Exercise improves lifestyle because the human body and brain have evolved with the need for both to be at optimal performance. Then its a choice of whether you want to live an optimal life as Nature has provided or with less.
Choose Your Exercise Intensity
Exercise comes in degrees. Minimum exercise or aerobics can help the body use fatty acids as fuel and maintain cardiovascular health. More intense exercise builds strength and endurance with enhanced fat burning. High intensity can build muscle and optimizes the 8 systems that autonomously run your body factory.
The advantage of some high intensity exercise is it conditions the muscles to absorb glucose for fuel instead of letting all the carbohydrates you eat pass to adipose (fat) tissue. Aerobics burn fat as fuel so that’s good. But aerobics also burn muscle. Less muscle can lower your metabolic rate and invite greater weight gain.
Choose Your Level of Vitality
Exercise invigorates your vitality because your systems are increasing capacity to adapt and grow. Growth is good for optimizing how you feel. Psychologically, you probably benefit from looking better and feeling better about yourself.
It is wonderful to live without sickness, disease, or pain. Compare the health and vitality of a fit person with one who is overweight and sedentary. The sedentary person is experiencing a body that is deteriorating every day. Their body has already determined that exercise for survival (hunting food) is no longer necessary, so death is next.
We Choose Our Health and Longevity
The body of the fit person has decided that it continuously needs more capacity and that survival is still important. The body will partner with the fit person to build immunity, improve the capacity for average daily activities, offer opportunities for recreation, and build longevity.
Two people are sitting side by side with the same job. One is fit and the other is sedentary. Who is feeling better, more productive, and looking better? Their lifestyles are all about choices. Each of us can be fit with little additional cost. We have to create priorities for our time and free will allows us to decide.
Fitness by cross training creates more endurance, flexibility, strength, and reduces injury risk. One aspect of cross training is balancing the work load between agonist and antagonist muscles.
A second benefit of cross training is engaging in different levels of aerobics. Resistance training has an aerobic component as does walking and bike riding. These low impact aerobics burn fat and develop endurance.
A third benefit of cross training is building all the muscle fiber groups. Low impact aerobics in resistance training or walking build red slow twitch muscle fibers. Medium intensity aerobics and resistance training build red fast twitch muscle fibers. More intense aerobics and resistance training build white fast twitch muscle fibers.
Low and High Intensity Exercises
Low intensity resistance training is lifting loads that are 60% of capacity with reps of 20 to 25 in three sets. Low intensity aerobics is walking, biking, swimming, or tread mill work. These exercises build endurance, burn fat, and build some strength until the body adapts.
Medium intensity resistance training is lifting loads at 60% to 80% of capacity in three sets of 12 to 16 reps. Medium intensity aerobics adds duration of an hour or more and speed intervals which can start at two or three minutes.
High intensity resistance training is lifting near capacity loads in sets of 4 to 6 reps. High intensity aerobics is adding duration and longer interval times. Racing is high intensity aerobics. At high intensity the body is building muscle and size. The white fast twitch fibers are the only ones capable of adding size and maximizing strength.
Timing the Cross Training
Exercisers who engage in high intensity aerobics only reach their maximums once or twice a week and the balance is spent in lower impact exercise. High intensity resistance training can only be engaged once or twice a week per muscle group and then need 72 hours of recovery. The balance of time can be spent in alternating muscle groups or lower intensity lifting.
Other Crucial Factors
Rest becomes an important factor. Muscles need to recover to increase in size and strength. Nutrition is important to feed muscles before and after workouts. Hydration is a key component considering muscles are 74% water.
Varying exercises increases fitness and makes a program more interesting. Varying muscle groups can prevent over training and injuries. Varying intensities builds endurance, speed, power, strength, and muscle size.
Iron Man competitors say when the muscles fatigue, the resistance training carries the load. I have discovered that working the large muscle groups at the gym with squats, dead lifts, and chest presses supports my biking and surfing. I no longer get aches, lasting pains, wake up with pain, nor have lower back problems from any exercise.
Building cardio and muscle fitness are two ideal goals. Our health depends on eight basic systems that run our body mostly autonomously. The most direct way to optimize their performance are through aerobics, resistance training, nutrition, and rest.
Aerobics for Cardio
An ounce of prevention, they used to say, is worth a pound of cure. Aerobics can be simple for maintenance or intense for optimizing capabilities. The basics are just low impact exercise like walking, biking, swimming, or tread mills for a half hour. Intensity is built by adding duration, speed, and/or intervals.
Muscles can be maintained through basic exercises that burn fat, build strength, and increase endurance. Lifting weights at 50% of one lift capacity for sets of 20-25 reps two to five times a week is beneficial. Increasing load and reducing reps and frequency builds strength and size.
In this process, you can time nutrition to support fueling and then recovery. Timing is important when exercise is more intense. The body needs carbohydrates and protein a few hours before exercise and immediately after along with adequate hydration.
