Increased Muscle, Increased Metabolism, Reduced Body Fat and Prevented Muscular Dystrophy

Muscle drives your metabolism; it is your body's most meta-bolically active tissue. You can't lose with increased muscle and metabolism, unless you are referring to the loss of body fat. More muscle burns more calories, and a calorie is a unit of measurement that tells you how much energy a particular food provides to your body. Excess calories not needed as fuel are stored as fat. Continuing the same level of activity—or non-activity—will increase your ratio of body fat to muscle. You can reverse this process with proper exercise and sound eating habits.

Your body stores blood sugar, or glucose, in your bloodstream and also in your liver and muscles. Consume less sugar, and you will naturally reduce the glucose levels in your bloodstream, liver, and muscles. Your body will burn glucose, or blood sugar, its preferred energy source, before it starts to burn body lat. Exercise, along with proper nutrition, results in your body using fat as fuel more quickly during your workout.

Your muscles are always in a state of flux—growing and shrinking, For instance, dieters who don't get enough nutrition, namely protein, will experience muscle breakdown, particularly between meals. The faster the weight loss, the greater the loss of protein. Your body will adapt to the lower calorie intake and respond with a slower metabolism. Eventually, you will stop losing weight and your body composition will shift to a ratio of less muscle and more fat. You can break this unhealthy cycle. Weight training can restore muscle tissue that has been lost over the years; proper nutrition, especially the right amount of proteins (such as chicken, beef, fish, and eggs; and plant protein sources including various nuts and seeds, grains, vegetables, and legumes particularly soybeans) and complex carbohydrates (such as vegetables, oatmeal, potatoes, rice, and pasta), will help to build and protect your muscles. The quickest way to lose weight, and keep it off, is to build muscle, which, in turn, speeds up your metabolism.

Exercising with weights works to build muscle by forcing your body to heal the damage to muscle cells that your efforts create. Your muscles rebuild with protein to make the cells stronger. Exercising the large muscle groups, such as the gluteus, legs (hamstrings and quadriceps), chest (pectorals), and back, with progressively greater resistance has the most potential for restoring lean body weight and raising the metabolism, even hours after exercise. Aerobic exercise burns fat during exercise; on the other hand, anaerobic exercise, such as strength training, utilizes fat for hours after exercise.

You have to exercise to create an upward spiral of health, strength, and vigor. Your most powerful exercise strategy for optimal health must include a combination of weight training and aerobic exercise. While aerobic exercise serves to strengthen your heart and lungs, activities such as brisk walking, running, and swimming are not sufficient by themselves to prevent sarcopenia and muscular dystrophy. Only exercises with progressively challenging resistance will increase muscle mass, actually many of the symptoms of aging can be prevented or reversed by counteracting decreasing levels of natural human growth hormone (HGH), which plays an important role in the regulation of muscle mass, bone density, and metabolism. In addition to diet and sleep patterns, resistance training is probably the largest contributor to growth hormone release in case of muscular dystrophy.


What Is the Best Exercise and which Types of Exercise Is the Most Appropriate for You

You should realize that there are several types of exercise and that each fills a individual need. It's also important to make out that while we all share the same minimum daily requirement for exercise; different "doses" of physical activity may best suit different individuals, and then should know which types of exercise is the most appropriate for you. Exercise physiologists classify exercise based on how your muscle fibers are put to work and how your heart and movement respond to that work. But physiology won't help you find your way through the maze of exercise programs that may point you to a gym, a track, or a yoga class. To get where you belong, consider five distinct types of exercise in more practical terms.

Strength training (also known as resistance exercise) builds muscle mass and power and increases bone calcium content and strength. Strength training uses free weights, resistance machines, calisthenics, or rubber tubes and metal springs to improve muscles and bones.

Flexibility training is an important complement to resistance training. As muscles grow stronger, they get staffer, tighter, and shorter. Age takes some of the spring from elastic tissue, making muscles, tendons, and ligaments stiff and tight. Stretching will help; it improves flexibility, thus reducing the risk of injury and improving performance and function during exercise and daily life.

Exercises for balance are often overlooked. Indeed, smooth and graceful young athletes have no need for activities devoted to building balance and improving coordination. But check in with them again in a few years. Age takes a toll on balance, but special exercises can help. Good balance and coordination will help you glide through exercise and sports participation and will substantially reduce your risk of falling.

Speed training doesn't have a chapter in this book. It's an important tool for competitive athletes who need to attain maximum acceleration and speed, but it can do more harm than good when it comes to health. Unless you are training for top-level competition, there is no reason for you to push your body to its oxygen-deprived anaerobic maximum. Still, we can learn an important lesson from the men and women who coach top athletes. They use a technique called interval training, whereby the athlete alternates periods of maximum effort (sprinting, for example) with periods of modest intensity (jogging or walking, for example). If you're like most of us, there is no need for you to sprint—but you can build your endurance by varying the intensity of your exercise, jacking it up for a time, and then throttling back to recover before repeating the cycle. You'll also benefit from varying you activities and by alternating longer or harder sessions with shorter or easier ones.

You need resistance training for your muscles and bones, flexibility training for your muscles and joints, and balance exercises for your coordination and equilibrium. But how about your heart and circulation, your metabolism, and your muscular endurance? To improve these vital functions, you need dynamic or endurance exercise. Until now, that's meant aerobic training. The doctrine of aerobics calls for you to put your large muscle groups to work continuously in a rhythmic, repetitive fashion for prolonged periods of time. The goal of these types of exercise is to push your heart toward its maximum without actually putting your pedal all the way to the floor. In practice, that means raising your heart rate to 70 to 85 percent of maximum and holding it there for twenty to sixty minutes. Long-distance running, swimming, and biking are prime examples of aerobic exercise, so aerobic training is the best way to improve cardiopulmonary fitness, and it's an excellent way to promote health. On a personal note, it's what helped me overcome a heritage of cardiovascular disease and premature death some thirty years ago, and it's been a boon to thousands of people who run for their lives. Without disputing the merits of aerobics, we should consider an alternative approach. These types of exercise are not as good at improving the cardiovascular fitness that athletes prize so highly, but it's a great way to improve health.

The Physical Benefits of Exercise in Protecting You from Diabetes and Obesity

Over eighteen million Americans have diabetes. They shouldn't. Although heredity plays a role in the disease, most patients with the general form of diabetes have themselves to blame, not their parents. Guilt is not the issue, but health is. Diabetes can lead to heart attacks, strokes, blindness, kidney failure, amputations, and early death. Various studies show that regular exercise cuts the risk of diabetes by 16 to 50 percent. Moderate exercise, such as walking, will give you lots of protection, but this is one area in which more exercise is even better. In the University of Pennsylvania College Alumni Study, for example, the risk of diabetes was reduced by 6 percent with every five hundred calories burned up in exercise per week.

You can find out if you have diabetes by taking a simple blood test, the fasting blood sugar. Values of 100 mg/dL or lower are normal, levels above 126 mg/dL indicate diabetes, and scores between 100 and 126 reflect increased risk. But even if your fasting blood sugar is normal, you should take steps to keep it that way—and exercise plays a crucial role. It promotes weight loss, but it can even help folks who remain overweight. But the most important physiologic benefit of exercise is to increase tissue sensitivity to insulin so more sugar enters cells even though the pancreas puts out less insulin. And this important metabolic asset persists for up to twenty-four hours after a single exercise session.

Obesity is a terrible health hazard, actually weight-loss therapy may be a more effective solution in the control of diabetes than the routine lifestyle change. As our waistlines expand, our wallets empty to purchase a bewildering variety of diet books, special foods, and unregulated diet pills and potions. Everyone who shells out for a quick fix is headed for disappointment. Don't fall for the weight-loss shell game. There is no quick fix. Instead, weight loss requires a long-term commitment to diet and exercise.

