It’s March, and our Health Step for this month is exercise. Whether you engage in an organized exercise class, walk, or do gardening and housework, an active lifestyle has many benefits. Exercise accounts for about 20 percent of the health benefits reaped from a healthy lifestyle. The remaining 80 percent hinges on proper nutrition.
What are the benefits of exercise?
1. Exercise promotes healthy insulin levels.
Researchers have found that exercise activates certain compounds that help burn calories and fat, and others that help stabilize blood sugar. Keeping your weight under control and exercising regularly helps maintain healthy glucose and insulin levels, thereby preventing many of the chronic diseases attributed to insulin resistance.
2. Exercise is good for your brain.
Raise your IQ! Aerobic exercise has been known to reverse memory decline in the elderly and increase growth rate of new brain cells in the brain’s memory center. The newest findings make it undeniably clear that there is a link between exercise and brain health. Your brain will resist physical shrinkage and maintain cognitive flexibility with regular exercise.
3. Avoid heart disease and cancer.
Heart disease and cancer are two of the top killers of Americans, and exercise can effectively help prevent the onset of both, primarily by driving down your insulin levels. High blood sugar and insulin levels contribute to inflammation, which has been linked to many of our degenerative diseases. Exercise also helps lower your estrogen levels, which explains why it appears to be particularly potent against breast cancer.
4. Other benefits of exercise include helping to control depression and blood pressure, weight control, arthritis, slowing down aging process, building strong bones, and boosting energy.
5 Principles of Exercise
There are as many ways to exercise as there are ways to cook an egg! It is important that you don’t eat fried eggs every day – in other words, add some variety to your exercise routines. Continue to challenge yourself with more difficult routines as you get stronger. Let’s look at some of the different types of exercise, each one beneficial and necessary to a well-rounded fitness plan.
The following exercise advice is provided by Dr. Joseph Mercola (www.mercola.com):
1) Interval (Anaerobic) Training: This really is aerobic and anaerobic, but the research shows that the anaerobic phase if far more important. The BEST way to condition your heart and burn fat is NOT to jog or walk steadily for an hour. Instead, it’s to alternate short bursts of high-intensity exercise with gentle recovery periods. This type of exercise, known as interval training or burst type training, can dramatically improve your cardiovascular fitness and fat-burning capabilities.
Another major benefit of this approach is that it radically decreases the amount of time you spend exercising, while giving you even more benefits. For example, intermittent sprinting produces high levels of chemical compounds called catecholamines, which allow more fat to be burned from under your skin within the exercising muscles. The resulting increase in fat oxidation increases weight loss. So, short bursts of activity done at a very high intensity can help you reach your optimal weight and level of fitness, in a shorter amount of time.
It also promotes the production of human growth hormone (HGH), known as “the fitness hormone,” which can help you add youthful vigor to your years, in addition to promoting weight loss and improved muscle building.
2) Aerobic: Jogging, using an elliptical machine, and walking fast are all examples of aerobic exercise, which will increase the amount of oxygen in your blood and increase endorphins, which act as natural painkillers. Aerobic exercise also activates your immune system, helps your heart pump blood more efficiently, and increases your stamina over time.
Just don’t make the mistake of using aerobic as your primary or only form of exercise, as you’ll forgo many of the most potent health benefits exercise has to offer if you do…
3) Strength Training: Rounding out your exercise program with a 1-set strength training routine will ensure that you’re really optimizing the possible health benefits of a regular exercise program. You need enough repetitions to exhaust your muscles. The weight should be heavy enough that this can be done in fewer than 12 repetitions, yet light enough to do a minimum of four repetitions. It is also important NOT to exercise the same muscle groups every day. They need at least two days of rest to recover, repair and rebuild.
4) Core Exercises: Your body has 29 core muscles located mostly in your back, abdomen and pelvis. This group of muscles provides the foundation for movement throughout your entire body, and strengthening them can help protect and support your back, make your spine and body less prone to injury and help you gain greater balance and stability.
5) Stretching: Pilates and yoga are great for strengthening core muscles as well as stretching and toning muscles and attaining proper alignment.
Exercise Tips for Those with Chronic Health Problems
Remember that even if you’re chronically ill, exercise can be a potent ally. That said, if you have cancer or any other chronic disease, you will of course need to tailor your exercise routine to your individual scenario, taking into account your stamina and current health. For example, you may at times need to exercise at a lower intensity, or for shorter durations, but do make a concerted effort to keep yourself moving. Even cancer patients should aim for a minimum of 2.5 hours of exercise a week, at moderate intensity, to boost their chances of successful recovery.
Always listen to your body and if you feel you need a break, take time to rest. But even exercising for just a few minutes a day is better than not exercising at all.
In the event you are suffering from a weakened immune system, you may want to exercise in your home instead of visiting a public gym. But remember that exercise will ultimately help to boost your immune system, so it’s very important to continue with your program, even if you suffer from chronic illness or cancer.
**We wish you success with your third Health Step for 2014. Get out there and just move! If you have any questions, please call our office. Better yet, make an appointment for your personalized nutritional analysis and be confident you are doing the right things to attain optimal health this year.