Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Exercise - "The Training Effect"

I haven't spent much time on this blog discussing issues, which is totally my fault! I did have a very long, academic article all done in draft and then piked because it was too long and academic and as a result refrained from discussions on this blog. When I have time to redraft my missive I will do that, but with the new year and new resolutions, it's time to get on my soapbox.

One such issue besides the state of the food industry in Australia is the importance of exercise for every day living.

I know, I know. Everyone already knows how important it is. Every study that comes about about every Western disease practically concludes that exercise is beneficial. Along with healthy diets, exercise can lower blood pressure, lower risks for diseases from cardiac disease, strokes and diabetes to Alzheimers. It makes you feel good. There is no doubt that it can also make you look good, or at least better than you do when you don't exercise. But why don't more people do it? Why don't more people eat correctly too?

I've been reading a lot of really interesting articles on the topic of exercising and its benefits. But one that really struck me is the idea of the "Training Effect". In a nutshell, the Training Effect is what happens when a person starts regularly exercising, and they get stronger, more flexible, faster and their body becomes generally more efficient. Exercise doesn't just benefit one muscle group or one organ in the body, rather the body as a whole benefits from the exercise. Metabolism also increases. Its really very cool and one of the main reasons we should exercise (apart from preventing all those nasty Western diseases).

However, one fitness professional, James Fell, mentioned in his article in titled "Exercise and Eating Connection: Why You're Still Fat" in regard to losing weight:

"The first step to losing weight is to focus on exercise, not calorie burning. Exercise breeds healthy eating. The more you exercise, the less you crave junk.
I can't tell you how much this resonated for me. In my previous life as a corporate wannabe, I was often accused of being "the health nut" and my well-meaning co-workers would often curl up their top lips with distain at my daily lunchtime salad and poke fun of my consistently healthy eating.

However one thing was inextricably linked to my salad & fruit obsession: and that was my gym obsession. If I skipped the gym for a couple of weeks, the diet would slide too. However after a good workout, I literally craved healthy unprocessed foods. And this has happened consistently over the years since I first discovered Hi NRG aerobics in the late 80's. [Now I'm really showing my age ;-)] *

So, it would appear, I am not the only one who thinks that good eating habits follow regular exercise.

Which started a bit of research on the point. I found a reference to the issue at which refers to a study by Miguel Alonso, a researcher at Harvard University in Boston who stated that epidemiological studies have suggested that:
“Physical exercise seems to encourage a healthy diet. In fact, when exercise is added to a weight-loss diet, treatment of obesity is more successful and the diet is adhered to in the long run.”
"Several previous studies which have measured changes in the brain and cognitive functions in relation to exercise, have found regular physical exercise to cause changes in the general working and structure of the brain, Alonso also said."**
Fascinating.  I am living, breathing, healthy proof of this.

So: if your diet is unhealthy, you're overweight and you would like to do something about it, perhaps it is time to do just start exercising every day and see what happens. 

So, it could be that the key to people eating better is exercising more. But that then begs the question: how to get people off the couch and away from the TV and Facebook?  I guess if I knew how to do that, I wouldn't be doing what I'm doing now :-)

Has anyone else experienced this connection between exercising and wanting to eat healthy food?

* Happily I have moved on from my g-string, fluro leotard wearing Hi NRG aerobics classes

** See article here And while you're there, check out the article too on how to avoid injury whilst Irish dancing! LOL

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.