My first blog post - Exercise

I finally decided to start writing down some of the things I talk to people about on a daily basis. I get lots of questions about different health topics as they come up during appointments, and anyone who’s come to see me knows I like to go in depth about them as much as I can. Here, I’ll try to address some of the most common, and more interesting things I discuss with people, and also different things I learn through continuing study. This post will talk about fitness, and how it helps health. I’ll also go into how and why to measure heart rate while exercising.

Think of exercise as something that makes you healthier all around. Not just by increasing strength and endurance, but it affects every system in your body. When you exercise, you make your body work by sending blood to places. This is vital for every organ and system. If your body is used to sending blood to different areas, when something goes wrong or gets injured, your body is better able to heal it.

Most people should be exercising to teach their body to burn fat as a fuel. Mostly, we just burn glycogen (sugar) stored in our muscles and liver during the day and also during exercise. In order to burn fat, we need to exercise a certain way. If you are working very hard and your heart rate is high, you aren’t touching fat. If you aren’t doing much exercise or movement during the day at all, you definitely aren’t touching fat cells. This is a description of how to teach your body how to burn fat as a fuel to gain health.

The best way to improve health is through exercise and nutrition. I’ll discuss exercise in this post. We can use heart rate to improve how our body works. Mostly, this should be done by working at a certain heart rate. You can calculate your heart rate target range by subtracting your age from 180 (ex. if you’re 40 years old, 180-40=140). This is the heart rate you should keep while doing a lot of your exercise. It might not seem like you’re working very hard, but that will come. This way, you also don’t have much risk of injury. If you work at this heart rate, you can start increasing time and effort, all while keeping your target heart rate. That is how you know you’re improving and getting healthier.

Now for the nitty gritty. When you breathe in, the lungs get full or air. Blood travels through the lungs and picks up oxygen. That blood goes to the heart and the heart pumps it to the body. When the body needs more oxygen, the heart has to pump faster and harder to get more blood out. You also take deeper breaths to increase the air in your lungs. Simple, right? Now, think of how this happens when you exercise. As your muscles need more blood, you heart pumps faster. As you improve efficiency by exercising at the target heart rate for a few weeks, you will be able to pump more oxygen rich blood to the muscles with fewer pumps. That means you can try harder, and keep the same heart rate. I’ve helped patients to do ironman races using this method. Once you build up the training effect, you can seemingly go forever.

Now, you’ve trained your body to send blood to places it needs it the most, and how to burn fat as a fuel. Besides being overall healthier, you WILL lose weight and have an overall better body composition.