Benefits of Exercise – The Entire Mind & Body Wins
Whether you need to lose weight or not, a solid exercise program that incorporates many types of movement will enhance the quality and length of your life. I often tell weight loss patients that the notion of exercise is NOT just so that you can burn 200 calories. I ask you to exercise because the only way to truly find success in weight loss is to enhance sleep, calm, and cortisol control and all of this and more is achieved thru exercise. So lets really explore ALL of the benefits of exercise and begin to define TYPES of exercise and their individual benefits.
By introducing a moderate amount of exercise into your daily life, you can significantly improve your overall health, well-being and quality of life. The health benefits of exercise can be achieved by virtually everyone, regardless of age, weight or physical ability.
Benefits of Exercise:
- Manage your weight
- Intense exercise can raise our anaerobic threshold, which improves our ability to burn fat at rest.
- Strengthen your cardiovascular and respiratory systems
- Keep bones and muscles strong
- Exercise stimulates bone health by triggering osteoblast activity to make bones stronger thus preventing osteoporosis
- Removes toxins from fat stores
- Exercise with intensity induces sweat, which clears toxins from our body through the skin.
- Ease depression and help manage pain and stress
- Prevent and manage diabetes
- Exercise helps our insulin receptor work more efficiently thus reducing our chances of developing diabetes.
- Reduce the risk of cancer
- Sleep better
- Lack of sleep is directly correlated to risk of weight gain.
- Reduce cortisol which contributes to weight gain
- Exercise reduces stress hormones helping us to feel more calm. It actually makes our brain more resilient to the effects of stress.
- Cognitive improvement
- Exercise increases oxygen delivery to brain tissue allowing us to have greater mental stamina, more creativity of thought and promote greater problem solving ability.
- Exercise stimulates the production of an important brain protein called brain- derived neurotrophic factor that helps repair our brain from oxidative stress and reduce the risk of degenerative brain diseases.
Types of Exercise
Exercise can take on a multitude of appearances but in its essence it is any activity to places a physical demand on your body. Aerobic exercise is defined as any activity that increases oxygen demand and the common examples are jogging, swimming and bicycling. Aerobics is often further defined as beginning when your heart rate increases to 50% above you baseline. For example if you heart rate is 80 at rest then 50% of this would be 40, added back to your base of 80 means that aerobic exercise doesn’t begin until you have reached a heart rate of 120 beats per minute. Now first of all a resting heart rate of 80 tells me that you may not be in very good shape at the moment and if the thought of taking you heart rate to 120 sounds scary then take a deep breath and relax. We can do this in gradual steps. A properly conditioned body can maintain heart rates in the 190+ range but that is not our goal unless you are an elite athlete. Just understand that this is safe and beneficial when done gradually with a properly executed training program. Also take note that simply walking may not get your heart rate into a true “exercising” range but that is fine for now. Our goal is to start where you are comfortable and build from there.
Another form of exercise is termed Resistance exercise and encompasses anything that requires your muscles to move a heavy load in repetitive fashion. The load can be great or it can be small and the number of repetitions can be many or few depending on the load. There are countless options and variables that take the form of resistance exercise. It may be lifting dumbbells or barbells, pulling on elastic bands that offer resistance, calisthenics where you use your own body weight as the resistance, yoga, Pilates, plyometrics, functional training and more. Resistance training consistently shows a greater ability to burn fat for weight loss when compared to steady state aerobic training. The key however is to engage in both forms of exercise for the best results. Studies repeatedly show that we live longer, feel better, and function at a higher level when we engage in both forms of exercise over a lifetime.
A different form of exercise called Functional Training involves aerobic demands in a resistance setting. It incorporates the best of both worlds and presently represents the most effective form of exercise for the purpose of weight loss. In functional training you are to perform a given station of exercise for a prescribed period of time such as 45 seconds, without stopping. It is this prolonged “time under tension” that the muscle is exposed to that results in real gains in strength but also a physiologic demand that turns up the fat burn. We will discuss functional training in other articles.