Archive for the ‘Exercise Benefits’ Category

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Exercise Lowers Risk of Disease, Halts Aging

November 18, 2010
(Article first published as Exercise Shown to Lower Disease Risk, Slow Body Aging on Technorati.)

Did you ever think that exercise wasn’t good for your body and health? Most people feel rejuvenated after a good workout and it just makes sense that you’re lowering your risk of illness. While too much exercise (think marathon runners) has detrimental side effects, moderate doses of aerobic and resistance training is shown to lower the risk of developing more than two dozen diseases and can actually slow down the aging process.

Exercise Helps Your Body Fight Disease
Researchers reviewed more than 40 studies over the past four years and found that regular physical activity was repeatedly associated with lowered risk of cancer, heart disease, dementia, stroke, diabetes, depression, obesity and high blood pressure. The review published in the  International Journal of Clinical Practice demonstrated that next to not smoking, exercise is the most important lifestyle choice you can make to improve overall health. The report highlighted obesity, diet, smoking and physical activity as the most important factors that we can control to achieve optimal health.
Aim For 150 Minutes of Exercise Each Week

Most studies reviewed settled on 150 minutes of moderate exercise each week. The most cited example is taking a brisk walk for 30 minutes, 5 days a week. Also, mixing aerobic and resistance exercise on alternating days is suggested to work different body zones and receive the benefit of both exercise regimens. It’s important to continue exercise as you age as some research shows that the detrimental effects of aging can be slowed or even reversed with good physical fitness discipline.

Lowering Your Disease Risk Factors
The health benefits associated with exercise can be seen to affect many different conditions. It’s clear that we have evolved to be physically active as exercise impacts a wide range of diseases. Researchers have shown how regular exercise can lower disease risk and slow the aging process for specific conditions.

Coronary Heart Disease: Moderate exercise is associated with lowered risk of heart disease, heart attack and stroke. The Women’s Health Study demonstrated that exercise can reduce the risk of heart disease in women by 27 to 41% by improving cholesterol ratios and strengthening the heart muscle.

Overweight and Obesity: There is a natural correlation between physical activity and weight reduction. Aside from the additional calories burned through exercise, blood sugar and insulin resistance are also improved. This action lowers dangerous triglycerides and helps prevent metabolic syndrome that leads to diabetes and increased risk of heart attack.
Cancer: Walking or cycling for an hour each day has been shown to lower the risk of cancer by 16%. Some studies have shown a sharp reduction risk of colon cancer in both men and women, while men who avoid sitting at a desk all day are at much lower risk of developing prostate cancer.
Lack of physical activity causes a number of biochemical changes within our body that signal the onset of disease. Not only does regular exercise improve muscle tone, but it alters our metabolism toward health. Find a way to include 30 minutes of exercise at least five days a week to dramatically lower your risk of disease and slow the damaging effects of aging on your body.
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Best Exercise Plan for Weight Loss Success

November 5, 2010
(Article first published as Structured Exercise Program is Key to Weight Loss Success on Technorati.)

As anyone who has tried to lose weight can tell you, you must have a solid plan in place in order to be successful. And even then your chances of actually reaching your weight loss goal and keeping it off permanently are relatively slim. 

How you approach the whole process is much more important than counting each calorie and monitoring each step of the process. Once you’ve made the big decision to lose weight, joining a structured program and finding the right exercise regimen have been shown to help you reach your weight loss target.
Study Finds Structured Exercise is Important to Weight Loss Success
The results of a study published in the journal Obesity shows that participants who were part of a registered group that was provided with a structured fitness plan exercised an average of 42 minutes per day. They were compared to two control groups consisting of participants who had never been overweight who exercised for 26 minutes a day and a third group who were obese that engaged in 19 minutes of physical activity each day. In this study those who were part of a structured group exercised considerable longer than their non-structured peers.
Type of Exercise is Important to Weight Loss

Most people will choose between aerobic and resistance exercise to improve heart health and increase muscle tone. Any exercise that prompts you to get up and move will benefit your weight loss efforts. 

