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Saturday, June 25, 2005

The Secret Benefits of a Fitness Lifestyle

Copyright © 2005 Joey Atlas

I can remember my first visit to a health club like it was yesterday. It was actually thirty years ago, when I was five years old. Even though it was a long time ago, that visit triggered something in me that is still with me today. That something was my desire to lead a fitness lifestyle.

I can go on and on here about all the health related benefits of working out and eating right. But the truth is you already heard or read about all these good things. So, I won’t bore you with what you already know.

What I do want to share with you are the benefits that you won’t see on a scale, in the mirror or in the results of your next medical exam. What I’m talking about is the priceless influence you will have on others who are close to you such as your children, parents, friends, co-workers and employees (if you are a business owner).

By choosing to live a fitness lifestyle, and actively exposing me to it, my father was imparting wisdom on me that would beneficially influence his descendants for generations to come. Pretty smart guy, wouldn’t you say?

There were other factors that contributed to my desire to lead an active & healthy lifestyle. As a kid, I was able to see the difference between how my father looked and how other people in his age range, who did not take care of themselves, looked. The difference was staggering.

And, when it came to physical abilities. Forget about it! He could do things by himself that would normally require three or four out of shape & unhealthy people to get done.

I knew exactly what kind of shape I wanted to be in when I grew up.

In essence, my father was leading by example. And, not only did I learn from his example, but so did my brother and sister. They are both committed to exercising and eating right (most of the time).

This brings me to some of those secret benefits I mentioned earlier. Our kids now watch us workout and eat healthy. The same things that happened to me as a kid are happening to the next generation. Our kids want to use the home gym, do stretches and floor exercises, and eat nuts and fruit for snacks instead of candy and cookies (most of the time).

Here is my point in all of this. By taking care of himself my father was taking care of his kids and his grandkids. And, you can believe that his great grandchildren will benefit as well.

What better gift can one pass down than the desire to lead a healthy lifestyle and the enhanced quality of life that goes with it? There is nothing better.

In addition to influencing your children, this same mechanism can and also does apply to friends, parents, co-workers and employees (if you are a business owner). I’ve seen this happen with many of the clients I have worked with over the years.

The reasons are many but the end result is still the same. Your healthy way of life will inspire others around you to take better care of themselves through a healthier life style.

The moral of this story is: By leading a lifestyle built around physical fitness and smart nutrition, you may be taking care of a lot more people than just yourself.


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Joey Atlas, MS - Exercise Physiology, is considered one of the top personal trainers in the US. He is the author of the best selling audio CD "Controversial Secrets of a Personal Trainer", www.ControversialSecrets.com. Joey is a co-owner of GAC Personal Training, www.GACtraining.com, where he continues to guide people toward a better quality of life through proper exercise programming and nutritional guidance.

Strength Training For Weight Loss Success

By Deborah L. Mullen, CSCS

Why Diets Don't Work

If you go "on a diet", what does that mean? That you will eventually go "off the diet". If you haven't changed your eating and physical activity behaviors, what's going to happen? Rationally, you know the answer, but emotionally, you engage in wishful thinking, hoping that this time you will lose the weight and keep it off. What weight are we talking about? When people tell me they lost 12 pounds in two weeks, I ask "12 pounds of what?" On low-calorie diets, about 25 percent of the weight loss may be muscle (Ballor & Polehlman 1994).

Losing muscle is a bad thing. Muscle tissue is very active--it burns a lot of calories. Every pound of muscle burns about 35 calories per day, just staying alive. Using the above example, if you lost 12 pounds, then, you lost three pounds of muscle. You would be burning 105 less calories per day or 3150 per month. Since there are 3500 calories in a pound of fat, you would gain almost one pound of fat per month just from the muscle mass that you lost!

Why The Middle-Aged Spread Keeps Spreading

Inactive adults lose around one-half pound of muscle per year, or five pounds per decade. Since most people continue to eat as much as usual, what's going to happen? If you take in more calories then you burn, the extra calories get stored as fat. Fat is less dense then muscle---a pound of fat takes up more room than a pound of muscle. This means that as you lose muscle and gain fat, your weight might remain the same over the years, but your waistline will continue to expand!

Rev Up Your Metabolism--The Key to Permanent Weight Loss

How can we lose and keep off extra fat? You need to increase your resting metabolic rate (RMR), which is the pace your body burns calories at rest. Your RMR is closely linked to the amount of muscle you have--remember, muscle burns more calories than fat. Adding muscle will raise your RMR and will greatly increase the chance that the weight loss (more accurately fat loss) will be maintained.

Strength Training Versus Aerobic Exercise

Contrary to what many people think, strength training is as important, maybe more important to successful fat loss than aerobic exercise. The reason lies in the amount of calories that are burned when you aren't exercising. Depending on the intensity and your weight, an aerobic workout (walking, cycling, stairstepping) will burn approximately 300 calories per hour. If the exercise is strenuous enough (which is unlikely in the beginning exerciser) the RMR will be elevated temporarily up to a few hours afterwards. Compare this to strength training which elevates the RMR permanently. The RMR accounts for 60 to 75 percent of your daily calorie expenditure, so even a modest increase will help burn off more fat.

One study (Campbell 1994) found that a three-month basic strength-training program resulted in the subjects gaining three pound of muscle and losing four pounds of fat, while eating 370 more calories per day (a 15 percent calorie increase). Remember, aerobic exercise generally doesn't increase muscle tissue. In fact, excessive amount of aerobic exercise combined with a low-calorie diet can cause the loss of some muscle tissue. This is not to say that overweight individuals shouldn't do aerobic exercise--it offers many health benefits and is a part of a weight loss program. It's just that aerobic exercise by itself may not be the best solution for permanent weight (fat) loss.

Don't think that you need to workout in a gym for two hours to strength train. Significant gains can be made with a consistent 30-minute workout performed 2 -3 times per week. This could be your key to successful weight control!



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