Getting in Shape – Aerobic and Anaerobic Exercise Benefits
Just like making the commitment to eating right, adopting a regular exercise program can change your life. A combination of balanced eating and exercise contributes to a leaner, healthier body. If you are one of the guys who exercises regularly, then you are already reaping the awesome benefits of inproved health and increased longevity. What may surprise you is just how much of an inpact exercise can have in this regard. Men who exercise reduce their risk of death from all causes by 70 percent, and their risk of heart attack by 39 percent.
In addition to physical health, regular exercise has an enormous inpact on mental and emotional well-being. All of you couch potatoes out there will be blown away by the connection between physical fitness and inproved mental performance. There are so many good reasons to make exercise an integral part of your daily regimen. The only thing left is to just do it.
Ever hear the saying, “If you want something done, ask a busy person to do it”? Busy people do seem to get more accomplished, including fitting exercise into their crowded schedules. Two-thirds of all American CEOs exercise at least three times per week, while the unemployed are among those who tend to be inactive. Presumably, an unemployed man has more time to exercise than a CEO. And while the excuses of not having the means to join a health club or spa are handy, he can always take up walking, stretching, running, or any number of other exercises that he can do at home without special equipment.
Once the tried and failed excuses of lack of time and money are eliminated, you can begin to focus on finding the type of exercise that’s right for you. Men can find clues about what activity they’re best suited for in their metabolic rate and blood type, as well as in their personal preferences and current physical condition.
THE MANY BENEFITS OF EXERCISE
The innumerable benefits of exercise should be enough to convince anyone to take up the challenge. Here’s a sampling of just a few of them:
- Better digestion
- Control of blood sugar levels
- Elimination of depression
- Enhanced immunity
- Enhanced metabolic rate
- Improved appetite
- Improved eliminations
- Increased circulation
- Increased confidence
- Increased flexibility
- Increased oxygenation
- Increased self-esteem
- Lowered blood pressure
- Lowered cholesterol
- Regulation of the glandular system
- Regulation of insulin production
- Stress reduction
- Stronger bones and muscles
- Toning of the cardiovascular system
The cardiovascular system is favorably affected by the increased circulation resulting from exercise. During physical activity, blood vessels dilate, supplying more blood to the muscles. During vigorous exercise, circulation to the muscles may increase by as much as twenty-fold. According to fitness expert Joanie Greggains, star of the nationally syndicated TV show, Morning Stretch:
The heart is the strongest muscle in your body. It’s about as big as yourfist— andhas a big job to do every minute of your life. This is one muscle you want to keep strong. The stronger it is, the more efficient it is at pumping more blood around your body and delivering more oxygen and nutrients to your muscles. This translates into more energy, endurance for your physical health and well-being.
A fit heart is more more muscular, and therefore more efficient—it beats fewer times per minute at work and when you’re resting. When you engage in regular exercise, your heart becomes more powerful, and your pulse rate goes down as the amount of blood pumped by your heart increases. And, finally, your heart becomes stronger, and your arteries become larger to allow for increased blood flow.
Exercise increases not only vascular circulation, but lymphatic circulation as well. The lymphatic system is the body’s pumping system designed to eliminate toxins from the cells. It’s also an important part of the immune system, because lymphocytes—white blood cells that protect the body from invaders—are formed in lymph nodes, and lymph fluid serves as a carrier medium for these immune cells. Lymphatic congestion or stagnation that results from inactivity has a negative inpact on the body’s ability to defend itself. Since deep breathing, as well as physical activity, stimulates lymph flow, vigorous exercise can be especially effective in accelerating detoxification and building immunity in the body. This is a major reason why athletes are less prone to develop degenerative disease than people who do not exercise regularly. While one out of three people in our culture will develop cancer, only one out of seven athletes will.
However, the scenario is different for people who overexercise. Dr. Kenneth Cooper, founder and President of the Cooper Aerobics Center in Dallas, Texas, warns that exercise can indeed be a problem if it is excessive. He began observing that professional athletes such as iron man competitors and marathon runners were developing deadly cancers like melanoma and brain tumors. And his friend Jim Fixx, author of The Complete Book of Jogging, died of a heart attack while jogging.
Dr. Cooper linked excessive exercise to increased production of free radicals that can eventually break down or destroy the immune system He recommends moderating exercise and taking a good antioxidant supplement to fight oxidative damage by free radicals.
While strenuous exercise may be contraindicated for some men because of physical limitations, most men can engage in moderate exercise and increase its benefits by integrating deep breathing in rhythm with the exercise. Exercise can have the net effect of lowering blood pressure. Though systolic pressure, which is generated as the heart muscle contracts, can climb as high as 180 or 190 during activity, diastolic pressure shouldn’t change. If this happens, it may indicate heart disease.
Exercise can help lower cholesterol. In men, this seems to occur largely through raising beneficial HDL levels. A study conducted in February 1995 involving 2,906 healthy, middle-aged, nonsmoking male runners showed that there was a gradual increase in HDL cholesterol when more miles were run- Most of the changes were associated with distances of seven to fourteen miles per week. Jogging beyond that distance proved to be unnecessary and even counterproductive, due to the increased risk of injury. Using this study as a guideline, we may assume that the man who jogs two to three miles three to four times per week is favorably affecting his cholesterol levels.
Furthermore, exercise also stimulates the glandular system, which aids in the production of neurotransmitters, the brain chemicals that pass messages from cell to cell. Certain drugs—prescrip —tion and nonprescription, alter the chemical balance in the body by affecting neurotransmitters. We’ve already seen how specific amino acids can help restore the balance. Well, so can exercise. Like cocaine, exercise is a stimulant that increases norepinephrine levels. However, unlike cocaine, it does not cause nervousness, but instead has a calming effect because of the influence of other neurotransmitters. And exercise increases endorphin levels, which decreases pain and enhances pleasure.
Because physical activity alters blood chemistry, it affects the mind. It influences mental performance, reflecting the balance of neurotransmitters. Mental functioning and emotional state can be adversely affected by minute changes in norepinephrine, acetylcholine, dopamine, epinephrine, serotonin, and the endorphins. Just a few minutes of vigorous physical activity, however, can restore energy and mental alertness by stimulating norepinephnine production Because serotonin and endorphin levels rise simultaneously, stress and depression are alleviated and nervousness does not result. So, if you find yourself “brain locked” in the midst of trying to perform a mental task, or if you’re too depressed to concentrate, take time out to stimulate your mind by working your muscles. Jump rope, do stretching exercises, or run in place for five or ten minutes instead of taking a coffee break. It will provide the same mental lift, but without the subsequent let down
PERSONALIZING AN EXERCISE REGIMEN
Generally speaking, men who turn food into energy at a slow rate—the “slow burners” that you learned about in this post—will benefit most from fast-paced exercise, such as running, cycling, and other aerobic activities that stimulate their metabolism Fast burners, on the other hand, are better off with exercise that will not stress and deplete their systems, including yoga, swimming, walking, and gardening.
When choosing the best activity for you according to blood type, you should know that men with types B and AB are best suited to milder forms of exercise, as overexertion can lead to exhaustion. If you are one of these two types, choose activities such as yoga, tai chi, and stretching. Individuals with type A blood should also stick with milder forms of exercise, so as not to stress their sensitive immune systems. They would be well suited to activities such as gardening, swimming, light biking,
and light weight training. Men with blood type O, on the other hand, will benefit most from vigorous exercises, such as tennis, long-distance biking, and team sports. These activities can help combat fatigue and depression.
If your blood type suggests one type of activity, but your metabolic rate suggests another, you may want to alternate. Try engaging in vigorous activities one day, and less physically stressful exercises the next day.
In addition to making a formal exercise program part of your lifestyle, you should look for opportunities that increase physical activity in the context of your daily routine. For example, try taking the stairs instead of the elevator; choose a parking space a good distance from your destination; walk instead of drive, if possible; walk around the block during your lunch hour or take an exercise break instead of a coffee break to stimulate mental acuity.
Once you have adopted an exercise program, the next important step is to stick with it. As it turns out, 70 percent of people who begin exercise programs quit within one year. Proper nutrition, coupled with an exercise program that’s enjoyable, convenient, and appropriate to your personal needs should help keep you motivated. If you find that your program is no longer satisfying or challenging to you, then modify it, change it, or replace it with another program, but do keep the habit of exercise in your lifestyle—for your health’s sake.
Aerobic literally means “with air.” Aerobic exercise includes activities that are vigorous enough to make you breathe deeply on a consistent basis for an extended period of time. Aerobic exercise raises the heart rate and works the large muscle groups of the body. This type of exercise is the best way to bum body fat because it reduces insulin levels, provided that the benefits aren’t negated by high- carbohydrate intake. After about twenty minutes of aerobic activity, body cells begin releasing fat in the form of fatty acids to be “burned” for energy.
