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Health is like a precious gem - a diamond. It has many interrelated facets and for best quality must be balanced, have strength and endurance, emit sparkle and glow. A diamond may "be forever," but not the human body. To obtain the most years in life and the most life in years, effort is required like searching for, digging, and polishing the treasured diamond. It means getting in touch with and obeying what Nature teaches is needed for a joyful and harmonious balance in all facets of health.
Nutrition is a primary facet in the gem of health. Exercise is an inseparable, integral component. Many Americans basically or totally neglect physical activity, though most know that exercise is good for their health and that they "should" be doing something. About 60% of U.S. adults are essentially inactive or under-active. One in four does not exercise at all. Only 15% exercise vigorously three times a week for at least 20 minutes, and just 22% participate regularly in physical activity at any level for at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week. Overall, the statistics point to an increasingly sedentary nation.
One reason for the low prevalence of physical activity is that it has been virtually "engineered out of people's lives." Elevators are more convenient than stairways. People drive their cars everywhere; there are drive-through restaurants, banks, even liquor stores. Television, computers, the Internet, sedentary jobs, long commutes from the suburbs, increased time stress: all are conducive to inactivity. Society today virtually compels people not to move. With "too much to do", mechanized ways of performing chores are common, from sit-down lawn mowers to electric can openers. When life speeds up, exercise is the first thing to go. The average person burns 800 fewer calories a day than he/she would have 20 years ago.
Exercise is ‘boring,' takes time that can't be spared, involves work and commitment. "I'm too fat", or "too flabby", or "too embarrassed". It might make one's back or knees or feet or arms or head hurt. It is a dirty word. The Centers for Disease Control and American College of Sports Medicine try to make exercise as palatable as possible: Just 30 minutes a day of moderate-intensity physical activity on most, preferably all, days of the week would provide the minimum level of exercise needed. The dangers of a sedentary life are becoming alarmingly clear. A staggering 250,000 deaths a year are attributed to physical inactivity. Death may be a potent persuader, but there are numerous other reasons to begin a more active lifestyle that relate to health and enjoyment. Studies show that people who become active increase their chances of staying healthy for a lifetime. As they age, they are less likely to face a decline into illness and frailty. "Now the evidence is overwhelming that exercise and a long, healthy life go hand in hand." WHO Assistant Director-General, Dr. N.P. Napalkov, states there is strong evidence that "regular physical activity provides peoples of all ages...with substantial health gains [that are] physical, mental, and social and contribute significantly to increased quality of life." i
For those who need further convincing, some of the benefits of exercise - in conjunction with good nutrition - will follow:
The heart muscle and blood vessels require many nutrients for optimal function and endurance. They need at least 18 bioavailable amino acids (as in heart substance), vitamin B complex, vitamin C complex including rutin and flavonoids, vitamin E complex with its selenium and oxygen-conserving components, vitamin A complex, essential fatty acids, calcium, magnesium, potassium, enzymes, many other food complexes, and exercise too.
Regular exercise can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). Heart disease is almost twice as likely to develop in sedentary individuals. Even mild to moderate activity can reduce the chances of CVD. Regular, "brisk," and sustained aerobic-type exercise (such as brisk walking, aerobic dance, jogging, swimming) for at least 30 minutes three to four times a week is needed to improve the efficiency of the heart and lungs and to "burn off" excess weight. Persons who have already had a heart attack reduce their risk of having another one by regular physical activity, improve their chances of survival, and may even improve how they look and feel.
Steven Blair at the Cooper Institute for Aerobics Research followed 32,000 people for eight years. He found that those whose only risk was inactivity were more likely to die prematurely than those who had high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, and a smoking habit but who got some exercise each day. Active people have a lower risk of developing and dying from CVD. Regular exercise tends to lower total cholesterol (if too high), lower low-density lipoprotein (so-called "bad cholesterol"), and raise high-density cholesterol (so-called "good cholesterol"). Clearance of triglycerides from the bloodstream becomes faster. Body fat, risk of developing high blood pressure, stress on the heart muscle and blood vessel walls, risk of developing adult onset diabetes are all reduced. Weight gain is less likely. Weight loss is aided. Anxiety and tension are eased. Insulin sensitivity in muscles is increased. Risk of forming blood clots is lowered. Blood vessel walls may stay more flexible, delaying rigidity that often develops with age or nutrient deficits. There is lower risk for stroke.
