Exercise 101- myths and truths clarified- part 1 of many!

The Benefits of Exercise
Exercise does so many good things for you, both physically and mentally, and you don’t need much to start getting benefits. Even a few minutes a day can improve your health, well-being and help you:
• Lose weight
• Reduce stress
• Relieve symptoms of depression and anxiety
• Reduce your risk of heart disease and certain types of cancer
• Boost your mood
• Give you more energy
• Help you sleep better
• Increase bone density
• Strengthen the heart and lungs
• Improve your quality of life

When and type

The type of exercise you choose will of course be dependent on your goals, which should take into account your current health and age..
But when is the best time to exercise? The best time is first thing in the morning on an empty stomach after drinking 16 to 24oz of water in order to prevent dehydration.
When performed at this time you naturally burn 300% more body fat that at any other time in the day because your body does not have any glycogen (stored carbohydrates-sugar) in the system to burn. It therefore has to go directly into the fat stores in order to get the energy necessary to complete the activity. Also, your BMR (base metabolic rate) will be elevated for several hours!
The other time where aerobic exercise is effective is immediately after a weight training session. This is because it takes your body approximately anywhere between 20 to 30 minutes to start burning fat, and that is how long it takes the body to deplete its glycogen stores and switch to a fat burning environment.
**(Fat burning zone=220-(Your Age) x (.75) )
If you are not after burning fat, remember to stay in the training zone you need, whether it be recovery, aerobic or anaerobic. (Zones will be covered in another blog post)

Food breakdown

Glycogen/fat/proteins, here’s the 101 on that stuff:

• Carbohydrates. Carbohydrates — sugars and starches — are broken down by the body into glucose, which muscles use for energy. Excess carbs are stored in the liver and tissues as glycogen and released as needed. It’s glycogen that provides the energy for high-intensity exercise and prolonged endurance. Some good sources of carbohydrates are whole grain breads and cereals, fruit, vegetables, whole wheat pasta, and brown rice.
• Protein. Protein should be part of each of your major meals because it will help slow absorption of carbohydrates. Fish, eggs, chicken, meat, and beans are excellent sources of protein, and 3 ounces per meal is enough. Remember this, using the same protein source all the time can make your muscles soft. (Found that out the ‘hard way” when bodybuilding training, talk about frustrations!)
• Fat. You need some fat in your diet, too,. Low-fat dairy products, like 1 percent milk, and lean cuts of meat will give you the fat your body needs.

With all the different types of energy bars and pre-packaged protein bars etc. on the market, you might be tempted to think that the best fuel for fitness comes in a fancy, expensive package. However, unless you’re a professional athlete or training for an endurance activity (they were great when I did triathlons) you can find all the nutrients you need in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean cuts of meat. Be careful/thoughtful in your use of these products as there is a lot of nonsense being posted on the web by companies trying to get you to buy their products!  Ensure that the product is free of aspartame, sucralose, simple sugars, artificial flavors, colors, or any other artificial ingredients.

Ready, set, go!

Now when actually starting your work-outs remember:

1) Warm up: Begin an exercise program with a warm up for 5 to 10 minutes, BEFORE actually stretching. Easy walking is a good warm up.
Before I start my run, I walk the length of my street first, do a light stretch, then break into a slow jog for a ½ mile, then get into my run, then into my shuttle runs burpees etc, then do a recovery walk back to my start point. However I do tend to stretch after, and it is my recommendation.

2) Stretching reduces muscle stiffness and helps keep joints flexible. Never stretch muscles when they’re cold, as this can lead to injuring the muscle. Stretching cold muscle is kind of like stretching cold gum. Either stretch after a warm up or stretch after you exercise, when your muscles are warm and more conducive to stretching. However, if you plan to stretch only after your workout, increase the intensity of the activity more slowly than you would if you had stretched your muscles before exercising.

This is by no means an exhaustive blog- that would take too long and I think looking at individual specifics of exercising and exercise programs over several blogs will be better. I believe this is enough to get you started.
Remember, the best exercise is the one you actually do!

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