The Scoop on Exercise: Get to Work

The Sedentary LifeThere’s a good chance you’re sitting down right now. There’s a good chance you sit down during more than half of your day. We spend a drastically increased more amount of time sitting that our parents and grandparents did. From an evolutionary perspective, we were designed to move.Incrementally Increasing ExerciseThere are numerous reasons to increase physical activity incrementally for a currently sedentary person. Firstly, in order for the person to stick with the plan, you want it to have an early attainable goal. This will give the person confidence and will show that the work he or she is putting in will directly pay off. It’s basic behavior modification principles of positive and negative reinforcement. The negative, to remove, is the weight, stiffness and / or propensity for physical problems. The positive, to add, is increased energy, strength, flexibility, and cardiorespiratory fitness.Another reason to increase a currently sedentary person’s physical fitness regimen slowly is to prevent injury. As exercise is reentered into your life, your muscles, tendons, and ligaments, will stretch and strengthen. Some will do so at a faster rate than others. In order for your heart, lungs, muscles, tendons and ligaments to all work in harmony, they all need to progress at roughly the same rate.From a public health perspective, it’s concerning that people will over do their amount, time or intensity of exercise because that directly correlates to a spike in hospital visits. Reintroducing exercise, or going too hard, too fast is a quick route to a pulled muscle or a strained tendon or ligament.Elderly vs. Young AdultsThere are numerous differences between young adults and the elderly, even in sedentary groups within each population. As there is a 20 to 30% decrease in cardiac output by age 65, and a 9% decrease in oxygen uptake by men every decade, you can clearly see how elderly men or women would be hit differently than young adults during exercise. Moreover, elasticity in the major blood vessels is decreased, which slows blood flow, and the maximum heart rate decreases by approximately 10 beats per minute each decade. This equates to a lack of blood flow with key nutrients for the muscles.For many young adults, especially in their 20’s and 30’s, they feel like they’re in their prime. With factors tied to increased exercise such as improved memory and brain function, and lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease later in life, coupled with the fact that these men and women are as naturally physically ready for exercise as they’ll ever be, this is prime time for fitness.With all of this being said, it’s important to note, a lack of physical activity is bad for you, regardless of age or health condition.NOT EXERCISING IS BAD FOR YOUR HEALTH.How exercise effects appetite and body compositionFor the most part, studies suggest and based on personal experience, an increase in exercise intensity directly correlates to appetite surge, also. This is a big picture view. However, according to some recent studies, moderate intensity aerobic training could suppress your appetite. Exercise releases key appetite hormones that helps to suppress your appetite. Aerobic exercise is better at appetite suppression than anaerobic exercise.We’ve all heard the phrase “fat turned into muscle” but we know that doesn’t actually happen. The space referenced by that phrase may very well turn from fat into muscle but it’s a replacement, not a transformation.As fat is the preferred fuel source for your body, due to its 9 calories per gram, an increase in exercise will likely reduce overall body fat. This is especially true if the one conducting the exercise keeps their exercise aerobic, not above 25% of their VO2 max. Exercise will also increase metabolism, and muscle tone. Who doesn’t want that?Environmental FactorsAltitude and temperature can play a major role in exercise. Firstly, altitude wreaks havoc on endurance as air pressure at higher altitudes is reduced which causes the oxygen to diffuse into the blood more slowly. So, the blood will travel through the lungs not full of oxygen, and therefore, doesn’t have as much to provide to the lungs. This directly causes a drop in VO2 max and breaking the aerobic to anaerobic threshold at a lower output rate. This is the concept behind training masks that reduce oxygen intake. As your body has a strong desire for homeostasis, and can get to what’s called a “steady state” during activity, it will adapt to the less oxygen provided. Once this adaptation has occurred, typically after approximately 4 weeks of training, the body will them perform at a much higher output in lower altitude (more oxygen) conditions.The bottom line on higher temperatures and exercise – it increases the degree of difficulty. Running is much more difficult in higher temperatures than in cooler temperatures.There are many factors that must be applied to the exercise regimen prior to beginning. These include but are not limited to: current state of exercise and aerobic fitness, diet, age and environmental factors. Exercise will directly affect your appetite and body composition. It’s very important to gradually increase time and intensity of your exercise plan, especially if you’ve lived a sedentary life. But, the bottom line is simple – EXERCISE!