If blood pressure is high or "high-normal", moderate aerobic exercise can lower it. If it is not high, regular exercise helps keep it that way. Older persons aged 50 to 83 had reductions in blood pressure, resting heart rate, and body mass index (an index for estimating obesity) with exercise. "Habitual" exercise is "a beneficial modulator of heart rate variability in an aging population." Normal variations in heart rate usually diminish with age (and nutritional deficits); exercise improves this neuromuscular (parasympathetic) function.
People with congestive heart failure can increase stamina, prevent fatigue, and boost their muscles' oxygen-carrying capacity with regular exercise. "People forget that the heart is a muscle," says cardiologist Harvey Simon, Harvard University. "Like any other muscle, it gets bigger, stronger and more efficient with exercise." The heart muscle then pumps more oxygenated blood with every beat. At the same time muscles in the legs, arms, and torso become more efficient in taking and using oxygen from the bloodstream. There are an expanded number of capillaries that deliver oxygen and nutrients to tissues and carry away waste.
While a little exercise will help lower certain risk factors for CVD, "more is better" and intensity may be gradually increased for a bigger impact. Nutrition also plays a large role in cardiovascular health and improvement - in fact, it is essential in supporting the heart muscle and blood vessel walls to deal with the rigors and demands of exercise. Both exercise and good nutrition require lifestyle changes and a commitment. ii
LONGEVITY & QUALITY OF LIFE
All the known and unknown nutrients are required for quantity and quality of life. Food supplements may be needed due to soil-depleting, chemicalized, modern farming methods. Evidence also overwhelmingly supports the "life-extending and life-improving power" of regular exercise. Middle-aged and elderly men (45 to 84 years old) who took up moderately vigorous activities had a 23% to 29% lower overall death rate than non-exercisers and up to a 41% reduction in the risk of CVD. Low physical fitness increases the risk of death for both men and women, whereas higher levels of physical fitness "appear to delay all-cause mortality," particularly due to lower rates of CVD and cancer. Individuals who maintain or improve fitness are less likely to die from any cause than persistently unfit people. People who exercise their way to physical fitness cut their overall death rate by almost half compared to those who stay out of shape. The fitter they become, the more they cut their risk. Although non-vigorous activities benefit some aspects of health, more vigorous endeavors seem to have more favorable results on longevity.
A 10-year study compared the time people spent doing routine tasks such as cleaning, gardening, or climbing stairs to mortality rates. Those with the lowest activity level were more than twice as likely to have died during the duration of the study as those with the highest activity level. Older women reduced their risk of premature death by 30% with regular exercise. Those who participated in frequent and intense activities had a greater reduction in risk of early death than those who engaged in less frequent, moderate activity.
Most people want to live longer only if they would be well enough to enjoy it. Exercise can help. The "effects of aging aren't as dramatic if you maintain your exercise levels," said Michael Pollack of the University of Florida's Center of Exercise Science. Activity has a big impact on the quality of life. Fit people not only look but also feel far younger than other people their age.
Many things associated with aging - from "middle-age spread" to porous bones, from forgetfulness to loss of muscle strength - are in large part brought on or accelerated by factors besides aging, notably inactivity, both physical and mental. One well-known age-related decline is in aerobic capacity - that is, how well the heart and lungs get oxygen to the muscles, and how efficiently the muscles use the oxygen to produce energy during sustained exercise. This capacity drops by as much as 10% per decade after age 25. But this decline is not natural or inevitable. Sedentary people lose nearly 50% of their aerobic capacity by age 70. Moderate exercise cuts that decline in half. Thus, "much of the functional losses that set in between the ages of 30 and 70 are in fact attributable to lack of exercise." Healthful lifestyle changes, including a wholesome diet, whole-food supplements, and exercise, can alleviate or postpone many of the physical and mental ills once blamed completely on aging. "There is no drug in current or prospective use that holds as much promise for sustained health as a lifetime program of physical exercise."
Strength training also turns back the biological clock. Gains in bone density, balance, and muscle strength occur. There is more pep in the walk, more energy to climb stairs and carry the groceries. Thus 60- to 70-year old women put through a one-year strength-training program were "taken back 15 to 20 years physiologically." Seniors aged 70 and older (some who never did any exercise) were placed on regular, supervised programs including lifting weights, swimming, and stretching. Results were "astonishing". Some of the seniors became stronger than the 20-year old orderlies attending them. People in wheelchairs graduated to walkers; many with walkers traded them for canes; those using canes were often able to walk on their own.
