‘Eating alone will not keep a man well. He must also exercise”
Exercise as a prescription for health and disease prevention has roots that began in antiquity more than two millennia ago.
Susruta of India was the first “recorded” physician to prescribe moderate daily exercise, Hippocrates of Greece was the first “recorded” physician to provide a written exercise prescription for a patient suffering from health problems associated with obesity, diabetes, and inactivity.
Back in the day (400 B.C), doctor’s main goal was to keep people healthy. They knew that diet and exercise were the best ways to do that.
Fast forward to today’s doctors visits. Due to the rise in ‘sick care’ our doctor’s primary focus has shifted away from diet and lifestyle to treating disease.
Now, more than every, the onus is on us to take care of out bodies. Exercise as medicine.
Despite public awareness on the health benefits of regular exercise, only 20% of Americans get the recommended amounts. Moreover, over 50% of the baby boomers report doing no exercise whatsoever, and a whopping 80.2 million Americans over age 6 are entirely inactive.
These grim numbers where recently reported and published in the latest special edition of Time Magazine ‘The Science of Exercise’.
Good news is, anyone can change their health status for the better. Your genes are not your destiny.
A recent study in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, reported that researchers took 10 pairs of male identical twins in their 30s. Each pair had similar eating and lifestyle habits except that one in each pair had stopped exercising regularly in adulthood. After just 3 sedentary years, they begun to develop insulin resistance (precursor to Diabetes type 2), had more body fat and lower endurance.
Same set of genes, different outcomes. Just a shift from being active to sedentary.
Sure, we can all get busy, however, understanding the power of exercise, may be all it takes to put your work down for a quick workout instead.
Save time and get the best results possible – Learn the best workouts for best results below.
Take a goal-orientated approach and match your goals with your workouts.
If you want more energy….do any kind of exercise 3 to 4 times per week
Researchers from University of Georgia demonstrate that only 20 minutes a day is all that’s needed to improve energy in as little as 4 weeks! The study authors found that only low to moderate intensity was all that’s needed to reap these benefits (exercise like biking, walking, and strength training).
How this works
- Exercise evens out your fluids and salt balance, using the available sugar in the bloodstream and burns fat.
- Physical exercise increases the size and number of your mitochondria, the energy centers in your cell.
If you want to limit your doctor’s visits…..count your steps with a Fitbit
Tim Church, a professor at Louisiana State University’s Pennington Biomedical Research Center recommends 7,000 steps a day to really improve your health.
How this works
- Increases blood flow to the brain and releases chemicals to improve mood and dull pain.
- Protects telomeres, the tiny end caps on your chromosomes that appear to slow the aging of cells.
If you want to ease chronic health problems….see a pro and go slow
Those with ongoing health problems may feel it’s safer to avoid exercise, however experts advise otherwise.
Stella Volpe the chair of the department of nutrition science at Drexel University recommends to avoid injury and burnout, begin slowly, “Start with 10 minutes, or even 5, several times a week. You want to build strength and endurance over the course of several months.”
How this works
- Exercise eases the symptoms of many chronic conditions, such as arthritis. It can even reverse high blood pressure and diabetes type 2.
- It can reduce pain by delivering blood flow to the area and feel good hormones like endorphins.
If you’re trying to lose weight (or keep it off)….combine strength training and cardio
Cedric Bryant, the chief science officer of the American Council on Exercise recommends a combination of aerobic exercise and strength training.
Best to find a strategy that you like and can keep doing for the long term.
Also important to ‘change it up’ as you change to avoid health and fitness stalls as your body adapts to your current exercise regime.
How this works
- Aerobic exercise burns calories that would otherwise be stored as extra pounds.
- Strength training builds and preserves muscle mass, allowing you to burn fat at rest. Very helpful during menopause when metabolism tends to slow down. Think of muscle as your best anti aging tool.
- Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise a week. But if you do high intensity workouts, like running or spinning, you can cut that amount to half.
- Do at least 2 weekly strength training sessions as well by lifting weights or body weight exercises like Pilates, yoga or resistance exercise (think planks and push ups). You can perform a great workout using just an exercise ball and maybe some bands.
- If you want to combine aerobic exercises with strength training, for weight loss, best to save the aerobic part to after your strength training. Only 20 minutes of both are needed in this case for a total of 40 minutes (not including your 5 minute warm up and 10 minutes of stretching on either side)
If you want to be less stressed or depressed…..exercise regularly – but not too hard
Bradley Cardinal, co-director of the Sport and Exercise Psychology Lab at Oregon State University says, “The real reason to get excited about exercise is because it makes you feel great”.
Women who engage in regular physical exercise tend to be less stressed, less anxious and have higher self esteem than those who do not.
