The magic of exercise

We all know diet and exercise are key factors in losing weight, but why does exercise make such a big difference? In suggesting that exercise will help you to lose weight, most people would think of the extra calories burnt during the workout, but what if exercise could continue to help you lose the extra pounds, even after the exercise is over? Find out if you could maximise your weight loss efforts by adding the right exercise regime to your daily activities.

“Exercise can speed up your metabolism” is a common belief, but what does this mean and does exercise actually speed up your metabolism? The word metabolism refers to the biochemical reactions that are going on in your body all the time to keep you alive and your body functioning at an optimum level. It involves cell reproduction through division which is crucial to your bodies repair process, but this is also a major factor in our bodies aging process. The more damage your body is exposed to such alcohol, smoking, chemicals, stress, unhealthy foods etc., the more your body has to repair itself and the quicker you will age. So, do you really want to speed up your metabolism? Probably not!

In reality, what you actually want to improve is your body’s ability to burn fat, in order to lose weight. Whilst the right diet is paramount to achieving successful weight loss, there are a few other things you can do to help you on your weight loss journey. For example; getting the right amount of sleep, drinking enough water and not drinking too much alcohol, to name a few. However, one of the best ways to optimise your weight loss is exercise. So, how does this actually work? Warning: Geeky science part coming up!

Most of the cells in your body contain little energy power houses, know as mitochondria. These little super hero’s convert glucose and fatty acids into cellular energy. This is what gives your cells the energy to function. When you exercise regularly your body produces more mitochondria, which give your muscle cells the power to work harder, for longer periods of time. So, what does this mean? What this translates to is that, the more you exercise, the more mitochondria you will have in your muscles and the quicker and easier it is for your body to utilise your energy stores, otherwise known as fat. To put it simply, more mitochondria equals easier weight loss.

Bad news

As you get older, the number of mitochondria you have begins to decline due to damage. This damage can come from exposure to toxins, pesticides, medications, heavy metals and processed and sugary foods. All of these cause damage to your mitochondria as you age, resulting in less energy, premature aging and an increased risk of chronic health conditions. So, this is one of the reasons why you may find it harder to lose weight as you get older. The good news is you can encourage your body to make more mitochondria through exercise. So, if you really want to lose weight, the best option to combat those stubborn fat cells and boost your energy levels is to increase your exercise, as well as kicking your diet into shape.

What type of exercise works best?

Not all exercise creates the same result. For the weight lifters out there, sorry but it’s not good news. Whilst weight lifting is the most effective way of building muscles, it doesn’t have a remarkable effect on the production of mitochondria. The runners, however, will be happy to hear that regular cardiovascular exercise does increase the production of new mitochondria. As for the winner, current evidence is pointing to the real champ in the mitochondria production contest as being high intensity interval training, otherwise known as HIIT.

So, if you really want to boost your energy levels and HIIT your weight loss targets, whilst also preventing premature aging, why not try adding some high intensity interval training to your weekly routine for 15-30 minutes, 2 or 3 times a week.

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