The Healthy Executive

How Much Health is ‘Enough’ ?

Health Buffer Recently I got the flu while traveling, and that got me to wondering: how much health is ‘enough’?

It’s easy to say that perfect health means rarely being sick, and that poor health means rarely feeling well. Is there a happy medium between these two poles? That is, ‘enough’ health? Can we measure where we fall on the spectrum?

It turns out the answer is yes.

health-dictionaryAbout 75% of my executive clients are interested in ‘enough’ health to increase their productivity and energy and immunity. Just 3-5 simple adjustments to their nutrition and fitness can put them in the top 15% of their peer cohort (85th percentile). I’ll address how to define ‘enough’ health in a moment.

About 25% of my clients are in interested in elite levels of health and fitness. Their goal is to be in the top 5% of their peer cohort (95th+ percentile). This requires more advanced techniques such as optimizing oxygen and below I outline an O2 self-experiment I am testing.

enoughHow much health is ‘enough’ depends on how you define health and its purpose. Possible ways to define ‘enough’ include:

  1. Sufficient energy to be productive at work as well as enjoy socializing and recreation.
  2. The margin (or buffer) between demands on our personal energy and our energy reservoir.
  3. A physiological state in which there is an absence of disease or pathology and that maintains the necessary biologic balance between stress and recovery states.
  4. A psychological state of well-being and positive behavioral responses to nutrition, exercise, and medical care.
  5. A state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.

When I got the flu, I realized that if you combine the above definitions, health can be viewed in a large part as the ‘cushion’ or ‘margin’ between wellness and being sick.

So how can we assess or predict our health ‘cushion’ or ‘margin’?

In simple terms our health can be defined as the interplay between our nutrition and fitness:

Health = Nutrition x Fitness + Other Factors 

This interplay has a significant effect on our ‘cushion’ or ‘margin’ against being sick. As you can see from the table below, poor eating and activity habits lead to decreasing health margins over time. And even eating and moving ‘mostly’ right gives us only a slight margin against sickness.

The good news is that just 4 improvements and getting nutrition and exercise right 85% of the time can profoundly improve our margin against sickness, and improve our health and wellness over time.

Nutritionx Fitness = HealthMargin Against Being Sick 
50%50%25%Decreasing Over Time
75%75%56%Very Slight Margin
85%85%72%Increasing Over Time

The Healthy Executive system maximizes health on all fronts: energy, productivity, social, strength, stamina, immunity, and longevity. This is achieved by objectively measuring your personal parameters including your:

  • Nutrition (caloric balance, macronutrients, micronutrients)
  • Fitness (strength, body-fat, lean muscle mass, aerobic capacity)
  • Recovery (stress, sleep, hormones, health psychology)Executive Energy and Personal Performance

Also published on Medium.

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