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you can improve your health with natural approaches.
There are hundreds of thousands of pages of FREE content on this site, I
have over 20,000 pages on exercise alone but here are a few of the top pages
that will help you get a good perspective on healthy exercise
You can use my search engine to find the
answers to all your health questions. But for now why don't you enjoy some of the
highlights of articles I have previously written:
Exercise is a critical component of good health, especially as you age. Exercise
will help you:
- Sleep betterLose weight, gain weight, or maintain weight, depending on your needs
- Improve your resistance to fight infections
- Lower your risk of cancer, heart disease and diabetes
- Help your brain work better, making you smarter.
The key to obtaining the benefits of exercise is to find a program and stick to
it. Of course, it is useful to have a guide, and toward that end I offer the recommendations
below -- and an exercise table you
can print out and use to help you track your progress.
Key Points to Remember When Exercising
Listen to your body.
You must be careful with your exercise as if it is done improperly it may actually
worsen your health. So, if exercise worsens your symptoms, modify your program
or, if need be, stop.
even though your body desperately needs exercise to improve, you will only get worse
if you violate your current limitations. So you may have to start with as little
as one or two minutes a day, and work your way up from there. As your energy and
health improve, you will be able to tolerate larger amounts of exercise, which will
lead to weight loss and increased energy.
Exercise is simply one of the most powerful tools available to drop your insulin
levels, and elevated insulin levels are one of the primary drivers for high blood
pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and weight gain. It is my belief that properly
performed exercise is far more powerful for controlling these symptoms than any
drug yet developed.
It helps to hire a personal trainer who can guide you through the specifics of a
good exercise program. If you do use a personal trainer, please be aware that many
don't understand the nutritional principles discussed on this site, and it is useful
to ask them to read the nutrition plan to
understand the path that you are on.
Research has shown that to lose 10 percent of your body weight, and keep it off,
you need to exercise for one hour, five days a week. This level of exercise is only
required if you are overweight, as you have an accumulated an exercise debt that
must be "repaid" to regain your health.
So not everyone needs this amount of exercise. In my experience, those who are overweight,
have high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol or are diabetic do benefit from
this high level of exercise until they are able to normalize their health challenges.
Start with walking if you are overweight.
Most heavy people start with walking, and that is an excellent choice as it is low-risk
and inexpensive. If you are starting out in poor shape, slow-paced walking will
produce benefits, but if you are starting out in better condition, you will need
to walk faster and/or farther to see any results.
Regardless of your starting level, the more vigorous your walking pace, the more
dramatic the conditioning effects will be. When walking for exercise you should
walk at a steady pace that is fast enough to cause your heart rate to rise.
The major problem with walking, however, is that many people become fit relatively
rapidly but don't increase the intensity of the workouts as they raise their fitness
level. Once you become comfortable with a routine, it is important to increase the
intensity in order to continue benefiting.
Once you get in shape, you'll need to walk for more than two hours to achieve significant
health benefits. Therefore, once you reach that point, it may be wise to choose
a more vigorous activity such as jogging,an elliptical machine, sprinting, or strength
training, instead of merely walking.
For more information on walking for fitness, see my articles "The
Power of Walking," and "Walk
Your Way to Better Health."
Increase your intensity regularly.
Ideally you should exercise at an intensity that makes it somewhat difficult to
talk to the person next to you. This prevents you from having to measure your pulse
or use a heart-rate monitor.
If you can comfortably talk to the person next to you, you aren't working hard enough
to produce the benefits you need to lose weight. However, if you are breathing so
heavily that you cannot carry on a conversation at all, then you are exercising
too hard and need to cut back a bit.
Using this simple technique as a guide will assure that you're constantly increasing
your intensity as your fitness level increases.
Do anaerobic training!
There is abundant new scientific evidence, like this
2007 study, that clearly demonstrates there are enormous benefits to interval-type training.
I now firmly believe that although endurance cardio training is important, it really
needs to be part of a more comprehensive program that includes short bursts of activity
at very high intensity, individualized for your specific fitness level.
The new evidence suggests that this may actually provide MORE protection against
heart attacks than long durational aerobic type exercises.
Another major benefit of this approach is that it radically decreases the amount
of time you spend exercising, while giving you even more benefits. For example,
intermittent sprinting produces high levels of chemical compounds called catecholamines,
which allow more fat to be burned from under your skin and within the exercising
muscles. The resulting increase in fat oxidation increases weight loss. So, short
bursts of activity done at a very high intensity can help you reach your optimal
weight and level of fitness in a shorter amount of time.
It would be wise to have clearance by your physician if you are not in good shape
before embarking on a program like this. However, you could start simply by walking
and progress at your own pace.But this is a technique that should help nearly anyone
who uses it.
feel ambitious you can advance to running, which is my personal favorite -- I have
been a runner since 1968. It is one of the most efficient and inexpensive ways to
stay healthy; the only equipment required is a good pair of shoes. Please read my
to Go From Sedentary to Running in Just Five Steps" for simple step-by-step
instructions that can help turn you into a runner.
If you do decide to run, please recognize that most shoes will not last more than
six months. If you use them longer than six months you will increase your risk of
One of the downsides of running is that you must depend on the weather to cooperate.