To lose weight, you need to burn up more calories than you take in. The math is unforgiving, the progress slow, and the lifestyle changes substantial. But it works. The National Weight Control Registry maintains a roster of people who have succeeded where so many fail. About four thousand Americans are on the list. On average, they have lost sixty-seven pounds each and have kept it off for more than five years. How did they win at the losing game? Their methods vary, but a few themes are common: adhering to low-fat, calorie-restricted menus; eating breakfast; weighing themselves regularly; and getting lots of exercise, typically by walking for an hour a day.

If you are one of the 30 percent of Americans who are overweight, one of the 30 percent who are obese, one of the 5 percent who are very obese, you'll consider three facts about exercise and body fat:

1.  Even without dieting, exercises can help. A 2000 Canadian study, for example, found that volunteers who participated in an exercise program without changing their diets lost an average of sixteen pounds in twelve weeks. That took about an hour of daily exercise. But you can do as well or better with half as much exercise if you also cut your calories.

2. Exercise is most effective at reducing abdominal fat. And when you reduce abdominal obesity with exercise (and diet), you'll earn the metabolic benefits that reduce your risk of diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and other illnesses.

3. When it comes to exercise for weight loss, more is better. It's just a case of the math: burn more calories, lose more weight. keep in mind though, that you will undo your gains if you eat more. Fortunately, exercise itself won't make that happen; if anything, physical activity is more likely to reduce your appetite than to stimulate it. Remember, people who perform steady, moderate exercise are more likely to lose weight than people who burn the same number of calories with briefer, more intense bursts of action.

The Physical Benefits of Exercise in Cancer Prevention

Cancer, the nation-wide’s next leading killer, is not only one illness. Exercise has clear benefit against some major malignancies and possible advantage against others, but it offers no defense against many cancers. About 1,373,000 Americans will be diagnosed with cancer every year, and some 570,000 will die from the disease. Physically active individuals have a lower overall risk of cancer than their sedentary peers. In part, this may be explained by the fact that active people tend to have healthy lifestyles; eating well, avoiding tobacco and excess alcohol, and getting regular preventive checkups all help fight cancer. But there are also biological explanations for the benefits of exercise.

Most important, exercise reduces body fat, and obesity is a major contributor to many malignancies. Exercise also appears to reduce the body's production of various growth factors, proteins that may promote the multiplication of malignant cells. Physical activity also lowers levels of insulin, another potential growth promoter. Other hormonal effects help explain how exercise reduces the risk of breast cancer and how it may protect against certain reproductive tract malignancies. Other possibilities include potential antioxidant and immune-enhancing properties of exercise, but these remain speculative.

The evidence is best for colon cancer. More than fifty studies from around the world show that physically active people are less likely to develop colon cancer than inactive individuals. The protection is substantial, amounting to a 30 to 40 percent reduction in risk. And as in the case of heart disease, moderate exercise will confer excellent benefits.

Breast cancer is the other big target of physical activity. More than sixty studies suggest that women who exercise regularly can expect a 20 to 30 percent reduction in the chance of getting breast cancer. Considering that about 213,000 Americans will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year, that's a big benefit—and it applies about equally to pre- and postmenopausal women. And a 2005 Harvard study of 2,987 women with breast cancer linked moderate exercise, such as walking for twenty-five to forty-five minutes a day, to a substantial improvement in survival.

Exercise may help prevent breast cancer by reducing estrogen levels and/or decreasing tissue responsiveness to the female hormone. Moderate exercise will confer most of the benefit, but intensive exercise appears to add some additional protection. Like the breast, the female reproductive organs are estrogen-responsive, and several studies suggest that women who exercise may have a reduced risk of cancer of the uterus, but not the ovaries.

The prostate is also a hormone-responsive organ, but in this case, the driving force is testosterone, the major male sex hormone. Prostate cancer displays much more clinical variability than most other malignancies, and investigations of exercise and prostate cancer have produced widely varied results. Some suggest protection from modest exercise (such as walking), others indicate benefit only from very intense exercise, while still others cannot detect any link. More study is needed.

Incomplete evidence is also the watchword for lung cancer and pancreatic cancer, with several studies hinting that exercise can help. Lung cancer is common, pancreatic cancer uncommon—but since both are deadly, even a little protection would be welcome indeed. And although exercise may not prevent or treat other malignancies, cancer specialists have learned that appropriate levels of physical activity can help rehabilitate cancer patients, improving energy, self-confidence, and overall well-being.

The Physical Benefits of Exercise in Maintaining Your Nervous System and Mental Function

The brain and body are undividable parts of the human organism, and both benefits from exercise. Health is the vital principle of bliss. Regular work out fights hopelessness and dissipates anxiety, and improves the quality of sleep.  The repetitive routine of activities, such as walking, jogging, and swimming functions as muscular meditation, share some of the benefits of psychological meditation.

Although the data are less complete, sexual function also appears to benefit. The result is a better mood, improved performance at work and at home, and increased self-esteem. Scientists are still working to understand how exercise improves mental function. Part of the benefit may be purely psychological, the natural result of feeling more energetic and looking better. Hormones may also play a role, since exercise reduces stress hormones and boosts the production and release of endorphins,, the body's own pain-reducing hormones that have been linked to the so-called runner's high. And a small study suggests that exercise may also help nerves carry their messages to and from the brain faster. Research is also uncovering an additional neurological benefit of regular exercise: a reduced risk of cognitive decline (dementia), particularly in old age.

Exercise promotes emotional and psychological well-being by fighting depression, dissipating anxiety, and improving sleep. That should help mental function—and there is more. Animal studies show that exercise can increase blood flow to the brain and enhance communication between nerve cells by promoting new connections (synapses) between brain cells. A study of mice even found that running increased the production and survival of new nerve cells in the aging rodents' brains. More than forty thousand elderly Americans, Canadians, and Europeans have all linked regular physical activity with a reduced risk of cognitive decline in the "golden years." As compared with the least active people, those who got the most exercise were 15 to 50 percent less likely to suffer from mental impairment. In one study, for every mile a woman walked each day, her risk of cognitive decline dropped by 13 percent. In a study from Cleveland, regular exercise between the ages of twenty and sixty was linked to a nearly fourfold reduction in the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease in old age. Researchers in Baltimore also reported that people who carry a gene that increases risk for Alzheimer's disease enjoy the most protection from exercise. So in case you've forgotten, the moral is simple: for your mind as well as your body, remember to exercise regularly. It's another case of new research confirming old insights; in this case the strength of mind is exercise, not rest.

The Physical Benefits of Exercise in Accelerating Your Metabolism

Exercise will speed up your metabolism, the harder you exercise, the more energy you use. Lying quietly in bed, a 150-pound person will burn about seventy-five calories an hour. even though the brain uses about 20 percent of the body's energy, mental work won't increase that significantly. So, alas, reading this book won't help you lose weight. In contrast, a top athlete can burn fourteen hundred calories in an hour of maximum exertion. Ordinary people, of course, may not work that hard, but reasonable exercise will increase your metabolic rate by four to six times, vigorous exercise by more. The most obvious metabolic benefit of usual exercise is weight control.

If you exercise regularly, you'll burn away body fat—but only if you use up more energy than you take in. The key to weight loss is a "C" word, but despite America's latest dietary fad, it's not carbs but calories. The math is simple but unyielding. To reduce, you must burn up more calories than you consume. In nearly every case, sustained weight control depends on eating less and exercising more. The more you exercise, the more wiggle room in your diet.

Exercise training will also improve your blood cholesterol profile. It will lower your LDL ("bad") cholesterol and boost your HDL ("good") cholesterol. Over time, walking just a mile a day will produce helpful gains, but the more you exercise, the more your HDL will rise. That's particularly important, since the marvelous statin drugs and most other medications that lower LDL levels are not very good at raising HDL levels. Most people can expect moderate exercise to boost their HDL levels by at least 5 percent, thus reducing the risk of heart attack by more than 15 percent. Exercise will also lower levels of triglycerides, a less dangerous but still important form of blood fat. A good diet and successful weight control will augment the beneficial effects of exercise. Healthy people should aim for an LDL level below 130 mg/dL, but people with other risk factors, such as diabetes or high blood pressure, should aim to get below 100 mg/dL, and people with active coronary artery disease should set their sights on 70 mg/dL or even less. The lower the better, but sharp reductions usually require medications in addition to diet and exercise. Men should try to boost their HDL levels above 40 mg/dL, women above 45 mg/dL, the higher mean the better.

