From the top head to the tip of your toes, physical activity is what you need to be functioning at your best. When you exercise, you increase your intake of oxygen, and you make your body active in general. If you exercise regularly, you’ll be less mentally and physically tired as compared to how you’ll feel if you don’t. That’s because your brain requires a lot of oxygen to function at its best, and exercise gives you get oxygen — as well as recharging you in general and keeping you focused and energized.
The American Health Association states that physical inactivity is the main cause of most disease, while those who exercise regularly are the least susceptible to all types of disease — both communicable and noncommunicable. That’s because exercise boosts your immune system and helps to fight off disease. It also exercises your heart, which is the major muscle in your body, and reduces blood pressure, reduces insulin sensitivity, gives you a better oxygen supply throughout your body and makes your arteries more flexible. Finally, it also reduces your risk of breast and colon cancer.
Exercise also lowers the secretion of cortisol, which can help you “hang onto” fat. It releases endorphins, which are chemicals that make you feel good. They also reduce pain signals and
help make you calm.
Exercise is grouped into two categories, both aerobic and anaerobic. Anaerobic exercise means “without oxygen,” and encompasses the type of exercises that momentarily deplete oxygen at the cellular level. Weightlifting is a good type of anaerobic exercise. Pull-ups, situps, or short sprints are also good examples of anaerobic exercise. While not directly a “good” exercise for weight loss as compared to aerobic exercise (see below), anaerobic exercise is also important to weight loss because it helps burn fat by building muscle.
Aerobic exercise, by contrast, means exercise “with oxygen.” Aerobic exercise burns fat for energy and utilizes whole body activities that get oxygen circulating in the body. Biking, walking, dancing, swimming, jogging, and badminton are all good examples of aerobic exercise. Aerobic exercise is also particularly good for weight control.
How much exercise do you need to be healthy?
In general, you need about 20 to 30 minutes a day of vigorous exercise to be healthy. Roughly, your heart rate should be about 220 beats a minute minus your current body weight. Even if you can’t start at this level of activity, though, “something is better than nothing.” Start slowly if you have been sedentary, and then keep going. As you get stronger and better, your exercise activities will naturally pick up. You can even start with commitments to simple exercises like deep breathing if that’s all you can do at first, because simply getting in the habit will start you on your way to a good exercise program.
If you’re particularly new to exercise, start with aerobic exercise at first and then move on to including anaerobic exercise. Change your program and work out frequently to keep your body challenged so that it keeps responding to new challenges and therefore building muscles and stamina.
Dan Clay is a renowned Sydney personal trainer, boot camp instructor & real world fat loss expert. For more information on his boot camp, visit boot camp Sydney.