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Physiological Benefits of Exercise

If you’re not already exercising on a regular basis, you may be missing out on many of  the physiological benefits.  There are physiological effects on the body you can only get from exercise.  Diet alone won’t provide these benefits, however, you won’t get the full benefits of exercise without good nutrition.

The Science of Fitness
We all know the health benefits exercise has such as improving cardiovascular health, lowering blood pressure, reducing the risk of diabetes, etc. I recently came across an article in the NY Times Magazine titled Weighing the Evidence on Exercise.  In this article they dive into the science exercise plays in weight loss.  The one thing the article does mentions, which health and fitness professionals have been saying all along, is that exercise alone will not make you thin and without proper diet, you won’t succeed.

What the article does mention as does several other studies, is the impact exercise has on our metabolism.  Science Daily reported a recent study performed by a team led by Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) researchers has developed the first “chemical snapshot” of the metabolic effects of exercise.  In their study, the researchers found that several changes, including those reflecting increased fat metabolism, were more pronounced in participants who were more fit.

For those who exercise consistently on a regular basis, studies show that exercise counters weight regain.  This is due to the metabolic effect exercise has on the body.

Burning fat through Exercise
Exercise also has an effect on how the body stores and uses food as fuel.  Is your body burning fat for fuel, carbohydrates for fuel, or both?  Ideally, we want to become fat burning machines and the way you exercise determines if your body uses fat, sugar or carbohydrates for fuel.

In a paper published in The Journal of Physiology, researchers shed light on fat oxidation during exercise and physical activity.  During exercise and physical activity, the primary fuels used by muscles are carbohydrate and fat. According to the research, when mild exercise is performed there is a tendency to burn relatively more fat and less glucose, but as exercise becomes more intense,  higher energy demands of the muscle are supplied by glucose, until at the highest intensities almost only carbohydrates are used.

Metabolic Bursts
Studies have showed that short bursts of exercise boosts metabolism. Interval training also burns fat and improves fitness more quickly than constant but moderately intensive physical activity.   This type of training is known as H.I.I.T. (High Intensity Interval Training), Burst Training or Plyometric Training.  If your reason for not exercising is because you don’t have the time, all you need is to do are short bursts of exercise for 3-5 minutes to get the metabolic and cardiovascular benefits you’re missing out on.   An example of this type of training is Sprinting. No need to spend endless amounts of time doing long, boring, cardio sessions.

Muscle up With Weight
Strength training burns fat and builds lean muscle mass and increases resting metabolic rate.  Strength training is the best way to replace body fat with muscle, giving your body shape. Strength training will help prevent muscle loss as we age.   It also increases bone, muscle, tendon and ligament strength, and improves joint function.

Get Your Workout On!
So, what does all this mean?  First of all, there really is not excuse to not have time to exercise.  If you think you need to spend hours at a time in the gym, think again.  None of the studies suggest that you need to spend hours at a time exercising in order to achieve the physiological benefits you get from exercise.  It also doesn’t suggest that you need to spend hours doing long, boring cardio sessions.

What you should be exercising on a consistent basis as the more fit you are, the better your body will metabolize fat.  Look to exercise 2-4 days a week anywhere from 30-60 minutes per session.

The research is clear. Exercise to boost your metabolism and burn fat. For optimal health and fitness, you want to incorporate strength training exercise to build lean muscle mass and incorporate short bursts along with a healthy diet.

No more excuses.  Get your workout on!

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  2. By emt training | Reply

    Pretty nice post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed browsing your blog posts. In any case I’ll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you write again soon!

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  2. May 19, 2012: The Cardio Myth |

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