Exercise also has positive effects on glucose (sugar) metabolism. It makes tissues more sensitive and responsive to insulin, the hormone that allows glucose to move from the blood into the body's cells, where it can be burned for energy. The result is a sharply lower risk of diabetes, a major health hazard that is rising at a worrisome rate in our sedentary, increasingly obese society. Pasting blood sugar levels of 100 mg/dL or less are considered normal, levels of 126 mg/dL or more indicate diabetes, and values between the two suggest an increased risk of developing diabetes.

The Physical Benefits of Exercise in Promoting Muscle Building, Strengthening Lung and Maintaining Muscle Health

Strong muscular function is the clearest requirement for exercise, and enhanced muscular ability is the most obvious benefit of regular exercise. Obvious or not, there is extra to your muscles than meets the eye.

Similar to all living tissue, muscle cells require oxygen; they get it from a rich network of tiny blood vessels called capillaries. They also need power which is produced by thousands of tiny factories called mitochondria. The mitochondria are packed with enzymes that convert glucose (sugar) from the blood into energy; they can also generate energy from glycogen (a starch) stored right in the muscles themselves, and they can burn fat.

Muscles improve with regular use, but the type of exercise you perform determines the type of improvement. Exercises such as walking or biking increase your muscles' blood supply, energy stores, and mitochondrial activity. The result is better oxygen uptake and a much more efficient metabolism; you'll recognize it as improved endurance. In contrast, exercises such as weight lifting increase the size and power of individual muscle cells, increasing the bulk and strength of your muscles. Whereas your circulation and metabolism will benefit when you use any part of your body, individual muscles improve only when they are put to work. In addition, as muscles become stronger, they get shorter and tighter. You can overcome both problems by planning a balanced program that includes regular stretching.

When you exercise, your breathing gets deeper and faster. If you push yourself to the limit, you'll be panting and gasping for air. As you get into shape, you'll be able to do much more exercise with less respiratory effort—you'll "get your wind." Surprisingly, though, your lungs don't deserve any of the credit. In fact, the lung is one of the few human organs that does not improve with exercise training. The reason: your lungs have such a large excess capacity that they do not have to improve to meet the demands of exercise. In fact, you could get along perfectly well with just one lung, even getting enough oxygen to permit vigorous exercise. Intense exercise produces breathlessness because tissues aren't getting enough oxygen and they are producing excessive amounts of carbon dioxide and acid. Regular exercise improves your wind without changing your lungs because it boosts your heart's ability to pump oxygen-rich blood and it enhances your muscles' ability to extract and use that oxygen.

Your bones are much more than passive supporting structures like the girders on a high-rise. Your body's 206 bones are metallically active living tissues. Even after you've stopped growing, your bones are constantly reconstructing themselves by resorbing old bone and forming new tissue. At any one time, about seven percent of your body's bone is being remodeled.

During youth, bone formation outpaces bone resorption— that's how we grow. In our twenties and thirties, the two processes are balanced and bones are at their strongest, containing about two and a half pounds of calcium in the average adult. But beyond age forty or so, bone tissue is removed faster than it is restored; in particular, menopause accelerates the net loss of bone calcium in women. In about thirty-four million Americans, the result is osteopenia (low bone calcium), and in another ten million, the result is osteoporosis, a potentially debilitating disorder which is characterized by thin, brittle bones that tend to fracture quite easily. You can help keep your bones strong by getting enough calcium and vitamin D in your diet and by staying away from tobacco and excessive amounts of alcohol. And exercise helps by slowing the rate of bone resorption. But to strengthen your bones, you'll need special types of exercises, weight-bearing and/or resistance exercise.
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