Decoding Exercise

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I’m lucky that each and every day I go to work, I get to work side by side with some really smart health professionals.  Not just in bariatrics, but in many aspects of health, wellness, nutrition and fitness.  One colleague in particular, John Petruzzi, is our in-house Exercise Specialist.  I thought it’d be a great idea to have him guest post on Bean A Foodie to explain all the wonderful things about physical activity.  So, welcome John! fitness

When fitness professionals speak about exercise, they are really talking about energy systems of the body and how they work.  Specifically, there are two main systems of the body being worked while you exercise:  the aerobic and anaerobic systems.  The aerobic system is used when you are doing cardio – like jogging, walking, aerobic classes, elliptical, etc.  The anaerobic system  (which happens to be the most over looked and most neglected) is used when you are strength training.

Many people will just focus on one or the other – doing lots of cardio or just lifting weights.  However, when you think about these two  systems of the body, both account for 50% of the exercise equation.  When you are only working one system you are only tapping into at most 50% of the results you could be getting.  So it is extremely important to exercise both the aerobic and anaerobic  systems because they go hand in hand with each other and allow you to obtain the best results possible.

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Divide your time equally between cardio activities (like jogging, biking or swimming) with strength training.  The cardio activities will help burn calories and can, overtime, increase your metabolic rate (your body’s natural calorie burner).  Strength training will help build and strengthen muscles first and foremost.  But it also helps strengthen your bones AND can increase the amount of calories you burn naturally – muscle burns more calories than fat!

One other important component of exercise is flexibility or stretching.  You should look at this aspect of training not as intense exercise but more as maintenance and recovery.  Race cars, for example, do not just show up to the track to race and then go home to sit around in a garage.  They must have their oil changed, brake fluid, parts, tires, suspension everything has to be in working order and ready to go for each and every race or there are going to be issues.  The same applies with our body.  If you expect your body to perform a certain way you must take care of it a certain way and this is where stretching, yoga and massage comes into play.

Young woman doing sport in gym

I am a huge advocate for foam rolling and massage I think it is the best way to loosen up tension in the muscle and relieve stress in the connective tissue and ligaments.  Stretching is also a great way to loosen up as well and stay flexible.  Like the systems of your body, there are types of stretching.  Static stretching is where you hold certain stretches and positions and should always be done after exercise never before.  Dynamic stretching should be done as a warm-up which means you should involve movement in your stretches.

The benefits of cardiovascular exercise and strength training are a mile long.  Anywhere from improving hypertension, lowering cholesterol to improving physical mobility in conditions such as chronic arthritis and even preventing osteoporosis.  This combined with a healthy diet can lead to huge improvements in your overall health.  So make a plan to meet with a trainer or exercise specialist to help come up with a physical activity plan that works for you.  Your body will thank you for it!

John Petruzzi, BS, USAW

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