

In this case, we get to be guided by the irrepressible Adonis, Jeff Cavaliere:

Even if you exercise regularly, some of those moves that Jeff Cavaliere demonstrates may be awkward to do, so slow the tempo down, way down, at first, and then gradually speed it up. As you speed it up, the intensity amps up as well.

For a short workout to be beneficial, the intensity needs to be there.  Think sprint versus marathon.

Your Two Minute Exercise Routine

This one is demonstrated by personal trainer Chris Evz. I often do this, or a similar two-minute routine, as the “THEN” part of my “IF/THEN” fallback.

When you have a plan to do something regularly with the aim to achieve some goal, you need a contingency fallback when something unavoidable disrupts the proverbial apple cart.

The idea is that IF such-and-such happens (whereby you can’t do what you’re supposed to), THEN you’ll do this (something specific as a substitute action).

There are times when I’m scheduled to do an hour’s worth of exercise and something unavoidable and insurmountable occurs.  Something like, “I don’t feel like it!”

My response to such formidable resistance is not to remain on the couch, but to deploy the IF/THEN lazy ass disrupter, such as this:

Your One Minute Exercise Routine

If you don’t have any more time than one minute, you’re in luck.  One minute of exercise makes a difference, but there’s a catch:

You’ll have to do the one minute session several times throughout the day!

I think this is perfect for the so-called “knowledge worker” who sits all day.  As “they” say, “sitting is the new smoking

6 ways killing will kill you

Here’s what to do:

  • Choose two or three exercises from among those presented above that you can do in one minute.
  • Set a timer to go off every hour for eight or more hours.
  • When the timer chimes, stand up and do the exercises.
  • The following day, choose a group of exercises that workout different groups of muscles, or the same ones in different ways.

You’ll be surprised at how these short one-minute intervals add up in terms of fatiguing whatever muscles you’re working out.

If you need a bigger push to push away from the desk and move throughout the day, and if my sitting is the new smoking is unconvincing — then check out these two articles from the New York Times:

Is Sitting A Lethal Activity

Sitting Increases the Risk of Dying Early



Your Exercise Mindset Takeaway

Remember these three things:

  1. Realize that whatever’s “bad” is in your life occurred (at least in part) because your mindset allowed and/or enabled it.  Given that, to create something “good” requires a reset of your mindset.
  2. One of the best things you can do for yourself is to apply the appropriate “can do” mindset to put yourself on a regular exercise routine.  Choose the minimal amount that you’re willing to do to accomplish your aims, and then do it.
  3. If you’re allergic to exercise, let your homeopathic remedy be a tiny dose of exercise every hour for at least eight times per day. It can be as simple as walking around the office or house to start. Sitting all day not only reduces your likely lifespan, but makes the last decade or two quite pathetic.

Questions or comments?

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Last Updated on September 29, 2022 by Joe Garma

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Joe Garma

I help people live with more vitality and strength. I'm a big believer in sustainability, and am a bit nutty about optimizing my diet, supplements, hormones and exercise. To get exclusive Updates, tips and be on your way to a stronger, more youthful body, join my weekly Newsletter. You can also find me on LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram.

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