Exercise is planned activity. Exercise comes in variable types, for example, aerobic, anaerobic, flexible, and balance programs. Regardless of the variations, exercise benefits are shared. Exercise reduces blood pressure and cholesterol, eases anxiety, enhances mood elevation, improves cardiovascular and pulmonary function, regulates blood glucose levels to prevent diabetes development, slows aging, provides restful sleep, promotes weight loss, maintains weight, improves immune functioning, and increases energy. Despite all the benefits, exercise is only practiced by 40% of Americans, leaving over half the population sedentary.
Exercise encompasses approximately 25-30% of daily planned or unplanned activity. American Institute of Sports Medicine recommends 150 minutes per week, 30 minutes daily 5 times per week. However, exercise suggestions are based on the individual desires and goals. If weight loss is the goal, then low intensity, longer duration of 60 minutes with a 2,000-2,800 calorie reduction per week is suggested. If improved fitness and functional ability is desired, then achieving 55-65% of heart rate, practicing resistance training and flexibility is necessary. If cardiovascular risk reduction is needed, 20-60 minute sessions of 55-79% heart rate targets 3-5 times per week with a 700-2000 calorie reduction per week is recommended. Lifestyle modification includes moderate exercise for 30-60 minutes with a 200-1,000 calorie reduction per week. Balance activity involves 90 minutes and 60 minutes of walking.
In accomplishing these goals, it is significant to understand each type of exercise. Aerobic exercise is utilizing oxygen. It is often called cardiovascular conditioning. Anaerobic is without oxygen. Anaerobic exercise is shorter, high intensity, weight lifting. It is used to build muscle, elevate metabolism, and prevent bone deterioration. Anaerobic is also strength training. It is accomplished by conditioning 8-10 muscle groups to 70-80% of maximal strength intensity on 2 or more nonconsecutive days. Flexibility improves joint range of motion. It is accomplished by stretching major muscle and joint groups of hip, back, shoulder, knee, upper trunk, and neck regions for 10-30 seconds at least two days per week for at least 10 minutes per day. Balance exercises Increase stability. These exercises provide maximal physical adaptation. There are a variety of options such as yoga, tai chi, side walking, terrain walking, and lower body strengthening.
Strengthening exercises as well as aerobic exercise may be limited in some. These limitations result from various injuries or medical conditions. Conditions such as retinopathy, neuropathy, peripheral arterial disease, cardiovascular disease, nephropathy, and chronic pain are in need of further assessment and physician approval to optimize exercise regimen.
In addition, exercise can be detrimental in excess. In fact too much exercise can lead to decreased muscle strength, decreased performance, blood pressure and heart rate changes, chronic fatigue, increased infections, mood disturbances, increased stress response, cortisol changes, decrease in resting catecholamines. Physiologically and psychologically the body is affected. Specifically, vigor, fatigue, depression, and anger can result. The central fatigue theory encompasses the increase in imbalance between fatty acid to branch changed amino acids, increasing tryptophan and thus serotonin, resulting in excess rest. Methods for delaying the effects of overtraining include vitamin C and fluid intake as well as adequate nutrition of carbohydrates, protein, and fat.
Regardless of the type of exercise, nutrition plays a significant role in sustaining activity. The human body is composed of approximately 50-60% carbohydrates, 20% protein, and 20% fats and minerals. Thus, to fuel the individual, these macronutrients are essential. Carbohydrates and proteins provide four calories per gram while fat provides nine calories per gram. Carbohydrates are the fastest burning fuel, however fats are the most efficient burning fuel. Eating healthy efficient fuel results in healthy efficient metabolism. Thus, complex carbohydrates such as fruits, vegetables, and fiber based grains along with monounsaturated fats and lean sources of protein result in a powerful sustaining diet. Examples of these food types include vegetables, turkey, eggs, chicken, olive oil, almonds, feta cheese, and low-fat dairy.
Engaging in physical activity results in long lasting benefits. It is significant to understand and respect one’s goals for optimal benefit. In addition, nutrition is the cornerstone of exercise fuel. Thus, continue to eat healthy and exercise regularly for an improved quality of life.
Pharm D, BCPS, BCACP, CDE, MSMTM