Lifting for Goals
I like to lift near my maximum one lift capacity every other day and ride my bike for at least an hour every other day with half hour walks every morning. The most important meals are fuel a few hours before exercise and recovery nutrition after exercise. Then to support muscle building I consume protein about every four hours.
I work different muscle groups at each gym session. I work the big muscle groups on one day with squats, dead lifts, and chest presses. I work smaller muscle groups the next time with military presses, curls, triceps pulls, cable pulls for the back and shoulders and leg presses.
Working a circuit is excellent if you can only work one or two days a week. Beginners work ten exercises with three sets of 20 to 25 reps at loads of 50% of one lift capacity. One lift capacity is a guess at the beginning so you want to lift a weight that allows you to complete all the reps and sets.
Aerobics is built with consistency. Walking can lead to jogging and running. Easy bike rides can be lengthened for intensity. Intervals or speed can be added for additional intensity as well as increasing frequency. Our body adapts readily after beginning so we want to add intensity to develop capacity and increase stress. Nutrition timing becomes more important as intensity is added.
Building cardio, building strength, and nutrition become a lifestyle. They consume our thoughts, our time, and increase our gratitude. Health is a great reward and feeling great is the ultimate pay off.
Fitness is a lifestyle for health enthusiasts, serious exercisers, and athletes. The degrees of fitness can vary from the daily walker to the ultra-marathoner, but the perspectives about health are similar.
The Fear of Not Being Fit
Many fitness enthusiasts begin with a fear. They fear the consequences of not being healthy and the fear of not having the freedom to pursue their recreations. Struggling with Average Daily Activities is something most health enthusiasts want to avoid.
How does the other half live? Obesity is becoming more of a global plague than starvation. Being sedentary has evolved as man left the farm and as technology has entered our lives. But our bodies are still cave men and they expect certain nutrition and exercise to remain vital.
Early man was used to walking ten miles a day and living off the land. Fruits and vegetables were the mainstay and meat was a luxury. The body works in a cycle of utilizing nutrients to supply muscle with glycogen and repairing muscle with fatty acids and glucose. When this process is stopped much like not running your car for a year, the body clogs up and starts becoming diseased.
Muscles Feed on Exercise
Without exercise, muscles forget how to absorb glucose and so the body transports glucose (carbohydrates) to fat tissue. The cardiovascular and respiratory systems atrophy and become vulnerable to the negative nutrients we absorb. We become a self-wrecking machine.
What does fitness look like? Frequent exercise and natural nutrients. Its that simple. The degrees can vary. Walking is better than nothing, but muscle disintegrates or wastes with age. We need to keep building muscle. Building muscle is half of maintaining our operating system. It increases metabolism, which burns more calories. It absorbs sugars and fat.
A good fitness routine includes exercise five days a week with a variety of aerobics and resistance training. Most people are not aware of the invisible fat that forms around muscle fiber called endomysium fat.
It prevents nutrients from entering muscle and wastes from departing. Even active muscle builders can accumulate invisible fat. A person who cannot run far without their lungs feeling like they are going to explode probably has high levels of endomysium fat.
A Moderate Exercise Program
A moderate exercise program includes 150 minutes of aerobics a week and two days of resistance training. Aerobics can be low impact like a half hour of walking or bike riding. Aerobics can be intensified with longer sessions and interval training.
Resistance training two days a week is most beneficial with working all the muscle groups in circuits or working different muscle groups on each day. To avoid injury, weights should be increased slowly until the muscles adapt and are trained to uptake nutrients before and after exercise.
For Size and Maximizing Strength
Size and maximum strength for muscles does not occur until lifting near maximum capacity in sets of four to six reps. The more intense, the shorter can be the session. The greatest intensity is not resting between sets. The average person is not interested in this type of intensity.
The beginner exerciser wants to burn fat, build endurance, and gain strength. This occurs from sets of 20-25 reps and 3 to 8 sets of perhaps ten exercises in a session. Additional fat burning occurs with a warm up and warm down low impact aerobic exercise. Understanding the nutrition that should accompany this training is important.
A moderate exerciser can increase resistance training intensity with heavier weights in which sets of 12 to 16 reps are completed in 3 to 8 sets. The reps are dictated by the muscle fibers they activate. Different reps induce different muscle fibers and have different results.
A serious resistance trainer wants to stimulate fast twitch white muscle fibers and will exercise at near maximum loads for 4 to 6 reps to build muscle and maximize strength. The fast twitch white muscle fibers are the only ones that increase in size.
Nutrition is Fitness
Intense exercise nutrition begins with consuming carbohydrates and protein a few hours before exercise and following exercise with the same consumption. Muscles will store glucose as glycogen in the muscles after eating and restore glucose while repairing muscle after exercise with the right nutrients. Otherwise, in both cases, the body will feed on muscle to provide the fuel.
Fitness requires focus and needs to be prioritized. This is why fitness enthusiasts soon find their focus is their life style.