Exercisers are less likely to fall prey to any illness. "Exercise seems to improve quality of life, not just longevity," says Dr. Ralph Paffenbarger, Jr., of Stanford University. iii
The needs for good immune response accentuate the importance of chemical-free, nutrient-dense foods and whole-food supplements. Included are proteins (as adrenal, thymus, lung, lymph, spleen); vitamin C complex with flavonoids, carotenes and vitamin A complex, vitamin E complex, vitamin B complex, calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, zinc, essential fatty acids, innumerable phytochemicals and more. Exercise must be placed on the list as well.
Regular moderate exercise boosts the function of the immune mechanisms and the body's resistance to insult or injury. Activity appears to reverse the decline in immune function that often accompanies aging. Very fit women with an average age of 73 had an immune function comparable with that of women half their age and 55% more efficient than sedentary women in the same age group. Immunoglobins, T-cell function, natural killer cell activity - lymphocyte effectiveness for protection and cellular repair - improve and increase. The number of days a fit person suffers with cold or flu symptoms, for example, may be cut in half.
However, marathon runners and others who participate in high-intensity, long-duration exercises - or those who do overly grueling workouts - experience a drop in white blood cell activities and an increase in the production of adrenaline and cortisol, stress hormones. Extremely intense exercise may weaken the immune system. Runners who put in 17 to 26 miles a week had 2.6 times more colds; marathoners who ran 60 miles a week doubled their risk of getting sick.
Yet the complexity of the biochemistry and the importance of nutritional status make this a difficult subject to study. Research usually concentrates on measuring only one type of immune cell, and the changes detected do not last long. Thus some studies show that elite athletes in intensive training do not get colds any more often than anyone else. Other studies show that sedentary people who start a moderate exercise program experience a slight drop in certain immune cells after exercise. One answer is the body's ability to deal with what it is physically "asked" to do; adequate nutritional reserves and minimizing toxic exposures are key determinants. iv
Regarding the prevention of cancer, much has been written on the importance of lowering exposure to poisons, upping the body's ability to deal with toxic accumulations, and obtaining optimal nutrition especially raw food factors. Any nutritional complexes that support the immune system, detoxification system, and general cellular health are important. Exercise is also supportive.
Regular physical activity is associated with a decreased risk of colon and colorectal cancer. The most active individuals have about half as much risk of colon cancer as sedentary people; "casual exercisers" have a third lower risk. Being overweight or having high insulin levels increase colon cancer risk. Exercise reduces weight, lowers insulin levels (which tends to be high in all sedentary people), and promotes bowel activity.
Studies find fewer cases of breast cancer in women who are physically active. The more women exercise, the lower their risk. Those who exercised at least four hours a week had a 37% lower risk of breast cancer than sedentary women. Women who did heavy manual labor had a 52% reduced risk. Age and weight make a difference: the lowest risk (72% lower than inactive women) occurs in women, who exercise, are younger than 45, and are lean. Athletes have a 35% lower lifetime risk of breast cancer and a 61% lower lifetime risk of cervical, uterine, and other reproductive cancers. The body's ability to detoxify (break down and get rid of toxic substances) is no doubt improved with regular vigorous activity. v
Bones and connective tissues require more than calcium to become and stay healthy and strong. Total bioavailable protein, many minerals and trace minerals including magnesium, phosphorus, iron, manganese, potassium, boron; vitamin complexes such as A, B, C, D, E, and probably K, as well as active enzymes are known needs. So is exercise.
Bone density loss is reduced with regular aerobic exercise. Women who exercise regularly during the five to six years after menopause cut their bone mineral loss by 50% compared with inactive women. Women (average age 62) who consistently walk a mile a day maintain their bone density for up to seven years longer than non-walkers.
All the known and unknown nutrients are required to support bone-building that occurs with exercise. Yet all the good food complexes have limited value by themselves if there is no physical activity. Any activity performed standing up (weight-bearing exercise) such as walking, jogging, dancing, is beneficial because muscles and bones work together against gravity to hold the skeleton erect. A normal amount of movement can maintain bone density, while additional movement (exercise) stimulates bone formation by triggering biochemical and electrical changes. Resistance training (lifting weights) strengthens muscle and bone groups so is just as valuable as aerobic activity.
