It is clear that exercise is necessity if we are to live healthy lives, but what is it? It is important to understand that although exercise and physical activity are both beneficial and necessary, they are not the same.
Physical activity is movement. It is the expenditure of energy made through the contraction of our muscles. Physical Activity can be of low resting levels like yoga or maximal exertions such as running a 100m or playing football. Exercise can be, and usually is, physical activity, but it differs in that exercise is controlled. Exercise is structured and controlled in such a way as to achieve, maintain, and improve our physical fitness. Physical fitness is the result. It is described by our strength, flexibility and cardiovascular endurance.
Physical Activity should be a daily thing. It does not take long. Even a little daily is enough to get benefits. Exercise should be periodized to move forward, and then step back to get rest. How and when we rest is as important as how we train. Over training can be a real problem and lead to illness, injury, or worse.
Exercise must be consistent. It is a lifelong endeavor. Done intelligently, it is possible to enjoy the physical activities we love well into old age.
Why Sports Nutrition?
It seems that more and more, people are beginning to ask questions. The one I get the most is ” You are a Naturopath. Why do you focus on sports nutrition? Shouldn’t you be helping the sick?” It does not surprise me that many potential clients ask this. What surprises me is that a lot of my colleagues in the industry ask me the same thing. It appears that many people, including many natural health professionals, do not truly understand the benefits of exercise.
The knowledge of the benefits of exercise has been known for a long time. I would like to open here with a few quotes from some very well known individuals.
“Lack of activity destroys the good condition of every human being, while movement and methodical physical exercise save and preserve it.”
- - Plato – 350 BC
“Positive health requires a knowledge of man’s primary constitution and of the powers of various foods, both those natural and those resulting from human skill. But eating alone is not enough for health. There must be exercise of which the effects must likewise be known. If there is any deficiency in food or exercise, the body will fall sick.”
- - Hippocrates – 5th Century BC
“The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, in diet, in the cause and prevention of disease.”
- - Thomas Edison
The benefits of exercise are numerous. Below is a list of some highlights.
- Resistance training has the potential to improve muscle strength and endurance;
- Enhances flexibility and body composition;
- Decrease risk factors for cardiovascular disease;
- Improves glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity;
- There is a strong inverse relationship between physical fitness and mortality due to all causes;
- Incidence of all forms of cancer is closely related to the lack of fitness.
- Unfit men and women are nearly 300% more likely to develop cancer;
- A moving body maintains and improves insulin function;
- Exercise increases overall white cell counts in the blood inckuding lymphocytes, interleukin, and neutriphils;
- Exercise strengthens immunity and improves resistance to all kinds of damage including bacteria, viruses, toxins, and radiation;
- Exercise prevents fat build up in the coronary arteries of the heart;
- Weight training does not only increase the metabolism, but it builds muscle and preserves bone mass. A 21-year study from the University of Helsinki, Finland, involving more than 3,200 men, showed that those who exercised vigorously in their 40s and 50s were much less likely to sustain hip fractures than men who were sedentary. Even moderate exercise offered some protection.
- Exercise helps relieve the symptoms of depression.
The list goes on. Study after study confirms this. The right exercise should be the cornerstone of any health building program. As I have shown, it helps regulate hormones, increase metabolism, increase bone mass, lower cholesterol levels, increase the immune system. Even the most moderate of exercise programs can achieve this.
To me the answer is clear. Exercise and physical training is not an option. It is a must. It is time to build a healthy body.
About Wayne Pedranti
Wayne Pedranti is a traditional Naturopath and a Master Herbalist. He is a Master Level Certified Sports Nutrition Adviser educated at the Cory Holly Institute. He has been cycling for well over 20 years, and is a licensed coach with USA Cycling and USA Track and Field. He has a Masters Degree in Coaching Education at Ohio University. He uses his training on natural health and coaching to build a comprehensive training plans that builds health, fitness, and performance.