Health and Wellness

Elon Musk: 'I wouldn't exercise at all if I could' — inside his personal wellness routine


While some of Elon Musk's pursuits in the area of brain health and technology may seem surreal, his personal health and fitness habits are pretty relatable.

"The older I get, the harder [it is] to stay lean, that's for sure," the Tesla CEO said on a recent episode of "The Joe Rogan Experience" podcast.

In the interview, the 48-year-old billionaire added that he likes eating "tasty food" and wishes he could do without exercise. Here's what else Musk said he does:

He lifts weights but doesn't love the treadmill

Musk said he's been living in Boca Chica Village, Texas while he works on SpaceX's next generation rocket, Starship, which is designed to go to Mars and the moon.

Besides working, "I don't have much to do," Musk told Rogan (presumably before X Æ A-12, his son with Claire Boucher, aka Grimes, was born on Monday). So, he told Rogan, he's had more time to exercise — even though he's not a fan. 

"To be totally frank, I wouldn't exercise at all if I could," Musk said. "I prefer not to exercise." 

While Musk has a personal trainer, he admitted that it's been "a while" since they worked out together. Instead he said he "lifts some weights" on his own.

Many successful people, like Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and even White House advisor and immunologist Anthony Fauci, swear by running for mental clarity and stress relief. But Musk said he doesn't "love running."

When Musk does go for a run on the treadmill, he likes to watch TV. "Maybe watch a show that you know if there's a compelling show that like pulls you in," he said.

In terms of Musk's other active interests, he told Rogan, who is a martial artist, that he's dabbled in Taekwondo, karate, judo and Brazilian jiu-jitsu.

Musk added that he sent his kids to jiu-jitsu from the age of 6. (In addition to the new baby Musk has five sons with his first wife, Justine Musk: twins Griffin and Xavier, 16, plus triplets Damian, Saxon and Kai, 14.)

Tasty food over healthy food

Musk's unconventional approach to food raised eyebrows in the past.

"If there was a way that I could not eat so I could work more, I would not eat," he said in the 2015 book, "Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future" by Ashlee Vance.

There was a period in his college years when he purposefully only spent $1 CAD on food a day, eating foods like hot dogs, peppers, oranges and pasta.  

Nowadays, he has a different view. "Food's great," Musk said on the podcast.

"I'd rather eat tasty food and live a shorter life," he said. (Don't tell his mother, Maye Musk, who had a long career as a registered dietitian.)

Musk, however, is still mindful of weight gain and its effects on other factors, such as the strength of your immune system. "Being overweight is a big deal," he said.

A tip for better sleep

Some billionaires, like Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos, rely on seven or eight hours of sleep a night to stay productive and focused. 

Musk, on the other hand, sometimes works 80 to 90 hours a week, which doesn't leave much time for shut-eye. In a 2018 New York Times interview, he said that it's "often a choice of no sleep or Ambien," referring to the sleep medication.

Still, Musk shared "a useful bit of advice" with regards to sleep quality.

"Eating before you go to bed is a real bad idea, and actually negatively affects your sleep," he said on the podcast. (Indeed, eating before bed can cause heartburn because your food isn't able to properly digest. This sensation can also impact the quality of sleep you're able to get, so you wake up more tired.)

Musk said that he avoids alcohol and food at least two to three hours before bed.

"Your quality of sleep will improve, and your general health will improve a lot," he said. "It's a big deal."

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