This time of the year we are fighting for that runner’s high and post-gym buzz, but with the dwindling nights and cold weather, it makes it increasingly difficult to stick to a routine. Where do we find that love for pounding the pavements?
Benefits of exercise
Exercise is a fantastic tool to pair with a healthy diet for complete wellness. Increasing your activity is so much more than the physical benefits, it can also lead to mental peace and time for thought.
Exercising involves the movement of the skeletal and musculoskeletal system whilst utilising the cardiovascular and respiratory system too. All activity can be split into aerobic and anaerobic exercise, which is exercise completed with and without oxygen respectively. Aerobic exercise includes exercise like walking and slow-jogging. Whereas anaerobic exercise includes fast activities that require instantaneous energy with no time for oxygen to reach the active muscles. Such as weight lifting or short sprints. Therefore, anaerobic exercise uses quick carbohydrate energy stored in our liver and muscles.
Exercise that builds muscle improves strength, tone, insulin sensitivity and our body’s ability to manage fuels. The role of our muscles is not only to help us move and maintain posture but it also stores fuels. The body’s store of instant energy is called glycogen. This is the storage form of carbohydrate. When we eat carbohydrates they are broken down in our digestive system and slowly released into our bloodstream. An increase in blood glucose stimulates the release of insulin from our pancreas to move the carbohydrates out of the blood and into storage. Growing and developing muscle can allow our body to store more glucose/fuel and become more insulin sensitive. The more insulin sensitive we are, the better we manage fuels. This leads to long term improvement in health and reduction in chronic disease.
Moreover, exercise and weight-bearing activity can stimulate osteoblasts (bone-forming cells) to generate new bone and increase bone mineral density (BMD). Exercises that build BMD include jogging, tennis or dancing. Exercises that aren’t great for building BMD include swimming and cycling. Increasing density can help to reduce diseases such as osteoporosis and osteopenia.
Studies have shown that regular and vigorous physical exercise can reduce the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes risk, stroke, obesity, hypertension and osteoporosis.
It’s a well-known fact that exercise gives you that feel-good buzz but what can it really do for mental wellness. Improvements in mood occur via a biochemical pathway in the brain. During exercise, serotonin is stimulated. Serotonin is known as the ‘happy hormone’. Moreover, this inhibits stress hormone production such as adrenaline and cortisol. Thus reducing the feelings of anxiety and poor mood. This elation of mood is often called ‘runners high’ or the ‘post-gym buzz.’
One study found that just 30 minutes of treadmill walking for 10 consecutive days was sufficient to produce a clinically relevant and statistically significant reduction in depression.
Nutrition for exercise
● Fuel up and refuel correctly.
● Focus on healthy wholegrain carbohydrate sources before and after exercise for quick release energy and to restore glycogen stores.
● Stay hydrated.
● Consume unprocessed protein at every meal and after exercise to improve recovery.
● Aim for natural sources of electrolytes such as potassium, sodium, calcium and magnesium. This will help with recovering electrolytes lost in sweat.
Supplements for Exercise
● T5 fat burner - to promote fat loss and support a healthy exercise routine.
● BCAA - amino acids that promote muscle growth.
● Caffeine - to reduce the perception of effort.
● B Vitamins- supports food metabolism and energy production.
● Ginseng-promotes energy production.
● Creatine- helps to regenerate the energy forming compound ATP (adenosine triphosphate).
How to get motivated and stick to a programme?
‘M otivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.’
● Set fitness goals
● Start small and build up to reaching your goal.
● Pair up with a qualified personal trainer for a fitness programme tailored to you
● Set aside a specific day and time to do your exercise.
● Find a sport or exercise that you love.
● Don’t do an activity that you don’t enjoy doing.
● Don’t make excuses.
● Balance cardiovascular and muscle-strengthening exercises.
● Exercise socially, find a friend who would like to exercise with you.
All you can really do is little more than you did the day before- whether that’s taking the stairs, walking to work, or finding a new gym class. ‘Every journey begins with a single step.’
WRITTEN BY HARRIET HUNTER, ANUTR. NUTRITIONIST