The Importance of Exercise for Weight Control & Optimal Health

William Smith is the President / CEO and Founder of the INTRAFITT Corporation which was established in California in 1992. Will has won more than twenty-eight bodybuilding championships and is also known for his role as “THUNDER” on television’s American Gladiator between 1990 – 1992. He is a National and International Speaker on Performance Nutrition and Exercise Science.

Exercise is without a doubt a major ingredient in the “fat burning recipe”.  The other major ingredient, proper nutrition, will most likely never be effective by itself.

Unsuccessful attempts at reducing body fat continue to prevail and are largely due to an inadequate approach to exercise.  Even today with a suggested exercise pyramid, obesity and other chronic and degenerative diseases continue to escalate.  Just as we concern ourselves with nutrient deficiencies that can ultimately lead to death under extreme conditions, exercise deficiencies associated with an inactive lifestyle are not being linked to a number of severe physiological and psychological health problems such as cardiovascular disease, obesity, intestinal disorders, accelerated bone loss, muscle atrophy, insomnia, and many others.  Studies comparing fitness and mortality have concluded that even moderate levels of activity appear to offer protective agents against early mortality.  Unfortunately, the value of exercise has been extremely underrated in the United States as less than half of the population participates in regular exercise each day.  Other reasons supporting a sedentary lifestyle include finding time to exercise with a busy schedule, viewing exercise as an additional task to an already work filled day and the misconceptions that exercise causes slower weight loss.

From the standpoint of taking the easy road, the most difficult task in rearranging a daily routine is to replace conveniences with tasks that require effort.  Regardless of the above reasons not to exercise, there are a number of compelling reasons to begin and maintain an effective exercise program.  Of chief importance is the fact that a regular and properly conducted exercise program can significantly decrease body fat stores.  Furthermore, regular exercise helps to maintain lean muscle mass, increase the metabolic rate, accelerate fat burning enzymes (located in muscle tissue) and promote biochemical and intra-muscular changes which are essential for long-term weight management.

To put things in perspective, consider this that excess body fat may have relatively little to do with the total amount of food eaten; instead, it appears that the amount of fat that the human body is able to store and conserve may be directly related to the amount of daily physical activity that the body is forced to engage in.  Take for example wild animals which are both active and lean, when placed in cages and fed the same amount of food they are accustomed to eating, they inevitably become fatter.

Similar changes are seen in people who are assigned desk jobs after having been physically active most of their lives.  Consequently, people who do not participate in regular exercise progressively become fatter regardless of whether they restrict their food intake or not.  Increased activity also promotes an increased metabolic rate which may stay elevated for several hours following prolonged exercise.  This makes the exercising person a high calorie burner with an increased ability to waste excess energy as opposed to the sedentary person whose body conserves energy at every opportunity.

Inactivity may not be the only reason that the body is able to efficiently store fat.  Severe calorie restriction in itself can promote the storage of body fat through a process called gluconeogenesis (the process of converting protein to glucose).  During this process, body proteins are actually dismantled to be used for energy in the place of much needed calories.  As a result, a person who loses twenty pounds of body weight by restricting calories may lose as much as ten pounds of lean body mass.  This may look like a positive result as measured by the scale, however, a loss of lean muscle tissue can greatly decrease the body’s ability to burn fat.  Remember that fat is primarily burned inside the muscles.  Ultimately, if the main objective is to lose body fat, it is far more important to be concerned with the loss of body fat (as discerned by skin fold thickness), not body weight.

In good health and happiness,
Will Smith/aka Thunder of the American Gladiators

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