Walking at a fast pace is a great way to burn calories and increase cardiac performance. Walking is fun and most people find it easy to stick with a daily 30 minute walk. It’s important to understand that this type of exercise will burn approximately 125 calories that will result in slow weight loss as long as you don’t compensate with extra food.
Short Burst Resistance Exercise Gets Results

A new type of resistance training is rapidly becoming the exercise of choice for those trying to lose weight. Short burst exercises require you to exert yourself at your maximum potential for 60 to 90 seconds and then rest for 2 minutes. Repeat for 12 to 15 repetitions and be sure to cross train different parts of the body and muscle groups. 

This type of training can burn as many calories in 20 minutes as 30 to 40 minutes of aerobic conditioning. Try alternating aerobic conditioning and fast burst training on different days to obtain the best results.
Exercise provides an important catalyst to a reduced calorie diet, stress management and improved mindset for those people intent on losing weight. As with any significant goal, developing and committing to a plan are the keys to success. 
You can improve the odds that you’ll stick with a weight loss program by joining a structured group and choosing an aerobic or resistance exercise routine to improve your health and achieve your weight loss accomplishment.
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Diet and Exercise Promote Weight Loss

October 7, 2010

(Article first published as Using Diet and Exercise to Control Body Fat on Technorati.)

The food we eat provides the building blocks required for cellular construction as well as all metabolic and chemical reactions which our body performs to function in good health. In the same fashion, our diet and level of physical activity directly influence our hormones that determine if fat is stored or burned as fuel. Medical researchers now understand that where fat is stored in the body can determine risk of disease and how we can alter our diet to promote natural weight loss.

Fat Placement is a Risk Factor

Until recently, medical science has viewed our white fat cells as nothing more than an inert storage facility for extra calories. Research has debunked that theory by demonstrating that our fat is a viable organ within our body which is metabolically active, secreting and reacting to chemical messengers which influence our health and weight loss abilities.

The results of a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences show that the risk of metabolic disorder is heightened when fat is stored in the abdomen and significantly lowered when fat grows on the thighs or lower parts of the body. Interestingly the study authors found that abdominal fat grows by increasing the size of existing fat cells whereas fat cells multiply in number on the thighs and lower body. Abdominal fat is more dangerous to your health because the cells are stretched beyond their normal capacity, leading to metabolic dysfunction.

Using Food Balance to Control Fat Placement

Fortunately we can control where fat is placed on the body in several ways. The food we eat has a significant impact on fat storage and metabolism as we can choose both the quantity of food eaten as well as the nutritional composition of our diet. A diet high in refined carbohydrates which quickly break down into glucose and raise blood sugar causes excessive triglycerides in the blood. These blood fats must be cleared quickly after each meal and are converted to fat for storage on the belly.

Include Protein and Fat with Each Meal

The first step to controlling how and where fat is stored is to cut back or eliminate carbohydrate foods which trigger a rapid rise in blood sugar. All processed carbohydrates and sugar laden foods will initiate the cycle which results in abdominal fat storage. Substitute protein and fats from healthy nuts, seeds and minimally cooked meats. These foods don’t convert to glucose quickly and are much less likely to spike blood sugar and convert to fat.

Exercise Helps to Burn Fat as Fuel

Exercise is essential to good health, as it provides a catalyst to burn excess calories so they aren’t available to be stored as fat. When you exercise regularly, the body is conditioned to burn calories for fuel so they don’t end up as a source of body fat. Some amount of fat is essential to our health, and exercise encourages the formation of brown fat which is dissimilar to white belly fat because it promotes fat metabolism through a process known as thermogenesis.

