Key 10 – Fitness Is Key And Activity

FITNESS is key and ACTIVITY is maximised with a daily goal of 30 – 60 minutes.

Activity and exercise is good because:

  • Exercise builds strength, suppleness and stamina that makes it easier for us to go about our daily chores. Being fitter means you don’t get as tired as when you are unfit. You just have more energy for everything and you feel good. It really enhances your quality of life.
  • There are immediate and direct benefits, in that it burns calories and makes us slimmer. By walking for 60min you will burn off approximately 350Kcal (1500kJ) or 5 slices of bread. If you should walk 60min each day of your life, it would actually prove difficult to gain more unwanted weight.
  • The long term benefits are numerous and well documented. To cut to the chase – a fitter you will be less likely to land up in hospital. As one gets fitter one’s risk of getting hospitalised for all the wrong reasons diminishes quite rapidly. You may want to check out this link.  
  • Gym work is a good option in winter when it is cold outside. If you have not been to a gym before it might be a good idea to get one of the gym assistants or a personal trainer, but preferably a biokineticist to get you on a program. If not permanently then just to get going. Never ever take their dietary advice though, because most of them believe in higher protein diets which will leave you with less energy, snacking on the wrong things and, in the end, not slimmer than before. But, by all means, follow their training program. What we like about gym work is that the extra kilo or two of muscle you build in the winter season becomes like an extra engine that burns off kJ. Gym work not only makes you stronger to cope with everyday life, but:

1.    Expends energy and kilojoules when you exercise.
2.    You burn more calories when your body is recovering.
3.    Because of the extra muscle you have built, your basic metabolic rate (BMR) is higher, which means it is easier to control the winter flab.
It is a three way benefit.

  • You can do any type of activity, preferably something you enjoy and are likely to do the rest of your life, e.g. dancing, trampolining, cycling, walking, running, Zumba, aerobics, etc. As long as you get moving!
  • One always feels good after exercise. One feels energized and relaxed after a good work out. It relieves stress and increases the release of endorphins, which give you a sense of wellbeing.
  • If you never exercise, you should always prefer low GI (slowly digestible) carbs. However, if you exercise regularly, even if it’s just 30 – 60 minutes per day, you can at least choose intermediate or high GI carbs immediately after exercise. If you exercise more than 60 – 90 minutes, you can also consume higher GI carbs during exercise, which makes your diet more varied.
  • The secret of success with all exercise is to do it regularly. How hard you train at first is not that important, but to get a rhythm going is very important. Build the habit even if you start off slowly. Do it religiously for 6 weeks and you will be hooked for life.

There are factors that can influence your Basic Metabolic Rate:

  • According to Mahan and Arlin (authors of a scientific book on nutrition), energy is defined as the capacity to work. Energy provided by food is locked in the chemical bonds of carbohydrate, protein, fat and alcohol. This energy is released when food is digested. We do know the simple equation that energy intake = energy output results in weight maintenance. However we also know that the variables of the equation are more complicated.
  • Your metabolic rate, the rate of kilojoules used by your body in a resting state, is a major predictor of your energy output and indirectly your weight. You can positively influence your metabolic rate by building more muscle mass. Although our metabolic rate varies due to many factors, it is associated with heat loss and maintenance of lean muscle mass.
  • Body surface area – there is a relationship between the surface area and the amount of metabolically active tissue. The resting metabolic rate is not so much dependant on body size, but rather the extent of fat free or lean muscle mass. Women, who have more fat in proportion to muscle than men, generally have a 5-10% lower metabolic rate than men of the same height and weight.
  • Growth – the metabolic rate is the highest during periods of rapid growth e.g. puberty.
  • Endocrine secretions – Thyroid hormone and nor-adrenaline are the principal regulators of metabolic rate. Low thyroid hormone levels can decrease the metabolic rate with 30 – 50%. If this is the case with you, you need medication in the form of tablets that can replace your thyroid hormone, so that you don’t pick up weight. Emotional excitement and stress on the other side can increase energy expenditure via adrenaline’s effect on the nervous system.
  • Sleeping – this drops the metabolic rate by about 10%.
  • Fever – there is  usually a 7% increase for each degree increase in temperature.
  • Extremes in temperature – people living in a tropical climate have a 5 – 20% higher metabolic rate compared to people living in a more temperate climate. Exercising in hot weather imposes a small additional load due to increased activity of the sweat glands. The effect of cold weather is dependent on clothes and insulation from fat.
  • Physical activity – this can directly and indirectly, through increased energy expenditure and/or muscle tissue, increase the metabolic rate with as much as 50%.
  • The thermogenic effect of food – firstly, eating a liberal mixed diet increases the metabolic rate with 10% due to the digestion, absorption and metabolism of nutrients. Secondly, the metabolic rate increases to burn off excess energy. This effect is even more pronounced when exercising after eating. A sudden deprivation in adequate energy intake will force adaptation to decrease the metabolic rate.
  • Menstruation, pregnancy and breastfeeding all increase the metabolic rate to various degrees.

Indeed some points to ponder, as many of the factors can actually be influenced by the kind of exercise you do and your activity level. 

In contrast to exercise, smoking has no benefits, but affects every cell of your body in negative way. The disadvantages of smoking are:

  • It is addictive, as your body gets addicted to the nicotine in the cigarettes, cigars or tobacco.
  • The nicotine contracts your arteries, which raises blood pressure. It also contributes to the development of atherosclerosis and increases the incidence of blood clots.
  • It is the main cause of lung cancer, but also most cancers, as well as emphysema.
  • Smokers struggle to exercise and get fit.
  • It causes bad breath.
  • It is bad for your family, friends and colleagues, as passive smoking damages their health.
  • Fertility in both men and women is badly affected by smoking.
  • It is the most easily preventable life style factor that affects your health.
  • When you have an operation (even a standard one like having your appendix removed), your wound can get septic much more easily if you smoke before and after you had the operantion.