- Exercise is a key factor in health and weight loss
- Three types of activities: Aerobic Exercise, Strength Training and Flexibility Training
- Aerobic - increase your cardiovascular health:
- Moderate activity- raising your heart beat, but not near its maximum threshold;
- Vigorous activity- heart beats near the threshold for a period of time
- More massive your muscles, the more calories you burn
- Strength Training- lifting weights to increase muscle which is an active tissue. More muscle burns more fat
- Flexibility activities lengthen and stretch muscles to keep you limber and keep your body acting throughout its full range of motion
A guide to understanding how to train for your varying physical health goals
Most of us here at Life & Style are looking to improve our health, our body distribution from overweight to a healthy or athletic build and our physical fitness levels in one way or another. Exercise is a key factor in health and weight loss. While you can certainly lose weight without exercising, exercise not only helps you burn calories, it speeds up your metabolism and increases healthy lean mass.
When you look at various activities that we deem as exercise, you can break up the various activities available to you up into three types: Aerobic Exercise, Flexibility Training and Strength Training. Each of these 3 activities have their place in your overall health plan and can help lead you from unfit to athletic and healthy or whatever you may have set as your ultimate goal to improving your health or obtaining your peak physical health.
Aerobic exercise is, without a doubt, one of the best ways to help you increase your caloric deficit and increase your cardiovascular health and increase energy and stamina. When you're first starting, it sure looks intimidating, but getting started can be as simple as taking out your iPod and walking around the block; bottom line is… you have to start somewhere. Whether you jog, run, skip, dance, swim, play sports or like to jump around, you're working your body, building up a sweat and burning off calories. The FDA suggests that you get at least 30 minutes of moderate or vigorous activity a day, every day. Moderate activity includes walking briskly, hiking, playing golf, lawn work, bicycling less than 10 miles per hour; anything where you're raising your heart beat, but it isn't necessarily near its maximum threshold. Vigorous activity includes running or jogging at 5mph or more, swimming, heavy yard work (like chopping wood) and competitive sports; activities where your heart beats near the threshold for a period of time.
In general, measuring your heart beat with a monitor during your activity is recommended. However, a way to determine if you're working hard enough without measuring your heartbeats, is called the talk test. If you can be in the middle of your activity and still be able to talk normally or sing along to your tunes, chances are you need to step it up a notch. On the other hand, if you can hardly say a word without needing to gasp for a breath you may need to slow it down.
Weight training directly affects your ability to lose weight and maintain weight loss. Unlike fat, muscle is an active tissue. Every time you move your muscles, whether it's walking, lifting up a box, or typing on your computer, you burn calories. What that means, is that when your body has more muscle mass you have the ability to burn more calories even as you rest and perform daily activities. This is why men have a natural advantage over females when it comes to weight loss; at adolescence, men develop muscles, and the hormone testosterone, used to build muscles, become available. There is a myth that toning muscles will make women look bulky and masculine; toning your muscles can increase their size somewhat, but this will give you a lean and athletic look, bulking is a very specific process and it takes very long and purposeful training. Another main advantage of weight training is that weight training actually helps counteract the effects of aging on your bones and may help to thicken your existing bones, helping to stave off osteoporosis.
Although flexibility training doesn't immediately benefit weight loss, exercise is exercise and it all has a purpose and benefit to your body. Flexibility activities lengthens and stretches muscles which can help you prevent injuries, back pain, and improve your balance. A well-stretched muscle allows you the ability to achieve a full range of motion; improving your athletic performance, sports and fitness abilities and functional daily activities, such as reaching, bending, or stooping down during daily tasks. Stretching can be a great way to prepare your body for moving in the morning or a way to help you relax after a long day. Activities like yoga for example, combine some strength, stretching and relaxation, a wonderful combination that can also improve balance.
In general, the key advantage of flexibility training is the increase of flexibility itself. It is the ability to keep your body limber throughout your range of motion, to bend over and comfortably reach towards your toes, or helping bend, lengthen and twist your body in ways you did not know you could. It can help ease tension in your joints, ease the effect of joint issues and help prevent future joint-based illnesses.
Making sure that we include all three of these activities into our workouts will ensure proper overall health, strength and function of the body. One important thing to note is that experts no longer recommend stretching before an exercise begins. The latest research suggest that you start your workout routine with a dynamic warm-up, or motions that move you in a full range of motion before you start the specific routine or sport. This gets blood and oxygen flowing to the specific muscles you are working. After a 5 to 10 minutes of warming up, your muscles become supple making a good time to stretch them out. You can even do your flexibility exercises as a post-workout cool-down after strength and/or flexibility training, ensuring the body is already warm from the completed activities; making the muscles able to extend through their full range of motion.