By Gavin Buehler
When you hear the term exercise, one of the first thoughts that typically comes to mind is something related to weight management. However, the direct effect of exercise on weight management is a small component. The overreaching effects that exercise has on multiple systems in our body combined is what influences the weight management component. Exercise is more like a lead domino that creates the right environment for weight management to occur. At F.I.T., we are strong advocates of physical activity, but not so much for the weight management aspect as the other overall health benefits.
In the interest of keeping these articles shorter and digestible, I’m going to split a few of the benefits I’d like to highlight over a three-part series. We’ll look at strength, metabolic health, cardiovascular health, pain management, brain function and sleep quality. Let’s get started with strength and metabolic health.
I am a big, big fan of strength work. I
will just scratch the surface with some of the benefits here.
“Longevity” and “health span,” are all the craze right now. No matter how you slice it, strength is a major factor for both. Studies have shown higher levels of strength (grip in particular) to be associated with a lower risk of all-cause mortality. Strength work creates more muscle mass which naturally declines as we age. The more we can retain, the more physical function we can maintain adding to our overall ability to stay healthy and have greater quality of life.
The muscular system also plays a major role in our metabolic health which helps regulate important things like blood sugar levels. Strength training exercises such as weightlifting, or bodyweight exercises can increase and/or maintain muscle size and strength. Resistance training has also been shown to increase bone density, which is particularly important as we age and the risk of osteoporosis increases.
Regular strength training stimulates the circulatory system helping to transport nutrients and shuttle out waste more frequently leading to healthier cellular function and body tissue. It can also help to reduce the risk of injury by improving balance, stability, and overall physical function.
The term metabolic is often used in a lot of conversations pertaining to health. I mean it sounds cool to have a “metabolic” workout, and bumps up the, “I know what the hell I’m talking about,” credibility level when thrown in a conversation, but I don’t think it’s well understood by most. So, I’m going to try to give you an understandable explanation.
Metabolic comes from metabolism which is the sum of ALL chemical reactions that occur in living organisms. Three main functions include converting energy from food into usable energy for cellular processes. For example, producing fuel we need for our muscles to work. Conversion of food into building blocks for proteins, some carbohydrates, lipids, and nucleic acids, which are all things we need for growth and repair. Third is the elimination of wastes produced from those “metabolic” reactions.
We can see how the demands of physical activity would stimulate and produce greater metabolic activity in the body. From needing energy conversion for muscles to work, to the need for cellular repair as well as the elimination of wastes produced from exercise such as carbon dioxide and water, physical work promotes metabolic activities in many different ways. All exercise is metabolic, not just the ones people say are “metabolic.” However, greater intensity workouts will generate a greater metabolic response.
Having a healthy metabolism means that your body can efficiently produce and manage all the chemical reactions needed, when they are needed to keep the body in homeostasis. Homeostasis is the state of balance among all the body systems needed for the body to survive and function correctly. When someone has a metabolic disorder or suffers from metabolic syndrome, their body’s metabolism has an inefficiency to manage the demands being placed on it for whatever reason.
Stimulating your metabolism on a regular basis through exercise keeps it healthy and able to regulate blood sugar levels, reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, and improve insulin sensitivity. Exercise can also help to improve cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of developing heart disease. In addition, increasing metabolic activity helps promote weight management.
That’s all for now. Check out the follow-up newsletter where we will touch on cardiovascular health and pain management.
I hope that you found this information helpful and as always, this article is for educational purposes only. Please consult a health professional before attempting new exercises or protocols, as the content of this article may or may not be appropriate for you.
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