Personalize exercise based on your needs  

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Personalize exercise based on your needs  

Everyone knows exercise is good for the human body.  Maybe what you don’t know is just how much of a game changer it is for your lifelong health.  A 2015 small study published in the journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, looked at 10 pairs of identical male twins in their 30s.  Despite their shared DNA, these 10 pairs of identical twins were different on one way – their exercise habits.

One twin participated in a regular, consistent exercise regimen during their adult years while the other twin did not.  What researchers found was that within just three years, the non-exercising twin had developed insulin resistance, had more body fat and lower endurance, plus less gray matter in the brain regions responsible for motor control and coordination. 

Regardless of the very small study, it still shows evidence that exercise may have as large of an effect on your health as your genes do.

Think of exercise as your fitness prescription

When debating whether to check your twenty unanswered emails or go on a jog, the “good health” choice tends to get put on the back burner for another day.  Maybe a better way to approach exercise is to take a goal-oriented approach.  Think of exercise as a prescription for fitness. 

There are certain forms of physical activity particularly effective for specific objectives to get results keeping you motivated to lace up your gym shoes again and again.  Here’s ways to match your workout needs to tap into your power of movement:

·      If you want to enhance energy – exercise three to four times a week

Many of us complain of feelings of fatigue.  Fatigue can be related to numerous health conditions from fibromyalgia to cancer.  When we feel tired and exhausted, getting physical may be last on our list. 

A 2006 University of Georgia review looked at 70 studies finding that just 20 minutes of low- to moderate-intensity activity (biking, walking, strength, and stretching) several times a week improved energy in as little as four weeks. 

Movement evens out fluid and salt balance, helping your body use up excess blood sugar while burning fat.  Any physical activity done regularly helps increase the size and number of your mitochondria, the powerhouses helping your body operate more efficiently in addition to making you feel better, more energized.

·      If you want to reduce doctor’s visits – count your steps with a pedometer

Sitting has been described as the new smoking. The more you sit, the higher the risk of serious health problems.  Not that many years ago, most Americans spent most days performing physically demanding tasks.  Today, most of us spend our days seated at a desk job in front of a computer, barely moving. 

The best thing you can do is to simply get up and move more often.  In fact, every 45 minutes, get up and take a 5 minute walk – it all adds up by the end of the day.  Wearing a pedometer can be an excellent way of not only keeping track of the number of steps but also to remind you to be more physically active.  Many of us have heard of the 10,000 steps a day push but if you can get in at the very least, 7,000 steps, this can vastly improve your health.

Don’t discount short-burst activities such as raking leaves or pacing while talking on your phone. If you can sneak in more movements like this each day, this can result in positive improvements in blood pressure, cholesterol levels, waist circumference, and lower levels of C-reactive protein, an inflammatory marker found in the blood linked to health problems such as heart disease and arthritis.

·      If you want to lose weight – combine strength training with cardio

Curbing calorie intake takes precedence over exercise for losing weight – a study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that most sedentary women, who did three weekly, high-intensity treadmill workouts for 12 weeks without changing their eating habits, did not lose weight. 

Yet exercise is not to be discounted – data from the National Weight Control Registry, a decades long study of people who have lost a significant amount of weight and have kept it off, did so by exercising most days of the week.

What appears to work best for long-term weight loss is a combination of strength training and aerobic exercise.  Aerobic exercise burns calories that would otherwise be stored as fat which strength training builds and preserves muscle mass.  Lifting weights also helps offset age-related muscle loss, keeping your metabolism revved even when at rest.

·      If you want to reduce stress or depression – exercise most days of the week

There is no denying that exercise can make you feel better both physically and mentally.  People who engage in regular physical activity tend to have less stress and anxiety and higher self-esteem than those who are inactive, even during rough times. 

Exercise has been known to be a mood booster.  When focused on where you’re walking or lifting a weight correctly, it hard to worry about things bothering you.  It’s like taking a break from negative thoughts in your head as movement increases brain chemicals such as serotonin and endorphins.  These mood-enhancers ease pain while increasing pleasure helping lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol.