Exercise for health and weight loss – they’re different!
Energy in, energy out, right? Wrong! As we’re learning with everything, it isn’t the quantity, but the quality. That goes for both food and exercise.
You don’t need exercise just to lose weight, you need it to keep your muscles working in good condition, especially as you age. Your metabolism needs you to exercise, your heart needs it, your lungs need it, your lymph system needs it, your mood needs it. It’s critical to your health and immunity. Whether you exercise and how you exercise will influence how you age and probably how you die.
First a reminder that the ‘No pain no gain’ philosophy should stay buried in the 80s. It isn’t useful or healthy. You need to build your muscles up slowly in measured steps because as they grow, your transport system of veins and capillaries need to develop with them to feed the new tissue. Be kind to your body and give your muscles fair time to develop their support system.
What is healthy exercise?
Most exercise is healthy, but the real benefit comes from a combination of exercises. Your body is a complex network of systems, and you need to exercise to support all the systems, not just one or two.
Weight-bearing exercise builds and maintains your bone health and has a slight aerobic effect. If you do no other exercise for your old age, do this.
Aerobic exercise is important for your heart and circulation. It gets your blood pumping, oxygen flowing and increases your yummy feel-good hormones. Walking hard and swimming or cycling are excellent options as they are gentler on your joints.
Stretching exercise as you wake up is a best practice. It activates your lymph drainage system and ‘wakes up’ your hormones in a good way. Combine that with stretching workouts like pilates once or twice a week and you develop a muscle infrastructure that protects your bone structure and joints. Yoga adds a calming dimension to your routine and is indispensable for someone who is stressed or has insomnia or mental health issues. Weekly yoga sessions should be part of your routine if you’re aiming at optimal health. Stretching generally maintains your flexibility, and the breathing exercises in yoga assist with hormone rebalancing, so that you can handle stress better.
Bouncing is excellent for lymph drainage and therefore immunity. 10 minutes of gentle bouncing on a trampoline with your feet not leaving the trampoline will stimulate the action of your lymph system.
Weight loss – what’s the best way to get there?
Once you’ve built up your fitness to a level that can sustain it, Tabata produces above-average results in a short time of very high intensity exercise.
Tabata consists of 8 sets of 20 seconds each of any exercise of your choice, followed by a 10 second break. You do as many reps of the exercise as you can in those 20 seconds, really pushing yourself, and resting for no more than 10 seconds between sets. In four minutes of Tabata your body gets the benefits of a full cardio workout, so replacing a full workout with a Tabata workout once or twice a week is beneficial from a timing, fitness and weight loss point of view, but it isn’t for newbies – you need to be in good shape to do it. There are Tabata apps to guide your timing.
What is unhealthy exercise?
Anything that hurts your joints or muscles is a no-no. Listen to your body’s messages. You can push, but never to the point of pain. The only time you should work through pain in exercise is when you are in medical therapy for a diagnosed condition and you are under professional supervision.
Also avoid exercising too frequently. You need two or three off days a week for your muscles to recover from weight-bearing or aerobic exercise.
Nutritional tips for sustained energy
A tablespoon of MCT oil 20 minutes before you exercise will give you an energy boost to sustain you through a workout. But be careful because taking it too late in the day could cause insomnia.
Eat real foods in their natural form for optimal health
Nutritional tips to aid recovery
Heavy exercise induces slight tears in your muscles that re-heal as the muscles build. In this process chemicals are expressed and converted, so you benefit if you have all the nutritional building blocks your muscles need to repair the damage these tears cause.
L-glutamine taken after exercise will help muscle recovery
Vitamin C, resveratrol and curcumin are antioxidants that help mop up the free radical byproducts (supplements are okay, but stress real food, especially uncooked vegetables or fruit for Vitamin C).
A good natural protein will help the muscles grow and recover.
Gelatine provides collagen building blocks for joints and muscles. You can add gelatine to any warm drinks, soups and stews.
Replace ordinary salt with pink Himalayan salt. It has a far broader mineral base than Table Salt which you will need to replace minerals that are lost in perspiration.
If exercise is fun, it’s more sustainable, so have fun!