We all know how important exercise is for maintaining lifelong health and vitality, particularly when it comes to cardiovascular and metabolic health. However, translating this knowledge into action can be extraordinarily challenging, especially at first. That is why our ears perked up when we heard about a “viral” workout method that was garnering a lot of attention on social media: the “3-2-8” method.

The 3-2-8 method essentially breaks down to three easily understood components:

  • Three strength or resistance workouts per week
  • Two lower impact workouts per week such as yoga, Pilates or barre
  • An average of at least 8,000 steps per day

This structure of exercise may seem simplistic, or maybe even too minimal to make a real impact. However, with exercise being such a vital aspect of a healthy lifestyle, any structure that eliminates the plentiful “barriers to entry” is a major win. So why is it that this method of exercise has captured the imagination (and motivation) of many who never previously thought of themselves as healthy or capable of athletic endeavors? The reasoning is multifaceted.

First, this framework allows for a great deal of flexibility on any given day. Don’t feel like lifting weights today? Great, take a 20-minute yoga class from home! Don’t feel like Pilates? Get out on a walk or jog around the neighborhood. Not into running? Excellent, do a 30-minute barre class with a friend. This flexibility results in more days deemed successes than failures, which also bolsters mental health!

Second, no expensive or specific equipment is needed, eliminating a major barrier for many working to incorporate a new exercise practice. Resistance work may consist of weight training, but it can also include air squats, planks, resistance bands or even lifting cans of soup from the pantry. Steps can include a stair stepper or treadmill, or it can simply be walking around your house or neighborhood. Yoga, Barre and Pilates no longer require expensive memberships to gyms and studios, as a growing abundance of free workouts exist online.

In addition to the reasons people are flocking to this structure of exercise, it is important to note the value of these specific exercise recommendations. The 3-2-8 method is valuable and advisable due to the science behind the exercise types it recommends! The combination of strength building, balance, cardiovascular conditioning, injury prevention, flexibility and stress reduction are a perfect formula for sustainably building the foundation for an active life and improved cardiometabolic health. In addition, we know that regular exercise has been shown to have a positive impact on mental health, which in turn has a positive impact on physical cardiovascular health.

So is the 3-2-8 Method the magic bullet? Of course not. In the long run, it is certainly lacking in the amount of vigorous physical activity recommended by the CDC per week and does not address the fact that vigorous physical activity decreases mortality rates more than low-intensity exercise; but it’s a great place to start. So if you are a person who struggles to get started in an exercise routine, craves structure but not expensive personal training, or simply needs somewhere to start, the 3-2-8 method may be a perfect way to build a strong foundation upon which to build a sustainable exercise routine.