Friday, November 26, 2010

Power of Exercise

Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional. Do not treat this document as any form of medical advise. All the information here is from the articles I have read with the link posted.
I have been a big believer in exercising. This probably is due to the fact that my mother is diabetic and my father died of a massive heart attack at the age of 63. Even when I have been working out on and off, I had never paid too much of attention about a lot of facts related to exercising.

Some facts..
Every pound of fat is equivalent to 3500 calories. Does it mean that if you consume 3500 calories, you will gain 1 pound? Not true. Your body burns some of those calories in digesting the food and to maintain itself. At the same time, if you exercise on the machine to burn 3500 calories, will you loose 1 pound? Definitely not true. Initially, body will burn sugar and not fat.

Is it important to work out at the weight loss zone? Yes and No. To burn fat calories, you should be either on weight loss zone or on cardiovascular zone. I was told that if a person exercises at a higher rate than 75% of his/her maximum heart rate (read the entire post to know how to calculate your maximum heart rate), there is no added benefit. You will get tired faster and will have to cut short the exercise duration. But, working at a higher rate than weight loss zone will make your body burn calories for a long time after you have stopped exercising. I thought of sharing some of the information and I stumbled on an article which, covers all the details. So, here it is.

Do not go by the calories burnt on an exercise machine. Use it as a motivation and listen to your body. When you work out, you should be able to carry on a conversation, but not be able to sing. If you can sing, that means you are not working hard enough and if you can't talk, you are working too hard. For a person who works out just for health reason and not aiming too much of weight loss, 30 minutes exercise 5 times a week should be enough. This is assuming that person is eating a balanced healthy diet.

If you are wondering why this information is posted on a food blog, "I bake, cook for my mental health - that is to nurture my passion. I exercise to stay healthy". I do get off track and not work out here and there, but eventually I do go back to exercising. There are times when I wonder how easy it would've been if I wasn't passionate about in cooking, baking and eating the good food. But then, there wouldn't be this blog either. Right?

Source: From here. I have copied the necessary information and pasted here for an easy reading. From this point onwards, every information is from the source mentioned above.

What happens when you exercise?
As you first start to exercise no matter whether you are walking or running, your muscles immediately begin to use energy to allow them to work. For the first three minutes your muscles will burn glycogen, a special sugar which is stored in the muscles for a quick infusion of energy. Some glycogen is always stored within your muscle tissues. During this period fat is not burned. This process is called anaerobic metabolism. Often during the first few minutes of strenuous activity, especially during anaerobic metabolism, you may experience burning in muscles of your arms, legs or back. This is due to the creation of lactic acid which occurs when glycogen is burned. This burning sensation will soon go away.

As you exercise more than three minutes you will eventually burn up all of the glycogen stored within the muscles and your muscles will move into aerobic metabolism. When this occurs lactic acid production is stopped. This occurs because the glycogen is now being burned in the presence of oxygen which is brought to the muscles by way of the blood stream. As long as you breath correctly you will bring oxygen to the muscles and this process will continue.

Oxygen is essential to the muscle's ability to function correctly. With adequate oxygen the muscles can extract all the energy they need from blood sugar. During the period you exercise the liver and muscles will release their stored carbohydrate so that it can be used as energy by the muscles hence allowing you to keep on exercising.

Once these stores of glycogen are used up which usually occurs after about 20 minutes, the body will start burning its fat stores to produce blood sugar and ultimately glycogen. The longer you exercise the more fat burned. Fat, body fat and not dietary fat, can now be used virtually indefinitely to produce energy to support your exercise program.

While you are walking, you do not directly burn fat but once you stop walking the glycogen which has been burned up must be replaced. This can only happen by what you eat and by the liver draws fat from the body's fat tissues. If you are on a limited caloric intake then the food you ingest will be used basically for feeding your brain and fat stores will have to be drawn on to replace the glycogen used up while exercising.

Studies show that "fat-burning" may last for anywhere from six to twenty-four hours after a regular exercise program. This means that even moderate exercise has long term benefits for you.

Studies, however, also show us that the percentage of energy contributed from burning fat decreases as you increase the intensity of your exercise program. This means that you do not have to exercise intensely or exert great effort but rather than only mild to moderate exercise on a regular basis is needed.