The type of foods we eat provide metabolic cues to instruct our body how and where to store body fat. Eliminating junk carbohydrates and replacing them with lean protein and monounsaturated fat sources will blunt blood sugar swings and encourage fat metabolism. Exercise is necessary to provide the catalyst for caloric utilization which encourages ideal health and natural weight loss success.

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Using Diet and Exercise to Fuel Weight Loss

September 24, 2010

(Article first published as Controlling Diet and Exercise to Drive Weight Loss on Technorati.)

Many people begin a weight loss program with the best intentions. They reduce calories, exercise regularly and slowly begin to drop weight. After losing for a few weeks or months they hit a plateau which can have a psychologically devastating effect on their desire and ability to stay on track. Many people have difficulty making the proper food choices which will help them achieve their weight loss goal, and believe that because they exercise they can eat larger portions to compensate.

Altering Our Food Perception to Lose Weight
There are a variety of factors which influence the way we view food when trying to lose weight. Most people understand that burgers, fries and ice cream are all bad options individually, but when a healthy food item is added, dieters tend to believe that the total calorie count was somehow magically lowered. Adding a side of broccoli to a piece of fried steak makes it appear more acceptable even though the calories have increased.
Understanding ‘The Dieter’s Paradox’
Researchers call this misperception of mixing healthy and unhealthy foods ‘The Dieter’s Paradox’. The results of a study published in The Journal of Consumer Psychology explains the mindset behind combining foods which promote weight loss with calorie laden choices in participants trying to drop weight. People were shown a high calorie food and asked to estimate the calories. They were then shown the same food with a traditional diet food, such as steamed vegetables or a salad and asked to determine the calorie count.
When presented with the second option, they estimated 5 to 10% lower calories, even though there were clearly more total calories with the additional item. This type of research clearly shows there’s a disconnect occurring in our brain when making the correct choices for a healthy meal to promote weight loss. We see less food calories when even the smallest amount of healthy food is added to the meal.
Eating to Lose Weight

You can combat the natural tendency to underestimate food calories by planning your meals in advance, employ nutritional tracking software and maintaining a food diary. Weigh and measure every food item you prepare and keep track of daily calories and physical activity in your journal. You’ll quickly understand which foods contribute to your weight loss plateau. It’s important to understand that everybody will hit a plateau which can last a few days up to a month or more. This is normal, as your body adjusts to each new weight level. Be patient and your good efforts will be rewarded.

Regular Exercise Leads to Excess Calories Consumed
Everyone knows that regular exercise is vitally important to our health and assists in the weight loss process. The problem is we overestimate the number of calories actually burned through exercise and compensate by eating more food than we need. This is one of the most common mistakes people make when pursuing a weight loss lifestyle.
The best way to avoid eating too much when exercising is to fully understand how many calories you’re burning for each type of exercise. Walking is one of the most popular forms of physical activity, and you’ll burn around 125 calories in a moderately paced 30 minute period. While the exercise is great for your heart and muscles, you don’t need to take in any more calories to compensate. The best rule is to monitor your food diary, and avoid extra calories as a result of your physical activity.
When trying to lose weight, we’re faced with difficult decisions about proper food choices at every meal. Psychologically we perceive the addition of a healthy food item to our plate as a way to include fattening foods, as if they’ll calorically offset one another. We overestimate the number of calories burned through exercise and eat to make up the difference. The only way to avoid these mistakes and achieve your weight loss goal involves judicious tracking of all food eaten each day in a journal, being careful not to rely on exercise as an excuse to overeat.
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Is Diet or Exercise Best for Weight Loss?

September 20, 2010

(Article first published as Your Best Weight Loss Strategy: Diet or Exercise? on Technorati.)

We’ve been conditioned over the years to believe that the best way to lose weight is to sweat it off with rigorous exercise at the gym, and be mindful of what we eat. If that were entirely correct, we wouldn’t be tipping the scales of obesity as 45 million people spend more than $19 billion annually on gym memberships, a number that’s doubled over the past 20 years. The problem lies with the fact that human metabolism is highly efficient, and any excess calories are immediately stored as fat.

