Movement is Medicine – How Exercise Can Make You Smarter, Happier and Live Longer.

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The ability to move is remarkable. Without movement we become very unhealthy individuals. Our lymphatic system independently relies on movement to function as it doesn’t have it’s own pump, like our cardiovascular system. For those unsure what the lymphatic system’s purpose is then it is basically responsible for:

  • The removal of interstitial fluid from tissues i.e. swelling.
  • Absorbing and transporting fatty acids from the digestive system.
  • Transporting white blood cells to and from lymph nodes.

So pretty important!

Now why is adding a little bit of intensity to your exercise routine going to help keep you feeling young and looking amazing?

Strength training, compared to aerobic-based training, has been shown via research to have the following effects:

  • Increases lean body mass and decreases fat.
  • Strengthen all tissues in the body and prevents injuries.
  • Prevents metabolic diseases from occurring.
  • Prevents memory loss and degeneration of the brain.
  • Improves sleep and can help to manage stress.
  • Less Depression and More Happiness
  • Relieving lower back pain.
  • Improved reproductive health and libido.

So why aren’t more people taking advantage of this simple strategy?

It seems that many people don’t know the how to’s of strength training. Therefore, this article is all about how to invest in your health via strength training; it aims to get you out of your seat and pop down to the gym or do some bodyweight exercises at home.

 

  1. Increases lean body mass and decreases fat.

The main difference between aerobic styles of training like jogging, cycling, swimming and rowing are that they don’t provide anabolic conditions, but instead do the opposite. They are very catabolic, cause high amounts of oxidative stress and can actually increase fat storage due to the high levels of cortisol produced.

Resistance training, on the other hand, produces an optimal hormonal environment to burn fat and build lean muscle mass. A study of untrained middle-aged men who performed a hypertrophy style program for 16 weeks at 3 times a week gained on average 3.5kg of muscle, and reduced body fat by 0.6%.

For women, osteoporosis is very common with age. However, resistance training can prevent the onset. A study on female college athletes demonstrated an average of 2% increase in bone density over the course of a season using a mixture of weight training and sport practice. Bone density is again hugely important when it comes to preventing fractures as you get older.

In addition, the more muscle you have the more calories you will burn. Strength training with interval training are the most effective ways to do this. The main reason why these strategies are most effective to shredding fat are because they stimulate a process called “EPOC” which stands for Excess Post-exercise oxygen consumption. What this does is cause the body to continually use fat for fuel for the next 48-72 hours.

However, as soon as you stop aerobic-styles of training the fat burning process stops with it. By strength training and creating the EPOC your body will also release more growth hormone (that fat burning hormone) with as a response to the stress caused from training.

Conclusion: Do a mixture of both resistance and aerobic training to get the best of both worlds. Try doing your aerobic exercise first thing in the morning before breakfast as a result of it raising cortisol, and then perform your resistance training in the afternoon/evening.

 

  1. Strengthens all tissues in the body and prevent injuries.

Resistance training boosts bone, muscle and connective tissue growth. Emphasis on the eccentric portion of an exercise, i.e. the lowering portion, has been linked to improving tendon tensile strength and healing tendinopathies as a result of neovascularisation.

But there is a slight difference. Bones actually love being loaded and just holding heavy weight will stimulate the new bone growth. They’ve shown that males and females who strength trained decreased their risk of fractures by 50% and 20% respectively. Whereas ligaments and tendons prefer more dynamic, full range of motion exercises like Squats to stimulate growth.

Without heavy resistance training, these structures do not receive enough stimulus to remain healthy.

Conclusion: Introduce some form of jumping and resistance work into your routines e.g. Squats, Deadlifts in order to promote a healthy skeletal system.

 

  1. Prevent metabolic diseases from occurring.

It’s pretty conclusive in the research that strength training improves and corrects hormonal imbalances. The key hormone for longevity is insulin. This hormone is the storage hormone and if out of whack can create a lot of issues.

In fact, strength training is the number one way to get your insulin health in check. One study found that people who lifted weights had a 34% reduction in risk from diabetes compared to a control group. By building muscle mass you increase your ability to store and receive glucose thus improving insulin sensitivity transforming your muscles and liver into large sponges absorbing all the glucose.