Bone is lost very rapidly through inactivity, especially as people age. Extended periods of serious exercise may increase bone density by 4% to 8%. It is not that a lot of bone needs to be built, but that loss of bone needs to be prevented. Exercise during childhood and young adulthood helps to increase eventual bone mass as well as build strong muscles, both which guard against future osteoporosis and other musculoskeletal ills. Exercise for older people can help maintain a higher relative bone density, keep them on their feet and ambulatory, improve their balance, muscle strength, coordination, and flexibility. This also protects against falls, accidents, and bone fractures. Studies indicate that strength training and other forms of exercise in older adults may reduce the risk of falling and preserve the ability to maintain independent living.
Regular activity is necessary to maintain "normal" muscle strength, joint structure, and joint function. Although the most common risk in exercising is injury to muscles and joints, such injury is usually caused by exercising too hard too long and/or by nutritional deficits that predispose to injury, wear and tear, or misalignment. Reasonable exercise is not associated with joint damage or development of arthritis or other joint or muscle problems. Competitive athletics may be associated with development of osteoarthritis later in life, but the likely causes are sports-related injuries, extreme overuse, malnutrition, and "foul" nutrition. A study of middle-aged joggers found they are at no greater risk of joint problems than more sedentary people.
Actually, physical activity can help people with either osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis maintain joint mobility and reduce symptoms. Patients report less joint and muscle pain, swelling, fatigue, and depression than they had before they began exercising. People with problems of swelling and stiffness of the bones, joints, muscles, tendons, and other aches and pains often avoid activity because they fear discomfort. Although some muscle soreness can be expected when anyone starts exercising, it disappears with regular exercise, usually within a few days. They key is to start out slowly and gradually increase duration and/or intensity. vi
There is a multiplicity of nutrients helpful to preventing and handling diabetes including vitamin B complex and associated factors as choline and inositol, vitamin C complex, vitamin E complex, essential fatty acids, chromium, calcium, potassium, many other minerals and trace minerals, proteins as in liver, pancreas, and heart, etc. Exercise also fits in.
Regular physical activity is associated with a 33% reduction in the risk of developing non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus, and a 46% to 49% reduction in the risk of developing type II or adult-onset diabetes. These benefits are seen in obese, overweight, and normal weight people. Reduced risk occurs whether or not there is a family history of diabetes. Adjustments for high blood pressure, cigarette smoking, high cholesterol, and parental history of heart attack before age 60 do not alter the favorable association.
One possible reason for this protective effect may be increased insulin sensitivity. People with diabetes often have trouble handling glucose (the sugar circulating in the blood) because their cells are insensitive to insulin, which helps lower or control sugar levels. As a result, blood sugar levels are high. In diabetes there is insulin resistance in skeletal muscle as well as other tissues. Exercise increases blood flow to skeletal muscle, increasing nutrient, hormone, and oxygen supplies to these areas. This may improve insulin sensitivity.
A vigorous workout may blunt the abnormal rise in blood sugar that diabetics and others experience after eating carbohydrates, particularly refined carbohydrates. Insulin levels tend to rise as people get older (related, no doubt, to refined, processed, chemical-laden foods as well as sedentary habits). Exercise can aid in lowering insulin levels. In a group of people between the ages of 60 and 70, after nine months of fairly rigorous exercise, secretion of insulin into the blood was 28% less than before the study began. Their insulin became as efficient in lowering blood sugar levels as the insulin of active young people. Is vigorous exercise necessary? This study explored maximum effects. Any intensity - as long as it is regular exercise - may improve insulin's efficiency.
Physical activity increases the cells' sensitivity to insulin, so it lowers both blood sugar and insulin levels. It also helps reduce body fat, which in itself can increase insulin levels. Exercise apparently helps to regulate blood sugar metabolism, so those with tendencies toward hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) as well as hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) may benefit. Exercise alone cannot curb diabetes, but exercise combined with a good diet and food supplements, can often work wonders. vii
MENTAL AND EMOTIONAL HEALTH
The brain and the rest of the nervous system must obtain needed nutrients for proper mental and emotional function. These include vitamin B complex and associated factors, other vitamin complexes, many minerals and trace minerals, fatty acids, enzymes, proteins and avoidance of chemical neurotoxins. Regular exercise may also have a positive effect on brain function and mood.