During aerobic exercise, the heart pumps more blood, resulting in increased red blood cell production and improved respiratory efficiency. Engaging in aerobic exercise for thirty minutes four times per week will increase the brain’s fuel supply by making glucose more available to the brain. While the average man has 5 million red blood cells in a cubic millimeter of blood, a man who is aerobically conditioned can have almost 8 million. Also, his lungs can become twice as efficient as the average person’s.
Aerobic exercise is most beneficial first thing in the morning, when your stores of carbohydrate are low and stored body fat can be accessed. Jogging, brisk walking, rowing, cross-country skiing, bicycling, and jumping rope are all forms of aerobic exercise. There are also structured, choreographed classes available through gymnasiums and health clubs.
In order to build up your cardiovascular system, you must exercise at a minimum of 60 to 75 percent of your maximum heart rate. Maximum heart rate is easy to calculate—just subtract your age from 220. If your goal is to exercise at 65 percent of your maximum heart rate, then take the maximum figure and multiply it by .65. The result is your target heart rate. It should match your pulse rate after you engage in vigorous aerobic activity. Pulse should return to normal after three minutes of rest. Advanced aerobic training involves working out at 80 percent or more of your maximum heart rate.
If you are new to aerobic exercise, it’s important to start slowly by working out only five to ten minutes at a time and gradually work up to thirty minutes. Jogging two to three miles three to four times per week can bestow cardiovascular benefits by lowering cholesterol. If walking is your preferred exercise, you should start out at 60 percent of your maximum heart rate and work up to 80 percent over a two-month period. Walk at a brisk pace for about an hour three to four times per week. Walking at a pace fast enough to get your heart rate elevated, but comfortable enough to carry on a conversation, is enough to reduce your risk of heart disease by almost 30 percent.
Make sure to warm up by doing five to ten minutes of stretching exercises before walking or jogging. And remember to breathe deeply in rhythm with your steps as you walk. Breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth, inhaling deeply and exhaling fully. When you exhale, you’re ridding your body of toxic waste in the form of carbon dioxide.
You may choose to do your walking or jogging on a rebounder. These mini-trampolines provide a flexible jumping surface that minimizes your risk of injury. Due to the spring action of the rebounder, you won’t lose energy on the downbounce. Just jumping up and down on the rebounder can provide a good workout and helps to stimulate lymph flow, particularly if paired with deep breathing.
Dr. Phillip Maffetone, trainer/coach for professional athletes, including triathlete champions Mark Allen and Mike Pigg, promotes the 40/30/30 eating plan and advocates training at a relatively low heart rate. According to his formula, you should subtract your age from 180 to obtain the high end of the range and then subtract 10 more to determine the low end. He claims that training in this manner will condition your body to use fat as fuel. Dr. Maffetone subscribes to the idea that aerobic and anaerobic training cannot both be developed at the same time. More information on his approach to fitness can be found in his book In Fitness andln Health,
Anaerobic training doesn’t aim at raising the heart rate, nor does it make you breathe deeply for an extended period. Because sustained deep breathing is not required, it doesn’t build mental stamina in a consistent way, as does aerobic exercise. Strength training through weight lifting is the most popular form of anaerobic exercise among men. This type of exercise increases strength, endurance, and bone density. It improves balance and general overall health. Men of all ages can benefit. Studies have shown that men ranging in age from fifty to ninety-nine not only reaped tremendous benefits from weightlifting, but enjoyed this type of activity. In one study, they worked out only twice a week, performing five exercises of large muscle groups, and still gained the benefits listed above—and they reported feeling much younger.
While weightlifting doesn’t call for deep breathing, using proper breathing techniques during exercise will provide added health benefit and help prevent injury. As you lift the weight, breathe out vigorously through your mouth; as you bring the weight down, breathe in fully through your nose.
Research suggests that getting adequate magnesium can actually double your strength benefits from resistance training. It has also been demonstrated that potassium and magnesium aspartate can dramatically improve physical endurance. In 1968, physiologist Bjom Ahlborg showed that five grains, given in divided doses to six trained athletes increased their endurance on a maximum exercise test by 50 percent! This beneficial effect is thought to result from increased regeneration of
adenosine triphosphate (ATP)—the body’s primary energy molecule—as well as inproved flow of electrolyte transfer across cell membranes.
Because of the tension that builds in strength training, blood flow is impeded, rather than increased. This slows down circulation and causes blood pressure to rise. Therefore, this type of exercise is contraindicated for patients with hypertension or cardiac problems.