Before the question of “Why exercise?” can be answered, it is important to first define exercise.
The definition of exercise has come to include a wide variety of activities, and when asked what exercise is, some might reply with walking, gardening, dancing, video games, sex and a list of other activities too long to touch on.
“Exercise is a process whereby the body performs work of a demanding nature, in accordance with muscle and joint function,” says Joshua Trentine, president of Overload Fitness. “It is best performed in a distraction-free, temperature-controlled environment and within the constraints of safety and should be done by meaningfully loading the muscular structures to inroad their strength in a minimum amount of time.”
Trentine says, however, that people often attempt to claim that all of their recreational endeavors are exercise. But if the activity does not meet specific criteria that allows for enough of a stimulus to excite the body to produce profound architectural changes, then you are left with activity and recreation, not exercise. However, that is not to suggest that recreation and activity are without benefit.
“These things are absolutely essential to us and we should be able to enjoy recreational activity for the rest of our days on Earth. But the enjoyment of many, if not all, of these recreational activities might not be possible if we are not participating in the normal and required maintenance for the human body, which we call exercise,” he says.
Smart Business spoke with Trentine about the definition of exercise and how it can benefit the human body.
What are the differences between exercise and recreation?
When restrictions are put on the term ‘exercise,’ the most common reaction is that people will complain that engaging in any physical activity, regardless of its classification, will cause them to burn calories. While most any activity can lead to the result of calorie wasting, or burning off calories that have been consumed, it can also be sarcopenic, which means muscle wasting.
Some have estimated that a person who runs an entire marathon will expend some 2,500 calories. While this might seem like a lot, realize there are 3,500 calories stored in just one pound of fat.
The person who engages in activity, whether considered exercise or recreation, and is not logging the calories consumed and expended to establish a calorie deficit will not have much luck losing any fat.
Why is it important to build muscle?
This gets back to the original question of why exercise. The simple answer is to preserve and increase the amount of lean tissue that you have.
Those who are much past the age of 25 have begun losing muscle on an annual basis. Those who are much past the age of 40 are losing the amount of muscle they have at a much more rapid rate.
While it is important for people of any age to engage in some level of exercise on a regular basis, it becomes far more critical to maintain an exercise routine as one ages. Not doing so can lead to a loss of muscle, which will impact your ability to participate in the recreational activities that you enjoy.
What are the best ways to burn fat?
Another common aim of exercise is to lose fat. However, fat loss can only occur if a calorie deficit is established. To do this, determine how many calories are needed to sustain your current body mass, then monitor your caloric intake to ensure that you are consistently leaving yourself with a slight calorie deficit. You might only need to reduce your calorie intake by between 250 to 500 calories per day from your typical intake. However, be sure that you have a proper balance among proteins, carbohydrates and fats.
The other component of fat loss is an increase in physical activity. Unfortunately, recreational activity is a very inefficient means of achieving this. Diet and exercise combined is the primary strategy for losing fat-preserving lean tissue.
As we age, it is critical to make sure that our weight loss efforts are discriminate, which means making the distinction between losing weight — a very generic term and a concept that could, in fact, be detrimental to your health — and instead striving to lose fat and preserve lean muscle mass.
What are the benefits of exercise, and how will it help maintain lean tissue?
Exercise, as we’ve come to define it here, will promote skeletal muscle gain — those major muscle groups under voluntary control — while preventing its loss. Skeletal muscle is of great importance to the body. Developing this type of muscle will improve strength, joint stability and protection; increase levels of HDL or ‘good’ cholesterol; and improve bone density and vascular and metabolic efficiency.
Engaging in a regular exercise routine will also help you increase stamina and mobility and contribute to your overall functional ability, which will allow you to engage in most any type of physical activity — from golf to gardening — with less risk of injury and for longer periods of time.
Joshua Trentine is president of Overload Fitness. Reach him at (216) 292-7569 and visit www.overloadfitness.com.
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