How Long Should I Exercise Each Day?
What is suggested above is that you must exercise for at least 20 minutes each and every time you exercise. In the beginning less is acceptable. But gradually as you will become more conditioned to setting time aside, making exercise a part of your life and then you can increase your exercise time to a minimum of 20 minutes three to four times a week.

As you get more into the swing of things, you can either increase the frequency of your exercise program or increase the length of time you put aside for your exercise program. It is often wise to vary the exercises you use. For example, you can walk one day, play golf or tennis on another day and then alternate a different exercise, such as stationary cycling, cross country skiing and rowing to the list of exercises from which you chose, each day or every few days.

Eventually work up to 30 to 60 minutes of aerobic exercise each time you exercise. Remember, it is essential to start slowly and build stamina steadily until you reach this time range. It is also essential work hard enough to reach you heart target range.

Target Heart Range
Exercise is most valuable from a cardiovascular point of view when the heart is not over taxed but yet is challenged. The best way to do this is to bring the rate that our heart beats (pulse measured in the lower extremities) into a range which is between 60% and 85% of the maximum heart rate. The maximum heart rate refers to that approximate level after which there is real or potential danger to the individual and where the heart is over taxed. At this rate exercise is difficult and will cause fatigue within minutes or sooner. Below this and within the Target Range the heart is strengthened and made healthier. The target heart range is a calculated figure which depends on age. The ability to reach and maintain a heart beat within the target range depends on the health of the heart, conditioning, frequency of exercise and the length of time exercising.

It is essential that each individual about to embark on using a regular, strenuous exercise program should have a complete physical examination. If there is indication of heart disease or dysrhythmia an electrocardiogram should also be done.

Calculating the Target Heart Range:

1. The first thing you do is to subtract your age from 220 to get your maximum heart rate.

2. Multiply your maximum heart rate first by .60 (60%) and then by .85 (85%). This will give you your target heart range.

Suppose you are 25 years of age the calculations would look like the following:

220 - 25 = 195 195 x .60 = 117
195 x .85 = 166 (rounded off to the highest decimal)

If you are 35 years of age, the calculations would look like this.

220 - 35 = 185 185 x .60 = 111
185 x .85 = 157 (rounded off to the highest decimal)

Now you calculate your own target heart range: (Plug in your age at the blanks)
220 - ____ = ____ x .60 = ___ x .85 = ____
This is your Target Heart Range.

Note: There is one exception to this rule. That is men and women who are taking a specific group of medications called beta blockers. These medications (Betapace, Blocadren, Breviblock, Cantrol, Keroline, Inderal, Inderide, Levatol, Lopressor, Tenoretic, Tenormin, Timolide, Spectral, Topal XL, Viskin and Ziac) control the heart rate and therefore they will not allow the heart to reach the target range. Often what happens with individuals on beta blockers is that they will become fatigues long before they can get their heart rate into the target range, assuming they even can.

Taking Your Pulse:
In order to be sure that you are in your target heart range, you must take your pulse periodically. This is not always necessary, especially if you really do not care whether you reach your target heart range or not. However, if you do want to check your pulse, it is easiest taken during exercise in the area of the Carotid artery. If both hand are free you can take a peripheral pulse in one or the other of the wrists.

Carotid Pulse:
To take your pulse using the Carotid artery first find your Adam's Apple. It is best to do this first when you are not exercising. Touch the Adam's Apple with your thumb and then reach the first two fingers toward the side of the neck. You will feel a group of muscles running vertically from the base of the head down toward the notch of the color bone. You will find the carotid pulse just in front of this group of muscles approximately four finger breadths from the Adam's Apple.

It is best felt using the index and middle fingers. Do not use your thumb as you may feel its pulse and confuse you. Never push hard. Only a light touch is ever necessary to feel the carotid pulse. Pushing too hard can constrict the carotid artery and cause lightheadedness or even damage to the artery.

Once you locate your pulse you can either count for ten seconds and then multiply by six or count for fifteen seconds and multiply by four. Both of these methods will give your heart beats per minute.

To determine if you are in the target heart range take your pulse both half way through your exercise program and then again when you complete it. You can also take your pulse at any point during your exercise program, especially if you feel fatigued. If your heart rate seems irregular or you suspect you have already surpassed your maximum rate, slow down and back off until your heart rate becomes regular and returns to the Target Heart Range.