Persons exercising vigorously for 75 minutes a week display superior memories, quicker reactions, and more sound reasoning than those exercising less than 10 minutes weekly. Elderly men and women (aged 60 to 75) who walk regularly show superior abilities in a number of computerized mental challenges than comparable people who only stretch. The walkers' ability to swiftly switch tasks, ignore distractions, and react quickly improved considerably. People in their 50s and 60s put on regular exercise programs exhibit improvements in performance on mental tests (concentration, reaction times, arithmetic, spatial problems, etc.).
Physical activity increases circulation and blood oxygen flow, improves oxygen uptake and nutrient availability to the brain, improves waste removal and increases production of neurotransmitters (brain messengers). Neurons (the brain's nerve cells responsible for communication) operate better when they get more oxygen and nutrients. Regular exercise improves alertness and energy.
Exercise gives children a mental advantage. It has long been known that fit children do better in school than sedentary children. This was thought to be due to increased self-confidence, but now evidence indicates there are changes in brain chemistry that stimulate growth of nerve cells in the brain. This can apply to grownups as well. There is even evidence that physical activity helps the creative juices flow. Volunteers with an average age of 79 years did light aerobic exercises, calisthenics, muscle-strengthening, and exercise aimed at improving neuromotor coordination. There was a "positive impact on neurobehavioral function" so that researchers concluded that "exercise should be encouraged to improve or maintain well being and the quality of life in older individuals." Long-term exercise may help offset any decline in mental skills, including slowed reaction time and loss of short-term memory. Cognitive skills - the process by which knowledge is acquired - improve with exercise. Physical activity will not make a person smarter, but it may help - along with good nutrition - to use what they have more efficiently.
Mental health can be improved by physical activities. Exercise plus counseling is more effective in aiding depressive disorders than counseling alone. Regular activity can combat not only everyday stress and anxiety, but also serious depression. "There's no doubt people who don't exercise are at greater risk of depression," says Dr. James Blumenthal, Duke University. "And for some clinically depressed patients, exercise is as effective as the best medications we have." Physically active people were half as likely to be depressed 10 years later as those who were inactive. After 10 weeks of three workouts a week, seriously depressed people were significantly less depressed than those who had not exercised.
Therapists report that exercise combined with relaxation techniques and stress management top the list for boosting mood. According to Dr. Robert Thayer, California State University, exercise is one of the most effective mood improvers. Gains in physical fitness make a significant difference in the way the body handles stress, including demands of daily life. Improvements in general mood, greater satisfaction, and more positive outlooks are commonly reported. Exercisers score much higher on self-esteem tests than non-exercisers.
From childhood to old age, regular physical activity is important "in promoting physical and psychological health." Exercise is associated with positive emotional well being no matter what the mechanisms may be. Some psychologists and psychiatrists assert that exercise does not help mood, but the evidence is overwhelming that those who exercise report fewer problems, better moods, and clearer thinking than those who do not. Even the professional doubters admit "it is reasonable to prescribe exercise" together with other activities because surveys "suggest that ‘feeling better' is one important motive for sustained participation in physical activity." ‘Feeling better' is a pretty darned good reason to get moving!
Since exercise helps to enhance the sense of well being and improve mood, many mental health professionals are using it as "an inexpensive, drug-free therapy for patients with mild anxiety or depression." viii
Lack of energy can result from any number of factors - vitamin B complex deficiency syndrome, blood sugar problems, anemia or chronic illness, poor diet, hormone or endocrine gland disorders including underactive thyroid, etc. If fatigue has no underlying "medical" cause or if it comes from anxiety or mild depression, exercise can supply a boost. In fact, being tired can actually be caused - at least in part - by a lack of exercise, sometimes called "sedentary inertia" or "exercise deficiency."
Moderate exercise helps people feel more alert. They report less fatigue as well as increased mental and physical vigor after workouts of varying duration and intensity. The effects continue for at least half an hour, often longer. Achieving a permanent energy boost requires actual physical and biochemical changes in the body - in the muscles, nerves, cardiovascular system, etc., - that come from regular lifestyle changes. Good nutrition and consistent exercise are two of these. Instant gratification should not be expected. In the beginning, a bit of muscle soreness and fatigue may be experienced, particularly in out-of-shape individuals. It takes most people about six weeks to emerge from their lethargy. But if they stick with it, they will gain extra energy and zip.