You can always use a treadmill, of course, but that adds the expense of a health
club or the equipment for your home. If you are elevating your program to this level
and will invest in equipment, I believe that an elliptical machine is, for reasons
explained below, far superior to the treadmill in providing an optimal aerobic exercise
Try an elliptical machine.
Elliptical machines are generally less expensive and far quieter than treadmills
and provide a complete lower body workout by rotating the use of the different muscle
groups on your legs. However, you will have to be sure to use the elliptical that
can incline throughout various levels. Some models have a fixed based and handles
that allow you to exercise your arms, but I believe it is more helpful to exercise
the different leg muscles as they are much larger than your arm muscles.
For more information about the benefits of an elliptical machine over a conventional
treadmill, please see my article "Ellipticals
Run Ovals Around Treadmills."
You may not realize it, but
exercise has been clearly shown to reduce cancer rates, by lowering insulin
levels, increasing immune function and antioxidant defense, and optimizing your
hormone levels and DNA repair.
Incorporate strength training to optimize your health benefits
Rounding out your exercise program with a 1-set strength training routine will ensure
that you're really optimizing the possible health benefits of a regular exercise
study published in the journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise
confirms that for the average person exercising by resistance training,
the number of repetitions (the number of times a muscle or group of muscles is used
to lift a weight) is not of major importance; a single set of repetitions was found
to be almost as effective in maintaining fitness as three sets. The ACSM -- the
largest sports medicine and exercise science organization in the world -- and the
U.S. Surgeon General have also been recommending a 1-set exercise program for some
Incorporating a simple 1-set, 5 to10-minute weight lifting routine into your daily
program will definitely improve fitness, and is a practical, obtainable goal for
most people. There are some key concepts to keep in mind, however, as not just any
set of weight training will do.
You need enough repetitions to exhaust your muscles. The weight should be heavy
enough that this can be done in fewer than 12 repetitions, yet light enough to do
a minimum of four repetitions. It is also important NOT to exercise the same muscle
groups every day. They need at least two days of rest to recover, repair and rebuild.
More is clearly not better here.
As long as you're consistently doing the cardiovascular portion of your exercise
program, such as using an elliptical machine, you won't really require leg training
exercises as you're already working out your leg muscles sufficiently. This will
help keep the time spent on resistance training down to well under ten minutes.
For more in-depth information on setting up a strength training program, please
My Recommendations for Weight Training.
Exercise correctly to optimize weight loss
If you are going to use exercise for weight loss, consider a weight bearing exercise.
It has been my experience that non-weight bearing exercises, like swimming and bicycling,
are not as efficient or effective for weight loss. You will typically need to exercise
four times as long in these activities to receive the same benefit of running or
using the elliptical. Since most of us are seriously pressured for time, these exercises
become less practical.. Additionally, to maximize your weight loss efforts, make
sure you include high-intensity interval exercises in your program (see segment
on anaerobic training above) and strength training.
Swim, but avoid chlorinated pools
Swimming is one of the best exercises on the planet, working all your major muscles,
but it poses the challenge of exposing you to the large amounts of chlorine that
are in most swimming pools.
The chlorine in most pools is readily absorbed through your skin and can contribute
to major disruptions in your biochemistry. Your body is very good at metabolizing
many things, but dioxins (a byproduct of chlorine) and other organochlorine compounds
aren't included. Even if you are exposed to very low levels, dioxins accumulate
in your body. The cumulative effects of dioxin in humans have been linked to:
- birth defects
- reproductive disorders
- immune system breakdown
However, you still have the option of swimming in the lake, river or ocean depending
on the temperature of the water.
Try bicycling, but be aware of safety measures.
If you decide to bicycle for health, study
all bicycle safety measures and be aware of the high risk for serious injury compared
with other exercise options.
Men who take up cycling should take special precautions to choose the right bicycle,
as men are prone to problems ranging from genital numbness, erection problems, soreness
and skin irritation in the groin area. The proper fit -- including the correct level
of pedal resistance and saddle height -- is important. A properly padded saddle,
along with bike shorts, can also help to reduce your risk of sexual problems. For
more information on this issue, please see my article "Hidden
Dangers of Riding a Bicycle."
Always, of course, wear your helmet.
Stick with it!
The fact that we need to exercise is not news to anyone. For those who don't exercise,
it's not a matter of understanding its benefits, but more so finding the motivation
to start -- and stay -- on a program. The big breakthrough is that we now have techniques
like EFT, a form of psychological acupressure
that can facilitate your ability to start and successfully stick with a long-term
exercise program. You can go to my free EFT manual
to learn how to use this incredible tool.
The Take-Home Message
Don't rely solely on cardio. You will need to incorporate interval-type training,
along with strength training to develop a far more rounded and comprehensive exercise
program. You may also want to integrate something to promote flexibility and core
muscles, such as
yoga, which has been proven particularly beneficial if you suffer from back
When you engage in cardio-type exercises, make sure you do it intensely enough so
that it's difficult to carry on a conversation. If you can't talk at all, you need
to tone it down, but if conversation is a breeze, you're going too slowly to generate
the aerobic benefits that exercise is capable of doing.
To help you keep track, you can print out
this daily exercise table. I find that keeping this schedule someplace visible
(on your refrigerator, bathroom mirror, or desktop at work) is an extremely motivating
way to stick to your routine.