I just returned from 10 days of training down at my home in Mesa Arizona. I'm training for a bike ride from Calgary, Alberta to Austin Texas in support of "cancer survivors" in the fall through an event called, "Cancervive". For most of my life, daily exercise has been a priority, so it doesn't seem strange to ride 900km in the past 10 days.
I don't have to tell you that you should be exercising. And it doesn't have to be 900 kms in 10 days either; you already know that. What I don’t understand, is why so many people don’t get off their behinds and make excersie a part of their life, especially when they know how good it is for their health and vitality.
Every time I go to my place in Arizona I'm reminded of this old quote about exercising and it goes like this, "I felt like exercising the other day, so I took a nap until the feeling went away". Judging by the size and state of health in Arizona, I think lots of napping going on.
If you’re looking for a few good reasons to get active, they’re listed below and every year researchers provide us with even more.
Benefits of Exercise
Exercise helps with weight loss and prevents developing obesity. It’s been proven to exacerbate oxidative stress throughout the body. The more we can stay near our optimal weight, the better our body will be at functioning optimally. An easy way to determine your healthy “Body Mass Index” is to use this “BMI Calculator” to determine if you are normal, overweight, or obese.
For years now, it’s been clinically proven that a regular exercise program contributes to a healthier circulatory system and the potential prevention of heart disease, the number one killer in
For those with diabetes, exercise helps the body become more sensitive to its own insulin production, making it less likely that insulin replacement therapy will be necessary.
Exercise also helps the body fend off diseases like Osteoporosis by helping the bones with their regenerative processes. Another benefit of exercise is increased strength and coordination. You'll stay stronger and feel younger longer, and have much less chance for dangerous falls as you age.
All that said I find that regular exercise works wonders for your “mind”. Many beginner athletes I coach who follow a regular exercise program for at least a month, begin to report an elevated sense of well-being. Because the body produces endorphins when exercising perhaps it’s probably the closest thing to a "feel good" drug that nature has to offer.
And finally, and I can’t resist, regular physical activity can leave you feeling energized and looking better, which may have a positive effect on your sex life. But there's more to it than that. Regular physical activity can lead to enhanced arousal for women. And men who exercise regularly are less likely to have problems with erectile dysfunction than men who don't exercise.
How to manage Extreme Exercise
Now let me turn my attention to the people that exercise for performance. After all that I’ve said about exercise above, one would think that there are no downsides to working out, so the adage, “more has to be better”, must be true. Not so fast. To maintain optimal health, you have to eat right and take foods or natural supplements that have a high Oxidative Radical Absorption Capacity (ORAC) value on a daily basis. This is important to prevent the elevated free radical damage and oxidative stress brought on by intense exercise. High performance athletes in sports like cycling, running and triathlon have to pay particular attention to what happens to the body, especially during the stress cycle of their training periodization.
Unfortunately, there is a downside to strenuous exercise when a lack of attention to nutrition and diet are not carefully considered. It’s been clinically proven that excessive training significantly increases free radicals and oxidative stress damage. In fact, in the early 1980’s running guru, Dr. Kenneth Cooper linked decrease immunity to strenuous exercise.
If you exercise excessively in preparation for an Ironman Triathlon, the Boston Marathon, or some kind of strenuous athletic endeavour, it's important to ensure you have advanced sports nutrition as well as taking high quality antioxidants and vitamins to combat the free radicals you're releasing into your body. I have personally experienced significant cycling performance improvements by taking a juice that’s high in antioxidants, anti-inflammatories and essential vitamins. So it’s very important that any athlete that trains strenuously day after day should consider their diet for both health and athletic performance.
It seems that every coach or sport physiologist has a different approach regarding exercise. The key is to follow Nike’s advice and “Just do it”, and do it regularly. If you’re just starting an exercise program, walking is potentially the best form of exercise that just about anyone can integrate into their lifestyle. A good 30-60 minute brisk walk five to seven times a week is a great start for optimal health. Most importantly, I aways suggest that you find a sport or activity you look forward to doing everyday. If you’re going to spend time exercising, why not do something you look forward to every single day. I love cycling. I love it so much, I hate missing a day. Try to find something that becomes your “fitness passion”.
To improve your athletic performance you have to improve your body’s ability to recover. So in addition to your training program, it's equally important to maintain a proper nutritional diet that’s high in antioxidants and anti-inflammatories to help your body regenerate and recover. You should understand the role of the essential vitamins and minerals to help maintain health and prevent diseases. Be careful to choose only natural and high quality supplements to ensure you get the most out of your easy, moderate and intense workouts.
And remember: if you’re new to any form of exercise, consult your doctor before you start.
Enjoy the ride.....Rob