Strength (weight) training is as important as aerobic activity. As an individual builds muscle and becomes stronger, ordinary activities require less effort, leaving more pep all day long - a sort of "energy conservation." Exercise raises the resting metabolic rate and boosts the metabolism itself. More calories are used each day even when sitting still. At a slimmer weight, less exertion is needed to get the body moving. Aerobics improve the ability of the cardiovascular system to deliver oxygen to muscles. The cellular mitochondria (microscopic "energy manufacturing plants") help turn fuel into energy. The bodies of sedentary people have a hard time making that fuel-to-energy conversion. Even if their hearts could pump extra oxygen to the muscles, they would have a hard time using it. With regular exercise, the heart becomes stronger and more efficient in pumping oxygen to muscles. The number and density of capillaries feeding the tissues with oxygen also increase. The muscles produce more cellular mitochondria, becoming more efficient at turning fuel into energy.
Exercise can lessen muscle tension, increase the body's ability to use oxygen, improve stamina, enhance circulation, reduce the physiological response to stress, and improve the quality and duration of sleep. Feeling more relaxed is often accompanied by increased vigor and focus. Activity may produce beneficial changes in brain chemistry or electrical output. ix
Over half the adults in the U.S. are overweight. This reflects a hunger for needed nutrients and physical activity. Raw food components are essential including enzymes and all the known and unknown nutrients in whole, complex, unaltered form. Although there may be an endocrine gland or hormone disturbance, disruption in proper fat metabolism (such as liver or gallbladder overload), digestive difficulty, nerve chemistry imbalance, or other underlying cause, by far the main causes of overweight are: malnutrition and "foul" nutrition (consumption of refined, processed, altered, depleted, denatured non-foods) accompanied by low levels of physical exertion.
Exercise is a key to successful weight control. It is imperative to lose weight, maintain the lost weight, and prevent future weight gain. Adding exercise to a diet of whole natural foods (stressing raw foods and consuming more calories earlier in the day) will not only help "burn" more calories but also prevent loss of muscle and a drop in metabolic rate that usually accompanies low-calorie dieting. Consuming fewer calories may or may not be necessary, but it is the quality of foods (nutrient density) that is most important. Nutritionally rich foods are more satisfying anyway, so calorie consumption usually decreases without "counting." It is vital to not only provide valuable fuel, but also to stoke up the furnace, increasing the number of calories "burned" and boosting the metabolic rate. Metabolic rate is the rate at which the body uses energy - including the number of calories it burns in a given period of time, either at rest or while active. The metabolic rate depends on many things. Regular exercise is required for permanent effects. Nutritional status affects all cells in the entire body. The more muscle and less fat a body has, the more energy it will use, even at rest. The longer and more intensely one exercises, the greater the boost in metabolic rate.
In one study subjects undertook a 12-week strength-training program. Strength increased by anywhere from 24% to 92%, the amount of body fat fell by 3%, weight was unchanged. Their resting metabolic rate increased by an average of 8% so they were able to consume an extra 300 calories a day without gaining weight. The actual exercise burned only a small portion of those calories. Their muscles became more "metabolically active" and upped their resting metabolic rate. In the long term, they would have less body fat, more lean muscle which "burns" more fat, and become trimmer and slimmer without showing much or any loss of pounds on the scale (muscle weighs more than fat). If they reduced calories, they would have lost weight. Strength training may be just as effective as aerobic workouts for dropping weight. It builds lean muscle. For every pound of muscle gained, an additional 30 to 50 calories a day will be burned. Ideally, both aerobic and strength training activities will be part of the exercise program.
It is difficult to sustain weight loss without consistent exercise along with an individualized food (and usually whole-food supplement) program. Many people "go on a diet" and start exercising and lose weight. This is then discontinued and they regain most of that weight within a year. Adherence to a healthful diet - lifelong - and adherence to physical activity - lifelong - is the best way to maintain weight control and well being. Not only will the individual look better, but he/she will feel much better physically and emotionally.
What is the exercise intensity required to "burn fat"? High-intensity workouts burn more fat and calories than low-intensity workouts in a given amount of time. Though a higher proportion of calories burned comes from fat during low-intensity exercise (about 50%) than during intense workouts (about 40%), many more calories are burned during intense exercise and more fat ends up being used. For example, a person exercises for 30 minutes at low intensity and burns 200 calories; about 100 of those (50%) are from fat. If he/she exercises for the same 30 minutes at higher intensity, 400 calories may be burned, 160 of (40%) from fat. More people are willing and able to participate in, and stick to, low-intensity activities. This will promote the same weight loss but they will need to do it a little longer.