More Exercise Leads to More Eating

Despite our best intentions, we eat far more calories than we need at any given time to fuel our muscles and cells. Exercise does burn additional calories, but for many people it pales in comparison to the quantity of food they consume. As you exercise, your body sends the signal to eat more so you’ll have enough energy reserved for the next workout. Your next meal or high carb snack will be larger than necessary to compensate, and the excess calories are efficiently stored for future use.

Exercise is Not an Efficient Weight Loss Tool
Research generated by the Mayo Clinic and reported in Time Magazine concludes that exercise is a very inefficient way to drop excess pounds. Researchers found that intense exercise may actually cause weight gain, as test participants consumed more calories after exercise than they burned, resulting in leftover calories which the body typically stores as abdominal fat. It’s important to understand that exercise is still an essential part of human health, but should not be your primary weight loss tool.
Calorie Restricted Diet Delivers Weight Loss Results

The best strategy to drop weight is to eat a calorie restricted diet with 25% fewer calories than you presently consume each day. For many, this type of restriction will seem severe, so you’ll need to slowly work up to that level by eliminating 100 calories each day for a week. The next week, cut out another 100 calories until you hit the 25% reduction level. Most moderately active women should eat 1200 to 1500 calories per day, and men should target 1500 to 1800 calories to see significant weight loss results.

Exercise is Still Important
Regular physical activity is still vitally important, as multiple studies confirm that those who sit for 8 hours a day are most likely to develop heart disease, diabetes, cancer and die early from any cause. Stay active, and if you have a desk job that requires you to sit for long periods, get up and move around at least once every half hour. Establish a set amount of time for exercise into your daily schedule, at least 30 minutes on most days. Walking is a great activity which keeps your heart pumping and your muscles moving, but don’t plan to eat more afterward to compensate.
People begin exercising or sign up for a gym membership as a way to burn off excess fat, and subconsciously believe this will allow them to continue eating more calories than they need. For most individuals, the calories burned through moderate exercise don’t compensate for the super sized appetites experienced after a workout. While regular physical activity and stress reduction are required for optimal health, calorie restriction is by far the most effective weight loss tool.
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Exercise Easier and Lose Weight Faster

September 9, 2010

(Article first published as Tips to Exercise Easier, Lose Weight Faster on Technorati.)

Health conscious individuals understand the importance of regular exercise to assist natural weight loss goals and to improve all critical parameters of health. A well sculpted body is usually a sign of somebody who eats properly, stays healthy and has a long term investment in their own longevity. Many people find following a regular fitness program to be an arduous task, and quickly abandon their efforts and hopes for sustainable weight loss and long term health.
Exercise Drives Fat Loss and Improves Heart Health
The indisputable importance of regular exercise is underscored by a study published in the International Journal of Obesity which monitored the effects of high intensity exercise on a group of women for 15 weeks. Women who exercised the most were found to have significant reduction in total body fat and insulin resistance. 
While the study didn’t factor the powerful effects of a well balanced, reduced calorie diet into the results, it’s important to note that the combined effect of diet and exercise will result in increased fat metabolism and lowered blood sugar and insulin levels. It can be easier than you might imagine to incorporate physical activity into your daily routine, and the key is to make it simple and fun with these tips.
Tip 1: Keeping It Easy
You don’t have to choose the most difficult or intense exercise to reap the important fitness and fat loss benefits. Unless you’re training for a triathlon, experts suggest the best form of physical activity is walking. It’s natural, fun and how we’ve evolved to stay active and fit.
Depending on your starting fitness level, slowly work your way up to at least 30 minutes of walking each day or at least on 5 days of the week. Studies show that you’ll get the same health benefits if you break it into multiple 10 minute sessions, and be sure to walk at a moderate pace to stimulate fat metabolism.
Tip 2: Work to Build Muscle
Exercise will appear to be easier when you have more muscle built throughout your body. Muscles provide the mechanics to power your body, so it’s important to build muscle tone to get more benefit from your workout. You don’t have to lift weights to build muscle, although free weights and weight machines are popular choices. Try walking while wearing ankle weights or swinging a pair of hand weights.
Tip 3: Clean the House or Mow the Lawn
Household chores qualify as a form of exercise which will assist in your weight reduction and health improvement efforts. Try mowing the lawn, weeding, mopping a dirty floor or vacuuming. Everyday tasks can work your muscles and burn as many calories as a structured exercise routine.
Tip 4: Use the Buddy System
Soliciting the help of a friend or family member is one of the best ways to keep your exercise fun and exciting, and also provides the critical motivation to keep you moving. Either exercise together, or talk about your accomplishments several times a week.
Regular exercise provides critical health benefits which are essential to your long term health and weight loss goals. Medical researchers regularly report the importance of moderate levels of physical activity on fat metabolism and heart health. Following these tips will help you to stay motivated and active so you can reap the significant health and weight loss rewards afforded by a regular exercise program.
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Top Weight Loss Myths