It should be clear from what we have said above that correct breathing is essential for the optimal results. This is often ignored but it should not be. It is essential that you never stop breathing, hold your breath or get out of breath while exercising. When this happens, your body will go into oxygen debt and this means that you will reduce the amount of fat you will later burn when your program is complete.

Since breathing is essential, we recommend that you learn to breathe regularly and easily as you exercise and that you never exercise so hard that you run out of breath. Generally, it is best to breathe in before exertion and breath out with exertion. Often this is hard to do unless you have good couching to keep you on track. For this reason it is often valuable to exercise in a group or under supervision until you master your breathing. Learning it right the first time is always the best idea.

Benefits of Regular Exercise:

1. Exercise builds muscle mass. Larger muscles burn more calories than smaller muscles. This means that more fat will be burned to maintain your muscles on our program. It also means that you can eat more without gaining weight.

2. Moderate exercise can decrease your appetite. Studies have shown us that light exercise increases appetite while heavy exercise decrease appetite initially but within a short time appetite will increase. Moderate activity, on the other hand, lowers appetite and decreases your desire to eat.

3. Exercise helps to reduce stress and depression both of which are common causes of overeating. While exercising, non-threatening and non-stress fully, endorphins are released which make you fell better. These natural chemicals diminish depression and relieve stress.

4. Exercise reduces your risk of heart disease. This is benefited when the individual eats a low fat, high complex carbohydrate diet high in magnesium.

5. It reduces blood pressure. This is benefited when the individual eats a low fat, high complex carbohydrate diet high in fiber and in magnesium.

6. It increases HDL-Cholesterol (the good cholesterol fraction) and diminishes LDL-Cholesterol (the bad cholesterol fraction). This is benefited when the individual eats a low fat, high complex carbohydrate diet high in magnesium.

7. Reduces the risk of diabetes by increasing the use of sugar in a healthy and productive way. It also helps because weight is lost and muscle mass is increased. Its benefits are most pronounced when associated with healthy eating and vitamin-mineral supplements.

8. Strengthen the heart muscle. As we exercise regularly, the heart muscle becomes stronger hence it pumps better and more blood is pumped with each beat of the heart muscle. This means the heart does not have to work so hard and hence becomes healthier.

9. Regular exercise will decrease your risk of osteoporosis in women. Exercise strengthens bones making them less likely to break.

10.Exercise can help you sleep better.

11. Regular exercise helps to keep the bowels operating on a regular basis.

12. It also helps to improve circulation and function of weight bearing joints.

13. It can help us to feel fit and it improves the function of the immune system. Therefore, regular exercise can help to decrease the risk of many different illnesses.

14.You not only feel better but look better hence stimulating self-image and self-esteem.

Warming Up and Cooling Down:
You will always by protecting yourself, your heart and your well-being if you warm up prior to strenuous exercise and cool off after prolonged exercise. This is essential. Warming up prepares the muscles for strenuous exercise. It decreases the chance of Charlie horses, muscle strains and injuries. It also prepares the heart to build slowly to be ready for the work out you are about to give it. Proper cool down will prevent soreness, cramping as well as getting the blood back to your heart after exercise. This can prevent dizziness and lightheadedness.

Generally, one should warm up and cool down for five to ten minutes before and after strenuous exercise. It can be considered to be part of the exercise. For example, if you are bicycling, ride at a reasonable pace without pushing it for the first five minutes than gradually increase your speed until you have reached you Target Heart Rate after you reached the end of your exercise program reduce your speed to about the same level of the warm up. This is best done as gradual winding down until the five to ten minutes are up and then the exercise can be terminated. The same thing applies to walking, running, jogging and tennis.

Have a great weekend!! Pin It


  1. Amazing info!Though many of us do exercise due to force or compulsion by oneself to combat the diseases only a few do with love and passion for exercises. This article is an eye opener. Thank You for this informative post.

  2. Good write up, I agree it's hard for foodies to connect with exercise. For someone who loves to eat and stay fit, I recommend my fav site

  3. What a perfect timing of me reading this post. I am starting myself back on a circuit training (actually moderate exercise) @ Curves after 5 months of no exercise and I get to read this. Lovely, no one can appreciate it better than me, believe me when I say :)

  4. Very useful information.. Thanks for sharing it...


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