Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

Three Important Facts to Help You Start a New Exercise Habit

ThinkstockPhotos-186871442-1.jpgIndividuals who are new to regular exercise, or those who are considering recommitting after a long hiatus, may have preconceived notions about what it takes to effectively reap the benefits of a new routine. For this reason, I want to establish a number of foundational principles and debunk some common myths surrounding fitness. Reworking your current schedule to include exercise can seem like a daunting task, but starting with a foundation of knowledge may help to quell the discouraging thoughts that make starting a new exercise habit so difficult.

Following are three important evidence-based facts about exercise and fitness.

1. Reaping the benefits of exercise does not require a large time commitment.

If your idea of exercise is a monotonous jog around the block or on the treadmill, you need to start defining exercise in broader terms. Long walks or runs are great if you enjoy them enough to complete them on a regular basis, but there are endless activities that can lead to similar benefits while requiring less exercise time. Vigorous-intensity exercise (exercising at 77 to 94% of maximum heart rate*) has been shown to have positive effects on cardiorespiratory and muscular fitness in bouts as short as 10 minutes. (*The Gelish equation to estimate maximum heart rate is HRmax = 207 – [0.7 x age].)

Examples of vigorous-intensity exercise include sprinting, swimming, boxing, jumping rope, dancing, bicycle sprinting, and a number of other exercises that can be performed at a gym or fitness center.

2. Working out at a gym does not require any more than basic knowledge and can lead to drastic results within weeks.

The benefits of consistent workouts are created by bodily adaptations triggered by a stimulus—the activity that you performed. While experienced weightlifters and endurance athletes require more advanced and intricate stimuli to produce more adaptations, those who are sedentary can expect to see significant gains in strength or aerobic capacity in a short amount of time when they start exercising regularly. This can make for an excellent motivating factor when starting an exercise habit.

3. There isn’t one type of exercise that’s mandatory in order to achieve positive results.

Purposeful exercise generally falls into one of two categories: resistance or endurance. However, many different activities straddle the lines between these two forms (such as CrossFit, High-Intensity Interval Training (HIT), boxing, gymnastics, and various other sports). All types of exercise have the potential to improve overall health.

Benefits of resistance training include increased resting metabolic rate (faster metabolism), improved insulin sensitivity, lower body-fat percentage, increased bone density, potential for slower cognitive decline, improved balance, and improved strength, mobility, and self-esteem. Endurance exercise has the potential to produce many of the same benefits while having a slightly more robust effect on cardiovascular health. This shows that even without choosing a specific activity, you can realize the rewards of exercise.

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Careful planning can be important for effective habit change, but sometimes too much thought can hinder your ability to implement change. The mind always seems to have a way of creating obstacles. Remember that physical activities can produce benefits in just a few short sessions per week, even when performed with just basic knowledge and in an unorganized way.

Hopefully this new knowledge will help you smash through your barriers and get moving!  Looking to add exercise to your workplace, click below for how to get started.  

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Topics: high-intensity workouts workouts resistance exercise habit strength

Weight Training for Women

Weight training for women has a common concern: engaging in resistance training may lead to “bulking up” or gaining significant amounts of muscle mass. But this is simply not the case. More likely, it will lead to weight loss.

Gender Affects Muscle MassThinkstockPhotos-116356254.jpg

First, I’d like to discuss the basic physiology of women that significantly debunks this concern. Imagine a healthy adult male specimen with an ideal amount of muscle mass. Compare that to a healthy adult female specimen. I’m sure most of you are imagining that the female is overall slightly smaller and has significantly less muscle mass than the male. What other differences are there between the two specimens? They have different reproductive systems. The male reproductive system, more specifically testosterone, is completely necessary for building significant amounts of muscle mass. Testosterone is an anabolic substance; without it, the human anatomy is dramatically less efficient at building muscle mass.

Testosterone Makes the Difference

Taking this into consideration, here’s another scenario. This time, instead of adult male and female specimens, imagine prepubescent male and female children engaging in an identical resistance training program. Theoretically, both children should have similar responses and gains from their training because neither is producing significant amounts of testosterone. Now imagine those same children of similar size and health entering puberty and continuing with their training. Along with the mood swings experienced with the influx of hormones, the male specimen brings testosterone into the equation. As these children continue with their identical resistance training programs, the male should begin building significantly more muscle mass and at a much faster rate, while the female experiences a response to the resistance training similar to the response she experienced prior to puberty.

Genetics Play a Role

I’m implying that if women engage in the same resistance program as men, it is very unlikely that they will experience the exact same response as men. That being said, I am also a firm believer in genetic individuality; certain individuals’ physiology may differ slightly compared to the usual. Although men typically produce more testosterone than women, women do still produce a lesser amount of testosterone from the ovaries and adrenal glands. It’s more than reasonable to assume that a certain percentage of the female population might produce higher than average amounts of testosterone. Although this is possible, it’s also certainly not the norm.

Increased Metabolism Enables Weight Loss

In either scenario, muscle mass requires energy in order to function, whether you are exercising or just moving around the house. Our bodies get this energy from calories, so an increase in muscle mass will lead to an increased rate at which we burn calories, or metabolic rate. Now with an increased metabolic rate, it becomes easier to lose weight!

It’s also important to keep in mind that muscle mass is a dense material and weighs substantially more than fat. Taking this into consideration, the scales won’t necessarily show the results at first. Stay patient and determined, because over time you will notice a physical difference.

Here are some more reasons women need strength training, and more thoughts on why the ultimate goal of weight training isn’t always bulking up, but can instead be a boost to women's health.

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Topics: weight loss women's health weight training metabolism weightlifting muscle mass resistance