September 7, 2010
(Article first published as Top Fitness Myths That Prevent Weight Loss on Technorati.)

Fitness myths are as common as old wives tales, and can have a detrimental effect on how well you’re able to reach and maintain your weight loss goal. Once we’ve heard the same mistruths time and again, we tend to accept them as correct, even though they may have a detrimental effect on health and weight reduction efforts. While some of this advice is harmless, it’s always best to defer to relevant information presented by researchers who have studied the effects that physical fitness has on fat metabolism and your health.

25% of Americans Are Now Obese
The fact that one quarter of all Americans are now obese is a staggering number, with dire health consequences for the next decade and beyond. Information published in The New York Times indicates that nearly 2.5 million more people fell into the obese category in the past two years, making this the largest and quickest increase on record.
Lack of Physical Activity to Blame

Two of the most controllable elements which drive weight loss are diet and exercise. With the power of mind and attitude, we’re able to control the amount and type of foods we eat through thoughtful planning, and can limit couch potato time by making the trade off for regular daily exercise. The key to successful weight loss is combining proper diet with the right type of physical activity. You’ll be able to maximize the effectiveness of your workout and weight reduction plan by sorting through the most common fitness myths.

Myth 1: Running is Better Than Walking
The fact is that a runner and a walker covering the same distance will burn about the same number of calories. The important thing to keep in mind is that you get out and move your body. Weight reduction is not a race, and losing weight at a slow pace (no more than 1 to 2 pounds per week) is the best way to allow your body to easily adjust, preventing your metabolism from stalling in an attempt to preserve body mass.
Myth 2: Exercising More Leads to Eating More
Research shows that exercise has no effect on a person’s hunger. Further, exercise has been shown to suppress appetite both during and after a workout. The problem is that many people let their mind take control, compelling them to eat more because they believe they need the extra calories to compensate for the activity. Use mind over matter to avoid taking in too many calories after a workout.
Myth 3: All Calories Are Created Equal

Technically, a calorie is a measurement of energy and all calories require the same amount of energy to burn. Our body is not a machine though, and metabolizes food based on its source, protein, fat or carbohydrate. Proteins are complex structures and take much more time and energy to break down. 

Carbohydrates, and especially refined carbs from sugary junk foods are broken down immediately, used for energy and the balance is converted to fat and stored on the hips and abdomen. Always include healthy protein from nuts, seeds, whey or lean meats after your workout to assist muscle building and avoid excess fat storage.
There appears to be no end in sight to our obesity epidemic, as more Americans join the ranks and threaten their health and longevity. Physical fitness is an essential tool which can assist weight loss and reduce the risk of many diseases. Fitness myths abound which will derail your from the true benefits of exercise, and can help you to reach your weight goal quickly and efficiently.