A workout is often mistakenly measured by how many calories are burned in the process. However, your metabolic rate increases both during and after exercise. The effects last up to forty-eight hours after exercising, enabling your body to work much more efficiently. This leads to weight loss even while you are relaxing. Our body often reacts to dieting by slowing down its metabolic rate. This is especially relevant during the middle-age years, when most people experience a slowing metabolism anyway. The bottom line is that exercise is vital for you regardless of your situation or age, as it helps speed up your metabolic rate.
Besides the obvious improvement in your physical appearance, there is another important reason to exercise while losing weight. When you lose weight without exercising, externally you may look the same as your counterpart who does exercise, but internally there is a world of difference. Exercise burns fat. If you combine diet with exercise, you will lose weight by reducing body fat and not lean muscle. Almost all your weight loss will result from fat reduction. In contrast, when you lose weight without exercising, you lose about 75 percent body fat and about 25 percent lean body mass. Body composition is crucial for good health. The bathroom scale does not measure how much body weight is fat and how much is muscle. Actually, the scale is not the most reliable gauge of your progress. The real enemy is not your weight but a high body fat percentage.
- Exercise strengthens the heart, reducing the risk of heart disease or a second heart attack. Some research indicates that simply walking briskly for three or more hours a week reduces the risk of coronary heart disease by 65 percent.
- Helps reduce triglyceride levels, which are linked to coronary disease in some people.
- Lowers bad (LDL) cholesterol and raises good (H DL) cholesterol.
- Reduces the risk of type-2 diabetes. It may also decrease insulin requirements for people with diabetes.
- Lowers your risk of having a stroke.
- Helps lower blood pressure.
- Decreases the risk of getting certain types of cancers, such as colon cancer and breast cancer.
- Improves circulation, as it oxygenates the blood. You will feel rejuvenated and energized.
- Accelerates bowel movement by stimulating the peristaltic action of the intestines.
- Tones the body, improving bone structure and reducing the risk of osteoporosis, arthritis, and back pain.
- Improves sleep quality.
- Scientific research has shown that exercise can slow the physiological aging clock. It also extends your life expectancy.
- Studies have shown that smokers who exercise regularly are more likely to cut down on or stop smoking.
- Many studies have shown that exercise boosts moods and reduces anxiety, depression, and stress.
THE STRENGTHENING INGREDIENT
Research has shown that basic strengthening exercises are safe and effective for men and women of all ages, including those who are not in perfect health. Physiologically, regular strength training results in increased muscle fiber, increased muscle contractile strength, increased tendon tensile strength, increased bone strength, and increased ligament tensile strength. Strength training plays a major role in enhancing our body composition and physical appearance. If we do not do regular strength exercise, we lose more than one-half pound of muscle every year of life after age 25. Furthermore, an increase in muscle tissue causes a corresponding increase in our metabolic rate. Muscle is active tissue that consumes calories. Strength training can cause up to a 15 percent increase in metabolic rate, which is enormously helpful for weight loss and long-term weight control. Gradual loss of muscle tissue in non-training adults leads to a 5 percent reduction in metabolic rate every decade of life. This is closely related to the gradual increase in body fat that typically accompanies the aging process.
IS VIGOROUS EXERCISE BETTER?
The American College of Sports Medicine writes that exercising at the lower end of the training zone for a longer period of time may be better than exercising at the higher end for a shorter period.
After all is said and done, one of the most effective and convenient aerobic exercises is still a simple, brisk walk for about thirty minutes. Walking outside in the fresh, crisp air and enjoying the beautiful scenery will certainly add to the psychosomatic effect of the exercise.
This does not mean that you will not benefit from doing more exercise. The point is that you do not have to go crazy in order to experience the many benefits of exercising. In fact, too much exercise can actually be unhealthy for you and possibly even dangerous. It goes without saying that this applies to anyone who is not fit, but even if you are already fit, excessive exercise can still harm your health. Also if you are too extreme, it is likely that you will ultimately fail to do even that which is necessary. Maimonides writes: Not everyone can tolerate very vigorous exercise, nor is it necessary. Strenuous exercise dries out the body and makes it stiff, affecting sensation and slowing down the intellect.
Elsewhere Galen sums it up: The amount of exercise applicable in every individual case must be determined on an individual basis. The right quality is of no use if the quantity is wrong.
EXERCISE AND PSYCHOSOMATICS
As we already mentioned, Maimonides writes in the name of Galen: The best type of exercise is exercise that influences the soul and causes it to rejoice. Happiness alone has cured or at least made milder many physical and psychological ailments. All types of exercise should always result in happiness, delight and rejoicing.
Galen writes: People who choose exercises that combine exertion, pleasure and delight understand human nature. The motion of the soul is so powerful that many have been released from their disease by the pleasure alone and many have been completely cured…
Galen also lists other important components when choosing an exercise:
- Accessibility—an exercise that does not require a great deal of free time or expensive equipment.
- An exercise routine that works out all parts of the body equally, choosing between a vigorous or mild workout.
- Exercises where you can also choose to exercise a particular part of the body in isolation, like the lower part or upper part of the body.
- Exercises that involve speed, work the heart. Exercises that involve holds, throws and catches, tend to tone and strengthen the body. One may choose to combine all of these aspects.
- An exercise that is free from risk. For example, running has frequently killed people. Vigorous horse riding can cause internal injuries and sometimes the rider may even be thrown from the horse and immediately die. I need hardly mention the numbers injured in the ring, becoming lame, disfigured, crushed or at least mutilated in some part or other.
- When playing a ball game, the sense of sight is also exercised because failing to accurately and quickly perceive the trajectory of the ball will result in missing the catch. The mental faculties are also sharpened by the concern not to drop the ball and to prevent the opponent from seizing it…Many other exercises have the opposite effect on the intellect, rendering it idle, sleepy and slow.
- The amount of exercise applicable in every individual case is not something that can be generalized here. This must be determined on an individual basis. The right quality is of no use if the quantity is wrong.
Most importantly we see the following important ingredients in any exercise program:
- Exercise should always be enjoyable in order to achieve the more important psychosomatic effect of exercise.
- The exercise should be accessible, not too time-consuming, and it should not require too much preparation.
- The exercise should work out all parts of the body equally. The exercise should include a cardiovascular, toning, and strengthening workout.
- While exercising, the mental faculties should preferably not be idle.
- The exercise should not be very dangerous or injurious.
- The right quality is of no use if the wrong quantity is done.
Clearly it is not that simple to find an exercise with all these attributes and therefore Galen felt that “exercise with the small ball” was the best of all exercises. From his account, it is clear that this sport is not tennis or soccer. It seems like we no longer play this sport, but it looks more like a very toned down form of football. However, there are certain exercises that have most of the above advantages—swimming, tennis, or any exercise program that includes both cardiovascular and strengthening types of exercises. But remember, enjoying the exercise takes precedence when choosing an exercise.
On our program, you do not need a very complicated workout, nor do you need that much time to attain the benefits of exercise. Is one and a half to three hours a week out of a 168-hour week asking too much for all of the amazing benefits that come from exercising? Exercise is not a luxury. It is fundamental to our physical and emotional health.