Another example: Walking and jogging both help weight loss (and improve muscle tone, cardiovascular fitness, etc.). Running burns calories faster than walking, but if a runner and a walker cover the same distance, they will use about an equal number of calories. However, walking is easier on the body, especially on the ankles and knees.
Further, it is not just the calories "burned" or fat burned during exercise that matters. The greatest impact comes from changes that occur in the tissues, in the cells and to bodily functions. The goal is health and fitness not running a marathon. Weight control is a side benefit that naturally follows. When there is biochemical equilibrium, a person's weight will be exactly what it should be.
Will exercise increase the appetite so that any extra food consumed will offset the calories burned in exercise? Studies on appetite and exercise have not had consistent results. Many variables are involved such as frequency, duration, and intensity of exercise; amount of body fat; metabolic rate; psychological issues; and - perhaps most important - the type of foods eaten. Usually physical activity will not increase appetite and, even if it does, the increase is very slight. Exercise may up the need for total protein, complex carbohydrates, any of the vitamin complexes, minerals, trace minerals, fatty acids, or enzymes. But eating a piece of cake or a bag of chips will not help. Eating raw nuts, seeds, fruits or vegetables, or other whole, natural foods (and whole-food supplements) will help. The body can efficiently use (to its advantage) some extra calories consumed from whole, natural foods if there is truly hunger for them. It cannot really use empty (nutrient-depleted) calories except for immediate energy or making fat. The critical point is that exercise and a healthful diet must become a lifelong habit, a process integrated as a normal part of the regular routine of living. x
Women who kept up aerobic exercise during pregnancy were less troubled by headaches, backaches, hot flushes, shortness of breath, and fatigue than inactive pregnant women.
A group of middle-aged men were asked to take up aerobic exercise and to keep dairies of their sexual activity. As the men's fitness improved, so did their sex lives. They had intercourse 30% more often and enjoyed it more than a matched control group of sedentary men. Similarly, physical activity is found to boost libido (sexual desire), arousal, and the ability to achieve orgasm in many women. Long-term effects were even greater than short-term benefits. And 98% noted that regular exercise improved their overall self-confidence; 89% said it boosted their sexual confidence.
Men who walked two to three hours a week had a 25% lower risk of benign prostatic hyperplasia (enlarged prostate) than men who rarely walked.
Regular moderate exercise may reduce a person's risk of suffering serious intestinal bleeding (gastrointestinal hemorrhage) which leads to more than 300,000 hospitalizations annually and can be fatal. Exercise helps deliver blood and oxygen to all organs more efficiently, including the gastrointestinal tract; this can improve the health of the tissues (especially if good foods and food supplements provide the needed nutrients).
Men who are most active have a 37% lower risk of symptomatic diverticular disease (pockets in the wall of the colon that can become inflamed) than those least active. Most of the protection was due to vigorous activities. An active lifestyle makes a difference in the number and adverse effects of gallstones. The risk of gallbladder surgery was cut by 31% compared to people who are not physically active. Gallstones are less likely to develop in the first place in those who exercise.
Hearing acuity is sharper in those who regularly workout. The increase in the amount of blood pumping through the capillaries to nourish cells and the increase in the production of cell-repairing proteins help to protect the ears and repair damage wrought from noise damage. xi
A definite effort is required in this mechanized, technologically-growing society to attain and maintain fitness and health. Exercise is a precious and preeminent feature that cooperatively works with nutrition and other aspects in the jewel of wellness.
A minority of people over-exercise. The majority of Americans are not physically active, impacting their health and future well being. The value of wellness cannot really be measured in dollars; it cannot be purchased. There is no quick fix, no magic pill. Understanding and committing to a way of life in harmony with Nature's gentle guidelines can only bring excellence and pleasure to life's treasure.
This website has excellent nutritional protocols for physical exercise which are available in conjunction with the Symptom Survey. Take the Symptom Survey to discover specifically what nutrition you need for your individual health problems. I want to emphasize that the nutrition I recommend CANNOT be purchased in any retail store: so-called "health food" store, drug store, super market, etc. The nutrition I recommend will help rebuild your body and help restore your health. Those other products will only give you a pharmaceutical (drug) effect. They will attempt to deal with your symptoms, which is the ONLY thing any drug can do, while leaving the state of your health unchanged.
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Originally published as an issue of Nutrition News and Views, reproduced with permission by the author, Judith A. DeCava, CNC, LNC.