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Exercise and Fitness

Part of making the shift to healthier food is taking a look at your fitness levels too. Good food, self-control, and exercise all walk hand and hand on the path toward wellness.

Exercise is an important component of healthy living, no matter your goals. Different workouts will supply distinct benefits, but overall exercise is important in maintaining optimal weight, staving off aging, keeping bones strong, building muscle, and resisting illness

Staying active also keeps joints lubricated and moving effectively, strengthens the heart, aids in healthy sleep patterns, preserves brain function, and promotes a feeling of well-being.

Types of Exercise

Exercise typically falls into three categories: aerobic, strength, and flexibility. Each one leads to improved fitness and health, but each one also improves different aspects of the body. It’s recommended that you exercise using all three kinds, but aerobic is usually more important in maintaining health.


Flexibility exercises work on stretches and range of motion. These gentle exercises help keep joints flexible and reduce chances of injury while doing other exercises or participating in sports. You should stretch before and after any workout, but you can also do extended flexibility exercises such as yoga, tai chi, and pilates. These can ease painful joints, improve flexibility, and release stress.


Strengthening exercises build strong bones and muscles. These use weight or resistance to make muscles work harder. With more muscle you also burn more calories, even at rest, so strength training can be an effective way to maintain weight.

There are two types of strengthening exercises: isometric and isotonic. Isometric exercises work on tightening the muscle without joint movement. Isotonic exercises use muscles and tendons to pull against bone, resulting in joint movement.

Most strengthening exercises are isotonic, involving movement. These include weight lifting, using resistance bands, push-ups, and pull-ups.


Also known as cardiovascular, aerobic exercises boost heart rate, work muscles for extended periods of time, and increase breathing. Any rhythmic, continuous motion will do this like running, swimming, jumping jacks, jump rope, brisk walking, or bicycling.

Aerobic exercises may have the best overall effect on health. While flexibility and strength exercises tend to focus on individual muscle groups, aerobic exercises work on the muscles, lungs, and heart, improving the efficiency, strength, and endurance of them all.

Aerobic exercise forces our bodies to adapt to the heightened demand for oxygen and energy. Our bodies begin pulling in more oxygen from the lungs and making the heart beat faster. Prolonged exercise increases the amount of oxygen your lungs bring in and builds more muscle in the heart. As the heart gains muscle it is capable of pumping more blood with each beat.

This greater stroke volume means the heart doesn’t have to work as hard to meet the demands of exercise or daily use. This improved efficiency means the heart lasts longer, just like a machine running at peak efficiency will last longer than one that must work harder to accomplish the same thing.

Downstream from the heart, the muscles also adapt by becoming more efficient. Muscle cells begin consuming oxygen more effectively. They use this oxygen to burn carbohydrates and fat and power every aspect of cellular function. The amount of mitochondria, the powerhouses of cells, in muscle also increases as you do more aerobic exercise, burning through more fuel more efficiently. The change in your energy levels is usually noticeable after just a few days to weeks as the body no longer struggles to meet energy needs.

This increased mitochondria performance then encourages cells to break into fat stores to supply more energy. Fat has more than double the caloric energy of carbohydrates, but it requires more oxygen to be metabolized and put to use.

So, as your body becomes more efficient at bringing in oxygen and your energy requirements skyrocket, fat becomes a much easier and effective means to acquire that energy. If you want to lose weight, extended aerobic exercise will be key to your success.

Apart from weight loss, aerobic exercise also reduces the risks of many diseases and disorders. Aerobic exercise improves bone density to combat osteoporosis, reduces risk of cancer, improves well-being to stave off depression, boosts insulin resistance to defend against diabetes, stimulates new brain cell growth to battle dementia and Alzheimer’s, and, obviously, fights cardiovascular disease and obesity.

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