Bethenny Frankel takes a relaxed approach when it comes to fitness. In fact, she chooses to prioritize sleep over physical activity.
The 51-year-old former Real Housewives of New York star recently shared her philosophy for staying fit on Instagram, posting a video response to a question posed by another user wondering how she stays "so thin."
"So, I don't exercise," says a bikini-clad Frankel from beneath the brim of a sun hat in the clip. "I do what I can when I can. I'll snowboard if I can, I'll surf if I can. I walk on the beach whenever I can, but I choose sleep first. Sleep is the number one priority and being happy is the number one priority."
Frankel is certainly onto something by prioritizing her rest, but sleep and exercise are both important parts of a healthy lifestyle, according to experts.
"Exercise and sleep are like peanut butter and jelly. They go hand in hand and they're going to be part of the pillars of health," Raj Dasgupta, M.D., F.A.A.S.M., who is a pulmonary, critical care, and sleep specialist as well as a spokesperson for and member of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, tells Shape.
"When we talk about, you know, trying to get that good sleep, what you do during the day definitely affects you at night and vice versa," continues Dr. Dasgupta. Good pillars of health include diet, exercise, sleep, and watching your weight, he says, referencing the American Heart Association's key measures of cardiovascular health. "They all go together."
Research also shows exercise and sleep actually have a complementary relationship. "Both sleep and exercise are main behaviors that contribute to physical and mental health," Kelly Glazer Baron, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist and an associate professor at the University of Utah, previously told Shape. For instance, a study published in 2013 co-authored by Glazer Baron found the proper amount of sleep (at least seven hours a night for adults) can help you have a better workout the next day. But exercising can also help you if you are seeking to improve your sleep, according to another study co-authored by Glazer Baron in 2011.
Of course, not everyone's lifestyle or body is the same. Over time, people learn what works for them, as Frankel can attest to, according to her recent post.
The reality TV star mentions that she "was always on a diet" in her thirties, but she's no longer interested in restricting what she eats. "[Now,] I eat what want but I don't ever binge. I don't work out, I don't do weights. I believe in balance. I believe in sleep. I believe in living," says Frankel in the video. "I believe in french fries. I believe in alcohol," she adds. What she doesn't believe in? Bootcamp-style workouts or "fear-based exercise," she says.
Frankel does engage in certain physical activities — such as walking on the beach and jumping in the ocean — because she likes them, she adds. (Read more: 6 Ways Walking Benefits Your Physical and Mental Health)
It's important to keep in mind that while this exact formula might work for Frankel, it may not be a fit for everyone. "She's talking about herself," says Dr. Dasgupta, referring to the video and noting he's happy that the lifestyle is working for her. "Everyone's needs are individualized."
If you're looking to balance your sleep and exercise more, it's all about taking small steps, says Dr. Dasgupta. For example, if you encourage yourself to do a little more walking, that may cascade into you cooking a balanced meal and in turn, getting better sleep at night. Whatever health and wellness routine you try, it's important to do what works best for you and remember sleep and exercise habits should be sustainable.