Conclusion: Resistance training helps to diminish glycogen stores thus enabling you to absorb your carbohydrates better into the right places – the liver and muscles – rather than spilling over into fat.

 

  1. Prevents memory loss and degeneration of the brain.

Now I can’t remember this one…

Only joking! All forms of exercises have benefits shown to have huge cognitive benefits. Whether it’s Yoga, Hiking or Weightlifting. This is due to the adrenalin and endorphins released post workout. As well exercising, if structured properly, should be very rewarding and can become addictive due to people attempting to seek the same highs.

Strength training, in my view is the king of all training modalities due its ability to reduce inflammation in the brain, boost self-esteem/confidence, and give you an awesome sense of well being and accomplishment.

As well, learning new tasks is extremely healthy for the brain in creating new links. For me, I have started learning gymnastics, tricking and bodybuilding. Even though to some this may not be very exciting, what it is is very stimulating for the brain to have a new focus and learn new coordination firing patterns.

You may be surprised but aerobic exercise can actually improve your learning and memory. What research has shown is that learning a new skill increases the release of a protein in the brain called BDNF which is responsible for the development of new nerves and synapses. A study found that those who performed regular aerobic exercise significant had better recall, attention, memory and reaction time compared to a control group.

Conclusion: Exercise makes you happier, smarter and even wealthier so isn’t that enough motivation?

 

  1. Improves sleep and can help to manage stress.

Now my easiest advice for those who suffer from insomnia or have trouble sleeping is…EXERCISE! After a hard session in the gym or a long run outside, there is nothing more attractive than resting the eyelids and hitting the sack.

It has been shown that moderate/light exercise, compared to high-intensity exercise, has improved people’s ability to get to sleep faster, treating insomnia and sleep anxiety.

From experience doing large amounts of high-intensity exercise, I sleep pretty well with both. The type of exercise will be determined by your neurotransmitter dominance and deficiencies. Take our 5 minute Braverman questionnaire to see if you are deficient in a particular neurotransmitter. If you are GABA deficient, we have just the supplement for you!

Conclusion: If you exercise you will have a better quality night sleep and get to sleep faster. Face plant central.

 

  1. Less Depression and More Happiness

We all know after exercise that we feel better even if we don’t have depression. However there have been links of how exercise can improve one’s mood from both physical and psychological pathologies.

Resistance training and aerobic exercise have both been shown to be as effective as antidepressants for treating depression. People recovering from serious illnesses or heart attacks have also found exercise to be effective in boosting moral and preventing reocurrences.

What’s important is variety, having a social support network and doing whichever mean is most sustainable to you, whether it be lifting weights or going cycling.

Conclusion: Exercise is great way to meet like-minded people, become part of a community and give your social life a boosting…if needed?

 

  1. Relieving Lower Back Pain

Lower back pain (LBP) is the most popular reason for people to visit some kind of therapist in the UK. The frustrating thing is that LBP is totally preventable with the right guidance, exercise selection and frequency.

Attention must be placed on strengthening the deep and superficial muscles around the spinal column to correct posture and relieve poor mechanics and activation patterns of the lumbo-pelvic region.

To find out how to strengthen your core and prevent/relieve LBP, find an FMS instructor in your area

Conclusion: Sit less and move more. Build proper foundations before you start to add all the cool stuff on top. Get good at planks, press ups, squats, lunges, deadlifts, chin ups before anything else. They transfer to every other movement.

 

  1. Improved reproductive health and libido.

Last but not least and to some the most important reason why they continue to train is that exercise can improve your reproductive health and libido especially those who are obese or have diabetes due to it’s ability to balance hormones, increase testosterone levels and optimising the cortisol-release curve.

For both men and women, strength training has been shown to be superior to aerobic exercise for reproductive health due its ability to stimulate muscle growth, decrease body fat and improve detoxification of excessive estrogen.

Although don’t overdo it. Excessive resistance exercise can do the total opposite and completely strip you of your libido due to too much cortisol built up over time. This is called overtraining and is extremely fatiguing. Avoid it by planning back off weeks (50% intensity/volume) every 8-12 weeks depending on the type of training.

Conclusion: Make sure your nutrition and supplementation matches your activity level. If your training lots, then you must eat lots. This is where people go wrong and try and do more but don’t change their dietary habits.

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