How this works
- Exercise takes you out of your head (aka troubles) and into the movement. It is harder to worry when you’re holding a yoga pose or hitting something (like kickboxing).
- Exercise increase mood enhancing brain chemicals such as serotonin and dopamine, while lowering the levels of stress hormones like cortisol.
No time to exercise? The miracle 1 min exercise study
Meet Martan Gibala. He’s the exercise researcher out of McMaster University Ontario and author of The One Minute Workout.
Dedicated to prove how little time people really need to spend exercising, while reaping extraordinary health benefits.
One of his studies, where he compared the benefits seen in people who did a 1 minute workout to those who spend a full 45 minute one.
Showed these remarkable results:
Both the 1 minute activity and the 45 minutes one where found to be of equal benefit!
Holy, moly! Less time, same results!
He is quoted to say, ‘I continue to be surprised and amazed by the potency of this type of training.”
His research has shown that if people work out hard for short bursts of time, they can have similar health improvements as if they did a longer workout (45 minutes to 1 hour).
The KEY? Exert yourself at your highest possible level during the active intervals.
Basically, you need to push as hard as you can. Take a quick breather and go again. For full benefit, 30 minutes seems to be the magic number. However, science demonstrates that even 1 minute of hard exercise really makes a difference.
Researchers at Karolinska Institute in Sweden have taken biopsies of people doing high intensity interval training (HIIT) and found that when muscles are stressed during extreme exercise, certain chemical channels in muscle cells that regulate calcium are broken down. Since calcium is important for cell signalling, extreme exercise can urge the cell to adjust how it produces energy and make it become more efficient.
HIIT is then an ideal way to get the health induced benefits of exercise in the shortest period of time.
Don’t like HIIT workouts? Do ‘interval walking’. Increase the pace for a bit, then lower it for a bit.
It’s actually that easy.
The truth about Weight Loss (this may shock you)
When it comes to weight loss, do you think a better strategy is to ‘eat less and exercise more’ or ‘eat more and exercise more’?
Well, it’s a bit of both.
The KEY is to emphasize either eating less and moving more or eating more and moving more,on one given day.
You can also play with eating less and moving less (like while traveling) and eating more while moving less (boosting metabolism).
I’ve written about this strategy here
My advice is to just keep it simple and don’t take on more than you can handle. Taking on too much at one time has proven for most to lead to a complete halt to all efforts and subsequent weight loss stalls.
Instead, consider these tips as your guide to slim, strong, and sustainable.
Focus on diet first, then exercise next
You can’t out exercise a bad diet. For those embarking on a weight loss regime you can stick to, choose diet first, exercise next.
Multiple studies have proven a diet that trains the body to use fat as fuel instead of sugar all the time, will yield the best ‘weight loss’ benefits.
Take for example the ever popular Ketogenic Diet. Individuals are reporting steady weight loss with little (if any) risks or drawbacks.
A ketogenic diet is a diet low in carbs, with moderate protein and slightly higher in fat. A ketogenic diet done right emphasizes lots of fibrous, non starchy carbs as it’s carbohydrate source with high quality proteins and fats.
A word of advice – make sure you go in and out of ketosis by ‘carb cycling’. If not, it can lead to future hormonal imbalances.
Which is exactly why I incorporated this strategy into my Slim, Strong and Sexy Diet Plan.
The Slim, Strong and Sexy Diet has a proven track record with my clients where they enjoy steady weight loss with incredible health rewards.
You can find it here Eat to Get Slim, Strong and Sexy for Summer
Clients report an average of 1-2 pounds of weight loss per week when done right.
Once diet is on point, combine diet and exercise for long term results
A meta analysis of studies in the journal Health Technology Assessment found that the combination of diet and moderate exercise for people on long term programs yields the best results.
Cardio burns calories, but resistance training helps you drop fat, while maintaining or building muscle.
If you’ve been on the treadmill trying to lose weight, my best advice is to focus more on resistance training with some cardio.
Exercise to maintain your weight loss
Studies have shown that people who stay on a regular exercise plan are nearly twice as likely to keep the pounds from creeping back on, according to the American Journal of Preventative Medicine. Other research shows that 90% of people who have kept off 30 pounds or more do 1 hour of exercise a day.
For those struggling to keep on an exercise regime, focus more on how it makes you feel than a sense of deprivation.
Being consistent with your exercise routine will allow you to stay lean for life.
Which is what we all want, right?
If you’ve enjoyed this article and found your best workout, please leave a comment below. I’d love to hear from you.
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Need quick to make recipes that get you slim and feed you family well. Go here for 30 free downloadable recipes (you’ll find the ones I use as my pre workout snacks for my best workouts)